Copyright © 1997-2009 Demand Media. All rights reserved.
It's official. August is hands down my favorite month. From the meteor showers to the moonflowers, it just doesn't get much better. It's the month that grants you the answers. By August you know what is or isn't going to make it. All the uncertainty dissipates and if you're like me, you make peace with the rabbits that ate your morning glories and/or the deer that crushed your impatiens (although I still scowl a little at the holes the aphids left on my zinnias).
(I meant to post this back in August, the day after the meteor showers).
I realized that I haven't posted in a very long time. I had a wonderful summer of blooms. My nasturtiums were gorgeous (and delicious) and I'm so excited to plant them again. As I type, I'm looking up at a wildy happy impatiens plant that my daughter gave me for Mother's Day - I always meant to transplant it outside (as a hearty seedling) with the others but it sat on a north facing window sill, shaded by a fake bouquet I bought at a rummage sale years ago. Back in October I moved the bouquet and began giving more care to the impatiens (as it was too late to plant it outside - the others had already frozen and long moved on). Well, within a week it had brand new blooms! We've watched it rapidly sprawl out within the past two months, we can hardly believe our eyes!!
As of recently, though, I've been dreaming of planting basil indoors. I've got to plant something. It's killing me. I keep hearing that basil is easy to grow indoors. If anyone has any advice, I'd love to hear from you. We're entering the worst of the winter here in Wisconsin. This is where winter starts to get long. I'm craving the smell of dirt.
How have I gone so long not knowing about clematis?? Where have I been?? I am just now in the beginning stages of researching how and when and what to plant and I am ridiculously excited. If anyone has any advice and/or suggestions please, please, please, advise. I've managed to neglect all my housework today due to spending hours viewing hundreds of photos of different variations and jotting down my favorites.
I am awestruck to say the least.
I've heard the word 'clematis' but never thought of researching let alone planting it. How foolish. I should've googled the word the very first time I heard it. Based on the photos I've been viewing, my top five are: Alice Fisk; Ramona; Voluceau; Prince Phillip; and Will Barron. Has anyone here planted any of these?
Considering the dust has been staring at me all afternoon, I better take care of it before it grows teeth and bites me. Speaking of biting, there are holes all over my moonflower, zinnia, and morning glory foilage. Something is clearly snacking on them. My husband said sometimes the plants will 'heal.' Really? Is that true? I sure hope so. I used a pesticide today for the first time. We'll see what happens.
Although I complained about the price of buying impatiens in flats and not experiencing the same sense of pride as I do when I grow flowers by seed; I got' impatient' and went out and bought $46.42 worth of impatiens in flats and planted them this afternoon.
I also decided to add an extra packet of 'Shirley Poppies' to my poppy patch and then went a little buck wild with the nasturtium (Empress of India). I picked up a few more packets, dug up a couple new patches of ground where I thought color should be, got out my nail file (because on the packet it says to file them), sat on my deck with a glass of lemonade and filed each individual seed and then planted away.
While I was at it I figured there was room for more marigolds (jaguars to be exact), so I planted more of those. I also planted more morning glories (red ones - Scarlett O'Hara) to climb my mailbox. This time I soaked the seeds overnight.
Every year (for the past three years) I've planted moonflowers, and while I get very pretty vines, I've yet to see blossoms. I refuse to give up. I just know that one of these nights I will walk outside (with a glass of wine in hand) and I will see it - the giant, fragrant, white moonflower bloom I've been waiting for. Sort of like how Linus waited for 'The Great Pumpkin' - I have unbounded faith in that someday I will see 'The Great Moonflower.'
So as of right now, here's what I've got 'cooking': zinnias; four o'clocks; peas; Shirley poppies; marigolds (jaguars, tiger eyes, and bronze petal); Early Blooming morning glories;, Scarlett O'Hara morning glories; Heavenly Blue morning glories; moonflowers; nasturtium; and of course my impatiens which don't really count because I'm not technically 'growing' them, but I'm including them in this paragraph anyway because they're still my flowers and I plan on taking good care of them.
