Tag Archives: Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities!

How to Grow Amaryllis

Hippeastrum papilio – don’t you love the lemony lime green and ruby red combination?

The exotic beauty pictured above, commonly referred to as the “Butterfly Amaryllis” (Hippeastrum papilio), has to be one of the most stunning of all bulbs to force indoors. Not only that, but unlike other species of Hippeastrum, which need to go dormant, you can grow papilio all year round. The plants will grow larger and produce more blossoms with each passing year!

Hippeastrum papilio is a member of Amaryllidaceae and is native to the tropical forest of the Atlantic Coast of southern Brazil. It is endangered in its natural range but is increasingly propogated among gardeners.

The following is excerpted from a book that I wrote and illustrated titled Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! Notes from a Gloucester Garden, which was published by David Godine.

How to Grow Amaryllis ~ Excerpt from Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! 

Living in New England the year round, with our tiresomely long winter stretching miles before us, followed by a typically late and fugitive spring, we can become easily wrapped in those winter-blues. Fortunately for garden-makers, our thoughts give way to winter scapes of bare limbs and berries, Gold Finches and Cardinals, and plant catalogues to peruse. If you love to paint, and photograph, and write about flowers as do I, winter is a splendid time of year for both as there is hardly any time devoted to the garden during colder months.

Coaxing winter blooms is yet another way to circumvent those late winter doldrums. Most of us are familiar with the ease in which amaryllis (Hippeastrum) bulbs will bloom indoors. Placed in a pot with enough soil to come to the halfway point of the bulb, and set on a warm radiator, in several week’s time one will be cheered by the sight of a spring-green, pointed-tipped flower stalk poking through the inner layers of the plump brown bulbs. The emerging stalks provide a welcome promise with their warm-hued blossoms, a striking contrast against the cool light of winter.

Perhaps the popularity of the amaryllis is due both to their ease in cultivation and also for their ability to dazzle with colors of sizzling orange, clear reds and apple blossom pink. My aunt has a friend whose family has successfully cultivated the same bulb for decades. For continued success with an amaryllis, place the pot in the garden as soon as the weather is steadily warm. Allow the plant to grow through the summer, watering and fertilizing regularly. In the late summer or early fall and before the first frost, separate the bulb from the soil and store the bulb, on its side, in a cool dry spot—an unheated basement for example. The bulb should feel firm and fat again, not at all mushy. After a six-week rest, the amaryllis bulb is ready to re-pot and begin its blooming cycle again. Excerpt from Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! ~ Coaxing Winter Blooms

Click here to read more about Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities.

Fanciful Clown

I am so love with the blossoms of our fanciful Amaryllis ‘Clown.’ She opened the first of three bodacious blooms on Christmas Day–three blossoms on one stalk, that is–with the flowers of two more stalks yet to emerge! She’s a treasured bulb, and so easy to force indoors. The following is excerpted from a book that I wrote and illustrated between 2003-2006 titled Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! Notes from a Gloucester Garden, which was published by David Godine in 2008.

How to Grow Amaryllis ~ Excerpt from Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! 

Living in New England the year round, with our tiresomely long winter stretching miles before us, and then a typically late and fugitive, fleeting spring, we can become easily wrapped in those winter-blues. Fortunately for garden-makers, our thoughts give way to winter scapes of bare limbs and berries, Gold Finches and Cardinals, and plant catalogues to peruse. If you love to paint and write about flowers as do I, winter is a splendid time of year for both, as there is hardly any time devoted to the garden during colder months. I believe if we cared for a garden very much larger than ours, I would accomplish little of either writing or painting, for maintaining it would require just that much more time and energy.

Coaxing winter blooms is yet another way to circumvent those late winter doldrums. Most of us are familiar with the ease in which amaryllis (Hippeastrum) bulbs will bloom indoors. Placed in a pot with enough soil to come to the halfway point of the bulb, and set on a warm radiator, in several week’s time one will be cheered by the sight of a spring-green, pointed-tipped flower stalk poking through the inner layers of the plump brown bulbs. The emerging scapes provide a welcome promise with their warm-hued blossoms, a striking contrast against the cool light of winter. Perhaps the popularity of the amaryllis is due both to their ease in cultivation and also for their ability to dazzle with colors of sizzling orange, clear reds and apple blossom pink.

