Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Harvest home

Thanksgiving may be receding in the mirror, but our New England weather still feels like fall.

Lots of chores are on the list this time of year.  Since daytime temperatures are still above 40 degrees, I sprayed an anti-transpirant on the leaves of the "Sky Needle" hollies to prevent winter kill.  

Larkspur seeds that were gathered after flowering and stored in the refrigerator are now directly winter sown.

It's probably too late, but the ground has not frozen, so I will still lightly feed with Holly-Tone the broadleaf evergreens along the front of the house.  Fruiting was sparse this year.

And always the beds need to be top-dressed with composted cow manure.  

Gardening in a cold climate, hurray! 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Tulips, purple and orange

Fall, spring, and all year round, one of my favorite color combinations is orange and purple. Add a sprig of green, and I'm in secondary color heaven.

And what better way to indulge than with the tulips "Prinses Irene" and "Purple Prince"?

The bulbs were planted this weekend.  In this neighborhood, hungry suburban animals thrive on tulips: in the fall the bulbs are dug up by squirrels, and in the spring the flowers are nipped off by rabbits.  Past years, I've covered the bulbs with a layer of chicken wire.  Today, I had a flash as I was tossing around the Bulb-Tone.  Why not use peony hoops as a deterrent?  I recollect seeing a similar set-up in the garden of the Longfellow House in nearby Cambridge.

I just placed the hoops directly on the ground over where the bulbs had been buried and secured the hoops with the wire legs. I'm a lazy gardener who's looking to escape as much of the fall clean-up as possible.   This way, the hoops don't even have to be washed and put away. Could it really be so simple?

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Competitive gardening

Just becaue my husband grew some basil in a pot and planted a few bulbs across the street this year, he thinks that he's now ready for competitive gardening.  What is with men anyway?  This is the guy who needed to race his swim team girlfriend across the pool back in the day.  Of course, he lost.  His girlfriend, admiring that mix of bravado and foolhardiness, married him. And now he's dog-paddling his way into gardening.

Our sporting event was houseplant renovation.  The subject to hand was, I think, a dieffenbachia which had been adopted, nameless and straggly, as a sprout. Some years later, it was still nameless and straggly but awkwardly large.

So back in July, we unpotted the plant and cut the stalk in two.  My better half, confident that he had selected the plant's better half, potted up the root ball.  I can't be certain, but I think that he was smirking as he walked off holding his selection.  All I had left was a bunch of floppy leaves on a stem.

Repotted, the two separate parts were pretty sorry looking specimens.  The top portion needed stakes and string to hold it upright. The bottom portion looked like a plant in the early stages of assembly.

A few months later, and both plants look pretty darn good.  That part without roots grew roots; that without leaves grew leaves.

The new leaves are slightly yellow, probably due to a lack of fertilizer, too much sunlight, or some other fault of the competition.

Of course, I think that my plant is the winner. At least, it's greener. Maybe size isn't the only thing that matters!