Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Hailstorm Victims

Last night a strong thunderstorm rolled through our neighborhood, accompanied by lots of lightning, heavy rain ... and hail.

Earlier in the day it rained for the first time in almost three weeks. The rain was much needed, with some of my flower beds having dried out so much that the dirt was dusty when I tried to weed. 

It seems cruel that the first major storm of the spring growing season would assault the plants as well. 

The hostas were the worst-hit, with many shredded leaves. (Bad timing for a hosta concrete birdbath and stepping stones project I was hoping to do this weekend.)

Annual flowers I had grown from seed that were spending some of their first few nights outdoors unprotected on the patio were also struck down. I'm not sure how many will bounce back. Trays of plants were flooded, with snapdragons released from their newspaper pots and swimming instead. 

As a gardener, it's important to keep an eye on the weather, a unfortunate reminder this morning when I realized I had not done that. While I couldn't have prevented most of the damage, I could have moved many potted plants indoors. 

Annual chrysanthemums were no match for the hail.

Sum and Substance hosta.

The worst victim of all: This hosta that's been in the family since 1996.

Rosa rugosa just sent out new shoots after it's spring pruning. (Sigh.)
Luckily, the new greenhouse remained intact and in the ground. It is anchored with many bricks and anchors inside. The trash cans I store bird food in are used as a support on one side, as well. At least inside the greenhouse, the imagery was nicer.

Tomatoes protected inside the greenhouse.

More tomatoes protected inside the greenhouse.

Dahlias waiting to be transferred outside.
How has weather wrecked havoc on your garden?

I am participating in the Garden Tour 2015 hosted by Beth at More Than Oregano. Click on the green text that says, "You are next" at the bottom of this page. Then follow the directions to link-up your post and share it with the rest of us.  If you would like to show the entries on your own blog, after you've linked up click "Get the code" and follow the directions.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Floral Friday: The Importance of Perennials

This week brings the last pops of color in the tulip beds. The lilacs and the irises will soon be in full bloom, with some varieties beginning to show this week.

It's so important to have perennials to rely on in the garden during spring. My annuals - which will be the major players in late summer - are either still being sown or growing at their own pace. I am still trying to achieve a constant color cycle in the garden, and for the most part, I do have it, but in pieces. Portions of the garden show color while the rest remains green. One of my longterm goals is to have continuous color throughout the front and back gardens.

What is blooming in your garden this week?

Bleeding hearts co-mingling with Virginia bluebells.

Lilacs to be enjoyed indoors. The trick is to smash the stems before putting in the vase.

Varieties of lilac for the house.


Black Barlow Columbine beginning to bloom.

The last of the tulips along the driveway.


Creeping phlox.

Included only to show how large this one bleeding heart plant has become!

Strawberry blossoms.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Tag Sale Hints at This Year's Tomato Trends

This past weekend, I held my first tag-sale. I originally signed up with the intent of selling some of my older photography pieces, partly for more room and because I feel my newer work is a lot better.

But then my neighbor Ginny - who always participates - told me there were many people in our town who like to garden and will come buy the plants she digs up in her garden. She sells mostly perennials such as hostas, Siberian irises and lilacs.

So I decided to include my extra perennials that I had dug up in the fall and overwintered. These included bearded irises, columbines and black raspberries.

As usual, I started too many seeds, so I also put out my snapdragons, violas (some of which I planted in little tea cups for Mother's Day), parsley and annual chrysanthemums. Most of all, I had several trays of extra tomato seedlings this year.

This year, I'm growing the following tomato varieties: Goldie, Blue Berries, Upstate Oxheart, New Yorker, Tim's Black Ruffle, Costoluto Genovese, Pineapple and Tiny Tim. Due to time constraints, Pineapple and Tiny Tim extras were not offered for sale because I didn't have time to divide them into individual pots. Of all the tomatoes I grew this year, I've only had experience with Upstate Oxheart and New Yorker in the past.

What I found surprising is how popular they were: I sold more tomatoes than anything else! And I noticed a trend in what people were choosing. Unique colored tomatoes were popular, so Goldie and Blue Berries left before the tag sale was over. (I only kept one of each for myself! I hope that wasn't a mistake!) New Yorker sold because it remains small, even though it bears fruit within a three to four week window. Tim's Black Ruffle grew interest because of it's similarity to a beefstake tomato. Upstate Oxheart didn't sell as well as I thought it would, perhaps because I cautioned others of its tendency to need a lot of staking, even though it produces mammoth fruit. I have never grown Costoluto Genovese before and I sold about half. Apparently it's good for sauces.

