Spring is definitely here now! The weather has been somewhat unusual compared to previous years. We were going through a ‘warm spell’ for awhile. Many of the plants that flower in the spring are about two weeks ahead of normal flowering time. Some plants have really been effected by the rapid change in temperature and have not bloomed reliably.
Aside from simply monitoring the weather and it’s effect on flowering, I have been partaking in several major activities that have been invaluable to my experience here in the Longwood Gardens Professional Gardener Program. A few of them include; Implementing our 2010 garden design and beginning to construct our garden in the new Student Exhibition Garden area, Preparing my 825 square feet of garden beds for growing vegetables this year on Red Lion Row (Student housing area), Sowing, growing and transplanting large quantities of vegetables in preparation for supplying the Terrace Restaurant with “low-input”, locally grown food (Restaurant located in Longwood Gardens proper), And work rotations, working in various departments within the garden.
STUDENT EXHIBITION GARDEN 2010.
Spring has kicked off the construction process in our section of the garden. After a cold, snowy winter, we were able to mark our desired path dimensions and hardscape material locations. This picture was taken on March 11th, with snow still remaining.
Final grade has already been established after the sub-contractors finished their work. The soil has been amended and worked down to around 24″ deep before the final grading. The next step in our construction schedule was to excavate our pathway and install steel edging, geotextile (weed) fabric and rice chips (standard pathway gravel). Below is a picture of the garden space in early April with the path excavated, and later, the edging and stone installed.
Our pathway was meant to be 3′ wide. The garden is temporary (only about a 6 month display), we simply excavated about 5″ deep (and beyond the 3′ width), and installed our steeling edging at that depth, since the steel edging was about 5″ deep. We chose not to add compacted base stone below the path. We were able to measure and cut the 16′ long steel edging sections into the dimensions that we needed. We started on one end and side of the pathway and went from there. Where there was a corner, we measured that dimension, cut the bottom portion of the edging about 3/4 of the way through the piece, and were then able to bend the edging at a 90 degree angle for our corners. One the cuts and connections were made, geotextile fabric was laying down below and our gravel was placed on top.
Next, we plan do roto-till our bed areas once more before planting. A majority of our plant materials have come in, some tender and some perennial. After our beds are tilled, we plan to place our custom designed and built wooden container boxes. We are currently working on priming and painting the boxes. Pictures will be coming soon!
Our opening day for the Student Exhibition Gardens should be around June 1st. All plant materials are planned to be installed by mid-May.
Aside from our new Student Exhibition Gardens, I have been caring for my personal garden space on Red Lion Row, where I am living on site. I had planted garlic this past fall, which is doing well in my garden, currently. I was unable to cover crop my garden this fall and it had become over-run with henbit (a winter annual weed). I pulled most of the henbit from my garden in early March and continued to cultivate the surface of the soil to reduce any new, emerging weed seedlings. I roto-tilled my garden space earlier this month (April) and amended it with some compost. I plan to amend it with another yard or so of compost and till it once more before planting. When I first started last spring, half of my garden space was a compacted turf area. I want to be sure that I till thoroughly and amend the soil with compost so that I have good porosity, lower bulk density, better cation exchange capacity (CEC) and better water holding, all ideal conditions for successfully growing vegetables.
Here are some pictures of my vegetable garden from this spring.
Below you can see my garlic plants. This past fall I simply used about two bulbs of garlic and separated the cloves from the sides (with shoots emerging) and planted them about 4″ deep. You can also see my seedlings of beets, lettuces and radishes.
Here are two rows of peas that I planted. Pisum sativum ‘Sugar Snap’. I plan to train them upward with twine, later supported by my fence. Another row of peas is reflected on the reverse side of my garden.
Here is a view of my ornamental garden. I have decided that this year I will convert a majority of this 15′ x 15′ section into an ornamental vegetable garden. This will help me practice applying vegetables and edible plants in a setting that could be similar to one near a house in an urban landscape. (Although we are very fortunate to be provided with healthy, well-amended garden soil beforehand. Some of the emerging perennials pictured will later be removed and replaced with vegetables following a unique design.
I had to take another picture of my Physocarpus ‘Dart’s Gold’ this year. This was one of the first shrubs to leaf out in our area, I noticed. It was like a golden beacon on a hill! The above picture was actually taken about a week later, but it shows you how bright this plant can be immediately after leafing out! I have already added this plant to my plant pallet for when I am designing gardens. A few other plants I am becoming more fond of that are great to use in the landscape are Hydrangea quercifolia, Viburnum sp. (my favorite), Physocarpus (P. ‘Diablo’, P. ‘Summer Wine’, P. ‘Dart’s Gold’), Lindera glauca var. salicifolia, and Sambucus sp.
My class (PG Class of December, 2010) has agreed to grow produce for the Terrace Restaurant earlier this year. The restaurant had formulated a list of fruits and vegetables in which they would like us to grow for them. We selected productive, well-known cultivars from two different suppliers (Johnny’s Selected Seeds, and Seed Saver’s Exchange). Some transplants were started around mid-late February. Below is a picture of some of the transplants we have started including different varieties of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, swiss chard, tomatillo and various herbs.
More photos, information and updated to come! Thanks for reading my posts!! 🙂