Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Lily Season

It's the lily season all right - both hemerocallis and lilium. This picture shows a combination - a lovely big pink one, planted last year, along with my ubiquitous flesh-coloured daylily which has been spread all over the place.
So, time for a progress report. This summer was great for growing peas, but we didn't actually *eat* many of them, so I am thinking that, as far as peas go, their room is more useful than their presence. In fact I've hauled them all out, and plan to fertilize their spot for garlic later in the fall. Carrots have struggled - they needed to be planted and re-planted several times, and they are still not much of a size. The last ones I planted were the tiny round ones, so I hope they make some size at least. I have gathered all of my plastic tubing from making hoop skirts, and plan to use them to make row covers for the more tender plants. To heck! with running out and covering the tomatoes with sheets every night. I'll just cover with fleece and leave them up. Just have to find the fleece, or equivalent, here.

Still haven't put the ends in the greenhouse - it will have to happen fairly soon, but not just yet, as I think I still need the ventilation. It was quite hot in there yesterday, and I didn't get out there until the evening when I found a couple of plants - a strawberry and a tomato - quite wilted. Hope they are looking better this morning.
Things are a bit disorganized in there at the moment, but once I get the strawberry bed dug and them in the ground and out of their pots, I'll be able to organize for winter. The brown leaves in the lower left of the picture were willow branches, which I left in a trug until they sprouted roots - they are now all either potted up or in a bed in the garden. Roll on willow weaving, etc. next year. Hope this will be a good kind of willow to work with - it certainly was easy to root. 

 The ground cherries are doing quite well, large plants and plenty of little "lanterns" on the branches. They are all still quite green, I don't know if they change colour or not, to indicate that they are ripe. I have actually picked some rhubarb from my one tiny bunch - enough for a rhubarb cake. Apparently you are supposed to leave it alone, that first year. The plant seems fine still, though losing some of the lower leaves. No sign of a seed-head yet. I suppose I should leave that alone, should one develop.

Apparently I have been killing hydrangea slips to no good purpose. I haven't gotten even one of them to root.  I am not going to give up, but I think I should adhere to the rules a little more rigidly - use an inert medium, and do it indoors, covered, with bottom heat. We'll see if that helps. If successful, I may try rooting rose cuttings again! But it is heartbreaking to think of the potential, alas, now lost! I still think I stand a better chance of rooting and growing something that's already shown its survival instincts in this climate - than buying something grown elsewhere.
The gladioli Helen gave me are all blooming like good ones! The first to bloom were a deep pink with white, but it looks like some of the other ones - not yet in bloom - will be other colours, including white. Interestingly, I have learned that it's probably not the best thing to plant gladioli at the north end of a flower bed, as they seem to want to face the sun - and therefore have their backs to you as you stand on the lawn looking at them. Next year, I'll find a spot down on the south corner of the bed and they will face the public!! I actually think they will be perfect there, as there's quite a black spot there at the moment, after all the feverfew and geraniums got chopped down. Back to the vegetable plot for a bit, the asparagus are doing really well. They keep growing new shoots, and some are almost of harvest-able size. Of course I know not to, but I am looking forward to a spear or two next year. After I hauled out the peas, I staked up the asparagus, as the fronds had been knocked over by the wind a bit. We are eating green beans, and I have even found a few yellow ones. And I've put up a bag of greens for the freezer. Raspberries were quite a disappointment, very few berries at all, so they are going to get some fertilizer, soon, and I will get busy and cut down the old canes as well. There might be a cup or so left, and I did get 2 batches of jam made...not so prolific as last year at all. They seemed to dry out quite badly despite the almost constant rain. Maybe they need a soaker hose invested in them.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Further Rain

I've been making progress on trying to bring my garden up slightly closer to the "Aiken Standard".
Last week I dropped in to Habitat for Humanity, and they were putting out a little garden wicker set - loveseat, chair and table. They'd been painted, (and two different colours, worse luck) but for $45 they were fine. I'd been prepared to pay more for a grotty modern "bistro" set for the deck and these are so much better! They had no cushions, of course, but I can make cushions! (and in fact I have.) They make a great spot to set out my pelargoniums and also my tiny blooming calla lily. And for sitting out and inhaling the honeysuckle fragrance in the evenings too.

