Thursday, May 27, 2010

OMG! It Finally Bloomed!!

I was so excited that this azalea finally bloomed in all its spectacular glory that I almost started hyperventilating. I have had this azalea for 6-7 years. It only boomed the first two years I had it and was hobbling along every year since. The last two years I have been giving it grey water a few times a week, sometimes every day. I also dumped a bunch of peat moss and coffee grounds on it. Last fall, it had set six flower buds. I was so excited, but stupidly forgot to protect it from rabbits. The rabbit pruned five of the buds off early this spring and left them on the ground. Bastard. I was sure that was the end of this shrub. But I was wrong. This year it is looking the best it ever has! I'm putting a cage around it so that maybe next year it will have more than this lone flower cluster. This one has definitely been worth all the hard work :)

When I bought this it had two labels on it: Silver Sword and Fireball. It is neither. I did a search, and it does appear to be an Exbury, but not Fireball. I think it is Cannon's Double.

I bought this iris last year. Uh, I forgot what it was called because I didn't keep the list of what I bought at Funkie Gardens. I have the tag somewhere and will update it then. 06/26/10--I think it is "Smart".
Woolly yarrow. I got this last year, so I don't know how aggressive it is yet. It is very low growing, so it shouldn't pose a problem in my garden if it does spread.

Lime Frost columbine -- bought last year at Shopko. Ionly got to see the foliage last year, so the flowers were a nice surprise. Blueberry ruffle!
Delphinium. I started to grow these because they were a favorite flower of a friend. Now I grow them because they are one of my favorite flowers.
Oriental poppies. These were originally a peachy patch. Now all orange. I have another peach poppy patch doing the same thing. I give up.One of my new moss phlox. I got hooked on them when I saw what Zoey at Perennial Passion was doing with them in her garden. I now have five different colors. My favorite is Candy Stripe (not shown). It smells like maple syrup!

Blue Ravine clematis. I bought these because I had one from K-Mart years ago that was drop-dead gorgeous. These are not as pretty, but I still like them. They do not know how to use a trellis though! I have to redirect them all the time. Comtesse de Bouchard knows what she is doing.

Mr. Fokker anemone. Still blooming! I'm loving this one. The flowers are a mix of singles and doubles. It is really long blooming too. Hope it survives. I had anemones ages ago, but lost them to the hail storm.
Cheryl at 33 Barefoot Lane found herself with extra seeds this spring and decided to give them away to her blogger commenters. I got this. Cappuccino! YUM! Thanks Cheryl! Happy Gardening everyone!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Enjoy Some Vicarious Weeding

Last year the CobraHead company was giving away CobraHead weeders through a contest at May Dreams Garden blog. I was one of the lucky winners! If you have never used a CobraHead, it may not look like much, but believe me, it is the best garden tool that I have ever used. It is especially good at getting break-away weeds, even in tight spaces. It digs out dandelions easily. It even gets out weeds that have thick, tough crowns. It gets through hard, rocky soil. It can dig up the plants for transplanting, and dig the hole to put them in.
And, the most fun part -- you can pretend that you are a pirate gardener!

Aye, mateys!

I loved this tool so much that I bought one for both of my parents this year for Mother's Day and Father's Day.

Today, I took on weeding the front tree beds. In the first picture, you can barely even see the plants I want to keep. The rest is almost all creeping charlie.

Usually I end up pretty frustrated with this weed, but after less than ten minutes I had the entire bed completely weeded.

Wow. There's actually space for more plants!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I was feeling so far behind, but today I feel ahead of the game.
I got so much planted!

Cucumber starts: Armenian and Boston Pickling
Melon starts: Piel de Sapo (saved seeds) and Burpee Hybrid cantaloupe
Squash seeds: Delicata, Buttercup, Waltham Butternut, Table Queen acorn, Early Prolific Straightneck, White Bush Scallop Patty Pan, Burpee's Fordhook Zucchini, Spaghetti, Jaradale pumpkin, Triple Treat pumpkin
Passion vine seeds

Things I already had planted :
Edamame: starts and sprouted seeds
Melting Sugar snow peas: sprouted seeds and direct seeded
Bloomsdale Long-Standing spinach (saved seeds): seeded last fall
Imperator, Little Finger and Danvers Half Long carrots: direct seeded (some on seed mats)
Detroit Dark Red beet: sprouted seeds and direct seeded
Hollow Crown parsnips: sprouted seeds and direct seeded
White Icicle radishes: direct seeded
Long Island Improved brussel sprouts: starts
Radicchio: starts
Packman and Romanesco broccoli: starts
American Purple Flag rutabaga: starts and direct seeded
Bonsai Hybrid pak choi: starts
Blue Curled Vates kale: direct seeded
Borage: direct seeded
White Half Runner Mountaineer and Slenderette beans: starts
Early Girl Hybrid and Pink Brandywine tomato: starts
French marigolds: plants
Cilantro (saved seeds): direct seeded
Garlic, shallots, Mayan sweet onions: bulbs
Leeks (saved seeds): direct seeded last fall
Mixed lettuces: direct seeded

I grew all my own starts and all of the seeds that I planted before today have already sprouted. And the other seeds should be up and running before Memorial Day, our official safe date. I'm not too worried about my plants though. Last year I planted much of these same things in the middle of May and they did fine - and it was much cooler last year. It is supposed to stay unseasonably warm for the next two weeks. Perfect.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

