Sunday, January 30, 2011

What to plant when

From John Starnes:  "A general rule that has worked well for me here since the '70s is that if you eat the leaves, the above-ground portion of the plant, and its roots (mustard, radish, turnip, carrots, broccoli, collards, etc.) those are usually cool-weather crops.  Sweeet potatoes are an exception; they need summer conditions.
       If you eat the seed-containing portion of the plant, the fruit (hot peppers, eggplant, okra, calabaza pumpkins, cucuzzii (what the heck!) those are generally hot-weather crops.  Exceptions:  tomatoes, bell peppers and sugar snap peas which do best in cool weather.
This from the man on whose advice I planted those man-eating roses in my backyard. Marty couldn't even tell they were roses!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Going Potty

I'm poring over the pages of Pamela Crawford's Containter Gardens for Florida.  I love her books. They're full of pictures and info and geared to the beginning Florida gardener. I've always been very lukewarm about container gardening before.  For me, it seemed like kind of hard luck for the plant. It can't send its roots down, and when weather goes extreme, it suffers the most.  I need to get over this plant-as-honored-guest attitude though and start using my shrubbery for my own ends.

What Crawford does not mention (and I read elsewhere) is that it is important to decide what my style of pot is going to be and stick with it. This is kind of a big joke because up to now my style of pot has been the black plastic kind.  Gorgeous container = First step to gorgeous plant.

I differ from Ms. Crawford on the next step.  She is very proud of being able to create massive plantings with umpteen different plants in them. They are very showy, but not what I prefer. 

My new formula: Find the perfect containers. Find the perfect plants for the containers. Find the perfect spots for the containers.  

Monday, January 24, 2011

I only wish -- from Fine Gardening

Click here to enlarge this photo. Click here to enlarge this photo.
Photo: Michelle Gervais

From Fine Gardening: Garden by Deanne Fortnam

" The beautiful 'Morning Light' miscanthus (Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light', USDA Hardiness Zones 4-9) anchors and provides height and texture to the bed in all seasons.  The 'Mrs. Bateman' clematis (Clematis 'Mrs. Bateman', Zones 4-11) makes a beautiful splash earlier in the season when the dinnerplate dahlias and assorted annuals are just getting started. The 'Billy Greene' fuchsia (Fuchsia 'Billy Greene', Zones 9-11) and 'Black and Blue' salvia (Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue', Zones 7-10), as well as all the dahlias, are dug up and stored indoors for the winter. Last summer I grew the beautiful variegated SunPatiens (Impatiens Sunpatiens series, annual) and I am planning to use them again in the coming season. They performed beautifully all season in this full sun location."

Now where do I get these varieties?  Hmmm.

Oh, who am I kidding?!!!  This is the year of the big stuff.  My resolution is to plant nothing that won't grow over 3' tall.  I have to establish some anchors in my garden.  I'm tired of squandering all my labors on puny  little dieaways that leave my yard looking more Saharan than when I started.

Therefore, resolutions for 2011:  Golden Hedge Bamboo; Black Magic elephant ears; yellow mandeville. If I can accomplish that I'll be happy.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Warm days, cold nights!

Nothing froze last night. My new plant, a lovely purple bougainvillea on a trellis, might just make a home in my trouble spot in the front, where the arctic winds rush down from Georgia in the winter and the sun burns fiery in the summer. I also stuck a little sedum in the front yard and put some stones around it so big oafy Carl wouldn't smash the poor thing.  It looked very chipper when I went to get the paper.

But the BIG NEWS is that yesterday I BEGAN and FINISHED (at least it's in Stage One) a craft project for my backyard.   I have been anguishing over my ugly walkways and lack therof for some time.  The house came with some old hexagonals by the backdoor and a really ugly big concrete patio in the back.  And that was it.  In my urgent recycling way, I dragged back from the dump some chunks  of concrete that didn't really improve matters much, even the concrete pieces that were formerly one of those tile tables.

Then I read Matthew Levesque's new The Revolutionary Yardscape: Ideas for Repurposing Local Materials to Create Containers, Pathways, Lighting, and More. Matthew's vision is lovely but he includes things like directions for sawing through heavy metals -- and I don't saw. I don't hammer very often either.  I was doing that turn-the-pages-and-despair thing one does with craft and cookbooks, when I came to a spot where he advised that when you are looking for pieces of granite, which is cheap these days, go downstream for the source.  Go to the people who install granite and ask them to sell you their bits and pieces cheaply. I called a place on 22nd Avenue and they said sure, they'd give it to me!  Yesterday I got out a new aluminum pan I had that was too nice to recycle -- mixed up some Sakrete -- stuck in the gorgeous, gleaming granite chunks -- and this morning they are setting up nicely! 


January 2011

Picture of my beautiful new birdbath, a Christmas gift from Michelle & Cristina (always go shopping with your best friends near Christmas time!)  Not only is it a candid of Evil Cat waiting for an innocent bird, but it shows how lovely my beach sunflower was before Carl trampled all over it.  Nothing there any more really. I'd be sad if I didn't know that the stuff is more resilient than a rubber cockroach.
 No freezes yet, and there's actually been rain. Entry, Jan. 17 MLK


New plantings:

Zone 1 Kuan Yi garden

Pruned back the dead passion flower by the couch. Here’s hoping it gets beautiful again.

Zone 2 Left garden

Really, the yellow arboricola is looking ok, and some of my summer long shots have held on, like angelonia (Note, get more angelonia!) I calculate that I need 175 filler plants for that area, at 1’ apiece.  Maybe I just need bigger plants! Weedate the wedelia, blackened from the freeze.
I do have a new plant! The beach sunflower seed itself into my new doorway planter!
Stuff in ground is OK; try increasing #s.
Zone 3 Right garden

Sure. The sunshine mimosa will “come back.” I hope it’s enjoying its vacation.

City strip

I don’t even look.  The cassia is increasing in size anyway.

Zone 4 Sunflower garden

Looks good.
Birdbath looks wonderfullL!
Beauty berry to put off to the side.
Zone 5 Backdoor strip &
lemon tree & roses

Not as bad as it could be.

Zone 6 sunny backyard

Is not sunny!  Two surprises: Hardy Gloxinia Seemannia sylvatica 'Bolivian Sunset' is spreading and blooming up a storm.  It’s quite a strange shade of red orange, just like the pot in the backyard.  I must establish some in there. And second, the kalanchoe is blooming up a storm. It’s quite gorgeous and I really should propogate it. I should propogate everything!
Hacked at the roses.

Maybe take gorgeous pot and est. some kalanchoe and gloxinia in it – colors would be fab. W/ some purple queen?
Garage mess