Friday, June 1, 2018

First Hosta Purchase of the Year

I had not intended to buy any hostas today because I was at the garden shop to buy geraniums.  We were on our way to the cash register when my eye caught what looked like hostas in the next greenhouse and the hunt for a new hosta was on.
I have over 300 different varieties of hostas in my garden so I am happy to find just one that I don't already own.  I walked along the first row saying "Got it. Got it. Got it. Got it." I'm thinking "bummer" as I started down the next row.  I am about 5 plants from the end of the last row when I scored gold and that gold would be in the form of Saint Elmo's Fire. 
Then I scored again with Fragrant Blue.  I already have 3 or 4 from the Fragrant line and they have everything that I like to see in a hosta.  The flowers are white and fragrant and they have thick leaves.  But this one is different in that it falls into the 'small' size category where as all my other Fragrant line hostas are tall and fall into the medium/large to large size category.  

Hostas come in all sizes.  From smallest to largest is miniature, dwarf, small, medium, large, extra large, and giant.  The smallest hosta that I have in my garden is Pandora's Box and the largest is the giant size Empress Wu.  

Buying hostas that stay small and short is what allows you to layer your hostas.  There is nothing more striking than to have a tall blue hosta with a small short yellow hosta just ever so slightly tucked underneath the taller blue hosta.  This combo will make the blue appear bluer and the yellow will pop even in deep shade. 
 I was so excited about finding these two that I forgot to put a 3rd hosta in my cart.  So tomorrow I will head back and buy 'Barbara Ann'. 

Just in case you haven't read any of my other posts on hostas and want to catch up, just type in HOSTA in the search bar at the top on the right side.

I snapped a couple of photos to show you which hosta to buy when you have the option to choose between two of the same hostas.

In the photo above of the hosta 'Barbara Ann', you can see that there is just one stem.  There is nothing wrong with buying a single stem plant BUT if you can find a multi stemmed plant like the one below,  you then can divide the plant before you put it in the ground.  I wrote adetailed post on how to divide hostas several years ago so if you need info on how to divide, you can find that by using the search bar on this blog.
Why divide before you plant?  I think the number 1 reason is that it is far easier to divide a small plant then it is to dig up a large, heavy plant and try to divide it without damaging the plant.  Hostas are hardy plants and can take a lot of abuse.  But my back can't handle the abuse of lifting a heavy plant out of the ground and then try and divide that plant into multiple plants.  

The number 2 reason to divide a plant before you put it in the ground is that it lowers your per plant cost.  If you buy a plant for $19.99 and you can divide it into 4 plants then the cost per plant went from $19.99 to 5 bucks per plant.

The hostas today cost $8.98 each and had I been able to find one with two stems, it would have lowered my per plant cost to $4.48 each.

My cousin Judy is responsible for my hosta addiction and until I saw all of her different hostas, I thought all hostas were green.  How little did I know back then that hostas could be green, blue, yellow, and white and any combination of those colors, even within one leaf.

If after reading my posts on hostas and you find yourself with a hosta addiction, don't blame me.  Blame my cousin Judy.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Our Paw Paw Tree has Flowers

....and flowers mean that there is a possibility of fruit.  

We are shocked because this is just year 3 since we planted the two paw paw trees.  Last spring and this spring we actually thought that they had died or were in the process of dying.  We will need to remember that they are late blooming trees.
One of the trees has 9 blossoms and the other has 17.  All the paw paw literature says that you need at least 2 trees for cross pollination.  Unless these flowers get pollinated there will be no fruit.   
They are great looking flowers, aren't they??  Can you imagine a 20 foot tree covered with these blossoms?  

I doubt that we will have any paw paw fruit last on the branch until it is ripe.  The fruit is quite large and heavy and the current state of the tree branches is more twiggy than branchy.

The blueberry bushes are blossoming, too.  The flowers are not as striking or showy, as the paw paw blossoms, but I know that these branches can handle the weight of the blueberries.
This is a Jelly Bean variety of blueberries.  It's a small compact blueberry bush with full size fruit. It is also a prolific fruit bearer and the perfect size for use in the landscape.

The only danger of fruit not lasting until harvest is from finger blight.  That is where you pick off and eat all the fruit, one berry at a time, before you have a chance to harvest.

Sometimes R and I walk around the yard during the summer and graze.  Then when lunchtime rolls around neither one of us are hungry.  Win win for me.

R loves when fall rolls around and he can sample the apple trees every day.  He found out that eating 3 apples in one day has an unpleasant effect.  I reminded him that the says apple a day, keeps the doctor away.

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Sunday, June 5, 2016

Hosta Update...Front Yard Edition

The hostas are just now starting to look good.  We've had a lack of rain in the last week or so that has slowed down the growth of the newer hostas in the back yard so I'll just show off the more mature hostas in the front yard.

