Friday, March 25, 2011

New update on my seed wishlist!

So, I have been busy at work collecting seeds from my wishlist still! So far, I have knocked the list down by 13 more plants, some of which I have started indoors since last frost is approaching fast! I will be planning my garden as soon as possible, and will share my ideas, etc. soon! Also, look forward to some beautiful photos from this year's cherry blossom festival in Washington, DC. I get to go with my best friend and her husband in about a week! 

Here are the seeds, cuttings, etc. That I have now! Only 41 more to go!

Bell peppers
Purple cabbage

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Photo of the Week!

So, I had been running out of photos that I had taken earlier on before winter came along, but with spring on its way in, I grabbed my camera and took to shooting some of the blooms already peeking through at my house! I love this picture of the hyacinth blooms that I took this morning! It sums up spring in Maryland for me currently: rainy, gloomy, but still beautiful and promising of the bright colors ahead!

Monday, March 14, 2011

I have been a naughty blogger.

I am ashamed to say that I have been slacking on my posts here! My cilantro post has been lying here half finished and much has come to a halt as I excitedly prepare and plan for spring and my upcoming garden. I have not forgotten about my historical posts and will be starting them back up, as well as sharing with you my spring updates soon, once I finish my preparations.

Also, feel free to check out my extra writing, now being published on in the gardening section!

- Posted from my iPad

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Question: I live in Maryland, and am wondering what kinds of flowers are there that don't attract bees?

This is a great question! I had to research this one a bit! Overall, its hard to think of flowers NOT having bees all over them, since bees are the major pollinators out there. I know that it can sometimes be a challenge and a pain to have a beautiful garden full of flowers while keeping it from becoming a bee social spot. But, bees are not the only pollinators out there! In the list of plant pollinators, bats, birds, wind, gnats, humans, and flies are responsible for a lot of pollination as well. When it comes to picking an anti-apiary flowering plant, there are a few factors to consider.

This happens to me every time I go out in the garden!

The first thing that you would want to look at is the colors of the flowers. Color plays an important role for when bees are searching for nectar hotspots. Blue, violet, purple, white, yellow are popular colors that bees have been found to flock to. Reds, oranges, and pinks are well-known for attracting birds and butterflies. But that being said, color alone is not the determining factor for what drives bees wild over flowers.

The shape of the flower plays a very big role in what flowers are bee-friendly. It may not seem like much when looking at a flower, but to a bee the shape of a flower can affect whether it can even get to feast on any of the nectar. For instance, a tiny flower like a daisy is going to be easy for a bee to suck nectar from, since it's proboscis (it's straw-like mouth) does not have to go far to reach it's destination. But if the flower were a long tube-like flower such as sunset hyssop (agastache rupestris), it is going to be much more difficult for a bee's short proboscis to reach the nectar. This also applies similarly with single-blooming flowers versus double-blooming flowers: the cluster of petals in a double bloom make it harder for the bee to get access to the nectar.

A bee's proboscis (the orange colored "straw")

Easy for a bee to get nectar from

A much longer proboscis on a butterfly

This flower was made for a hummingbird's long bill or a butterfly's long proboscis!

Scent of a flower plays a large role in attracting bees, as one would imagine. The more fragrant the flower, the more attractive it is to bees usually. So, avoid things like honeysuckle, jasmine, and so on. Local wildflowers or native flowering plants attract more bees in general than more exotic plants. Lastly, bees are more attracted to plants in the sun than in shaded areas.

So to summarize, all of the factors I mentioned should be things to consider when making floral choices. Of course, it would be untrainable to find a plant that fits all of those requirements at once, but out of all of the bee deterring features, the top things that I would recommend looking for first would be low scent flowers and long tubelike blooms.

Some plants that come to mind quickly would be hyssop, salvia (some of the longer blooms), moonflowers (it blooms more at night, though it blooms in the shade as well), peonies, day lilies, irises.

Great question!

- Posted from my iPad

Monday, February 21, 2011

Question from Jack: I love your fishcicles. How can I do that on my blog?

Hey jack!

Glad you like my little fishies! Well, I don't know what type of blogsite you use, but I use blogger here. I found the widget for some virtual fish and it allows you to change the background. I just used an image of icicles as the background!


