Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Cardoon - a Great Garden Feature!

 

 


A first for all the Cardoons I have planted over previous years--blooms!  I love large plants used as exclamation points in my garden and this summer my Cardoon performed outstandingly.  I have planted it occasionally over the past 10 years and enjoy the fast growth and large leaves.  I was quite happy with this but for some reason this summer offered this floriferous reward.
 
I have always planted them in the same location: the only full sun area of my yard.   Our summer began quite late, cool and wet and said plant was planted in the second week of June.   This was a rather late date as normally our planting time is May 24.  By August it had buds on it and the following picture shows how tall it grows as the five foot seven inch me is beside it. 
With very late frost this autumn the buds began opening in late September. 
Downside - don't get too close as it is of the thistle family!  Also, sometimes referred to as the artichoke thistle. 
As a herb parts are edible, mainly the succulent leaf stems.  The Cardoon is of the same family as the globe artichoke whose fame is the delectable edible "globes" or unopened flowers found in markets or grocery produce sections.





Friday, 25 July 2014

Medinilla magnifica



My most recent houseplant Medinilla magnifica, is my pride and joy.  After having read about it in a Canadian magazine, I went on a search.  I could find none close to home but on a trip to the Niagara area of eastern Canada, I discovered one for sale at a local garden centre.  I was thrilled!  With two stems blooming how was I to carry said plant on the airplane.  Carefully lifting the stems I wrapped it up and carried the plant as hand luggage.  The plant arrived beautifully and ready to grace my home. 

Eventually it lost the flowers but now a dilemma - should I cut the stem off at the leaf joint or leave it intact where the stem broke at the last pink calyx.  I left one and the other I cut off at the leaf joint.  The experiment continued as I kept the plant in the screen porch for the summer.  New leaves pushed out but I discovered that where I left the stem to the pink calyx, the leaves were coming out crinkled and the other not as nice smooth leaves emerged.   Lesson learned, cut back the flower stem right to the leaf joint.  Although with no blooms on the plant the leaves are large, thick and shiny and lovely as a non-bloomer during this period.

As there is little information on this newly discovered plant from the mountains of the Phillipines, all my care for it was experimental.  I only water it from the bottom and only when it is light in weight.  I used a light fertilizer of 20-20-20 every watering during the summer months and into October when I stopped. 

In April I began to notice small flower shoots pushing out from the leaf junctions.   I was ecstatic with the four flower stems emerging.  They continued to elongated and by May they were in bloom and continue to do so two months later.

Do I recommend having this in one's houseplant repertoire?  Definitely!  It is a challenge with being the "new kid on the block" and very little information available for it.  I love the rewards of my experimentation of its care regime and hope to enjoy my Medinilla magnifica for a very long time.





Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Summertime!                                      


All gardeners can probably sympathize--the summer season is a busy one outdoors with little time to be at the computer blogging.  How come I find time to put up short snippets and pictures on facebook and not write here?

As per my previous entry summer had a late start but once it arrived the plants grew and continue growing in leaps and bounds.  Spring flowers were so abundant this year I began to think that the plants thought they would not survive the harsh past winter and they had to quickly reproduce in large quantities.  The shrubs and trees in Bunn's Creek Park were spectacular in such glory that I had never seen in 35 years of residing with it in my backyard.
 
Out at the lake a similar quantity of bloom showed its fancy dress-pincherries, saskatoons, plums, hawthornes and blueberries.  We are now reaping the rewards of those berries!

My mesclun lettuces continue to feed our family and guests this summer with the French filet beans being harvested and enjoyed too.  A woodchuck was discovered (and hence chased from) in one of the chicken wire fenced gardens having gnawed through the wire.  Good that daughter was in close proximity to do the chasing!!  With a kale leaf in his mouth he went a waddling.

The container plantings are showing their beauty with my Muskoka Sunset dahlia topping out at 6 feet.  The bloom is gorgeous!  A few of the plants are being munched and after numerous investigative looks I still have not found the culprit.   I am suspecting a climbing cutworm but he is doing an excellent job of hiding.  I guess he has to eat too!

At home in the city my favourite delphiniums are unbelievable!  The Asiatic lilies are finishing their blooming with a few markings from the unsquished red lily beetle--a constant source of consternation with any lily grower here.  When will a product be placed on the retail market?  So far I am using neem oil and it is a somewhat good deterrent but one must be vigilant.

The blueberries are calling me either to do more picking or baking--pies, muffins etc.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Springtime!





