What the snow did: not much

Just a quick look at what the heavy snow we received last weekend did. If you remember, the bamboos looked particularly distressed, bent all the way to the ground.

For the most part, they've bounced back as expected -- I do have some work to do though.


pruning, the tiring kind

I've been thinking that I need to prune a couple of my roses soon -- the ones that the deer haven't already taken care of I mean, and the yews in front of the house need to be trimmed back a bit, but these aren't the pruning tasks that have been weighing on my mind lately.

No, the pruning I've been dreading is the rhizome pruning of my running bamboos. There are a couple of plants that I know I neglected last year, and I knew I was going to pay for it with extra work this spring. Well, it's that time.


What's the difference?

Last weekend while I was cleaning up the pond, I realized there was something weird about the Petasites japonicus plants I have at the water's edge. No, not that they bloom with (or before) the crocus and daffodils -- that's a bit strange but not unusual for these plants -- that's what they do.

The weird thing was that the flowers are not all the same. In fact, they're so different that I'd even suggest that I've got two different species growing here. (Compare blooms on the right to those on the left.)


Pond Cleanup Continues

I've already cleaned the pond a couple of times in preparation for the spring warm-up, but there's still much to do. I tackled more of it last weekend before the snowstorm.

As you can see the water has cleared up a bit since the recent rains washed mud into the pond, but muddy water is going to be a problem until I do some filtering -- especially if I keep stirring things up.


More space!

What's a gardener to do when their seed-starting plant table is full, there are no suitable windowsills on which to start seeds, yet there are at least a dozen more types of seed that need to get going?

Well, if you're like me you take some old leftover wood (that may have been just sitting around up in a tree)...


Unexpected find

Remember the other day when I received the surprise desert mallow plant from Jenny? Another plant I've been admiring in her garden is what I call Chocolate flower, and what she calls Chocolate daisy.

Both names refer to Berlandiera lyrata, a wonderful little perennial that smells of chocolate. I grew some from seed a few years ago and loved the scent every morning, but for some reason I stopped growing it. I've been looking for seeds this winter, as I want to add it to my garden again.



That's the sound of spring arriving in my St. Louis garden this year, in the form of several inches of heavy snow. Yes, it makes everything so beautiful, but what about the crocus that were blooming?

What about the daffodils that were just about to start opening? What about my coldframe? (What about my psyche, which was eager for the imminent greening?)


There goes spring...

Yesterday was a lovely spring day and I spent it in the garden digging, cleaning up, building things. Today though winter returns to St. Louis, as the snow has just started falling.

With 5-11" (12-28cm) of snow expected today and tonight, I'm not going to be much more digging anytime soon.


Quickly, onions

I've posted this tip before, but on this not unbearably cold Saturday I need to get outside and get some projects done before the rain that will turn into snow starts falling. So a short post today.

About green onions, so useful in the kitchen, so handy to have on the kitchen windowsill.



Have you ever received plants in the mail (or via some other delivery service)? Maybe they were from an order you placed, or due to a trade you had arranged with distant gardening friends? It's great, isn't it?

Know what's even better? Receiving a plant in the mail when you were not expecting one. That's right, surprise plants!


More seeds starting

Now that I've gotten my cold-tolerant seedlings out of the house (for the most part), I've got room under the lights for more seed trays.

I love starting plants from seed, and no matter how many times I've done it, I always get excited by the emergence of little green leaves in the seed starting mix!


While winter lingers, more pots

Even though spring-like weather is taking its time arriving this year, I still get the itch to go to garden centers to see what's available. I may buy a few plants now, but I really don't want to end up with dozens of plants that I need to keep bringing into the garage every few days because of diving temps.

So instead I focus a lot of my garden center time looking for deals on pots. Although I've got lots of them, decorative pots are one essential that I feel I can never have enough of.


Filling the cold frame

Yesterday I showed you how I built a simple cold frame over part of one of my veggie beds.

Today I show you what I planted, because an empty cold frame is a sad sight.



I started all of my cold-tolerant edible seeds several weeks ago: lettuce, tatsoi, cilantro (coriander). Those seedlings have been eager to get into the ground, and they're ready. The problem is the weather. Although we've had a few warm days here and there recently, temperatures in March are quite a bit below normal. The forecast a few days ago indicated that we'd expect nighttime lows of around 20ºF  (-6ºC) for a couple of days, and I don't want to expose these tiny seedlings to those conditions.

Since I need the space on the plant table for the next round of seed starting, I decided to build a cold frame over part of the veggie bed so I'd have a place to put these little plants regardless of the weather.


Time to pot the cuttings

As I mentioned recently, the cuttings that have been rooting in clay pellets (and water) have been looking a bit yellow, a sure sign that they need to get into some potting mix and soak up some nutrients!

Time to do that and find out how this rooting method worked!


More greenhouse color

I have some photos left from my greenhouse visit of last weekend, showing off a couple of plant families with which I'm not very familiar.

If you know what this first one is, you've got one up on me, as I had never heard of them before (I'll show you the tag shortly).


maybe wrong, and very wrong

On my nursery visit last weekend I saw some great stuff: dozens of heucheras, lots of perennials just starting to emerge, color. I also saw some questionable stuff. Things that make me stop and say "that's just wrong".

