Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Hillside beauty

I went back home to see my Dad last weekend and he kept telling me about this spectacular garden that I had to see. The home was nestled on a hillside and it's an absolute garden oasis. I've never seen so many different hostas, coleus and unique landscaping. Perched at the top of the hill was a darling indoor greenhouse where the homeowners must sow her annuals each year. She must have had 4-5 different seating areas on the hill, a small gazebo, unique antique ornaments and wide variety of perennials.

I brought my girls with me and one of them quipped, "Mom, imagine if this was YOUR backyard!" I can't! I don't know if I would get anything done otherwise. You can tell that this garden was well-tended and given the utmost TLC. It was a treat to visit ....
Enjoy the photos!

I couldn't identify this plant - anybody know what it is?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Heirloom seeds

My aunt recently stopped at my house and perused my garden. After walking around my house and gardens she then posed an interesting question to me, "Would you like some of grandma's marigold seeds?"

Wow! Something of Grandma's - and garden related! Grandma K has been gone for 20 years and I am amazed that my aunt still has her seeds. Grandma didn't have a big garden area at her home but I do remember she had colorful annuals all around the house. My aunt kept the seeds and have planted them over the years. Amazing ...

My problem is that I don't have a place to sow these indoors and honestly, don't have the time (or patience) to babysit them. If I plant them in the ground in the spring, I will be waiting until the end of July to see them bloom or worse, risk losing them if the rabbits get them in the early stages. Argh ...

So as much as I love the idea of having something from my Grandma's garden, I do so with much trepidation ..... am I looking at this wrong?
Speaking of marigolds - has anyone tried growing the Signet marigolds? I saw them in a garden tour and they were lovely and very dainty. I'm guessing I'd have to grow those from seed too ...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Sedge adds an edge ...

This time of year my flowers tend to look a little spent. Most of the perennials (aside from the coneflower, rudebeckia and sedum) have bloomed already and have been cut back. I've already moved some around and planted them in my new space. To give my garden a little pick-me-up, I recently purchased some annual Red Rooster sedge to fill in the bare spots - wow! What a difference that can make. When I bought it, the woman told me that I can cut it down to about 3 inches and bring it inside and replant it in the garden landscape or, use it in a pot next spring. It is a beautiful coppery color that will be a nice accent for fall and winter. What a nice (and inexpensive way) to give your garden a fresh look during the waning days of summer ...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Cause for celebration

I finally grew my very first cherry tomatoes.

I know it's not much of a feat. Some of you experienced gardeners might even roll your eyes and say "Big deal!" but for me it's quite an accomplishment.

I've tried to do the patio tomato plants only to toss them out after a few good rain storms. Tomatoes and me have never gotten along. Love to eat 'em - but loathe to plant 'em. I've never had much interest in vegetable gardening. Maybe because I associate it with the back-breaking weeding my dad had us kids do in his garden at my grandma's house. Everytime I smell dill, I still think of dad's garden.

My faithful co-worker and vegatable gardener Barb inspired me (or dare I say "challenged" me) to plant a cherry tomato. She'd come to work boasting about her homemade salsa and tomato sauce. And I actually was pretty envious of her green thumb. Why can't I do that?!

So, late in June I was at a garden shop and found a whole section of robust cherry tomato plants (Sweet 100s) - for only $.60 each. What the heck - I grabbed three and they've been going nuts ever since. My first real tomato greeted me this week and it was delicious.
I've come to realize that tomato plants (at least mine) really do need to be in the ground. We dug out an overgrown area in the back that is nestled in full sun and I put them there. It obviously was the right spot for them and I am reaping the benefits.
Thanks Barb!

New plant update ... the Grand Parade Monarda

I picked up this new Canadian monarda and it's now producing wonderful blooms. It's a petite variety - nothing like the Jacob Cline or Marshall's Delight. It's a nice grower -compact with dark green leaves and a lovely purple/pink color. I think I'd like to split this apart this fall and expand the area. I like it way better than the Petite Wonder.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Critter free - almost

Every year I complain about rabbits in our backyard. We live on the edge of town and near the Red River where critters have found happy homes. I have tried all kinds of concoctions to fight them off: cayenne pepper, dog hair, moth balls, coyote blood, fox urine - you name it. The only thing I haven't done is the BB gun, and Lord knows I've thought about that too.

I have found that the best thing is to maintain plants that they don't like. It was a hard lesson for me to learn. The first growing season at our house I lost hundreds of dollars just because I didn't realize how bad the rabbits were. Within days of being planted, those little *?!*@#* had eaten darn near everything to the ground. It was like laying out a buffet table.

Plus, it was exhausting. I was out there early in the morning looking for any overnight damage. I'd come home on my lunch hour and give it another check - and well, you can imagine what I did during the evening too.

So here's what I realized what rabbits won't eat - at least in my garden. I also like these plants because they give me some color.
  • Salvia (I have the May Night, Caradonna. Marcus and East Friesland)

  • Monarda (I have five different varieties - and they won't touch 'em)

  • Catmint (see earlier post about how much I love catmint. I have the Walker's Low and the Little Titch)

  • Sedum

  • Daylilies

  • Cushion Spurge

  • Blue fescue grass

  • Silvermound

  • Lamium

  • Bellflower (I thought sure the flowers would be a for certain appetizer)

  • Geraniums and sometimes marigolds (they got to mine this year)

  • Celosia

Dangerous items to plant in rabbit zones:

  • Liatris: both the white and purple

  • Coneflower (they've eaten all varieties - apparently they're very tasty)
  • Rudbeckia

  • Clematis

  • Spiderwort

  • Hostas

  • Annuals in general (petunias, lobelia, alyssum - it's like tossing them a salad.)

In an earlier post I had successfully grown zinnias this year but I do believe it's because the area was surrounded by salvia. They usually ate the zinnias plants when they were about 3 inches high.

Another reason that maybe the grasses will be a good idea ...
Feel free to add to the list!

Friday, August 3, 2007

My "Maiden" voyage to grasses ...

Got a way from posting after the tragic Minneapolis bridge collapse. I live in North Dakota but the shock of this event reverberated so strong. EVERYONE here has a friend or relative in the Twin Cities and most of us were on the phone that Wednesday evening to check on their well-being. My thoughts are with those who have lost a loved one and are suffering as I write this ...

My bright spot this week is that my friend and garden guru Kathy came to look at my new garden and gave it a thumbs up. That meant a lot to me as Kathy is the one that nurtured this interest in me and showed me the ropes. I respect her opinion.
She has some good ideas, tips and a whole new design plan for my backyard. A plan that is pretty aggressive which I'm not sure my husband is all that crazy about it as of yet!

Kathy has always been an ornamental grass enthusiast. I think the Karl Forester is lovely as is Maiden Grass. But beyond that - I could take it or leave it. Anyway, Kathy wants to split up her overgrown grasses and has offered to design my backyard area into a grass oasis. Gone will be the daylilies, the salvia and the few scraps of monarda and geraniums I have now. It's kind of exciting thinking about a garden with a whole new look but it's kind of out of my comfort zone.
My husband isn't much for my garden but the only thing he DOES like is red in the garden - so this might be a tougher sell. I begged Kathy to keep the little rock garden - she relented but she's still trying to talk me out of red geraniums. She said it's something about red geraniums and cemeteries ...
I have to admit - that is my first early memory of flowers. As a little girl, my mom and grandma dutifully planted geraniums at graves where they produced endless displays of stinky flowers. And here I am, 40 years later, putting stinky red flowers into my garden.
More to follow ...