Tag Archives: winter sowing

Scottish Bluebells (Campanula rotundifolia)

It was a very pleasant surprise to see these in the garden this morning:

Scottish Bluebells, 31 May 2012

I planted seeds of Scottish Bluebells (Campanula rotundifolia) in Spring 2010 after the Chief of Implementation and I finished building the Terraced Driveway Bed.  I also planted white Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima) and Adonis aestivalis.  The Sweet Alyssum germinated right away and has reseeded and spread each year since.  There was no sign of either the Adonis or the Scottish Bluebells in 2010.  I was pleasantly surprised when the Adonis showed up in 2011, but there was no sign of the Scottish Bluebells.  I assumed they were growing in that great Garden in the Sky.

I noticed them for the very first time while touring the garden today.  Presumably, they just took their time growing.

Dave’s Garden has a lovely article on this plant.  Here’s to unexpected surprises.

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February & March, In Retrospect

Most years, March is the busiest month of the year in the garden for me.  It’s the perfect time for planting out perennials and shrubs and a wide variety are readily available.  Mail order nurseries ship hardy plants to my zone in March or April, and the nurseries are well stocked.  There’s enough warm sunny weather that it’s nice to get outside, and there’s plenty of cleanup work to do after fall and winter.

Due to a broken ankle, my gardening time has been drastically curtailed this year.  Working around that has involved identifying tasks that can be done on crutches or sitting on a scooter, badgering the Chief of Implementation and our offspring and a LOT of letting go of things that aren’t getting done this year.  We’ve postponed starting a couple of beehives until next spring; much of the vegetable garden will be planted late if at all; and I have no plans for new flower beds this year despite having a big lot with lots of blank space.

In spite of that, we’ve gotten a good bit done in the yard and planted a lot of new plants and replacements.  Most of my mail order plants are in the ground, largely thanks to my daughter and her significant other. We even did a little direct seeding of hardy annuals in the Front Island Bed last week.  Winter sown seedlings are doing fairly well, although I planted a fair number of slow germination seeds this year that aren’t up yet.  I do have one Meconopsis cambrica (Welsh Poppy) seedling so far.  Supposedly, this is the easiest kind to grow, and reliably perennial.  I’m growing double orange and double yellow ones.

It’s also been a lovely spring, though earlier than usual.  Thankfully we’ve had enough cool weather that flowers have lasted pretty well.  Here’s a quick glance at what’s bloomed so far.

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Photo credits go to my daughter who posts her art at http://cricketwerks.tumblr.com/

Here’s to a lovely growing season for everyone!

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I’m Waiting Patiently…

When my oldest daughter was about two years old, she would stand, waiting for us to take her on an adventure, tap her toe, and say, “I’m waiting patiently.”  That’s how I feel about Spring these days.  Winter, such as it has been, has been mostly warmer than usual, but coldest of all the last few weeks, with several episodes of spitting snow.  Low temps the last week or so have been at or below freezing.

Several other gardeners have mentioned bulbs blooming much earlier than usual, but I think Spring for me will be only a couple of weeks early.  The snowdrops came up last week, two or three weeks earlier than usual and are holding very well, perhaps because the weather has been so cool.

Snowdrops, 14 February 2012

Daffodil Buds, 14 February 2012

The daffodils are stretching up their buds ever so slo-o-w-ly, with not a hint of color yet.  As cold as the nights are, I don’t blame them for huddling under the ground.

I have had time for an absolute flurry of seed planting.  My winter sown milk jug count is up to 53 jugs, although three are from last year and may be hopeless cases and four contain recently pricked out babies from last year.  This year for winter sowing, I focused mostly on seeds that definitely need a cold period to germinate or hardy annuals that I want to plant out as soon as I reasonably can.

Winter Sown Milk Jugs, 14 February 2012

I consciously tried to use less seed after I realized that I have NEVER looked at a pot of seedlings and thought, “Gee, I should have sown that seed more densely.”  I sprayed water sparingly rather than submerging because last years jugs stayed far wetter than needed.

I spent an hour or so yesterday pricking out the year old, half inch tall wintergreen seedlings (Gaultheria procumbens ‘Very Berry’.)  I didn’t anticipate this much success; there are between 75 and 100 seedlings spread out among four milk jug or pretzel containers.  The other tiny babies are Ramonda myconii, a hardy African violet relative.

Winter Sown Wintergreen after Transplanting, 12 February 2012

I’ll keep them in their milk jug greenhouses until they’re big enough to set out, perhaps Fall 2012, perhaps later.  I’ll also have to provide some protection for the wintergreen, since SOMEONE has devoured my current wintergreen plant for the second year in a row.

I also planted pepper seeds and tomatoes for containers to plant out in early to mid May, along with a flat of greens to plant out in early March.  Hopefully the Chief of Implementation and I can work out lights for the seedlings before they become seedlings!  Since I was making a mess anyway, I potted up Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans) and Peppermint Geranium (Pelargonium tomentosum) cuttings that have been slowly rooting for a couple of months.  Those are two of my favorite scented plants, and I’m willing to baby them through winter indoors to enjoy big happy plants each summer.  Everyone is installed on the new plant shelf assembled by the Chief of Implementation.

Plant Shelf, Dining Room, 12 February 2012

When the Nun’s Orchid finishes blooming, I’ll section and pot up the bloom stems hoping to make more babies.

May all your gardens be fruitful, and may today in particular be filled with love!

