Monday, April 26, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
I’m not sure why we don’t see more annual bulbs, tuber plants and flowers around this area. I admit they’re work to dig up every year but then they do increase and you don’t need to buy each year. They're some of the most tropical, bright and largest flowers and leaves you can have in your garden.
Today, I’m going to focus on the beautiful show stopper from Mexico, the Dahlia (part of the Compositeae family.) Named after Swedish botanist, Anders Dahl, there are thirty-six species and thousands of varieties. They come in most every color and shade except black, green and blue. Blooms are patterned, single, or double, & from 2 ins. to 1 ft. The plant is from 12 in. to 8 ft. tall. The petals come in a variety of shapes.
Dahlia plants are used as food plants for the larvae of the Angle Shades, Common Swift, Ghost Moth and Large Yellow Underwing.
It is said, “If you can grow tomatoes, you can grow Dahlias.” As with tomatoes, plant Dahlias in well drained humus rich loose soil after danger of frost. They prefer full sun. Stake tall varieties.
Dahlias are heavy feeders, especially in pots. A good water-soluble flower fertilizer about a month prior to blooming and each month thereafter should help.
Dahlias bloom from the middle of summer up to frost. For the finest cut flowers, cut them early in the day, when they first open. Cut Dahlias will last from 5-7 days.
Dahlias often become more beautiful as the weather cools. They should be deadheaded to increase blooming. Pinch back when they are one foot tall to prevent them from becoming “leggy”.
Pests: Watch for slugs, snails and Japanese Beetles (pick these off or use an insecticidal soap.)
Gently dig and store after the first frost. Brush (no water) off as much soil as possible then cut stems back to six inches. Set in a cool dry place for a couple of days. Dust with fungicide and pack them away in vermiculite or sand. Check during the winter throw away any that rot.
There are Heirloom Dahlias or new hybrids introduced every year. The “box” stores have them fairly cheap or the more unusual and spectacular ones are more expensive. Either way, it will be Show Time!
“But each spring a gardening instinct, sure as the sap rising in the trees, stirs within us. We look about and decide to tame another little bit of ground.”
NORAD and USNORTHERN Command says about the environment, "We need to conserve water, energy, and take good care of our environment for the benefit of all human beings not only for our generation but also for other succeeding generations ahead of us."
WQAD's meteorologist, Anthony Peoples, termed it "conserve and recycle" day.
Everyday Wildlife Champions quoted, "It's doing simple tasks, little by little, to make a huge difference."
For myself, I view saving the planet issues much like I do my political issues: "I'm not a Republican and I'm not a Democrat." I read and then decide which side of an issue to stand.
The learning process: I was enthusiastic about this one well-known conservation group to the point I gave them money. Then I learned to read the "fine print" and found out they used their money in ways they don't put out front in the advertising and in ways I didn't agree. Now, I always read the fine print.
I really do care about this earth and I feel I'm responsible for not only making it a better place but insuring it's a better place for future generations. I don't tie myself to a tree over the loss of a mosquito but I do try to educate myself and practice sound ecological measures in my own gardens. I also use my little bit of visibility to help educate others on what they might do in their own backyards.
I've certainly been Blessed by living in America. Daily, I wake to a beauty and bounty my imagination could not have dreamed. I praise and encourage our local farming communities and swell with pride that those very families have chosen to feed the world. I stand by the window at night and look at the vast sky and know I am a minority who are able to do this from the comfort and safety of my abundance. I'm grateful for those who choose to tackle the bigger environmental issues around the globe.
I'm not so happy with organizations, foundations or institutions who have gone off the mark by using environmentalism as a cover for political or financial gain.
Do we, as just one little citizen in one little town, have a responsibility: Most certainly; in each of our own ways and abilities. Now go have yourself a "Happy Earth Day"!
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
“Flowers leave some of their fragrance in the hand that bestows them.”
Sunday, April 18, 2010
This little number, called Robot was listed for $28. My thought was if it was given to Mom or Grandma, then put it in the garden until the kids grow old enough to be embarrassed and then remove. It gets my "Simulated 3rd Grade Art Class Award".
This one is from Bruno Torf's sculpture garden, called Tree Figure and I actually kinda like it. It receives my "Warning - May Scare Little Children Award".
