Sunday, August 30, 2009

My friend Gina's yard

Front area of her house
Her flowering Medusa head cactus
Small portion of her cactus collection, she is addicted to hosta and cactus (and cheese)
Walking through back garden

I am still working on the video for my trip to Foxfire Gardens, so I thought I would give you a little picture tour of my friend Gina's gardens.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Foxfire Botanical Gardens Marshfield, WI

You've seen me blog about visiting there before, but tonight I have some sad news to report. Foxfire Gardens will officially be closing it's doors this Saturday. They will sell all their remaining hosta for $5 that day. The sale starts at 8am. My friend and I making a weekend of it, so look for my blog early next week.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Last day of summer vacation video

Video of my gardens on my last day of summer vacation, I'm even in the video for all of you who have been asking to put a face to the voice.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Wonderful Pouring Rain

We have had such a drought this summer, that a pouring rainstorm is a sight for sore eyes. I was just thinking today that we haven't had any big thunderstorms come through for two summers now. Which is nice, since we haven't had to hide out in the basement in the middle of the night. However I kind of miss a little thunderstorm now and again.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Add a little blue to your garden

Pictures can't capture just how blue the flowers are on Bottle Gentian (Gentiana andrewsii). Bottle gentian is native to Wisconsin, where it is often found in swampy, wet areas. It grows in full sun to partial shade, which makes it great to add a pop of color to any garden. Unlike the balloon flower or hosta flowers, these flowers never open. Bumblebees are one of the few insects that can find it's way inside of the flower to collect pollen.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Creatures Great and Small Visit Today

This was a gianormous bee I saw in my Guacamole hosta flowers todays. I thought it was two bees, and then realized it was only one bee. It had to be(e) at least 2 inches long.
At one point today I counted 6 monarchs on my meadow blazing star plants.
I picked up an empty pot on my picnic table and found this cicada on it. I usually hear them all day long, accidentally dig them up when planting, and find their empty shells all over the yard. However it's unusual for me to see them in all their winged glory! Just read that many people around the world eat cicadas, yuck! They are also one of the only insects to cool themselves off by sweating.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My Favorite Annual: Coleus

My favorite annual to use in the garden is coleus. I use it in containers throughout my yard. It brightens dark areas, and adds bright colors to any container. In nurseries in our area they sell "shade coleus" and "sun coleus", with "sun coleus" being more tolerant of sun. Coleus is also great because you can create new plants by taking cuttings of your current plant. Take 4" cuttings of a coleus plant and place the cut end in water. Keep the plant in indirect light, and change the water everyday. Once the plant establishes roots you can pot it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Visit to the Paine Art Center Gardens

Not sure I am grooving on their choice to put in a yellow garden in this area. I think instead of the brownish, yellow flowers I would have added a contrasting color such as purple.

Today a friend and I visited the Paine Art Center in Oshkosh, WI. The museum currently has photographs from the collection of the George Eastman House. The collection includes photographs by Ansel Adams (my favorite), Dorothea Lange, Paul Strand, and many others. It was a beautiful exhibit. Then we went outside to view the gardens at the Paine.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Welcome Visitor to my Garden

It's the time of year that my Meadow Blazing Star (Liatris ligulistylus) start to bloom. Meadow Blazing Star is native to Wisconsin, and it is often found in open fields and prairies. It blooms late summer/early fall and the best part about it is that it is a monarch magnet. Monarchs and bees are highly attracted to this plant. It is hardy from zone 4 to 9b, which makes this butterfly attractor great for almost any garden.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hosta Blooms

Many people who have hostas in their yard either ignore hosta flowers or cut them off. I remember when I was a kid I used to walk through our yard "popping" all of the flower buds before they opened up. I called them balloon flowers back then. Who knew that I would go from popping balloon flowers to where I am now?

Today I was walking through the yard and smelled something wonderful. Well it was the flowers from my hosta 'Cathedral Windows'. Not all hosta blooms have a scent to them, but the ones that do smell faintly like lily of the valley to me. So next time you see a hosta in bloom (especially if it's a large white flower) bed down and smell the hosta, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What's blooming in my garden right now

Helenium 'Chelsea'
Hardy Hibiscus
Silene 'Prairie Fire' (yes, it's that red)
One of my mini oriental lilies, can't remember name off the top of my head
Daylily 'Parade of Peacocks'

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

How to pack and ship hostas

Have you ever wanted to trade or sell some of your hostas, but not sure how to to pack them up and ship them. Well here is a little video to walk you through it.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Hosta 'Invincible'

The hosta 'invincible' is a very shiny leaved hosta with a slight pie crust edge. It does very well in this spot under one of my sugar maples, where it receives dappled sun all day long. As a bonus it has fragrant blooms in August. Mine has proved to be very 'invincible' to sun, slugs, and whatever else mother nature throws at it.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The hosta I almost gave away

About a year after I had obtained the hosta 'Touch of Class' a friend was touring my garden. She told me she had looked everywhere for 'Touch of Class' and could not find it. I remember telling her that I thought it looked just like 'June' in my opinion and as far as I was concerned she could take mine. Well luckily she didn't take me up on that offer, because now years later (and much more mature) I realize what a beautiful hosta it really is, and how different it really is from 'June'. Whew, it's a case of the hosta that almost got away.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

