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Posts Tagged ‘blooms’

A Patch of Sundrops

You Can Grow That!

Patch of fast-spreading Sundrops

A lot of what’s in my dad’s garden was there when he moved into his apartment. There’s a boxwood on each side of his entrance walk and an impressive assortment of hostas for such a small space. At first, there might have been a Sundrop or two. Three years later, when I captured this photo, there was a jungle of Sundrops.

I’m still learning to want to grow ornamental plants. For me, gardening has always been about food. Touring show gardens, writing about gardening, and having many friends who are geniuses at landscape architecture and garden design has awakened in me a desire to have a pretty yard. Last summer a planting bed at my dad’s apartment reinforced that desire.

In very early summer, my dad’s garden sported a dense cloud of yellow: Flowers that glowed in the sunlight on 12-to-18-inch stalks. It was one of the most striking features I’d seen in any private garden, and I’ve visited a lot of stunning private gardens.

My Sundrop Awakening

I asked my dad if he knew what plant produced these arresting flowers and, happily, he did! “Sundrops,” he said.

I snapped a few photos and moved along but Sundrops were now in my mental catalog of plants to consider for my own yard. I hadn’t yet tracked down a nursery or garden center that sold Sundrops when this spring I once again visited my dad.

With virtually nothing growing, my dad’s garden still caught my eye. Where last summer there had been stalks of gorgeous yellow flowers, this spring there was a dense ground cover of green-and-purple-leafed plants. They were already growing despite spring having barely started.

Bucket of Sundrop plants

My dad’s Sundrop plants had shallow roots and I was able to dig about ten of them in just a few minutes. I’ll probably plant them in the corner of the yard under the apple trees and see how quickly they spread.

So, I asked my dad, “Are those Sundrops?”

He gave an affirmative and told me they were getting out of control. I was thrilled when he agreed I should dig some from around the edges of the patch. I filled a bucket with plants and quickly realized they spread via rhizomes: root-like shoots that radiated out through the soil specifically to push up new plants.

I’ve been warned that Sundrops spread aggressively… which was obvious from my dad’s Sundrop patch. When he moved into his apartment four years ago, I didn’t notice Sundrops there; in only three years they took over a six foot diameter area.

Sundrops in your garden

I did a little reading and found that Sundrops — also known as Evening Primrose — are hardy in zones 5 through 8. Supposedly, they need lots of sunlight, but sunlight reaching my dad’s garden is best suited for hostas; his Sundrops were doing fine.

Your Sundrops will do best in well-conditioned soil, but they grow naturally in many soil types from sand to loam. They handle drought well and once they’re established you may need to be brutal to keep them from spreading beyond your flower bed.

With gorgeous yellow flowers, attractive bi-colored foliage, and a tendency to spread aggressively, Sundrops make a terrific ground cover whose character changes from season to season.

Want a fast-spreading patch of bi-colored leaves that throw up a cloud of bright yellow flowers in late spring? You can grow that with Sundrops.

I reviewed the following websites for information about growing Sundrops:
www.perennialreference.com
www.newmoonnursery.com

 
Small Kitchen Garden – A Patch of Sundrops

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November 2015 Bloom Day

Late season pak choi blossoms

One of two annuals still abloom in my garden: a volunteer pak choi plant probably self-seeded from one of last year’s volunteers. Several of these popped up in random places throughout my various planting beds in 2015.

Autumn has taken its time in central Pennsylvania. It was slow to arrive, its colors lingered for weeks, and it has held off frigid winter temperatures well into its second month. But for a handful of nighttime lows, autumn hasn’t been itself. In fact it is tallying an impressive count of warm days reminiscent of early or late summer.

And, there are blossoms. Sure, the cold-sensitive plants have melted away after freezing through on frosty nights, but a few stalwart annuals, and even more perennials continue on as if expecting autumn never to yield.

To celebrate Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, I captured photos. I’m a tad late in posting, but what you see is what was in bloom on this November 15. I hope I don’t find flowers in my garden in December.

Late season petunia blossoms

Petunias along the south wall of the house continue to show healthy foliage and blossoms… though the blossoms are only on stems very close to the house. Guessing the wall of the house holds heat into the evening providing a sub-micro climate just warm enough to coax blooms.

