Archive for June, 2009

Heuchera, coral bells / foam flowers Monday, June 29th, 2009

heuchera-georgiapeachcoralbellHeuchera, Heucherall and tiarella are sisters. They are all but indistinguishable and care is same.

The myriad of colors the foliage for these plants, commonly referred to as coral bells or foam flowers, means they give great interest all season long. The first blooms have started – long spikes arch up over the palm-shaped low cluster of leaves and finish in dainty white, pink or blood red flowers.

There’s been great interest in the new designs coming out. I’ve heard some being named: ‘Peach Melba’ ‘Georgia Peach’ ‘Lim Ricky’ and ‘Black Beauty.’ Most every name refers to the color of leaves, less thought is put on the flowers when the base foliage is such a standout. From black, to chartreuse with red, to modeled peach – there’s one that’s sure to be a highlight for your garden. They don’t like wet feet in cold climates. The lighter the color of leaves the more need for afternoon sun protection. Most do well in part shade – the darker varieties in part sun. They are a lovely, clump-forming non-invasive perennial for our Zone 4.

Gaillardia Monday, June 29th, 2009

gaillardiaGaillardia come in a variety of heights. Older variets are about the 2′ range. Newer varietys can be anywhere from 18-30″. They color scheme on gaillardia (or ‘blanket flower’) usually stays in the hot range: yellows, reds, oranges. Most have multiple colors and resemble cone flowers. Many are hardy here in zone 4. You can seed them directly into the ground or buy plants. Dead-heading promotes new blooms nearly into fall. They do very well in the summer heat and tolerat drought as well. Taller varieties may flop under the weight of bloom or wind so staking can help. The flowers are also great for cutting.gaillardiasedum

Take heed my warning Friday, June 26th, 2009

Last night

Me: So, did you mow like you’d mentioned earlier?

Hub: No, but I edged!

Me: Edged?

Hub: . . . !

So I wander about late this morning – all is edged, to the dirt. Every edge imaginable is edged. Even the edge of the larger veggie garden. Even the entire right edge of my *&@# Black Krim tomato plant!

Thanks for edging, my *&@# love

Gardening weeds Friday, June 26th, 2009

Few tips for easier weeding:

  • Do it in the late evening hours so it is cooler – mornings are ok, but dew can make weeds slipperier
  • Wear light, long sleeve shirt and long pants to avoid mosquito bites
  • Used rubber-dipped gloves – better grip and keeps of irritating ‘juices’ of some weeds
  • Use hoe for bigger weeds / and pokey weeds like thistle
  • Collect weeds in a bucket – if thrown back on ground, some will simply take root again
  • If you are so inclined, use RoundUp for bigger weedy areas on a non-windy day in the early afternoon – sun will help speed process
  • 100% vinegar is another option but usually needs a few applications – also use early afternoon – sun will help burn the vinegar into the plant
  • Most weeds need only have their crown extracted – just make sure you get it
  • When pulling by hand, grip the base of the weed and slowly, but firmly pull up. Too quick and it will break off without getting any roots.
  • Have a plan of attack – back and forth or spiral from outside in
  • Remember a cold drink and a stool will keep you from over-heating and breaking your back.
1 month Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

I want to do a little comparison with our one raised bed. Almost exactly a month ago it was planted. Disclaimer: yes, I know, for the love of weeds!!! I need to get out there and pull. I swear this all happened in this last week of rain. The weekend was nice, but way too busy – all I managed to do was mow the front yard, that’s it. But i’m happy I did not have to water.cereliagarden5-2009cereliagarden6-2009

This is the reward of gardening. This raised bed is my, now 5-yr-old, daughter’s. When she wanted to plant seeds, I let her go (lettuce, radish). When we were at the nursery, I let her pick up whatever variety of flowers she liked (nemesia, double petunias, heliotrope, trollius). Then, the eggplant happened in there because it couldn’t find a home anywhere else. There are also a couple volunteer tomatoes from using our homemade compost. MishMash would be the appropriate term I believe.

Iris Monday, June 22nd, 2009

Iris are a lovely flower that blooms anywhere from mid-spring to early summer. The first usually being the short german iris – great for planting with later-blooming daffodils. Then come the taller, spiky-leaved siberian iris with their smaller, but striking blooms in blues, purples and blacks. Right now the bearded iris, in their rainbow of colors are sprouting huge, frilly blooms. Right now I have yellow ones shining forth. Burgundy, black and blue, lavendar are sure to follow.


