A Gardening Year

The adventures and misadventures of an heirloom gardener

Monday, September 01, 2008

An Ending and A Beginning

I can’t believe that it is September already. The entire summer has gone by and I haven’t written a thing. At least not here. I haven’t done much gardening either but that’s another topic. I have, though, been practicing with my new camera.

I tried to write gardening posts, but the screen remained stubbornly blank. The cursor blinked at me, mesmerizing me. Scrolling through my pictures did not result in any inspiration. Cataloguing each new blossom seemed tedious. Blogging about my garden had become a chore; something I no longer enjoyed.

It is time to move on. I considered keeping this blog, just moving it in a new direction, but that also seemed too difficult. Too many changes would have to be made. Too many explanations would have to be given. And I like this blog as it is or was. It served an important purpose in my life.

In the end, I decided on a fresh start. I’ve created a new blog, A Photographer’s Garden that incorporates more of my photography and allows me to go off-topic, something that I never felt comfortable doing here. The new blog is not a garden blog. It’s not a photography blog. It’s not a personal diary. Rather, it is a combination of all three.

I hope that you will join me over at A Photographer’s Garden.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Summer Has Arrived

It may not be summer according to the calendar, but the daylilies are blooming and that always signals the start of summer for me.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Green Thumb Sunday


Bargain Jackmanii clematis purchased last fall and wintersown Balcony petunias

Gardeners, Plant and Nature lovers can join in every Sunday, visit As the Garden Grows for more information.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Weirdness Chronicles 2008 - Chapter 4

It’s a well-known fact that I love iris. Almost as much as I love heirloom roses. I have bearded iris, Japanese iris, Siberian iris, iris bucharica, iris dardanus and miniature iris. I don’t have a favorite. But I do have some oddities. Like the iris that bloomed in full shade. And this:

This is a Japanese iris that was part of a collection. Although planted years ago, it was only last year that two of the six (I think?) bloomed.

The blooms were floppy and mis-shapen but I thought, hey, it's their first time. They'll get it right next year. Except they didn't. The purple one shows no inclination to bloom and the white one is just as floppy and mis-shapen as last year.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Peony Envy

Peonies are everywhere. Blooming in gardens. Pictured on blogs. Everywhere except my yard.

I started out last fall with six peonies. Three singles that I had ordered and planted in the border along the Ugly Green Fence. Two survived the winter. Neither is showing any inclination to bloom this year. Because they’re new and still small, I’m giving them a pass this year.

The other three I had moved from the border along the Ugly Green Fence to the Infamous Entry Garden, a much shadier location but peonies are tough and will grow most anywhere. Only two survived the squirrels. I found the chewed remains of the third root in the spring.

The two surviving peonies leafed out nicely and developed buds. The buds on one of them turned black and died.

The buds on the other peony were quite promising:

But whenever they got to the point where they were about to open, this happened:

Cruel, cruel squirrels. They weren’t eating the buds. Instead, they left them on the lawn.

I have peony envy.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Green Thumb Sunday


Wild Purple Foxglove that I wintersowed last year.

Gardeners, Plant and Nature lovers can join in every Sunday, visit As the Garden Grows for more information.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Review: The Flower Farmer: An Organic Grower’s Guide to Raising and Selling Cut Flowers

I’ve always wanted a cutting garden. Although I love having bouquets of flowers in my house, I don’t like picking flowers from my carefully planned borders. A separate plot, preferably in an inconspicuous spot from which I could plunder as many blossoms as I wanted without worrying about leaving holes in my planting scheme, is definitely the answer. But how to begin? How to decide what to plant, when to plant, the best methods of harvesting to ensure the longest vase life? Surprisingly, I found the answers to all of my questions as well as questions I didn’t know I should be asking in “The Flower Farmer: An Organic Grower’s Guide to Raising and Selling Cut flowers”.

In this revised and expanded edition, Lynn Byczynski covers every aspect of raising flowers for sale in easy to understand terms. The book is incredibly detailed but I was never bored. Rather than a manual or a textbook, it was like a friendly talk over the backfence. It’s obvious that she loves flowers and the business of growing flowers. The author starts with the basics of site, soil, seeds and plants then moves through pests, diseases, season extenders and harvest. She devotes several chapters on what to grow, not only the usual annuals and perennials, but also plants one doesn’t usually think of, trees and shrubs, whose foliage, flowers and berries are used in both fresh and dried arrangements. Then she moves on to flower arranging, transport and marketing.

Along the way, successful flower farmers are featured. Their farms, their market niches, how they got started and how they have expanded or shrunk their businesses to suit their financial and lifestyle goals are explained.

All of the information is presented in an easy to understand format. Each concept is clearly explained. Technical terms are defined. No prior knowledge is assumed on the part of the reader. Nor is the book limited to one climate or region of the country. For information not covered in the book, sources are given where the information can be found. The author points out how the each section applies to both large and small farms and even cutting gardens such as I envision.

Whether you are thinking of growing flowers for market or just want a cutting garden, I can’t recommend this book highly enough. But don’t take my word for it. Cathy Jones of Perry-winkle Farm in central North Carolina was one of the experienced flower farmers asked for their Top Ten varieties for each area of the country. Cathy says, “It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was reading The Flower Farmer to learn just these sorts of things!”(page 25)

As for me, I’m finally going to plant that cutting garden. Thanks to “The Flower Farmer”, I know what to plant, when to plant it, and how to plant it. I’ve learned about succession planting and other techniques to extend the season. And when it comes time to harvest my flowers, I know the proper way to harvest each variety to prolong its vase life.