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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Do you do Annuals?

This morning was nice and cloudy so I grabbed my camera and headed out in hopes of shooting hundreds of photos. As it turns out the day quickly cleared up and become a spectacular late summer day. Wonderful for all the people spending time outdoors but too sunny to continue my photo tour.

Still, I managed to get a few good shots in that first hour.

We are lucky to be surrounded with charming villages. This time of year the annual plantings are really hitting their stride.

How do you like this photo of the pink petunias, blue scaevola and the amazing yellow tropical Hibiscus?

Here you can see the full planting in front of the Cold Spring Harbor Fire House Museum. Ever since I was a little girl my mom would bring me to Cold Spring Harbor during the holidays. It's as charming as any town can get.

Here's the simple planting of petunias and scaevola. How simple and yet how delightful they look spilling out of the stone walled bed.

Up close you can see how neat and clean the Scaevola is. The Petunias had dead blooms that needed to be pinched off but the Scaevola was just perfect.

Across the street I found the same pink petunias planted in a whiskey barrel full of ribbon grass. Another simple yet affective combination. I also found another beautiful planting across the street but that is going to be my next post.

If you know of a spot with great annuals on Long Island, let me know as I need to take more photos.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Who's that sleeping in my bed?

Out early with camera in hand on an overcast morning, this is what I found...

Sedum 'Matrona' has been growing in this upside down birdbath base for three years now. It's just beginning to bloom.

Thought I would take a photo of the bloom from the top when my eye spied something through the view finder (yes, I use the view finder, not the screen on the back of the camera).

Look who I found fast asleep in my bed of 'Matrona'! Bzzzzzz, dreaming of pollen, bzzzzzzzz.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Egyptian Onions aka the "walking onion"

There's a perennial plant in my garden that is way cool but for some reason I have the lousiest photos of it. It's nickname around here is the Egyptian onion, I've also heard it called the walking onion.

When I searched google for the botanical name I came up with Allium cepa yet as I continued to search that name, it seems to cover all common onions and this onion is not common at all.

One thing I found out while looking up Egyptian onions is that they are rarely offered for sale. If you want one you need to find a local gardener willing to part with some. One site recommended visiting local garden club sales in hopes of finding them.

Egyptian onions are a wonderful addition to the garden. They are extremely well behaved, they don't wander here and there like the onion grass that plagues so many people. The nickname walking onion comes from their trait of growing little bulblets at the top of the stalk. These bulbs grow larger until they become too heavy for the stalk to hold upright. At that time the stalk bends down until the bulbs are on the ground where they root and begin a new plant.

I wish I had taken some real photos of my Egyptian onions. Instead, I searched through my files and these photos are all crops taken from larger shots.

This weekend I spent a few minutes gathering up all the tops that had bent down. They are just about to start rooting and I decided that I would pot some up for fall sales plus put a few in the garden where I want to add the wonderful spikey structure of the stalks.

All parts of the Egyptian onion are edible, there is an onion bulb at the base, onion foliage that can be cut as you would cut chives and even these little bulbs from the top can be pickled or used in your various recipes.

I found a recipe online for Butternut Squash soup with Egyptian Onions. Since I love butternut squash soup, I have to admit that my mouth waters every time I look at the photo. If you want to take a peek, click here on Waldeneffect to see the recipe.

Want some onions for your own garden? I'll have them for sale in a week or two. Right now I'm planning on opening for the month of September beginning on Saturday Sept. 5th. Stay tuned for more news.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Begonia grandis

Today's perennial spotlight is on a wonderful plant for late summer into fall. Begonia grandis is more commonly known as the hardy begonia. Yes, it's a begonia and yes, it's a perennial here in my zone 6b garden on Long Island.

My perennial begonias are just starting to bloom now, they will continue to bloom until we have a frost, even prettier than the blooms are the wonderful seed pods that follow. I was sure I had a photo of them in my files but just spent 10 minutes looking and couldn't find one. (Note to self, start organizing those thousands of photos so you can find things!)

Here's a closer shot of the blooms, I'd like to take some more photos but right now we are experiencing strange weather. The sun is shining and casting shadows and it's raining at the same time, very odd...

Anyway, as you can see here, the blooms are typical for a begonia. What's even more exciting about this plant is that the underside of the leaves are more beautiful than the topside. They have the most beautiful red veining and when the wind catches them and them moves them about you can see their true value.

Here's one of the combinations I have in the garden, the hardy begonia and the very late daylily 'Royal Jestor'.

Those of you who read my posts often will know that my favorite garden tip is that if you want your garden to bloom through many seasons, you need to shop for plants through many seasons. Some plants just wouldn't sell in early spring, certainly the case for this begonia as it doesn't emerge from the ground until at least late May and doesn't look like anything in the pot until June.

