I have been growing orchids for a good 4 years and it is such a rewarding activity. The excitement I feel when I see an orchid about to bloom after waiting sometimes up to a year is pretty awesome. I have added to the collection a lot over the years and have about 40 orchids now. I heat my greenhouse to about 55 degrees F in the winter which does restrict the varieties which I can grow. I don’t grow Phalaenopsis orchids as they cannot handle as they cannot handle temperatures this low.
I have a lot of success with oncidium orchids and grow may different types. When they bloom WOW do they bloom with sometimes 3 - 5 flower stalks covered in bloom.
Oddly enough I do not use any fertilizers at all. I use a timed irrigation on them in my greenhouse which sprays the entire plant, leaves and all. My goal is to create as natural of an environment as possible for them and the greenhouse gives them the level of humidity that they need.
Here are some pictures of my favorites!
After waiting about 3 years I was finally able to get this stunning Cypripedioideae orchid (Slipper Orchid) to bloom and then it bloomed for a second time in less than a few months, lucky me :)
After the moles ate all of my stunning oriental lilies this year I had a lot of space that I needed to fill. I love cut flowers so after doing some research I decided that I would give Dahlias a try. Did you know that the dahlia was declared the national flower of Mexico in 1963. Also, quite surprisingly, the tubers were grown as a food crop by the Aztecs, I love Wikipedia!
I have always been so impressed when seeing the striking massive Dahlias at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show that I used to go to every year when living in the UK. What always amazed me about Dahlias is that they are perfect, you can stare at them for minutes and still not find a malformed petal.
At the local garden center in Woodinville I was given the choice between close to 100 Dahlia options and frankly I had no idea where to start. In the end I bought a mixed package of Dahlias which had a label indicating that they were good for cut flowers. I also quite liked the idea that I would have no idea what the flower would look like until it bloomed.
WOW, was I not disappointed with the different types.
I am totally addicted to these stunning flowers and now I need to find out if they grow well in Italy too :)
Apologies for the blog silence these last couple of weeks. Life has really got the better of me since returning from Italy. It is always tough adjusting back to normal life after being on vacation but this was compounded by it being the end of the quarter (I run a sales team) and our nanny deciding to become a stay at home mom.
I will not bore you with the details but it is NOT easy to find a nanny! We survived almost a month without a nanny and it was really an all hands on deck effort with my 70 year old parents helping out daily and my husband finishing work early every day. This past month was a blur of interviews, work and stress. What really helped me get through each day (in addition to my amazing son) was my garden. Each evening after I put my son to sleep I was able to take 10 - 20 minutes to walk around in the silence of the evening. I was able to look at the zucchini’s that had doubled in size since the day before, I smelled the roses and generally took a moment to relax and forget the crap in life that had been getting me down.
An article I read on health.com said ‘A recent study in the Netherlands suggests that gardening can fight stress even better than other relaxing leisure activities.’ With all the distractions we have in life today being able to be outside and focus on the garden helps me remember what is really important and realize that whatever is causing me stress is temporary and, in the scheme of things, not worth worrying about. Thank you garden...
Today I decided to venture out of the farm for a walk in the countryside to see what wild flowers the Umbrian countryside has to offer. From discussions with the locals I have learned that they have had a lot less rain so far this year and it is much hotter than it normally is this time of year. Although there has been a lack of rainfall there are still so many flowers out.
One thing that has surprised me is the abundance of gorse; I was surprised to see it everywhere. Before moving to the Pacific Northwest I lived in England for 10 years which is where I first came across this plant. The Pacific Northwest is covered in it. Clearly this is a versatile plant given that it can thrive in all of these places. It has such an amazing scent that the wind carries so you smell it constantly everywhere you go! Thyme and fennel are growing everywhere here, and the thyme is blooming now which makes some patches of the ground a sea of pinkish-purple.
Italian honeysuckle grows amongst the shrubs but adds a blast of color which really draws your eye! I was surprised to see hellebore that had finished flowering and were heavy with seed heads. I was not aware that they were native to Italy! Lovely red poppies were everywhere along with the bright purple wild salvias. What an amazing countryside with so much to see!
This is my first video so don’t judge me too harshly. I realize that some things are just better in a video than in writing. I often search for videos on very specific things and they are so useful. I remember a time when I was given 20 very unhealthy orchids that someone was going to throw away and I was determined to nurse them back to health. This was before I knew anything about them and what saved them (well about 25% of them if I am being honest) was the knowledge I picked up from the video!
