About Good Scents

The cut flower business ended in 2011 but I continue to post other items about gardening.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Posting More, I Hope

I read one time that Joan Didion used to answer all her mail but not necessarily promptly. She'd begin these letters with "During my absence from the country for the past several months". I don't have any such excuse, but I hardly did any posts all summer for a several reasons. First, it was hot and wet so it seemed I was constantly behind at the farm. Secondly, I was still recovering from my concussion, so I needed more rest. Lastly, after finishing cleaning everything around the beginning of November, I've been trying to catch up with the rest of my life since then. I'm basically back to normal speed now (it took until probably September from a January accident) and will hopefully post a fair amount of stuff over the rest of the winter.

2011 Seeds

Here are the seeds I ordered for 2011. All of them are from GeoSeed. I will also be growing, zinnias and statics but I still have those seeds from this year.

It is hard to believe, but I will be starting some of the lisianthus in about a week!

Achillea millefolium F2 summer pastels mix
Ageratum Blue Sensation P
Alchemilla mollis Robustica
Antirrhinum Opus Series Plumblossom
Antirrhinum Opus Series Appleblossom
Antirrhinum Opus Series Early Bronze
Aquilegia vulgaris Barlow Series Mix
Asclepias curassavica Silky series CS
Aster Serenade Blue
Aster Serenade White
Aster Serenade Red
Aster Seastar mix
Bupleurum rotundifolium Garabaldi
Buddleia davidii Butterfly hybrids mixed
Campanula glomerata Alba
Campanula glomerata Superba
Canpanula latifolia macrantha
Campanula persicifolia Telham Beauty
Campanula persicifolia White
Carnation Floristan Mix
Centaurea americana Aloha Blanca
Chrysanthemum coccineum Robinson's
Giant Series
Chrysanthemum parthenium
Gold Moon Improved
Chrysanthemum parthenium Virgo
Cosmos Sensation series Purity
Delphinium belladonna Oriental Blue
Delphinium consolida Exquisite Series
Delphinium consolida regalis
Cloud series Blue
Delphinium consolida regalis
Cloud Series Snow
Delphinium cultorum Aurora F1 Series
Delphinium cultorum Magic Fountains mix
Delphinium cultorum Magic Fountains
Dark blue white bee
Dianthus barbatus Neon Series Purple
Dianthus barbatus Neon Series Rose Magic
Dianthus barbatus white
Erigeron Azure Fairy
Erigeron Pink Jewel
Eucalyptus Silver dollar tree
Godetia Grace shell pink
Godetia Grace Salmon
Godetia Grace white
Gypsophilia elegans White Elephant
Helenium autumnale Helena Series
Helianthus Pro Cut Orange
Helianthus Pro Cut Lemon
Helianthus Pro Cut Yellow Lite
Helianthus Sunbeam
Helianthus Sunrich Gold
Helianthus Sunrich Orange
Heliopsis Summer Sun
Heuchera sanguinea Firefly
Lathryus odoratus Royal Family
Leucanthemum May Queen
Lisianthus Arena Series Red
Lisianthus Arena Series Rose
Lisianthus Cinderella Series Blue
Lisianthus Cinderella Series Ivory
Lisianthus Cinderella Series Lime
Lisianthus Cinderella Series Pink
Lisianthus Cinderella Series Yellow
Lisianthus Twinkle Series Deep Blue
Lisianthus Twinkle Series Blue Blush
Lisianthus Vulcan Series Putple Picotee
Lisianthus Echo Series Champagne
Marigold Gold Coin series
Double Eagle (Orange)
Millet Puple Majesty
Molucella laevis
Parsley triple curled
Perilla frutescens Green Leaved
Primula Rosanna Sesries Mix
Rudbeckia hirta Cherokee Sunset
Rudbeckia hirta Cappuccino
Rudbeckia hirta Goldilocks
Rudbeckia triloba
Dianthus barbatus scarlet

