Monday, September 20, 2010

Dahlias in the Garden

It wasn't too difficult to fall in love with Dahlias. While not hardy to Minnesota, it is quite easy to plant them in the late Spring, enjoy them in the Fall, then dig them up after the first frost and store them away till the next growing season. Granted, you most likely will lose a few, but it is well worth it to save your favorites.

Dahlias don't like a lot of water or they will rot, so I have been watching all year to see out the dozen I planted have handled our extra wet summer. I have lost one for sure. The others are taking forever to bloom. The two pictured are the first to open, but most of them are still forming buds. This time last year, I had so many more growing out of control. Hopefully next year will be better!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hydrangea "Pinky Winky"

I am enjoying watching my Pinky Winky Hydrangea grow bigger each year. While it says it can get up to 8 feet tall, I doubt I will let it, but will instead prune it to stay around 6 feet tall. I took these photos a month ago, so now the pink is a really "burnt" pink, but still very pretty. I also like this Hydrangea as it requires no special treatment - no special pH, no special soil, etc.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Spotted Touch Me Not

I was out photographing the wetlands around the Mississippi River this morning and came across a wildflower I have never seen before. This delicate orange flower is called a Spotted Touch Me Not, and can be found in wetlands and along streams.

An interesting fact about this flower is that the juice from the stems can be used to soothe the sting from nettles and Poison Ivy. It is also a favorite of hummingbirds.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Goldenrod means Summer is at an End

It seems everything is coming early this year compared to last. The amount of Goldenrod that is blooming already is amazing. I have more this year behind my house than ever before. With the light winds we have had this week, it seems almost calming to watch this Minnesota wildflower sway in the breeze.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Liatris Kobold

By far, this is becoming one of my favorite plants in the garden. Pictured here is Liatris spicata "Kobold", also known as Blazing Star or Gayfeather, that I have growing behind my coneflowers. These purple spikes add a different texture to the garden and are great for the back of the border (at least those where max height is around 4 feet). The flower spike reaches anywhere from 2-3 feet tall, and forms a clump of bulbs, but some of my spikes this year are pushing 4 feet tall..

Looks like I will have to divide mine next spring as some of the original single bulbs I planted two years ago have 6-8 spikes. Butterflies love this native wildflower!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Veronica "Sunny Border Blue"

I love Veronica perennials but most of them are short. "Sunny Border Blue" is taller than most, coming in around 2 feet tall, or slightly higher. They are a blue-purple color that really stands out.

I planted one in my front border two years ago, and then decided to buy two more last fall to plant in another section of the yard. Those were "buy one get one free" and very root-bound, but they seem to be doing well this year.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Little Miss Daisy

I was only planning on taking a macro photo of this pretty daisy at a friend's yard the other day, but along came this little spider and quickly walked across the face and back under the petals. I took a batch of photos hoping I caught him, and luckily, this one photo was my great reward.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

This Year's Vegetable Garden

This year I decided to plant the Red Brandywine Tomatoes, the same as I planted last year. One change I made was to place the six plants in a single row, instead of two rows of three plants because last year, it was hard to get to the tomatoes on some plants. The Brandywines get pretty heavy, so I will have to stake the plants further when they get another two feet high.

The spinach, radishes, and red leaf lettuce are spent, but I still have beets to harvest in another week, as well as strawberry plants, and yellow beans.

Friday, June 25, 2010

What's Going on in the Garden this Week

My Astilbes are growing and doing very well this year, their third spring season. From left to right I am growing, "Burgundy Red", "Rheinland", "Fanal", and my newest one was just planted this year next to the step, "Ostrich Plume".

My Coneflower Garden is about to bloom and includes Blazing Star Liatris "Kobold", an "Endless Summer" Hydrangea, two varieties of Coreopsis -"Moonbeam" and "Limerock Ruby", and Black Eyed Susans "Goldsturm".

I have alot of Coneflowers in this bed and once they start blooming, I will photograph each one so you can see their color and petal characteristics:

  • White Swan
  • Harvest Moon
  • Sundown
  • Sunrise
  • Fatal Attraction
  • Magnus
  • Summer Sky
  • Ruby Star
  • Primadonna Deep Rose

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Dragonfly in the Garden

I have been seeing quite a few of these beautiful blue dragonflies in the garden all through June. The Red Headed Woodpecker that has set up shop in my backyard is going crazy chasing them down for a quick snack.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Poppies in the Garden

I have never given much thought to Poppies and really don't know much about them. But a couple of months ago while perusing the Home Depot garden center, my son spotted some poppies called "Champagne Bubbles", and he just had to have one of his own. So, we picked out this beautiful red flower, as well as a pink variety.

