Sunday Morning Garden Chat: Back from the Damage / E-Mail Change

First of two posts from faithful commentor WaterGirl:

I love my anemones [top pic] – they are such happy flowers. So simple but they are some of my favorites.

The day after the huge tree fell on my house (just passed the 4-year anniversary on 5/31) a friend brought over a cherry tree for me to plant because I had told her once that I always wished I could have a sour cherry tree but I had nowhere to put one. I had about a dozen cherries the first couple of years, then none last year because we had a cold snap at the wrong time, but you can imagine the thrill for me when my cherry tree decided that this was the year it was really going to take off! One photo shows the flowers earlier this spring, and I took the other photo about an hour ago before I started round one of picking my cherries.

This was my first spring for my Jane tulip magnolia (not sure what the proper name is) and like everything else, it was so lovely but seemed to last only about 45 minutes. Everything was 2-3 weeks early this year but didn’t seem to last very long. What global warming, you say?

Speaking of damage — although on a much less grand scale — Verizon’s ‘migration’ to Aol borked my contact link here. So I have a new email address: And while I’ve still got everything sent before June 11th, I’m afraid that anything you may have sent me since that date has been etherized… sorry I didn’t post about this sooner, but my Tech Guy (aka, the Spousal Unit) kept holding out hope for a miraculous recovery.

What’s going on in your garden(s), this week?

Sunday Morning Garden Chat: Rain Dancing

Peerless garden commentor & photographer Marvel:

Hereabuts it’s all fits-n-starts, weatherwise. We had a modest warm-up last week, then yesterday, a bit of rain. This mild weather has apparently done wonders to the turf grass growth — the Willamette Valley is the Grass Seed Capitol of the World & I tell you what: lately it’s also the Grass Pollen Capitol of the world. The past several days have see pollen counts above 750 parts per cubic meter (200 ppcm is considered very high).

With rain in the forecast, I considered harvesting the garlic a week early (at this point, the bulbs can’t take any additional moisture), but since the stalks were still pretty green and unlikely to close/dry properly, we decided to re-cover the bed with 6-mil plastic and wait it out.

Last year I accidentally let some dill go to seed in one of the raised beds (I was holding out for one more run of pickle-making). This year, the baby dill grew up peacefully amongst the carrots & beets we planted several weeks ago. Since I didn’t want any extra moisture to complicated drying the feathery weed, I harvested it and set it to dry in the breezeway.

With all the pollen wafting about (even folks without allergies are sneezing & rubbing their poor watery eyes), it was nice to have a little rain to rinse things off yesterday. The ornamental garden [top pic] pretty much takes care of itself this time of year (thank goodness!), but it always appreciates a shower or two.

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Sunday Garden Chat: Roses in June

From commentor Japa21:

We concentrate on container gardens, but they were just planted and haven’t really reached their potential yet. However, we also have roses and what we call our purple garden. The latter is nice because we have plants that bloom at different times. Currently our false indigo is in all its glory as is the clematis and a few others. Later, we’ll have, among our variety, some gorgeous purple coneflowers.

44 years ago, when I proposed to my wife, I promised her a rose garden. It took a few years but I did fulfill my promise. These pictures represent 3 of 8 roses we have growing.

I did miss the opportunity to send pictures of our peonies, but maybe next year.

Here in New England, two of the rose bushes I put into pots last year survived through the winter even though somebody defaulted on his promise to make room for them in the garage. Since one of them was in a 16″ self-watering planter, I celebrated by ordering another half-dozen similar pots, and enough roses to fill them plus the bare spots in the front beds. Of course, the roses arrived Friday, we had other commitments Saturday, and today the temperature is supposed to reach the mid-90s…

What’s going on in your garden(s), this week?

Sunday Morning Garden Chat: Johnny(s) Apple-Seeking

All the dedicated gardeners have been too busy this week to take any pics (or at least to send them to me), so here’s a good read as a placeholder. From the NYTimes, “Hunting Down the Lost Apples of the Pacific Northwest”:

STEPTOE, Wash. — David Benscoter honed his craft as an investigator for the F.B.I. and the United States Treasury, cornering corrupt politicians and tax evaders. The lost apple trees that he hunts down now are really not so different. People and things, he said, tend to hide in plain sight if you know how and where to look.

