Sunday, April 18, 2010

A mountain of *gold* for the taking

Pile o' dirt

Less than ideal weather may have spoiled plans to attend a wild asparagus festival near Verona today, but I feel more sorry for those stranded, inconvenienced and worn out due to the disruption of air travel here in Europe. The latest I've heard is that KLM wanted to start getting their planes in the air. Who wants to be among the first guinea pigs? Nature can be such a tempestuous beast!

So it seems almost by grace that we had beautiful sunshine on Saturday morning because we were able to haul the 35 (out of an estimated 70) 5-gallon buckets of dirt from garden nursery to home. That meant only 3 trips down into town then back up the mountain. My husband did all of the back-breaking work of course, but it is so nice to have actual soil instead of the heavy clay. Total cost: 10€ - dirt cheap (literally!). We were done just before 12, which left the afternoon free to let go of another 10€ and pick up an apricot tree. What's next? Building a frame to allow us to unfurl hail nets to cover the entire garden. I've seen some local gardeners already spreading out theirs. The tricky thing is figuring out the specs to protect a steep slope instead of a flat plain.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Bakker delivery

More flowers! I knew it would be a great day to garden as soon as I saw the UPS van turning into the entrance way. My order from Bakker arrived on schedule and I was surprised at how well they packed the young plants and rootstock. I took the following photos with intentions of documenting each plant's growth, so cross my fingers that these will all like the environment here in the chestnut forest. The top photo - Thalictrum rochebrunianum - is from another Flickr user. It arrived as rootstock so I didn't take pics. According to Bakker, this type of meadow rue has pink flowers that bloom from strong branching stems. Ideal alone or in groups, or at the base of shrubs and plants.

Zaluzianskya ovata

Zaluzianskya ovata - the flowers are bright red in bud form and white when they blossom. It releases a delicious perfume in the evening, reminiscent of sweet almonds. Protect from frost in winter. I planted this in a large pot to be transported when necessary.

Hanging geraniums

Hanging geraniums - in the Alto Adige and Trentino regions, geraniums cascade in thick, showy color from home balconies. The ones here are a variety of three colors: pink, maroon, pink-variegated. We've always gone with the usual bush-type, but MotH (my husband) really likes flowers that drape and hang all over the place so I thought we'd give these a try.

Salvia 'Hot Lips'

Salvia Hotlips (Microphylla) - I'm a sucker for plants with weird names. And for plants that attract butterflies, birds and bees. Can't wait until they bloom, then I can tell my father-in-law that they are Hot Lips in italian - Labbra calde.

The rest of the order (rootstock and corms): Anemone hupehensis 'Praecox' (japanese anemone) and Anemone coronaria 'Lord Lieutenant'. The only thing left to do is to find an apricot tree, but we really want something that is from an old strain and non-GMO. MotH likes to recall the old apricot tree that his grandfather tended to years brings back such fond memories for him. I don't care if the fruit isn't developed to look perfect, only that it can withstand alpine weather.

Today's high: 15°C / 59°F

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Terracing work finished and ready for planting

Date: October 2009. When my husband began work on two more additions to the single terraced growing space in the back garden, I didn't imagine what a fine job it would turn out to be. If you look at the fence in the background that separates our property from the neighbor's, you get an idea what kind of angle we had to work with. Early on in the beginning stage of setting up this lot, there wasn't much by the way of flat areas to grow things in, save for the very bottom. Now that I've got these, it's makes me one happy gardener. We're going to set up the netting for hail protection and hope for the best. I'm sticking with tomatoes, zucchini, beans, peas, pumpkins, melons and corn this year. Just enough to keep me busy, especially if we get a bumper crop of tomatoes and I actually get to do some canning this time around!

Terraced work done

Terraced framework in back garden

Forsythia Aubrieta deltoidea

Two more additions to the front yard: forsythia to add some color in early spring and aubrieta for the rock wall.

Today's high: 20°C / 68°F