Friday, November 1, 2013

Putting the Garden to Bed

All of us serious gardeners have to put our gardens to bed for the winter. This year it just seems all that bending has taken the charm out of the process for me. Man, the ole back gets sore, quicker. Can't be permanent can it? I must have strained myself, didn't stretch right or lifted something wrong.

The point is, somebody has to do the work or you don't maximize the grandeur of the garden for next Spring. Cutting back the Iris, Echicinea (Cone flowers), Brown eyed Susan's, Mums, Hosta and all the other perennials. Plus, pulling some of the clumps of grass and weeds in the garden come naturally; especially when the ground is moist. I also hate it when the sod is creeping into the edge of the bed. Got to get it now, before it gets a head start in March and April.

I always try to groom the bed by raking up the soil and spreading it out more evenly. My flower bed is about 30 feet long and elevated, so I need to push the soil back up that slides down when it rains. I have been thinking it would be nice to put a brick retaining wall up around the bed; maybe two courses up with some packed gravel beneath. Then I would not have to constantly dig out the edges. My that is work. I think that project may have to go on my calendar for next year.

Now my veggie garden is my storage garden for all my potted plants, to winter them over and re pot them in the early spring and pop them into my hoop house for expedited root growth and expanded blooms later. I have rows of Mums, Brown-eyed Susan's, coreopsis, Iris, and other perennials temporarily in the ground in my veggie garden. I also get a lot of plants prepared for the Garden Club plant sale in the Spring.

We got some great rain a few days after I did most of my transplanting. The day I re-planted most of my potted plants I gave them a good drink of water, but knowing the rains were coming, I did not get carried away; just a drink. I hope the majority of the plants survive winter. The only thing I regret is that the ground did not dry out enough to allow me to rototill it and loosen it up for Spring. Since the soil is so fertile and humus like, I am not worried about it being difficult to turn over in the Spring. It is just that it feels like the right thing to do; to turn it over.  I would love to add more enriched soil and perhaps another  level of 8 x 8's to give more depth to the garden.  Always something to do. See you in the Garden. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Growing Pearls for the Heart

Growing Flowers is Similar to Growing Wisdom

I have always loved to grow things. When I was a child we had a lovely rose garden and I used to chat with my neighbor across the alley about how to make my roses thrive.  I think his name was Ray and he and his wife were friendly souls.  He used bone meal and different types of fertilizer, including peat moss to make his roses reach their peak glory. I also used to love to grow petunias for my Mother and would plant them every summer near Mother's Day. She loved the fragrance and it gave me joy to observe this annual tradition. Flowers for Mom.

I also grew a collection of Wisdom quotations over the years as well. These quotes blossomed in my heart and soul and gave me the tools I needed to cope and deal with the challenges of life. Now, in my golden years I have decided I have enough life lessons to write my own words of wisdom, so the quote you see above is my first  ORIGINAL WISDOM QUOTE suitable for publication. I am totally inspired to write at least one quotation per week as a blossoming of my philosophy of life. It is gratifying to embrace ones' own thoughts as having merit and value, worthy to be shared with the world at large.  

I hope you grow in wisdom and understanding as you share my Pearls of Wisdom. We can't take it with us, but we can take time to celebrate the highlights of a contented life. In all thy getting get understanding. See you in the Garden.    

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Chrysanthemums in Pots

It is an acquired skill to grow and groom mums to be a perfect specimen with gorgeous bloom bursting forth as the weather cools. You want the shape of the plant to be full, with plentiful blooms and relatively close proximity.  The gardeners rule of thumb is 'no cutting back after July 4th'. It is not an exact science to trim back the plant just right, especially if you have varied sun and shade patterns as I do.  My goal is to produce full body Mum plants (in pots) suitable to display around my house and to share with my son's Pete and Paul. 

