Monday, May 26, 2008

My Little Flower Garden

I needed some color on my balcony to mix up all of the green. I wanted to do a color theme, and I love the color mix I came up with: oranges, yellow, and peachy tones. I need to pot them, but that requires money, which I am low on at the moment, so I'll have to hope they can hang on until the money comes in to buy pots. Would you like to know what I purchased? The following picture will be a closeup, and I'll give you a breakdown below it of what I picked up. But before I do that, do you see the little pot of greens next to the yellow flowers on the left? That's one of my herb pots. I've got basil, parsley and chamomile growing in it and I started it from seeds! I have some indoors too. I clipped some basil for the pizzas we made last night. Nice young leaves that were oh-so-fragrant and tender.

Okay, so starting in the back, the flowers are as goes:

Three each of "#1 Iceland Poppy" in Yellow, Peachy-Pink & Orange Flowers: Scientific name: "Papaver nudicale"

In front from left to right:

"#1 Dwarf Dahlia 'Figaro' Dahlia" - "Dahlia x hybrida" - Yellow flowers
"Daisies" - Red Flowers (I don't have a tag w/this one, so I'll have to look it up)."Gold Coin" - "Asteriscus Maritimus" - Yellow flowers
A nice close up of the peachy-pink poppies with a new bud getting ready to open on the right hand side.

Here's a close up of the Yellow Dahlias and Red Daisies.

And a closeup of the Red Daisies and Gold Coins.

Above is a picture of my orange poppies.

And another picture above of my peach-pink Poppies. They look more pink in this photo, but they do have a "peachy" tone to them in person.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

New Patio/Balcony Shade Screen!

I was really busy this weekend. I must be nuts! It was well into the high nineties and I was out on my balcony building a shade screen to protect my plants from sunburn. I think it turned out pretty good though! Bruce suggested that I only build it so high, saving the both of us from balancing precariously from the third floor railing to hang it.

I went to Home Depot early Sunday morning and came back with the following supplies: a roll of shade fabric in a lovely sandy shade, 5 wood supports - 2" x 1" and 3 feet long, metal tacks designed to hook the fabric to wood (a staple gun would have been better), and electrical ties (think that's the name!). I got home and started building. I made myself nuts, sweating and swearing as I scraped my arm, stepped on my hammer and experienced many other mishaps. I had to redo it a couple of times too, which really ticked me off, but there it is, finished. Yes, it could be better, but my husband is really proud of me. He called me from downstairs especially to tell me how good it looked. He was really impressed and I did it all myself, except for having someone hold one end, so it wouldn't fall over the side of the balcony while I tied it. It comes up about three feet from the balcony ledge. I love having privacy while I play with my plants. Here's another picture, and I'll try to add an evening picture later. The flower lights look really cool against the shade screen at night. They sort of glow.

Fly Tape and the Gnat Problem

I've got a real big gnat problem, inside and out. I'm trying a couple of things. The first was a brand of insecticidal soap spray from Schultz, which is not working and the second is good, old-fashioned fly-tape, which I picked up at the 99 cent store. I got four rolls for 99 cents, a great bargain! I was told about using tape at the California Cactus Center, but I wasn't sure about it. Within about an half-an hour I had all those gnats stuck at the top. Needless to say, I was shocked. I have one hanging by my tomato plants, which have a really bad infestation. I have to say that though that my tomatoes aren't doing so good generally anyway. I have some little caterpillar eating up all my plants. Darn caterpillar! At least you can pick them off fairly easy though. Still they ate a bunch of leaves before I caught on to them. Anyway, back to the gnats: I'm hoping the tape will eliminate a few of them from laying more eggs! Imagine all those babies!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Boy have I been busy with the garden, amongst other things. I came down with a really bad sinus infection, after a bout with the flu, plus Micaela had her VMA competition for her middle school at Disneyland and Fullerton, which kept me hugely busy! Anyway, my fellow friend and blogger Julie asked where I was and I figured I better get busy. (Thanks Julie for asking about me! :O)) ).

Okay, so I've been increasing my garden like a crazy woman, even adding some strawberry plants, herbs, lettuce and tomatoes. It's so exciting. I'm having so much fun digging in the dirt that I've neglected my blog. I thought I'd get back into things by adding pictures of ALL my plants. I've got a ton, so now you get to witness my plant addiction problem. Here goes (click on the pics for closeups):

Here's a picture of the garden on the left hand side of my balcony. We have two balconies that have their own sliding doors. Below us, (we're on the third floor), is a two bedroom on the left and a one bedroom on the right, which gives you an idea of how big our apartment is. The apartments below each have a balcony lined up under and below us. Anyway, click on the pic for a bigger look at all that's going on. We've got my salad bowl hanging on the left with the pink flowers. I planted the lettuce seeds about a week and half ago, and the other bowl with the orange flowers has herbs. Those are strawberry plants on the center table and closest in the pic are some great cactus that I found at the 99 cent store. I kept meaning to blog about them, but I'd get busy. I got some great flowers from them recently. I'll post some individual pictures later on. That's a rather "weedy" bushy lavender plant to the right of the cactus and a stapelia between the two. I love my stapelia. It's growing beautifully!

