Friday, April 30, 2010

Reminder, Mother's Day is Coming!

Hi, just a reminder, Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 9th. As we are not going to do anymore gardening this year due to the move; Scott and I were reminiscing about our garden of the past 29 years. One thing that sticks out in both our minds are the years he bought me mushroom compost (many neighbors complained it was stinky – I told them to be thankful he didn’t get the pig manure), hemlock bark to finish off the beds (no slivers like douglas fir bark and it is a wonderfully deep brown hue), and a load of ‘washed’ dairy cow manure (my favorite, we had tomatoes the size of a cat’s head and those were just the cherry tomatoes!)

Anyway, this is just an explanation of what each company listed on the side of my blog brings to the table and why I have chosen to have their advertising. Yes, I have chosen these companies because I believe the in products they have to sell.

So, if the Mom in your life is a gardener, here are a few businesses you might find useful in getting her a gift! Amazon has books, DVDs, and magazines for the gardener. I searched: sustainable living and green living beyond just the printed matter and came up with thousands of useful products any mother would love to receive.

Terrain – has unique products for the home and garden. I love the antique looks of their line. Many items are handcrafted from industrial parts making them an artistic way of recycling. There are antiques, unique shaped enamled cooking pots, furniture and there is a collection of Heirloom Seeds in packets that would inspire me to use them for a large framed piece. Imagine: a burlap covered board with old time seed packets displayed in groupings. Seeds scattered about. All framed in a gorgeous copper antique frame.

Gardens Alive – is an environmentally responsible gardening company. I have bought their products for years and enjoy reading their catalog for more information on sustainable gardening. From responsible pest control, they have the cutest toad house, to organic seeds and fertilizers I have always found just what I’m looking for at Gardens Alive! was chosen because the seeds are guaranteed to be non-GMO. I liked that there is more seed per packet than many other seed sellers. Plus they have so much more to offer gardeners.

Whites Flower Farm – I have been buying plants from Whites for about as long as I can remember buying plants. They have quality plants at great prices. And I love being able to find cultivars that many companies do not have.

Worx – no emission tools. What green gardener would love to have that! As we age, we have found that using our old muscle powered tools is getting harder and harder. We have been looking for a green alternative and Worx tools seem to be one of the best. These battery powered tools really do work. And when the battery expires we can recycle them at our local landfill.

How the program works: You view the site for products you like. Take your time to think it over and when you want to make a purchase, just enter the site from my blog. That way, I will make a small commission on the products you buy. Plus anytime you want to purchase through Amazon, again enter the site from my blog, and again, I make a small commission.

I see this as a ‘win-win’ for the both of us. I get to make a little ‘pin money’ on the side and you, my dear readers, get to read my literate and informative blog. AND if you want to buy a useful garden item, you know I have used the business and recommend it (disclaimer – while I recommend the businesses, I in no way imply a guarantee, refund, or anything of monetary value other than being an advertiser.)

Make the gardening Mom of your choice a happy person this Mother's Day!  Take her out to breakfast, lunch, or dinner (or all three!) and give her a lasting gift for playing in the dirt!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Time for a Change

With the changes going on, I thought I would change the looks of my blogs to something a little different. I hope you like the changes as much as I do. Right now the Olde Timey look suits me. Wait a couple of months and then we’ll see what feels right at the time.

Officially, we are moving house on August 1.  That means all garden plans are now changed.  I will be digging a few of my plants to take with us.  Our planned patio garden is scaled back to just a couple of tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, and basil.  There will be a very few pots of color.  Keep it simple for the move. 
Until then, I will continue to keep you apprised on what is blooming, how you can have a simply beautiful garden, and rant about those things I see fit to rant about!

What's Blooming This Week

Either Brussells Sprouts or Cabbage, Brassica oleracea
I will save seed for next year and see what I get!

Rhododendron 'Cindy'
I always think brides should use Rhodys for their bouquets.  Just the right shape and size.

Columbine, Aquilegia × hybrida
I love to let the plants go to seed just to see what new combinations happen.

I dropped a package of Shasta Daisy, Leucanthemum x superbum (AKA Chrysantemum sp.), seed in the squash bed last spring.  Imagine my delight to see these!  Did you notice the 'Jewel' on one bloom?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Okay Part II; if you missed it, here’s the link to Part 1.

Today we are going to talk about the overuse of pesticides, both herbicides and insecticides. And yes, I am counting both organically produced and laboratory produced in this one.

We use pesticides to rid our gardens of unwanted guests. Whether it is that nasty aphid infestation or those pesky dandelions we reach for the fastest, most effective of blasting them out of existence.

Eradicating Crane Fly:
Recently I overheard a conversation between two men about the European Crane Fly. This large mosquito-looking insect lays its eggs in our lawns. The resulting larvae eat root crowns of the turfgrass. This damage is noticeable by the thinning of the turf in irregular patches of the lawn.

