Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Greenwood Nursery Woes

Last year we ordered a few plants from Greenwood Nursery and were pleased with the experience. They sent the plants right out and they came back this year. So it made sense that when we wanted to buy some plants for the yard this year, we'd use them again. This year we bought golden raspberries, a pussy willow tree and some cold hardy hibiscus. We placed the order over the winter and the deal was that they sent it to us when it was safe to plant in our zone. They sent them a little early, but we have an enclosed porch, so they were okay and we had a place to put them.

The first problem we had was that they had sent us less hibiscus than we ordered. This was troublesome, but when we notified them of the problem, they sent more to us and they actually looked better than the ones we received in the first place.

The second problem we have had is with the golden raspberries. We ordered 6 bushes. They told us that they would arrive looking like sticks but to plant them and they would be fine. They looked dead but we believed them and followed their instructions and waited for them to grow. And waited and waited. We kind of half wondered if they were just slow growing (it has been sort of unseasonably cool this year) but when we went to Matt's parent's house in the slightly colder Staten Island and saw that their (red) raspberry bushes had leaves and were quite large we really started to think ours were just dead.
So when we got back to town, Matt contacted Greenwood to tell them that the raspberries weren't coming up. They said to wait until a month had passed. We contacted them again on May 22nd and said that the sticks are clearly dead and that we want new plants quickly, before it is too late to plant*. They responded that we'd have to pay $12.50 shipping for the replacement plants. Which annoyed me but we went ahead and paid. And heard nothing until Matt contacted them again today. Now they are saying the replacement plants are shipping out this Thursday, May 31. Which means we probably won't get them for another week or so. Which will make it very late in the season for planting raspberries. I am pretty disgusted by the whole thing. We ordered the plants super early so we could plant them on time. Then they died and Greenwood totally brushed us off until it is really late in the season for planting. Plus they made us pay for shipping, which I thought was unnecessary. Is it my fault they sent us dead plants? $12.50 isn't a huge amount of money but I hate to lay out additional money for a product I've already paid for. I worry that they won't do well this year and then will die over the Winter and we will have to deal with them again next Spring.

Do you see raspberry plants? Nope, me neither.

*Just as a rough guide, the blackberry plant I picked up at Home Depot this Spring and planted around the same time as the raspberries has already flowered and is starting to berry.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Sherwood Garden Tulip Dig Results

Matt went with a co-worker to the the tulip dig at Sherwood Gardens early this morning. He dug up quite a few different varieties, most of them in variegated colors in the red and pink family. We had hoped for some more of the black(ish) tulips but apparently they didn't come up this year. Now we are drying the bulbs out in the sunshine. Then we'll cut off the tops, wrap them in newspaper and pack them away (in a cool, dark place) until November when we will plant them.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Sherwood Gardens Tulip Dig

The Sherwood Gardens tulip dig is Saturday, May 26th, starting at 7 AM. Get there early (with your own trowel) to dig up your own bulbs. They are about a quarter a piece and in many different (and exotic) varieties, so this is a great deal. We got most of our tulips there last year and they all bloomed this year. What you do is dig them up then wrap them in newspaper and plant them in November for next Spring.

Go early to get the best bulbs!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

And we have blooms!

The peony opened. Isn't it pretty? It is one of my favorites. We also have some pale pink more traditional looking peonies but they haven't opened yet. Maybe today?
Also: every once in a while when I am sitting at the computer I get a big whiff of flowers. Roses, mostly. It is wonderful. I want to go outside and sit.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Peonies are Coming!

The peonies are getting ready to burst. The ants are ready.

They are so lovely and smell beautifully. I'd love to get more, but we haven't seen them at our usual online shops or in person any where. Matt actually moved the above plant from a different location in the yard to a spot near the fence. We had heard that peonies don't always transplant well, but he just dug it up (a rose of sharon had grown up in the middle of it) and replanted it. It came back bigger than ever and looks great.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The First Rose of the Year

Isn't it pretty? I am not sure what variety it is, the bush was here when we moved in. Like I mentioned before, when we bought the house (July '05) there were a lot of existing plants and bushes but they were oddly placed. Last year Matt dug a lot of them (roses and peonies mostly) up and rearranged them. He transplanted the roses to a clump all together on one side of the yard and they all are doing well. Lots of new growth and blossoms, including this one. It is great gardening with what you have. It is cheaper (of course!) but you are also making the the yard really "yours". And now that the bushes have moved, we can actually see and enjoy them without having to duck behind a shed.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

More plants...

We just got back from Walther Gardens (again) and this time bought some flowers (heliotrope, lantana and celosia) and some veggies (brussel sprouts, patty pan squash and a "sugar baby" watermelon) and the guy threw in some chocolate mint for free. I've been wanting to make mint ice cream, so I can't wait for that to spread a little so I have enough to make it. I also can't wait to see what brussel sprouts look like "in the wild".

