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John Blair

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Everything posted by John Blair

  1. Our's bloomed last year on May 9th (see photo), but this year, has just started opening up it's buds this week. It looks like it's about a month behind last year. I hope yours is now opening up too.
  2. Hi Margaret, You and Janet have a standing invitation to come see my garden this summer! If you can use my garden for some type of event, I would be honored - just let me know :-) Also, maybe this summer I could make it out to the Farmington Farmers Market to say "Hi" as I have really enjoyed following your Sage Advice page on facebook. In case it's of interest, I'll be giving a presentation to the Wayne Garden Club on how to make a butterfly garden on March 12th. Here is the meeting notice in case anyone is interested; WAYNE GARDEN CLUBHOW TO BUILD A BUTTERFLY GARDEN The Wayne Garden Club is meeting on Wednesday, March 12 at the Wayne Public Library on Wayne Rd. at 12:30. Our program is being presented by local gardener John Blair. It promises to be an exciting and outstanding presentation for club members and the public. Last summer John opened his spectacular garden to the public at our club's bi-annual Garden Walk and drew rave reviews. He will now present a power point presentation on how he built his butterfly garden from start to finish. He is not only and accomplished gardener but also uses his beautiful photography and music to tell his story and show the outcome of his months of hard work. The pictures of the birds and butterflies capture nature at work here in our community. After our long bitterly cold winter, this program promises to offer us a little reprieve as we wait for spring! The public is welcome to attend. Refreshments will be served.
  3. Margaret, I can well imagine how hard it must be keeping temps up in your greenhouse! I just used mine temporarily for a few weeks to harden off my plants, so luckily, I don't have to worry about winter heating. To keep busy, I have been deciding on new native plants I want to order and also, planning a small expansion of my butterfly garden because I have run out of space for new plants LOL! In case you would like to see my last summer's butterfly garden, here is a photo ablum with a few photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/60703385@N07/sets/72157639065730794/ I wish I lived closer to where you do Farmer's Markets so I could stop by. I really enjoy following your Sage posts and all of your adventures :-)
  4. I always meant to do a follow-up post to my experiment with growing my own New Guinea impatiens last year. My plants did extremely well and I couldn't have been more pleased. The New Guinea impatiens performed just as well as any store-bought versions I have ever tried and bloomed nicely all the way to frost. As I had heard, the New Guineas were indeed immune to the downy mildew which had ravaged my regular impatiens the summer of 2012. No downside to report at all. My cost using cuttings was $0.50 each. This does not include the cost of my setup with all of the lights, pots, soil and electricity. However, the setup and pots can now be used every year from now on. The key thing I found out was to grow from cuttings, not seed. Seeds were a disaster despite my very best efforts (heating pads, good light placement, careful soil moisture management, etc). After all the seeds I started with, I ended up with only 11 living plants by planting time, only about an inch tall! I planted them in my flower bed but they never bloomed and remained stunted all season until frost. These seeds came from Jung. Regarding my New Guineas, here is a photo from August (2013) of my plants doing nicely in my beds. As mentioned, they were beautiful until frost (unlike regular impatiens, that normally looked pretty dreadful by fall). I'll be doing this from now on (unless I can buy a flat of 48 New Guineas for $10 each, which isn't likely!).
  5. Update 5/14/13 - Here's a photo of my New Guineas in my green house. Tomorrow I'll start hardening them off outdoors and soon be planting them in my beds. Posting this to show that with an initial investment in the set up that it is feasible for a regular gardener to grow their own New Guineas at home to replace the standard impatiens impacted by Downy Mildew.
  6. Thanks Margaret :-) The cuttings continue to grow well and the plants I grew from seed (now 70 left) are about 3/4" high. I am assembling my 6' x 8' greenhouse tomorrow and if the warmer weather we are supposed to get holds, I will soon be moving the plants out of the basement and into the greenhouse.
  7. Steven - all the larger ones are the rooted cuttings and have been potted up a couple weeks now and are looking great so far. Some are trying to bloom so I have been nipping off the buds so the energy goes into plant growth. I have a small watering can with a broad, downward facing sprinkler head attachment that I use to keep things moist. I lift the pots to gage by weight how wet things are - trying to strike the right balance between too wet and not wet enough. For the photos above, I had the lights up so I could work but normally, they are down about 2" above the plants. The smaller tray is the New Guinea "Divine" seeds I ordered from Jung that I started on 3/15 in four 72 cell each flats. I followed the directions precisely, even monitoring in-soil temperature 24 hours a day to ensure everything stayed in the right range. I planted 450 seeds and by day 20, I only had 122 germinated. However, over the next two days, a die-off hit (not sure why) and I lost about 35 seedlings. The 80 or so ones left are now continuing to grow, but slowly. Just tiny little things compared to the robust cuttings. I'm quite disappointed in the seed results since I put in my best effort for success. I will continue to nurse the seedlings along to see what happens but for next year, I won't bother with them - I'll go cuttings only. I'm on my local garden walk this year on June 22nd and with a large percentage of my yard shade/part shade, I really do need the color impatiens give, so I've gone to measures far beyond what I might normally have done. My dear wife has kindly allowed my extravagence for this project
  8. Update: 4/11/13 500 New Guinea impatiens. Take that, Downy Mildew!
  9. I see a duck on the wings of the first one, Margaret! Are these photos by chance from the butterfly house at Frederik Meijer Gardens? I was there today and really enjoyed the butterflies sailing through the air and the wonderful greenery that I hope will be coming our way soon.
  10. It looks like he has his eyes on your goose statue :-)
  11. That is an interesting idea, Margaret. I also have a butterfly garden along the south border of my property where I have a number of native plants. I was really pleased with how the Great Blue Lobelia did in the portion of that garden that was shaded. I think I will try some in my front shady border!
  12. I was looking over some photos of my yard from 2011 today, which was the last year I had my impatiens. It makes me quite sad to think I might not see this again but am hoping I can still get this look with the New Guineas I'm going to try to grow. Thought I would share.
  13. John Blair

