Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Gardening in the Shade

As my outdoor gardening season ends and a new one starts, I am still pondering what to do with my backyard flower bed. I've talked about it plenty. My lack of success with this area. A recent purchase was 2 books on gardening in the shade. Really helpful and inexpensive on my Kindle Fire. Of course books are my first love followed by plants and flowers. My daughter bought me the Kindle a couple of years ago because I complained about having so many books.  Books take up space but I love, love, love them. I love the feel of the pages, just holding them. Crisp new pages. Can't do this with a Kindle, but it also has it's advantages. Just stay out of the book store. Sounds easy doesn't it. Not to a book lover that's been reading since she could walk. Kindles can be dangerous. A purchase with the click of the button. Both books are really good, small, easy to read and they've really given me a different perspective. As I've blogged about before, if plants need lots of watering out back in the summer, that's tough. They have to be survivors because when temperatures hit the 90's with high humidity, Trish is inside the house. I view the yard from afar and pray for rain. This doesn't always help either when little water penetrates the flower beds due to the heavy canopy of leaves from the trees. Learned this recently when shrubs and plants died this summer even with torrential rains. Up under the trees was like it never rained. I'm tired of buying plants and shrubs just to see them die. Who has money to waste? Not I, this has to end.

Not watering the flower beds in severe heat is part of the problem out back. I finally will fess up to it. How can you have a garden and not want to water it. Especially when the garden is flanked by multiple Norway Maple trees. I underestimated trees and their impact on a garden, only thinking about the shade they bring being the cause of my poor success. Never gave a thought to something I read in one book. Can you imagine a tree drinking 300 gallons of water in a week. I'll have to research that for myself though. If there a multiple trees in the yard with flower beds on top of their roots, why did I expect these areas to thrive? The plants are competing and loosing a battle that's not worth fighting. One year I did water every day all summer. My flower beds showed that they were being watered and looked good for a beginner. Since this time I don't go outside to water in July and August when the heat is brutal. The garden shows it. The only plants thriving are in the cedar planter that was lined to help retain all the water from draining out. Not only does it retain water but it's not competing with tree roots drinking all the water first. The fern in the planter was huge this year. You know without lots of moisture, ferns will die quick. There are 2 ferns planted in the ground in my yard. In the spring they show their faces, but not for long. They have never looked like the one in the planter. So, I have to decide if I'll do what is recommended in these books. One book seems more reasonable for me than the other.

Another option is not planting in the ground at all. This would solve the problem with tree roots competing for water. Containers only are an option. I don't favor this choice because I feel lucky to have a small plot of earth that I can use. The yard is not cement. If it were that would be my only option. I also thought of large planters to line the area along the fence with cedar planters like the one I have. Nope, too expensive and I would need at least 3 of them. Also, wood rots over the years even cedar. I think of the wood fence that once occupied my yard. Even with staining and pressure treated wood, it eventually rotted. For an organic garden, leeching chemicals into the soil from water proofing the wood and pressure treated lumber isn't an option. Especially if you want to grow vegetables in the ground. Growing vegetables in the ground is not a problem for me though since I can't grow vegetables in the shade. There is only one area in my yard with good sun and that's where the veggies go. Wood is beautiful and natural but it rots and I can't see spending money over and over to replace it.

What is the most reasonable option for me? I think building up a healthy soil with leaves, compost, and maybe some peat moss. A recommendation from the book was to mulch with at least 4 inches to help maintain moisture along with watering 2 times a week at least to give the garden 2 1/2 inches of water. This way the trees get their water and the plants get theirs, and the much helps retain some of the moisture. That's a lot of mulch. Think this will work? The other option which won't work for me is to lay newspaper at least 15 sheets thick on top of the flower bed. Not to cover the crows of established plants because this would cause rot. Then apply several layers each with builders sand, compost, and peat moss and then repeat this eventually topping off with several inches of leaves. Not shredded leaves. Now you have a raised bed with rich soil and tree roots can't penetrate the newspaper at least for several years. Why would I do this with so many plants already established? I can't dig them all up. In several years when the newspaper decomposes and it will, this process will need to be done again. To labor and money intensive for me.

So I'll continue talking about this in future posts and let you know if I make any progress this fall. I have to start this fall because I would love a much improved flower bed next season. It would be wonderful to look out the window and see lush foliage and blooms and survival of what ever I plant. I want to share more from the books. They both provide good list of plants, bulbs, and shrubs that grow good in the shade.



