January, a Time to Look Forward to Each Year

January, a time where hibernation, cuddling up and getting cozy by a fire sounds perfect.  Even with snow flurries, light frosts and endless drops of rain falling to set new records, I still long to be outside in the garden once the new year hits.

Traditionally in our weather zone here in the Pacific Northwest, varying from hardiness zone 7-8, we are instructed to plant our tulips in the Fall.  However, Summer activities traditionally run into Autumn for us.  Then football season is right behind, with holiday shopping and activities in tow.  Time always runs out quicker than we think possible.  For us, January is the perfect month to plant tulip bulbs.  We wait for a little rain if there has been a recent frost and then dig in!  See how we did it below:
Purchasing and Planning With the Right Bulbs
I order my tulips in the Spring from the Roozengaarde yearly magazine, which are delivered each Fall.  You can traditionally purchase most bulbs from your local nursery in the Fall if not ordering specialty bulbs.
Yearly Magazine (you can also visit http://www.tulips.com )
Tulips Delivered to Your Doorstep
Making Plans for the Layout
Once Again Before Placing in the Beds
Dig Deep
This is a must as the tulip needs the support of the soil around it while starting the journey upward.  We dig 6 inches deep to ensure the bloom has the brace it needs.  This also helps to protect the bulb from the dangers of frost and marmots looking for a winter snack.
Dig 6-Inch Deep Holes While Avoiding Other Growth in the Bed
Line Walkways with Tarps
If digging along a pathways, line them with tarps to catch any extra dirt that may spill out and avoid the hassle of additional clean-up later.
Ensure the Soil is Ready for Growth
Once we got into the depths of our beds, we saw that the soil had quite a bit of clay within it.  This kind of soil would not have been the best for a successful bed of blooms.  We took most of the clay out and salvaged what we could of the usable soil.  We then mixed in Organic Compost from Cedar Grove with the salvaged soil.
Although tulip bulbs are known for their hardiness, placing straight compost atop them could have caused stunted growth and potentially killed the bulb all together.
Mixing compost in with what natural soil is available is recommended to avoid any hindrance of growth.
Mixing Natural Soil with Organic Compost
Give Plenty of Space
Tulips traditionally multiply and grow an additional bulb to the native bulb annually.   This is important to keep in mind when planning the placement of bulbs.  This will also allow for the tulip to grow to it’s full potential over the years and in making a big splash of color every 12 months.
Tulip Spacing
Protect Your Tulips
Some may think a big patch of dirt is a side step to your walking path.  Making a sign or setting up some guards around your tulip beds if open and vulnerable will help protect them.  They only get one chance to grow each season and you would hate to have all those efforts go to waste.
Tulip Marker
Pest Control
Although tulips are hardy, they can still be threatened by wildlife.  Keep an eye on the soil over the weeks to see if large critters are making your flower bed into their own walking path.  If this happens to you, set up small barriers to detour them from walking through.
Deer Tracks
Also, keep an eye out for smaller threats like slugs.  If this becomes a problem for you, take dried egg shells and sprinkle amongst the bulbs as a natural pest repellent.
We planted 150 and new bulbs this year and hope to show you the success this Spring!
Cheers to a year full of blossoms into blooms! 

Something Short, Something Sweet, Something to Kick-off 2016

IMG_3492
As the optimist say, “new year, new beginnings.  And me finding myself to be an optimist, couldn’t agree more!   January happens to be a great time to not only reflect on oneself and set personal goals for the year, but also a time to reflect on your home and garden from the previous year and start planning out projects and your dream garden for 2016.

There are a variety of gardeners that think gardening should start no earlier then the first day of spring, which happens to be March 20th this year.  There are also some horticulturist that simply can not start planning until the warmer weather comes around mid-Spring.  But for us, January is the prime time to stroll the gardens and reminisce on the previous year, while adding to the wish list of this year.  It also proves a good time to start some of the winter clean-up from all the windstorms even though there are sure to be a few more.

This next year I plan on taking you a little further into the projects we’re doing around the cottage and gardens as we explore all the possibilities that 2016 can bring us.  We hope that you also have that spark of excitement to commence this year in the home and garden so you can plan to make it a fabulous one.

Cheers to 2016!

 

Endless Summer Soirées

Endless Summer Soriees

Summer is in full swing, which for many season lovers means countless barbeque’s, tireless yard games, and those endless summer soirées on the back porch.

