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Spring Is in the Air: GBBD, March 2019

March 16, 2019

March garden under snowIn mid-March, there isn’t much sign of spring on the ground in my Maine garden, which is still hidden under a blanket of snow. But we’ve had a series of days with temperatures well above freezing, and spring is in the air.

A closer look reveals some subtle signs of spring on the ground, too. The foundation at the front of the house absorbs enough heat from the sun to melt the snow. And when it does, new green growth appears underneath.

March foundation melting March new green

Meanwhile, indoors, my impatience for spring flowers is being assuaged by blooms on my potted amaryllis (Hippeastrum) bulbs. ‘Charisma’ is blooming on the living room window ledge. It is a special treat on sunny days when its red freckles, streaks, and picotees are backlit by the sun.

Charisma flowers 2019 Charisma close-up

In the bedroom, this flame-colored flower greets me when I wake up each morning. I especially love the way it glistens in the sun.

Flame red amaryllis 2019 flame amaryllis close-up

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is hosted on the 15th of each month by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. Visit her blog to see blooms from gardens where spring has already sprung!

Garden History Update

March 7, 2019

Morning on the patioRecently, I realized that it had been six years since I last updated my History of the Garden page – and a lot has happened in those six years. Today I’ve revised that page to reflect all the work of the past six years, especially the addition to my house and the creation of the new front garden. This was a great way to use my garden energies while I wait for spring to arrive, and it’s made me eager to get started on the final phase of my front garden project.

Winter-Blooming Divas: GBBD, February 2019

February 17, 2019

Mid-February in Maine is still winter, but with a promise of spring. The world outside is snowy white, but the days are becoming noticeably longer and the sun stronger.

Lavender and white cyclamenNevertheless, it will probably be another six weeks before the first flowers bloom in my garden. Until then, I’m dependent on my flowering houseplants for floral color and joy. My faithful, cool-loving cyclamen do not disappoint, blooming on and on through the long months of winter. And yet, because they are so reliable, I can take them for granted and let them be upstaged by those dramatic, demanding, winter-blooming divas, the potted amaryllis (Hippeastrum) bulbs.

I have ten pots with amaryllis bulbs, and they demand a lot of attention: weekly fertilizing after they bloom, being packed away in the dark for eight weeks to force dormancy and then brought out into the light to wake them up, and as much warmth as I can provide for them. (They do not love my cool Maine house.) In a good year, after considerable time and attention, I may get flowers on three or four of them – just enough reward to keep me in their thrall.

red amaryllis bud 2019 charisma bud 2019

A month ago, I was celebrating the appearance of the first flower bud on one of those potted amaryllis buds. In the weeks since, two more buds have appeared and grown. Last month’s bud has now opened, and I am currently being romanced by the stunningly beautiful blooms of Hippeastrum ‘Apple Blossom.’ As these flowers fade, a set of flame red blooms will open on another plant. And these will be followed in March by the aptly named flowers of  Hippeastrum ‘Charisma.’ The performance of these divas brings joy to my winter days.

apple blossom 2019

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is hosted on the 15th of each month by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. Visit her blog to see other gardeners’ February blooms.

Learning About Gardening/Teaching About Gardening

February 4, 2019

Certificate Image_01In the four years since I retired, I’ve been enjoying the time and energy not only to expand my garden but also to expand my knowledge of gardening. My post-retirement formal education as a gardener began with taking the Maine Master Gardener Volunteer certification course and continued with enrolling in the certificate program in Native Plants and Ecological Horticulture at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. Both were wonderful learning experiences.

The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens program is flexible, allowing enrollees to complete the fourteen short, intensive courses needed for the certificate at their own pace. When I first enrolled, I thought it would take me 4-5 years to finish, but I loved the courses so much that I ended up earning my certificate in three years. Recently I attended a dinner celebration with other new graduates and program faculty and was officially awarded my certificate. Happily, the completion of the certificate program does not mean the end of taking classes at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. I’ve just been perusing this year’s new course offerings on the garden website and have already identified one that I intend to sign up for.

