Saturday, May 26, 2007

Garden Glimpses : Late May 2007

I'm almost too tired, but here goes with another set of pics from my garden...

Campanula Glomerata This Campanula Glomerata is thriving in my garden, forming a good size patch. I am so pleased with it that I picked up a small white ("Alba") one today. I hope it will be as successful as this purple one. The flowers in the background are my purple Osteospermum, closed since it was an overcast evening.

White Irises This delightful white iris is from my friend Irene. It looks almost angelic.

Chives in FlowerI think chives make a great ornamental, so I have a patch in my flower garden as well as my herb garden. I love to see the big bumblebees on the flowers. [Speaking of which, I was stung by a bee tonight, on the back of my neck, as I was bending to weed under the espalier trees. I heard the high-pitched buzzing (like a bee stuck in a small place), and then the sting. So I danced around, banging at my neck, and flapping my shirt, so it would fall out of my collar or armholes (sleeveless shirt). I never did see the bee, and it only hurt for maybe 20 minutes, leaving a small red spot on my neck.] So the poor bee certainly got the worst of the encounter!

I also like parsley as an ornamental. I've included both chives and parsley in the two planters I created this year.

Flower BorderI like the range of textures and colours in this foliage in the border along the back (southeast) corner of our property. From the front: red currant, underplanted with runaway euphorbia "Fens Ruby", Stachys byzantina (lamb's ear), purple sage, more lamb's ear, with blueberry bushes pushing up through, lilac standard, clump of crocosmia, and then fading out but almost visible: snowberry standard, butterfly bush, Monarda Didyma, missouri currant, and to the very right, the edge of my Lapin Cherry tree.

Red Current Berries The red currant bushes (I am happy to have two of them, one having recovered from many years of being badly chewed, the second, thanks to my Plant Swap friends). Both are showing lots of promise for berries this year. On the other hand, the missouri currant, which was blooming so extensively a month ago, has pretty much failed to form berries, with many of the previously-flowering branches withering (perhaps too much heat lately, I should have watered them sooner?).

Lapin CherriesThe Lapin Cherry is also showing promise of some more cherries this year, if the birds leave us any. Also, the Rainier Cherry has a few berries for the first time this year. I love the anticipation of the fruit trees, each year looking forward to, and dreaming of a larger crop than last year (or in my case, my first tastes).

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Planting Tomatoes and Cukes

I am blessed to have a mother with two very large east-facing windows, who is willing to offer her windowsills for starting my seedlings - not to mention watering and turning them every day! So this year, as is our custom, she started for me a number of tomato plants, cucumbers, and all sorts of odd perennials I have collected or purchased seeds for.

The last couple of days, she has been acclimatizing some of the plants, by taking them outside during the day, and bringing them in at night. So tonight they were ready to plant into my garden.

For the tomatoes, it is important to water deep, to prepare the soil, so I started by digging 5 holes, and filling them repeatedly with water. Since my garden is rich soil on top of a solid clay base, the holes drain very slowly.
Holes Prepared for Tomatoes
I would have liked to add in some bonemeal, but I couldn't find it (perhaps I need to buy more?) so I planted without it. Tomatoes can be buried in quite deep, to allow a good root structure to develop. So I removed all but the top 2 branches, and buried the remainder. Then another good watering, or two, or three. The sun was already setting behind the house, so the conditions were ideal for planting - cool, with no direct sun. Here are the little row of tomatoes, between my espalier apple (left) and espalier asian pear (right). Behind the post is a Sunflower Giganteum.

Tomatoes Just PlantedNext, the cucumbers. Two years ago, I planted a couple of seedlings at the top of my upper retaining wall, on the West side of our house, and they were a huge success, trailing down the wall and onto the grass, and bearing a crisp, sweet cucumber nearly every second day! Then last year, I tried the same thing with cukes and squashes, and was completely disappointed, they couldn't even make their way to trail over the edge of the wall, and I only got one small squash. I suspect the soil, which at that location, is a thin layer of topsoil on top of gravel and clay (backfill to the wall), had lost its nutrients. As an indicator, the hydrangea down the wall had blue flowers, whereas the others in my garden were a vibrant pink.

So a week ago, I amended the soil with an inch of so of compost on the top, and mixed that in, to form a richer base to plant into. I ended up putting in all 7 seedlings, and I'm already dreaming of crispy cucumbers this year. Assuming a slug doesn't come by and chew them off (which is a good possibility in my garden). Well, let's hope.

Cucumbers Just Planted
I also planted in some more seedlings of Cardoon. Last year, I planted one in the front (shady) garden, which didn't get very big, but seems to be taking off this year (although quite covered in black aphids!!).

