Category Archives: perennials

Flower of the Day – September 16, 2017 – Coreopsis

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Join us for Cee’s Flower of the Day – 09/16/17

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My Love Affair With Clematis

 

 

Over time I have had the joy of planting and enjoying at least a half-dozen varieties of Clematis. The range of colors is dazzling, from white to dark purple to a combination of different colors. Clematis is a perennial, which means you can get many years of enjoyment from this plant.

Clematis is a full sun type of plant, something many of us seek when we go ot the garden center or greenhouse to find a new plant. To be sure many folks enjoy some shade in their yard but at my house our three and a quarter acres benefit from the shade of only three maple trees. One tree per acre just doesn’t shade nearly enough.

But do not fear, you can still grow these in spaces where they do not benefit from full sun. The one above only gets direct sun until noon or so and does very well along with another that is planted about eight feet away. Both of these benefit from a deck railing onto which they attach and climb.

Of all the Clematis I have grown the one to do so well is a variety called Montana Reubens. On the product tag it said it could grown to be 30-40 feet tall. With this in mind I planted it near a telephone pole and then took some lightweight fencing and nailed it around the pole to allow the plant something to climb on. As you can see from the photo it did not reach the potential height, but rather due to its weight fell back down to the sides to make an even more spectacular display.

To say that I will mourn a plant when it dies seems an exaggeration, because all plants will at some point, but when this beauty failed to sprout two growing season ago I was saddened. Such a beautiful and seemingly vibrant and hardy plant showed no signs of distress. But alas after sitting dormant for most of a second growing season I knew it was time to replace the beauty with another. The replacement has the potential to be somewhat like its predecessor, but the Montana Reubens had been in place for almost a decade and will hold a special place in my flower memory for some time to come.

If you have Clematis photos to share let me know, I enjoy seeing all of them!

 

Can I Make My Own Mulch?

Yes you can!  This time of year is when the kooks come out. You know the ones I mean, the amateur or season gardeners that come out to take advantage of the Spring Black Friday sales at places like Home Depot and Lowes where they run the great deals on the bags of mulch. Something like 4 for $10 or maybe even 5 for $10.

So why do I call these fine bargain hunting folks kooks? It is not their frugal nature that my son despises. It is the customers that come in and want a pallet load of the bagged medium stuffed in their subcompact car. All the young men and women at Home Depot, Lowes and the rest would prefer you get your mulch loaded on the pallet into your truck or on your trailer.

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We are blessed to have a neighbor with a lawn care business who also does tree work. Five or so years ago he purchased an industrial size chipper and began chipping the brush created from trimming or removing trees.

If you have been here before you know my past includes a stint as a greenhouse owner and the experience of growing annuals and perennials for nearly three decades. This equates to having lots of flower beds. One of the bad things about lots of flower beds is that they are a great place for weeds to grow. Circling back to my neighbor and his chipper, the result of the chipping is a low cost alternative to the Home Depot bagged mulch scenario. My neighbor brings the chips and dumps them on my property as well, so there is no transport cost.

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As a deterrent to weeds and also to retain moisture for the plants we take the wood chips and use them as mulch. So there is your answer to the question. The chips are a low-cost alternative to mulch. If you aren’t blessed to have a neighbor who can provide your supply  you can contact one of the tree trimming services as they do the very same thing with their brush.

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This 23 HP Kubota tractor is one of the most versatile tools for our 3+ acre property.

The purchase of a Kubota subcompact tractor four years ago with a front bucket makes the entire process much easier on the back. Within a very few minutes I can move significant quantities of this great mulch source to where I need it. I used to either go to a business that made their own mulch or buy the bags. Then it was a matter of shoveling it out of the truck or hefting the heavy bags.

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Interestingly the day I drafted this post I was driving and got behind this car with the tell-all bumper sticker.

So I should be through with this post, right? Well, I am if you are not interested in the rest of the story as the great Paul Harvey used to say. There is a side benefit to mulch and the natural process of it breaking down, which is making your own compost. If you came for a highly scientific explanation I am sorry to disappoint you, but my method is more of a case of letting science and nature take its course. I learned early in my gardening experience that organic matter will break down over time. Green will turn to brown as the nitrogen escapes and brown to black with time. Such is the nature of mulch.