When the rabbits don't eat them, they bloom very well and are quite pretty, though short in height. It will be interesting to see how they do with their first winter, and if they come back. If successful, then I just might add a few more to the garden next year.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Drainage Makes all the Difference

Having just build a new home a couple years ago, I had to give new thought to where I planted my perennials. Seems the cities in Minnesota all have rules on how to grade the yard of new construction, so that water drains away from the house.

Unfortunately, this causes a dilemma for a gardener. The sides of our yard for instance, have such a steep grade that water runs right over it, and doesn't have a chance to soak in. The grass there is struggling, and anything that I plant on the side of the house has to either be drought tolerant, or heavily mulched to retain moisture.

At the back of our lot, the grade levels out, but unfortunately, retains all the water that drains down the lot and leaves the water with nowhere to go. The soil there is relatively moist, and in a few places, stays quite wet. In these places I have had to plant moisture loving perennials, some that don't mind getting their feet wet.

With all the rain we have had, the moist areas are soaking, and I have had to move a few plants out of that area as they were starting to rot. My "Coral Reef" Monarda and "Orange Perfection" Phlox were dropping all their leaves, so I moved them up the hill and they seem to be doing better. For two years, a Butterfly Weed had been doing well in the area, but all the rain rotted it out with-in a week and even though I moved it, it looks like it is not going to make it.

Getting to know the different areas of your garden and yard can take multiple seasons. You have to research what works in the sun or shade, and what takes drought or moist conditions in these lighting scenarios. You will lose some plants, as I can attest, so be prepared and keep a garden book for notes on what does and doesn't work.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Wild Blue Phlox Wildflower

I have to say that my favorite color is blue, so I am very attracted to blues and purples in the garden landscape. Spring is a great time to walk through forests to find Minnesota wildflowers, and you cannot miss the tons of Wild Blue Phlox that line walking trails. The flowers are very delicate and I had to get really low to the ground to take this photograph.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Perennial Bachelor Buttons

Last year a friend of mine got sick of her Bachelor Buttons, also known as Centaurea montana. She didn't dead head them or divide them, so they grew out of control. Hating to see a pretty plant go to waste, I took some off her hands and put them in my garden. They like a sunny spot with some shade during the day and might look wilted after a hot afternoon, but don't worry, they are great plants if kept under control not to mention very lovely.

Readers know I love to take photos of my flowers and I really like the one above of an emerging bud. Those yellow dots are aphids of some sort. Below is what the entire plant looks like, this being about 2-3 foot tall and a couple feet wide (they can get wider if not cut back).

Word of caution, once planted, these plants aren't the easiest to get rid of, some people calling them invasive. Their roots grow deep and self seeds readily. Make sure to deadhead to prevent self sowing, and cut back after bloom as you might get a rebloom in the fall.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

My Iris Garden

I have been waiting three seasons to finally witness once again what I have not seen for at least a decade or more: Irises from my mom's garden, ones I grew up with, are now blooming in my own garden.

My mom gave them to me in the fall of 2007, but since the home we were building was not yet complete, I had to plant them in my mother-in-laws garden for the winter in Wisconsin. The fall of 2008, with our new home complete and my garden beds plotted out, I moved them into my garden bed.

But since irises usually do not bloom for a year once transplanted, I did not get to enjoy any blooms when the Spring of 2009 came around. So I waited patiently for another year to go by, and now finally, three seasons later, I finally have blooms! I had forgotten just how beautiful the blue-purple color of these flowers were.

Thanks Mom, they are a welcome site to my garden and people walking by always comment on them.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

I hate the Wind

For a few days this weekend it felt like I was living back in Florida as a Category 1 hurricane rolled through the area. My poor plants took a beating and were pleading for a drink after the wind died down. Ok, most of them came through ok, but I did have to save one of my iris plants as the wind had it nearly laying down on the ground. I quickly staked it and it pulled through the wind no problem.

After living through so many storms in Florida, I have come to hate the wind. A gentle breeze is ok, but I have experienced more high winds in Minnesota than I thought was possible. Oh, and the humidity that followed was also not a welcome addition. Maybe we should call this state, Florisota instead? Minneorda?

