Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sad news and happy news

This past Saturday I had to put my dog, Chevy, to sleep.  It has been really lonely in our house without him.  It was a hard decision, but it was the best one we could make for him.  Just when I thought that I would never stop crying the first hosta catalog for 2009 arrived.  It's almost like Chevy sent it to cheer me up!  I've been drooling over the new hostas in the Naylor Creek catalog.  I know for sure I definately want to order Tickle Me Pink. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Fall Leaves

Fall leaves are great for your flower beds.  We have a leaf blower/vacuum.  The vacuum sucks the leaves up and mulches them.  I use this mulch to cover my flower beds in the fall (after frost, before and you are inviting mice and voles).  Comes spring the leaf mulch breaks down into a good compost.  I recently read an article in one of the gardening magazines that said you should never rakes the leaves from your flower or vegetable gardens.  

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Non-Gardening Post - My dog Chevy

It's hard to believe that almost 16 years ago one winter I walked into an animal shelter and saw a sad, scared, droopy eared dog.  My childhood dog had just passed away, and my parents decided to adopt a new dog.   A breeder of coonhounds had recently had all of his dogs taken away by animal control, and here at the animal shelter were two one year old lab/redbone coonhound mix dogs.  One was black and the other reddish tan.  My parents wanted a girl, so they adopted the black dog and named her Reba.  When I first met my dog he was very scared of everyone, especially men.  He had the sad eyes of a hound, and when I looked into them I knew he was going to be coming home with me.  I adopted him and named him Chevy, and we have been living happily together ever since.  Chevy was always a mellow dog, never barked, and loved people.  When I first adopted him he often went with me to teach Kindergarten, and loved to share breakfast with the kids.  He was rudolph in the school holiday concert, and even dressed up as a dinosaur for Halloween.  I lived out in the country at the time, and he loved to chase the corn pickers down the road eating all the corn cobs that fell off the truck.
He is 16 now, and he doesn't run any more.  In fact, he kind of just meanders now.  His back legs are stiff when he gets up from his nap, and the fatty tumor that was once the size of a quarter on his side has now grown to the half the size of a basketball.  He has lost weight and his breath is really bad.  He still wags his tail when we come home, and he still loves to beg for food. But his time is coming to an end.  This weekend we had him up-north where he used to love to go for walks with my dad in the woods.  As we left, I realized this would be his last time he would ever be up-north and that made me really sad.  He would never take himself for walks when no one was paying attention to him, or eat another fish my dad had just taxidermied for someone while they were out to dinner.  I realized this weekend, that Chevy could possibly only be around for a few more days to a few more weeks.  I think the biggest dilemma is that I am given the right to choose if he should be put down or not.  Dogs can't tell you if they are in a lot of pain, and as much as we love them do we have the right to decide for them?   Chevy has given me lots of great memories, lots of love, and now I just want to make sure he is happy and healthy until his last day.  

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hostas in Fall

Fall is not the time to move hostas around in the yard.  They need time to grow roots, and the ground freezes too soon in fall.  Spring is the best time to move them, especially when they are first sticking their hosta "noses" out of the ground.

However fall is a great time to collect seeds from all your various hostas.  Always make sure that the pods are dry and not green when collecting seeds.  Usually the seed pods on the bottom will dry out and open first and then you know it's safe to collect the seed pods.  I put them in envelopes and mark them with what the name of the parent hosta.  Hostas do not come true from seed.  So you never know what you will get when you plant the seeds.  More than likely you will get a plain green hosta, but every once and a while you might get a yellow, variegated, or even a streaker (if you are lucky).

Fall is also a great time of the year to take notes for next year's garden.  Are some hostas too close together?  Do some hostas need to be divided?  etc.  Even better, take a picture with your digital camera and write notes on that picture.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Suprising Fall Color

I was looking at my gardens this afternoon and was surprised to see bright blue color poking out of my gardens.  Then I remembered that I planted fall blooming crocus last year.  They are beautiful just about the time everything else is started to fade away!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fall Color

Right now is when you look at your yard or garden and realize that everything is starting to look a little dead. That's why it's important to always remember to have some plants that will add fall color to your yard. When building a flower bed I almost always try to put in something for spring, late spring, summer, and fall. Right now I have mums and asters that look beautiful in my garden beds. You could also add shrubs that has folliage that changes color in fall. Burning bush, beauty bush, and dogwood are great for their bright autumn colors, or you could choose shrubs that never loose their color such as a smoke bush. I have both the Royal Purple and the Gold Spirit smoke bush and love them both.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Why I went missing?

This summer we were hit with two really big hail storms. The first was sometime in either late June or early July, and the second was in early August. The first storm brought hail so thick it looked like it snowed outside. Some still had not melted away completely until late the next morning. It shredded all my hostas, and needless to say I almost cried when I saw all the damage. I will post picture of all the damage sometime soon!

