Monday, March 31, 2008

Signs of Life

One advantage to blogging is that I can look back and see what was going on in my garden a year ago at this time. That was actually one of the biggest reasons I started blogging in the first place. This year, it seems that spring is taking its sweet time in getting here for real, especially when I looked back on 2007and we were just returning from a week in Florida.

April 1st, which is fast approaching again, we had all kinds of spring flowers in bloom. The transformation from winter garden to spring garden happened in a flash - while we were gone - but this year, we get to see it happening before our eyes. Anxious to know whether this or that made it through the winter, I take daily trips around the yard to look for those things whose arrival is due. I'm happy to report that it's happening!

This weekend, with camera in tow, I found an abundance of evidence that in the midst of all that brown mush and mud, life goes on and what appeared to be dead over winter, was merely sleeping.
If you don't take the time or make the effort to get down and really look at what's happening at ground level, you might not think there's much going on out in the garden yet. But kneel down and take a closer look and you'll be quite surprised, I think.

Euphorbia 'Chameleon' is very much alive with its red spears shooting forth.

This one really pleases me. I've not had the best of luck growing delphiniums even during their growing season, let alone have them winter over. I've tried different species and it looks like we've got a winner here! It's Delphinium elatum 'Magic Fountain.'

Campanula 'Kelly's Gold' has looked like this for the entire winter. I've got C. 'Dickson's Gold' too, and it also stayed green.

Pulmonaria 'Trevi Fountain' has been putting forth new foliage for a couple of weeks now. Last year, it had flower buds on it by this time.

Both tree peonies have bunches of buds, especially 'Sahohime'. I'm really looking forward to its gorgeous blooms again this year.

The native ground orchid, Nodding Ladies Tresses (Spiranthes cernua), is greening up.

The hollyhocks have had green leaves for a couple of weeks now.

The honeysuckle vines have leaves!

Lots and lots of Asiatic lilies will be adding wonderful color to the gardens in a few weeks. They've multiplied like crazy!

Numerous other things are up and running, too: Shasta daisies, Rudbeckias, Daylilies, Heucheras and Tiarellas, Gaillardia, Iris, and more.

We've been known to have a snow in April, but I'm going to think positively that this year will not be one of them. Carry on, Your Greenness!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Blue Berry

Fruit of native Cedar tree

During one of our many treks along Cunningham's Ditch, which runs behind our house and is actually a small creek, we found a small cedar tree growing along the bank. This was a couple of years ago, and it was just a small seedling then, which Romie wanted to relocate to our yard.

It was nicely shaped and I was happy when he came walking back to the house with it. We planted it in the back yard and all was well. Then it started sprouting these orange growths that looked other-worldly. I didn't know if it was caused by an insect or if it was a disease, or just what, but they increased in number and size as time went on. The tree didn't seem to be suffering any, but I was pretty sure it wasn't normal or desirable for it to be sporting such things.

I later found out it was cedar apple rust (Gymnosporangium juniperi-virginianae)and it is a fungus that affects...c'mon, guess! Cedars and apple trees. The fungus overwinters on the cedar tree in the form of galls. When the temperature rises above freezing and wetting occurs, as in spring rains, the gall changes in appearance and releases spores, which will then infect any neighboring apple trees. Unless they're 'Red Delicious' apple trees, which are nearly immune to cedar apple rust.

The fungus can be passed back and forth between the cedars and the apples (also crabapples and junipers), but the apple will never reinfect itself. Apple trees are always infected by nearby cedars. We've got numerous cedars within a mile of our property and of course, our small cedar tree that Romie brought from the ditch bank. You'll see small ones growing along the ditch banks quite a bit here.

In order for apple trees to escape infection (without using fungicide), all cedars should be removed from a two-mile radius of apple trees. For complete protection, make it five miles.
We didn't know all this when we planted the little cedar tree, and guess where we planted it? Oh, about twenty feet from our two apple trees. We couldn't have planned that any worse. Or so we at first thought.

Our two apple trees are 'Red Delicious.'

Join Green Thumb Sunday

Friday, March 28, 2008

Oops! I Did It Again!

So you know I love cats and I love plants, right? If I see a bargain on a plant, especially a beautiful one, my last defense melts away and that thing is going to come home with me. By the same token, if a kitty shows up at our house and keeps showing up day after day, acting like it lives here, then we make it official by getting it 'fixed' and the proper immunizations.

