Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sunshine sings & pots are planted

The sun is shinning! Hence lack of blogging, I've been out enjoying the long lost vitamin D! Its amazing how good it feels and how productive I can be! One thing I have learnt about living in the "rainiest place on earth" is to truly make the most of the beautiful sun filled days, no sitting around on days like these, there's sun to be soaked up. How better to make the most of these gorgeous sunny days than visiting a few local nurseries!
Aster, Geranuims and dwarf vine pelagonium all in shades of purples and whites...ahh happy pot! (notice the bird seed (see previous post) all over the patio, I guess 10lbs takes a while for the birds to get through) This is one of my favorite pots, last year it held a beautiful lemon scented dwarf cypress rest in peace poor cypress!

Can't resist some new Spanish lavender, I buy 2 new ones every year, they kind of grow like an annual for! I have killed more lavender than I can remember. But I am determined to make it work! Here are the two latest little candidates. Although, in the ceramic pot is my one and only potted success from three years ago, its still going strong, just wish I knew what I was doing differently to make this one work? Am in need of some new pots, my ceramic ones from last year cracked over the freezing winter. This year I will buy glazed, just not sure what yet...exciting to have a new pot quest!

One of my favorite plants that I grow every year (and which really are annuals) the classic white geranium. Love these plants! I cover my patio, table center pieces, hanging baskets and for 33c each how can I not go crazy with the buying. They have thrived every year on my full sun patio.

My fancy potting bench ie, the back step, where all my potting adventures take place. I am hoping this is the year I will finally build my potting bench made from salvaged crates. I have a great plan for it that I will be sure to blog about. But until then I will continue to enjoy my back step.

Still to pot, a strawberry plant which was another steal at 50c and the last white geranium, I think I have run out of pots...agh! Also, need advice on the strawberry, part of me wants to just plant it in the perennial garden as its a wonderful ground cover. Has anyone grown strawberry this way? Would love to hear your experiences.

Last but not least, my happy little nursery helper! What a trooper putting up with mommies many hours of drooling over plants. I love that my two boys are both gaining a love of gardening and the outdoors.


  1. Hi Julia, Your son is adorable! It looks like you found some great deals while the sun was shining. :) Strawberries do great as a ground cover as long as they're getting full sun and ample water. Slugs can be an issue since they love ripening fruit. Have you considered a hanging basket? This is another option that will at least keep the slugs at bay. Happy planting.

  2. I feel happy to see your son looking very happy! Could it be the side effects of sunshine?

  3. Hi! I grow strawberries in the garden, using a mulch of straw. However, if you have time to take a look at my Hope Grows post you will see that they are not ripening this year. I love lavender too, both in pots and in the flower bed.

  4. I love your "NURSERY HELPER," they're the BEST kind.

    Doesn't it feel good to plant, plant, plant? You get reinvigorated when things start happening in the garden.

    My strawberries are mulched with straw AND pine needles, which really help to keep the slugs away.

    All joys,

    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

  5. I'd gladly trade you some more sunshine for some of your lovely rain. It's so dry, parched and brown here right now. It hit 101 here today. Geraniums bring back happy memories of my grandmother's house. I don't think there was anything she couldn't grow.

  6. Love your nursery finds! I too struggle growing lavender. Mine is still half alive but never looks like the gorgeous photos in the books & magazines. I think it is so great you have garden helpers! My boys have helped me in the garden for several years now and can name plants and know if it is perennial or annual. Most people think it is hilarious that boys (7 & 9 yrs old) would know this.

  7. I grew two little boys once. They were harder than growing plants but MUCH more interesting-- Brilliant to have them out there in the garden with you!

  8. I can't grow lavender here no matter how hard I try. I have given up killing them and moved on to other plants. Your posts will be beautiful.

  9. yes, this sunshine has been the BEST!!! nothing like a little vit. D to give a needed kick in the butt :)

    our lavender comes back every year, but after a few years of that it splits and breaks and has to be shovel pruned anyway. we have an off mixture of old and new lavender in among the roses. I think the trick is in the shearing after they bloom.

    ... and strawberries will take over if you plant them in a bed. Ours have probably quintupled in size by spreading new feeder plants everywhere. They are easy to pull out if you have too many though. We don't use straw or anything, but they are in raised beds which may help with the drainage.

    And yes, the very best gardening helpers are the ones that don't get a sore back or creaky knees :) .... we have three of those and we couldn't do it without them!!!

  10. Cute post! Liked seeing your little helper :) I have a couple of those too.

    My only good lavender tip is making sure there is really good drainage. I have them planted in our garden, with a mound of rocks underneath of their root balls in the soil. Also making sure their crown is on a little soil mound, as opposed to being at the bottom of a valley where the water will sit on it.

    Looking forward to seeing blue & white :)

  11. Try growing your salvia in straight gravel in a pot. It succeeded for me in colorado. now in kansas I am struggling a little more, I'm trying to plant the plant out of the ground about 2-3" and surround it with sand so the crown will dry out quicker. Will see.

  12. I love Spanish lavender. The little bunny ears are so cute! It's not supposed to grow in Santa Fe, but it does great on the South side of the house. Maybe it's the dryness of the high desert and really bad rocky soil.

