Monday, May 24, 2010

H. 'Touch of Class'

I know I wrote about the hosta 'Touch of Class' last year, but as I was looking at my garden the other day I couldn't help but think about how I almost gave it away. When I first bought h. 'Touch of Class' I thought it looked a lot like h. 'June'. So much so that when a friend made mention of it one day while walking through the garden I almost gave it to her. I'm glad that she didn't take me up on the offer, because as Touch of Class matured it looks very different from June. Both are beautiful hostas and I wouldn't want to part with either one.
h. 'Touch of Class' with 'Stained Glass' in background
h. 'Touch of Class'
h. 'June'

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Tree Peony Blooms

This is my second try at a tree peony.  After I lost my first one when it didn't survive a Wisconsin winter I swore them off.  Then last summer I was out shopping for plants and happened upon a a whole slew of tree peonies on the clearance rack.  I was intrigued by the picture of Paeonia 'Koukamon', which showed it as a black colored peony.  It was marked down to $5, so I decided to give a tree peony another try.  I was very excited to see it make it through the winter this year, and then I was even more excited when I saw 3 huge flower buds form on the plant.  I have been waiting weeks for them to bloom, and finally today they opened up.  They are absolutely huge, not to mention they smell wonderful.  Though they are not the black flowers it showed on the plant tag, I am so happy that I changed my mind and decided to try another tree peony.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Hosta of the Year 2013

It's time to start putting in your nominations for hosta of the year 2013.  If you go to the hosta forum on Garden Web you can put in your two cents worth.  Or you can just post them here and I will put in a collective vote on the page based on what's most popular.

The hosta must meet the following:
1. It must be a good plant that will grow in all regions of the country
2. Must be widely available on the year of selection.
3. Must retail for around $15 in the year of selection.

Here is a list of hostas that have already earned Hosta of the Year.

1996 'So Sweet' 

1997 'Patriot' 

1998 'Fragrant Bouquet' 
1999 'Paul's Glory' 
2000 'Sagae' 
2001 'June' 
2002 'Guacamole' 
2003 'Regal Splendor' 
2004 'Sum and Substance' 
2005 'Striptease' 
2006 'Stained Glass' 
2007 'Paradigm' 
2009 'Earth Angel'
2010 'First Frost'
2011 'Praying Hands'

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Pre-Plant Outing Excitement

It's the night before my first all day plant shopping outing of the year.  My friend, Gina, and I have already been on the phone with each other, planning times and what greenhouses we would like to visit.    Our first stop will be to a hosta sale being held at someone's house in Green Bay.  We have all day, who knows where we might end up after that?  Mayflower Greenhouse, Rosehill, and House of Hosta are all possible stops.  Gina and I are already giddy with excitement!  Not only do we both have the day off of work, but we are spending the WHOLE day plant shopping!  I bet my non-gardening friends think this is the dorkiest thing they have ever read.  I can already hear the conversation Gina and I are going to have when she picks me up at 7am tomorrow..."I couldn't sleep, I was so excited....".  This is the confession of a true plant addict here people.  I even bought a new little greenhouse today to keep all of my annuals in until it warms up enough to keep them outside.  Good thing tomorrow is wordless Wednesday, I'll post pics of some of my purchases.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sometimes Neighbors are a Real Ditch

Before I start this blog, I want to preface it with the fact that almost all of my neighbors are wonderful.  We look out for each other, share a cup of sugar every once and a while, and enjoy each other's company. I live on a very quiet street surrounded by mature trees, hence the hostas.

Our three neighbors to the south of us have a drain pipe running through their ditch, which they then covered so it's easy to mow.  How long ago this did this, I have no clue.  So between this and the culvert that sits underneath our driveway, that has raised from all the years of frost, the water sits in our ditch.  My neighbors have called the town, but they refused to even come out and look at the culvert.  So my husband found the same drain pipe the three neighbors have and connected it to theirs.  We then ordered yards of dirt with our neighbors to the north who also decided to do the same as us.  About a week after we finished the project we received a letter from the town that we had 30 days to remove everything we just did.  The letter pretty much said that the ditch belonged to the town and not to us....I'll remember to have them mow it from now on.  So my husband called and talked to them, turns out one of neighbors turned us into the town.  When he asked why the other neighbors were allowed to do it, and we were not allowed to do this...they said it was because the other neighbors had not been caught.  Turns out it was a person who turned us in doesn't even live on our street, but happens to have a relative who works for the town.  Funny how when they tell their relative, the town will come out and look at the ditch, but not when others call about a real problem.  The person who turned us in has a little war going on with the 80+ year old lady who lives across the street from them.  They are constantly harassing her, even yelling obscenities at her on the day of her husband's funeral last year.  During the summer, I meet with the older ladies (yes, they are all in their 80's except me) in my neighborhood on Wednesday afternoons for dessert.  So my only guess as to why they turned us in, is because I have befriended this neighbor.

The standing water in our ditch
The culvert the town says there is no problem with
The extra dirt from the ditch, my husband has decided to dump in our backyard.  Guess I won't be having any garden walks this year, since my husband and growing grass do not mix!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Crazy Week in Wisconsin

