What's up in the garden?

Rosemont, ON(Zone 4a)

They're here at last! The first flowers. Crocus ancyrensis, and Galanthus with no label. When my arthritic knees permit, I will lower myself to ground level and peer closely at the snowdrop to see if it's 'Plenus', 'Samuel Arnott', or 'Viridipictus'.

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Calgary, Canada

Not much in the garden here yet, but lots of sprouts on the trays under lights in the basement.
It always gives me a lift to see those first seedlings.

Rosemont, ON(Zone 4a)

What has germinated for you so far, CL, and when do you expect to be able to plant them out?

Calgary, Canada

Mostly petunias, tomatoes and peppers.
A few impatiens, Brazilian Fireworks, Trachellium, Ragged Robin.

Can't plan to put them out before June.
I am seriously thinking of getting a greenhouse!

Rosemont, ON(Zone 4a)

I'm direct-sowing my seeds this year, either mid-May or mid-June. I'd normally aim for the end of May, but I'll be away on vacation then.

Greenhouses are a mixed blessing! I have one that is heated with an electric fan heater to keep it just above freezing, but the temperature inside will drop to minus 5C when the outside temperature is minus 25C. And then on sunny days (like today), even with all the vents and doors open, the greenhouse interior will overheat to 25C. I use it mainly for overwintering potted hardy cacti (in a sand bench), tender shrubs, and containerized perennials. Last spring, the greenhouse got too warm and the cacti flowered early.

In the garden, Iris histrioides 'George' has begun blooming.

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Calgary, Canada

I used to have a green house attached to the garage,
but when sewer had to be dug and replaced----I lost the greenhouse.
Your pics of spring flowers are inspiring.
There are signs here that the local hares have probably dug most of them up here?

Rosemont, ON(Zone 4a)

Eeek, I had no idea that hares would dig things up! I have not seen hares around here, only rabbits. They are nibblers - crocuses, emerging daylily foliage, and ornamental grasses are high on their list - but the dwarf Iris blooms will probably be snapped up by deer. I lose my tulips to deer as well. In recent years, chipmunks arrived in my garden, and they burrow underneath plants, or bury plants in their excavated dirt. So far, the chipmunks have not eaten anything except bird seed - I keep them well fed! Nothing gets dug up unless I use something like bone-meal or blood-meal at planting time. If I do, the plant or bulb will be dug up by raccoons or foxes excavating for what they think is buried food. I stopped growing lilies in pots on the deck after having to re-pot them every morning after the raccoons had visited. They don't touch the potted cacti, although sometimes they will poop on them in retaliation for being pricked by the spines. After 10 years of gardening here, and gardening with deer, rabbits, and groundhogs for the previous 10 years in Pennsylvania, I should know how and what to plant. I still can't resist planting things that I know will get chewed, though, and I continue to experiment with new plants.

What other wildlife do you have, apart from voracious hares, CL? How will you protect your annuals and vegetable seedings from them?

Calgary, Canada

Lots of squirrels. Try to dig everything deep.
Sometimes sprinkle cayenne down with the bulbs in the holes.
Right now there is little food available for critters.
Caroline

Rosemont, ON(Zone 4a)

Do you mulch or fork-over your flowerbeds, Caroline? I find that using no mulch, and letting the dirt bake to a hard crust between plants, makes a flowerbed less inviting to squirrels. When planting bulbs, I make sure to press the earth firm and flat afterwards, so there's no sign of soil disturbance. I use a sprinkle of hot Hungarian pepper as a final deterrent!

I found no new flowers in my garden today, but I noticed buds starting to swell on the Lilac bushes.

Rosemont, ON(Zone 4a)

This morning it's -5C, with a wind-chill of -15C, and strong gusts of bone-chilling wind are delivering snow squalls off Lake Huron, but every now and then there's a moment of calm and the sun comes out. Iris danfordiae has decided spring is here, anyway.

There's migratory duck activity on the pond. Common and hooded mergansers have begun dropping in for some fish on their way north, and a pair of wood ducks has arrived. Wood ducks sometimes raise a brood here, as the pond is fed by a stream that flows through woodland.

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Edmonton, AB(Zone 3a)

June it's so lovely to see blooms! thank you. I have a G house too and will be starting it up around the 20th of April. I have found that heated seed mats generate enough heat to ward off the minus's. I use a floating row cover to retain the heat just over the trays overnight and remove it if the day will be warm enough. I did try the fan heater but have found that keeping the little guys soil warm gives me a better result. I have a 8X16 from Costco that was purchased about 6 yrs ago that has weathered very well.

