Sunday, July 19, 2009
Howdy to all my gardeners!
I'm here to make a shameless plug for my other blog - Life Makes Me Laugh.
If you would be so kind as to click over (there is a link in the navigation menu, or the button at the top of the post, or the hyperlink in the sentence above), and if you like my writing/stories, vote for me to be one of the top ten Babes in Blogland.
Sorry, for the gardening interuption.
Thanks so much!
Thursday, July 16, 2009
This is one of my favorite flowering plants. When we were at the nursery pointing out our landscaping preferences, this little beauty grabbed my attention. When it first begins to flower, a pale green balloon appears at the end of the stem. It eventually turns to purple and then bursts open into the star shape seen in the photograph below. To see the balloon and the other anomalies with one of my plants, stop by my photography blog – just click the “Picture This” tab at the top of the page.
Without further ado, I present the Balloon Flower
|Formal Name||Platycodon grandiflorus|
|Description||This heavy bloomer gets its name from the way each flower bud swells before its starry petals unfold. As one of the easiest perennials to grow, they bloom in profusion in mid to late summer, when many other perennials are beginning to fade.|
|Soil Requirements||Well drained, slightly acidic|
|Water Requirements||Moderate drought conditions are ok, but deep watering is preferred.|
|Height||12” – up to 36” Generally smaller than 36”|
|Growing Zone||3 – 8|
|Manicuring or Pruning||Remove dead branches in early spring. Balloon flowers are late bloomers, coming up long after most other perennials have begun growing. It is best to mark their position so you do not accidentally pull them out as weeds.|
Pick dead flowers as they begin to fade to encourage more blooms. Be careful about it as the next bloom is coming in right behind it.
|Fertilization||Slow-release in the Spring|
|Growth Cycle||Late Spring through frost|
|Bloom Time||Early summer through the next two months after the first blooms appear|
|Bloom Color||Purple (most common), White, Pink|
Drought tolerant once established
|Known Issues||Generally pest-free & easy to grow|
|Planting Instructions||From seed: Press lightly into soil, but do not cover.|
From cuttings: Immediately plant in a good potting medium.
Monday, July 13, 2009
When I first came across this little beauty, I thought that I should dig up the lilac I have and plant this one instead. The nursery that put in our landscaping didn’t give me a real detailed layout. It said something like this:
- Cherry Tree (we have a Kwanzan Cherry)
- Roses (at the time they were Julia Child – that’s another story)
- Crape Myrtle (we have Razzle Dazzles – had to push for this information)
- Liriope (this one was sufficient)
- Holly (we have China Girl – first berries are appearing this year!)
- Balloon Flowers (again, sufficient)
- Dwarf Lilac
There are a zillion varieties of lilac out there, even in the dwarf category. After this weekend, I’m starting to wonder if we actually do have a Josee Lilac. The
Josee Lilac was the first REBLOOMING lilac I had ever come across. That the thing about lilacs, when they bloom, they are gorgeous! After a week or two, the blooms fade and you are left with a pretty shrub, but no more flowers – until the next spring.
Anyway, so I was shocked this weekend when I saw blooms out on my lilac bush. It’s July!!!!
|Common Name|| |
Josee Reblooming Lilac
|Formal Name||Syringa Josee|
|Description||This dwarf lilac is a gorgeous rebloomer. It will put out 4” – 5” shoots filled with trumpet shaped flowers intermittently summer through fall. A perfect hedge or stand alone shrub worth looking at.|
The first picture is a stock photo of a Josee Lilac. The second picture is of my lilac.
|Light Requirements|| |
|Soil Requirements||Well drained|
|Water Requirements||Average watering needs|
|Height||4’ – 6’|
|Spread||4’ – 5’|
|Growing Zone||2 - 9|
|Manicuring or Pruning||For shape – I’d let it go natural by only pruning the wild branches. |
As with all lilacs, only prune right after flowering as the seeds form on old wood. If you prune them much later, you could cut off next year’s flowers.
That said, lilacs have to be pruned occasionally in order to promote blooming at all. If the wood gets too old, it won’t bloom. It’s a delicate balance. It has been suggested that you prune about a third of the branches down to the ground each year for three years. In theory, you would be removing the oldest branches each year and thus at the end of three years, would have a completely regenerated plant. This will promote the best chance at flowering each year.
|Fertilization||They don’t need much, but use something low in nitrogen. Nitrogen is good for foliage, but not as much for blooming.|
|Growth Cycle||Moderate to fast growth|
|Bloom Time||Summer through frost – intermittent|
|Special Features|| |
|Known Issues||This is a hybrid so it is most likely bred to resist most diseases. It can be susceptible to a powdery mildew – generally if it gets too much water.|
|Planting Instructions||Plant in the spring or fall about 5’ apart. Dig a hole as deep as and twice as wide as the root ball. After placing the plant, back-fill about halfway with soil. Water well to remove any air pockets. After water has drained, finish filling in, and water again.|
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Areas we are not using CFL or LED bulbs (and reasons):
- I believe they make 3-way and/or dimmable CFL or LED bulbs, but I've been too cheap to buy them. They are more expensive than your everyday use bulbs. It's funny how I now consider $2 (minimum) per bulb normal.
- When we built the house, it came with incandescent bulbs everywhere. Believe it or not, some of them haven't burned out yet.
- Three way switches (where you have two switches for the same light - weird two switches is termed a "three-way switch" in electrical speak) cause the light bulb to blink when it is off.
- Our bird needs a bulb for heat in the winter. We let the house temperature fall to 65 during the day in the winter and that is below the recommended temperature for birds. We turn on his light bulb so he can warm up if necessary. We don't use it in the summer because it's too expensive to cool the house that much.
I have to head to Lowes at lunch. I will look for the three-way bulb or the dimmables. I guess it's not that bad if you only buy a couple at a time.