Oh! And I also realized as of last night that you can actually EAT nasturtiums! And that they're peppery and delicous! I would imagine they'd make a salad look stunning! Has anyone ever tried them? I'd love to hear more! I saw at the grocery store they were selling pansies as salad garnishes. I haven't tried them yet. What do they taste like? Does anyone know?
I'm so thankful to have a place where I can write all this. It makes it even more exciting.
So I've decided to give poppies another try. I planted a small patch of them in the full sun near my mailbox a few minutes ago. I had to pull A LOT of deep rooted weeds and churn up the soil before I could do anything. As I type I'm looking at a nice welt on my wrist from an unfriendly patch of stinging nettle. I'm still not good at recognizing it. It's the second time this spring that I've unknowingly gotten into it. Someday I'll learn exactly how to recognize it before I stick my hands in.
Back to the poppies. The packet I bought said 'Shirley' on it, and also 'double fluted.' I've noticed that there are poppies that can be planted as a biennial, perennial, or an annual. I went with the annual breed. I did a little bit of research prior to making this decision and it sounds like they're pretty easy to grow so long as it's warm. I'm holding my breath as it would not surprise me in the least if we ended up with another frost or even a snow storm. On May 22, 1996 it snowed here. I remember. So I'll just keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best. I probably should've waited, but it supposed to be in the seventies all week and up to eighty on Sunday.
I also planted a small patch of nasturtium on a portion of my back yard that faces northwest. I originally thought about planting marigolds there, but considering marigolds need full sun, I wasn't sure they'd thrive. I needed to find something that enjoyed a little shade. I'm hoping these work out because if they do, I will plant them every year in other shaded areas of my yard - including where I recently planted the spendy flats of impatiens. I will try to start the impatiens by seed indoors, but if the nasturtiums work out, they can be my offical Plan B vs. buying the impatiens in flats. Although they are beautiful, offer instant gratification, I feel something entirely different when I grow my flowers and vegetables by seed.
Because I have no patience for 'maybe' I decided to dig up the bed where I planted the canterbury bells last summer and start over. I don't know that I want to do biennials again. What I initially thought was foilage, I now believe was a bed of weeds. Even my daughter thought so. We kept seeing similar 'foilage' in other areas of the yard where we did not plant canterbury bells and decided to just let them go. I'm okay with it. I planted two different types of marigolds instead - jaguars and bronze petals (or something like that). That side of my house faces due east; however, there is a slight ledge that I realized the other day gives partial shade so I'm not sure what will happpen. If they don't work out I guess I'll have to buy more flats of impatiens (or try the nasturtium?).
If anyone has ever planted nasturtium, please let me know. I'd love to hear from you, especially if you have any special tips. I'd also be real grateful if someone could write out the pronunciation. I have a feeling that I'm slaughtering it when I (try to) say it.
I'm wildy giddy over the sprouting peas I spotted today in my pea patch! They're really coming up fast and I couldn't be happier about that. I'm also pleased to see my four o'clocks peeking out of the ground. The heavy down pour rearranged the seeds (so much for my straight rows) - although I did replant a few days ago and so who knows what will transpire now. Oh well. I'm just happy to see them coming up. I have faith in that they'll all end up where they're supposed to sooner or later.
Zinnias! My zinnias are coming up, too! I was a little concerned after the crazy rain storm that the seeds might've been washed away. They were clearly rearranged (once again, no straight rows for me), but that's alright. Seeing them sprouting today made me smile from ear to ear and I know I have lots of stunning colors to look forward to. Rows schmoes. They can be a little wild and unruly. I'm okay with that.
My daughter planted a little patch of marigolds - Tiger Eyes to be exact. She's very excited. She also planted a few in a pot. My other daughter planted some early blooming morning glories. I'm hoping early means early. Last year's morning glories (heavenly blue) didn't start blooming until August. I planted them in May. But wow. They really were heavenly. My jaw dropped when I saw the first one. I wasn't expecting anything THAT beautiful! My daughter picked out a purple mix. I saw that it said 'early blooming' on the packet and was instantly sold.
