California Dreamin’

I’ve been slow in sharing some garden photos from a trip to LA. (Yes, some are taken with a Blackberry so not the sharpest.) I’m envious of the lemon tree growing over the wall at a friend’s house, and I loved the botanical garden in Pasadena. Both it and front-yard gardens in Venice Beach had some cool-looking succulents/desert plants– all things that are foreign to Zone 6b!

Imagine being able to pick a lemon fresh from the tree!
I could do something like this
Love this maroon!
Cool-colored desert plant in Pasadena
Along a street in Venice Beach
A garden of succulents
No idea what this fat plant is

Tulip Update

From my Wisconsin friend with the Fort Knox garden pictured back in December (she doesn’t do blog comments):

“I saw on your blog about your tulips coming up and how miraculous that is given your deer population. Same here!! Last year they got munched off as soon as they came up because we hadn’t set up our secret weapon yet. Have you ever hear of a Spray Away? You hook it up to a hose and a motion-detector sets off a burst of water to frighten critters away (it works well on Jehovah’s Witnesses and other unexpected guests, too). 
We got ours at Ace Hardware for about $69 and you have to replace the 9-volt battery every couple of months. You can turn it off if you’re going to be in the yard, just don’t forget to turn it back on.”
As for our own tulips:  the ones next to lavender are still there, but the purple ones on the porch got munched. The red ones in a different pot, also on the porch but on a plant stand, didn’t. Go figure.


Clearing Grass

I came across this article, which describes four ways to remove grass in order to create or expand a garden. I admit I’ve tried versions of one through three (but without the plastic layer). Method three, also known as the lasagna method, definitely gets my vote. If you cover the grass with mulch as well as newspaper or cardboard, it won’t be unsightly and you’ll feed the soil. One tip the article doesn’t mention: mow as low as possible first.

It’s also good paired with my far less sophisticated version of  Method One. (I just dig. Or hack with an ancient tool I was given but can’t name).

Name this grass-hacking tool

What a Weekend

Amazingly, those tulips still haven’t been munched! And we are up to six blooms.

That gave me the courage to buy two peat pots of several tulips at Lowe’s on Saturday. Granted, the investment was tiny — 5o cents apiece at the clearance rack, but I wouldn’t have done it otherwise. They’re now in bigger pots, and once they fade, I’ll find a new place to try to hide them from the deer. Maybe behind the lavender against the porch? Question for you: do you dig yours up every year, or treat tulips like annuals? Just read this on Garden Rant, and we’re one of those whose bulbs rotted because we hadn’t stored them properly one summer. (They’d been in containers. I’m not digging them out of the ground!) I’m wondering what kind of tulips work best for you. Obviously, we’ve left tulips in the ground and had them come back. Annuals? I’ll find something else unless they’re in the bargain bin.

More is in bloom, including the creeping phlox and more daffodils, though many days of hot weather means the early bloomers are fading. The rhubarb seems to be growing about an inch a day. We thought we’d transplanted all of it a couple of weeks ago, but apparently we missed one piece. Moved that on Saturday, so now we have four rhubarb plants (and I think there may be another one hidden somewhere else.)

This weekend was a big gardening weekend. We emptied out R2D2 (ie Earth Machine), and that compost was amazing! Just so light and loose! It’s on top of a couple of raised beds, and I hope all the vegetables will appreciate it. The manufacturer seems to do promotions with local governments, so if you ever have the chance to buy one, do it!  I’d definitely get another one.

In the meantime, we have filled it again with half-broken-down leaves from last fall and have dropped off a couple of buckets at a local coffee shop to be filled with grounds (speeds up the compost process). If more people did this, plants would be happier and we’d spend fewer tax dollars on garbage/leaf and brush collection.

What else got done? Strawberries are now out of a bed and in pots (anyone want some? We have TONS.) Potatoes and some snow peas are planted. Weeded parts of the flower beds, planted a few annuals to add some color, which of course led to dividing a few plants and moving things around. Mowed the lawn for the first time this year.

In all, everything seems further along than last year. Unfortunately, that goes for the weeds too. I’ve seen dandelions and the flowers from mock strawberries. Back to attacking dandelions and trying to make a dent with some hand-weeding.

Tulip Mania

In our yard!!

I know–most of you don’t get excited about a few tulips. But we live along a deer highway, and tulips are like candy for deer.

When we had a few spare bulbs a couple of autumns ago, we thought we’d see if planting them next to lavender, which deer don’t like, would outsmart them. Last year, they got munched before they bloomed. Today I came across four in bloom and the possibility of a few more.

Of course, they could all get munched tonight.

What’s In Bloom

Lots of daffodils. Lots and lots of them. Plus a few other spring-bulb flowers.

Front yard

Arabis snowcap.

Lenten roses. (And the two sickly ones have new growth!)

Forsythia. (Already starting to turn green.)

And some pesky weed with tiny white flowers, already blooming. We have got to get this out of the grass. This has got to go. Maybe we need to put some sort of weed killer down in the fall because the leaves were up when the snow disappeared.

Easter Gifts

We’ve had a wonderfully sunny weekend for garden work–and some nice presents to boot.

Today we went to a sister’s house for brunch. She said she hasn’t been able to get her two rain barrels to daisy-chain (so rain water spills over to the second one when the first one is full) so figured she should unload one. Guess who left with it in the car?

The Brit has already hooked it up (after some debate over which drain pipe to use). Thanks again!

Our new rain barrel

And yesterday we helped a friend, aka the Garden Consultant, with her spring clean-up. Three people and two leaf shredders makes the work go quickly! This friend has shared so many of her plants with us, far more than we have shared with her. She’s also taught us the quick way of dividing perennials: Grab the spade and slice through what’s in the ground, rather than laboriously digging up the whole root ball and then dividing.

We tried to resist but still came home with three plants: some candytuft, which has gone on that patch of sloped ground that I wrote about a few months back; a white flower whose name I can’t remember but has some resemblance to baby’s breath; and some lavender cotton, which caught my eye when we took the Brit’s parents to the Brooklyn Botantical Garden last summer.

As usual, the hardest part is deciding where to plant everything. The beds feel so full! I should resolve to spend five, 10, 15 minutes when I come home from work expanding the beds on days when it’s not raining. At least I’d be better prepared for our local Master Gardeners’ plant sale.