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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Tropical Paradise

No photos to share yet. My mom has internet access and a computer but not the photo program I use with my camera.

Sunny Florida...NOT. It's truly tropical here. Bands of rain and wind come whipping through and then a break with hot sunshine. Before you can dry off the rain comes through again. Of course, as a gardener I understand how much they need the moisture down here so I've got a smile as my umbrella.

Right now it's raining sideways, we'd like to go out for dinner but will have to wait for a lull in the storm before we make a run for the car.

This morning we visited a nature/bird sanctuary and saw baby alligators. That was before we got caught in a downpour but I still got some photos before the rains came.

Tomorrow we hope to visit a local Japanese garden. Cross your fingers for me and hope that we have beautiful weather.

Till tomorrow,

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Behind bars

Phooey. It's raining outside and this picture of my labradoodle Calie shows just how I feel.

Yesterday's weather was glorious but I had no time to get out in the garden. Today I don't have the time to get out there either but I can't even dream about it with this weather. Of course I know the garden appreciates the rain so I'm only grumbling a little bit.

As a teaser though, I'll leave you with this photo:I took this picture last summer in Germany but I chose it here today as a tropical image. Tomorrow morning long before the crack of dawn I'll be on the way to the airport to catch a plane to sunny Florida.

My mom and I will have almost four glorious days together, we plan on lots of walks and visits to various nature preserves. I promise to bring my camera and come back with oodles of photos.

Maybe when I wake up here next Tuesday morning it will feel like spring outside :-)

Think green,

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Cutting back the grasses

Yesterday was the perfect day to spend cutting back the grasses in the garden. Although the weather channel said the temperature was in the high 40's, the bright sunshine made it feel much warmer. Still, you don't want it to be too warm when cutting the grasses, they can be quite sharp and it's nice to wear long sleeves and still be comfortable.

Rather than show photos of dead looking grass stumps, I've chosen the fall shots of these grasses. The first grass was the easiest, the various clumps of Hakonechloa (Japanese Hakone Grass) only need household scissors to cut them back. I like to vary the tools I'm working with so I don't end up with one massive blister.

The clump of Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light' seen behind my spring cherub was the hardest to cut back. Due to it's location, I used a pair of hand held felco pruners. The palm of my hand is quite sore today.

This clump is boxed in on two sides with stone and concrete patio so it's become quite dense. Hopefully I'll get to digging it up and dividing it this spring.

The Miscanthus sinensis 'Strictus' (Porcupine grass) was actually quite easy to cut back even though it was by far the largest clump in the garden. I used my husbands new bypass lopers and it only took about ten minutes to clean this out.

I really love this grass. When it first begins to grow, it doesn't have the markings on it. It's not until it gets at least chin high that pale yellow bands start to appear.

The final clump of grass that was cut back was the Molina 'Sky Racer'. It's another grass that I just couldn't live without. The foliage on this grass stays quite low but the blooms shoot up in the sky to form a a thin veil that you can still see through. I used the Felco pruners on this one too, it wasn't very difficult to cut back at all.

Like the other grasses in the garden, this one is due to be divided this year.

BONUS! If you are wondering why I was using hand held tools instead of attacking all the grasses with lopers, well it's because I was looking for treasure in the garden.

My diligence was rewarded, in total I found 6 praying mantis egg cases in the grasses. I've cut them off carefully and stored them outside, in my breezeway. I sent an e-mail to the school offering some of them to any elementary school teacher that would like one. We'll see if anybody takes me up on that offer.

I never did get around to planting peas although I did ready the pots that I plan to plant them in. Today looks like another great gardening day so I hope to squeeze a few hours in out there before the afternoon and evening meetings begin.

Happy digging,

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

It's Green!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

In keeping with today's theme, I thought I'd post a few green photos. It was either that or images of me planting peas (something I might get to later today).

These four shots are slides that were taken years ago and then scanned into my computer. They don't have the clarity of today's digital images but I think they still get their point across. As Kermit the frog knows, even green can be beautiful.

The opening slide has been shown here before. It's an amazing combination of Hosta, Sanquinaria canadensis (double bloodroot), Asarum europeaum (European Ginger) and an Epimedium.

This image is a simple close up of an Ipomoea, most likely the variety 'Marguerite'.

Here's an unknown Hosta with a single mutation in the center.

And finally, lots of green but contrasting foliages with the Hemerocallis (Daylily) on the left, Alchemilla (Ladies Mantle) in the center and the Coreopsis (tickseed) on the right.

Ok, here's hoping it warms up enough out there for me to get out and do some planting :-)


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bleeding Hearts by Color

Dicentra spectabilis, more commonly known as Bleeding Hearts is a perennial that I just adore. My gardens are filled with them, they bloom for such a long time in the spring. The only downfall is that their foliage dies off when the temperatures get hot so you are left with a large "dead" spot in your garden. It takes a bit of experementation but eventually you will find companion perennials that will fill in that spot later in the season.

One of the most cool things about bleeding hearts is that you can tell what color they are as soon as they start pushing out of the soil. I wish other perennials were this easy to identify!

The first photo shows the emerging shoot of a pink bleeding heart.

This is what the blooms will look like later in the spring. Aren't they magnificent?

Here you can see the color change in the emerging shoots of a white bleeding heart.

This photo was shot exactly one year ago. Aparently we are a bit behind last year as I haven't seen this in the garden yet.

Going through three years of perennial photos it was amazing to me that I could find lots of photos of the pink Dicentras but this was the only photo I could find of a white Dicentra. I grow lots of both of them so I will have to make an effort to take some better photos this year.

If you've ever wondered how to divide a Dicentra spectabilis, scroll down the right side of my blog and click on "How to Divide Perennials" under the catagory "Labels". You will see what the root system of a bleeding heart looks like. They are quite different from most perennials and so I used to think they were finicky. The truth is that they divide easily as along as you divide them early in their growth stage. In my experience, they immediately take off and bloom like nothing ever happened to them.

Another note I would make about bleeding hearts is that they appreciate more sunlight then I was led to believe. If you live in a warmer climate (I am on Long Island, just east of New York City), you might have a different experience. Here though, I've grown bleeding hearts in full sun and they grow quickly to epic proportions! The ones in the shade bloom as well but take much longer to clump up.

Off to spend some glorious time cleaning up winter debris,