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Lots of photos, a few words.
Props to my hubby for the cute paths between the raised beds. The bamboo in this pic came from friends who have a ton of it growing behind their house. Bad for them, good for me!
Very disappointed in my tulips this year. Only 4 from the 20 I planted in the fall came up (wtf?!). And all of them (those and my old ones) have only really lasted a day or two because it was hot when they bloomed. Lame. I need better tulips that will do better for me year after year. Suggestions?
…more to come on my winter sowing efforts and some mystery seedlings in my raised beds.
It is amazing what a difference mulch makes in a garden. It makes it look all neat and pretty again for a new season. Also – it is killer to spread. Especially alone. I am going to be sooooo sore tomorrow. But I got almost all the mulching done. All we have left to do is around the baby Crape Myrtles in the front and behind the side garden around the vinca and juniper. I plan on putting some on the veggie garden after I’m finished planting there, too.
We went to the local tech center horitcultural department’s plant sale on Saturday (me, my mom and my aunt). Then we went to an Amish greenhouse nearby. Between the two I got a bunch of annuals, a few perennials, some cherry, roma, and better boy tomatoes. (Amish guy didn’t have peppers, so I’m going to have to get those from somewhere else). I got a lot of stuff! I got it almost all planted on Saturday, then I ran out of potting soil. So I had to go to the Greenery today to get more and finish that up. (Sidenote: no one ever tell me I need to purchase more pots. This picture doesn’t even show all of them – there were probably 7 or 8 with stuff in them already when I took it.) I also bought a few fun herbs they had (as if I needed more, I know). Pineapple sage, lemon verbena, and lemon grass (I knew I wanted that one because I thought it would look pretty in a cobalt blue pot I have, plus I want to use it).
So I potted stuff yesterday after buying it, finished potting today, planted perennials today, and mulched most everything today. I also sowed the rest of the seeds for the year (the ones that will start outside). I used all pots from the stuff I has just bought and planted – I feel sooooo resourceful!) So I am now starting seeds outside for opal (purple) basil, zinnia, cosmos, poppy, cilantro. Plus I potted up better the rest of my first seedlings. Going to give the rest of these away gradually: mixed heirloom tomatoes, common sage, oregano, nasturtium.
I’ve noticed that my tulips aren’t blooming as much this year. I guess maybe I need to pull them up and replace them next year. That makes me rather sad, because they’re sooooo pretty. But I guess that’s what you gotta do. Might give them one more year. We’ll see. Even the ones from Breck’s didn’t all bloom, but I think that’s because I had them in pots all winter in a location that was too shady. I also noticed that are a few little babies of my daylily and blackberry lily seeds I planted last year! That’s kind of exciting – though I’m not really sure why I bothered since my daylilies get so giant that I could safely divide them each year (I’ve done that every year so far, but don’t plan on it this year).
Soooooo can I have tomorrow off from work as a reward for all my hard work? It’s supposed to rain tonight, so that should be good for the garden.
When I first set out to order some plants through the mail, I was totally unsure of how it would work out. Will the things live? How will they arrive? How on earth do they ship them in one piece? Hopefully this may answer some first-time mail orderers’ questions. This is the order from Bluestone Perennials detailed here. The order came on April 9, which is a very good planting time for zone 7. A bit early for veggies (end of the month is better for them), but fine for perennials. Note that the Springhill Nursery order I placed at the same time came a bit early – when there was snow on the ground, in fact! (My plants from that order do seem to be doing well despite that, though!)
1. How are they boxed?
Bluestone packs theirs in a large size box – large enough to line all the plants you’ve ordered on the bottom. My mail lady leaves mine on the back step (sidenote: I plan on leaving my mail lady some seedlings in the mailbox next week as a thank you for handling my many mail orders!) On the box is a certification for passing various agro inspections (japanese beetle, gypsy moth). Inside is a very informative welcome package. They give you planting tips, explain that some plants have been cut back to ease shock while mailing, and even offer free shipping on your next order if you mail back the box of packing peanuts so they can reuse them! (I may do this.)
2. How are they packed inside?
Bluestone uses packing peanuts (non CFC ones and all that stuff, plus as stated above, they’ll reuse them if you send them back). In the welcome package it explains that they’ve tried more “friendly” materials, but nothing works nearly as well as packing peanuts. (Springhill’s box is a bit different – they have little plastic cells that each set of plants goes in, so they can stack their plants on top of each other. There are holes on the outside of their boxes, but not on Bluestone’s.)
