Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The "Princess Diana" Clematis in Full Bloom

 I posted on June 9th that the "Princess Diana" clematis had set buds this year. Since it didn't bloom last year, the year that we purchased the plant, we were excited to finally see it in bloom. And I can report that it was worth the wait! It has been blooming for about a week now and is still producing new buds at the top of the plant. We should have new blooms to enjoy for at least another two weeks.

The blooms are bell shaped and are pretty even before they open. As you can see, the blooms are a hot pink/red color with white in the reverse seams. At this stage they look a little bit like tulips.

Here's a newly opened bloom.

In this picture you can see all of the bloom stages, from green buds to fully open blooms. Also, look at the stems at the top. All of the newer growth is a shiny copper red, another neat feature of this clematis

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Spring to Summer

We actually had some sunshine for me to work in today. I spent my morning trying to finish up the "conversion" of switching over the kitchen garden from Spring garden to Summer garden. I began the  morning by harvesting all of the "Blauschokker" purple podded peas and then pulled up the plants.

 I was then able to finish planting the tomato plants that I purchased two weeks ago. I thought that I had only bought four more plants but it turns out that I had five new plants! So one of them had to get planted away from the others on the left edge of the garden. Planted today, "Galina", "Valencia", "Fantastic VF", "Matina", and "Black Pear".

These are my original four grafted tomato plants. They have been in the ground for a few weeks now and are really starting to take off. The "Black Krim" on the far right has almost filled the first level of the cage system. It won't be too long before I will need to add the second tier to this group.

Friday my new cucumber trellis arrived from Gardener's Supply company. Just in time! I got it all set up in a snap and then transplanted my ten "Russian Pickling" starts at the base of the trellis. The plan is this summer they will slowly climb the trellis and the fruit will hang down through the squares. This will keep it clean and dry and will save much needed space.

Here's a close-up of my young plants. They have just produced their first true leaf. I am sure hoping that the birds will leave them alone until they get a bit bigger.

As July fast approaches, my garlic is looking great. The hardneck "Chesnook Red" leaves are starting to turn yellow, just like the books say they should!

And I was pleased to discover this week they have produced garlic scapes. I will let the scapes grow for maybe another week before cutting them off. I have found a recipe for garlic scape pesto that sounds delicious, so I want to give that a try with my scape harvest.

Here is a close-up of a garlic stalk. Many of the stalks are quite thick at the base. I am hoping that is a sign of a large bulb underneath.

My onion plants are also doing really well. Here's the half row of "Mars", the red storage onion.

The other half of the row is planted with "Frontier" a yellow storage onion. These plants are just a touch smaller than the "Mars" plants, so it will be interesting to compare the final bulb size of both.

Now that we have passed the Summer Solstice, the onion bulbs will begin to grow by leaps and bounds.

I have two more projects left to complete the Summer kitchen garden. I need to transplant my kale starts and I want to buy a few more morning glory. Right now my new tour has one huge volunteer morning glory plant at its base. As you can see its first two tendrils have wrapped on and are starting to climb. Last year I grew a variety here that had a mix of three colors, so it will be a surprise what color blooms I will have with this volunteer plant.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Starting the Change-over

Today I finally had the time, and a break in the rainy weather, to begin the switch in the kitchen garden from the Spring garden to the Summer garden. First on the "to-do" list was tearing out the radish bed. Once again, the radishes got away from me this year and I was only able to harvest about half of the crop. The remaining radish have now begun to bolt and send up seed stalks.

If you have never seen a radish seed stalk before, this is what they look like. Each one of those buds will produce a flower. After blooming and getting pollinated, the flower will dry and its pod will set seed.

I planted five different varieties of radish and it was interesting to see that they were producing different bloom colors. The is pretty one was a soft pink.

This was my favorite- a lovely purple petal with white centers.

And another flowering stalk.

After I got all of the radish pulled out and put on the compost heap, I went to work creating three new raised beds for the winter squash. That always seems like such an easy task and yet it always takes me so much longer than I think it will! After I finally completed the new beds, I planted the 6 new starts that I had purchased from Mountain View Farm at the Farmer's Market. This bed has two "Bush Delicata".

The middle bed hold two plants of classic "Waltham" Butternut.

And the last bed became home to two plants of  Kabocha "Orange Sunshine". This is a new variety for me so it will be fun to watch it and see how it performs this year.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Summer Solstice

This afternoon, at 4:09 PM PST, Summer officially arrived here in Oregon. Tonight the sun set behind our hill at 8:10 PM. There was some trace of light in the sky until after 10 PM. Now the sun will start its slow march, setting futher south along the hill-line, a bit earlier every night. Happy Summer Solstice!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Bleeding Hearts in June

We are currently at "peak" bleeding heart time in our garden. We now have three different varieties and none of them are the common bleeding heart found in so many gardens. Our newest acquisition is dicentra spectabilis "Gold Heart".  This bleeding heart produces lovely, green/gold leaves that just light up the dark corner where it is planted. Both the leaves and the pink and white flowers are produced on attractive mauve colored stems. "Gold Heart" will grow to 24" in height and is hardy in zones 5-9. As Summer arrives it will go dormant and disappear for another year. It was bred by Nori Pope at Hadspen House Nursery, England.

Our young, second year "Gold Heart" plant.

The second variety of bleeding heart blooming now is dicentra formosa "Aurora". This small cultivar is a mass of blooms! As you can see in the picture below, the plant is literally covered with stems that each support a cluster of snow white hearts. It is blooming now and will have a second flush later in the year. "Aurora" also has very attractive dusty green, lacy foliage. This cultivar will not die back until the first frost. It is a work-horse that will look attractive all Summer and Fall. It is a low grower, reaching 12-15" in height."Aurora" is hardy in zones 3-9 making it adaptable to so many different parts of the US.