“It’s like a crime scene,” Mr. Benscoter, 62, said as he hiked down a slope toward a long-abandoned apple orchard planted in the late 1800s. “You have to establish that the trees existed, and hope that there’s a paper trail to follow.”

About two-thirds of the $4 billion apple industry is now concentrated in Washington State — and 15 varieties, led by the Red Delicious, account for about 90 percent of the market. But the past looked, and tasted, much different: An estimated 17,000 varieties were grown in North America over the centuries, and about 13,000 are lost.

From New England through the Midwest and the South to Colorado and Washington, where small family farms were long anchored by an orchard, most apple trees died along with the farms around them as industrial-scale agriculture conquered American life a century ago.

But some trees persisted. They faded into woods, or were absorbed by parks or other public lands. And the hundreds of varieties that have been found in recent years are stunning in their diversity and the window they open into the tastes and habits of the past…

Apples are where food meets history, hunters say, and a community has risen up around the pursuit of them. Mr. Benscoter fell into it after retirement here in eastern Washington when a friend with a disability asked him to pick apples from an old orchard behind her house, and no one could identify what they were. John Bunker, an apple hunter in Maine, became entranced by the old trees he found growing in the woods. Lee Calhoun, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, started hunting in North Carolina and began to see old apples as a remnant of faded Southern life.

Now, some old varieties have become available again, through small specialty nurseries like the co-op that Mr. Bunker helped start in Maine and through university agricultural programs…

All my mail-order tomato plants have been transferred into new red rootpouches filled with fresh potting mix, and the bags lined up (on the driveway extension) where they’ll get as much sunlight as possible. Today, weather permitting, I’ll get the tomato ladders installed. Twenty-two 15gal planters’ worth of potting mix is a lot of lifting for an old fat lady with creaky joints…

The Spousal Unit has a half-dozen plants of his own to tend this year — he’s convinced there’s plenty of light in the east-facing side yard for tomatoes, which was (barely) true when we first bought this place, but not since the cherry-tree sapling we planted that year has grown into a flourishing tree that shades the one bare wall where the tomato pots used to go. Of course, even if “his” plants set fruit, he’ll still have to share them with two of our three little dogs, who are shameless tomato thieves when given the opportunity.

Long range weather predictions for this part of New England say it’ll be another coolish, rainy summer (dammit). Serenade is an amazing product, but reapplying it twice a week on all my tomatoes, lilacs, and rose bushes is more exertion than I can reliably keep up. Neither my hand strength nor my back muscles are up to coping with the multi-gallon hand or backpack-style sprayers I’ve tried, so I’ve been contemplating investing in a wheeled battery-powered model. Any of you experts got an opinion about utility, brands, etc?

What’s going on in your garden(s) this week?

Sunday Morning Garden Chat: Blast Off!

From irreplaceable garden commentor Marvel:

The lupines are positively ROCKETING into bloom!

Here north of Boston, we’re at peak rhododendron/azalea bloom — lots of fuchsia in people’s yards, because rhodies love our acid soil. The iris season seems to have been brief and abortive; guess they didn’t like going from 70F-degree days to frostbite to 90F-degree days to a month of cold rain. Even our unkillable purple species irises, which have been known to flower as early as mid-February, put on a short and scanty show this year…

The rest of my mail-order tomatoes arrived, so I’ll be spending today (and probably the rest of the week) transferring 32-gallon bags of fresh potting mix into 15gal rootpouches, mixing in fertilizer and SoilMoist, and planting out my ‘bounty’. Yes, it takes longer because I’m old and fat and have a bad back and a bum knee. Good news (I keep reminding myself) is that it’s easier than ever to be a gardener today, even with all my physical limitations.

I did finish cleaning out one flower bed, and transplanting annuals to edge it. But now I can’t put down new mulch until the rose bushes I want to bed out there (because hope springs eternal) show up from the Oregon grower. They were supposed to arrive no later than last Friday, but that’s when the big tomato order showed up, so I didn’t get around to complaining yet…

What’s going on in your garden(s) this week?

