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February 2009

January 2009

The indoor garden grows!

High 35 F
Low  22 F
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More snow and ice arrived today but I have been busy at the desk and plan on re-potting these small treasures picked up on a recent trip to a local greenhouse.  This time of year drags incessantly on and the indoor garden provides a bit of relief from the two tone colors of the outdoor landscape.  I have to say that I do love begonias.  Angel wing begonias, Rex begonias and the other hybrid crosses with beautiful foliage and interesting flowers.  Begonia flowers are messy, one drawback but many varieties flower so prolifically that it is a small price to pay at this time of year.DSC_0003   This begonia is called 'Tea Rose' and it is in a four inch hanging pot.  The parentage includes B. nitida odorata which indicates that it should be fragrant. DSC_0005 Mine doesn't seem to have any fragrance but it does need a good haircut which will provide some cuttings for the garden containers in a couple of months. An added bonus is the glossy foliage.
 I have always wanted to try a bougainvillea and this is the one I picked up.Dsc_0006 (2)   This plant is in a tiny two inch pot and is begging for transplant.  I can only hope it thrives. I know it can  be a bug magnet for mealy bugs and white fly.  I am optimistic.  I did purchase another begonia, this Rex begonia called Looking Glass. Dsc_0007 (2) Who needs flowers when you have foliage like this one.  The last little plant acquired is this Abutilon 'Dwarf Red'. Dsc_0008 (3) I could have chosen one already in flower but this one was squat and fat with many promising buds. These plants are added to the ever growing collection.  One of my other favorite begonias is this one named 'Art Hode'. DSC_0009 It has big, textured leaves with red hairs covering the  surface and the base of the leaf.  It is an easy grower.  It does flower with a cluster of white blooms on a long stem.  They drop like confetti all over the floor.  What's a bit of petal patter on the floor?  It matches all that blond hair from Tucker!Dsc_0055 (2)  


75 Exceptional Herbs for your garden by Jack Staub

High 23 F
Low  - 1 F
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Totally gratuitous garden shot
75 Exceptional Herbs for your Garden is the latest in this series of books by author, Jack Staub. It is also the last  book of the book giveaway.  I think that you will find this one particularly interesting as there are many unknown facts and interesting tidbits concerning herbs contained within its' pages.  I should say, unknown to me!  I find that the more one reads about gardening the more one finds out how little one does know.  Humbling for sure.DSC_0013 This book is in the same style as the other three and will be a great addition to your garden book library looking  nice on the shelf and also packed full of information with a recipe or suggested cooking use here and there.DSC_0018 The chapters are quick reads which means you can read this book along with the five others you have on the nightstand.  DSC_0019 This is the chapter on anise which provides quite a historical background for the many uses of anise which have been employed by naturalists across the ages.  Click on this picture to enlarge it and read the quote at the top.  As bloggers and garden lovers, plants connect us across the many miles between our gardens.  This book brings the connection back to botanists from the fourth century B.C. through the middle ages to current times.  This is a pleasant way to learn a few new names and botanical history.   Have any of you ever heard of Hieronymus Bock?  That is a name is it not?  Apparently Hieronymus Bock was a  16th century German botanist who noted the uses of the herb, rampion or Campanula rapunculus.   Want to read more about this one?  Just leave me a comment concerning your favorite herb.  As long as you have posted a comment previously on this blog, you will be entered into the drawing.  Comments close at midnight on Friday the 30th. DSC_0005 There are still two months of winter remaining for many of us and, for others, the hot days of summer are ahead and that is when reading takes precedence.   I'd love to send you this book so leave a comment!

AND THE WINNER IS:  Lisa from Greenbow!  Congrats Lisa and many thanks to all who participated in the fun.


Desert Island Plant Challenge

High 31 F
Low  11 F

It is so pleasant to think of a desert/tropical island at this time of year and thank you to Shirl of Shirl's Garden Watch for helping with the blog topics by suggesting this challenge. P1060026 (2) What three plants would I choose for my tropical (I prefer this to desert) island?  Not an easy choice but since all plants would work, I am going to just give it a go.  First, I could not do without ...hmmmm, not as easy as I thought.  I guess the first would be tulipsDsc_0140 (2) because they signal spring and are offered in so many colors and when backlit are just sublime! The next would have to be delphiniums. DSC_0260 Lots of delphiniums in all colors.DSC_0081 Purple or blue or DSC_0039 white or even a mix! And, lastly, I would need a tree.  Given the choice, I guess I would pick an apple tree.  I only have a picture of this 'Akebono' cherry tree and I like this  picture (Blithewold's tree) butDSC_0145  I would pick an apple tree. That way I would have flowers, summer shade and fruit in the fall and, on this magical tropical island, I think it would not be deciduous so I would not have to worry about no winter shade.  Maybe in this make believe world, I could have an 'Akebono' looking apple tree.  If you ask me tomorrow what three plants I would pick I would have three different choices.  I suspect most of us would!  


