Archive for the ‘Bulbs’ Category

Know your Horticultural Zone.  Find it here!

  • Bring home some wonderful blooming flowers to enjoy around the house!
  • Be sure to fertilize that poinsettia.IMG_7112
  • Check your stored bulbs to be sure they’re not being eaten by mice.
  • Remove bulbs to be forced, from cold storage. Put them in a cool place until they begin to sprout, then bring them into the place you want to have them bloom.images.duckduckgo
  • This is a good time to buy summer blooming bulbs.
  • When your bulbs begin to sprout, give them a bit of fertilizer and scratch it into the soil.
  • If you want to get spring blooming plants, like creeping phlox, look for the ones in bloom so you’re sure to get the color you want!
  • Start seeds inside.
  • Begonias can be started directly in the garden.
  • Use maples as a guide.  When they start sending out leaves, the soil should be good for planting!
  • Don’t plant in mud!
  • Divide Perennials, and remember to water the new plantings if spring rains don’t materialize.
  • You can plant gladiola images.duckduckgoa few  every two weeks (up until July) to guarantee summer long bloom.
  • Once the soil has begun warming (remember the maples), get those veggie seeds & crops in the ground.
  • This is a good time to send in a soil sample for testing.
  • If you have a lawn, now would be the time to send the mower in for a tune-up.
  • Fruit trees should be pruned of dead and diseased branches. Check a reference book and give them a general pruning as well.
  • Keep your pruning shears away from spring blooming trees and shrubs, except to snip a few for inside forcing! (Although you should certainly remove dead and diseased branches.) Some good forcing candidates are: cherry, apple, dogwood and forsythia.  Just remember that whatever you cut off now will not be blooming in a few months!
  • Cut back woody perennials like artemesia, lavender and russian sage to about 6 inches from the ground.
  • Prune roses by removing old, damaged, diseased, and unproductive canes.  You can bring bush roses back to a foot or so tall, and shrub roses to three feet.img_2212
  • Talk about pruning shears…sharpen and clean them before using.

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As many of you, my faithful readers, know-I wrote a book, entitled “A Year in My New England Garden”, a few years ago.  This is the story of how that came to happen.

Gardening has been an important part of my life since I was a kid living on Staten Island, one of the 5 boroughs of NYC.  It began when my mother decided she was going to become a “gardener”!

Her first venture was to plant some daffodils.  daffodils-1399483She knew they should be planted pretty deep in the ground, but she overextended that a bit, and when the flowers came up, the blooms were resting with their “chins” on the ground!  They had stretched about as far as they could and it didn’t allow them to get their blossoms farther than the soil surface.  It was pretty funny.  My mother NEVER made that mistake again (and neither did I!).

Her zeal to learn about how to do it right, brought her to membership into three different garden clubs.  She loved them…and boy!  Did she learn about gardening!

We had a very small plot of land around our house on Staten Island, but she filled it with beautiful, aromatic, and even tasty plants, although her passion was really for flowers.  There were climbing June roses, whose odor still bring me right back to my youth when I smell them today.  There were prize winning chrysanthemums, as well as proper daffodils, and other blooming bulbs, and perennials, etc.

She had my Dad build a pergola for her, that was a groaning board for honey-suckle vines.  We ate out there all summer long, right by the birdbath, surrounded by lovely plants of all sorts (and a TON of bees, I might add!).

Her garden clubs titilated her artistic bent and she soon began to make floral arrangements.  Those arrangements were so good that they were not only entered into the NY Flower Show, but she actually won prizes there for her endeavors.  We were very proud, but didn’t fully recognize the awesomeness of her talent until we were much older and realized just what she had accomplished!

She generated in me a life-long romance with flowering plants and anything having to do with them.  I, however, was never a “garden clubber”.  I have always found them to be more social than practical.  Perhaps that was just because where I lived tended to attract gardeners who cared more for the condition of their fingernails, than the soil those nails encountered!-7

At any rate, when I learned about the Master Gardener Programs available all over this country, I felt I  had found my calling!  I became a Master Gardener in Connecticut, where we lived at this point, and found my niche in helping new, or struggling gardeners be able to plant their daffodils right, the first time!

When my husband and I  retired to New Hampshire, I looked for a gardening “hot line” in vain.  At the time I arrived, they didn’t have one of those in my area (the boonies!)  So, I began a BLOG!

I worked on that blog for years, until we made the move to the Pacific Northwest, where we are closer to our daughter and her family, after years of living close to our sons.  (Don’t even ask why our kids all live a continent apart!)  I enjoyed the blog, and started a new one more appropriate for our new area.  I struggled with how I should approach it’s direction.

