Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Townhouse Garden - June Update, Back Garden

Well, it's a little bit delayed, but, here is the rest of my June update.
On one of only a handful of sunny day's I was able to snap some pic's.
The cushions are on the chairs, and the garden for the most part is planted.
Things have greened up and the roses are setting there buds.
The tomatoes "Bonny Best" have been planted, grown from seed I saved last year. Cages in place and ice cream buckets (bottom removed) are buried about 1 1/2" into the soil. Tomatoes like alot of water and with my soil, the water just seems to roll away when I water. With these additions, the water fills the buckets and slowly seeps down to the roots of the plant.
I have a total of 7 tomatoes here. A few volunteer Mullen, The two grapes are showing some growth. I have a New York Musket and the one in the back ground reaching for the Tomato cage is a Concord, a cutting started from an original plant located in Cougar Annies Garden

I didn't plant much in the veggie patch this year just a bit of this and that. Along the an abundance of volunteer Parsley and Mullen.
Some Onion sets, yellow and red, really easy to grow.
Another view of the Tomatoes, Concord Grape and Mullen.
The large stand of Hollyhocks I grew from seed last year, a biennial, they will flower this year. It looks like a forest of them. As seedlings they were small, so I planted them close together, never having grown Hollyhocks before. Last year they stayed small, but this year they are huge, I will have to re-think where I plant them in the future. Maybe only one here and there, not grouped as I have done here, I can barely get into the garden.Lots of new Raspberry canes have popped up this year.
The First rose bloom of the season, "Black Magic" a Jackson & Perkins rose.

And the Hydrangea, lots of flowers this year. They are just starting to turn colour.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Townhouse Garden - June Update, Front Garden

Finally, the sun has come out after what seems like an eternity if rain. I grabbed my camera and took a walk through the garden to see what was growing, and here is what I saw.
The Ferns are lush and green and the Rhodo I transplanted last year is in full bloom.

I don't know the name if this one, but I do like the blush coloured flowers. This shady location, I think, is perfect. If it were in a sunny spot, the delicate colour in the flowers would have been washed out by now. The Japanese Maple "Bloodgood" is looking great, the deep purple leaves is a nice contrast to the green of the garden. The feathery white flower stalks of the Astilbe with the green of the Christmas Fern are a nice combination
Lavender "Fred Boutin" has sent out it's long flower stalks, given a few weeks, this will be a beautiful display of purple lavender wands, swaying in the wind, buzzing with bee's
The red Azalea (bottom left) has finished blooming, the Lady's Mantel (center) has put out a lot of green growth, and the flower stalks are developing. The yellow Alyssum "basket of gold" is on it's second bloom and the Dianthus"pinks" are just starting to bloom. I really like the grey evergreen foliage of this plant. It makes a great border plant, allowed to cascade over bricks or rocks. It spreads slowly, and is easily kept in check.The window boxes filled with seed Geraniums are well on there way to something fantastic. I have already seen a few flowers forming. This plant purchased as a small seed Geranium was a great deal, if you are willing to wait for it to grow. I really thing these plants do better planted young rather that at a flowering mature state. The mature ones tend to get leggy as they grow and finish before the even get started. With the seed Geraniums I will get a full season of interest and flowers from them. I'm also going to try taking cuttings in August to keep them going over the winter. We will see how that goes, that will be a future post. The Dahlia's (left) are growing slowly, the newly planted Echinacea "purple coneflowers"(center) are settling well into their new home. Pieris Japonica (right) has also put on a lot of growth this spring.
While the Iris has finished blooming (front), the Rose of Sharon "red heart" has put on a lot of growth, once flowering, in July, this plant will continue till frost.Sedum "autum joy" (front) has spread and filled in the void quite nicely.
Lonicera Periclymenum (late dutch honeysuckle) vine is flowering, but not as much as last year. I don't know if that is because of the weather this year or my lack of pruning last year. I was lucky enough to find a rooted branch of this vine years ago. The parent plant being at my parents house. I have fond memories of warm spring nights, where this scent of this highly fragrant vine, would fill the air around the house. I can remember riding my bike home in the evening and having it's intoxicating scent greet me as I rode into the drive way.
One of my favorite things to do with this honeysuckle is to cut a few sprigs, put them in a bud vase and place them on the headboard beside my pillow. That way I can smell it all night long. The funny thing is that come morning, the scent isn't as strong as it is at night.
These fall mums were planted a few years ago, and are still doing well. Some have even started to bloom already.
My rose "abraham darby" hasn't liked all the rain that we have been getting. Most of the first wave of blooms were lost to the rain, and the shrub is looking a little flat. This being a rambler rose, I really should have it trained and supported along the fence. Another thing to add to my to do list.
The rhubarb has put out some good growth this season, I should harvest a few stalked before it gets to late.
The Lilac tree needs to be dead headed, the blooms were so beautiful this year. All the Lavender is doing really well this season.
The Wisteria has been putting on a lot of growth, I have added another wire guide to the front fence.The blue grass is looking really blue and has a few flower stalks emerging, not bad for a free craigslist plant. I have also planted some sunflower transplants and marigolds along the front of the fence. The Ginkgo Biloba trees has put out a lot of leaves in it's third year at this location.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Finding a will and a way to go green