The best part is that I was able to meet more gardeners in my neighborhood. A few ladies commented that they always see me at work in my garden with my straw hat on. "So this is what you look like without the hat!," she said. One man asked if I also had zinnia and cosmos seedlings for sale, since I always grow them in my own garden, but I haven't even started them yet. There were many compliments about the front garden, and one woman referred to it as the "tree-hugging, banish the lawn garden." (That sounds about right.) Another woman said my garden reminded her of the cottage-style ones in England, which is fantastic because that is what I am trying to emulate in the garden.

So out of curiosity, which tomato varieties are you growing this year?

Friday, May 8, 2015

Floral Friday: In Remembrance

Domino recently crossed to
the Rainbow Bridge.
This Floral Friday (May 8) is late being posted because we lost one of our beloved house rabbits to the Rainbow Bridge on May 3. Domino was unlike other rabbits, with a "larger than life" personality. He craved attention, was happy to greet us when we returned home, and later in life enjoyed sitting outside on the back patio in the sun. (We estimate that he was 11 years old; he had come to live with us after we adopted him in 2010.)

This week was a very reflective time in photographing for me, and I found that I was especially drawn to the bleeding hearts in bloom, the tulips with raindrops and the rabbit statuary in the garden. The symbolism in the photography - to me - is obvious.

This post is dedicated to anyone who's ever experienced the loss and grief that follows after losing a pet.

A yellow tulip blooms in front of the St. Francis statue in the garden.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Middletown Press Runs Frau Zinnie's Pierson Story

A page image of the story that ran in today's Middletown Press.

I'm happy to share that The Middletown Press ran my story, "Horticulture Has Deep Roots in New, Local Flower Shop" in their edition today. It is available to view on their website here.

It's been about nine years since I had a byline in the newspaper, and I had the same excitement I used to experience as a newbie journalist.


Monday, May 4, 2015

The Gardener's May Calendar

It's May: the most-anticipated month in my garden! Is it a coincidence that this is also the month where everything else in life tries to jockey for position as well? This year I am hoping I will be able to focus on the garden more than I have in the past. As usual, there is plenty to do.

Parsley grown from seed on the potting bench.
Be on the lookout for invasive plants in your garden before they take hold. For me, that means I need to watch for garlic mustard and wineberries. Usually both pop up around my compost pile, situated in the back corner of my property. (I've already pulled out a ton of garlic mustard.)

Once again, I noticed my hydrangeas and butterfly bushes did not fair well over the winter due to our deep cold spell. That means hydrangeas that make buds on old wood will likely not flower again this year. My neighbor lost her huge butterfly bush this winter as well. Needless to say, I am not liking this new trend for gardening in the Northeast. To check that the stems really are dead, scratch the stems and see if it is green underneath. If not, cut it off.

Diatomaceous earth is
useful to keep in the shed.
Trim off spent blossoms so the bulbs do not waste time in producing seeds. Do not remove the leaves - this is the plant's source of energy for next year. Even though they become unsightly, leave them in place until they wither away.

I start warm season flowers like zinnias, tithonia, calendula, cosmos and marigolds now. Flowering vines such as morning glories can also be started (soak the seeds overnight). It's time to harden off the seedlings that have been growing indoors.

Pest Control
If you have ant problems, try using diatomaceous earth. When the bugs walk through it, it gets stuck to them and causes them to dehydrate and die. It's way safer than baited ant traps. Be sure to apply it on a day without a lot of wind since you shouldn't breath it in.

Various tomato seedlings.
It's time to fertilize fruit trees and roses. You can fertilize container plants "weakly at half strength since it leaches out of containers quickly.

Lure them to your garden by setting up feeders and offering plants they like. I boil 4 cups of water and 1 cup of sugar together, then let it cool before I put it outside. Flowers like salvias, calibroachia - basically anything trumpet-shaped - will also attract them to your garden.

Order it in bulk! Who wants to drive home bags of mulch anyway? It's usually cheaper when you have it delivered. And stay away from the dyed colored mulch. That is so not earth-friendly.


I live in Central Connecticut and garden in Zone 6b.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Floral Friday

I think it's safe to say that spring is my favorite season of all.

What's blooming in your garden now?

For last week's Floral Friday, click here.