The mum stems reach for the light and can get lanky; creating weak stems that tend to hang instead of grow upright.  I want strong stems in the center of the plant to support a thick bloom.  So there is an element of trial and error to shape the Mum in the ideal form that you tend to see at the nurseries. From a practical standpoint, if I get really good spring growth, my trimmings of the growth can be my source for Mum cuttings to produce my next crop. I made about a dozen cuttings this year that are blooming nicely in my flower bed. 

In the picture to the below I have a yellow Mum in the background with a reddish purple Mum in front. This is a north west view  on my deck stairway landing. The sun is about perfect to give it the light it needs to grow and bloom. They seem to prefer a balanced amount of light and temperature which helps avoid the drying out tendency when you get direct sunlight all day.  I am quite pleased with the abundance of blooms on this plant. I planted my Mums, of course, in  my 'magic soil' early in the season in separate large flower pots.
My special soil consists of about 1/3 compost, 1/3 peat, 1/3 generic soil, and a fair amount of  sand and pearlite.The sand helps retain moisture and also prevents the soil from pulling away from the sides of the pot.The pearlite helps the roots to move easilty and aids drainage. I surmised that the sand might also keep the chipmunks from chomping through the soil to get at the roots, but they still seem to dig in the Mum's yard. The sand does help contain the moisture and I think creates an idea medium for plant growth. If I had a true green house, with good air flow, and continual sunlight,I think I could create award winning Mums. 

This was a good year for my Mums and I even left a few in my Hoop House and of course the humidity is making the blooms thrive; albeit, with a look of being a hanging Mum, with the stems looking a little gangley.  However, I  can not complain about the great display of color above. I was very happy with my Mums in the Garden Pots this year.  Next season  I plan to grow more cuttings from the yellow Mum so I have greater variety to display around my yard. This fall I displayed flower pots of Marigolds, Geraniums, Ageratum and Vinca vine on my 'Great Wall of Deegan', as Nancy calls it. See you in the garden. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Louisiana Iris in Bloom

One of the biggest surprises of my Iris bed is the uniqueness of the Louisiana Iris that are blooming. I have attached some photos of the three varieties I am growing. The geometry of the bloom is so different from the more well known Iris, such as Tall bearded variety. I was quite happy with the quality of the pictures as well. I wish I had the actual names of each flower but I do not. Perhaps I can get some ID help on Dave's I hope you enjoy the flowers. The nice thing about these Iris is that they are the last Iris to bloom in my garden so it extends the Iris bloom season. 

My Garden is Growing by Leaps & Bounds

This picture was taken on June 15, 2013. Only about 10 days of growth since the last photo. Of course Mother nature is helping out; a great deal of rain during this time frame. Not a whole lot of sun, but decent light. It seems something has stopped eating my broccoli leaves. Also I put down some little cups with beer in them and caught a few slugs; well they drowned themselves in the cup of beer. Talk about drowning in your own beer. :) Plus I was advised to put melon slices down on the ground as well. The broccoli is growing so tall. Perhaps too much leaf growth, but that is the way it works; first heavy leaf growth and then the broccoli head form.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Everything is Planted in My Garden

The Vegetable Garden of Deegan

The picture makes the garden  look longer and narrower that it is. In reality the dimensions are about 30 x 11. I am really happy with my soil this year. I ordered a few yards of Super Soil (Humus, Sand & Soil) to enrich the garden a bit and expand the bed by the old bean patch in the rear of the garden. I roto-tilled it well and mixed the new soil with the old. You can just tell when you have good texture to the soil. For some reason black soil just appeals to me as well. This soil remains black.

What is planted in my garden.

What you see from right to left is a row of green peppers, Jalapeno, Pablano,  Broccoli, Tomatoes (including Beefsteak, Cherry, Rutgers and, and heirlooms. I have three rows of green beans and wax beans. I also have a hill of Zucchini and a hill of Cucumbers for canning. I grew a beautiful egg plant for Jackie and Paul. Plus,  we are growing pole beans next to the back and side walls because it is an efficient use of space and we love beans. Nancy freezes them.  Oh, I forgot in the foreground is a row of garlic. I will show another picture of the garlic. We had a great rain the other night and it is just amazing what a good soaking will do.

