Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Moving day!

Hi folks -- I've combined my three blogs and moved them over to my own website. So if you want to keep up on what I've discovered in urban nature, gardening, field-to-table food, come to my writing & photos over at .

Sunday, May 23, 2010

More stuff from Veseys!

I've got 3 blue sea holly, which I'm going to plant in among my roses in the front garden for contrast,
2 bleeding hearts for the back garden,
and the following ferns:
Hay scented - can grow up to 24 or 36" high, and will take any amount of light. They recommend putting it near a pathway so its fronds can be bruised and crushed, releasing the scent.
Ostrich hardy - 24-60". Might be aggressive. Might be what I already have in the back yard!
Christmas - 24-36" high, does well in full to partial shade.
Maidenhair - 12-24", black stems, medium shade
Sensitive - 12-18", sunshine or shade.
Lady -- 24-36", partial shade
Cinnamon - 24-36", can go from wet, swampy to dry shade.
Toothed wood - 12-24", really lacy, semi evergreen!
Leatherwood - 24-36" semi evergreen, often used by florists, they say.
Royal fern - 36-48" -- this is a tall one! I will probably place it between some of the hostas to add some height.

Tonight I'll use my indelible marker on popsicle sticks so I know what is planted where, and tomorrow I will plant and water. Have only had about a millimeter of water in the last week.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

My last Estella Rijnvelt

I used to have a number of these parrot tulips -- oh, gosh, probably 10 years ago. This is the last one that blooms. I love the streaks, I love the colors, I love the edges.

I may have to buy some more, even though it's difficult to keep them safe from the squirrels.

That's NOT pollen!

While I was weeding my front garden on Sunday, I noticed what seemed to be a patch of pollen caught in a spider web at the front corner of the porch. I looked closer.

Look at it full size.
It's baby spiders!

I left them there. I hope they'll migrate to the garden, not the house!

Birdy weather!

Along with sunny days come migratory birds! My backyard is certainly attracting them.

They like to have places to perch. In addition to the fence, they've got the sand cherry standard and the elderberry.

They like to scratch the soil for insects. They've got a garden free of pesticides for that.

They like to have baths and drinks of water. My water cascade definitely provides that! I had three species of warblers at the same time in it on the weekend: it looked like a bird convention (hmm... a parliament of fowls?).

Lots of pictures over in my Backyard Birds folder on Flickr.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Warmer, drier weather arrived today

So into the ground went the 10 hostas (oooh, some of them were looking long and white: I hope they'll be OK) and the 10 astilbe roots. All of them labelled, sprinkled with blood & bone meal, and watered. I did that work in the afternoon, when birds usually make themselves scarce. It means that, with my recharged battery on my camera, I'm good to go again. It was a very birdy morning. I'll be updating my Flickr account tonight with the results.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Waiting for warmer, drier weather

Ugh! Didn't get the hostas in the ground, and that may be a good thing. It rained Thursday afternoon, Friday, and yesterday, and there's a frost warning for tonight. I hope the roots will be OK in their little plastic bags in the dark. Maybe tomorrow will be a planting day: it's supposed to be sunny and 13. 

The one good thing is that all this rain should have pushed some of the nutrients from the compost down into the soil. 

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Feeding the garden

Today started with a trip to Home Depot to get some hardware cloth. 1/4 inch square galvanized hardware cloth, to be exact.

I needed the hardware cloth to sift the compost that has been sitting at the bottom of my composter for a few years. It had lots of time to decompose, and it did it quite well. There were still some pieces of eggshell, some big hunks of bark, a few pebbles (must have come from previous garden waste, or the detritus at the bottom of flower pots) and the like. So in order to have just the good stuff, I needed to sift it through the hardware cloth.

Dump a few trowels' worth on the hardware cloth (positioned above a bucket), and move it around with my gloved hands or the edge of the trowel until only the big bits are left on top. Discard big bits; repeat. Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat. I would have worn my iPod, except I wanted to be listening for migrators while I was doing it. Didn't see any new birds.

Have a nice even layer of compost over everything in the big north bed in the back yard. Need to sift some more for the south bed, the triangle bed, and the front garden.

The north and south beds are the priorities, because I need to get the hostas in the ground tomorrow, so I've been doing prepwork. Yesterday I pulled daffodils and bluebells. I would have raked them out, but discovered that the elderberry has very shallow roots! I'm afraid I broke a couple of them. So I've got a few daffodil bulbs left in the ground, but I pulled their leaves off and I'm not sure if they'll even sprout next year.

I'm almost all set for tomorrow. I found my permanent aluminum plant markers, and have written the names on them, and have drawn up a cheat sheet on a filing card so I remember where to plant things. I need to go to East End Gardens before I plant, though, and buy some blood meal to sprinkle around each hosta after planting, with the hopes that the squirrels won't dig up the hostas because they smell like wet dog. Give them a chance to get established and for the squirrels to forget that the soil had been dug up.

On another note, when I was cleaning leaf and flower junk out of the water thingie, I discovered that a young European sparrow drowned today. The corners of its mouth were still quite yellow. I was surprised: I didn't realize that sparrow families were that far along this year.

I'll have to see if I can rig something up so a bird that falls in the pond can recover and fly off.

Monday, May 03, 2010

A box from Veseys' has arrived in the mail today.

It contains 10 hosta roots!
  • Medio variegata
  • Aureomarginata
  • Albomarginata
  • Hyacinthina
  • Sieboldiana Elegans
(oooh! Had to get out my Lee Valley credit card magnifier to read the labels)

So what does this mean?
I need to come up with an arrangement and decide which ones are going in which bed.
Most of them will go in the right-handed bed, and a few in the left. The triangle I'm going to leave for herbs.

What are their colors and sizes?

Medio variegata: medium green leaf with a white flame down the centre. Can get up to 36" around, about 18" high.

Aureomarginata: heart-shaped glossy medium green leaves with yellow edges. Height of 18-28", spread 36-48".

Albomarginata: how's your Latin? This one's got white edges on deep green leaves, and can eventually spread to 36" or more (about 18" high).

Hyacinthina: Loosely grouped, heavily quilted non-lustrous bluish-green leaves. Really textural. It can grow up to 24" tall and about 36" in diameter.

Sieboldiana Elegans: Now this one can get big! up to 30" tall and 48" in diameter. Large, heart shaped thick bluish-grey leaves, heavily quilted. Slow grower. (Thank goodness. I'd hate to have to divide that every couple of years!)

I need to remove my daffodils and put down a good layer of compost, and scratch that into the soil a little. They recommend Sieboldiana Elegans as a background plant, so I'll probably put one by the back of the water thingie, and the other near the north fence, about 4 feet from the elderberry -- its chartreuse leaves should set off the blue-grey nicely.
In the north bed, I want to put two albomarginatas and one aureomarginata near the Sieboldiana, and one aureomarginata next to the one by the water thingie. I'll combine the Medio variegata with one Hyacinthina where the scentimental rose is (dead looking), and that leaves me one Hyacinthina to put somewhere, which I'll figure out once I get the others in the ground. I have to leave room for ferns, astilbe and bleeding hearts!

Ooooh, I'm really going to have to watch out for slugs now. I think it was Martin Galloway who called hostas a salad for slugs!