Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Friday, May 25, 2007
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Back to the flowers...this is Muscari botryoides "Album"...less common thus MORE EXPENSIVE than the blue kind. It has multiplied a bit over the past year, maybe not to the degree the blue ones have.
I purchased this bulb two years ago simply because "I don't have one of those" (or at least, Resident-Lawnmower-Man says this is my usual shopping excuse). This is Muscari latifolium, the flat-leaf muscari. It doesn't really make me want to jump up and down.
Finally, Muscari armeniacum, the regular Armenian grape hyacinth. It is a lovely color, with its little clusters of blue with the tiny white rim on the bottom. It is very hardy. I grow it in full sun. The ones in part shade did not perform as well.
Well, we are supposed to have freezing temperatures (-2 Celsius) Friday night, so it will be another week before I consider putting the annuals out!
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
The dwarf banana is looking great. Maybe in another 2-3 yrs we'll have bananas! This Dendrobium blooms several times a year. This time it has 3 flower spikes and another new cane growing from the base. The orchids must love our house because aside from flowering, I have enough baby orchids being produced as keikeis that I have to give them away!
Friday, May 18, 2007
GARDEN MEMORIES INTERLUDE...I remember discovering this phenomenon back when I was about 6 yrs old and puttering around in my mom's rock garden. I noticed that some plants grew new little plants when you covered their stems with dirt and left them for a little while. I don't think mom had any idea I was doing this. I think she thought I was absorbed in the little patch of beans I was supposedly growing in the empty lot beside the yard ("where the snakes and scorpions roamed"...or at least that's how the song should go in the Okanagan).
First, I selected a branch looking sufficiently young and close to the ground. I pulled off a few leaves close to the mother plant, then dug a hole under the branch. (I hope to get two plants here because I used a bifurcated branch.) I pinned the bare branches to the bottom of the hole with wire. I used 3mm bonsai wire but it was too malleable. Instead, I would recommend wire hangers cut into pieces or easier yet, rocks.
Then, to make sure my new plants don't come out of the ground at an angle, I poked a wooden chopstick into the ground and tied the plant to it with a velcro fastener. I love those velcro plant ties! The best part is that you can reuse them over and over. Lastly, I filled in the holes with dirt and said a prayer. Hopefully, these branches will make some roots and next spring, I'll cut the rooted shrublets from the mother shrub.
La Ronge: Issued 8.29 AM CST Friday 18 May 2007
Snow ending near noon then clearing. Risk of freezing rain. Local snowfall amount 5 to 10 cm. Wind northeast 20 km/h becoming light this afternoon. High plus 4. UV index 3 or moderate.
Clear. Low minus 4.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
No one denies that the bugs here are terrible. Local stores sell trinkets with a mosquito saying "Send more tourists, the last ones were delicious!" I fly frequently in small planes across the north for my job and we're told that if you are to survive a crash, it is still possible to die by insect bites, so be sure to bring repellent in your survival gear. Black flies are known to kill large game animals and livestock. This is disgusting. The picture above is of my swollen right eyelid after a black fly bite last summer. This was more dramatic-looking but less painful than the one in my ear canal.
This is another challenge of gardening in the north. How to handle it?
(1) Insect repellents - this year I am going to try out a "natural" option, a spray product called "Bite Me", containing various oils including lemon. It smells FABULOUS but I have yet to see if it works as well as the gold standard, DEET. If you live in a West Nile affected area, the benefits of DEET may outweigh its small risk. As of yet, West Nile hasn't made it this far north. I have used heaps of DEET sprays in the past, applying it to hands, ankles, neck, face, and lower back (because mosquitoes get you when you bend over) as well as all over my clothes.
(2) Proper clothing - NO shorts, NO spandex, NO tank tops. The idea is to cover as much skin as possible, which has the bonus of preventing any sunburns! I love my Tilley hat and heavy cotton pants with reinforced knees from the army surplus store. I wear one of those thin running/cycling jackets (you know, with the "tuxedo tail" to cover your backside) over a breathable shirt. I usually wear a hiking boot, but I have been thinking about finding a pair of Wellies.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
The Giros knife cuts through tough roots with ease. This seems a whole lot slicker than punching through plants with the blunt end of the spade or trying to pry them into pieces with your fingers. I also used the knife to to divide a huge clump of asters. In that case, I didn't dig up the whole plant. Instead, I just cut off a quarter of the plant and then dug that part up. It came out easily because the roots were separated from the rest of the plant.
And then there were two!
