Gotta Garden

Friday, November 30, 2007

Wintersweet (or Not)

Just when I was going to give myself a good pat on the back for getting my spring bulbs in, I remembered that there are bulbs around the Redspire Pear (that is coming down).....There are Mondragon and Ice Follies Daffodils, plus several nice clumps of Cream Beauty Crocus. Okay, I could probably stand to lose the Ice Follies Daffodils, but really, the others are quite nice, permitting, I'll get to those very soon.

The weather has just been amazing, I can't get over it. Thursday, I was in Charlottesville all day attending a master gardener seminar. Too bad Charlottesville can't be closer. I hated to lose a nice day outside, but you gotta take advantage of those educational opportunities.

For several days, I have stood on my deck and looked down at the Wintersweet (Chimonanthus) and thought, huh, I think it might actually have buds. It has never bloomed and I remember reading that they can take up to seven years to bloom. I bought mine several years ago from a reputable company because of its promised fragrance (I do love fragrant shrubs). Wednesday, I actually ventured down to look and lo and behold, it is blooming! I grabbed the camera and went down to try to get some pictures. The result is below. But, and here is a big but, I couldn't help but fragrance. None. Not at all. I mean, this is not a particularly attractive shrub, but I'll put up with a lot for fragrance.

So......I googled and came up with this Wikipedia article and do you (if you clicked on it) see what it says?? Just in case you missed it, "An evergreen shrub that grows up to 6 m tall, with leaves 2–18 cm long and 1.5–8 cm broad, and white to yellow flowers that appear in winter and are only slightly scented if at all." (emphasis mine) Now, there is another variety, but mine clearly is not that one. I was sent me the described one, obviously, and I have spent years growing this scentless thing! Hmmmmph. I am very disappointed, to put it mildly.

I know better. I really do. If you asked me (because I have made this mistake before), I would insist that you only buy fragrant shrubs in bloom...because so many aren't....that are supposed to be. Or, from a really trusted source (like the no longer Flower Scent Garden)....really trusted. There are lilacs that lack much of the famous scent and mock oranges that have no fragrance....I know about these! Well, add this one to the list. Only buy or acquire a Wintersweet with fragrance.

This one is coming out. Probably in spring because I have too many things on my fall to-do list already.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Garlic and Other Thoughts

Now that Thanksgiving has gone by (it was very nice; hope yours was also), my attention can be directed back into the garden. This temperate fall weather has been such a help to me; I hope it continues. I'm still trying to sort out where the rest of the still-unplanted-daylily seedlings will go. It's looking more and more like I may just take them in their boxes and put them against the side of the house and surround them with bagged leaves. There will be space there because on Dec. 5th, the non-Bradford-but-actually Redspire Pear will come down. Pruning will be done on other trees and the snowball viburnum and struggling lilac will come out (hence the space). I'm actually pretty excited about this tree removal. For a couple of years, I've talked about it, but now that it is really going to happen, I'm awash with possibilities. I can extend gardening space where the tree was (no more stinky blooms in spring; no more branches rubbing against the house; and, no more roots under the house creating problems) and the thoughts of that will keep me going all winter.

But, really, what is on my mind right now is garlic. I happened upon Bifurcated Carrots' wonderful posts and pictures of garlic and spent quite a bit of time looking at all the varieties. Some, I recognized...others were exciting new possibilities. Over the years, I've gown many different varieties, but didn't keep notes or spreadsheets or even pictures. Now, with my new attitude, I thought I'd show you some of what I'm planting this year.

The above garlic is all from my foray into DC to a farmers' market. It was a bit disappointing that the Music variety didn't keep well (enough) but then, I've had issues with it myself when I've grown it in the past. Some don't keep as long as others. The Georgian Fire and the New York White kept the best of those. Well, it's not a fair view, exactly, as I did mean to plant them sooner.

I failed to take pictures of my own garlic, but none of mine have the huge cloves most of the purchased/ordered varieties have. My basement garlic has held very well. Last year, I found some Burgundy garlic that I had forgotten about...and it was still viable after a year! Since I haven't really been very patient with my garlic, I'm hoping to see larger cloves as they acclimate to my garden.