 In other news, I put out a freebie request on Kijiji for used carpet for weed suppression - and got a response! So on Friday we borrowed the truck, and after work Fred and I went and picked it up - it was a wonderfully grotty one, in two pieces, one huge and the other smaller. On Saturday I put the smaller one on top of the former beds at the north end of the vegetable plot. I plan to espalier some fruit trees there - cherries, plums and apples, I think. Then I cut strips of the big one and put them in between the raised beds in the vegetable garden. The left-over pieces I put along the south side of the greenhouse. It's the whole length of the greenhouse (15 feet) plus the space between the greenhouse and the garden, and a bit less wide, maybe 10-11 feet.  I'm thinking fruit there, too, but smaller ones:  cranberries and strawberries. Maybe blueberries too!
The strips between the beds are likely to remain there - even after I get the bed sides put up - but once the fruit beds are planted I'll be able to use those bits of carpet elsewhere. I can't wait for the roadside waste collection in October - I'm scouting for more carpet!! This weed suppression method is GREAT.
In my travels I have been keeping an eye open for hydrangeas and taking sneaky slips when I do. I have three in the greenhouse, and am trying to root them. Fingers crossed. I went to Cool Breeze nursery on Friday, they had plenty of hydrangeas but I didn't sneak any slips of theirs. Didn't buy any either - $40 each! Perhaps there will be an end-of-season sale. I did get a buddleja, with three or four flowering buds on it. Anne says they're a weed in Vancouver, but I'm afraid that here in Zone 5b they'll need winter cover to survive. I always thought that they were shrubs, but Cool Breeze was selling them as perennials - and the cheapest ones, at that.
Hydrangea Paniculata Grandiflora

I saw some bright-ish red hydrangeas in a greenhouse in Winsloe, but the shop wasn't open so I don't know if I could afford one or not. Yet.
I DO have two hydrangeas of my own, an Annabelle from Mum's garden, which is struggling to survive, having moved itself UNDER a fir tree in the west of the house, and a Pee Gee which went in a couple of years ago and is doing quite well, just to the west of the spruce hedge, behind the Ring-around-the-rosey bed. It's putting on blossom like a good 'un. I'll try propagating from them in the spring. I'm prepared to baby along the current slips in the house over the winter, if I'm lucky enough to root them. After all, some people's garden hydrangeas started off as house plants! (I will keep an eye out at Easter-time for house plants too, though I suppose they aren't hardy here.) I scratched away some soil under the fir tree and put in some fertilizer - in FRONT of the Annabelle hydrangea. Maybe she'll pull herself out of there, and into the better soil. And I've limbed up the tree to give her some head-room. Come on, Annabelle.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Summer of Rain...

Yes, no chance that the garden will dry out while this summer continues. OTOH it's been great for knitting and Brit-TV watching.

Went to visit a fabulous garden on Sunday - open for charity. I have admired this one from afar for quite a while, as it is opposite the place where we used to go to get our lawnmower serviced (the old gas mower. Dave doesn't do electric). On the outside there is a lovely Japanese-inspired fence with a lovely, wide, herbaceous border. It includes a pergola and a door as well.

Inside, it's amazing! There are two sun-houses, a cottage done up like a guest bedroom, several more bits of the nice fencing, a long fenced-in walk, many pergolas and other structures, and innumerable sets of tables and chairs with tea sets and decorative birdhouses, dotted around everywhere.
The theme is "VICTORIAN", and yes, I do mean the all-caps. Much too twee for my taste, all of that, but the plants were amazing. There were lots of beds with roses integrated into the planting - this must be my aim this fall, I'm already making spots where they could go. I mean to take out the less-hardy ones I've had in the front of the rose mound and just let the rugosa-types take it over, and place the others here and there in the beds.

(I have been having propagation fun in the greenhouse. When I cut back my big pink Geranium Macrorrhizum I had several bits with roots on them, from underneath the plant, so I potted them up and now I have about a dozen, growing away in pots. Too bad I like them so little - they make a great leafy plant but not much bloom. The Geranium Sanguineum have been setting seeds, so I potted up some of those yesterday, as well as potting up some cuttings. I think the rainy summer has been good for rooting cuttings. No chance of any of them drying out.)

Anyway, back to the Aiken garden. There were many, many spectacular clematis everywhere, sometimes climbing a post in the middle of a big bed, other times on the structures, either fences or pergolas, etc. I really liked this dark pink one.  A few had finished flowering, but most were full out and gorgeous. If I knew more about clematis I would maybe know what kinds they were.

 There were many hydrangeas as well, most of them the white ones - Annabelle, I think. They had a couple of the big-leafed ones, with the gigantic blue and pink flowers. They were just planted, I think...quite small. Anyway, they obviously make lovely cut flower arrangements as well.
 There seems to be a mainly pink-and-white colour scheme in large areas of the garden, which I liked a lot, as that's what I think goes best around our place here. So, lots of suggestions about what could be used here. There were plenty of yellows and oranges, but in other locations, separate from the pinks and whites. Specifically, there is a series of terraced beds leading down to the brook from the screened porch. There were plenty of daylilies there, as well as hostas and astilbes.

There were a lot of hostas everywhere, of course, as they do a great job of filling in the fronts of borders and so on. (I am still convinced that gardens can be made without them.)

All in all, an amazing garden, full of great plants looking absolutely wonderful, and not so terribly far out of my reach - in a more modified way.
I think I want my structures to be more organic (willow, rough cedar) and my seating to be more in keeping with the arts and crafts esthetic than the Victorian. But I'd take the plants! They must have the greenest of thumbs. The garden was started 20 years ago, and Mrs Aiken says they haven't done much that's new for the last five years, but there is a new DU pond next door that will take some decorating - she says rhododendrons. Spring interest!