Saturday, December 18, 2010

Garden goalroll, 2011

For the past two years, I have run a garden goalroll: this is my place to scribble horticultural marginalia and to post reminders about what needs doing when.  Or to record what I still haven't done.  Bearded irises, I hear you.  I'm making plans for a glorious 2011!

Dead of winter

Read up on xeriscaping in anticipation of extending the bed in front of the day lilies.  The drought-killed lawn there is going to go!  Plants to consider:
  • Coneflower "Green Jewel" (move from current location)
  • Sedum "Autmn Joy" (move from behind compost bin)
  • Fort Ticonderoga bearded irises (move from current location)
  • Pink coneflower
Order dahlia tubers.  Ordered 3/1/2011

  • Back of house: Arabian Nights, Rae Ann's Peach, Rose Toscano, Patty Cake
  • Old side bed: Karras 150, Bonne Esperance
  • New side bed: Park Princess

When the forsythia blooms

Continue to prune front foundation plantings into shape.

Prune clethra to remove deadwood and shape.

Edge garden beds.

After the forsythia blooms

Dig out a new curved bed in front of the day lilies, amend, and load up with drought-tolerant plants.

Lightly fertilize bearded irises with bonr meal, superphosphate or other low nitrogen (5-10-15) supplement. 

May or June

After flowering, shear Amsonia hubrichtii by 1/3 of its height to promote better form.

When it is 3 feet tall, cut the joe pye weed "Gateway" back to half its height to encourage dense growth. 

Pinch sedum "Autumn Joy" when it reaches 8 inches; stake with ring.

Organize the bearded irises, so that visually compatible cultivars are grouped together. Tag individual plants so that they can be moved later in the season.

Stake dahlias when the tubers are planted and again and again as they grow. Stop dahlias by pinching stem back to four pairs of leaves.

Pinch back shasta daisies to 6" in late May.

And stake, stake, stake!

Columbus Day

Dig in bone meal around peonies.

Lightly feed evergreen along front of house with Holly-Tone.

Veterans Day

While daytime temperatures are still above 40 degrees, spray an anti-transpirant, like Wilt-Pruf or Wilt Stop, on "Sky Needle" hollies to prevent winter kill.

Top-dress beds with composted cow manure.


Winter-sow larkspur seeds.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Inside edition

Although this past weekend's brisk temperatures and sunny skies were terrific for some end-of-season outdoor clean-up and top-dressing, a few hours had to be devoted to preparing indoor plants for winter bloom.

I should have cut off all this lush foliage and set the amaryllises for dormancy about six weeks ago. I pretty much follow the same drill every year.  My biggest challenge is always rot. The onslaught is unending.  I feel like an embattled Churchill in 1940: "We shall fight on the beaches. We shall fight on the landing grounds.  We shall fight in the fields . . . "

This "Temptation" bulb had produced lots of leaves, thrown off a plump off-set, and looked firm--but the papery layers of skin were soft and covered with brownish-red patches.  I stripped off what I could and cut out the rest.  Usually, I am not so ready with the knife but I figure there's nothing to lose.

To cheat out the long wait for these cooling bulbs, I also planted a new "Novella"amaryllis and set it to warm by a radiator in a south-facing window.

I also began the weekly cycle of paperwhite planting. "Ziva" are my favorite: their fragrance, overpowering to some, is perfection to a diminished sniffer of scents like myself. I have reported on an alcohol-inspired way to ensure short stems, but I'm starting the season with long stems supported by a tall vase.  Just add glass pebbles and water.

To ensure good root growth, I start the bulbs in a cool, dark place. For a few weeks, they are resting in the closet of coldest room of this cold house. (What, everyone doesn't set the thermostat to 60 degrees and wear a knitted cap indoors?)  Waiting, waiting, waiting . . .