Tuesday, July 30, 2019

An Unexpected Burst of Chocolate!

My indoor-grown 'Chocolate' morning glories (Ipomoea nil) surprised me the last two mornings with new and beautiful blooms! Needless to say, I am delighted!! 😊 These plants were started last November and started blooming the beginning of February. They bloomed faithfully for about 4 months, but have been looking a bit scraggly lately. 
This was taken yesterday morning...notice the buds too! 

I was also pleasantly surprised to find a seedpod hidden among the leaves! I haven't been hand-pollinating at all because I was focusing rather on getting as many blooms as possible, for as long as possible, but now I have decided to hand-pollinate the remaining flowers in hopes of getting a few seeds. 

And this morning I am blessed with 3 flowers! It really made my day and helps to hold me over while all those new seedlings are growing. 😉

If you've never tried growing morning glories indoors, I highly recommend it! They are so easy, so beautiful, and will truly brighten your days! 😊

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Mignonette: A Legend

In the garden grew a flower,
Humbly trailing it was found;
Bent by clustered petals downward
To the damp, cool, shady ground.

Day by day the master spied it,
In its neutral tinted dress,
Called it dull and hateful blossom,
Vowed to ever love it less.

" For," spake he, " 'tis never laden
With the halo of perfume;
'Tis a soulless flower growing
Where bright roses fair should bloom.

" 'Tis a weed that mars the garden,
Plant me flowers rich and rare."
Thus he bade the keeper spade it
From his pathway everywhere.

As he spoke, a light supernal
Filled each corner of the place,
And the master looked and trembled
At the glory of the face.

​Smiling sadly down upon him,
With a look that seemed to say,
- Give this modest little creature
Of God's making leave to stay."

​It was Mary — Virgin Mother --
Like the morning chaste and pure,
Crowned with holy rays from heaven
That his eyes could scarce endure.

Low toward it she inclined her,
Till her lips had touched the plant,
Breathing full upon its petals,
Swaying on the mossy slant.

And the air grew faint with odors,
Sweeter than Arabian spice ;
Then the sainted Mary vanished --
She had kissed the blossom thrice.

Since that time in all the garden
Grows no sweeter thing as yet,
Than the lovely, heaven-born flower,
Than the fragrant mignonette.
                                          — Effie Douglass Putnam.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Morning Glories Again

My first batch of morning glories are coming along well and I am enjoying watching every little change and bit of growth. I don't know what it is, but there is something so fascinating about these plants, even when they are little! They've now started to outgrow their little plastic cups so I just finished transplanting them all into the pots they will grow in. 

Here's my collection so far, with everything potted up except for the Ipomoea pubescens seedlings. The two on the right that have a smaller pot all to themselves are candidates for the Kyoto-style pruning method although ideally, it would probably be better to use a yellow-leaved variety. We'll see how it goes anyway! 😊

'Purple Reverse Tube' is a mutant variety with the most curiously curled leaves! I'm really having fun watching this one!

The first true leaf reminded me of the grinch before it unfolded! 😄

'Red Dragon Leaf'...the color of the hypocotyl often (but not always!) indicates what color the flower will be!

That being said, it will be interesting to see how these 'Kokoah' seedlings turn out. Two of them have dark purple hypocotyls and even purple veining in the cotyledons, while the third is a lighter green with green hypocotyl and even a tiny bit of variegation! 

These 'Sazanami #2' (there's some confusion about the true identity of the variety but that's what most people are calling it!) seedlings are showing some nice variegation in the cotyledons, and will likely have variegated leaves too!

'Star of India'...

Caudex-forming Ipomoea pubescens is already showing a thickening stem! 

Ipomoea transvaalensis has such pretty leaves!

Meanwhile, I've been enjoying some beautiful blooms from the I. purpureas in my garden. This is 'Dilute Joyce Cobb'...

One of the plants has been giving some much darker flowers, and they even change color! Here's the same flower at 7 AM...

And again at 1:30 PM!