I have my Canna's and Begonia's started and some overwintered bare rooted geraniums too. Some seeds are up for my Eucalyptus and a few Hosta's. Tomatoes will be right behind i'm sure. These are in the basement under lights and against the windows.
We still have 3 ft of snow!
Alberta Ann

Rosemont, ON(Zone 4a)

Ann, where will you grow your Eucalyptus - aren't they huge trees? I haven't tried using a heated seed mat. I wonder if that might be the secret to successfully overwintering fuchsias. The fuchsias from my hanging baskets go into the greenhouse in fall, and although they always lose their leaves, in theory they should leaf out again in spring. However, often I'm just left with dead sticks in a pot. I think that if their roots get frozen, they're gonners, so bottom heat may be the answer. When does your snow usually melt? I hope you get a gradual thaw, not a flood.
June

Calgary, Canada

Nice to hear of your greenhouse---I am seriously considering getting one.
I over wintered fushias in the house-----geraniums too.
Only two cannas,but I have roots for more. Begonias are just getting going.
They seem so hard and dried,but they are sending out shoots.
Petunias, tomatoes and peppers are under lights in basement.
Caroline

Rosemont, ON(Zone 4a)

Unfortunately, there's no space anywhere in this house for my grow-light stand, which has been stored in the garage since I moved here. It's a 3-shelf unit, and I used to grow all sorts of things under lights before we down-sized to a smaller home. I'm going to have to re-organize this house so I can do gardening indoors, I'm so envious hearing about all your cannas, begonias, geraniums, and seedlings sprouting.

This morning it's -10C, we have an inch of fresh snow, and the pond has re-frozen - so not much chance of any new flowers today. Pics of indoor gardens, sprouting tubers, seed trays, etc. would be welcome!

Edmonton, AB(Zone 3a)

Hi June
The Eucalyptus is the decorative kind I think it's called silver drop or silver dollar, I'm at work and don't have the packet here. they do have the smell and are very hardy in pots. I also cut them and bring them inside for decoration.

The heated mat makes a big difference for my plants but I don't think it would help your Fuchsias. If they are dormant they probably can be a bit dry but if they are growing I don't imagine that they can take being too dry. They can't take any cold at all and I think they would need to come inside and let to die back in the dark but not freezing. Kind of the way I overwinter my geraniums.
Anyone else want to wade in here?
Snow is slowly melting away and I too hope for no flooding. Most roofs are clear here but some have dandy icicles.
Weatherman is calling for more
Alberta Ann

Rosemont, ON(Zone 4a)

The Eucalyptus sounds delightful. I'll have to keep an eye out for a potted plant for my deck, once the garden centres are open. Supermarkets and hardware stores will start selling plants in a few weeks time, way too early for this zone, but Head Office in zone 6 sets the date. (One time, I asked an assistant in one of these garden centres if he was aware that he needed to take the flats of impatiens inside as a frost was forecast for that night. He shrugged and said that if they died the greenhouse would send more).

Can you all tell me: When you bring outdoor plants into the house for winter, how do you ensure that they don't bring aphids and earwigs and other undesirables in with them? My oleander bushes had so many aphids on them after spending summer on the deck, I sprayed the heck out of them with Safer's Insecticidal Soap before putting them into the greenhouse, but they still have aphids hidden among the tightly-held leaves at the growing points.

Edmonton, AB(Zone 3a)

June
some I take cuttings off of.
I do the bare root thing for some. I let them dry out a bit in the fall. Knock most soil off them , swish the foliage in soapy water, let dry and turn them upside down in a 5 gallon pail. Put them in a dark corner of the basement and sprinkle water on the thickest part of the root every once in a while. Then when things sprout in the spring I pot them up and I will take cuttings off the guy downstairs in the next week or so. Begonia's I let freeze back and then take most soil off and put them in a bucket under my sink in the Laundry room I check for any fungus or mold. I have 3 that I've had for 4 yrs now and they are so big they won't fit in a small pot, need about 6 inch square at least. The others are smaller.
Canna's are a whole new story and I was successful until this year , because I didn't follow my usual method.
For my big ribbon bush I sprayed with water outside and let it dry then used a huge clear plastic bag over it and sprayed with an insect soap keeping it closed for about two days. It seemed to work but there aren't too many plants that have such flat surface's.
I will take a photo of them.
Yes bugs are an issue and you do have to be ruthless.
It doesn't always work.
Alberta Ann