How hostas really are the friendship plant

Little did I know when I joined the gardening forum site Gardenweb in 2003 that I would actually get to meet some of the gardeners I corresponded with on the site. When I first joined I was so excited to learn that I could trade plants with other people on the forum. I was also a little naive in believing that all people are honest. I did a few trades that went exceptionally well. Well then I made a trade agreement with a person named "Kristin". We agreed to send a big box with about 15-20 plants. So I mailed out my huge box of plants (which cost $12 just to mail), and never received one back. I got responses from her, saying she mailed hers out weeks ago and she never received my box either. Yes, I admit I forgot to put tracking on the box. Then she said maybe we should each just resend our boxes. It was at this point that somehow I was contacted by other members of Gardenweb named Andrea and Susan. They had tried to trade with "Kristin" and were having the same issues that I was with her. We were forwarding emails "Kristin" had sent to us, and she had different stories for each of us. "Kristin" even went as far as saying in one email that she was not "Kristin" but really her cousin because "Kristin" had been in a horrible car accident and was in critical condition, but emailed me as "Kristin" and everything was fine. This is one of the reasons why Gardenweb came up with the Rate and Review Exchange forum later on.

So why tell you all of this? Well, it turns out that Andrea (and Susan) and I all became very good email friends because of this incident. Andrea and I shared a hosta obsession, and so we often exchanged hostas (Guacamole being one of the first she sent me). Then in 2007 the AHS held their annual hosta convention in Indianapolis where Andrea lives. She invited my friend, Gina, and I to stay with her during the convention, and we took her up on her graciousness. Andrea is so full of life, humor, and generousity. We were blown away by her hospitality, and even more blown away when we saw her working first hand. Andrea runs a outreach program for homeless in downtown Indianapolis called PourHouse. We would be driving down roads in downtown Indy, and Andrea would see a homeless man on the side of the road. She would stop, and always know their name and their story. She would ask them if they needed something like food, clothing, or water which she always carried in the back of her vehicle. You could tell that they were always so happy to see her, and she had a real connection with them. Watch this video. She was like angel. While in Indy, Andrea even drove us to the spot where she was planning on opening a new kind of homeless shelter. It wasn't a homeless shelter really, instead it was a place where homeless could stay in exchange for them learning new job skills. Her plan was even to have a greenhouse where they could grow and sell plants. We have stayed friend with Andrea since then, and right now her outreach program is in great need of help. She has more homeless then she ever had due to the economy. She has many trials and tribulations over the years since we last visited her in Indy. For one, her "homeless shelter" (for lack of better word) never saw the light of day. People who worked in the area neighborhood made sure of that, and then there is lack of funds to do what needs to be done that non-profit organizations often run into. So I hope as you read this you will consider donating to her cause. It might be clothes, food, water, bus passes, money, or if you are in the Indy area maybe some of your time. It will go towards a great organization, and to people who really need it.

The picture is of my hosta 'Guacamole' that Andrea sent me one summer day, and every time I look at it I think about how blessed to have such a great person like Andrea in my life. So remember that even when bad things happen, there is usually something good waiting to happen just around the corner.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

New hosta bed complete and ready for hosta

Today I finally finished preparing one of the new hosta beds I meant to have done in June. I plan on finding some more miniature hostas and creating a "secret" garden in the space that is now void of any plants. This space was a woodpile until a couple weeks ago. So I moved the wood further back, edged it with stone, and the top dressed the bed with compost. Now I am going to look for a fairy house and some more cute little mini hostas to put in this new bed.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Hosta 'Nigrescens'

For those of you out there who think that all hostas look alike, I introduce you to the hosta 'Nigrescens'. It is a beautiful color, with upright stems that end in what I like to call shovel shaped leaves. It originates from Japan where it is actually referred to as a black hosta. I would like to say it's blue in color, but I know others will correct me and say that it is really gray/green in color. Whatever the color, it's a beautiful hosta.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

How to get lily pollen off your clothes

If you've ever brushed up against your lilies, you know that it's near impossible to get the pollen off your clothes. Last year when I was at the Farmer's Market in Olympia, Washington I asked the owner of the Lily Pad how she deals with pollen. She said most importantly, never try to brush the pollen off with your hands. The oil in your skin will smear the pollen and usually make the stain worse. Instead you should take take and dab at the pollen to try to lift it from your clothes. If that doesn't work and the pollen stains your clothes she said the only stain remover that worked to remove pollen was Zout. So when I arrived home I invested in a bottle of Zout (it's not expensive), and I can testify that it does work to remove pollen (and many other stains).

Monday, August 3, 2009

Who said you need flowers in arrangements?

Whoever said arrangements needed to be made of flowers never had a garden full of hosta. The other day I went outside and gathered different colored hosta leaves from my garden and arranged them into a bouquet. The best part is that these arrangements last a lot longer than flowers. Ally, my cat also approves.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

I guess that's why they call it the blues...keeping blue hostas blue

In Picture, hosta 'Blue Wedgwood'.

Blue colored hostas are a great way to add contrasting colors to your garden bed. Did you ever notice how some blue hostas look blue in spring but by mid-summer look green? Well that is because they are receiving too much sunlight. Blue hostas have a "wax" on their leaves that gives them their great blue coloring. However too much sunlight will burn off that wax coating, causing the hosta to go from blue to green in coloration. I have found that blue hostas can actually take more sun, because they have a natural "sunscreen" built in. That is only good if you don't care if your blue hostas turn green.