Lenten Rose

Well worth the wait is the Lenten Rose or Helleborus.  It has taken around three years for my plants to really take hold and offer up beautiful flowers.  I love my three plants, and this Spring they have produced a lovely effect in my shade border.

Michigan is a great location for these plantings, as sometimes warm, wet or humid conditions that are present in other States, would lead to disease.

I especially love their speckled flowers and the shape of the leaves.  The colors are muted in each of these cultivars, although I believe that adds to their charm.  Somehow this plant reminds me of days gone by, and old friend, or gardens of the past.

I wish my whole border was filled with Lenten Rose, as I have come to really love their beautiful blossoms when Spring is just emerging in Michigan.

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spring garden clean up and pruning

I have been working in my yard cleaning up the garden beds and removing leaves, debris and cold damaged tips from my boxwood and other evergreens.  Today, I looked at my tree rose, and removed some of the cross branches.  This rose probably could be pruned back, however; I simply cannot ever do this task in the spring.  I know this rose blooms from old wood, and i especially love the pink fragrant blooms every year. I hate to even lose just one of them.

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So, my pruning seems to concentrate on just a few stray branches and for the rest, I tend to use plant ties to hold the branches in the best position for the plant.

I recently was asked to try out these multi-binder re-usable plant ties, and have found them to be very flexible to use.  I like that the ties are made from rubber and will hold up to a wide range of temperature fluctuation.  The are expected to work in temperatures from -20 to 150+ degrees.  I know my garden has experienced the -20 this past winter, but I hope I will not have to test out the 150+ degrees during the upcoming summer months.

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The ties can be ordered in a variety of sizes.  I used one small rubber tie to attach one of the rose-tree branches to the rose trellis.  The branch was secure and could be easily adjusted, if I decide the weight of the branch needs extra assistance to support. I like the space that the tie allows for movement, wind, and growth.

The rubber structure is an improvement over my other plastic clamps, which broke this winter under the temperature stress.

I look forward to doing more testing of this product in the coming weeks.  For more information, please follow this link:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Reusable-plant-tie-5-pack-tomato-plant-flower-tie-binder-clematic-climb-ziptie-/261835323797?xxPageName=STRK:MESE:IT

My garden will be awake soon

I can’t wait until Spring.  Today we had some sunshine and blue skies.  Even though the outdoor temperature was only 22 F this afternoon,  the sky looked spectacular.  I gazed out my window at my snow-filled picket fence garden and continued to dream about warmer days.

March is a good time of year to review what gardening tools need to be replaced, and which ones should just be cleaned and organized.  It is still too cold for me to be cleaning off my garden bench, but taking an assessment of what should be replaced has been completed. I also spend time looking through my photos of last years’ garden during the Spring months. Here are a couple of photos of my garden in early Spring from 2014.

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Over recent years, garden hose technology has advanced. Last year, I remember being sprayed by the leaking hose, having wet socks and garden clogs, or trying to turn it off with frustration.  So, I am replacing my hose this year.  I found this 150 foot expandable Gorilla hose and it arrived earlier this week.

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First of all, it feels like a quality product.  It is lightweight with brass connections.  One end of the hose has a stopcock, which will allow me to fill my watering cans and turn off the water in one turn. This is just what I need as I like to use a hose sometimes, but often prefer a watering can for certain tender perennials. I like the ability to direct the water around my flowers. The hose length is longer than any other hose I have ever owned.  As the black fabric cover expands, it stretches as the water fills the hose. The hose has a double layer latex core. I placed this hose on my garden hose cart, and noticed immediately that it takes up less space than my old green garden hose. The design is well thought out and manufactured.  The hose already has several five star online recommendations, so I know this is the one for my garden. I am looking forward to using a hose that will not kink, leak or tangle this growing season.