Late season viola blossom

Under the lilac bush, barely sticking out above autumn leaves, a small clump of violas is till pushing up blossoms. These plants have been spreading for a few years, but a patch died back last winter; I’m hoping for a better outcome this year.

Late season viola blossom

Across the yard from the clump of tiny violas, I planted a new bed with two different varieties—both producing larger blossoms than the older clump. The plants aren’t well-established, but they’ve been in bloom since I planted them in July.

Late season pinchushion blossom

I must have found some Pincushion flowers on closeout in July. I don’t know the plant but photos online hold promise. So far mine have been dramatically unimpressive; my wife has spoken derisively about them. Still, there’s a blossom. I hope the plants spread a bit next year.

Late season echinacea blossom

This is most certainly my last Echinacea blossom of the season. I set the plant out in July. It hasn’t put out much growth but clearly it’s healthy. There’s one more bud behind this one, but it shows no signs of opening. This variety, Cheyenne Spirit, was an All America Selections winner in 2013.

Late season rose blossom

In my yard, Drift roses and Knockouts live up to their marketing hype. They’ve been in bloom for months and there are still many blossoms, though not all are in top form. This is on my only red rose plant; the rest are pink.

Late season dianthus in bloom

Still amazing me, this dianthus has been in bloom nearly continuously since I brought it back from a trade show in July. Sold as an annual, I’m hoping it survives central Pennsylvania winters. For blooms it has been a top performer. This variety, Interspecific Jolt, was an All America Selections winner in 2015.

Late season rudbeckia in bloom

Several of our Rudbeckia plants shriveled as summer ended. I suspect they’re not coming back next year. Several others continue to produce flowers. I guess the plants are deciding among themselves which are better suited to our garden.

Late season yarrow in bloom

Guessing this is Yarrow. I’ve often wondered whether my wife planted it some years ago; it appears each season not quite in a flower bed, but it’s so pretty (and insistent) that it seems intentional. This flower head lies on the most traveled pathway in our yard. The plant has been in bloom for several months.

 
Small Kitchen Garden – November 2015 Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

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Sunflowers and Naked Ladies

Sunflowers and decorative shrub

Sunflowers have surrounded a decorative shrub in a farmer’s field… or perhaps the shrub has infiltrated sunflower territory. Either way, it looks kinda cool.

Every summer I keep watch for fields of sunflowers in full bloom. A few local farmers grow sunflowers, swapping crops from field-to-field—sunflowers one year, corn another, and soy beans in another.

This year, there had been no sunflowers in the usual places, but yesterday I drove a few hundred yards past those places and discovered a thousand yellow flower heads.

These sunflowers were different from those of past seasons: Rather than simply filling a large field, they had surrounded a decorative shrub. OK, it’s not earth-shaking or anything, but I captured a few photos and have included one here.

Naked Ladies

Without apparent relationship to sunflowers, a few weeks ago my online gardening friends started chattering about naked ladies appearing in their yards. I’m not sure I’d heard such chattering in past years, but it was immediately apparent these naked ladies are some type of plant. In fact, I’d heard them called “surprise lilies” in past seasons.

Surprise lilies grow foliage in spring, but the leaves die back so people lose track of the plants by mid summer. Then, overnight, flowers emerge on stalks that can grow 24 inches tall.

The chattering started, and three days ago I noticed a stand of naked ladies across the street from a local church. Finally, this morning, I had a chance to stop and take pictures. The flowers are gorgeous, and there’s something refreshing about flower stalks rising above the landscape without accompanying foliage.

Naked Ladies or Surprise Lilies

Can’t say I’d heard of the plant “Naked Ladies” until this season. Then, after seeing so many posts about them online, I spotted a cluster across the street from a church I often pass. I stopped for a closer look and took several photos. I confess: I enjoy looking at naked ladies.

 
Small Kitchen Garden – Sunflowers and Naked Ladies

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Garden Bloggers Bloom Day at Longwood Gardens

Zinnia blossom in the Longwood Gardens trial gardens

Zinnias grew in several places at Longwood Gardens. This variety was common. I captured the photo in a trial garden among many where visitors vote for their favorite plant combinations. In the right light, you can see a purple tinge on the inside ends of the petals. If I grew zinnias, I’d track down this variety; it’s eye-catching.

