Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Still planting....

I put my Lavender seedlings into the ground this morning. 11 of them. I put them on the south side of the house, in spots that I had planted all of my Canna's. I am not sure what I did wrong, but not one single Canna has grown. I pulled them all out and put into the compost pile. I overwintered them in the garage exactly the way it said to, but nothing. Obviously the garage is too cold or too warm, none of my geraniums (and I suspect my water lily too) made it either. WHAAAAAA!

So, out with the Canna's and in with the Lavender. Two completely different plants, completely different foliage, different flowers, different heights, two completely different looks.

The lavender will do well in those locations, but I was really looking forward to the tall leafy Canna foliage along those beds.

I also planted one pumpkin plant that I started indoors. I sowed this in a pot in the sun room and direct sowed the rest of the pack (which was one to two years old). The direct sowed plants are much larger than the indoor started plant. I am not hoping for a bumper crop, but at least enough to not have to go buy any this fall.

I also put one nice looking sun room sowed Sunflower plant out too. I sowed this at the same time as the pumpkin plant and it is already thick and bushy and nearly 8 inches tall.

I transplanted 3 Blue Angel Hosta's from the woodland path, split 2 of them into 2 plants each, planting a total of 5 into the front Maple Bed. I also transplanted 2 Green-Yellow Hosta's (unknown name) into the same bed. Additionally, 4 Spider Plants (the hanging house plant with the babies hanging down) went into the bed, 8 Geraniums dug up and divided, and some other house plants-all into this same Maple bed. If it sounds large, it is. It is a nice shady bed, nice and green. But, it is all green green green. Nothing to catch your eye. So, the addition of the blue and the variegated Hosta's, the geraniums and spider plants will bring some much needed color.

We've gotten little bits of rain here and there. Not enough to soak, I've still had to go and water everything. But it has been enough to germinate the weeds of course. I spent some time yesterday pulling some weeds and cutting my Blue Fescue back and got stung or bit by something. I didn't feel it, the sting or bite, or see what did it. But my right hand began itching like mad and I realized it was swelling quickly. I don't have bee allergies, but my hand and wrist and part of my forearm are big and tight and itchy. I hope it doesn't last too long. I imagine it wasn't a bee, I haven't seen too many of them due to the colony collapse. It could have been a spider or even maybe an ant.

Speaking of insects, the picture at the top is a nifty looking creature. This is the 6 spotted Tiger Beetle. According to the Bug Guide, it eats other insects. Hopefully it eats the bad insects, as it didn't give that information. We have seen lots of them around this year. Maybe it will have an impact on the soon to be arriving Japanese Beetles. I seriously doubt it though, Japanese Beetles are quite a tough insect and almost bigger than the Tiger Beetle. They both certainly are colorful though.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Gardening on the CHEAP

Although it would be nice to go to the local nursery and spent a few hundred or thousand dollars on plants and trees and shrubs (as many, many do), I tell you, there is a lot of satisfaction in getting the same gardening results without putting out the dough.
This beautiful dark purple Iris was given to me a couple of years ago from someone who was dividing perennials and knew I would give it a home.

There are so many ways to garden inexpensively that I doubt that I will be able to list them all. Here are some of the ways that I have increased my plants without spending a bundle.

1. Ask! If you know someone who has a plant that you covet, ask them for a small clump of it. It needn't be half the plant, just a tiny bit of it so you have a start of it. You will be surprised when the person says yes, and may just offer you bits of other plants also!

2. Start your own plants! You can collect seeds from your plants, your friends plants, plants at work or other businesses (ask first!). You can start the seeds the old fashioned way under lights, you can winter sow them, you can direct sow them...so many options!

The infamous winter sowing!

3. Propagation! Taking cuttings of plants, trees, shrubs and starting them in a rooting medium will give you more plants.
Propagation using the oasis method.

