Garden log, 2.9.15

Nothing glamorous today. Shredded leaves for about 2 hours to adhere to my self-imposed promise to shred last year’s leaves before this year’s emerge. I’m cutting it very close. Fed the leatherleaf viburnums, witch hazel, roses with soybean meal. It will release slowly as the weather warms, so I’m not terribly concerned about chilly temperatures forecast for later in the week.

Spent a good chunk of time Sunday thinning out the Lavandula angustifolia and sprinkling lime on the pinks. Planted two seedling palms, names unknown, in the front near the road to try to do something for curb appeal. I’m tired of feeling depressed as I approach the house; this year is the year to finally get off the duff and do something about it.

Overjoyed to see the witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) in bloom.

witch hazel branch 2

witch hazel flower

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Garden log, 12.28.14

It’s surprisingly mild today. I went out intending to shred leaves before the forecasted rain arrived, but I found more entertaining chores to occupy me instead. The leaves will be there.

I raked out the new sunny bed and fed everything lightly with a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer. The bed contains some evergreens and some winter-blooming plants, and I learned recently that soils high in potassium, as this bed is, hinder uptake of some nutrients and trace minerals, including magnesium. Washington State University Extension recommends balancing out the potassium with nitrogen. So I did. The soybean meal (7-2-1) I applied will break down very slowly in cold weather, so I don’t expect it to stimulate much if any fresh green growth that would be susceptible to freeze damage in winter. I’ll test the soil again in the spring and see where things stand.

I also fed the camellias with soybean meal. The sasanquas are blooming now (particularly ‘Yuletide,’ appropriately), and the japonicas have nice fat buds on them.

I divided a Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis from the rain garden. I took about seven small rooted pieces from the mother plant and you’d never know it had been touched at all. I transplanted these in the front yard, in a few tricky spots that have not been successful with much else. We’ll see how they fare.

I spent about two hours dividing the Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’ near the road. These plants perform very well with utter neglect, but even fescues have their limits. They need to be divided about every other year in order to look their best, as they tend to get dense, congested crowns and will die out in the centers. They prefer to be divided and cut back in winter. I hacked mine apart with a pick-axe (exhilarating!), fed with soybean meal, and mulched with decomposed bark chips. I think about four more days of the same activity will have the rest of the plants tended and looking fresh for spring.

And finally, I cleaned leaves out from within and under my heath plants (Erica x darleyensis). I have been surprised at how well they’ve performed in my hot weather. They sit at the base of an oak tree at the top of a slope in my front yard, so they get dappled light for about 10 hours in spring through fall, and direct but weak winter sunlight. Fed them with soybean meal, mulched with decomposed wood chips.

As I cleared out the leaves, I found some rooted layers. I dug those up and transplanted them into a scree area I am renovating. I also cleaned out some pieces that had not rooted. I am trying to root those, although I’m not expecting great things given the time of the year.

A decent day’s work, I think. The leaves will be there tomorrow. Maybe some other chores will be, too.

 

Garden log, 12.19.14

A bit of garden clean-up today gave me a soul-nourishing break from holiday hubbub. Did some raking (oh, endless leaves); planted Cyclamen rohlfsianum (4 seedlings) at the base of an oak tree just above the rain garden. I sowed these seeds last year and set them outside to suffer winter. Just as I was about to throw the pot out, leaves emerged.

The Cyclamen Society says that C. rohlfsianum must be kept frost-free, but life prevented me from getting the pot indoors this fall, and these seedlings have endured a few frosts. I intend to press my luck a little bit. I shall put at least one seedling in a pot in my cold frame, but the others are under a blanket of gravel and dried shredded leaves. Wish me luck.

Raked out the rain garden and dug and divided some Pulmonaria ‘Trevi Fountain,’ making one plant into about a dozen and setting them near the yew, the dwarf Alberta spruce, and a couple under the gardenia hedge. Cut back all the tattered and slug-munched foliage. New leaves are already emerging.

Pulmonaria 'Trevi Fountain'

Pulmonaria ‘Trevi Fountain’

Potted up an acanthus and planted out two leatherleaf viburnums, Viburnum rhytidophyllum. That’s in addition to the nine I planted a few weeks ago (I acquired a pile of seedlings from a neighbor’s woods). I’m working on an evergreen screen until I can get enough pennies saved to install a nice, high, deer-proof fence. The English ivy is out of control in the back garden, near the gardenia hedge, but that’s a project for another day.

Did myself a favor and decided not to grow bulb onions from seed this year. They take more work than I have time, and since we go through about 3 pounds of onions a week, I couldn’t hope to save myself a trip to the grocery out of my effort. More room for cut-and-come-again greens instead.

The weather should be perfectly foul tomorrow, high 30s (~3C) and rain. Fine weather to curl up with the deliciously fat catalogue from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and figure out what to plant in place of those onions.

Playing catch-up

What a busy month October has been! With moderate temperatures and low humidity, it’s been delightful to be in the garden.

My visit to Montrose at the beginning of the month for a Garden Open Day yielded (of course) a box full of plants.

Trick or treat? Treat, definitely.

Trick or treat? Treat, definitely.

I came home with:

  • Edgworthia ‘Snow cream’
  • Saruma henryi
  • Iris unguicularis
  • Zephyranthes drummondii
  • Zephyranthes ‘Capricorn’
  • Cooperia ________ ( I’ll look this up later)
  • Cyclamen hederifolium
  • Cyclamen coum ‘Lake Effect’
  • Sternbergia lutea
  • Two seedpods of Aesculus parviflora, bottlebrush buckeye, that I found in the parking lot of the school next door.
  • A part-time job.

Well, nearly. I casually asked someone working at the Open Day if they ever needed any help, and coincidentally, they do. It’s time to get all those tender plants in the greenhouses, you see, and down into the cellar and in cold frames. So I came back a few days later to have a proper conversation/interview about working there, and I guess I looked sturdy enough to be of some use.

So I work two mornings a week there, doing what needs to be done and learning everything I can. I hope to have lots to share with you.