Something is eating my broccoli.

I had a problem with something eating my broccoli leaves; was dusting with Savin dust but did not seem to solve it. It was suggested it may be slugs. I think I will do as my wife suggested a put out a few saucers of beer tonight. See if I can scare me up some slugs. I also planted a row of ageratum; extras that I had. It is always nice to have some flowers near the garden; adding a little color for atmosphere.

Garlic is fun to grow 

The Garlic is maturing nicely and already going to form seed heads. I usually take some of those seeds and germinate them for fall planting. They get growing this fall and will ripen next summer for harvesting. Garlic is so expensive in the store, it is a treat to grow your own. I just love to experience the glee of not having to pay for the veggies. Of course I pay with my time, but when you enjoy gardening, it doesn't feel like a burden. It is not work to me. More like recreation or therapy.

 Close up of Abe Lincoln, the new heirloom tomato 

It is interesting to note the texture of the leaf is different than regular tomatoes; seems to be smoother and a broader leaf. It is only June 7th and the plant is flowering already. I am very eager to see what the tomatoes look like, their size, color and shape. My Master Gardener friend, Nancy Whisler says this is the 'high fashion' heirloom tomato this year, creating a real buzz in the gardening community. I bought a few heirlooms from Nancy. She grows hundreds of heirlooms each year. I will try to save the seeds from a few tomatoes this year to see if I can keep the chain going. How cool that would be if the seeds performed like an heirloom should, and produced true fruit, a copy of the parent. I can't wait. I also have heirloom beefsteak. If that bears true seed as well, I will be flamboyantly excited. So much to look forward to this year.       


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

There is a Face in the Bloom of this Iris

What do you see when you look at this Iris?

  • I believe this is a Japanese Iris because it does not have a beard and it tends to be flat. However, that is not the drama of this picture. It is what is in the center of the Iris. Do you see what I see? I see a face. I have never had this perception when looking at an Iris. This is a photo from above the Iris. To me it looks like a face. I wont tell you what kind of a face because that will tend to bias your perception. The power of suggestion will be at work. Please let me know in comments what you see, if anything. This is an unexpected adventure and now I wonder how often Iris lovers see something unique when viewing an Iris. You never know what is going to pop up next. Surprise, surprise.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Selected Iris Blooms 2013

These are Iris that have bloomed in my Iris Garden this year. Iris are still blooming beautifully. The break in temperature is going to help extend the bloom and extend my joy in viewing them. I hope you get a chance to visit the Willott Iris Garden at the Rockefeller Greenhouse & Park in Cleveland.  

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What Color is Your Personality?

This Iris has real personality. I  just love the pleats or ruffles, if you prefer,  on the falls of this Iris. I don't know it's name, but no matter the name, it's personality shows through without saying a word. This is a most interesting white shading with the yellow edges. It is a large Tall Bearded Iris; eight inches across. The unfortunate fact of life about Iris is the bloom is short lived; about 3-4 days, depending on the intensity of the heat. This iris is growing in full sun, so there is no respite from the sun light. Even though the bloom ends almost as quickly as it starts, the burst of beauty when the iris first opens is worth the letting go at the other end. There is a true sense of magic in the opening act.     

Saturday, March 30, 2013

First Geranium Bloom a Stunner

This red pelargonium (geranium) is the first bloom from a cutting I made just after Christmas this year. (2012) 

The sun is coming from the back direction of the flower so it almost looks like a solid flower; becoming nearly transparent by the bright sun filtering through the bloom. It mimics the look of a scarlet red poppy from this angle.

This is the first year I started cuttings so early. By the end of  May this plant will be abundant with blooms and buds. It  can be featured in a large flower pot, suitable for display on the deck or patio.  A mature plant costs about $8.00 at the greenhouse. Guess what mine cost me?