Below are the garlic varieties that I ordered this year (I just can't help myself!):

Only one variety, Polish Hardneck, didn't keep well of those I ordered this year. Since, I thought I would be planting it in Sept. or no later than Oct., I don't blame the garlic.

You might have noticed that I have Georgian Fire that I ordered, Georgian Fire that I purchased at the farmers' market and some Georgian Fire that I grew. It will be interesting to see how they all compare.

I suppose I'll always have a good sized unknown section. It can't be helped with my cats enjoying the garlic...tags get removed and displaced (in the garden, during curing and in storage). This year, though, rather than eating or tossing them, I'm letting them (the garlic, not the cats) have their own little section. Kind of an Unknown Known section (my unknowns) plus a few Unknowns that I purchased or saved from garlic that I purchased to use (who knows if it was treated or will grow...we shall see). Then, I'll move into a section of my local purchased varieties (testing my theory that they should do better). Next, mine from last year and I'll end with purchased varieties that I can't seem to help but buy each year. I like pouring over the catalogs and deciding. And, I like getting packages.

After the garlic is settled, I still have the daffodil bulbs, but I think that will go fairly fast. Then, amazingly, I'm down to the end of the pot ghetto. I have some odds and ends (which may or may not get planted), a clematis and some hostas that will get planted in an area I've been working on (weather and time permitting...hostas seem to hold over pretty well).

Then....I can just concentrate on mulching and getting things ready for winter (a first!)....maybe it will really happen! Ha. There is still the garage waiting to be cleaned out, so I can't get too excited.

I think I have plenty of bagged leaves and my neighbor gave me permission to rake the leaves from under the cherry tree (four bags already, at least one more still to go), I think I'm set there. If I had somewhere to put them, I'd love to collect the bagged leaves I see appearing on the street now for tomorrow's trash pickup. Such a waste, but I haven't anywhere to store them...

Update: Since I wrote this in draft, I am happy to tell you that all of the garlic I intend to plant is in the ground. Hooray! In case you're interested, the varieties are: Ajo Rojo, Bavarian Purple, Burgundy (Probably), Chesnok Red, Georgian Fire, Inchellium Red (New Mex), Korean Rocambole, Lorz Italian, Music, New York White, Persian Star, Polish Hardneck, Polish Softneck, Red Toch, Unknowns (Many!), and Western Rose. I'm hoping for a great harvest next summer!

I also (yea!) have planted all but five varieties of the daffodils, some tulips, and a few other small bulbs. If the weather permits, I'm hoping to get the rest of those into the ground tomorrow.

I'm pretty excited as once everything gets planted...even if I haven't gotten everything mulched...I can still do that with colder weather. Of course, I haven't forgotten those plants in the ghetto...and sigh...all the daylily seedlings. I'm looking forward to starting this year's crop of daylily seeds...maybe next month!

The beautiful fall colors are rapidly fading. Here's Sam Cat enjoying the view:

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Falling Leaves....

I probably say this every year (I hope I do)....the trees are just spectacular this year! It is such a pleasure to go outside (even on a gray day) and see such color.

This is looking down my street. Every day it changes, getting better and better...until one day I will go out and it will all be gone...(not yet, though)

However, I don't even have to leave my yard. In one corner of my backyard, I have this little wooded area. Fourteen years ago, it was mostly just pines, but now...the hardwoods are coming into their own...

I'm standing on my deck looking at that color....I could stand here all day...

I hope wherever you are you are also enjoying such glorious colors. If it looks like this in my little part of the world, just imagine what it must look like in the mountains. One of these years, I will treat myself to a little trip to see the leaves.

I have been enjoying this weather and getting things done. Not every thing or all things, by any means, but some. I still need a few more weeks (please) before the really cold weather comes. Anyway, as of today, I only have one more daylily to get in the ground (not including hundreds of seedlings, but let's not go there..). Still some other stuff, too, but what will be, will be.

Anywho, in the midst of all these little chores, I happened upon The Big Rock. Now, I find rocks fairly regularly when I dig, but nothing like The Big Rock. I can't imagine how I missed it before...but it explains why one of my little grasses was not doing so where for the roots to go! It's out now, The Big Rock, and is resting where it will I cannot pick it up! (I rolled it to its current location, just down from where I dug it out.)

