Monday, July 30, 2012

Borglum's Iris Gardens

Borglum's Iris Gardens was actually one of the first places we visited when we arrived in New York.  We left the airport, had lunch at my parents, and then headed down to the finger lakes for the wedding rehearsal, stopping along the way. 

When we arrived we were greeted by Sylvia and got a quick tour of the property.  July isn't really the right time of year to visit, but I can imagine (and have seen some pictures on their website) of what spring looks like.  They have fields and fields of iris.  They also have display gardens, a bunch of peonies ( 200 named cultivars according to their website), some daylilies, and a large hosta collection. 

Unlike Grace Gardens, Borglums has areas of plants that are for sale, some that are for display, and some that are growing for future sale.   We visited with Dana and Sylvia Borglum in the shade (since it was pretty hot) until we had to leave to get changed for the wedding rehersal.

We made a second trip after the wedding on our way back to my parent's house.  We picked up a few  Supria Iris and a few hostas for my parents.  This little lady followed us around during our plant buying visit.

The hostas have already been planted in New York and the Iris have been potted up in Texas.  Hopefully we'll be up in New York in the spring at some point and visit again and see Borglum's Iris Gardens at it's peak!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Finally: Dividing Hostas

I started this ponst back in June and never published it....a quick lesson on how to divide up hostas, or any perennial for that matter.

There are a few different ways you can create new plants.  Planting seeds is an obvious one, as is propagating from cuttings or layering branches.  Another easy way to increase your plant numbers is by dividing your plants.  When we bought the new hostas for the shade tropical garden we did some dividing before we planted them. Diving plants can seem a little brutal at first, but really is easy.

When you are picking out a plant you want to divide, you want to try and get a really full, healthy looking plant that is able to be propagated through division.  Some plants can be divided and other don't really like this rough treatment..

Once you get your plant home, you will need to take it out of the pot and examine the structure of the plant.  You need to decide how many time you want to divide it and where you are going to make your cuts.  The goal is to end up with leaves and roots in each division, so you need to do a little pre-planning.  Lots of times you can see natural places to divide where the different "tuffs" of foliage come out of the ground.

Once you decide where the dividing line is going to be, it is time to cut the plant.  You can use a sharp shovel of some type of a knife.

Now you will have two plants.  If you want to divide them further, go ahead.  I can remember and have helped my parents divide hostas down to almost one leaf.  I didn't go this extreme, and divided each of the hostas into about 3-4 plants.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Grace Gardens

One of the nurseries we visited in NY was called Grace Gardens, located between Genvea and Penn Yan.  Like many of our gardening adventures we read about this nursery in a book.  In this case, The Adventurous Gardener by Ruah Donnelly.

 They have a 4 acre daylily display garden with over 2,000 different daylily cultivars.  

Lots of the flowers were amazing.

Dallas Star

David Kirchhoff

Peppermint Lady

When we first got there we were a little confused on whether any of the dayliles were for sale.  As it turns out, Grace Gardens actually digs daylily fans out of their display.  You walk through the garden and take notes on what you like.  Then you look through the price list and see if what you want is available (some are display only).  We bought some dayliles to bring back home with us.  Here are a few of the daylilies we brough back with us.

Notify Ground Crew (This daylily can get up to 72 inches tall!!)

Seneca Brave

Sweet Seneca Butterflies (a cultivar by Kathy Rood, one of the owners)

Judge Roy Bean

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A Trip Up North

Last week we got leave the Texas heat and head up to New York for my sister's wedding.  It was pretty hot there too, so while we didn't really get to cool off, we did have a great time (and managed to fit in some Horticulture tourism).  The wedding was at Glenora Wine Cellers

The whole wedding was great.  The food, music, cupcakes, etc.  The ceremony took place on the hill overlooking Seneca Lake. Check out the view!

After the wedding we went to stay with my parents.  They have been doing a lot of work on their garden the last few years and this was the first time I had gotten to see it in the summer (Somehow you don't get the whole picture in December when the garden in question is located in western New York).

The fish pond had to be redone due to a leak.  Not surprising since it was installed when I was in Middle School. I think it may have been the project that started the garden rehab.

My mom LOVES hostas.  They are featured heavily in the backyard.  It's shady there and since they had some tree work done that opened up the canopy, they have been growing like crazy.  It was mentioned that they were blooming really well this year.

 Here's another view of the backyard.  Lots of hostas, ferns and shade lovers.

They also had a lot of work done in the front yard.  The landscape that was put in when the house was built was getting really overgrown and the timber retaining wall was rotting away.  It was time for a change.  I have been able to see all the new hardscape work when I've been up in the winter, but it was great seeing all of the plants!

I'll tell a little bit about the interesting nurseries we visited on our trip latter on.  It's good to be back in Texas, even if we near record breaking temperatures yesterday.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Plants I Want: Eucomis

As I like to say when we are plant shopping, or visiting a garden, or just driving by something that strikes my fancy...

My garden would really benefit from the addition of this case a Eucomis.

