Triple flowered brugmansia Papa’s Girls

It’s been a busy and super cold week here at the Green Thumbs Galore nursery in Tennessee.  The greenhouse heater has been running near constant to keep all the tender new cuttings happy.  What are we propagating, you ask?
It’s brugmansia (angel trumpets) time in the greenhouse.  Our brand new introduction, Brugmansia Papa’s Girls – a triple cream angel trumpet, is rooting along.  I guess i could have picked a better week to start cuttings but since I want to be able to have plants ready for shipping in March, I had to start them now.

Here’s a picture of the flowers on this new plant, I wish you could put your nose up to the monitor to get a whiff of the heavenly citrus scent of this bloom!
Brugmansia ‘Papa’s Girls’ (Jarrett, 2014)

 Brugmansia Papa's Girls

The Unmentionables

Garden SignNo matter how much I would like for the plants to look like their pictures, there’s always some with a mind of their own.

Let’s just get right down to one of the unmentionables.  Floppy plants.

How does one deal with it? One choice is to select varieties that behave, the other:
Plant cages and stakes, of course. How many plants are propped up in your garden?  If your garden is like ours, then most of the peonies have some form of support. So do some of the other perennials and, certainly, no respectable size tomato plant will be without a cage! There’s never enough supports around and eventually we just grab a stick, any stick and some rope to keep the unruly plants at bay.

If you’ve been down to the butterfly garden by the Tennessee Aquarium, you may have noticed the decorative plant supports designed and forged by Jeff. Surely, something along those lines on a little smaller scale could be a good fit for our humongous clump of Sedum Floppy Autumn Storm. So Jeff put his mind and arms to work. Last Friday, the UFO landed.  It’s perfectly sized and I love it.
And, it’s beautiful, don’t you agree?
Steel plant support

Are my plants dead?

My plants here in Tennessee had completely forgotten what a hard freeze feels like.  Last week, they all got a reminder. When I walked around this morning, they were showing off their displeasure with those arctic temperatures. Do your plants look like this too?

Frozen plantsDead.  They looked DEAD!
After a deep breath, my brain said “Remember, these are perennials!”
My eyes took over and yelled “They still look DEAD!”

What to do? First I looked below the brown and crispy leaves of the Hellebore.  Lo and behold, there are little buds and green sprouts. For the more woody perennials, I took out my trusted plant tester – my fingers – and felt the stems.  Stems that feel cool to the touch are alive, dead stems feel warm.  Go ahead, go outside and feel some of your plant stems, pick up a dead branch from the ground to feel the temperature difference between a live and dead branch.  Hey, isn’t that cool?

Now I just have to remember to be patient and let the plants do their thing.  Resisting the temptation to cut back all the unsightliness is difficult, very difficult.  The time for trimming will come AFTER the plants sprout out for good this season.
Pass me the knitting needles for a bit longer.

Frozen Plants second look

Plants are not dead.

 

Looking for Gratitude

I have never been one for resolutions but last week, I heard an idea that I liked. Choose one word for the year and make that your focus and aspiration. My word… Gratitude.

grat·i·tude
ˈgratəˌt(y)o͞od/
noun
noun: gratitude
1.
the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

Why did I pick gratitude?  Maybe because it is part of my yoga practice – at the end several of my instructors will remind all of us yogis in the class to take a moment of gratitude for taking the time to be good to ourselves and to appreciate others and the world around us.

I am sharing my walk along the path of life with everyone else on this planet. It takes reminding now and then that my path is no different from yours, your family’s, your friend’s, and even the path of people you don’t like.

Holding a rock

Holding a rock

Some days my pack feels like it’s full of rocks and other days it’s like I have wings and speed along.  Regardless, the path must be walked.  Every day. By taking a few moments out to focus on gratitude, I can help my mind to see more of the good – and when I see the good, my pack lightens.  I can open my heart and my mind to choose how I will experience the next moment, the next minute, the next hour.  Positively and with gratitude.

