January 17, 2010

January robin

I actually heard a robin yesterday. Not singing, just calling. That might be the earliest I've ever heard one around here (robin not pictured).

January 15, 2010

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day: January 2010

All I can muster this month is a sad-looking kalanchoe. If I
had planned right I might have some miniature roses or something
else, oh well.

A melty day in January

I dread turning into one of those bloggers that disappears for months on end and then reappears with gusto, and then does the same thing all over again in an awful cycle of forget/over-compensate/forget. So I apologize for basically missing most of the fall blogging season (along with many garden blogger's bloom days) and I will certainly try to stay on top of updates, however minor they may be. Fall 2009 was a difficult season as several personal issues prevented me from really putting time and effort into blogging, one of which was a death in the family.

As I write I'm gazing out the back window at what I like to call a "melty" day; the snow is slushy, icicles are dripping, and little patches of dormant garden are peering out here and there. A "warm" day in Syracuse; about 37 degrees. January is an interesting month because it is almost always when a particular hardiness zone sees its winter low temperature, and being a gardener who likes to push the envelope when it comes to hardiness I usually spend January checking temps everyday and thinking about some of the "experiments" I have going on out back. Some of this winter's experiments include:

- an attempt at overwintering (yes, outside) a musa basjoo ("hardy" Japanese fiber banana)
- three Ackerman hybrid camellias, which are supposed to be hardy to a cold zone 6
- a hardy heirloom gladiola called 'Carolina Primrose', also hardy to zone 6
- on the edible front, overwintering some brassicas such as mammoth redrock cabbage, Jersey Wakefield cabbage, and of course kale in a coldframe

Here's basically what I did to protect the banana:

After cutting it down to about a foot, I built
a chicken wire cage around the pseudostem.

I filled the cage with pine straw that I collected from a
local park. There's also some dried Siberian iris leaves thrown
in for good measure. You could also use dead leaves, but pine
straw is generally better since it's less prone to fungal growth.

The finished product. This will *hopefully* protect the
banana enough to allow for its survival. In the spring, it
should grow back from the ground, or possibly the
remaining pseudostem if I'm lucky.

Here's one of the Ackerman camellias, 'Kuro Delight'. There
are two fat buds waiting for spring..I really hope this plant survives
the winter!

A bloom from this past November from another Ackerman
camellia, 'Ashton's Pride'. Right now this plant does not look
so good as the deer have been continuously browsing it, so
I'm a little worried.