Last week, I installed a rose trellis for a client. She wanted an everblooming climber. Now, Knock-out roses are definitely the most maintenance free, everbloomers on the market, however, they are not climbers. So my search began.
I found this rose (pictured) called "Fourth of July" and it boasts the same effortless habit as knock-out roses. They are also continuous bloomers. As it turns out, there are many other roses on the market that boast the same attributes. Yay! The hybridizers are listening to their consumers. No one wants to spend their time spraying, treating blackspot and other diseases and having their roses give them one time only blooming per season. This particular climber is also fragrant, bonus, huh? Its scent is similar to apples.
Be on the lookout for these fuss free varieties. Now if we could only find a way to keep rabbits from eating our plants. At least with a climber, eventually they will be too high for them to reach. You would think the thorns would be a deterrent. Pesky Wabbits!
I leave you with a little Queen of Soul: duh do do do do do da do!
Cottage gardens ... I adore them. They tease your eye with staggering heights of blooms that wave in the wind. From pristeen gardens to the relaxed informality of a haphazard design, Cosmos are the most maintenance and fuss-free flower to grow. Put this one on your must have list!
On a lark, I thought it apropo to write about the annual, Larkspur. It just so happens, according to the florist industry, to be the flower for July. This flower's appearance is very close to the perennial, Delphinium and is in the genus Delphinium consolida.
Now this got me thinking... how many things on the web can I find about this plant? There just so happens to be everything from towns to songs entitled Larkspur. The plant originated in Europe and the Mediterranean. It is prolific in zones 3-8 and it generally will reseed itself.
Larkspur is also poisonous to both animals and humans. I read that it is one of the largest causes of wiping out cattle in the Western United States. This is surprising to me because Foxglove is also toxic and so are daffodils. Poisonous plants usually are not bothered by animals in my garden. Bunnies and rodents instinctively stay away from them. Then it occurred to me, how stupid are cows? You would think their brains would be so much bigger and smarter than Peter Cottontail and his Mickey Mouse rodent friends. Huh, so much for brain size matters... which also took me back to the mouse trials in pyschology 101. Guess I should have paid more attention in class.
Larkspur comes in a variety of colors and is beautiful in cut flower arrangements. It is said that they got their name because of the spur on the end of the flower and the part that attaches to the stem looks like the tail of a lark. Hmm... and you thought they were just pretty!
Now for a little larkspur music! Hit it boys! The Larkspur Song
Last year, I saw White Oleander sold at Produce Junction. Produce Junction is known for reasonably priced flowers, shrubs, perennials and produce in New Jersey. This plant is so toxic that if any part of it is ingested by mammals, the result is death! Yet, there it was amongst all the other beautiful flowers without the slightest bit of warning for the public. This is totally unconscionable!
So here I am on my soap box with a public service announcement: Do not buy this plant! Did any of you see the movie White Oleander with Michelle Pfeiffer? Enough said! Even eating honey contaminated by bees eating the nectar of the plant can be fatal.
There I feel better! Now for something much lighter! Yes, ok I said it, I occasionally like a little Britney...nobody rocks a glitter body suit like Miss Spears. Whew... that is taking our relationship to the next level!
Another rainy week in New Jersey! We complain if it rains, but look at the alternative. Many summers are spent waiting and hoping for a rain day... feast or famine is part of our vernacular when we are gardening. Many of you may have already tried this; harvest the rain in a rain barrel. Today is a perfect day to get this project started, between rain showers of course!
Save money on your water bill. Ever tried to keep track of how much water you are using from the garden hose? Compare your bills from last year to this with a rain barrel being your water source and treat yourself to the difference. Put gas in your tank! Redistribution of my dollar the only way in this economy.
Rainwater is so much more beneficial for your plants. It is naturally filtered so that it doesn't contain minerals or harsh chemicals, both of which plants are sensitive to. Put your plants on a organic diet... they will smile back!
No restrictions. Most municipalites have watering restrictions during the summer that limit the time and frequency in which we can use the water from our outdoor water supply. Usually there are no restrictions on collecting rainwater and when you are allowed to use it. This helps to save municipal costs and resources of treated water. Less energy is also a benefit : no need for incoming and outgoing treated water to be processed and this leads to less operating and maintenance costs of water treatment facilities. LESS TAXES people! Now isn't that music to your ears?
Click here : Instructions on how to make a rainbarrel
Good day for a little Shedaisy!
