Forward to Spring — The Winter Clean-Up

Happy Spring, Everyone!

What a wild and crazy winter we had here in the Northeast! As someone who lives in between two great lakes and is used to some challenging weather, I can’t remember a more windy, bizarre winter. With winds up to 75 mph, it definitely was a “hunker down and stay warm” kind of winter. This left me longing for spring faster than usual. Fortunately, my daughter kept me busy, and we have some other exciting things in the mix this year, which will allow me to flex my gardening muscle and challenge me in a different way. Stay tuned for more information!

The Doldrums of Winter

While winter kind of let me down this year, (January was OK, but February and after was blizzard central), I got to do something I haven’t really done since my daughter was born– read!

Amazon prime kept me busy– I pretty much bought books all season long!

They were all great reads, and I think I will be posting my other favorite reads in a future post. However, I am recommending this one first, because, it was the first one I purchased and the first one I loved!

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The Atlas of Poetic Botany by Francis Halle is a WONDERFUL read. Honestly, this book was an Instagram Ad on my feed, and I was intrigued. It tells of the unique plants the botanist has encountered in his many years studying the rainforest. The illustrations are delightful. The words flow, making it an engaging and interesting read. It does not get boring and dry like some other informational/reference books on plants can sometimes get, hence the “Poetic” in the name. If you want to learn about the interesting plants of the tropics, including a “walking tree”, I encourage you to read this. There is another book in this series coming out in May called, “The Atlas of Poetic Zoology”, and I can’t wait to get that one!

Spring Things

This morning, I was finally able to survey the perimeter of my yard, to see signs of spring that I have been anxiously awaiting. Just the other day, we had snow burying all the little treasures just waiting to pop out and bloom.

 

From left to right, my alliums, hellebores and tulips are looking good! I guess my leaf mulch helped them get through the sub-zero wind and weather this year! (At least, I’d like to think it did). I am really anxious to get outside and clean up the twigs and other crazy things that blew in and claimed residence to my landscape.

Garden Plans

Yes, it has happened– I have officially become that person who wants to try to grow many varieties of dahlias. I like them because they are just so darn pretty, and they make people happy.  You can take them into work and give them to co-workers who are having a bad day, and they immediately perk up. They bloom well into fall and you can have fresh blooms all the time. I guess that’s why I like them so much. So, I saw one of my fellow gardeners on Instagram have a catalog for Swan Island Dahlias. I quickly requested one myself.

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So, cut flower gardeners, if you are looking for a good selection of dahlias, this one is for you! Or, if you know of another great collection, please feel free to share! I have purchased a few dahlia bulbs from my local store, so it will be nice to try them from the different places.

I don’t know about you, but I am ready to enjoy spring and get my hands dirty!

 

Dahlias, Roses and Silently “Growing”- The 2018 Wrap Up

I am not even going to talk about how this year has flown by, or how it has been since May since I have last blogged. Life has been full and good, and trust me, I have not stepped away from the garden– I have been still digging, growing and learning new things.

I am at the point where I have pretty much quit adding to my garden (there are just a couple things I want to add this year), but maintaining and working with what I have. As I mentioned in my wrap-up post from last year, I went plant crazy in the beginning, and I paid for it. A lot of them did not come back after one season, so instead I am moving the plants I have to either 1. Give them more space, or 2. Make my garden beds look a little more put together.

In October, I worked on this bed. I extended it so I could bring more full sun-loving plants over here.

As I mentioned in my only couple of posts earlier this year, I had Dahlia tubers from last year that I planted, along with some new varieties. Here were my results:

  • My dahlia tubers I had from last year did not make it. I put them in the ground at the same time as my new dahlia varieties, and when they weren’t coming up, and the others were, I dug them up to find mold on them. I was disappointed because I overwintered as I was advised to, but it just didn’t happen. I have also read where some people just treat dahlia tubers as annuals. I thought I would try again this year, and if they didn’t come up again, I too, will be just buying new tubers every year to give me one less headache!
  • My new dahlia varieties this year were beautiful. I have caught the dahlia bug! I am now wanting to try many different new varieties. I am going to make more room for dahlias this year. I love how many blooms I get, and I love cutting them every morning before work to have fresh blooms in the house and to give them away to neighbors and co-workers.

