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Ye Olde Garden

New plants, growing seeds under lights fail

Let this be a reminder for the fall and 2013 spring planting season: forgetting to lower the grow lights at the lowest possible distance results in very weedy, weak seedlings. I had to throw out a batch of snapdragon seedlings due to spindly and frail stems that made them unsustainable during transplant. This wasted hours of my time, electricity and a batch of Jiffy 7 pellets. Never mind that it was probably too late to plant the snapdragons this late into the year, I must remember to lower the lights next time. I will most likely write an article reminder to self on what to plant for fall, including snaps, violas (which I have not planted), alyssum, and all manner of spring annuals.

Also resulting in fail: 2 out of 3 dusty miller cuttings rotted at the stems. They may perhaps need a drier, sandy medium; or it may just behoove to start them from seed. These Silver Dust dusty millers seem to thrive in cool shade; since the doorway strip plants have tripled in size since I moved them there. They show a lot of vigor in cooler temps.

The zinnias I started in pellets are also thin and reedy, but I suspect that once I move them into pots into the warm weather, they will thrive. I have already transplanted the coleus seedlings this past weekend, kept them under lights to encourage them to root out. The alyssum I started are sitting outside, hardening off, but I suspect they are too frail to keep out in full sun despite the near-80s temps (mild IMO). My man has been attempting to keep them watered in hopes that they will thrive.

Not thriving: my salvia purchases from High Country Gardens. I’m really disappointed with these starts. They had weak stems, and the one sign of green from the Salvia jurisicii ‘Blue’ fell off; and the leaves of the Salvia dorrii ‘Desert Purple Sage’ have dried off one by one. I am giving them one more week under lights before I request a refund from HCG.

This past Saturday I sated my lust for new plant life by heading off to Strong’s Nursery to pick out some new and interesting specimens. They had a new batch of salvia greggii Nuevo Leon, boasting some of the most neon purple-blue flowers I’ve ever seen. These are more vibrant than the standard salvia greggii violet and purple pastel specimens I currently have in the garden. However, with Nuevo Leon, the leaves are more lanceolate, have a milder scent, and the flowers are much smaller. I hope that it will at least be just as floriferous.

3/27/2012 March New Plants (2)

Cuban Gold duranta and 2 pots of Tequila Sunrise Variegated coreopsis also went into our cart. I was attracted to the bright yellow foliage of the duranta which grows to about 2 feet high. This may be a good plant to position in the sunnier end of the front shade bed; though I worry that it might blend in too much with the hakonechloa and the coleus I intend to plant in that bed. The variegated coreopsis was a surprise; this was the first time we found a coreopsis with variegated leaves. We’re excited to have this plant join our gardens and are now searching for a spot to plant them in.

3/27/2012 March New Plants (3)

We also picked up two Texas Gold columbines for the front yard shade bed. After the spectacular flower show our Origami Red and White gave us, we can’t wait to see this columbine produce its own show. I must remember to give it plenty of water for this first year planting. We also add two red verbenas to the front yard flower bed to compliment our red/white tulip and azalea show going strong right now. Must water, must water, must water!

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Sunday afterwards, we dropped by North Haven Gardens in search of new plants. However, all we came away with were herbs: golden sage, mexican marigold, dwarf curry mini, and lavender Kew Red.

3/27/2012 March New Plants (1)

The first Midnight Blue bloom for this year appeared this week, followed by what I am sure will be a cascade of rose blooms. The first thing to observe is how large and vibrant these cool weather blooms will be.

3/27/2012 March New Plants (8)

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Ye Olde Garden

Spring to summer seed packets

I stopped by North Haven Gardens this weekend to pick up some seeds. It was very difficult to resist picking up their 50% off sale on spring bulbs! I can’t wait to outdoor sow them! The rains this past weekend has made the ground damp enough for me to put down some violas into the door strip bed.

1/11/2012 Spring Seed Packets (1)

Also: picked up some cat grass seed for the kitty; he’s taken a huge interest in the ginger plants I have parked by the door.

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Ye Olde Garden

Freeze alert

After deceptively mild weather for the Thanksgiving, it was evident that we were experiencing our last patches of warm weather before the cold front hit this weekend. My holiday shopping weekend was cut short by sudden drops in temperature, and I knew I would have to bring in my plants for the last time this year.

11/29/2011 Freeze Alert (1) 11/29/2011 Freeze Alert (2)

I missed the opportunity to bring in the eggplant yesterday, so I had to rush it into the bathroom greenhouse to see if it could be rescued. I’m not sure if the fruit will make it. It’s pretty short for what I’m used to in Chinese eggplants.

