Spring Came With A Freezing Frost!

Spring 2014 - Cumru

Spring 2014 – Cumru

     The Seasons’ early frost along with a blanket of snow was a bit of a surprise!   What that means for gardeners, is a shorter growing season.  The anxiety of seeing your spring-flowering planting and trees waking up from winters dormancy being subjected to a blanket of snow is enough to rattle any one.  Healthy plantings should be able to withstand a little cold.  Cold temperature vegetables, cabbage, kale, broccoli and brussel sprouts should be fine.  A layer of straw can be used to cover for added peace of mind.  It has been said, ” a fast frost enhances the flavor of those cold weather vegetables”.  

      For flowering plantings, you can expect the small buds to become shriveled and brown.  This should grow out as the weather warms and new grow continues.  Here are pictures :

2014 Spring - Cumru Azalea -PJM

2014 Spring – Cumru
Azalea -PJM

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    This azalea  is currently a foundation planting – as shown the flowers and buds were immediately affected by the frost.  Don’t prune – the new growth will soon take over the entire plant and it will look better.   If the site is just too much for you, carefully snip off the brown bud.  After the azalea  has finished flowering - then you can prune.  Don’t prune after June – you may be pruning off next years flowers.  There is a new Encore variety that will bloom twice, once in Spring and again in Fall.   When fertilizing - less is more.  Consider a slow release fertilizer.  If you over fertilizer leaves will have that scorched look.  

While walking through the garden, I hear an all familiar sound the seasons first pollinator. 

Spring 2014 Cumru

Spring 2014 Cumru

       If another frost is predicted, you may want to cover your plantings with either straw, burlap or blankets.  Some empty containers can also be placed over your plants to protect from frost.  Just remember, healthy plants that produce buds on old wood as well as new should bounce back as the weather warms.  With a shorter growing season, you can get a jump on vegetables and annuals by starting inside and bring plantings out after Mother’s Day.   Happy Spring!  Until later, El

 

Here are sites :  http://azaleaSocietyofAmerica.org  -  http://AzaleaBlossonWatch.org   -  Penn State Extension – http://.psu.edu/

 Ps.. Azalea is in the rhododendron family,  the difference is the flower size and leaves.

 

Spring is Blooming…

052   As Spring begins to entice with the glorious promise of more to come, now is the time to pause and become inspired.  There is still time to redefine your gardening space….Small changes can be the beginning to transformation.

    First, what do you want your garden /yard to be used for – growing vegetables, flowers, herbs, or just a wonderful place to unwind and entertain, or perhaps a little of each?  You don’t need much to create that special place.  Sometimes less is more, the versatility of large containers is one way, perhaps you would enjoy a kitchen cooking garden, herbs are very easy to grow.  Many flowers can be grown for salads, as well as being added to ice trays for your favorite summer beverages.  A few are pansies, violas and not to be forgotten Johnny Jump Ups.  Squash blooms are always wonderful to add to cooking or as garnish.  A great book for more : Edible Flowers – From Garden to Palate by Cathy Wilkinson Barash.

047Within your garden beds try to include as many natives plants as you can.  Natives are so beneficial for returning wild life – who have migrated south for winter, only to prepare for their journey back to our yards and gardens.  Did you know migrating birds will usually return to the same feeding areas year after year?  Birds feed on some of the little critters that inhabit the soil.  So take the opportunity to invite nature into your life…you will be so glad.  Hummingbirds love deep-throated flowers.  Butterflies feed on nectar flowering plants.  Butterflies are going to be returning soon, so milkweed is a must have.  Monarch butterflies lay their eggs upon the milkweed leaves.  Don’t have any, consider adding some.  Just making a few additions to your garden can be helpful to the environment by creating a wildlife habitat.  A butterfly invitation can be as easy as having a few nectar flowering perennials and annuals.  To encourage butterflies to lay eggs, the host plant – would be needed for the “very hungry caterpillar to eat”.  Yes, each species of butterfly have their own host plant variety.  Confusing – no problem here is a site that has great pictures of both plant & the butterfly it supports, and offers them for purchase.  http://www.ButterflyBushes.com/milkweed  – Rose Franklin’s Perennials located in Springs Mills, PA.

