Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Bulb Forcing Vases and Other Things

Although it's summer, fall bulb catalogues have been arriving since spring with offers of 75% off and last chance deals. Encouraging buyers to purchase early to get the best selections before your favorite sales out. With this in mind, I braved the 90 degree temperature and walked to the thrift shop in my neighborhood hoping to find some type of glass vessels not probably designed as a bulb vase but still substitute for hyacinth bulbs this winter. This is my first time forcing hyacinths. Usually I force my bulbs in any available glass container but bulbs are also pretty displayed in containers made just for them. Never did I imagine finding an actual bulb vase. This was the second day I'd gone in search of suitable containers. The last visit months ago, with no luck. Of course they have to be reasonable priced under 2 dollars. Searching for and reading the history of bulb vases was interesting as well as trying to locate companies that still make them.

Forcing bulbs indoors is thought to have start in the 1700's. According to Old House Gardens, hyacinths can be forced by putting the bulb just above water in the forcing container and placing in a dark cool environment for 8-16 weeks to allow the bulb to develop roots. The recommended temperature to keep them in is 40-48 degrees. When the glass is filled with roots bring the container into light but not in direct sunlight. You can read their instructions by clicking on the above link.

I purchased the book below a few years ago. I like to read the reviews on Amazon before I purchase any book because many are correct. No, can't say I grab this book when bulb season comes but I will this year. Thinking that you know about a bulb and conditions it needs is okay but reading before planting so you're sure is better. There are many sources of books on bulbs and good information from scholarly sources and gardening societies online.

Some reading information from a bulb collector which I found interesting including his collection of vases is http://www.kennemerend.nl/why.html. Click on the links and he has a good history on the origins of bulb forcing. Old House Gardens, web site always is a good resource for information on bulbs, how to grow, and forcing. And of course you can buy their heirloom bulbs.

Some of the sources that came up for bulb forcing vases I came across searching online included http://www.blisshomeanddesign.com/Bulb-Vase?gclid=CI34-aqE0M0CFZJbhgodfzMCGQ, Touch of Nature, and of course Amazon. Or you can do what I did and visit  thrift stores, or antique stores. The search and what you may find is part of the fun for me. Searching and ordering on line may provide the best selection if one is willing to pay the price especially for older vases.

Why do I force bulbs? During winter most gardens are put to bed till spring unless you do cold season gardening. For many with greenhouse, cold frames, or other methods to shelter vegetables, gardening continues. No greenhouse or cold frame here but I did try broccoli and cabbage last fall/winter. Aphids were horrible. Something that doesn't seem to bother my veggies in the spring and summer. Although the end of outside gardening is a relief to me every year, I still love to see blooms year round especially in the winter indoors. It brightens my day seeing and smelling blooming flowers inside when it's cold, dark, and, wintry outside. It reminds me, spring will return.

It was hot outside with temperatures in the 90's but still a beautiful day. Thunderstorms and heavy rain drove down the humidity last night and today we only have to deal with the heat not feeling like it's in the tropics.
This store used to be owned by a women I knew. It's now an antique shop as well as the next one.
Tyler's wasn't open when I walked pass but was open after finishing at the thrift shop.
Couldn't believe there's a sign posted saying the building is for sale. They've been here for years and it'll be missed.
This is why I'm not planting petunias or calibrachoas next season. They start out beautiful and end raggedy looking. I know they should be pruned but to me, they're high maintenance and require too much attention. When I plant a container, I don't expect to do anything else to it except watering and when the next season arrives, adding different annuals. It's still nice when business make an effort to beautify their storefronts.
Looks like coleus. It's a pretty variety. The container needs more flowers. I should not be talking seeing how mine look.
Can't believe I actually found bulb vases and some others that can be used but had other purposes. Now I'll want to scour the antiques stores to find more but they won't be 25 cents like these 2 were.
Along with 3 book it came to 13.00 dollars. A little over my planned 10.00 dollar budget.
The first 2 are bulb vases. They're very ornate and prettier than the ones I found for sale in colors of pink, blue, and green. Someone was using the blue ones for flowers also as some soil remains in the bottom. I like blue pottery.
These are small although the appear larger photographed. The remind of mini ice cream sundae glasses but not much should fit in them. Maybe good for pudding, jello. and parfait. The glass is heavy and will give lots of room for roots to grow but the opening is small enough that the bulb won't sit in the water. It'll depend on how large the hyacinths are.
I'll have to find out what the markings are.
They're beautiful. Feels and looks like lead crystal.

