Saturday, March 24, 2012

Part 3: San Francisco Flower & Garden show

This is the last post for this show - hope you have enjoyed the images.  I've uploaded another "dragon" photo because a few people have asked for another shot and yes, he is rather striking.

The American Pitcher Plant used nicely in a boggy planter.
Cement planter next to Mr. Dragon.  You can see the overall size in the next photo by the Dragon's snout.

This handsome fellow was the hit of the show.
A "dragon egg" bursting forth with flowers.

Another view of the "graffiti" urban planting.

A very sweet patio setting in coral-pink with soft amber lighting.
In the landscape, steps do not necessarily need to lead somewhere practical, they may simply imply a path that has tumbled into oblivion by earthquake or the elements..

What a lovely outdoor fireplace to relax with a glass of wine and good company.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Part 2: San Francisco Flower & Garden Show

Weather for the first day of the show was sunny and today it started out a little misty but the inside of the two buildings at the show is definitely spring-like.  (Next week we are in Great Falls, MT and wondering exactly how we'll get there if the Cascade pass at Snoqualmie closes again - it might be a roundabout way through the snow, so we are just enjoying California weather to the fullest.)

Enjoy the photos below - all of the 2012 Show Garden creators did a marvelous job with their spaces.
Seems you can make a fountain our of just about anything and yes, it is the front of an old vehicle.

A little bit of color goes a long way to enliven old found objects.

More "grey"in the landscape - the new neutral for gardens?  White is still popular for wooden structures, picket fences and adobe walls,  but carved rock and natural concrete hard-scape elements make a good backdrop.  Not to mention that in colder, wetter climates, any moss encouraged to grow within the cracks blends nicely into a low cost, low maintenance garden that never needs refinishing.

"Graffiti" artfully placed in the garden. It was a "double take" for us when we realized those large planters were actually trash dumpsters!  Use everything and be creative in the garden.

Even a small outcropping of rock with a few paving stones can become a patio.
Our B&D booth just before the show opened on Wednesday.  The flowers were just starting to open, and by Saturday, our overhead fans will gently blow the Oriental Lily fragrance out into the isles - competing with the orchids and lavender blossoms on either side - such fun for our gardening friends.  We are exhibiting right in the middle of the Fiesta Hall on the main walkway,  rather hard to miss with our bright pink theme.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Part 1: San Francisco Flower & Garden Show

First peek at the Display Gardens - practical plus whimsical ideas.

With only a small digital camera, we cannot fully photograph each garden for you, but will simply focus on an element or two which we found to be nicely done.  To learn more about the inspiration behind each creation, click here.  The garden shots are not named because Dianna only had a few minutes to take photos before the show opened. More photos tomorrow or Friday. 
This smirking dragon guards an array of whimsy.

Never thought to add pine cones to soften the edge of sharp metal...

Greys can be very pretty and restful in the garden.

This nice retaining wall reminds me of crossing the rocky mountains.

Not very practical in rain or high wind, but the umbrellas are a hit.

The old metal implements, ferns and forest "litter" look more like home in Washington,  than Southern California.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

On the road again... San Francisco Flower & Garden Show - in San Mateo

We are on the road early (3:45AM) and wearing green for St. Patrick's Day!

"Muffie", Mom's deep blue F-350 Powerstroke (wearing a green bow of course) is heading south over the Siskiyou Mountains to bring sweetly scented lilies to the Bay area March 21-25.  Weather was mixed snow and rain near home but the further south we traveled today, the nicer the weather became.

Known for our spectacular array of lilies, this year we'll also have a small educational display in one corner of the 20'x20' space, targeting "budding gardeners" age 12 and under with their parents.  What better way to inspire youngsters with the fun of gardening (and not just weeding) than by an adventure at one of the flower and garden shows. If you are attending the show with children, be sure to receive a "Discovery Pass" at the door for the kids to collect all the stickers/stamps from the six participating vendors at the show and turn it the booklet for a free gift at the Children's exhibit.

In addition to our wonderfully scented lilies, we have several varieties of rain lilies (Zephranthes) on the truck, nice LARGE bulbs of Eucrosia bicolor, plus freshly packaged bulbs of the new 8" tall 'Tiny Piny' Series of Eucomis from breeder Eddie Walsh of New Zealand. 

California garden designs differ somewhat from landscapes familiar to those of us gardening in the Northern regions, but design elements remain the same, a pleasing combination of "hard-scape" and plants used with creativity.  A few years back, a retaining wall was composed of brightly painted old steam radiators, another had an adobe house with dry-gardening plants and geckos, but our hand's down favorite resembled the movie jungle of "Jurassic Park" - complete with lush foliage, the front end of a crunched Jeep and the occasional burst of thunder, lighting, plus a cloud of mist billowing into the path.  Some designs are not do-able in our rainy, snowy climate - but we do have fun looking.

