Friday, February 12, 2010

Be Bold - Add Color

A few years ago, I saw a custom built arbor that ran across the entire front of a house on one of 'those' shows.
I was immediately attached to the idea of having one like it.
The hubs wasn't so happy. Well, what did I expect, he'd be the one building it.

I must mention here that the hubs is a genius with his hands.
If I show him something in a book, mag or on tv, and the materials are cheap, he'll engineer it.
Or, at least a reasonable facsimile.

After the groaning about what a pain-in-the derriere this thing was going to be, he started drawing.
It was up in two days!

The problem was - it sat unpainted for two weeks because we couldn't decide on a color.
But, who wants a regular old white arbor? White is nice. Cottagey. Presents the vines and flowers well. Also, boring. Very, very boring.

We hemmed and hawed. Made suggestions to each other. Nahh-ed and maybe-ed each one.
Some we threw out immediately, some we mulled over for the entire two weeks. (dark evergreen green, anyone?)

We figured a trip to the little village hardware store was in order for a few more choices.
My youngest tagged along - I think she was 13 at the time.
She wandered down the paint aisle, pointed to a color chip and said, "That's the color you should paint it."

I was horrified. Florida Bay blue.
Bright, gaudy, in-your-face blue.

The hubs blinked at me and simply said, "Why not?"
I wanted to stamp my foot on the ancient wood floor and scream, "Because it's bright blue! We can't have that color screaming at people from the front of our house. What are you two thinking?"
The only thing I could think of was this house in my old neighborhood that had every strip of siding painted a different pastel color. We called it the 'rainbow house' and thought it was just the craziest, gaudiest thing ever. I didn't want my house being thought of like that!
It might look . . . trashy. (which is the thought I think most people's brains automatically jump to with color)

But, I'm not one to make a scene, you know. Not in public, anyway.
I stared at the chip, trying to envision what it might really look like against the white background of the house. Blue is my favorite color, after all. Maybe it wouldn't be too bad? It's not like it would be on the whole house or something. And we could always paint over it.

So, we painted it that shocking blue.
And we liked it!
Yes, we liked it a lot.
So did the neighbors.


All these years I've never been bold enough to paint my outdoor accessories the colors that I wanted. It was a real eye opener. Why is everyone so afraid of bold colors in the garden? They'll use shocking red, yellow, purple flowers, but everything else must blend into the background. Why? Why can't a pot or other garden accessory compliment other colors? Can you imagine a nice small splash of purple hidden among some hostas? Or a bit of sunny yellow nestled among some purple amaranth? A garden chair painted a soothing mint green situated in the shade garden inviting visitors to have a seat, relax and enjoy the scenery?

What's better than a beautiful splash of color, that isn't a flower, somewhere in the garden?
Start small, maybe a pot. (somewhere I saw a set of small buckets that someone had added feet to, painted pastel colors and used for flower pots. They were gorgeous!!)
Even a few small rocks placed here and there.
Be bold. Grab that paintbrush and try it. See how you feel about it.
Besides, you can always repaint.

I'm now mulling over painting our pond bench lavender. Adding a little color was one of the best decisions we ever made, so why not?

Happy (adding that splash of color) Growing!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Hydrangea "First Red" ... Help?

When the clearance sale rolled around last year, I bought hydrangea that were tagged 'First Red'.
Ok, let me make something clear here - hydrangeas and I don't get along all that well. We just don't see things eye to eye. I think, if there was a plant that was my polar opposite, hydrangea is it.

Around here, everyone has them in their yards. They grow like weeds.
Yup, they're another of those, "Any idiot can grow it," plants that I can't get to grow!

But, hey, they were 50 cents a piece. 50 cents! I know, don't say it. I'm a sucker. I bought the six they had left.

So, anyway, I'm giving myself another shot at growing them because, well, did I mention they were only 50 cents?
Here's the tag:

To save you the eye strain:

First Red
Red flowers bloom in spring.
Part sun to part shade
Rich, porous soil.
Regular water use
Zone 6, -10 to 0F (-23 to -17C)

I've searched everywhere for some info on this one, and there isn't much.
I did find this from Richie seed & feed garden news, November 10, 2009:

New Plants for 2010!!!
First Red Hydrangea. Yet
another hydrangea for
new hydrangea lovers.
The “First Red” blooms
on old and new wood.
The blooms are an amazing
deep red and flower
from July to September.
This compact variety stays
under 20” tall. An amazing
dwarf variety.

Besides care instructions (that part I get) this is about all I've found, and bloom time doesn't even match! The stupid tag doesn't even list height, so is it really a dwarf or not?

Is it macrophylla, normalis, serrata, paniculata, (which is zoned to 3-4, so I wouldn't assume), quercifolia, arborescens?

Right now they're in two quart pots overwintering in a box by my back door with frozen soil. (I told you my house was cold!) Since they're zoned to 6, I'll have to drag them in every fall. <---pet peeve alert. Stop selling plants in areas they aren't zoned for!

I'll transplant them to three gallon pots in spring.
Obviously, pruning, besides shaping, is pretty much out of the question since it's suppose to bloom on both new and old wood.