This was my very first year of trying to garden in my yard and it went good. Some heuchera and sedums but mostly shade annuals but not all, like the hyacinth bean vine that was beautiful that year and full of flowers. What did I do different the first year? Water, water, water and mulch. Not bad for having never done anything except house plants.
This is tithonia (Mexican Sunflower). Sunflowers are only supposed to grow in the sun. This grew under the Norway Maples in 2012 with lots of water. It was full of blooms, bees, and at least 6 feet.
Another thing I did was mulch the beds. They ground was dry as sand with no water but my flower beds did well.
I would love to grow these again out back. the blooms are beautiful.
The plants were eaten a lot by slugs or other insects with no insecticides. Below are zinnias and bachelor buttons that won't do anything in the shade and they didn't. That's what happens when you are a new gardener and don't read about plant requirements. I have learned something since then. I don't know why I gave up on water and much, stupid.
My peony and hosta were larger with more water. I did divide them that year.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Pansies, Pumpkins and Fall Oh My!

Fall. I got loose today and Saturday with the plants. On Saturday I changed the plants in my mom's planter at home. What a fiasco. All the neighbors came around because I came to cut and remove the coleus. They were horrified. I couldn't seem to explain that it's fall and when the first frost comes, soon, these tropical plants will be dead! They didn't want to hear it. Everyone admired the planter this summer and were amazed at how large the coleus grew. Next summer...we can do this again. Time for mums, ornamental kale, and when I come back, pansies. Later I'll take them up and plant tulips and daffodils and wait until spring for the show. It was also time to change plants in my planter. Only time and strength for one today. Planters on the sidewalk and the window boxes another day. 

I think the planting came out well. Pansies the same color as last fall. They're my favorite. Only 2 pots left at the garden center. I was ready for a change and the flowers know it's fall. They were still beautiful but had already reached their prime and started to loose their luster and deep coloration. Nights in the 50's were getting to the coleus, canna, begonia, and impatiens. I pulled up the canna and caladium and shook of the soil putting them in a brown paper bag until spring. Two spider plants are on the porch in a bag while I decide if I'll remove the soil and soak them in soapy water to hopefully get any insects off before repotting and bringing them inside. My success with them inside is horrific. I had one this spring and it bit the dust quick. Well these 2 are left over and lets see if I can get them to live inside.

It's amazing that gardening does not stop when winter comes. Preparation for next season goes on all fall and winter. Preparing beds, seed starting, maintaining house plants, ordering plants and seeds, planting bulbs, reading garden magazines, blogs, and it goes on. Gardening inside does give me a break from outside. Imagine those with winter crops in cold frames. Vegetables in fall and winter. Waiting for the leave to turn but not looking forward to the ton I have to rake from my yard. One of these days I will get back into the yard to continue cleaning up.

On the porch.
I forgot what type of pumpkin she is. She reminds me of a Cinderella but that's not what it is.
My excuse for buying the container. Where will I sit the pumpkin on? Discounted of course. It matches  the pots I have out front with geraniums.


Three pumpkins for $6.00 and gourds 5 for $2.00, not bad. The bromeliad was cheap also. I've never had one. Some eye candy to look at in the winter. Plan on reading up on how to care for it.



Pansies
Ornamental cabbage I think. I think the kale has different leaves. It lives for months beyond Christmas. Eventually the smell tells you it's time to remove it,
Kept the spider plants but pulled to possibly bring inside. Algerian ivy is supposed to be evergreen. The trailing annual will eventually dies. I took cuttings to try to root.




I used to think these were bulbs but they are actually like water reservoirs.
Spider plant in a plastic bag. It brought mosquitoes onto the porch with it. That's why I don't usually like to bring annuals inside.


I took a cutting of the salmon coleus. I really like this one.
Canna and caladium bulbs in the bag until spring. The sweet potao in the center is from my mother's sweet potato vine at her house. It was really a good size. Big enough and solid enough to eat. I read that they are edible but may have a different taste. I'm going to plant it inside and see it I can get a seeding to save until spring.
On the porch


Cuttings
From my aunties plant. I have to find the picture of her huge plant to post.
The large variegated leaf plant is from Liz in Georgia. I was excited that she gave me this and may other cuttings. I've wanted one of these for a while. The purple cuttings are from my Auntie in Georgia. I will put the name of them in later.
A birthday gift from my auntie Melinda in Georgia. It came well packed and only 1 tiny leaf broken. There are so may plants inside that I'm going to put them in a larger container. Some are covered by the moss.
Larger, wider container for my gift. I don't want them to die over crowded.
Ten new bulbs for my seedlings.
I repotted the orchid and it's actually living along with the ones in the conservatory. Mom's African violets. One looks like it will survive. The other one is ready to throw out.
A succulent but no tag to identify it. One of my birthday presents. I saw something like it that said baby jade.
Clivia still surviving.
Clivia had a new leaf and it's dead. Probably from not watering enough. Although it gets moisture from being in the bag I still give her a little water every now and then. She appears healthy and to have rooted but I'm not taking her out of the bag yet. Now on to the fall planter.
It came out just beautiful. Similar to last years but I think a little fuller and in a different planter.