More winter reading and book giveaway!

High 28 F
Low  14 F
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It is hard to believe that this is the scene yet again on a Sunday morning!  The birds are fighting for food and the snow is flying. At least it is my weekend off so there is no driving to be done.  Time once again to catch up on reading and enjoying some books.  The second book in Jack Staub's series DSC_0014 is 75 Remarkable Fruits for your Garden.  It is also wonderfully bound and illustrated and contains fruit for all regions of the country.  Is there one of us alive who has not eaten an orange and reveled in its' sweet sticky flavor?  If you can't grow oranges due to your climate you can, at least, enjoy a bit of history concerning the orange and this little poem  by Tom Lehrer: 

"Eating an orange
While making love
Makes for bizarre
enjoyment thereof."


The sensory stickiness of this brought a smile to my face. Of course not all is so 'earthy' but as with all the books in this series, the information is fun and informative. DSC_0015 It is an easy read with memorable chapters. You can always click on the above picture to enlarge it to read the text. If you wish to enter to win a copy of this book provided by the publisher, Gibbs Smith, just leave a comment at the end of this post and in it, mention your favorite fruit.  The winner will be drawn after midnight Friday the 23rd and notified next weekend.  Feel free to leave your own little fruit passion poem or not.  Either way, you will be entered in this book drawing and let me thank you in advance.  You will enjoy this book!


Bloom Day - January 15, 2009

High  15 F
Low    9 F
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With those temperatures above, there is nothing blooming outside at Ledge and Gardens and inside, at this time of year with low light levels, there are just a couple of plants with flowers showing. The begonia, above, was brought in this past fall and has not stopped blooming.  Begonias do leave a messy trail of dead blossoms everywhere but that is not a complaint, just a statement.  It is a welcome spot of color at this time of year.  I have had guests ask me if it is a Bleeding Heart.  My guests are usually not plant people.   The fusion impatien, while small, does have a simple little flowerDSC_0001 on it and I know that as the days lengthen and if I pay a bit more attention to its' needs, I will have a much bigger plant when it is time to take some cuttings and add to the plants headed outside for the warmer weather.  It will come, I know it will.  I have this Harlequin Phaelenopsis orchidDSC_0004 just about to bloom.   This is what it looks like in past years.DSC_0003   It is now about three years old and it seems to thrive on the neglect this gardener gives.   Last, the Streptocarpus 'Laura' is blooming her head off with these delicate pink flowers which are quite large.  DSC_0005 I have several of these plants of different cultivars and this is the only one with significant blooms.   Thanks to Carol of May Dreams for hosting this Bloom Day. I will be enjoying those blooms from other gardeners who have a bit more light and warmth in their gardens at this time of year.


Confessions

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Just a random garden shot from July '08
Most of us who blog have been asked horticultural advice from others at one time or another.  Some of us give horticultural advice as part of our jobs and part of our lives.  It is very satisfying to share one's knowledge with others and it is equally satisfying to receive the benefits of other's experiences in the garden and in life.  We all know how difficult it is to throw out plants although seasonal plants are easier to dispense with due to the limited shelf space of the indoor winter garden.  Poinsettias are just so festive during the holiday season and so garish the days after. Entry Garden
Another gratuitous garden shot
Once the bract color starts to diminish it is hard to justify the space this plant takes up on the shelf.  One of the most frequently asked questions I hear is 'How do  I keep my poinsettia healthy and how do I get it to rebloom"?   Keeping it healthy is one thing especially when it gives so little after the holiday and is so susceptible to white fly.  Getting it to rebloom is not difficult it just takes the attention to detail for which many of us lack the time.  What am I getting to?  Well, below is a picture of my poinsettia from '07 which I decided to keep and grow on in the hopes of the rebloom.  Let me say that this plant was growing quite well all through the summer of '08 but someone (Tucker) knocked it over and broke the main stem.  Hence it's diminutive size.  I did NOT give it any special treatment and yet it did reward me with this diminutive red bloom.  If only I had the time to take some of my own advice.DSC_0001