I should write a book about geranium cuttings. It is so simple to make cuttings. Learning this technique could bring so much joy to average gardeners. I am amazed at how few people are aware of how to do cuttings.  What would I title the book? I guess I should not disclose my creativity.  I will keep it a secret.   Now is a great time to try your hand at geranium cuttings. (see earlier posts for how-two's)  

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Hidden Art

I was cleaning the breakfast dishes today and glanced down  at the dish drainer and happened to see a shiny sparkle on a tea cup. The bright sun was streaming in the kitchen window. I said to myself,  " Oh my, that is a beautiful floral bouquet on the tea cup". I was inspired to get a few more of my favorite tea cups down from the shelf. I thought it might be fun to get a close up of each cup and post them on my blog.  A patch of sun was coming in the dining room and gave me perfect light for the photo.

One of the favorite passtimes of Artists, the world over, is to capture still-life's on canvas. Floral arrangements not only grace the estates of the Royal class but are a very popular image to place on fine china. This practice is a way to pay tribute to the love of beauty. Placing the image on fine china offers a signature opportunity to  approach immortality; a seeming permanent tribute to the artist's talent and the fine china company's good taste.  (Click once on the tea cup for an  enlarged view)

Duchess Fine Bone China England  

                                   Royal Albert Bone China England

Queens Fine Bone  China                                              England Rosina China Co Ltd. Since 1875                                                                      

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

It's Good to Day Dream

Art can show up in the most unsuspecting places

I almost forgot I took a picture of a napkin at an Iris Society meeting last fall. I was day dreaming today and thought of it.  Last fall we were having  a snack and I looked at the stack of napkins and I said: "Those napkins are too beautiful to dirty". So I got the crazy idea to take a photographs with my handy I-phone. Well, the result is the work of art immediately displayed below. This is your invitation to Day Dream about the Iris bloom this Spring. Usually the bloom peaks the third to fourth week in May, but you never know with the funny weather we have been having. Enjoy Iris and if you do not have any Iris in your garden maybe it is time you planted some. There are thousands of color combinations and several varieties, including Tall Bearded, Dwarf, Siberian and Japanese Iris, to name a few.Some have fragrance and some rebloom Check out the American Iris Society  Facebook page for brilliant examples of this magnificent perennial. Yes, they come back year after year with some basic good gardening care. You owe to your self to display this amazing flower. For more information go to or check out the North East Ohio Iris Society web site at  See you in the Garden.

Double Click to enlarge Artists view  of Tall Bearded Iris

Monday, January 21, 2013

Surprising Growth in Ten Days

Geranium Cuttings in January: A New Adventure  

It was a total crap shoot to experiment with cuttings in January. Never before had I tried it this early. Usually I wait for the Spring Growth Spurt when you feel it in the air. Take a look at how much growth I have had on these individual Ivy Gernaiums since January 12, 2013. Today is January 21. The leaves are broadening out, there is a great deal of  new stem growth. I am still using the heating pad underneath the tray so I am certain the warmth is adding the lovely growth pattern I am seeing. I am gleeful with the early results. I have no idea what I am going to do with all these plants in February when there is no room for them to grow. I really must get a heated greenhouse to cool off the temperature during the day. But of course  protect the flowers  from frost at night. I have an interesting challenge to face in mid February.  
 Ivy Geranaiums with established roots

Individual Ivy Geranium with rich green leaves

Below you will see a few flats of pink and red pelargonium cuttings. I am estimating I will get about 65% germination or 20 plants that will grow roots. The cuttings in the foreground were planted on January 20. The Red one you see was planted about two weeks ago. I imagine some of them have started roots.  I told my wife how excited I was with my results thus far. Guess what she said. "I am glad for you". No passion. No thrill. Bummer. Oh well. She is all about enjoying the flowers; not about growing them. That's ok, she is a great cook. You have to be a gardener like me to appreciate what is happening. See you in the Garden. 

