Archive for the horticulture Category

Hellebore: looking up

Posted in gardening, horticulture on March 23, 2012 by planthoarder

Hellebore are subtle beauties. You might not notice them next to a daylily or a rose, but their eagerness to bloom when we’re so desperate for a bit of color is endearing. I’ve heard ‘Ivory Prince’ tends to bloom a bit more upright than the common Lenten rose, but mine are just seedlings offered by a friend. It’s been such an odd spring, feeling more like summer here, that I almost expect to see a rose in bloom, but here’s my little Lenten rose doing a little trick for me by blooming upright. It’s nothing to get excited about, not some breakthrough genetics that will lead to a new generation of upward blooming hellebore. You can see the flower next to it blooming in the normal way, but this up-facing flower sure brings a smile to my heart. This odd spring will come and go. Thanks to the magic of photography, I can keep this cute little devil forever.

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Greenhouse Dreams

Posted in gardening, horticulture with tags , , , , on March 11, 2012 by planthoarder

What gardener wouldn’t want a greenhouse? We’d love to stretch the growing season (and growing zone!), but not many of us have the money or space to run an ideal glass house. Lately there’s been a temptation lurking in big box stores: plastic covered metal framed greenhouses. Last year my father succumbed. It’s 6’x8′ (1.8m x 2.4m) and ended up not fitting well into his garden (at least that’s what he told me), so now I have it. Hmm, how to make it work…

We put it up on gravel and attached it to 6″x 6″ boards anchored into the ground, because the wind from the west can be pretty strong around here. It was obvious that it was built to have good ventilation; there’s a flap at the bottom that never seals and four screen windows that close with Velcro. A professional greenhouse grower told me about her losses from a night when cold air slipped beneath a closed door and damaged frost sensitive plants. It will be just over two months before our average last frost, so frost is a concern.

How do we make the greenhouse safe for our seedlings? We’re going to try a passive solar technique: heat sinks. We picked up some cheap used barrels and filled them with water. The barrels were white, so we threw a sheet of used rubber roofing over them. After a week, it seems the temperature inside the greenhouse is about 10 degrees (F) warmer than outside, so today we’re trusting our first seedlings to it: parsley¬† (yes, they sprouted yesterday!), cole crops, and ‘Mignonette’ strawberry seedlings. Hopefully it will be warm enough soon to grow tomato and pepper seedlings.

Cross your fingers for me!

What are you garden groupies thinking?

Posted in blogging, gardening, horticulture with tags on March 9, 2012 by planthoarder

As a freshly minted garden blogger, I’m curious to know what attracts you to a blog, what turns you off, and what keeps you reading, so I’m going to try a poll or four.

An Argument for Untidiness

Posted in gardening, horticulture with tags on March 6, 2012 by planthoarder

Late every autumn it’s time to clear up all the vegetable garden debris and tidy up the garden. We don’t want any hiding places for pests and disease to bide their time waiting for the succulent shoots of spring. The flower garden gets no such attention. Why? Winter. Just as we can almost taste sweet spring, Mother Nature dumps a load on us (of snow, of course). No matter, we still have last year’s seed heads to remind us of this year’s promise.

Achillea, Sedum, Hydrangea, and Phlomis are all quite charming in winter, and the quaint puffed seed heads of poppies and love-in-a-mist serve double duty as they seed themselves into the garden.

No, untidiness is not for everyone, and the stark, subtle beauty of the winter garden is not the same as the glory of summer, but we’ll still have that in time. Soon, very soon.