While struggling with that, I thought perhaps I should put some of my accumulated knowledge into a book, which is what I did.-1

It is essentially a collection of gardening vignettes followed by a gardening calendar.  It does tell about my New England garden, but a daffodil has the same needs in Seattle as it does in North Haverhill, NH and Wethersfield, CT.  Pruning is the same and the birds select their seed and backyards the same way.  Judging when to water depends on the plant, not the location in which you live!  So, although the book talks about a New England Garden…(I wish I had given it a different name.)  It really applies to ANY garden, and the stories are there for your enjoyment.  I’m hoping perhaps you give it a “look see”.  Perhaps you, or a gardener you know, might enjoy an inexpensive, yet information packed, gardening tome.


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Here are the hellebores in all their February glory!  As you saw in my last post, the garden is not sleeping any longer.  The natural alarm clock has gone off, and the plants are busy preparing for their appearance!

Here are some things you can deal with this month in your garden.  At Horizon House, not all of them are appropriate, but there are other gardeners (not living at Horizon House) who read this blog as well, so I’ve added a few things for them.  If something doesn’t apply to you, well just ignore it!

  • Bring home some wonderful blooming flowers to enjoy around the house!
  • This is the time to get out and take a good look at your trees to see if they could stand some pruning. It is easy to see whether there are broken or diseased branches now that there are no leaves.  Always think “could a bird fly right through this tree without banging into a branch?”  That would indicate that air and sun could ALSO fly right through-and that would be a GOOD thing!
  • Are you ordering from those catalogs? This is the time to plan on making your dreams come true! At least in the garden.
  • As you look around the neighborhood, make note of plants that have “winter interest”. Find out what they are and plan to add them to your garden when the weather is better!
  • Trees are easy to identify in the winter because all the leaves are gone. However, you have no leaves to use to help you either…so go to the book store and buy a Winter Tree Identification Guide. (I identified one of MANY appropriate books.  See if there’s one that you can relate with!)  It’s kind of fun identifying trees by their shapes, and the kids love doing it as well.
  • If you haven’t done it already, sharpen those tools-and while you’re at it, organize them as well.
  • Before you know it, should you have a lawn, it will be time to roll out the lawn mower. Has it been serviced? Get it to the shop before everyone else beats you to it.
  • If you have grapes, prune the vines now. If you wait until it begins to warm up, they will “bleed”.
  • Get rid of weeds you see, and if the mulch is getting thin, replenish it.
  • Do you have winter vegetables?  Now’s the time to harvest!
  • If you haven’t done a soil test done lately, maybe now’s the time?
  • If you start seeds this month or next, try using clear topped take-home trays that you get leftovers in, from restaurants. They work really well!  (I don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen too many of these around lately.  I guess we’re getting better about compostable containers!)
  • Force some of your spring blooming twigs for indoor color. Try fruit trees, forsythia, dogwood, pussy willow and quince. Just bring them inside and allow them to sit in a large vase with water.
  • Keep those bird feeders full, unless you live in a high rise, like Horizon House…then the feeders attract varmints.  Horizon House residents…NO BIRD FEEDERS, except for Humming bird feeders.
  • Be sure to keep the leaves of indoor plants “dusted”. It helps to wipe them with a damp cloth to keep the pores open.
  • Look around the garden (if it isn’t covered by snow) and be sure none of your perennials have been heaved out of the ground by frost. If they have, press them back down.
  • Plant any bare root trees or shrubs when you get them.  They are usually available now.  They will be cheaper and probably easier to start!
  • Remove any heavy snow (should you have it)  from the evergreens.
  • Be alert!  You may see some signs of spring.  A bulb peeking up where you least expect it?  A robin after that worm?  WHEEEEE!  Can’t WAIT!

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Oh, my goodness!  This morning I took a walk around the gardens of Horizon House!  For those of you willing to walk slowly and really observe your surroundings, you too can find the deliciousness of SPRING IN JANUARY, all around us!

Here are the pictures I took.  I started outside the Dining Room and took photos of what you see as you sit and eat.

Then I went down to the E Level entrance from Freeway Park, and took a few pictures of Hellebores there.

Then it was on to the Secret Garden, Level C, and Level D!

Finally, I went out in front of Horizon House and as well as across the street where the Witch Hazel trees are blooming right outside the Virginia Mason Hospital!

What a delight!  It gave me hope that spring is actually COMING.  Hold onto your hat…and come along for the ride!