I also planted white impatiens (I bought a flat of twenty four plants) under a tree along the south side of my house. I'd like to start impatiens by seed indoors next winter because they were a little spendy. I felt instant gratifcation when I planted them - which took away some of the pride I feel when I look at those I start by seed. But I got over it real quick. Something needed to be planted there. Today.
I played in the dirt from ten o'clock this morning until just after six thirty. I was crunching on particles of dirt (I need to learn to keep my mouth shut). I ran some errands (to the outdoor garden center) with dirt on my face, legs, hands, and under my finger nails. I didn't care. I was on a mission and there wasn't time to mess around with mirrors and/or soap.
But I'm clean now.
I'm going tomorrow to pick up some bamboo sticks/stakes (or whatever they're called) for my daughter's morning glories. I used them last year and they worked out very well. I'm a little concerned because I didn't soak the seeds like I did last year. I forgot all about that. I didn't nick them, either. I'm hoping that nicking and/or soaking isn't a prerequisite; that it's just a suggestion to speed germination. Only time will tell.
What a perfect day Sunday was to spend playing in the dirt! I planted my four o'clocks, marigolds, peas, and zinnias - and although I was tempted to take down my naked tulip stems and foilage; I did not. I remained strong, knowing very well that the longer I can stand it, the better. They look so pathetic right now, it's almost humorous. But I'll get through it. I can take another couple of weeks for the sake of photosynthesis.
Just as I was feeling ahead of schedule, happy to have gotten a head start on my seeds, yesterday happened: a thick, boisterous rain storm followed by a spectacular full double rainbow (pictures soon to come). It was heavenly - to the point where I thought to myself, "How Great Thou Art."
Today as I was chasing the lid to our recycling bin as it blew in the wind, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that there were little white dots all over my pea patch. Hmmm. I retrieved the lid and ran over there immediately to take a closer look. Seeds. They were the seeds I had planted on Sunday. And they're no longer 'planted.'
So l looked over to where I planted my four o'clocks and sure enough, I saw black seeds hovering the soil. I ran to the front of the house to check on the zinnias and marigolds. I couldn't tell. Based on the texture of the seeds, I'm assuming I won't know for sure until nothing or something grows.
So with that said, I'm hoping for another beautiful weekend so that I can replant. I don't mind. I thoroughly enjoyed planting on Sunday, and while I'm not enthused about having to buy all new packets of seeds, the rainbows that took my breath away make for a very fair exchange.
What a happy day!
Testing out blog picture posting...these are from last year.
1 of 13
3 of 13
My tulips are about seventy-five percent bloomed. I'm very excited! They've multiplied and there are some dainty little baby ones coming up as well. I can tell they're going to be tall. It's only mid-April. In another month they're really going to be spectacular.
If the wind doesn't take them away.
I've been holding off on taking pictures only because I like to wait for the 'peak' of their bloom, which is usually on Mothers' Day. (Although I did snap a few last week before they started to open their eyes). By the end of May I know the end is near.
Last year I remember there being a terrible wind storm that took off all the remaining blossoms just shortly before my 34th birthday (May 28th). I was horrified! I remember seeing my red petals whirling around in the wind along with other debris and wanting to cry even though I knew they were entering their final days. It was hard to see them go that way. It seemed like such a harsh ending.
So today the wind is really howling. I keep seeing dried leaves and grass swirling around in cyclonic formations. It's making me nervous. All day I've been a little on edge (I live a charmed life, I know). I keep looking, checking to make sure my blossoms are still in tact. I'm glad they're not at their tallest yet. They're still short and I'm convinced that is what's preventing them from being blown right off their stems.
This gardening thing can get me emotionally charged in both good and bad ways. I think someone should write a book called, "Gardening for the Neurotic Soul." I need that kind of gardening book. One that tells me to chill out. The suspense of wondering, "Will they germinate? Will they bloom? When will they bloom? Will they blow away? Will rabbits eat them? Will deer step on them? Will they freeze? Will they wilt? When? How? What? Why? Where?" - it can all get rather intense.
Another test of character I guess.