Your garden space can be your canvas to plant with living color, so indulge that side that wants to add more to your garden space with inspired enthusiasm, for the new growing season!  Get growing!  Until later, El

               DSCF3096                                                                                              DSCF3094                                      

 

Spring Equinox : Brings the Dream of Spring Colors March 20th

                                                                                             019As the Vernal Spring equinox arrives to announce the beginning of a new season, the landscape still bares remains of the last snow fall.  The vernal equinox happens when, the sun moves between hemispheres over the celestial equator, with “Earths’ tilt on its axis orbit around the sun and ceaseless motion in orbit”.  The sun will rise from “the east and set due west.” 

As if a timer has gone off, Mother Nature brings the promise of a new color palate, sure to please.  The first spring bulbs, perky crocus will make their appearance emerging up through the scattered snow remnants.  While the fragrant hyacinth, tulip and daffodil follow to make their Spring debut.  Yes, Spring is here!

According to the Farmers’ Almanac – March 19th – thru March 21st is a good time to start seeds. (www.farmersalmanac.com)

Now is also a wonderful time to make the “garden to do list”  – so that the you don’t over do in one day.007                                                                                                                                                                                             

Spring 2014 Daffodils

Spring 2014 Daffodils

Spring 2014 Daffodils

Spring 2014 Daffodils

     Take a few minutes and walk through your garden, you will be pleasantly surprized!  Until later, El

PS…there is a Berks County Horticulture Club meeting, April 9th – 2014 at 7 pm – http://berkshortclub.org/events

 

Philadelphia Flower Show – Articulture….

                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Philadelphia Flower Show 2014

Philadelphia Flower Show 2014

The Philadelphia Flower Show - - “Where art meets horticulture”.  Is being presented at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia, PA.  The “Flower Show began Saturday, March 1st and runs thru Sunday, March 9th, 2014. We choose to attend Sunday morning, it is a wonderful adventure from the moment you step thru the large double doors.  You are greeted with floating framed art made with a variety of plantings.  The inspiration is a collaboration of art museums around the world, along with some of the best known garden and horticultural designers.  The displays are bold, colorful and sure to encourage you to come closer.   This modern fusion of art and floral design is truly an original way to enjoy the presentation of horticulture  splendor in another way.  When you find yourself standing there admiring the works, you have to make a choice, where to begin your fantastic journey.  We began from the right to ensure we wouldn’t miss a thing! 

Philadelphia Flower Show 2014

Philadelphia Flower Show 2014

  

  There appears to be a modern abstract flare about these pieces of floral art.Moon Jar - Korean 2014 Philadelphia Flower Show

018The sounds of Choirs, filled the air with their wonderful songs.  Bandaloop aerial dancers perform above the Convention Center floor.  Along with the ” articulture” exhibits there are the judging category. 

There is so much going on, be sure to look at the schedule of events : Book signings, Gardener’s Studio,  Garden to Table Studio and featured Presentations.

How to get to the Philadelphia Flower Show: Car, train, bus trips are available. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes, bring a note pad & pen to take notes and plenty of time to allow you to totally enjoy all The Philadelphia Flower Show!  Enloy the brillant pictures, until later, El

Philadelphia Flower Show 2014

Philadelphia Flower Show 2014

052

Philadelphia Flower Show2014

Philadelphia Flower Show2014

Kitchen & Salad Gardens..aka “Potager”

Noreaster Snow -2014

Noreaster Snow -2014

      Here it is mid-February, with only 31 days until Spring arrives.  Lets begin to plan our Kitchen & Salad Garden aka ” potager”.  In France “potager” gardening has been a staple since the medieval times.  These type of gardens are normally apart from families main vegetable garden.  In Scotland and England many grew “potager ” gardens with their own twist by adding repetitive geometric designs. Practical options, containers allowed folks with no yard garden space to enjoy the pleasures of fresh cooking herbs, fresh vegetables and flowering plants to add to salads, cooking and baking.  While others have built planter boxes within easy reach  from their kitchen for quick gathering use. “Potager” along with kitchen and salad gardens are personal – your planting can be in ground or in containers or both.  My choice is containers, my patio is sunny throughout the day and water is easily assessable. I can monitor my salad garden from my window while enjoying my morning coffee.  Monitoring is important as well keeping your planting moist not drenched.

