Monday, January 30, 2012

First double Hellebore!

This morning I found our first double hellebore blooming in the garden. It is a Pine Knot Farms 'Southern Belles' Double Pink. I purchased it late is the season last year and this is our first ever double bloom in the garden! It is a tiny bloom perhaps at best 1 1/2 inches across.

Other news in the garden on Saturday we had 5 different crocuses blooming in the garden and our first daffodil. Never had a daffodil or the other 4 crocus bloom in January before.
We have two of these open, very tiny I think there are Crocus vernus 'Jeanne d'Arc'
 Crocus chrysanthus 'Gipsy Girl'
 Just a couple of these have started to bloom. Crocus sieberi "Tricolor"

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Planted Sugar Snap Peas Today!

The best crop of sugar snap peas we have ever had here were planted early, on January 21th. Here is central North Carolina it gets pretty hot by the end of April, peas do not like warm weather. So given my work schedule was open today I went out and got my hands dirty! It is supposed to rain the next two days so it was now or wait til the soil is dry enough.

I worked the two 8 foot strips were I was planting with a shovel then sifted the soil with my bare hands. I had to remove acorns, henbit and other weeds. I've told this before and will tell it again as we have a lot of new visitors here. First inoculate the peas with a little water and inoculant, I poured the 3/4 lbs of peas into a quart container and shook them up so the inculcate would stick to the peas well.

Here is the real trick plant your two rows about a foot apart under your trellis and drop the peas in very heavy like in the photo below.
Putting so many peas in the furrows is insurance against birds, squirrels, slugs and peas that do not sprout. This way you get a nice full trellis of peas. It just works, Meg taught me this. These two rows 8 foot long may produce 4-5 gallons of peas this way.

Then cover the rows with wheat straw to hold in the moisute and hide the peas from critters finding them. Then we let the peas grow. This trellis will need more strings before the peas grow very much. Make sure your peas do not fall over by making sure they stick to the trellis or the plants will bend in half and you'll loose your pea crop.

 Above is our garlic patch, that first one is about 3/4 inch in diameter. I added fertilizer today to the garlic. What type, grocery (coop) store garlic. That green clump behind the garlic is the sugar snap peas Meg planted last fall.
 These hellebores opened today in the garden. The white one I call Breezy 13 and the pinkish one I call Breezy 14. These were given to us by our friend Breezy, she gave us a lot of them.
 Above is Henbit a weed that grows in our lawn, it is very invasive, but the bees like it and I heard the pollen from it is red.
 Here are some of my girls with pollen sacs on their hind legs from today. The brown pollen below was being carried in like crazy. Three colors of pollen was seen.
 Anemone blanda I think from the garden.
 Firefly crocus is still hanging on. It is my favorite, for now.
Gypsy Girl crocus has just opened up, kind of sneaky about it, never saw it coming.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Garden update 3rd week of January ect.

The cold frames have had some new stuff planted. I removed what was left of the nasturtium (which froze) and planted Detroit Red Beets, Early Blood Turnip Beets, Mesclun salad mix. These were planted in the solo cold frame nearest the beehive. This was on January 21.

In the double cold frame left side I harvested(pulled out) half the mustard greens and half the Lactino Kale. I then planted White Stem Bok Choy and Bloomsdale Longlasting Spinach. In the right side cold frame I pulled half the arugula and planted more Mesclun salad mix. Planted these on January 23.

It have been lightly raining for days now. We are hoping as soon as it dries up we'll plant Sugar Snap Peas out in the garden.  We still have a 3 foot tall Sugar Snap Pea patch that was planted last fall and it has frosted tips currently. Do not know if these peas will produce peas or become fertilizer. The Garlic in the garden looks great, the onions are still skinny and puny looking.

Hellebores in the garden 3 mentioned previously are blooming and 25 others have buds on them, several will be open in a few days it appears. The best news is out of those 25 budding plants 3 are my new doubles!
 These hellebores were blooming at Duke Gardens when I visited there last Friday. This one above and below is called Helleborus 'Snow White'. It was a huge clump don't you think?

 To me this hellebore is yellow, no name was given with this one.
Here is Helleborus Erichsmithii 'Winter Moonbeam'
This beautiful red hellebore was labeled at Duke Gardens Pine Knot Double Strain. You can see clearly it did not come out as a double, this happens with hellebores. I have a handful of 2 year plants that could become doubles or end up like this a single.

Crocus, the blues ones look to be rain drowned now and the yellow ones are busting out waiting for a sunny day. Daffodils a few have small buds on them, most are just breaking ground. The snow drops had a bad year it seems. I noted the same thing at Duke Gardens on Friday. Our snow drops are barely out of the ground what is left of them.
Snow Drop from Duke Gardens last Friday.
Duke Gardens did not have any crocus I could find last Friday. This photo was taken in our garden today. At one point there were 3 bees feeding on these crocuses. The bees were busy busy, at one point mid day I could hear them buzzing from our deck 60+ foot away. I did see them again with orange, yellowish and light brown pollen. At one point they were so busy there were 5 bees with pollen not able to get into the hive due to so many bees exiting the hive.

Here are the bees just before lunch, it had been raining and cold for several days. One word busy....

