Growing Things

Bloomin' Friday . . . Winter Edition

It's a cold and gloomy Friday here in my corner of the world.  It's sort of trying to snow.  The sun is nowhere to be seen.  It's gray out there.  And bleak.  And I have a bit of a cold.  Ugh.

This . . . is exactly the time I need amaryllis blooms to brighten my day.

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This bloom is just stunning.  But it doesn't really photograph all that well.  It's a bulb called 'Grand Diva' from White Flower Farm -- and it truly is grand!  It's not really red, but it's not quite burgundy, either.  It looks a lot like velvet, and it has lovely, tonal highlights.

The flowers are huge!  There are currently four blooms on the first stem, and the bud on the second stem is just beginning to open.

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On the other end of the bloom-spectrum, this one ('Tres Chic,' also from White Flower Farm) is winding down.  But if you look closely, you can see the bud on the second stem just beginning to open up.  (This is the bulb that started rotting.  I seemed to have halted the rot, but that second stem never really got any taller.  I definitely stressed this one.)

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This one, 'Rosy Star' from White Flower Farm, is just opening.  Both buds at the same time.  I can't wait to see this one.  I love white amaryllis -- and this one is supposed to have a pinkish cast.  Anticipation!

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And then . . . there is my ver-r-r-ry slow amaryllis.  This one is definitely taking it's time!  By process of elimination, I know that this one is called 'Stardust' (White Flower Farm) -- and it is the one I'm most excited to see.  But.  I'll need to continue being patient.  Because it's going to be awhile yet.

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Some years I pick up amaryllis bulbs at local nurseries; some years I pick up "kits" at Target; some years I go the grocery-store-rescue route; and some years I order bulbs from White Flower Farm.  They are ALL wonderful options when it comes to having beautiful blooms in the house!  But.  I've gotta say . . . those bulbs from White Flower Farm?  They are worth every penny!  The bulbs are big and healthy.  The blooms are gigantic.  The stems are more sturdy and don't flop over so easily.  And the colors on the blooms are just amazing.  (Plus -- you get to pick which varieties you want.  Which is always the hardest part for me - but most fun, too.)  

And, because I made such an investment this year (bulbs from WFF run between $18 and $25 per plain bulb), I'm thinking I might want to "rebuild" my bulbs -- and try to get them to bloom again next year.  

Interested in preserving your own bulbs for next year?  Here are the "rebuilding" steps from White Flower Farm:

  • After the last bloom fades, cut off the flower stalk 3-5" above the bulb.
  • DO NOT CUT THE LEAVES OFF.  They produce food that will be stored in the bulb -- and the bulb needs them!
  • Put the plant in a sunny window where it will receive 6-8 hours of direct sun each day.  (South-facing is best, but I don't have any south-facing windows, so I go with an east-facing window.  It seems to work.)
  • Water when the top inch of the potting mix is dry to the touch, and begin fertilizing with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer once a month.  (The fertilizer is rather important.  Those poor bulbs are exhausted after producing those flowers!)
  • In the spring - once the danger of frost has passed - set the pot outdoors in full sun OR knock the bulbs out of the pots and plant them right in the ground in a sunny location.  Continue to provide fertilizer.
  • In the fall, bring the bulb indoors (WFF recommends waiting until the frost blackens the leaves), cut the foliage off just above the bulb, and store in a cool (55 degrees F), dark place (basement) for 8-10 weeks.  Don't water.  Don't feed.
  • Then, re-pot the bulb and water it.  Thereafter, keep the potting mix almost dry until new growth emerges.  (And keep your fingers crossed!)

I'm going to try it this year!  I need some indoor gardening chores to get me through these dark days of winter.

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I also picked up another blooming bulb at the grocery store a couple of weeks ago:

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Here's some "gardener advice" if you see these in the grocery store and are tempted to grab a pot for yourself:  Unless it's a gift for someone and you need blooming RIGHT NOW, be particular about your bulb purchase.  Pick the pot with barely-just-emerging buds.  Kind of like this . . . 

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That's the same pot of hyacinth, two weeks earlier.  By choosing the most just-emerging pot I could find, I have had the joy of watching the buds emerge -- and I'll get to enjoy the blooms longer, too!  

