Sunday, March 27, 2011

Winter will not go easy...

Won't give up, here in the midwest. High temps in the 30's. Sinus infection. Boss leaves on vacation for me to run the shop. Son home for Spring Break!

We want to be ready to sell this house. Our youngest graduates in 2012 and this job is not looking like it will last forever for hubs. We need to at least be ready to move, if the opportunity arises.

 My mother-in-law is a good friend to me. We don't fight like lots of in-laws do. I've always been amazed at how easily things grew for her, or bread rose for her, or cakes came together for her. We've had many kitchen adventures together, my own mother wasn't a very involved person, and my mother-in-law had 2 sons, so we were a good match!
She lives close to us, in a condo on the 3rd story. It has become our tradition for Mother's Day to "plant up her balcony"! Its a fun way to give her something she wants and needs!
One of the difficulties is the conditions. Her view is marvelous: the pond on the grounds and the walking lane the residents use. 
But the sun is scarce, really and walking with that gallon sized watering can from the kitchen sink to the balcony can be difficult sometimes, for her, so the plants need to be tough. 
I have planted several times and just when I think it's perfect, I will go downstairs to see how it looks from the ground, and you cannot even tell there are flowers at all!! The pastel hues of the impatiens get lost against the brick. 
One of the varieties MIL loved last year was the Euphorbia Diamond Frost. Here you see it floating in the sky:  
photo: Proven Winners 
Even though this guy looks like a fluff ball, it is Euphorbia, and it is tough. We sell out of this one in every one of my garden centers. White works well on the balcony.
I normally do not like white flowers because we stare at this for 6 months a year:

Now I realize there is a time and a place for white!! Meet Snow Princess:
She is an upgrade to the old fashioned allysum. This photo was taken in August, from Isn't she fabulous?? Snow Princess is sterile, which is not a bad thing when it comes to annuals. This way, she puts all her energy into making MIL's balcony looking it's best, rather than making seed for the next generation. We don't care about next generation. We want good looking plants this year!
Another excellent hybridization I would like to try is the Sygenta Series of geraniums, Calliope and Caliente.
Sygenta took the two geraniums that we know and love, the potted (zonal) geraniums and the trailing (ivy) geraniums and paired them up. 14 years later, we get this:
Geranium Calliope Dark Red
Calliope has a sister, Caliente, who is awesome, too. Caliente has more color choices, but she is a slower grower. For patio pots or baskets, the best choice is Calliope. I wish she came in Coral or Salmon, but she is a tough one, doesn't need or want water every day!
I like to use a vertical interest in the baskets. When MIL shopped, she, like millions of other gardeners, used the Dracena Spike. 
Ok, I feel better now. With all the new developments in plant breeding, I don't know why you would resort to that old and boring thing!?? UGH! Why this:

When this is available??!!
Look at that grass for vertical accent!! This maroon grass is Pennisetum Fireworks. Isn't it stunning??
Look at it! Last year, I saw it in a few baskets and many folks asked about it, but it's a slow starter. The timing was off by the grower, it was placed in the pots when it was too young and it was soon buried by it's companions... This year I betcha we see more of it. It's a cousin to the Pennisetum rubrum, the Purple Fountain Grass which is so stunning in autumn.
If the Fireworks is not available, I might try the new millet variety or the verbascum. I would like to stick with the grasses because along with a vertical accent, they offer movement, which is such a graceful thing, 3 stories up! 
Last year, I planted some Lamium, White Nancy, as a filler. It is perennial, so I will be anxious to see if she comes back! I won't use her, though. She did not flower enough for me. I need to drag the pots downstairs, this year, as I want to replace the soil mix in them and use the water crystals.

In a week, I will drive up to the North and pick up my car and meet my new co-workers. I only see my boss once a year, when I pick up my car. They hand me a credit card, and automobile, a computer and a route sheet and I am off for the summer. I've always marveled at the trust they put in me. I talk with them several times a week, but rarely do I see anyone from my company, other than a truck driver now and again. I will be sure to take many pics of the greenhouses. They are breathtaking. The process is amazing, from seed to store. More on that, in a week or so!
My dear friend, a wonderful gal whom I could call at any time, decided to retire, last season. I truly do not know what I will do without knowing she's in it with me. My boss thinks he has someone who I will get along with, just as well, but I cannot imagine it....
I did a better job because of Rose...

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2:00 PM

    I love that geranium Calliope - I used to hate all kinds of geranium for pots, but then realized that they are easier and hardier to keep in patio pots - blooming ALL summer, provided i keep them deadheaded and feed them regularly. I dont like those spikes either, the grasses and purple is lovely - i used to like adding the purple potato vine to pots.

    wierd, i am coming on 'get your hands dirty' season, but i'm left with a vacant feeling - given we are losing this house, it makes no sense to spend $$ (always cost so much each planting season) on good soil and plants to freshen up all the beds.....


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