Winter growth and winter colors

The mild weather this week gave us plenty of colors to look at. Is it too early to hope for spring?

So I had to make sure the bathroom greenhouse was emptied so that the tender plants could get some sun. From the split-personality variegated Pesto Perpetuo basil…

2/2/2012 Winter Colors (1) 2/2/2012 Winter Colors (2)

…to the irrepressible Oriental Limelight artemisia and Easy Wave petunias bustin’ out of their pots…

2/2/2012 Winter Colors (3) 2/2/2012 Winter Colors (4) 2/2/2012 Winter Colors (5) 2/2/2012 Winter Colors (6)

…to the vibrant loropetalum burgeoning with blossoms…

2/2/2012 Winter Colors (7) 2/2/2012 Winter Colors (8) 2/2/2012 Winter Colors (9)

…from an unexpected previous-year volunteer (Sorbet Coconut Swirl Viola)…

2/2/2012 Winter Colors (10) 2/2/2012 Winter Colors (11)

…to the unpredictable buds on the Encore Azalea Autumn Monarch…

2/2/2012 Winter Colors (12) 2/2/2012 Winter Colors (13) 2/2/2012 Winter Colors (14)

…and the lovely winter foliage of the Lanai Purple Star verbena.

2/2/2012 Winter Colors (15)

The signs of spring are everywhere–you just have to look closely.

Coming up next: my 2012 seed orders!

Seed starting 2011 part 5

This weekend I filled up the 2nd tray of Jiffy 7 coir pellets (Professional Greenhouse 72), 72 seeds in all. For the harder-to-grow seeds, I attempted to triple and quadruple some of the seeds in hopes that stronger seedlings result.

The list? Easy Wave (The Flag) Petunias, Seabreeze salvia farinacea, Lady in Red salvia coccinea, Impatiens Xtreme Hot! Mix, Origami Blue and Red Columbines, Stardust Delosperma, Durango Outback Mix marigolds.

On our trip to NHG this past Saturday, we bought a Midnight Blue rose (with several closed buds already on it) and a Lime-scented thyme. For some reason I did not find good specimens of Coconut thyme at NHG…so I will most likely pick them up elsewhere, maybe Calloway’s. I also bought two packets of seeds: garlic chives and lime basil. Too late I discovered that a couple of chives are just now sprouting in the same pot as the Iona Blue pansy. Based on a pot of chives I saw at NHG, I sowed 6-7 seeds of the used packet of chives that I had left over in 2 3″ pots. Perhaps growing them thick is the key.

I brought out the tray of vinca seedlings into the light. With counter space at a premium, I’ve had to do some fancy rearranging in our bathroom greenhouse. I decided to put out all the pepper plants, including the ornamentals, out in the yard to make room. I’ve also set out the tallest of the hosta plants. I imagine I also be putting out the 2 cupheas sitting in the bathtub…they haven’t done anything since I put them in there, so I believe they would prefer a stronger light source.

I noticed that through neglect one of the Oriental Limelight artemisias nearly died back into the pot. Luckily, a little water restored it, though some stalks were lost in the process. I’m still trying to decide if I should turn them loose in the landscape or just keep them potted.

By the way, I found this free online planner that meets most of my criteria for designing a garden bed:

The following sights currently on view in the garden: plumes of foxtail ferns shooting up, a healthy crown of leaf buds on Prairie Sky Hosta, blue flowering Chocolate Chip ajuga, sword like fan of leaves on the hardy amaryllis, daffodil buds peeking through the ground, white loropetalum in full bloom, violas and scabiosa also blooming heartily, purple oxalis looking spectacular.

3/14/2011 Buds (1) 3/14/2011 Buds (2) 3/14/2011 Buds (3) 3/14/2011 Buds (4) 3/14/2011 Buds (5) 3/14/2011 Buds (6) 3/14/2011 Buds (7)

Also this weekend, finally accomplished setting down weed mat on the salvia wall. Next mission: gravel or mulch, not sure yet. In the herb garden, transplanted one of the golden oreganos and the lime thyme. I’ll need more soil/compost to finish transplanting the rest of the herbs in the cinderblock wall.

Seed starting 2011 part 4

Here is a tally of the 2nd wave of seedling starts:
phlox: 7 out of 12 starts
blue knoll: 3 out of 12
dianthus valentine: 6 out of 6
delosperma: 4 out of 6

Due to the low germination rates on the blue knoll chrysanthemum, I immediately used up any remaining seed that I had left. I also emptied the remainder of phlox seeds in the tray, in hopes of getting the maximum 12 starts.

Of the first wave of seedlings, I recorded the heights from tallest to shortest:

  1. sweet basil
  2. bell pepper
  3. calico
  4. purple flash
  5. red rubin
  6. pansy

What is disappointing from the list above is the performance of the red rubin basil. I had hoped to use a few specimens as accent color in the purple garden, but they have barely increased in size in almost a week.

