Hydrangeas – Part 2

As promised, here are some pictures of my hydrangeas that are now in full bloom.

My largest Hydrangea bush

Close up of large Hydrangea

This bush had one pink bloom on it…

Single pink bloom

…weird, huh?

Formerly pink Hydrangea

This one was a pink Hydrangea when it was planted 2 years ago, and bloomed pink last year too.  Here is a close up:

Close up of formerly pink Hydrangea

Oak Leaf Hydrangea

It is funny how the Oak Leaf Hydrangea blooms white but changes to a pink tinge as it ages.

Lady In Red Hydrangea

And, finally, my Lady in Red lacecap Hydrangea.  This on will continue to bloom most of the summer.

I hope you have enjoyed my Hydrangeas as much as I have.  Soon, I will be showing my Crepe Myrtles, which have started blooming surprisingly early this year.

Have any of your Hydrangeas changed color since you planted them?

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Hydrangeas – Part 1

First off, let me apologize for it being so long since my last posting.  I have been trying to post three times a week, but last week got rather hectic.

I have been thinking very hard about what I wanted to post.  I was walking around my yard yesterday and realized most of my Hydrangeas are about to bloom.  So, out came the camera (of course).  None of my Hydrangeas have opened up completely, so that is why this is part 1.  When they get fully opened, I’ll post part 2, that will be full of pictures of their beauty.

Bigleaf Hydrangea - Lavendar

Bigleaf Hydrangea – Lavendar

Pink Bigleaf Hydrangea – New Blooms

I actually have several different Hydrangeas in my yard, as they are one of my favorite flowers.  I have two of the regular bigleaf varieties with the mophead flowers.  One blooms lavendar and the other was still pink last year.  We shall see if it stays that way or not. I have not added any lime to the soil to raise the ph, so it may not stay pink.  These bloom once a year, in the spring.

Lacecap Hydrangea – ‘Lady In Red’

I also have a bigleaf variety with lacecap flowers.  This one is called ‘Lady in Red’.  It has beautiful blue flowers, but the name comes from the red stems on the new growth.  This one will bloom just about all summer.

Oakleaf Hydrangea

I have several oakleaf Hydrangeas too.  Their flowers grow in a cone shape and are white. They also only bloom once a year in the spring, but can really brighten up a shady area.

I have several panicle Hydrangeas that I have rooted from a very large bush I had.  Last year I had to move the large bush, as the trees around it had grown so large, it was not getting any sun and would not bloom.  While oakleaf Hydrangeas and most bigleaf Hydrangeas will grow in shady areas, panicle Hydrangeas must have a good bit of sun to bloom.  The pancles I have are still too young to bloom, and the large one I moved did not survive.  Hopefully, in a few years, I will begin to see blooms on the young ones.

I think most of my Hydrangeas should be fully opened by next week, so look for some updated pictures then.

What is your favorite color of Hydrangea?

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Growing Tomatoes In A Container

Don’t you just love tomatoes?  Fresh, ripe, homegrown tomatoes?  In my opinion, there is nothing better!  The tomatoes you get in the grocery don’t even come close.  I even bought some tomatoes recently from a small, roadside vegetable stand, where the owner assured me he got them straight from the grower in Florida.  They still were not as good as homegrown.  I believe it is because the tomatoes grown for sale are a variety that can withstand the shipping and handling they have to go through.  Those varieties just do not compare in taste to a good Better Boy, Rutgers or other old fashioned variety (like my Papaw grew).

“I have no gardening space”, you say?  Well, what about a patio?  Even most apartments have some type of small, outdoor space.  As long as you have that, you can have home grown tomatoes!

Newly planted tomato

Start with a large pot, at least 12″ to 16″ deep, and make sure it has drainage holes.  Fill pot to within a few inches of the top with potting soil.  I use a mixture of 1 part Scotts Miracle-Gro Potting Mix to 2 parts regular potting soil.  This saves me some money and perks up the power of the potting soil.  I then tap the pot on the ground a few times to settle the soil and make sure there are no large air pockets.  You want the soil to fill in around the plant.  Make a hole in your soil that is a little larger than the pot your plant is in and deep enough to plant the tomato plant about 2/3 of the way up the stem.  If you look at the tomato stem, you will see it has what looks like fine hairs all the way down.  These will develop into roots if they are below the soil, making your plant a lot stronger.