It's been a crazy week here in my little nook in Wisconsin, and not just because I had two visits from my friendly garden stalker.  They say if you don't like the weather in Wisconsin just wait five minutes and it will change.  Well, it might not have been 5 minutes, but we certainly had some weather changes.  Tuesday it was in the 70's here, after work I managed to fit in my walk and thin out some more of my plants.  Later that night as my husband and I were eating dinner the tornado sirens started to go off.  We live right on the border of two different counties, so sometimes when I hear them go off it's not even for our area.  It was perfectly sunny in the front yard, but in the backyard you could see some storm clouds headed our way.  So I turned on the TV to see why the sirens were going off, as sometimes they will turn them on just for severe thunderstorms.  There was nothing on the TV, no scrolling or little map in the corner the screen.  About 5-10 minutes later the weather man finally broke into American Idol, and said that a funnel cloud had been spotted and was headed right towards the border of the two counties I happen to border.  So, of course, the first thing my husband does is run outside and look.  He comes running in and tells me that there is tons of lightning and it all seems to be in one spot, like when you see tornado coverage on TV.  So needless to say we called to our cats and headed to the basement.  All was good though, there had been two tornadoes that touched down west of us but no one had been hurt.  Friday we were in the 40's all day with rain.  Later on that night the rain turned to sleet, and then to snow.  Luckily, the ground was warm enough that their was no accumulation.  As I was watching the snow come down Friday night, I heard a noise like cars doors slamming.  My first thought was that the hosta stalker was stopping by at 11:30pm this time, since she saw the lights were on.  Then I saw the lights, and realized fire trucks had just pulled up to my backyard neighbor's house.  They mounted big spotlights on their house, it was then that we saw the smoke coming out of their garage.  We also heard the sounds of chainsaws, which couldn't be good.  Fortunately, the fire appears to have stayed contained to their garage and no one was hurt.  Yesterday we had a cookout at my house for my mom, but since it was only in the 40's we couldn't sit outside and enjoy the weather or all the plants coming up in my yard.  As I write this post, it's in the 30's and there is frost on all of my neighbor's lawns, thank you Maples for protecting my yard from frost!  So as you can see, it's been a crazy week here, but things can only get better, right?  I did just see a bunny hop up to one of my hostas, smell it, and hop away...Yeah!  Happy Mother's Day to all mothers out there, but especially, my mom, whom I think is the best mom in all the world!
Hosta 'St Elmo's Fire' emerging.
Taken from my window, since it was too cold for me to venture outside LOL

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Garden Stalker

Does every garden have a garden stalker?  Someone who seems to know every time you drive a shovel in the ground?  Always hanging around hoping to get your cast-offs?  Or is it only me?  The doorbell rings at 8:50pm tonight, it's pitch dark outside.  Who would ring our doorbell at almost 9pm at night?  It's my garden stalker.  She stopped by to drop off some plant pots for my plant sale.  Which makes me wonder if she heard me say the other day I would give first priority to people who donated pots for my sale.  Was she hiding in the bushes, or was she just being nice?  Last weekend she stopped to ask if I was having a plant sale.  Then asked if she could have first choice of my plants, she said she would probably buy almost all of them.  You think I jest, but two years ago when I had my plant sale, she came over and bought every single hosta I had.  I had a lot of disappointed plant salers that year.  So last year I just made up a list of plants I had for sale and offered them to friends.  This weekend she offered to buy my house, said she didn't even need to see the inside.  I was just not allowed to remove any of my plants.  I did find out that if I start talking the science of plants, she quickly loses interest.  So is she just a wannabe garden fanatic like myself, just wants a nice looking yard, or is she a garden stalker?   Perhaps I am being a hosta snob?  Thoughts?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Oh the many colors of mulch

It's spring, and in my yard this year it means it's time for new mulch.  Why should you mulch?  Mulch helps the soil maintain moisture, control weeds, prevents soils erosion, and the bonus is that it makes your garden look beautiful.  So my husband and I jumped in the car (this is when we wished we had a truck) and headed over to one of the local garden stores.  Mulch, it should be easy right?  It's just ground up trees....or is it?  Depending on what region of the United States you live in, there are various choices: pine, cedar, hay, bark chips, pine straw, cocoa shells, nut shells, etc.  I really like the look of cocoa shells, but there are some cons to cocoa shells.  Cocoa shells are light and blow away easily, they usually need to be replaced every year, they can be poisonous to cats and dogs, and, in my case, they smell so good they just make me want to eat chocolate all day.  Pine and bark chips tend to be too big for me.  I have heard that cedar helps keeps slug away, along with other insects.  It also takes about 2-3 years to break down.  Once I made the decision to go with cedar, there are still different colors to choose from.  Decisions, decisions....I know that I will offend someone here, but I hate red mulch.  If my husband had to choose our mulch, our whole yard would be red mulch and white rocks.  So when he said we should go with Western Red Cedar, I wasn't so sure.  However, it turns out it was more brown than it was red.  Three trips to the garden store later, and almost all of our backyard is now covered with new mulch.  For more tips on mulch, visit the NRCS website.
Before new mulch

After New Mulch

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Seed Grow Project Update

Last month I decided to try an experiment with my nasturium 'spitfire' seeds I am growing for the GROW project.  I recycled plastic water bottles into miniature greenhouses or cloches.  If you want to see how I did it, click here.  One month later this is how they look.  They have been growing like gangbusters.  I actually had to make a bigger "greenhouse" for them, since the leaves were starting to touch the sides of the original "greenhouse" I had made (as you can see from white spots on the leaves).  Tonight I think I am going to force my husband to drink a 2 liter bottle of soda, just so I can have a bigger "greenhouse".  During the day here in Wisconsin, it can be anywhere from 40-70 degree, and at night lately it can drop as low as the 30's.  Here in my area of Wisconsin it's usually safe to start planting annuals and other tender plants after Mother's Day weekend. However, in the past I have had to run out in the middle of the night and cover plants that are susceptible to frost.  So the time isn't quite right yet to plant the rest of my seeds.  I have started taking the "greenhouse" off my plants during the day to harden them off, and am hoping to take it off completely by the end of this week.  I had also planted some tomato seeds last month using this method, and they aren't growing as fast as the nasturtiums but they are growing.

I'm growing Nasturtium "Spitfire" for the GROW project. Thanks, to Renee's Garden for the seeds.

Pictures from May Day