Stopped at Home Depot today to get some paint. Of course I'm working on my to do list and planning for fall.  Summer vacation is a good time to freshen up moldings and other areas in my house instead of thinking about it too late when the first fall  holiday comes. As I grow older I've learned that planning and starting early helps in not feeling overwhelmed hosting family holiday dinners. The summer is not too early to start. Of course no one sees what I see. Are you like that. I see every area of chipped paint or paint that could be refreshed. If I start now maybe I'll be able to sit and enjoy guest. I'm making progress. Work never ends when you own a house. Last week the plumber and electrician did some repairs and this week a new plumbing problem. The bathroom sink is leaking from the pipe. No fear, Trish is here. Got a new PVC set up and maybe I'll change it but first I have to find out how to cut PVC pipe without a saw. Next option; take it back to Home Depot to see if they'll cut it. I'll let you know how it turns out. Why didn't it leak last week when the plumber was here?
Also bought new insulation for around the doors to prevent drafts. Yes winter is coming.
Freshened up the molding leading to the kitchen.
The post to the stairs freshened up. 
The plaster on the ceiling needs to be touched up, sanded, and painted. Isn't it nice to have dry wall instead. No drywall in this old house so you have to know how to plaster. I really don't feel like it but I'll see how much I can get done this summer.  What else am I doing? Hanging a towel rack. Have to find the studs with the stud finder and had to get new drill bits because the ones I had were dull. My daughter and I are also working on sorting through stored bins and getting rid of a lot of stuff. Some to the trash, some to the Goodwill, and the rest will be neatly organized. Who knows. When it's all done I may have a room just for my plants and seedlings. That would be nice, something to work towards. I still have to finish tiling the kitchen floor or hire someone to finish it for me this summer. Do you work on your house in the summer?

Friday, July 22, 2016

Summer Observations and Planning

Experiencing another heat wave in Philadelphia as the city prepares for the Democratic National Convention. As the end of summer approaches, I know fall doesn't arrive till September; I'm ready for it. My plans for this season were to take it easy and not stress about the garden and how it looked. Of course when things start looking bad, I started tending to them more than planned. I regret purchasing more plants than planned many not successful. It's been a strange summer. Other gardeners that I talk with also complained that the plants in their gardens equally didn't seem to do as well as in other seasons. 
Will I get to eat the blackberries. A couple look ready but they're not as  dark as they appear in the photo. Leaves are being eaten by something, stems coated in mildew, and leaves covered in flakes of wood from carpenter bees digging into the wood of my neighbor's kitchen. I'll eat those 2 tomorrow if birds or a squirrel doesn't get it first.
I didn't know caterpillars would crawl in search of food. Assuming birds didn't eat them. Oh well, maybe next time they'll be more parsley and I'll get to see them stay and transition.
Seeds from maple Norway Maple have started to fall. It signals the approach of Autumn for me, yeah. The heat has been brutal this season.
Not ripe yet. Still waiting patiently for my cherry tomatoes to ripen.
The cucumbers didn't get diseased yet this summer. They're have been lots of blooms and attached cucumbers but only one small one so far.
Miniature pumpkins remain healthy.
I've been thinking of what I learned from gardening this season. Not trying to force plants to grow in places that may not meet their requirements again is my biggest lesson. Every season I try to force plants to grow where they won't be happy and some live and don't thrive but most die. Purchasing plants at the largest size that my budget allows works better for me. Nothing against 4 inch pots as initially they take up less planting space and if they survive catch up to those purchased larger.

I found many plants on my wish list at the local nursery, a little more money, but large healthy plants and lots of varieties. The problem with larger plants and more money is that you can start the same plant from seed with some patience. Cosmos, bee balm, and other plants I envied at the nursery were beautiful but I wouldn't buy a 2 quart pot when I can grow that from seed. I did buy bee balm because it's perennial but not cosmos although it was beautiful, but I'll have to try them from seed. Brunnera, bergenia and other shade perennials were beautiful plants in person. I love bergenia but it's a big plant, larger than I expected. I won't purchase it and some others because they require moist shade and I don't have moist shade in my yard. 

Mulching did help retain moisture in the yard and I've watered little this season. Growing more plants from seeds is my plan for next season. This may be a more economical way to build the flower beds and not lose money when purchased plants die. Accept that the yard is dappled shade and that many plants won't grow in the yard. Embrace those that do and plant more shade perennials. Black eyed Susan and echinacea does tolerate some shade and I'll still trying to force them to grow in the yard. I'll try again in the spring. 