Recently, The City of Richmond introduce a new Food Scraps Composting Program for which all homeowners could participate, with some exceptions.

I wrote into our local newspaper in response to a letter on the topic, which was published, it is as follows:
Finding a will and a way to go green


In a follow up to Carrie Sproviero’s letter in the May 22 paper (“Why can’t townhomes be part of composting program?”), I too was an eager Richmondite wanting to participate in the new Food Scraps Composting Program.

Unfortunately, I also live in a townhouse complex, which at this time, only has the basic blue box program which I’m an avid use of.

After reading the reasons for apartment and townhouse complexes being excluded from the program, I can understand why, but that doesn’t diminish my desire to what to do the right thing for our environment.

So, it was time to think outside the box, and use the guide lines set out for individual home owners “You are welcome to set out multiple green cans and unlimited paper yard trimmings bags” to my advantage.

I went out and purchased my nifty green wheeled can with locking lid (Rona) and proceeded to fill it up with all things accepted.

When garbage/recycle day came I happily rolled my green can all the way to the individual homeowner across the street and set my can with theirs.

Now feeling quite satisfied, I to “can” participate in the program. I’ve made it work for me now and I encourage other excluded individuals to do the same.

Where there is a will, there is a way!


Wordless Wednesday - Just Hangin Out

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Townhouse Garden - New Life For Old Red

It was and early Saturday morning, a few weekends ago, when I went to dig up two mature Rhododendrons that I found for sale on Craigslist. This is a great place to find and get a deal on established plants.

Here is old red, this 20+ year old Rhododendron was no longer valued by this homeowner in its current location. So rather that chop it down, like so many other people would, this homeowner posted it on Craigslist. Now, this benefits not only the seller but also the buyer, where else could I get mature plants at a reasonable cost, and where else would this homeowner pocket a few dollars and not have to dig up or dispose of this valuable plant material. What a beautiful arrangement

Rhododendrons are a relatively shallow rooted plant, so they are perfectly suited to being moved around at a mature age. Now there are varying degrees of maturity, one look at the trunk of this one and I new that I could dig it out by hand and haul it off. If it had been a really thick truck then some mechanical intervention would have been necessary. With two shovels, one hand pick, a pair of loppers and some sweat equity, my neighbour and I got busy digging up this gem.

45 minutes later, some pulling and tugging revealed this baby was ready to release it's self from it's current home.

There we go, with the root ball now free, two brawny women could now hoist this plant up out of its hole.

We also dug up another mature Rhodo, this one still had the original tag on it, meet "Alice" very pretty.