Monday, May 14, 2007
Another of my blooming botanical tulips is Tulipa tarda/Daystemon tarda. It has bright yellow and white flowers. The plant is alot shorter than the Tulipa turkestanica, which has mostly white flowers in cluster of five on each stem. I can't believe I have already received my first fall bulb catalog for the year! Anybody for bulb-shopping already???
These T. turkestanicas are looking even better in their second year, with the cloud of white blooms waving back and forth in the breeze. I think a field of these would be lovely. Again though, the dead foliage and seed heads are best disguised later in the season. Unfortunately I have these right at the front of the perennial border and I'll have to tuck annuals in around them!
Sunday, May 13, 2007
- These people are the most avid gardeners.
- These people have better internet access than the rest of the Americans.
- These folks are reading blogs about gardening while those on the west coast and Florida are actually outside gardening.
- These people live in a generally cooler climate than the rest of the states (did you see that dot in Alaska?) and my blog is more applicable/interesting to them. See map of the USDA/USNA hardiness zones to compare:
- Some quirk in the workings of Google directs these people to my blog more often
- This simply reflects greater population density in these areas (see map).
- I also researched other thematic maps of the US to compare the blog's readership against such things as the 2004 elections results, influenza rates, racial origin, gasoline prices, etc. Complex analysis of map data (i.e. comparing maps with my analytical eyeball, in more of a right than left-brain sort of way) shows that these factors are related to the readership of my blog: Scandinavian heritage and the location of monarch butterflies in the month of May.
Well, that was enough time wasted in the name of science for one day. Sometimes, the long hot bath at the end of the day gives time for reflection on these deep issues...while you work on getting the dirt out from under your fingernails...
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Kona says: "I made it through winter outside just fine! I even ripped the door off my doghouse to improve the view! Only wimpy dogs wear sweaters...I sleep in the snow."
Friday, May 11, 2007
Principles in rearranging my rock garden:
- less "currant bun" effect, with rocks looking like they're just sitting ontop the dirt
rocks should look like icebergs, meaning that nine-tenths of the rock is buried out of sight
- blasted rock looks more like natural stony outcroppings than rounded fieldstone (which can be better used for Japanese styles)
- align the rocks so any striations match directions
- use local rocks (resident-lawnmower-man hauled blasted rock in from a construction site)
- use similar-type stones, rather than a collection of novelty or multicolored stones
- plantwise, I removed dead or raggy-looking plants then moved some narcissus into the bed from elsewhere in the yard
Okay, so the picture shows that the little rock garden probably violates half those design rules, but settling of the dirt and planting a few more rock garden plants should help it out. Another gardener gave me some alpine Arabis, Gentiana verna and Gentian septemfida today! Within 2 weeks, the phlox and muscari should be in full bloom and should make the bed look beautiful. Or maybe I'll be out there tomorrow adding more rocks...Flowers blooming now: Scilla siberica, a hardy bulb that produces these deep blue flowers: Muscari armeniacum "Dark Eyes" (Grape Hyacinth) , which is different from the regular bulk-purchased grape hyacinths in that there are little white rims on the bottoms of each "grape". The planting of this new variety really wasn't worth it in my opinion:
This is how far my single-flowered peony has come this spring. Yeah, I know those of you in warmer climates are probably staking their peonies to prevent their blooms from flopping over...and I don't really want to hear about it! But if you're growing peonies north of my latitude, please do tell.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Light purple Pulsatilla vulgaris
Of course, my collection is missing the white one and maybe there are others I don't know about. I really want to propagate more of the red one so that I wil have nice big clumps of it blooming in the spring. They are showy and quite visible from a distance. Their seed is "ephemeral" as the seed companies call it, expiring not long after ripe, so I'll plant the fresh seeds as soon as possible. Maybe I'll have a bunch of plants for fall planting. They may require cold stratification to germinate, so maybe we'll have seeds planted in the fridge again.
I've only ever purchased these seeds from Gardens North, a seed company with lots of native plant seeds. I get all tingly and starry-eyed just looking at their online catalogs...and I see they're having a 50% off sale all this month. No, they don't pay me to advertise, I just order their stuff frequently! I notice they don't have any pulsatilla at the moment though.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Sunday, May 06, 2007
For those of you following the vermicomposting lettuce saga...we have reached the end of the experiment. For the last post, on day 23, see this previous entry. The romaine lettuce grown in the pot of worm casting compost is the picture of agricultural success, while the potting soil + fertilizer lettuce ended up pathetically small.
