Flowery Friday: peacock gladiolus.

Peacock glad RS FP Normandeau

Snow is becoming a regular occurrence around here now after an amazingly mild and warm October and early November – and I think I’m okay with it.  For now.  If you ask me in March of next year, I will most definitely have a different answer.   😉

These peacock gladiolus (aka Abyssinian gladiolus – Gladiolus murielae, syn. G. callianthusG. acidantheria) that one of the ladies planted in our new “bulb bed” at the community garden got heaps of admiring comments when they splashed out in late summer and into autumn.  They’re pretty common elsewhere, but I don’t see them too often here – I guess no one enjoys lifting those bulbs in the fall!  I think new bulbs are very reasonably priced, however, and everyone at the garden agreed that this is a plant we will definitely try again in the future. It’s easy to see why!

What new plants have you tried in your garden this past growing season?  Are they keepers?   Did you see a plant on a garden tour or in a friend’s garden that totally wowed you and made you want to try it yourself?

Amaryllis flowering.

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My ‘Red Lion’ amaryllis bloomed this week…I don’t know why I thought it would be a deeper red colour, but I’m definitely not disappointed:  the hint of orange/salmon has a wonderful tropical appeal.  I am pleased that the bulb has produced a second flower stalk which should bloom very soon – this is the first time I’ve grown amaryllis that has sent up more than a single stalk.  (You can tell I’m not particularly serious about purchasing amaryllis.  I buy them on sale at the grocery store and not from specialty growers).  This particular plant seems nice and compact, as well – I’m not fighting with tall, heavy stems and flowers that threaten to topple the container.  A nice treat for the holiday season!

Do you grow amaryllis?  Have you ever saved them over and gotten them to rebloom (and if so, what did you do to accomplish it?). 

UPDATED JANUARY 6, 2015 – as Chloris has pointed out in the comments below, it seems that my amaryllis is not actually a ‘Red Lion’ cultivar as I was led to believe by the seller. That would definitely explain my confusion as to the colour of the blooms!  But…I don’t know which coral-striped type this is, so if anyone has any ideas, please feel free to chime in!

Tuesday tulip tiptoe.

Tulip - 8 April 2014

Just a grocery-store tulip, but it makes me smile all the same.  I don’t grow tulips anymore – my soil runs on the heavy clay side and the bulbs were simply rotting underground.  I keep amending, though, so maybe in a few years’ time, I’ll be able to try again….

I was out for a walk near my workplace a few days ago and in the yard of a nearby elementary school, the students had planted hundreds of tulips, which were all peeking up out of the soil.  What a great project to get the kids involved in!

Do you grow tulips?  Which ones are your favourites?

Green stirrings.

Something wondrous and strange is going on in my garden…

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IT’S ALIVE!!!!

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I know I shouldn’t get so excited…but it’s been awhile since I’ve seen anything that colour coming out of the ground.  (It’s interesting that they already look a tad ragged – the fact that I neglected to fertilize them last fall and a good number of hungry cohabitating rabbits may be to blame).

Of course, tomorrow is the first day of spring and we’re expecting a major snowstorm.  But just look at those bulbs go!  🙂

Spring stirrings…finally!

Two clippers blast the Prairies with heavy snow, strong winds

That’s the current weather warning from the Weather Network for the province of Alberta. While here in Calgary we are not being bombarded with the extreme precipitation and wind chills that our neighbours to the north and west are receiving, a glance at the forecast for later this weekend signals we may be in for a doozy.

But I don’t mind so much now, because this is the lovely sight that greeted me when I went outside to check my flowerbeds this morning:

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GREEN!  Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day!

(I know, I know, I shouldn’t get so excited…but this never gets old for me.  Especially after six months of winter).

I randomly planted a mixture of Chionodoxa, Siberian squill, crocuses and grape hyacinths in October, adding to a small collection I’ve been (very) slowly building over the years. I’m hoping for a bit more of an early colour display this year!

Now, if we can just do something about this snow…. 😉

Wherever you live, what signs of spring do you find most inspirational and fun?

Flowery Prose link-a-thon – December 2012.