Click here to read more about Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities.

Down the Garden Path

monarch-new-england-aster-coneflower-copyright-kim-smithThe New England Asters and Quilled Coneflowers blooming in our garden during the months of September and October were planted to provide sustenance for migrating Monarchs. Although both are native wildflowers, the bees and butterflies visiting gardens at this time of year are much more interested in nectaring at the New England Asters.

Plant the following four native beauties and I guarantee, the pollinators will come!

New England Aster (Aster novae-angliae)

Seaside Goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens)

Marsh Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)

Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

monarch-butterfly-depositing-egg-milkweed-copyright-kim-smithFemale Monarch curling her abdomen to the underside and depositing eggs on Marsh Milkweed foliage.

PLOVERS and SANDERLINGS!

Semipalmated plover ©Kim Smith 2015Semipalmated Plover and Sanderling

Last week after presenting my Pollinator Garden program in Orleans and visiting the Nauset lighthouses, the next stopover was to my grandparent’s beach in Dennis, or I should say, the beach where my family summered as our grandparents are no longer living. It was close to sunset and I had the overwhelming wish to watch the sun go down from the same place where we perched atop the bluff and had watched the sunset thousands of times as children. It was more than a little dismaying upon arriving to see my Grandmother’s glorious seaside garden gone, replaced by grass, but even more so, to see that the great stairwell and wild rose-lined path to the beach, once enjoyed by all the neighbors, had been privatized. Despite all that and feeling very melancholy, I had a lovely walk along the shore, watched the spectacular sunset from the cliff’s edge, and came upon a gorgeous mixed flock of shore birds. They stayed awhile resting and feeding in the surf at the high tide line and none-too-shy, allowed for both filming and photographing in the fading rosy light.

Black-bellied Plover ©Kim Smith 2015JPG I believe these are Black-bellied Plovers in their winter plumage. Not only were they standing on one leg, they also run, or hop, along the beach at top speed, on one leg!

Sanderling Dennis Cape Cod ©Kim Smith 2015Sanderling

Dennis MA Cape Cod sunset -2 ©Kim Smith 2015

You can read an excerpt about my Grandmother’s Cape Cod garden in my book Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities in the chapter titled “My Grandmother’s Gardens.”Plover cape Cod ©kim Smith 2015,Camouflaged!

More Photos Here Continue reading

Amaryllis Lemon Lime

Lemon Lime Amaryllis  -- ©Kim Smith 2014Amaryllis ‘Lemon Lime’

I’ve never met an amaryllis I didn’t love and ‘Lemon Lime’ is no exception. The flowers are slightly smaller than many cultivars, compared to that of ‘Orange Sovereign’ for example, however, the plant often sends up two and three stalks at the same time. The exquisite pale chartreuse complements nearly every color scheme imaginable and is wonderfully fresh and spring-like to help stave away those dreary drab winter-hued blues.

Lemon Lime Amaryllis ©Kim Smith 2014 copyThree lush stalks simultaneously!

Amaryllis double exposure ©Kim ASmith 2014See ‘Orange Sovereign’ in a previous post: Orange, Brought To You By Amaryllis

Read More On How to Grow Amaryllis: Continue reading

PEACHES RIPENING IN THE WARM SUN ~ DO I HEAR BELLINIS, ANYONE?

Belle of Georgia peach ©Kim Smith 2014 copyBellinis would make a festive addition to your Labor Day/Schooner Festival weekend brunch or dinner, especially at this time of year when the farmer’s markets and grocer’s shelves are brimming with tree-ripened fresh fruit.

Our ‘Belle of Georgia’ white-flesh peach tree never disappoints. Each and every year since first planting, this semi-dwarf peach tree gives us mouth-watering sweet peaches. Not all of the peaches are perfect and the ones that are not eaten out of hand are whipped into smoothies, cooked in confections, or macerated with Prosecco.Bellinis from our peach tree ©kim Smith 2014

~ Bellini Recipe ~

Marinate peeled, pitted, and sliced (halved or quartered) peaches in Prosecco for several hours. Just before serving, puree the peach-Prosecco mixture. Spoon the puree into champagne glasses, about 1/3 to 1/2 filled, and to taste. Gently add more Prosecco to the puree. Add a drop of raspberry liquor, Chambord, or a few fresh raspberries to the puree, to give the drink that beautiful pinky-peach glow.