Then trim off the leaves on the bottom 2/3 of the plant (this should leave at least 2 or 3 leaf stems at the top).  Carefully remove the plant from it’s pot by holding it near the soil and turning it upside down.  If it doesn’t release easily, tap the pot a few times (or squeeze it a bit if it is a soft sided pot).  The roots should then release into your hand.  If the plant appears to be very root bound (large mass of tangles roots), just gently work the roots loose just a bit to give them a chance to start growing out instead of around.  Now, place the tomato plant in the hole you prepared and fill the soil back in (remember, you are planting it very deep), pressing the soil carefully in around the plant.

I now add a little bit of time-released fertilizer to the top of the soil (I use Osmocote Flower and Vegetable Smart Release) and then water thoroughly.  Place your pot in full sun (at least 6 hours of sun a day) and keep it watered regularly.  You don’t want your plant sitting in water (the reason for the drainage holes) but you also don’t want it to dry out completely.  If the weather is mild, you can probably get away with watering every other day.  In the hot summertime, you will need to water daily, or even twice daily if your pot it not very large.  I also add a little more fertilizer each month during the growing season.

It is probably best to use a plastic or fiberglass pot for your tomato, as clay or wooden pots tend to dry out too quickly.  The DH has several 5 gallon buckets that he has drilled holes in the bottom of, and we use those for tomato plants (and sometimes cucumbers).

You might ask what is the best variety to grow in a pot?  Well, most varieties will work, however, the ones that make a larger plant may need to be staked or caged to keep them from falling over.  You can purchase tomato cages for just a few dollars and set them around the plant, either in the pot or around the pot, depending on pot size.  Also, the new varieties of grape tomatoes, as well as the ‘tommy toe’ tomatoes, will do well in pots.

So, enjoy your home grown tomatoes and come back here and let me know how they turned out.  I would love to hear!

What vegetables would you like to grow in pots?

Shade Gardens

A friend recently asked me what kinds of plants are good for a shady yard.  Several came to mind right away as most of my yard up near the house is shady.  In my shade gardens I have Hostas, Hydrangeas, Strawberry Begonia, Azaleas, Columbine, Phlox, Spider Lilies, Heuchera (Coral Bells), Bleeding Hearts, Japanese Maples and Rhododendron.  (I love the Spider Lilies, as they surprise me by showing up overnight late in the summer).  These are all perennials, do very well here in Zone 8A and give me color from spring until fall.  I also have Rosemary and Chocolate Mint growing in the shade. You do have to be careful about the Columbine and the mint.  Both can be invasive (the mint is the worst), but I have both of these growing in an area that we have trouble keeping the weeds out of, so I am really hoping they do take over and choke out the weeds.  I have also found there is one type of Hydrangea that does not do well in shade and that is the Paniculata type.  The plant does well, but you won’t get any flowers in the shade.

Azalea

When I was asked this question, I decided to do some research and found that there are a lot of perennials that will thrive in shade and, when combined, can give you beautiful color all summer.  Besides those listed above, you can plant Astilbe, Daffodils (and other blooming bulbs), Virginia Blue Bells, Brunnera, Hellebore, Pulmonaria, Lenten Rose, Lupine, Primrose, Jacobs Ladder, Snowdrops, and an unknown called Tiarella or Foamflower.  Caladiums are considered shade loving perennials, but in my area, I have to dig them up before the first frost and replant them the next spring.  There are several shade loving shrubs beside Azaleas too.  These include Yews, Sweet Bay, Boxwood, Cherry Laurel and Holly.  There are also some herbs (besides Rosemary) that do well in shade, like Parsley, Cilantro, Chives, Basil and Thyme.  If you want to try to grow vegetables in shady areas, stick with those that are grown for their leaves instead of their roots or fruits, such as Chard, Mustard Greens, Collard Greens, Spinach and some leafy lettuces.

One other thing I didn’t know is that there are over 2500 varieties of Hostas.  You could have an entire Hosta garden with all kinds of beautiful color!  I may have to start a new bed…hmmm.

I never had realized before just how many shade loving perennials there are.  Be sure to check with your local nursery to see which of these plants will do well in your area.  They may also have suggestions for other plants that do well in shade.

What is your favorite shade loving perennial?

Planting Time!