In the picture above you see a recent find! I was so thrilled when I came across these big, lush Cotleydon tomentosas, fondly known as "Bear Paws." I bought two plants and put them in a nice big pot to encourage them to grow even more. I loved planting these yesterday, 'cause they are so soft and velvety feeling. I made my hubby and everyone come over and stroke them. I love my Bear Paws. Do you like the green frog? I picked this cutey up at the 99 cent store! I bought one for my Mom for Mother's Day. She is a bigtime frog collector! She's going to love it I think.

Here's my indoor collection of succulents. I do have some others scattered about in my house, but here's where I store the majority. There's lots going on here. I took some close ups to show you. I haven't got all the names, but I'm going through an Echeveria addiction right now. I'm very picky, but I've selected some real good specimens.

Here's a table filled with Echeverias and Cotyledon tomentosas. I have two Perle Von Nurnbergs. One is supposed to be a gift, but I'm not sure I can part with it. It's the lower left hand corner purplish-green plant. It's such a nice specimen, that I might have to hold on to it and put together another gift for my hubbies co-worker. Then there's my gorgeous "Blue Bird" Echeveria who is still developing flower buds on it's ever-growing stems. You can see it in the center on the table.
And above are some herbs I've grown from seeds. From left to right you see parsley, basil (which grows rapidly), and chamomile They're really coming along and are actually growing better in my window sill than the ones I'm growing in a pot outside! Here's a nice closeup of the plants on the table. Lots going on here too. I love, love, love my blue-green sedum clavatum that's sitting in the front, second from the right by the Perle Von Nurnberg. It's my favorite and it finally took off! I learned from trial and error that it likes to be watered more often. I'm really beginning to get to know my plants and their unique needs, which is giving me much better results. Once it got warm and I started watering it more, it really began to produce for me. I even took some cuttings off this plant and I am trying to root them.

My Creeping Charlie cuttings that my Mom rooted for me are growing marvelously. I'm so pleased with the fact that they finally took off. They were really struggling, so I cut them back tremendously and between that and the warmer weather, they are doing much better. They are in the big blue-green ceramic pot.

Here's some more plants "stashed" under my table, 'cause I'm running out of room. It includes a conophytum, split-rock and a couple of lithops "hiding" amongst the rocks. I don't have all the technical names of the other two, but please forgive me, as this is a long post. Please write me if you want the names.

Here's another cutting from my Mom's plant. It's doing so good! I finally planted it, but I think the pot is just tad bit small for the plant.

Here's another new find, a real beauty that I had to have. It's called a Pachyphytum "Blue Haze." I got a tiny one to ship to my Mom for Mother's Day. Unfortunately, this guy came with some friends, some aphids. At this point they're not so bad, so I'm just hand picking them off. Still it's a beaut and you can reproduce it easily from leaf cuttings which I'm preparing to do.

Okay, I know I have the name of this Echeveria some where, but I'm not sure where I put it. It's inside, by my balcony window and seems to be doing real good there.

Here's a neato Sempervivum tectorum "Houseleek," that I picked up recently and it is doing great growing by the balcony sliding door.

I loved my Creeping Charlies so much that I got from my Mom that I picked some up at the 99 cent store and put them on my piano.

Here's some more things I've got growing amongst our rock museum. (Yes, we're nerds and my daughter Chloe and I have a rock museum that includes magnifying glasses and books). Hee-hee...! Dig our 70s wood paneling!

We're back outside on the left hand side balcony. Here's the mad-scientist-botanist-horticulturist's, (call me what you will), outdoor laboratory! Here's is where I start new plants and hope for some great success. I've got leaves budding and cuttings rooting, and there's five little beauties on the right hand side that are going to be shipped off to Mommy for Mother's Day.

Here's my Ruby Slippers Daisy-like flowers that I just had to have. I think they actually are a breed of daisies, at least that's what they told me at Home Depot. Aren't the colors beautiful?

There's a few things growing here, but I will talk to you about my tomato plants. I'm growing them organically and attempting "companion planting" where you plant them along with beneficial plants that protect them from certain bugs/diseases. These Celebrity and Better Boys tomato plants have been planted with Marigolds and basil seeds, which are just starting to germinate.

In the pot on the left are Morning Glory plants that I started from seed and in the terracotta plant 2nd from the left is the herb pot that I told you wasn't growing as good as the ones inside. It contains parsley, basil and chamomile.

And finally, here's my last tomato plant on hubbies side of the balcony called a "Big Rainbow Tomato." It's a nifty looking orange-red swirled tomato, that I hope will taste yummy, although I've read it's quite mild in flavor, AFTER buying it, of course!

I've got lots of seedlings going and it's keeping me so busy, but I love my garden. I need to post more specifics, but this is a good jump start on what's happening in my world of plants!