3. So are the plants ok in there after traveling all that way?
Yes! All of mine were perfectly fine! It’s kind of fun digging around in the peanuts trying to find them all. The plants were even very moist still (some a bit mossy, in fact), so its clear they give them a very good watering before sending them on their way. I could also see where some of mine had been cut back to reduce shock and breakage – all very healthy looking plants. Each plant sports a label with the name of the plant and (most of) your name, so its very clear what’s what. (For another Springhill comparison, theirs arrived rather dry and not as healthy looking, but I was still able to revive all but one I’ve ordered from there. My mom has lost a few from Springhill but has gotten refunds for all.)
4. So what’d you get!
Glad you asked. A link to the original post outlining why I bought what I bought is here. Below is a pic of the goods. The violas belong to my mom (how are violas different than pansies? One a biennial and one a perennial?) and everything else is mine.
- After unboxing, I went to put something in the shed and saw two wild violets! They were too cute and I knew my hubby was going to cut grass the next day, so I dug them up and planted them in the new herb garden to enjoy for a while longer.
- WARNING – NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART! Bunny carnage. Note red pepper sprinkled EVERYWHERE.
- Tulips are coming up! I think this is one of the ones featured in my header image from last year! Also a second tulip with a little garden stake that I HAD to but that reads “tip toe through the tulips” – love it!
- The seedlings enjoying a bask in the sun. My sacrifices have been doing OK, so I think these will go out for good next week. They’re prepared!
If you found this post helpful, drop me a comment and let me know!
So I was going to post a pic of the hyacinths. They were just about to really POP. I got home and walked around the garden to check things out. Rabbits ate of the leaves of most of my crocuses! Oh well – they were done blooming anyway, so as long as there’s still something left, they should get enough sunshine to bloom again next year. Continue walking and – GRR – bunnies ate off the tops of all the prettiest hyacinths and a bunch of my early stardrift. Gah! So annoyed. There are still some small hyacinth blooms left, but – uncool rabbits, uncool! I’ve been friendly to you for the past 2 years and you haven’t eaten any plants and now you start? Bad rabbits.
Unsure of what to do exactly, I took out one of the big windchimes that goes in the veggie garden that I like to think keeps critters away (though it probably doesn’t). I also took the container of ground red pepper and sprinkled the whole darn thing over the garden near all the bulbs. Hopefully when they come back, they’ll get a lick of that and give up. I like having them around, but stay off my plants darnit!
I could post a pic of the carnage, but that would just make me sad. I think we miiiiiight so some mulching tomorrow, so if we do then there will be pics of that. I’ll post a seedling update as well. I think they’re all about ready to go outside. I’ve been slacking on the hardening off, but the few “sacrifices” I put out every couple of days all seem to be doing OK out in the elements full-time, so I think I’m pretty much good. A few will be going to different homes early next week, so that’s good.
Also, I do ave a mystery on my hands. Last year I bought a few mums at 50¢ each at the end of the year. They were the small ones and they had already bloomed, so they marked them way down. I planted them, they did fine, and now they’re all coming back up.
Only one of them, pictured below, seems to have done a weird spready thing. There is no plant coming up in the middle, but there are a bunch of little leaves on the periphery. What gives? I have an aster that is kind of doing this too, but the aster still has a large main pland and just has a weird spready part off to the side. Any ideas??
Today was gorgeous. A bit cold at first, but topped out in the upper 60s. Perfect for getting some stuff done! I’d been leaving last year’s junk on the perennials to protect them for the few frosts we’ll still have – but now the perennials have nudged well over that protection anyway, so no reason to get rid of the ugly stuff.
I also decided on a final place for the composter (note – I just added “composter” to my Firefox dictionary. No more red squiggly lines! Firefox needs to get their gardening words in check!). Behind the shed and mostly out of view, but still gets mostly full sun and close enough to the house that I won’t procrastinate toooo much putting food scraps in. So here’s what I did today:
1. Decided on a spot for the composter.
2. Filled composter with a layer of sticks at the bottom per instructions, then leaves and nonsense, then dirt and some already mostly composted stuff from a pile of crap we I’d had behind the shed (leaves, old plants, old potting soil, etc) and one in the driveway (same stuff). Also some stuff (but not all, or uh, it would already be full. oops?) from the below chores.
3. Cut the old junk off the massive aster that I did not know last year needed to be pinched like a mum. Also pulled junk from other asters, mums, and gaura. Potted one little sucker with roots that I accidentally separated from the aster. We’ll see if it survives. I had an empty pot with dirt from deceased pansies, so I figured I’d give the bugger a chance.
4. Pulled off old foliage from daylilies. This amounts to a TON of old foliage omg.
5. Raked leaves from beds in places where they tend to get stuck in giant piles and sit all wet and gross. Some of these went in composter, some went in woods. Flower beds look MUCH happier now.
