Monday, April 29, 2013

Reformed Plant Snob?

I have always been a bit of a plant snob. You would never catch me buying plants at Lowes or Home Depot. I prefer to buy plants from reputable nurseries. I found myself at Lowes this weekend looking for a bathroom faucet and some potting soil. I wandered around the plants area, including inside where the tropical plants are. Low and behold, in the back, behind all the big tropicals, was this really impressive variety of succulents. I took a deep breath and put some in my cart. Plant snob no more.

Succulents from Lowes

I was seriously excited to see some of the varieties I had recently been reading about in “Succulent Container Gardens” by Debra Lee Baldwin. Some of the names crack me up.

Stone Faces / Lithops species Mimicry Plant (hard to tell from the shadow of the screen, but these look like they have brains printed on the tops!):

Split Rock / Pleiospilos nelii Mimicry Plant (looks like something that would grow on an alien planet!):

Senecio crassissimus (I love the pinkish edges):

Bear’s Paws / Cotyledon ladismithiensis (these remind me of my kitties’ fuzzy paws):

Echeveria Allegra:

Donkey Tail Burrito (doesn’t look like any burrito I’ve ever eaten):

Pork and Beans / Sedum rubrotinctum (another one of those funny names, with a stray, which I believe is Sempervivum aarachnoideum, aka white-webbed cobweb houseleek):

Crassula perforata variegata (I find the stacked leaves kind of fascinating):

Jade Plant / Crassula argentea (I sure do love me some two-toned leaves...with a stray, which I believe is Sempervivum aarachnoideum, aka white-webbed cobweb houseleek):

I also bought two pre-planted assortments. I was impressed with how nice these looked.

Assorted succulents in a wall hanging:

Assorted succulents hanging basket:

Does this mean I’ll be shopping at Lowes more often for plants? Well, probably not. But maybe if I need any more succulents. I think I bought enough this time, though. I was high on succulent-love.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


This is a magical time of year when the trees are bursting with color and perennials are growing at an astonishing rate. It’s amazing to me the differences in the garden just from last weekend to this weekend. This is what the flower garden looked like last weekend...

The flower garden a week ago.

This is what it looks like this weekend. So much more green stuff showing.

The flower garden now.

I love when I catch the Epimedium Rubrum blooming. It doesn’t seem to last very long, but those dainty little flowers never fail to bring a smile to my face.

Epimedium Rubrum

The Bridal Queen Hellebore is still partying it up, although a bluebell decided to join in the fun now.

Bridal Queen Hellebore and bluebells.

The bleeding hearts by the greenhouse seemed to have shot up and bloomed practically overnight. (Yes, that’s a broken pain of greenhouse glass. That’s what happens when you mix Brian, a lawnmower and a stone. No offense Brian, could’ve happened to anyone.)

Bleeding Heart.

Bleeding Heart.

The hostas also seemed to have pop up overnight. These are below the wisteria tree, which has buds.

Hostas and Wisteria tree.

It’s such an exciting time of year for us gardeners. I don’t think I’m alone when I say it gives me a rush to see everything growing. Or maybe I’m just a big garden geek. Yeh, I know.

2013 Kitchen Garden Plans

My Kitchen Garden (aka vegetable garden, plus some herbs and flowers) takes some planning and organization each year since most of it doesn’t come back the following year. My Kitchen Garden consists mainly of the raised cedar beds in the very back of my yard, but also kind of encompasses the area around that. I developed a map and an Excel plant chart a couple of years ago that I update each year. This year my Excel chart decided to poop out on me and I can’t seem to do anything in it, so I redid it in InDesign.

My map shows where things are planted and I color coded it so I can tell what is/will be planted as seeds and what is/will be planted as plants. Plants are in red and seeds are in blue.

Click on map to enlarge

My plant chart is divided into columns: Type of Plant, Plant Variety, Where From, Seed or Plant, Recommended Planting Date, Year Bought, Thin To, and a column to indicate whether or not the seed or plant was successful. This year I added the “Thin To” column because every year I have to pull out all my crumbled up seed packets and look at each individual one to determine what distance to thin my seedlings to as they emerge. Seems logical to add that to the chart so I only have to look in that one spot for that information. I also color code it so that I know what I have planted (in yellow), what still needs to be planted (in green), and what I haven’t bought yet (in red text).

Click on chart to enlarge.

As you can tell by looking at the chart, most of my seeds and plants are Burpee, as well as a few from Hudson Valley Seed Library (see my previous post on this great organization). I discovered Seed Savers Exchange a little too late this year, but hope to try them another year.

I plan on saving seeds that I don’t use this year and will try to harvest some seeds from the veggies that grow. Whenever I have saved seeds in the past, I did a terrible job of it. I would put the leftover seed packets in the greenhouse or in a little baggie on my desk and then when I’d try to use them the next year they wouldn’t grow from improper storage. This year my plan is to put them the seeds in little Kraft coin envelopes, then put that inside tiny plastic zip-topped baggies, and store them in a plastic bag or container in the fridge. I learned about that in a class I took at Longwood Gardens once and have been wanting to try it and see if that will enable me to successfully use the seeds the next year.

