Goodbye Patricia

Patricia Tryon was a frequent visitor to my blog and one of the earliest bloggers that befriended me. She introduced me to the photography of Karl Blossfeldt and the botanical art of Pierre-Joseph Redouté. This spring I was on a blogging hiatus for a few months because of school and was wondering where Patricia was in the blogosphere when I came back. I followed her on twitter and hadn't seen a post in a while. As it turns out, she passed away on April 14, 2012.

While on vacation in July, I was reading some book reviews on Amazon and stumbled upon one that she had written. I knew it was the same Patricia Tryon because she had done a review for a book of photographs by Karl Blossfeldt and used her full name. One thing led to another and I googled Patricia Tryon. Upon entering Patricia Tryon, the search engine auto-populated Patricia Tryon obituary and I learned of her death. The last thing she tweeted was I know what it feels like to cough up a lung.

She was an avid blogger and had several blogs going at once, but my favorite blog was Picturing Plants and Flowers. In it she introduced me to the world of botanical art and artists. My favorite post of hers was of lilies by Walter Hood Fitch. I would look at it on cold dreary winter days and think of summer blooms.
She mentioned to me that her daughter went to school in Santa Fe. Patricia also loved to shop at Santa Fe Greenhouses and its online presence High Country Gardens. One of the last things that she commented about this year was that she still had not gotten used to the late frost date in Colorado. It's the same one that we have in Santa Fe, May 15th.

Rest in peace Patricia. The blogging community will miss you!


Vertical Vegetables & Fruit

When a friend of mine introduced me to the vertical gardens of Patrick Blanc, they seemed so surreal or otherworldly at the time. Now vertical gardening is ubiquitous. There are instructions all over YouTube and Pinterest. You can even find a vertical gardening kit on the shopping channel.*

I've been hemming and hawing about writing this book review. It feels like summer is almost over so I'm not sure if it's timely to write about vegetable gardening. I'm joining the August book reviews at Roses and Other Gardening Joys. Special thanks to Holley for hosting.
I picked up a copy of Vertical Vegetables & Fruit: Creative Gardening Techniques for Growing in Small Spaces by Rhonda Massingham Hart this spring at a local bookstore. The books is divided into three parts: one on vertical gardening tips and techniques, the second on vertical annual vines, and the third on perennial fruits that grow well vertically.
The book is well laid out, which is a big plus for me. Sometimes, I won't by a book if the typeface is too small or if there is something about the layout that is incongruous. It doesn't have any photographs, but has inspiring illustrations that made me want to try the techniques in the book. The sections of text are broken up by sidebars that gave hints on specific topics. The book also has a great chart about the soil depth, spacing and sunlight needed for container planting.
The author describes some conventional methods for training plants vertically like building a tepee or tuteur and some unconventional methods like building your own upside down planter or a potato tower. The book is filled with lots of information in small chunks.
I used the second and third sections on annual vines and fruits more for reference. It's not encyclopedic. The author gives an overview of  different varieties to consider, the length of time from planting to harvesting, planting guidelines and how to train plants up. The annual vines, the author describes for growing are: beans, peas, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, melons and sweet potatoes. One of the the sidebars in the tomato chapter was about the different initials and numerals you see on seed packets and that they stand for disease resistance. The book is also sprinkled with trivia and fun facts about plants, like how burpless cucumbers came into being.
The chapters in the fruit section are: blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, grapes, kiwis, and espalier. I liked the illustrations of different types of espalier. The kiwi chapter discusses growing fuzzy kiwi and hardy kiwi. I've seen hardy kiwi at the store before; they are about the size of kumquats and you eat them like grapes with the skin on.
I'm glad I picked up Vertical Vegetables & Fruits. It makes a good addition to my limited gardening library. The text and illustrations are engaging and I wholeheartedly recommend this book.

* Sometimes, when I have insomnia I watch the shopping channel and I saw a vertical garden kit on it one night this past spring. I can't watch for long. The cadence and speed of the hosts make it feel as if I would miss out on a lifetime opportunity if I don't make an immediate purchase. I wonder if there is a school for shopping channel hosting. Maybe it's the same school you would attend to become a carnival barker. 