Edmonton, AB(Zone 3a)

Here are a couple of photo's , please excuse the basement window as a neighbors cat won't stay out of my yard and he is making a mess of that window.
One is the Begonia's Big ones beside a small one and the small orange pots behind them are the ones purchased this year. I bulk start them to conserve space under the lights, they will need transplanting soon. Canna's beside them.
Two is one of my Mrs Pollack Geraniums that I overwintered. She has lots of new shoots that I will be able to use for cuttings
Three is the Ribbon Bush from the Solomon Islands that I had Identified on another forum. I kept a cutting a few years ago from a small bush that I bought at a green house. it was quite unique and I liked the funky look it had. I probably could do the same with cuttings again. The big plant in that corner is my Hoya (uknown exact one) That I have had since I was 19 so about 35 yrs now. It gets wound around it's self and it stands about 4 ft tall in a big pot.
The sun is still out so I'm going out to enjoy.
Bye for now
Alberta Ann

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Rosemont, ON(Zone 4a)

Thanks, Ann, for the great advice, and excellent photos. You surely have some monster Begonias! I love the variegated foliage on 'Mrs. Pollack' - what colour flowers does she have? Your Ribbon Bush is very interesting, and the 35-year-old Hoya is amazing! Also, I like your lampshade.

Edmonton, AB(Zone 3a)

Hi June
Welcome.
Mrs Pollack has bright orange single petal flowers that are almost insignificant compared to the foliage. You can't quite see but the more sun she gets the darker a burgandy color in the middle of the leaf becomes.and with the cream and lime green she is very lovely even if you don't have flowers.
The Lampshade is an antique that was in my MIL's house in the basement with silk covering it. The silk just turned to dust when you touched it so she and I rewraped the wire and recovered it with a silk fabric matching the orignal design as best we could. She restrung all the beads on dental floss and we saved as much of the brickbrac trim as we could. Base is all original.

Someone just told me that we are getting a ton of snow tomorrow! Darn!
Alberta Ann

Rosemont, ON(Zone 4a)

Sorry to hear you are expecting more snow, Ann. It's still below freezing here, with a wickedly cold wind, but sunny. I can see a blue crocus, ready to open, but it's waiting for a warmer wind. Maybe tomorrow!

I feel sorry for the wildlife at this time of year. Recently-arrived grackles, cowbirds, and red-winged blackbirds were beseiging my bird feeders yesterday, while being pelted by snow squalls borne on wild gusts of frigid wind. The insects must be frantic for a warm day, to get out and find some pollen and nectar. Sometimes at this time of year I see bees on the bird table, mistakenly gathering dust fallen from the corn kernels.

Calgary, Canada

There are tulip leaves poking up on the sunny side of the yard.
I am starting over with petunias---lost them all just as they were sprouting.
Using a different soil mix and see if that helps.

Rosemont, ON(Zone 4a)

How disappointing to lose the petunias, Caroline! It sounds like an attack of damping-off fungus. There used to be a product called "No Damp", a liquid fungicide to add to the water before watering seed flats. I wonder if it's still available. So many useful gardening chemicals have now been withdrawn due to toxicity and environmental concerns that the gardener's life is becoming more and more difficult. Of course, Big Agriculture can still apply toxic substances to entire fields by the ton, but don't get me started on that topic.

I found an old pic of pollen-starved bees picking up dust from the corn on the bird table. A bee-keeper told me that when the collecting bees get back to the hive, the bees in charge of feeding the larvae will just dump the fake pollen.

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Calgary, Canada

I use diluted hydrogen peroxide, but I guess it did not work this time.
Starting over with petunias---still have some old seeds.

Rosemont, ON(Zone 4a)

Good luck with the next batch of seeds, Caroline!

After a cold start (-5C) the day is warming up. It's now plus 5C and Crocus vernus 'Queen of the Blues' has opened to the sun.

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Edmonton, AB(Zone 3a)

June-Lovely sight and I will be able to show you some after the snow goes. Do you think the dust would be sweet? Corn has a lot of sugar in it. Maybe that's how the bees are fooled.