Sunday Morning Garden Chat: “What Were We Thinking?!?”

Beloved gardening regular & photography whiz Marvel:

Here in the Willamette Valley, we’ve had a very wet, very cool (not in the good way) Spring. This week and next finally, FINALLY, are delivering warm sunny days. Suddenly, it’s OMG WE’LL NEVER CATCH UP time.

Lucky dogs that we are, with the possible exception of a newish (4-year-old?) tree peony [at top] that still takes a fair amount of coddling, the ornamental portion of the grounds hereabouts is well-established and, except for seemingly endless cycles (starting NOW) of beating down weeds & bugs, we’re free to enjoy the stunning color & grace of the perennials we haven’t yet killed. Out front, an agreeable assortment of rhodies & azaleas give eye-catching spots of color to even the most
mundane surroundings.

Out back, there also are pockets of Spring color that deliver the goods with little or no encouragemt from us, including a swath of iris (some of which are just lovely natturalized Japanese purples, the
others are a ‘gene farm’ from a friend’s garden — we grow cuttings from her favorites in case her long-listed house finally sells) andferns (etc.), tucked here & there.

Elsewhere, we’re breaking our butts to encourage another year’s supply of garden goodies, f’rinstance: today started out overcast so we decided to wrestle with Area 51, getting it ready for the 110+ corn starts that have been growing in the greenhouse these last few weeks. My partner roto-tilled while I watched & worried, then I worked a bunch of compost into the fluffy soil and set up irrigation. We
brought the lovelies out for their first taste of Oregon sunshine and called it a day.

Every year we remind ourselves that Panic & Desperation always overtake us at the beginning of our gardening season. We repeat our mantras (e.g., “It’s not an infinite number of weeds, just a whale of a lot…it’s not an infinite number of weeds….”) and try to remember that some people pay good money to get this much stretching & lifting exercise in…and we trust that in a month or two, all this work will slack off and we’ll start plucking sweet fresh fruit & veggies from the dirt out there.

Meanwhile, we’ve commenced our late afternoon practice: a lovely glass of wine with an ibuprofen chaser.

Around our house, the vibrant unkillable purple species irises are called ‘Auburndales’, because that’s the town where I first dug up a no-longer-flowering overcrowded patch beside the house we were renting, and put the leftover rhizomes into a plastic planter that moved with us when we finally bought this place.

Since we’re very much hobby (lazy) gardeners, we spent Saturday at our favorite garden center, picking out annuals and replacement planters and a couple more bags of mulch. (Every weekend between now and August will involve at least one trip to purchase mulch or potting soil or both.) Today I’ll be transferring those annuals into the planters, and hopefully finding enough daylight to spread the new mulch before Monday’s predicted downpours…

What’s going on in your gardens this week?

Sunday Morning Garden Chat: Outdoor Accessorizing

Since I didn’t get any other garden pics this week… Adam requested a Garden Chat post about the Sean Spicer lawn ornament meme:

… Lisa Kadonaga, who teaches at the University of Victoria, told BuzzFeed News when she heard about the curious Spicer reports, she immediately thought about all the luscious pastures and hedges around her home city. “The thing about Victoria is we’re into gardening here and there are bushes all around,” she said. “I was looking around outside and thought hmmm.”

..and so Kadonada created this original Spicer cut-out from a Getty newswire image and stuck it among some bushes at a nearby bank.

“Now you too can have the White House press secretary in — or rather, ‘among’ — the bushes in your yard,” Kadonaga wrote in a Facebook post that’s since gone viral.

“And hey, if you’re concerned that when exposed to the outdoors, the image will run….no worries, that’s exactly what Sean Spicer does, so it’s totally authentic!” she added…


Garden centers and flower markets (and public gardens, for that matter) are liable to be a little overwhelmed today, due to the holiday. Not that it would make much difference, here in New England, since we’re already getting what’s supposed to be up to two inches of rain from this unseasonal nor’easter…

What’s going on in your gardens (planning) this week?