4. If you move, take your favorites with you. When my mom moved to Arizona, I dug up several plants and shrubs and took them to my place. When we moved a year and a half ago, I dug up and moved many of those and brought them with me. While this seems like a lot of work, at least you know how well the plant grows, its growing conditions, where it came from, and you brought your memories with you.

5. Join a plant swap. These are loads of fun. Several gardening web sites have them in the spring and the fall. You enter your name and a list of plants that you would like and a list of plants that you have to offer. Your name and lists get matched up with someone with whose lists match yours. You get the name, dig portions of your plants, package them up and send them out. It is better than Christmas when you get your box. You don't know what is in it, but you know it is NEW plants!

6. Join a seed swap. These are normally done in the fall on gardening sites, but sometimes are also done in the spring. This is a bit different from the plant swap. You collect all of the seeds that you can and put them into packs and label them. You send a large envelope with all of the seeds you have to trade, there can be multiple packs of the same thing. Everyone sends their packs to one person, who sorts through and sends everyone a large envelope of different seeds from all of their cyber-gardening buddies.

7. Go directly to the bargain bin. If you cannot resist going to your local nursery, then go to the sale area. These plants, trees and shrubs may be runts, or may have gotten a bit of frost or they may have let them dry too much and they are in recovery. They could be just items that no one wanted and they are root bound in the pot. I once got a 3 foot Japanese Maple tree for $15. because a branch had been torn off, leaving a gaping area on the trunk. I took it home and planted it and now, 4 years later, who would know that at one time one side was on the bare side. Another time, another nursery, I got a 7 foot Tulip Poplar for $5.! It was sickly looking, but healthy (make sense?) so I took it home. I never had any problem with that tree and it looks gorgeous today.

8. Shop at the flea market or the farmer's market. I can't tell you how many plants and things I have gotten for a dollar or two this way. I know exactly where they are set up at the flea market and try as hubby can, he knows I will go right there! Rarely do I come home empty handed!
1 of 2 Holly shrubs purchased at the local flea market, $2. each.

9. eBay! I have done a lot of plant purchases on eBay. Always look for someone who has sold lots of items and has good feedback ratings. Usually items will be packaged well and sent quickly. I bought six 6 inch Japanese Maple's several years ago for $6. I gave 5 away and kept one for myself. What a great investment that was, as I have been able to shape and grow this beauty myself. It has been dug up and moved at least 5 times and doesn't seem to mind one bit.
This beautiful Japanese Maple was purchased several years ago, one of six, 6 inch trees for $6. on eBay.

10. I belong to a points program that allows me to get gift cards when I reach a certain amount of points. I always, always get gift cards for Home Depot, that way I can use them in the gardening department. I can get plants, but I can also get pond supplies, mulch, stones, garden art (if I don't make it myself!), fertilizer, etc. Also, I don't buy most of these items unless they are ON SALE. The gift cards I receive are worth $25-$75, depending on how long I can wait before cashing in those points!

11. Dig up and divide your plants. Even after being in the ground one year, most plants can be dug up, cut in half (or thirds or quarters) with a spade and replanted and ~WOW~ another plant!
12. Join a gardening club. Although I am not a member of one, they sound awesome, getting to check out others gardens and trade plants and information.
13. Volunteer with spring clean up at local public gardens. Many advertise for assistance in doing spring clean up and get to take home extra plants.
14. Buy your spring bulbs after the so called planting season. Spring bulbs do not have to be planted in the fall, it is just easier then because the weather hasn't usually gotten bad yet. I have planted my spring blooming bulbs in February. As long as the ground isn't frozen, you can plant your bulbs. Wait until everyone has bought and planted, then go looking to buy when they are all marked down to 50-90% off. There is usually still quite a good selection and there is still plenty of time to plant.
15. Remember to divide your bulbs. After blooming (or before, I have done this both ways), dig your bulbs up and divide them. This helps promote more bulbs, more plants, and less crowding.