Happy Friday, everyone!

 


Hygge . . . for the Gardener

This gardener decided . . . what better way to bring hygge to the dark days of winter than by nurturing some lovely amaryllis bulbs.  

Not only will there be joy and comfort in the planting, but also in the watching -- and certainly in the blooming.

So I splurged!  

I ordered four different amaryllis bulbs from that Flagship of Gardening - White Flower Farm.  (I gotta tell you -- even just the choosing which bulbs to order was a hygge-moment!)  Then, I gathered up my vases and some stones for planting, and I waited for delivery.

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The bulbs arrived earlier this week, and yesterday - in the midst of our first major snowfall - I planted them.

Let's just say . . . these bulbs are big.

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Like . . . pretty much too big for any of the containers I had chosen.

But I think it'll work out.

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Now, I'm going to sit back and watch the show.

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Hygge . . . for the gardener!

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And be sure to check out Bonny's blog.  Her annual Amaryllis Watch has begun!  (She is a true amaryllis-whisperer!)

 


Golden Days

4/30

I'm enjoying my garden's "golden days" right now.

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Although I have a few other fall colors going on, it's most gold in my late fall garden.

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The view from my living room window is pretty awesome right now.

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But.

Are you noticing something kind of . . . weird, in these photos?

Like . . . what's that golden pine tree doing out there?  

Is it dead?  Does it have a disease?  What is UP with that tree????

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Well, for starters . . . it IS turning gold.

And . . . it's not a pine tree.

It's a larch tree -- a deciduous conifer!  That means it looks like a regular, old conifer for most of the year.  But, come fall, the needles actually turn color and fall off -- just like a maple or a birch or any other deciduous tree.

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Once my larch loses its leaves, though . . . it looks like a giant, dead, Charlie Brown tree all winter long!  But for now?  Golden!

 

 

 


It's the Berries . . .

My garden is winding down for the season.  The leaves are turning color, and the flowers are on their last gasp. 

Now is the time for berries to shine!

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This absolutely lovely plant is the beautyberry -- and the berries?  That's their actual, un-retouched color!  I cut the plant to the ground in the spring, and the foliage is all rather nondescript during the summer, but - oh, my! - does it ever SHINE in the fall!  One of my favorites.  (The squirrels and birds are big fans as well.)

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These are the fruit/berries of my Washington Hawthorn tree.  They are lovely berries -- and such a treat for neighborhood squirrels and - one of my favorite birds - the cedar waxwing.  I didn't plant the Hawthorn; it was here when we purchased our house -- and I have a rather love/hate relationship with the tree.  I love the berries in fall.  But.  The tree has HUGE thorns (thus, the name), and early on, while doing some pruning, I impaled my thumb joint with one of the thorns.  (I nearly had to have surgery to correct the damage.  Thankfully, it healed without.)  I have since made my peace with the tree, and enjoy the berries (and accompanying wildlife) every fall.

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A couple of years ago, I "rescued" this porcelain vine from a clearance table at Lowes.  I had no idea the berries were so beautiful!  This $1.00 plant gives me so much joy every fall -- the colors are glorious.  (And the birds love it, too!)

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These are not berries . . . even though they kind of look like them.  These are seeds emerging from their seedpod on my star magnolia.  They're so exotic-looking -- and were such a surprise the first time I found them. 

The garden brings joy in every season.  In the fall?  It's the berries!

 

 

 


All in a Name

This hydrangea in my front garden is officially named Pinky Winky . . . 

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It's a great plant!  Flowers in summer; turns pink in the fall; big blooms; drought tolerant; forgiving and easy to grow.  Really . . . spectacular blooms.

A garden designer/friend of mine just planted one in the garden of a client who also happens to be a single guy.

Know what she told him it was named?

Mucho-Macho!

(It's all in the name.)


Garden Volunteer

To me, a weed is just . . . a plant that shows up unbidden in my garden.  A "volunteer" . . . so to speak.   Sometimes I let the volunteers stay and play, on purpose.

