Monday, February 23, 2015

February Orchid Blooms

It is a welcome phenomenon that many orchids like to bloom this time of year (in the Northern Hemisphere, anyways).  Since moving to this new location, I have divided my orchids between two climates.  The intermediate temperature, lower-light orchids are living in the house and the ones that like brighter light and higher temperatures are in the sun room of the barn.  Actually, the sun room does get cooler in winter, but I think this may help start the blooming cycle for some of them.  More critical is the light -- some would get sunburn out there (Phalaenopsis).   

Oncidium Twinkle Pink Profusion
A new purchase that bloomed this January, Oncidium "Twinkle" Pink Profusion.  This is a tiny plant with mini flowers.  It was grown by Forestview Gardens in Agassiz, BC.  They sold some of these to the soon-to-be Gardenworks garden center in Penticton, where I picked this one up.  They also sell at orchid events and I hope pick up more in the future.

Dendrobium nobile "Angel Smile"
This is an old friend of many years that is blooming this week: Dendrobium nobile "Angel Smile".  I actually have three plants with buds at the moment.  This is the best color I have ever seen on this plant, as my previous blooms were quite pale.  I wonder what made the difference?  This one has been growing out in the barn sun room but was moved inside so we can enjoy the blooms.

I won this huge Cymbidium at a raffle at the local Orchid Society meeting.  I will divide this one after flowering.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Starting on the stock tank raised beds

The resident heavy-lifter (man-sort of gardener here) has begun the spring work of creating raised beds out of stock tanks.  He purchased them at a place down in Washington state that has cheap prices on such things and hauled them up here last fall. Now, they have been placed on the south side of the barn and it appears he has placed perforated plastic pipes in the bases, with the upwards-pointing end functioning as a port for watering. 
Stock tanks destined to be a garden
On top of the pipes is a layer of river rock, which will eventually be topped with permeable landscape fabric, a few inches of sand, and then potting mix.  I have some doubts about the whole YouTube-researched project, but it seems many others have tried this sort of thing and have had success.  The home-design website, Houzz, even has a selection of photos of such garden additions.  I originally had dreams of a French-inspired gated- and lavender hedge-surrounded potager garden complete with ornamental allium, calendula and sweet pea flowers.   He wanted to match the barn's metal roof with the adjacent metal tanks to complete the agri-industrial look.  Whatever.   
My planting ideas for these things so far includes tomatoes, peppers, strawberries and lettuce.  We don't need herbs in here because they already have their own very successful location elsewhere.  With the high number of rodents around here, un-protected strawberries quickly disappear.  I am planning to cover one entire tank with netting just to protect the strawberry crop.  After that thought, I also wondered about covering another one with a shade cloth tent in which to grow lettuce in shaded comfort, so that the Okanagan heat doesn't make it go to seed so quickly.  Any ideas or tips?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Opening a New Chapter

If you have never visited Summerland, British Columbia, you really should put it on your bucket list.  I feel lucky to be trying my gardening hand in this beautiful region of the southern interior of BC.  Like few other places in Canada, grapes and tree fruits grow fantastically well here.  The growing season is thankfully longer than the short Saskatchewan one I had been adapting to for the last many years.

No matter where you live, there is plenty of garden inspiration to be enjoyed around here.  Of course, the stunning Summerland Ornamental Gardens are just a quick walk across a trestle from here.  They have their own large examples of xeriscape gardens which I like to visit regularly.      
Our apple trees, in February awaiting spring awakening
We acquired an established apple orchard with a view of Okanagan Lake and I have a goal of adding an oasis of ornamental landscaping in the corner of our property.  The plans are to plant climate-appropriate plants that are also attractive to bees and butterflies.  I follow with interest the worldwide plight of honeybees and worry what their future holds.  I like to believe that gardeners can help out the bees with by growing flowers they appreciate, especially adjacent to large mono-cultures of (sprayed) trees. 
Morning at Powell Beach in Trout Creek

So far, only the heathers are blooming, but it is only February.  I should be happy I'm not shoveling snow with the rest of Canada.  Now is the time to hoard seed catalogs and propagate seedlings in the sun room.  Lee Valley Tools has a free shipping event right now, so I have been lingering far too long on their website.

This week, I pruned the mystery-variety plum tree that have lived here untended on a steep bank for many years.  This tree gets to be my practice subject and received several sprays with neem oil last year and is now on a watering system.  We will try dormant oil, sulphur spray, and wrapping the trunk with the tanglefoot kit I bought, hopefully reducing pests.  Time will tell if any of this is of use.