6. Moved potted tree saplings from side bed to edge of driveway/parking lot along bed. All kinds of nasty buggy things were living under there because they weren’t sitting on anything, just right in the mulch. Ick. Also sprayed to death what looked like termite larvae (thankfully not in the bed near the house) from under one. Note – need to do grub/crabgrass treatment next weekend!!
7. Put plants on new plant stand on deck (yay – more space for plants and yet still looks neater!).
8. Contemplated doing this. If so, where, and what could I do to the sides to make it prettier? Mortar/mosaic on some rustic stones? Yes, I know I can also do a reg raised bed with wood, esp since we just bought a circular saw. But for some reason I’m in love with the little extra compartments, and the fact I wouldn’t need hubby’s help if I want to do it during a weekend he’s working. we have a couple flat, sunny yard spots that are mostly weeds and not grass and are fairly out of view.
You may notice that there are no pics. I thought several times I should go get my cam, but never did. I was workin, man! Also, you will note that this fulfills my pledge from my last post that there would be no seedling pics. (I will give you a seedling update though. I took them out for a few hours in the late afternoon sun and breeze. I’m certain they loved it. They’re now safely back on top of the fridge. And the nasturtiums are already working on second leaf sets!)
My seedlings, that is. They grow so fast! Sigh. I’m hoping my light situation will be OK and not make them leggy, since they are aiming towards that light pretty hard. I’m trying to move it around every few hours when I’m home, so maybe that will make for some stronger stems? Wishful thinking.
The nasturtium has done very well. The heirloom tomatoes are also doing well. It’ll be stressful to thin those when the time comes, because I don’t know what’s what in the mix!
The oregano is going virtually insane! Those damn seeds are so tiny that apparently I threw a bunch more in there than I thought. That’s gonna need some thinning! If I can thin and save some though, I do have lots of yogurt containers on standby for all the giveaways, so maybe they can go to a good home.
At least I have been reassured via twitter (thx gettingdirty, doubledanger, kissmyaster, arcadia1) that constantly taking pics of, looking at, thinking about, and running my hand over (to make them stronger sans a fan!) the seedlings is not totally insane. Also randomly wandering the lawn and taking pictures of plants that look preeeeetty much the same as they did last year. Well – I suppose it depends on who you ask, but I’m going with NOT INSANE.
I will try really really hard to not make my next post all about the seedlings. Really hard. Probably. Happy vernal equinox!!
Ok – so 2 posts today not exactly on purpose. I wrote the “weeds are pretty” post over the weekend, but didn’t want 2 long posts in one day, so I set it to post on 3/10. I checked today and it had some weird message like “schedule missed” (uhh ok?), so then I copied/pasted into a new post and posted that, at which time I noticed the old post had appeared as well. Anyway – problem solved. But I still want to post “actually today” so here I am.
Went to a viewing this PM for a friend of the family. He’s a longtime buddy of my dad’s and was actually my mom’s boss for a few years (she’s a school secretary and he was her principal). I’m ld friends with one of his daughters, too. His wife also works in the school system and was a coworker of my mom’s when my mom worked at a different school (before he was her principal. (Are you following along? I’m not going to draw a chart.) We went to the school our moms worked at, so we (and other teacher daughters) would hang out together after school. She was a year behind me and my BFF, so we did pick on her a little, but it was all in good fun and I wish we’d stayed in contact better through the years (though I know everything about her between Facebook and school gossip!). I hate hate hate having to do that. I swear I feel sometimes like I should be a special guest at that funeral home! But eh. What can you do. It really makes me appreciate the time I have with my parents though. Because you really do never know. It’s a very scary thought. (Love you, mom and dad.)
And on to less depressing things, I realized I never bitched about the fact that Springhill Nursery already sent our order! lolwut? We actually got the stuff when it looked like this outside. Awesome! Let me just stick em in the ground right now! uhhhhno. So my mom called and I sent an email complaining. Our complaints are now on record, so if they croak due to being sent out waaaay early, they’ll replace or refund. Also kind of annoyed because for some reason, when I tried to order the “add another plant for 1¢” deal, apparently it didn’t go thru. Bummer. The cust service person gave me a confusing answer about still being able to order the 1¢ one, but I wasn’t sure about shipping and whatev. Basically they said “lolwut” like we did (definition here for those not familiar with the memes of the tubes of internet), and said “well, we send them out according to your grow schedule!” uhhno. Even when there isn’t a freak 1-ft snowstorm, temps are generally in the low 40s-mid 50s rt now. Not planting season yet for at least another month!
So hopefully the plants hang on. Luckily, most of my mom’s were bulb or bareroot, so those should be OK. My sunshine heleniums however, are now being dutifully covered with a bigger pot during threat of frost, or being brought inside altogether at night when its under 40° (then covered with a pot for cat-proof protection). Sigh. The Bluestone order isn’t due till April/May, so those should be alright.
