Asiatic Jasmine Groundcover Cuttings

I stopped by a nearby garden center today and found in its clearance rack an entire flat of solid-colored Asiatic jasmine (Trachelospermum asiaticum) groundcover cuttings. Wow! I’ve been re-imagining my front and back yard garden spaces this year. The back yard will primarily be a food garden. The front yard has been more of a challenge. I have a few bushes, a shrub, and a tree, which are lovely, but I wanted to add an interesting element to freshen things up. The idea of having sometimg_3373hing fragrant felt right.

Having read elsewhere about the potential for this plant to become a weed, I decided a happy compromise would be to grow these cuttings in containers. I like the option to move this plant around as my garden design evolves. There is also topiary potential, which lights up my imagination! I am already envisioning a fragrant pathway to my front door. And why not?

I am very pleased that this garden center is so near, making budget-friendly gardens a reality!

CONSUMER ALERT UPDATE: The sap from this plant can irritate the skin. More information on the toxicity of this plant can be found here:

http://www.hortweek.com/trachelospermum/landscape/article/1078435

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Rescued: Angel Face Roses and Thornless Raspberry Bushes

My local home improvement store has a gardening center with an outstanding clearance section, with plants of all sorts at amazing discounted prices. Their inventory of clearance plants has recently increased so, in the foreseeable future, I will be visiting at least once a week. Yesterday, I was very fortunate to have made my weekly visit and came away with 4 Angel Face rose plants, a floribunda that I’ve wanted for my home for the past several years, but finally got around to doing something about.IMG_3354IMG_3355
I also am the caregiver of 3 thornless raspberry bushes. I love to make homemade raspberry jam and now I have a wonderful resource to do it! The plants were all in reasonably good condition, although I will have to do some light pruning of a small bit of dead vegetation. Easy. One of the raspberry bushes has some young fruits on it – very encouraging!

I replanted them in larger containers (saved from years of gardening projects) and will be looking forward to many happy years with these wonderful new plants. What is seen as refuse by the store (and most people) represents a great opportunity to bring new (sometimes unexpected) plants into the garden, for a modest price. These plants have already uplifted the energy of my entire garden!

More information on Angel Face roses: http://www.helpmefind.com/rose/l.php?l=2.238

More information on thornless raspberry bushes: http://www.monrovia.com/plant-catalog/plants/3466/brazelberries-raspberry-shortcake-dwarf-thornless-raspberry/

Orchid Rock Rose

I went to my local gardening center for gardening shears and found that their clearance rack had two orchid rock rose plants (Cistus x purpureus). It’s been over 12 years since I’ve had orchid rock rose plants, so it’s like a new beginning. They even have some flower buds, so I’m quite excited that they have found a new home with me. Sometimes, garden centers want to get rid of plants that are not actively in flower, but in otherwise good condition. That’s where I come in!IMG_3347IMG_3349

Eventually, these shrubs will produce exquisitely beautiful purple-pink flowers with red-purple spots in the center (see photos of a flowering specimen here: https://www.snwa.com/apps/plant/detail.cfml?current_page=7&type=84&id=14794).  For now, these shrubs will stay in their containers. Once they get acclimated to their new environment, I will find a suitable place for them in the back yard where they can bathe in sun to their hearts’ content. They also require less water, so I get beauty and water conservation – fantastic!

Indoor Orchids: New Flower Spikes

Three of my indoor orchids – miltonia and phalaenopsis – are showing new growth of flower spikes. The one with the two shoots at the base of the plant is the miltonia. All of these are plants I found in the clearance bin at various supermarkets over the years. Very glad they are happy in their new home. With spring a week away, it’s a nice preview of things to come and a gentle good-bye to winter!IMG_3341IMG_3340IMG_3339

Mystery Orchids!

That’s what the sign read just as I was about headed out of the market this afternoon. I infrequently shop at a local high-end supermarket, usually for sale items. In the floral department, I saw a sign, “Mystery Orchids,” and there were 5 indoor orchids currently not in bloom. They all had 1 cut-down flower spike. Some had leaves that were partly cut. But they were all obviously very healthy. The only thing missing was their identification. They retail at $25 each (if they were in flower and had identification), but I bought all of them at a fantastic clearance price of $5 each! Wow!