      You can plant your own salad mixes. Lets begin with lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is an annual in the same family as sunflowers and asters (Asteraceae).  Lettuce is broken down into three varieties: Leaf, Head and Romaine and divided into”seven main cultivar groups”.  Lettuce grows best in cool temperatures, depending on the variety,  growing season can last from” 65 to 130 days”.   The seven cultivar groups are: 1)Butterhead : Boston & Bibb lettuce : Know for its sweet flavor, loose leaves with tender texture.  2) Crisphead lettuce: Iceberg lettuce:  “The most popular lettuce, it consist of more water than other lettuce varieties, and is heat sensitive”.  3)  Leaf:  loose-leaf: Used mostly in salads, grows as a loosely bunch of leaves”.  4) Romaine/Cos: Has long upright heads, famous for being used in Caesar salad and sandwiches.  5) Stem: This variety is grown for its’ seedstalk for stews and creamed dishes.  Stem lettuce is widely used in Chinese cooking as well.  6) Summercrisp :  French crisp & Batavian lettuce is a well-flavored variety and grows large. Commonly used in mixed salad.  7)  Oil seed Lettuce:  A variety that is grown for its’ seeds that are used to make oil -  oil for cooking and salads. Lettuce is a great vegetable to grow in front of your container or as a border front planting in a bed.    Taller growing planting such as tomatoes would be placed  in the back along with a trellis/cage to keep you plant growing upward.  You can keep your tomato trained & trimmed while planting peppers centered to allow spread room.  Among these planting you can add your favorite herbs, popular are Anise hyssop (Agastache Foeniculum) sweet tasting with long purple flowers perennial.  Nasturtium (Tropaeolum spp.) wonderful color flowers for salads and cakes – annual.  Rosemary -(Rosmarinus officinalis) is a fragrant – woody perennial herb with blue flowers, used in culinary.  There are aprox. 24 different varieties of Rosemary available.  Your choices are so open to what to include into your salad garden.

  For more information on seeds for your planting pleasure, I am adding a few web sites with heirloom lettuce and more.  Heirloom Lettuce Seeds:  http://sustainableseedsco.com/lettuceVictory Seeds: http://www.victoryseeds.com/lettuce.Rare Seeds:  http://www.rareseeds.com/iceberg-lettuce

Endive and escarole can also be added to you “potager” their flavors are sure to enhance your salads, stews and soups.  The possibilities are endless, just keep in mind:   A) Consider the best location.  B) Assessability to water.  C) Good drainage .  D) Close to your kitchen for easy access, unless you are growing your inside. Basically, you are combining your favorite salad eats, favorite herbs and favorite edible flowers together for a wonderful “Kitchen & Salad Garden”.  Some Gardeners say a “Kitchen & Salad Garden is a vegetable garden with Style”!  Don’t be afraid to try some in pots inside and some outside, just give it a try.  Until later, El

My herbs - for my kitchen

My herbs – for my kitchen

Just Another Day in Winters Paradise…….

                                                                                                

Curmu

Curmu

      Just as we are recovering from one snow storm, another has followed with icy rain that only adds to the weight of the already deposited snow on tree limbs and branches.  Our one tree found this burden over whelming and in the early morning hours fell.  Yes, when a tree falls it does make a sound for all to hear.   As the cold chill of winter hangs in the morning air, natures feathered friends begin to peak from under branches in their venture for food.   The birds have landed upon it as if to say good-bye.  The temperatures are up and out of the single digits, even if it is only for a short while.  Somewhere a lone woodpecker pecks his song for all to enjoy…while the crisp air engulfs your senses,  anticipation for spring and the new rebirth of deciduous trees, shrubs and perennials that will bring a slow smile to some. Our native birds enjoy the splendor of the discovery as they go from plant to plant within our yards, gardens and open fields.  Bird feeders are always a ” good thing” this time of year.   Suet is also helpful for our visiting bird friends. 

  WEEU - The Voice of Berks County & Beyond @  WEEU-830 on the AM dial.  Jack Holcomb- hosts “Jack’s Backyard”-  call in Q & A from 8am – 10am.  On line :  weeu am reading 830.                                                                                                                            

Lets take a moment to talk about one of my favorite garden woody shrubs, Hydrangea/Macrophylla : “All Summer Beauty”.  Why you ask?  This variety fills the garden from early spring through summer with beautiful long-lasting blooms, that offer a variety of color hues.  “All Summer Beauty” grows on old wood in spring,  when Nature surprises with a frost – this wonderful plant will continue to produce buds on new wood.  In fall “All Summer Beauty” continues to grace your garden with its yellowish-green serrated leaves, a foliage highlight to just about any garden…..enjoy! 

