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Whistling Gardener Blog

Bulbs – an exercise in delayed gratification from the Whistling Gardener

We want our computers to process stuff faster and faster and we want our food delivered sooner and generally we are all running out of patience when it comes to waiting for things to happen. I hate to say it but it is no different in the gardening world, especially when it comes to bulbs.

What a busy time we live in. Everyone wants things done instantly. We want our computers to process stuff faster and faster and we want our food delivered sooner and generally we are all running out of patience when it comes to waiting for things to happen. I hate to say it but it is no different in the gardening world, especially when it comes to bulbs.

October check list from the Whistling Gardener

As I am writing this column on the last days of September it is raining vigorously and I am feeling like fall is definitely in the air. But as you read this in early October the forecasters are predicting a 75 degree weekend so you decide if it is the end of summer or the beginning of fall.

As I am writing this column on the last days of September it is raining vigorously and I am feeling like fall is definitely in the air. But as you read this in early October the forecasters are predicting a 75 degree weekend so you decide if it is the end of summer or the beginning of fall.

Don’t waste this opportunity to do some last minute tweaking before winter comes to stay.

Changing of the Guard(en) by the Whistling Gardener

September is the time to change garden containers and put a close to the summer season and welcome in the fall season.

As I mentioned earlier this month, September often finds me conflicted as to what to change in my garden and what to nurse along for another month. But as good as some of my containers still look I find that in reality I am sick and tired of them and ready for a change whether they are or not. I need to put a close to the summer season and welcome in the fall season.

Succeeding with flowering cabbage and kale - by the Whistling Gardener

This is the time of year when we start selling so called “flowering” cabbage and kale as container plants for the fall and winter. When grown properly they can be very effective as winter interest annuals that will survive most northwest winters just fine.

Okay folks, here is a topic that finds gardeners either wildly enthusiastic about or totally repugnant. This is the time of year when we start selling so called “flowering” cabbage and kale as container plants for the fall and winter. When grown properly they can be very effective as winter interest annuals that will survive most northwest winters just fine. Combine them with other hardy perennials like violas, dusty miller, ornamental grasses or trailing vinca and you can have a wowzer of a container for the winter. So why is there such disdain from gardeners for these colorful plants? Here are some thoughts.

"First Week of August Pep Talk" - from the Whistling Gardener

This is it folks, the final lap of the summer gardening season when all our hard work should come to a crescendo in the form of a giant horticultural orgasm.

This is it folks, the final lap of the summer gardening season when all our hard work should come to a crescendo in the form of a giant horticultural orgasm.

August is high summer for us in the northwest and perennials should be at the height of their glory, ornamental grasses in a state of perfection, roses resplendent with color and annuals still lush and inviting.

While spring is a beautiful time of the year, summer has so much more to offer in terms of color, form and texture. The choices are almost endless and with a little planning and some consistent maintenance this seasonal climax can happen in our gardens year after year. I know, I make it sound so easy don't I?

In praise of the sun loving Sneezeweed

But as I perused our benches this morning I couldn’t help but notice the Heleniums or Sneezeweed with their festive colors of gold and red and rust and orange. They seem like very happy flowers to me, sort of like sunflowers but smaller and they are sturdier than Gallardia or Blanket flower.

As our gardens move toward their summer climax there are so many perennials in bloom that it is really hard for me to zero in on any one group of plants. Crocosmia and Penstemon and Daisies and Hyssop and Salvias to name just a few are all coming into their glory.

But as I perused our benches this morning I couldn’t help but notice the Heleniums or Sneezeweed with their festive colors of gold and red and rust and orange. They seem like very happy flowers to me, sort of like sunflowers but smaller and they are sturdier than Gallardia or Blanket flower. And there are enough variations of them that you can have some blooming now all the way into the fall.

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Heavenly hydrangeas for the hot sun

Steve Smith, the Whistling Gardener, talks about sun loving hydrangeas that are easy to grow and in stock now.

Okay, maybe “hot” sun is a bit of a stretch for the northwest but it is very much true that there are forms of hydrangeas that grow just fine in our full sun gardens and when they come into bloom they remind me of puffy clouds hence the “heavenly” part. They fall into three categories.

By far the largest group is the PeeGee hydrangea which sports a cone shaped flower (or panicle as we call it in our trade) for several months in the summer starting as early as June. They usually start out white and mature to various shades of pink. There seems to be no end to the new introductions that can vary in their height and to a lesser extent degree of “pinkness”.

What you need to know about proper watering from the Whistling Gardener

Most gardeners water too often and not deep enough. Stick your finger into the soil two inches down (if it will go that far) and see if there is any moisture. If there is then DON’T WATER YET. Wait a few more days.

Yes, I know, this column could turn out to be a real snoozer but it’s so darn important that I need you to pay attention and read it all. It could mean the difference between life and death of your plants. Let me get straight to the facts.

1. Most gardeners water too often and not deep enough. Stick your finger into the soil two inches down (if it will go that far) and see if there is any moisture. If there is then DON’T WATER YET. Wait a few more days. If it is dry then apply some water slowly so it has a chance to soak in. Here in lies the crux of the problem. Water doesn’t soak into glacial till which is what most of us have.

Soaker hose watering and how to keep plants hydrated, from the Whistling Gardener

Soaker hose watering will be the hot topic for this week after this extremely hot and humid weekend. Even if we get the cooling and possible showers they are predicting it will still be necessary to get some additional water on our gardens

"Wow, what a corker this weekend was."

I am pretty sure that I spent 90% of my weekend on the end of a hose. Of course when you are responsible for 15,000 plants it's no surprise that watering is top priority. But even in my garden I had a hose running somewhere the entire weekend. My goal was to build up a reserve of moisture in the soil to keep my plants hydrated through the next several days.

Just in case you haven't put a shovel in the soil recently, our gardens are bone dry once you dig beyond 6 inches.

Soaker hose watering will be the hot topic for this week after this extremely hot and humid weekend. Even if we get the cooling and possible showers they are predicting it will still be necessary to get some additional water on our gardens.

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