January 31, 2012

I Saw a Tiger -- I Hope He Finds the Greenhouse

I wish I'd had time to switch the camera to video function. Upper quadrant, toward the middle....

I could hardly believe that the movement I saw in the grass was a butterfly. A Tiger Swallowtail, out too early, just like the flowers that are blooming much too early. I was able to get a pic only of his fluttering wings. When next I spied him, he was going over the boxwood hedge and a Mockingbird was headed into the boxwoods. I gave up the chase so he'd only have the one predator to elude.

Here's where I was headed:

Not much has changed except I added a top shelf to the brown
unit that holds seedlings and cuttings, getting ready for more.

Graptopetalum paraguayense rootlings from dropped leaves are
growing quickly, as are the rooted piece of kalanchoe at top and
some chlorophytum babies and sedum acre in broken pots.

The doors are wide open and bumblebees are busy going in and out.

Flowers and text are from the garden of Nell Jean blogged on Dotty Plants Journal in warm  Southwest Georgia where it isn't supposed to freeze during the next week. Maybe we'll get rain.

January 28, 2012

Hyacinths Inside, Hyacinths Outside

I don't know why I went through all this chilling and planting up in stones and water and a few hyacinths in pots of soil. They're blooming outside at the same time as inside, at least China Pink is.

Hyacinths in mixed colors.

Ike, greenhouse supervisor

China Pink, here for at least three years.
Hyacinths are fairly long-lasting in my garden.

China Pink

You can have hyacinths blooming for a weeks outside by planting early and late cultivars. China Pink is one of the earliest. Top Hit is one of the latest. Except for China Pink, they're all waiting below ground to show themselves later in the season.  

Next year's plan is hyacinths in pots of soil, chilled bulbs. This year's bulbs will go out in the garden when bloom is finished. Sometimes they need a year to recover from forcing, which is why I am giving up water and stones as a planting medium. Planted in soil, they should not notice the transition to the garden after bloom.

And just for fun, here's the first peek at a potted tulip. Can you tell the color is purple?

Flowers and text are from the garden of Nell Jean blogged on Dotty Plants Journal in warm, humid Southwest Georgia.

January 25, 2012

Outcome Based Hyacinth Bulb Plans for Fall 2012

I've decided. No more hyacinths in water and stones. Some of mine in water turned out beautifully, but the most spectacular are in pots of potting soil with a bit of florist's moss over the surface mostly for decoration.

These smell heavenly. Not all hyacinths have the same fragrance.

I've forced hyacinths for years in ceramic containers of water and stones and in pinched-waist bulb vases. Results continue to come in daily but I'm satisfied that soil is preferable. Growing in water is a novelty. Bulbs grown in soil can go directly into the garden without needing a recovery period of at least a year before blooming the second season.

Pinch-waist hyacinth vases over my tea/coffee bar.

 This picture was taken last week.

These in stones and water.

Bulbs chilled loose in a paper bag.
After 8 weeks, potted in soil.
Yesterday, in full bloom after about 6 weeks.

What I've decided is the ideal is about 3 hyacinth bulbs to a pot. A pot that will accommodate 3 good bulbs will allow room for good root growth. Bulbs put to chill mid-September would be ready to pot at Thanksgiving and should bloom late December or in January.

Now I'm waiting to see if my potted tulips are going to bloom. The ones in the clay pot are lagging behind the ones in a plastic pot in putting on growth.

Flowers and text are from the garden of Nell Jean blogged on Dotty Plants Journal in humid Southwest Georgia where it may freeze again soon.

January 23, 2012

Champagne Greenhouse on a Grape Juice Budget

When I asked why others haven't accomplished their dream of a greenhouse, many responded that cost held them back. Others say they have old windows they are saving for that purpose. Many of the Pinterest greenhouse fancies are more like garden ornaments or conservatories than working greenhouses.
Conservatory in the US Botanical Garden -- borrowed photo.

I've been looking at online pics of greenhouses. Some are chock full of plants, but some are styled with a table and six chairs; a bathtub, or a bed. Others are artistically arranged but with few plants.
I wrote a Statement of Need:

  1. Home for tender plants and cuttings
  2. Place to start early seedlings
  3. Running water and electricity
  4. Getaway for Lunch or Tea
  5. Retreat for the gardener and pets on cold/rainy days
We decided on a least expensive model rather than a more impressive one. If the
greenhouse idea failed, the foundation, water service and electricity could be used for some other function.

Multiple outlets provide more places to access electricity for
heaters, fans, timers and fun things like this pineapple lamp.

I wrote a Statement of Desirables
  1. Water feature
  2. Potting area 
  3. Frost-free water hydrant for  running water
  4. Storage for tools and equipment
  5. Heat sink to modulate sun's heat and winter's cold
Running water is the first sound when you enter,
from a small fountain under the south bench.