As I’ve become more confident in my gardening knowledge, I’ve also begun to teach what I’ve learned to others, a natural progression for me after a forty-year teaching career. In recent years, I’ve developed three different presentations for the McLaughlin Garden Winter Lecture Series and then repeated these presentations for various garden clubs. Last year, I fulfilled some of my volunteer hours as a Master Gardener by preparing and teaching a two-hour class on “Invasive Plants and the Challenge of Ethical Gardening” for the local Senior College (a lifelong learning program that I am a member of). I will repeat that class this year as an Adult Education offering in a nearby city, and I will develop shorter versions of it for presentations at an Earth Day program in my town and at the McLaughlin Garden wildflower celebration in May. imageIn addition, I will fulfill most of my Master Gardener volunteer hours this year by developing and teaching a four-week introduction to “Perennial Gardening in Maine” for the Adult Education program.

Teaching these courses also develops my gardening knowledge. As every teacher knows, teaching is another form of learning as preparing classes and interacting with students about a topic deepens the teacher’s understanding.

Waiting for Amaryllis Blooms: GBBD, January 2019

January 17, 2019

amaryllis bud 2019This is the heart of winter in Maine, short days when we typically have plentiful snow and our coldest temperatures. The garden has been under snow cover for the past two months, and garden perennials are dormant. This is the season for my indoor garden of potted flowering plants, and the divas of this winter garden are the flowering amaryllis bulbs (Hippeastrum).

I brought my dozen or so pots of amaryllis up out of their enforced period of dormancy in the basement about six weeks ago, set them in the sun, and began to give them regular water. But the conditions in my Maine house are cooler than these tropical plants prefer, which makes them slow to bloom. It’s always a waiting game to see whether I will get flowers on the indoor bulbs before the crocus flowers come up through the snow and bloom outside. A few days ago, I spotted the first flower bud on an amaryllis bulb. I believe this one is ‘Apple Blossom,’ and it should begin to flower before the end of February. Three other potted amaryllis bulbs have not yet put out any new foliage, and this delay is often a precursor to making a flower.

backlit pink cyclamenMeanwhile, my potted Cyclamen persica – which love a cool, bright spot – are happily blooming. I never get tired of seeing their colorful flowers backlit by the sun. I also love the way that this one, which had white flowers brushed with lavender when I bought it last year, has produced flowers in three different shades and patterns this year.

multi-color cyclamen

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is hosted on the 15th of each month (although some of us are habitually late) by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. Visit her blog to see other gardeners’ January blooms.

New Year, New Garden

January 2, 2019

Calendar Cover 2019 (2) This is my tenth year of creating Jean’s Garden calendars, featuring photos of my garden, as gifts for family and friends.

As was true in 2018, most of the images in this year’s calendar feature the new front garden that I began creating in 2015 and expect to complete in 2019. (The exceptions in this year’s calendar are the images for February and October.)

As the wider-angle landscape images for July and August show, areas of the garden that were planted in 2015 and 2016 are now looking quite mature.

Creating this year’s calendar posed some new challenges as I adjusted to a new computer and to new photo editing software. I needed extra time to figure out how to edit the images as I wanted and to add text to them where I wanted.

Here, then, are the images featured in the finished project, my 2019 Jean’s Garden calendar. (Click on any image to enlarge it.)

January 2019 February 2019

January

February

March 2019 April 2019

March

April

May 2019 JUne2019

May

June

July 2019 August 2019

July

August

September 2019 October 2019

September

October

November 2019 December 2019

November

December

This year, as in the last several years, I took advantage of the superior image quality provided by Lulu.com to create and print my calendars. Those interested in more information about this calendar can find it here.

Holiday Blooms: GBBD, December 2018

December 16, 2018

The end of the outdoor garden season came suddenly this year when months of above average heat and humidity gave way to unseasonably cold, wet weather in October and November. By the end of November, we had already experienced five snowfalls, and the garden has been tucked in under a blanket of snow since mid-November.

peach cactus flower red cactus flower

This is the season when I turn to indoor blooms for holiday cheer. My holiday cactus (Schlumbergera) plants have almost finished blooming, but the cyclamen are coming on strong.

coral cyclamen

reverted cyclamenTwo years ago, I had to get rid of my decades-old cyclamen plants when they became infected with mites, and I replaced them with two new Cyclamen persicum last year at this time. Both are now blooming. One has intense coral pink flowers. The flowers on the other were white with lavender striations when I bought it. This year, however, it seems to be reverting to a more familiar form: Most of the flowers are now solid hot pink. The others are mostly pink brushed with white striations.

I am not a big fan of Poinsettia and would not buy them for myself. But this one was a gift from a friend, and its bracts are providing a splash of cheery Christmas red in my plant window.

pointsettia

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is hosted on the 15th of each month by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. Visit her blog to see holiday blooms from both outdoor and indoor gardens.