After planting my clearance sale tree peony in 2014, I finally get my first blooms now in 2017. These are spectacular large blooms! The plant was labeled as "Lilac", with no other details. Mine has very large blooms and seems to support these well on the plant, better than with herbaceous peonies.
Of course, this is not a "tree", but a woody stemmed deciduous shrub. A family member looked at me strangely when I said I had this blooming "tree" in my little rock garden. No worries, no actual tree here. I would like to see it get bigger and have even more blooms in coming years. I understand that these plants can easily outlive me. I would be nice to have some enduring beautiful things in my garden! I am sold on peonies.
Apples and Asclepias
This is a garden blog about my experiences gardening in Summerland BC (zone 6) while aiming to be water-conscious. We live in an apple orchard but are adding some ornamental landscaping. I am expanding my plant repertoire to include highly drought-tolerant and native plants, such as the monarch butterfly's favourite flower, milkweed (Asclepias). I will also detail my efforts to use LED lighting to grow orchids and propagate (entirely legal) plants indoors.
Sunday, May 28, 2017
Friday, May 19, 2017
May Flowers! Wet Spring for BC
Apparently we have been breaking some records out here, with the wettest spring ever recorded for the Okanagan. We have had 139 mm of precipitation for 2017 as of May 15. There is hand-wringing over the over-abundant snowpack still in the mountains and our creeks are running high. There is no fear for our property though, as we sit on a hillside, with a base of mostly sand under us. This is a great year for garden procrastination, as the cool weather has been unsuitable for early planting of tender plants.
|Crevice plantings: Sempervivum rosettes, colorful varieties of sedum, and Elfin Thyme (lower left)|
|Fritillary imperialis, blooming May 10|
|Bleeding heart, Dicentra spectabilis|
|Narcissus "Jetfire" blooming May 19|
|Rock garden full of color|
|White Iberis "Snowcone" in front of a purple Aubrieta|
Saturday, April 29, 2017
|Passiflora caerulea (Blue passionflower)|
|April 28 in the perennial bed of the yard's landscaping|
|Pulsatilla, Aubrieta, and Arabis (white blooms) flowering in the rock garden|
Saturday, April 15, 2017
A Slow Spring
Spring is certainly taking its time in southern BC this year. The cherry blossoms are finally appearing in Vancouver this week and today I saw a forsythia in bloom down the road.
The apple trees in the orchard have not yet produced any leaves. Peach trees that were in bloom this time last year have not yet leafed out. I heard cherry producers saying that this late cool spring weather could be a positive thing for them. I suppose the late start may mean less chance of frost damage to the buds.
I don't have many flowers to post, with only some scilla, crocuses and Iris reticulata in bloom so far. In fact, I have a picture of the same white Iris reticulata blooming last year a full four weeks earlier!
|Iris reticulata, looks like "Eye Catcher"|
|Some crocuses and dwarf Iris in my rock garden, April 14|
I'd imagine even the garden stores are noticing the lack of early gardening enthusiasm. I've picked up a few bright spring flowers for the containers, but haven't done much in the vegetable garden yet. Dear husband planted 10 baby apple trees in it this year though. I wasn't impressed. Apparently, they are extras that will serve as replacements for trees in the orchard that don't manage to thrive this year. Several hundred newly planted grafted trees didn't make it through last summer and were replaced this spring. I don't want more trees to die, but I really want my valuable veggie garden space back!
I'm going to try to be at the Summerland Gardens annual spring plant sale May 6 & 7. There are many good deals on plants there, and I enjoyed finding some unusual and native plants there last year. Just remember to get there early!
Friday, November 11, 2016
Lingering Colors of November; Orchids in Sunroom
We are celebrating a lovely snow-free fall thus far. The garden is cleaned up, though the marigolds still glow from the raised beds. Tiny blades of fall-planted garlic are poking through the soil where the dog hasn't disturbed them with bone-burying activities. Some of the cool-weather-loving flowers like violas and primulas are having a fall revival. It is nice to see their colors as a preview of spring.
