Spring Beauty and Abandoned Blight

This gallery contains 5 photos.

Red branches reaching… The sky is sleeping… Gray skies and thunder rolling… The clouds are weeping… Saturday evening darkness leads to sunny Sunday mornings… Float away to greener lands away from city warnings… The trees reach out to me… Waving tiny branches… Always be alert to step away from shady glances… Understand empathy… Practice individuality… […]

A Plant A Day Till Spring – Day 52 – Nasturtium

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“Super Seed” – Summer 2013 – The Garden Table Urban Garden – Rebecca Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA – Two packs of seeds and almost every flower was orange… I had one deep red one… And this guy… I liked this one and saved the seeds…

“A Plant a Day till Spring” will highlight one plant a day, starting on the winter solstice (December 21, 2013)… And ending on the vernal equinox (March 20, 2014)… If all goes to plan I will be starting with old Snowdrop photos from 2013… And ending with new photos of Snowdrops in 2014…

Apologies in advance… This one may have gotten away from me…

Although the plant I am featuring today is known as Nasturtium… I think it is very important to recognize the little fact that this plant is not actually Nasturtium… But is actually Tropaeolum majus… “Garden Nasturtium” just happens to be one of the latters common name… It is so common in fact that the seed companies even use it… Honestly… If they put the real name of this plant on the package… No one would even know what it is…

I have always been more interested in the common names than the scientific names of plants… I have only had a very small number of people ask me a question using proper names… They always have some regionally based common name… Not that the proper names don’t have a place… And I do work on them… A friend actually got me a “Plant Name Pronunciation Dictionary” for Christmas… His answer to my complaint that I have never pronounced a plants proper name around my Penn State Extension friends without being corrected… After making the pronunciation changes… It is not uncommon to have someone else correct me back to my original pronunciation… For this reason… My pronunciations book has proven to be irreplaceable…

Nasturtium is an edible plant… It has a very peppery taste… Some would even go as far as to consider it food… I do not… I consider the fact that it is edible to be nothing more than a novelty… I try to view edible plants in two categories… Food and fodder… Nasturtium is one I consider fodder… Primarily because I am not a fan of the taste… But also because I value this plant as an ornamental… I love the blossoms… Like a mouth full of sharp teeth trying to bite my finger off… The leaves are also interesting… They have a blue-green shade that is different from other leaves… This contrast alone makes Nasturtium stick out in a garden…

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“Curling Up” – Summer 2013 – Center Street – Wilkinsburg, PA – Some Nasturtium form clump-like plants… Others tend to vine… All plants that grow like a vine… Though they way crawl along the ground… Or flop over a wall… Are actually trying to grow up towards the sun… Using the flower photographed above as an example… As the vine grows it hangs over the edge… You can clearly see the vine attempting to curl towards the sun… If the plant manages to curl back around on itself it will climb right back up to the pot…

Nasturtium is one of those plants that seems to commonly be associated with permaculture… Like Comfrey or PawPaw… I am always surprised at the lack of originality when it comes to permaculture “culture”… The amount of permaculture logos that use the Comfrey blossom is just ridiculous… Nasturtium comes in a close second…

This is just one of the things that bugs me about permaculture… Do you have any idea how few people actually like the taste of Nasturtium… Likewise… Not very many people even know what Comfrey is… I have been told my gardens are not permaculture gardens because I grow more than food… My answer to this comment was very direct and simple… I calmly explained that permaculture has nothing to do with the type of plants in your garden… It has nothing to do with style… It is a way of thinking… And to tell someone else that they are not a “permie” because of their plant choices – well – that is the exact opposite of permaculture… In fact… It is the very definition of asshole… And I made sure I explained that very clearly… Like painfully clear… Then I walked away… My time is valuable… Not in terms of money… But in terms of life… I don’t have enough time in my life to worry about people I consider a negative influence on myself or the people around me… Our job as permaculturists is to design in a way that will attract the beneficial… And repel the destructive… Not just in our gardens… But in our lives as well…

A true permaculturist recognizes that all plants play a role in helping our environment… Hardcore permaculturists preach acceptance everywhere they go… But in hindsight… They are often the least accepting group of people out their… Permaculture is not a defined line in the sand… It is a curved line that is constantly changing shape… As permaculturists… We need to change with it… We need to accept the fact that there are things (and people) that we cannot change… But we can change ourselves… And I believe we can do it in a way that doesn’t leave us looking like self-righteous assholes… Lead by example… Not by force…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

