Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day & Foliage Follow-Up April: The Garden Brings Refuge and Peace

Welcome to my April Garden!
Welcome to Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and Foliage Follow-Up for the month of April, a time when gardeners venture into their surroundings to appreciate all the beauty that nature has to offer. During these uncertain times around the world, I have been finding the garden to be a place of refuge, solitude and peace now more than ever. Having been somewhat on hold from traveling to the gardens of my clients, I now spend up to four to five hours a day doing what I love most...pruning, weeding, planting and putting my hands in the dirt. As a matter of fact, the dirtier my hands and the infamous purple Crocs become signifies the total productivity of the day.
April Garden
Spring temperatures and earlier than usual blooms have been the trend this gardening season. In past years, it has been way to chilly to work outdoors in April, but everything is accelerated. Weeds are on the verge, shrubs are pushing out new growth, blooms are popping up everywhere and the lawn is growing like crazy! Days have been mostly clear with temperatures topping in the upper 50's and low 60's, setting the stage for a pleasant and enjoyable gardening experience. As we take time to be thankful for nature's beauty, come take a stroll with me in my garden.
Helleborus orientalis 'Dark and Handsome'
One of my favorite blooms to transition from winter to spring are Helleborus, otherwise known as Lenten Rose. I love them for the fact that they start blooming in January (depending on the variety) and keep going all the way through April. This one is called 'Dark and Handsome' and rightfully so. It's gorgeous purplish-black blooms are irresistible!
Helleborus orientalis 'Champion'
This Helleborus 'Champion' is new to the garden this season. Right before the pandemic broke out, I had gone to a local nursery with a friend and spotted them. I did not buy them right away, but after one night of "sleeping on it", I quickly ventured back to purchase the only three that they had. It had been a purchase that was meant to be.
Helleborus orientalis 'Merlin'
Helleborus 'Merlin', planted last year, is another beauty similar to 'Shooting Star', only a bit more pink in color. Also on the northern side of the property are Helleborus 'Shooting Star'. Their blooms are fading up now, since they first opened all the way back in January. All together, I have the four varieties, varying in color and bloom time. Could there be room for more? Fun Fact: Helleborus are hardy in USDA zones 4-8 and prefer to be grown in partial to full shade. The reason why their blooms have such a long lifespan is due to the fact that what appears as petals are actually sepals.
Hellebore 'Champion' Pool Garden
Here are the latest additions in their new home, comfortably positioned just outside the canopy of this Weeping White Pine, sheltered in shade from the afternoon sun.
Weeping Pussy Willow (Salix caprea 'Pendula')
Follow me around to the outer perimeter of the backyard patio where you'll see Weeping Pussy Willow (Salix caprea 'Pendula') loaded with fluffy white catkins. They are now opening to expose their yellow pollen, providing an attraction for pollinators.
Weeping Pussy Willow Catkin
Every spring the birds migrate to this tree and plan their nesting site. As mentioned in the past, there is a lot of competition for this prime piece of real estate! Throughout the entire day there is much chirping and activity to be seen in the branches above.
Flowering Plum Prunus cerasifera Krauter Vesuvius 
Venturing over to the southern fence line is the new flowering plum that replaced the troubled one last summer. The previous tree had a missing buttress root, making the tree very unstable. After a battle to keep it healthy, it had to be replaced. This is the first bloom for this new tree that I have gotten to experience and I must say I am loving it!
Flowering Plum (Prunus cerasifera Krauter Vesuvius) Blooms
Here you can see the blooms close up. Flowering Plum blooms are small, but so delicate and fragrant. The deep burgundy foliage that follows really makes a statement in the landscape.
View From Back Patio
I hope you are enjoying the tour so far. I am always talking about the different sections of the garden, so let's try something new. Come take a seat in my favorite chair and view the garden as I see it every morning. You are facing west right now and the blooming Magnolia tree is to the north. The flowering Plum is to the south, so that would be located towards the far left side of the pool area.
Magnolia stellata 'Royal Star'
Now that you have a sense of direction, we are headed back to the northwestern side of the property (to the right of the pool area) to see the Magnolia up close. It might be my imagination, but I think with the mild winter this is the best bloom this tree has shown yet.
Magnolia 'Royal Star' Bloom
Here are the blooms close up. If you want fragrance, this is the tree for you!
Peony 'Bartzella' Foliage
Right in front of the west facing patio is Peony 'Bartzella' showing its brand new deep burgundy foliage before it turns to green. Large yellow blooms will follow in May, so look out for those in next months post!
Hyacinth
Hyacinth is a reliable bulb that produces fragrant long-lasting blooms in early spring. As you know, it is available in an assortment of colors including pink, salmon, yellow, white and the purple one seen here. Tip: Hyacinths grow best in zones 4-8 and require a period of colder temperatures in order to bloom.

