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New Plants for the Garden

April 5th, 2011

Now that I have more doubled my garden area I need to start getting plants to fill the new part. I’ll propagate most of them myself from plants I already have or from mom’s plants which will save me a lot of money. It will take longer for these plants to grow and mature, but gardening isn’t about instant gratification. I’ll also start a lot of plants from seed and divide many of my exciting perennials. I will purchase a few new plants that I’ve been wanting to get, but haven’t had the garden space for.

If you remember, I have a fascination with hydrangeas and have amassed a collection of 10 different varieties so far. I just purchased 3 new varieties to add to my collection: ‘Teller’s Blue’ Hydrangea – a blue lace-cap hydrangea, ‘Princess Beatrix’ Hydrangea – produces beautiful crimson-pink blooms, and ‘Penny Mac’ Hydrangea – will flower in the coldest zones because of its ability to produce flowers on new growth.

I also bought a few tree peonies. Two different varieties ‘Ge Jin Zi’ or Purple Kudzu Scarf and ‘Wu Long Peng Sheng’ also known as Black Dragon Holds a Splendid Flower. I’m super excited for these as I’ve been wanting to get a tree peony for quite a while.

Have you purchased any new plants recently? Any that you’ve been wanting to purchase?

We Have Roots

December 4th, 2010

I talked about propagating your own plants back this spring and did a little how-to with some photos. Early this summer I got some boxwood cutting from a friend. He has a beautiful old shrub, very mature and in great condition. It does very well in our climate, which can be harsh on certain boxwood varieties. I figured my best chance of getting beautiful boxwood would be to grow my shrubs from cuttings.

I put about 40 cuttings into 3 long trough planters filled with a mixture of sand, perlite and peat moss. I put them back behind the garage where they’d get morning sun and would be protected from the elements. I decided a few weeks ago it was time to check them and sure enough about 15-20 had roots. This was very good because I actually took cuttings a month before you’re supposed to on boxwood and I wasn’t sure they’d root. They’re all tucked away in the cold frame ready for spring planting.

Have you ever propagated shrubs or other plants?

Bringing Monticello Home

August 13th, 2010

I’ve been wanting to get a terracotta cloche for quite a while now. I don’t know why I like them so much, I think they’re quite beautiful in the garden and useful for blanching and protecting plants. They’re not readily available here in the U.S. so they’re difficult to find. While searching on-line I saw that they were available for purchase at Monticello and I had every intention of buying one.

I’d saved up some money, but when I was standing in the gift shop looking at the $125 price tag I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I’m a very frugal person, so spending that much money on one item to sit in the garden seemed ridiculous, no matter how much I love them. Especially given the fact that our gardens are surrounded by huge trees that frequently drop branches. My luck I’d take it home, put it in the garden and we’d get a summer storm that would knock a big branch out of a tree right on top of it.

Instead of buying a cloche, I settled on purchasing a few plants. They’re a much better purchase anyways, I’ll be able to propagate them for gifts or for additional plants. It’s also a great way to have a little piece of Monticello at home. Most of the plants I bought will be houseplants during the winter and outdoor potted plants during the summer. What varieties of plants did I purchase?

A dwarf weeping lantana, a buttery yellow one just like the one seen in this flower bed. It is not a hardy plant, so I’ll be overwintering it in the house. I’ve overwintered regular lantana in the house successfully so this shouldn’t be a problem.

I also purchased a fig tree of the variety ‘Brunswick’ which is only hardy to a zone 6b. I may be able to wrap it and successfully overwinter it outside, but I think I’ll put it in the basement this winter. I’ll take starts next spring and then try overwintering it outside when I have more than one plant. I have a ‘Hardy Chicago’ fig that I successfully overwintered in the basement this past year. It’s quite large now after only one summer of good growth, perhaps next year I’ll get a few figs from it.

I also purchased two small variegated lemon trees (one for my mom) and a key lime tree, which will become a houseplants in the winter and spend their summers outside on the back porch. I’ve been wanting to get a nice potted citrus for a while and they were well priced at Monticello. Let’s hope they survive and I’ll be harvesting fresh citrus in a few years!