16. Make your own mulch. This is a lot easier if you have a large piece of property. I collect our leaves in the fall, sometimes running them through the chipper/shredder, sometimes not. I then put them onto the flower beds. I also collect branches and sticks and do the same. I also rake up pine needles in the fall and use them as mulch.
17. COMPOST, COMPOST, COMPOST. I cannot stress this enough and it really should be at the top of this post and in between each item. COMPOST. It does not matter if you live in town and have a tiny yard, you can still make your own compost. Dig a small hole and bury your kitchen scraps, it won't take long for it to break down and start providing you with some added soil nutrients. If you are lucky enough to have a large amount of property, put everything you can find on your pile. It will break down and give you lots of black gold to amend your beds.
18. Go for a Sunday drive out in the country and look for those piles of field stone. If you ask a farmer out in the field, he will usually point you right to it and give his blessing for you to take what you want. These can then be used to line your beds or create a rock garden. There is nothing more beautiful (if you are a rock lover like me) than having some granite in your gardens.
19. Dig up your unwanted or extra plants and sell them or offer them for trade. I dug up a huge amount of Hosta's last year and put them up for sale at the end of the driveway. I ended up getting rid of every single one, but instead of selling them, I traded them for an even larger pile of Miscanthus, which I broke into 35 clumps and lined the front edge of our property with. Every one of them made it through the winter and are growing! Yippee!!
Miscanthus pile that I received in exchange for a wheel barrel full of Hostas.
20. Don't spend it if you don't got it to spend. Impulse buying is bad for your wallet and for your future! If you just have to spend money on plants, then keep a jar to collect your change or write a couple bucks into your budget each month to spend on gardening.

I hope this little list will give you a few new ways to garden on the cheap. Have I missed some great ways to save? If so, let me know, because I am always looking for new ways to save money and increase my gardens!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Hello HF Young Clematis!!

This really is the true color of this spectacular HF Young Clematis. It is my favorite one so far, and I have many different Clematis.
Hardy to zone 4, it grows 8-9 foot tall and blooms May to June and then again in August. Because it doesn't grow to great heights, this variety is really suited to containers, rather than the arch that I have it on.

It is just too beautiful!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

First Clematis blooms of the season: Meet Mrs. James Mason

I was quite surprised that this Clematis bloomed so easily after being moved just a month ago. But Clematis continue to surprise me with the ease of care. This is Mrs. James Mason with several buds ready to open when these ones finish. It gets 8 to 10 feet tall and could very well be too large for this trellis, but once it reaches the top, I am going to start keeping it trimmed. This will force the growth back into the lower part of the vine and also produce more blooms. It isn't supposed to bloom until June, but as you can see, it is a few weeks early. It will take a break after the first flush of blooms and not bloom again for another month. I have this planted on the south side of the house, but it does get a couple of hours of mid-day shade. It isn't mulched particularly thick, but I do have some glass balls sitting at the base, which helps act as a mulch by keeping those precious roots shaded.

I am not positive where I picked this Clematis up at, very possibly at our local Kroger grocery store several years ago. I dug it up and moved it with me to our country house a year and a half ago, then moved it again after finding a temporary permanent location. Then a month ago it was moved again. So hardy!

I used to be intimidated by Clematis. All the hype over care and shading the roots and watching out for Clematis Wilt and when to trim and how much and that they don't like to be moved.

I have found that Clematis is one of the easiest perennials to grow. Yes, I have been hit with Clematis Wilt. You will know when you have it. One day the vine is going gangbusters, a few hours later all of the foliage is wilted and hanging down so sad looking. Sometimes it is the entire vine, sometimes it is just one of branches. When this happens, as it can, I just cut back below the wilted area and remove that portion. There is no reason to leave it. Wishful thinking will not stop the wilt, it will only make it worse. So cut it and forget it. It may look small and pitiful, but it will bounce back. Better to cut it and have a small and pitiful vine than to leave it and allow it to spread, then you won't get any blooms at all. When you remove that wilted foliage, do not leave it laying on the ground by the plant, toss it in the compost or the trash. The Wilt can still continue to spread to the rest of the plant if left laying near it.