The person helping me with my purchase asked if I had prior experience with rehabilitating plants like this and I happily said, “Yes, and with success!” He wished me well with these new plants, which is a lovely way to start this new chapter in these orchids’ lives. I am very pleased. They may or may not flower again in the next few months but I don’t mind waiting longer because they will flower eventually.IMG_3288

Gardening bargains like this can usually be had at the end of the year to the first early months of the new year, even at high-end stores. I’ve rescued many indoor and outdoor plants over the past several years and have had success by simply providing basic care for most of them; a bit more rehabilitation for a few. With proper care, these bargain-basement beauties can provide many years of great enjoyment. I am not too fussy about having a particular type of indoor orchid. I’m just pleased to have a healthy plant. I can’t wait for these “mysterious” orchids to flower, to reveal their true selves. What a grand way to celebrate the new year!

Indoor Tulip Container Garden

For many years, I’ve wanted to grow tulips but hadn’t gotten around to it. Finally, while shopping at my local dollar store, I had no more excuses. I bought several tiny bags of tulip bulbs and a few bags of potting soil, each for a dollar, and used the several small containers that I’d kept in storage for years (following previous failed attempts at growing indoor orchids – my current indoor orchids are thriving, however).

I simply added them to my bathroom container garden and they have, I am happy to report, shown signs of healthy growth of emergent leaves. Check out the tiny green spears pushing their way out into the world! Because I am generally low-tech and thrifty, check out my “highly advanced” labeling system: rubber bands wrapped around the paper tag with colorful photos of mature tulips to keep track of which flowers will grow in each container!

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I am very excited that these tulips bulbs were very much alive and readily available in my dollar store and am looking forward to a bathroom filled with tulips in the coming months, to keep my orchids and amaryllis plants company!

Shopping Tip: You can always start with buying one bag of tulip bulbs from the dollar store – in my case, each bag contains three bulbs. The bag of potting soil was also one dollar, so for two dollars and change, you can create a modest but beautiful indoor tulip container garden!

Super-Informal English Rose Garden

Years ago, I planted easily over two dozen roses in the ground in my back yard. I took great pride in having a rose garden. I carefully selected each one and knew where each would be planted. IMG_3150However, gophers devoured the tender roots of nearly all of them, leaving me quite heartbroken. Among the roses that perished were several David Austin English roses. I love English roses more than any other type of rose for their outstanding fragrance, the generous size of many of their varieties, and multitudes of petals. One day, I thought, I would have a rose garden again.

This weekend, I took a chance and visited the local nursery up the street and saw that they were having a clearance sale on their roses – out with the old inventory to make way for the new. Perfect timing because the roses were half-price! These were my selections:

Climbing roses: Crown Princess Margareta, The Wedgwood Rose (pictured, exquisite pink) – up against the wall of my house

Non-climbing, shrub roses: Grace, Lady of Megginch, Mary Rose, Munstead Wood, Teasing Georgia

Instead of in-ground, I will be leaving the roses in containers, above ground. They will reIMG_3151IMG_3152main smaller plants and flower not as vigorously because of this, but I will at least have a chance to enjoy English roses again in my very own back yard and not have to worry about finding fallen rose canes the next day. It will take some time but I know that with some care, this can be a reasonably lower-maintenance English rose garden for me to enjoy for many years. Just because you do not have land or cannot use land to plant roses in-ground does not mean you cannot have a perfectly lovely English rose garden of your own!

It looks rather spare for the moment, but several of the plants are actively in bud (including all of the Wedgwood Rose plants). If the Wedgwood rose is any indication (the fragrance is heavenly), I am going to be over the moon ecstatic with the roses that will be coming in the next several months. This garden will be outside of my kitchen and is the entrance to the rest of my garden. What a sweet and gracious welcome!

I am contemplating possibly adding more of these rose plants before the weekend ends (?!) but am also thinking of adding large containers in the currently available space for food plants. Either way, my back yard garden finally feels at peace. I’ll have to check this nursery each November!

More information about these truly exquisite roses (along with photos of mature flowers) can be found here:

http://www.davidaustinroses.com/american/Advanced.asp?PageId=1988

Chicken Wire: A Gardener’s Friend and Gopher’s Foe

For anybody who has had to deal with gophers in their garden, you know the frustration of having to find something, anything that will reduce their damage. In my city, gophers run rampant, so it’s an ongoing problem that requires quite a bit of vigilance to prevent crop damage/loss and garden hazards from holes in the ground and large mounds of soil.