Garden Visitor
There have been generation after generation of bunnies in the garden over the years and to my good fortune they have been well behaved and respectful of their surroundings. This visitor remained in the same place under a spirea shrub for an entire day and didn't even flinch with strollers passing by. I think it may be a mamma looking for a place to have her babies. Time will tell.
Spirea 'Limemound' Foliage
Here is the foliage on the Spirea 'Goldmound' starting to emerge. 
Miniature Daffodils
In the perennial border, the miniature Daffodils are blooming along with Hyacinth and remaining Crocus, while the foliage of Allium, Hosta, Astilbe, Daylily, Stachys, Salvia and Echinacea grows taller by the day.
Nepeta 'Walkers Low'
In the southern bed, Nepeta 'Walkers Low' is starting to appear.
Backyard Patio Garden
Everyday brings something new to explore as a renewal of life accelerates again in the garden. It comes at a good time.
Winter-Spring Bear
On the patio, "winter bear", transitions into "spring bear"...
Miniature Garden
and the new miniature garden added last season has over-wintered very well. Left to right is Variegated Boxwood, Compact Juniper and Golden Dwarf Hinoki Cypress. The addition of mulch, decorative logs and a small rock add to its character.
Tulips to Make You Smile!
To end the tour are these tulips, which grow just across the street in Mrs. O'Hara's garden. She is the gardener next door who I've lovingly written about in my latest book. Having grown up and remained in the same home all my life, she has been like a second mom to me, and it is Mrs. O'Hara who has greatly influenced my passion of gardening since childhood.
April Garden-Thanks for Visiting!
Stay safe and well and I hope you too can find refuge and peace in the garden. I thank you for being here, hope you enjoyed your visit, and perhaps got a smile along the way. 🙂Special thanks go out to our hostess Carol at May Dreams Gardens, who makes it possible to see blooms on the 15th of every month with her meme Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. Also, special thanks to Pam Penick at Digging who has hosted Foliage Follow-Up for all these years, a meme I will still continue to honor. I am also linking with some other wonderful hosts and hostesses at Floral Friday FotosMacro Monday 2, Mosaic Monday at Letting Go of the Bay Leaf, Nature Notes at Rambling WoodsDishing It & Digging It on Sunday with Angie the Freckled Rose, Image-in-ing weekly photo share every Tuesday with NC Sue and Gardens Galore Link Up Party every other Monday with Everyday Living. I am also happy to join the Homestead Blog Hop  and Weekly Photo Link-Up at My Corner of the World on Wednesdays.

Looking for some garden reading?-Visit my Author Page
Author: Lee@A Guide to Northeastern Gardening,© Copyright 2010-2020. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

This Month in the Garden: Urban Gardening-6 Creative Ways to Garden in the City

6 Creative Ways to Garden in the City
Who says urban dwellers can’t be green thumbs too? As a matter of fact, indoor gardening does not have to be challenging, and can be just as enjoyable and rewarding as outdoor gardening, especially when you know what, where, and how to plant. You’ll be surprised to find that so much of the best soil-grown plants can be cultivated indoors, from juicy tomatoes to pretty zinnias. For some clever indoor and urban gardening ideas, reference the list below and get prepped for some serious salads, all cultivated by you!
Figure 1: Growing Herbs (Photo Credit Shutterstock)
1. Plant an Herb Garden–One of the simplest ways to grow indoors is to start an herb garden. Herbs are perfect for growing on the windowsill or a sunny counter-top because they do very well in their own little pots. Stick them in a few well-draining containers somewhere they can soak up a ton of sun and watch as they sprout up beautiful, fragrant herbs and spices. Plant some rosemary, basil, parsley, cilantro, sage, mint, chives, oregano, thyme, and so much more. New to herb gardening? Follow The Herb Society of America’s herb garden guide.

2. Grow Container Tomatoes-Just like your favorite herbs, with a bit of love, tomatoes thrive indoors in the right containers. Make sure you select container tomatoes (varieties of tomatoes that are ideal for growing in small, contained spaces) and select the right pots in which to grow them. Tomatoes love to climb and cascade, so make sure you plant them in the appropriate containers, such as window boxes, pots, or tubs. These fruits are generally determinate, meaning they set their crop all at once or over a short period of time, but you’ll be surprised to find that many container grown tomatoes will yield impressively sized crops!