An unforeseen lettuce-challenging hurdle in this 60 day trial was my 2-week absence, during which time resident-lawnmower-man tended (that choice of verb may even be too generous) my plants. Despite my warnings about adequately watering the lettuce, I came back to a batch of tough and bitter lettuce, all except for the "worm" lettuce. Yes, the taste test today confirms that the worm lettuce is sweet and mild while the potting soil lettuce is not. Maybe the worm compost had better moisture-retentive properties, protecting it from stingy watering by a non-plantsperson. Moisture retention reportedly is one of the benefits of adding compost to your soil.
Saturday, May 05, 2007
Thursday, May 03, 2007
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
My garden conditions: zone 1b, a short season, acidic soil (no one lives far from a bog), brutal winter temperatures, with lots of snow from November to March (the lake thaws in May).
A few of the plants are generally known as hardy, but I've never tried them. Local gardeners are encouraged to give feedback here! I included my own photos where available.Gardenista's List of PERENNIALS FOR THE NORTH
(Z=minimum hardiness zone rating)
Common yarrow (Achillea millefolium) - hardy but spreads quickly. I removed mine.
Monkshood (Aconitum napellus) – Very poisonous, Z4. I planted some in my yard in 2008. Still thriving in 2012. Very hardy and highly recommended. Blooms in late summer when other flowers are done.
Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla mollis) Z4, a favourite, beautiful chartreuse foliage, water beads collect on the leaves like beads of mercury, forms a nice neat dome-shaped plant. Mature plants died in severe winter of 2009, but self-seeds minimally if dead-headed and will replace losses.Windflower (Anemone sylvestris) Z4 - seeds itself and spreads everywhere, I avoid it
Columbines (Aquilegia) Z3 -very easy to grow, does very well here, seeds itself a bit, I have several different kinds, grow in part shade to full sun, though foliage will get brown and ratty after blooming if grown in full sun (best to trim it down when it does this). There are some cutworms around here that like to chew off all the leaves, but these can be squished by hand.
--Aquilegia glandulosa (from another La Ronge garden) - a small blue-flowering plant-->
Rockcress (Arabis) Z3 - short mat with small flowers at the same time the tulips are blooming
--Arabis caucasica (white). Very hardy. Blooms here in May. Short bloom time and looks drab the rest of the year.--Arabis blepharophylla (pink flowers) --died in winter of 2007. Not hardy.
Sea Thrift (Armeria pseudarmeria) Z4-looks like a small chives plant in flower, does okay in the rock garden. Marginally hardy in severe winters, however. All dead by 2010.
Goatsbeard (Aruncus dioicus/sylvester) Z3, prefers moist soil, looks like a large astilbe with cream-colored feathery flowers that bloom for two weeks, I started mine from seed 2 years ago, they flowered in 2007. Several plants show signs of rust and were thrown out, but the rest were okay until the severe winter of 2009 killed them. Some seedlings appearing in 2012.
--Aster alpinus "Goliath" -->
Rockcress (Aubrieta deltoidea) Not particularly hardy here. Killed by most winters.Elephant Ears (Bergenia cordifolia) Z3 - excellent plant, evergreen, early flowering, highly recommended for sun or shade. Very hardy.
Siberian Bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla) Z3 - very attractive foliage, hardy perennial for part to full shade. Looks good alongside hostas. Small blue flowers look like those of forget-me-nots. Killed by severe winter of 2009.
--Brunnera macrophylla "Jack Frost"Bellflowers (Campanula) Z3, very hardy bell-shaped flowers in blue, white, or purple. Highly recommended low-growing plants, flower in late June and July.
--Campanula carpatica "Blue Clips"-->--Campanula carpatica "White Clips"
--Campanula percisifolia alba (white type)
Snow in Summer (Cerastium tomentosum) Z3 - very hardy, spreads moderately so cut it down after blooming, gray foliage, carpet of white flowers. Cut it back at its margins in spring to reduce spread.
Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium, Morden series) While the grocery store mums are certainly not suited to the prairies (are not bred to flower in our conditions), the Morden mums are excellent.
|Chrysanthemum morifolium "Morden Fiesta"|
Clematis (Clematis macropetala, Clematis mandshurica)--Clematis mandshurica, white, very fragrant flowers, blooms in late summer;
|Clematis mandschurica, a fragrant clematis that I grew from seed.|
|Convallaria majalis "Rosea"|
Bunchberry (Cornus Canadensis) Z2 - grow wild everywhere here, no need to buy them!
Delphiniums (Delphinium species)- beautiful, reliably hardy. Self-seeds, so cut off dead flowers. May need to stake them to protect them in summer storms.
