Columbines

Hi All-Welcome Spring 2011
We saw our first Robin today so Spring is definitely on it’s way! I had to laugh though- thinking with all the snow and ice still on the ground here in Montana that Robin is going to be hard pressed to get a worm out of the ground right now- so we will provide some birdseed to keep her from flying away and leaving us!
I’ve got my plant catalogs spread all over the coffee table and my wish lists made from each of them. My wish list is up to about $3000.00 right now- so I guess I’d better go back and decide what I can and cannot live without as my budget is right around $100.00!

One thing I would ask you to watch for when shopping from catalogs. They often “fudge” on the Zone- telling you a plant is hardy in Zone 5 when it truly is not. It’s probably only hardy in Zone 4, but they need to makes their sales!
Another thing to watch for is plant names. If a catalog only lists a plant by it’s common name and there’s no botanical name listed- DON’T BUY! They are simply plant warehouses that buy huge commodities to turn over and have no knowledge of the plant or where it grows. They also rarely have any zones listed.
And truly avoid those “buy one, get a second plant for a penny”. It’s pretty much guaranteed neither of them will live through their first season. Like everything else- you get what you pay for- but then again- don’t pay huge prices for plants from big name nurseries where you are paying for the nursery name. Do your homework!

So start dreaming, and start planning. The planting season is closer than we realize now! Good Luck and please continue to write for help. I try to answer as many emails as I can and if I don’t know the answers to your questions I will say so and try to point you in a direction to find the answers. I have greatly appreciated all the mail you have sent and a huge thank you to all those who have written back to let me know how things have turned out, and all of you that have posted answers and helpful tips for others.

I’m looking forward to another wonderful season with all of you and hope you will continue to Ask The Plant Lady!

Happy Planting,
Shawne

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If you have ever loved a plant, you know how many there are to love. I love so many myself! One of my favorites is the Columbine,  Genus- Aquilegia.There are hundreds of Columbines…species, hybrids, xhybrids…. simply HUNDREDS! And you could pay alot of money for one single plant…. but if you know Columbines…. you may never have to pay for anything more than a few seeds to have hours and years of incredible, wonderful, and wildly suprising plants.
Columbines- as wonderful as they are- are the Charlatans of your Garden! They are the flippant and free-spirited Lady’s Of The Evening! You might spend a few dollars for the perfect ‘Nora Barlow’, a few more for the incredible ‘Songbird Blue’ and plant them hundreds of yards apart hoping to have two different beautiful drifts of Columbines…. but trust me- they will find each other! and before you know it- you will have “weird little ‘Bines’ everywhere! If they weren’t so darn cute they might be labled a WEED!
Let’s look at what they offer…..They are hardy every single place I have ever visited, lived, passed through, or known! They require zero maintenance! You don’t even have to plant one in your yard to have them! A bird flying over, a squirrel passing through, your neighbor’s dog that ran through a garden, and voila! You have a Columbine growing
wild in the least expected place. They reseed themselves, colonize quickly, you can mow them, walk on them, sit on them, and they spring right back! Before you know it- you have a beautiful drift of Columbines you never even planned for!
For some fun? why let Mother Nature decide what you might get… cross pollinate them yourself. It’s quite simple… just take the pollen from one plant and sprinkle it on another, collect the seed in the fall and toss it into another spot. I have never had failure and have some of the wierdest, and most beautiful Columbines in return.
I have found that most of the Cultivars- after a few years- will revert back to species, so have fun with the
pollen while you can.The down side of a Columbine? Absolutely none in my book! Get out there, get adventurous, and get crazy! I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results when spring comes and your new Columbines rise
from their winter sleep!
Get out there and play with your plants, and enjoy!

Author Shawne Hudson

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Adding A Greenhouse To Your Yard

Building a portable greenhouse might be a worthwhile effort if you wish to prolong the growing season or start plants early. By definition, a portable greenhouse can be assembled and erected in a short period of time. It is a no-fuss structure that meets the fundamental requirement of a greenhouse – that of providing warmth, appropriate moisture, protection and controlled environment to your plants. In this context, building a portable greenhouse revolves around the right choice of framing and covering material, ease of assembly and storage.

Frame: Since you are going to be assembling and packing away your greenhouse based on the season and your requirement, you want a frame that is made of lightweight, but relatively strong material. It should allow you to fit pieces together with ease and without assistance. Usually, you need some wood treated with environmentally friendly preservatives, some metal – 10 mm rebars are great, and PVC pipe that you can use to make the ribs. The easiest design for a portable greenhouse is the hoop house.

Covering material: Glazing that you use in a portable greenhouse is prone to wear and tear due to cyclic assembly and dismantling of the greenhouse structure. Though ordinary standard clear plastic film available at hardware stores would work, you should think of using sturdy UV stabilized poly film or plastic films that are treated to prevent condensed moisture from dripping down on to your plants and that allow effective transmission of sunlight.

Ease of assembly: You can either go in for portable greenhouse kits that come complete with everything, including instructions, that you would need to assemble and erect the structure, or make your own structure using appropriate materials. The kits take no more than an hour or two to set up, while building a portable greenhouse yourself would need more time and effort. Whatever option you pick, make sure you end up with a set of pieces that can be easily assembled or dismantled with minimum confusion or fuss. Store all fasteners, clamps or securing material safely as these can be easily misplaced.

Storage: Your portable greenhouse must form a compact package that can be easily stored. Preferably, all the dismantled material should be housed in a single casing that can be stored in a limited space. The covering material itself can be used as a waterproof wrapping to keep the other material dry.

If you have a kit, building a portable greenhouse is a fun-filled activity. Building from scratch by sourcing all your material and equipment may take a little longer, but would be challenging and equally fun! In both cases, you can chase your passion and fulfill your dream…!

PVC hoop style greenhouse

Adding an inexpensive greenhouse to your yard will help you get a start on plants in the early spring. Cold nights will not be a problem with any of these style greenhouses.

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