  13. Hi! I like your potting's as formal as mine! I usually choose a section of the yard where it will be o.k to be messy and get dirt everywhere. Pots are one of my favorite garden projects! I grow strawberries in the ground (wrote an article this month on the different types, etc.... it's on my blog), and they would make a fine ground cover. I agree with the other gardeners, a mulch will help a lot to keep weeds down and berries in good shape till harvest. Have fun!

  14. Thanks for the visits, I am on vacation (and not meant to be blogging, but I can't stay away!) I just wanted to jump on quickly to say thanks for the comments and for all the wonderful advice on the strawberries and lavender. I think I may go a potted route for the s-berry I'm not sure if my garden could handle the take-over..hehe! Also, will try and provide better drainage for these two latest lavenders, fingers crossed I will be posting about them for years to come!
    Linniew, yes they are much harder to grow, testing this gardening mama daily, but thank-goodness they are hardier and more tolerant ;)
    Love to you all and will catch up more when I get back from Oregon...xx

  15. It's good to train kids to garden early, that way they grow more responsible also for the environment. good mothering and responsible parenthood, haha!

  16. Sunshine is addictive!
    I grow lavender in my beds & they need (usually) to be rotated out every 4 to 5 years. I generally ignore them til they start to bloom. I will harvest the blooms to dry for use in the kitchen.
    I've had moderate success in taking cuttings of the Spanish lavender - which I do towards end of August & will keep them in the greenhouse over the winter. I just planted a bunch out yesterday (of course, the 'mother plant' died over the winter) so hopefully they'll grow over the next few years so I can take more cuttings.
    Now rosemary....I always lose those & I think it's because I grow them in the ground instead of in pots that can be moved to the greenhouse for the winter...
    Good luck!

  17. I love lavender! I got an old warped table at a garage sale Saturday and then my neighbor had a bed frame with quite a few pine slats in it. I'm going to build a potting table this week! It probably won't look like much but it will save my back!

  18. Oh, I hear you on many things: the "someday soon" potting bench, running out of pots, and not being able to resist a good deal on a plant!

    As far as lavender goes, yes - good drainage and they don't like to be too wet (might be an issue for you there!) I don't know if you normally plant your "annual" lavenders (hee hee) in the ground or in a pot, but perhaps a container would be better for them since plants in containers will dry out more quickly than in the ground...could work in your favor here.

    Strawberries - they're great right in the grounds in rows or mounds, but you might want to use some bird netting in May and June so you don't lose too many to the birds! Yes - mulch with straw if you can - extra in winter to be partially removed in spring. What kind of strawberries are they? Will they produce runners like "everbearing" or not (like Alpines)?

    This year I am growing strawberries in hanging baskets (they also like it on the drier, sandier side) and come fall I will put them right in the ground to spring I'll dig them up and put them back in hanging baskets. We just don't have room or enough sun to put them in the ground permanently, and we also don't want the "cat gang" tromping through them or heaven forbid using them as a litterbox. (the horror!)

    Lastly, just have to say it is so cool that you are turning your kids on to gardening. My dad had a garden every year and even though when I was young I often saw helping in the garden as one of my "chores," something about it clearly stuck with me. I honestly don't know if I would have the love and joy of gardening that I have today without having had so much exposure to it as a kid. Keep them involved!

    Sorry for the long comment!

  19. And...apologies AGAIN for another incredibly long comment, but I wanted to share some info my friend Bev recently gave me regarding lavender - cut it back? Only in summer? I had no idea! For whatever it's worth, and I hope it helps, here's Bev:

    When lavender is finished blooming, it gets cut back and reshaped into a short, tidy mound to go through the winter in a more compact form. Cutting lavender flowers in bloom or just before bloom is highly recommended to put them to good use, knowing the plant will be getting a serious haircut shortly. The before-bloom cut would allow you to strip off and bag the buds in little sachets. The in-bloom cut can be for bouquets or hanging branches upside down in a cool dark place for drying. You can also stuff a sock with flower heads and tie it off, adding it to a dryer load to perfume linens, etc. I did this when Tim and Michelle flew in from France for a quick stop during my parent's 50th anniversary. Lavender-scented sheets are supposed to induce sleep. It was a lovely exercise in herbal therapy which they seemed to greatly appreciate.

    Avoid cutting lavender plants in fall, winter or early spring. Fall cuts will make it try to leaf out more at the wrong time and new growth will not have time to harden off before winter strikes. In winter or early spring, it is too hard to tell exactly what has died back. Always wait until it is fully leafed out before cutting off dead branches.

    With my religious after-bloom cut, I rarely see winter dieback. But I also have white rocks below the lavender patches for extra heat, reflection of sunlight and insulation. Lavenders need sharp drainage - add gravel to the soil, or mound the soil, or make a sandy mix. They also like a fair amount of air circulation near them so pockets of moisture are discouraged.Think "Mediterranean conditions" of full blast sun and unrelenting heat.

  20. "I have killed more lavender than I can remember ..." - Julia, I am so glad to hear I am not the only one! I'm hoping I can make my new batch work this time :).

    PS: Love your nursery helper! What a joy to have your kids around whilst you potter in the garden.


Thanks for stopping by and reading my latest post! I love sharing my gardening adventures and reading your wonderful comments. Happy digging...Cheers Julia!!

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