Sunday, January 22, 2012

January Camellias Duke Gardens

Thanks to all that kindly commented on the passing of Grumpy the cat, Meg and I were lifted greatly by your wonderful support. Valentine is trying out for coffee kitty, she is a leg kitty, only when you have been very still. Thinking about fostering another cat from Independent Animal Rescue in Durham for now.

On January 20th I walked around Duke Gardens to see if any camellias were blooming. I have photographed many of the camellias in Duke Gardens for the past 3 years. It takes good timing to see some of the camellias in bloom. Below are 15-17 of the flowers I can't not recall shooting before, there are 22 different camellias photos in all. I did not shoot photo some of the other camellias in bloom like Yule Tide, Mr Sargent, October Affair, Kanjiro and few few others I can't recall or had no names on them. My guess is 35-40 different camellias were in bloom.
 Camellia japonica 'Pride of Descanso'
A huge white bloom!
Camellia japonica 'Lemon Glow' 
This is considered a yellow camellia, the buds were yellowish, I barely found much yellow in it. Might be yellower when first opened.
Camellia japonica 'Tama Vino'
Loved this camellia, the 3+ inch blooms have whitish edges that really grabbed me. The plant grows short and wide, the gardens had two of them maybe three foot tall. Thinking of perhaps adding this one to our garden, Camellia Forest has in on their online catalog.
Camellia japonica 'San Dimas'
I think this camellia might have been redder than shown here, did have a lovely display of medium sized flowers.
 Camellia japonica 'isaribi'
 Camellia japonica 'Lester M Allen'
 Camellia japonica 'Moonlight Bay'
Camellia japonica 'Precious Morning'
 Camellia japonica 'Mister Sam'
Camellia vernalis 'Dawn'
Camellia japonica 'Mathoyiana Supreme'
Camellia japonica 'Pink Icicle'

Camellia hybrid 'Koto no Kaori'

Camellia sasanqua hybrid 'Yume'
This 2 inch white flower blushed in pink made a beautiful display.
Camellia japonica 'R. L. Wheeler'
This large red camellia might have been featured before on the site, it is a knock out. Today I purchased this camellia at Southern States and will be planting it near Grumpy's grave in the garden.
Camellia japonica 'Lady Clare'
We have this one in our garden, just planted last year, no blooms yet. One of my favorites, these huge blooms cover the bush. Buy it if you love big showy camellias.
Camellia japonica 'Herme'
Camellia sasanqua 'Sekiyo'
 Camellia japonica 'Pink Perfection'
This camellia and the one below I really like. But they are not bee friendly, nothing bees can find pollen or nectar on, so we won't have them in our garden.
Camellia japonica 'Purity'
 Above and below is Camellia hybrid 'Yoi Machi' I featured this a few years back see here.
These flowers were much pinker than the photo in the link above.
Camellia japonica 'Adeyaka'
Camellia japonica  'Cinnamon Cindy'
Interesting camellia, thought I could smell cinnamon near the buds.

I took a lot of photos at Duke Gardens. Plan on posting photos of some of the new architectural structures in the garden and a special post on just park benches from the 55 acre gardens, there are a lot of them!
This stone gazebo is new from last year it faces what used to be the rose garden, now a huge fountain. They is a brand new gazebo made of curved timbers and secured with wooden pegs that is unlike any gazebo I have ever seen, you'll have to stay tuned to see it in a future post.
The pond has Mallard ducks on it this morning, first time in years that we had had ducks.

Yesterday I managed to plant two kinds of beets, English Breakfast radishes and salad mix in one of the cold frames. Our salad greens are about finished in the cold frames.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Sad day yesterday...

 Here is the very first photo I took with my new camera on Christmas day.

Yesterday day morning about 6am Meg found Grumpy on the dog's bed with his back legs paralyzed. I heard him in the middle of the night screaming loudly, but ignored it as he does this often. By 7am he was at the vets office. His legs were 93 degrees and it did not look very good for him, likely a blood clot was the cause.  Given he had FIV (feline aids) his chances were very slim for recovery. By 2pm Meg and I were with him when we put him to sleep. He purred loudly because we were there, he was in great pain yet so glad we were there to comfort him. It was really sad, he was the best kitty I/We ever had.

We buried him in the back yard while a huge flock of Robins came in and comforted us from the forest canopy. While we prepared his grave I went inside and asked to dogs who were inside the house if they wanted to come to Grumpy's funeral. Here is the unbelievable part. Both dogs went ahead of me towards the pet door. Dot goes out the pet door all the time, Daisy never goes out she comes in only. Both dogs nearly got stuck in the pet door at the same time as they went out the pet door.

Last night Dot stood in the laundry room looking very depressed as she always helped Grumpy finish his cat food. Daisy misses Grumpy too, she has been very affectionate. Valentine our other cat seems distant, she is very independent. Meg and I usually have coffee in bed after feeding the cats, Grumpy always joined us by laying on one of us.

Later in the day we went for a walk. We encountered the first aromas of spring from the flowers of two different shrubs in Hillsborough, intoxicating. The pansies above were found beside the Ayrmount House, Grumpy would have enjoyed laying in them.

Grumpy could be best described by this. He was one of those cats who would sit on your lap, you'd move him off your lap three times before he'd realize you did not want him on your lap. He sat on my knee many times as I typed these posts, he will be missed greatly.