One of my personal favorite "volunteers" is the pokeweed.  I often let a few of them stick around in my garden.  Which is probably a huge mistake (because they have a tremendous tap root, and I'll actually never get rid of them at this point).  But it really isn't a bad looking weed.  Nice and full; almost like a sturdy shrub you might even plant intentionally.  And look at these sweet little flowers!

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And then THIS happens.  (I mean, really!  Look at the color of that stem!  This is not color-enhanced or edited in any way.  This is just what it looks like.)

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And then THIS happens!

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Birds love' em.

But they're poisonous to humans.

But. . . oh, well!  At least a few of these . . . are fun to have in my garden.  (But I won't snack on those gorgeous berries.)


No Regrets

When I woke up yesterday, I sat down and planned my day -- and wrote a to-do list for myself that was long and industrious.

Then . . . I took the dogs out for a walk (item #3) and discovered what a beautiful day it was out there.

I had a change of heart.  (Or I guess you might call it a change of priorities.)

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I decided to bag the list entirely . . . and putter around in the garden instead!

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I got started on my fall chores . . . weeding and cutting back and and making notes for next year.  I enjoyed working with the chickadees swarming around my newly-filled feeder and the bees just buzzing away in the fall blooms.

It was just what I needed.  (It's always just what I needed, actually.)

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My lists can wait.  

Beautiful fall days in the garden, though?  They need to be savored!


Flowers are Magical

When I post pictures of my garden blooms on Instagram, I often use the hashtag #flowersaremagical.  Because, to me, they are.  

Explosions of color.

Science unfurling.

Endless variety.

Magical connections.

Apparently, my own grandmother - my mom's mother, who died four years before I was born - was a gardener.  While most of her efforts focused on growing fruits and vegetables, she also found time to tend a lovely flower garden filled with snapdragons, daisies, hydrangea, zinnias, and dahlias.  Not surprisingly, all of these flowers became my mom's favorites in her own garden.

Every Mother's Day, I would give my mom a new dahlia for her garden.  Every year, my mom would plant the dahlia and enjoy the lovely blooms, come September.  Later in the fall, she faithfully dug up all her dahlia tubers and overwintered them.  Some years, she was successful; some years . . . not so much.  But her garden always had dahlias.  

This spring, my mom wasn't quite herself.  She didn't do any gardening.  She didn't plant her dahlias -- and I gave her a hanging basket for Mother's Day, instead of the usual dahlia.

So imagine how surprised I was on Saturday, when I started clearing up my mom's garden for fall.

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Because there were . . . Dahlias!  Blooming in my mom's garden!

She must have missed digging all the tubers last fall.  And last year's mild winter must have saved this one.

Just for me.

Because . . . I'm going to dig this dahlia tuber and try to overwinter it myself.  

Because . . . My garden will always have dahlias.

Because . . . Flowers ARE magical!

 


Telltale Sign

As an avid gardener, I notice gardens all the time -- whether they're parking lot plantings at the vet's office, professional plantings at the hospital, or lovely gardens in front yards all around town.

I especially appreciate the gardens I see day in and day out -- the lovely flower beds and and borders I pass every day in my neighborhood.  On the way to the grocery store.  On my walks with the dogs.  At the corner where I have to wait to turn left.

Lovely gardens.  Carefully tended.  With love and attention and time.

Except when they're not.

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Weeds out of control.

Dead, spent blooms.

Grass creeping in everywhere.

Total garden chaos.

To me, these are telltale signs . . . that something is amiss in that gardener's world; in that usually lovely, well-tended garden space.

And I'm usually right.  Someone's husband is ill.  Someone has moved to assisted living.  Someone has lost their job.  Or taken a job.  Or had a baby.  Or adopted a puppy.  Someone is having chemo.  Or suffereing from depression.   Something . . . has disrupted the life of the gardener.

In a rather serious way.  And it shows . . . in their garden.

 

My own garden this year (pictured above) shows all the telltale signs. . . of a garden season disrupted.  

Of other priorities.  

Of things amiss.

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You can find me out there every day now.  Weeding.  Deadheading.  Cutting back.

Restoring.  Reclaiming.

My garden.

(And a whole lot more.)