Winter reading and book giveaway

DSC_0021 I awoke to  yet another snowy, Sunday morning preventing me from getting to work on the radio show which airs live from six a.m. to ten a.m. every Sunday morning on WRKO out of Boston, MA.  It is a good ride for me but great fun and an opportunity to talk to fellow gardeners and help them with their problems and share information.  Check it out here if you wish.  Scheduled on the show this morning was author, gardener, chef, lecturer and playwright, Jack Staub.  I was able to participate by phone with the interview which, while short, introduced his newest book, 75 Exceptional Herbs for your Garden.  Mr. Staub has two previous gardening books in this series and all three are pictured.  DSC_0013 I have been enjoying them all.  The books are artfully bound and classic in appearance.   The vegetables discussed are those which you may have grown or just thought about growing.  There are interesting tidbits concerning the featured plants.  Mr. Staub says the following about those he decided to include:

"In this volume my intention is to present you, the reader, with portraits not of famous personalities of our time, but of vegetables whose time I feel has come.  Eminent vegetables.  Entrancing vegetables. Heirloom and hybrid. Native and transplant."

The books contain wonderful artwork by Ellen Buchert and this week I will be giving away a copy of the first work in this series, 75 Exciting Vegetables for your Garden.  I will be posting the next two Mondays and giving away the other two books on the following Friday.  For this week's copy, just leave a comment at the end of this post.  I will put all names in a hat or, maybe a flower pot, and draw a winner on Friday, January 16th.  Should you want to share your favorite, must have vegetable,DSC_0017 all the better.   These books are great reading during these winter months and for those of you who are in the midst of your gardening season, they are a great way to end the day with a chapter and a glass of wine or other drink of choice.



AND THE WINNER IS:  Anna from http://www.curiousncuriouser.blogspot.com/

Thanks for all who left a comment and remember that there will be two additional giveaways for the next two Fridays.  Stay tuned for details in the next blog post.


Under glass!

High 32 F
Low  27 F
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The garden has taken on a clear coating of ice today.  Ice is so very beautiful and so destructive. The ice builds up around the greenhouse office which is one step  lower than grade and sometimes the floor is automatically washed with rainwater.  It also builds up along the roof line where the glass meets the roof and the result is a steady drip of water resulting in, once again, a clean floor and sometimes a wet shoulder.  That is what happens inside.  Outside it is a story of beauty and the backbreaking, shoulder lowering, seemingly endless excess baggage of clear cargo in the form of ice.  The grasses have arched gracefullyDSC_0014 and the purple beautyberry is gleaming like an amethystDSC_0023 in the dull, gray light of this dismal day.  The forms of trees are outlinedDSC_0016 and in more distinct relief.  These oaks DSC_0038 are framing the rock with their bent bows.  This spot of color in the garden, garden jewelry in the form of this birdhouse, DSC_0026 is the only thing in the garden actually dripping color.   The pines are holding it DSC_0046 and the sedums are encased in a transparent crystal. DSC_0042 They look good enough to lick don't they? 


Silhouettes

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There is still snow on the ground which brings the leftover perennials into high relief.  The starkness of the landscape makes one appreciate the intricacies of these plants which during the height of summer can be missed in favor of the abundance of colorful blooms.  There is so much to see in the summer and so little at this time of year.  The above miscanthus is always appreciated at the edge of the fish pond and the shadow it throws in the winter is not seen in June.  This is the simple added bonus of the low winter sun.   Time is one factor which prevents me from cleaning out the whole garden in the fall.  Some plants are cut back but usually I leave the seed heads on many perennials for adding interest in the garden and the birds do like the seed heads of many of the plants.  DSC_0016 This purple coneflowers are looking bedraggled but they are still holding their heads up high. DSC_0004  Hydrangea petiolaris 'Limelight' still hangs on and the astilbe DSC_0017 are marching to their own beat in the garden with only a small army left.  I think that the most striking perennials in the garden in the dead of winter are the sedums.  DSC_0017 These 'Autumn Joy'  bring more 'Joy' in the winter.  Do you have a favorite 'silhouette' in the winter garden and what is it?