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Azaleas may be considered "the royalty of the garden" but they are not my favorites. Matt likes them and we compromised last year and bought three hot pink bushes. This year only two came back. They are both still pretty tiny, but they really had a lot of blooms. Now he thinks he might move them to somewhere else in the yard, they are sort of out in the "middle" on the back quarter of the yard. Which may or may not have been something I suggested last year (before the initial planting) and was ignored.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Walther Gardens & Vegetable Plants 2007

Around the corner from my house is a little neighborhood nursery called Walther Gardens. They have been there since before there even was a Walther Blvd and they also run one of the city's first snowball stands. Everything is grown right there and they have a great selection of vegetable and flowering plants. The prices are excellent as well. All of the vegetable plants are only $1 each and since they count as food, are tax free. So for $9, I bought the box of plants below.

This year I bought: 1 cloud nine eggplant (white eggplants!), 1 dusky eggplant, some tomatoes (better boy, early girl, beefsteak and sweet 100s), scotch bonnet peppers (very exciting-they are hard to find in stores and a lot of Caribbean recipes call for them), and two zucchini plants. I am tempted to go back and get some more cucumbers or a different variety of squash, but I am undecided. The woman who checked me out said not to put the squash or eggplants in the ground yet anyway, as it has been getting down to almost freezing the last couple of nights.

I am excited to have some more varieties of tomatoes (or as the lady at the nursery called them "toe-may-dahs"-okay, when I lapse into Baltimore-ese I call them that too) we already planted a variety that are supposed to be super producers (50-100 lbs of tomatoes each or something like that) but I really love tomatoes. What if I don't like the super producers? And early girls are, well, early producers, beefsteaks are big and the sweet 100s are cherry tomatoes. So you can see that I really do need about 7 tomato plants to adequately feed 2 people.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Project Budburst

While driving to work (ugh) yesterday I heard an interesting story on NPR's Morning Edition. It was about Project Budburst which is tracking climate change in a decidedly low tech way: home gardener observations. They call it "citizen science" and it is quite easy. Basically you identify a plant, figure out when it is going to bloom and record daily observations as it does. You can see the full set of instructions here.

Monday, May 7, 2007


While we were in NYC this weekend, I really missed our yard. I love the city and we did spend some time in Central Park, but I missed all of the bird and animal sounds we have in our little corner of Baltimore. The lilac is in full bloom now and the whole yard smells heavenly. We noticed that NYC seems to be about a week behind us, plant-wise, the tulips were just coming up and the cherry blossoms were in full bloom which was true here about 7-10 days ago. Just being that little bit further North (3 1/2-4 hours away) seems to make a big difference.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Garden Surprises

When we moved in to our house it was July (2005) and we had only looked at it once in late May, so we had no idea what the yard looked like in Spring until nearly a year later. The previous owners were sort of a "buy whatever we like and plop it where ever" couple so we had some oddball plants (giant grasses in the middle of the yard, a dead fig tree, random bushes) randomly placed all over the yard but the owners before them were much more careful. They had planted a lot of old fashioned bulbs and things (fancy daffodils, snowdrops, resurrection lilies) that were exciting to come across when they bloomed. Most of them we saw last year, but a few were new this year-parts of the yard were very overgrown or had large bushes blocking them, so since we rearranged and replanted a lot of things last year we uncovered a few plants and flowers (particularly bulbs) that we didn't know were there. But my favorite surprise came last year. I had spent our first summer telling Matt that we needed to get a pink cherry tree. We couldn't find one that was both healthy and under a $140 so we didn't get one. Then on March 30th, the bare tree we hadn't identified bloomed, literally overnight. It was a cherry blossom tree! This year, due to the freakish cold, I was worried it wouldn't bloom, but it did, about 3 weeks late. It really is my favorite thing in the yard.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007


The tulips came a little late this year. Last year Matt went to the Sherwood Gardens annual bulb dig and dug up a bunch of exotic tulip bulbs. We planted them in clumps of the same color, but we deliberately did not know which color we planted in which spot.

He planted about 60 bulbs in November and we plan to go back this year for more. It has been a lot of fun seeing them bloom this year-I especially like the black tulips. Ironically, I heard that not many of the tulips at Sherwood Gardens came up this year due to the freakishly cold weather in April, but all of ours did.

Black tulips with ruffly edges near the cherry tree in the backyard.

Pink tulips near the center of the backyard with wedding gift flamingos.

Pinky lavender tulips and green and white striped tulips around the new dogwood in the front yard.
Purple tulips along the front walk.