Saturday, April 5, 2014

Dreaming: Gardening in January!

 In the dead of our Wisconsin winter, I am dreaming of what will eventually come:

Dream of the flowers to eventually come!

  A three entry gardening journal for the brutal winter of 2014:

January 20, 2014.  From reading my blog, I am sure most of my readers know that I love to garden. Well, this winter except for the southern tip of Florida, and some areas of the west coast of our country, most of this country has not been able to even get outside for a safe and comfortable walk, let alone dig in the dirt and garden. Well, in my case, the desire overcame the obstacle. My kitchen counter and some badly overgrown succulents in pots in my bathroom provided the chance to get that black dirt under my fingernails.    
     So I went to my favorite store: Stein Gardens and gifts. They had a sale on small succulents. Between the few I purchased and cuttings from my overgrown ones I was able to make these pots look delightful and fresh. I also potted up some tip cuttings from these long and winding stems of echeveria and aloe and I plan to use these little cuttings that root as "crops" in this coming summer's fairy gardens. Of course, the problem I will have is the white tailed deer. They loved these little succulent tips last year when I tried the same thing. I will have to protect them out in my wooded area when I am not around there. I plan to make a dome of chicken wire and fasten it into the ground. I hope that will protect them when I am not there. Otherwise I will be spending a fortune on spray repellents.  Anyway here are some of my replanted pots. Aren't they pretty?

Whirlpool surround with my succulents all newly potted up.

Close up of the freshly potted plants.

Close ups

     While I was at it, I decided to take cuttings from two very large and now leggy geranium plants growing in my bedroom. My hope was that I would have a large supply of newly rooted geraniums to plant in May and June. Unfortunately, our trip to the Caribbean this year came right in the middle of this rooting procedure. All of those beautiful cuttings turned brown and dried up. I don't know if the soil got too dry or what. Not a one of them developed any roots. Oh, well. Anyway, it is indeed possible to garden in January. Give it a try. It boosted my mood for several days. Only the next snowstorm sucked some of the ebullience out of me.

Geranium cuttings -I'll have lots of these pretty bicolor leaved orange red plants.

     March 29, 2014. I can't believe that the winter is still going on. I think, we have had one of the coldest March's on record. This last Monday in Milwaukee, the temperature high was 21 degrees. The temperature low was in the low teens and the wind chill was in the single digits. So again my fingers itched to do some planting. And it is impossible to even begin the clean up of beds outside. We still have large piles of snow where it was plowed off our driveway. And there are still drifts in shady areas. AND we are so very tired of this! I decided to do some more gardening indoors. I am trying those geranium cuttings a second time -- the ones that failed in February. So far they seem to be surviving. I really liked this particular geranium with the green and reddish brown leaves and bright coral red blooms. I also brought up some more plain geraniums that I had overwintered by uprooting them, and hanging them upside down in my wine cellar which is nicely humidified. They were all sprouting. I potted them up and the shoots are currently turning upright and I hope they will start to grow.

These are the geraniums that have hung upside down all winter in my baement.

This one even tried to bloom under those circumstances. Now they are growing.

April 5, 2014:  The first morning that it has felt reasonably nice on Lake Michigan. Temperature was about 46 degrees and only a very slight breeze was stirring the trees. I went up to our third floor observation room where I overwintered my fuchsia plants, Artemesia, verbena hanging baskets and various other annuals. It's also where several pots of foxglove seedlings are now growing actively. The temperature up there has risen into the 50s and all plants are actively growing. I fertilized them about 10 days ago and I added some systemic insecticide to the fuchsias as they tend to get infected with white fly. Now all plants needed watering. Happy to see some activity up there at least. I made a tour of our property this morning. There is really not much coming up. I can see a few tips of daylilies, but no daffodils evident out in my wild areas. No tulips near the house yet. Many of the irises that I divided and transplanted all over the place last fall are shooting up leaves. So it looks like they all survived, Though I don't know whether I will have any blooms this year after such a massive transplanting upheaval that I performed. I have raked 1/2 of my back borders near my house, and thought to do the other half today but the wind came up off the lake and it was kind of bitter. Instead I moved into my back porch. With the sliding windows all closed it was nice in there. I began cleaning and preparing all my fairy garden ornaments to get them ready for placing in my woods. And I planted nasturtium and sweet alysium seeds. I have never done that before-- seeded annuals inside to get them ready for outdoor transplanting after frost risk has passed. It always seemed so much work. But with this cold winter and spring, it gives me a sense that I am gardening. And I think the winds off Lake Michigan are going to keep it cold around here. I suspect plants will need this head start.

Here is the time of year we are aiming for. These are the orioles that visited our orange feeder last year. It will be a few weeks before they come this year.

A goldfinch already in its summer feathers, and white crowned sparrows.

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