Today’s starts:
4 dahlberg daisies: super fine, eyelash-shaped seeds!
8 vinca: using jiffy pellets and stored in the laundry room in complete darkness
4 garlic chives: don’t know why I’m having difficulty with these this year

In a green quart pot I placed a root cutting from the foxtail fern…not sure it will do anything, but I’d be interested in seeing the outcome.

All three of the Hot Lips salvia cuttings that I brought in are displaying tender leaves, just like the parent plant in the courtyard lily bed. Alas I have not been able to see any sign of the purple pastel that I sowed some time ago. And one of the 3″ pots is hosting a salvia seedling, the likes of which I haven’t seen before in any of the greggii cultivars. Is it a white? Red? Purple? Or some other hybrid? Only time will tell.

The pineapple mint (2) and hot and spicy oregano (1) cuttings have taken to their new home with vigor. They appear to be putting out new growth–a testament to their light-loving nature. The catmint has remained tall and floppy, surprising me every day with new growth. It’s still a tender thing, disliking heavy watering.

I’m not sure how I will be thinning the impatiens and alyssum seedlings; it seems too much work at this time to separate them. They still look too fragile, about 6 weeks into their lives, to be transplanted or removed from the dome protection they currently enjoy. Well, there is still another 4 weeks of March to go…no telling what growth spurts I will witness.

Other statuses: asters growing tall and gangly with new shoots, rosemary cuttings looking pale and deathly, no telling what’s growing in one of the Mexican heather pots, oriental limelights perking up, felicia seem contemplative, and the columbine are starting very slowly.

Now I have these two hippeastrums sitting in a bag, begging to be planted. I can’t be sure what cultivar they are, but reading suggests that these garden amaryllis may be part of a group of Sonatini hybrids. On the bag label is the distributor name Van Zyverden but their site is non-existent. Further research revealed that these hippeastrums were developed by a South African company known as Hadeco. However their site info is woefully inadequate and gave me no clue as to what to expect from the mystery bulbs. This should teach me from impulse buying flower bulbs. Anywho, they’re slated for burial in the courtyard lily bed.

One perennial on my wishlist that has proven elusive is the Ajuga Dixie Chip. Perhaps in the coming months, I’ll be finding them at the local home improvement nursery.

2/22/2011 Seedlings (1) 2/22/2011 Seedlings (2) 2/22/2011 Seedlings (3) 2/22/2011 Seedlings (4) 2/22/2011 Seedlings (5) 2/22/2011 Seedlings (6) 2/22/2011 Seedlings (7) 2/22/2011 Seedlings (8)

Seed starts and purchases

It’s been a week since sowing, and the first plants out of the gate are the basils. Nearly all the basil plants have sprouted their first set of baby leaves. I have to remind myself to look closer at the Red Rubin basils because their dark purple color blends into the soil background. It only took 3 days for the basil to put out their first roots. I regret not having collected some of the lime basil seeds while I had them available. I hope to find some volunteers in the garden this spring.

Monday holidays are for shopping. So I put in a large order of seeds at various outlets:

Artemisia vulgaris Oriental Limelight 2x Accents from Home & Garden
Felicia amelloides variegata Variegated Felicia 2x Accents from Home & Garden
Petunia x hybrida Easy Wave Series Flag Mix 1×10 Swallowtail Gardens Seeds
Aquilegia caerulea Origami Blue & White 1×15 Swallowtail Gardens Seeds
Aquilegia caerulea Origami Red & White 1×15 Swallowtail Gardens Seeds
Delosperma floribunda Starburst 1×50 Swallowtail Gardens Seeds
Heteropappus meyendorfii Blue Knoll Chrysanthemum 1×15 Park Seeds
Phlox drummondii 21st Century Blue Star 1×15 Park Seeds
Cosmos sulfureus Cosmic Red 1×50 Park Seeds
Cosmos sulfureus Cosmic Yellow 1×50 Park Seeds
Catharanthus roseus Vinca Titan Mix 1×25 Stokes Seed
Lobularia maritima Wonderland White 1×250 Stokes Seed
Lobularia maritima Wonderland Copper 1×250 Stokes Seed
Lobularia maritima Wonderland Mulberry Mix 2×250 Stokes Seed
Thymophylla tenuiloba Dahlberg Daisy 1×50 Stokes Seed
Salvia coccinea Lady in Red 1×25 Burpee
Dianthus chinensis Valentine 1×75 Burpee

Out of the order above, only the Artemisia and Felicia are live plant orders. I suspect I may not get these plants until Delaware comes out of their freeze. I should remember to pay attention to such things…and January is just too early to be ordering plants.