Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mail Order Bliss

When I came home from lunch today I had a package waiting for me on the doorstep.

I purchased from Annie's Annuals and I was immediately impressed with the clever packaging that helped my new plants arrive in perfect condition.

My first purchase was a small 5-plant order of mostly white-flowering plants. The first here is a flowering tobacco.

The next plant is called Dianthus plumarius 'Hercules'. I chose this one because I think the cultivar name will remind people of my muscular stature.

And here is a white delphinium called 'Double Innocence'.

And this charming little sweet pea gal is 'Mrs. Collier'.

And finally, a blue plant to round out the group. Here is a young Aristea major.

These should get in the ground and in their pots this weekend. Final resting spot pictures will follow.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Thank you, Mr. Presidents

What is better than a three-day weekend in spring, I ask? Nothing, except maybe a three-day weekend in late spring. Or early summer. Or late summer. Hmmmmm, I guess three-day weekends, regardless of when they come are, are pretty great.

I particularly enjoyed this last one (courtesy of a few of our more famous dead Presidents). I spent much of my free time this weekend either cleaning up in the yard or buying things for the yard.

Although I love to work in the yard, I have never been much of a vegetable grower. That is too bad and at times has felt like a borderline act of hypocrisy on my part considering the amount of time I have spent reading books, blogs, and web sites about the benefits of growing your own food. I'm definitely one of the converted but I had never gotten around to growing much except for a tomato plant and some bell peppers last summer.

The problem is that we have a small suburban back yard and my wife doesn't really like it when I get big ideas for things to do in the grass. She already thinks I've taken up too much of the lawn and refers to my projects and maintenance as "lawn beautification"! (A subject for another blog post for sure.) But I do have a young daughter at home and I do want her to have some soft surfaces to play on. What fun is a childhood that doesn't include the chance to run through a sprinkler? So I think what grass I have left should stay (for now).

As a result, my grand plans for raised bed vegetable gardens will have to wait a decade. In the meantime, I'm going to try planting some vegetables here and there among my perennials and a few more in whisky barrels and the rest will go in the new above ground vegetable garden kit that I purchased and assembled this weekend:

It is a bit smaller than I would have liked thanks mostly to the slanted sides. I am worried that many of the things I would like to grow won't have enough root space near the side walls. But I am trying to take solace in the square foot gardening idea and we'll see how much I can squeeze into this cedar box of mine. It will be a learning experience and no matter what level of success I achieve, it's a small step in the right direction with the bonus of not taking up any of our grass. A win-win, I think.

I took my little girl with me to the nursery this weekend. One of the best parts of our outing was showing her around the ground cover section. She loved the flats of Irish moss. "They look like carpet squares," she said excitedly. She just kept rubbing her hands over them and smiling at me. It's a real treat getting to see a child excited about a plant.

She also helped me pick out the pot for it. I think she did a nice job.

Monday, February 7, 2011

To Do Checklist: One Down, Many More to Go.

I finally had some time to move things around in this bed and the weather was willing to cooperate. Due to the proximity to the wall of the garage, it was difficult for me to get far enough away from the trunk of the Japanese maple to dig up as much of a rootball as I wanted to, but I'm hopeful that the nice weather these days will help ease any transplant shock for both the JM and the hydrangea.

I cut the star jasmine way back to reveal a rock that is partially buried in this bed. I have a feeling I'll have to repeat this chore in a few months.

I removed one azalea and one hydrangea in an effort to give everything a little extra elbow room. I plan to reshape the remaining azalea after it has finished blooming this spring. It is looking rather gangly and awkward.

I also added aluminum sulfate (or nitrate?) to this location to turn the blooms blue to better match the paint color. Speaking of paint color, I've decided it's impossible to take a picture of this bed that makes the bed and the house look attractive. Maybe I need to rethink my house color?