Chronicaling the lunacy of taming three acres in Tidewater Virginia, one square foot at a time!

"Gardens... should be like lovely, well-shaped girls: all curves, secret corners, unexpected deviations, seductive surprises and then still more curves. ~H.E. Bates, A Love of Flowers

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Check out Les!

Another yucky weather day...damp, cool, breezy. Not really a day that inspires gardening...maybe some bird pictures later.

We got ~2 inches of rain since overnight Sunday. I am sure grateful that was it! I am worried about my northern friends who are getting hammered by hopefully the last noreaster of the season! More flooding is not needed.

In the meantime check out Les, "A Tidewater Gardener" (a God not a Goddess-ha) on the local news channel! Les talks about Camelias at NBG 

If you are in this area...the Norfolk Botanical Garden is totally worth the cost of admission... I just bought myself a membership and signed up for a macro photography class in the hopes of actually learning what my camera can do if it is NOT on "autofocus!"

Also...The Center for Conservation Biology at the College of William & Mary will band the Norfolk Botanical Garden bald eaglets on Wednesday, March 31, 2010 at 9 a.m. You can follow the banding activities on the web cam with a narrative provided by Norfolk Botanical Garden staff. Eagle Cam Link here!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Murky Monday

Murky, thundery, rainy Monday in store...

The rest of the weekend was a blur as we hosted D-13's sleepover birthday party...much girly stuff going on until 3:30 AM when the 10 girls in the pile finally fell asleep!

I did get out back and spread some of my black gold yesterday dressed the beds, dug in a new Knockout Rose:

Sunny Knock Out® Rose Rosa 'Radyod'described as ..."a tough and hardy shrub type rose with outstanding disease resistance. Blooms are bright yellow flowers that fade quickly to a pastel cream color. The yellow color stays more intense during cooler times of the year. The dark, semi-glossy foliage contrasts nicely with the bright blooms.Sunny Knock Out™ will bloom early in the Spring and continue blooming until the first hard frost in the Fall.Sunny Knock Out™ is drought tolerant, Blackspot resistant, mildew tolerant and self-cleaning. An excellent choice for a trouble free rose garden. Great plant for hedge, border or foundation planting."
Hoepfully it will like the suny spot I selected for it!

Back is the bean check. I think they look pretty happy! I may tempt the fates later today and divide them into separate containers. After the sleepover, D-14 was to go riding.... this horse summed up what I wished I was doing!

As I wandered around the farm, suddenly it was VERY apparent that spring was in the air as this 26 year old, gelded Morgan got frisky with this 12 year old Belgium Draft.

I will spare you the x-rated photos, but suffice it to say this next picture sums up how "Gramps" was feeling after 4 "mountings!"

Driving home, I saw happy Forsythia, swaying elegantly in the breeze...

...and not 1/4 mile down the road, the sad result of Forsythia abuse...

Well off to work for me...hope it's a great spring gardening week for everyone!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Bird Party

Not too much of a gardening day for me...first of all it was about 25 degrees colder with a strong northeast wind. Nothing in the garden was really impacted in a permanent way by the cold. While D-14 was taking her riding lesson, I wandered around our beach from sea to sound... the water was all churned up on that wind.

I headed over to the sound for a bit. The water was all blown out revealing the mucky bottom with clods of oysters here and there waiting for the turn of the wind to cover them up again.
You can see how much water was moved...the lowest third of the marsh grass not normally above the water level.

The osprey were working on their nest...I waited to see if one of this pair would bring back a fish...but I had to go. I did see another osprey with a fish when I was driving over the 3 mile bridge with no hope of snapping a picture without going into the drink!
If you look closely at the talons, it is perfectly clear how they can carry a fish and fly at the same time. Often, if I am sitting on the beach, the osprey will dive in the ocean then fly back to the soundside nest with its catch. I read that live fish account for about 99% of the osprey diet. Barbed pads on the soles of its feet help it grip slippery fish which it carries headfirst to make it as aerodynamic as possible. How cool is that!

They were very chattery with each other, much more than I expected.

This was a big bird party....if you look closely there are 7 or 8 different birds in this picture!