If you want some science – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropaeolum_majus

These “Plant a Day Till Spring” posts are simply intended to kill time until spring when I start writing more… My source (where applicable) is Wikipedia.org… The photography is all my own… And I am adding my own information…

This website and all of the information presented within is provided free by the author… Me… It is my sole opinion and is not representative of anyone other than myself… You can contact me directly with questions at – c.condello@hotmail.com

Remember to tip… My Bitcoin digital wallet address is… 1JsKwa3vYgy4LZjNk4YmPEHFJNjPt2wDJj

Get your own wallet at CoinBase.com

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A Plant A Day Till Spring – Day 51 – Aster

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“Aster Minibus” – Late Summer 2013 – Pittsburgh, PA

“A Plant a Day till Spring” will highlight one plant a day, starting on the winter solstice (December 21, 2013)… And ending on the vernal equinox (March 20, 2014)… If all goes to plan I will be starting with old Snowdrop photos from 2013… And ending with new photos of Snowdrops in 2014…

In my mind… Asters are one of the floral jewels of the autumn landscape… They grow everywhere… I have found them deep in the woods… And I have found them in urban alleys… Asters really aren’t picky plants… They will grow in almost any condition you can throw at them… I find most people pull them early in the year… Mistaken for a weed… This is due to the fact that it is an autumn blooming plant… It doesn’t even start to bud until late August or early September…

Asters are a bomb proof plant… They do not need watered… Transplanting is as easy as popping it out of the ground and cutting the root-ball into pieces… This is best done while the plant is dormant… But like I said… It is bombproof… I have ripped them out of the ground with my bare hands in the middle of the growing period… After realizing what I had just done… And looking around to make sure no one was watching… I threw it back in the hole and stomped it in with my foot… A few weeks later I noticed the plant was getting ready to bloom… A few weeks later than the undisturbed asters… But still blooming… Last summer it resumed a normal flowering schedule…

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Asters require s little work to keep looking good… Asters grow among tall grasses when in nature… Because of this… The plant has evolved to be rather tall… If left alone… Asters can grow 4′ to 6′ – tall depending on the height of the plants growing around it… The way we deal with this in the garden is by regular pruning… I do mine twice a year… In early june I drop the plant down to about 10″ tall… The plant will branch at each leaf node below the cut… Around mid July… The plant will have grown considerably… I now cut each branch down to 3 or 4″ above my early season cut… Doing this in mid to late July allows the plant enough time to recover before going into the bloom cycle… If done properly… Your Aster will not get tall… Lanky… And finally flop over and look bad… It will be short and sexy… Like me… I mean mine…

It is currently 10 degrees outside… We are expecting some snow later on this evening… It has been a long time since Pittsburgh has experienced a winter like this… It sucks… But as always I am finding a bright spot in the situation… This spring will give me an opportunity to observe plants that have been “winter damaged” to a degree I have not experienced before… To clarify… I have experienced rough winters before… This is Pittsburgh after all… But I now observe plants and nature to a different degree than I did before… i.e. I pay attention now… It is an exciting opportunity that may not come again for a long time… Fingers crossed…

I spent a while taking photographs yesterday… I may post a gallery soon…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

If you want some science – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aster_(genus)

These “Plant a Day Till Spring” posts are simply intended to kill time until spring when I start writing more… My source (where applicable) is Wikipedia.org… The photography is all my own… And I am adding my own information…

This website and all of the information presented within is provided free by the author… Me… It is my sole opinion and is not representative of anyone other than myself… You can contact me directly with questions at – c.condello@hotmail.com

Remember to tip… My Bitcoin digital wallet address is… 1JsKwa3vYgy4LZjNk4YmPEHFJNjPt2wDJj

Get your own wallet at CoinBase.com

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A Plant A Day Till Spring – Day 50 – Oregano

Oregano

“Early Morning Busy Bee Just Like Little Old Me” – Spring/Summer 2012 – Whitney Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA – I am a coffee lover… Well… I’m a cream and sugar lover… But I like a little coffee in it for kick… I prefer to drink mine under the sun of summer… Though I sit on the steps of my front portico alone… I am not alone… I am surrounded by friendly bees… Beeing friendly simply beecause I give a damn… Beecause I care… Bees notice those of us that grow flowers… If you grow them… They will notice you too…