GBBD - August 2012

Gardening in Santa Fe is a mixed blessing. The average rainfall is 14.22 inches. However, Santa Fe has an average of 283 sunny days. The soil can be rocky, sandy or clay. Last year I hardly planted anything because there was a severe drought. Sometimes, I plant three plants and only one or two plants overwinter. Planting odd numbers has rarely worked for me for this reason. However, this month I'm going to count the blessings in my garden.

I'm joining Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. Special thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting. Please check out what's blooming in other parts of the country and in other parts of the world.
About twelve years, the view outside the window of my office was of a courtyard dotted with red yucca (hesperaloe parviflora). However, it seemed too large to put in my garden so that thought entered the recesses of my mind. Last year Susan at Ink & Penstemon blogged about a dwarf hesperaloe that would be the plant to have this year, Brakelights(R) red yucca. I don't know if it was the power of suggestion, but I planted three in my garden this spring. A month or so after planting, aphids covered the blooms on all three plants. I cut all the blooms off and forgot about it. One of the plants rebloomed recently with nary an aphid.
I've had this gaura in my garden for while. It came in a set of three. Only one survived, but for the first time ever it reseeded and now I have another gaura that is doing well in the garden.
These might be the saddest cosmos of all time, but I started them from seed this spring and they're still going. I'm hoping they'll reseed and I won't have to plant cosmos next year.
I planted this desert four o'clock about three summers ago. It's one of the more xeric plants in my garden. Last week the four foot plus wide plant was covered in blossoms.
It's a sea o' licorice mint (agastache rupestris). I've tried other cultivars, but none does as well as the rupestris. I can count on it from year to year to provide soft waves of color in the waning days of summer.
My last blessing is plants overwintering. Plants don't reliably come back in the spring. I had a phantom drip emitter that wasn't attached to a plant so I plugged the end. The xeric desert asters came back where the drip emitter had been plugged. It is not as finicky and doesn't need as much water as traditional asters. I also planted the blue blazes agastache last year and wasn't sure what to expect. Woohoo, all three plants came back.

What blessings are you thankful for in your garden this year?


Almost Free Plants

This post was supposed to be entitled "Free Plants." Alas, a clearance sale got the better of me. Two weeks ago today, I received an email from Santa Fe Greenhouses, the flagship store of the online nursery High Country Gardens stating that perennials were 60% off because they are closing for the summer after August 26th. (I hope they're are only closing for the summer and not for good since it's my favorite nursery.)
I went shopping during my lunch break. When I arrived, the parking lot was already full so I parked on the street. As I entered the nursery, I saw that the line to pay went out the sliding glass doors and about 30 feet to the left to the entrance of one of the greenhouses. I almost made a hasty exit because the queue to pay was so long, but I didn't. I made my way around the perennial tables and found a plant or two or three or....
Walker's Low catmint (nepeta) is one my favorites. Catmint can drive gardeners crazy because of its propensity to reseed EVERYWHERE. Walker's Low is a non-reseeding cultivar. It blooms in the spring and fall if the flowers are deadheaded. I don't always deadhead in spring, but I usually will have fall blooms nonetheless. I also got some more silver edged horehound (marrubium rotundifolium). 
I went looking for some Pat Vlasto sage (salvia jamensis), but to no avail and ended up with some Prairie Sage (salvia azurea). I also got a row cover and some seaweed fertilizer. Aside from the perennials being 60% off, the garden supplies were 40% off. Everything was free because I had two gift cards and belong to the waterwise gardeners' club and had points that I could redeem towards purchases. Yea for gift cards from my friends who know that I'm obsessed with plants.
Last Friday, I received another email that the plants had been replenished. Maybe, there were some plants that I couldn't live without. I haven't been gardening much this summer so I thought I would pop over for a look-see. I still had a small balance on my gift card and points from the previous week's purchases so my whopping total for four plants was about $1.86. 
Well this Friday, when I came into the office my supervisor showed me the Santa Fe Greenhouses advertisement in the local paper and perennials were 70% off! Gallon plants that are usually $10.99 were $3.30. So I loaded up with Flore Pleno poppies and Blue Lips penstemon and a salvia, gaura, and spirea thrown in for good measure. I have three plants left to plant from my shopping spree(s): a Black Cherry salvia, the spirea and a White Swan echinacea. However, I did spend money today, $31.81 on plants and sundry garden supplies. However, on all three of my shopping trips I saved around $126. Hooray for summer clearance sales.
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