Monday, March 30, 2009

Growing accustomed to disappointment

How many of you have love/hate affairs with your local garden shows? We are lucky enough to have a garden-only show (as opposed to our other home & garden one, which is really deadly), but our show could be so much better!

I go every year, because there are always things to see and possibly buy, no matter what, but this year more than other years, I was shocked by the disconnect between what the landscapers there consider to be a garden and what I think of as a garden. To be fair, they have difficulty getting full-grown perennials at this time of year for display gardens that are only going to be viable for a few days. But I accept that. I’m happy to look at the forced bulbs, evergreens, and rhodies. No, it’s not the plants.

It’s the waterfall with a flatscreen TV mounted above it (see top image). It’s the ten or so firepits I saw—and I am fairly certain it would be illegal to use them in much of our area. It’s the endless paths of Unilock winding their way throughout the space, and the monstrous grills bristling with bewildering attachments. It’s the assumption that backyards are made to be paved over and made to look as much like a living room as possible (albeit a rather tacky living room). It’s the complete obliviousness to any notion of sustainable gardening and the utter lack of any reference whatsoever to growing vegetables—the biggest trend in gardening today. And at least lettuces can be forced pretty easily to make a very pretty display garden. One would think.

This little tableau wasn't bad.

To be fair, the show had a theme: “Garden Party.” And who could possibly have a garden party without a firepit? But the shows always have themes; that doesn’t mean that they can’t be twisted to interest those of us who actually enjoy growing things in our gardens.

Oh well. I did buy the Ultimate Hose Nozzle and am very exciting about using it. And I always like looking at interesting water features.

Friday, March 27, 2009

First beer of the season

It was warm enough today (mid-fifties perhaps) to sit outside on the back steps for a while. They get warmed up by the sun during the early afternoon and are very comfortable by 3 p.m. or so. After 5, I need to move to the side steps, as the sun has switched over there by then.

There really isn’t much to do in the garden at this stage. The bulb watch has begun, and I can see all of the tulip sprouts above ground. There is nothing I can do to forward their progress. I pulled away the old hellebore leaves (and a lot of other old leaves in the front garden, so the bulbs can come up unimpeded). The pond guy is due to open the pond in a week or so. I can’t really plant anything yet and it’s not time to prune the roses. When I get a warm weekend, I may do some clearing and cultivating in the back. If I get to it.

Our patio furniture is still under its coverings (which are themselves weighed down by pools of melted ice), but I’ve always liked sitting on the steps best. Today a little (lost?) cat came and sat with me, and we both basked in the sun.

Did I have another beer after the first one? Or did I switch to something else? Discuss among yourselves.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Aguas de Marco

You can look it up here. According to the wiki entry, “March is typically marked by sudden storms with heavy rains and strong winds that cause flooding in many places around the city.” In Rio, that is. According to the song. In Buffalo, it’s somewhat similar. We have some rain, it’s chilly, and often it’s windy. In North Dakota, they are having a real taste of the waters of March.

But at the end of March we have two fun events and the knowledge that March is over. Tomorrow is the opening night for Plantasia, Buffalo’s garden show. It’s an OK show, nowhere near the stature of such nationally known gardens shows as Philadelphia’s and San Francisco’s. But it’s still fun to see the make-believe gardens and browse the plants, cut flowers, and garden accoutrements for sale. (The image is above is from a Plantasia 2 years ago.)

Even better (in my view) is the event on the following evening, when our Botanical Gardens celebrates the start of their spring bulb show: Paradise Under Glass. It’s one of my favorite winter events at the gardens. I think the place has come a long way over the past few years—though they have even farther to go to achieve a very ambitious long-range goal, one that will add two more big glass houses.

Brazilian music and indoor glass houses seem just the ticket at this time of year.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Hothouse flower

Many of my fellow bloggers in the lower zones are writing about their early spring gardening efforts. They’re cleaning up, clearing out, mulching, creating new beds, and so on. (It’s a bit early for planting.)

However, you will be reading of no such efforts on this site, at least not for a few weeks. That’s because I do not garden if it’s under 50 degrees out. If I have to wear a winter coat, that indicates to me I probably should find something to do inside. To be honest, the garden would probably come up all on its own and look fine if I did absolutely nothing; most of the planting I do now it the result of extravagance and the need for novelty. That being said, I have 30-40 plants on the way from Select Seeds, Plant Delights, and Brent & Becky’s. But they won’t go in until May.

Sometime in April I’ll get out there, clear away the leaves; admire the erythronium, species tulips, daffodils, hellebores, and other early flowers; plant a few summer bulbs, and add some compost. When it’s 50 or better.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spring, sort of

While looking for signs of life from my real spring flowers—species tulips, daffs, erythroniums, and others—my eye chanced across this little double snowdrop. It must have been there a while. I think I planted a bunch of these, but this is the first real double blossom I've seen. Strange and pretty.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

First Buds of spring

This is, I believe, the Beercanicus Buffalous "Allentown." Thankfully quite rare.

Still, the flowers inside

For all intents and purposes, it is St. Patrick’s Day in Buffalo today, as the parade always happens on a Sunday. SPD can be snowy or 60 degrees and sunny here; this is the month when we can experience all four seasons (well, April too). Around SPD, I find myself really looking at the ground, mainly noticing all the bits of green detritus from the festivities, but also seeing the beginnings of (non-evergreen) plant activity. The flowers are always the same, of course: snowdrops. Maybe some crocus. I do have snowdrops, but I’ve always found them kind of boring—though wonderfully fragrant. So I’m sharing instead the final batch of forced bulbs from the GWI indoor garden. The hyacinths are done, as are most of the narcissus and half of the tulips, but there is a surprising amount still to bloom, including some very stubborn hippeastrum.

Here you see some Amazone Triumphs, some Orange Princess doubles, and some Martinette narcissus.

For much longer and more detailed GBBD posts, many of which will show snowdrops, check here.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Not quite yet

As many of my zone 5 friends elsewhere in the country pick up their shovels, shears, clippers, and, yes, hoes, forging valiantly into the muddy earth and chilly air of March, I find that I am not yet ready to take on the great outdoors.

There is actually very little than can be done at this time. A bit of clean-up, I guess: a few leaves were never raked or composted and some lily stalks remain. There is some weeding, clearing, and soil prep in the back that might be easier to do now than later. But basically it is still a waiting game here—and let’s face it, there will be at least one if not a couple snow storms before winter gives up on WNY.

I am really looking forward to bringing out all the big pots of tulips and watching the erythronium and other early ephemerals come out in the front. And I love these tulips I am forcing inside. At top you see the Amazone Triumph, and here are some Orange Princess doubles beginning to take on color. I’m a bit smug about forcing doubles, though I suspect most tulips will force fairly easily. These few inside are the "coming events" before their brethren emerge outside for the real show.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Hobnobbing with the orchid guys

There were many good-natured orchid growers on hand at the show last week at the Botanical Gardens, but I think I talked to one of the nicest, Dick Sauger. Here’s a little video of our discussion for you.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

In situ

Today I had a great time at the orchid show—photos here—and plan a post that may even give some helpful information about them, but while that’s percolating, here are some random houseplant shots. I’m trying to use the tulips and hyacinths throughout the house, rather than keep them cooped up in the plant room.

There are still double tulips to come, and even some amaryllis—the Johnny-come-lately ones I keep as houseplants, and don’t bother giving a period of dormancy. These tulips are Negritas. If all goes as planned, I will have several big pots of them outside, as well as Amazone, Yellow Mountain, Orange Princess, and Black Hero, in April and May. Just saying that makes me feel better about winter.