Paula's Patch: A Minnesota Garden

Come wander in; my gate is always open! Gardening / Birding

Pretty Perennial: Bee Balm June 10, 2014

I love bee balm and so do my hummingbird visitors. I have a couple of spots with this pretty perennial. Do you have it in your yard?

Read more about this perennial on the American Meadows blog: A Showy, Native Perennial: Bee Balm

 

Force Hyacinth Now for Easter Blooms January 31, 2012

Well I’m about 2 weeks behind getting my hyacinth started so that I’ll have blooms in time for Easter. Ideally bloom time occurs 12-14 weeks after you plant, so I’ll do it today! My hubby has been reminding me for a few weeks now. But I was sure I knew that it was a bit too early; when will I learn that he has a better memory for these things than I? Thanks, DH!

forcing hyacinth bulb | paulasgardenpatch.com | paula bonelli

© Paulla Bonelli

I tested 2 methods last year — planting my bulb in dirt and planting my bulb using the traditional glass vase water method. The vase worked much better ultimately producing a bigger flower with a longer bloom time.

The vases can be hard to find, but last fall I found them online at American Meadows and purchased 3. (P.S. They are on sale for $6.73 right now! That’s more than 1/2 off!!)

If you don’t want to wait for an online order to come, check your big box stores. Although your selection may be limited, they have a supply of bulbs in stock now.

If you have multiples, you can stagger the start time allowing 2 weeks between plantings so that you have a constant parade of blooms. 🙂

A forced bulb makes a really nice gift — give it as a hostess gift for Easter dinner. Everyone loves flowers and hyacinth are particularly fragrant.

Planting instructions (for glass vase method):

  • Fill glass with water to just beneath the bulb’s roots (water should not touch bulb).
  • Place bulb in vase.
  • Place vase in a cool, dark, ventilated space where temps are between 40 and 50 degrees (I put mine in a corner of the basement by an outside wall. I also covered them with a brown bag to be sure they don’t get too much light yet.)
  • Check progress every week and water as necessary.
  • When bud is about 3″ tall (about 10-12 weeks), move vase to a sunny location where temps are between 60 and 70 degrees.
  • Continue to water turning vase regularly to ensure a straight stem (it will grow toward the light source).
  • Enjoy your beautiful blooms and the delicate fragrance of hyacinth!

Do you force bulbs for an early dose of Spring? Have you forced other bulbs? I’d love to hear about your experiences with other types of bulbs!

Read more about forcing hyacinth bulbs indoors — Forcing a Hyacinth Bulb, Forcing a Hyacinth Bulb: Progress Photo, and Forcing a Hyacinth Bulb: Progress Update.


 

Dividing Irises November 16, 2011

Do your irises look like this? Is there a ‘dead’ spot right in the center?

iris, overgrown | paulasgardenpatch.com | paula bonelli

'dead' center of overgrown iris

Time to divide! It’s really simple. Here’s how:

  • Dig up the entire patch of irises by loosening the dirt all around it. If it’s really large, just cut it into sections with your shovel and then lift out the sections. Try not to disturb the roots.
  • Using a knife or sharp spade, divide the clump into workable sections no larger than 6″. Sometimes you can even accomplish this by pulling them apart with your hands; just depends on how overgrown they are.
  • Using a pruners, cut off all the dead, odd-shaped and overgrown rhizomes and discard.
  • Re-plant your newly pruned and separated clumps. Maintain the same planting depth as before. If you have singles, just put a few together in a hole.
  • Water well until ground freezes and through the first blooming season.

This method works well for most perennials. If you have more than you need, share with a friend! I love having specials blooms in my yard from dear friends or family. Reminds me of them. 🙂

What flowers do you have that were from others’ gardens?

Related posts:  Flower Photo Gallery | New Plants for 2011 | Fall Bulbs

 

Household Garden Remedies for Unwanted Critters November 7, 2011

This time of year has me thinking about how to keep the squirrels from digging all the bulbs I just planted, and how to keep my shrubs and trees protected from rabbits when it snows.

My husband and I have tried any number of things to keep them both out of our yard. Some have been successful, like live trapping. This has significantly cut down on our squirrel population. While it’s had some impact on our rabbit population, they are less likely to go into the trap. See below for a trick to try with pet hair.

We will be putting 4-foot high chicken wire (ugly?!) around our vulnerable shrubs and trees before it snows to protect them from being rabbit meals come winter. And I’ve been sprinkling garlic powder around the areas I don’t want the squirrels digging. Cayenne pepper works too.

Jerry Baker, master gardener, is the king at providing natural solutions for all kinds of garden and household problems.

Try these solutions, made from common household items, to help keep rodents and deer out of your garden.