I’m cheating a lot this month for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. I’m posting flowers, but I’m not posting my flowers.

My wife and I recently spent the day at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. We toured just about every venue there, and I captured at least ten photographs (posted about the Meadow Garden here).

A whole bunch of my photos are closeups of blossoms. I didn’t take notes, so I can’t tell you much about the plants. Some are easy for a layperson to identify, others might challenge well-trained horticulturists. Seriously: I took no notes. If you see any blossoms here you like, maybe they’ll motivate you to visit Longwood Gardens.

Purple flower spike in the Longwood Gardens Meadow Garden

Along the path through Longwood Gardens’ Meadow Garden, we saw several spikes of purple wispy blossoms. This one had drawn attention from a butterfly that was a bit camera shy. Everywhere in the meadow garden was alive with insects of many varieties.

Fruit cluster and flower in a student garden at Longwood Gardens

A cluster of fruit, sporting a single blossom, grew in one of the “Student Gardens” at Longwood Gardens. There are four such plots, each created by a student of the institution (Longwood trains future horticulturists).

Trumpet flower at Longwood Gardens

This trumpet flower was among several growing along the Flower Garden Walk at Longwood Gardens.

Quite likely a dahlia at Longwood Gardens

I remember enjoying a blossom along the Flower Garden Walk, leaning down to read the plant marker, and marveling that I’d been admiring a dahlia; it didn’t vaguely resemble any dahlia I’d seen. This photo might show the blossom, but if you know better please provide insight in a comment.

Dahlia at Longwood Gardens

No doubt this is a dahlia. There was a patch of these along the Flower Garden Walk. I probably took ten photos of these alone.

Purple and pretty on the Flower Garden Walk at Longwood Gardens

Not going to guess about this one. It was purple and pretty along the Flower Garden Walk.

Gorgeous on the Flower Garden Walk at Longwood Gardens

Can’t imagine why I didn’t take notes about this one. The plants grew densely and the flowers were stunning. I’ll probably track down the proper ID some day… I hope they turn out to be perennial in hardiness zone 5.

In the Palm House at Longwood Gardens

The Palm House inside the Longwood Gardens conservatory offered a few exotic blossoms. Several clusters of this type peaked out from among the palms.

A most exotic tree at Longwood Gardens

The name of the tree sporting these otherworldly pink blossoms (I assume they’re blossoms) was so intuitive, I knew I’d remember it later… but I don’t. There were two of these trees in the conservatory, and both displayed more pink flower snakes than they did foliage.

Yellow Hibiscus in the Longwood Gardens conservatory

Dazzling hibiscus blossoms drew attention inside the conservatory. By the time we were there, light was fading so the yellow blooms especially popped against the darker, poorly lit background.

Purple Hibiscus in the Longwood Gardens conservatory

Blossoms of a particular hibiscus in the conservatory were sublime… but then I’m a sucker for purple.

Yellow and pink cannas in the Longwood Gardens conservatory

Longwood Gardens has a pipe organ that plays into the ballroom of the conservatory. Just outside the ballroom, there was a stand of yellow and pink blossoms I’m quite certain were cannas. I like!

 
Small Kitchen Garden – Longwood Gardens: Meadow & Green Roofs

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Don’t Freeze Ya Freesias

NOT Freesia season

The coldest days of winter and a typical central Pennsylvania snow reaffirm the area’s USDA hardiness zone rating. Freesias would not survive this winter outdoors.

Freesias! I took a flier last spring and bought a package of freesia bulbs on closeout. I’ve never grown freesias. I couldn’t have identified them had someone led me to a freesia patch to harvest a few for a bouquet.

Knowing so little about them, I planted twelve freesia bulbs according to instructions on the package: buried many inches deep in a 12-inch container. In a few weeks, exactly two plants emerged. Eventually they blossomed and I fell in love with their fragrance; freesias smell like flowers, but not like any I’d sniffed previously.

By summer’s end, the two freesia plants were done. The temperature dropped, a few weeds sprouted in the freesia planter, and one day three new freesia sprouts appeared. This was an aha moment! Freesias, apparently, draw motivation to sprout from a mild cold spell. The package had identified freesias as annuals in my hardiness zone, so I suspect a freeze would have killed the bulbs. But they were far from dead; there had been no freeze.