To my delight, my daughter has taken an interest recently in helping me in the garden. I have even bought her garden gloves (the stretchy cloth ones, with rubberized fingers and palms), and she has been helping me weed the garden a couple of nights. Here is my beautiful little helper, holding a few stalks of our very healthy Campanula Glomerata, which are now on the respective bathroom counters of my two little garden helpers (my son's ongoing contribution, among other gardening interests, is cutting up slugs).
Garden Helper with Campanula Glomerata

Friday, May 18, 2007

Spring Trimming of Espalier Trees

One of my ongoing delights in our garden are our two espalier trees. Caring for them, and seeing their amazing fruiting capacity (that little tree bore about 20 apples on the top pair of branches last year!), has given me a lot of satisfaction.

Once I had the trees properly lined up with the posts, and strung my wire supports (see Moving the Espalier Apple and Asian Pear Trees from February 2006), the maintenance has been pretty simple. A few times a year, the vertical shoots need to be removed, so the tree will direct its energy into the fruit production and growth at the ends of the branches (which will be tied down to the horizontal wires).

This week was the first trim of the season. The trees have flowered and started to set fruit, so no longer a chance of trimming off a fruiting spur, so I chopped quite liberally. Here is the espalier asian pear (with 3 varieties of asian pear, one on each pair of grafted branches), before the trimming:

Espalier Asian Pear Before Trimming
... and after:

Espalier Asian Pear After Trimming
Here's a look at the developing fruit. I'll wait a couple of weeks for it to self-thin, and then thin it to one fruit per spur / clump.

Espalier Asian Pear Fruit
It is interesting that this year, there seems to be more fruit on the lower branches. Last year (first year for fruit), most of the fruit was on the top level, and very little on the lower branches. Perhaps the top ones outdid themselves last year, and are resting. It will be interesting what pattern develops over the years.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Garden Glimpses : Mid-May 2007

Here are a few more recent pics from my garden... Enjoy!

This wonderful purple Osteospermum is thriving on my sunny hillside, and a couple of days ago, burst into bloom. It is one of my favourites, and I love to share rooted cuttings with visitors to my garden. I am not sure it is a "Soprano" series (as I speculated earlier, in Past Favourites : Osteospermum), but whatever type of Osteospermum it is, it is a very hardy and fast-spreading one.

This has become a blue corner of my garden, with the blue Corydalis in front, the Hyacinthoides hispanica (Spanish bluebells), and blue Ajuga reptans (Bugleweed) behind it. Framed by the graceful arched branches of Polygonatum biflorum (Solomon's Seal), with its row of creamy white bell-shaped flowers.

Who says gardening isn't fun for kids, too?

Well, I started too late, I'm too tired to post any more pics tonight.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Garden Glimpses : Late April 2007

Here are a few more pics from my garden, taken last week. Enjoy!

Petasites Frigidus in Bloom
Last week, my kids shouted to me that they had found some enormous dandelion flowers, and came running to me with stalks of what turned out to be my Petasites Frigidus. This is its first year in our garden, and it is already spreading and establishing a pretty good territory in the wet, shady hillside area of my garden. So we quickly picked off the stalks, to prevent it from seeding itself liberally and taking over the remainder of the garden. What a beautiful addition it is, so far! I was pleased to catch a glimpse of it in the November/December 2005 issue of the Gardens West magazine, within "Trudi Brown's Oasis".


I received this epimedium (with the heart shaped leaves) from a gardening friend in the Fall, and enjoyed this single yellow flower stalk this year, next to a single pink epimedium flower stalk (I missed taking its photo, it was in its prime a few weeks earlier).

Metal Frogs and Climbing HydrangeaI bought these wonderful metal frogs many years ago, in a small shop in Gastown (Vancouver, BC). I placed them to hide the metal clips to which I had tied my tiny climbing hydrangea until it established itself against this concrete retaining well. Within a few years, the hydrangea has now reached the frogs, and spread very nicely to cover a patch of the wall. It has yet to flower, but I am more than content with the twisting stems and lush green foliage.
Metal Frog CloseupMetal Frog Closeup
Here is a closeup of those whimsical little frogs. I wish I had bought dozens of them, of the many different colours. Perhaps one day I still will (if my family is not around to dissuade me).

Pieris Japonica Spring GrowthThis Pieris Japonica is not my favourite bush most of the year, but in the Spring, the new growth is a gorgeous pink. There is a truly spectacular large version of this bush in the neighbourhood, I hope to remember my digital camera one day when I am passing by.
Fritillaria ImperialisThis Fritillaria Imperialis is well past its prime, but still attracts interest and comments from passers-by. It grows proudly in our front garden.

Japanese MapleThis Japanese Maple looks great year round. I love this vivid red of the fresh Spring growth. It looks great under snow also, as this post will testify.
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