--D. grandiflorum "Blue Elf"
--D. elatum "Summer skies" (light blue)-->
--D. elatum "King Arthur" (deep purple)
--D. elatum "Blue Bird" (deep blue)
|Dianthus deltoides "Arctic Fire"|
|Dianthus gratianopolitanus "Firewitch"|
|Dicentra spectabilis "Alba"|
Shooting Star (Dodecatheon pulchellum) -- from another La Ronge garden. Blooms in June.
Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) Z2 - very pretty, hardy tall pink flower. Mature plants killed off in severe winter of 2009. Flowers in second year and thereafter. Most kinds can be grown from seed.
|Echinacea purpurea "Ruby Star".|
Sea Holly (Eryngium alpinum) Planted in 2007, bloomed in 2009. Over 2 feet tall, unique steely-blue brushlike flowers. Eryngium variifolium never grew more than a few inches tall and never flowered, so I got rid of it.
Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria/vulgaris) Z3 - wintered well. I eventually found it a bit boring and weedy-looking so I got rid of it.
Gentians (Gentiana sp.) - Very pretty little plants with the most intriguing deep blue flowers. Very sought-after.
--Gentiana verna - blooms here in May
--Gentiana acaulis - large tubular flowers, blooms in June
Blue Oat Grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens) Z3- a mid-sized ornamental grass, non-spreading. After three years, the centers of mine rotted, but could be restored by dividing the grass and removing the rotten parts.
Daylily (Hemerocallis) Z3- do very well here. Almost all were killed in severe winter of 2009, but this is a rare occurence and I would still plant more.
Plantain Lily (Hosta sp. ) Z3- several including H. sieboldiana "Elegans" they don't pop out of the ground till late May, but look nice when they do. Good for part shade. All killed off by the severe winter of 2009, but I replaced them, as they usually are quite hardy.
Bitterroot (Lewisia cotyledon) - once of the most beautiful small perennials in existence, in my opinion. It flowers for us in June and does well in very well-drained soil. Insert pebbles around the base of the plant to keep its leaves off the soil. Quite hardy, though freakish cold winter of 2009 killed all plants. They did self-seed though, which is handy, as I find them a bit hard to start from seed indoors. Seeds seem to need the cold and changing temperature of the outdoors to germinate.
Gayfeather (Liatris spicata) Z3 - a spiky purple wildflower that looks good in clusters, attracts butterflies. Most killed off in severe winter of 2009. They do self-seed a bit, so can leave a few offspring.
Perennial flax (Linum perenne) - delicate looking foliage with pale blue flowers on 10-12" tall plant.
Lupines (Lupinus) Z4 -
--Lupinus polyphyllus "Gallery Yellow"; very attractive flowers. This is the only lupine that continues to do well for me. Not a long-lived perennial here, and tends to die out randomly.Musk Mallow (Malva moschata) - pretty lavatera-like flowers, informal looking, bit gangly. Self-seeds moderately. Removed in 2008.
Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia) Z2- thrive here and multiply easily
Bergamot/Bee Balm (Mondarda didyma) Z3- a bit invasive but controllable, attracts butterflies. Center of old clump did not return in 2008, but had new growth at edges. Short-lived perennial.
--large clump of M. didyma, started from seed;
Forget Me Not (Myosotis) - First planted in my yard in 2008, and now are reseeding around to make a gorgeous carpet of blue and pink in the spring. Biennial. Some killed in severe 2009 winter, but seedlings continued and will flower 2011.
|Myosotis sylvatica "Victoria pink"|
Poppies (Papaver orientale/Oriental poppy, Papaver nudicaule/Iceland poppy, Papaver miyabeanum, Papaver somniferum, Papaver rhoeas) Z3 - grow very well; P. somniferum and rhoeas aren't perennial, but reseed themselves reliably.
Beardtongue (Penstemon ovatus) Z3 - grows well, self-seeds a bit
Peonies (Paeonia) - still waiting for any flowers! Need full sun and moist soil.
--Peony "Lotus Queen" (single flowered, white), planted 2005.
--Peony "Bouchela" (pink), planted 2007. Removed 2008 because of rust.
Creeping phlox (Phlox subulata) - one of the prettiest May/June flowers, short dense evergreen mat that is covered in flowers; comes in pink, pale blue, and white. Severe winter-kill in 2009, but still alive.
Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum) Z4 - I don't have this, but I think it grows here
Primroses (Primula denticulata Z4, P. auricula Z2, P. cortusoides Z2, Primula x polyanthus Z4) - the polyanthus is supposed to be the least hardy of these, but I've had them for 2 winters in my yard; auricula has waxy thick leaves and is extremely hardy and not killed by any winter we've ever had.
