Sunday, April 6, 2008

Spring Fever Cure II

For the second straight weekend, my friend Beckie and I headed to a local garden center, Prairie Gardens, for a series of seminars on gardening. It was a glorious day here in central Illinois: bright sunshine, and the temperature actually hit 60 degrees! While we might have felt just a twinge of guilt about not working outside today, the ground is still too muddy; besides, we were on our way to get lots of new ideas to improve our gardens this year. It's hard to pass all the trays of annuals and hundreds of new perennials without wanting to buy a cartload of new plants and get them out into the garden right now. But we knew better and took advantage of a little free time to check out all the plants available and make notes for a later shopping trip when planting season is really here. (The last frost date here is May 15--more than a month away!)

These hanging baskets of petunias (below) are already full and lush; I can only imagine what they will look like by May. I was pleased to discover that the center carried a few perennials that I have been wanting to plant this summer. Not only are they cheaper than those from the mail order catalogue I've been looking at, but I also prefer to see the real plant before I buy it.

Our first session was "Hot Perennial Picks for 2008." I took over two pages of notes on this session alone--too many choices! The 2008 perennial of the year is the geranium "Roxanne," but I think I'll pass on planting this one until I've actually seen it in someone's garden. Instead I was really taken with two plants for my shade garden: Brunnera "Jack Frost" and a trollius, or globe flower. I'm sure many of you have the brunnera, but I had only seen them in gardening catalogues which didn't do them justice. And the trollius was completely new to me--a bright yellow flower that should add some punch among the hostas and ferns.

Our second session was "Trendy Outdoor Containers." Our speaker started by naming eight simple rules for container gardening, the first of which was"It's your garden." I took that to mean "plant what you like," so I am, and I am not going to use any of her ideas for plant combinations. No, seriously, she gave us some good basic information about planting and maintaining containers. I just didn't care for the sample mixtures she showed us.

Combining tropicals like this banana plant (too tall for my camera) with perennials and a few annuals seems to be popular this year. Her other container mixed houseplants with a perennial and a few annuals.

I don't know; I just prefer colorful annuals in containers, and my containers must have at least one trailing plant, or "spiller." Besides some helpful ideas on watering and fertilizing, I did see something I liked and want to try--the "living wreath" below. The speaker gave only a brief overview of how to create them, but it looked fairly easy to make--I hope.

Our last session was entitled "For the Birds," and just between you and me, I stayed for it only because Beckie wanted to stay. But was I glad I did! I can tell the difference between a cardinal and a blue jay, but that's about the extent of my knowledge of bird species. I do have a hummingbird feeder close to my porch, and I've been enjoying watching them the last few summers, but was always secretly disappointed that my hummingbirds were rather drab in color. Now, after this seminar, I know why: those "drab" hummingbirds are the only species of hummers that migrate to our area. I still don't know how to identify many other birds, but now I'm ready to go out and buy a bird identification book and more bird feeders.

Before we left for the day, we checked out some other garden accessories and found these cute topiaries that can be covered with various plants. Some of you might actually like one of these rabbits in your garden...

...or maybe even two of them.

They are available in several different shapes--I thought Beckie might like a squirrel--but at $50--$80 apiece, they are a bit pricey.

I did pass on the topiaries, but couldn't resist buying a few of the primroses I mentioned last week (though last week they were listed as primulas; not sure why) as well as some pansies. And after a week of thinking about it, I just had to buy this planter.

I have no idea where I'll put it yet, but it just reminded me of Italian Renaissance art, which doesn't exactly fit my country setting.
But, hey, it's my garden, right?


  1. Your pictures and writings really captured our experiences at the garden center's seminars. What a wonderful time we had be with other gardeners, sharing ideas, and learning new things. It made me that much more eager to get out and start planting!

  2. Quite right Rose, it is your garden, plant what you like. Thats what makes it interesting to the rest of us.
    I liked the rabbits but gosh how expensive.

    Love your planter, lovely colour, please show us when it is planted up. I love container planting.

    Still snowing

  3. Yes, Beckie, we did have a great time! I did get out today and plant the pansies in a container and planted my primroses. The soil was surprisingly drier than I expected.

    Cheryl, I liked the rabbits, too, especially the upright ones. I'm not too sure of conversion rates, but they're probably about 20 to 40 pounds, which is still expensive, no matter what currency you use. Oh well, I might look for a similar rabbit figurine.

  4. Rose, thanks for visiting my blog!

    I want to tell you - BUY ROZANNE!!! You will NOT be sorry. I've had it for three years now and it's a really awesome hardy geranium. I actually have to cut it back about mid-summer because it grows so fast. It's not invasive, although it's such a great plant, that would probably be okay. LOL.

    You and Beckie have been having too much fun, haven't you? What a great way to start the gardening season!

  5. Thanks for dropping by, Kylee, and thanks for the advice on Rozanne. It's so hard to judge a plant based on the small specimen we saw. I will have to try it after all, especially if it is such a vigorous grower.

    You're right--Beckie and I have been having so much fun! My husband is feeling neglected, however; maybe if I buy a new tiller (which I want) like yours, he can get in the act, too.

  6. Loved your tour of the garden centre because if I were back home that is precisely what I would be doing. Arizona is wonderful..we are enjoying every minute!! hugs NG
    Next post I'll have some sweetness!

  7. lovely planter you got! I highly recommend Geranium Rozanne. She is lovely, and blooms in my garden from May through the end of October, and even into November if it's mild. The blooms are a beautiful blue, similar to Johnson's Blue, but I think prettier, and with a much longer bloom period. I'm afraid I may have lost mine after dividing it. I think the squirrels dug up the divisions over the winter. I have already ordered replacements. Geranium Rozanne is definitely one of my favorite plants in my garden. The foliage is lovely too, and stays fresh and beautiful spring to fall, with nice fall color to boot.

  8. Thanks, Nature girl, for dropping by. In a month when my trees are flowering, I won't be quite as jealous of your being in Arizona. I enjoy your posts!

    Garden girl, Thanks for the recommendation. You've persuaded me--I'm going to buy the Rozanne this spring!

  9. I love your blog!! You have some of everything: cats, poetry, sweet young sprouts, beautiful blooms,.. even earthquakes!

    I used Wordsworth's poem on my web site, too. I tried my hand at poetry on my blog, but it was pretty, pretty bad :(


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