Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Hallelujah! Hollyhocks 2017

It's July 2017, and finally, blooming Hollyhocks! What a long road. In 2015, I started seeds in peat pots in early summer. Come early fall, I transplanted the seedlings to their permanent spot in my back corner garden.
 My tiny sprouts were still hanging on in March 2016, but by June the slugs had gotten to most of them. A few of my young hollyhocks survived, just barely. I was so frustrated, but I babied them for the rest of that summer. Slug bait had become my best friend right through fall. 
May 18, 2017 ... just look at my little patch of remaining hollyhocks! Slug bait and I are still best friends. 
Oh, no! Mid-June and now dreaded Cabbage Worms were attacking my babies! Like an overly protective mother, I painstakingly examined every inch of the leaves on my two growing stalks. Luckily, I only found a few of the little chewing monsters. I quickly picked them off and gleefully drowned them!
I kept up the slug bait and my Hollyhocks continued to thrive! July 5th, and the plants are now about 5 feet tall.
 Nearing mid-July and buds have formed all along the stalks from top 
to bottom. Hollyhocks are such strange looking plants.  Jack & The Beanstalk comes to mind ....
July 14th and ...  color! I didn't remember what color the flowers were supposed to be since I hadn't keep the original seed packet. 
Love the color! Now, a bit later in the day and more petals and color showing.
          Ta-Da!  What a beautiful lady!  And the parade continues on ....
It took quite awhile to have these darlings finally growing and blooming in my garden, but it was so worth the wait!

Flowers always make me ... smile.  jr

Thursday, July 13, 2017

July Hits & Misses In My Pocono Mountain Garden 2017

What's going on in the Poconos in mid-July you might ask? Not much. For weeks, the weather has been stuck in a holding pattern of ... cool, on and off rain, cloudy,  sometimes T Storms, and occasional glimpses of sunshine.  For the most part it's been ... blah. Yet, there have been some bright spots in the garden.
The Astilbes don't mind the coolness or the rain. Along the back of my front deck garden, I have a white astilbe flanked on both sides by dark red ones. 
By the street side garden, the Bleeding Hearts in the back of the bed are now waning as spring has turned into full summer.

 On the plus side, the catmint plants in the foreground are blooming well.  I guess there's been enough sun to keep them happy. A year ago, I originally started off with the one plant on the right. Early this spring I divided some of it to make another 2 plants.  I'm not surprised about the small size of the plant in the center, but didn't expect the the one of the left to grow as large as it has in such a short amount of time. About 2 weeks ago, I  also decided to do a bit of layering with the larger plant. Hopefully, by late summer or early fall, I'll have 4 more little starter plants to tuck in here and there. 
The perennial tall, purple Phlox are finally starting to show color. I wasn't even sure if they were going to come back this year. I bought them last summer on clearance at Lowe's. I'm sure you know how clearance plants go. I was happily surprised when I saw the new growth coming up in the spring.  
My one and only Hollyhock plant has buds! I've tried for 4 years to grow Hollyhocks. Every year was a bust. I started out with about 5 plants grown from seeds and ... Nada. Sometimes, I would find huge holes in the leaves. The plant would eventually wither and die. Other times ... something would strip the plants bare. No leaves, no buds, no flowers. A skeleton. Sick plant equals ... dead plant. Even more mystifying would be plants with no leaf damage whatsoever, but the plants would be knocked down with broken stalks. Go figure.
Whatever. This year, though, I have one healthy plant (to the left in the photo) and it's about 5 -6 feet tall! With buds! I have it in my little back corner garden surrounded by fencing and make-shift barricades. Reason for defending the garden like it was Fort Knox? Lots of groundhogs this year. Oh, almost forgot. I did find one large Cabbage worm ( at least 2 inches long) on my one and only hollyhock about 2 weeks ago. Picked that sucker off pronto and drowned it! I've since been checking my one determined plant for any kind of problems, and so far so good.

One thing that the fickle weather really hasn't effected is the Wildlife.
New fawns are showing off their spots and sometimes can be found resting in a shady part of my yard.
No, I don't have Ospreys in my yard!  These 2 birds are the new fledglings for this summer season at the Osprey platform in Hawley, PA. They are so interesting and fun to watch.
Can't forget to mention crafts to use in the garden.  Seashells and dried 
or silk flowers look lovely together. Originally, I had tried using live plants in the seashells, but the plants didn't do well.
I recently filled these tiny clay flowerpots with silk flowers to use in my Fairy Garden.

