Monday, June 29, 2009

Mophead Hydrangeas

I have two different types of hydrangeas (Mopheads and Lacecaps) currently growing in my yard. They are both in bloom and the color is gorgeous!

The first ones to flower and bloom were the two I have in the front of my yard flanking the sidewalk. I never really care about what I am planting as long as it catches my eye. Here is a dramatic rendering of me at Home Depot/Lowes/Garden Center choosing plants:

Enter stage left, me, slackjawed and overwhelmed my Nature's bounty before me, wandering aimlessly.

ME: "Thems is purty!", impulsively picks up flowers and runs to cash register.

ME: Honey, I'm home! Look what I buyed at the flower store! Ain't they purty?
HUBBY: *SIGH* Where are we planting that?
ME: *sticks tongue out at him* Party pooper!


So I did a little research on the net via a couple of sites specifically which has pictures (ALWAYS a plus in my book!) and I think I identified them as Mophead Nikko Blue Hydrangeas.

The great thing about hydrangeas is that you can typically change the color of them by messing with the pH levels of the soil around them. How do you do this? I have no idea, so let's find out. has such a concise explanation on how to change the colors that you would be best off going right to the source! Here is the link:

(Note: You can purchase both dolomitic lime and Aluminum sulfate at your local garden store!)
Interesting facts I learned from
1.It is easier to change a hydrangea from pink to blue than it is from blue to pink.
2.It's also easier to change the colors of a hydrangea that is in a container as opposed to in the ground.
3. Planting hydrangeas near a concrete foundation or sidewalk will often affect the color since the pH of the soil can be changed by the lime coming out of them, making it difficult to obtain blue. This completely explains why some of the flowers on my Lacecap Hydrangea are turning a purply pink near the sidewalk and the patio! I just thought I was a magical gardener!

Here is some basic information on the Nikko Blue hydrangeas:

Nikko Blue Hydrangeas
Zone: 6 to 9 (although I am in Zone 5 and I have never had a problem!)
Plant Type: Deciduous shrub
Height: 4 to 6 feet
Spread: 4 to 6 feet
Bloom Time: July - August (mine started in early June)
Bloom Color: Blue in acid soil; Pink in alkaline soil.
Sun: Sun to Part shade
Water: Daily, very thirsty suckers!
Prune: July, after blooms have faded

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I am so BUZZED

Make honey
Like flowers
Stingy litte suckers
Loud and buzzy
Make some us (me) scream and run in fear for our lives like little girls despite enormous size difference.

Whatever your feelings about bees there has been a noticable decline in bee populations in North America and other parts of the world due mainly to something called Colony Collapse Disorder. CCD has been blamed for bees disappearing in huge numbers for unknown reasons. Numerous studies have been done researching pesticides, viruses and bacteria, electromagnetics and starvation but have not been conclusive as to the causes of CCD. While those of us who are afraid of them welcome this because we are no longer frequently seen running and screaming around our yard like a crazy person, this is a serious issue.

What do bees do besides make one of my favorite food of all time, honey? The pollinate flowers and crops.

What happens if they don't pollinate? Major agricultural issues will arise such as food shortages.

So what can we do as gardeners? There is a foundation called The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation that is working on research and suggesting ways to help. Here is the link for their main website:

Plants for Native Bees in North America
If you are from California from the main site go under "Publications" then "Plant Lists" to see more specific plants from your region.

Some of the plants included in the list are commonly found ones from either Home Depot or Lowes such as: Asters, Black Eyed Susan, Lupine, Rhododendron, Sage and Sunflowers. Basil, Rosemary, English Lavendar, Hyssop and Marjoram are also considered to be bee friendly.

Get planting to save our little black and yellow, buzzy frenemies!

Photo courtesy of Leif Richardson of The Xerces Society.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tranplanting Established Plants

I know! What a boring title...but it is what it is.

I've transplanted a lot of things with no real adherence to any sort of rule and have never had any problem (*crosses fingers*). I was reading stuff recently about "making sure you transplant plants in the late afternoon to reduce shock" and some other rules I have never heard of. You may as well tell me to make sure you light candles and massage it to make the transition easier because Ms. Lazy is sooooooo not doing that. Besides by the "late afternoon" the only things I feel like doing are drinking wine and chasing the ice cream truck down the street (not necessarily in that order but it does make it more fun.)