Click here to listen: I wish I were the Rain ~ Shedaisy
Another blizzard last night, and my Spring Fever is at its absolute peak! I have watched enough television (even American Idol Tryouts which I hate!), definitely eaten enough food for a hibernating grizzly. Hmmm...could clean my house, hold on... lets not go crazy, tomorrow is another day for that kind of exhaustion. I sure hope next week, that damn Pennsylvania ground hog doesn't make a prediction that keeps us in the deep freeze!
What to do!!!!
By George ~ I've got it: PAPERWHITES! My friend, Harlee gave me a present of paperwhites for Christmas and the day has come to plant!
I have been a paperwhite grower for many years and I adore how quickly (4-5 weeks) they bring life and that botanical, ethereal feeling to a room. I would equate it to the way Rice Krispy Treats make you feel like you been slaving in the kitchen all day!
What are Paperwhites?
Narcissus ‘Ziva’ or classic paperwhites are the fastest and easiest forcing narcissus. A warm climate daffodil, paperwhites are native to the Palestine, Israel and parts of the Middle East. Here in North America they are grown indoors between October and April. I particularly love to plant them in time for January and February bloom, that middle time between the magic of Christmas and the miracle of spring when we delight in tulips and other flower bulbs.
How to plant your paperwhites:
The most popular way to grow Paperwhites is to force them to bloom indoors during the winter. Fill a shallow bowl, pot, or container part way with decorative stones. Plain stones, gravel, and even soil works too. The decorative stones allows you to display your personal creativity, and is much more fun. Set Paperwhite bulbs onto the stones, pushing them down just far enough so the bulbs are supported in an upright position. Put several of them together. Don't worry about crowding.
Add water just to the bottom of the bulb. If the water covers too much of the bulb, they can rot. Now put them in a cool, dark place for one to two weeks. When the roots have begin to take hold, and the plant has sprung from the bulb, take the pot out into a brightly lit room.
Now the problem:
Four to six weeks later, your Paperwhites will be in bloom. However, after about the 3-4th week they have to be staked or they are falling out of the container or flopping over. Now studies from Cornell University show that an additive of alcohol will stunt their growth and produce PAPERWHITES THAT GROW SHORTER, STURDIER and MORE LOVELY.
How much alcohol and what kind? (and will my Paperwhites need a 12 step program after this indulging diet?)
This is the formula: Keep in mind: The alcohol content needs to be less than 10%, or your plants will overdose and severe growth problems will occur.
Many liquors are only labeled as "proof", not percentage of alcohol. Don’t confuse the two. To determine what percentage alcohol you have, divide the proof in half, So an 86 proof bourbon is 43% alcohol.
To convert your booze to 5% alcohol, just divide the percentage alcohol by 5 and then subtract 1. That will tell you how many parts water to mix with your 1 part alcohol. Ex: 40 divided by 5 = 8: 8 minus 1 = 7... 7 parts water to 1 part alcohol.
Drug of choice: You can use any hard liquor (vodka, gin,tequila, whiskey...) or rubbing alcohol. Don’t use wine or beer because they are too high in sugar.
In the past, I used bamboo stakes with a narrow metallic ribbon tied about a third of the way down the stems. I like the look of it. But sometimes it works and other times the numerous stems still pull stakes and ribbon down with them. Others suggest planting them in a tall glass cylinder or inserting branches into the pot to support their growth. This time I will try treating my bulbs to a cocktail hour and post the results periodically.
How to stunt the the growth of Paperwhites with Alcohol
Pot your paperwhites in stones and water, as you normally would.
Once the roots begin growing and the green shoot on top reaches about 1-2", pour off the existing water.
Replace the water with a solution of 4 - 6% alcohol
Continue to use the alcohol solution for future watering.
You should see results in a few days.
Paperwhites can also be grown in soil and potted. If planted in soil you can then put them out in the garden. If grown in water and stone they will need to be discarded when flowers are spent.
I know that patience is a virtue... but c'mon... this drought and heat of summer was an absolute kill joy when it comes to being enthused about what to plant in my garden... so I am supposed to get you excited... and I'm gonna do it come hell or high water because this too shall pass and next year you will thank me! Whew... English teachers... don't look at that sentence... please... its a thought ok????
Plant of the season... here it is : tada... drumroll! Caryopteris! You are going to flip over this one! I did, you can't kill it. It's a great perennial. It likes shade. It likes sun. It likes dog pee. Some call it Blue Spirea... this delightful late bloomer (blooming now - people!) is a magnet to butterflies and a big asset in the late summer border. Caryopteris has a true blue flower and is truly hardy. Oh I know, you've heard me say this before. Ok... I may have said the same thing about chicory... no... I don't think I said the same exact thing. I would never compare! Ok... I'm rambling. I do seem to like blue plants... do you think I am a bit blue... perhaps I should check my mood? hmmm.... Back to Caryopteris...and perhaps some Chaka Khan music!