The good news though is that it seems to be quite easy to transplant if you move it in June. This year I only had three or four for sale, next year I plan on having more. I've been moving it to different locations and if you leave those lovely seed heads alone, they will scatter a few seedlings around for you. One word of caution, leave yourself a reminder in spots where you've planted this beauty, otherwise you might disturb the area while in the frenzy of early spring gardening.

Over the next few weeks I'll try to get more photos as the seed pods emerge.

Off to see what's blooming today,

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mint, perennially yours...

No, this is not a very glamorous photo. I always try to select the best shot and put it up first so I catch your eye. Today's topic though doesn't really call for beautiful photos, if only I could send this to you in smell-a-vision :-)

This little bed is under a red maple tree on the far side of my pool. It was the only bed that was here when we moved in 13 years ago. Pretty funny, 1.3 acres of amazing property, one bed, maybe 8 feet across. In this bed was the oddest collection of plants, there was mint, chives and dicentra eximia (old fashioned bleeding heart), that's about it. It is shaded most of the day, only getting sun in the late afternoon.

The chives were taken out years ago, up until this spring it was filled with mint in the front and Polygonatum (solomon's seal) in the back. The Solomon's seal was dug and sold so now the mint has plenty of room to roam.

All together I have 5 different mints in my garden but there are still more varieties available. The leaf you see with the white edge is Mentha suaveolens 'variegata' or more commonly known as Pineapple mint. Just to the right of it is the unknown variety of mint I found under the red maple tree.

Mints can be agressive growers in the right conditions. They prefer some shade and damp soil and will run around like crazy if you plant them in those conditions. Still, when using mint in your kitchen, you will need large quantities so it really doesn't hurt to have a large planting of mint.

In this pot is spearmint. I've found that mint overwinters very well in plastic pots so if you don't want to take the chance and plant it in your garden, leave it in pots that won't shatter over the winter and you will have it again next year.

I could put up lots of photos of the mints in my garden but they all would look pretty much the same. The peppermint looks just like the spearmint and I make sure I keep a label with them so I can tell them apart. Of course if you pinch a leaf you will smell the difference. Just like life savers, there's a big difference between peppermint and spearmint (give me the peppermint please).

This last photo actually shows Melissa officinalis (common Lemon Balm) which is in the mint family. Quite a few plants are related to mint, they all smell wonderful to me.

There's many ways to use your mint. One easy way is to cut a bunch of stems, pluck off the leaves, boil water and let them steep for 20 minutes, strain the water into ice-cube trays and freeze. Add these mint flavored ice cubes to your summer drinks, if you really want to be fancy, slip a slice of lemon or lime or even a raspberry in the tray before freezing and your guests will think you are amazing!

Today or tomorrow I'm heading out to the Peconic river herb farm, I think I need to add to my mint collection. I'm just watching the weather as ideally I'd like some cloud cover when I head out there so I can take some photos to share with all of you.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Back to Business!

Just have to share some good news with all of you. Melanie's Perennials will be back in business!!!

I'll be in this location for two more years and have been thinking of all kinds of ideas for future lectures and sales. This fall I'd like to hold some classes here in the garden. Topics such as how to make cut flower arrangements from your own garden, making flavored oils and vinegars using garden herbs, fall division of perennials, planting bulbs for spring beauty and more.

As the weather cools down I will be able to get out there and really attack the garden.

The next few days are packed solid with meetings and appointments but I will be bringing my camera with me and will be looking for hot summer perennials to showcase here.

Oh, I almost forgot, the photo is a huge bloom on one of my pumpkin plants (thanks to my neighbor Cynthia). Can't wait to see if there will be some pumpkins growing!


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Writer's Block?

Most of my posts center around the flowers in my garden. Some are geared towards design others point out individual plant favorites. Every now and then I add in a photography post although I'm always quick to point out that I'm not a "professional" photographer.

The past week I have had to force myself to sit here and think about something to write. Is it writer's block? No, I don't think so. Writer's block is something that probably would never happen to me. Give me a keyboard and stand back, I'll type circles around you before you know what hit you.

This is Calie-the-wonderdoodle-dog watching me out the living room window this afternoon.

People often think Calie is little, in real life she is 70 pounds and incredibly strong. Of course right now you'd think she's just a big mush, she's just fooling you though.

On one of the garden lists that I write to, I posted that I feel like my life is like a roller-coaster ride. Now I have to admit, I love roller-coasters! Strap me in, flip me upside down, throw me around a curve and drop me down a peak, I'm in heaven the whole way. Sometimes though I think I've just gotten used to the ride when a whoosh, the car turns around and I'm heading backwards around the bend. Quite the opposite of the look on Calie's face here.

My posts might be a bit erratic over the next few weeks but they will get back to normal. As always there is light at the end of the tunnel. Calie might look bored to tears but if you just turn around, you'll see that she actually has the most amazing view just in front of her.

So my advice to you (and to me too) is if you don't like the view, strap on that safety belt and turn around. You might be surprised at how different things suddenly look.