He is a one year old boxer cross that we are adopting tomorrow. This promises to be exciting!
I was checking on my containers this evening and found a Ladybug on the Dianthus, and I quickly picked her up and took her to the tomato plants. To my delight she wandered around for a while and then started chowing down on the aphids like a starving man at an all you can eat buffet. I love Mother Nature!
By the way, I know there are a few aphids on there but hopefully the ladybugs and their babies will be along momentarily to take care of them. (If they don’t show up soon I’ll just knock the aphids down with some soapy water before they can do too much damage).
Also the broccoli is coming along nicely.
Although I have to admit that I am concerned that it is going to get too hot for them in the near future and they will bolt. If that looks like it is going to happen I will just harvest them as they are bound for my husband’s nightly salad anyway. I can’t wait to go out there in the evenings and graze on the goodies growing. It is my favorite kind of dinner, picked and eaten right out there in the garden.
My husband’s school’s FFA chapter held another plant sale this week and they had reduced their prices yet again and now a 36 plant flat was only $3.00. Well what is a girl to do? I ordered a flat of red Marigolds, a flat of purple Salvia and a flat of Ruellia. Today I spent most of the day getting the plants in the ground or in my containers. They didn’t have a full flat of Ruellia so they made it up with three quart pots of Lantana “Buttercup” which really worked with my purple and gold theme. Anyway when I counted up the empty flats today I calculated that between veggies and flowers I have planted 650 plants. Methinks it is time to sit back and watch it grow.
First up the containers are filling in nicely. First up Purple and Gold
Next Red, White and Blue
Next front bird bath bed
The shade bed
The bed on the far edge of the patio
Finally the bed the other side of the patio
Flowers, flowers and more flowers if this doesn’t keep the bees and butterflies happy then I don’t know what will.
This week the roses began blooming in my garden. While they tend not to do well here in Eastern North Carolina you can find some species that will, or if you are lucky enough the expensive hybrid grafted rose that you bought and planted gets taken over by the root stock that it has been grafted onto. I know this sounds like an utter contradiction but the common old root stock rose does really well here, and is not subject to any of the diseases that tend to plague hybrids in the humid south.
This beauty actually began life as a white tree rose, but the root stock was having none of that namby pamby tree rose business and quickly escaped from the ground and is now a delightful specimen that surrounds my bird feeders on the patio and keeps the birds safe from the cats.
This one is actually a species that also does very well here, a delightful pink bloomer that is called “Nearly Wild”. This one sits in the bed at the edge of the patio, I also have one in a pot on the driveway which I have been meaning to plant for years but haven’t quite got round to it.
Soon the Carpet Roses and Fairy Roses out front will be a riot of blooms which will continue throughout the summer. I have a couple of hybrids that have managed to hang on but I have found that as far as roses go in this climate your best bet is with the carpet varieties. I have heard from other gardeners that Knock Out roses also do well here but I have to admit that the one sample that I do have in my landscape has not proven that theory as yet.
In any event, should you be growing roses in this area and you notice bright red flowers on a rose that is supposed to be any other color, don’t worry about it, let the root stock rose do its thing, and go with the flow. Sometimes it doesn’t do any good to fight Mother Nature.
As you all know I am a bit of a skinflint so when it comes to plants I do so love to take advantage of the free ones that Mother Nature gifts me with. In the next couple of months I will be recommending those “weeds” (or native plants as I prefer to call them) that I enjoy and that I find do very well in my Eastern North Carolina garden.
When I first moved to this house I found a lovely patch of pink Oxalis growing in the woods at the bottom of the garden and all of the plants that now grace my landscape originated from this one plant.
This photograph was taken after a heavy rain and the flower stalks have fallen over due to the weight of the rain drops.
The plant forms bulbs underground and these can easily be divided and transplanted pretty much any time of the year. I now have plants all over the landscape, some in full shade, some in full sun and they reliably form tidy mounds of four-leaf clover like leaves with jaunty pink flower heads on delicate stalks that sit above the leaf mound.
This one is in my front flower bed underneath the living room window sharing the bed with some daylilies.
They are a very hardy perennial and remain green over the winter even under a heavy blanket of snow. Another of its delightful attributes is it does not have a narrow bloom time and will reliably bloom from Spring and all through the Summer and into the Autumn. To say that it is a carefree plant is an understatement. I have never had a problem with it doing anything other than being a little treasure and I cannot think of a single pest that pays attention to it. You can buy a version of the plant (generally white ones) and there are hybrid types with purple leaves and flowers, but I have found that these are nowhere near as vigorous as their wild cousins.
