Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Butterfly Moment

Listened to a butterfly expert give a talk to a small audience of Milbridge Library goers. I realized again how much I respect these creatures that I often don't notice lighting on a daisy or a cluster of milkweed flowers. But jeez, they're remarkable. Did you know the monarch butterfly lays only one egg per leaf on the milkweed plant. Somehow she knows the newly hatched young will eat the egg casing first and then find the leaf to eat. Any unhatched relative would be eaten by that firstborn. Interesting. The expert reminded us of the defenses butterflys and moths have... they eyes on upper or lower wings trick birds into thinking they're about to feast of the body. But alas, they clip the wing and the "eye" decoy, and many butterflies survive.

The butterfly guy travels to Mexico during the month of November which holds special meaning for many Catholics there. All Souls DAy commemorates the day many believe the souls of lost ones are closest to them in the year. The ancient Aztecs believed spirits of dead ones would come back as monarch butterflies and hummingbirds. Every year around this holiday, monarch butterflies migrate to Mexico and are greeted as spirits.

I'd love to see this happening. Hope your garden is full of these souls and I for one will step up on my resolve to plant more for them...milkweek, butterfly bush, bee balm, etc.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Friendship Rose

This climbing rose would struggle in my garden were it not for the place it grows. Planted between the garage and main house, it is shielded from the north winter winds. The noon day and afternoon sun beat down on it from the other direction. It's hot hot hot, like a micro climate where it grows. I feel like I cheated Maine weather with this one.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Jack in the Beanstalk sunflowers

Jack and the Beanstalk sunflowers are racing toward the sun and they'd best get a move on. I purchased these seeds from Pinetree Seeds Company located in Maine and have high hopes. Why...because I've underplanted pole beans around them. So grow, grow, grow.

Monday, April 12, 2010

What do sunflowers, polebeans, and cukes have in common?

Somewhat of a trick question really. I purchased Jack and the Beanstalk sunflowers from Pinetree Seeds this spring and plan to use these 9foot towers as the base for the pole beans and cukes. I've long believed plants fare better when they are matched to companions. I might have a challenge keeping all these plants happy with plenty of water and fertilizer because these are heavy feeders. Maybe a soaker hose will do the trick.

Another great sunflower is the Teddy Bear which I grew for the first time last year. My sister turned me on to this variety a few summers ago. They grow to about 5 feet in my gardens but hers grew much taller in the desert sun of eastern Washington. I loved them and the bees were in heaven. The neat feature is the side shoots that are all over these stalks and each produces 3 more flowers. Teddy Bear sunflowers are aptly named as they have a thick dense texture which is produced with a seemingly infinite number of petals. The traditional center clusters of flowers are not visible on the Teddy Bear...just a endless array of yellow petals. You really have to see these to understand their unique appearance.

So the cukes, beans and sunflowers will grow together this summer. A shot of my brother's compost will surely be appreciated! Plant a row for the hungry.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Impatiens, Delphinium, and Cukes

That's right, I did type "cukes" because you can germinate those seeds in February and eat cukes in June. I recommend you plant the seeds in a good sized pot because you will not be transplanting these fussy seedlings. I buy straight eights but any cuke will work and I sow about 8 seeds per planter. Cover the whole deal with saran wrap and find a warm, draft free surface to allow these newbies a chance to germinate. The top of the fridge works but a germination table, which my son built for me, has served me well for 2o years. Will post later.

I love delphiniums and rather than spend $15 on a plant from the nursery, I purchase seeds which will present me with a full tray of 8 flats of these and the most giant the variety, the better I like them. These fine seeds need an early start. Fill your seedling pack with a light planting mix, NOT potting soil, and water it down. Sprinkle the seeds on top of the mix, press lightly with the flat of your finger tips, and cover with saran wrap. These will need a warm, light area too.

Impatiens are tiny tiny seeds so handle these like delphinium but check the seed package. Some varieties like a dark germination condition so you may have to cover the tray with the saran wrap and a damp towel for a week or so.

Never let your seedlings dry out. Never. They will be history. Water from the bottom. No need to fertilize seedlings for a while because Mother Nature has provided all the nourishment it needs for a couple of weeks after germination and then only a kiss of fertilizer in the water.

Have a green time!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010



Receiving my White Flower Farm catalog in the mail is as good as opening a gift from a best friend.  I've been requesting my copy for over 20 years and here's why...

Many of us love to garden and share our experiences.  Well, have you ever stumbled on pronouncing the plant names correctly?  This catalog is a treasure of information on each plant and the editors provide pronunciation info.  Nothing worse than being corrected by another gardener when you discuss your latest peony, right?

Another biggie...amazing photographs which offer ideas for planting combinations and these are breathtaking ideas.  Since the company is Connecticut based, the plants are more adaptable to Maine gardens.  These plants can be pricey but always read the welcome letter on the inside front cover;  the owners share best buys and the reasons why.  ONe year I purchased Casablanca lily bulbs by the dozens and I owed it to the insights they provided about the bumper year a farmer somewhere on the planet had so the surplus brought the prices down to a mere $1 per bulb.  A steal!

Get yourself online and order your copy.  Sure, you can order online but this is a magazine and you will find yourself picking it up over and over.  I keep mine handy to my journal so that I can jot ideas down for future planting purchases and placement ideas.  

I highly recommend their begonia bulbs and oriental lily collections.  Heaven!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

From My Garden

The Breadbox poppy in her red dress and wearing a jacket of delphinium with the white bee. I think delphs are from the King Arthur series.

Top Pick for Seed Supplier: Pinetree Seeds

Oh my, without hesitation people ask where I order my seeds for annuals, vegetables, and bulbs and I say Pinetree Seeds...and it's a Maine company! Their seeds are packaged in small quantities and it allows them to keep their prices down, ranging from $.95 to $2.00 or more. Though the catalog does not invest in glossy National Geo quality photos, it's a lot of fun to browse and you find gads of heirloom seeds and well tested seeds in the catalog. I love trying out new herbs and they offer some fabulous choices. I've never been disappointed with their seeds; here are a few on my classic seed purchases from Pinetree: seashell cosmos, a basil collection, straight eight cukes, canteloupe, morning glory, pole beans, and monet's palette sunflowers. I have provided the link on the blog site. So order your free copy today and start ordering now.

The Breadbox Poppy

The Breadbox poppy is an annual bloom which may present in a red or a purple and the blossom is as big as your hand. I would sorely miss them in the gardens and though I sow them randomly early in the winter, these plants have a mind of their own...or the birds decide. You can order these from many catalogs but they do need to freeze, via the GE freezer or Mother Nature. I have sown my seeds in February on open soil; between now and April I know the freeze and thaw movement of the ground will settle these tiny black seeds at a perfect level. Tip: Don't disturb the soil where you have planted these seeds until mid June...they are late germinators in the garden. The pale green seedlings will distinguish themselves from weed seeds... you'll see. Enjoy a blue green foliage and the amazing flowers atop them. This is a deeply satisfying annual with a long lasting life in the summer garden. Harvest seed in September and repeat the process.