These men were talking about what would be the best solution for dealing with the Crane Fly. I had to join the conversation with a question about how bad their infestation was. They replied they did not have an infestation; rather they were seeing the Crane Fly about and wanted to do something preventative. They were planning on applying an insecticide, double strength, to the entire lawn to kill off the bugs.

I was intrigued by their decision to pour their money down the rat hole and told them so. Nicely, of course. I recommended they do a check for the ‘leatherjackets’ (that’s what Crane Fly larvae are called) by looking for a thinning patch of lawn. No thinning patches of lawn, no crane fly! No further action needed. By the way, the only time a homeowner needs worry about applying insecticides for Crane Fly is April 1 to April 15. It is the only time the application will be effective. Applications of insectide in August when then the Crane Flies are emerging and mating are NOT effective and cost homeowners too much money for zero in return.

If there are thinning patches in the lawn; cut a one foot by one foot shallow square in the lawn, remove the square and count the number of larvae in the sample. If you find less than 25 crane fly larvae in the sample you are golden, don’t waste your money. If there are more than 25 larvae then treat that one spot with an approved insecticide for Crane Fly and for heaven’s sake READ THE DIRECTIONS AND PRECAUTIONS CAREFULLY! Some of these insecticides are dangerous to children, pets, and bees! Bee responsible.

If you have lawn damaged by Crane Fly, overseed with the same grass right now. By June, you will have a great looking lawn!

Learn more about Crane Flies, knowledge is power and often saves you money!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Wow, so sorry about posting this month. We have been hit with illness almost every other day! First, we got sick right after Easter for a few days. Then, the next week our entire extended family was sick after Selene’s 30th b-day. I celebrated 60 and then got sick again. I am still not Tom Terrific but am better.

During my lucid moments, I got to thinking about it being Spring and everyone wanting to get ahead on their garden chores. Here in the PNW, it has been raining and cold. Upside: all the flowers are lasting longer then ususal. Downside: it is too cold and wet to get into the garden. In fact, I was trying to corral the dogs one morning and fell into one of last year’s compost piles. Chasing dogs + wet clay = one fat woman face down in fragrant, completed compost. If I wasn’t so mad at the dogs for fussing over a possum I would have laughed harder than I did!

I would like to address the overuse of garden chemicals, both pesticide and fertilizer. That’s right folks, just a few well expressed thoughts on our environment and your pocketbook all rolled together into one HUGE MOTHER OF A RANT!

Our environment, health, and pocketbooks are paying the price for the runoff from the overuse of pesticides and fertilizers.

Now, don’t you go saying it is the farmers and golf courses that are responsible; because they are not. No, professionals know that not only is it against EPA regulations to overuse chemicals; overuse of said chemicals costs them more money with less return. It is pure economics for the professional.

People, it is the home gardener who is doing most of the pollution and overpaying for what they do not need. Really, take a good hard look at your own use of garden chemicals.

Recently I have had the privilege to speak with many home gardeners about their landscapes and gardens. So many people are doing things that are so wrong, I decided to write about it and share my feelings.

Fertilizing the lawn:
Your lawn needs, at the most, one pound of Nitrogen (N) per 1000 square feet per month during the growing season, April to October. The calculation is simple. The first letter on the fertilizer bag is the percentage of Nitrogen content per pound of the fertilizer. Say, you buy a bag of 27-0-4. One pound of the product contains 27% Nitrogen. Easily, 4 x .27 =~1; now figure square feet, just multiply length x width. 40 feet long x 25 feet wide = 1000 square feet. You would spread 4 pounds of that product over the 1000 sq ft of lawn.

New lawns, diseased lawns, and weed choked lawns can do with 1.5 pounds N per month until they are lush and healthy.

By mulch mowing, you can cut back on N by 1/3. That means in our above example, you can reduce the amount applied from 4# per sq ft to 2.5-3# per sq ft. Saves you money and saves on finding a way to dispose of the debris.  Total cost is 18 pounds of Nitrogen a year.

Mulch mowing does not add to thatch, that impermeable layer of old grass roots that is not good for you lawn. You are adding the moist, nutrient-rich tips of the grass blade which decompose in a matter of weeks. On the topic of thatch, unless you have an old bent grass lawn you don’t need to thatch every year or even EVER. More on that another day.

The mid-point of fertilizing is to use your fertilizer only three times a year; June, August, and October. Use the above formula for one pound of N per 1,000 sq ft. If you mulch mow, reduce N by 1/3. That means you only need to use a total of 9 pounds of fertilizer per season,.  To just keep your lawn, you may opt for a one time application of 1#N/1k sq ft. in June and that means only 3 pounds of fertilizer per season!

And of course, many lawns go without fertilizing at all. I don’t fertilize my lawn, my dogs do. Oh, and we mulch mow.  Our lawn if lush, thick, and grassy to the extreme!

