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Friday, April 03, 2009

Plants in Pots

Thanks to the rain we are getting, my morning plans have been cancelled. Today was to be the first perennial division workshop in my garden. My guinea pigs would have been the fellow members in my Nathan Hale Garden club.

So now I find myself with time on my hands but not the best weather for gardening. Do I still slip on that slicker and get out there?

As I sit here and stall, I find myself looking through past photos and find myself lusting over plants in pots. The opening photo here shows some plants I had potted up for last years flower sale.

This photo (darn it, it's sideways!) shows lots of the fun little sempervivum I had potted up last spring. I've already potted up several dozen this year but they need another week or two before they begin to plump up.

Newly divided daylilies taking a nice soak in my most useful garden tool, a kiddie pool! I'm not kidding you, this kiddie pool was well under $10 and has been home to hundreds of potted plants that need to take a nice relaxing soak. This year I will definitely buy another one.

Tip, don't buy the largest sized kiddie pool unless you want to wade in it to reach the plants in the middle.

When the kiddie pool is full, I'll use just about any container that holds water. Here are newly divided Epimediums taking a lovely bath. It's my experience that newly divided plants resent dry soil. By keeping them in a container with a few inches of water in the bottom, they seem to settle in and root much quicker.

Of course there's also the excitement of new pots of plants to replace the divisions I've dug out of the ground :-) These new arrivals were waiting on my breezeway last spring. I take photos of each pot with it's corresponding tag so I can keep a record of the perennials that I bring in to my garden.

Look closely and you'll see that Calie-the-wonderdoodle has snuck in the photo. She thinks I don't see her there. For a 70 pound dog she's done a good job of hiding here! As I work in the garden she will sneak up on me and steal tools that are in my back pocket or simply lay down as near as possible to me as I work in one area.

Ok, now after a quick post on Melanie's Perennials I'll get bundled up and go out there and get muddy.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Geranium cantabrigiense varieties

Well, since the hardy Geraniums are such unsung heroes, I thought I would continue and list a few more.

The first time I ever heard of a hardy Geranium was when I visited a local garden. The garden owner, Judy, was one of those gardeners who just had to grab a shovel and dig you a piece of anything you admired.

When Judy found out that I had never heard of hardy Geraniums, she insisted on my taking home a piece of Geranium cantabrigiense 'Biokova' which you can see at the top of this photo (very pale pink, almost white). I don't know why I couldn't find a photo of the bloom close up on this variety.

Judy had another interesting trait. She would only grow plants if she could label them with their full botanical name. I had a black Columbine that she lusted over for years but refused to take home because we didn't know it's name. Unfortunately, Judy died way too early in life from breast cancer but her plants still live on in my garden.

One day while nursery hopping, I found a plant with the label Geranium cantabrigiense 'Karmina'. Since I knew 'Biokova' did so well for me, I of course had to try 'Karmina' too. Well, just like her sister, she grew like gangbusters (but not at all invasive) and bloomed like crazy.

Personally, I prefer the color of 'Biokova' a bit more which is unusual for me as I don't usually lean towards pale colored flowers.

Another cantabrigiense type of Geranium in my garden is 'Cambridge' which you can see here. It has almost the same color flower as 'Karmina' but I find a difference in foliage. It seems to have been a slower grower but it could just be because of it's slightly shadier and dryer location.

What's really nice about the cantabrigiense family of hardy Geraniums is that they have evergreen foliage. That is, unless there's ice or snow on the ground. In the fall they exhibit some really nice red highlights too.

I mean really, how could you go wrong with fall foliage like this?

Last year I did a post on dividing these types of Geraniums. I tried something new and they divided so well that I couldn't believe it. If you want to read about it, scroll down and look for the label on the side that says "Plant Propagation". You'll have to scroll past the post on Sedum cuttings and then you'll see how I propagated my hardy Geraniums.

No time to play in the garden today but tomorrow looks hopeful!


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Geranium 'Bevans Variety'

A number of years ago we had a garden center right up the road from us. It was part of a chain, the name was Franks Nursery and Crafts. Many of the plants carried by Franks were of the basic variety but if you looked carefully you would often find a true treasure.

