Tuesday, July 29, 2008

How to Propagate Hydrangeas, Part I: Taking Cuttings of Sister Theresa

I just planted a hedge of southern magnolias. To cover up the space between each, I thought I would plant more of my favorite hydrangea: Sister Theresa. I love this hydrangea for its large pure white mopheads.

The purity of the white is stunning: it has no of pink or cream. The flowers are quite large and the individual sepals are very big making the blooms more striking. In addition, Sister Theresa performs beautifully in full shade and part shade which makes her a good choice for interplanting in my hedge.
This week I took cuttings from my Sister Theresa of non-blooming wood. I want about seven new plants, so I took two stems. I cut the stems into three or four parts with very sharp pruners.
I trimmed the leaves by cutting half or more of the leaf surface away. The easiest way to do that is to fold the leave at its midrib and cut half off. After which, I cut the stem which will be rooting at an angle and dipped it into rooting hormone.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Garden Bloggers' Design Workshop on Garden Whimsy: Guard Frogs and Garden Names

I missed last month's Garden Bloggers' Design Workshop on Porches and Decks because I was just too busy gardening! This month's Garden Bloggers' Design Workshop at Gardening Gone Wild is Garden Whimsy. The truth is I don't think I have too many whimsical elements in my garden, but then two ideas came to mind: the entrance to the Children's Garden and the names of my garden rooms.

Guard Frogs. Just like the lions Patience and Fortitude that stand at attention in front of the entrance to the New York Public Library, the children placed these two stone frogs in front of the entrance to their garden.

The stone frogs are a couple of inches tall and wide--large enough to notice, but not too large to take away from the plants. Also, they are a representation of an animal we like, as I have prohibited statuary of all garden pests--rabbits, squirrels, etc.

Garden Names. In a prior post, I included a map of my garden. For planning purposes, I name each of the garden rooms, which is not whimsical in and of itself. The whimsy, which is more of an inside joke than an external display, is that the garden rooms have names that are aspirational to a much larger or grander property, such as the Long Border that is not too long, the Great Lawn that is modest in size, and the Walled Garden that lacks a proper wall but is rather made up of stones that I dug up from the beds. While I do take my gardening seriously, it's good not to take it too seriously.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Sweet Bay Magnolia

If you love flowering trees, why limit yourself to the spring blooming varieties? This lovely sweet bay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana) flowers in my zone (6b) in July. It blossoms over long period with fragrant, creamy white flowers. The leaves are beautiful green with grayish white underside that is wonderful in the wind.

The only thing that I haven't liked is that although it is evergreen, by the end of the winter it looks very battered until new leaves push out in late spring. If our climate were a bit warmer the leaves would come through the winter in better condition; or, if our climate was colder the sweet bay magnolia would be deciduous. This spring I moved this magnolia from a more prominent location in the Walled Garden to a less prominent whiskey barrel in the back of the children's playground.

The sweet bay is also sometimes called the swamp magnolia because as well as growing in ordinary garden soil it also grows well in wet soils or swampy areas. It also tolerates shade.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day: Hydrangeas in New Jersey (Zone 6b)

In anticipation of Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day on May Dreams Gardens tomorrow, here are some of the hydrangeas blooming in my garden right now.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Picture of a Spotted Jewelweed or Jewel Weed (Impatiens capensis) Flower

For more information about this beautiful wildflower with an unfortunate name, including its all natural, organic medicinal applications for mosquito bites, poison ivy, etc., check out:


Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Book Worth Talking About: Last Child in the Woods - Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv

First published in 2005 and re-published in 2008, I first heard about Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv from another book, A Child's Garden by Molly Dannenmaier, which I read and enthusiastically reviewed last year. I'm reading it right now and would highly recommend it to anyone with children. From the introduction:

"Within the space of a few decades, the way children understand and experience nature has changed radically...Today, kids are aware of the global threats to the environment--but their physical contact, their intimacy with nature, is fading...

...This book explores the increasing divide between the young and the natural world, and the environmental, social, psychological, and spiritual implications of that change. It also describes the accumulating research that reveals the necessity of contact with nature for healthy child--and adult--development...

...Our society is teaching young people to avoid direct experience in nature. That lesson is delivered in schools, families, even organizations devoted to the outdoors, and codified into the legal and regulatory structures of many of our communities..."

An absurd example of this was written about in today's New York Times in the article "Build a Wiffle Ball Field and Lawyers Will Come," which reports on the local Greenwich, Connecticut backlash against a group of teenagers who turned an empty, town-owned lot into a miniature Fenway Park. The saddest quote comes from Jeff Currivan, 17: “They think we’re a cult...People think we should be home playing ‘Grand Theft Auto.’ ”

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

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