Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Up, up and away - tomatoes for the winter!

The cherry tomato seed kit for the aerogarden came since I last wrote and I have it all set up. In the kit comes two red seed pods and one yellow cherry pod. They give you some blanks so the plants have some room to grow. I stuck the yellow one in front and the two reds in back. I started the pods on Thursday and really wasn't expecting to see much in the way of life for about a week.

By Saturday, I had lift off in the yellow pod! That was a very pleasant surprise. I did see some germination in the two reds but their varieties are definitely not as fast moving as the yellow.

I wasn't really in the office much yesterday or Sunday and was again pleasantly surprised that the yellow cherry had "left the mothership" and is about 1/4" tall. I'm still keeping the domes on them until they get bigger, but I take them off so I can snap pics.

Here is the progress on the red cherries...they are coming, but slow going.

But my newest aero-acquisition showed up this morning!!! I bought a 3 pod garden off of ebay and I was the highest bidder. (I wanted it pretty badly...LOL) It came with a nice set of stock, petunias, and I think verbena...I can't remember for sure. But I am so excited that I now have one for flowers and one for edibles. I'll have plenty to write about this winter!!!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Winding down the 2010 gardening season

I can't believe tomorrow is December 1st...I know everyone uses this cliche of "Where did the year go?" I really do ask, where did the year go!! I pretty much have most of the yard buttoned up for the winter and have to do a clean up/compost topdress on only a bed or two. I've been known to do more spring clean ups than fall. But with Lars and how actively we've been showing last year, thought it would relieve some of the stress I feel in the spring as work is gearing up and Lars is working in the spring shows.

Eric completed the momentous job of cleaning out Lake Larson and we finally have some clear water. He drained most of it and vacuumed, shovelled, and netted all of the gunk out of there. I think that's something we're just going to have to do every year or two. The fish numbers are good and we didn't lose as many as I had feared to the heron. I'll have to snap a picture of the wet pets in their deep side as they start to go into their winter's nap too.

This is the view from my kitchen window...I have one Mr. Lincoln Rose that is in suspended animation. I've been waiting for this to open for a couple of weeks now and I'm doubting it will. We've had some pretty serious freezes here now. I'm curious to see how long it lasts in this state before it turns to mush.

I think I mentioned that I moved the fig inside earlier this fall. After I did that, it continued to drop it's leaves and I eagerly waited to see what it would do with the 3 fruit that had formed. Now several weeks later, it has two little leaves at the top that look pretty good. One of the figs ripened and I cut it open today. How cool is this!

That makes up for the epic failure of the passion fruit. I was brave and ate it this morning. To my surprise, it was awesome and very sweet! I have the two left and I'll let Eric have the other ones. I'm hoping that it will break some leaf buds and push some new foliage over the winter. If it doesn't, I'll stick it down in the basement where it can go dormant. I'll have to do some pruning because it has that one huge branch sticking off of it and it needs some re-balancing.

Let's see, what else is going on around here plant-wise? The orchid season is starting up and I have noticed some new buds and flower scapes starting to form. I moved a couple of them and a streptocarpus downstairs to the office where I have the aerogarden still running. I want to see if the surrounding light from the aerogarden is strong enough where other plants can benefit from it. So far, so good. I have just one zinnia that is doing fairly and a ailing dwarf sunflower left in the aerogarden. It's well past the time they should have gone to the big compost pile in the sky. I do have a dwarf cherry tomato seed pack coming from Aerogarden and I'm going to attempt them downstairs for the winter. I did get a thermometer for the basement/office to see how cool it is down there. It seems to be holding at about 65 degrees which I think Tomatoes will work. If it is indeed too cold, I'll bring them upstairs into the kitchen. I'm pretty excited about this little experiment because it would be really cool to have fresh tomatoes all winter long. (I'm seriously thinking about getting another 3 pod Aerogarden just for flowers.)

Editing to add: I do share one quality with Lars...no self control. I just bid on an inexpensive 3 pod Aerogarden I found on eBay. Keeping my fingers crossed that I'll still be the highest bidder in another 2 days.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Lake Larson's Fall Show

Despite it being dry, the fall color around the yard has been pretty decent. Granted some of the beds got regular water throughout the summer, but the back of the water garden didn't get much until later. But the viburnum and my little cut leaf Japanese Maple didn't disappoint this year. I was pleasantly surprised with my Hosta 'Big Daddy' who decided to turn bright gold this fall. I don't remember it ever being this bright before and it was really striking in the garden.

Mr. fake Heron looks like he's had a few too many in that photo above. I don't know why I still but him out because the real heron pays him no mind.

The mix of the Spirea "Anthony Waterer', Double File Viburnum, and the Cut Leaf Maple 'Viridis' definitely represents in the autumnal color department.

Here's a close up of the fall color on my little maple on the waterfall. I cannot wait for it to get really wide.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Passion fruit FAIL!