I'm going to show you two pictures. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to figure out which one played to my weakness this time. Ready?

Is it the kitty that's been hanging around for a few months-

-or is it this pretty yellow orchid I saw yesterday?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Saffron Spring

The calendar says it's spring, but outside, winter is still gasping for air. Yesterday was the nicest day we've had all year, with temps nearing 60°. The next couple of days we're going back to winter-like weather and snow flurries are even predicted for later tonight.

Last year at this time, we were in Florida for a week's vacation. When we had left home, the only things blooming were the snowdrops and a crocus. When we returned the first of April, spring had sprung in the garden, all in the matter of a week's time.

Yesterday, the first crocus burst into bloom, which says to me that the gardens are just about ready to pop into full-out springiness.

This one is part of a mix of giant crocus so there will be purples and whites eventually blooming right along with this luscious saffron-colored one.

Speaking of saffron, the spice comes from the style and stigma of the saffron crocus (Crocus sativus), a fall-blooming species. It is the most expensive spice by weight and is native to southwest Asia. Saffron is what gives the rice in paella its characteristic golden yellow color.

A purple one is ready to open, too. It may have been open in the afternoon and I didn't see it because I was working. Late in the day as the sun sets, the crocus close up.

Saffron information from Wikipedia.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Psychedelic, Baby

In a previous post, I mentioned that I had another orchid blooming, though I'm not sure which Phalaenopsis it is. It was labeled 'Wedding Promenade,' but its spots tell me it isn't. It's not a huge deal to me, but I do like knowing a plant's name if possible. This is one of my bargain orchids I picked up several weeks ago at Lowe's.

Many of you know that pink is not one of my favorite flower colors, although I do make some exceptions. What I like about this one though, is how psychedelic it is. It's like God woke up one day and decided it would be fun to make a tie-dye orchid.

I was in Lowe's again on Friday and saw a gorgeous yellow orchid and would have bought it in a heartbeat if it were not for the unhealthy looking foliage. It just looked 'tired' and I would never purchase an orchid that didn't have good-looking foliage. Orchids are costly enough without starting out in less than optimum shape.

But those yellow flowers sure were pretty...

Monday, March 24, 2008

Mowing for Exercise

We stopped at Lowe's on Friday because I wanted to look at reel mowers. I'd thought about getting one last year, but didn't say anything to Romie or anyone about it, and then I read an article in the new April issue of Horticulture magazine about 'green' mowers. If we got a reel mower, several things would be accomplished with its use:

  • No need for gasoline or oil.
  • Easy to start - just push it!
  • Friendly to the environment due to no emissions.
  • Provides exercise while accomplishing a necessary task.

Lowe's had two models in stock. One had a 16" cutting width with two wheels, while the second one was 20", along with a bag attachment and four wheels. I came home and did some online research of models, read reviews, and compared prices.

Amazon has one that is self-sharpening and includes a bag attachment for a great price. It's by Gilmour and sells for $99.99 with free shipping.

I'm not sure we'll purchase one, but we're considering it. Any suggestions, especially if you have experience with one, would be greatly appreciated!


Sunday, March 23, 2008

What Was Jesus' "Crown of Thorns"?

While it's not known for sure what thorny plant was used for the crown of thorns Jesus wore as he died on the cross, it's believed to be Euphorbia milii. The plant is native to Madagascar, but that's not to say it wasn't in Israel also.

It certainly has plenty of thorns along its branches, unlike other Euphorbias we're familiar with (Snow on the Mountain, for example). However, the blooms give away its heritage, as they are typical of the genus. It comes in several colors, including red, pink, yellow, and white.

I've found this Euphorbia to be quite easily grown as a potted house plant that I move outside for the summer. It likes its soil to be well-draining and on the dry side. It's happiest in full sun, where the color of its bloom is deeper than if it's in less lighted areas. While it's a year-round bloomer, it has less blooms in the clusters in the winter - even in a south window - than when it's in full sun outside in the summer.

Join Green Thumb Sunday

Friday, March 21, 2008

Sultry. Intriguing. Hypnotic.

Orchids. Who doesn't love them? The fascinating shapes and colors are surpassed only by their exotic scent. Walk into a room that has merely one or two in bloom and your reaction is likely to utter, "Mmmmm..."

I've got a new magenta phalaenopsis in bloom right now, supposedly 'Wedding Promenade', but I don't think that's what it is, because mine is spotted. 'Wedding Promenade' is not. In any case, it's an orchid, it's blooming, and that's good enough for me.