I feel like I’m being overzealous with my Kitchen Garden this year. I think maybe it’s because I have been warned not to do too much as I still recover from elbow surgery* – and planting seeds and small plants is easy in comparison to the other things I originally had in mind for this year! Harvesting and eating what I plant is easy, too!

* I officially “graduated” from physical therapy a couple of weeks ago and started back at my yoga classes, with some limitations still, of course. I’m on my way to a full recovery, though! I’ve been warned not to tackle any major gardening projects or push any heavy wheelbarrows this year, but there’s always next year for that. :o)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Signs of Spring

Signs of spring are popping up all over. The yard has been filled with birds and squirrels. Every year a robin follows me as I weed. I don’t know how long robins live, so I have no idea if it’s the same one each year or not.

Robin with scilla sibirica (spring beauty).

The daffodils are blooming in the fairy garden.

Fairy garden.

And by the greenhouse. I have no clue where this white daffodil came from. 

White Daffodil

And the Tete-a-Tete mini daffodils...

Tete-a-Tete Daffodils

The Hellebore is still blooming like crazy. Man, I love this thing.

Bridal Queen Hellebore.

The Scilla Sibirica (Spring Beauty) is showing it’s pretty little, blue self.

Spring Beauty

After a heavy rain, the bleeding hearts shot up as if out of nowhere.

Path by the greenhouse.

The peonies are popping up. They look so red when they first come out of the ground.


This hen and chicks succulent survived the winter.

Hen and Chicks.

 As did this one.

Hen and Chicks.

I love seeing everything grow and turn green in the flower garden in the spring.

The flower garden.

The lawn is lush green after the recent rains we had.

The back yard.

Looking from the very back of the yard towards the house and shed.

Here’s a sure sign of spring — I started planting my seeds today under row covers in the kitchen garden.

Starting veggies from seed under row covers.

The front porch is decked out for spring.

Tulip and primrose along with daffodils.

A close up of the tulips on the front steps.


More spring on the front porch – tulip, daffodils, and grape hyacinths.

Spring blooming on the front porch.

Another sign of spring — Molly and Izzy spend a lot more time out on the screened-in back porch.

Izzy in her box and Molly on the table.

Ok, so they aren’t plants and flowers, but hey, aren’t they cute? They LOVE that the warmer weather is here. Happy Spring!

Molly and Izzy checking out the back yard.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Terrarium, Mason Jar, and Potted Succulent

I bought some new terrarium plants last weekend. My terrarium has been empty for awhile since the plants in it had died. I knew I was going to be stopping at Terrain at Styers in Glen Mills, PA on Sunday after attending a lecture at Longwood Gardens, and they always have nice terrarium plants there. What surprised me, though, was what a nice selection they also had in the garden shop at Longwood Gardens.

My terrarium with new plants.

My terrarium now has Yellow Irish Moss (Sagina Subulata ‘Aurea’) and Pin-Cushion Spikemoss (Selaginella Kraussina ‘Brownii’) that I had gotten at the garden shop at Longwood Gardens, and Polka Dot Plant (Hypoetes Phllostachya) which I had gotten at Terrain at Styers.

I had some tiny shells and a little fairy figurine that seemed perfect for my terrarium. (I took these two shots with a macro lens extension.)

While I was at Terrain, I got inspired by some pansies they had planted in a mason jar. I already had what I needed to make my own mason jar planter, except a plant. I bought a cute little fern to go in it. I layered in some charcoal, stones, moss, and soil before adding my fern. I love it! I want to make more!

Small fern in a mason jar.

I found this lovely green, elongated pot at Terrain that was on clearance. I’m wishing I had gotten two because I love how it turned out with this succulent and stones. I believe the succulent is Haworthia. I am in the process of trying to learn more about succulents because I’ve fallen head over heals for them.

I think this succulent is Haworthia.

Up Close With My Orchid

My Phalaenopsis Orchid is blooming. I thought I’d experiment taking some pictures with my macro extension tubes. I’ve been contemplating getting a macro lens, however they are very expensive. Brian got the macro extension tubes for Christmas for me to try and see how they work. Here’s my orchid up close and personal.

Orchid Phalaenopsis.

Orchid Phalaenopsis.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Bloomin’ Aloe!

I have fun looking for the little surprises that show up in the greenhouse. I guess that kinda makes me a garden nerd. This time the surprise is my aloe plant. It’s blooming this tall, beautiful orange flower. I had no idea this thing was even forming, then KAPOW! there it was!

The bloom on my aloe plant.

I picked up this aloe at Longwood Gardens when I took a one-day class on tropical container gardening this past summer. They let us take home the leftover plants that we hadn’t used in our containers and grabbed up this big, dangerous-looking, octopus of a plant. It was plenty big when I got it and I think it’s at least doubled in size since I repotted it.

Aloe plant in the greenhouse.