A Plant A Day Till Spring – Day 40 – Petunias

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“Black Petunia” – Summer 2013 – Whitney Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA – If I was a plant… I would be a black petunia…

“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… Today is a special day for me… Two years ago today I quit heroin… I woke up feeling some kind of way… Actually… I woke up right around now… It was like a light switch had been flipped… I just didn’t want to do heroin anymore… No one could make me do it… And believe me… They tried… No amount of intervention… No amount of rehab… No twelve steps could save me… I just had to choose the right path for once in my life… And here I am…

Don’t know where I would be if I had never quit heroin… Probably dead… But here I am… Writing about gardening… Writing about my feelings… Writing to you… Hoping for nothing more than to positively affect your life… And through those positive effects… I hope to benefit my own life… It is starting to occur to me that that is what writing is all about… the good feeling I get when I write something I am proud of… I get that because of the effect I hope it will have on my readers… When it all works out… Well my friends… That is better than any heroin… Better than any high… Hell… Writing is the ultimate high… Words… They are like a drug… When the words come together in harmony… And the intended feeling is conveyed… There is nothing in the world like it… That is my new high…

In other news… The current temperature is -10 F… Though my thermometer reads “ERROR”…Maybe time for a new one… And DDT has been linked to Alzheimer’s… Big surprise huh?..

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I chose Petunias today because they are one of my favorite flowers… I don’t even really know why… And I have to admit… When it comes to Petunias… I’m a bit of a snob… My favorite nursery makes it easy though… My favorite… Any of the “WAVE”… Or “SHOCKWAVE” varieties… These varieties do not grow vertically… They grow horizontally like a groundcover… Shockwave in particular is a profuse bloomer…

A little secret… Shockwave petunias require massive amounts of nutrients to profusely bloom as intended… I actually feed my Shockwave “especially the plants in pots” every two weeks throughout summer… The result is always a mound of color…

If you have ever handled a petunia you know how sticky of a plant it is… This stickiness makes it very unappealing to insects… Hell… I don’t even like to touch them… I have had garden beds devastated by slugs before… Even the marigolds… All that was left were a few slime covered petunias… I have also noticed the neighborhood cats don’t exactly like this plant… They seem to steer clear of it…

Anyway… Thanks for reading… And thanks for the support… As always…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

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

New To writing and never had to cite sources before… 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

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The Guerrilla Gardening Guidebook – Annuals

moonflower

“Moonflower” – Whitney Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA – Datura wrightii… Sacred Moonflower that was given as a gift a few years ago… Frost kills it to the ground… Depending on how harsh of a winter I have it typically sprouts again in spring… This plant also creates a ton of seeds making it a perfect plant for vacant lot gardening…

Annuals

This post is part of a larger body of work titled ”The Guerrilla Gardening Guidebook”. For the introduction and table of contents please click here

Every guerrilla gardener dreams of a wall of color growing in place of litter and blight, nothing can match the flash and glitter of a profusion of flowering annuals when a statement is to be made.  When it comes to sheer flower power, no other plant matches up to these prolific bloomers.

Many garden annuals bloom practically nonstop from late spring or early summer, only stopping with the killing fall frost. By definition an annual plant lives for only one year, completing its entire growing season in one year. It germinates, develops into a mature plant, blooms, sets seed, and finally dies… All in a span of several months…

Some annuals, especially hardy ones such as sweet alyssum and larkspur, can reseed in your garden. They may come back the next year without even planting them. This can be a good thing, or a disastrous situation depending on what you are dealing with. Many self-seeders are borderline invasive if not full-blown invasive. Amaranth comes to mind, setting millions of seeds that seem to sprout legs and walk all over the neighborhood. Research and experience will help determine your problem plants, deadhead your flowers before the seeds fully develop.

Most annual plants die because of a hormonal trigger set off by seed formation or ripening. Gardeners can trick this natural phenomenon, at least for a time, by continuously removing the dead flowers… AKA Deadheading… By preventing seed formation, deadheading encourages the annual to continue blooming an a desperate attempt to set seed… Sometimes this will promote blooming in an overachiever… Some modern annuals are sterile and do not set seed, they typically bloom right up until frost without any human intervention.

Impatiens, petunias and marigolds are probably the most popular garden annuals sold today… Probably too popular because I see them everywhere… I swear to God I can tell you what annuals home depot stocks just by walking through a suburban neighborhood. I can also typically tell you who shops at privately owned nurseries… The world of available annuals is constantly expanding, though I recommend the standards for guerrilla gardening due to the issues associated with maintenance.

