27 August 2009
21 August 2009
So I'm here to tell you, my creation is alive! It's Alive! Alive, I say! Mwuahahahahahahahah!
The Poinsettia bud I grafted onto a standard stem 'took'! I hadn't seen it since that fateful day when I ever so gingerly sliced and diced a bud from one species and slipped it into the stem of another, swaddled it in paraffin and entreated it to grow, dammit! Well, grow, dammit, it did!
My botanical legacy. Pretty darn cool!
Now all I need is a fiendish little lab assistant and my standing as evil plant scientist will be complete!
20 August 2009
My container garden needs a little fluffing up for fall; the patio tomatoes are done and their space needs to be filled so I threw in a couple of the Coleus that I propagated during my time in Greenhouse Production. Since I've got enough Pansies left over from my Greenhouse Management project I'll pop them in when they're big enough.
Probably my favorite part of the container is the Salvia discolor, which I grew in my garden in LA. Back there it would have started blooming in the spring and wouldn't stop. Here, it didn't start blooming until a few weeks ago. In LA, the Black Sage went from a 4" pot to a froth of bloom in a few months. Here, it's still a little spindly and not very full, so I'm eager to see how it overwinters and what it does its second year. Fun stuff, this gardening in another climate!
And then there's the Mina lobata...
See the humming bird? No words needed. I watched the hummer as it flew off and saw this...
The Broom Corn absolutely towers above everything else in the garden! To make it even more spectacular, the seed heads are starting to put on their fall colors. It's awesome!
Over in the northwest quad, the Mexican Hat was having a garden fiesta...
One huge disappointment has been this Tanacetum. My garden in LA had two Tanacetums that I was rather fond of (T. haradjani which looks like a carpet of silver ostrich feathers, and T. 'Beth Chatto' named for the English plantswoman I had the honor of meeting a few years ago). Those Tanacetums thrived on the neglect I lavished upon them. They didn't mind the garden's sandy soil and minimal water, either. Enter the poor Tanacetum in my PA garden, where we've had one of the wettest summers in recent memory. Even though I exercised the same amount of neglect I gave their cousins in LA, the heavier - and wetter - soil here has resulted in a superbly tetchy plant! One of them gave it up altogether and another is thinking about it.
The giant sunflowers are finally starting to aspire to their reputed 12' height (no thanks to the deer nibbling them when they were babies) but they have no hope against the Broom Corn!
18 August 2009
Imagine yourself spending an industrious afternoon mowing a vast expanse of lawn. It's not a bad job. After all, it's a ride-on mower! So there you are minding your own business, mowing away, when you turn a corner and see this:
What lovely Hydrangeas, you say. But what's that dead branch there on the left? Being the conscientious Professional Gardener Student that you are, you decide to take a closer look...
If you were me, you might ask yourself, "What's that turkey doing hanging from the Hydrangea bush?" But you are not me and you know it's not a turkey or any other barnyard fowl, for that matter. You know without a shadow of a doubt it's a swarm of bees!
Here's what happened: the existing hive behind the student greenhouse had gotten a bit cramped for the bees already in residence. When this happens - sometimes a few times a season - the bees within rear a new queen and prepare to swarm. Those who are about to set off and establish a new hive drink as much honey as they can as fuel for the journey. When everyone's ready, they follow the new queen to her chosen destination and set to work building a new home.
In this case, the queen didn't go very far - only about 30-feet from the original hive. Luckily she went toward the student gardens to a shrub that was manageable as far as height. Had she gone toward the woods or into a taller tree, retrieving the swarm would have been much more difficult and dangerous.
Once the pallet and boxes were in place and level, Emma spread a sheet on the ground under the swarm. Now, keep in mind, we in the gallery were standing about 20-30' away. Far enough that the swarming bees took no interest in us but close enough that we could see hundreds - nay, thousands - of them forming a cloud around Emma as she worked, and none of it seemed to phase her. She moved with care but also seemed completely relaxed and confident in what she was about to do. I'm not sure the rest of us would have been so brave.
Once the sheet was spread below the swarm, the branch was lopped off and the whole thing fell onto the sheet. Needless to say, this made the bees a little agitated and the cloud around Emma thickened as they began to flurry around.
Folding up the four corners of the sheet to envelope the branch, she carried it over to the new hive.
Laying the sheet and branch carefully at the hive opening.
The smaller swarm was cut and taken to join their comrades at the hive. Here it is up close, and you can see the bees entering the box.
This was one of those spectacles that you simply had to witness first hand to appreciate. If our adrenaline was pumping - and it was - I can't imagine what was coursing through Emma's veins! In the end, the swarm adopted their new home and now, thanks to Emma's courage and heroism, there are two active hives here on the Row.
Saint John Chrisostum once said, "The bee is more honored than other animals, not because she labors, but because she labors for others". Today I give honor to Emma, who labored for others - not just the bees, but in consideration of the safety of those who live on the Row. Kerry-Ann proclaimed that Emma is the bravest person she's ever known and I have to say I agree.
Bravo, Emma! You're awesome!
09 August 2009
Here it is nestled in a box of onions, also from my garden. While these were grown from transplants started by the Senior PG's, I still had the pleasure of planting them and watching them grow throughout the summer.
Aren't they beautiful!? Do I sound like a proud parent showing off pictures of her kids!? Heck, yeah!
As there is drama in the life of every teenager, so there has been in the garden. Not too long ago a big storm threatened my corn by pushing it over sideways. We're talking completely recumbent, some of it. I tied up what I could and left the rest to their own devices. Lo and behold, a few days later all the stalks had righted themselves and were once again sending their tassels skyward, trying to tickle the sun! My kids! Doesn't it just get you right here *cough*!?
It was the same with the Broom Corn - and now it's towering over everything else in the garden!
Meanwhile, the Turks Turban squash is running around and getting into everything. I had to pull it out of Greg's broccoli with a stern wag of the finger to behave itself. It seems to be playing well with the artichoke so I'll let them mingle for now.
Unfortunately, no amount of crenellation will defend the garden against unseen invaders like blight. Our tomato crops have been decimated by late blight and Phytophthora. The Phytophthora - a water-mold that lives in the soil and is spread in cool, wet weather, kinda like what we've been experiencing (she types confidently, as the rain comes down in sheets outside) - was responsible for the Great Irish Potato Famine in the 1800's and now is tainting our tomatoes. Everyone on the Row who had tomatoes in their garden yanked them out and piled them up on the bonfire. I managed to get one 'Yellow Ruffles' tomato; all the others were goners. And now, let us observe a moment of silence for our friend the tomato...
Speaking of Lepidoptera, that favorite of insect orders, our class in Entomology has illuminated my way of thinking and I now realize there are both good guys and bad guys in this order. This is one of the good guys, Papilio polyxenes, otherwise known as an Eastern Black Swallowtail. He's nibbling happily on my Italian Parsley, which shows what good taste they have. I don't mind the damage they do which is interesting considering both species are eating my crops. So why do I harbor such hatred for one and tolerance for the other? Possibly because one does nothing but leave a trail of destruction in its wake while the other nibbles for a bit then transforms itself into a beautiful pollinator? We gardeners can be so prejudiced, can't we?