So there you go, if you happen to live in the woods and come across some pink Oxalis on your property divide it and use it all over your landscape. You will be glad you did I promise.
Last Autumn I decided to experiment with overwintering some of my favorite plants so that I would not have to replace them come Spring. If they were in the ground I dug them up and put them in pots in the greenhouse (as with the Angelonia) or if they were already in pots I just moved them into the greenhouse. So far the experiment has worked well.
The Gazania that overwintered has just put out its first bloom.
I believe that with the cost of the plants saved as well as the savings in starting things from seed rather than having to buy plants from the garden center the greenhouse has already paid for itself.
One of the nicest parts about gardening is many a gardener’s tendency to forget planting things and therefore being pleasantly surprised when the garden awakes to find a bloom that one had forgotten about. I have to admit that this particular trait happens to me frequently and the annoying part is that it happens with the same plants every year. Many moons ago I found a poor Clematis plant growing out of its plastic bag at Lowes, it was on sale for 75% off so rescuing it was relatively easy. I planted it at the base of the large tree in the front garden and promptly forgot about it until it sent out a couple of small blooms the next year and I proceed to forget about it every single year until it comes into bloom. It has grown over the years and this year the blooms are truly spectacular.
Of course there are many times where the “I don’t remember planting that” theme is because you actually didn’t plant it, but Mother Nature has gifted you with one of her native plants in this case the Cross Vine which is this week coming into bloom, just in time for the arrival of the Humming Birds.
These trumpet like blooms must be full of nectar because I have also noticed many ant species traveling up the vines and deep into the flowers to collect its sweet treasure, I am not sure what the nectar tastes like because the blooms have an almost spicy, curry like scent, perhaps the ants like Indian food?
Of course in my case the things that I am more than likely to forget about are the bulbs that I buy on sale as Winter approaches. Generally in the big box stores at 50-75% off to get them off their hands I usually end up filling a cart with goodies and then having to get them in the ground before it gets too cold. This invariably results in me wandering the yard with a bag of bulbs in one hand and a trowel in the other muttering to myself while seizing upon any scrap of dirt that doesn’t already have something planted in it. This led me last year to having a full on argument with myself in front of the heavily discounted bulb section of Lowes. Me “but they’re 75% off!, I can’t pass up that bargain!” Me “but you don’t have anywhere to put them, remember last year you ended up having to put them in containers?” As it turned out the “sensible” me won out over the “can’t pass up a bargain” me and I walked away bulb free and saved myself the weeks of angst trying to find somewhere to put them. Still it is nice to be surprised as I was this weekend when this particular Dutch Iris greeted me one morning.
Once I saw it I even remembered it’s name, Lion King (that is a rare occurrence to be sure, unless I keep bags or labels I rarely remember the name of a plant other than it’s general species) and with it’s colors it was even in keeping with my purple and gold theme. Sometimes having a rotten memory has its advantages.
This weekend while I was doing some dishes I looked out of the kitchen window and saw this (warning photo taken through a very murky outside window).
A Goldfinch in full breeding plumage! I was pleasantly surprised to see him because normally the little ingrates live in my garden all winter, getting fat and happy off my birdseed, and then when it time for them to put on their Sunday clothes and get their pictures took they naff off inland to the Greenville area to breed. Obviously this little guy didn’t get the memo because he appeared to be quite happy to stick around. I am thinking that perhaps with the steady supply of food that he knows will be around he decided that there was no need to go to Summer School at ECU. I look forward to seeing more of him and the missus.
Thanks to the regular rains that we have been having everything is going great guns (including the weeds unfortunately, I really need to get the beds heavily mulched).
The Tomatoes in the first bed already have flowers on them.
Second bed (the seedlings you see by the pepper plants are direct sown radish) I have already begun harvesting lettuce leaves for my husband’s salads every evening (I use the “cut and come again” method of harvesting rather than harvesting the whole lettuce).
The onions, carrots and peas are doing well
and my herb bed at the edge of the patio is looking lovely.
From back to front Blue Sage, Lemon Balm, Chives and Bronze Fennel.
Once the husband gets that Chipper/Shredder that he has been lusting after I should have lots of mulch to suppress the weeds and keep me from having to do the back breaking task of pulling them. Not that I mind it all that much, there is something very therapeutic about weeding, you just think of something that has annoyed you that week and take out your anger on the weeds. Works for me.