Monday, June 16, 2008
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Green Thumb Sunday
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
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
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.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
You are invited to a Garden Party. Come mingle with my roses. Enjoy their varied colors and scents.
The first on the scene is always Harison’s Yellow aka The Yellow Rose of Texas.
My only yellow rose, it brightens up a shady corner. When I visited Arlington National Cemetery in May, I noticed one in the garden at the house. You can see pictures of my visit on Flickr.
Next to step into the spotlight is Seven Sisters.
Her flowers are petite but numerous.
She is soon joined by Baronne Prevost.
My new favorite rose, La Reine Victoria, has the most beautifully shaped blooms of all my roses.
Not to be outdone, Belle de Crecy bursts on the scene.
Described as dark lavender, she is more a dark rose color in my garden.
Taking their time but worth the wait are the half dozen Blaze roses that came with the house.
Brightening up another shady corner of my yard is Sombreuil.
She is shy and tries to hide her face. I have to coax her gently to pose for my camera.
Guarded by a gargoyle, are Rosa Mundi and the Apothecary Rose.
The intensity of their color always surprises me.
One of the last to bloom for me is Mme Plantier.
Her gorgeous white flowers open from pink buds. I saw a smaller one at the National Herb Garden in May. You can see pictures of my visit on Flickr.
Here’s another late arrival to the party: Ballerina.
Her flowers are among the tiniest of all my roses.
The no-shows to the party this year are The Fairy, the Eglantine rose and Therese Bugnet, none of whom are showing a single bud, Madame Pierre Oger who has never deigned to bloom for me in the three years that she has graced my garden and my newest rose, cl Cecile Brunner who may just be shy. Perhaps she will overcome her shyness in time to join us next year.