Eucomis (also known as the pineapple lily) are native to South Africa and like sun-part sun.  This one is Eucomis comosa in the Dallas Arboretum's Trial Gardens.  I love it's shiny, strap-like leaves and it's cute little pineapple like flower spike.  There are a number of different types of Eucomis that have different colored foliage and flower spikes.

Right now we don't really have a full-sun garden where this plant would fit with the look, but I'm thinking that maybe one would work on the sunny edge of our new shade tropical garden.  That would probably qualify as part sun.  Hopefully I'll find at least one to try out in our shopping adventures.

Friday, July 13, 2012


When most people talk about gardening, they talk about flowers.  Foliage can be just as fabulous as the flowers are in your garden.

It can add lots of color...

or stripes...

 or even spots...

and different textures.

What is adding interest to your garden besides the flowers?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Gangs All Here

 A few folks have asked about our flock of chickens.

We have a mixed flock currently consisting of twelve adult hens and five pullet.  Here is the run down of our current birds: 4- Polish (a Gold Laced, two Buff Laced and a Splash), 3- Mille Fleur d'Uccle and Easter Egger Crosses, 2- Australorps, 3- Easter Eggers, 2- Silver Laced Wyandottes, 1- Blue Orpington, 1- Barred Plymouth Rock, and 1- Barnevelder.

Australorp, Easter Egger, Mille Fleur d'Uccle Easter Egger Crosses, Blue Orpington, Silver Laced Wyandotte, and Gold Laced Polish   
They live a comfortable life in the backyard in their coop/run.  We were lucky and our house can with a gigantic three bay shed.  We use the first bay as a shed,created a coop with nesting boxes in the second, and opened up the third as a chicken run.  We have also build an additional chicken run onto the front of the coop.  It's a great set-up that allows us to isolate the two runs.  Right now the babies and in the front coop and the adults are in the back coop.  Once everyone is about the same size we'll begin introducing the ladies to each other.

Our nesting boxes

We keep chickens for a few reasons.  Like many folks who keep backyard chickens, we like the fresh eggs (as do our friends, families and coworkers). Our egg production fluctuates throughout the year.  At peak times (spring and early fall) we will get between 4-8 eggs/day.  During the winter we get about 2/day and in the heat of the summer we typically get 2-4/day.  A chicken will lay 3-6 eggs per week for about the first two years, then she'll slow down.  We have plenty to eat ourselves and plenty to share with others.

Eggs still in the nesting box

The other reason we keep chickens is the fun factor.  Our chickens will chase each other all over the yard trying to steal bugs and treats from each other. They are funny little things that provide LOTS of entertainment as well as a sort of living art to the garden. 

When we were looking for a house to buy, we made sure to pick one that would allow us to have a backyard flock.  (I'm sure our real estate agent thought he was dealing with crazy folks.)  We really enjoy our chickens and have been known to encourage other to start a flock of their own.

Do you have backyard chickens in your garden? 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Tomato Pie

This weekend I set off to use up some of the tomatoes I have piling up in the kitchen.  I sort of went rouge, not really following any recipe in particular.

It was easy to make, mostly due to the frozen pie crust I already had in the freezer.  I just sliced up three tomatoes, lightly salted them and then let them drain in a colander for about half an hour.  I hoped that this would help keep the pie from being too wet.  One they were a little less juicy, I layered them in the pie crust with mozzarella (8 oz total), some fresh basil, and a bit of minced garlic.

Then I baked it at 375 degrees for thirty-five minutes and it came out of the oven looking pretty good.  They would say "golden brown and delicious" if we were on the food network.  The plan is to bring it for lunch this week. 

So far the plan is working out great.  Tastes great.  Not too watery.  Re-heats in the microwave at work fabulously. 

What are you cooking from your garden.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Street Side

 We have started to work on the strip of land between our fence and one of the streets our house sits on.  This is a pretty narrow strip that we hated to mow, so we have expanded the garden from the other side of the fence right to the curb.  Basically, we have eliminated all of the grass on this side of the house. 

Here is a little before picture to show what we've done.  This is a picture that is from when we first moved in, so the rose hedge is missing from the front of the house, as is the shrub border that is inside the fence on the north side of the house.

Amazingly we didn't buy much specifically for this project.  A lot of the plants were label-less plants from work that couldn't be used due to their unknown cultivar names and the rest were either seeds we started ourselves or rock bottom clearance deals that we bought with no plan.

Echinacea purpurea unknown cultivar

Physostegia virginiana

Verbena bonariensis

Unknown Lantana

We also have some hearty aloes, variegated junipers, a bunch of different cultivars of Echinacea, a few types of Lantana, some Mexican Feather Grass, as well as the tropical milkweed I purchased earlier this year.  It is a work in progress and we will continue to add things as we go along.  We're trying to focus on plants that are good for pollinators/butterflies and that can handle the harsh conditions right along the street.  Since this is so close to the street and receives a lot of reflected heat/light there will be some things that just don't make it.

We're okay with this, after an entire garden can't be fussy and labor intensive.