Thursday, April 29, 2010

(More) New Plants in the Greenhouse

It's always fun to grow new varieties and see if they live up to the hype. I was excited about mini-famous yellow calibrachoa, as this flower received high points in trial gardens and the photographs were seductive.

The company that developed this flower says: "It has the best plant habit of all the doubles yet, outstanding outdoor performance, and it flowers the earliest." In fact it is adorable right now in the pot.

What I had not anticipated is that the flower is TINY - about the size of a dime.

Another nice new flower is lobularia. I was warned that it was vigorous, kind of a giant alyssum out of control. I have put some in baskets, but I think it's a better plant to put in the ground or use as a novelty flower. The second photo is from the folks who patented lobularia. It's not a great plant for baskets in the greenhouses, as its tiny petals fall on the plants below. (Horticultural dandruff?) Outside it would be fine, but not on someone's porch.

I really like the foliage on this new "sunpatiens" and it seems to branch out more than other new guineas. I ordered in more and the company sent the wrong variety, a solid white. Oh well. I have combined this in a few baskets (sold one yesterday!) with purple calibrachoa. The second photo is from the company that developed this new plant.

We are closed today (Monday) so I will go take photos of yet more new plants for the next entry. We have recovered (physically) from the cave-ins following that snow storm. There's a lot of rebuilding in the future, assuming the season goes well.

Snow Stories - The Bad Side

At first the unexpected snow was quite pretty.

By Thursday morning more than a foot had fallen. The daylilies (and all the plants) were buried and it was still snowing.

The snow was light and fluffy, perfect snowball weather. My dog, Rudy, loved it.

As the morning warmed the snow grew heavier, bringing down tree limbs in my driveway. Neighboring farmers reported they had no electricity.

Having once dealt with a caved-in greenhouse because of heavy snow, I made sure the snow was sliding off my four houses.

But I didn't predict a problem with the outside "shade benches." The roof is made of slats of wood to provide shade while letting some sun in. Snow fell off a tree and crashed through part of one roof on to the tables and plants.

A tree split and crashed on the plants stored out back.

Then the totally unexpected happened. Another shade roof covering hundreds of freshly dug and innocent perennials buckled under the weight of the snow. Its supports gave way, crashing the entire thing on top of the pots, crushing plants and smashing the tables. This was once two long rows of inviting perennials, covered by a picturesque wood slat roof.

Today the sun is shining. We open officially in two days and they are predicting hot and humid weather for the weekend. We will face the destruction, salvage what we can and, as my Dad would have said, "Onward." Nobody was hurt and everything inside the greenhouse still looks great.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Perennials and the Weather

It’s 6:30 pm and they are predicting up to 8 inches of snow. Would anyone like to look at some daylilies before they disappear?

We mowed the lawns yesterday. Four days from now they are predicting hot and humid, so I am not going to worry too much about my perennials. This is what we call a “sugar snow.”

Sometimes potted perennials get too much moisture, and I have certainly had my battles with fungal disease. One of my favorite sprays to use later in the season is Pyola, a combination of pyrethrum and canola oil. It hits any pests organically and while the oil attacks insect eggs and larvae, it is also useful for combatting fungal problems.

The bad news is that I have lots more perennials to dig, and I don’t want to do it with a snow shovel.

The good news is that I FINALLY got my catalog finished. It can be downloaded from MY WEB SITE.

And more good news. I have been named one of the top 100 gardening blogs (in the regional section) at this site.

Top Gardening Blogs. Hmmmm - time to start writing again, now that both my catalog and taxes are in the past.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Photographs of the “Big Greenhouse” April 7

I would like to post something with information for cold climate gardeners at least once a week, but I haven’t started my taxes yet (or even my greenhouse “catalog” ! ! !) so this week’s submission is simply photos taken inside the largest of the four greenhouses.

The above photo is the south side of the greenhouse. On days when it is very cold outside, but the sun is shining, I have to roll up the side to let in cooler air. For this reason right now I do not have plants flush to the side of the greenhouse. The shock of the change of temperature would do them in.

Above I am looking down the center of the greenhouse from the area where I do my transplanting.

The "shady side" of the greenhouse is the home for hanging fuchsias and six-packs of impatiens, hypoestes, etc.

Two of many seedling flats await transplanting.

'Wave' petunias

I always plant a few tomatoes early. The hanging black buckets I got at the dollar store. Danny drilled a hole in their bottoms and I have planted upside-down tomatoes for folks to try.

Here I am half-way through transplanting peppers in four-packs. I plant four different varieties in one pack, so that customers can try different plants without buying six of each.

There is some color in the greenhouse now (the white is lobularia, not alyssum) , but it will be three weeks before any customers can see it. This time of year I am always frazzled and excited at the same time.