 

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Armchair Gardening

Winter has definitely arrived.  A few nights have dipped into the high teens; a few days have topped out around freezing.  There’s just not much to do outside right now.  Oddly, this is one of my favorite times of the year for gardening.  It’s all still in my head, and it’s BEAUTIFUL.  As the year goes on, I deal with real plants, and they’re taller or shorter than they were in my head.  They bloom earlier or later than I planned and the combination that was amazing on paper doesn’t happen at all in real life.  Worst of all, the beautiful picture in the catalog and the spindly dying twig in my garden share no resemblance at all.  I’m a gardener though, so hope springs eternal…

This time of year, I’m neck deep in planning next year’s garden: sorting through seeds, scribbled notes, garden catalogs and gardening books while I jot new notes, sketch out plans, and review lessons learned and previous successes.  I’ve spent the last couple of weeks pulling together scattered notes, documents and spreadsheets to put together an organized Garden Journal.  As I complete each “chapter”, I’m posting it online.  To see progress so far, click on the new Garden Journal link at the top of every page.  It will probably take a couple of years to finish, but the work in progress isn’t too bad.

Of course, all the planning leads right to execution.  I’ve already placed several seed catalog orders, with a few more planned.  Pinetree Seeds (https://www.superseeds.com) is my first stop for gardening every year.  The prices are reasonable, the selection is great, always including a few fun odds and ends, and their catalog includes the bonus of a book section with fun bargains.  My next stop is Select Seeds (http://www.selectseeds.com).  They’re a little more expensive, but extremely fun.  They specialize in old fashioned flowers full of fragrance and style, many of which reseed.  This year, I’ve also ordered from Plant World Seeds (http://www.plant-world-seeds.com) a company in Britain which offers many unusual seeds not available elsewhere.  Shipping is quite reasonable, especially considering it’s international.  Finally, a friend pointed me to the Sample Seed Shop (http://sampleseeds.com) where I found some great bargains including an heirloom strain of garlic.  It will take two years to grow from bulbils, but the fruit trees will enjoy the protection while it’s growing.

After last year’s fruit planting extravaganza, I’m focusing on the new vegetable garden this year.  It’s been years since I had a full vegetable garden, and the new planned garden is more than twice the size of my old vegetable garden.  I’ve also been reading up on permaculture and sustainable gardening and farming, so that’s impacted my garden planning this year.  Check out the vegetable garden plan in chapter 22 of the Garden Journal.  (Link to the Garden Journal is at the top of the page, remember?)

It’s also prime season for Winter Sowing.  After two short sessions, here’s a list of what I’ve winter sown so far:

Latin Name Common Name
Meconopsis cambrica ‘Muriel Brown’ Welsh Poppy ‘Muriel Brown’
Meconopsis cambrica floro pleno aurantiaca Welsh Poppy, Double Golden
Roscoea cautleyoides
Roscoea scillifolia (alpina) pink
Primula auricula ‘Viennese Waltz’
Primula japonica ‘Miller’s Crimson’
Liatris spicata Gayfeather
Eupatorium maculatum purpureum Joe Pye Weed
Ligularia dentata ‘Othello’
Lysimachia punctata
Eryngium giganteum Miss Wilmott’s Ghost
Leycesteria formosa aurea ‘Gold Leaf’
Helleborus lividus
Allium sativum ‘Niawanda Park’ Garlic ‘Niawanda Park’
Amsonia tabernaemontana
Adlumia fungosa Alleghany Vine
Aquilegia flabellata var pumila kurilensis ‘Rosea’ Columbine
Aquilegia sp Mixed Double Columbine
Aristolochia fimbriata Native Dutchman’s Pipevine
Primula beesiana
Vernonia fasciculata Ironweed

At the top of the page is a snapshot of my small herd of winter sown milk jugs.  For more information on winter sowing, check out http://www.wintersown.org/

Happy Armchair gardening to all!

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ROAD TRIP!!! and Winter Seeds

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last post.  Between taking advantage of every single dry sunny day possible to get out in the garden and a road trip to Tennessee last weekend, I haven’t taken time to post.  DH and I are making steady progress building raised beds for the fruit plants, hoping to finish up in the next couple of weeks.  For future reference, it’s ideal to build the beds BEFORE the plants arrive!

Evelyn and I had a great time at the Williamson County Master Gardener’s Bloom’n’ Garden Expo last weekend.  Most states have extension services and offer gardeners the opportunity to become Master Gardeners by completing a series of training classes and service hours.  The Master Gardeners in Williamson County, Tennessee organize a lovely expo each year with vendors and talks.  As usual, I came home with a van full of plants and garden decor and a notebook full of ideas for planting.

The garden continues leafing out and blooming.  The spring crescendo is building, with more daffodils and other spring bulbs, a few hardy perennials like hellebores, and some early shrubs, including one of my favorite evergreens, Pieris japonica.

Closeup of Pieris blooms

This lovely shade tolerant evergreen blooms early in the year and seems quite deer resistant, even in this neighborhood where they nibble on everything.  The photo at the top of my web is a dwarf, late blooming Pieris japonica variety called ‘Prelude‘ next to blue eyed grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium ‘Lucerne’.)  Earlier this week, it was cheering to see this year’s blue eyed grass foliage emerging after this long wet winter.

In addition to planting and enjoying blooms, this is prime time for seedlings.  About a third of the winter sown seeds on the deck have sprouted, and I’m planting them out as I can, working around the vagaries of weather and location here at the garden in the woods.  This idea was pioneered by Trudi Davidoff of wintersown.org which is where I got instructions after a gardening buddy of Evelyn’s was very successful with this technique last year.  Most of the seeds are in milk jugs that are sliced open on three sides, planted and then taped shut.  After the seeds sprout, the tape comes off to let in more air, and then the top is propped open to harden the baby plants off for planting.  As you can see from the snapshot, I don’t always get them into the ground as quickly as needed!

Winter sown seeds & seedlings

Here’s hoping to keep up with the influx of new babies to plant.  Hope everyone is enjoying gardening this year!

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