These are a handful of garden objects de' art I found this morning on the net for your viewing pleasure - there were thousands to choose from on e-Bay, Etsy, and some garden blogs.
The trick with using garden art: If you can't resist going totally over the top, then be prepared for critiques, complaints or to be forced to install a tall privacy fence. The good thing about some of this, it sure does allow a sense of humor to laugh out loud and that's not all bad.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Another site for those who like the "different" on-line gardening experience, check out http://www.lalh.org/
This is the Library of American Landscape History. I know it may sound boring, but, it's a beautiful site, full of the history and pictures of many old gardens. Their newsletters are only every few months and never becomes cumbersome.
There is information about many public landscapes throughout the world and many restored to the previous beauty. The site has information about the history of the gardens, the designer, and often the original owners. Much is devoted to the process of restoration and preservation.
The original owners were often the wealthy who owned mansions on thousands of acres, brought in the most famous of landscape designers and architects and the land has now been bequeathed or sold to form the parks of today.
They also feature historical cemeteries and their landscapes.
For those who like to visit gardens during vacations, it's a good resource. For those of us who like to borrow ideas or simply look at beautiful gardens, this site will help.
This site has the guarantee "Safesubscribe". I mention this because we must be cautious about subscribing to e-mails to make sure you're not tied into a site that won't allow you to drop membership, breach your PC's security or sell your address. It has many contractual rules the web site must agree before being authorized as Safesubcribe. I've learned not to subscribe or give information to any site that does not use Safesubscribe.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Thursday, April 8, 2010
How on earth did I get the love of all things gardening? I had this love from the time I was a small child, picking violets and dandelions for bouquets and making hollyhock dolls.
As I got older I was given the chore of mowing with a big difficult-to-maneuver piece of machinery. I was always sure it was my punishment for dawdling away my time over the flowers. In truth, my older brother was expected to help with farm work and I was “it” by default.
We lived in a big old barn of a farmhouse and some prior owner had planted beautiful perennials. There were two large round beds out front that held what my mom called “French iris”. I’ve never found that variety but it had tiny royal blue flowers.
Another beautiful attraction for me was the row of pink, rose and white peonies that ran beside the clothes line. The fragrance from a vase full would perfume an entire room.
The climbing rose bush was situated out by the garage (actually it was placed to strategically hide the outhouse.) The rose was a single yellow and had a strong sweet fragrance. I never let a season go by without picking those little roses to float in a bowl of water.
The yard had many large trees. As all Indiana farmsteads did, it had a large catalpa grove out in one of the pastures. We would spend many an afternoon among the trees playing cowboys and Indians.
A pine tree that was as tall as our two story house held my brother’s tree fort and my swing. I found this old swing when we were sorting things for my dad’s estate sale.
A large arborvitae had a tall rock beside it and it was always “base” on those nights when the children of family and friends would play hide and seek. A large willow tree swayed in the summer breeze and caused my mother endless chagrin when the branches continuously dropped.
My folks, my grandparents and my great-grandparents homes were all destroyed in the 1965 Palm Sunday tornado that tore through Indiana. In addition to the lives, livestock and buildings lost, it pretty much wiped away all significant yard landscaping.
At the time, we mourned much more than the loss of flowers. My aunt had been killed as had hundreds of others. At my father’s age, it eventually proved too difficult and costly to start over with new farm equipment, livestock and buildings.
Almost everything in their home and outbuildings had been destroyed. Even though we celebrated that they and the rest of our families had survived, it was not a time when even the smallest thought centered on pretty.
All these years later I realize I am drawn to little royal blue iris, old fashioned peonies and an heirloom yellow rose bush. I have pines, a willow, and a couple of catalpas.
I’m not trying to hold on to or recreate the past. Heirloom plants from my past bring a bit of comfort from childhood memories. They’re an affirmation that these good things shaped a lifelong love of the soil. Perhaps, it’s for the love of gardening.
We had just left Hanna City, after enjoying a day of watching our youngest grandson, when we saw this beautiful and rather scary sky. It is a reminder how Spring in the Midwest can turn quickly.
Monday, April 5, 2010
"Spring Weather" number 11, published on 04-24-09.