How do I make the compost? Well, as I stated before you really can’t, but nature can and will even if you would prefer it did not. You see the decomposition is aided by the elements of nature, sun, wind, rain, snow and human traffic across the mulch in the beds.

We are in the midst of redoing some of our beds where a few years of mulch application has developed into a rich mix of natural almost potting soil. It is like consistency of dirt atop our heavy duty, professional grade landscape fabric left over from my greenhouse business days.

One of the new pivots we have chosen to make this year is to move our tomatoes and perhaps another vegetable or two out of the garden into raised beds. My plan is to repurpose the rich soil we are shoveling out of our beds to fill the raised bed containers. We will need a significant amount of something to fill the raised beds. My thought is to put mulch in the bottom of the raised bed to take care of some of the bulk needed, since it will eventually break down anyway and then put the richer mix on the top where the plants will draw the nutrients.

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This is not something I have done before, so I cannot declare 100% that it will work, but the science seems sound. However, I can provide an anecdotal piece of evidence however. Last summer I took some seeds from a blackberry lily that were still left from the previous growing season and buried them in a portion of this decomposed mulch. They germinated within a reasonable short period of time..

Frugalness should not be a virtue people turn into derision. We are supposed to become smarter and wiser as we age, and I claim that as what this is. I invite you to come back as I chronicle the success or failure of this idea.

Floral Friday Fotos – January 29, 2015

It has been a spell since I chimed in on the Floral Friday Fotos. I blame the holidays and drab winter weather where I live, in the mountains of Virginia.

 

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We awoke to an astounding 9 inches of white stuff on Thursday morning. Even though I live within the Appalachian Mountain range in the Southwestern end of the state of Virginia this amount of snow all at once is uncommon. I just pray it fills the ground with the moisture to create beautiful flowers all season.

Luckily we indulge in the art of indoor plants. In my wife’s hair salon downstairs there is three orchids in various states of bloom. While upstairs where I work i get to enjoy this.

As you can see in the second photo this Amaryllis is 30 days past Christmas and getting ready to unfold into a six bloom display. If you are interested in seeing an updated photo when all six open please comment as such and I will add it when possible.

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2015 A to Z My Favorite Plants – L – Lilies

To say I am partial to lilies is a supreme understatement. I love every kind. I have some Asiatic ones that I transplanted from my parents yard as well as some day lilies we bought to add to our beds.  These were the best choice as my offering to the weekly floral photography invitational I joined last week. it is called the Floral Friday Fotos.

This is a blackberry lily.

This is a blackberry lily.

The Asiatic I transferred from my home place.

The Asiatic I transferred from my home place.

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One of the many Calla Lilies we have planted with our Dahlias.

One of the many Calla Lilies we have planted with our Dahlias.

 

2015 A to Z My Favorite Plants – H – Hosta

Eight days into the A to Z and I am getting excited because many of my favorite plants are beginning to show signs of emergence as Spring grips my area. Among this list of favorites is my choice for H, the Hosta.  A Hosta is a predominantly foliage plant, although it will bloom at the appointed time in it’s life cycle.

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The Hosta does best in a shaded area, but at our home shade is a luxury. We have several Hostas, and they don’t fare as well when the temperature climbs into the 80s and 90s during the summer.

2015 A to Z My Favorite Plants – D – Dahlia

Welcome to the fourth day of the 2015 A to Z Challenge. I will admit I have repurposed several previous posts for this particular piece of the challenge. I am currently part of a weekly Foral invitational called the Floral Friday Fotos. Each week flower lovers from around the world share their favorite blooms.

For decades my family, including my grandfather Joe Hoss, my namesake, my dad as well as his brothers, Uncle Charles and Uncle Jim have all grown Dahlias. These stalwarts of our cutting cultivar garden always help to put the wow in any bouquet. These were the best choice I could pull together to share with you today.

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A pretty solid assortment of all our cut flowers in 2014.

A pretty solid assortment of all our cut flowers in 2014.