Still knowing little about freesias (you’d think I could read something), I guessed that sprouting in autumn and then being put into cold storage would overtax the bulbs. Now that they’d sprouted, I figured they’d need to mature and recharge themselves to make it through a dormant period.

Being uncommitted to ornamental plants, the most I was willing to offer was a place on the sill of a south-facing window. The freesias have persevered! Seven bulbs sprouted and have grown gangly leaves that hardly hold themselves upright.

I’ve watered occasionally and broken off a dandelion whose tap root has a death grip in the soil. Other than that, I paid no mind.

Until last week.

Freesia blossom

It’s so dark in the basement where my freesia pot sits on a windowsill that there’s barely enough light to take photographs. Still, the plants are abloom and the basement room is redolent of spring.

Freesias in Winter

Two weeks ago I brought an assortment of plants back from MANTS, a horticulture industry trade show in Baltimore. I set the plants on our ping-pong table which catches some light from the south-facing window where the freesias sit. As I was setting up electric lights for those plants about five days ago, I noticed the scent of spring! Sure enough, there was a blossom on one of the freesia plants.

My freesia planter sports two sun-starved flower stalks laden with buds. Five days after the first bud opened, a second is about to burst. It seems likely the blooms will continue until it’s safe to move the planter outside.

The lifecycles of my freesia plants, I’m sure, are severely screwed up, but that will remain their problem. I’ll move the planter outside in spring and back in autumn. If the plants eventually synch with the seasons, I’ll give them a cool, dark corner to winter over next year. Otherwise, I suppose they’re doomed each year to grow gangly and watch from my south-facing window while the snows fall.

http://www.smallkitchengarden.net/gardening/dont-freeze-ya-freesias

 

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Yay! It’s Bloom Day!

Crocus blossoms on Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

There go the last crocuses of spring. The first appeared on the south side of the house on March 11 while there was still much snow about. These are in my wife’s main flower bed on the west side of the house and they usually hold on until other bulbs get into the act.

It’s Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, and I’m so happy to have a few blooms to show off. Despite the calendar and increasingly longer days, spring started only a week ago… and then it was very wet. Amazingly, while I (along with everyone else around here) felt we’ve experienced the most horrendous and permanent winter in decades, perennials in central Pennsylvania are “on schedule.”

For the past seven or more years, daffodil shoots have appeared by late February. Winter of 2012-2013, in fact, daffodils sprouted **before** winter started! The poor, young shoots stood shivering for months before spring finally turned them loose.

Forsythia on Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

What impresses me about the forsythia this year is its obvious reluctance to participate in what little spring we’ve had. We have no sprigs of yellow blossoms. Rather, each “sprig” has, perhaps a blossom with many buds watching, I guess, to decide whether it’s OK to open. Still, it’s very pretty.

This year, there were no sprouts at all until late March. In diminishing cold, daffodil tips appeared and slowly stretched upward for about two weeks. Then warm happened. In just a week, 2-inch sprouts erupted to full-sized daffodils and in about three days they spat out buds to blossom just in time for my Bloom Day photo session.

In past years, April 15 in my yard has seen apple, azalea, forget-me-not, lilac, peach, pear, tulip, hyacinth, and violet blossoms. But in each of those years I’ve joked that I’ll be able to grow pineapples outdoors by 2050 if the warming trend continues.

So, this spring of 2014 is “back to normal.” There aren’t many types of blossoms in my yard, and that’s how it should be in mid April. Please enjoy the photos.

Daffodil on Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

Very much as if desperate for its moment of “fame,” this daffodil in our front yard blossomed for Bloom Day. Others also blossomed, but in the back yard tucked behind the lilac bushes.

Weed in bloom on Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

If it has been warm enough for plants to grow, there are weeds somewhere in the garden or yard putting out blooms. This mint-family member appears every spring in my main vegetable bed and in my herb garden. It’s quite pretty with or without blossoms.

A promise on Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

Each bud here is smaller than a dime, yet in about a week these will be two large cones of lilac blossoms—or the temperature will plunge dragging us into another plant-stopping cold spell. As I type this there are traffic accidents on highways within 60 miles of me caused by several inches of accumulated new snow. So… maybe it’ll be two weeks before the blossoms emerge. Whenever it does happen, it’s going to be quite a show!

 

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