Sunday, April 20, 2008

Fairy Barrels!

My children go to a Waldorf methods school, where fairy play is very popular amongst the younger ones. I decided to use the 1/4 wine barrels to make some fairy gardens for my girls!

So far they have really enjoyed rearranging the rocks and sticks and finding seed pods and such in the yard for the fairies ("this can be a fairy slide!"). The girls have declared the baby NEEDS HER OWN and the boys, too old for silly fairies, want their own barrels. The nine year old like succulents and so will get a rock garden/succulent one. The older boy suggested a miniature landscape for action figures. I will post when they are done!

April in my yard

It frosted here in Napa again! April 20th! Ergh. And if that werent bad enough I came home from work and found this:

My purple hopseed tree I planted from a 24" box last year. I realize now I should have staked it better. Im a little heartbroken. But on to more positive pictures:

My Philadelphus is in full bloom.
And just as my Michelia X Jack Fogg finishes blooming my Michelia figo Port Wine begins...ahhh heavenly smells!

The old gallica rose way in the back (that is trying to take over the yard) is starting to bloom.

A close up of the blossom, it is powerfully fragrant.

Some shots from the front yard. my postage stamp cottage garden. It is looking better all the time. I put down cocoa mulch and it really made a difference.

Cestrum smithii Elegans. This poor plant is being propped up by that old tractor
seat. I have had it at least 10 years and to feel how loose the steam is in the ground you would think it should be dead. But nope, keeps on blooming!

And lastly here is a "Sunset" Iochroma I bought recently and put in a wine barrel on the front porch.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Growing Challenge Week..uh...??

Im here! Im here!
Melinda must think I fell off the planet but no, I am just insanely busy!
(for info on The Growing Challenge click on the button of the same name to the right under the topics)
Its hard having both my job and my hobby be spring intensive, and the kids school too!
Sooo, we have been working in the yard every spare moment. Not all has been on edibles, the front yard is turning into a awesome cottage garden.
What have we got going?
1.Finished all the raised beds, hauled 10 yards of dirt into new ones and topped off old ones.
2.Finished planting the blueberry patch, 12 plants in all.
3.Have heirloom squash, melon and cucumber seeds starting.
4.Planted tomatoes, they froze and today I planted 17 more.
5.In our center salad box we have swiss chard, shallots, green onions, tons of lettuce (from discards), three types and colors of carrots, radish, thymes and (dont laugh) peanuts!
6.Planted Italian Long Green, Sweet Cherry and Mini Chocolate peppers today.
7.Got the bean supports half done and put in the red noodle asparagus bean seed today.
8.Planted a columnar apple in one corner of one bed, am starting garlic chives from seed, going to put under they were good companions. Also planted a Jonagold along the vegetable fence and am training it into a espalier.
9. Along the fence we planted 7 various 'rescued' grapes from work and 2 pomegranates.

10.Bought two figs: Panache (Striped Tiger) and Brown Turkey, not yet planted.
11. Bought a Lane Late Navel Orange, not yet planted. Am researching the rest of the citrus I want to get this spring.

12.Started 2 flats of alpine strawberries form seed, one red and one yellow.

A few pictures:

Dont look at the weeds! This is the mini apple-pear orchard...ha ha. I am laying rocks around these beds so you have to envision rock lined pathways here, and filled with beautiful plants of all types where the weeds are, ok?

Above is the bed with the red noodle beans along back, columnar apple in corner, and the purple tomatoes: Black Krim, Black from Tula, Cherokee Purple and Prudens Purple. And the peppers too.

The enter "salad" bed. Note: teh tomato on the bottom left is Giuseppe's Bigga Boy. I planted all my tomatoes (and I KNEW better)on March 31st. That night I heard the vineyard fans kick on. We had a week of frost....that Giuseppe's was UNTOUCHED. The rest turned black and wilted down. And they were all hardened off the same.

The box above will have the Blue Lake pole beans along the back. I carefully charted out my tomatoes in a book this lost tags. In tried to group them so we have the group of German Johnson, Caspian Pink x2 and Moskovich and the group of HillBilly, Arkansas Traveler and Box Car Willy. And I threw the french girl Dona in there with them for fun. We are getting straw this week to line all the walkways and mulch the beds.

This bed has Aunt Rubys German Green x2, Green Grape (my favorite) and Persimmon. In the back of the bed those metal stakes are going to be used for the cucumbers. I want to try and trellis them this year. You can see the new beds in the back of the picture. The squash and melons go in there.

And lastly...we did not get the blackberries removed yet BUT my husband did bushwhack a path to the back fence. Not sure why we need to walk to the back fence but we an now, if we so choose. I would love to clear this out, but I think it will be a bit yet.
And so thats it, thats what we have been doing in the fruit/veggie department!
I hope all of the other "growers" are doing well!

Beneficial Insects....a sign of a healthy garden!