Bellinis are traditionally made with white-flesh peaches such as ‘Belle of Georgia,’ but any variety of sweet peach will do.

Peach tree blossom Belle of Georgia ©Kim Smith 2011‘Belle of Georgia’ Peach Blossoms

In flower and in fruit, the peach is a pretty tree for your landscape ~

Read an excerpt about the ‘Belle of Georgia’ from my book Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities ~ Notes from a Gloucester Garden here ~

Prunus persica ‘Belle of Georgia’

Cultivated by the Chinese for thousands of years, the peach tree is grown for its fruit as well as for its exquisite flowers and gracefully shaped branches. To better understand the significance of the peach tree in the Chinese culture it is worth noting that the development of the Chinese garden with its ying-yang symbolism was essentially Daoist in origin.

Daoist believe the peach tree is the Tree of Life at the Center of Paradise. The peach tree is also believed to be the Tree of Immortality growing in a garden guarded by Hsi-wang Mu, the Mother Empress of the West. Men and women alike must meet her standards before they are granted immortality. Hsi-wang Mu is usually portrayed in paintings and sculpture as a stately matriarch holding one of her peaches.

The peach tree is a symbol of longevity, wealth, spring, youth, and marriage. Peach stones were considered apotropaic and were beautifully carved and were kept, or worn, as amulets and talismans1. Sprays of blossoming peach branches were at one time placed above the front door to prevent even the strongest evil from entering into the home. Today’s custom is to use them decoratively inside the home.

While the Spaniards brought the peach to North America in the 16th century, Native Americans are credited with moving the peach westward, planting seeds as they traveled.

‘Belle of Georgia’ is an older cultivar of peach tree bearing heavenly tasting white-fleshed peaches. The fruit is pale creamy white blushed gold and rose. It was reportedly first propagated by Lewis Rumph in Georgia in the 1870’s from seeds of the ‘Chinese Cling’, which is also the parent of the well known ‘Elberta’ peach, a firm, yellow-fleshed fruit with a crimson blush. Both the ‘Belle of Georgia’ and ‘Elberta’ cultivars are hardy through zone five and adaptable to a variety of soil conditions, though well-drained and sandy soil is their preferred growing medium.

Read more about growing peaches in Chapter Two ~ Flowering Trees for the Romantic Garden

GMG Vine ~ Belle of Georgia

Belle of Georgia peach -2 ©Kim Smith 2014.j

 

Antennae for Design: Native Flowering Dogwood

white dogwood cornus florida © Kim Smith 2013Currently I am working like mad on design projects, both creating new gardens and organizing existing gardens. Along with butterfly and pollinator gardens, I design many different types of gardens, including fragrant gardens, night gardens, children’s gardens, and seaside gardens. One of my favorite aspects of the design process is creating the horticultural master plan, which is typically done after discussing the clients needs, hopes, and aspirations for their garden, and created when working on the plan drawings.

While working on planting plans, I thought our GMG readers would benefit from suggested plantings and illustrated design tips. I started this series awhile back and called it Antennae for Design, and still like that name.

Cornus florida rubra @ Kim Smith 2012 copyIn designing gardens the first step is always creating the framework and trees comprise a major componenet in establishing the framework, or bones, of a garden. Trees provide a welcome sense of shelter with the shifting light and shadows filtering through the ever-changing ceiling. Fragrance, flowers, the shelter they provide, form, and texture of the leaves are not the only attributes of a tree garden. During the winter months there is the elegant beauty of pure line, the beauty of the branch.

Cornus florida rubra pink dowood © Kim Smith 2012 copyFor a multitude of reasons, one of my top choices when planting a tree-garden is our stunning native American dogwood (Cornus florida), both white and pink flowering forms. The fresh beauty of its spring blossoms, horizontal level branches, myriad pollinators attracted to the tiny florets, and the elegance of its bare limbs in winter are just some of the reasons why I love this tree! For a night garden especially, the white flower bracts are especially luminous in the moonlight. And, the American dogwood is also a larval food plant for the diminutive Spring Azure butterfly’s caterpillar!

white dogwood cornus florida ©kim Smith 2013 copyOh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! ~ Notes from a Gloucester Garden is available at my publisher’s website, click here.