When my summer gardens finally take off I'll be back to post more pics!

Happy Gardening to all!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

What's Blooming In My Pocono Mountain Garden In Mid-June 2017

Can't believe it's already mid-June. My gardens are still in Spring mode. Could be the cool somewhat rainy weather we've had for quite awhile. None the less ... flowers are popping!
My Blush Nymph Peonies are beautiful this year. I bought them 5 years ago as bare roots from Walmart. Part of the proceeds went to the Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. They hold a special place in my heart since I am a new breast cancer survivor myself.  
Siberian Iris is also on my hit parade. I love purples and lavenders. This Siberian Iris is such a pretty shade of bluish-purple. Have no idea what variety they are! They are not flowering as much as they used to. Think it's time to divide them.
Bearded Iris are new to me although this small clump as been in my garden for 5 years. They just never bloomed. This is the first year they have ever flowered for me! The only difference this year is that I amended the soil they're planted in, fed them, and watered them more. I just love them! Definitely going to plant more next year.
My little red mini rose bushes are doing great! I bought them years ago on clearance (paid $1.50 for 6 scraggly little bushes) after Valentine's Day. I lost 3, but do have 3 healthy bushes planted in a very large flower pot that I over-winter in my garage. This is their fourth year and they come back stronger and just as pretty as ever.
I love Walker's Low Catmint! Started out with 1 small bush a few years ago. Wish I had bought more at the time. My original bush is now almost 4 feet high and wide. Love it! I did take cuttings from it and have 2 smaller bushes coming along nicely. 
This year my hubby and I decided to make a special garden. We both love and admire, The Blessed Mother Mary, and decided make a small garden just for her. This little rock garden was already existing, so we added a bit more rocks, planted some patches of white alyssum, and then added 2 solar lights. We placed our statue of Mary in the center of the garden where she faces the front of our house. It looks so pretty at night with the soft lights shining on her. 

Life has its joys and its sorrows.  I have learned to appreciate each and every day ....

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A Pocono Mountain Girl Goes To Florida 2017

Vacation!  You plan. Time goes by ... And VOILA! The day finally comes and you're on a plane. For hubby & me, our destination is southwest Florida. We have kids and grandkids to see! We left PA with temps in the mid-seventies. We arrived in Florida and ... into 90 degrees!  Couldn't wait to get the AC cranking in our rental car. Things are still beautiful though.
                                                                Palm trees
                                                       Tropical flowers
                                                          Beautiful sunsets
                                                     Beautiful shorelines
                                                          Exotic birds
                                                         A quarter-moon
              And a Fishing pier.  But the best part is being with

Monday, April 24, 2017

Five Annual Flowers That Don't Mind Pocono Mountain Frosty Springs

April in the Poconos can be very unpredictable. One day it's 70 degrees, and the next day we could have a dusting of snow. Right now many nurseries and big box stores in my neck of the woods are stocking their shelves with all kinds of annuals and perennials. Since I have been bitten by the "planting bug", I have to choose wisely. So, let me tell you about some annuals that don't mind a little chill.

 Sweet Alyssum. If you haven't grown it, it is a lovely little plant. It can easily spread a foot wide and anywhere from 3 to 8 inches tall depending on the variety. It likes the sun, but will tolerate some shade. It also is very drought tolerant as well. And it smells ... heavenly.  It comes in shades of white, pink, and lavender. And the biggest plus for me? Nothing eats it! Not deer, slugs, groundhogs, or squirrels. 

Calendula. Also known as Pot Marigold, it is a pretty flower with bright yellow or orange petals. It tolerates full sun to shade and grows 1 to 3 feet in height. Its petals can be added to soups, stews, and salads giving the dishes a slightly spicy taste.

Pansies are an early Spring staple here in the Poconos. They come in a multitude of bright colors. They grow 4 to 8 inches in height and and 8 - 12 inches in width.They absolutely love the cool weather and grow best in full sun or light shade. They will bloom brightly right into Summer before they need to rest. Shear them back, or deadhead them then, and they often return for a second flush of flowers in the Fall. 

Petunias? Yes, Petunias. They love to bask in the sun, but also do well in partial shade. They won't survive hard freezes, but are considered cold tolerant to temperatures hovering around 39 degrees. They come in a variety of types and sizes.

Snapdragons. They love sun, but do their best when temperatures are cooler. The come in an array of colors and sizes. I happen to love the dwarf varieties. Keep them well watered and pinched back  and they will continue to bloom right into Summer.