If gardening has taught me anything, it's that I can't always be in control of what's going to happen. I can't control the wind or the frost. And I don't get to be the boss of the rabbits or the squirrels. As I write this I cringe - I hear a bucket tumbling down our driveway. It is not our bucket. It blew here from someone else's yard. I want to cover my ears.
Perhaps it's time for wine.
This morning looked like a Christmas card. Beautiful. If it were December. Had I not been in a frantic rush I'd have taken pictures of my snow covered tulips (and the look on my daughters' faces when they looked out the window). It was as though someone had played a sick joke.
I sang 'Silver Bells' and 'It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas' all morning while we were getting ready. And then I had the tunes in my head all day at work. "Mom, this isn't funny!" my daughter shrieked.
I knew it wouldn't last. It melted before I got home. Tomorrow's high is sixty so I didn't fret. Plus I have faith in the hardiness of my tulips. They're coming up fierce and strong. My neighbors' daffodils have all fully bloomed and they looked almost dreamy covered in the fresh snow. Again, had I not been in such a hurry, I'd have taken pictures.
The next three days are supposed to be very nice and sunny. I'm so anxious to plant my zinnias I can hardly stand it. I bought a new 'blend' today called 'fruit smoothie.' They're supposed to be large blooms of sherbert-like colors. I'm planting those along with my giant five-inch doubles. It's hard to wait, especially when the past few weeks have been in the upper sixties. It feels like it would be safe to plant, but I know better. I'll wait until the second week of May.
I'm really curious about the canterbury bells I planted in August. Right now it looks like a bed of large weeds. They haven't changed and I'm a little nervous. I'm going to give them until June. And then what, I don't know. I'm afraid to pull anything when I don't know what is what. So even unsightly weeds remain because I'm just not sure.
I don't know how to post pictures on this blog. Only on my profile. I'd be so grateful if someone could advise me as to to how I get a picture on here. I'd like to get an opinion on what might be transpiring with the canterbury bells. And are they even canterbury bells that are growing? They really look like gigantic weeds. I hate the thought of wasting the space for longer than I have to. I am impatient. I want to know immediately.
I think gardening is a good test of character for impatient people like me.
I can thank my mom for my crazed gardening enthusiasm. I can remember back when I had no interest in gardening and whenever I'd come over to visit, she'd walk me through her flower and vegetable gardens telling me 'the story' of each and every plant. I never listened.
I vividly remember taking my three-year-old daughter for a walk through our neighborhood when I first bought my house. As we walked, she pointed out and named many different types of flowers. I wasn't sure of her accuracy until we asked Grandma to come along one day, and sure enough, my mother had taught her well. Clearly, my three-year-old paid attention.
One day, about two years ago, the desire to plant flowers sprung seemingly from out of nowhere. I suddenly wanted to hear those stories. I wanted her to walk me through her gardens. I wanted to know everything all at once. So naturally, I called my mom and asked tons and tons of questions. With an abundance of enthusiasm and detailed information, she told me what I needed to know and fired me up like the fourth of July.
I had grandiose visions. I started with tulip bulbs. I went on the internet every night, reading about the do's and don'ts of planting tulips. I went out one November afternoon searching for the biggest, plumpest tulip bulbs I could find. Luck was on my side. I went home with over one hundred red Darwin bulbs.
Our girls were both in second grade at the time and were very excited to go home and help me dig the eight inch trenches. It took us hours to plant exactly one hundred and thirty six bulbs. It was dark by the time we were done. We were proud. But the anticipation was unbearable. Spring was yet so far away.
So to relieve the pain of our anticipation, about six weeks later, my mom brought over the Jiffy set up. I ordered packets of petunias and pansies, planted them in February, and in less than a week they had germinated. Words cannot describe the excitement of watching them sprout! I researched and learned all about slowly acclimating our newborn plants, but one spring day I left them out a little too long.
They all died.
But the tulips that were now peeping out of the ground softened the grief, and by Mother's Day we had the tallest, most robust tulips I had ever seen! People asked if they were fake. They exceeded my grandiose visions - nothing could've prepared me for the vibrance of my very first tulip bloom.