Friday, May 21, 2010

Cut Flower Talk

I'm going to give a talk / workshop on cut flowers at the Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living next Wednesday May 26th from 1-3pm. The event is free and the Center for Independent Living is at 3941 Research Park Drive. Despite the usual late May slump, I will bring whatever cut flowers I can find. Please come!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Project Grow's 2010 Heirloom Vegetable Sale

Project Grow will is holding their heirloom vegetable sale on May 15th, 16th and 22nd in front of People's Food Co-op on 4th Avenue in Ann Arbor. This is a great place to get a single plant of strange heirloom tomatoes - there are 50 different kinds. All the proceeds go to Project Grow and the expenses are pretty low because all the manpower is provided free from volunteers and the plants are all grown from seed. I know all this because I'm one of the unpaid volunteers.

The sale offers tomatoes, peppers and basils but it is an especially good place to get tomatoes. Click here for a complete listing of what will be offered, hours etc.

Wisteria 2010

I read somewhere that the biggest limitation for gardeners is time (as opoposed to money or climate I suppose). I guess this can mean hours per day or years per lifetime, and sometimes one seems more meaningful to me than another. Ed Rasmussen, the guy who runs The Fragrant Path, summed up my attitude toward all this when he said, referring to growing shrubs and trees from seed, "if not planted, they will not grow". The point being that if you plant the shrub that takes forever to flower now, in no time at all it will be flowering away every year.
A couple years ago I printed a picture of the Japanese wisteria I planted from Carroll Gardens which took several years to produce a few flowers. Last year it produced even fewer but this year is is literally covered in blooms, so many I can't begin to count them. Here are a couple pictures:

This pergola Joe and I built in front of the house contains 5 sections, and the wisteria is now most of the way through section 2.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Monday April 26th, 2010

Things still running ahead. I have tons of doronicum this year (Leopard's Bane). I always say it blooms with tulips, and it does. As I've said before, the color is like a dandelion and it is just a yellow daisy, so what really makes it special is how early it blooms.

The clove scented "snowball" that is center on the pink and white bouquets is a Korean spice viburnum. This is Viburnum carlesii I believe. There are hybrids of this flower like Judd's viburnum and 'Mohawk'. The hybrids bloom earlier and grow faster but the Korean spice has the largest flowers. They all smell great to me but some people I'm sure say the Korean spice has the strongest smell.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Aptil 23, 2010

Everything is really accelerated this year. The crabapples in the easement across the street are blooming and there is also a white flower blooming in the woods down the street. I think it might
be bridal wreath spirea naturalized into shady areas but I'm not sure. You can see the spirea or whatever it is in the first picture - it is the upright white flower.

There are a few bleedin hearts, too, and of course lots of tulips and daffodils. Every year most of the tulips seem to bloom within about 10 days. I will try to keep track of which are the latest ones this year and print those here.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Right Amount of Weeding

I have much better luck just letting nature take its course with most difficult to germinate plants such as bleeding hearts, peonies and hellebores than I do trying to germinate them deliberately. With most of these I only want modest numbers of them anyway so that is not a problem.

Of course, there are always exceptions. I was never able to get sweet ciciely going at my house without sowing them in a seed bed over the winter and then transplanting them. I now can't get rid of the stuff and my peerless gardening partner claims it has become a weed. On the other hand, I fussed and fussed to germinate Hellebores and find they grow like weeds beneath any mature plant.

I searched everywhere for a Henry Mitchell quote about this stuff and finally found it by doing a web search. Of course, if I'd never read the whole Henry Mitchell book to begin with I wouldn't have known what to search for. I searched for "Henry Mitchell I have so many weeds", the quote is on the second page of 'A Word About Worts' in One Man's Garden:

Commonly the gardener relies on stray seedlings, but one year he wakes up to see no seedlings at all. I enjoy saying I have none at all after about the third year, and I enjoy saying this because it suggests that I weed so carefully that no little self-sown seedling has a chance. It is far otherwise. I think the trouble is I have so many weeds that no self-sown seedling has breathing space.

