Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Last Day of May

Sunny days are here again and my yellow bulk-purchase tulips are blooming nicely. My only disappointment is that they are not very tall. My Single Late tulips are much taller.

(1) Iceland Poppy (Papaver nudicaule) -- bright yellow flowers all summer! Commonly also found in orange and cream colors. If you're lucky you can find some pink ones too.

I am happy to see all the plants did well in the newly built raised beds, as there were concerns about the hardiness of plants in this situation. However, the dry-stack rock walls are two feet thick and probably provide a reasonable amount of protection.

(2) Yellow Tulips, exact variety unknown (bulk deal -- I shouldn't really complain).
(3) Lamb's Ear (Stachys byzantia) with pink Phlox subulata in background-- this fuzzy silver-leaved plant gets a bit taller and eventually produces some inconsequential purple flower stalks, but I prefer it at this stage. It is easily divided and my one original plant is now five! Looks excellent in the rock garden. It creeps out at the edges and if not divided regularly, may die out in the middle. Those gardeners who call it invasive probably live in wimpishly mild climates.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Blackflies Appreciate Me

The uploads were decidedly slow today, as I presume everyone else is uploading their latest gardening photos. This Victoria Day long weekend allowed us to get outside with a cloud of blackflies hovering around our heads to mow the lawn, weed, and admire the greening-up of the yard.

Snow mold leaves large yellow patches in the lawn after the winter, but it seems to revive spontaneously with little effort on our part. The helpful U of SK gardenline website has more info:(

Pictured are (1) Yellow foliage of spirea, purple "Negrita" Triumph Tulips and the resident lawnmower (whose shirt would have looked nicer in a pleasant shade of pink or purple!) (2) Bergenia cordifolia (3) Birdbath and blossoms of a Saskatoon berry bush.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Tulips Great and Small

(1)The white flowers are my botanical/species tulips "Turkestanica" in full bloom. I am pleased with the multiple flowers on each stem. The great feature about these is that they multiply.
(2) Tulip "Toronto": These tulips came as a bonus with an order of other bulbs. I don't know if I would have picked the bright color if I had been tulip-shopping, but these coral orange-pink blooms form the most flamboyant spot in the yard. They are my only Gregii tulips, short and stout with pointed petal tips. Few nearby flowers are in bloom anyways, so I don't need to worry about flower-clash.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Grape Hyacinths

I understand that these little blue gems are a weed in Europe. I am quite fond of them in my garden. I planted these Muscari armeniacum two seasons ago and they have multiplied greatly by bulb multiplication and self-seeding. I think that Muscari spreading into the lawn is a possibility but I'm not going to care! They are growing in relatively poor, sandy soil but are in full sun and I've been putting some worm compost around them. I am also trying some other varieties of Muscari such as M. botryoides "album" and M. latifolium (bi-color with wide leaves) but they have yet to flower.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Itty Bitty Flowers

This week the botanical tulips, Narcissus, Muscari, and Chionodoxa are blooming. All are quite tiny flowers from tiny bulbs and hopefully they will multiply next year. Pictured are
(1) Chionodoxa (pale blue)
(2) Tulip turkestanica (white)
and (3) Tulip pulchella "Eastern Star" (pink).
I tried narcissus last year and it never came up. This year it was planted in a full sun location and it did well, although with only 3 flowers!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Vermicomposters Alive!

It's a cool day outside and the plants are in suspended animation, so I finished off the second worm-composter unit for the garage. I bought the two plastic containers at WalMart so that one can fit nicely in the other with two pieces of 2x2 lumber under the inner container, so that liquid ("compost tea") can collect underneath. I used bonsai pot mesh and bonsai wire to secure the mesh (both purchased online) over 16 holes drilled into the container for air circulation.

I used a deep-box sieve (from Lee Valley Tools) to collect some worms and uncomposted kitchen scraps from the old box for the new box -- a process I imagine to be akin to panning for gold. Compost is mixed with coconut coir (from Lee Valley) which is a bedding material for the worms. Other materials can be used, but I find the coir to produce a nice finished product and I understand that it's a waste product of the coconut industry. Just ship it all to La Ronge, you tropical coconut farmers! We'll send you some lovely beaver pelts in return...

The fine product of the worm composter -- worm poop to be exact -- is mixed with potting soil and used to pot up plants in the indoor grow-op. It's a great organic fertilizer. Ironically, I just finished repotting two bell pepper plants I found growing in the compost bin. I thought tonight as I sat on the dog food pail and sieved for some more precious worm poop: they really should have these things in space! Now if only we had a composting toilet...recycling truly knows no bounds.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Snow has sprouted everywhere!

It's May 3 and I awoke to see snow falling and the plants under a blanket of snow. The tender new branches of the white bleeding heart are straining under the snow and the botanical tulips are completely covered, with buds held tightly shut. I forgive the dog for deciding to stay inside the doghouse today (it's a "wet cold", we eventually agree).
Pictured are the well-established bergenia (foreground) and an unnamed rose, photographed this morning.