Also, when I was out with my parents on Sunday helping them get their mind off things and look for a new washing machine, I picked up a palm from the Lowe’s “rescue plant” cart. They had a bunch – this one was literally falling out of its pot, but looked good and was only $3. I had eyed it and left it there they day before, but my mom is a bad influence so I bought it (and my mom bought a rescue gardenia). I have no idea what kind of palm it is. I’m hoping it’s a kentia, deemed a good houseplant/all around plant, and not a majesty palm, which I hear is impossible to keep alive indoors. Any palm experts around? I plan to keep the plant outside for the summer and bring it in for the winter (it’s currently in-and-out with the heleniums till warmer weather). I guess even if it is the “bad” one, it’ll just be a super-fancy annual since I only paid $3 for it anyway. More pics of the mystery palm are below. Any ideas??
In walking around the garden over the weekend, I noticed the dreaded chickweed coming out for spring. This weed really isn’t that horribly ugly, it’s just SO pervasive and viney that it’s everywhere until the days get hot enough to kill it off. But I also noticed some pretty weeds.
^ I was browsing through tweets not yet read the other day, after having taken some pics of pretty weeds that day in my yard, and came across this blog post by @ZanthanGardens. (See a list of garden tweeters here!)How perfect! I see these little guys every year, and its a weed I don’t pull up because it’s just too pretty. Now I’m thinking I might actually pull it up and stick it in one of my pots with tulip bulbs or something. It’ll die off when it gets too hot, but until then I can enjoy it more “officially.” I also seem to have two kinds of these. One with greener leaves as pictured here, and one with more purple leaves and smaller flowers, as you can see in the ‘purple weed’ pics below.Either way, it’s a very pretty weed!
^ This one is all over the place. While the others listed here grow mostly among grass, this one loves to grow IN the garden. Seems to like moist areas especially. It has this tiny white flower in the spring, and in the summertime the leaves turn more of a burgundy and it continues to spread into a large (can get VERY large) circle. Not entirely unattractive, and they’re easy to pull out, so I don’t hate them that much.
^ I’ve ID’d this one before, but I can’t remember the name. Is it a type of ajuga? I remember being amazed when I was looking up groundcovers on GardenWeb that some people actually purchase this stuff! It’s not as bad as chickweed, but is a pretty darn pervasive weed here. It redeems itself with pretty purpleish leaves and purple flowers, though, and it also dies out when it gets too hot. (A reminder ID on this one would be helpful!)
^ Though these are mostly weeds, its hard to say its not pretty. And I will readily make the excuse that people PAY for these plants in some areas! I think they’re pretty. And when it gets hotter, these will die back for another year and fill in with grass. The summer weeds are much more annoying anyway – crabgrass has no redeeming qualities!
Well, the snow is gone. The pic at left was taken just as I got home from work on Friday. As soon as I was about to push the shutter button, the hat fell off! Talk about timing. Yesterday he was just a tiny snowball (pic in the gallery below), and today he’s totally gone, I’m sure. Yesterday was gorgeous, though. Unfortunately, I got some very unexpected very bad news about a friend of the family that made it a little less gorgeous. Still, I was able to get a lot done to attempt to take my mind off things (these things always make you think about parents, family members, and the future).
I bought some seeds and seed starting trays! I really want to try seeds officially this year. Among herbs and stuff, I got seeds for nasturtium, which I’ve never seen for sale around here and always found pretty – and wanted to try in salads and stuff. Also got a bright yellow/orange/red mix of cosmos. I’ve never ‘officially’ started stuff from seed before. Last year I had some free packets of cosmos, parsley, and basil that I basically just threw in a pot and they grew! Well, except for the parsley, but I see on its packet now that you’re supposed to soak that seed, so maybe that’s why that was a dud. I’m still usind the dried basil leaves from the summer though. I also got a large azalea pot that I’m hoping to be able to transplant all my little herb seedlings into. Then, apart from my perennial rosemary and lemon thyme, I’ll have basil, oregano, parsley, cilantro, and sage (and nasturtium). I will admit that I did get the sage specifically because at the end of the summer, I got these cute little pots for $1 that say “sage” on them. But I think that’s good enough reason – I’ll figure out how to use it!
Also updates on the bird news. Thanks to @gettingdirty, I’ve identified this mystery bird (on left) as a dark-eyed junco. It’s related to the snow bunting, the bird my mom suggested, but a more common and more southern-found variety.
I have roughly a ton of pics slated to post, so I’ll try to save some so spread them out through the week. Later in the week I plan to do a “pretty weeds I have found” post, since I randomly was able to get on ID’d via twitter last night. Who says twitter isn’t great??