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For more information about the 150 foot Gorilla hose, please follow this link:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00R59MIAE/ref=od_aui_detailpages00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

forcing bulbs

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i purchased these bulbs a few weeks ago and they bloomed just in time for Easter.  the small daffodils are lovely when they first open and bring the air of springtime into the room. the daffodils in my garden outdoor are just peeking through the soil, and are not this far along.  that makes this bunch even more welcome in my home.

i plan to take these outdoors when they are finished blooming and place into my garden.  i won’t trim back the greens, to allow the plants to continue to photosynthesize and feed the bulbs for next year’s bloom. it can be messy to leave the leaves, but it is so very important for flower production. it is also not recommended to tie or braid the leaves, as this is not welcome for the best plant performance.

i plan on feeding these bulbs with a spring bulb fertilizer product to encourage strength and help to nourish the plants. i like to feed my bulbs in both the spring and fall for the best blooms. Scotts makes a product that has a slow release agent for bulbs–it can be found at this link:

http://www.acehardware.com/product/index.jsp?productId=1445624&KPID=1245293&pla=pla_1245293

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allium

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i have a love affair with Allium.  maybe it is because they can grow in full sun or partial shade.  maybe it is because they last so many years without having to be divided.  maybe it is because the large flowering stems grow so tall, and support such unusual flower heads.  maybe because i think this plant gives so much whimsy to the garden.  i am not really certain why i truly love having Allium bloom in my garden, but it is always one species of plant that i cannot be without.

Allium are a late spring bloomer, and in Michigan, they tend to bloom late May through June.  i have planted many types over the years and have never been disappointed.  my giant garlic Allium have flower heads that are purple compared to others that have blue or even yellow heads.

the cooler colors of purple or blue Allium seem to retreat from first notice in the garden.  therefore, the plants form a nice backdrop for many other featured plants in the garden bed. later in the season, i have other varieties which add other elements to my kitchen garden.

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yellow tulips

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i don’t plant too many tulips as i was warned by my neighbors that we have deer that roam through the neighborhood.  however, as i have lived here, i have only seen them a very few times, and never during the spring.  so, last fall, i planted some tulips. and, they have bloomed beautifully for me this year.

i did fertilize the bulbs this spring when i first saw them coming up from the ground, along with the boost of bulb fertilizer they were given when planted last fall.  they are planted in almost full sun, as they do have shade later in the day.  so, hopefully they will return next year.  bulbs typically require the full sun to reach their maximum potential.

these tulips are about 12 inches tall, though i photographed them from above.  i admire the two color aspect of this species with the cup-shaped petals and the darker colored base.

each year Dow gardens in midland offers a spectacular tulip display and replaces thousands of bulbs after each growing season, making certain that their display is perfect every spring.  i plan to keep my tulips and see if they make it another year.

i find that bulbs look best when planted in clusters throughout the bed.  larger bulbs should be planted in groups of three or four, whereas; i plant small crocus in groups of 10 or 12. these were planted in groups of six.

i do see chipmunks and rabbits in my garden and sometimes find a stray bulb that has been cast off by them.  those animals don’t seem to bother daffodils, of which i plant many more than tulips.  i have been told that squirrels will eat the top of the flowers when they bloom, but have not found that with my Michigan squirrels.

Solomon’s Seal

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another gift from a garden friend that has become established in my woodland garden bed is Solomon’s seal.  this lovely plant also comes from the lily family, and blooms in the spring with tiny white bell-shaped flowers.  the plant is truly lovely coming from the ground over a matter of days, and then sprouting these delicate blooms.

i would say that this plant is slow to get established, but i have given the plant shade, plenty of compost, and a place to expand in my shade bed.  it spreads by rhizome, which i don’t plan on dividing.  it is watered with my sprinkler system twice a week and more if it rains.

i read that Solomon’s seal do well under trees and once established can tolerate competition from tree roots.  i can’t say that i have done much to maintain the plant, except remove excess leaves in the springtime and wait for the beautiful white blooms to appear.

Solomon’s seal will grow in zones 3 through 9, and takes the winter here in Michigan very well. i would recommend this plant for shade exposure and a nice alternative to bushy plants in the bed. the leaves are variegated and quite attractive as well.