Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Whirlwind May

Wow! May has come and gone already.
Memorial Day 2013
 To the right is a picture of the front yard on Memorial Day. The Miss Kim Lilac bloomed right on time, some alliums are in the background and the geranium sanguineum has just started to pop. My brother an I celebrated with a good luncheon of bacon-wrapped tenderloin, salad, sweet potato hash and dump cake for dessert. MMmmm.

Meanwhile the work in the nursery goes on at a furious pace. It seems I've only caught up potting when more plants arrive. Must do better scheduling next year and I'll have a much better idea of how much space I have. Added a number of items this year after placing the original orders and grew a boatload of plants from seed. Have been hustling Lupines at the market with gusto as I have such a large seed crop. Next year I'll know better what items I can grow from seed and what it would behoove me to order.

 Erin and I are supposed to be potting mums tomorrow and it has become incredibly hot and sultry - very humid and Erin has trouble in the heat. I'm trying to get her going early in the day when it is cooler but she doesn't want to start until 10.... I hope she can put in a couple of hours. We'll be doing them at Vicki's and putting them on the floor of the greenhouse. A temporary measure for sure as I know they'll resent the heat, but I've nowhere to put them in my yard. Trying to keep the extra plants here while we work on Vicki's yard and get some gardens ready for the open house on June 23rd.

Meanwhile for Tootsie Time's Fertilizer Friday "Flaunt Your Flowers" - I've taken quite a few mug shots of the nursery gardens. Have packed a lot of plants into my 33x120' lot and do close-ups so you don't see all the junk and weeds in the background! Here is the garden tour this week:

Baptisia and coral bells

 One of my very favorite plants - Baptisia or Blue False Indigo just starting to bloom with some coral bells in the foreground. Baptisia will form a lovely blue-green shrub to 3-4' with a spread as wide and can become an anchor in the border.
Globe Alliums

Planted these globe alliums lots of years ago and they come back reliably and have even reseeded. I didn't invest in the huge "Globemaster" or one of the fancy named cultivars, just the species and they are pretty striking this time of year. I think I would like them played off a dark green or plain background but I don't have any of that - I'll make a mental design note for any gardens I design...



Berries are becoming plentiful this time of year. Amelanchier or Serviceberry has a good fruit set and I've got Jostaberry - sorry for the crummy photo, wind was blowing- which is a cross between red currant and gooseberry and doesn't carry the white pine blister rust. The blueberries which did so well last year also have a good fruit set, must mean my bumblebees have been busy.

Blueberries just setting fruit

Hope to put in the huckleberries, honeyberries and strawberries into a patch at Vicki's if she'll let me. I love having small fruits in the backyard. You can just go out and pick a few for cereal or yogurt and buy the big flats of them when you do the canning or freezing.

Painted Fern
Variegated Helenium(?)
Variegated Solomon's Seal

Foliage is always fresh and some of the variegated forms are just spectacular as they emerge this time of year. I love the lacy gray and purple fronds of the painted fern.

The Helenium (?) I think - is an addition off the sale rack at the end of last year. Really need to strike a few cuttings of that and put it up against the fence at Vicki's to show off it's great veined foliage.

The Solomon's Seal is a gift from Janet who brought over two - count 'em - TWO - big yard waste bags of them last fall. I tried to pot them but the darn things were just too big and weird to get into a one gallon. So I left the bags to break and rot and go to h-e-double toothpicks. They are definitely hardy - they just rooted in a big clump on top of the ground and they're off to the races. I like where they've chosen to grow so I'll leave them until I pot a few later preferably into two gallons. By the way, the variegated Solomon's Seal is this year Perennial Plant Association Plant of the Year. Quite a nice choice, I'd say.

That's the tour for this week. Next week more things will be emerging and growing and I should have some shots of the garden I'm planting over in front of Vicki's privacy fence. Wonderful backdrop for lots of form and texture in quite a bit of shade....Wish me luck!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Spring has definitely Sprung

The cold frame on the back of the house
We got our first near 90 degree days this last week and vegetation is exploding everywhere. Haven't started the mower yet but the nursery is so crowded I don't think I can get it down the aisles... have to weed whip the burgeoning foliage. To the left is a shot of the cold frame. The plastic disintegrated on it late this winter but quite a bit survived and thrived - parsley, mints, thyme and a couple of chard plants. Have to do some plucking of the parsley before it goes to seed and cook with it.

Blooms are appearing everywhere - lots of overwintered, sky-blue forget-me-nots scattered through the gardens. The poor gardens are so neglected - quack grass growing all over them. Got to get a day (? when?) to get into the garden to do some weeding and digging.

Late on putting in the tomatoes and getting them planted for the big greenhouse. Plan on growing five gallon tomatoes, melons, cukes and zucchini in the big greenhouse as it will be hot this summer and those plants should like it. Need to pot them within the next couple of weeks.

Mum plants ready to be potted
Got a bunch of gorgeous mums in from Faribault Growers in Minnesota. They are really healthy plugs just dying to get into their new pots. Unfortunately I couldn't source the 4 1/2" pots I had been using and had to get 3 1/2" pots that come 18 per flat. I hope I can size plants up enough to make them look like they're worth $3.00 a pot. I hate to lower my price point and get even less than my usual meager profit. But the up side is that more pots fit per flat and I'll get a few more pots on the benches. The down side is that the flats are wider and only fit two per bench instead of three on the green house shelves.