Water Your Trees in Fall

It's very important to water your trees in fall. Right now they are getting themselves ready for the long winter and some trees even start the create their buds for spring. A good thing to remember (that I always forget) is to rabbit proof all your small trees and shrubs. Last year we had so much snow that the rabbits even ate the tops of my bushes and trees off!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Hostas need water

During the hot summer months it is very important to water your hostas. I have a lot of people ask me why at the end of the season my hostas still look good while their hostas look all ratty and brown. One of the big reasons is that I keep my hostas watered well during the summer. Hostas don't always act that other perennials which will droop and tell you when they want to be watered. However you will see the effects of the dry spell eventually, usually late summer. Hostas alway develop a second flush of leaves in July, so by keeping them watered you will have a much better looking plant.

There are two other reasons why my hostas (not all) don't look all ratty at the end of the year.
1. Slug are attracted to hostas and will eat the leaves. You usually will not see them, because slugs come out at night to do their damage. I lay down slug bait, such as Sluggo, to keep slugs off my hostas.
2. I am also picky about where I buy my hostas from. Don't buy from the big hardware stores! A lot of their hostas have hosta virus X. I have even been to some local garden stores and seen the virus. Last year I even asked for the manager and pointed out the virus to them. I stopped by a week later and the plants were still for sale. Buy from people who have a true passion for hostas and are concerned about the spread of the virus and another hosta enemy, nematodes. Nematodes will cause your hostas to develop wholes and brown streaks in the leaves late in the summer and spread by water.

Here is more information:
Hosta Virus X:
Pictures of nematode damage:

Friday, June 20, 2008

Tips for a Successful Plant Sale

I started my yearly plant sale yesterday, and it's grown so popular that almost all of my plants sold out the first day. There are going to be some disappointed people the next two days, but I do still have some plants that I will dig fresh for people.

Here are some tips for success:
1. Figure out what plants you need to divide already in early spring, and dig and pot them as they are first emerging. I usually start in late May and my plant sale is mid-June, so my plants look very full and healthy in their pots. Some people dig in fall for the next year's sale, but it's too cold here to leave things in pots over winter.
2. When I transplant into pots I always use rooting hormone to help the plants establish strong roots. You can buy this anywhere, even Walmart. A little goes a long way.
3. When I sell in mid-June a lot of my plants are blooming, so I allow people to walk around the yard and see what my plants look like.
4. I also keep a photo album with picture of plants in bloom that are currently not blooming. So people know what the flower will look like.
5. I make up card ahead of time with plant information and give them to people as they buy plants. I keep these saved on my computer, since a lot of my plants I divide every year.
6. Advertise and spread the word.

All of these things make for a successful plant sale.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I'm Back from Denver

Just came back from a quick vacation to Denver. While there I took in the Denver Botanical Garden and the Butterfly Pavillion in Westminster. Both were great, and I LOVED the Butterfly Pavillion. I highly recommend it to anyone! 1200+ butterflies flying around in a beautiful atrium. I would love to bring something like that to our area. We have a local nature perserve that has a butterfly house, but it's a small plastic greenhouse. Plus they only have local butterflies and moths.

I didn't realize that Denver was pretty close in garden zones as we are here. We are a 4/5 and they are a 5/6. So almost everything that was blooming here when I left was blooming there.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Peonies are Blooming, The Peonies are Blooming!

Ok, ok this time last year the peonies were done for weeks already. But today one of my peony bushes started to bloom. Huge pink blooms. My neighbor boy came over and said they were as big as his head. My plants are actually started to get too big for the area I have them planted, so I am planning on moving them this fall. I figure it's best to wait until they have stopped blooming and have started to go into "hibernation" for fall. If thinking about buying peonies for your garden here are some things I have learned:
  • Buy in fall when they are dirt cheap. I think I paid $1 each for mine, because in fall they look like a dead stick but are very much alive.
  • Look for varieties that do not need staking, unless you want to put a cage around them.
  • Tree peonies do not need staking, but are expensive and I have found them hard to keep alive. I lost one, my friend lost three, and my mom lost one. My mom is the only one who has one left. It bloomed this year for the first time and was beautiful and yellow.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Lots o' Rain

Over the weekend Wisconsin was hit pretty hard with rain and storms. Where I live it rained quite a bit Saturday night through Sunday night, but nothing as bad as other areas. My husbands parents live between Wisconsin Dells and Wisconsin Rapids. We visited them on Sunday, and on the way home we saw farmer's field that were completely flooded. Also driving through Oshkosh was not easy, since some areas of the streets had at least a foot of water covering them. My husband's sister lives very close to Lake Delton where you may have seen the houses be washed away in the river on Monday morning.

We had a VERY late spring here. Last year my peonies were in full bloom by the end of May. This year they are not even in bloom yet, although any day I expect them to open. It's amazing how a good two days of downpours can speed up growth of the plants. My hostas just really seemed to pop over the last couple of days. We had to take down a tree this spring because it was too close to the house. We planted grass there last week, and BOOM the rain made super grass!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Welcome to Cheesehead Gardening

Welcome to Cheesehead Gardening! This is a guide to flower gardening in the midwest, especially Wisconsin. My yard is mainly shady, so I have a huge collection of hostas. Despite my 250+ hostas and average size yard, I still manage to have lots of other perennials. My flower beds expand every year. I have now taken over my neighbor's yard too. That's how much I love to garden. I have tried a lot of different things. I have made mistakes and had successes. I want to share this information so we can compare notes, or maybe help someone else become a successful gardening.