I have been starting seeds in the same way since I built my greenhouse. I have made some small changes but all in all I have found a method that works and is cost effective. I love the jiffy pots I buy at Home Depot, they are really cheap and easy to work with. Anyway, I don't want to give too much of the video away so please do watch it and remember it is only my first one!
I love cut flowers in my house. As much time as I spend outside in the garden I spend more time in the house and over the years I have realized how important it is to have something growing outside that I can enjoy inside. A couple of years ago I bought 50+ Oriental Lily bulbs and planted them and enjoyed them for 2 summers. This year I was devastated to see that I lost these bulbs to a hungry mole (after discussing this with many gardeners I believe that moles were the culprits).
As I now have a large space to fill I decided that I would try and plant as many perennials which have flowers which are conducive to cutting. As my cutting garden is in a raised bed I really want to pack them in as I don't need to worry about creating space for weeding or walking.
I already have scabiosa and anemones planted which I love. Anemones are great early spring flowers that are so pretty and delicate. I also always grow calla lily tubers in the greenhouse so I planted a few of those in the cutting garden. I decided to add the following:
I will miss the fragrance of the Oriental lilies but I hope that this variety in flowers will make up for the loss!
Every year around Mother's’ Day I make up my containers which I fill with flowers to enjoy all summer. I have perfected this over the years and I really think I have a winning formula when it comes to pots full of color and non-stop flowers. I thought I would share my approach and ideas to creating beautiful containers:
I went for an orange and white theme this year, I started both Begonias and Calla Lilies from tubers in the greenhouse rather than buying them at the garden center as this means I get to select colors from a much larger selection. I bought Calynopsis, Dahlias and Jasmine from the garden center. Calynopsis is a stunning plant with balloon-like flowers that are prolific bloomers all through the summer and add such an interesting contrast to the other plants.
Let the warm weather begin!
I have mentioned the wild fruit growing on my plot before. Today as I walked around the plot I really noticed how many wild/native plants which are growing here. I saw lots of Salal, Oregon Grape, Elderberry and Salmonberries. Parts of the plot are a sea of blue Forget-Me-Nots!
Today I was really taken with the beautiful flowers on the Evergreen Huckleberry. This time of year they are covered in delicate pink flowers which in July will be full of lovely tart berries. I really like mixing them with blueberries and serving with slightly sweetened cream.
The plants in the greenhouse are starting to take off with the warmer days. I have flowers on my tomatoes and they are already over 12 inches tall! I am feeling good about the 2017 tomato crop.
I always start calla lily and begonia tubers in the greenhouse and they will be ready to go out in a couple of weeks. I love growing them this way as I get to pick the specific type and color I want.
Here are some other lovely things growing in the greenhouse now!
So far this has been a VERY rainy Spring in the Pacific Northwest but I was starting to feel like it was going to be a good year in terms of fruit, veg and flowers. That was until I went outside today and noticed that some sort of animal decided it was a good idea to hop into my raised beds and just chew off all of the blueberry flowers, not to actually eat them but just because he/she could.
Not only that but the stunning bed of 50+ lilies that have been growing happily and healthily for years is bare. Almost all of them just did not come up this year. This is a very big blow for me, the smell of these amazing lilies over the summer months is now something that will be hugely missed this year. Of the lilies that did come up some have been chewed off, by what I have no idea! I think it could be the rare breed of rabbit in my garden that seems to be able to jump 30 inches into the raised bed. This is quite funny because everything you read says that a rabbit does not jump this high.
The sun is out and I am not working and so I can enjoy today. Walking around the garden this time of year fills one with so much hope and happiness for a lovely summer. In the Pacific Northwest this is SO needed in April, especially this April as this winter has broke records with the sheer volume of rain we have had!
Here are a few things I looked at today and am super excited about:
Raspberries - My raspberries look good, the first time in 5 years so I am very hopeful for a good crop. I think they struggled for so many years because the soil was not ideal. Before these raspberries were here there were three 100+ foot pine trees that had the stumps ground out but after years of amending the soil I think I might be on track for a bumper crop!
Blueberries - I think this is year 3 for these Top Hat Blueberries and they are looking amazing and filled with SO many flower buds, I am salivating as I remember how good they tasted last year.
Rhododendron - I am unsure of the name of this one but the flowers are amazing, they start out as a dark pink and then as the days go by they become white.
Anemones and Ranunculus - These are just stunning flowers and being able to cut a few and bring them into the house to enjoy keeps me going until the roses are in bloom.
I LOVE SPRING!