 Pelargonium Cuttings20 Pink and 12 Red

Saturday, January 12, 2013

White Phaleonopsis Orchid Blooms

I pamper three lovely Orchids in my office which overlook our woods.  My wife is not fond of Orchids because when they are not blooming they are kind of stringy and somewhat unattractive. I prefer to focus on  the fact that Orchid leaves stay green continually and tend to look nearly as hardy as the leaves on a Mother-in-law Tongue plant.

The White Phaleonopsis shown to the right is one of my favorites because the buds come in multiples and the blooms seem to last forever. In the middle of winter I can always count on my Orchids to cheer me up when it is cold outside and spring blooms seem so far away.    

The secret to my learning how to grow Orchids was the rookie success I had due to the amazing amount of indirect light that enters my large office window. Orchids  do not do well in direct sun-light. Since Orchids are essentially parasites, which grow in a shaded jungle environment they do not have a true root system. In the jungle they often grow on the bark of trees.

As you can see the Orchid on this page is positioned in a flower pot, with ample drainage holes. I do not use soil as such, but rather a moss-like, medium that is very porous, unlike traditional potting soil. I water the Orchid about every seven days; wetting the entire surface inside the pot. There is  also very good drainage at the bottom of the pot. You do not want the Orchid to dry out completely but you also do not want the Orchid to sit in water.   My Orchids fascinate me and I don't mind that my wife prefers other flowers. I do not discriminate when it comes to appreciating beauty in a flower. Quite frankly, I don't think  I ever met a flower that I didn't like.      

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Ivy Geranium Cuttings Ignore Winter

Skylight & Ivy Geranium Basket 

Do you have a skylight in your home? We have a great skylight  in an upstairs bathroom. It has become an annual tradition to bring in an Ivy Geranium basket as the first frost approaches. This year was no different. I cut it back and pulled out  pesky weeds and hung it up. The photo to the left shows some healthy growth after pruning. While you do not see any pink blooms in this photo  I have enjoyed  many pink blooms for the past few months and it has added some warm color and charm to those cold, dreary, winter days.

Ivy Geranium Cuttings 

As my in-house Ivy Geranium basket began sending out long shoots it became apparent that I had to trim it back.  A few days before Christmas I took some scissors and gave it a trim. Naturally, it goes against my instinct to throw anything away that might grow, so I took several leafy geranium stems to my garden room in the basement. I prepared them to be cuttings. 

I chose my preferred stems (an even dozen) and placed them in a 12 pack of growing medium. (peat moss, pearlite, and some rich humus;  harvested from my 2011-2012 compost heap. I put the flat of cuttings into a plastic tray, set them on top of an electric heating pad and then poured  about an inch of tepid water in the bottom of the plastic tray. The heat reaches a temperature of about 60-65 degrees and warms the soil just right.

I also turned on the florescent grow light so that the green leaves would receive a good days light every day. In about two weeks or so (should have logged it precisely) I could see that several of the cuttings seemed happy and green; my instinct told me germination had occurred in these. The six pots you see above and the pot to the left are my successfull results. Some of the original cuttings had turned  yellow; a sure sign that the stem did not yield roots. I ended up with six successful cuttings. I was very pleased with this result.  All of the pictures on this page are ivy geraniums; photographed on January 5, 2013.

New Growth

I will publish pictures of these cuttings for the next few months so you can get an idea of how much time it takes to grow into a mature plant, and how long it takes to get flower buds and blooms. The cutting above is doing very well. The small leaf is a new leaf. The picture to the right shows new sprouts at the base of the plant. The new growth is robust. It will be interesting to see how many stems will burst forth from the center of the plant. I want to encourage you to begin experimenting with  propagation of your own ivy geraniums. It is great fun and definitely saves you some cash. See you in the Garden. It is only a few months until Spring.