Pasqueflower (Pulsatilla vulgaris)- blooms at Easter, I have white, purple, red, and pink flowered plants. Very hardy. Self-seed a bit. Highly recommended.
Rhubarb (Rheum) If you can't grow rhubarb, you can't grow anything! This plant is very hardy and stays attractive all season long. Of course, it's great for pies too. Attacked by slugs in 2009, but will survive.
Rock Soapwort (Saponaria ocymoides) Z2- Flowered for one year then failed to bloom again. I wonder if it is hardy here. Bloomed nicely in 2009, but is rather unreliable.
Stonecrop (Sedum sp.) Z3-there are so many different kinds, we have a "wall" of the stuff as groundcover.
Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum tectorum)- there are many sizes and colors. These do well in some corner where not much else will grow.
|Sempervivum in bloom|
Lamb's Ear (Stachys byzantina) - fuzzy grey plant, moderate creeper, keep its edges in check, attracts bees. Self-seeds if not deadheaded. Some killed in severe winter, but came back anyhow.
Meadow Rue (Thalictrum sp) - I grow T. rochebrunianum and it does well, growing to about 7 feet tall and seeds itself around; elegant-looking plant with airy purple/pink cloud of tiny blooms at top. Looks neat growing among the tall delphiniums and at the back of the flower beds.
BULBS FOR THE NORTH [F] = Fall planting, [S] = spring planting
Ornamental Onions (Allium sp.) [F] - I am going to be experimenting with a few of the giant flowering types in 2008. "Purple sensation" came up the first year after planting, but not after that.
Glory of the Snow (Chionodoxa forbesii) [F] - tiny little early spring flowers; come in blue, white and pink; plant in clusters for effect
Crocuses (Crocus sp.) [F] - only the spring-blooming crocuses are hardy here.
--tiny snow crocuses, which come in several colors-->--large flowered crocuses -->
--Narcissus "Full House"
--Narcissus "Pacific Coast"
--Giant yellow trumpet daffodils-->
Fritillaries - [F] Fritillaria imperialis is NOT hardy here, but F. meleagris (Snake's head or checked lily) is hardy
--Fritillary meleagris (purple type) 2008-->
Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) [F] - Took 3 years to bloom! I have heard you need to plant them as a blooming plant (not a bulb) to have them thrive.
Dwarf iris (Iris reticulata "Harmony") [F] - I have plenty of these and love them! They are the first to bloom of all my flowers (in mid-April) in a very sunny sloped rock garden.
--Iris reticulata "Harmony"-->
Lilies (Oriental, Asiatic, LA Hybrids) [S] - do very well, I prefer the LA hybrids such as "Fangio" or, Oriental Pot Lily Farolito was very fragrant; summer flowering
--LA Hybrid Lily "Courier"-cream colored
--LA Hybrid Lily "Auckland"-white
--LA Hybrid Lily "Fangio"-->--LA Hybrid Lily "Yellow Tycoon", extremely long bloom time-->--Hybrid Asiatic "Cote d'Azur"-pink, multiplies rapidly
Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginia) [F] - grown by another local gardener
Grape Hyacinths (Muscari) [F] such a joyful spring flower, multiplies and naturalizes well
--Muscari latifolium (flat leaf muscari) - bloom is not as nice as the others
--Muscari armeniacum (blue)--> --Muscari botryoides "Album" (white)--> these multiply very slowly compared to the blueSiberian squill (Scilla siberica) [F] Z3 -spring flowering bulb, need a bunch of them to have any impact, small blue nodding flowers. Look more amazing every year.
--Scilla siberica --> Tulips, Botanical/Species [F] -These are naturalizing (return every year, spreading and multiplying) tulips that are tiny like crocuses, but come in bright colors and will outlive any of the larger showy tulips, which only last a few years. They either are wild-type or closely related to the wild-type tulips from Turkey.
--Tulipa tarda /Daystemon tarda--> --Tulipa turkestanica --> --Tulipa humulis/pulchella "Eastern Star"-->--Tulipa batalinii (in another La Ronge garden)-->
Tulips, Other [F] - I have had success with the large spectacular "Single Late", "Darwin Hybrid", and "Triumph" types; but I would never try ones labeled "Single Early/Double Early" in our climate, because the flowers could get deformed by late frosts. Gregii, Fosteriana, and Kaufmanii are probably good choices too, and they should return year after year.
--Double Late "Blue Diamond"-->
--Triumph "Negrita" (purple) and "Zurel" (white and purple) - the first large tulips to bloom
--Darwin hybrid Yellow tulip-->
This is not a comprehensive list of hardy plants by any means, but possibly informative to new northerners!