Lewisia (below) is one of my favourite small perennials for rock gardens. I tried growing it in the bark-mulched covered garden beds, but it did poorly there. Lewisia requires VERY good drainage. The bark mulch makes it too soggy for its liking. This one lives in sandy soil amid boulders surrounding the playhouse. It occasionally gets some hose spray or a tip of a watering can once a week in summer. Really, it is very hardy. I think if it were really water-starved, it would go more dormant in the heat of summer and revive in the fall, like this one has done. If they are happy, they will seed themselves around a little. I did grow a few of mine from seed this year, but germination requires periods with pots in the refrigerator.
|Lewisia cotyledon. This was planted this spring and has been blooming much of the growing season.|
|Sempervivum (hens and chicks) put on their best colors in the cool weather of fall|
|One of the irises has been reblooming in October and November. Great!|
|Unknown drought hardy plant|
|Flower spike starting on Cymbidium|
|This empty tray is seeded with spinach. I might want a snack while I'm out there.|
Sunday, October 16, 2016
Fall in my Summerland Garden
I have successfully got all my bulbs in the ground, including garlic and various flowers. I even planted some hyacinths and tulips in big pots for the first time. I hope it is a successful project. If not, I do buy some of those potted daffodils and hyacinths at the garden store in the spring and tuck them into my planters. After they are finished blooming, I usually remove them and plant them in the landscaping. I think the bulbs like to dry out a bit in the summer and the planters are probably too damp for them with all the season's watering. I planted all my garlic in one of the horse-trough planters where I can control the watering, selectively letting it dry out near harvest time. I'm hoping that can reduce the amount of rotten garlic heads.
There are still some plants blooming, including the annuals like pelargonium (geraniums to the North Americans) and my favourite tropical milkweed (hardy in zone 9 and above, but not here). Tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) is started from seed indoors in the spring and and starts blooming later than the perennial mildweed (Asclepias tuberosa) but then blooms till hard frost. I love it. As of yet, I haven't drawn clouds of butterflies to the yard, but they are supposed to like this flower.
|Asclepias curassavica (tropical milkweed) blooming in September|
|Caryopteris (Blue Mist Spirea) blooming in September|
|Echinacea "Cheyenne Spirit" in September|
|Coreopsis in September (still blooming in October), with purple Agastache behind|
|Delospermum (Ice plant) in October|
|Playhouse with developing landscaping, June 2016|
|Oreo, the guardian of the garden|
I took this picture of harvested wine grapes at our neighbour's place, before they got hauled away. So beautiful to see. Our own apples were harvested several weeks ago. We had an early apple harvest here in the Okanagan, as most of the crops were ahead of schedule.
|Summerland grapes, harvested October 14|
Saturday, June 25, 2016
June Blooms and Fruits
|Perennials and a big blue oat grass at sunset.|
|Orange milkweed and some lilies in bud.|
|Rock garden area, with clematis going to seed|
The vegetables are just getting going in the ground and raised beds (horse troughs in the above picture). It is a bit of a pain to water right now, since the new puppy eats hoses! We have to hide them away in boxes or buildings and haul them out as needed.
I've seen a few tiger swallowtail butterflies around (no monarchs) and I have admired the hummingbirds at the feeder and the flowers. I've identified the ones here as calliope hummingbirds. They are very small and the male is identified by a nice purple bib below his neck. At some point, I hope to get a nice photo.
|Blooming hens and chicks (Sempervivum) in the rock crevices|
Sunflowers are just starting here, though we always associate those with fall. I have planted some "mammoth" sunflowers in the vegetable garden and they are rapidly growing like Jack's beanstalk, up towards the sky. There are no flowers on those yet.
|McIntosh Apples getting pink!|
We picked up some local grown raspberries and I canned some jam. Yum! Our jostaberries are on their second year and we got some berries this year. I'm planning on combining with some other berries to make a syrup. Jostaberries are a complex cross between black currents and gooseberries and the plants are thornless. They taste like grapes.
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