Sunday, April 28, 2013

sprouting forth

Something has finally sprouted from one of these two pots that have laid bare while the other planters have sprouted forth green life. I still don't know what is growing. It's either the florentine tulip or coral lilies. Eventually, the mystery will be revealed.

tulips: April update

white tulip

The white tulips were the first to peak and two have officially bloomed since I started this post. The other white tulips are at the brink of blooming. It's quite a sight to behold - a planter of white tulips! On closer inspection, the insides have a beautiful yellow accent.

white tulip

The next tulips to bloom will be the purple ones. The flower head grew fuller since last week. The color is also more developed. Hopefully when it blooms, the white hyacinths will still be around and not faded.

T. Paul Scherer

The tulip I'm most excited about is the parrot type. At first I wasn't too keen on parrot tulips but after a bit of research and seeing images of the parrot variety, I became infatuated with their petals that showed so much flair! I am waiting for this black parrot to bloom. I love that I can see the feathering feature of this particular tulip.


The Orange Favorite tulip that I bought with the Black Parrot turned out to be disappointing. I planted both these varieties in the same planter but I don't see signs of the Orange Favorite. I'm wondering if these heirloom types require a bit more nurturing before they bloom or they bloom in the second season after initial planting? It makes me wonder about the condition of the bulbs. I don't want to dig them up just yet. I'll wait until tulip season ends. I was really looking forward to a purple and orange arrangement of flowers on the balcony.

In any case, growing and planting tulips have been an interesting experience. I realize now how to better plant them for next year. I read that tulips prefer a sandy soil so I think i will mix in some sand in the soil for replanting in fall 2013. And I definitely want to layer the bulbs again so the planters will seem like the have continuous show of flowers.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

strawberry plants: year 2 April update

The strawberry plants are coming back and they seem to be returning with a bushier growth. I noticed one of the plants has a flower already!

There are a couple of strawberry plants that look like they may not have made it to the 2013 growing season but I remain hopeful.

From my reading sources of growing strawberry plants, the second year is supposed to yield more fruit as opposed to the first year. I'm looking forward to some tasty strawberries especially of the alpine kind.

Strawberry blossom

Strawberry plant

Saturday, April 20, 2013


As the Jeanne d'arc crocuses faded, the white hyacinths bloomed! They're such a pretty sight to see amongst the surrounding green foliage of other plants.

White hyacinth

our japanese maples

Our dwarf Japanese maples are doing very well ever since we applied compost and rearranged their location on the balcony. They seem to be happier. Their leaves are coming in with such vibrant color.

The Koto No Ito seems to have tiny blossoms as they sprout forth new weeping foliage. The beautiful red leaves of the Tamukeyama fan out like delicate blades. And the initial feather like foliage of the Beni Hime have revealed their small star like leaves.

Koto No Ito


Beni Hime

heirloom irises and daylilies

I planted the heirloom irises and daylilies I received from one of my favorite places to obtain flower bulbs. They do a great job carefully packaging the various rhizomes. The irises and daylilies were shipped with their roots intact and clean. The irises were very different looking from the irises I bought and planted last autumn. The ones I got last year will most likely shoot one flower stalk whereas these look like they may shoot multiple flower stalks.

Iris rhizome

Iris rhizome

Iris rhizome

Iris rhizome

Planting the bare roots of the irises and daylilies helped me to understand what is required for these plants to grow. They seem to require a lot of space at the roots. I'm also weary about exposing the iris rhizomes though that is what was instructed when planting.

Daylily rhizome

Daylily rhizome

I'm looking forward to them growing tall and flowering. I got some pretty colors. These include

no peach blossoms

Our peach tree is studded with buds but none have bloomed except one. In fact, the buds would fall when I gently brushed them during a recent inspection. We were very excited for the day when the buds would open because we like how the blossoms look especially when the peach tree itself is not very attractive looking as is.

Peach Blossom

Searching on the world wide web for why the blossoms are not blooming helped to address our concern and confusion. The findings were enlightening and informative.