Potting bench with an old medicine cabinet for supplies.

The water faucet is enhanced with a Y-connector and insulated with a jacket of black foam. Not particularly pretty but very handy. I finally decided to store plastic pots and other bulky supplies off-site to make more room for plants and protect them from the sun.

The blue skirt hides fifty gallon barrels of water. Staples are hidden by
colorful Duck brand Tape/
The green stripes are a placemat that covers the back of a folding chair.

In the South, sometimes cooling is more desirable than heat. Heat Sink materials help in moderating both cooling and heating. Water is the best heat collector, followed by concrete, rock and soil. It takes a lot of water. The heat sink does not 'heat' the greenhouse, it slows the loss of heat gained during the day so that less electricity is required when the sun first goes down.

My table base is from an old birdbath.
Love the patina from years of weathering.

Every little bit of concrete helps. Concrete does not have to be freshly poured. I use 'urban stone' saved from old buildings, stepping stones, ancient salvaged bricks and limestone rocks for paths and decorative uses. I fill the benches with as many potted plants as possible in hopes they help keep one another warm after the soil warmed during the day. Thin plastic pots sit in ceramic cachepots as many as possible. This is an on-going project, in its fifth year.

Flowers and text are from the garden of Nell Jean blogged on Dotty Plants Journal in humid Southwest Georgia.

January 21, 2012

The Hyacinth Girl Updates

Once they start to open, Hyacinths need to be seen frequently. The big potful opened ahead of the smaller single pots though the bulbs are the same. A larger mass of soil probably held more heat.

 I thought a potful would be wonderful. Now I think it might be too much.

Finally, a pink, in a square pot of stones and water.

Flowers and text are from the garden of Nell Jean blogged on Dotty Plants Journal in warm, humid Southwest Georgia.

January 19, 2012

They Called Me the Hyacinth Girl

"They called me the Hyacinth Girl" is a line from a poem by
T S Eliot, The Burial of the Dead, from The Waste Land. 1922. 

Hyacinths are finally starting to bloom. Just these few that are open perfume the
greenhouse when the doors are closed overnight.

Some were planted in soil, some are in water and stones.
My early opinion is that soil is the better choice.

another line in T S Eliot's poem,
"we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten, 
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour."

reminded me that I set up a coffee/hot beverage bar on the end of the kitchen counter under windows where hyacinths are in pinch-waist vases of water. Only one has ventured blossoms so far.

We are drinking an unusual amount of hot beverages these days because we, like
"Madame Sosostris, famous clairvoyante,
Had a bad cold, nevertheless.... "

Despite my cold, I can smell the sweet fragrance.

I expect they will all be in bloom for Valentine's Day.

Flowers and text are from the garden of Nell Jean blogged on Dotty Plants Journal in chilly Southwest Georgia.

January 15, 2012

Bloom Day in the Greenhouse, January

Red Begonias


Alternanthera and Pentas

White Begonia and Hyacinth bulbs
Variegated Alpinia, Gerberas, Begonias
Gerbera Daisy

Forced hyacinths and a pot of tulips at far left. Hyacinths will bloom in time for Valentines Day.
Kalanchoe and Begonias

Begonias, Persian Shield and Epiphyllum cutting.

Begonias, Pentas and Foxtail fern
Purple alternanthera weaves through
everything under the south bench.

Duranta cuttings bloom all winter.

Flowers and text are from the garden of Nell Jean blogged on Dotty Plants Journal in cool Southwest Georgia.

January 11, 2012

Lichens, Moss and Trees

On Monday I showed you some of my stones with moss and lichens and algae. When I left the front yard, I followed the fences around to where some old utility poles are piled, some for thirty years or more.

This might be Shaggy Moss. I could go back with a
magnifying glass and my Golden Guide from 1967, or not.
Wonder why the companion pole has only a thin layer of crustose lichen?

Moss is forming on the ends.

Varying stages of decay and growth.

Where dust settles between decaying wood,
opportunists like chickweed and wild
geranium get a start.

This oak has had an insect infestation, drilled out by woodpeckers
and an interesting pattern of lichens.

Ancient fence posts, decaying and growing moss.
Notice the little spider web made by a funnel weaver.
(I have a little Golden Guide for spiders, too, 1968.

This line of live oaks grow along a former fence row.
I made pics of the bark patterns and mosses, for another post.

In the plowed ground of the firebreak, I saw numerous deer tracks.

Flowers and text are from the garden of Nell Jean blogged on Dotty Plants Journal in cool, windy Southwest Georgia.

I Blog Here & Here too