Saturday, May 28, 2011

Early Meadow Rue - Minnesota Wildflower

Early Meadow Rue

This is one of the most interesting wildflowers I have seen the past few years, and is surprisingly part of the Buttercup family. It is small, delicate, and easy to overlook when out hiking in the woods. As the flowers age the thread parts that hold the handing stamens turn red (seen in this photo I took last year). It likes moist and shady areas in the woods.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Plant Loss due to Rot

The one thing that has been really hard for me living in Minnesota is accepting the poor soil conditions I face in my yard, aka. lots of clay. I grew up in Southern Indiana where I could go out in anywhere in my yard, throw a shovel in the ground, and come up with nothing but beautiful black earth. Here in Minnesota, if I do the same thing, I might get a half foot of dirt (and it's not black) before I hit gray clay.

I have tried mixing in new top soil when I can, but I can only dig so deep before I need a backhoe and a dump truck to haul it all out. Don't have the funds for that. So what I am left with is battling my soil conditions and planting what I think might survive in a area. Of course light conditions play heavily on what I plant where.

So far this spring I have lost some plants to rot:
  • Two Coneflowers
  • Two Coreopsis
  • One Foxglove
  • Hydrangea Bush
  • Iris
Even plants that say they except poor soil conditions have not survived. For instance, for three seasons I have planted Echinops Rito or Globe Thistle, but it never comes back. I have even tried different locations. For plants that say full sun, even those fail sometimes in clay soil. I have planted Butterfly Weed in three different locations - all have failed. But last year I grew my own Swamp Milkweed from seed and planted them in a bed that gets more moisture than the others, and I am happy to report some new shoots are coming up this week. Hopefully this will continue to survive and attract more Monarchs to the garden.

So I am left every spring wondering what will come back and what won't. Hopefully this summer won't be as wet as 2010 because loss due to rot comes down to one thing, how wet is your garden?

What have been your experiences battling the heavy clay soil of Minnesota?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Daffodils in the Garden

Each year I add new bulbs to the garden, but can never remember what type they are until they bloom. Here are some of the daffodil types I have in the flower beds. I took photos of the beds this year so I can remember where the daffodils are in relation to the tulips so I can plant accordingly. I think that my favorite daffodil I have planted so far is the "Tahiti" variety (show in the lower right of the photo above).

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Potting Tuberous Begonias

About three years ago I started over wintering my begonias as I hated to throw them away, only to spend money on getting new ones the next spring. I read up on how to do it and it is pretty simple. Three of the four above I have had three years now, and the smaller one was given to me by my mother-in-law.

I started them late this year (oops). They take a while to get started so usually I have them potted by the end of February or early March, but couldn't get to them until the end of April. Of course it is too cold in those months, so I sit them in a sunny location in my house and wait for them to start growing.

Pot them so the top of the tuber is at the soil line. Potting them below could lead to water pooling in the top and rotting out the tuber. If you leave a little bit of the stem from last year, you can easily tell which end is up. Below is a picture of one of them sitting in a pot, without the soil completely around it so you can make out the shape of the tuber. I added just enough soil to barely cover, then watered and set outside on nice sunny days. Once the weather warms up more, they'll grow more quickly.