In trying to figure out how we could stretch those summer nights, we knew there had to be a resolution to those unsolicited, pesquie mosquitoes.  This year we made it a priority to not let these pests crash our merriment in hopes that we may take in the full delight of the twilight.  It’s not too late for you to construct an invite-only summer evening as well.  Here’s how we created our pest free porch this season…

We filled our porch planters with native repelling mosquito herbs, that can also be used in a vast variety of mouthwatering recipes.  Also, having aspirations for a Moon Garden this year, we dressed each basket with white florets that illuminate the railings in the evening, and guide guests along their wandering ways in the moon light.
There were concerns raised around the pollinating traffic and if they would make their customary large appearances, as the traditional warm season baskets are filled with an abundant floral variety with vibrant splashes of color.  We were pleasantly surprised though how these baskets went from a simple meal for our pollinators, to a full on buffet.

Bee Buffet
Here’s what’s in the baskets this season…  Enjoy!

Magic Mountain Basil

Color: Purple

This herb is loved by all pollinators and seems to leave them always wanting more.  From bees to hummingbirds, they simply can’t get enough. Contrasting your traditional basil, but can be used just the same.  The leaflets add beautiful color to each bite of your bruschetta or seasonal pasta salad.

Magic Mountain BasilFront Basil Leaf
Back Basil Leaf - Copy

Lemon Grass
Color: Lime Green

This herb is a leader in repelling mosquitoes.  It can be planted as a compliment to a larger floral arrangement or can make a considerable solo appearance in a sizable planter.  Lemon grass is a great compliment to Asian cuisines and in particular, Thai recipes.

Lemon Grass

Rosemary

Color: Green with Hints of Gray & Silver

Brushing up against this herb will give senses instant gratification.  It can be used in many different recipes, dried and saved for hearty fall meals, or simply thrown on the coals for smoking your grill selections of the evening.  Rosemary is sure to never let your dinner down.

Rosemary

White Floral Selections

Geraniums
A seasonal favorite.  With the tropical theme painted through-out the baskets, we of course had to throw some subtle shades of pink in.

Geranium

Alpine Poppies

This is our first season growing poppies, and we have yet to be downcast.  Once the bloom cycle is complete, the center of the flower becomes a seed pod, ready to jump back into the soil.
Poppy Fixed
Poppy Seeds

Snowstorm Snow Globes
Erratically used, and always pleases.  This trailer is great for baskets.  The small bloom proving to be pollinator favorite.

Snow Storm

Snow Storm Trailing

Sweet Potato Vines
A seasonal must-have.  Last year was a first year growing this cascading vine.  A warm reminder of a town nestled in the hills of the Cascade Mountain range, where we honeymooned, just 2 hours East of the cottage in Leavenworth, WA.  The streets and Bavarian balconies are decorated with trailing vines in shades of lime-green, and midnight purple.  You’re sure to see these delightful vines adorning the cottage next year too.

Sweet Potato Leaf
Sweet Potato Vine Sky
Cascading Potato Vine
Enjoy your Summer!

A Day in the Tulips

MKPhoto_TulipFestival-21[1]
No matter what the calendar says, you know Spring has sprung once the delicate tulips start opening up from their Winter slumbers.  Each one taking its sweet time to mature into its full floret, and I have no problem waiting for the show.

I order my tulip bulbs in early April at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival and am pleased every year.  You can also order from there at www.tulips.com.  They have such a vast variety that it is sure to meet any sort of gardeners fancy.  I have had the pleasure of traveling with my dear friend, and illustrious photographer, Megan Krueger Smith each year to select my prized bulbs.  Our mornings start early as we make the beautiful drive towards Mount Vernon, Wa.  We make a quick pit stop at the Skagit Valley Farm House Restaurant where we’re guaranteed to have a hearty, comfort-food filled breakfast.  After we indulge ourselves we head over to Rozengarrde Gardens where we are greeted with folding fields of tulips.  Each year some how surpasses the beauty from the previous years gardens.  Here are a few pictures from the trip.

Rozengarrde Gardens:
MKPhoto_TulipFestival-25[1]

MKPhoto_TulipFestival-5[1]

MKPhoto_TulipFestival-15[1]

MKPhoto_TulipFestival-23[1]

MKPhoto_TulipFestival-24[1]

MKPhoto_TulipFestival-27[1]

MKPhoto_TulipFestival-29[1]

MKPhoto_TulipFestival-1[1]Photo Credit: Megan Krueger Smith
http://mkruegerphotography.com

Tulip Care
It’s important when growing tulips to give them a full growing season.  Of course there will be many cut for beautiful bouquets to dress your home in, but the season goes past the bloom itself.  It’s important to water and feed the remaining green blades left with the remaining stock.  Doing this will help encourage larger blooms for the following year.  Trim back the leaves and stock once they start to turn.  Strategically place bright and beautiful Spring perennials and annuals around the tulips to distract from the unlovely turning tulip blades.