I loved all the varieties I planted, but of course the “Cafe Au Lait” did not disappoint, which is why I plan on buying more for my little cutting garden this year. What was the biggest surprise was the “Nadia Ruth” variety, it blew me away and I got the most blooms from that. One variety did not come up for me at all, and that was the “Creme de Cassis”.

The “Burlesca” variety was marketed as a honeycomb shaped flower, but that was not the case at all. Still beautiful, but not what it was supposed to be.

My rose:

It did not bloom this year. I planted the David Austin Rose “The Pilgrim”, and it grew on my trellis, just never flowered. I am hoping this year it will, as with our 6-month winter last year might have had something to do with it. Fingers crossed!

So, looking ahead– I am going to concentrate on mulching all of my beds this year, and adding more dahlias. I also would like to purchase one more David Austin rose, and then really start “landscaping” my yard. Now that I have a bulk of the planting done, it’s time to give these beds some shape and definition!

I hope you all have a nice New Year, I look forward to getting back to business with blogging all of my outdoor and gardening adventures. I post on Instagram most often, so, feel free to take a look when you get a chance!

Beginners Guide to the Cutting Garden

How interesting it is that my first blog post since July would be on my 3 year blogging anniversary!! So, thank you to all of my followers and fellow bloggers who take time out read my blog posts– I really appreciate it!

This summer was wonderful for me and my family. August was filled to the brim with activity, which led to the void of blog writing for the month. I feel bad that I let it go like I did, because I have made it a habit to post at least once a month.

None the less, I am back, and now that fall is nearing, and school is back in session, it’s time to get back to routine. So, blogging, here I come!

I have mentioned in previous posts my desire to start a cutting garden. I purchased several different seeds and hoped for the best. I think this was a great start to a beginning cutting garden, and I would like to pass this along to anyone else who is thinking of doing the same some time.

A couple of things to remember:

-It’s all trial and error. That’s gardening in a nutshell. Experiment with different seeds and bulbs. See what does well and what doesn’t. It takes a while some times.

-There are some really easy seeds to start with. As I detail below, some seeds you should just buy and plant. It’s that easy.

I planted:

1. Bunny Tails. This is the second year trying these, and no dice. I will try one more time and see what happens. Degree of planting difficulty: MODERATE- they tend to be picky about where they are planted.

2. Zinnias. O.M.G. These were so easy! And beautiful– pinks, oranges and some peach colored ones to boot! I hear they also self-seed, and keep coming back every year. I recommend getting a packet of zinnia seeds should you ever want to start a cutting garden! Degree of planting difficulty: EASY

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My peachy-keen zinnia!

What came back for me from last year:

3. Cosmos. I think this was in part because last year was so warm for us– we were having 70 degree temps in November– and my cosmos kept going. I didn’t cut them down until this spring. Degree of planting difficulty: EASY

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4. Morning Glories. These actually surprised me. But, they too, were like the cosmos, and I left the brown stems up until this past spring. Even though they aren’t your typical cutting flower, they were wrapped around my cosmos, so I just lumped them in with them. Degree of planting difficulty: EASY

The bulbs I planted:

5. Dahlia. I was nervous, I have to admit. I planted dahlias a lifetime ago, it seems like, and they did nothing for me. This year, I have had great success, and am reaping the benefits. Dahlias are all over my house. Degree of planting difficulty: EASY

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*Beginner’s Tip– You will have to stake your dahlias. They are very top-heavy, and they fall over easy. 

*Dahlias are hardy in zones 8-10. If you live outside those zones, you will have to take the bulbs out and store them in a dark, dry place for the winter.

6. Gladiolus. I got these bulbs as a birthday gift from a co-worker, and they did not disappoint. I got beautiful pink and purple stalks that I have been enjoying all summer. I cut a few stems and I was very surprised at how long they lasted! Degree of planting difficulty: EASY

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*Gladiolus (“Glads”, as they are commonly referred to), are hardy in zones 8-11. Bulbs, too will have to come out if you are outside those zones. However, I have heard from some fellow gardeners that if you mulch heavily and live in zones 6-7, you can actually keep them in the ground and they will come up again the next year.  

So, I hope this helps you. There are SO many more cutting flowers out there. If anybody has one they recommend, please tell me. I will be expanding next year for sure!