Apparently peach trees prefer soils that are not heavily fertile when it comes to blooming. We had added a half inch layer of compost a few weeks ago. Fertile soils promotes growth instead of blooming and fruiting.

Cold snaps or late spring frost when the tree has buds may cause the buds not to bloom. There were a few days that got chilly in early spring.

Peach trees like a sunny spot though we haven't moved the peach tree from the location since we placed it on the balcony last year. It bloomed last year though it may be because the buds were already established when I bought it.

If you have a similar problem with your peach tree you may find these links helpful.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

the return of comfrey

I bought a comfrey plant last year because I read that they make great fertilizer for plants. Their leaves break down faster than most other plants because they absorb lots of nutritious minerals from the soil. Of course, due to the excitement of learning about the comfrey plant and the benefits it offers to a garden, I failed to realize that the comfrey plant is more beneficial when planted in the ground where it's deep roots can absorb the minerals plants love.

The comfrey plant is mostly a leafy plant with coarse hairs that can prick if not careful when handling. It also produces pretty pink flowers. The comfrey plant is also a perennial. The leafy parts die back on its own. I planted mine in a Root Pouch planter and when it died back, there were almost no signs of the comfrey except for a few dried stems. It looked like a pot with just soil. We watered the comfrey plant even though it looked like there was nothing to water.

About three weeks ago, I noticed tiny green shoots though I wasn't certain. It was my first time with a comfrey plant and didn't know what to expect. Last week, the leaves grew a bit more and surfaced above the soil. I was very happy to see the comfrey return.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

jeanne d'arc

Crocuses are usually the first to pop ip from the ground and bloom; a sign of spring. Our white crocuses, Jeanne d'Arc, have finally bloomed! They looked beautiful! Sadly, they lasted about a week, which was disappointing. Their petals looked very delicate, almost as papery as poppies. Perhaps their blooms don't last as long in their first year? In any case, they were nice to see while they lasted.

Jeanne d'arc crocus

Saturday, April 6, 2013

spring balcony garden 2013

Last weekend, we bought a bag of compost at the Union Square Greenmarket. I thought it was a good time to lay down some nutrients for the plants as they were beginning to come out of the soil, sprout new foliage, and buds. The seller advised us to apply a half inch of compost to each planter.

Tulips springing forth

A week later, there were visible improvements to their development and growth. The tulips shot up some more. The planter with hyacinths and crocuses are more lush and green. The new growth of the irises are also doing well!

Crocus shoots and hyacinths

Mini rose bush

I also pruned back the mini rose bushes though left some tall stems because I could see potential growth. They too got a sprinkling of compost, which seemed to help with their foliage. Lots of new bright green leaves. I also didn't notice anymore black aphids. I had sprayed all the roses neem oil based solution.

Mini rose bush

Unfortunately, it's not all goods news. We lost a bunch of 'Pauline' dwarf irises last weekend and I believe it is due to a couple of factors over watering and/or the pot sitting in water, and apparently, they needed to be planted closer to the surface. I noticed the green shoots looked dry with yellowing tips. When I tugged on them, the shoots easily pulled away leaving a hole where it sprouted forth.

A couple of bulbs have not shot through the soil, which has me concerned. These are the Florentine tulips, delicate yellow tulips, and coral lilies. After searching online for other people who have experienced or have knowledge of growing these particular flowers, I learned that the florentine tulips may need a bit more sun and the coral lilies comes out later in the season. Well, I hope that is the case and I will see something in the near future.

The Japanese maples and peach tree loved the compost. The Beni Hime JM is doing especially well! It's leaves are bright pink, almost fuchsia, and like delicate feathers unfurling. It's really quite a pretty sight!


The buds of the peach tree are showing their blushing pink color. They are ready to explode open! I'm looking forward to these blossoms opening soon!

Peach blossom buds

It won't be long until the garden will be filled with color and sweet fragrance from the flowers.