I just love these 'Strawberry Flake' blooms! Notice that there are two shades of pink! 

Life with morning glories is so interesting! Soon it will be time to start a few more Ipomoea nil seedlings for blooms all winter long (hopefully!). It's so hard to stop once I get started planting these and I may just have to knock out a few walls and replace them with glass to make room for them all! 😁

Monday, July 22, 2019

In a Vase on Monday: Favorites from the Cottage Garden

So many favorites to choose from this week with summer at its peak! I picked this bouquet on Saturday to present to our new neighbors...

I'm excited to have a nice patch of Mignonette in the seed garden. It smells so nice...I wish now I had planted a lot more in the other gardens too.


Two of my favorite shades in Sweet Williams!

Calendulas are special to me because they were one of the flowers I grew in my first garden 10 years ago. Oddly enough I haven't grown them again until this year, but I think they will be a staple from now on! These are a nice mix of colors ranging from cream to bright yellow to orange.

Lovage made it into this bouquet as well...

And the Valerian which continues to delight with its fragrance. Another wonderful thing about this herb is how long it lasts, and it fades gracefully too.

I'm joining Cathy at Rambling in the Garden again today for IAVOM. Be sure to check out all the beautiful flower arrangements that will be shared from all around the world today! Have a wonderful week! 😊

Friday, July 19, 2019

Putting Comfrey to Use and a Peek at the "Seed Garden"

I have a sort of love-hate relationship with Comfrey. I value it's healing properties and enjoy its beauty during the early part of summer when the huge plants are fresh and the bees are buzzing happily around the pretty purple flowers. But come mid-summer, the plants start to topple over onto whatever I was thoughtless enough to plant directly in front of them in the spring (when they looked so harmless!), they get powdery mildew, and are just plain unsightly! Besides that, the plant is virtually indestructible. The taproot can go down as far as 10 feet, and any stray piece of root will produce another huge plant in no time!

But it is because of this long taproot, which brings up nutrients from deep in the soil, that Comfrey is believed to be an excellent addition to compost. One source I found claims that Comfrey is actually higher in nitrogen and potassium than chicken manure! If true, this is good news to me since having to give away my flock a few years ago. However, I have also read that all this is a myth, so my hopes aren't too high yet. So I've decided to experiment! Yesterday, I cut it all down and decided to use it as a mulch, which I hope will break down and enrich the soil. Comfrey grows extremely fast so I should get one or two more cuttings at least before the summer is over! 

I chopped the leaves and stems to help it break down faster (not to mention making it easier to handle!).

I'm also experimenting with Comfrey tea to use s a liquid fertilizer. For this, I used only the leaves, well chopped. This is supposed to sit for 5-6 weeks and then will be diluted 50:50. It had only been started about 24 hours before this picture was taken and as you can see the leaves are already starting to decompose. It smells nasty too! 

Well, I used most of the Comfrey mulch in my "seed garden", so I thought I'd show you all what's growing there, in hopes of making this post a little more enjoyable! 😊 This garden is still very much a work in progress and I haven't made nearly as much progress on it this year as I'd hoped. Only one half is planted and the other half is under tarps right now to keep down the weeds until I get it prepared for planting.

A view from the other side. The Lovage is at least 7 feet tall, maybe even higher! Next to it on the left is Wormwood, which is about as tall as I am, and then there's Dill which is all self-sown from last year's patch. 

The Castor Beans got off to a slower start this year due to the chilly spring, but they are thriving now and I hope they'll manage to ripen seed again.

The Love-lies-bleeding plants are looking really good...

I'm getting a high percentage of white in my 'Old-fashioned Vining' Petunias this year for some reason. I'm rather puzzled about that as I've been getting a nice mix of colors the last 3 years since I've been saving them, and I saved seed from more than ever last year!

This patch of Mignonette smells soooo good!

And finally, the 'Ball's Improved' Calendulas are starting to bloom and adding some bright color!

Well, I guess that's all for now! I hope you have a lovely day! 😊