“A Plant a Day till Spring” will highlight one plant a day, starting on the winter solstice (December 21, 2013)… And ending on the vernal equinox (March 20, 2014)… If all goes to plan I will be starting with old Snowdrop photos from 2013… And ending with new photos of Snowdrops in 2014…

Oregano… I used to think there was only one variety… Lanky and Floppy… OK… I mean Greek… You know the variety I’m talking about… Long stems growing from a crown… Sparsely leaved and tends to flop out from the center… I don’t consider  Greek Oregano a display quality plant…The flowers are nice… But the size and generally scruffy look of the plant make it better suited for low-traffic areas in your yard… That’s just my opinion at least…

Luckily… Oregano comes in more varieties than just one… Some of my favorites include “Hot and Spicy”, “Italian”, “Variegated”, “Dittany of Crete” (my favorite), and Compact Creeping” (photographed)… I have all of these but the variegated variety… I grow the creeping as a groundcover in my front yard… It grows into convenient little stepping pads that I have trained the young kids to use when they are cutting through my garden during play time… I originally tried to stop them… I quickly realized that was not going to be possible… Sometimes it is easier to redirect an issue than it is to stop an issue… I find that is typically the case with kids…

As far as fruit tree guilds are concerned… Oregano is one of those plants that I would consider a “power tool”… All varieties have really long bloom periods… Each stem produces hundreds of flowers so it is a safe bet there will always be enough pollen and nectar to go around… Oregano also has the added benefit of not exactly being a tasty snack to many garden pests… I won’t go as far as saying it will literally repel pests… But I will say it would seem they will avoid the general area of a sizeable oregano plant…

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“Frost Kiss” – Fall 2013 – Whitney Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA

I hope everyone has a great Friday… I have to write 40 tweets (140 characters) relating to fruit trees for my plant guild Q&A on #gardenchat… This is happening on Valentines Day… February 14th @ 2:00 PM EST… I’m nervous and the only thing that will make me feel better is to prepare…

In other news… I have been writing a lot of poetry lately… I hope to post some in the next couple of days…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

If you want some science – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oregano

These “Plant a Day Till Spring” posts are simply intended to kill time until spring when I start writing more… My source (where applicable) is Wikipedia.org… The photography is all my own… And I am adding my own information…

This website and all of the information presented within is provided free by the author… Me… It is my sole opinion and is not representative of anyone other than myself… You can contact me directly with questions at – c.condello@hotmail.com

Remember to tip… My Bitcoin digital wallet address is… 1JsKwa3vYgy4LZjNk4YmPEHFJNjPt2wDJj

Get your own wallet at CoinBase.com

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A Plant A Day Till Spring – Day 49 – Hosta

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“Teeny-Weeny-Bikini” – Summer 2013 – Whitney Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA – A mini/micro variety that grows no bigger than a fist…

“A Plant a Day till Spring” will highlight one plant a day, starting on the winter solstice (December 21, 2013)… And ending on the vernal equinox (March 20, 2014)… If all goes to plan I will be starting with old Snowdrop photos from 2013… And ending with new photos of Snowdrops in 2014…

Sorry this post is running a little late… I was up late writing… As a result… I kinda slept in… If you consider 5:30 sleeping in… I again want to mention my online Q&A about Plant Guilds on February 14th at 2PM EST… #groundchat on Twitter… This will be my first time doing an online garden chat… Apparently… The audience ranges from 70,000 to a million people… Needless to say I am a little nervous…

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So… You might not know this… But my girlfriend and I are Hosta fanatics… Collectors if you will… Right off the top of my head I can think of 20 varieties we grow… A small number though when you consider the fact that there are around 40,000 named varieties…

A few years ago my girlfriend and I joined the Western Pennsylvania Daffodil and Hosta Society… You may be asking yourself why Daffodils and Hosta… The reason is that the dafs come up early in the spring… The Hosta come up around the exact same time the Daffodils are dying back for the year… The large leaves of the Hosta in effect cover and hide the withering leaves…

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“Earth Angel” – Summer 2013 – Whitney Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA – A larger variet with light green variegated leaves… But the magic does not come from the leaves on this particular Hosta… The massive blossoms are heavily scented… Often reaching the farthest corners of my backyard… Especially after a rain…
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I wrote a poem about this Hosta last Summer – https://chriscondello.wordpress.com/2013/07/18/earth-angel/