I learned quickly that hardy Geraniums do quite well in my zone 6b garden here on Long Island. There are so many different types, some that prefer sun and others that need more shade.

One of the first varieties I bought was this one, Geranium macrorrhizum 'Bevan's Variety'.

(Side note, this tag is at least 6 or 7 years old and still in perfect condition!)

Here you can see this plant growing in the garden. This bed is not at all typical of my garden. You can still see the soil!

This area has a huge problem, it is at the base of a Norway Maple (Acer platanoides) tree that sucks the life from everything around it. Hardly anything grows here because the ground is chock full of roots and always dry. And yet, you can see how well this charming Geranium does here.

This week I hope to carefully pry this plant out of the ground and divide it into at least a half dozen pieces. In the past when I first planted it, I didn't use the internet to research proper growing conditions. Today I googled Geranium macrorrhizum and found a wealth of information at Mobot's wonderful site. Apparently I got lucky when I planted it in this horrible site as this Geranium is quite tolerant of dry conditions.

The new divisions I get will be spread around the garden in a few locations plus I might have 2 or three potted up for sale. I will try the new pieces in areas with better soil and a bit more sun to see how well this baby can shine.

Don't you love it!


Monday, March 30, 2009

Black Gold

One simple photo, so many thoughts!

This photo shows a young Hellebore in my back shade bed. It has a bud about to unfurl.

Looking at this photo my first thought is that I need to get the leaves off the plants in this garden. But wait, there's also a second strong though. Look at all that black gold!

Black gold is what some gardeners like to call compost. These leaves haven't composted enough to be black and crumbly but they are still valuable. I will be careful when cleaning these beds and all these nicely broken down leaves will be added to the compost heap.

Don't bag up and give away your black gold!


Sunday, March 29, 2009

I've just birthed a baby!

My oh my am I tired. I've just birthed a baby!

Ok, maybe I'm not as tired as all that. Still, if you want to see what's got me so excited, you will have to visit my new blog, Melanie's Perennials.

So why a new blog? Well, I'm going to bite the bullet and start that little gardening business I've been dreaming about. I've been tip-toeing around the whole subject for years now, it's time to get down to business.

Tomorrow morning I need to be out there as soon as I've got enough light so that's why I'm posting tonight instead of in the morning.

Don't worry, I won't be giving up this blog. Melanie's Perennials will be geared towards the business end of gardening. How to hire me for lectures (I've been doing them for years and years), when my garden is open for tour and what plants will be for sale (and when).

Can you tell that I'm excited!


Sunday morning stroll

It's a misty, foggy morning here on Long Island. Perfect weather to play in the garden, that is if you like to get muddy :-) I've got my muck shoes and slicker waiting for me in the breezeway, as soon as I put this post up I'll be out there having fun.

Walking around with my camera shielded by my bright red slicker I saw many things that need to be tended to. The clumps of Sedum are already pushing forward their lovely rosettes, I have many that still have last year's dead growth on them. Must cut them back!

The crocus are about finished with their bloom. Some clumps have grown quite large and cramped. I have never read about dividing crocus but I think they need it. I'm going to try to break this clump up into three or four pieces and place them in new locations.

The primroses have started to bloom. Here's another plant that looks to me like it could be divided. I've only divided them once before, many years ago and must have done something wrong because I lost both divisions. This year I'm going to try to divide them gently now, before we get too much warm weather.

Oh no! What is it about spring with the wait, wait...Hurry Up cycle? The last gardens that I clean are the shade beds in the back of my property but the Hellebores are coming up and starting to bloom and I'd better get out there some time this week.

Ugh! There's nothing pretty about this mess in my potting area. Can't pot up new babies without fixing this spot. One of these days I'm going to have to address a ground cover as the area turns to instant mud when ever there is a rain. It's too shady for grass, a concrete is too expensive. This year it might have to be a few loads of wood chips. I sure wish we could have those darn toothpick Hemlocks removed as they are almost dead (some already are) and they just take up space.
Last shot for today. Here's a little bit of what I worked on yesterday. Found lots of pots with growth in them, they are on the bottom layer. The top of the bench has Sempervivum (hens and chicks) that I started potting up. I think working with them is my most favorite task in the garden.

Off to make some mud,