Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Wildflower Wednesday Debut

Hello one and all,
This post is essentially my first public post, since I'll be linking it up to Clay and Limestone's Wildflower Wednesday.  My garden is very much in the infant stages, but I did manage to plop in a few natives, whose seedheads I'll feature here.
Clustered Mountain Mint (purchased from the Pineland Alliance fundraiser) and Lucy
 This blog is mostly to help me keep track. Two years ago we spent most of the summer ripping out Ivy, Poison Ivy, Green Brier, Wisteria, ando some creeping evergreens. What I did plant I soon forgot. Last spring I eagerly anticipated my first Coneflower bloom, but I wasn't sure which of my two plants it was. Every morning I watched the plants grow, googling what the seedlings looked like, only to find myself starring at a False Foxglove Beardtongue and an Anise Hyssop.
Anise hyssop facing the driveway large enough for a fleet of limousines
Now I keep a journal of what I plant and am writing this blog because I need help. I'm looking for advice on growing organically, mostly natives here in the Mid-Atlantic area along with some veggies. I also need plenty of advice on making things structurally attractive and, well, doing it as cheaply as possible. I have trees I can't identify, sand in some places, a bog in another, a large steep hill covered in invasives, and a husband that must be dissuaded from chemicals. Help! The winter has been spent researching a plenty, in hopes of avoiding any costly and time consuming mistakes, but more advice is always needed.
Lucy helping with the research, Monty Don's The Complete Gardener 
So anybody have any advice? Anybody from the South Jersey area? Anybody reading this?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Dreaming About Sedges

Dreaming of Sedges
No, I really did dream of Sedges. Pennsylvania Sedges to be specific, Carex pensylvanica to be technical. A small field of Sedges in the backyard along the new gravel area around the fire pit, which my husband spent the whole of summer creating last year. Most of my yard is in the planning stages at this moment so afraid most of my photos are weeds and bare earth, but I do have plans. 

 Probably have far too many plans. After reading Pennick’s Post on creating “negative space” with Sedges last night, I think I'm sold on the idea.
Sedges require far less water than turf grass and, while not as tough as turf grass, still give you the swath of green we find so refreshing. Plus my husband is a bit obsessed with creating the perfect lawn. Drive by in the summer and you'll often find him standing in the yard eating a sandwhich, while lamenting the brown patches. A sea of green sedge might help convert even him to the native movement. Native sedge apparently doesn't require the feeding, weeding, or mowing of turf grass. Plus I love how Pennsylvania Sedge grows to about 8 inches and flops a bit over, has the effect of rolling waves. In my dream last night it was windy, a gentle breeze, unlike the 50 mph gusts I woke up to this morning. The sedge gently flopped about while the peach tree was fruiting and in bloom, remember this was a dream. I can't be the only gardener right now dreaming about their garden plans. Any of you, nonexistent, readers have dreams about gardens?
As much as I hate the environmental impact, there is something to be said for a lush expanse of green. The view calms us, gives our eyes something to rest on after viewing the flowers. We don't always want to see spastic explosions of color. If you have an area of turf that doesn't receive a whole lot of wear and tear then might I suggest an appropriate native sedge for your area.
Prairie Moon Nursery provides a large selection of Sedges so you can find one appropriate for your area. Pennsylvania Sedge is native to this area and spreads by rhizomes, so I'm hoping it will fill in rather nicely. Not getting any compensation for that mention, but I certainly wouldn't oppose it.  38 little seedlings cost $99, a little pricey, actually a lot pricy.
It is so easy to get carried away this time of year. Soon the local native nurseries will start providing their lists of spring availability, too much temptation. I caved a few weeks back and ordered four bareroot blueberries. The claim was a collection of early to late varieties for around $8 each. Variety is key with blueberries. Cross pollination provides a better crop and the birds will be extremely grateful, those little thieving bastards.  
So much temptations, so much planning.  Rather overwhelming in a delightful kind of way. Anyways this week is Garden Bloggers Bloom day and I think I might actually participate,  sort of like a debutante ball.

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good
Yesterday, over two hours were spent in the garden. It was wonderful to be in the dirt.  Soil has such a distinct smell. That damp, moist aroma ascends from your hands and just fills you with good vibes, especially when bad weather has kept you at bay for so long. Five large buckets were filled from weeding and dumped into the compost pile.
Normally weeds are left to cook for several days on the hot driveway before being tossed in the shady compost pile, but no chance of that in January and with freezing temperatures closing in good chance of the little bastards' bare roots shivering to death.
With several new beds planned for the spring, a head start on weeding was paramount. In fact, current plans are to start the new beds well before spring break.  There is currently three more hours, roughly, of weeding and still half the woods left to clear out of Poison Ivy, English Ivy, Wisteria,  and Greenbrier ( there has been some talk with the dutiful husband of hiring out the task - two bouts of Poison Ivy and one bad reaction to steroids was rather convincing for even my cheap-self to hire outside help.)
The Bad
The Bad is not necessarily how much is left to do but why there is so much weeding, how warms things have been this winter. Things were weeded well into the fall but this winter beds became a practical mat of green weeds. Violets were blooming in November; the self-sowing Dill germinated and grew a foot tall before winter knocked back. Hoping still seeds left to germinate in the spring. The weather is turning. I don't know how you can garden and ignore the obvious signs. Science isn't required to tell you the times are a changing.
The Ugly
The garden is new and well ugly. There are very few bushes and they are rather small. We kept a few, for now, of the evergreens but they are rather overgrown and trimmed pretty horribly. The garden even in the summer is mostly just empty. Three native Baptisia, False Blue Indigo, were planted, and while their roots grew strong and deep, all that was seen on top was two little twigs each that did nothing but mock the poor gardener. This gardener is patience, OK mostly lazy, and knows those three little sets of twigs will one day be up to four feet across each shading out plenty of weeds and providing shelter and food for the ecosystem...if I don't kill them.