Iris are super easy to care for:

  • Bury shallow, corms so sprout area is above ground and the top of the corm is even with the surface.
  • lean soil, clay or sandy
  • Divide – when blooms becoming fewer. Break off separate corms and share with friends or spread out to other area of garden
  • Sun, to part sun
  • There are some that do well on the edge of water and can usually be found in the water garden/plants area of nurseries.
  • Some may literally grow themselve out of the ground.
  • Spikey, grassy foliage is striking throughout growing season so keep that in mind when inter-planting.
Whirlygig Friday, June 19th, 2009

whirlygigs21It’s just fun to say — “whirlygig”. Gardening with my children is immeasurably rewarding. Seeing through a child’s eye gives a great insight into my small world. Their focus never seems in line with my own and it makes me look at things differently. The millionth ladybug just as exciting as the last. The puffy petaled dandelion a flower, not a weed. All things touched, felt and smelled and not just passed by.

They must’ve played with these simple, wind-powered toys for nearly an hour. Blowing on them, holding them to the remarkably gentle S.D. wind that night, turn them with their hands, displaying them in different pots and parts of the yard. They are the masters of “Being.”

Clang, clang, clang went the lightning! Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

Garden shouldn’t need any more moisture ’til the weekend. That’s good. I’ve heard reports of people grumbling over their dry, dusty plots. About 4 inches total fell.

Once again, take note of trouble areas. Knowing where your most saturated areas helps you tell where arid-loving plants shouldn’t go and ones that like wet feet can handle the sogginess, like those in the willow family. Also it’s good to note where more simple problems with run off are. We used to have a downspout that would pour onto a sidewalk that slanted back towards a corner of our house. I shoved a piece of 1×3 along the inner side of the sidewalk and built up some dirt behind it so it looks like edging. I planted a bleeding heart (dicentra) nd some hostas along it. Now the water hits the edging and flows away from our house far enough that we didn’t get any water in that corner of the basement today. This was a pretty simple fix to a recurring problem we’d had.

Unfortunately not all problems are that simple and I hope you and yours get and stay high and dry.

Gardener’s travels Saturday, June 13th, 2009

birdlostTrying to keep up with one’s own garden is one thing. Trying to keep up with an avid gardener’s paradise is quite another.

My mother’s garden is beautiful to say the least. Every corner finds another hidden treasure and a dozen (understatement) or so are added every year to create quite the oasis on the prairie swamp we call home.

Over the last few years she’s perfected the art of taking leave during the growing season and leaving the garden’s care in another’s hands. Some pointers for any gardeners who like to travel are:

  • Soaker hoses – if a kind friend, neighbor or child can just hook up a hose and let the water trickle for an hour or so, this really saves time. They can turn on the tap, go get some groceries and come back to a well-watered veggie bed.
  • Pots – if at all possible move them to the shade and close to a water source, be it a rain barrel or faucet. Rain barrels are great for dipping watering cans into quickly instead of waiting for a slow hose.
  • Stakes – pure genius. If you have some newly planted tiny plants amongst a bed of older, hardier plants, stick in a tall stake beside them. Then the friend/neighbor/child can see easily what needs more frequent care.
  • Have all equipment in one area and hoses hooked-up. No need to make someone find that watering wand or sprinkler.
  • Bounty as payment. Tell your friend/neighbor/child that they need to pick anything that’s ready and take it home to eat – you won’t be there to. Nothing’s better than a salad so fresh it has elm seeds in it.
  • Tolerance. Your friend/neighbor/child has tried their damnedest to take loving care of your beautiful garden because they love you, but inevitably something will get overlooked – that’s just the life of being a gardener, you gotta handle a little loss.
Fables, Soapberries and Road trips Friday, June 12th, 2009

Monday’s record cold high (ya got that?) of 49 was a record 108 yrs. long. So, it was nice that the week ended on a much balmier note. Started the day out taking the kids to Storybook land for Fables & Fairytales. Super fun and I’ve always loved the diversity of the fauna there. Great place to get ideas for new additions to your home garden.

Later I was watering the garden and soaking in some more sun whilst the Little Miss set about gathering flowers and then picking some of our time ever-bearing strawberries. She announced that she must wash them before eating. I went inside a few minutes later and found the berries and popped one in my mouth. Mmmm, Dawny. Don’t wash soft, super-ripe berries with soap. Yick!

Later this month my mom, sis, I and whomever else will head south to McCrory gardens and swing through Volga and Schade vineyards. Sounds like a very rewarding day trip.