Sanderlings...normally skitting along the waters edge, were for some reason running along this dock. The first time I have seen them soundside.

And last but not least, and not on the beach, the new little cow down the can you not smile when you see a calf frolicking around.
In a loosely related topic, I did pick up two yards of "black gold" at the horse farm if you know what I mean...the garden will be happy for that, and it's free!!!!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Always Something to Photograph

My plan yesterday after watching D-9 at gymnastics was to scoot over to the Norfolk Botanical Garden to take some super zoom pictures of the eaglets. (GoddessSupport rented an awesome lens that we are trying out)

If you aren't already aware of this nest, it's worth a trip to NBG to get a sense of it's enormous size ~90 feet off the ground and to watch the attentive care of this eagle pair that has been using the same nest in the garden for some years. For those far away you can check out the EagleCam

My eagle plan was foiled, despite the blessing of the traffic gods who got me to the garden quick, quick during rush hour, the garden still closes at 5 for another week..."winter hours." boo.

So with camera in hand and no place to be for the moment, I wandered over to another favorite place, The Chesapeake Arboretum

There are ~ 10 different kinds of daffodil-jonquil-narcissus ...admittedly telling the difference is not my strong suit.

I am bulb deficient in my own garden, but admire the efforts of other who can not only purchase bulbs but actually get them into the intended growing environment at the appropriate time. (read- not in a bin in the garage, sprouting green in an attempt to self-actualize)

This swath of lavender color caught my eye.

I LOVED they can't decide between yellow or green

The marker said, "Common Peach"...I wondered, is there an "uncommon" peach?
I thought this was Leopard's Bane but I am not so looks lower growing and the flower is not right, though the timing is right...maybe a variation.

Look what I found in the garden.... who doesn't like that after a few hours with the kids!
I am mad for the color of this Quince...I just bought one for my yard and I can't wait to it is as beautiful as this...

And a hopeful sign of things to come...the Oak leaved Hydrangea is putting out leaves...

I am a little worried about the low temps the next few nights....cold with clouds, ok....but the no clouds on Saturday night....I hope we are spared a frost.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

You Can Just Start Calling Me 'Jack"

If you recall, on Monday I posted a pleasant little picture of my beans....

I was so proud of their tiny sprouts, and my developing seed propogation prowess...but now I am inclined to think that something nuclear is going on in my dining room, because what looked like this on MONDAY EVENING(THREE SHORT DAYS AGO) .....

Holy Carp Batman....look at the beans now!!!

Where did this leaf come from????? How in the heck did that thing grow in such a short amount of time???
"Ah! You don't know what these beans are," said the man. "If you plant them overnight, by morning they grow right up to the sky."

There are more leaves in this one...OMG!

"When he woke up, the room looked so funny. The sun was shining into part of it, and yet all the rest was quite dark and shady. So Jack jumped up and dressed himself and went to the window. And what do you think he saw? Why, the beans his mother had thrown out of the window into the garden had sprung up into a big beanstalk which went up and up and up till it reached the sky. So the man spoke truth after all."

The beanstalk grew up quite close past Jack's window, so all he had to do was to open it and give a jump onto the beanstalk which ran up just like a big ladder. So Jack climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed till at last he reached the sky.

At this rate, rather than building me additional raised boxes for the enclosed veggie garden, GoddessSupport will be fashioning a grow hole in the ceiling of the dining room! I will soon be able to climb into the sky!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wednesday Walk

It's a pretty day outside,with a promise of warm temps ~70 and not a cloud in the crystal blue sky. I've got a pile of work projects to accomplish today, but scooted outside to see what was happening before hunkering down to some productivity.

On the porch, the ornamental cabbage, under the influence of the sun and warmth has started to bolt...I think it's pretty just the same...and won't pull it until it starts to stink, which according to several internet sources is the 'right' time...ha!

I have lots of moss and lichen in the yard, but this one caught my eye...if not already it should be called eyelash moss! When I have more time I will check that out.

My baby ornamental plum survived the cold winter and has the sweetest little blossoms just starting to open. While I have no picture, the bark on this tree is really spectacular. A beautiful deep burgandy color is revealed with growth when the outermost layer splits, sort of like a birch.
I just love the grandeur of the Loblolly Pine...if only an eagle pair would find it worthy of a nest here, instead of the Norfolk Botanical Garden.