Aren't the pansies beautiful?





Pine cones from Liz's yard in Georgia. I picked 3 off her lawn on the way to see her garden. It was beautiful. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Saturday in the City

No Fall Garden Festival for me this year. I do miss going. It was between going shopping for a winter coat, boots, and some clothes or the festival. I chose to shop. Maybe I'll drive to the pumpkin patch one weekend and pick a pumpkin. I should have went to the Festival because I bought nothing. I'll talk about why in a minute. I did a drive by of my cousin Tyrone's house to see what his garden was doing. What did I see but a flourishing canna I had given him back in May. I pulled over and parked. I had to see it. It was small when I gave it to him. Now it's a cluster of beautiful canna with one open beautiful yellow bloom and more waiting to open. Mines haven't even bloomed and are now turning yellow due to the cold. His have bloomed and multiplied in the first season. I gave him one and now there are many! How dare it out do mine, but it did. His flowers were beautiful.

Today was a day out for my daughter and I. It was the festival or shopping.  I had 3 gift cards to spend. Isn't it wonderful to shop and not have to spend your own money? Why is Macy's so high? At least high to me. I'm always looking for a bargain. The jeans I tried on were nice but $79.00. For what? They weren't even designer jeans. I know jeans can be higher but I don't pay that. I have 3 words, discount, discount, discount. I want quality for a discount. A night gown was $80.00, a cotton night gown. I wasn't even in the section with Michael Kors or Rachael Ray. The boots were nice $179.00. I will think about them. No winter coats in the store yet except fur coats for $2,7000, smile. So it was a waste of my time. And they actually were having a sale. My daughter surprised me with a Michael Kors hand bag for my birthday. Nice daughter. Can you believe Macy's was setting up Christmas Village already?

From Macy's we went to 2 other stores for my daughter and finally to the Reading Terminal Market. I love the Terminal. It was packed. Center City was packed like everyone had the same idea to go shopping today because the weather was so beautiful and these are the last few days of summer. Didn't buy fresh flowers because I already have 3 bouquets in the house from my birthday. I did look at all the seeds on the rack from Botanical Interests. I resisted, nothing new that I wanted. We had lunch and made our way back home. Fun day but I should have stayed home, cleaned the house, yard, and did laundry. I have to get out some times. Chores will always be there. How did you spend your Saturday? Time for a fire. It's cold in the house and I have a whole lot of mail to burn. Better than shredding it, up in smoke.

Welcome to Philadelphia!
City Hall. It was recently renovated. My daughter wanted me to go to see what had been done but my knees told me other wise. I'll show you another day. 
I can't believe my little camera can pick up this detail since I was not very close, maybe a block away.





Our first destination, Macy's Center City. Not like the one in New York my daughter tells me but okay. I like the Macy's outside the city because it's has a better selection of clothing, home goods, and bedding.


Macy's building and our bus Septa.
This Macy's is in the old Wanamaker Building. Not long from now the area where the organ is will be staged for the Christmas Show. Here's how it looked last year.
Can't go anywhere without taking pictures of plants. They still look good. Beautiful shade arrangements outside Macy's.



No success at Macy's, on to the Reading Terminal
They make the best burgers, big enough for 2 meals.

The old Reading Railroad Building. Here is some history of the building. 
The Reading Terminal Market. Packed today from visitors attending  a convention at the Pennsylvania Convention Center across the street.

This kind gentleman let me know it was okay to take pictures in the market when I asked him and gave me permission to take one of him. He greeted visitors to the market.
They ship care package baskets of items local to Pennsylvania such as Asher's Candy. There are a variety of home made items by the Pennsylvania Dutch such as quilts, crafts, and food items. The chocolate looks amazing.
That's their counter.
4th Street Cookie Company.
They make candy and you can watch. I tried to get a picture of the candy making but not for the crowd at the window. It's candy apple time!
My mom loved their raw milk. I plan to try it in the future. They also make yogurt, teas, lemonade, and homemade butter.
Chinese Lantern. Didn't buy any but will another weekend if they have more.
Time for ornamental cabbage and kale.


Honey and home made cards.
Smoothie or fresh juice anyone?
The kitchen shop.

Pennsylvania Convention Center. Site of the Philadelphia Flower Show.
Lets take a ride. Now to the parking lot. Parking was 24 dollars, highway robbery. We were in Center City 3 hours!