If in the Bay area, we hope to meet you at the show. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Semi-automated planting of lily bulbs

High Pressure over our farm this morning!
We woke to a blanket of snow earlier this week - but spring is apparently on its way, because the first chorus of frogs began performing last night, plus our returning birds were checking out potential nesting spots today.  Leaves on the trees and shrubs are beginning to unfurl themselves and the Daylily sprouts are starting to poke up in the garden.  Unfortunately, those pesky "winter" weeds are also looking pretty good, but no time for weeding the front yard this month because we have lily bulbs to process for customers, and the rest of our planting stock needs to go into the fields.

Covering up the bulbs with soil.
On the home farm two weeks ago, Bob tilled the cover crop from last September, where the rows are meant to be, giving the root masses time to decompose before planting. Usually it takes two or three workings of the soil to completely break down last autumn's oats, but our rotation of sun, rain, and snow this spring has left a very nice seedbed - and since the soil has been frozen nearly every morning... Hooray, no new weeds seeds have germinated!  The cover crop remaining between the rows will be mowed and tilled later this spring.  Oats do not always winter over so nice and green, but even should they die back, the browned foliage helps to suppress weed germination and the oat roots help to soften the ground for planting - a win-win event.

After the frost melted this morning our soil was still a bit too sticky-wet for total machine planting, but since the forecast for rain was still a bit South (see radar image above) we saw an opportunity.  Hand placing lily bulbs into a trench is a bit more work, but it helps us to get a head start on planting season.  That is, of course, if it doesn't rain and make "mud" in the rows - in which case everything is then hauled back into the barn cooler. After the bulbs are quickly put into place, the tractor covers up the row, but fertilizer is not spread until the lilies are beginning to emerge.  Our winters are too wet to mix nutrients into the soil while tilling, any fertilizer dug into the soil before lily bulbs can utilize it would simply wash away and be wasted.

The lilies shown in the photos are planted much closer together than what is recommended for the home garden.  These are large two-year old bulbs that only need one more summer in the field before being packaged for sales and they were simply being moved from another section of field that needed to be reset.  Larger lily bulbs are placed further apart, just like in the garden.

Shipping is just around the corner... and as the weather permits safe delivery, orders going to southern states will be filled next week for selected areas.  We'll ship as many orders as possible that the computer says can be completely filled.  About 80% of the bulbs have been packaged and the rest will be processed over the next three weeks.  A few more bulbs need to come out of the ground where the soil is still semi-frozen, and excepting northern areas where winter still has sharp fangs, most of our lily bulb orders will be out the door by the second week of April unless you specifically requested late April or early May delivery. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Check incubating Lily Bulb "Scales" for growth this month

For those of you who scaled lily bulbs last fall, you should start seeing nice size bulblets forming on the individual scales - Step #5 below.   If you would like to try your hand at at multiplying bulbs by cloning, the start-to-finish steps are outlined below and the complete instructions are on our website.  The images shown above are bulblets with tiny leaves beginning to grow after receiving a "winter" - either in the fridge or outdoors in the garden.  Click Instructions for more about these photographs.

Step #1. Start with fresh-harvested, locally grown bulbs. The lily’s reproductive cells need to be on a natural cycle for best vitality. Do not use cheaply obtained lily bulbs, either in spring or September, from questionable sources. These usually are bulbs that were left unsold from the greenhouse forcing market and have been unnaturally stored in freezers for over a year. Dehydration from long storage will cause their growth to be marginal when compared to fresh bulbs. Best results are from lily bulbs fresh from the garden, scaled in October, with the new bulblets planted outdoors in March.

Step #2. To begin, remove all of the outer two rings of scales and discard. Carefully break off the remaining layers of bulbs, completely down to the “pit” - the center of the bulb, where the shoot emerges.

Step #3. Set out the “scales” and the “pit” to dry overnight. DO NOT wash the scales to “clean them,” or you risk contamination. They will air-dry and the broken surface will callous, naturally protecting the scales from fungus. The next day you may replant the lily bulb core. It will put up a pathetic-looking stem the first year, but should recover the following season with a bloom or two.

Step #4. Place scales between layers of slightly damp vermiculite or peat (sterilized) in a plastic bag that is loosely folded at the top. Place in a warm, evenly heated location of about 70 degrees F. for 8 to 10 weeks. Do not allow any lily scales to come in direct contact with the plastic bag. If water droplets form on the plastic, there is too much moisture - open the bag immediately to allow in more air.

Step #5. When bulblets are about the size of green peas or shelled filberts (their growth depending on the type of lily) they are moved into cold storage for their first “winter.” After six to eight weeks of temperatures just above freezing, the bulblets are ready to be planted either outdoors or in a greenhouse.

Step #6. Scatter in weed-free, perfectly drained ground, covering the bulblets with only one inch of soil. Keep bulblets evenly moist the first summer, checking soil moisture before irrigation. Do not allow the soil to completely dry, or all growth will stop for the summer. Most cultivars will send up tiny stems from 4 to 12 inches in height, depending on the Lilium type.

Step #7. These yearlings may be harvested and moved to a permanent location in October. Most will have one or two flowers the second year, but Asiatics require an additional two years of growth and Orientals, three years, before they are of commercial size.