Sunday, March 29, 2009

Blooms, Beans and Browsing

The first dutch iris of the year opened March 30....

while the wisteria is getting close to peak bloom.
Fave beans have appeared as if by magic...I checked what seems like days ago and saw no evidence of the pods. The beans are held in an upright manner right at the stalk.
Saturday I tried to go to the local Arboretum sale and found the parking lot empty...the sale is next week! Being all primed for retail therapy my gardening friend and I continued on to one of our favorite nurseries...Capital Nursery in Sacramento.
There were lots of annuals and perennials...

and also lots of roses! I stopped myself from forcing people to put the tomatoes and peppers back on the shelf. It really is too early for those, tempting though they looked.
I came away having done minimal damage...2 sixpacks of foxgloves, a six pack of allysum, a nemesia, 2 new carnations, an abutilon and a thornless evergreen Boysenberry.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Clogging Along In The Garden..and Beyond

Saturday was to be a day all to myself, working in the garden, with any number of jobs waiting to be done. I had a list in my head of some of the usual spring jobs... spreading alfalfa meal around the roses, snipping berries off of the nandina (too red for a spring garden!), finishing spreading mulch, weeding out privet babies, black widow check on pot storage shelves. Then there were other thoughts flitting through... including "when are you ever going to put those bricks in along the front path?" I had a nice stash of bricks given to me by a friend who took out a patio. So without much planning I started digging along the edge of the path and settling in bricks. Crawling around on the ground I was grateful that I had remembered to change into my garden clogs. These are technically my old everyday Danskos...beat up, worn down, muddy... they work well for me as gardening shoes. They have a great sole for shoveling, protecting my feet from strain and it doesn't matter if they get wet since they rinse right off. I keep them by the back door and step out of my new everyday Danskos and into these on my way out then switch again on the way in. And dragging the toes on the ground when crawling doesn't change the way they look...they're already ragged.
After crawling around for a couple of hours I had the entire path edged, beginning with the section in the photo and continuing around the curve to meet with the main front garden path. In the process I moved a few cranesbills, ferns and cyclamen that had wandered into the path proper and discovered just how dry the soil was...if the rain that was threatening never materialized I was going to need to water those transplants well. I spent several more hours doing the above mentioned spring chores and ended just as the rain arrived. Perfect! However, Sunday morning I had to face the fact that the rain had done very hadn't even washed the chalk drawings (left by day care artists) completely off the back concrete. So I went out to water and do a few other and out, changing shoes as needed. I'm not sure when I lost track...when I was watering? When I went out to pick spinach for dinner? All I know is at 7:00 Sunday night, having just processed into church with the other Eucharistic ministers, I sat down in the pew as Mass began, looked down at my feet and realized that my new everyday Danskos were sitting by my back door. Oh friend Carol says it just means I'm a gardening geek. I guess that isn't too bad.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

GBBD March 2009

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, the day when Carol at May Dreams Gardens invites us all to share what is blooming in our personal part of the world, finds my personal part of the world waking up. The fava beans are still blooming and are now covered with blooms. But I have yet to see any beans. This is the first time I've grown these so I'm trying to be patient.
The Felicia amelloides have bloomed most of the winter and aren't about to stop now.
Loropetalum chinese is blooming nicely...for the first time! It has only had a few blooms in the past. Since it needs partial shade in our hot climate I chose a spot near the fence and a four foot tall boxwood. I'm thinking this is a bit too shady for it's liking. But now that it's had a few years to sulk it looks like it may have changed its mind and decided to be happy.
Viburnum 'Spring Bouquet' has a lovely light fragrance. Behind it is the boxwood and behind that is the loropetalum.

The white potato vine, Solanum jasminoides, is coming back into bloom after a month or so off.

Tulbaghia fragrans has likewise quit sulking...I divided this plant about two months ago and it coasted for a while but now has decided it is going to be happy after all.

A few grape hyacinths have popped up near the new shorter Felicia.

The Banksia rose is just in time, being kind enough to offer 20 or so blooms for bloom day. In a week or so it will be a mass of blooms...almost more than is decent. But I guess since it's a once a year event it thinks it need to go all out.

The first succulent bloom of the year is very sweet. I am not, however, sure just what succulent this is.
Chrysanthemum paludosum blooms along the front walk.

Iberis blooms around the yard. And literally just in time for Bloom Day is the first wisteria bloom...barely open.
Not in bloom but almost there are freesias...I will be checking before dark tonight just in case!

In addition to the above, also blooming are:

Santa Rosa plum
Ornamental plum Krauter Vesuvius
Ornamental plum Purple Pony
Dwarf Carnation Evermore
Garden peas
Anisodontea Very Cranberry
Lavender pinnata bucchii
Rosa Flower Girl
Evergreen clematis Avalanche
White carnation
Ornamental pear Bradford
Rosemary Tuscan Blue
Camellia Chandler Elegans
Camellia Jordan's Pride
Leucojum aestivum
small narcissus planted last year after bloom from gift pot

Friday, March 06, 2009

My Strawberry Tower

On a recent sunny afternoon I stopped at the little local nursery. This isn't the type of nursery where you can count on getting what you want or's a small business that I imagine must make more money from landscape jobs than sales. More than once I've left without the item I'd hoped to find and this day was no exception. I had decided to plant a few potatoes and stopped by to see what varieties they had. The answer was none. All sold out and they weren't really sure if they'd get more in or not. And here I was, needing a nursery-purchase fix. The succulents tempted me as they have a nice selection but this time there wasn't anything I didn't already have. That's when I saw the strawberries and realized that I really should buy some...I could just picture those perfectly fresh berries in my morning yogurt. So I bought two 6 packs of everbearing "Fern" and went elsewhere on my potato search. Elsewhere ended up being the local Ace Hardware store where I did find some red potatoes and somehow managed to buy another 6 pack, this time June-bearing 'Chandler'. Of course when I got home I realized I had no available space in which to plant them. Not only that but my soil is quite alkaline which is not tolerated well by strawberries and to top it off the snail-slug-earwig season is just around the corner. The answer to my dilemma came to me later that night...I needed to put together some sort of container planter that would minimize garden space use, allow me to use potting soil better suited to strawberries, and keep those sweet berries off the ground so I had at least a chance of eating some before they were full of holes.
Today I headed out to find pots that I could stack to make a strawberry tower. I finally found plastic terra cotta-like pots in three sizes and headed home to see what I could do with them. I began by clearing a spot in the garlic-onion patch. It is close enough to the edge of the bed to be convenient and yet out of reach of little hands that might pick green berries. I put a layer of broken concrete left over from the patio demolition two years ago into the bottom of the biggest pot. Strawberries don't need deep soil, only about 6-8 inches, and I didn't want to waste the good potting soil. I filled the pot to the top with soil and put the next smallest pot on top. More concrete, more soil and then the smallest pot on top. I planted the strawberries around the edges, leaving me with the hardest job to come.
Dee at Red Dirt Ramblings and Carol at May Dreams Gardens tell me I will need to pick the blossoms off the first year to assure strong plants. I'm not sure I'll be able to do it. Maybe just some of the blossoms?