GBBD - May 2010

World Expression tulipI'm not sure that this Sunrise tulip will ever decide to bloom.
Tulipa saxillis OR tulipa bakeri Lilac Wonder -- these two look the same to me and I don't remember what I planted where.
Texas Flame tulip and ...Centurarea
Raspberry Splash pulmonaria
pink sea thrift
Mrs. Moon pulmonariaMint Chocolate foam flower
Maureen tulipGolden Queen globeflower
Greenland, World Expression, Queen of the Night tulips, and fern peony
Greenland tulip
Fern peonyFlaming Parrot tulip and lilac
Elegant Lady lily tulip
Blue Heron tulip, Mr. Fokker anenome, Bright Parrot tulipBergenia
Pink azaleaAlpine strawberries
creeping phloxAladdin lily tulip

See what else is blooming around the world at May Dreams Garden's Garden Blogger Bloom Day.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

How Could I Say No?

My parents visited this last weekend, and since it was raining on Friday, we decided to go to Menards so I could return some things. We were there for over three hours and I spent more money than I got back from the returns.

But... they had $2 quart perennials!!! How could I say no?

I got some great stuff. I even got some things that I have been meaning to try, and, of course, I got some things that I didn't even know I wanted; but $2, no reason not to.

Menards haul
$2 plants:
Dusseldorfer Stolz sea thrift (2)
foxglove (2)
Lucifer crocissima (2)
Ritz Blue pincushion
Amethyst Myst heuchera
Gold Dust basket of gold
Little Leo leopard's bane (2)
Pink Diamond pincushion
english daisy (2)
alpine forget me not (2)
Blue Clips carpathian harebell
$4 plants:
June hosta (2)
Thundercloud sedum
Diane Claire pulmonaria

I also hit the Home Depot:
American Halo hosta
Paul's Glory hosta

And dad needed socks at Shopko:
Dream Queen hosta (got this one for $3.50!)

And the biggest treat of all...Funkie Gardens!

When we heard that Funkie Gardens was closing its doors for good last fall, we were devastated. Where would we go to get all our local grown funky plants?

I cried a little.

I pouted all winter.

Then a month ago we got the bestest news. It was purchased, moved to just north of Stillwater MN and it was opening again this spring! We even got a coupon for $10 off a $50 purchase, for being such good past customers. Here's what we got at Funkie Gardens:
Orange Custard daylily
Thunderbolt hosta
Holy Mouse Ears hosta
Autumn Delight/Beka sedum
Red Hawk iris
King's Randsom brunnera
Sagae hosta
Mahogany heuchera
Bath's Pink dianthus

And another thing that has kept me busy...

As my parents were leaving to go back home, the neighbor came over asking if I wanted baby squirrels. The mother had died and these little guys were looking for food and water. Even though those damn squirrels are always tearing up my garden (only last week I had to cayenne pepper my carrot bed AND put up fencing to keep the squirrels from belly-flopping into the bed and making dirt angels), how could I say no? I mean, look at them! We only had to keep them for a couple days while I searched for a rescue center. The nearest one was in Minnesota. That suited me just fine. I got to save baby squirrels AND get three squirrels out of my neighborhood -- WIN-WIN.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Morel Hunting

My husband and I got up early (because our son missed the bus -- thanks JD) and went to the woods near our house to see if we could find any morels near the place that I had found them last year. I know that the morels are fruiting here since they are going gangbusters in my backyard right now. I really wasn't expecting to find any, but within 20minutes in the woods we found seven medium sized morels!

There are only six pictured because we left one behind. It was in a precarious place, and I wanted to make sure to leave something to propagate more morels. I will be going back with some spores to spread around, too.
You can see which one my husband found. He is giving it the thumbs-up.

Hunting wild mushrooms can be an exciting, but risky endeavor. How do I know that they are morel mushrooms and not some dangerous look-alike?

First, there are not very many mushrooms that look like morels. In fact, there are only two: Gyromitra and Verpa bohemica. The first would only look like a morel if you were drunk. The second only resembles one kind of morel, the half-free morel, but is still easy to distinguish once it has been cut open -- which you should ALWAYS do before eating morels. By cutting the mushroom lengthwise, you can be 100% positive that the mushroom is a morel. If you aren't 100% positive that what you have is a morel - throw it out. The two look-alikes are not something you want to be eating. I used this website for great ID info.

Note the "brainy" look of the morel cap. The stem is smooth, firm and meaty.
Note the hollow stem and firmly attached cap. Although the interior of the stem may have minute bumps, it will have no filling/fibers. The cap and the stem are virtually continuous - no distinct separation. Only the half-morels have separation, and I would never feel 100% confident with those. Besides, I have read that the ones pictured here are the best tasting anyway, so why risk it?

Oh, and morels aren't something you want to be eating raw as they have a chemical in them that can cause intestinal issues. Heat breaks this chemical down, so be sure to cook them. Sauteed in butter is awesomeness.

Want to try growing your own? Well, you could wait and hope nature brings you some morel spore, try your luck with community compost (like I did), create your own morel spawn, or buy morel spawn. As far as what to do to ensure their happiness, I have no idea. I cuss my garden out a lot. You could try that.