Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Got My Tomatoes!

Instead of my usual trip to Portland State's Farmers Market to buy my tomatoes from my favorite vendor, I broke down at Portland Nursery on Friday on the way home from work and got them.  I couldn't wait...

My babies.

The pole is from an old Concord grape that I got rid of - Grapes are yucky.
The garden was tilled a few weeks ago, with the addition of a few soil amendments. Other than pulling out some grass clumps that were popping up and some raking, I was ready to go. I was just waiting for a nice sunny day.  I know that I skirt things a little early temperature-wise, but I often plant mid-April, so I'm a little late this year. 
My assistant Yvette.
Grass naps are amazing!
I planted (crammed in) carrots, parsnips, Japanese radishes, mesclun lettuce mix, mustard greens, celery, turnips, patty-pan squash, yellow zucchini, Brussels sprouts, romanesco, and lemon cucumbers. 

Bone meal and veggie/tomato fertilizer.
When planting tomatoes - I like to mix in a little bone meal and a tomato fertilizer into the planting hole. I also plant the plants as deep as possible (or plant sideways, with the top tipped up), this means some of the leaves get covered up.

I dig a circle out around the plant, so that when I water, there is a well around the base of the plant and the water stays put. The hill of dirt around the plant does spread out with the first watering in, but there is still a nice well for the water. Makes it a lot easier when the plants are large and I can't see under them.

Then I set the cages over the top and mulch around them with my grass clippings to help keep the weeds down and keep the moisture in. A sturdy cage is a must! Cannot stress that enough.

This year's tomato list is: 

  • Azoyschka
  • Brandywine Red
  • Brandywine Yellow
  • Japanese Black Trifele
  • Jaune Flame
  • Moskovich
  • Paul Robeson
  • Stupice
  • Yellow Perfection - First time growing this one.

I'm still on the lookout for Caspian Pink, which is my all time favorite.

and bob's your uncle - Here is a picture from 2012.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Peonies - Round Two!

Round two of the peony flowers.

I was happy for Portland's nice week of sunshine and not overly hot temperatures.  It was a tad windy a couple of times, but all the peonies have done well. The really hot intense sun really fries the flowers. So this week they have opened beautifully and avoided damage.

Paeonia suffruticosa 'Yin Hong Qiao Dui 银红巧对' (Silver Red Tree Peony)

 The dark bronze foliage of 'Yin Hong Qiao Dui' really sets off the pink flowers of this one.

Paeonia suffruticosa 'Yin Hong Qiao Dui 银红巧对'
'Black Panther 黑豹' still has some opening to do.

Paeonia suffruticosa 'Black Panther 黑豹' buds are opening!
'Black Panther 黑豹'
The foliage of  'Black Panther 黑豹' is lovely too.
Paeonia suffruticosa 'Lu Xiang Qiu 綠香球' (Green Fragrant Ball) beginning to open

Paeonia ostii 'Feng Dan Bai 鳳丹白' (Phoenix White) in full bloom.
The one bud the "asshole bug/slug" didn't get - Paeonia suffruticosa 'Shima Nishiki 岛锦'

Paeonia ostii 'Feng Dan Bai 鳳丹白' mixed into the flower bed.

The next installment is 'Fragrant Green Ball', 'High Noon" and 'Kinshi 金鸟' blooming for the first time.  Should be a knock out!

One more Yin Hong Qiao Dui, because it's just so perfect.  

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Gratuitous Peony Photos

I'm sorry, but you'll all have to bear with me.

Fortunately for my non-gardening Facebook friends, since I have been garden blogging this past year, they no longer have to endure endless gratuitous Peony shots. But it's that time of Spring, when my species, Chinese and Japanese tree peonies are just beginning to bloom.  So there will be lots of pictures.  Below are the handful of early ones that are currently doing their thing.

