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Support Pollinator Friendly Businesses

Readers and shoppers, this one is for you! This is free rein to go out and support those businesses that engage in pollinator friendly practices.

Now, how does one measure that? As with everything, one has to be sure that there isn’t “green-washing” going on. If a retailer is selling plants, or seeds, make sure they are appropriate for your area.

You remember I talked about knowing how to read a plant tag and knowing what was “perennial” back in March when I was discussing plant shopping. Just because a plant is labeled “perennial” at a large national retailer, it does not mean that it will necessarily be “perennial” for your area.

So one way to avoid those issues is to definitely shop local. Another way is to look for plants that are locally grown. Many of the plants will have their place of origin–or a grower–listed on them. At least at some of my garden centers, some of the plants will say “Connecticut grown” right on them. Even some of the national retailers sell some of these.

But “Connecticut” (or where ever) grown does not indicate that the plants are pesticide free, of course, and if you want a pollinator garden, that’s what you should hope for. Many retailers have started phasing out the neonicotinoids, which are believed to be harmful to bees, but they still may use other pesticides.

You will see some seeds now labeled as “organic” but it’s still rare to see a plant labeled as organic, even plants that we regularly buy for our vegetable gardens. I wonder what it’s going to take to get to that?

And of course, these smaller retailers often have a selection of gardening books. So even if you don’t want to necessarily go out and garden, you can often find interesting books on their shelves. You can perhaps help support the cause in that manner by buying a book–or two. As an avid reader myself, I know that I rarely buy just one (sort of like the old Lays potato chip commercial–no one can eat just one?)

So it’s just about plant shopping time in my area. This year, when you’re out shopping, please consider those garden centers and retailers that engage in pollinator friendly practices. I am not going to tell you what they are–but if you get there and don’t see a lot of local plants, native plants, or any organic plants, then I think I might find a different place to shop!

Wordless Wednesday–Spring Color

 

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After my whining last Friday about how we were never going to get spring,  a few warm days have brought out the flowers.

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You can see how early it is. The trees still have no leaves and very little is greening up. These photos were taken April 14–the very day that I was whining that we don’t have spring.

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So it’s nice to see a little color to prove me wrong.

Get Growing Earlier?

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I saw a “garden resolution” from a garden center on Twitter. Its resolution was “get growing earlier.” I smiled when I saw that because for some of us, as you can see by this photo,  gardening never really stops.

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Over the New Year’s holiday, I was pruning, treating plants for insects (organically, of course!), sadly saying goodbye to a few plants that I lost (so “pruning” of a different sort–or is it paring down) bringing several tender figs indoors to a warmer place and just generally puttering happily about with my house plants. This took up all of a good part of one day and could have taken more if I had let it.

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Not everyone has the hundreds of house plants that I have (and not everyone wants to have that massive a collection!) I also read something over the long holiday weekend where someone said that too many house plants looked like “clutter.” Clearly he and I beg to differ–but then again, he lives in Florida and can literally garden outside year round.

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But if you do have a large house plant collection–where you in effect sort of turn your house into a bit of a greenhouse–you also have a responsibility to “manage” all those plants just as any other plant collector would.

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Obviously you want to keep them as insect and disease free as possible so that you are not living with insects or diseases (although you have seen me joke that it’s just me and my 60,000 little friends at times because of the various pests on my plants. For the most part, plant insects stay put–but read this horrific story about an aphid swarm that didn’t here. Now you know what I mean when I say Stephen King isn’t a gardener. Surely he could use this….)

In any event, for the most part, house plants do far more good than harm, particularly so long as you are not using any chemicals to treat them indoors (no point in endangering yourself, your children or pets). In the coming days, although I have done so before, I will talk about indoor plants and their various benefits. In the meantime, just enjoy their beauty!

And by the way,  these are just photos of the first floor of my house. The windows in the rooms on the second floor are similarly “cluttered ” with house plants.

I am even forcing amaryllis bulbs in the furnace room in my basement.  Now that’s making creative use of space.

The Spoiler Strikes Again

I have said before that prior to this year and my surgery for melanoma, I was a raker. I would carefully rake out the beds around my perennials and I would rake leaves and pine needles off the tops of my shrubs. This doesn’t mean I wouldn’t leave leaves in the beds–it means I would try to keep the Spoiler from getting into my beds with his hand blower (or worse yet, his blower on wheels!) and doing damage to my plants and my gardens.

Well, of course, this year, all bets are off. So a few weeks ago, I started to notice something odd accumulating on our screened in porch. At first, I couldn’t tell what it was. Here is a photo.

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Once I realized that it was all over everything–walls, plants, doors, furniture, as well as the floor, I knew immediately what it was.  Some of my more astute readers have probably figured it out already.

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And once I saw this–my exposed bulbs smiling up at me despite the more than 2 inches of soil that had previously been covering them–all my suspicions were confirmed.

Needless to say, not only is the Spoiler denying that any of this is possible, but he said that the place where my bulbs are planted is a “leaf trap” and that he really needs to “blast” at it with the leaf blower to get the leaves out of there.

Blast at is with the leaf blower? When a few gentle passes with a rake will accomplish the same thing and not spray soil–and who knows what else–all over our porch?! Is he kidding?!

Now you know where the name the “Spoiler” comes from!

 

One of my Favorite Fall Flowers

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These are colchicums and they are reliable, deer proof, fall flowering bulbs. In  my garden, they come up every single fall without fail, including during the drought summers.

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Remember what I said about weeds and working in my soil? This is a patch of zoysia grass that has established in my rose garden. Rather than disrupt the bed in this hot dry summer, I have left the grass. I will remove it next spring–after a winter of moisture (I hope). More on that Wednesday.

But these bulbs even come up through zoysia, which is supposed to be resistant to weeds. That’s really saying something!

Once they open fully, people stop on the street to stare. They can’t believe what they are seeing in the fall!  It’s a great reaction.

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I have seen these bulbs naturalize in other places. They don’t really do it for me. I suspect it’s the heavy clay again. They’ve been here for almost 10 years. If they were going to naturalize, I suspect they would have by now.

But they also haven’t rotted away like so many other things I have planted. And that alone tells you how tough they are. If you haven’t tried them,  you are missing out on one of the joys of fall gardening!

Wordless Wednesday

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What is going on here?  Did Hermine get closer than they predicted? (And wouldn’t it have been better for everyone’s spell checking if they named it Hermione? )

Well, no to the first question and definitely yes to the second!

What I am doing is drying out the amaryllis to put them into dormancy.  I will leave them like this about a week or so and then bring them inside to my basement.  Because my basement doesn’t cool down right away–it’s actually warmer than the house at this point–it’s a little deceiving to say “wait 8 weeks, then pot up and begin to water,” which is the standard advice for what should happen next.

So, because I am sort of a “free range” kind of gardener anyway,  I just leave them there, removing the browning leaves, until I see them beginning to send up new blooms on their own schedule.  If you recall,  for one of them, this year, it was June! And that’s just fine by me. I generally have amaryllis in bloom for months that way.