I am afraid that I don't have a name for our final variety of bleeding heart. It has so much in common with "Aurora" that I am sure that they are closely related. This little gem has lovely blue/green lacy foliage. It doesn't bloom quite as profusely as "Aurora" but its red hearts with white trim are striking. It also blooms all Summer long before disappearing for the Winter after the first frost. Another low grower, it is at home in the front of the border. It is also hardy to a low zone.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Sunflowers Are In

Tonight I planned to finish planting my sunflower seedlings beneath the protective hoop tunnel. I had all of the seed trays spread out on the walkway today, soaking up what sunshine there was available. As I looked over my seedling trays I had the able assistance of Padma - right in the middle of everything!

All of these seeds were planted on May 28th - exactly three weeks ago. These "Ring of Fire" sunflowers look great. They are all stocky, strong plants with really striking red stems. They also have really nicely developed root systems. You can see in the above picture a long white root that has pushed out of the bottom of the middle front peat pot. It's time to get them in the ground. So tonight they joined the "Giant Primrose" sunflowers underneath the remay tunnel.

A close-up of the the "Ring of Fire" plants.

The other seedling are doing fine too. I didn't get very good germination with the "Blue Pointe" Zinnia seed but I was using some older seed. I should still have plenty of plants for a nice row.

The "Frances's Choice" marigold seed germinated very well. The new seedlings are a beautiful burgundy color. It looks like the first true leaves, which are just starting to form, will be a vibrant green.

The "Russian Pickling" cucumbers also look great. They are also just forming their first true leaf. It won't be long before I will need to get them transplanted into the kitchen garden.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Sixth Tilling!

This afternoon Dad and I headed down to the big garden for another attempt at tilling the garden. After our horrible experience last Monday, where the garden was worse after- then before we tilled - I wasn't sure what to expect today. I am happy to report that we are making some progress! The garden is still far from perfect but it is much drier than it was a week ago. The clay clods are half as big and half as frequent as last week. I am also pleased that we were finally able to successfully roto-till in the compost that we dumped on the wet end last week. The soil had dried sufficiently enough that the tractor didn't sink and the compost mixed in with the clay soil nicely. It made a marked improvement at that end. Now I am going to wait a few days and see how the soil surface looks. If it dries enough to form a firm surface I am going to start laying out the garden. If not, we will have to do one more tilling!

While I was waiting for Dad and the tiller to arrive in the garden I spied this doe directly behind the back garden fence. I couldn't figure out why she wasn't running quickly away as the tractor arrived. But then I spied, hidden in the tall grass, her two twin fawns. I couldn't get a good picture of them because they were almost completely hidden in the tall grass. They couldn't be more that  a few days old.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

"Rolf Fiedler" Ipheion Peregrinans

You might remember last Fall I heard a talk given by the owner of Cherry Creek Daffodils. After the talk there were lot of interesting bulbs for sale and we had to buy a few to try. After a very busy Fall and early Winter I finally got all of our purchases planted on January 8th. Thankfully almost all of the bulbs still looked good as I settled them into their new home. The last bulb to sprout this Spring was the Ipheion Peregrinans "Rolf Fiedler". I had almost given up when tiny green shoots appeared about six weeks ago. This last week the first two blooms opened. Unfortunately, we were in the middle of torrential rains at the time and both tiny bloom stalks were flatten to the ground. But today the third bloom opened and we can actually enjoy it! It's a lovely little star flower in two shades of blue/purple.The stem in no more than 3" tall. It's a petite little gem for the front of a flowerbed. It will be interesting to watch my two bulbs in future years and see if they increase.

Monday, June 11, 2012

One Step Forward, Four Steps Back

Late yesterday afternoon, Dad and I took the pickup truck to Lane Forest Products and got two scoops of blended mint compost. When we returned we dumped it in a dry corner of the garden. My idea was tonight we would spread the mint compost,with the help of our tractor, down in the wet end of the garden.

As you can see, after last weeks big rains, there is standing water and mud here. So Dad carefully distributed the compost and I raked it evenly over the area. Then Dad started to till the garden, for what I optimistically thought would be the fifth and final time. What happened next was a bit of a disaster.The more we tilled the worse that garden got. The soil was so wet and it just turned over in huge, clay clumps. And the wet end where we dumped the compost was so wet the tractor wheels just sunk and we weren't even able to really till in any compost. So after almost one month of tilling - and rainfall - the garden is in worse shape than it was in mid-May. To be truthful, I can't ever remember the whole garden being wetter than it is right now. I am at a bit of a loss how to proceed. We certainly can't till anymore until there is some major drying out.

On a happier note, Dorothy's rose in the garden has begun to bloom. I noticed the first blooms open yesterday and quite a few more opened in today's sunny weather.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The "Princess Diana" Clemetis

As I poked around the mudroom flowerbed tonight, I discovered that the Clematis texensis "Princess Diana" that we bought last year has begun to set its buds. Last year it never bloomed and we weren't sure what to expect this year. But since early Spring, when it started to send out healthy green shoots from the ground, we have been hopeful. It has grown like crazy this year and now is over the top of its 5 foot trellis. And now flower buds! They are suppose to be red and bell shaped. More photos to come!

Friday, June 1, 2012

We Have Germination!

This morning when I checked on the seedling trays, I finally had some reward for my hard work. The first two "Giant Primrose" sunflowers are just pushing up.It's hard to believe this tiny seedling is going to grow to 8-12' tall eventually!

The first of the marigolds have started to germinate. So far six of the "Frances' Choice" marigolds are up. They have beat everyone else! And the dahlias continue to grow. I now have 20 pots up - only 130 more to go!