Friday, March 29, 2013

Lights, Camera, Action

I almost didn't think of planting my seeds under lights this year, but I was inspired by a fellow blogger Lona to again begin my garden indoors.  I don't know what happened, many of the new introductions were not offered in seeds and I just couldn't make up my mind what to grow.

I browsed through the catalogs very late and chose some annuals and vegetables that were of interest.

I have four levels of lights that are plenty of room for me.  Lights are on a timer and have moved very close to the plants at this time, on for fourteen hours per day.  These are the zinnias just developing their second true leaves.

Zinnia Uproar (Rose)
I usually start plants from seed when they are not readily available in the nurseries or are super expensive to buy several.  I saw this one last fall in the Catingy test garden and they gave it rave reviews.

Zinnia Magellean Coral
This is a shorter zinnia with large flower heads.
Dichondra Emerald Falls
I grew Silver Falls last year and it was very heat tolerant.
Parks Improved Whopper
Pepper Mariachi
Very prolific pepper, have never seen this one at the nursery, AAS winner.  It has some heat to it but not scorching.
That's it for indoor gardening this year, ready to plant my lettuce, radishes, spinach and onions outside today!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Chicago Flower And Garden Show 2013

This year's theme was "The Art Of Gardening," so glad it is finally being seen as an art.  Gordon Hayward who wrote Art And The Gardener would be pleased!

There actually was an all out art show in a variety of mediums.

I attended this year again with the Garden Writers Association and do enjoy being able to photograph the show before the public arrives and hearing the many new things that are happening with the show and the latest trends in gardening.

The look is more woodland, natural and sweeping with plantings, shrubs, bulbs, perennials and annuals that weave in and out through trees and conifers.

When you peek through you can see plantings along with garden art.
Masses of Heucheras under trees
Plantings are not always an easy task under mature trees.  The look is wonderful but not realistic in many of our gardens.
Amelanchier (Serviceberry) was used extensively in many of the gardens.  This is one of my favorites for beauty throughout four seasons, flowers, berries, beautiful fall foliage and attractive gray bark.
The director of the show still espouses his mission to inspire, motivate and educate with next year's theme already on the books as Do Green, Do Good.
The Peterson Project is an urban green project being introduced in many Chicago neighborhoods.
All of the speakers gave kudos to the garden writers saying how important we are in getting their message across to the world.  The Landscape Architect Terry Guen spoke about our mission to write about beauty and climate change, Roy Diblik (Lurie Garden and Northwind Perennial Farm) wants his philosophy about sustainability and plant communities to gain worldwide acceptance.
Communities of plantings at the Lurie Garden

Roy spoke about my favorite subject getting children involved in plant communities, growing vegetables interspersed with perennials.  We know children love the veggies so why not introduce them to other garden plants growing next to the tomato plant.  I grow daylilies and nasturtiums in my veggie garden.  There were many children's activities throughout the show this year.

Daylily Ice Carnival in the veggie garden, companion to tomatoes, lettuce, onions, etc.

Layering was an important message, not just for the small garden like mine, but for sustainability.  Close and succession planting promotes dew forming on companion plants that drips down into the soil benefiting all of the surrounding plants.

A great example of layering at Northwind Perennial Farm in Burlington, Wisconsin.  Roy Diblik used Piet Oudolf as his inspiration.

Containers were played down this year, maybe because they have a more difficult time with sustainability!  They are large and tall with impressive height in the plants chosen.

Houseplants are prevalent this year in most of the containers.
Containers used as artifacts
Pieces of artifacts used casually
Outdoor furniture continues to be more homelike and comfortable - wicker preferred to metal.
The Chicago Flower and Garden Show is becoming more real for the everyday gardener.  It has inspired me to continue on the road to make a more natural garden with interest throughout the year.  It has motivated me to seek out more sustainabile and plant communities for my garden and educated me even more so why I should be doing all of the above!

Friday, March 08, 2013

A Carefree Garden

Everyone wants a carefree garden but if you have been gardening for awhile you know there is no such thing!  However, we can all be in search of plants that will make things easier each year and still be beautiful.

I have added some seasonal shrubs to my borders, shrubs that have three seasons of interest.

Forsythia Greenstem
Dwarf Fothergillia
Ninebark Summer Wine

Grasses are also great to add for multi-season interest, but they must be cut down each spring and divided when they develop a donut look in the middle.

Miscanthus Udine is very showy in the fall.  I left is up all winter again and it will probably need some dividing this spring after nine years.

Panicum Northwind goes through many color changes in the fall and can be left up all winter, time to cut this one down.

Roses are work in my garden, pruning, deadheading, fertilizing and oh those Japanese Beetles!  A local nursery uses the traps and I am going to try them this year before I give up growing roses.  I know the traps are controversial but I am the major rose grower in the neighborhood so I get most of the beetles anyway.  Don't get me wrong, I love the roses, they are a wonderful addition to my back borders.  However, for the past few years I have been getting only one bloom cycle and the rest of the summer is spent trying to get rid of the beetles.

Rainbow Knockout
David Austin's Mary Rose
You can see why I hate to give them up but they are an eyesore most of the summer.
Phlox are a little more work because if you want them to bloom throughout the summer they must be deadheaded.  They have long legs that are prone to leaf curling and should be planted behind shorter plants so they just peek out.

Taller Franz Schubert with Laura
Peppermint Twist
Lavender David
Colorful leaves can be as pretty as flowers and require almost no maintenance.
Brunnera Jack Frost
Brunnera Angel Wings
Heucherella Sweet Tea
Heucherella Stoplight
Heuchera Pinot Gris
Heuchera Autumn Leaves
We must not leave out hostas and ferns in the carefree garden (many will grow in the sun).
Halcyon and August Moon hostas will both take sun.
Lady Fern Red Stemmed
Crested Fern
Lilies are always carefree!  My favorites are the Orienpets but try to stay below four feet in height unless you want to be running around staking the tall ones.  They are lovely but will not hold up to high winds like the shorter varieties.
Conca D'or is one of the shorter varieties, very fragrant.
Lilies can be planted in the fall and spring, take up very little room in the garden.
Daylily Chicago Rosy
Choose daylilies that do not require division for many years.  Stella D'oro multiplies so fast you will be on your knees a lot trying to keep it contained.
Arnie's Choice
Ten years and have not had to divide yet!