Ugh! Why can't they just put more info on the freaking plant tags? This is one of my biggest pet peeves EVER. Give us more info, dang it!

So, does anyone know anything about 'First Red'?
Do you grow it?
I would be ever so grateful for some help on this one, please.

Happy (never enough tag info) Growing!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

$500K in seed funding

No, not for me. I wish!!
Go ahead, imagine what you could do with a seed budget that big - I'll wait.
Ok, you back with me now? I know, it's terrible to have to leave that dream.

ITHACA - Aero Farm Systems, LLC (AeroFarms) of Ithaca has secured $500,000 in seed financing

What the heck kind of seed are they buying with $500,000?
Holy cripes!

"Aeroponic technology grows produce without soil and without sun, year-round and in any location."

People have been experimenting with that for a long time - it works.

"Ed Harwood, Ph.D., is founder and CEO of AeroFarms. He founded the company in 2004 as GreatVeggies LLC, based on his own design of an aeroponic growing system. Harwood previously served as associate director of Cornell Cooperative Extension for Agriculture and CEO of Topline Waikato, Inc.

Aero Farms' university partners include Cornell, North Carolina State, Alfred State SUNY College of Technology, and Rensselaer."

Umm, ok, I guess that's good?
Obviously, the possibilities are endless, but what will the final cost be to produce enough to make it worthwhile? And you still need space. Ooooo, huge abandoned high-rise opportunity here! Or, just abandoned buildings, period. It will be interesting to see what eventually comes of this.

Happy ( $500,000 worth of seed) growing!


More Proof Organic is the Way to Go

Just came across this from my newsrunner:

Toxic chemicals used to kill voles kills two girls in Utah.

"Investigators say the gas may have entered into the family's home after an exterminator dropped Fumitoxin aluminum phosphide pellets in burrow holes in the lawn Friday to kill small rodents known as voles.

Meanwhile, a Sandy woman, Alice Pittman, said Wednesday that she now wonders if a September 2008 Fumitoxin application by the same exterminators - Bountiful-based Bugman Pest and Lawn - may be connected to the deaths of her two Basset hound puppies.

Pittman, 77, also recently had cancer-related surgery and said she worries the poison application could somehow be connected to her recent health problems as well. "Now, I wonder about that, too. It leaves a question in my mind," she said."

Man, oh, man. How sad is that? Think, of both your family and neighbors, before you let people throw chemicals will-nilly around your property. Cross your fingers that your neighbors don't do it either!


She Just Keeps Going & Going & Going

My thanksgiving Cactus started the first bloom in October.
She repeat bloomed, which is not all that abnormal, for Christmas.
But, she's on her third bloom!
This is today:


I've never had one do this before. Two bloom cycles, yes. Three, no.
Nothing has really changed in her environment.

Maybe it's because of the breeding I did. Though, I don't know why the others didn't respond in the same manner since they produced seed also. The rest are setting their second buds now, but that's normal.
Or maybe it's that she's being threatened daily with freezing to death in the window she's in - the heat in the house has been turned way down this year out of necessity. (trust me, it's freaking cold in here! Most of my tropicals are not looking too grand as they're a bit miffed that a cold front has apparently settled into their nice cozy domain.)

I'm not sure why she's decided to impersonate the energizer bunny this time, but I'm glad she is!
Hmm, I wonder if she'll see fit to do a fourth in April for my step-mom's birthday? Now, wouldn't that be something!

Happy (reblooming) Growing!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Murder in the Garden


Horticultural lecturer found murdered in the woods.

The 54-year-old had disappeared after meeting gardener Peter Ling for a drink.

Mrs. Casey had met Ling in 2000 when he was a student in her classes at Sutton College.

Whole story here: Horticultural lecturer murdered.

This boggles the mind - plant people are always such sweet people!


Mommy Sells . . .

The Tuesday Chuckle-

Some children were asked to draw pictures of their parents at work . . .

No, she's not a pole dancer.
This was a picture drawn of Mom working at the local Home Depot selling shovels.

Happy (shovel acquiring) growing!

Psstttt - have you answered the seed poll yet?

Monday, February 08, 2010

Lights, Camera, Grow!

Yay! The plant stand is up!
Of course, the only thing on there so far are the onions, but those 3 shelves will start filling up quickly in March.
I can't wait!
It'll be little green things everywhere. Winter doesn't get any better than that.


Since the light from window sills just won't cut it for healthy seedlings, we made this one from the plans at T's Flowers & Things three years ago. Very easy to set up and cheap, cheap, cheap.

The only problem we found with this design is that the upright sides should be much longer - there was very little room for plants as they got taller, like toms. We simply bought more PVC and cut longer pieces. Problem solved!
No matter how big or small the space you have, with a little measuring the plans can be changed to fit in just about any area, including closets. You could also add more levels if you have ceilings high enough.

The best thing about this design is that you can put it together so quickly (it took us all of 8 minutes to put up) and you can take the whole thing apart and store it in a very small space when not in use.
I labeled the parts, so assembly is a breeze.

What do you use for inside seed starting?

Happy (inside sowing) Growing!