The wilting Brugmansia and Potato pots finally brought me back to the garden. A couple of unplanned events have kept me from it this week. An original plaster ceiling in my very old house decided that it had hung around long enough and with the encouragement of a bit of water from an upstairs plumbing problem, much of it headed for the floor. A few days of plaster removal, dry wall install, sanding and painting left me little time for any garden activity. I did have to pass by the ripening Raspberries each morning while organizing tools and material. That boost to my cereal and my gardener’s soul kept me going. Luckily Mother Nature provided the garden with more than sufficient moisture to survive. 6+ cm (2.5 in) of rain over last weekend certainly stopped me from complaining about how dry parts of the garden were becoming. By Thursday we have finally had sufficient sunshine to dry out those two most demanding containers. Even the front porch containers, that don`t get any rain, have not been looking for water.

I have wandered into the garden most evenings to see what we are having for dinner. It continues to produce an amazing variety and quantity of vegetables. Some of the intermingled flowers are outpacing the veggies but that just makes the evening wander more wonderful. Even a quick walk will put five or six delights onto that evenings dinner plate. A serious effort could easily come up with ten +, each with their own distinctive flavour and texture. The challenge is preparing each of them in the way that makes the most of their individual characteristics. Many get simply steamed and I continue to adjust my timing to get them just right. Most need only two or three minutes in the steam in order to get the optimum texture. Others respond wonderfully to a few minutes on the barbecue.

All of my early starting of many vegetables has produced some wonderful Tomato and Pepper plants but a little warm sunshine would go a long way to actually producing ripe fruit. In our little corner of the world it has been a very cool and cloudy July and those conditions yield great vegetative growth but very little fruit ripening. The Tuberous Begonias decorating the outdoor room have grown so big and heavy that some branches have broken and fallen off. In an attempt to create a good result from a bad event, I have been treating many of these broken pieces as cuttings. They have found their way into pots of soiless mix and are kept in a cool and shady spot, (too easy to find this year.) I sprinkle their leaves with water whenever I think about it and a few of them are actually starting to grow. Will they produce a tuber that is big enough to overwinter before the end of their growing season? Time will tell. As each of these tubers are worth $ 6 - $ 8 it’s certainly worth the few minutes it has taken to experiment. I’ll keep you posted.

The Sweet Pea trial has been a great success. They are all over 150cm (5 ft.) tall and producing wonderful flowers in greater quantities than I can cut and bring into the house. They make wonderful, if somewhat short lived, cut flowers but there is always another bunch waiting to be cut. I will definitely be adding them to my list of regular garden features. The few that I started directly from seed in the garden have managed to produce one or two plants and a few flowers but the early started ones have been sending bouquets into the house for over a month. Well worth the six week head start under the lights.

I am amazed at how well some of my new Lilies have grown. This Golden Stargazer, in only its second year, is immense. The blooms are 21 cm (8.5 in) across and the plant is almost 150 cm (5 ft) tall. These are some of the newer Hybrid Lilies known by the difficult name “Orienpet” which are the result of some embryo managed crosses between Oriental and Trumpet types which are normally incompatible. These marvels of modern plant breeding are looking wonderful just on the edge of the shade from my huge Walnut tree.

Other garden delights take much longer. I planted this Clematis at the base of my Crab Apple tree several years ago. It refused to grow for a couple of years. Its leaves just curled up and snarled at me. Last year it finally started to head up the tree and this year the vines are some considerable distance up and producing a reasonable flower show. In my imaginary, next year’s, garden it wil fill the tree with a profusion of deep purple blooms near the end of July. This is one of the best uses for Clematis; to have then twining through spring flowering trees and shrubs to provide a second season of flowering in that part of the garden. has a new feature. You can now easily search my entire site for answers to your gardening mysteries. If that doesn’t get you what you need to know keep reading here.

My newsletter subscribers get to ask me questions. Just ‘reply’ to the email newsletter. It is always interesting to read the questions; mostly to see if I actually can answer them or if I have to wade into the textbooks to research the answers. If that happens then we all learn something.

Pat Asks? Hi Ken. About my Siberian pea shrub? Should I take off the seed pods? Also some of the leaves have fallen off but the bark is very green. A few leaves yellow but not many. Thank you for any help you can give

Ken Answers! Your Caragana arborescens sounds perfectly healthy to me. They always seem to be yellowing and dropping some of their leaflets and the green bark is one of the plants features. A little more sunshine might help but that’s beyond our control. Taking the seed pods off is up to you. They do no harm and some people like the look. You can collect the seeds when they are mature and start many more. Some may volunteer in your garden if you leave the fallen pods on the ground.

Gail Asks? I noticed a growing tip on some fresh ginger purchased at a supermarket and have planted it. Is it likely to produce a nice houseplant? We have three Sea Buckthorn bushes/trees and I am hoping one of them is a female and will have orange berries for the healthy oil they produce. Should I give up looking for them as it is the middle of July and there is no sign of the berries so far.

Ken Answers! Your Ginger Zingiber officinale will grow into a reasonable houseplant with long strap shaped leaves. It does require quite high light to do well and will be relatively short lived even under the best of conditions. Grow it for the winter plant it outside next spring and see if it produces enough roots to give you a supply of ginger.
The Sea Buckthorn Hippophae rhamnoides should be starting to develop fruit by now although it is usually slow to do so. You might have all females, which would be just as unproductive as all males. The flowers appear before the leaves and are listed as inconspicuous which means finding them and being able to see if they have anthers, (male) or stigma, (female) could be a bit of a challenge. You need to find out which you have and then run to the garden centre with your magnifying glass, while they are still in bloom and search for the missing gender. Have fun. The show of berries is worth it and apparently they have some medicinal properties but don’t quote me.

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Whitby ON