With both Rhodo's loaded and strapped into the utility trailer, off we leave Tsawwassen for Richmond.

2009, as our fence was being replaced,

Summer 2009, planting annual Dahlia tubers was something to fill the empty space until something more substantial could be acquired.

2010, something more substantial, with the newly acquired Rhododendron, I needed to find the perfect spot and angle to plant the bush.

In it's original location this plant was leaning a little to the right with one of it's branches rooting itself in the soil. When re-planting , I needed to tilt it a little to the left to balance out the over all look.

Viola, an instant mature look to the area.

Next up, planting Alice, the root ball on this one was a lot smaller and easier to dig up.

An empty spot just crying out for something mature to be planted there, "pick me, pick me" can you hear it?

It looks like it has always been there, don't you think. Now this bush really needs to be pruned back hard, I really had to tilt this one to get the main branches to look proper. Rhodo's are really resilient plants, they will generate new growth on old wood, it's really quite an amazing thing to watch, you just have to have a little patience and forgo some blooms for a year or two.

Back to old Red, with my pruners is hand, I needed to be brutal. I needed to really open up the plant, getting rid of the crossing, and the weak branches. Balancing up the bush, and allowing the light to shine on the remaining, exposed wood. This will stimulate the new growth.

Let the light shine in.

Brutal right, well not as drastic a pruning job as I have done to a Rhodo in the past. Years ago, I pruned back my mom mature Rhodo hard, I mean there was only a few green leaves left, but it had just finished blooming so the new growth was just coming out. I remember she was devastated, thinking that I had done irreparable damage, and surely killed her plant. Well, it's been a few years now and the bush has never look as good or blooms so profusely. Really, these are hardy plants people!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Townhouse Garden 2010 - Wonderful Wisteria

So flash back to last year, February, our townhouse complex was getting a new fence. I had a small brick planter at the base of the brick post, which was, along with the rest of the fence, up for demolition. I removed the bricks and any plants that would be damaged.

February 2009

March 2010

2009, this area was left unfinished for all of last year. Waiting for the right inspiration to finish off the spot.

Fast forward to 2010, now was the time to get this area finished.
After sorting through the bricks I had on hand from the previous planter, this new area is slightly larger from the last one. After purchasing some more bricks, I laid them out in the general area of the new planter.

Using the same method of instillation as the other brick work around the Townhouse, the planter was now ready for some soil.

Lots of fresh compost will be mixed in with the existing soil.

Unfortunately, when I began to dig down I only got so far as a spades depth before running into a cement pad which runs the length, plus, of the planter. Before this townhouse complex was built, there was a house in this location and they must have had a retaining wall of some sort right were I want to dig, arrg. It's a good thing that the new planter will raise the growing area up 3 or 4 inches. There is also, as I discovered, a 2 inches gap where the cement pad ends and the edge of the planter is where roots could go down deeper into the soil in search of moisture.

Ah, all done, and planted with my newly purchased Wisteria "Texas Purple" an early to flower variety. I've read somewhere, when purchasing a Wisteria, you should find one that is or has bloomed, if not, you could be waiting a few years to see flowers. Of course, I've also been told that once a Wisteria has become established, watch out, and have your pruners handy. It will need to be pruned a few times during the growing season to keep it in check or it might take over, destroying fence panels, ripping siding off housing, grabbing small children as they walk by, (kidding) ;)
I have secured some eye hooks into the fencing with wire running between them so the vines could attach themselves to that, and not my new fence.

Wire running the length of the top of the fence.

I really love the look of the flowers of Wisteria, like clusters of grapes, and the smell, like sweet peas. Once this vine is established and trailing along the top of the fence, it should be breath taking when in bloom.

I finished the planter off with some perennials, Geranium cinereum "Sateene" Grayleaf Geranium, Dianthus barbatus "Sooty" Sooty Sweet William, and Gaillardia "Scarlet Halo" Blanket flower. Now all I have to do is add water and watch it grow.