This past Monday a very rude awakening as I opened the curtains on this 'spring' day in Winnipeg.  I should not be complaining as I am a snowbird and have been home only two weeks.   But this snow has to go so the outdoor gardening can begin.   I think that spring will not be experienced this year.  We will go from winter to summer.   Thank heaven I am a gardener who does clean up my yard in the autumn.  Yes, I chop down the Hostas and many other perennials.  I especially do not enjoy their sloppy leaves after being frozen.   I do leave some perennials with wonderful seed heads to offer food for the birds and winter interest to the yard.  Eupatorium, Sedum 'Autumn Joy' and Rudbeckia with their stiff stems are the chosen ones to remain.

As a true gardener not to be dismayed by the snow falling outside, I headed down to the basement to do my seeding of plants that I enjoy growing that are not readily available for sale in the nurseries.   Some are just very easy to grow and this guarantees that I have them in my repertoire for planting season.  Tomatoes are my favourite to seed;  Park's Big Whopper, Sungold and Black Cherry.  Miscellaneous vines;   Adlumnia fungosa, Cobaea, Tropaeolum peregrinum (Canary Vine),and  Ipomoea sloteri (Cardinal Vine) are seeded.   One plant that I have yet to see at a nursery is Park's Mirabilis 'Limelight'.   It grows large and has stunning electric chartreuse leaves with brilliant fuschia flowers.  A beautiful addition to one's sun garden!

Playing further in my downstairs den I plant my favourite Dahlias 'Park Princess', Cannas 'Red Futurity' and Dahlia 'Muskoka Sunset' which I received in my goodie bag at the National Master Gardener conference in Huntsville, Ontario last weekend.  It is not for sale to the public as of yet.   I will be looking forward to its bloom.

As you see gardeners make the most of what nature hands them and are always positive thinking regarding their gardens.  They are dreamers who are always thinking and planning their next sojourn into their gardening world.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Welcoming Christmas!

As always gardening is never far from my mind even with the snow on the ground.  Although the weather does limit one's gardening....ha! ha!....here, there are containers to be filled.
Nothing welcomes guests during the Christmas/holiday season than seasonal 'planted' containers on your doorstep or house front.
With temperatures hovering just below the Oc mark with no wind this past weekend I knew this was the perfect time to do my outside gardening.
I love the look of the birch trunks in the containers and although I have been using them for at least 4 years, this will probably be my last one.  They are becoming way too common now with them available for purchase at both Superstore and Sobey's.  Mine were brought from the lake using the trunks of dead trees.
My new finds this year were the 'light bulbs' that attracted me at Target in Scottsdale and my other find of the giant grapevine ball at Mori's Nursery in Niagara Falls.  As you see, I am always on the lookout for unique items all year long even if I don't quite know what I will be doing with them.  A challenge for the brain to think of what unique way for their usage.

Wishing all a Merry Christmas season and a 2013 that is filled with great gardening keeping us healthy and young!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Fruit Trees in the Desert

This is a very unusual topic for me who lives in Winnipeg.  But having family living in the Sonoran desert I found myself very interested in this topic especially when said family hinted to me that they would like to plant some fruit trees in their yard.

The Valley Permaculture Alliance of which I am a member here, offered a course on this topic.  I jumped at the opportunity for the knowledge and to help my family with their garden addition. 
I learned that almost every fruit tree will grow here in the valley but whether it will produce fruit is not always possible.  The most important factor for this situation is to look at the chill hours needed for the tree.  On average there are 300 to 400 chill hours in the desert.  Fortunately, all nursery fruit trees here are very well marked with proper information on their three labels.  Chill hours and the root stock are two of the most important factors.

We learned how to find the proper area to plant in for correct drainage, where to locate your chosen tree, how to protect if frost is a possibility, how to protect against sunscald and planting it correctly.  Surprisingly, no new soil should be added to the hole and the sides of the hole should be dug on a 45 degree angle to deter soil compaction and allow the roots to grow easily into the native desert soil.  All trees should be watered to a depth of 3 feet and I learned how to measure when this occurs.  And never stake the trees!

Now to discuss with the family what choices they have and what fruit produce they would most benefit for harvesting and using.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Maypole and Buck

As early fall arrives so have the voracious appetites of the neighbourhood deer at the lake.  Especially handsome is the marrauding buck.  As majestic as he is the battle of the gardener(moi), continues.
Alright, I managed to keep him out of the smaller vegetable garden for the past 6 weeks.  But he finally won another round by eating my mache, which I was saving for out of town guests, and my Heucheras which I had just planted in said garden for overwintering them.

I am hoping with my new maypole it is enough to let the poor Heuchera regenerate enough to survive.  It doesn't look beautiful, but then again I will not have to look at it as the cottage is closed for the season.  And it will greet me colourfully in the spring for when I want to see a maypole.  Do you think it will work?!