Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fall tidy up/spring prep

There is quite a bit of ongoing discussion as to whether it is better to clean up deciduous plants in the fall or spring.  I prefer fall, primarily because the fog is not kind to dying plant material.  I would rather clean up and have less mold.  Also, our spring comes so early, and enough plants grow all year, I think it helps both the looks of the garden, and the chance for self sown plants as well as perennials to get a good start come February. 
One fall task that seems to be universally accepted is preparing the soil for spring growth.  I do not dig beds, as there is enough evidence supporting just covering the ground with supplements rather than digging them in to appeal to my lazy side.  Supposedly not digging also cuts down on weed seeds sprouting, which I can also totally support.  However, the dirt needs feeding.  The idea is that mulch put down in fall breaks down and the nutrients washed into the soil throughout the winter, regardless of climate.  The cheapest mulch for this purpose is cow manure.  So I am in the midst of spreading manure on all the beds.  Then there are a few more plants to cut, including these asparagus, and the garden will be set for winter. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

The waning year

Although the solstice is still a month off, I am so enjoying the waning daylight hours and the angle of the sun.  I find myself noticing the shadows and the unusual light everywhere I go.  The sharp low angle of the sun really highlights things I might not otherwise notice.  And of course the solstice is herald to the new garden year ahead.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

From my garden home to yours,  Thanksgiving blessings! 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Finally, fall color

We are loving the fall color in the front yard, and the way the design works with it.  Just what we hoped for.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Always a lesson

I went out and transplanted a number of small plants, both the ones which were carefully raised in the wheelbarrow, and others that had self sown.
While I was working I decided to pull up the 3 foot tall bird sown fig tree.  I pulled and pulled, perhaps unwisely, and up it came with a single 4 foot long root which was growing along the soaker hose.  I think there is a lesson there.  Gardening really is a growing experience. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Lemon tree

My little Meyer lemon tree was transplanted into a larger pot this year.  As a consequence, I really hope anyway, there are only three lemons.  My neighbor says she is going to sneak across the street and steal them when I am not looking.  At this point having a lemon tree is not an effective source for lemons.  I had read that Meyer lemons will bloom and fruit all year.  I wish that were true. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Dried hydrangea blossoms

I garden with an eye to gathering what I can for use in the off seasons.  I like to collect interesting seed pods, red twigs, cedar cones and so forth.  This fall I cut oakleaf hydrangea blossoms that dried on the shrub and used them for the front porch decor. 

Friday, November 11, 2011


I got this mini pomegranate which stays a shrubby three feet size solely for the cute little fruit.  For several years I had it in a pot and it was fine there, but much happier in the ground as it is now.  It bloomed nearly all season and made a good half dozen or so pomegranates this year.  Unfortunately,  most split this year before they were red.  These are purely decorative, and I want them for decor.  I need to pick these now they are red and try once more to dry them.  I think the secret is to leave them sitting out in the air for a year.  The one time I thought they looked dry and put them into a decorative jar, they molded.  Maybe this will be the year I end up with cute useable dried fruits.  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Red branches

We were so pleased when we found these manzanitas last spring and even more so when they lived through their first summer.  We read up that they like mulch and overhead water, just like they have in their natural habitat.  Their red branches are just lovely and a welcome addition not only to the general color scheme but to the fall coloring as well.

The branches on the red twig dogwood color up even before the leaves.  It is so interesting that they gradually turn green as the weather warms then back to red as it cools down again.  These branches are so useable as the best way to keep the shrub is to cut the branches back to the ground.  I have learned to do that selectively so there are always fresh bright red branches each winter. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Burning bush

My burning bush, euonymus alatus compactus, has berries this year!   This shrub is planted in the front yard center bed and will eventually grow to six or eight feet, providing us with a bit of privacy from the street.  Not only do the leaves turn the bright red shown here, but the berries cover the branches and remain after the leaves fall. We saw a beautiful specimen in the garden at Biltmore House when we visited there and the bare branches covered in berries sold me.  Since then I have seen them in full red regalia in Ohio.  They may be common place there, but still strikingly good looking.   I am so pleased I found this one a couple of years ago bare root at Lowes and that it seems to be growing happily.  Don't the little berries look like pomegranate fruits? 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Fog and Chrysthanthemums

Just week ago temps were still 60ish at night.  Then we got a cold storm from the north over the weekend and today woke up to 36 degrees and fog.  Just when we began to hope it was fall, suddenly it looks as if winter arrived a few weeks early.  Hopefully not.  

It finally cooled down enough to feel like fall so I was ready for my Thanksgiving mums, the red flowers there.  I waited so long they were only $1.50  : )  although the selection was limited and there were only the small ones left.  No matter, these will bloom for a few weeks then I will plant them out back to enjoy again next year. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Paver project complete

After a race with dropping temps and expected rains, and two days nasty labor when he didn't make it, Jerry finally finished the paving.  Or at least mostly finished.  The porch still needs pavers put down with thin set.  That will probably wait for warm weather on the other side of winter.  There is also a sprinkler pipe that got cut in the process and needs replacing.  But overall it is done, and amazing in both concept and execution.  We are pleased.  This will lighten weekly labor, make it easier to get the waste bins out, and give us a place to sit out with wider vistas.  It also ups the curb appeal in case we have to sell.  And it completes the vision and project we started about a year and a half ago.  Good job, Jerry! 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Corydalis ochroleuca

This evergreen ferny little plant blooms on and off most of the year.  It has happily reseeded so I have spread them throughout the shady garden.  Yes, corydalis prefers shade.  I also have corydalis 'Blackberry Wine', that dies back in the heat, but spreads a good six feet, producing its purple blooms for several months in spring.  Most corydalis have blue or yellow blossoms.  I prefer this white with green and yellow markings, but corydalis is a species I plan to pursue. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Propagating perennials

A year ago I sowed seed for these (click) verbascum 'Violette', along with seed for several other perennials. Over the winter a few sprouted and in the spring I transplanted them to the wheelbarrow, as shown here, to get some size to them.  So a year to get sixpack size, but at the cost of a packet of seed.  Notice the price on the link is $7.95 for one plant, this size.  One can do well growing perennials from seed if one has the time and space to wait for them.  I am sure a primary reason there are so few perennials available in the local markets is just this time.  Propagators must make money and when it takes a year or two to get plants big enough to sell, and of course buyers want to see the flowers which may take even longer, there apparently aren't many who want to invest.  I imagine most gardeners are happy enough with the easy to grow stalwarts of the garden anyway.  However, I love trying new plants and often prefer zone 8 plants which usually grow quite happily here, while our local nurserymen typically prefer more tropical leaning toward zone 10 plants that must be babied through our winters.  So growing from seed is a good option, given I enjoy the experiment and challenge.  I just hope these verbascum, and the others, stay happy in the ground.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

November's promise

November offers the promise of good things coming.  The orange tree is laden with fruit that will become orange by Christmas and sweeter than sweet as we move into spring.  November means fall color, finally, and cool days, at last.  November turns our hearts to a focus on thanks and the hope of love come down.  November 1 to me is the beginning of the warm lovely holiday season which for me ends somewhere around Valentine's Day, not for that day per se, but for the daffodils that herald another season and a different hope.  May your winter days be cheery and your oranges sweet!