Gray Day Gardening

Mr. MM and I are itching to get out in the garden and get to work but we know we have to wait a few more weeks before we even start our garden prep.  In lieu of digging in the dirt, I’m sitting here digging around the internet doing garden research.

Want to know what hardiness zone you are in?  Check out the USDA’s website.  Manayunk is located in zone 7a.

USDA's PA Plant Hardiness Map.

USDA’s PA Plant Hardiness Map.

The USDA released this Plant Hardiness Zone Map in 2012.  What I find interesting is that when we moved into our house in 2009, our zone was 6 per the USDA.  The Morris Arboretum’s website has an interesting article on this change to our hardiness zone.

Last year we planted a small rosemary ‘bush’.  He was so small, I can hardly call him a bush.  Well, it looks like he didn’t survive the winter.  As you probably know, this winter was unusually brutal and long for our zone.

This year we’ll be looking for either ‘Arp’ rosemary or ‘Hill Hardy’ also known as ‘Madelene’  rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis cv.)  both of which are winter hardy through zone 6.  From what I’ve read, the ‘Hill Hardy’/’Madelene’ seems to be the more hardy of the two.  Both should be planted sheltered from winter winds and in a sunny spot.  Placing large rocks around the rosemary will provide thermal mass during the winter.  They like sandy soil so we’ll add sand to the soil adjacent to the bush and use sand for its mulch.  We use alot of rosemary in our cooking so it would be nice to have a bush that will be with us for the long haul.

Potted Rosemary.

Potted Rosemary.

I’m on the fence about whether to plant directly in the garden or find a nice terra cotta pot (short and gracious in diameter) to fill with a mix of potting soil and sand.  This way, the rosemary could be moved onto the porch near the house during the winter.

The other ‘bush’ we’re interested in is lavender.  I suspect it’s because of my romantic image of lavender fields in Provence.  Looks like ‘Sawyers’ lavender might be our plant.  Dark blue flowers on silver foliage.  Although lavender prefers warm sunny weather, this hybrid supposedly holds up in cool wet weather.  Various sites claim that its easy to grow, fragrant and adapts to most sites.  It can be cut back heavily in March / April if needed.

Lavender in Provence.

Lavender in Provence.

Our biggest challenge is that our neighbors have a mature oak tree that shades our garden.  Although it’s a beautiful tree, we have very limited ‘full sun’ space.  Most of our garden is in partial shade to full shade.  I’ve been in denial about our lack of sun and torture myself with our mass murdering of sun loving plants.

I found this nice plant encyclopedia at the Better Homes and Garden website.  Typed in our zip code and our shade condition.  81 results.  Maybe I’ll be able to accept our shady garden with some of these beautiful plants?

I can’t wait to make our an annual pilgrimage to Groff’s Plant Farm!  They carry both rosemary species and the lavender species.  The first time we went to Groff’s we didn’t know that they do not take credit cards.  After a couple hours meandering through their nursery we rolled up with two wagons filled with plants only to find that we couldn’t pay and there were no ATMs anywhere near by.  I was shocked when they let us take the plants with us with the promise of mailing them a check!  Amazing!  We mailed our check right away.

Hopefully we’ll be able to start our garden prep in a few weeks.  Cleaning up the winter mess.  Turning over the soil and mixing in compost.  We’re lucky that we live in the City of Philadelphia as residents can pick up free organic compost at The Fairmount Park Organic Recycling Center in West Fairmount Park.  The recycling center is open on Saturdays starting in April which marks the start of garden prep for us.

 

 

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Magical

Magical.

Can a garden center be described that way?  I think Terrain can be.  We stopped for a coffee in the cafe followed by a walk around.

Staghorn Fern

Staghorn Fern

With this guy hanging over our table, how could I not start thinking about Staghorn ferns?

First of all, Terrain is part of the Anthropologie organization so you know it’s going to be beautifully designed.  Although for a garden center, it’s pricey but it’s a great place to get inspired.  When you visit, you must include time for refreshments in the cafe.  From the linen napkins to the Ball jar glasses … it’s all good.  The cafe is within a refurbished green house that is so charming.  I’ve had dinner at this BYOB in the dead of winter.  It was cozy and there’s nothing better than dining under the glow of twinkling garden lights.

Magical, I tell you.

I love the cafe chairs.

I love the cafe chairs.

Vegetarian Trophy Wall

Vegetarian Trophy Wall

Love the reclaimed wood that makes up the privacy wall (separates the dining space from the kitchen).  When I saw the Staghorn ferns mounted on the reclaimed wood, the wheels started churning.  I could definitely find a nice piece of reclaimed wood.

Terrain does such an amazing job displaying merchandise.  Walking through the general merchandise ‘barn’ you’ll see all various vignettes displaying their wares.

Red chairs ...

Red chairs …

Ocular overload.

Ocular overload.

Farmhouse table fountain!

Farmhouse table fountain!

The problem with Terrain is that you start to think that you can actually create this magic at home so you start buying and hoping.  I went through a terrarium phase a couple years ago … which started during a visit.  Well, who could blame me:

Mini landscapes.

Mini magic landscapes.

Of course I can buy some mini plants, find a cool vessel at home, and create a mini magic landscape.  Oh how wrong I was.  Although the mini plants are ONLY $5 a piece … $5 a piece adds up VERY quickly and then there was the $20 cloche and $8 copper base dish.   Let’s just say that I did not create any mini magic landscape and then my mini plants grew up and were repotted into a boring terra cotta pot.  Sigh.

Well, guess who’s coming home with us courtesy of my mom?

A little bit of magic is coming home with us!

A little bit of magic is coming home with us!

Keep your fingers crossed that this time I can create a little magic at home.  I’m thinking about mounting our Staghorn fern on either reclaimed wood or a gnarled piece of drift wood or tree stump.  Fingers crossed that he’ll look as good as his siblings who were left behind.  This particular sibling (below) is $105 where as mine is $18.

Can I create this at home?

Can I create this at home?

The nursery portion of Terrain is pretty fabulous too.  I like to visit in spring for inspiration.  Although Terrain’s prices are too rich for our blood when it comes to landscaping our garden, it’s great to start here.  I would suggest creating your vision by walking through Terrain then jumping back on the road to Groff’s Plant Farm to actually buy the majority of the plants you’ll use.  Then return to Terrain for a few plants you just can’t find at Groff’s and that Home Depot would never carry.

Magical.

Magical.

I just love the way they mix vintage items into their displays.  Terrain, can I move in?

Who knew metal buckets could be magical?

Who knew metal buckets could be magical?

IMG_5423

The stylists at Terrain are definitely magical.