Most people don’t know this but Hostas are edible… The tender leaves can be eaten raw… But I suggest you cook them up… The texture is reminiscent of spinach… The taste is really bland… It isn’t exactly something to write home about…

Hostas prefer shade… The large leaves of the plant make it ideal for absorbing little bits of sunlight… This is also the reason this plant does not do well in full sun… The large leaves absorb to much of the light… This results in what I call “sun sick”… Which is when a plant intended for shade is planted in full sun… The plant will actually overdose on sunlight… The result is a thin plant with small leaves… A result of the plant trying to cut down on the available leaf area that is absorbing the sunlight… Plants are smarter than you think…

Hosta propagates readily by seed… Simply leaving the flower stalks on the plants through the winter will accomplish this… This plant will also hybridize freely… The result… The 40,000 (and climbing) named varieties of Hosta we have now…

This year is the year I get my hands on an “Empress Wu” Hosta… The empress grows to 4′ tall and 6′ around… It is the largest hosta… When you see it… It looks like something that grew when the dinosaurs still roamed the earth… Truly a magnificent plant… One that I will buy this Summer… The hard part is finding a place to put it…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

If you want some science – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hosta

For my Hosta related Practical Permaculture Post – Daffodil and Hosta

These “Plant a Day Till Spring” posts are simply intended to kill time until spring when I start writing more… My source (where applicable) is Wikipedia.org… The photography is all my own… And I am adding my own information…

This website and all of the information presented within is provided free by the author… Me… It is my sole opinion and is not representative of anyone other than myself… You can contact me directly with questions at – c.condello@hotmail.com

Remember to tip… My Bitcoin digital wallet address is… 1JsKwa3vYgy4LZjNk4YmPEHFJNjPt2wDJj

Get your own wallet at CoinBase.com

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A Plant A Day Till Spring – Day 48 – Comfrey

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“Comfrey at the Peace House” – Summer 2013 – Whitney Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA

“A Plant a Day till Spring” will highlight one plant a day, starting on the winter solstice (December 21, 2013)… And ending on the vernal equinox (March 20, 2014)… If all goes to plan I will be starting with old Snowdrop photos from 2013… And ending with new photos of Snowdrops in 2014…

We had freezing rain last night and the entire neighborhood is glazed over… I am going to try to take some photos when the sun comes up… I also wanted to mention that on February 14th at 2PM EST… I will be guest hosting a Q&A on #groundchat… The subject will be “plant guilds”… I will put the details together and update tomorrow… I am also doing a hands on fruit tree maintenance/pruning demonstration (with a short grafting demo if time allows) March 15th at a Community Garden in Bellevue… This is through growpgh… Registration at growpgh.org… Nevermind – Fruit Tree Demo is now SOLD OUT… I was not expecting that…

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Comfrey… You either love it… Or you hate it… I fall somewhere in the middle… Long considered a silver bullet in the permaculture and organic gardening world… And I will admit it is a very useful plant… But in my own personal experiences… I have noticed it is the go-to suggestion for the inexperienced gardener… If you have ever had to remove Comfrey you will know what I am talking about…

At one time Comfrey had a very bad reputation as being extremely invasive… Over time the sexual prowess of the plant has been bred out… The resulting plant “Bocking 14” is sterile… 99% of the Comfrey I come into contact with is in fact this sterile variety… This solved the plants rapid spread by seed… Sure… But it is still damn near impossible to remove… This is the reason I say only the inexperienced suggest Comfrey without a disclaimer…

I consider Comfrey a “borderline” plant… Meaning… It should be planted with care… You really have to take a good look at the gardener’s skill level… Comfrey is not for beginners… Comfrey is not for small spaces… Comfrey is not for the people who are uninitiated with a garden spade… There are other “nitrogen-fixing” options out there…

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“Bocking 14” – Summer 2013 – Whitney Avenue/Hamnett Way – Wilkinsburg, PA

Comfrey… As far as “nutrient accumulation” is concerned… Is really one of the kings or Queens of the plant world… There are very few plants that can compare to the amount of work this plant can accomplish passively… Although I warn of growing it… I do grow it… Just not in my own garden… I personally grow it in the yards of abandoned houses… Two or three times a year I walk around with my garden spade… I take my spade and place it at roughly a 45 degree angle where the base of the plant meets the soil… One good push down will sever the top of the plant… After I have harvested a decent amount… I take it home and mulch my gardens with it… After a few days in the sun black ooze starts seeping out of the plant… That’s the good stuff…

