It is an extremely busy time outside. Almost time for warm weather crops to go in the vegetable garden. In anticipation we have been juggling seedlings in pots on a daily basis. The daffodils have finished leaving behind an enormous number of flower skeletons to be plucked. There are still beds that need to be tidied and, sad to say, a few things that need to be replaced. Last year I planted three hardy gardenias. The variety was called Summer Snow and they bloomed last summer. The heavenly scent of the beautiful white blooms against the lustrous evergreen foliage was perfection. They are listed as hardy to zone 6. We are zone 7 which made me think we had plenty of fudge room but all three are crispy critters. So sad. They were well watered during the heat last summer and went into the winter in good condition so there really is not an explanation.
In my drive-about to all sorts of nurseries I came across something to replace one of the gardenias. It is called Lemony Lace elderberry. It gets 3-6 feet tall but can handle being pruned so I can keep it on the smaller side if it gets too big. The contrast between the glowing foliage and the dark green myrtle groundcover is quite joyful. It definitely makes a statement and, I think, one is enough.
While out and about I came across a bush cherry that I just could not leave behind. These plants produce yummy cherries on bushes rather than trees. That makes harvesting significantly easier. And if birds try to get to the cherries first, the 6 foot tall bushes can be netted without the threat of falling off a ladder. Romeo is self-fruitful, which means I only need one. It is hardy to -45 degrees F. which is zone 2 so that really should not be a problem. In the description it talks about "flesh-to-pit" ratio. Which is a really unappealing choice of words. Nonetheless the cherry blossoms in spring and the promise of up to 25 pounds of fruit when the plant matures was too tempting. Below is a stock image. I hope it turns out as well.
At the same nursery I found hardy bananas. I have tried these before with no luck but they came mail order and were pitifully small. These plants are significant. Musa basjoo can get up to 13 ft. tall in a season but they die back every fall. The guy I asked about them pointed out a clump that has been planted there for 15 years and suggested a heavy winter mulch for protection. The bananas it produces are not edible but they are exotic. Definitely a little different.
For the woods I planted four Rhododendron and a Ligularia. I was dumb. I really should have gotten at least 3 Ligularia. The dark purple foliage is in sharp contrast with the vivid orange flowers. But one alone in the woods isn't going to do much. I went to see Mel at Maddens Family Farm in Princeton and she said she will have them soon. So I will grab a few more in the next few weeks.
While I was there I did grab a variegated Solomon's Seal. I found a green one in the woods so I will plant the variegated one in the same area.
Also for the woods, I found a really healthy Oregon Grape Holly. This weird plant likes part shade to full shade so is an excellent choice for the woods. I read that it has a tendency to sucker which would be great. I did have one once before and it never did that but it would be nice if it spread a bit. The fruits turn bluish purple when they mature and are preceded by yellow flowers. That is a lot of interest for a shade plant.
The final plant I purchased for the woods is a close relative of the Horse Chestnut. It is called Red Buckeye, Aesculus pavia. I love this tree. The Horse Chestnut may take many years to bloom but the Red Buckeye will bloom in its pot. This is a smaller tree that will do well in part shade. So it should not go in the darkest part of the woods but more along the edge. If I get it in a good spot we should be able to enjoy the blooms from the back yard.
Already blooming here at Tiny Farm we have a few new things stepping into center stage. My tri-color hedge finished up the Forsythia a while ago but the Vanhouttei spirea are in their glory. These will be followed by red Weigela for the third period of bloom.
Also blooming now is the Carolina spicebush. The blooms are saved for use in lieu of pot pourri especially in lady's lingerie.
And the Woodland Poppy has popped up in the Garden of Ancient Ruins. It started out front but has found its way.
Finally, the Golden Ragwort also crept under the fence and into the Garden of Ancient Ruins. I don't know who named it, but it is a lot prettier than its name implies.
The Plant Exchange
The plant exchange is May 27. Same program as last year. Bring a food item to share. Finger food. Cheese cubes. Those little hotdog things wrapped in a tiny bun. Small bunches of grapes. Apple slices. Popcorn. Cookies. Cupcakes. Watermelon wedges. But I can say last year we had the most amazing selection of desserts. I think I might have been heading for a sugar coma. Those lemon bites that came in the round plastic tub were amazing. I couldn’t eat just one. Or two. A bit more of a balance though might be appreciated. Bringing plants to exchange is the fun part, but you can also bring tools, clay pots, seeds, vases, garden decor, or anything you think might be useful in the garden. We will have some drawings. Tommy will play some music. If you can come early to help let me know. Or the day before. Or the day after. The event will run from noon to four. If you have a lot of stuff to bring I suggest you bring a table. I will have a quite a few out but the plants tend to overflow onto the ground. I have been starting seeds and propagating plants in the greenhouse. Dug out a bunch of cannas. They will be out as well.
Just a reminder that if you missed any of The Garden Show broadcasts, but would like to hear them, they are now available on the website archives. http://www.woldradio.com/garden_show.html The show can be heard on 95.1 FM every Sunday from 10 AM to Noon. You can also stream on WOLDRadio.com. But even more amazing is that you can tune in via your telephone. This connection is not internet streaming (of course you can do that) but just a phone call from any telephone, landline or mobile. Dial 518-737-0158 and join us.
If you have questions, you can send them here to the website or save them to call into the show. That number is 908-448-zero-95-1 (908-448-0951). It is a tricky way of getting the place on the dial imbedded into the phone number. Talk soon.