Gratitude - lightness all around!

Gratitude – lightness all around!

 

 

How to import a pdf file into knitCompanion on iPhone

I like a good app.  I like a good app even better when it’s free!
I love to knit, from socks to sweaters and everything in between. I use paper and pencil, highlighters and sometimes even buttons to keep track of written patterns and charts.
Then I found knitCompanion (free version) for iPhone.  It does all that in a simple and easy to use interface. The big hurdle is ‘how in the world do I import my pattern?

Once you open the app, there’s a big ‘projects’ and another big ‘pdf’ button. Neither of them will take you to a place where you’ll be able to add your own pattern.  Well, phoooeyyyyy!  This app stinks!   Not quite.  Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to import your pattern.

  1. open your pdf on your device (i use dropbox)
  2. select forward (image1) and then open in… (image 2) knitCompanion (image 3)
  3. select ‘new project (image 4)
  4. select all pages (image 5)
  5. give your project a name and tell knitCompanion to ‘create project (image 6)

Voila – you’re done! Now you can enjoy all the tools from row counters to highlighting sections of text and marking locations (image 7).  The free version of knitCompanion even opens charts!

 

Leaf blankets for plants!

This has been the coldest week here in Tennessee that I remember and we’ve lived here in Chattanooga for more then 20 years. This region is broadly included in that vague area known as ‘The South’.  Cold, for us, generally is a night in the 10’s followed by sunshine and days in the 40s soon after.
Not this week.  For many plants, these temperatures below 0 degrees Fahrenheit predicted for tonight will be a true challenge to some of our plants because we did not get any snow.  Why does snow matter?  Snow is Mother Nature’s heating blanket for the garden.  Snow insulates and protects plants when the temperatures are frightful.
If you have been following our facebook page, you’ll know that we love to push Hardiness Zones and grow subtropicals such as canna and brugmansia plants outside.  What to do?

Here’s one solution: We distributed the bags holding our fall leaves (and still awaiting their spot in the compost) on top of our semi-tender plant stumps. Voila – plant blankets – and hopefully they will keep the canna nice and toasty for the rest of this winter.

Plastic leaf bags as plant blankets.

Plastic leaf bags as plant blankets.

Plants that bloom in Winter

I was told ‘writing a blog is easy, you are good with computers.’ Right. It has not been easy, I have had to learn the difference between a page and a post and I am not sure I have really grasped that concept yet.

Right now, our garden is mostly brown. The best thing about it is the lush yellow flowers on the Winter Jasmine and the buds on the lenten roses – promises of beauty to come.
Here’s a short list of plants that liven up our garden in winter:

  • Helleborus (Lenten Roses)
  • They are represented twice in the pictures because I think they are are just awesome! Singles, doubles, all kinds of colors and patterns, there’s just no end to how much I like them. Completely care-free and tough once established, they will grow anywhere from Zone 4 to Zone 8.

  • Chaenomeles (Quince)
  • Flowering Quince delights with bright pink flowers on naked stems in early February here in Tennessee. Stem can be cut and brought in for forcing too. Be warned though, this plant has 1-inch long thorns that can really do a job on one’s arms when trimming or cutting, I guess it makes this a good plant to grow under windows! Hardiness Zone 4-10.

  • Erysimum (Wallflower)
  • This is a super tough and drought tolerant Perennial that comes in many colors, from loud orange to subdued lavender. No matter where it’s grown, it will form a lush, low mount and explode in color in late March, early April. They are hardy in Zones 6-10.

  • Jasminum nudiflorum (Winter Jasmine)
  • The cheery yellow flowers of winter jasmine make up for their lack of scent by opening continuously throughout winter. The slender green side branches of this sprawling, trailing shrub gracefully tumble over walls and rocks. Tiny leaves replace the flowers in spring. It’s sometimes confused with forsythia, however, these blossoms lasts much longer and are of a softer color. Hardy from zone 4 to 8, maybe even 9.