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I’ve had a few folks ask about a calendar of “what to do when” in the garden.  I have to be a little picky here, as I’m really writing this blog for those who live at Horizon House (a Retirement facility) with raised garden beds…no big expanses, trees or large shrubs.  This means that some chores are adjusted in such a way as to fit our needs.  However, ALL of these are useful for ANY gardener in the Pacific Northwest.  I will try to post one of these for every month as we go forward.  If it appears that they are either too “simplistic” or too “all encompassing”, please bear with me, and fit them to YOUR own needs!   I hope you find them useful, no matter how large or small your piece of Eden!


  • Some folks cut off the spent christmas tree boughs and lay them on top of flower beds to add extra protection, from errant snow or even low temperatures.
  • Do you have anything that’s stored away…like tubers of any sort?  Bulbs, veggies (potatoes, etc.)  Check them and toss any mushy ones into the compost.
  • Don’t forget the birds.  images.duckduckgoEspecially here in the PNW where little hummingbirds spend the winter.  There aren’t many blossoms for them to tap…offer them some sugar water.  (4 part’s water to 1 part sugar.  Bring to a boil, and cool.  It will keep nicely in the refrigerator.)
  • This might be a good time to start a Gardening Journal.  You can use a notebook, a calendar, or even a published gardening journal you buy at the bookstore.
  • Had any early storms?  Pick up and dispose of debris.
  • Turn your indoor plants every week or so in order to keep their growth even, as they will grow toward the sun.
  • While you’re at it be sure to constantly check those indoor plants for insects and give them a soapy, bubble bath if you find any!
  • Check your fruit trees (and actually ANY trees) and cut out the “water sprouts”.  They are new growth that points STRAIGHT up.  They will only block air and sunshine, and are totally non-productive.  Remember when you prune to get as close to the trunk as you can without cutting into it.  The wound will heal by itself.  No need to paint it with anything, as that may actually impede the healing process.
  • It’s a good time to clean up your tools.  A good method is to have a small pail filled with sand to which you’ve added some old oil.  Then you can plunge your shovels, spades and trowels in to clean off the old dirt, and coat them with oil at the same time!
  • It’s a good time to take your shears, pruners (and lawn mowers if you have such a thing) in to be sharpened!  Then they’ll be ready in the spring.
  • For goodness sakes, enjoy your gardening catalogs and use them to plan next years garden!  Order stuff now, they will be sent at the proper planting time, and at least you know you’ll GET what you want!
  • Stay active!

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Last time, I talked about Bulb Lasagna, which was the technique of planting your bulbs in a container.  Today, I’ll talk about putting them right in your garden.  Let’s also realize that you probably have some bulbs already in place. Screen Shot 2017-09-13 at 8.44.17 AM On my New Hampshire blog, I had an article about dealing with (already) planted bulbs this time of year.  Even though it talks about bulbs about to experience a rather cold winter, it will help you with fertilizers and treatment for wintering bulbs…no matter what the climate.  100_0120

A year ago, I had an entire blog entry about bulbs.  Here is the link for that.  No sense “re-writing” all the same stuff.  This link tells you the “how’s, why’s and where’s about bulb planting!

If you haven’t bought your bulbs yet, there’s still time.  You can get bulbs at any garden center.  You can also utilize a mail order nursery.  I belong to a Pacific North West Gardening Facebook site where I asked about local Nurseries.  I got two suggestions;  You can check them out here.  Easy To Grow Bulbs or  Roozengaarde in Mt. Vernon.

The nurseries I used ship worldwide, so they are also worth checking.  Their bulbs are “prime”!  White Flower Farm and John Scheepers.



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I just read an article about Bulb Lasagna.  It had a link to Molbak’s Garden and Home page, explaining how to do it!  Here’s another article concerning this idea.  It looks like a GRAND idea!  Could I pull it off?  I’d need to add another pot into my garden of pots (pictured above).  Screen Shot 2017-09-13 at 8.44.17 AMThis also might be a possibility for those of you who have “Juliet” balconies with flowers.  But, it may also give others of you some ideas on planting bulbs in general.  We’re getting close to that time.

I guess the idea is to have it in a sheltered area, avoiding the greatest threat of freezing.  Then the pot needs to be deep enough.  Ten (10) inches for two (2) layers and fourteen (14) inches for three (3) layers, etc.  It should be overplanted (on top) with a type of ground cover to keep it looking pretty when it’s not in bloom.

There are also suggestions that you plan on early, mid-season and late blooming bulbs in order to keep the show going longer!  This sounds like fun.

It also brings up the fact that we need to start thinking about planting bulbs in the garden.  Perhaps that will be my next blog entry.



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