I just came in briefly to post these pictures. As I passed by my rather woody, badly-in-need-of-a-haircut honeysuckle I was startled by hundreds of bugs raining down onto me and the ground below. Luckily bugs (except potato monsters..agh) do not bother me. Upon closer inspection I realized it was covered in aphids, the bugs falling are soldier beetles eating the aphids! How cool is that? They are doing a good job too. Personally, I tell customers at work the best thing they can do for their yard is to plant more flowers. The more diverse your yard/garden the better natural balance of bugs will be.

Also: Bees!
My wisteria is blooming as are my two large Michelias one huge Osmanthus and several medium ones, two jasmines, and orange among many others. Not only does it smell FANTASTIC right now but the fat and happy bees are so thick it nearly sounds like a horror movie. Most customers freak if a plant attracts bees....but rarely do any of us get stung. They are busy do their bee thing and we don't bother them = no problems!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Hummers at the Nursery..

I have so, so much I need to post: fruiting quince, smelly flowers, growing challenge, purchases, Goldsmith Seed trials.....and on and on! But I am so tired!

Tonight let me post a couple of cute hummingbird nests (with mama and babies) we had at the nursery last week.

This first one is up in a 15 gallon Pittosporum Eugenoides tree. As soon as a nest is discovered the tree is covered in SOLD tags and pt off limits. Jake climbed into the tree next to this one and used the zoom, so as not to disturb the precious (and tiny) occupants.

This mama hummer built her nest right at the very front of the nursery, at the top of the wooden overhang, 15 feet in the air. For this picture Ben stood on a pallet and he was slowly raised by forklift until he could zoom in. We were wondering what she must of thought of this mans face slowly rising over her horizon? Hmmm....

This last one is terribly blurry but I love the birds eye view of the nursery. Just when we thought we had seen every aisle, every crack in the cement form every angle...nope!

OK, bonus shot: These daffs were given to me by the nursery after they didnt sell and it was getting way too late to plant them. I then hauled them around for a few more weeks until it was really too late to plant them. But, I finally stuck them in one of the wine barrels I had made for my sons class. Arent they gorgeous doubles?

Thursday, March 27, 2008


I am so tardy on posting my purchases. With it being spring I am a little busy and tired from both my own yard and work....PLUS, the purchases this time of year can be a little difficult to confess right here in front of

Here are some from the past few weeks:

Tomatoes!! I am going to try and control myself this year! So far: Aunt Rubys German Green, Green Grape, German Striped, Black Krim, Giuseppes Bigga Boy, Caspian Pink, Brandywine, Sungold, Mortgage Lifter, and one mystery....must...control...myself.........
This Armeria.....I love it because it is large enough to hold is own place in the flower bed.

The Oxalis on the left I actually bought in the fall but I bought the golden feverfew a couple of weeks ago and I love the way the two look together.
This is a variegated Photinia. I never thought much of this shrub but I like not only this variety but the dwarf "Fireball" very much too.
A couple of Salvias for the front yard. A peachy Greggii named "caviar" and then a tutti fruiti sage (S. dorisiana), love the way the leaves smell, similar to pineapple sage but leave are much larger and flower is hot pink.
Euphorbia "Jessie".
Euphorbia "Excalibur".
A bunch of succulents form various places. Most from the nursery, some purchases and some that needed some TLC.

Today I went out to DJs Growing Place here in Napa. Its not a competitor really because it is a different type of nursery. They propagate most of their stuff themselves and its fun to search the place for treasures, which they do these 3 succulents above! They have good prices too. I remember when they started...gosh about 20years ago. DJ was their son who they lost to a childhood illness.

We have had this one at the nursery before, it is a Salvia with odd orange-brown flowers. I have seen this before in books and always thought I should try it because my oldest son is Russell....this is Russelia. I have a plant for almost every kid now....even got a David Austin rose named for my son, Braeden (different spelling).
Ok, here is a 1 gallon climbing rose named "Lavender Falls". I am a sucker for climbing roses, and this is just my size (price). Havent found anything on the internet about it yet. To the right is a climbing Hops vine. We had these but these soldbefore I could get one and the price was great. In the back is Campanula punctata "Wedding Bells" I just ordered some seeds for the pink ones.
Here is one I have never seen or heard of, but did find it online after I bought it. Devils Tobacco. Lobelia tupa. 6ft tall, full sun, red flowers. Looks cool!
And finally a Iochroma cyaneum "salmon". They start out kinda orangey but the blossoms fade to a very nice peachy-salmon.

So there you have it, confessions are out. I also pickedup 3 climbing roses just before bareroot was over: Colette, Night Owl and Red Eden. Also bought some more seeds: mainly red and yellow alpine strawberries. And a few little odds and ends...6 pack of pink forget me nots, a gold marjoram...dont jusdge me harshly! Its hard to work in a nursery this time a yea when hundreds of plants are ariving...heck thousands...daily!
Next I hope to update my growing challenge!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Elizabeth Magnolia

I said no more Magnolia posts UNLESS the yellow one at work bloomed. Not only did it blossom but so did one a few houses down from me. The fact that I do not ever remember seeing the one in my own neighborhood before is proof to how dim I had been allowing the horticultural part of my brain to grow over the past several years. "sigh" (I am shaking my head in disgust)

Anyhow, here are two of thee baby one at work:

And the one up the street that is just beautiful:

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