Let's start with the front bed in the center of the circular driveway.  These hostas get the most sun and the least rain fall but look at them.  They look wonderful.  Hostas once they are established are really self sufficient.
I only water my established hostas when we are experiencing a drought.
Some of the stand outs in the above beds are the yellowy/orange hostas in the center of the photo.  It is called Orange Marmalade.  As the summer progresses it turns to more of a yellow.
In the above photo is a bright chartreuse green hosta called I don't know...really.  I thought it was Captain Kirk but I just looked on Hosta Library and it isn't Captain Kirk.  Might be Rain Forest Surprise.
Hanky Panky is the varigated hosta in the photo above.  It goes through several changes as the summer progresses.  My favorite phase is right now.
Your blue hosta will be this blue if you keep it in deep shade.  The blue comes from a wax coating on the leaves and if left in the sun the wax melts and the hosta will look green.
June Fever (rt) is a fave of mine because of it's thick leaves.
Jimmy Crack Corn is a large leaf yellow with a pie crust edge.
This hosta is considered a giant.  Believe it or not, there is a boulder behind that Singing in the Rain hosta.  That's Rain Forest Surprise sticking out from underneath it on the right side.
And I'll finish up with one of my all time favorites, Tom Schmid.  It's a blue with an almost white margin.

If you like yellow and blue in the same hosta then Great Expectation is another beautiful hosta.  But it works best in a shady spot with morning only sun at the most.  I have one somewhere in the yard but I currently do not have  photo.

So what do you think?  I love it when people tell me that they do not like hostas because they are all green.  I don't see all green, do you?  I do though, see a lot of weeds.  Note to self....weed the hosta beds.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

2013 Summer Blooms

I was so busy and the weather was so hot that most of my blooms came and went fairy fast.  I did was lucky and captured these blooms before they wilted.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Super Large Lilies

This past summer was the first time in three years that they survived the deer and were able to bloom.

They are huge.

I need to remember to plant more of these in the fall.  Unfortunately, come autumn I am always up to my ears in raking leaves and completely run out of time to do anything else.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Winter Ice Storm Damage

This is so sad.  We spent a good part of the summer dead branches, cutting down down trees, and shaping some of our newer trees.  It may all be for naught now.

The vertical juniper that we planted 8 years ago was finally big enough to hide the gas meter and exhaust ducts for the two furnaces.  Looks like the only thing the juniper is hiding now is the driveway.  It will need to be removed and replaced.

The old triple trunk pine that we have spent years removing dead branches and shaping into something other than an awkward half dead pine tree is not a single trunk pine with two broken trunks.  It will need removing.  This will actually give us a chance to plant a large spruce in the center of the triangle shaped green space.  The triple trunk pine was right on the edge and sometimes made it hard for large vehicles to maneuver around the circle driveway.

Our two huge silver maples are a mess and will require professional help.  I know they are really prone to breakage but one is well over 100 years old and the other is probably 75 years old.

I had hoped to get an early start on painting the house this spring but I can see that we will probably spend the first month, after the snow melts and the lawn dries up, just trying to pick up branches.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Building Veggie Cages

The idea to build these tomato cages came while watching a garden show on TV. I can't remember exactly which show it was but that doesn't matter because we changed up the design slightly and modified the building process.

We used old wood from previous demos here at 'The Gear'. Our stash of old wood is now reduced to small pieces and plywood. Either we need to tear something down or we will now have to resort to actually buying wood for our projects.

First step was to buy a roll of fencing. This will determine the measurements you use to cut all your wood. Remember to buy fencing with large openings that are big enough to get your hand or a large tomato through the opening.We cut sections of the fence into lengths that were 4 squares (openings) wide. This made the sides of the cage about 20 inches wide. This particular cage will house pole beans so we are making it twice the height of the fence.

We ripped used lumber into roughly 2 x 2 lengths using the table saw. The TV show ripped a groove down the middle of the 2 X 2 so that you could insert the fencing. We did that for this cage be will modify all future cages to omit this step and just use double pointed staples to hold the fence in place. We found that the groove did not entirely hold the fence in place and that a staple was needed to keep the fence from slipping out of the groove. So if you are going to use staples anyways why bother with cutting the groove in the first place.I painted the sides using flat black spray paint so that it would hopefully look like black iron. I would suggest painting the wood before assembling but I was unable to because it has been raining and I wanted to spray paint outside.Once we had the cage fully assembled and painted it was time to guild the lily. In my attempt to make the cage look like it was assembled out of wrought iron I felt I needed some sort of ornamentation on each corner. So I used a doll head. Say what!!!!???? Yup you read that right a doll head. I went to Michael's Craft store and bought little round wooden balls that they use as doll heads. They worked great because they were flat on one side and were predrilled. I drilled the hole completely through and inserted a nail. I could have used a doubled threaded stud but they are rather expensive and I wanted to keep this project on the cheap side. You could also use old wooden drapery finials or really anything that is interesting and would hold a coat of paint. Wouldn't a small bird look cute perched on the top of the cage?Once the wooden balls were installed I squirted them with some flat black paint and we were done. We will make two more tall cages for pole beans and 5 short cages for tomatoes. I think these cages could also be planted with a climbing rose or maybe clematis plants. They are definitely more visually appealing than the standard wire tomato cages. This would be a great winter project but unfortunately I didn't get the idea until a month ago. Oh well, C'est la vie (such is life).