I thought I was going to have this post about the awesomeness that was to be our home grown passion fruit. Boy was I wrong! Eric and I have been watching and studying the passion fruit seeing if we could figure out when it was ripe. When it started to turn cold, we brought inside to the big front picture window and that is a lot of sun. The banana for cripes sake is growing like crazy in that window! I learned online that ripe passion fruit will drop off of the vine and I kept waiting for that to happen. Then last week, the fruit started to look lumpy and that's not what I've seen them look like in photos.

This is what Logee's shows their fruit to look like -


Hmmmmm.... so I go to feel it and it drops off into my hand. I'm thinking it's ripe and I wait to Eric to get home to try it. He cuts into it and it's HOLLOW inside!!! WHAT? It looked like white styrofoam lining the inside of the rind...and it tasted like white styrofoam. I'm not really sure what happened there...maybe we need to pollinate the flowers with other flowers on the same vine. I'll have to email Logees and see if they have any recommendations for good fruit set. But...at least it's still throwing out cool looking flowers. I think we're going to wait pollinating them until I figure out what the heck happened.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Landscaping Numbskulls Strike Again!

Last year I posted about the gas station down the street from me that I have seen some bad pruning. Remember this??

(I am happy to report someone removed this poor cedar soul this year)

Well, these chainsaw wielding jackasses were at it again and decided to attack the street trees in front of the station. Usually I write about "professionals" and their jackassery in a tongue and cheek manner to keep it light but to get my point across to the readers that they need to stay away from that sort of company. This work at this gas station pissed me off and I'm not going to sugar coat this.

They completely topped this tree by cutting the main trunk and removed 3/4th of the canopy. There is absolutely no reason to do that other than shear ignorance and stupidity.

Look at that cut they made. I am that angry that I am seriously considering going into the station, ask who does the work there, and figure out some way to throw them "under the bus". Stuff like this infuriates me...because it makes all of the green professionals and particularly licensed arborists look horrible.

This is the stuff what happens when the "cheap company" get hired. I'm 99.9% sure whoever did this wasn't a licensed arborist. Whoever did this probably figures it's too much work, or money, or unnecessary to become licensed. You get what you pay for...and this is just another sad instance of that.

Monday, October 25, 2010

October bounties from the fading garden.

This time of year things are starting to wind down for the garden as you all know. Outside my kitchen window is a Mr. Lincoln hybrid tea rose bush that Eric rescued from a job site about 4 years ago. I'm not particularly a big fan of hybrid teas because their lack of disease resistance. But I tolerate Mr. Lincoln because it's the classic cut red rose complete with a nice spicy fragrance. I had this one big bud forming on the bush and I wanted to bring it inside before the cold weather nailed it. That idea grew into my little late season arrangement down there.

I grabbed a bunch of my Knock Out Roses to compliment the big Mr. Lincon bloom and opening bud...some Maiden Grass Tassels, some Switch Grass Switches and some of the Papyrus "flowers" from the water garden. It's kind of neat and for some reason I rarely make arrangements from my flowers. Maybe next year, I'll get over that.

The veggie garden is limping along and still producing some things. I'm surprised the eggplant are still looking good and flowering away. I would have figured they would have faded away like the tomatoes. I have some tomatoes hanging on...primarily the grapes. The rest of them have started to turn that miserable brown. I'm going to pull them soon. My white icicle radishes are starting to get ready to pick...and I have a couple down in the photo. Peas were "Meh" as was the lettuce I planted this fall. The seeds were old and my attention has been more on showing Lars in agility. So, I'll take the blame on the lame fall veggie garden. But what I picked Saturday night wasn't too shabby for late October.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Flower Power Friday

October Flower Power in full force!

We'll have to see if the flower gods will be willing to smile upon my Knock Out Roses and Jackmanii Clematis into November. We shall see!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

New additions and why you don't deadhead hydrangea

Finally, I was able to pick up a specimen of a plant I use a lot in my designs - Variegated Solomon Seal. It's a wonderful little plant for shady spots and it is about as low maintenance as it gets. I love the soft variegation of creamy white rimming those green leaves. It's a medium sized plant, reaching about 24" tall and it does spread slowly. I cannot wait for it to spread so I can start dividing it and using it in other shady nooks in the yard.

It has these little bell shaped, white flowers that show up in the spring. I consider them to be inconspicuous because they get lost with the white variegation. The one thing I particularly like about Variegated Solomon's Seal is the texture and growth habit it brings to the shade garden. The upright arching shape and oval shaped leaves are welcome against the bold, coarse foliage of the hostas and the finely cut leaves of the astilbe and the ferns. I am so thrilled I finally grabbed this for myself!

My 'Alpengluhen' Hydrangea a couple of days ago...they are just as pretty now as they were when they were bright blue and purple. I'll be very eager to use them in dried bouquets in the house and for my winter windowboxes in a couple of months.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fall Color Friday!

Here's the wild sassafrass that towers over Lake Larson.

I know I post of this every year but because it's the first tree in my yard to really start to show color. It's so striking because everyone else is green. It really pops!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

URI's conversatory greenhouses...packed with neat things!

