Monday, November 3, 2014

Mostly Leaves 2014

Nearing the end of another gardening season with a severe lack of blog posts.
Our summer and fall has had a number of off putting events. Hopefully winter will be blissfully dull and ordinary.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Dismembering Dorothy and Other Pursuits

Lest anyone think our title a bit macabre, we are referring to the radical pruning of our rambler rose 'Dorothy Perkins', She is a very vigorous rose which blooms profusely towards the end of July.

Some years there will be substantial winter damage resulting in the need for severe cutback. This task is not the most inspiring of garden jobs, but gets done with quite a lot of prickles and muttering as to "WHY" we grow roses!
Dorothy grows on both our front and back arbors. The back arbor was tackled April 23rd. Looking down to the arbor, she is(was) on the left side.

There is another vigorous rambler on the right side, which has also been a bit out of control the last year or two. I removed some portions of this rose , but fear I have not gained control....yet.
Gardening on a ladder is not something I commonly need to do, but do expect I will need to use that approach another day.

This whole procedure was further complicated by the fact that there are several clematis sharing the arbor space on the lower side. Once the rose canes were removed, we're left with a bit of a tangle of clematis stems. I think there will be an unceremonious haircut go on here. Perhaps not the recommended approach to spring clematis care. I guess they will bounce back. Their usual blooming time may be delayed.
Both the roses and the clematis had overwhelmed a pink azalea growing in that bed. It hasn't died, except for one side. I cut off the dead parts, so hopefully it might replace a bit this growing season once it sees the light of day. It is not our best azalea, but is usually quite pretty.

The last several days have been reasonably good ones for garden work.
Each spring we have the inevitable clean up of fallen sticks and branches, plus some amount of debris that wasn't cleared in the fall. Bill has made valiant efforts in the clean up; with many wagon loads of debris getting carried away.
I have made a start on the spring pruning. Some of the shrub roses in the front have had a cut back. Some of the hydrangeas are done, but there are more to do.
This spring has shown more signs of vole/mouse/mole activity than we have seen in many years. There has been excavation going on around many plants in many parts of the garden. It isn't apparent whether any amount of damage has occurred, but it might not be for lack of trying.
We are hoping the creatures found sufficient bulbs to munch on and didn't eat the roots of anything useful.
After a less than inspiring task, a walk about to appreciate the many little spring bulbs seemed in order.
The Glory of the Snow have just started, but the crocus and snowdrops have been with us since the snow left.

The crocus seem to be providing pollen for the honey bees. I am glad we have lots so they can get their spring underway. It is heartening to see them out and about.

I took a little video of some bees in action.
We are having a cold, wet day so gardening efforts will have to resume tomorrow or the next day.
We have decided to participate in the ARHS member-to- member sale in Halifax, May 6th, so we have made a suggested list of plants available to members. We have received quite a few requests, so tomorrow we will have to check that the suggested numbers are available. Time to dig out labels and hope they are still legible. It is a good time to rewrite some as well. The limitation of fitting plants in our car to make the Halifax trip necessitates the pre-ordering.
Digging out overwintered plants from the ditch and an area near the manure pile is a job that needs to be done in the next few days.
We never run out of things to do, sometimes just the energy.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Spring seems to be here

Spring was very tardy this year. Ignoring the calendar seemed the best approach. This last week we were blessed with a Nova Scotia version of a Chinook. Three days of strong, warm, southerly winds coupled with some rain succeeded in removing most of our miserable remnants of snow. Both daytime and nighttime temperatures were well above the norm.
As in usual springs, the minute the snow recedes there are flowers waiting to bloom. Snowdrops and crocus were ready. We saw honey bees from next door which bodes well.

The annual walk to the far back garden didn't happen until April 14th. Our Witch Hazel may have been blooming for some time, but we didn't get to see and smell  it until that day. It would be a lot smarter to have that plant closer to the house!
Enjoy the discovery

There is still quite a lot of ice on the pond plus cool temperature means we haven't heard any Spring Peppers yet.
The spring seedlings are pretty well doing their normal thing. Peppers, petunias, parsley, basil, salvia and a few others have sprouted  and been transplanted. Tomatoes and Impatiens are just coming up. The Begonia grandis and regular tuberous Begonias are planted . We ordered  a few new Begonias this year. Some of the old ones seem very poor. It doesn't take long to fill up the three shelves of my planting cabinet. The overflow will migrate to Bill's units, since he doesn't have as many plants as some years.
The sun porch off the kitchen actually got a bit of a clean up one day, as well. The overwintering plants there will hopefully be able to go outside quite soon.
Bill got the tractor going on Saturday, so he will be anxious to have some warmish days to do outdoor work. The annual "pick -up-sticks" is looming.

