Monday, August 22, 2011

Raised Bed Renovation

After getting tired at looking at the scruffy, dry and brown remains of the mass of annual poppies in the center raised bed, I spent a significant amount of sweat and energy on transforming the bed this weekend. The poppies were pulled (thank goodness for a semi-rural property, where I literally toss plant matter into the adjacent bushes).
Center raised bed in July 2011, with poppies in place:

Perennials from around the yard were moved into the empty space. Several lilies were moved from their overcrowded and poorly visible locations to more prominent and sunny spots around the raised bed. Several small spireas and large siberian iris divisions were also added to create a nicely symmetrical and hopefully successful perennial bed. I will be adding tulip or daffodil bulbs in September, and maybe direct seeding with cosmos in spring.
Newly renovated bed, planted with divided and moved perennials:

Morden Mum -- a new plant in my center raised bed and part of the plan for more late summer color:

Clematis manschurica, a fragrant, low-climbing white clematis I started from seed:

Martha Washington geranium (Pelargonium) plant, grown from cuttings:

The above geranium produces such lovely flowers, but the Martha Washingtons seem a little less hardy than the common pelargoniums. My plants have been afflicted by some caterpillars that have been munching holes in the leaves and leaving droppings/eggs all over the place. I wonder if I would do better just growing these as houseplants, or in a greenhouse (if I had one).

Gentiana dahurica, a late-summer blooming gentian which has seeded itself to make a large patch of these lovely blue flowers that grow moderately tall but lean over lazily to sprawl around the flower bed:

Hardy geranium, "Rozanne":

In the other raised bed, I have been adding a top layer of peat and removing some volunteer plants, creating the appearance that the gardener is actually doing something around here...

Oriental hybrid lily, "Acapulco" - like all the Oriental lilies, it has a beautiful scent and I breathed deeply while taking the photo:

The alpine bed -- looking green, but that is including several weeds at the moment, as I am frustrated at the poplar shoots and other rapacious weeds:

I have even contemplated installing a large, spreading juniper (like Andorra) and letting it cover the whole thing. I do like the foreground Mugo Pine, though.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Late Summer Flower Color

I did some work in the garden today, only to run inside when the rain started to soak my clothes. While the plants enjoyed the rain, the ever-rising local lake probably didn't need the extra water. All the beaches and low-lying land around here is covered in water and the flooding is likely to last another few weeks!
"Lime Bicolour" petunia I grew from seed this year -- I recall that this was an over-priced annual seed, but it claimed to be an exciting new hybrid, so...

Scabiosa caucasica are blooming now - nice to have the color, though the foliage on these can look a little weedy and messy:

Highbush cranberry (Viburnum trilobum) compact variety shrub now has pretty red berries developing on it. It took about 5 years for this shrub to finally produce the berries:

Aconitum napellus (Monkshood) produces impressive strong stems of blue flowers for August. I really must divide this one next year to spread the color around:

I made my annual tulip order yesterday, only to have the kind people from Botanus email me and ask if I intended to duplicate one of the items I made on an order a few months ago. I pretended not to be going senile and replied that I do need plenty of a particular daffodil. Therefore, yes, there should be a duplicate. It should be a big bulb-planting fall once my boxes of bulbs arrive! I aim for planting as soon as they arrive, by the end of September.
Sweet peas in my hanging basket -- such a sweet scent!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Strawberrries Saved, Rural Roots

Finally, we have started to harvest the strawberries I so carefully planted last year. Up till a few weeks ago, some animal had been spiriting them away in the night, leaving us with nothing despite seeing many pink berries ripening on the plants. I solved the problem with some fine netting from Lee Valley Tools, which conveniently came to us in the mail. I suspect the squirrel, mostly because he stood and yelled squirrel-obscenities from the top of the fence as I covered the strawberries with the netting.
Netted strawberry plants:

Last month, we received a copy of Rural Roots magazine, a glossy publication exploring the lives of rural western Canada, including articles on gardening and nature. I enjoyed learning about all aspects of bison in the last issue, with everything from raising them to marketing them and selling the meat to high end restaurants. It was also of note because it included an educational article on raised beds, with an illustrative picture from my garden! It was funny, because it reminded me of all the reasons that raised beds are so great, including many points I hadn't thought about. Raised beds are great for northern Saskatchewan, where we have almost no soil and need to contain the soil and compost that we bring in.

Rural Roots Magazine: Check out the link. I think my farm-dwelling Saskatchewan in-laws would love this magazine.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Zone 1 Cherry Harvest!

It was a good year for cherries in the north. Tart cherries, that is, and don't call them "sour" either, because the cold-climate cherry enthusiasts think "tart" sounds nicer. We planted our Carmine Jewel cherries about five years ago and this is the first year with a substantial cherry harvest. That being said, we only have 4 trees and the two in the shade of larger trees don't bear very much and one got major damage in the severe winter of 2009. Carmine Jewel is intended to be a zone 2 tree, so any cherries I get here are a bonus.
A nice little tree full of cherries:

Tart cherries are superior to sweet cherries in baked goods and I would certainly try growing these cherries again, even in a warmer climate.
The greater yield came with slightly smaller cherries this year:

Container zucchini is producing a fat one:

Nasturtium "Cobra" - a red-flowered nasturtium with unique purple-tinged leaves:

Have you eaten any nasturtium flowers yet? They make great additions to salads and have a spicy peppery-flavour. They are very simple to start from seed. I start mine indoors and plant out in June.
My mutant "Black Plum" heirloom tomato:

I don't remember where I got this tomato seed, but there has got to be something wrong with my plant. Though the leaves look healthy and it is making flowers, it seems to be determined to stay under 4 inches tall, producing dense curly foliage that looks more like creeping ground-cover than the description of a 6 foot tall indeterminate plant. What is the world is happening here?
Creeping tomato?