"All Summer Beauty" Hydrangea- macrophy   2013

“All Summer Beauty”
Hydrangea- macrophy
2013

                                                                       

Hydrangea/Macrophylla  "All Summer Beauty"

Hydrangea/Macrophylla “All Summer Beauty”

Sometimes when the day is dictated by forces beyond your control, such as mother nature you simply have to roll with it…on your sled, then come in and make plans for the future and hope for the best.   The Philadelphia Flower Show – March 1 thru March 9th 2014.

  The Flower Show this year will be full of ” special exhibits”.  The Philadelphia Garden Clubs will come together with area art schools to display exhibits.  Bank of America will exhibit a selection of “Andy Warhol – floral prints” along with” Buck County Sculptor Steve Tobin who will exhibit his work.”  The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society will also bring various partners together to ensure a spectacular adventure at “Articulture”.  Info:www.theflowershow.com

Another thought…begin a list of things needed to begin your early seed starting.  Soil – the beginning of all good plants another option grow pellets.  Seeds – read all the planting directions written on the seed package for best results.  Container – clean washed & dried container with drainage, pot, tray.  Light/heat source – fluorescent – high density plant grow light.  A seed heat mat – aids in maintaining a constant soil temperature,  it is important to keep soil warm to encourage proper seed growth.  

Now as the day is coming to an end, it is so amazing how the moon’s light dances on the glistening icy snow…..stay warm!  Until later, El

Bo relaxing after romping in the snow..2014

Bo relaxing after romping in the snow..2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another day in Winter….

the trees in the fog-  Cumru

the trees in the fog- Cumru

      Today, the day began with the gentle pitter - patter of the early morning rain falling on my window ledge.  Along with the rain the sky with its cloak of misty fog has joined to make a gray morning…as I cast my eye across the yard I spy a lone bird as it goes from spot to spot foraging for food.   As if with a wink of an eye its gone, and the air feels so refreshing.  As I pass through the kitchen, I turn on my Krupp and take Bo out, the morning rain pelts my face and I feel alive.  After the real cold snow and icy conditions 5o degrees feels nice…real nice.

I have some time before I need to head out-door for work to chat  about gardening.  After all this is a blog about gardening – I do believe I’m experiencing withdraws from gardening…only 65 more days till it’s officially Spring.  In the anticipation of the Spring Equinox, lets talk a little about container gardening.  There are so  many different types of containers for growing plants with various names – planters, urns, window boxes, bowl planters, wheel barrow and wagon and chair planters.  Yup, just about anything can be used as a “planter” just as long as it can hold soil and water and your plants of course.  Terrariums appear to be new again.  While living in Hawaii I saw people using large coffee cans to grow plants in on their lanai’s.  Many people grow vegetables, herbs and flowers in a very small area.   It seems as if the mainland is only beginning to catch on this very do able type of growing.                                                                                                              

flowering container

flowering container

  Once you have found the type of planter that will work for you – wash your planter with mild soap & water.  Give thought to the area that the planter will be.  Sun or Shade.    Your neighborhood library offers a variety of good gardening magazines and books that can be used to inspire. Take a note pad & pen to take notes and take book walks through the various magazines that offer wonderful  garden decorating ideas using colorful cascading plantings.  That way you will be able to envision your planter goal.  Give thought to what you what your planter to look like.  Remember you want a tall visual thriller, a filler and a spiller.  Right plant +right place = happy plant ….happy you.  Soil – well there are many to choose from, personally I prefer a planting soil  combination ( miracle grow) when doing planters.  You want as much bang from your planters as possible during the season of use.    You can stager your planting to flower from Spring with bulbs to go thru to Fall with ornamental grasses.  We still have time to gather our ideas for Spring!  Until later, El

Philadelphia Flower Show2013

Philadelphia Flower Show2013

                                                                                                               

marigolds in a pot

marigolds in a pot

 Sometimes less is more….for just the right place!

Pss..Did you know when you plant a sweet potato vine at the end of the season down in your soil you could find a potato growing..

Misty morning in Cumru

Misty morning in Cumru

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