April 21, 2008

THE day to visit the garden center

The day started wet again - it is raining or rather showering since 3 days. That is not enough for birds to keep clean :) some of them need extra shower - God knows where have they been and what were they doing.
This one at first was walking around the pond...
Then saw some possibilities to walk on the water. Look, we keep the water level lower than usual, because otherwise all freshly growing plants would be eaten by grass carp, that is living in our pond. They are monstrous eaters which is called in different sources as "they have the ability to control a wide variety of aquatic plant species". I didn't know that while buying it in the garden center 3 years ago - they are freely sold. Last year I learned that it is advised 1 fish for 1000m2 of water :)) that's amazing - isn't it?
Plants in my pond didn't grow properly last year - or rather they were eaten faster then were able to grow - which resulted in problems with pH balance. So I started to search for more information and I found out that majority of states in the US presently prohibit the fish. I dont know if mine is diploid or triploid (fertile), but I know they need much more food, than my pond can grow. Also they don't have proper conditions for development as well. So in coming days we will clean the pond, which is very dirty as there was no pH balance. While cleaning, we will remove the fishes. There is a lake close to us - it will be its future home.
Jay decided that conditions are comfortable enough to have shower...

Would you tell seeing this picture, that it is a jay having shower? The process took 2-3 minutes. It was such a joy to watch it - amount of feathers tripled, I guess - I never saw such fluffy jay before :)
While some of us are having pleasures, the others are having a hard time... look at this poor rhododendron. I planted most of them 3 years ago and most are not doing too well. I have neutral soil in my garden, so the place for acid lovers was prepared specially with acidic soil, acidic peat etc. Every year I added some MgSO4 to keep proper pH, which for them is between 5 to 6. Lower is also not good, cos they can not absorb the nutrients from the soil below 5 pH.
I even gave them emergency showers with fertiliser, but situation did not improve. My main mistake was - as I understand it now - to not check pH regularly and react in time.

Which I did today. Look what is the result. 6,5 pH is definately not proper. In some other cases it is just below 7 pH. No wonder they look half dead. Fighting soil pH is an endless process, but I will give one more try and one more chance my rhodos.
I made search in the net and there is an advice to use sulphur or FeSO4 (Canadian Rhododendrons and Azalea Society). This made me to remember that a friend of mine is using sulphur, so it should be available in the garden center. Let's go then! Maybe they will have also FeSO4?

This is the garden center that I visit most often - it used to be on the way. Now is more 'off' my ways, but for special needs I go there - cos usually they have what I want.

Of course I could not resist to walk around and have a look at everything they have... some plants are so sweet...

... and space in the garden is limited...

...some plants caught my special attention...

Like this Columbine grouped in large amount...

...or this "Blue-white" lavandula... although I prefer traditional the very basic type Lavandula angustifolia, this one was very tempting...

or this Pelargonium x domesticum called here English Pelargonium....

...or this lovely and absolutely adorable bog rosemary (Andromeda polifolia). Sigh. Another acid loving plant...

...such a beauty....
But looking at the pictures in the net, I have a question: does it look so nice only at the garden center - just freshly grown in super comfortable conditions? cos those on the other pictures in the net look kind of thin and poorely flowering...
On the way back, I decided to make a walk around. Visit in the garden center and close look at so many plants and so many new flowers made me feeling close to nature, so walking around and observing what is going on at this season felt very natural, even if it was very wet. Especially that I was little melancholic - gardener at garden center told me, that sulphur for my rhodos is too radical in his opinion, FeSO4 is not available and they never had it at sale. He adviced me ammonium sulfate as most efficient and mulching with sawdust (fine particles of wood).

This season is so reach in flowers - on the ground and on the trees...

My favourite tree lately Prunus cerasifera - here at least 12 years old. You can see the difference in look, when it is bare at the feets and when there is some planting on the bottom. In this case it looks very lovely with Berberis thunbergii Erecta - in the link there is Polish website, cos I couldn't find any English language website with nice picture. Maybe there is something wrong with name?

Here it is great example of usage of climbing Hydrangea petiolaris - its strong body looks fascinating. Interesting idea to prune it and keep it as shrub and the entrance door.

At the end of the walk I was rewarded and greeted by squirrel, that crossed my way :) for luck?
Right after coming home, I applied ammonum sulfate - will check the pH tomorrow.