3. Use a Seed Starter–If you’re an indoor or urban gardener who will eventually be able to plant outdoors or in larger pots, then you may want to consider investing in a seed starter dome. These unique domes contain spongy, soil-less growing medium in a protected, climate-controlled environment. All you need to do is plant your seeds in the well-spaced planting cells, water, and cover. They’ll sprout up vibrant plant life in no time, growing big and strong without drying out or drowning. Once ready, you can transplant your seedlings to your outdoor garden or to larger pots. 
Figure 2: Planting Tomatoes (Photo Credit Shutterstock)
4. Grow a Vegetable Garden–Did you know you can grow more than just tomatoes indoors? With specialized products such as a seed starter unit and some grow lights, you can produce everything you need for a super-healthy salad and tons of other dishes. Some of the very best veggies to grow indoors include the following, all of which should be planted in well-draining containers:

  a. Carrots–Growing small carrots inside is surprisingly easy and solves the problem of trying to find stubborn, rocky soil in which to plant them. To care for your potted carrots, place them in a sunny area—somewhere with at least six hours of sunlight per day—and never let the soil dry out.

  b. Beets–For a delicious, summery salad addition year-round, grow beets! Plant your seeds in fertile, sandy, and pH-neutral soil in a long pot at least 17 inches deep. Make sure to give them lots of room to grow and don’t crowd them! Keep the soil uniformly damp (but don’t over water) and place your pots on a windowsill or near a window so they get plenty of sun. 

  c. Lettuce–Lettuce is surprisingly easy to grow and is amazing for people who want to make garden-fresh salads, even in the middle of winter. Some of the top varieties of lettuce to grow indoors are baby oakleaf, garden babies, merlot, salad bowl, and red deer tongue. Plant your lettuce seeds about 4 to 6 inches apart, at a depth of about 8 inches. 

  d. Hot Peppers–Who wouldn’t want off-the-vine peppers to throw in salsas, sauces, and salads throughout the year? It’s totally possible—just remember that these tropical perennials love light and do best with at least 10 hours of it each day. Plant your peppers in pots that are at least 8 inches tall. 

5. Leverage the Windowsill–If you’re not especially interested in buying a bunch of new equipment, such as indoor grow lights or a seed starter system, remember that you probably have a bit of access to the outdoors in the form of your windowsill, patio, or fire escape. Just remember that if you do decide to use your fire escape as a sun platform for your plants, you’ll need to keep the pathway clear so that it can be used in the event of an emergency. Remember that you’ll probably need to bring your plants inside for part of the year, especially if it gets cold where you live.

6. Grow Flowers–With all this talk about fresh fruits, veggies, and herbs, we almost forgot about one the favorite things to grow inside—flowers! Some blooming varieties should be started indoors as seeds in the spring (such as zinnias and other annual blooms) and then transplanted outside when it’s warm out. Zinnias especially thrive in containers, so it is beneficial to select them as a top pick for indoor gardens. With these colorful flowers, you’ll have gorgeous bouquets, even in the middle of the winter!
Figure 3: Seed Starting Annuals (Photo Credit Shutterstock)
The Perfect Way to Grow Year-Round
One truth of gardening is that nobody lives in a place where they can grow everything year-round. But with modern advancements in indoor gardening, we can create healthy environments for a wide range of flora and fauna, turning our homes into fragrant, enjoyable green spaces that lift the mood! Happy planting!
  
Author Bio: Grace Quarer oversees Park Seed content development from Park’s headquarters in Greenwood, South Carolina. Before joining Park Seed, Grace managed garden content for a large national chain of home improvement stores. Grace grew up in a gardening family, but it was marrying into a farming family that introduced her to seed starting for home gardeners and professionals. Her hobby is teaching friends and her community how to sprout, grow and cook as a proud part of the “farm to table” movement.

I hope you enjoyed This Month in the Garden for April. Be sure to stop by on the 1st. of each month for This Month in the Garden. Learn gardening tips, information and come along on horticultural adventures! Linking with:  Floral FridaysMacro Monday 2Friday Photo JournalImage-in-ing Weekly Photo Link-Up and Dishing It & Digging It.

~As Always...Happy Gardening! ~

Author: Lee@A Guide to Northeastern Gardening,© Copyright 2010-2020. All rights reserved.

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