Monday, October 31, 2011

In addition...

So one advantage I have is that my Mom is a master gardener and lived in this area for many years, so she knows quite a bit about what works and what doesn't in our climate. I have asked her to help with this blog whenever she gets time and so she'll be checking now and again to keep me from getting things mixed up and deceiving the public :-)

I'm doing alright so far, though. I may need to amend or add to posts as we go along here, but I'll try to pass along any tidbits I get. This is the first instance of the additions.

To add to the "Saturday Fun" post, my mom would like to add (and I quote), "It is necessary to mow leaves to keep them from becoming slimmy matted mess. It helps them break down better, too. Some people shred them and put them in black plastic bags or compost bins to let them break down. The leaf mold is really good to put in the soil where you plant carrots or cabbage family plants."
My Mom (Patty) with her grandkids Lucy (left) and Helen

So there you have it. I am honored and blessed to have my mom, and will share her with you as much as I can.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Adieu to Fall

With a couple of frosts and rainy windy days, I took some last pictures to remind me of the fall colors before they are gone. Some pruning and winterizing still needs to be done, but I was worried that the blossoms and leaves would be gone before next weekend, so here are some pictures.

planter on our front porch

Japanese Maple

Rose Garden

Maple Tree in front yard

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Saturday fun!

With the beautiful day we had, the yard was calling. I headed out after the girls went down for their naps. My first job was the overgrown "rose garden." It is the back wall on our house with rose bushes and lavender mixed. During late spring through summer it has a lovely smell and look, but I haven't taken as good care as I should have so this is how it looked.

before my "winterizing"


This year, I'm experimenting on these back roses. I usually trim the leaves off 18" from the ground to prevent diseases etc. and leaving them mostly intact until spring. However, I have seen many professional gardens (Butchart Gardens, Lakewold Gardens, Mary Bridge Hospital) that pruned their bushes to appx. 18" canes. I had a hard time finding a website that recommended this or even how to do it properly. It may be another great mistake and I'll rue the day, but I'll find out this spring. I am pruning all the rest of my roses the normal way so I'll have some roses even if the ones in back perish.

I will call it ready for winter and insulate the roses with dirt and some leaves when the leaves fall. This did create a lot of weeds that needed disposed of though, so one trick I like to do is to spread them over the dog's part of the yard and then mow over them on mulch. It takes a few passes, but when everything is broken down and spread. Then I'll bag what is left and put that in my compost bin. I like it because there is less for me to carry, but my wife thinks that its just because I'm lazy, not to keep the grass healthy. (She may be right)

Me and my youngest blogger

Helen Sue (6 months) and I got up early (because it is the weekend and we don't have to) and checked out all the blogs we follow.

An idea and a little money...

I wanted a indoor plant or two, so I went shopping...a jungle in the kitchen is the result!
From left to right: miniture rose, peace lily, golden pothos (back), rubber plant, african violets, more minture roses, and calathea

Friday, October 28, 2011

Indoor Plants: Calathea

Calathea Leaves

#1 Calathea
Common names: "Pin-stripe Plant"
Latin name: C. majestica 'Roseolineata -  Calathea ornata

 This is the first of my indoor plants. I went to Watsons Greenhouse, a place every gardener should go if they want inspiration, and talked to one of their knowledgeable staff. My main goal with these plants is that they will look nice and also be easy to take care of. The Calathea fits right in. It looks amazing, is really easy to care for, and should keep on growing. I'm going to start it on one of the end tables, but after a couple years, it will be tall enough for a corner or small plant stand - a great splash of color in any room. 

·         The Calathea family consist of over 300 species many of which are grown as houseplants.
·         Place your Calathea ornata in bright filtered or indirect light. East, west or north windows should do nicely. Avoid hot sunny locations as the plants leaves will tend to curl and burn. During periods of extreme cold remove the Calathea ornata from the window to avoid chilling.
·         Most Calathea's, including ornata are finicky about water quality. City tap water contains chlorine and other chemicals that tend to cause brown spots on the leaves. Let your tap water sit out for several days to allow the added chemicals to dissipate.
·         Calathea ornata prefers to have moist soil all the time. Several small weekly waterings is one way to achieve this. Add water until you see liquid coming from the pots drainage holes. Remove any excess water within a couple of hours to help prevent root rot. Keep your Calathea ornata on a pebble tray to help increase humidity near the plant.
·         Excessive fertilizing also can cause leaf spots on Calthea ornata. Your Calathea should be fertilized about four times per year.
·         Common houseplant pests include: Spider mites. 

Calathea Ornata

Indoor Plants

My oldest daughter Lucy.
Gardening is in the blood!