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Marsh Marigold Wildflower

Here's another yellow Minnesota wildflower that likes moist areas and is prolific around streams in the early spring time. Marsh Marigold is a member of the buttercup family and is best identified by the bright yellow flowers that mound above round basal leaves. Each yellow flower can have between 5-9 petals. I found hundreds of these plants at Nerstrand State Park this spring, all growing along the creeks that fed into the Hidden Falls waterfall area.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Swamp Buttercup Minnesota Wildflower

If you read my garden blog, then you know that I love to photograph flowers and wildlife, pretty much anything in the Minnesota landscape. This spring has been great for catching wildflowers.

I found this lovely yellow wildflower, a Swamp Buttercup, in one of the state parks a few weeks back. It grows on erect stalks above the "sharp" edged leaves and has five roundish petals. As the name suggests, it likes water and can be found most readily in wet soil, shady areas, woods, and meadows.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Jack in the Pulpit Wildflower

Jack in the Pulpit

Probably one of my favorite spring Minnesota Wildflowers because it is not like any other "flower" and can easily be overlooked when walking through the woods. I always find them at the edge of trails and wooded shady areas. I have only seen them 1-2 feet tall.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My Newly Bought Plant List

On behalf of my readers who want to know what I got at the Friends School Plant sale, below is a list of my plunder:
  • Peony, Coral Charm
  • Peony, Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • Azalea, Mandarin Lights
  • Yarrow, Paprika
  • Foxglove, Candy Mountain
  • Delphinium, Pagan Purples
  • Delphinium, Black Night
  • Butterfly Weed
  • Coneflower, Purple
  • Coneflower, Ruby Star
  • Coneflower, Primadonna Deep Rose
  • Phlox, David
  • Blazing Star, Purple
  • Blazing Star, Meadow
  • Blazing Star, Button
  • Butterfly Bush, Argentea
  • Monarda, Jacob Cline
  • Astilbe, Ostrich Plume
  • Astilbe, Taquetti
  • Bluestar
  • Coreopsis, Moonbeam
  • Verbena, Brazilian
  • Aster, Alma Potschke
  • Joe Pye Weed, Wild
  • Joe Pye Weed, Sweet
  • Queen of the Prairie

Some of them I bought multiples of, as many are going in my church's butterfly garden which I have volunteered to take over.

Monday, May 10, 2010

That Darn Freeze!

I experienced my first late spring Minnesota garden freeze this weekend, and ran out of sheets to protect my Endless Summer Hydrangea. By noon Saturday, the poor thing looked like the above photo. I have another one as well, and it took a beating too.

I was able to cover up my vegetables, bleeding heart, peonies, and many other plants that were tender with new leaves and they look to have pulled through. But my Chocolate Joe Pye Weed got hit, as well as some of the astilbe and sedum leaves. Tomorrow I will have to see if there is any further late appearing damage. Next time, I need to get some more sheets!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Friends School Plant Sale

I spent the morning in the pouring rain at the Friends Plant Sale at the State Fair Grounds. Let's just say it was a mad house, and I doubt I will go again next year. The even is just too big and too crowded. Granted, I got a lot of plants for the money, with the amount of people there, it was more of a hassle being there, when it should have been fun.

I got my wrist band at 8:30am, which they start giving away at 8 am, and I still had 13 groups of people ahead of me. So I waited until they opened at 11:00, thankfully under the umbrella I bought, and watched the crowd get bigger and bigger. By the time I got in, the building was swamped, and of course groups behind me kept coming in as well. Needless to say, they need to space the groups out better. At times, I was like a car in Los Angeles traffic, stopped in my tracks with no one moving to let people through. What's the purpose of coming early with congestion like that?

Oh, well. I experienced it at least.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Early Meadow Rue

I happened upon this delicate flower last week as I was walking along a hiking trail in Nerstrand State Park. I have never seen this Minnesota Wildflower before, and found out when I researched it that its name is Early Meadow Rue. A week later, I was back in the park, and the wildflowers were spent, so it doesn't last long. The flowers are so small they are easy to miss.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Do You Like Plant Sales?