A combination of time-crunch and my exceeding talent (?) for procrastination means my inbox is perpetually stuffed to the brim with e-mails (not chocolate, unfortunately – that would be SWEET!).   Although I don’t always get around to reading everything as expeditiously as I would like, over the past few months I’ve been collecting links to some excellent “flowery” blog entries and articles that I thought I would share with you now.  So grab some Christmas cookies and eggnog and enjoy!

  • Read all about cattails and their fascinating uses at Garden’s Eye View.
  • The chalara dieback of ash trees in Europe is the focus of this article in Veg Plotting.
  • Take a look at the beautiful Sekkan Sugi Japanese Cedar, showcased by RainyLeaf.
  • Check out how to force spring bulbs indoors at Growing Grace Farm.  These are really timely tips – you can set this up now!
  • The Sproutling Writes offers a HILARIOUS quiz – take it to find out what kind of gardener you are!  (I’m a “Dreamer”!).
  • Do you know what tonka beans are?  (I didn’t!).  Read about them and find a delicious recipe to use them in at Words and Herbs.
  • Garden In a City’s humorous look at the difference between a drupe and a berry is spot-on!  Don’t miss this one!
  • Do you think garden centres and nurseries should offer guarantees on the plants they sell?  Consider the perspectives at Whole Life Gardening.
  • If you are planning to plant trees in the near future, read up on Kew’s Top Tips for Tree Care.
  • Are you interested in growing sprouts?  Try this method for starting rye sprouts from Addicted to Veggies.
  • Some interesting tests are being conducted using corncob grit and compressed air as a “sandblasting” method of weed control – read about it here.
  • I love the perfect geometric patterning of the flowers of Callicarpa pilossisima (beautyberries) – this is something you don’t see very often!  Take a look at this UBC Botany Photo of the Day link.

Sowing heirloom garlic.

Well, two frost warnings this week (wannnnhhhh I’m not ready!!!) and a shocking amount of cold damage to some of my fellow gardeners’ squash at the community garden has got me thinking it’s nearly time to plant my fall bulbs.  Although he knows better, my hubby left me alone to wander the aisles of Canadian Tire the other day 😉 so I stocked up on new crocuses, and I’m hoping to track down some more Siberian squill and glories-of-the-snow this coming weekend.  But it’s not the flowers I’m really excited about, however – it’s the garlic.

I’ve never planted garlic before, but it’s been something I’ve been itching to try out for some time.  When a local community gardening group put some bunches of heirloom garlic up for sale as a fundraiser, I jumped at the chance to obtain a few bulbs.

Varieties:  ‘Persian Star’, ‘Music’, ‘Ontario Purple Trillium’, and ‘Killarney Rocambole Red’

Now I have them…so what do I do next?

Fortunately, it seems that growing garlic isn’t rocket science (whew!)…plus the community gardening group gave me a handy little cheat-sheet to help me out.  Here is my summary of the most important stuff for anyone like me who is planting garlic for the first time:

  • Give your garlic a full sun location.
  • Don’t plant your garlic in clayey soil – good drainage and uncompacted rich loam is key.  Amend with compost before planting.
  • Plant garlic in autumn 4-6 weeks before the ground freezes solid.  Harvest time will be the following summer.
  • Once the ground freezes, cover the garlic with a layer of fine bark mulch and keep protected until harvest time next year!
  • While you can grow garlic from the bulbils, I don’t have any to plant (plus, I don’t want to wait 2 years to harvest), so I’m just going to skip over that part and talk about growing garlic from cloves (aka rounds):
  1. Remember:  large cloves will grow into bulbs; small ones will just get bigger.   Planting depth for small cloves should be about 2.5 cm; triple that for large ones.
  2. Spacing should be about 18 cm minimum for large cloves.  If you want bigger bulbs, increase the amount of space.
  3. Pointy end up!  🙂
  4. You can plant the entire bulb if it contains only a few cloves (less than 6).  But remember that each clove will form into a separate plant and they will all be clustered tightly together!

Do you grow your own garlic?  Do you have any tips for success?