Now some tulips are so beautiful that it becomes too difficult for me to cut.  I also appreciate the bright flower beds greeting me each time I come home.  Keep in mind that if this is you too, you will need to deadhead the tulips.  Once the petals have fallen, simply snap the stigma off.

Tulip StigmaTulip Stigma
Planting Season
Tulips should be planted in late Fall before the first frost.  However, life gets busy and sometimes you miss this sowing season.  Have no fear, you can also plant in late Winter or early Spring.
Here are some of the tulips we’re admiring around the Cottage this Spring.
Enjoy!
Canopy Tulip Bed
Blushing Beauty
Purple Tulip
Blushing Beauty Yawn
Salmon Parrot Tulip
Valerie Fringe Tulip
Tulips at Work

Blueberry Bliss

There’s nothing like plucking fresh blueberries for your morning cereal, a light snack, or last minute dessert toppings.  Having a blueberry bush can cater to many different culinary experiences, which makes the annual maintenance well worth the job. 

 

Maintenance

Once you see the start of leaf growth and blossoms on the shrub it is time to start pruning.  I like to wait until the end of March to start pruning.  This allows for plenty of time for the leaf growth, and helps you avoid pruning potential producing branches.  Look through the bountiful branches to seek out dead wood, and trim just above the knot of the producing branch it may be attached to.  Completing this task will produce a larger harvest the following year.  You can also shape your shrub if you so desire, which means you will have to cut some potential producers.  However, this will not harm the bush. 

   

      

If you’re looking to increase your chances of a larger harvest then it is a good idea to throw a plastic net over the shrub.  This will help minimize the chances of your blueberries becoming a fly-by snack for traveling birds.  Also, proving to be quite tricky for meandering raccoons to grab a late night meal from. 

 

Once blueberries have come to a partial to full blue color, they are ready for picking. 

 

 

Enjoy!


Spring Porch Planters

When planting containers around the porch it’s important to keep in mind how you can re-purpose the plants elsewhere around the yard after their season has completed.  This won’t be true for all your selections as some annuals are simply irresistible. Recycling and reuse of plants will help grow your gardens and keep costs low.  I like to think of the new plants getting ‘showcased’ in the planters before their introduction into the gardens.  Unlike my usual planned out basket choices, this season of Spring was gifted to me.  I was given Primroses and Dutch Iris bulbs from a friend.  I put one primrose in each basket, alternating between yellow and pink.  I inserted the bulbs staggering through the baskets. The tops of the irises will make for a small privacy walls around the patio table.
 
Flowers Planted:

Primroses & Dutch Irises

Pink PrimroseYellow Primrose 

Primroses

I’m not a usual fan of primroses due to the usual upkeep of them.  On the upside, their bright colors and determination of hardiness in the late winter months is what makes me appreciate these perennials the most.
Colors:
Pink and Yellow
Care:
I’m a stickler on primrose pruning.  Even a day or two without attention can lead to mold or leaf rot. However, some gardeners can let theirs go with no pruning and they are still pleased with the results they see.  To the gardener be their preference.
Dutch Iris
 
Dutch Irises
This is my first year growing these bulbs. They were a gift from a dear friend that has a deep love for them.
This last year I had to clear our iris bed due to overcrowding, so bringing in this bulb as a replacement will give more opportunities for bed design.
Colors:
Yellow, Lavender and White
Care:
After flowers have bloomed and are spent, remove petals.  Keep stem and leaves around as long as possible, and feed just as if it were still in blossom.  Doing this process will help bring back a bigger bloom the following year.

You can transplant the flowers once you are ready to start your Summer porch mix.  Leaves may reemerge, but they will safely go back into hibernation once the cool Fall weather has set in.

Canopy Cottage Established

Canopy Cottage is a little place I like to call home. Home for me is where you can go and be reminded of familiar sounds and smells that take you back to your younger years. It’s fond memories that are stirred up, and that bring a smile to my face.

The Cottage itself is surrounded by gardens that have been tended to for over forty years by my Grandparents. I feel a sense of peace and a connection to an older generation once my hands are in the soil. The birds fill the Canopy with their songs while my husband and I work hard away at the soil underneath them.

Join me on my journey seeking out new gardening techniques and bringing excitement into the home.