If you are looking for a good plant sale, then don't miss a few coming up in the next two weeks:
  • Friends School Plant Sale at the Minnesota State Fair, May 7-9
  • Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Sale, May 8-9
  • Dakota County Master Gardeners Sale, May 15
  • Hennepin County Master Gardeners Sale, May 22

Happy Shopping!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The early vegetables I planted a couple of weeks ago in my garden are coming up nicely. Last year I planted only tomatoes, but ventured out this year and planted beets, radishes (pictured), red leaf lettuce, and spinach. In a few weeks, I will have to plant wax beans.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Bleeding Hearts in my Garden

Last fall I planted a bleeding heart that was on sale to try out in my shade garden. It is blooming beautifully this year and has about five stalks of blooms.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Dog Violet

The Dog Violet is a really pretty hue of blue and purple, and can be found almost everywhere along the trails and roadsides of Minnesota. I have a similar type of wildflower violet in my back yard, but I found this one in Nerstrand State Park this spring.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wood Anemone

The Wood Anemone is a tiny wildflower that grows in the woods of Minnesota, and can be found along hiking trails in Early to Mid spring.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Tomato Seeds Sprouting

I planted my Red Brandywine tomato seeds about a week ago and transplanted the sprouts into the cell pack above yesterday. I learned a ton growing tomatoes last year, and six plants overwhelmed me and my garden, as this tomato grows huge! So this year I plan on keeping four for my garden, and giving any other plants away.

Feel free to read my series on Growing Tomato Plants from Seed, which I wrote for the 2009 growing season.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

First Garden Blooms this Year

The first blooms of the year are my daffodils and a purple pansey I planted last spring. It is nice to have some color in the yard!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hooded Mergansers in my back Pond

This past week I have awoken every day to two sets of visitors in the pond behind our house. They don't stay for long and are gone with-in hours, but these Hooded Mergansers are a delight to see, and a nice change from geese and Mallards.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring Clean Up

I spent the weekend cleaning up the garden beds of last years growth, as I left a lot of it up over the winter so the yard wouldn't look so bare. From the clean-up I was able to discover many plants with new growth already.

I keep a garden journal of each year's growth, and found that last year, new growth for many plants didn't appear until the middle of April. This year, with the 50 degree weather, I found the following plants peeking out:
  • Peonies
  • Yarrow
  • Hostas
  • Black Eyed Susan
  • Alliums
  • Tulips, Daffodils, Hyacinth
  • Iris
  • Helenium
  • Bachelor Button
  • Sedum

Now, let's just hope the bunnies don't have a buffet dinner with my plants!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

March Baskets Bring May Flowers

Last Saturday I decided to stop by Pahls in Apple Valley to check out their Moss Basket Days. I spent some bucks to create a basket of sun loving plants (you can also create one for shady gardens too). For the size basket I got, I was able to choose 12 plants to put in it. I can't remember most of what I put in there, so I will have to wait until May when I pick up the basket from Pahls to view the plant cards. It is a pretty cool concept, as March makes all us Northern gardeners get Spring fever, and this event lets us get our hands dirty for an hour when it is still frozen outside. Pahls waters and takes care of the baskets until it is safe to take them outside, and I have to pick mine up before May 7th.

The place was pretty packed, and when I arrived in the early afternoon, alot of plants were starting to get cleaned out. I can't wait to see if my creation actually has any visual appeal, so will let you know when I pick it up!

Friday, March 5, 2010

With the Melting Snow Comes Surprises

The east side of my home has had the benefit of tons of sun the last two weeks, and of course is no longer covered with snow. I checked things out a day ago to see what kind of clean up I was going to need to do, as I left some of my coneflowers up during the winter so the birds could have some seeds. You can only imagine how surprised I was to find some tulips coming up already.

And of course I was shocked to see this Pansy, just a few feet away, with green leaves and a yellow flower still shining like it just bloomed. All of this had been under three feet of snow for the last four months!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Winter Rabbits

It appears that all the snow is making the poor little rabbits who savaged my garden last spring quite hungry. There is so much snow on the ground that the three foot high chicken wire fence around my beloved perennial bed is completely covered over. The rabbits have finally figured out they can walk right over the top of the bed and found the tops of my sedums barely sticking out of the three feet of snow.

This morning I woke up to find the rabbits had dug a foot down into the snow and eaten all the sedums up to that point. I feel bad for them, but hate to think that food like this will keep them around. There is also a growing number of rabbit droppings under my deck.

Don't get to comfy critters...war will be declared in the Spring if you don't leave my perennials alone!