With winter coming on and quite a rainfall outside, I have been looking into a thinking about indoor plants. I have not experimented much with them and killed about half of the ones I've tried. I'm finding out that mostly it was due to the wrong lighting and overwatering. (One more reason to read the directions)

So, after a week of online research, I chose about 7 different plants that were supposed to be easy to take care of and pleasant to look at. Over the next week or so, I will be making posts on the plants and the way to properly care for them. Then I'll keep you updated on how they are doing.

One of the easiest ways to fail at any type of gardening is not doing the proper research. Over the last few years, I've learned a lot, but mostly the hard way - By buying a plant that catches my fancy, and putting it into a bed or spot in the house where I think it will look best and then it slowly looks worse and dies. Some did well though, and I couldn't figure out the difference until I started asking the experts at nurseries and greenhouses around here what I was doing wrong. It is really amazing how much they will tell you if you just ask. Lighting, recommended temperatures, watering, and fertilizing can be the difference between a long vibrant bloom and a plant that struggles along and never reaches the beauty you know if can. For an ignorant gardener like myself, I am beginning to get all the help I can before my purchases. It is becoming much more rewarding. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

First Frost

frost on the grass

       Today we had our first frost. It was only mild, but the rest of the week is supposed to be in the 30's at night. It's time to start winterizing the garden. This weekend, I am going to get some dirt to put around the roses and a few of our other sensative plants. When the leaves fall they will be better insulation, but this is a good start. The frost tells the plants it's time to stop growing and go dormant for the winter, so after two good frosts, I also do my final trim on the plants around my yard.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Amsonia Hubrichtii - 2011 Perennial Plant of the Year

The "Amsonia Hubrichtii" is is 2011's perennial of the year. Most gardeners probably know this, but I only found out this last weekend. My wife and our two girls and our two dogs went to Ocean Shores and it rained the entire time. This may seem bad, but I enjoy staying indoors and catching up on ideas and plants. The only problem is that you actually have to have a place for each one that you buy. I have gotten home from Watson's or the Portland Ave Nursery (or some other equally exciting plant sale) only to realize that I don't know where to put what I just bought.
The reason I like this one, though, is that not only the flowers change, but also the foliage. In my opinion a garden should change through out the entire year - mine doesn't yet, mind you. I am always looking for plants that will further this goal. I thought others may like to look into this perennial also!

This next part is copied from a couple of websites I was researching this on. You'll be able to tell because it is well written...
is the Perennial Plant Association’s 2011 Perennial Plant of the Year™. Amsonia hubrichtii, pronounced am-SO-nee-ah hew-BRIK-tee-eye, carries the common names Arkansas blue star, Arkansas amsonia, thread-leaf blue star, narrow leaf blue star, and Hubricht’s blue star. This all-season perennial has blue star-shaped flowers inFrom late spring to early summer, two- to three-inch wide clusters of small, light blue, star-shaped flowers are borne above the ferny foliage. The alternate arranged leaves are bright green in spring and summer, but turn a bright yellow-golden color in fall.

Amsonia hubrichtii:  spring and light green foliage all summer. The foliage turns a beautiful golden-yellow in fall. Arkansas blue star is very soil-adaptive and insects and diseases are rare. It

Amsonia hubrichtii grows best in full sun and partial shade and in well-drained soil. Stems tend to open and flop if plants are grown in too much shade. Once well established, this blue star is drought tolerant and can withstand a season of neglect. The foliage and stems contain a milky sap, which seems to make the plant unappealing to deer. No insect or disease pests are known to attack Arkansas blue star. It is hardy in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 9. Although the delicate light blue spring flowers are the Arkansas blue star is a timeless plant. The foliage in spring and summer is one of the best for contrast with medium to large perennials or shrubs. This blue star adds a billowy, finely-textured feature to the perennial landscape. It grows into a dense mass, very much like a small shrub. The cool blue flowers are useful for toning down adjacent flower colors. The color of the foliage and flowers of blue star blend easily with other plants.inspiration for its common name, the autumn color of the feathery leaves is a major reason that gardeners grow an excellent combination with purple coneflower, gayfeather, and ornamental grasses. Try a combination of Black Lace elderberry and Arkansas blue star. The brilliant yellow foliage of amsonia combined with the dark foliage of elderberry. The stunning pale pumpkin color of the foliage createsknockout combination. Arkansas blue star can be used in sunny borders, cottage plantings, native gardens,and in large container plantings. The ornamental qualities and many uses make amsonia an invaluable perennial garden plant.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The beginning...

As winter comes upon us, I am starting the cleanup. I enjoy the late fall/winter because I feel like I can finally get on top of things. Over the next couple of weeks I will be beginning to winterize. It is a good time to add good dirt, plan for next spring and after the leaves fall, insulate the more temperature sensative plants.