Feeds:
Posts
Comments

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.
Advertisements

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.

“A YEAR IN MY NEW ENGLAND GARDEN”

IMG_7188

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!

Today, after lunch, since I was in the Dining Room and half way to the gardens, I thought I’d take a little swing through them to see what was peeking up.  I was NOT disappointed!  In fact, after I waltzed through the 3 levels, I went upstairs and got my little iPod-Touch (my camera!) and went back to take some pictures of the rhododendrons.  They are VERY pregnant with blooms, IMG_7211and I thought that justified a blog posting about how to deal with rhododendrons, or rhodies, as I call them.

Over the next month these plants will bloom, and bloom and bloom.  They are among the most prolific and beautiful blossoms you will find in our gardens.IMG_7214IMG_7213

Now, how do you care for them?  They are really pretty easy.  Here are some basic points to think about:

  • DO NOT PRUNE UNTIL THEY ARE DONE BLOOMING.  If you do, you will rob us all of beautiful flowers!  If you want to pick some of your own blooms for use inside, that is of course your privilege.  Do NOT pick blooms from any one else’s garden however!  (Unless you have permission.)
  • Prune sparingly.  Try to remove ONLY dead and diseased plant material.  If the shrub really needs to be brought under control, size-wise, or if they are looking “leggy”, it’s easy to do by pruning right down as close to a parent branch as possible.  You will get new shoots, which will be blooming in a couple of years.
  • These plants bloom so prolifically that they often exhaust themselves trying to produce seed from all those blossoms.  If you are careful, you can remove the spent blossoms.  However, be careful to take ONLY the spent bloom, and NOT the leaves surrounding them, as that is where next years blossoms form.  If you are feeling timid about this, just leave them alone.  Then when they are completely dry, you can almost brush them off!  Or still leave them alone, the plant will be just fine.  Some wild plants are NEVER pruned and they continue to bloom as if they were being paid for it!!!IMG_7206
  • Here is a Washington State Extension article about pruning your rhodie.  It has more links associated with the page.  Click away!
  • Fertilize them?  They naturally grow in the woods, with no need for extra fertilizer.  They love partial shade, as well as all the needles and leaves that coat the forest floor.  Keep that in mind!
  • Do they need extra water?  Probably not.  As long as they have rich soil and good mulch they should do fine.  If we have a REALLY dry spell, they would probably be grateful for a DEEP watering.  They are shallow rooted, so if you don’t water them deeply, the roots will head toward the top of the soil to get that water, making them vulnerable to heat and dryness.IMG_7210

Here is a PDF from Washington State Extension Service.  It tells about a myriad of issues that can take down your rhodies and azaleas.  Don’t let the article scare you off.  It looks pretty dramatic.  BUT, if you DO have a problem with your shrub, there are great pictures here of what the affected plants and leaves look like, and then you can deal with the problem.  Click on the link to see the information.

Now, notice how healthy all the rhodies look in the photo’s I took today?  Our plants are doing quite well, and you probably won’t have ANY of those difficulties…so don’t worry about it!

At any rate, enjoy the rhododendrons as they fill our gardens with a profusion of wonderful color and cheer!  All of our gardeners are HOPING you go down to the garden terraces and just “hang out” there!

There was also a clump of Hellebores blooming away…here they are!IMG_7209

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!

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!

JANUARY

  • 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!

IMG_7146

At Christmas we went to our daughter’s home.  She had this amaryllis blooming on her table in the living room.  Like so many of us, a little guidance on how to care for this gorgeous plant would be helpful.  I will attempt to do that here.  I will give you the “simple” guide, but I will provide you with some links that will go into much greater detail, so you can go as deeply into this as you’d like…or stop at the simplest!

I am going to assume you were given a blooming amaryllis bulb and it is beginning to fade.  Your question now is probably, “What now?”

You can just treat it like any other houseplant in order to have it bloom again next year. BUT, there are a few things you need to do.  As soon as the flower has faded, cut the flower stalk off a bit above the bulb-maybe an inch or two.  DO NOT CUT OFF THE LEAVES.  The leaves are needed to replenish the bulb with all the nutrients it utilizes to re-bloom next year!  On the photograph of Christa’s blooming amaryllis, you’ll notice there are no leaves, or at least just a tiny one.  (After you cut back the flower stalk, leaves will miraculously appear.  Just let them grow until they fade as well!)

Place the pot near a sunny window, water and fertilize in the same manner you do with your other houseplants.  Then, when all danger of frost is gone, sink the pot in an east or west facing spot in your garden.

As the leaves begin to turn yellow during the progressing season, cut back on any watering until the soil drys out and the leaves fade totally.  At that time, your bulb is dormant and you can bring it back inside.  If you have a cool spot (about 45*-55*f.) allow it to stay there for a couple of months.  At that point, you can water it and set it back on your sunny windowsill and treat it the same as your other plants.

I promised you a couple of sites that would give you more in-depth direction and information.  Here are two.  One is from the University of Minnesota Extension and the other is from Iowa State University.

Here is a past Post from my New Hampshire Blog about how I dealt with Amaryllis there.  It’s from a different climate and zone, so you may get a chuckle out of seeing the differences!  Enjoy!

TUESDAY, MARCH 29, 2005

Amaryllis, indoor

My amaryllis has finished it’s blooming. Those bright, vibrant red blooms were a delight on the window sill in our northern climate. The Easter Cactus blooming right next to it was the same color. What a joy!
All things must end, however, so it faded and I cut the stem off just above the neck of the bulb. Strangly enough the bulb never put forth any leaves. NOW that the bloom is gone, however, the leaves are making an appearance. There are 4 or 5 of them popping up from the bulb.
I will now put the plant downstairs in the cooler basement and cut back a bit on the watering. Fertilization will not happen again until the weather is a bit warmer, and it goes outside.
I do not have an outdoor cold frame, so I’ll have to find a sheltered spot out in the garden when the frost is no longer a problem. In this northern climate, we joke that the “no frost dates” are from July 4th until Labor Day!
Anyway, it will be coddled until it goes outside and then I’ll put it in my chicken-wire box where it will be safe from critters, but able to enjoy the great outdoors. In the fall the reverse process will happen. I’ll stop the water again, bring the pot back inside, checking for insects, etc. It will stay in the basement while the foliage dies back. At that point (January or February), I’ll clean off the old foliage and dried scales, as well as take out about an inch of soil from around the bulb (gently) and add some rich soil and compost.
Amaryllis bulbs do best if pot-bound, so don’t be too quick to use a larger pot. Give them 2-4 years before this kind of a change.

 

 

 

 

Liam's Travels

Not all those who wander are lost

The Sharing Gardens

A Master Gardener from Northern New England moves to the Pacific Northwest. Here are accumulated gardening experiences encountered along the way.

Hot Saucers Ultimate

Hamilton College's Ultimate Frisbee Team

This Veggie Life

A Vegetarian | Nature Lifestyle Blog

A Transplanted Gardener

A Master Gardener from Northern New England moves to the Pacific Northwest. Here are accumulated gardening experiences encountered along the way.

Karen Whalen

A Writer Sharing Her One in a Million Journey with Adrenal Cancer

Camp Merrowvista

The official blog of Merrowvista summer camp

G Chek Flys!

My Photography and Aviation Interests

Storyshucker

A blog full of humorous and poignant observations.

Wausau News

Health and Freedom News

Lyons Bonsai

A Novice Bonsai journey in Ireland

A Bridge to the Garden

Seminars for Gardeners about Gardening