Friday, May 28, 2010

Posted by Picasa

Meconopsis species (betonicifolia, grandis, baileyi) (Himalayan Blue poppies) are rather striking plants that we can grow in southeast and in parts of the interior of Alaska that gardeners living in areas with warmer summers can find challenging. I'm being a bit cagey about which one I happen to have in my garden. I'm fairly certain that it is grandis, but the tag is long gone.

The commonly cultivated blue poppies are native to the Himalyas (Tibet and western China) and are more easily cultivated in moist, cool areas. My garden is at times a bit too sunny and warm for these plants, or maybe more accurately too dry. I"m slowly moving them to shadier presumably moister parts of the garden.

I found a very helpful web site Meconopsis Group with good information about cultivation, varieties and the history of introduction of the plants to western gardens.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Posted by Picasa

Another reason to plant Daffodils!

O Rugged Land of Gold by Martha Martin is an entertaining yarn about the authors experiences in the early days of Cobol, a mine site on Chichagof Island. From the notes about the author at the back of the book it seems like Cobol was inhabited from the late 1920's until 1957. No telling when the rows of daffodils and wood hyacinths were planted, but both are still going strong without any assistance from a gardener. There were several rows of what looked like King Alfred daffodils and a few clumps of the Poeticus variety in the photo above. Also surviving was one large European Mountain Ash and a few rhubarb plants. The latter were growing under red alders quite a distance from the ruins of the house.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Time to catch the garden blog up to the present. There was a flurry of activity in the garden around the 6-7th of May and then again the last couple of days. The first was in response to the imminent visit of a fellow gardener (trying to avoid beind totally mortified) and the second to a bit of free time (school is out!).
Three of the vegetable beds cleaned up, turned and planted with starts of lettuce (butterhead and leafy), swiss chard, dill, parsley, brussels sprouts, cauliflower (Cheddar) and potatoes. These weren't plants that I started, but seedlings purchased from the local nursery (except the potatoes). There was a time that I would have felt a bit guilty about not starting my own, but I'm feeling a bit more pragmatic about available time. Besides gardening is not about guilt (I repeat that mantra often).
I covered the greens with a plastic pre-perforated with holes and the cole crops with spun row cover to keep them a bit warmer and protect against root maggots.
Also managed to trim some roses, begin clean up on a couple of flower beds and cleaned the greenhouse (it was appalling). Given another solid week, this place might look half way respectable...
I included the photo of the Daffodil because they are one of my favorite flowers for the garden. Deer don't eat them, they multiply, seem to tolerate rain, wind and variable winter temperatures and come in a variety of colors (okay within reason) and blooming time. Varieties bloom in my garden from March through June, some have fragrance (Pipit). The one in the photo has a nice warm pinkish yellow color and unfortunately is currently nameless. There are probably 20-25 varieties in my garden these days, only one of which is less than optimal. Not bad for one type of plant.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Posted by Picasa
I picked up my annual half flat of pansies from Mt. Edgecumbe Preschool the first day of the sale instead of the last this year. It was a good move. The color choices were very good, with lots of bicolors, some that I don't see that often. I typically buy the varieties with medium sized flowers: the huge floppy ones don't do quite as well in the wind and rain and the tiny Violas are fine, but not quite as showy or as variable in color. All but two of the plants "Ultima Radiance" either Lilac or Violet which are Viola x wittrockiana hybrids. This cultivar has 2-2.5 inch flowers with a "face". Two of the plants are "Blue Butterfly" with slightly larger flowers (2.5-3.5).
Pansies do pretty well in our wet climate, being tolerant of cool temperatures and rain.
They do require a bit of tending to keep them at their best: feed them, I prefer a slow release fertilizer (eg. osmocote or compost) and pinch back the flowers before they set seed and fruit. Pinching should keep them from getting too lanky later in the season. If they do start to get a bit leggy, take the scissors and trim them back, feed them up and they should regain their attractive form.