Avoid calibrachoas and petunias. Although beautiful, I find them high maintenance out front and they enter periods of no bloom while waiting for new blooms. They are beautiful but can become leggy and unkept. Vincas perform better for me. Although I grow them from seed successfully they would take up too much space to grow enough so I'll buy them again. Continue to start seeds of coleus, and geraniums, and decide what perennials I'd like to try. Vegetable seedlings will be started later especially tomatoes. I love Swiss chard but my seedlings outback are still small and I don't know what happened with them. Plant more types of lettuce for the yard and radishes. Don't think I'll be putting vegetables on the porch although they did okay nothing replace growing outdoors, sunlight, and rain water. Finally, plant bulbs earlier. I say this every year. Haven't finished ordering yet. Have you started?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Future Butterflies And Parsley

And so the curley parsley enjoyed it's life basking in 90 degree heat and humidity in the tiny garden in Philly. Happy to be used in soup, poultry, and salads until... a mother butterfly searching for a host plant to safely lay it's eggs found it. Amazing what can be eaten in a few days.
It's amazing what the eye doesn't see, but I saw them almost immediately. What was a container of parsley this weekend is now stems. To think I complained about only seeing white moth butterflies in my yard. There obviously to eat broccoli and kale in the spring. Someone found the parsley. Isn't it amazing. Obviously other gardens have seen this but this is the first for me in my garden. Are they swallowtail butterflies which can be many varieties? Will they survive? They've eaten all the parsley except for stems. Will birds find and eat them before they transition to butterflies? You know I hate insects but respect their place in the environment as pollinators so crucial to plants, fruit, and vegetables. What is the role of butterflies in the food chain other than being beautiful and graceful? I'll have to read more and start with the North American Butterfly Association.
Will they transition into butterflies or be a hearty meal for the robins that love my yard?

They don't seem to like thyme.
Or my sad chives.
But 3 caterpillars ate my parsley. Will they eat the stems? Will I have to buy another plant for them?

The caterpillar crawled back after eating the last leaf and leaving evidence of it's meal on the steps.

They ate, and ate, and ate.

My Babies

Dwarf sunflowers ready to be separated into individual containers. They have their true leaves, are being watered with a weak fertilizer and roots are growing out the bottom of the containers. So I think they're ready. Can't wait to see them full sized and planted outside making heads.
Lupines only 3 healthy, although four germinated. They're the perennial type. I'm going to start more and will be thrilled if they are large enough to plant and return in spring.
The anemone Madonna snowdrop actually germinated and they aren't as tiny as I thought they'd be. Waiting patiently for the other type to germinate.
Digitalis (foxgloves). They're also larger than I thought. Getting all those to planting out size would be wonderful.
Echinacea Purpurea 
Stacys byzantina (lambs ear). I'm happy that I have some that germinated and are developing true leaves.
White swan echinacea slowly germinating in 2 containers. The other is anemone pink saucer  and a container of sunflowers that I don't think are viable. I'll wait to see since the seeds were fresh.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Not Wise & The Summer Garden

This post was written a few days ago. As is in other cities, we're having a heat wave. I took advantage of the cloudy day yesterday morning to work out front not getting a lot done due to much needed pouring rain. Going back out this morning wasn't a good idea but I didn't know in advance. The heat made me sick. I think a combination of dehydration, sun, high humidity, excessive perspiration, and the heat. Never thought I'd be one to suffer from heat exhaustion and will have to be more careful in the future. My flower bed looks a little better and I'll finish mulching on another day.

Summer has been hard on the annuals this year and many didn't do well and had to be replaced. One container of sown anemone seeds actually germinated. I expected problems. They're small and maybe with some attention, some will reach a size to plant out by fall and will return in the spring. I'm hopeful.

Replaced the impatiens.

Gloriosa lily. That's the second one. The first didn't do well will transplanting and died. Hopefully the bulb is fine when I did they up in the spring. It's kind of late and may not do much this season.
Bee Balm
Obedient Plant

In the yard. Hydrangea bought for some added color and later plans to plant them in the ground to see what happens and if they'll come back. When I got them it was a hot day and spending time sitting in the car while shopping wasn't good. Maybe 2 of 3 will survive. The columbine looks dead but some of the stems are green. I'll top it off and plant it in the ground to see if it'll return in the spring. If not hopefully the seed heads will yield some new plants.

Squirrels are still digging and feasting on any tulip bulbs not taken up.
Elephant ears finally emerged.
Waiting for the tomatoes to ripen.
Miniature pumpkins making progress and looking healthy.
Last years florist hydrangea and it retained it's blue coloration so I guess that tells me what type of soil I have. Something's been having a meal with the leaves. Maybe in several years I'll have a large bush.
I'll actually get a handful of blackberries, hopefuly. 
Spring and summer are beautiful times of year but I welcome the coming fall with cooler temperatures.