A couple of weeks ago, I ended up down at URI's botanical garden for a RINLA Twilight Meeting. As current chairperson for the RINLA Publicity Committee, I was there for photo ops of the meeting and took a couple of minutes to wander around their greenhouses. I had never had an opportunity to visit them and doing so brought back fond memories of all of the time I spent in Cornell's greenhouses.

I have to open up this photo montage with a curious plant I found in the conservatory...upon first glance, it looks like something from the tomato family. The fruit looks very much like an inverted yellow pear tomato. So, curiosity got the best of me and I had to look at the tag....

Well, wasn't expecting that name! Hmmmm.....indeed (I guess if I look at it long enough, through squinted eyes.) And, I am not above mentioning...I giggled like a 12 year old at the common name.

They have a really neat succulent and cactus section in the front of the first greenhouse. It was pretty cool seeing these plants all planted in the ground instead of in individual pots. I could really appreciate the interest they all have.

A big Agave in full, funky flower:

An awesome specimen of pink Brugmansia:

Allamanda cathartica: Golden trumpet (I can't seem to get the italics to shut off...sorry.)

This is a plant I would like to try to grow myself but don't know much about it's culture. This beauty is called Plumeria.

A view from the middle of the first greenhouse looking out to the road.

Wicked cool! Their carnivorous plant collection!! WANT!

Here's their monstrous fig tree that puts mine to shame! Granted my little tree is a dwarf and really shouldn't get bigger than 4' tall. But, to have something like this would be wild.

This pic was for more my nerd side...you can air layer figs for propagation. Note taken...

If you're looking for a little nook on campus where you can get your tropical plant fix met, check out URI's green houses. You will be pleasantly surprised!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

It's amazing what you can do with a q-tip

I can't believe how little time a pollinated flower can form a fruit. My last post I had made the mention that Eric had tried his hand at plant propagation with a q-tip and our passion vine. Within a day the flower shriveled up and a couple of days later I could see a little fruit start to show up. I left for the Wine Country Dog Show Cluster on the 28th of September...that was when the little fruit started to develop. When I came back on the 3rd, this is what was growing.

OMG, tomatoes don't even develop that fast!!! We have no idea how to tell if the fruit is ripe or not. I'm hoping that it turns some cool color to let us know. I'm very curious to see how it tastes.
Another fruit we had I wasn't sure how to tell if it was ripe was the figs...but since I have been gone, they are starting to let me know it's time to pick. I'll let it go another day or two and see if it's easily removable from the tree. Way cool...I'm hoping this tastes good too.

I know I have been making comments about how dry this summer has been. I have been able to post a couple of pics on little things I've seen around here showing drought stress. I was stunned at what I saw on the way back from NY this weekend in the Bershire Mountains in MA.

That's not fall color. That's fried, burnt foliage...a whole hillside of it. I was blown away. So, if you have lost plants this summer to drought....yes, it was that dry.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Summer's fleeting good bye

It's been a while since I've written on here...September has been a little bit of a trying month. My laptop crashed at the very first part of the month and we had to wipe almost everything off of it. Thank God I back up work stuff, my music, and photos on my external hard drive. The most recent photos I had taken from August and planned to show on here of the gardens, The Farmer's Daughter and other stuff had been purged. Alas, I didn't have much to share. I had a few things on my iPhone but had uploaded most of them to the laptop before the crash. We had a "hurricane" to deal with...or shall I say a rain storm to deal with. I will admit, I did get all of my preparations ready for the storm to end all storms and I'm convinced that's why nothing happened. I was a little disappointed we got weather that didn't even come close to even a Nor'easter.

But at the same time, with Lake Larson looking as great as this a couple of days before Earl was supposed to come...I was relieved I didn't have a huge mess to clean up.

My passion flower 'McCain' has been flowering over the past month or so. It's one flower at a time and I think we're getting close to the last one opening I bet tomorrow or Thursday. It's a self pollinating variety and we haven't had any fruit set on it. I'm thinking it's not getting pollinated and I haven't seen any bees hovering around it (but boy, they love my sedums!) So, Eric is going to be pollinating this one with a q-tip when it opens soon. I have to give him a lesson on how to do it so he can be the designated pollinator of the Passiflora. LOL

That flower is just too cool!

The most exciting addition to Garden Consultant HQ this past month wasn't of the plant persuasion, rather a deck accessory. Eric was finally able to add the one thing he really built Deckzilla for - a hot tub. I actually found the hot tub and it was a circumstance of being in the right place at the right time. I had met with someone who is now a design client and had it in their backyard. They had just bought the house and wanted to hire me to design their landscape. They asked me if I knew of anyone who wanted a free hot tub. Yes, yes I did. We got it here, hooked it up and lo and behold it works! Eric has now granted me the rights to his nickname of "The Larsonist" because I have proven I have worthy talent of acquiring things. ;) I just say "if you built it....it will come."