Saturday, March 19, 2011

See my Bloomers? AkA What's flowering this week

These are all so gorgeous! It could only be better if they were fragrant too............

Friday, March 18, 2011

If you cut it.... Will it grow?

This early part of spring has been just gorgeous in my little garden by the sea. My camellias have really bloomed a lot thanks in no small part to being snowed on twice this year. They are blooming their little hearts out as we "speak".

I love to cut and root things. It is like an obsession for me. I have no more room in my yard, but I still can't quit. Sometimes I trade plants with other botanically obsessed people, sometimes I list a few for sale, but mostly I just grow them because I cannot not do it. I know that is very strange, but it is like when you know you were born to teach, or be a nurse etc. I was just born to root and grow........... ( that is what I tell myself anyway.)
This week since my camellias are blooming I thought I would post about propagating them. The absolute best time of year is July and August, after the new growth has firmed up a little. I have rooted some through the winter, but it does seem to take much longer that way. I guess the winter makes everything seem to take longer.....( really it does though, most plants go dormant or semi-dormant when the temperatures fall into the 40's).
I cut 2 of my camellias the other day because I wanted to take a few pictures of my method. As usual there are zilliions of different methods, but this one works for me.
Camellia Japonica
1) Take a cutting of firm new growth with a growth bud and about 4 or 6 leaf nodes.  Make sure the cutting has a growth bud on the end. 

2). Remove all but 2 leaves and then cut those 2 in half. This will leave the cutting a reason to put out roots ( it has to feed the leaves) and removing much of the excess will reduce the stress on the cutting and lower the moisture loss due to transpiration. 

3) Dip the end in a rooting hormone ( like root tone or fast root or clone-x) and stick in a prepared pot with at least 2 or three of the leaf nodes under the potting media. 
Cover the cutting with a plastic bag, or recycled cut soda bottle ( ie. ghetto greenhouse) this will help to reduce the moisture loss and keep the humidity high enough for the cutting not to be stressed to it's shriveling point.
Set it in a shaded place where you will keep it watered. I have watched my grandmother do this with a mason jar, but I am using plastic soda bottles and fitting them to the top of the flower pot.

Camellia Sasanqua:

This is basically the same method. The biggest difference is that the leaves on the sasanqua are smaller and the sasanqua can tolerate more sun and tend to be fall blooming instead of spring blooming varieties. Sasanquas also have growth buds all along the stem instead of just at the ends like the Japonicas.

Here is the hardest part. Camellias are not in a hurry to grow or root or flower. Rooting can take as much as 6 months to a year and after they root, they still don't hurry to grow. Thankfully they are very long lived shrubs and once established with provide you with gorgeous flowers in early spring when most other things are just beginning to wake up from a long winter's nap.
Happy Growing!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patricks Day! I'm doing it AGAIN..................

Happy St. Patricks Day!
                           Wear the Green!

The weather this week has been better than fabulous so yes "I'm doing it again!" I am starting seeds. A while back Samantha G asked me to write a post about my baggie method for seed starting.... Here it is:

I soak the seeds first in hot water. Water about the heat that you would hand wash dishes in is fine. Too hot and it can kill the seeds. I sometimes soak them overnight, but I have also soaked them for just about an hour at the time.  These are cat food cups that I have an abundance of and they only have about 1-1.5 ounces of water in them.

I then fill a cheap  ( from the dollar store)quart sized ziplock baggie. 1/3 full with my seed starting mix. ( usually miracle grow potting soil because it is easiest to come by and it is light weight.)
Then I dump the seeds and the water they are soaking in all into the baggie. I seal it up and label it and then put it in a warm spot and wait...........and wait...........and wait...... ( I am not very patient sometimes.)

Most seeds like temperatures in the low 70's-80's for germination and some like light and others dark. Most of the seeds I am planting will take anywhere from 7 days to 2 months to germinate.
I then check on them at least every couple of days. As long as there is condensation in the baggie, there is enough moisture and humidity for them to do just fine. You don't even have to open the bag. When I use quart sized bags and the seedlings reach the top or have at least 2 pairs of true leaves, I know it is time to take them out and transplant them into pots, or their growing spot. Depending on where you grow them, you may need to harden them off for a few days before planting out in full sun.
This week I have started : coneflowers, rudbeckias, stokesia, jasmines, vines, and tons of other things. When they all come up I may need help getting them planted.
There are many many methods of seed starting, but this one works best for me. Since I have started growing in bags, my germination percentages have increased exponentially.
Good Luck.

If you have a way to start seeds that really works well for you, leave me a comment and let me know. I love to experiment.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"Aww, they're just a couple of boys"

Have you ever noticed how your pets seem to act like  children? I was hit with this little bit of personality today when I picked up my camera. I was headed outside to take photos of some camellia blossoms, but when my dog Spud saw me with the camera, he immediately got excited and put on quite a show. His older brother Titus didn't get so excited, but they must have telepathically communicated to each other," hey stick your tongue out when she clicks.".. I'll show you what I mean.........

Spud ( the instigator)

Titus ( The I will if you will... follower)

These two shots actually remind me of some boys I know. They're good boys, they just ham it up for the camera.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tuesday's Tangle

I can honestly say I don't know which part of this weekly challenge was more difficult for me. Actually drawing the zentangle/zendoodle entirely with my non-dominant  left hand  (only created to hold my wedding band and keep me from looking funny) or posting the result here for all to see. Hmmm, that is a tough one. I chatted with my favorite artist, and she even agreed. It would be really hard to do mostly because of being a perfectionist. That part was really hard to over come. I had no idea it was so deeply ingrained in my psyche. I told my son about this challenge and he took great pleasure in explaining that if is wasn't difficult, it wouldn't be a challenge.
So I am going to rise to the challenge. I have drawn  and colored entirely with my left hand and the only thing left to do is to close my eyes and post it before my brain figures out what I am doing and brings my right  hand to a screeching halt.
Challenge # 13" Non-dominatrix"

For a real treat if you have some time, check out Laura Harm's blog and see what so many very talented artists have created this week using only their "non-dominant " hands. She puts together a weekly slide show of everyone's entries too. 
So, if I am drawing with my left hand, does that mean I am in my "right mind"?