You can also take your comfrey and ball it up in an old t-shirt… When the shirt starts turning black… Throw it in a five gallon bucket of water for a few days… You now have nitrogen tea ready for immediate application…

Removal is a pain in the ass… But it is not impossible… Start digging 20″ out from the crown… Dig to a minimum depth of 12″… I go to 20″… Remove the soil and put it in a wheelbarrow… Go through it with your hands and remove the roots… Comfrey has a very deep taproot… Any roots left in the soil will potentially sprout so I put a layer of cardboard in the bottom of the hole… Backfill and carefully monitor… Persistence will pay off…

Every time the subject of Comfrey comes up… I learn something… Please feel free to add your own experiences to the mix in the comments below…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

If you want some science – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comfrey

If you want my permaculture post on comfrey – Practical Permaculture – Comfrey Cautions

These “Plant a Day Till Spring” posts are simply intended to kill time until spring when I start writing more… My source (where applicable) is Wikipedia.org… The photography is all my own… And I am adding my own information…

This website and all of the information presented within is provided free by the author… Me… It is my sole opinion and is not representative of anyone other than myself… You can contact me directly with questions at – c.condello@hotmail.com

Remember to tip… My Bitcoin digital wallet address is… 1JsKwa3vYgy4LZjNk4YmPEHFJNjPt2wDJj

Get your own wallet at CoinBase.com

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A Plant A Day Till Spring – Day 47 – Iris

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“Sun on Sun” – Spring 2013 – The Garden Table – Rebecca Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA

“A Plant a Day till Spring” will highlight one plant a day, starting on the winter solstice (December 21, 2013)… And ending on the vernal equinox (March 20, 2014)… If all goes to plan I will be starting with old Snowdrop photos from 2013… And ending with new photos of Snowdrops in 2014…

Good morning everyone… It is a cold one here in Pittsburgh and we are expecting a snow storm tonight… As I peaked out the window this morning I noticed the frozen spikes of one of my Iris poking through the snow… It is hard to believe that in a couple short months I will be photographing these blossoms again… I will be among the trees… With the bees… And the birds… In my garden paradise…

I never really paid much attention to Iris in the past… The blooming period for them is so short that it almost seemed not worth growing… Then a few years ago one of the volunteers at The Garden Table (who is also a member of the Western PA Iris and Daylily Society) brought the left overs from their annual plant sale… The sale was held on an unusually cold and miserable day and as a result the sales were pretty bleak… By the end of that day we were the proud owners of over 100 varieties of Iris… Not to mention a bunch of Daylily…

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“Throat of the Iris” – Spring 2013 – Whitney Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA

I had no idea Iris came in as many varieties as they apparently do… Every color imaginable… Even black… Many bloom early in the Spring… Others will hold out until fall… Some have tiny flowers… While others are massive…

Iris tend to grow in clumps… These clumps get overcrowded quickly and as a result the Iris will need divided every once in a while… I just take a spade and carefully work it underneath the roots… Iris have very shallow roots so it is rather easy to pop them out of the ground… Once they are out simply pull them apart… You can now plant your divisions… Or if you have as many as I do… Beg people to take them…

Iris are a good plant for areas you cannot provide water too… They make excellent guerrilla gardening plants… Although they only bloom for a short period… The spiky foliage creates interest year around… Iris are also noticeable by just about everyone… It is difficult to mistake the leaves for anything other than an ornamental garden plant… Iris also seem to have some tolerance to salt… Making them perfect for roadside guerrilla gardens in areas where snow is an issue…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

If you want some science – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iris_(plant)

These “Plant a Day Till Spring” posts are simply intended to kill time until spring when I start writing more… My source (where applicable) is Wikipedia.org… The photography is all my own… And I am adding my own information…

This website and all of the information presented within is provided free by the author… Me… It is my sole opinion and is not representative of anyone other than myself… Although this website is free… I sell prints of my photography here – www.society6.com/chriscondello – or you can contact me directly with questions at – c.condello@hotmail.com – Although it isn’t a requirement… It helps…

Remember to tip… My Bitcoin digital wallet address is – 1JsKwa3vYgy4LZjNk4YmPEHFJNjPt2wDJj

Get your own wallet at CoinBase.com

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