When I put in my raised row garden beds, the first thing I attended to was the issue of gopher management, not my future crops! I’d lost over two dozen rose plants over the years because of gophers (they eIMG_3101at their tender roots) so wanted to make it difficult for them if they decided to trespass onto my new garden beds. I laid chicken wire, securing them with landscaping staples, before covering the garden bed areas with mulch and gardening soil.

Apparently, the chicken wire has made at least one gopher unhappy. It’s interesting to see that the gopher attempted to dig a new hole and had to stop because of my 20-gauge galvanized steel chicken wire. I am so pleased to see that! I inspected this hole a bit further and saw that the wire was intact. Behaviorally, I hope that the gophers that attempt to attack that part of my garden will remember that these areas are un-diggable, and would prompt them to leave my back yard alone. For now, I am happy to see a successful result from having this rather modest-cost solution to my gopher problem. For larger yards and gardens, multiple methods might be deployed, but for most gardeners, chicken wire might be something to consider for specific projects.

Shopping Tip: Pre-packaged rolls of chicken wire (about $35 per roll, 36″ x 50″)  were about triple the cost of stucco netting, which is used for houses. The product is the same 20-gauge galvanized steel. The stucco netting also came in a roll three times the size (36″ x 150″ for $46.25), so you get a lot more for the money if you buy stucco netting. I have more than enough extra chicken wire for when I have to do any replacement of the product, which I hope will be many years from now, as well as for other projects.

Phalaenopsis Orchids from the Supermarket Clearance Rack!

I can’t believe my good fortune in finding these two very lovely phalaenopsis orchids from the clearance rack of my supermarket. Both of them came with their own containers (one ceramic, the other clay). Sadly, one of them looked terribly mistreated, with a noticeable section of one of its leaves torn off and a few smaller leaves folded underneath themselves and starting to yellow. Both of them also looked like IMG_2936it’s been awhile since they have been watered. This is certainly no way to treat plants as elegant as these! They are still in flower and new flower buds have still yet to open. As shown on the right, one has two flower spikes.

My plan is to rehabilitate these plants and give them a happy home. I am a very soft touch when it comes to mistreated plants and am only too eager to take them home and give them the chance to live long and healthy lives in peace. It’s disappointing to think that if these plants are not claimed, they will likely be leftIMG_2938 to perished or thrown out with the rubbish, a truly inglorious end.

Although some of these “clearance sale” plants have a few challenges, they deserve consideration. Sometimes it takes only a little watering and a bit of sunlight to restore them to their glory. As is, these orchids already look fabulously dreamy! Including tax, I paid less than $12 for the two plants, a modest investment for years of enjoyment and beauty.

The only quandary I have is figuring out where they will go in my home. A very pleasant decision indeed. So the next time you are at your supermarket, take a moment to visit the clearance rack, usually in the back of the store near the restrooms. A lovely plant may be waiting for you to take it home!

Supermarket Discounted Amaryllis Hippeastrum!

I am thrilled that I stopped by the clearance area of my supermarket this afternoon. Amidst the steeply discounted grocery items (often in the back of the store, and sometimes among the regular-priced items, with a special price tag), I found a lovely amaryllis bulb, in a fancy glass vase, with decorative black rocks in it, for $4.99! WoIMG_2930w!

It says, “Giant Amaryllis,” on the label with an image of a red flower, so I am not sure if it will be a Red Lion specimen like the one I already have. But it looks like it might have two flower spikes, so I’m very excited to see what comes! Doesn’t this look so very lovely?

The bulb is firmly attached to a plastic ring with teeth on the top side of the ring. The teeth have been pushed into the bottom of the bulb, and this ring has feet on the bottom of it that rest atop the decorative black rocks. The instructions say to add one cup of water, up to the bottom of the bulb. My other two amaryllis plants are growing in soil, so it is an interesting contrast of growing mediums. I have cleared some space next to my kitchen sink for now to see if it might like being there.

SHOPPING TIP: I always look around my supermarket clearance section for possible indoor plants, during December and January, and sometimes a little earlier. These plants are often very healthy, but simply did not sell at the full retail price. I use a similar strategy at my gardening centers, keeping an eye on the end of the growing season for plants that interest me. No need to bust your budget to have a lovely indoor or outdoor garden!

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