Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Zaluzianskya ovata "Midnight Candy"

Zaluzianskya ovata

Zalu what? Upon first sight, the botanical name of this flower looks like a mouthful and why shouldn't it? After all it was named after Adam Zaluziansky von Zaluzian - say that one 3 times in a row - undoubtedly quite a botanist in his day in the 16th-century (1558–1613).

I received a very young plant from Bakker's online catalog last year, but only now has it grown big enough to start producing flowers. The tiny buds remind me of matchsticks, and the blooms open to 3/4-inch in diameter in the evenings - a really petite and dainty-looking thing that exudes a scent reminiscent of orchids and tuberose at night. It's been said that a whole bunch of these will look better in a display since they're sort of unkempt and leggy. Cuttings can be made easily from the plant, and sure enough, I accidently broke off one of the branches last year and stuck it immediately into the potting soil along with the mother plant...and it grew on its own. The main concern in our area is that this plant doesn't do well in extreme cold. Grown in pots, I can shelter them close to the house with protection from snow and frost.

Zaluzianskya ovata buds

The weather has been warm, sunny and unbelievably agreeable in the past 2 weeks. I've only remembered spring to be cold and soaking wet in the prealps, but with the higher temps, all I can see is a harvest that will come earlier than normal. I'm out weeding and checking for pests every morning but so far - knock wood - no problems. Even that threat of a rat or mouse is gone because as soon as we put out the traps, no more tunnels were being dug! Maybe it/they didn't like the gorgonzola bait? These are just some of things growing out back.

Gooseberries
Uva spina | gooseberry

tiny apricots
Apricots

Pink and white tulips
And this year's pink and white tulips and narcissus next to the westie's throne.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Is it a vole hole?

Vole hole?

Alice must've put out the welcome mat in our garden.

The only vertebrate problem we've ever had are our 2 small dogs (the dachshund especially liked my tulip bed!), but a mean face and a good yelling at usually cured them of excavating and rolling in horse manure fertilizer. This year the problem looks like deep tunnels, approximately 2 inches in diameter, but I have yet to see what is making itself at home under my radish bed. I stuck a weeding tool to block one of the entry/exits but within a few hours another hole had been dug less than a foot away (and of course I was not there to see the culprit).

Weeding out the weasels

Garden update:
The welcome (or unwelcome) surprise this spring has been unusually warm temperatures. It jumped from 17°C to mid-20's in a day, and last week the highs were in the upper 20°C's at our altitude (700 m.s.l.). The lettuce took a beating, and so did the pea plants even if I have them in partial shade. All of the tomatoes, on the other hand, are in their environment with the heat and most of them are planted out. Corn, bittermelon, sweet melons, pole beans and sicilian serpent squash are going into the ground at the end of the month. If it continues to be hot like this I suppose harvest season will come sooner than we normally experience it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The herbs will have their own new digs!

Building herb retainer space

I've always wanted a little garden space dedicated solely to herbs, but this goes beyond what I could've ever imagined. What was once a playground for weeds is now dubbed the "Herb Hotel". A section of the garden slope was subject to erosion during heavy rains, so my husband built this low retaining wall with enough surface area to tuck in a few flavoring essentials. More growing space equals more new purchases from the nursery, and I picked up peppermint, thyme and nepitella (bottom right), a wild type of mint used in italian cuisine. That just started the ball rolling, and into the cart went a lavender bush, a rhubarb and 3 small pots of aubrieta deltoidea. I'll put up a photo of the finished project later.

Finished herb retainer space

Hooked on herbs