Friday, May 30, 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Wisteria are notorious for taking years to begin blooming. There are all kinds of suggestions on the web about what you should try to make it start blooming - root pruning, don't fertilize, threaten to cut it down - but from what I can see you just have to wait. This one poked along for the 7 years until it finally produced 4 blossoms this year (you can see a couple of them in the picture). Based on my experience with the wisteria I planted at my last house, now that it has started, it should begin blooming more profusely each year.
Monday, May 26, 2008
This year I returned to where I had read this advice in the first place - Carolyne Roehm's A Passion for Flowers. It turned out I had not read the fine print carefully enough. Miss Roehm specifies the water should be between 120 and 150 degrees Fahrenheit, and I had used hot water from the tap which turned out to be only 110 degrees. I decided to split the difference and place the lilac stems in water that was heated to 135F. I left them there a few hours until the water had cooled. Be warned that this water is hot enough to brown any actual lilac flowers that get in the water, so make sure only the stems are placed in the hot water.
The additional 25 degrees appears to make a difference because the lilacs seem to be holding better this year, ususally 4-5 days. For my customers this is unfortunately only 3-4 days because the flowers are conditioned a day before they are delivered, but the results are encouraging.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Saturday, May 17, 2008
These are nice plants for cutting. The leaves are pretty in themselves and they bloom and are available to cut just in time to help with the May slow time (which is starting about now).
Friday, May 16, 2008
Many people got bouquets that looked something like this:
Ordinarily I am really fussy about never combining yellows with pinks, but I think I may have finally gotten the hang of how to condition lilacs so they last more than a day or two, so I decided to give them to nearly everyone.
The bouquets contained the same things as the last week or two - tulips, daffodils, bleeding heart, doronicum, trollius, lilacs and yews. A few also contained varigated solomon's seal. I'll post about that flower shortly.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
This is about the end of daffodil season - here are what is left:
The big one in the center is 'Gay Kybo'. Below it are 'Yellow Cheerfulness' and 'Cheerfulness'. Above and to the left of 'Gay Kybo' is another double 'Winston Churchill'. The single with the orange cup on the top right is 'Geranium' with 'Stratosphere' below it.
Here are three viburnums which are starting to swallow up the shed. When I put them in several years ago it was hard to imagine they would get this big so fast. They were all quite small when I put them in. All three came from Lowe's or Home Depot so they couldn't have been very large when I got them. I've been gardening long enough to know better - maybe I can move the shed.
The one on the right is a Viburnum plicatum tomentosum but I forget if it is 'Shasta' or some other cultivar. The one in the middle is Viburnum lantana 'Mohican' and the little one on the left is Viburnum plicatum tomentosum 'Newport'. The ones on the left and right are both "double file" viburnums but only the 'Shasta' actually has flowers in double file rows on the branches. 'Newport' has white ball like flowers but they are still green right now.
These are European ginger plants I bought at Project Grow's plant sale in 1999 or so and brought to the new house in 2000. I really love this stuff. It thrives in shade and I think the glossy round leaves make a great counterpoint to hostas. Native plant snobs will be stuck with the North American counterpart which I don't find nearly as nice.
This is a picture of a Shooting Star - Dodecatheon meadia - growing in front of some Virginia bluebells. Both of these plants go dormant shortly after flowering but the surrounding hostas cover them up so I never even notice.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
I bought a bunch of very early and late peonies when I started growing cut flowers because I wanted to ensure a full season of bloom. Then I learned that you can store peonies in the fridge for weeks so there is not much point in growing the late ones.
When to Cut
Peonies are supposed to be cut while still in the bud. This is sometimes called the "marshmallow stage" because the bud should feel soft but firm like a marshmallow. This usually is when the color is showing but the petals have not started to open. This phase does not last very long so you need to check every few hours if you want to catch it just right.
There are two advantages to cutting at this time. First, if you put the flowers directly into a vase they will last the longest time because they will be in the vase when they open. If you cut at the right time they usually open the next day.
The second advantage is that you can wrap the the flowers in plastic wrap or a plastic bag and store them in the refridgerator and then bring them out to bloom later. I have held them for more than a month this way. They should be tightly wrapped, but leave a couple inches of the stems exposed. when you want to use the stored peonies, unwrap them and cut a half inch off the stem, place them in water and they should open in a few hours.
How Much to Cut
When cutting peonies, you can either cut about one third of the flowers on the bush and take most of the stem, or you can cut all the flowers if you only take about a 10-12 inch stem. I usually do a few of each. The point is you need to leave enough foliage on the plant to not set it back for the following year.
Friday, May 9, 2008
A few of the bouquets also contained Mertensia virginica (Virginia bluebells). These are not the greatest cut flowers - they drop petals and sometimes wilt - but almost no other blue flowers are available at this time of year so they're nice to use.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Doronicum (Leopard's Bane) is also in full bloom now. Here is a picture of some growing through support mesh:
Pretty much the same flowers as Friday - daffodils, tulips, forsythia, appleblossoms. About a third of the bouquets also contained some hellebores, which you can see in the pink bouquet above in the lower right. A few (though not the yellow and red one above) also contained Doronicum orientale (Leopard's Bane).
Saturday, May 3, 2008
There were also "warm" bouquets using yellow, orange and red tulips but I didn't take any pictures.
Some of the bouquets also contained twigs from fragrant viburnum:
These viburnums have a spicy, sweet fragrance that you can smell across the yard when they're in bloom. There are a bunch of fragrant viburnums - I think most of them are hybrids of the Korean spice viburnum (Viburnum carlesii). The one above is Judd's Viburnum (Viburnum x juddi) and I have another hybrid called 'Mohawk', as well as a Viburnum carlesii. The bloom is a little staggered because of their different genetics or where they are in the yard, so the spicy scent is floating around here for a couple weeks even though each plant only stays in bloom for a few days.