Well, this has been a beautiful day, as was yesterday and the day before!  We are having such wonderful early spring weather that I have planted my vegetable garden early.  If we have a threat of frost, I’ll just have to make sure to cover everything.  Although I am not worried, we barely had frost here in the Southeast during the winter, no reason to expect it now.  So I planted tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and beans on Saturday and they are looking very happy.

Basil

The seeds I planted just a week ago are starting to sprout up in the greenhouse.  I have a tray of Basil, a tray of Cockscomb and a tray of Zinnias coming up already.  I will let them get a bit taller and stronger, then thin them or transfer them to pots.  My husband laughs at me because I can’t throw away the plants I take out when thinning and wind up with pots of things all over the place.  But they make great giveaways, which you know I like to do!

Now is also the time to get out those plants you took inside for the winter and give them a good ‘haircut’.  Remove dead leaves and stems, move pot bound plants to larger pots and add a good time release fertilizer to them all.  In your yard, it is time to clean up debris from the winter…remove leaves, trim plants that die back in the winter, fertilize and put out new mulch.  Whew!  It’s a lot of work, but it will give you wonderful results.  Your yard will look like a postcard!

So, roll up your sleeves and get to it.  There is a lot of work to be done! 🙂

What springtime chore do like the least?

Regrowing Leftovers

I am sure this title has you saying, “what?”.  Yes, some of the fresh food you buy can be regrown.  I have just recently discovered this and have begun to try it.  I was really pleasantly surprised at the results.

I first found a pin on Pinterest about regrowing celery (don’t you just love Pinterest?  I admit it, I’m an addict).    So, I decided to try it.  I took the stalk of celery I had in the fridge, cut off the bottom about 3/4 to 1 inch thick, and put it, cut side up, in a shallow bowl of warm water.  The water was about halfway up the piece.

Celery Day 1

The directions I found said to leave it overnight then plant it.  Well, I didn’t exactly get it planted the next day…or the next, or the next.  Anyway, you get the idea.  I actually left it in the water for about 2 weeks.

Day 6

After about a week, I began to notice the center start pushing up and some new growth in the middle.  When I had time, I transplanted it to a pot of dirt, just barely covering the top of the original piece.  Now, after about a month, the plants are an inch or more tall and one even has stalks beginning to show.  I have two of them about that same age, and another one I started last week.

Approximately 6 Weeks

My plan is to transplant them in the garden after the last danger of frost has passed and then just cut off ribs as I need them.  I also want to make sure, as fall approaches, that I have some more started in pots to grow indoors all winter.  Maybe I can keep enough growing to not have to buy celery.

I have also read that you can regrow green onions, ginger root, garlic and sweet potatoes. The green onions are done pretty much the same as the celery.  I have some started, so I’ll let you know how they do.  I remember as a child growing sweet potato plants from a piece of potato that had an eye.  I am eager to try my hand at the ginger root and garlic.

I will most certainly be reporting on this more in the future.  I will keep researching this idea and also report my progress with particular items.  Happy Gardening!!

What are your favorite things to grow?

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like…Spring!

I know, that really doesn’t fit the song, but it really is beginning to look like spring here in the southeastern United States.  The calendar says we have another week or so, but my yard and the weather say it is already here.  I have Hostas peeking out of the ground, my Crepe Myrtles all have buds on them (and one actually already has leaves), my flowering Cherry is almost completely bloomed out, and the Red Bud is gorgeous.

My red Plum is almost finished blooming, as well as my Japanese Magnolia.  The green Plum is in full bloom and so are the Blueberry bushes.  I have Irises and Day Lilies standing up nice and tall, tiny little leaves on my Knockout Roses, buds on the Azaleas, and several Peonies have broken ground.  It won’t be long before my yard is amass in color.

I love the colors of spring (just not the pollen) and I am always happy to be able to get outside and get play in the dirt.  It is time to clean up those beds and remove all the dead leaves and scraggly pieces I find.  Then, when all these plants are ready to bloom, they will have beautiful surroundings in which to do that.  I also think our weather might be warm enough to start some seeds (in the greenhouse) and I’ll probably put some carrot seeds in the garden next week (although with the early warm weather, it may not be cool enough).  

Soon I can move all the plants we brought indoors last fall back outside and trim back their droopy parts. Yep, things are waking up around here and, although I really am not a fan of hot weather, I do love the renewal of Spring.  I hope you will take a walk around your yard this weekend and take a notice of what is sprouting and blooming.

What are you starting to see growing in your yard?