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Outdoors, the damage from the overnight frosts has manifested into dead/wilted potato and basil plants. The traditional large leaf basils like Red Rubin and Genovese experienced the most damage. The lime, Pesto Perpetuo and Thai basil display browning less so. One of the Thai basil specimens appears to be laughing off the cold; but sooner or later, all the basils will be done.

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The succulent planter seems to be hanging on. Whereas the petunia/caladium planter bowl shows signs of receding.

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I found a surprise greeting me at one of the asters in the blue bed. A few blooms hid at the base of the plant, near the mulch line. I believe this one was Aster novi-belgii Believer.

11/29/2011 Freeze Alert (13) 11/29/2011 Freeze Alert (14)

Pansies, violas, ornamental kale, petunias, miscellaneous herbs, foxtail ferns, loropetalum, are all still hanging in there. The dusty millers must be enjoying their new location and this cool weather; they have doubled in size since I moved them from the front flower bed. I guess they prefer the protection. I expected the lemon verbena to die back down since it’s considered an annual, but it seems to enduring in the mixed planter box along with the chives, golden oregano, and aster cuttings. (Those are the remaining vincas hanging over from a neighboring planter. And a Red Rubin basil hiding out as well!)

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Ye Olde Garden

October Bed Works

My shopping spree carried over into Sunday, but I didn’t spend as much time as I did Saturday. After all, plants don’t plant themselves (at least, not very often in my own garden).

I did head out to Lowes and Home Depot again, looking for bargains. I ended up with 4 pots, a 9 pack of ornamental kale, and a bag of tulip bulbs, Happy Generation. I know, I know…I just can’t resist those bulbs. And where did I end up putting them? In the front yard bed. That gets a fair amount of water, on and off season. Ah well, I will content myself with tulips being annual…but I’m hoping for a decent show next spring.

So it ended up being sore work Sunday afternoon. Fifty pansies, 36 violas, 30 giant grape hyacinths (Bellevalia pycnantha according to my American Meadows order), 18 tulip bulbs, 6 fall crocuses (Wild Saffron), 9 mixed ornamental kale all found a home. I relocated the 2 Stella de Oro daylilies in the front door landing strip, along with 2 struggling Silver Dust dusty millers. I also tore out the 2 Confetti lantanas flanking the Autumn Monarch azalea (which happens to be blooming quite profusely at the moment) and took cuttings in hopes of overwintering them. Did I mention one of those Confettis had a root as long as I was tall–we’re talking at least 5 feet long! Last, but not least, I also relocated the Seabreeze salvia into the front flower bed.

Next, I spent the rest of the afternoon re-potting pepper plants and hostas. I managed to dig up the struggling remains of the Wide Brim hostas from the shade bed. They were unsuccessful in the bed due to the constant slug onslaught and too much sun exposure. I also got my Francee hosta roots transplanted into their own pots. The Gold Standard and the Minuteman hostas also moved into larger homes. In addition, nine pepper plants also received new homes; unfortunately I’m at a loss at identifying them at the moment. I think the doubled up pepper plants are the Thai chilis. I should have the Jupiter bells, banana peppers, and Fresno peppers surviving from the July starts.

Back and backsides are sore…it comes out of hunching over on uncomfortable bags of sand, while carefully replanting things. I’m still sore just thinking of it. But I have some basil to take indoors with me during the winter time: Pesto Perpetuo, lime basil and classic Genovese basil.

Hey, at least I’m in the spirit of autumn now. I’m referring to the pumpkin display decorating my front porch.

Why is it I can’t seem to successfully photograph the Moonglow salvia greggii’s true yellow color blooms?

Wishlist plant of the day: tricyrtis “Imperial Banner”.

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Ye Olde Garden

Eggplant be mine!

I took a snapshot of the soon-to-be eggplant. It’s less than an inch long at this time, but I’m looking forward to seeing it. Aside from the Thai chili peppers, this may be the only other fruit of this year from my amateur caretaking efforts at a vegetable garden.

10/16/2011 Eggplant be mine!

Afterwards, I went on a whirlwind tour of 4 garden centers: 2 Calloways, 1 Home Depot and Christina’s. It took half of my day and Dandy was a tired pup after the shopping trip. My list of purchases include: 1 bag of 10 Tulipa clusiana Tubergen’s Gem bulbs, 6 more bags of Scotts Garden Soil, 2 flats of violas, 2 flats of pansies, 2 4″ pots of dianthus and 1 4″ pot of red lantana. The following is a sneak peek of the new arrivals–really not much to see!

10/16/2011 The patio with new arrivals