Orchid blooms last a pretty long time as flowers go, with most of them holding onto their flowers for several months at a time. My phalaenopsis will then go without flowers for a year or more and while I wish they bloomed more often, they're worth the wait.

I recently found a new way to enjoy the exotic fragrance of orchids year 'round. Bath & Body Works has a new scent in their Signature Collection called 'Enchanted Orchid.' It's not too strong and not too sweet, just like the real thing. I wore just the lotion to work on Wednesday and one of my co-workers complimented me on it as she passed by me.

It's available in anti-bacterial hand soaps, body lotion, body cream, body butter, shower gel, hand cream, body splash, and eau de toilette. You can scent a room with its orchidy goodness, too, because it's available for their Wallflowers plug-in room deodorizer, scented candles, and home fragrance oil for use in their tea light oil warmers.

Bath & Body Works describes the scent as "
Calypso orchids enhanced by elusive violets and delicate white irises."


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Here Comes the Sun!

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it's all right

Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun

and I say it's all right

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun

and I say it's all right

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting

Little darling, it seems like years since it's been clear

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it's all right.

~ The Beatles ~

At 1:48 AM, the sun crossed the equator on its trip northward. Actually, the sun didn't move, we did. The earth tilts on its axis and it takes one year for it to make its journey around the sun. For half the year, the northern hemisphere is closer to the sun, and for the other half, it's the southern hemisphere.

It's said that on the vernal equinox (first day of spring), day and night are equal in terms of sunrise and sunset. In reality, this never occurs. The equinoxes are measured in terms of when the center of the sun crosses the equator, not the edge, which is what is used to determine sunrise and sunset.

It takes the sun 33 hours to cross the equator on the equinoxes and the closest day comes to equaling night is approximately seven minutes apart. And that's just at the equator. Further away, the discrepancy is even greater.

A common myth is that on the equinoxes, you can balance an egg on its end. You can do it, but you can do it any day of the year. The equinox doesn't have any magical pull that affects an egg's balance.

Here in northwest Ohio, the sun is shining in a clear blue sky today, but in spite of my previous springy post, we are under a winter storm watch for Friday evening through Saturday. One to three inches of snow is possible. Bleh.

Some information taken from Wikipedia.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

How I Know It's Spring

At first glance out the window, I don't see any evidence of spring being here, but a closer look shows that it is. There are many subtle indications and some are in-your-face, so if you take the time to look, maybe it's spring where you are, too!

  • I saw a goldfinch yesterday and heard it sing.

  • I've traded in my snow boots for my mud boots.

  • I smell skunks.

  • The birds are singing a regular symphony in the mornings.

  • Peeps in the grocery stores.

  • No more scraping car windows!

  • The kitties are rolling around on their backs on the cement.

  • Little green cabbage heads of sedum are rising up out the of the depths of the earth.

  • My nose hairs don't freeze when I breathe in.

  • The ground makes that squishy noise when you walk on it.

  • The mourning doves are cooing in the evenings.

  • My calendar is beginning to have events scheduled on it.

  • Kittens! (No...not ours!)

  • Flood Watches are scrolling across the bottom of the TV screen.

  • I've started seeds indoors for planting out later.

  • Even the inside cats are shedding more than usual.

  • The Canadian Geese are passing through, heading north.

  • Daylight Saving Time.

  • Whole lotta heavin' goin' on!

  • "Daffodil Days" for cancer.research

  • The house flies have come out en force.

  • I saw an ant outside yesterday!

Last year's pansies, started from
seed inside with Jiffy pellets

And then there's this . . .

Sunday, March 16, 2008

More Willows For Me!

Remember the forsythia and willows I cut and put in water for forcing in February? I forgot to take a photo when the forsythia bloomed, and there's a good reason for that. Yes, it bloomed, but it was underwhelming, so you didn't miss anything. But the willows were outstanding, as usual.

Today, I decided I would clean out the water they were all in, one final time, and ended up doing something else with them. I'd noticed the new leaf growth on some of the cuttings, and when I removed them from the vase, all of the willows had rooted!
So I potted them up until it's a better time to put them in the ground outside.