Needless to say I didn't heed any of that advice.

However I do think there are some very basic things you should keep in mind with any transplant or new planting for that matter.

1. Try and look ahead to your local weather forcast. It probably isn't the best idea to be transplanting stuff on the hottest day of the year (for you OR the plant!)...look for a milder day. The day I transplanted this stuff was in the low eighties with little humidity. Of course the best time to transplant anything is in the spring or fall but Nature will not contain ME within those parameters. HAHA!

2. Make sure the area you are moving the plant to has the same amount of light/needs as the old home.

3. Prepare the new home for the plant first. No point in digging up the plant and having it sit out for an extended period of time while you are digging away. Besides it might start to mock your digging technique and then you might want to hit it with a shovel...what? plants don't talk to you? Hmmmmm...shame....

I HATE tearing up the ground. It's a HUGE pain in the butt and makes me wonder why I even bother. The best way I have found is to use an edging tool and make a grid pattern in the area you want to remove (not a great picture...sorry)and take out the grass in patches. This little area took me several hours to tear out to give you an idea of the time commitment. I wish I had people to do it for me...sigh...

Another tip that I have found useful is to get a large plastic tarp to put your refuse on. Also in the event that you don't get a chance to clean it up that day and it rains you can pull the tarp over it so it doesn't get wet. Because while clumps of grass and dirt suck, nothing sucks worse than WET clumps of grass.

Dig your hole to about 2 times as wide and deep as the root. Yeah, I realize you don't know the exact size of the root because it's still in the ground. So what are you waiting for? Go dig it up now!! Digging a hole won't take you that long.

4. Give yourself plenty of room to dig around the root/bulb of the plant so as not to damage the root/bulb. I kind of use a 6 inch rule from the root of something this size.

Dude, that mofo was HEAVY!! Heavier than my almost one year old son! I almost fell over when I tried to pick it up!!

5. Water that sucker like there is no tomorrow after you plant it! I would also recommend mulching but then again I am a mulch whore...I freaking love the stuff for making everything look "finished" plus it helps keep weeds down and holds moisture in....which reminds me...I need to go get more!!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Moving on the next yard!! (sing The Jefferson's theme in your head)

I was assessing my little yard today and the flowers that I have planted and have come to the conclusion that for some reason I may have been stricken with a dab of color-blindness this year. I have WAAAAAYYY too many different colors going on flower-wise, as you can looks like a psychedelic circus and not the good kind (Is there a good kind? you ask. Yes! I answer.) Plus the one torch lily I have is HUGE and needs some room to breathe.

The photos don't actually look that's too much

The Monster Torch Lily

So what do I do?

My lovely neighbor, who is an overworked and underpaid police officer in this fabulous city is allowing me to take over her yard and plant some of my stuff! YAY! As an added bonus I am moving the flowers that have a tendency to be the ones the mysteriously "disappear" (read: picked by jerks) on a routine basis near the sidewalk.

The Blank Canvas

Here is what I am planning on transplanting into her yard and some basic info on each of the plants.

Asiatic Lily (the orange ones)

Light Exposure: Full to Partial Sun
Type: Perennial, Multiply over time
Bloom Time: June
Colors: white, red, orange, pink, yellow
Best Uses: Cut Flowers, Interesting foliage
Water: 1 inch per week.
Water at the root and not at the top of the flower to reduce rot.
When to plant: Spring

Torch Lilies (aka Red Hot Poker or Kniphofia)

Light Exposure: Full Sun
Type: Perennial, spreads to 3 feet over time
Bloom time: Different types bloom May to October
Colors: Red, orange, yellow, cream
Best Uses: attracts hummingbirds & bees, interesting foliage after flowers die, very unique flower, can be divided
When to plant: Spring or Fall

Tools Needed for Project:
Gardening gloves
Spade (Shovel with pointed end)
Edging tool
Heavy duty garden refuse bags (get them at Home Depot or Lowes)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

This Ain't the Summer of Love!

Asiatic Lilies


I have been sick for the past week and haven't had much time to devote to the garden. A big shout-out thank you to Mother Nature for providing us with regular rain because God knows I haven't been doing it!

The summer flowers are starting to bloom! Yay!! Hopefully no one walking by picks them (which they are wont to do)....funny I don't remember planting a public garden or posting a sign that says "Free Flowers--Pick at Will!"

Grow your own. Jerks.