We have decided not to have our Spring Plant Sale this year; or at least not the regular public version.
We do hope to do a bit of a survey to find out what plants we would really like to find homes for and invite gardeners in our "domain" to order some. It will be quite a truncation of our usual plant list. Perhaps our energy and priority shift will benefit the garden. There are always many tasks that seem to get postponed.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

We've Been Published

Last June we agreed to have a photographer come from Garden's East to take photos for an article to be written by Nova Scotia author Niki Jabbour. Those photos were taken ~ June 15th, so our rhododendron and azalea season was in full swing.

Niki contacted us about details for the article and after a couple of Skype sessions plus a preview of the text, we were informed the article would be in the April issue of the magazine.

We received several complimentary copies of the issue just yesterday. It is entitled "Highland Heart Haven", and should be on newsstands in a day or two.

After some misgivings prior to this, we were very pleased with the end result. We had contributed many photos as supplements to those done by Adam Gibbs. We created a Photobucket Album with several sub-albums for a variety of images from our garden over several seasons. If you follow the link above, the main album comes up and the sub-albums are in the list to the left. Clicking any image will bring up a larger version and the option to view full screen or as a slideshow. Most images have a fairly good description, as we were asked for captions.

The article is an interesting blend of images taken by Adam and those we contributed.
It is always interesting to see our surroundings through the eyes of another and the magic of publishing.
The article seems to be printed in both The Garden's East and the Garden's Central versions of the publications. Here is a link to an excerpt.

March 2014 Has Very Little Resemblance to Spring

Winter here in Nova Scotia has seemed a bit interminable, but I suspect it really isn't much different than many years. We are always impatient for winter to end.
We did have a few tiny snowdrops poking through, but they have been buried in new snow.

We were blessed with one of the most potent storms of the year this past week, but subsequent to that the nearly foot of new snow has melted away very quickly. 

Some rain and milder temperatures helped. This all means we will have mud on some pathways for awhile. It is marginally better than ice!

There are still considerable mounds of snow on most of the garden areas.

We have been a bit busy with seed orders for the ARHS Seed Exchange. The bulk of those have now been dealt with, although technically we could still get orders until April 30.
This is a little overview of our "output". There have been just under 400 packages prepared. Not too bad, but it would be nice if some more of these seeds could be utilized.

We managed to get some seeds sown a few days ago and the first things are sprouting. The usual candidates of peppers, basil, petunias and a couple of new things. This is a snippet from the "Planting Calendar"

Another few Petunias seeds should be sown today.
The order of sowing is pretty much the same year after year.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Gearing up for the 2014 ARHS Seed Exchange

It has been awhile since we have had a new Blog entry, so perhaps we can start 2014 with some information related to the upcoming ARHS Seed Exchange.
Preparing the Exchange information takes a part of winter's boredom away.
Some months ago I prepared a little over view into the activities associated with the Seed Exchange. The PDF version is available, called "Glimpses Into Your Seed Exchange".
The 2014 edition has been sent to ARHS members. Until February 10, 2014, the exchange is only open to members, but after that everyone may avail themselves. The online version is on our website. 
This little collage has some excerpts from a few seed lots. I have added many image links to the current list, but have not intended to have a link for every entry. We have to leave a little homework for the masses!

This list will ultimately get updated when certain seed lots become unavailable.
We have ended up with quite a sizable list this year with 178 entries. Magnolia fans should be happy with the sixteen different types.
We seem to have a bit of a bias for Magnolia seed and have been treating it quite carefully each year. All the seeds have been carefully cleaned and packed in moist moss to be stored in the fridge. This helps ensure that when the seed is planted in the spring that germination will be okay. Germination seems dependent upon many things, some of which we have no control over.
Some years there will be almost 100% germination, other times germination will be poor. Our only speculation is that some seed has been collected at a more judicious time wrt maturity.
We are hoping that lots of these get to good homes, so that Bill will not be tempted to plant all the leftovers and end up with MANY more little trees than we really need. This is one of the many seedlings grown last year, about July 4th

Last year we had close to one hundred little plants which needed to be dealt with at season's end. Bill heeled them into a spot below the garlic patch, so hopefully most will survive the winter

Magnolias are quite satisfying plants to grow and increase in size and vigor quickly. This is one which was in its second year.

Granted it does take some patience to wait the few years until a seedling magnolia flowers, but in the end seems worth it. This is a bloom from a plant grown from Magnolia "Spring Snow' OP. 

I can't recall how may years before it bloomed, but it is quite lovely and gets better each year.
Almost all the magnolias we have are seed grown. 'Butterflies' is the only exception.
There are still a few tasks to do to get all the seed lots ready for dispensing. The latest seems to be getting the data base complete so labels can be prepared. Every year we have new items which may require a bit of research for germination info. This example is typical. It has been a few years since Japanese Maple seeds were contributed. Just another example of a tree which is quite easy to grow from seed.

I fully expect the first seed orders to be in our mail in a few days. Some growers are very swift.