The pussy willows that I took the cuttings from were grown from cuttings themselves a few years ago, so I wasn't really surprised they'd rooted. I was especially happy that the Japanese Fantail Willow (Salix sachalinensis 'Sekka') had rooted, because I really wouldn't mind having a couple more of them. The one we have is such a nicely shaped shrub/small tree and I'm wanting some things with a little height and good winter interest.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - March 2008

I thought for sure we'd have something blooming outside by the time the March version of Garden Bloggers Bloom Day rolled around, but we don't. The crocus aren't even showing any color in their buds yet and the daffodils and tulips are up a couple of inches, but no sign of flowers there either.

However, the amaryllis inside have kept me flower happy, especially the one new one that I purchased this year, 'Solomon.' It's the most luscious shade of reddish orange and reminds me of those species hippeastrums I saw in Florida.

Last summer, as my amaryllises were "oversummering" in the ground, 'San Remo' surprised me and bloomed. That made me wonder what it would do this winter after I'd brought it in for the winter. Well, it bloomed, that's what it did!

'Apple Blossom' is still in bloom, as is 'La Paz.' I've got a few other amaryllis putting up flower stalks that will bloom in another week or so. The three kalanchoes are still blooming, but the two whiter ones are nearly finished, while the yellow one is still going strong. I've got an orchid that's ready to pop a flower and I'm anxious to see what it looks like since it was merely spiking when I bought it. The African Violets are still in bloom, and so are two of the abutilons.

Abutilon pictum 'Thompsonii'

I'm going to say what I said last month at this time - when the next Garden Bloggers Bloom Day rolls around
maybe I'll have some outside blooms to show.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Indiana Flower & Patio Show 2008

With not a cloud in the sky and a hint of spring in the air (yay!), Mom and I drove the 2½ hours to Indianapolis to attend the Flower and Patio Show, held at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

We'd never been to the show before, so we didn't know what to expect, but we both found it similar to other shows in recent years.

The focus was definitely on patios and their construction with stone, including water features and fire pits. There were some beautiful scenarios that I would welcome in our backyard if I had a few thousand dollars to spend. Still, there were details that I could incorporate on a lesser scale.

We spent about four hours walking through the displays, which followed the Hollywood theme of "A Red Carpet Affair."

"Under the Tuscan Sun"

"It's a Wonderful Life"

"A River Runs Through It"

"Swiss Family Robinson"

By far, the most elegant display was put together by
McNamara Florists and was an interpretation of Father of the Bride. It showcased the beauty of all-white flowers.

JP Parker Company Flowers had some unusual fresh cut flowers for sale, along with the standard favorites. Mom bought some pretty orangy yellow tulips for a friend of hers that's been under the weather.

It's hard to describe the color of these glads and even the photo doesn't quite capture it, but they were unusual and lovely.

This is the bloom of the Leucadendron, which I'd never heard of before, but I love it. The foliage reminds me of a euphorbia, but the flower bud itself of something else that I can't recall the name of right now.

I've always loved the Capetown Stars, a.k.a. Star of Bethlehem (
Ornithogalum dubium), which is a South African native bulb.

From some of the other displays......

Having nothing to do with patios or flowers, there were sugar gliders for sale. Mom and I had never heard of them, but they were absolutely adorable. They're "pocket pets" originating from Australia and expensive.

To listen to the people hawking them, you'd think they were nearly the ideal pet. I researched them after I got home and that's not quite the story, but they were pretty unique and cute all the same.
Yes, that's a Cheerio he's eating in the photograph.

There were several vendors selling bulbs, seeds, and plants as well as tools and whimsy for the garden and the home. I walked away from the show with a ceramic pot, a triangular metal wind chime, and several packets of seeds.

Allisonville Nursery had a booth at the show and I knew it was on our way home, in Fishers, so we stopped in. It isn't stocked with perennials and the like for spring yet, of course, but there were several shrubs and trees to choose from.

Some large and really lovely Red Twig Dogwoods (
Cornus sericea 'Cardinal') were calling my name very loudly and I had to acquiesce to three of them before they would leave me alone.

I also purchased a small white ceramic pot with silk paper whites and another small metal pot with some dwarf spring irises. Their gift area is outstanding with a huge variety of items for just about every room in the house as well as for outside in the garden or patio area.

Each and every employee we talked to (and that was several of them) was very friendly and went out of their way to be helpful. Mom and I had a wonderful chat with Jeff, the owner, before we got back in the car to head home. We both agreed we'd love to see this place when they're fully stocked for spring and the summer planting season.

blogger templates | Make Money Online