By this definition I must be doing about the right amount of weeding because I often get self sown seedlings and the beds are not yet overrun with weeds.

I was really shocked a few years ago to see that I was getting self sown peonies. This is through absolutely no virtue of my own - they just appeared. I thought I was quite lucky and special until I mentioned it to Patrick Lima at Larkwhistle and he said, "Yeah, they do that now and then. They're always single reds"

Oh well. I can see by their distribution that they tend to appear under certain peonies but I'm never on top of things enough in June to keep track of which peonies are creating progeny. The only exception to this rule is one peony I have planted by itself. It is at least the MOTHER of the baby peonies appearing beneath it. There are lots of self-sown alliums in the picture below (at least most of it isn't grass), and you can see several tiny peonies.

You can see that one of the babies is going to bloom this year in this picture:

The parent is a Saunders hybrid called 'Lustrous'. You can often find interesesting peonies very reasonably at Wild's. I f you're willing to poke through catalogs and wait. I paid $9 each for 'Lustrous' and 'Rushlight' in 2002. They say you can contact them with specific requests but I never got an answer when I did.

You can read something about professor Saunders and the peonies he bred here.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday April 19th, 2010

I actually began deliveries last week but couldn't get my act together to take pictures when I was doing all the last minute stuff (making maps for new houses etc) that I leave until the last minute every year. The flowers this week are not greatly different although the bleeding heart is new (I have a plant that is against the house - the ones in the open are not blooming yet).

The double yellow and orange daffodil is 'Tahiti', the pure white one is 'Stainless'.

The apricot and white daffocil is 'Fragrant Breeze' and the woody shrub bloom that is a pink and white cluster and smells like cloves is Judd's viburnum. I also use a later blooming variety called 'Mohican'. Both are descended from the Korean spice viburnum which is where they get their fragrance.

Monday, March 8, 2010

High and Low Tunnels

High tunnels have gotten a lot of press lately as a way that people in Michigan and other cold climates like Maine (Eliot Coleman, who has popularized their use, is a Mainer) can grow winter vegetables. I understand that people are now selling greens all winter long at the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market and they use high tunnels to alter the climate enough to pull this off. Coleman claims using a high tunnel (basically a big, unheated, poly-covered greenhouse) is equivalent to moving 500 miles south or about one climate zone. If you use two layers of protection, for example, Remay suspended over plants inside a high tunnel, Coleman says you can gain 2 zones or about 1000 miles. In Michigan that means getting to Zone 7 or Tennessee and parts of Georgia.

This past fall I created some low-tunnels, kind of the poor man's version of a high tunnel. I used 18” pieces of rebar set 4’ apart and placed an 8’ piece of PVC pipe over each section of rebar. I then used cheapo 4mil clear plastic from Lowes to keep out the weather. Each piece of PVC protected about 3’ of ground, and I used 4 pieces, so a total of about 12 feet ended up covered. At either end, I cut the plastic kind of long, twisted it into a big, 4” rope and covered it with something heavy like a cement block or big piece of junk cement.

Sometime in the fall – I guess it was around early September – I started planting spinach every couple weeks. I covered the soil with the plastic starting in late October November and kept planting spinach until around that time. The smallest plants only had one pair or true leaves in the fall.

I had lots of spinach to harvest for Thanksgiving and then pretty much covered the bed and forgot about it over the winter. This WAS a fairly mild Michigan winter - I don't think it ever went below 0F. The pictures I just took show how well spinach can grow in cold weather. The other picture is of mache that I grew in big coldframes.
The thing I like about low tunnels is that they can be about any size you like and anyone can go to Lowe's or Home Depot and buy everything they need to throw one together. You don't need a big yard or a store bought high tunnrl to begin growing greens (and I guess other stuff) out of season.