Paeonia suffruticosa 'Seidei 聖代' (Glorious Reign)

The herbaceous peonies are still a few weeks out - that will be a later installment. I'm getting giddy with anticipation for my upcoming splurge at Adleman Peony Gardens.

Paeonia suffruticosa 'Bai Xue Ta 白雪塔' (White Snow Tower)
Paeonia suffruticosa in the evening sun.
Paeonia delaveyi
Paeonia suffruticosa 'Shima Nishiki 岛锦'
Paeonia suffruticosa in bud

Paeonia ostii 'Feng Dan Bai 鳳丹白' (Phoenix White) in bud - almost like a Rose.
Paeonia suffruticosa 'Seidei 聖代' - The foliage is stunning too.
Paeonia suffruticosa 'Seidei 聖代

Monday, April 22, 2013

Today's Favorite Plant in the Garden - Trilliums!

Nothing tells me it is Spring more than the appearance of Trilliums in the garden.

Just waking up from a long Winter's nap.

I have placed a stone in front of each patch, so when things warm up in the Spring, I begin to look for them.

Trillium erectum (Wake-Robin) just out of the bark and unfurling.

Their appearance also means I have to be ever vigilant with my rambunctious French Bulldog Yvette, because of her fondness for steamrolling my flowerbeds chasing squirrel-ees, crows and airplanes (yes, airplanes).  I know that Yvee can take out an entire stand of tender Trillium in one bound and once a stem is broken, there's no going back.  I have some Azaleas missing entire chunks due to her antics.

Azalea "Yvette Steamrollered"
Although I have several different types, it is hard to beat the common white grandiflorum for beauty and fragrance. If you get down to their level, they are quite fragrant.  They truly are beautiful and their ability to bloom pure white and then change with age to a red wine color is striking. 

Trillium grandiflorum (White Wake-Robin)

They are good buy at the nursery also, generally for around $8 and you may get lucky and get a pot with more than one stem. In just a few years, they slowly spread into little groups with multiple flowers.

I generally deadhead them once the flowers are done, so that they don't put all their energy into making seeds, but, I have had luck with letting some of them go to seed and spreading the seeds around myself.  This year, I have noticed several new plants in places I would never have planted one.  Ants will also help with seed distribution.

They are very happy in dry shade with supplemental summer water.  The leaves will last all summer provided they are taken care of.  They can get a little tattered by fall however, and some do disappear over summer. 

Lots of babies popping up!

This year, I have one group that has had some interesting variations - one of the flowers almost looking orchid-like.

Another beauty is this Wake Robin.  The flowers are a pretty chocolate brown.  Unfortunately, the flowers nod, so you really have to get down to their level to enjoy them.

Trillium erectum (Wake-Robin)

Trillium flexipes (Bent Trillium)

Trillium luteum (Yellow Wake-Robin)

Trillium recurvatum (Bloody Butcher)

Friday, April 19, 2013

More Yellow Please!

I'm always behind in plant fads/trends and the latest "must have" plants offered.

Generally, in the plant world, anything cool, unusual, for shade, or variegated is astronomically priced, so generally far too expensive for me to enjoy. When I do find something cool or unusual, I tend to buy small and let things grow to save money.

One easy trick I have used for some variety in the garden is to incorporate "yellow" plants.  There are many easily affordable plants with beautiful yellow foliage and they really do pop in the flower beds.  On a cloudy evening like last night when I took these pictures, they still shine.

Hosta 'Fire Island' - To die for right? 

Choisya ternata 'Sundance' (Mexican Golden Orange Blossom)

Sedum repestre 'Angelina' - Angelina can be a bit of a rampaging thug, but it is easy to pull out.

Euonymous japonicus aureeo-marginatus
Tradescantia 'Unique Gold' (Golden Spiderwort) - I admit it, I sometimes garden with champagne too!

Berberis thunbergii 'Sunjoy Gold' (Gold Pillar Barberry)

Heuchera 'Harvest Lemon Chiffon' (Coral Bells)