I recommend Fertilizing Lawns, an OSU Extension bulletin by T. Cook and B. McDonald. Tom Cook taught me what I know about turf. And that is a lot of information! There is a great picture of the Lewis Brown Farm where Tom Cook, Professor Emeritus, designed and installed golf green years and years ago. Turfies, those students studying Turfgrass Science, used that green to become great putters. Oh, and really great golf course managers!

Besides pollution, when you over fertilize you are just pouring your money down that proverbial rat hole! Think about it. Please, think about it. If you are still wanting to throw your money to the wind trying to have the best lawn on the block; at least learn a little about the what, why, and how to get that perfect lawn! The chemical companies do have good information. And so does the Oregon State Extension Service: free, at your fingertips, saving your money, health, and environment!


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Birthday Flowers

Dad & Dorthy took me out for dinner last nght to celebrate my 60th!  88 year old Dad, gave me a dozen apricot roses for the occaision. 
Right now the dining room smells so good.  These long-stem roses are fragrant with a real rose scent.  Add that to the Easter lily fragrance and it is almost overwhelming.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What's Blooming This Week

Columbine Aquilegia x hybrid

Lilac  Syringa x hybrid
This one has no fragrance at all, just gorgeous purple blooms
It was a gift from my father

One lone tulip  Tulipa x hybrid 
This is the only tulip to survive dozens planted about 20 years ago

Here's a small portion of the Candytuft on our parkway.  We have about
40 feet of it!


Spanish Bluebells Hyacinthoides hispanica

These are growing around a hazelnut (filbert), Corylus sp. tree the blue jays planted for me.  I also see there is a dandelion I missed.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tuesday Morning

Good Tuesday morning! It is overcast with just a hint of blue among the grey clouds. More rain is on the menu. The neighbor’s flowering pear, Pyrus calleryana, is beginning to bloom. It is a variety bred by an Oregon State University professor; and for the life of me, I can’t remember the varietal name. The tree leafs out before it blooms. The flower buds are a red color before opening to pure white flowers. Not one of my favorite flowering trees, but still pretty.

The Easter lily buds were closed on Sunday, when we left for Debbie & Rob’s. One was open when we got home and a second opened this morning. I have decided to try to produce some lily seed. I will just dust the white stigma with a yellow anther and wait for nature to do her thing.

Unfertilized Lily - no pollen on the white stigma

Fertilized Lily - see the yellow pollen on the stigma?

On a side note, the dogs cornered an opossum this morning. So nasty. I got them back inside and it wandered off. I found the hole under the fence where they come and go. Have to find something to block it now.

While gettig to the dogs, I fell in the clay mud. Landed on my knees in an old compost pile (from last season) so there was no damage done to me. Just muddy pants, shoes and socks; what a way to start the morning.


Easter lily four days after fertilizing.

I removed the anthers on all the lily blooms after taking this picture.  The pollen was doing a number on us, as well as Max and Wolf.  The two poor cats were sneezing constantly.  I was ready to buy some Benedryl for them!

ETA -- The ovaries on the Easter Lily are dried up and do not have any seeds.  Oh well, Debbie will love having it to add to her lovely lily bed.  She can really enjoy the blooms and fragrance next year.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Joyful Easter -- ETA New Pictures of the Mature Bloom!

Wakerobin, Trillium ovatum, is a joy in the spring.  In the forests, it grows in little colonies and is as much a harbenger of spring as the daffodills in our gardens

Virginal Trillium ovatum

Trillium ovatum
after being pollenized, see the blush?

In the wild, it it best not to pick Trillium flowers.  Picking Trillium flowers sets the plant back, the green bracts are the only source of chlorophyl for the roots.  By picking the flower, there is no food for the roots that year and it takes several years for the plant to make up the loss of food.
When the local Soil and Water Conservation District holds it's plant sale, I am always in the front of the line.  Love to pick up wild plants for a reasonable price; while supporting a great resource.

Fully blushed trillium

When we get our retirement house, I plan on using trillium like daffodils!  Think of it, white blooms followed by the lovely pink blush!

ETA:  about four weeks old, the trillium is truely a one-flower show!

Friday, April 2, 2010

A New Plant and Pot

When I was in the Rainbow Market (Grocery Outlet), I found some cute, cup shaped pots with matching saucers.  There were also these wonderful pinkish plants I knew would look great in the burgandy dining room.  So I bought both!  Isn't it a great pair?  Love it with my bohemian decorating scheme.
Echeveria Metallica

I also picked up an Easter lily with four unopened blooms, three sedums, a bronze fennel and a small pot of chives. 

The liner is one my late MIL had.  I find it cheery and spring-time right!  I refinished the cabinet that was in my parents old kitchen.

Another trip to the store is in order.  I am out of potting mix.  I am going to refurbish my strawberry pot filled with sedums and sempervirens.  It's only been about 12 years since I put it together.  There are some hens & chicks my mom gave me, that look spectacular; they will need special attention so I don't ruin that look.  I should have it done by Monday or Tuesday.  And of course, I will post the before and after.