    Tree Ents

    Here are a couple I have seen!
  14. I too have either a Coopers or Sharp-Shinned Hawk stalking my feeder and am regularly finding piles of feathers out in our woods. It is really tricky to tell them apart. I think mine is a Coopers (see below). Here is an article from Cornell that might be helpful in discerning which one you have; http://www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw/AboutBirdsandFeeding/accipiterIDtable.htm
  15. Thank you for the help with the Russian Sage. I'll keep a close eye on those buds and try to do the pruning before they open up Can anyone help me wqith the Butterfly Bush?
  16. Margaret, in addition to New Guineas and the Torenia you mentioned as an impatiens alternative, here are a few more that I have been looking at; - Browallia - Marmalade Orange Crossandra The Browallia is a shade plant and is available in white and purple, so it should be something worth trying. Also, last year I did a trial in my front yard with orange Crossandra which receives very little direct sun and is in shade nearly all day. The Crossandra bloomed profusely despite being advertised as a "sun" plant! I will be buying more of this this year to try out in a few other locations in my yard.
  17. Okay, things are progressing on my project to grow my own New Guinea impatiens as a replacement to the regular/downy mildew version. I met with a greenhouse friend owner who has supplied me with several large bags of the proper ProMix growing seed starting and trnsplant media. I have 420 rooted cuttings on order as well as enough seeds on hand to start 400 more NG's from seed (Divine Mix from Jung, all colors). I have built a 4' by 14' plant table with 12 grow lights suspended over the table with adjustable chains in my basement. I am currently measuring the temperature and humidity swings in the basement and have humification and auxilliary heating equipment on hand to regulate the needed conditions. My 900 4" pots arrived today from the Greenhouse Megastore. I have the ping pong table cleared off and extra grow lights on hand if more space is needed. I am at war with you, Downy Mildew, and you may deny me regular impatiens, but by gosh, I will have New Guineas instead (or, I will waste an awful lot of money trying!). Charge!!! (that was a reference to my credit card of late )
  18. I grew Russian Sage and Butterfly Bushes for the first time this last summer and would appreciate advice on; 1)When to prune and 2) How to prune each of these plants here in SE Michigan. Thank you for any advice you have :-)
  19. In case it's of interest to anyone in the coming season, I have two bird baths that the birds (and I) really enjoy. Referencing the photos below, I bought a simple but beautiful blue ceramic bird bath at my local Kroger last summer. Every year, Kroger has a variety of ceramic garden pots and bird baths and I found this blue ceramic one there for only $40. The second one, a vase-like fountain bird bath, came from this company in Florida - http://potteryasart.com/ . The little built-in well at the top combined with the bubbling water are a big hit with the birds! Just wanted to share these two items because they give me a huge amount of "joy" per dollar spent :-)
  20. This is why I am doing my grand experiment - trying to grow downy mildew resistant New Guinea impatiens myself. As these are so expensive (about $3.50 per plant), I'm hoping to grow enough of these myself to replace the 20 flats of regular impatiens I normally use in my shady yard. I bought 725 seeds from Jung and have 10 four foot shop lights and an newly extended plant table set up to accomodate my twenty flats. If this is successful, I will do this every year from now on. If not, then I will be back where I started - no impatiens. I'm hoping this works!
  21. Thank you, Margaret - this is the info I was looking for! On another note, last fall I was pleased to see a new gardening store called "Hydroponics" open up in one of our local strip malls. Figured I would stop by yesterday to see if they had any lighting better than my current shop light setup I could use to start my New Guinea impatiens. As soon as I walked in, I realized that the equipment they had looked unlike *anything* I had ever seen in a garden catalog and when I asked the gentleman about recommendations on my impatiens, he informed me that this equipment was not typically used for starting flower garden plants. At that point, I realized this equipment was all for growing Marijuana. Ooops. Strange times we live in.
  22. Margaret, Thank you for your response and the informative link. Regarding light, in the past I when I have grown plants from seed (usually vegetables), I have used an array of four shop lights with 40 watt flourescent bulbs over my seed flats and I have used the typical white flourescent bulbs (although I think I added one Aquarium/Plant flourescent). Are these the type of lights and bulbs you would recommend or are there more specialized lighting I should be using for my New Guinea seeds? In case it is helpful, the New Guinea seeds I have ordered are the ones in the new Jung seed catalog listed as "Divine Hybrid New Guinea impatiens" - both Mystic mix and Hot mix. Also, per your suggestion, I will check the temp in the basement because I may not need the expensive seed matts after all. Thank you for your guidance!
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