You want to see it?

It is about double the size of those castlewall blocks. Whew. It's got to have a special place, I that will have to wait until I have help moving it!

(Am I the only one who remembers that old song..."The falling leaves, drift by my window, the falling leaves, of red and gold..." Ah, it was one of the first songs I learned on the piano...I bet my parents remember it!)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Garden Reading: The Curious Gardener's Almanac by Niall Edworthy

What a delight Niall Edworthy’s The Curious Gardener’s Almanac is! Recently released here in the USA, we can now benefit from and enjoy Mr. Edworthy’s inquiring mind. Because he is right, you see, we do want to know all these things! We just didn’t know where to find it, how to ask for it, or in some cases, that it even was a possibility.

(Image courtesy of Penguin Group USA. )

Here in one tidy volume are all the answers to those questions other books don’t answer. Tied together and arranged by seasons are tips for gardeners, lists of plants for certain situations (or even categories), relevant quotes, uncommon facts (with some amusing comments from the author), recipes, lists of all sorts of things and anything else you can imagine wanting to know relating to gardening.

Maybe you have the habit, as I do, of turning down the page when you read something you know you’ll want to remember or come back to. What I didn’t realize was that the entire book is a “page turn downer”! You can see in the picture that nearly every page is marked in my book (just so you’ll know you don’t have to do that!).

I love the feel of this book. It’s smaller and fits in my hand nicely. There’s a ribbon for marking your place and, here, have a look at how charming it is inside.

Although Mr. Edworthy resides in England, this wonderful volume will be of equal interest and use to all of us “across the pond”. Did you know (I didn’t) that “Daffodil bulbs can last up to eighty years” (page 119)? Or, that “Prince Charles, AKA the Duke of Cornwall, is paid one daffodil a year as rent for unattended lands on the Scilly Isles” (page 115)?

I was surprised to learn that “ten million Britons, one-sixth of the population, are said to be dedicated gardeners, while roughly 90 million Americans engage in some form of gardening” (Introduction…which you must read…page 11). Think of that!

There are so many marvelous quotes in the book; however, given that I have daffodils on my mind, I did especially enjoy the quote from Margaret Atwood, “In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” (page 39). We gardeners, of course, know the bliss of working in our soil after waiting all winter.

You won’t want to miss “The five worst things about spring gardening” but you’ll have to read the book! As I mentioned, do read the introduction. It’s very funny and will give you such insight into Niall Edworthy as well as great appreciation for his efforts in bringing together all this information into one place. And, yes, there is an index.

You know how much I love my gardening books. I am so pleased to add this one to my collection and I know you will be also. We'll have great fun (when you get yours) entertaining others with all the things we've learned. Perhaps we'll make mint juleps (page 107)!

Many thanks to Penguin Books for such a delightful read!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Looking ahead to Spring 08

I can't imagine Spring without Daffodils, can you? This winter I'll go over the pictures from Spring 07 (maybe finally organize them) and anticipate the pictures to come. Because...there will be new Daffodils to enjoy!

Here's what I've acquired so far (maybe a couple more? We'll see...):

American Rainbow
Apricot Whirl
Blazing Star
Butter & Eggs
Gold Convention
Hot Gossip
Love Potion
Mayan Dynasty
Modern Art
Notre Dame
Pacific Rim
Pink Morn
Pink Surprise
Red Devon
Sugar & Spice
Sunday Chimes
Watership Down
Wings of Freedom

Most, not all, of these I ordered in Spring, the best time to acquire Daffodils in my opinion, and so when they arrive now (in Fall), it is like getting a surprise package. I'll be updating my spreadsheet, adding these new arrivals...and reflecting on the performance I saw this past Spring. It will be time to note those (not in the majority, thankfully) that don't seem to perennialize.

This year, I was able to order a number of these through the Washington Daffodil Society. My neatly packaged order arrived this week (103007). These Daffodils have come from specialist growers (exciting!). Won't Spring be fun!

P.S. I thought about this, spring bulbs and all, after browsing over on Lisa at Millertime's blog...wait until you see what she's planting! (We will all be virtually visiting her next spring!) You have to scroll down and have a look at her journal!


I'm very excited about a book review that should be up next! I think you'll like this book, too!
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