The first example is not a clear case. My first thought upon seeing this foot was "wow, funky", but then I decided it was "too funky"... or did I?


hack, grind, shear, cut: clean!

It's finally time to clean up the garden, removing last year's remnants, making way for the soon-to-be-emerging new growth. This is a task that is relatively big in my yard, with perennials to cut back, grasses to chop, and groundcover bamboos to "mow". It seems like an overwhelming task, but I never start the day thinking "I'm going to clean up everything today" -- that would be daunting. Instead I just focus on one job, and when that's finished I move on to another if I feel like it.

On this day I decided to start with this "groundcover" bamboo, but ended up doing quite a bit more.



Are you growing any heuchera ("Coral Bells") in your garden? Once upon a time this plant was available in two different leaf colors: green, and purple (with the 'Palace Purple' cultivar). These days, you can get pretty much any leaf color you want (except blue), and there must be hundreds of different cultivars to choose from.

I've had four different kinds growing in my garden for several years now, and I may be adding a few more soon. It seems the buyer at one of my local nurseries loves heuchera, as I learned the other day. Let's see what local gardeners get to choose from this year...



My nursery visit the other day was recharging, but also disappointing. I was hoping to get some ideas for plants to add to my garden, but what I saw instead was this:

Not the full-sized "spring is here" plants I somehow expected, but rows and rows of perennials at the correct stage of growth for this climate at this time of year.


pond, beautiful?

I've been really enjoying the crystal-clear water of the pond lately, being able to see the fish and all of the submerged plants. The water wasn't perfect as there were still leaves to remove, but it was nice.

Now, not so much.


greenhouse color

While waiting for the garden to dry out a bit yesterday, I visited a couple of my local garden centers. My main goal was to find some purple fountain grass to replace the ones I killed, but they didn't have any yet.

They were unloading several racks of just-arrived plants, and some of the colors were just amazing.


The wonderful aroma of... bamboo?

This past Christmas we received a nice gift of some scented candles. I'm not a candle fanatic like some people, but I really do love some of these "flavors" -- and I have to call them "flavors" because they're usually so strong they fill my entire head.

I don't know if the "bamboo" scent was chosen specifically for me (the person who gifted me has never visited my garden) or if it was a happy coincidence. I was eager to find out what they thought bamboo smells like.


Checking in on the cuttings

You already know I overwinter cuttings indoors under lights. You've also recently read about me taking more cuttings for fun and to get more plants.

It's time to take a look at some of these cuttings to see how they're doing, don't you think?


Lesson learned

When overwintering plants, I often try experiments. Take cuttings instead of overwintering the whole plant, keep some plants dormant, others actively growing. The idea is to reduce the amount of work and/or storage space required to get these not cold-hardy plants through the winter.

This year's big experiment was with purple fountain grass, Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum'. In previous years I would take small divisions in the fall or early winter and keep the new plants growing under lights all winter. This worked great but the plants eventually got quite rootbound before spring arrived, so this year I was looking for a way to delay this process a bit.



Actually, "rock" is probably not the most descriptive title for this post.

It's just that "weathered garden rocks covered in fascinating patterns of mosses, lichen, and algae" doesn't make a very catchy title.


Three-year anniversary: Best of INWIG 2012

According to Blogger I made my first blog post on March 5, 2010 which means today is my three-year anniversary! Three years of daily posts? Yep. Since I think about gardening every day, why not post about it every day too? One of the main reasons for creating this blog was so I'd document everything I did in the garden, and I have to admit I've done a pretty good job of that. Did I list every detail of every task I did? No, certainly not. I missed lots of stuff, including some important details such as what exact varieties of veggies I planted, spacings, fertilization schedules, etc. but I also shared a lot of things that I would normally have just observed and enjoyed for myself, and have hopefully given some entertainment and knowledge to my readers.

Today I'm going to take a look back over the past year and list my favorite posts in chronological order. If you haven't seen them before please take a look. If you have seen them already, then take another look -- it's still fun! I did this type of post on my previous two anniversaries too, and I really like the way they turned out. Expect it every year.


Winter's last gasp?

It's been quite wintery in St. Louis the past few weeks -- as it has been over large parts of this country. Temperatures have been much lower than normal (except for a few days here and there), and we've had a bit of snow.

Our normal high temperatures for this time of year are 50ºF (10ºC) with normal lows around freezing. Instead we've been lucky if the high temps made it to 40ºF (4ºC), with lows in the low 20's or even teens (F). That will be changing later this week though, as the forecast looks like it will get back to "normal".


Another problem, no solution

I've been writing about little problems that I've been fixing lately. Today I have another problem to show you, but I admit I don't have a solution to this one.

It's plumbago (or leadwort), Ceratostigma plumbaginoides. This is one of the first perennials I planted back in 2002, and it's been a care-free performer for me. There's a problem though...


Another simple fix

The other day I wrote about a little project to level part of my parkway turf, then I wrote about removing vinca from the bed in front of the house. There was another little project I tackled on that same busy weekend.

I had been thinking about this last summer, and probably the summer before too: the Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra) that's growing between these three rocks.


Imagine: bark

One of my favorite things about the garden is tree bark. I love its texture, its color.

I also love the way it hosts mosses, algae, and lichen. It's like a garden itself, in miniature. A landscape all its own.


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