The glorious weeding ended with the start of the rain that has yet to cease, hence no pictures.  At the moment the wind has knocked out electricity in several local towns so no photos for awhile, plus decent pictures require a jaunt to my mother's house for her camera.  So back to reading gardening blogs to survive the winter.
Those based in the Pacific Northwest West are currently amusing, yes I'm finding joy in their misery. But what is with the zone pushing. Blizzards and highs well below freezing as a normal winter makes it rather perplexing for this new gardener; I love tropicals but there are so many natives that provide so much habitat to the local population that a palm tree in northern hemisphere seems well silly, plus snow is pretty. It is honestly one of the few highlights of winter. It's always missed when it melts. I can imagine it would be much less enjoyable if I was worried about a bunch of finicky perennials,  but than again I don't do well with any finicky thing.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

And now my watch begins

Last winter, I ordered a Wax Myrtle, Myrica cerifera  from the local UUCSJS Plant Sale, and of course went ahead and researched the bush after I placed my order. Turns out the plant may not be so happy in my 6b zone. The bush was placed to provide a view, other than the former neighbor's English Ivy covered shed. So now I sit and wait and watch it sit in 8 inches of snow. 
Look at poor Myrtle, would rather be in South Carolina, so would I.

She was so promising... broadleaf evergreen shrub that liked full sun. Myrtle doesn't seem to mind the bitter wind and snow so far.

So I need to decide, do I ordered more friends for Miss Myrtle,  find her a mate and make her a Mrs. Myrtle? Or do I leave her single and order Northern Bayberry?

I'm looking for a dense border shrub, has to be native, but doesn't have to be evergreen as long as the branches are dense enough.

Any suggestions?

Making Mike McGrath Cry: Houseplant Edition

Direct Source of Heat. Ahhh nice and toasty for my green babies.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Current State of Affairs

The current state of affairs in the garden. 
         Don't judge my garden; I'm broke. Don't judge native gardening based on my weedy mess and barren scape. Despite a full time career and two part time jobs there is not enough money for plants and the dutiful husband insisted last fall we waste our savings on such frivolous things as a roof that didn't leak. So don't be that bastard, have patience with me. Ok judge me for the Dolphins sign, an in-law gift to the husband. In the picture above: That rose bush may be the first thing to go in the fall. Clustered Mountain Mint from Pineland Alliance peaking out from the left. A pitiful Blue Wild Indigo from UUCSJS plant sale and an Inkberry from Clemenson.
Formally an above ground pool surrounded by driveway gravel overrun with waste high weeds, English Ivy, a dead maple, and a couple of White Mulberry Trees. Those bright white ears peaking out from the back are from the deer 
that came with the house. Everyone says paint him or chuck him, but I like his worn out paint, matches my general mood.
      I dream of digging myself a dragonfly pond back here. Right underneath where the photo was taken I planted "Fireworks" Goldenrod, Solidago Rugosa, from Clemenson. (When typing Latin names does the whole thing get capitalized like a name, or is it like a listing a scene from a play and the second part is lower cased.) Macbeth II.iii. 838.
     Another future garden site. In the foreground, next to the slate, is a "Low Walker's" catmint from the local garden center, Ron's. They don't have much of a selection for my native garden, but they are just down the road. Leaning up against the post in the middle is a Coral Honeysuckle, with volunteer Blue Mist Flower that came with it when purchased this fall from Flora for Fauna. Further down the weedy patch is a Purple ConeFlower from Ron's and some Pink Muhly Grass, Muhlenbergia Capillaria,  from Clemenson.
This garden bed was added this spring around a partially dead pink dogwood. A landscaper, the dutiful husband hired to thatch the lawn, argued with me to cut it down. I have hope for the pink guy, but the bastard ignored my specific instructions not to touch it and cut down one of the dead branches. The landscaper then went on to cut down my Showy Aster and Big Blue Stem before they had a chance to bloom and crushed my Joe Pye weed before I could enjoy its fall foliage. The landscaper was told to only thatch and trim the evergreens. THAT WAS IT! This is why I hate landscapers. Anyways, around the tree is a beautiful Anise Hyssop, a magnet for all sorts of flying things,  a Pink Coreopsis, a Blazing Star, hidden behind the tree, and a Thread Leaf Blue Star that did pretty much nothing for me, maybe he's in the wrong spot. All of the plants came from Clemenson's May sale. 
    So far the plans for spring are to cut down the evergreens, sad rose bush, and even sadder non-native hydrangea (both impulse buys when we first bought the house) and expand one of the new beds in the front of the yard. 
     In the back, figure out what will be happy along the fence with only some morning and late afternoon sun, and dig two foot deep hole, before the dutiful husband asks what the heck I'm doing.