This is getting slightly ridiculous

I finished the saloon door gate. It was a big hit with the 7-year-old, who immediately began bursting through one way, then the other. Why, she asked, did we ever take these out of the house when they’re sooo cool?

saloon doors finishedIncidentally, these gates are placed in a break in the new border of azaleas being made by the Great Azalea Migration. In my mind’s eye, these gates will one day offer an enticing  pathway through great billowing flowering shrubs. We’ll see.

In the afternoon, I sowed:

  • Echinacea purpurea
  • Digitalis purpurea
  • Cleome ‘Two Tone Pink’
  • Datura (white, variety unspecified)
  • Campanula trachelium
  • Asclepias incarnata (pink)
  • Asclepias tuberosa (orange)
  • Blackberry lily (Belamcanda chinensis)
  • Gaillardia ‘Arizona Sun’
  • Shasta daisy ‘Alaska’
  • Monarda (unspecified purple)
  • Bachelor button ‘Blue Boy’ (Centauria cyanus ‘Blue Boy’)
  • Peach-leaf campanula (Campanula persicifolia)
  • Golden Alexander (Zizia aurea)

So, adding to the butterfly-friendly theme, the Asclepias, Echinacea, Monarda, Datura, and Zizia aurea should reel them in. Maybe more of them will as well; I need to read up.

If I had any sod to bust, I would say I had better get to it; assuming all these things grow, my garden will absolutely explode with plants next summer. As it is, I had better start busting clay and place an order for about 12 yards of manure. It may take me from now to the last frost to prepare good beds for all these fellas.

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Winter zeal

It’s not much of a winter around here lately, with temperatures in the 50s and 60s. But the trees are bare and the landscape is otherwise fairly bleak. My outlook, however, is anything but, as I have become newly converted to the technique of winter sowing.

Winter sowing is the cheap and lazy gardener’s expressway to paradise. The idea is to take advantage of nature’s cycles of temperature and moisture fluctuations and to allow seeds to do what they have evolved to do. I have only had moderate success with seeds in the past, because while I’ve started off well, at some point life always got busy and I neglected to water them, and the seedlings dried out, or otherwise succumbed to damping off. I suppose that’s still going to be possible with winter sowing, but perhaps in the absence of central heating and arid indoor air, they’ll fare better.

I joined Garden Web’s Winter Sowing forum, and took advantage of their newbie seed offering. A kind soul in Ohio gathers saved seed from other winter sowers around the country, and compiles free packets of seeds for those of us new to the technique. I got my package a few days ago and I was giddy with excitement!

DSC_0002After supper, I dug out the saved milk cartons and Chinese take-out pans, filled them with my favorite shredded coir mix, and sowed Ruta graveolens, Digitalis (sp. unknown); soapwort (Saponaria officinalis), English lavender, and Maryland wild senna (Senna marilandica), an important host plant. Full description of a proven winter sowing technique can be found here.

I must spend all available days between now and April preparing ground for these little guys. But I’ve got the shredded leaves ready to till in. I can’t wait to see how this experiment goes!