The Caryoteris in our gardens are hybrids of several Asian species. The flowers Are generally blue, although pink forms do exist. Butterflies and bees love them and are attracted to the flowers. The flowers are said to have a slight scent, although I have never noticed it.
Reseeding Caryopteris, is somewhat difficult, therefore it is usually purchased as in plant form. They do well in shade and full sun. The plant is hardy from Zone 9 to at least Zone 5. In Zone 5 Caryopteris may die back to the ground, but make substantial growth in the spring and will bloom by late summer. Caryopteris blooms on new wood, so all winter damaged wood can be safely pruned off in early spring without losing the flowers. They begin blooming in late summer and continue until late frost. Keeping dead flowers trimmed off on the plant prolongs bloom. I like to have them bloom as long as possible... the last hurrah so to speak!
So there you have it... My favorite variety is Longwood blue. It has nice silvery gray foliage. Sunshine Blue has golden leaves and deep blue flowers. Pink Chablis has Pink flowers. There are several other varieties you may find at the nursery. These are my picks!
Next week I will talk about fall clean up in the garden and how we can put the mess to sleep... what we can salvage and what we can spruce up. I am hoping that my leaves turn golden and beautiful this year and not just fall off the trees brown from lack of water. Do your rain dances people! Peace out!
Here, in my parts of the woods, you can see hundreds of these flowers growing in every hardened and packed, nutrient deprived roadway, ditch or abandoned area. You may also see a few pop-up in a lawn or two. They never spread too aggressively or really out compete anything. I haven't had much luck trying to get them to grow well in a beautiful planned flower garden... they just aren't going to behave...no not the mannerly type! They tend to bloom in the morning and are usually spent by afternoon. However,there are so many blooms that you will get a nice show until the day is overcast. They are called chicory... they look like a cornflower blue bachelor button.
In the United States, chicory is so common on roadsides that it's hard to realize that its not native. Now that you see the picture... I'm sure most of you realize that you have it growing in your area. But most of those miles of blue flowers we see today came from chicory imported by colonists. Thomas Jefferson had some planted at Monticello in 1774, the seeds probably came from Italy. Foliage can be used as a vegetable or in a salad and the root can be roasted and ground to be used as coffee substitute or additive. Jefferson used it as a ground cover in this fields and as a cattle fodder and salad for the table.
By 1818, chicory was abundant in Phildelphia, the city of brotherly love. According to one of the pioneers of American Medicinal Botany, Dr. William Barton. Chicory advanced human health in ways totally unforeseen by the great classic herbalists, it caused such a scandal in nineteenth century that it inspired legislation.
CHICORY THE WEED OF THE 1800's - who knew...
My friend, Patti and I went to a concert last week to see BD Mylo and the Go Daddy's... very cool! When we got home this beauty of her's was greeting her on the garden path... I had to get a picture of it. Not bad for just an iphone shot, huh? Moonflowers are nocturnal bloomers, perfect for night owls and late night birds like Patti and I, strolling in from a concert for that night cap. The shame of it all, is that this bloom is ONLY for one night ... the moon flower petals die in the morning after they open. On a warm summer night, moon flowers can open in a matter of minutes. Luckily, there are alot of buds and usually you will get a succession of blooms for nights in a row. Then as the sun rises, and they close their fragrant blooms. Kind of like that guy who was absolutely perfect in every way the first night ... until morning... oh... what were we talking about... back to moonflowers...
Moonflowers are vining plants and can grow 12-18 ft in a single year. They are perennial in their native tropical home. Here (NJ) and in more northerly areas they are used as annuals. These blooms are the size of saucers and very showy. You are going to love them. Great for you white garden lovers! They really show up at night as you can see in the shot.
Moon flower plants are prolific climbers with very attractive almost heart shaped leaves, similar to morning glories. Make sure to plant them where they can climb towards the moon. Plant them along patios and sidewalks where people are likely to be in early evening hours. They are to be enjoyed!
How to Grow Moonflowers:
Grow them from seeds... easy man! Sow them directly into your garden in the Spring after there is no danger of frost. Cover with 1/4" of soil. Option#2 start them inside to get a jump on the season, then put them outside after the frost danger. Water them once thoroughly! They germinate quickly and will grow quickly. Then space them out - if needed about 6" apart. Bedebadebadeba...Thats all Folks!