Frances, said...

Hi Ewa, what a wonderful vision of the jay taking a shower.
I have written about going green today and linked to your posts of we are drowning and how your garden gets greener everyday. I didn't remember if you wanted us to link when writing about this topic or not, but here it is anyway. Your photos are fantastic. I love the andromeda close ups. Happy Earth Day!
Frances at Faire Garden

Jane Marie said...

Your photos make me anxious to get into my own neighborhood garden center. It had its season grand opening on Friday and I haven't been there yet! Boo Hoo! Maybe soon.

prophet said...

Hi Ewa!

Awkward questions. . . . but what do you think the [possibly fertile] fish will do in the lake, after what they've done in your pond?

Is this an indigenous fish? Or are you maybe releasing an invasive species that will take over the lake the way it reduced your pond to aridity? It clearly was able to survive the winter with no trouble.

These are some of the same questions we end up asking in our gardens, of course, having introduced a 'pretty flower' that proceeds to eradicate everything around it. Maybe your little fishy - eek! - should become cat food. . . . (sorry to say). Please think twice before you release this potential pestilence.

(even as I can imagine how horrible you might feel to be responsible for killing it. . . . .)

As ever, though, your photos and thoughts are delightful!

Nancy J. Bond said...

Everything certainly seems to be thriving in your gardens. I like your pond very much -- and the bird looks perfectly at home there. :)

Gail said...

I know how you feel, I planted PJM rhodos in my nearly neutral soil and hope for the best....maybe a year or two! One of the garden magazines says to plant them above the ground in a mound for drainage and keep the soil acidic...lots of trouble! We are lucky Francis grows so many of them....we can view her blogsite each year!
I love the columbine, did you by chance get the name of it?


Ewa said...

It is great that you made Green post and thank you for linking. Interesting enough Earth Day is in Poland on 27th, I wonder why?

Jane Marie,
Garden centers are tempting, but I managed to be happy by only looking at THEM :)

You touched the subject. My mind always gets slower when I start to write a post in English, cos I am very much concerned about expressing myself properly, so I will be understood.. and I didn't mention my problem connected with it. I am throwing myself from one solution to second and then back again. Actually you are right and I have by now unsolved dillema what is better? and if better, then for who it is better?
I wonder what others are thinking about it?

This is such an unexpressed pleasure to observe garden changing and attracting more and more life every year - I could not dream 3 years ago about observing a jay taking bath in the pond :)

I planted my rhodos on 'hill', but if the soil is naturally not acidic, its pH has to be observed and corrected at least once a year, co rains are flushing all elements that may keep the soil acidic. If you take closer look and check on it, pH of the soil under rhodos is different before and after rain.
Cross my fingers for yours and mines :)

Kylee said...

Hi Ewa!

What fun, watching the bird take its bath!

That pelargonium looks like one we would call a 'Martha Washington' here. They're so pretty.

Gail asked about the columbine - I just bought one that looks very much like it and it's called 'Pagoda Rose & White'.

I really need to get one of those pH meters!

I just bought a Bog Rosemary. I couldn't believe the hardiness temperature on the identification tag: -50°!! I don't think I've ever seen that before on a plant tag.

Does that squirrel have long hair on its ears? I don't think I've seen one like that!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Love seeing the Jay bathing in your pond. The garden center tour has made me want to get out and plant some things. I have never seen a soil testing machine before, very interesting.

I too think your carp should become cat food. Don't release it into a lake. Not a good thing to do. It could upset the ecosystem of the lake in no time.

Barbara said...

Oh these gardencenters and nurseries! Always a big temptation where I never (want/can/won't) resist....!!!
BTW, the dandelion recipe will come in May when I post about this plant!
Have a nice time,

Ewa said...

Our squirrels have funny hair on the ears - I will make one day closer pictures to present it :)

We are more and more convinced what is the best solution concerning grass carp.
Now there is a question: who will do it? Huzz gets sad face...

Can't wait for your dandelion recipe :)

Strawberry Lane said...

Hi Ewa,
Love the Jay and his lovely ... bath!

So glad to finally be back and can now read your fascinating posts. I've missed seeing your beautiful photographs and your wonderful writing.

Looking forward to seeing what all I have missed in your beautiful garden.