Other than the wilt, I believe Clematis are one of the most versatile plants around. You can get almost any height of vine needed, almost any color you love. They can be planted on trellises, trained on walls, planted at the base of some evergreens and allow to intertwine and bloom on them, they can be allowed to grow along the ground and ramble as a beautiful ground cover.

There is one location that many people grow Clematis that I do not agree with and that is the mailbox pole. We had a mail delivery lady who was allergic to bee stings and was quite worried about delivering mail to those who had any tall flowers or flowering vines on the mailbox post due to the occasional bees. I have never been one for planting up the mailbox post, so ours was plain and she thanked me for that.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The morel of the story...

Taking a walk down my woodland path I have recently been glancing about wondering if I would find any wild mushrooms. I didn't, until I squatted down to relax for a moment and realized I was surrounded by 3 morel mushrooms.
We looked and searched and looked and searched and couldn't find anymore. I am betting that of course there really are more, but we just aren't seeing them. By the way, they were delicious!

Last night I got 8 Baptisia planted, 4 Cleome, and 1 Cosmos. I also sorted through my winter sowing jugs and moved the unsprouted ones to shed area and left the ones with starts where they are at until they are a little bit bigger and I can plant them.

I also put pumpkin seeds in the ground and also some more Baptisia seeds. Everything seems to be doing okay (knock on wood!).

Friday, May 04, 2007

Into the ground it goes...

A running list of what I have planted in the last week and a half. This does not include all of the packs of seeds I have sowed either- maybe 2 dozen packs including lots and lots and lots of poppies! I may have missed a few plants. I still have lots to go. Winter sowing stuff is still sprouting and I also have a dozen Lavender plants in the sunroom.

Candy Lily- 2 dozen
Monarda Prairie Night- 1 dozen
Canna- 4 dozen
Campanula trachelium
Ragged Robin Lychnis flos-cuculi
Sea Holly Blaukappe
Hyssop- 8
Bachelor Buttons- 2 dozen
Ostrich Fern- 4
Penstemon Chocolate Drop
Penstemon Rocky Mountain- 2 dozen
Virginia Blue Bells- 1 dozen
Water Lily
Water Iris
Water something or other
Elephant Ear- 2

Tis the season to be too busy to blog...or...Candles in the trees...

The blue spruce that was literally sitting on the ground when we moved here is candling. This tree was balled and burlaped and had been sitting in its spot for so long that the roots had grown through the burlap and into the ground. Luckily it was sitting in the shade or it would certainly have dried out and died in no time. I dug up what had rooted and moved the entire thing into a nice sunny open spot about a year and a half ago. I really love seeing these "candles" forming on the branches. It reminds me of all it has gone through. What a fighter it is!

The Blue Flax that I winter sowed last year and only had a few blooms on is blooming like crazy this year. It is thick and full and luxurious looking and the blooms really glow in the mornings.
Bloody Cranesbill Geraniums are opening up in the woodland area. They really brighten the area up during this time. Soon they will be gone for the rest of year, no trace of foliage left behind.
Creeping Phlox is still blooming fantastically. I now have 2 clumps of the blue growing in there thanks to Tattooedgardner in New York. We did a plant swap through Plant Traders and this is one of the wonderful plants she sent me. Thanks Heather!
I thought you'd enjoy looking at the view of this path going up instead of down, just for a different perspective. I built these walls and paths last spring with materials I found throughout the property.
The local flea market started up last Sunday and we went. It only costs 50 cents per carload to get in and although many items are leftovers from last year, there is always new things. I picked up this iron table for $5. It is in really good shape, but the white paint had to go.
I used some black metallic automotive paint my husband had to freshen it up and it turned out fabulous!
One last picture for the day of a field of dandelions. Mow mow mow all you want and a day later this is what you have anyway!