Finally got all of the Walters' material potted. They send such beautiful stuff that I hate to maintain it too long in the flats they come in as they start to downgrade under my care. Planted some striking Cimicifuga 'Hillside Black Beauty' - a shade to part shade plant with the most elegant mounds of deep burgundy foliage - the bonus is a creamy white spike later in the season. Got the plumbago going for later summer sales - sumptuous deep cobalt flowers over glossy green leaves. Can't beat the price, am selling a flat of it for 18 pots - $30.00 per flat. You just can't find this in flats at the nurseries.

The globe alliums in the garden look lovely with their large, round spheres of purple. Had thought I got a picture of them but it didn't register on my camera download. Must have done something wrong. The chives, onion and allium family, are loaded with buds. Saw a recipe for chive blossom vinegar - should try making some.
Silver Mound looking very cute

The nursery plants continue to grow well. Plants, like these 'Silver Mound' Artemesia look great even though they've only had about three weeks in the pot. A few are going to market today. Am so excited to be able to offer a double pink Hellebore and can't wait to get some of these into the gardens. They bloom so early that it is so good to see them do their thing in the earliest of spring. Really need to get the seedlings transplanted as I am running out of new varieties to bring to market. I like to bring something new and exciting each week to keep my customers on their toes!

English bluebells in the garden

Pretty foliage - emerging hosta and painted fern

More foliage - variegated iris

Solomon's Seal and Epimedium leaves

The rest of the photos today are of the garden yesterday evening as the light started to wane. I love the piles of bluebells that come up in the garden. They have been there for maybe 15 years and have never failed. Another good plant is the Variegated Solomon's Seal - Perennial plant of the year for 2013. It is reliable and the foliage lasts all season. Had a devil of a time growing it in a pot though. Maybe I'll offer roots of it in the fall. Had a bunch of it overwinter by just sitting on the ground and they rooted in. Like where they've decided to grow so I'll leave them and thin them this fall.

The new foliage is at its best in early spring when it emerges pristine and very colorful. Hosta are great especially before any of the slugs get to them.

The fall-planted variegated iris look nice in their new home. Maybe they'll get enough sunshine to multiply. Got these from Alice Wiegand's garden many years ago and have been nursing them along ever since.

That's the garden tour for today. Am linking with Tootsie Time again this week for "Fertilizer Friday" - a collection of garden blogs around the world. It is so fun to go and read through them and see what the rest of the world's gardeners are doing. Thanks for visiting, see you next week or my next post!

Friday, May 17, 2013

A Nursery Tour

Plants ready for market
Space is at a premium in the nursery/backyard and plants are regularly going to market. The benches are full and one gallons are swallowing up all the extra real estate. As many plants as there are I still want to get to more seeding to keep fresh plants coming throughout the season. For "Fertilizer Friday - Flaunt Your Flowers" I have included a few snaps of  the nursery and much neglected gardens... Head on over to Tootsie Time to see the rest of the blogs that link up.
The side yard

Our potting output today

Money Plant

Forget me nots and lamium

Blueberry in flower

Pansies in flats

New planting of Ajuga Burgundy Glow

Friday, May 10, 2013

Spring in the Garden

Windblown sun ornament
At the Armada Flea Market there is a wonderful vendor who brings lots of garden ornaments. I want to buy one for Vicki to put on her fence for the view out the kitchen window. They are quite reasonable, metal and costing only 15 or 20 bucks. I think they are spectacular.

For "Fertilizer Friday" with Tootsie Time this week I want to take you on a garden tour of what's blooming now, early May in the gardens. These pictures are taken at my brother's home in a garden my late father and I created. It is so nice to have a legacy like that. We are gardening under black walnut trees, notorious for their toxicity but we found that quite a few perennial plants will grow under them.

Celandine Poppy

Celandine, Trillium, Mertensia and Bleeding Heart
The backyard garden
Yellow tulip aging orange
The "Peace Angel"

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Maybe I have beautiful weather stupor....

For the past week we have had ideal weather. Temps in the low to mid-70s and beautiful blue sky with a few puffy clouds. It seems a bit unreal for Michigan. May has certainly come in like a lamb. Haven't posted in a while because it feels like all I'm doing is going to market and potting, nothing new or exciting. I did finish shoveling all the soil into the raised beds, so we can finally plant them up. I am dying for greens from a garden as I really haven't had any salads to speak of since the community garden closed. I have become a lettuce snob. I hate to eat anything green unless it is homegrown!

Have also been a bit out-of-sorts for the last few days. Just kind of spacey with my mind wandering and I am not in the present moment. Realized this as I drove out to the barn yesterday. Drove for miles without really seeing anything. Might be because it has been the one year anniversary of my Mom's death, been thinking about Mother's Day and how much I miss her. Brother Christopher made a sweet "altar" with a Buddhist statue of the goddess of compassion, Quon Yin, and a beautiful picture of Mom and Dad with a single daffodil from the backyard. Nice tribute to the both of them, as they both died in May.

Started going to markets in earnest last week. Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Did alright but many people were saying they were not yet ready to plant. I hate to think that everyone is going to want all of their plants in the last two weeks of May and then they'll be done with the garden. It all comes in a mad rush this time of year. Eliminated the Friday Royal Oak Market...just felt I couldn't justify sitting there all day for a few bucks, even if they didn't charge booth rental.

So right now it is nose to the grindstone, catch up on potting in the nursery and hustle those plants. It all seems a bit out of reach right now, but I think things will come together in time. Not much in the way of pictures for you. Picasa isn't downloading my phone pictures automatically anymore, so I have to do it manually on my phone, which seems like too much of a hassle. Can't locate the backup, so we'll have to go pictureless this post....May you be taking lots of pictures of your gardens this spring.