Friday, April 16, 2010

Spring Gardening Update

...So, I finally called Wayside Gardens to complain about my "Yellow Bird" Magnolia having pink flowers.  You will recall that I planted the little twigling two years ago and have patiently tended it and waited for it to bloom, and this is the first year that any flowers appeared at all.  Wayside Gardens initially informed me that their plant guarantee required me to notify them within one year "if a plant fails to perform as expected."  How was I supposed to know to complain about the flowers being the wrong color before any flowers had been produced?  Eventually I obtained the concession of a $25 gift certificate, but the whole exchange was so unpleasant that I doubt I'll ever purchase from them again anyway.  They insisted that I didn't buy my lilac from them, but some internet research turned up some interesting possibilities for that plant's failure to bloom.  My darling husband confesses to having fed Holly Tone to my lilac, and several sources indicate that lilacs prefer slightly alkaline (not acidic) soil and that feeding them with a high nitrogen fertilizer will encourage foliage but inhibit blooms -- so no more Holly Tone, and better hopes for lilac blooms next year.

At least my clematis is looking good.  I planted it last year on a whim, from seeds, I think, and it was kind of like Jack and the Beanstalk watching this vine grow up and entwine itself on the trellis.  I'm pretty sure the seed packet said my clematis would have "dark red" blooms, and these look dark purple to me, but seeds are cheap and I'm just happy they are growing at all.

Other happy flowers in the spring garden are the irises that my husband rescued from a building site last year under cover of darkness.  It was one of those tiny old homes sitting on a big piece of land with gardens all around it, and a developer bought the house, razed it to the ground, and bulldozed the entire lot for future townhomes.  This happened right before the housing bubble burst, so once they had flattened everything the property just sat there for months -- and a couple of optimistic irises, in defiance of  bulldozers and townhomes and the economy and everything, had the courage to poke their shoots of green up out of the dirt last spring, trying to be a little bit of beautiful at an ugly abandoned construction site.  Now they live in my flower bed, where they are blooming alongside my son's favorite African Marigolds.
Those will be red lilies coming up behind the irises eventually, along with a motley assortment of camellias and other perennials that begged to come home with me even though I didn't really have a good place to put them.  I honestly don't know what all I've planted here.  This is the Flower Dump.

Now, before you start thinking too highly of my third-grade son's gardening instincts, I have to confess that he only likes the marigolds because they are orange.  He likes EVERYTHING to be orange; orange clothes, orange ink pens and highlighters, orange bookbags...  And he has a love-hate relationship with plants in general, as evidenced by what he did to this poor Autumn Joy Sedum plant a few days ago.  Apparently the plant went over to the Dark Side or something, because my son hacked it nearly to death with a light saber.  It's a good thing this plant is resilient!  My husband was so mad when he saw the plant, and my son looked so sincerely surprised that this was a problem...  Fun times!

Meanwhile, I'm finally getting the custom flower boxes that I've been begging for.  My husband is making them for my birthday present out of some kind of stuff that doesn't rot that we painted to match the window trim, with drainage holes at the bottom covered with some kind of fiberglass mesh screening so the soil doesn't fall out, and he has elaborate schemes for running little tubes up the house along the mortar lines so the flower boxes can get irrigation from the sprinkler system.  I don't like seeing the L-brackets underneath the boxes, and the decorative brackets I ordered are backordered for a couple of weeks, but they look pretty good so far:

Now I just need to decide what to plant in them.  I envision something red and trailing that will bloom all the way through the summer without anyone needed to climb a ladder or open a window to deadhead the spent blooms.  I went to two nurseries today and didn't see anything I liked, but I'm determined to get flowers planted up there tomorrow.


Rebecca Grace said...

Okay, I stand corrected -- my husband insists we planted the clematis from rootstock, not seeds.

Unknown said...

I can't wait to see the pictures now that the plants are in...