Seeds, Blooms, and the Garden Show

Home again, home again, and the garden has exploded in weeds in the last couple of weeks. I spent some of this afternoon weeding, but I'm going to have my work cut out for me.

In seedling news, the last tomato (Persimmon) finally sprouted and looks pretty good.

Persimmon tomato seedlings

The basil has come up but is being somewhat petulant about putting on some true leaves; I think it needs more light. Fortunately, it's now home where there is a growing shelf and lights, so we should see some progress.

Basil seedlings

Out in the garden, the Allium schubertii are getting ready to go, and the Tulipa turkestanica are in bloom. They are rather more orangey than I expected, but nice, anyway. I'll spare you the parrot tulips that look like they have some sort of wasting sickness. I don't know if they'll come back but if they do they better look less unwell or they'll be composted.

Allium schubertii and Tulipa turkestanica

I was sniffing around in the freesias (well, that's why we plant them, right???) and saw this cute little bug in there. It was wiggling around fiercely, but it also seemed really comfortable. I'm delighted to have a lot of bugs and things in the garden, especially pollinators.

Bug in the freesias

The dianthus are being nice for me and putting out lots of buds and fresh green growth. This is 'Firewitch'; not my favourite, but a very nice bloom, anyway.

Dianthus Firewitch

And the Babiana, a South African bulb, is blooming. I have this red one and a blue one, and I thought they were goners last year because of some excessive dog romping, but both are coming up and the blue one should bloom soon. This year they're both safe behind a fence.

Babiana in bloom

And most significant, the magnolia 'Jon-Jon' out front has put out its first ever bloom. It's lovely. I keep walking over and admiring it. It's soft and thick and pinkish, which is everything you want a magnolia bloom to be. I really did think this tree was going to die during the foundation work, and seeing it so healthy makes me incredibly happy.

Magnolia in bloom

In other news, the lawn has gotten a trifle on the long side. Rosie likes it, and has been playing tiger in the grass in it, but it's actually hard to walk through there.

Long long grass

Anyway, let me tell you about the Garden Show. I was looking for Japanese maples, which is good because there were a lot of them. I bought one from Mountain Maples called Toyama Nishiki -- it's really a startling tree. They only had a really huge one at the show, and I prefer to plant trees small, so they're shipping me one next week (a 10% show discount and free shipping is a good thing for buying trees). I will be getting another maple later this year, but they didn't have the one I wanted ready, so you all will have to wait.

Also purchased: a dwarf Agapanthus, some herbaceous peonies (more zone denial), some trillium, some Epimedium, a few teeny alpine plants, and a mushroom kit (which is being shipped). I was tempted by some of the liquid fertilizer guys, but when it came down to it I like my method of piling compost on things.

Some highlights of the non-plant sellers (my plant photos came out all blurry). First, a huge display of artificial flowers:

Artificial flowers

The inevitable booth full of clogs (I just ruin my good shoes by wearing them in the garden; it works for me):


And the equally inevitable terrifying huge bronze sculpture:

Terrifying sculpture

A decent show, all said. I do wish I had more shady space because there were a lot of booths with Heronswood hellebores and they were just gorgeous, but I do have several hellebores already and the Fern Walk isn't even particularly shady. It would also have been nice to see more variety in the water plants available, but I guess I can also mail-order that stuff.

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posted by ayse on 03/22/07


Have you had any success with your trillium? I tried in Oakland years ago and nothing happened. What kind did you buy?

I got a mixed bag, but one of the varieties is Trillium vaseyi. Nothing particularly fancy and not natives.

And I can't say I've had any success with them yet, because I haven't planted anything. My experience with trillium is from planting it in the woods back east, and it was one of those things where the failure rate was high but when it worked it really took. I think the problem we get here is a) not quite enough shade, b) soil that's not evenly moist enough, and c) soil that doesn't approach the texture and makeup of the forest-floor hummus that woodland plants tend to prefer.

So I'm going to be working on all three elements with these guys and we'll see how it turns out. This involves things like making a layered bed of moldy leaves and compost, and then putting shade cloth over the lot until there's enough natural shade.

The thing to do is go to Tilden and see how they're growing the native trilliums. I can't imagine the East Coasters are going to like the summers here.

I can't wait to hear about the Peony experiment. I read somewhere about a guy on the peninsula who made ice in bundt pans and put it around his peonies every night all winter long.

Oh, no, the East Coast trillium would be dead after a summer here. I was so excited when I saw the trillium at Tilden because I loved them back east, and thought they would never grow here. I did a little bit of research beforehand and determined that much of the cultural requirements are the same, only less water and no freezing. Also, I made sure I only got Western trillium.

As for the peonies, a neighbor down the street has some 'Festiva Maxima' that do really well. I should pop in and see if they do anything special. I'm really hoping not to have to ice them down (the peonies, not the neighbors) (also not the neighbors).

Note: We're getting pummeled with spam comments, so I've turned off the ability to use any HTML or include any links for the time being. Email with any issues.

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