For rabbits:

rabbit image | paula bonelli | paulasgardenpatch.com

image courtesy of office.microsoft.com

  • Pet hair in old pantyhose – fill old hose with pet hair and hang in various parts of your garden.
  • Hot sauce mixture – mix 2 ounces of hot sauce with 6 ounces of water. Spray on and around the plants you want to protect.

For squirrels:

  • Cayenne pepper mixture – mix 2 tablespoons of cayenne pepper and 1 tablespoon of dish soap into 1 quart of water. Spray around problem areas.
  • Garlic powder – sprinkle around problem areas.

For gophers, voles and moles:

  • Ammonia-soaked dryer sheets – place them in the tunnels, seal the hole and they’ll scram!
  • Castor oil and soap mixture – mix 1/2 cup of castor oil and 1/2 cup of dishwashing liquid in a 20-gallon sprayer. Saturate the area around trees and shrubs in affected area(s).

For deer:

  • Rotten egg mixture – pureé 2 raw eggs, 2 cups of water, 1-4 cloves of garlic, and 2 tablespoons of hot sauce. Allow to sit covered for several days (preferably outside of the house!), and sprinkle or pour over vulnerable plants.
  • Scented soap – put scented soap in old pantyhose and hang in deer-troubled areas.

What pests are you trying to keep out of your garden? Got any natural solutions you can share?

 

Still Blooming… October 11, 2011

During the last few days of warmth, my morning glory is still blooming. It’s only a blossom or two and the foliage looks pathetic, but you can’t beat the hardiness of this fast-growing vine. It’s easily started from seed, thrives in a sunny spot and may even reseed the following year.

morning glory

morning glory

I’ve got mine in a planter climbing up from the deck to our second-story balcony. It does much better directly in the ground; my neighbors is a true violet color, is still lush, green and loaded with blossoms! Jealous. 🙂

Did you know they are considered a noxious weed in Arizona and it’s against the law to grow them?! Glad that’s not the case here in MN. It’s the ideal annual for our short growing season reaching heights of 15-20 feet, has lots of showy blossoms and is nearly disease/pest resistant.

What’s still blooming in your garden?

This week I’ll be re-potting some of my succulents and tender plants so I can bring them indoors for the winter.  I usually use pots I can hang or medium-sized pots I can set near windows. This year I think I have more to bring in than usual. I might have to get a tiered plant stand or  shelf unit.

If you’re in Minnesota, you’ll want to get your tender plants in this week. Our overnight temps in the next few days will dip into the 40’s or possibly the upper 30’s. Goodbye summer… 😦

 

Garlic Chives October 4, 2011

I love this late-blooming herb. Garlic chive (allium tuberosum) is in the onion family and can be started from seed quite effortlessly. It looks very much like a regular chive, but the greens are flatter and wonderfully fragrant (but then I love the smell of garlic!). Since it blooms in late-summer, I can enjoy the white blossoms when most of my other flowers are done blooming.

But more than just enjoying the look and smell in my garden, garlic chive is a flavorful addition to any dish you’d normally use garlic in. Try it raw in a salad or added to a one-pot supper for extra fresh flavor.

It would make a nice potted herb since it’s easy to grow and this would help keep it contained. It spreads easily, so I aggressively thin out the new seedlings that seem to have feet everywhere! You can help contain it if you don’t let the blossoms go to seed or border it so it doesn’t creep into neighboring plant spaces.

I have so much, I often snip it while it’s blooming, bundle tie the greens together with a bit of twine and hang them decoratively in my kitchen or back porch.

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Do you have of allium in your yard? What variety(ies)?

Related posts:

Garlic Chives

Growing Allium

 

Rose of Sharon September 26, 2011

Rose of Sharon is my new favorite flowering shrub. I received a seedling from my Aunt last fall and stuck it in the ground. I really didn’t think it would survive since it’s Zone 5 hardy. I put it in my side yard against the fence and prayed. 🙂 The shelter between the fence and the house was enough to protect it. If it could survive last winter, I have no doubt it will be a show-stopper!

It’s in the hibiscus family – one of the reasons I like it. I adore the beautiful blossoms. The other reasons? It’s a late-bloomer (Aug-Sep, but mine’s still going strong and it’s nearly Oct!) and it’s easy care, low-maintenance. This shrub can get 8-10′ tall and 4-6′ wide; perfect for what I wanted which is a bit of living fence privacy between yards.

It grew to about 2 feet tall this year and the blooms are plentiful. I’ve tucked it between my flowering honeysuckle vine and a red trumpet vine, all of which I’ll train to a trellis or wire attached to my fence panels. The oodles of blooms I’ll be able to see from my kitchen window will make me smile and the birds will thank me.

(click to enlarge photo)

Do you have a favorite flowering shrub? Share it with me by commenting below (bottom right corner of this post).

 

 
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