Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Relocated and Got My Hands Dirty!

Well, I most excitedly announce that gardening has recommenced 1150 km to the southwest.  Yes, we are in beautiful British Columbia and the gardening season is hotter, longer, and drier here.  We are in Summerland, to be specific, and have carved out a nice spot of orchard land to live on amid some apple trees.  The disturbed soil on the property needs to be tamed and planted, and we are discovering the local flora and fauna, including the SNAKES.  At least we haven't come across the poisonous snakes...yet.  
Phlox longifolia growing wild across the street

Prickly Pear cactus, blooming at the Summerland Ornamental Gardens

Neglected plum tree, rediscovered

Okanagan Lake, looking south towards Penticton
I spent some time today removing yards of Virginia creeper from the canopy of a long-neglected plum tree that we noticed growing in our yard.  I am not sure if it was even intended to be living in its current location or just arrived by accident of nature, but we certainly can appreciate it.  Perhaps we can devise some way to water it on occasion, though plum and apricot trees seem pretty adapted to the climate here.

I think I will probably start blogging on a new blog (now that I am not so northern) and will start exploring the available blogging platforms.  After all, I don't want to confuse any northern residents when grapes and figs start to be grown here...not to tempt all you northern folks!

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Wrapping up the Garden

The garden is changing its wardrobe to the fall colors as we enjoy the last days of warm weather.  I think today is actually THE last day, according to the weather report.  I felt it was probably safe to pack away the summer clothes inside as well, to make room for the warmer items.

The ever-present screeching squirrel seems to have done a number on the flower bed closest to the house.  There appears to be an arm-sized tunnel dug under the bean plant.  I guess screaming at us from under the stairs at our front door wasn't good enough. 

Driveway perennial bed.  The Hansa rose is reblooming!
I have faithfully dead-headed the perennials, hoping to squeeze a few late blooms out of the delphiniums (or at least reduce the volunteer seedlings).  Other than the squirrel, we have had few pests this year, including insects.  The bunny, while thankfully eating the dandelions, did however much away at the peas and beans in the vegetable garden.  Oh well, we still had some to eat for ourselves.  I can put up with that. 

 Among the perennials in the large raised bed, I randomly planted a variety of sunflower seeds this spring.  The ones on the sunniest end are now blooming and I hope to see a few more.  I planted pollen-free sunflowers, which are probably desired by people who want them as mess-free cutflowers, but I mostly just want them to look good outside.  I love the combination of the coneflowers (Echinacea) with the sunflowers.  They bloom at the same time and the deep pink looks great against the golden sunflowers.  The garden-Pinterest of my brain is going to lock this in as an idea to replicate in the future, with even more sunflowers and more Echinacea.  The cosmos would also look great in front of the tall sunflowers. 
Geese honking over our yard, heading south for the winter.

 I pulled out all the Papaver rhoeas, the bright pink annual poppies growing in the center raised bed.  They were going brown and had already spread their seed.  With them removed, we can now see the few self-seeded cosmos that were fighting their away up amid the poppies.  Cosmos are a wonderful late season annual.  They are also as easy as throwing a few seeds in the dirt in spring.  If you have a small flower bed, the short ones would look best. 
Pink cosmos with the lilies in the center raised bed.
 The perennials have limited activity at the moment.  I see a few blooms starting on the Morden mum and Aster dumosus, but these are pretty small or overgrown with other plants (over-exuberant spirea), so their contribution is mostly invisible!   
Foreground: alpine bed.  Background: The large raised bed filled with perennials.
Otherwise, I have been organizing and cleaning up the gardening tools and supplies.  Not just for the winter, but because we are soon moving on from our yard and home.  I have had fun with all the plants that thrived or failed here, learning a lot about them.  I have ideas on new things I would like to try (branching out into red or orange flowers, which have excluded from this yard) and dreaming about the garden challenges we will meet in our eventual new property, which is in hardiness zone 6 of southern British Columbia!  I'm imagining a focus on xeriscaping will be the new challenge, while we enjoy an orchard and perhaps some grapevines.  I have enjoyed all the feedback on this garden and will continue on gardening with enthusiasm, though I am really looking forward to throwing out the insect repellent as a necessary gardening tool.   

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Passing on the Garden Gene

While traveling last month, I was sure to take the offspring to some gardens in BC.  I was very happy to hear their life plans for the next while: to have a playhouse with surrounding gardens containing "lavender, beans, and daisies".  The daisies are not my doing, but the beans and lavender are well-influenced.  I smiled quietly.   
Scarlet runner bean is making its way up the deck posts.
I am hoping the scarlet runner bean will impress us with height and some edible beans by the end of the season.  This was a two-for-one deal, pretty red flowers AND an edible product.  The gladioli in the blue pot show no signs of buds yet.  Hmmm.   We picked and pitted some of the Carmine Jewel cherries today and made cherries jubilee sundae for dessert today.  It was more than amazing.  The deep red juice and overwhelmingly sweet and tangy cherries paired with vanilla ice cream was worth the calories.  The cherries were a little smaller this year, but then again, I haven't fertilized or done anything to promote these trees' growth other than letting the rain fall on them and hoped for sunshine.  Perhaps some fruit tree fertilizer would be useful? 
Three of the Carmine Jewel cherries and the Furry Nibbler of our dandelions (and vegetable garden).
Clematis mandshurica among the other perennials
 I had a group of seedlings of an unknown plant growing in a flowerbed.  A perennial geranium was there last year, but it failed to show up in 2013.  Oh well.  In its place were many attractive seedlings, but they were not geraniums!  They didn't look like any of the common weeds, so I left them.  It seems they are seedlings of my white, fragrant, summer-blooming Clematis mandshurica.  I grew my original ones from seed, and now I have more.  Maybe I'll dig them up and share around.  As you can tell from the name, these Clematis originate in Mongolia, and I see that an extract of the plant is also used as a medicinal supplement for arthritis.  It grows 1.5- 2 meters tall, clinging only after it reaches about a meter in height.  The flowers and scent are lovely. 
Salpiglossis"Royale Purple Bicolor"
I like to try new annuals every year, just to see how they grow and learn more about them.  Salpiglossus had an attractive photo in the seed catalog and I bought the mix.  The yellow ones are bright, yet rather flat in color like a plain petunia, and not anywhere as intriguing as the purple/gold ones pictured here.  These flowers grow 24 inches tall, which is a bit gangly for most pots, but mine are living among some other flowers in a half-barrel and don't look too out of place.  They would not work in a small or narrow pot. 

I was hoping they would be amazing after the effort in germinating them.  Definitely a bit fiddly.  Like violas, they only germinate in darkness.  I had them in pots under black plastic.  However, the instant they germinate, they need to be under bright lights, or they stretch out to pale weak stems that don't seem to root well.  This means you have to be vigilant to watch for sprouting every day and move the germinated seeds immediately to the lights.  Looking at the color varieties, I would like to try some more the bicolors.