Caroline I have been using the ProMix BX which is a soil less mix. I also have watered with strong cold tea to combat the damping off thing. I did purchase the damp off but I didn't like the smell. I only had trouble when I used the coir pots or peat pellets to start seeds in. Are you using them? It's very frustrating when they just get going and then you loose them.

Bye for now
Alberta Ann

Calgary, Canada

I used the MG starter mix for the petunias, but used the ordinary potting soil for the tomatoes.
I add peat and vermiculite to both.

Nice crocus! Ours are late.

Rosemont, ON(Zone 4a)

Ann, I don't know if corn dust tastes sweet to bees, but you could be right!

After some discouraging clouds and snow squalls this morning, the sun broke through in the afternoon. There's still a cold wind, but Crocus tomasinianus is blooming. These crocuses are small, but sturdy, and are gradually increasing in numbers - maybe seeding themselves? - despite being in the shade of a purple-leaved smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria 'Grace') when it leafs out later in the season.

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Rosemont, ON(Zone 4a)

Caroline, Ann, and everyone else reading the thread, I hope you will post pics of your crocuses - and everything else - when spring finally arrives in your gardens!

Calgary, Canada

Yes, we will when it happens!
Dreary day today!
Thank you for sharing your spring flowers.

Rosemont, ON(Zone 4a)

After a "mild" night (3C), Galanthus elwesii finally emerged from a snowdrift. Now, I'm not one of those people who notice every little variation in snowdrop flowers, but I do see that G. elwesii's leaves are broader and more gray than those of G. nivalis. That's assuming that I have the correct labels for both species, of course. At this time of year, most of my labels are strewn willy-nilly across the garden, and it's a process of inspired guesswork to re-unite them with their plants.

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Calgary, Canada

I seldom use labels out in the garden because I keep track in a journal when I plant.
But new plants and seedlings I label.

Rosemont, ON(Zone 4a)

Caroline, do you have a map of the flowerbed in your journal, with the plants pin-pointed on the map? If I was starting my garden record-keeping all over again, that's probably how I'd do it, but I have a lifetime habit of reliance on labels in the garden. I have in recent years begun replacing those short, plastic labels that either shatter, fade, or lift out of the ground. I now use metal labels, and I particularly like the ones with long, wire prongs that anchor them firmly. They still get flattened when a deer or a clumsy gardener steps on them, but can be bent upright again.

I don't keep a garden journal any more, but I do have an alphabetical card index for each plant (full name, from whom & when purchased, where & when sown or planted, when flowered, description of flower, etc., and finally, when died.) It was very useful in the past, when my memory was such that I knew the name of everything I had planted, but these days I find myself paging through the index and hoping to find the name that matches up with the mental image of the plant.

Calgary, Canada

I don't map it . But use identifiers like---"between the Spruce and the Ash" etc.
I know what you mean with the names---I used to have all the names in my mind---Latin name too.
Now I am trying to recall them---and sometimes can't.

Rosemont, ON(Zone 4a)

The only new things up in the garden this morning are the water level and my blood pressure. There was a deluge yesterday afternoon and evening, and so now the ground is saturated, the pond is full of murky brown water, and all the streams and ditches are running strongly. I just checked the weather forecast for the remainder of the week and I could not believe my eyes - it's going to be 16C this afternoon, and then we're supposed to be getting SNOW on Thursday and Friday. No, no, this can't be happening!

Calgary, Canada

Oh dear! That is not good!

Rosemont, ON(Zone 4a)

It's raining again today, but yesterday afternoon there were some sunny spells and Crocus vernus 'Pickwick' briefly managed to open its flowers.

The forecast for tomorrow is horrible - ice pellets, freezing rain, wet snow - yuck!

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Rosemont, ON(Zone 4a)

I put on my waterproof coat and boots for a quick circuit of the garden. Most of it is still above water, but the pond has invaded my plantings in a couple of areas. I was pleased to find Chionodoxa 'Pink Giant' is high and dry, and flowering despite the rain.

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Rosemont, ON(Zone 4a)

This morning, it's more a case of "what's down" than "what's up". The aftermath of yesterday's freezing rain is a garden and pond littered with fallen bits of tree. The beaver is very happy nibbling the bark off all the long, tender willow twigs, but he leaves his dinner table in a mess.

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Edmonton, AB(Zone 3a)

June
Great Photo's.
We just had 4 more inches of Snow and more to come this weekend. Oh boy! Will be a bit before our "first" up are UP.
Alberta Ann

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