Sunday, June 20, 2010

Favorite Combination: Caladium, Coral Bells, and Hostas

My front porch faces east and I have a large oak tree in my front yard. Consequently, my front porch is shady. The area next to my front door gets no direct sun and it's fairly shady. I struggle to find colorful plants that will grow in this space. I have finally found a great combination: caladium, southern comfort coral bells, and thunderbolt hosta.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Favorite Combinations: Variegated Red Twig Dogwood and Pink Asiatic Lilies

I bought these Asiatic lilies at a big box store and found them on the clearance rack for $1 a pot. I love the clearance racks.  Once the plants are past their prime, they are heavily discounted. I bought three pots and they have established a large healthy stand. I'm sorry that I can't remember the name of the cultivar. My computer crashed last year and I lost my plant name database. 

Asiatic lilies are easy to grow.  When I dig the hole to plant the lilies, I throw a handful of compost in the hole and mix it into the dirt in the bottom of the hole. In the spring, I top dress the soil around the lilies with some extra compost.  After the flowers bloom, I remove the deadheads to encourage more flowers.

The read twig dogwood bushes are one of my favorite shrubs.  They provide a lovely backdrop for perennials in the spring, summer and fall.  In the winter, the bright red color of their new growth branches provide some winter garden interest. Red twig dogwood thrive in full sun but will tolerate some shade.  In the spring, I prune out the old and dead branches and trim the bush into a rounded shape. I also spread a shovel of compost around the base of each bush and mulch the bushes with chopped up leaves.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

First Tomatoes : )

When I was weeding the vegetable garden today, I noticed my first tomatoes on my Supersweet 100 tomatoes.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Garden Fairy

I have the BEST sister, ever. Liz is a true garden fairy. She just spent the day with me weeding my backyard vegetable and flower beds. They were a weedy mess, but now they (almost) weed-free. I just didn't have time to weed the past two weeks and we've gotten a lot of rain.  

The weather was oppressive-hot and humid.  We were both soaking wet with sweat by the time we were finished. We had to take several cool down breaks to escape into the air-conditioned house and drink some iced tea to rehydrate. I wanted to post a photo of my sister weeding on this blog, but she threatened to beat me bloody if I posted a picture of her looking so dirty and sweaty [and let's just say that you all are lucky that there's no such thing as smell-o-vision!]

I still have about 8 feet of my perennial bed to weed and I need to weed between the plants in my vegetable garden.  I should have the all finished by the middle of next week if it doesn't rain too much.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Daylilies Blooming Now

Ruby Spider

Double Sweets

Siloam Double Classic

Lemon Custard

Strawberry Frappe

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Favorite Combinations: Autumn Sunset Climbing Rose and Blue Light Clematis

Autumn sunset climbing roses are one of my favorite climbers.  It grows in zones 5-10.  In zone 5, it blooms prolifically for me in May and June and I get sporadic blooms over the rest of the summer and fall. It blooms better in cooler rather than hotter weather.  I add some composted horse manure to it every year and make sure to water it weekly in really dry weather. It has been easy to grow.

Blue light clematis has a gorgeous blue flower. It thrives in zones 4-8 in full sun to part shade. I planted it next to my climbing rose and it uses the rose as a climbing support. It blooms most prolifically at the blooming peak of the autumn sunset rose so they look stunning together. Like the autumn sunset, it blooms sporadically throughout the summer except for in the intense heat of August. Like the rose, it gets a shovel full of composted horse manure every spring and weekly waterings during dry periods. This clematis was a slow starter for me. The first couple of years, it only bloomed a little and the vine was quite small.  It's in its fourth year and now produces an abundance of blooms.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Favorite Combinations: Coreopsis, Salvia, and Hardy Geranium

One of my favorite combinations of plants that bloom this time of the year is May Night Salvia (Salvia sylvestris), tickseed (coreopsis grandiflora), and hardy geranium 'Max Frei' (geranium sanguineum).

May night salvia is one of my favorite perennials.  It's easy to grow and intensely colorful for long periods of time. It's bluish-purple color complements the colors of most plants in my garden. It grows in zones 4-8 and prefers full sun.  It has the most intense blooming period in May and June. However, if I shear it off after it blooms, it will rebloom for me throughout the summer. My only complaint about the plant is that it smells a little like cat pee. Fortunately, the foul smell isn't detectable unless I place my nose close to the plants.

The coreopsis grows in zones 4-9 and blooms from May/June until frost for me in the heart of zone 5. It's easy to grow. It thrives in full sun and is drought resistant.

The hardy geranium grows in zones 3-8 in sun.  It's supposed to grow in part shade, but mine has always died in part shade. It blooms most prolifically in May and June for me, but I get some sporadic blooming throughout the summer.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Big Raspberry Mistake

I have big beautiful healthy leaves on my raspberry plants.  They have been so prolific that they have grown out of the drainage holes in the bottom of their 36" pots and attempted to take over my gravel driveway.

Unfortunately, I have few berries. I made a big mistake. I read all about how and when to prune ever bearing raspberries. I read somewhere to cut back all the old canes in the early spring. Maybe that advice was for fall bearing raspberries and I didn't pay enough attention to what I was reading. I should have been skeptical, since I also remember reading that the berries fruit on old canes. In my zeal to prune my raspberries 'correctly,' I pruned out most of the canes that would have given me a late spring harvest. Consequently, I have 3 canes total out of 6 huge containers of raspberries that set fruit. Fortunately, I missed pruning back those three old canes. On those canes, I have several raspberries.  They are quite tasty but I can only harvest 6-12 ripe berries at a time. I learned an important lesson: I should prune raspberry canes after they are done setting fruit.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Blooming Potatoes

My potatoes are blooming. After the blooms are gone, I will be able to fish some new potatoes out of the pot.  Once the leaves die off, I will tip the pots over on to my asparagus beds and fish out the potatoes. The leaves, compost, straw, and soil from the potato pots will serve as a rich top dressing for the asparagus beds.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Amish Produce Auction

[Note: I purposely did not take any photos of the Amish out of respect for their beliefs about graven images.]
Last Friday, my sister, her friend Jerry (and now my new friend), and I went to the Amish produce auction in Greens Fork, Indiana. We went as a group because at these auctions, the produce is sold in lots. We agree on a lot of produce that we want to buy and then we split the lot after the auction. After the auction we went to a berry farm and bought some fresh strawberries.  Friday night, we had a barbecue and ate some of our purchases.

We bought some potatoes.  For our barbecue, we grilled the potatoes in foil with olive oil, garlic, sea salt, and rosemary.

We also bought zucchini, spring onions, and asparagus.  Jerry lived in Japan for several years and made us some decadent Japanese bar food-asparagus wrapped in bacon and grilled.

To make the bacon-wraped asparagus:
Rinse the asparagus, cut off the fibrous bottom, and cut the spears in half. Dip the half spears in a mixture of olive oil, black pepper, and sea salt.  Wrap each dipped spear in a half a strip of bacon and secure the bacon to the asparagus with a toothpick.  Grill the bacon-wrapped asparagus spears until the bacon becomes crispy.
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