Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Blues and Whites

The dominant color in the garden right now is green, as the spring bulbs are largely through and the summer annuals and perennials have not really gotten started yet. A notable exception are the irises, which are at their peak:

The view along the garden

A close-up of the bearded iris

Siberian iris (Iris sibirica)

The white Parma violet 'Comte de Brazza' 

The black-and-white flowers the 'Windsor' broad beans (Vicia faba 'Windsor')

Hopefully there will be more to show soon, as over the past week or so I have been planting what feels like hundreds upon hundreds of seedlings and bulbs and what not, ranging from heirloom gladioli to petunias to rice. Now we just need some steady warmth and a decent amount of rain...

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

More Spring

This continues to be a challenging spring, gardening-wise. The weather has been very chilly the last couple of days, which has kept me from moving outside lots of tender plants that for months have been suffering through less-than-ideal conditions and spider mite infestations inside. As if that where not enough, I am pretty sure there is something seriously wrong with the potting soil I have been using for the past two months. Most of my seedlings are much smaller than they should be by this point, and not a few have developed discolorations of their leaves and stems. I can only hope that they will perk up once they are planted out in good soil in the garden or transferred to larger containers for the deck. Unfortunately, I still have quite a bit of the suspicious soil, which I now do not even dare add to the garden beds. So while I wait for the weather and improve and my plants to catch up and keep buying new soil, here are some more pictures of things that are doing well:

Tulipa 'Elegans Rubra'

Tulipa acuminata

 A double lilac (Syringa vulgaris cv.)

More - hopefully positive - news soon...

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Blooming Trees Around Town

The crab apples and redbuds are beginning to bloom all around town, and luckily it appears that they have not been fazed by the late frost that ruined most of the magnolias, apricots, and early ornamental cherries.

A crab apple (Malus sp.) on campus...

 ... and a redbud (Cercis canadensis)

I also managed to find the one saucer magnolia (Magnolia x soulangeana) in the neighborhood that somehow escaped the frost damage.

The sole saucer magnolia (Magnolia x soulangeana) in bloom in the neighborhood this year

Finally, here is an interesting article from The Guardian on an admirable initiative to save the plant heritage of traditional Palestinian agriculture, in acute danger not just because of changes in agricultural methods and materials but also because of the aggressive spread of Israeli settlements:


One has to wonder just how much biodiversity we are losing as collateral damage of conflicts, in that part of the world and elsewhere.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Garden Update

Even though today was chilly and rainy, it is finally really, properly spring in the garden, and everything is sprouting and greening and blooming.

A view of the central portion of the garden

My heirloom tulips are doing particularly well, and this year Tulipa 'Elegans Rubra' is among them. After last year's attempt at this rare and pricey historic variety failed completely, Old House Gardens with their impeccable customer service sent me a replacement bulb for free, and it has developed perfectly.

The spidery Tulipa acuminata, the bright red lily-flowered Tulipa 'Elegans Rubra', and what should have been the white-flowered pure species of Tulipa clusiana but instead turned out to be the pale yellow selection 'Cynthia'

Now back to that conference paper...

Friday, April 22, 2016

Garden History Meets Activism

I woke up this morning only to find something - I am afraid it was a mouse - had wreaked havoc on the rice seedlings in the sunroom. Luckily most of the seedlings that had been completely destroyed were of the easier, earlier varieties of which I have plenty of seed rather than the rarer landraces that I am trialing this year and of which I only have very limited seed, and which moreover might be less likely to succeed if I have to start them anew at this point. Even so, I was seething with frustration, especially since I have to somehow figure out another place for the young plants where they can grow undisturbed, safe from the predations of whatever nocturnal critter has apparently taken up residence with us.

In the meantime, here is an article from the Harvard Gazette about one of my peers and his very exciting work as both an academic and activist working for the preservation of historic gardens in Istanbul:

Defender of Urban Gardens

Needless to say, I am very excited to read Aleksander's dissertation when it is completed.