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Photo of the week

A beautiful ice plant bloom (probably Delosperma cooperi) from earlier in the year. I miss summer! So sorry for being a bump on a log about getting my Cilantro post up, folks! It seems all I want to do when I get off from work is sleep, sleep, SLEEP! I Definitely am working on it!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Photo of the week

Can you tell that I can't wait for summer to come? A beautiful barrel cactus photo I took way back when the temperatures were much more favorable.

- Posted from my iPad

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Question: can you recommend an evergreen shrub that will flower all year long and will survive in full sun that I don't have to water?

When I used to work in local nurseries, I got this question surprisingly often! With no offense meant, I usually told folks that it was silk flowers that they would be looking for. I don't presume to know where in the world you live, since I have readers from around the world on here. If you live in tropical zones, perhaps there are technical evergreens that flower quite often or that like the sun. Looking for an evergreen shrub that flowers all the time in full sun without needing water is like looking for a Ferrari that waxes itself and doesn't need gasoline! You'll be hard pressed to find one. Perhaps this is solely based on the area I live in and studied plants in, and would love to hear others' opinions on the matter.

Quickly, I will go over why this usually doesn't add up. Most of the flowering evergreens that I know of have very delicate blooms, which is why most flowering evergreens require partial to full shade. When these shrubs are grown in too much sun, the blooms usually develop burn spots.

With anything flowering, usually flowers can only occur when a plant is very healthy or very sick. When the plant is very healthy, the plant is able to devote extra energy to reproductive features (I.e., flowers). When the plant is not so happy, when it reaches a point where it feels like it may die, it goes into a sort of "panic mode" and flowers as a last ditch effort to keep it's species alive. Either way you look at it, flowering with a plant just isn't something that can be done forever. It takes so much energy from the plant, that you would need to constantly feed it nutrients and water for it stay alive while flowering.

Which brings me to the next point, of watering. No plant (or very few should I say) can survive without water. In the chemical equation for photosynthesis (how plants create energy), water is one of the fundamental ingredients! The best thing I can recommend if you don't want to water your plants is to naturalize them. With a new plant, when it is first planted in the ground it must be babied a bit, but as it becomes accustomed to it's new environment, you can begin to wean it from your care and have it become used to natural waterings from the rain.

Of course, all of this information is a general statement on plants, not to be taken literally for each and every plant out there; Azaleas and hollies respond better to naturalization than annual plants and such. Overall reader, I believe you are going to have to sacrifice something to have a beautiful, healthy plant:

1. No water + full sun = unhappy (unless you're interested in cacti)

2. Water + shade = happy evergreen flowering plant

To those in other areas, I would love to hear whether your flowering evergreens are any different, or if you have any advice on the matter as well!


- Posted from my iPad

Saturday, January 15, 2011

R.I.P. Chickpeas

The poor chickpeas were doomed from the beginning it seems. The bag of soil that I purchased from Lowe's was ripe with fungus gnat larvae eggs it seems as my house was plagued with fungus gnats flying about! After 3 soap washes and not much result, I decided to euthanize the poor chickpeas by placing them and their offending houseguests out in this past week's snowstorm! The chickpeas will be restarted later on in the month.

Thanks to the herb roulette (in other words, I said at work "Hey, somebody name a random herb for me."), the next herb that I will be doing a biography on is cilantro/coriander!

Photo of the Week 12

Well, if you can't tell, I love macro photography and I also love asymmetrical photography! Here is a photo of a beautiful Iris that I took. I wish I could remember where I took the picture, but it is nonetheless beautiful!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Hooray for blogpress!

So, finally downloaded blogpress so I can post to blogger straight from my iPad!

So, thinking of getting a wireless keyboard since writing blogs is a bit more keyboard intensive than a touch screen can do at once. Not saying that it can't be done, but the touch screen is pretty sensitive at times and typos occur easier than if I were typing on a physical keyboard. Plus, my typing speed is pretty much halved on a touch keyboard.

I think, since the time has passed for the season, I may forgo doing the holiday season herb history. I frankly found crap on the history of christmas herbs, just a few tidbits. So maybe I will save that for next year when I have more info.

Taking suggestions on the next herb to discuss! There are so many to choose from! Eeeny, meeeny, meiny....

- Posted from my iPad

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Photo of the Week 11 (belated)

Poppies in the middle of March! From the campus of CalPoly Tech in sunny California!