I know real gardeners are not supposed to like or possess the dreaded Bradford Pear, BUT, it was here when I got here, has yet to succomb to the wind and really does make the prettiest pictures contrasted against the clear sky...

Outside in the vegetable patch, things are humming along. The cabbage and broccoli have several sets of new leaves, so must like where I plopped them. The green tops of the onion sets are almost all poked through. I was reading about them yesterday and discovered that for maximum storage I need to wait until the tops have died off before harvesting...this could be 100 days!!! Hmmm...I should have read the 100 day thing before I committed an entire 4 square to them...oh well...I will just have to increase the size of the garden to accomodate the other things I want to put in!
The weirdest thing....I planted two types of peas in the same type of soil, in the same location insofar as sun etc, and one type came up like gangbusters, and the other came up...not at all! I think I will spread the growers out abit using the other space...maybe I had a bad batch or something.
I did spy a little visitor within the newly sprouted plant. I expect the bug explosion to start within a week or so, but am enjoying the relative bug free garden at the moment.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Seedy Update

While I am usually able to coax along most things growing outside, I am daunted by this whole seed adventure I am on this spring. After GoddessSupport gifted me with a heat mat and a grow light, I felt sort of obligated to not only have a stab at it, but try to be successful... I have to admit that it is with a wing and a prayer that any of these seeds has actually sprouted! Mother Nature clearly doesn't need help from me, but she may need me to take the Hippocratic oath and "do no harm" the last few days the speckled red beans have done their thing! Now all are sporting alien like protuberances that seem to know which way is up and down.

In order for germination to occur, three fundamental conditions must exist :
(1) The embryo must be alive or viable
(2) Any dormancy requirements that prevent germination must be overcome. (read-after obligatory warming, cooling, freezing, they have to come out of their nifty paper sleeves and get put into some dirt...aka "seed germination medium")
(3) The proper environmental conditions must exist for germination. (well it was too cold in the garage, but they seem to like the dining room!)

These little individual peat pots were a little challenging (to me)...first they needed more water to "swell" and then they needed someone who is not particularly delicate to get an individual seed or two into the tiny little spot intended for their "nest."
But, I did it and now...I have sprouted Vanilla Ice sunflowers!

These are Yellow Pear tomatoes...a favorite of GoddessSupport...

A tray full of Lupines!

Three distinct phases of seed germination occur: water imbibition; lag phase; and radicle emergence.

In order for the seed coat to split, the embryo must imbibe (soak up water), which causes it to swell, splitting the seed coat. The rate of imbibition is dependent on the permeability of the seed coat, amount of water in the environment and the area of contact the seed has to the source of water. For some seeds, imbibing too much water too quickly can kill the seed. (I have yet to do this)

For some seeds, once water is imbibed the germination process cannot be stopped, and drying then becomes fatal.(No kidding! The first round of sunflowers were "disimbibed")

Other seeds can imbibe and lose water a few times without causing ill effects, but drying can cause secondary would be helpful if they stated this implicitely on the packet! I would buy a heap of these!

The seed is an embryo with two points of forms the stems the other the roots, is enclosed in a seed coat with some food reserves.

The embryo is composed of different parts;
-the epicotyle grows into the shoot,
-the radicle grows into the primary root,
-the hypocotyl connects the epicotyle and the radicle,
-the cotyledons form the seed leaves,
-the testa or seed coat forms the outer covering of the seed.

The radicle, is the first structure to emerge from the seed during germination. (I have lots of radicals in the dining room right now) It penetrates the soil very rapidly, forming a slender, usually unbranched taproot.

The embryonic leaves, aka seed leaves, develop into the plant's first leaves above ground. These leaves open within a few days after the plant emerges from the soil and begin photosynthesizing to provide the growing seedling with its new -- and renewable -- food source.

So there you have the third grade seed primer.
I have my fingers crossed that some of these will make it safely from the dining room to the outside garden where they have a MUCH better chance of thriving...only time will tell.