Monday, August 18, 2008

2008 Garlic Harvest

Last Thursday proved to be a bit on the dry side amongst many wet days, so we decided it was time to harvest Garlic.
It isn't such a big job, and is overall quite an enjoyable task.We grew several known varieties of Hardneck garlic, one group of unknown hardneck, and a few softnecks of unknown origin.
In this wheelbarrow load are the named ones, and the softnecks.
I just hose off the residual soil and lay them out in mesh trays.
The variety in this pic is called Wyndvale Heights.....quite a nice one we got from Garden Import a couple of years ago.
Unwashed.........washedThe tray are set up on tables under the front overhang of the house, and left to dry. These are the miscellaneous hardnecks.Somebody's "head"...The tops and roots will get trimmed as they ripen and dry.
Overall we find the hardneck varieties seem to perform better than the softneck, but that could be "variety related". I think if I neglected to plant softnecks, I wouldn't miss them too much.
We now have the lovely wafting of 'eau d'Allium' coming in the front windows! A bit of contrast for the very strong lily perfume coming from other parts of the garden.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Purple Coneflowers have quite a presence

Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea) seem to make themselves very much at home this time of year, and we likely have a few more than we need in some spots(and less than we need in others).
Most are simply variations on the theme from Echinacea purpurea.
It is quite interesting to see the many different flower forms.
We do have one of the 'Double Decker' types, but it seems to ignore the fact it was supposed to be "special". A meagre "tuft" is all it can sport!
Our only white form has been here a couple of years, but doesn't have the vigour of the purple types.
There are always a large number of bees about, but I haven't encountered too many butterflies this year. Perhaps the rather long period of rainy weather had something to do with that.
They make quite good companions for various lilies and daylilies.
Daylily 'Strutter's Ball' in the background here.
The lily here is Lilium sargentiae.
It has occurred to me that there are virtually none in the front gardens, so perhaps we should try to "fix" that. Shadiness is a factor that restricts them out front, as well.

A couple of new plants

This year we have grown some Castor Beans and three Brugmansia.
Both are, of course, quite dramatic plants that from a sheer vigour standpoint make them quite interesting.
The Castor Bean is one called 'Impala', a hybrid which doesn't get quite as gigantic as typical castor beans, but the foliage is a wonderful burgundy colour. The seeds came from Dominion Seed House.
The new leaves start off very shiny, and almost red. They age through a wonderful metallic tone(which I am not sure I have fully captured) to almost green at the finish.
The veins and petioles stay quite vibrant.
We were quite surprised to see the start of a flower a week or so ago. Past experience with this plant had been to have flowers develop very late in the season, and never really make it to the ripe seed state.
The one in these pics is growing in a big pot on the back steps, so it it the barometer. It is, no doubt, beginning to outgrow its space, but hopefully won't go downhill too much. A couple of others are out in the Oak and Claymore beds. They haven't received much special attention, but since that long dry spell ended seem to have caught up a bit.
The Brugmansia also were ordered from Dominion Seed and came as quite nice plants in three inch pots. They were described as Salmon, with no specific variety name.
They were potted up in two gallon pots, and didn't look back! It was quite amazing how fast they grew. Buds appeared at what I thought was quite an early stage, the plants were still quite stocky, and the emerging flower essentially 'dragged" on the edge of the pot.
We have removed some of the shoots that arose from the more basal parts of the plants to give them a bit more of a trunk.
They have since gained some height, so the blossoms have a bit more room . All three plants seemed to outgrow those two gallon pots, so they all were potted "up" to bigger ones. I'm not sure they fully appreciated that move, as a few lower leaves seemed to yellow a bit, but growth proceeded, and many new buds have formed, and flowers opened.
The flower buds are very long, and quite yellow to start, but as the flower opens the pinky-salmon shade comes through.
It would be a distinct advantage to have much taller plants so one could view the underside of the blooms without going through contortions.
A few were treated as cuttings, but we haven't checked them in a while to see if they have rooted. Some of the shoots were simply discarded. How many Brugmansia does one need? A white one would be nice though.

Friday, August 8, 2008

A little 'Barbaresco' tale

The oriental lily 'Barbaresco' is one of our favourites.
A couple of years ago it condescended to make seeds, which were sown, and some actually grew.
This summer we have a plant blooming from those seeds.
It certainly has characteristics of the parent plant. Seedling(1st).....Parent(2nd)
Now the bulbs should be moved to a sunnier spot than the nursery bed area they now inhabit. A lot of leaning goes on!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The start of wonderful August Lilies

Lily season really began way back in July, but the most outstanding of our lilies are the later blooming Trumpets, Orientals, OrienPets, and several species. The very first Oriental types to bloom was our 'Golden Star Gazer'. The fragrance is amazing, and seems to have a "citrus" hint.

We have no idea why it is so much earlier than the pink Star Gazers. Three weeks earlier to be precise. They will have totally finished by the time the pink ones bloom.

We don't have a large number of Trumpet lilies, but 'Anaconda'......

...... and 'Midnight'have been doing very well. Another trumpet hybrid called 'Casa Rosa', doesn't do as well, but it needs a bit more "encouragement". The species lily Lilium sargentiae is very similar to the trumpets, and blooms just as they are finishing. These liles are tremendously vigorous this year, after rather a disappointing show last year. They reproduce by bulbils produced in the leaf axils, and seem a bit difficult to get to produce seed. They are also very tall, likely pushing 7Ft. We have given then a bit of a "tie-up", as they do have a tendency to flop. No, the pic was not rotated the wrong way! This group missed the "tie-up". I hope they are not lying on the ground after all the rain of the last few days. The actual Lilium tigrinum are around in a number of forms other than the typical tiger lily, of which we have far too many, and they could be construed as a "weed". One we do like a bit is a variation I call the "Curly Tiger". It doesn't seem to be so generous in its reproductive efforts.It blooms a few days to a week before the others, and has quite an attractive recurving of the petals. There is a yellow that hasn't bloomed just yet.

'Boogie Woogie' is an Orienpet (a cross between trumpets and orientals), and has been steadily improving over a three year period. They were very wimpy their first year, but have amazingly strengthened each successive year. They are 6+Ft. tall this year with very sturdy stalks. It shows up just a bit before the "main" Orientals. 'Barbaresco' is the first of the Orientals to bloom, and might just be my favourite if I could persuade it to do a bit better. I suspect it is getting competition from nearby trees. The rest of the lily story will come later.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

OK, so we ignored the month of July!

Time seems to fly once summer gets here in earnest.
July flew by with no blogging done.
It was for the most part a very hot, dry month for the garden, and the gardeners.
We got rained on towards the end, which was a saving grace.
Daylily season seems to dominate these days, but we are looking forward to a wonderful August display of Oriental type lilies.
Each year we try to keep track of the daylily bloom, and since there are quite a lot, that is a job.
Here is a link to some of this seasons "bloomers". There are some to come yet.
One nice interesting bloom came on a seedling from Canadian Border Patrol.
The CBP daylily is a beauty, but doesn't seem to be endowed with the vigour of many others.
We have lost several over the last two winters, and have only a couple left.
I think it is the only daylily we have ever grown that seems to "pack it in".
There is a "look a like" called Edge of Darkness that seems a bit stronger. It is currently "struggling" to maintain itself in spite of me! It needs to be moved to a good spot.