We bought these plants only a few days into our trip, so we had to spend a few days traveling with plants. I kept telling Mr Chiots people probably wondered what we were doing. If anyone asked, I was going to say that we always traveled with plants to help clean the air of the hotel room. The funny thing is we actually met a guy at our hotel that was traveling with a HUGE potted dumb cane plant. We mentioned to him that we thought we were the only ones with plants in our room and both got a good laugh.

I love buying or getting starts of plants as souvenirs, so much better to have a plant in the garden than something to dust inside!

Do you ever buy or get starts of plants when you travel?

Here’s a slideshow of the Vegetable Gardens from my visit,
and a slideshow of the House and Ornamental Gardens from my visit.

Lovely Hellebores

April 3rd, 2010

I’ve always wanted to have some hellebores or ‘Lenten Rose’ in my gardens. They’re fascinating plants, perennials that bloom at a time when usually only bulbs are blooming. Last year I finally bought one from my friend Scott from Working Gardens when I went to his plant sale last spring. I’ve been waiting for them to bloom. I was super excited 2 weeks ago when I noticed the blooming getting ready to come out.

Then last week they came out beautifully. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of green flowers, and this is one of my new favorites.

I’m always happy to find a plant that thrives in shady gardens. Since I have so much shade I like to find things besides hostas that I can include in my gardens, which is kind of funny since I have a friend that loves hostas of course has a super sunny garden and wishes he had more shade so he could grow more hostas. I can’t wait to get a few more hellebores for my gardens.

Do you have any newly acquired plants you really like?
or don’t like?

Perennial Potato and Egyptian Walking Onions

March 28th, 2010

Over the past couple years I’ve been reading about permaculture and have been looking for ways to incorporate more of these techniques into my gardening. One of the things that many permaculture advocates suggest is using as many perennial vegetables as possible to limit the need to disturb the soil by working it too much. Adding more perennial fruits and vegetables would also help with the gardening work load! Since I love trying to things, especially in the garden I decided I’d try my hand at growing perennial onions and Egyptian Walking onions. I searched on-line and found them at Southern Exposure.

According to Southern Exposure:
Heirloom potato onions enjoyed widespread popularity before the turn of the century. Nearly every gardener grew potato onions and they were available in yellow, white, and reddish-brown varieties, the yellow being most common. Potato onions are still a local favorite in some areas of Virginia. Each bulb cluster of potato onions may contain many bulbs, averaging 2 to 2-1/2″ in diameter. When a small bulb (3/4″) is planted, it will usually produce one or two larger bulbs. When a large bulb (3 to 4″) is planted, it will produce approximately 10 to 12 bulbs per cluster. These bulbs of various sizes may be used for eating, storing, or replanting. By replanting a mixture of sizes you will have plenty of sets for next year’s crop and plenty of onions for eating during the year. Potato onions can increase 3- to 8- fold by weight each year depending on growing conditions. Potato onions store better than most seed onions, and individual bulbs can be grown in flower pots to produce a steady supply of green onions during the winter.

The potato onions looked like shallots and the Egyptian onions were tiny little bulbs, not quite what I was expecting.

Egyptian Onions are described by Southern Exposure this way:
The onion to plant if you always want onions. Egyptian Walking Onions grow perennially in a bed. Hardy bulbs set bulblets on stalks. Air bound bulblets will sprout new smaller stalks, which fall over and replant themselves, hence the name “Walking”. Bulbs can be harvested over Fall and Winter. Green Onions can be harvested selectively as they grow. Plant them where you intend to have them for a long time, as they are quite hardy.

I planted both of these last fall and I was pretty excited when I saw the potato onions and the walking onions coming up this spring. I’m interested to see how they do here in the gardens and what the flavor is like. Not having to plant as many onions each year will be nice if these work out. I’ll be sure you keep you posted.

Do you have any perennial vegetables or fruits in the garden?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.