Nor could I have been prepared for the disappointment of their brief appearance or the dying foilage that I now had to keep if I wanted the bulbs to photosynthesize for another short-lived gradiose bloom the following spring. I didn't know what to do next. That summer, my flower bed reminded me of 'The Lorax' by Dr. Suess.
There were a few neighbors who had put 'For Sale' signs in front of their houses - I secretly wondered if it was because of the hideous neighborhood eye-sore that I created. Despite pleads from my husband to remove the dead foilage, I refused. "It says! It says!" I argued. "It says I have to keep it and let it go away on it's own!"
My husband reluctantly abided and did not remove any of the dying foilage. I planted allysum for ground coverage hoping for a scene similiar to 'The Wizard of Oz' where they're napping in a field of poppies. And then poppies! What a great idea!
Or so I thought.
Nothing good happened that summer in the flower bed. The sad foilage remained an eyesore, the white allysum looked like weeds from a ditch, and I didn't know the difference between weeds or early poppy sprouts, so I didn't pull anything that summer. I saw not one sign of a poppy. But in late August, however, what appeared to be a dark pink cosmo, stood tall and alone in the midst of this nightmare I had created.
"Next year will be better," I assured my husband. And he had genuine faith. I could tell.
The following spring (last spring), I hestitantly took my tulip foilage down before it was supposed to go, not quite sure of what would happen this year. I also planted lots and lots of packets of giant five inch double blooming zinnias, and WOW were they spectacular! They bloomed vividly up until mid-October.
I plan on doing the same thing this year. And as of right now, I have a thriving situation going on with the tulips. I don't have blooms yet, but it's clear to me that all will be well.
I'm anxiously anticipating the upcoming bloom of my 136 tulips that I planted in front of my house two years ago. I'm a little worried as I cut the foilage down a bit sooner than I did the previous year and I'm worried that I will not get as robust blooms because of it. In researching the life cycle of the tulip, I know that it is vital to keep the foilage until it yellows and dies on it's own for the purpose of photosynthesis. I was anxious to plant my zinnias and needed the space - not to mention the tulip foilage became quite an eye sore. I guess we'll see what happens.
My canterbury bells also have me in a current state of suspense. I've never experimented with biennials before. I planted them late last summer. I was surprised as to how quickly they germinated. I had strong foilage up until late fall. I wasn't real hopeful as we had a relatively harsh winter, but as of right now I still have strong, healthy foilage and I'm hoping, hoping, hoping to have beautiful blue blossoms within the next couple of months.
I can't wait to plant my four o'clocks! I had such amazing luck with them last year. They grew so quickly and were absolutely beautiful! They exceeded my expectations in every way and I'm looking forward to growing them again. They blossomed up until mid-fall. I was most surprised by how they resembled an expensive flowering shrub purchased at a gardening center, when really, they were simple annuals started by seed that produced hundreds and hundreds of beautiful pink, white, and yellow fragrant flowers. I hope to have such luck again this year!
And I didn't plan on writing today about my magical zinnias but I can't help it. Another pleasant surprise! I planted many packets of the giant five inch double blooms and they about knocked my socks off! They reminded me of 'Alice in Wonderland.' Many of them grew taller than me (62 inches) and the colors were remarkable - various shades of coral, bold yellows, light cheery pink, deep fushia, happy orange, festive reds, bright white, and creamy ivory. I loved them to pieces! I planted them the second week of May and by the middle of summer, my flower bed looked like it was about to sing and dance. They were thick and robust. Very strong and healthy. I did not fertilize. I weeded twice a week and watered them daily. Very easy to grow!!
Maybe tomorrow I will write about my tiny pea patch and how happy it made me. I will also write about my impatiens, petunias, morning glories, and moonflowers sometime in the near future. This is one of my absolute favorite topics in the world and I'm excited to have discovered an outlet (other than my journal) for this hobby. I'm certain that my constant enthusiasm gets annoying to those in my life who have to hear about it everyday.
Copyright © 1997-2009 Demand Media. All rights reserved.