Saturday, March 31, 2012

When my sister and I were young, we had a book of poetry that we spent hours reading, to ourselves and to each other.  Every spring I think of this poem that we loved, because we also loved our backyard swing set!  Is it because the rhythm reminds one of swinging?  All I know is that it's like poetry comfort food for me.

The Swing
How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
River and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside--

Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown--
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down! 
                                                             -- Robert Louis Stevenson

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dianne's Excellent Raised Bed Adventure

Here is the garden at present. Tomato (Early Girl) in bottom left was planted on March 17. Collards are in the bottom 2 rows, then with kale on the right and radishes and onions on the left. In the second bed leaf lettuce on the right with onions on the left, then spinach and swiss chard, next more left lettuce with romaine on the left, and last are snow peas starting to climb trellis. 

You will also see that I have a crop of mushrooms growing. When I went to the mushroom lecture I found out they are actually good for the soil and indicates good organic content and microbes. Knowing this, I'm not as disgusted when I first saw them, and they disappear when the sun hits them. 

By next week I think I will be able to pull some radishes and cut some lettuce.  I ended up reseeding practically everything except for that mass of bright green lettuce, which was the first thing planted on Feb. 5. I think it is a combination of the soil still being a little 'lumpy' and not fully decomposed plus temperature, which prohibited the seeds from germinating.

snow peas

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

PAR Davies on Tuesday 3-27

Remember the lettuce we planted a few weeks ago?  Well...

Red lettuce 3-27-12

And the cabbage?

Cabbage 3-27-12
Today we planted assorted sunflowers, volunteers from Anne K's garden.  We'll keep you updated on these, too.

Sunflowers planted 3-27-12

And for a little seasoning, here are the leeks!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Saucer Magnolia

Saucer Magnolia
One of the first trees to provide vivid color in late winter is the Saucer Magnolia ( Magnolia x soulangeana). During late February and early March the prominent gray fuzzy buds open to become large goblet shaped blooms. On bare branches, the white, pink, or purple blossoms are a much awaited harbinger of spring. There may be some years when the blossoms will be damaged by spring frosts, but the gamble is worth it.  Michael Dirr says the popular Saucer Magnolia “is often overused but with ample justification.” 
The parents of the Saucer Magnolia, Magnolia liliflora and Magnolia denudata were originally native  to the mountains of China. From the mountains they were transplanted to Chinese temple gardens where they were cultivated for centuries. Traders brought these species to Europe the late 18th century where they captured the attention of √Čtienne Soulange-Bodin.  Disillusioned from his service in Napoleon’s army, Soulange -Bodin found solace in horticulture. He founded France’s Royal Institute of Horticulture and later was in charge of the grounds of Empress Josephine’s final home. In the 1820’s, Solange-Bodin crossed the M. liliiflora and M. denudata to create the Magnolia x soulangeana.  By the 1830’s the Saucer Magnolia became the rage in Britain and the U.S.
Well suited for the urban landscape, the Saucer Magnolia is a low branched shrub-like tree that often reaches 30ft. Its smooth gray bark is often punctuated with horizontal lines of sap sucker holes. Its stiff dark green obovate leaves end in sharp tapered points. This pollution tolerant tree prefers rich well drained acidic soil. UT Extension classifies this tree as sewer safe and even suitable for large containers. Many striking cultivars are available.
--- Jan Castillo, MG '05

Monday, March 26, 2012

'Wolf Eyes' Japanese Dogwood

At the March MAMG meeting, we were treated to a review of new plants for Spring 2012 by  Jim Crowder from Dan West Garden Center.  We'll be reviewing the plants he shared with us in the coming weeks.
The Wolf Eyes Japanese Dogwood
(Cornus kousa 'Wolf Eyes')
The Wolf Eyes Cornus kousa is a compact dogwood. The form is spreading, with multiple branches; at maturity, Wolf Eyes reaches 10 feet in height with a slightly greater spread.  The foliage is variegated with a white margin and light green interior. In autumn, the leaves develop streaks ranging in color from pink to red. Older trees often develop mottled bark.
The trees produce what appears to be dazzling flowers in late spring to early summer for a period as long as 6 weeks. The four large, white petal-like structures are actually bracts--modified leaves that protect a cluster of three dozen or more tiny flowers at their junction. A colorless bract can't photosynthesize, but its veins bring food manufactured by the tree's chlorophyllous leaves--keeping the bracts vibrant for a week or more. The berry that succeeds flowering is raspberry-like in appearance.
Plant Wolf Eyes in partial shade and in a well-drained, acidic soil.  Like other types of Cornus kousa, Wolf Eyes blooms later in the spring than does flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) -- an important factor to consider if you're trying to stagger bloom periods in your landscaping. Don’t forget to provide the tree with sufficient water during hot spells.