Not all annuals are created equal as far as temperament and growing requirements are concerned. Annuals can be classified into several broad categories, all with different characteristics. Knowing the specifics of the annual you are planting helps you understand the plants habits and needs.

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“Pineapple Sage” – Whitney Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA – Stunning pineapple-scented gold foliage covers this plant through the summer months… As fall approaches… Pineapple Sage begins stretching towards the low sun followed by a display of red flowers often unmatched in the autumn garden…

Tender Perennials – Many of the annuals sold at the typical garden center are actually tender perennials. These are long blooming perennials in their native habitats… But the cold of winter… Not their genetic makeup, kills them in the winter… So they behave like annuals when grown in the north…

Warm-Season Annuals – Flourishing in heat and blooming best in summer, warm-season annuals like zinnia, marigold, and cosmos cannot survive even a light frost. Freezing temperatures kill tender seedlings and sometimes seeds. Because plants take several months to mature and begin flowering, you may want to start your seeds indoors.

Cool-Season Annuals – Nasturtium, sweet alyssum, pot marigold, and other cool season annuals flower best during cool weather and wither or die in during summers heat. Freezing temperatures usually do not kill seeds, which often self-sow and overwinter in the garden, sprouting in spring or summer. In temperate regions, early planting provides the best show from cool-season annuals… Allowing them to bloom until the heat of summer…

Hardy Annuals – This type of cool-season annual withstands the most cold. Sow the seeds in spring before frost danger has passed or in late fall for spring germination. Hardy annuals include Iceland poppy, pot marigold and larkspur.

The following are annuals tolerant of guerrilla gardening conditions…

Snapdragon, Begonia, flowering kale, pot marigold, periwinkle, bachelor’s-button, cornflower, Cleome, coleus, larkspur, cosmos, annual dahlia, dianthus, California poppy, Annual Blanket Flower, Sunflower, Strawflower, Heliotrope, Impatiens, Lantana, Sweet Pea, Lobelia, sweet Alyssum, Flowering Tobacco, Corn poppy, shirley poppy, Flanders Poppy, Geranium, Perilla, Petunia, Annual Phlox, Moss Rose, Zinnia, Marigold, Nasturtium, Verbena, Pansy.

Planting should be done on a cool cloudy day, rain in the forecast can be a huge help whenever possible. Water the cell-packs so the plants slide right out. If they do not, push the bottom of the cell with your thumb, and the roots should pop right out. Well grown annuals will have a network of white roots growing around the soil ball.

A root bound plants roots should be broken apart before transplanting, this encourages the roots to grow out into the soil as opposed to continuing around in a circle. Gently split the matted root ball up the middle by pulling with both hands in opposite directions and untangling as many roots as possible.

Water immediately after planting… Because the plants are young with relatively tiny root systems, you may need to water every day for a few weeks until everything gets established. Annuals that are allowed to wilt at this stage of their life, often suffer for a considerable amount of time after.

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

This site… And all the photographs and information presented within are provided free of charge by the author… I am not affiliated with any product or business… Only myself… Writing this blog takes a ton of time… If you find any of this information helpful, please consider purchasing a print from my online store… It is obviously not a requirement… But it helps…

I sell prints of my photography here – http://www.society6.com/chriscondello Or you can contact me directly at c.condello@hotmail.com for commissions or locally/personally produced prints… Thank you for reading…

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The Last Week Of May – Effortless

ZLeaner

“Effortless” – © chriscondello 2013 – Sculpture of Stone – Frick Park – Pittsburgh, PA – I had a crowd this morning… From the bench they quietly cheered me on… They told me I made it look effortless… Hence the name…

Stacky

“Settlement Pond No. 3” – © chriscondello 2013 – Sculpture of Stone – Frick Park – Pittsburgh, PA – Nine Mile Run begins its Frick Park journey by traveling through several man-made settlement ponds… The purpose of these ponds is to allow litter and pollution to sink to the bottom before being carried to the Monongahela River…

Belly

“Sewicide” – © chriscondello 2013 – Frick Park – Pittsburgh, PA – I regularly see kids playing in this creek… I always see dogs swimming… I wouldn’t throw my enemies in this water… I build these sculptures because I understand… I understand that nature can not always watch out for itself… Sometimes… It needs a little help…

Relic

“Relic” – © chriscondello 2013 – Frick Park – Pittsburgh, PA – Built by a few neighborhood kids that have now moved to the beach… This teepee is a reminder to me that this park is making a comeback… I thought that someone would surely destroy this… But nope… Someone is maintaining it…

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“Public Display” – © chriscondello 2013 – Frick Park – Pittsburgh, PA – Photo from the weekend… I found this Wild Geranium pretty early in the morning… The sun was not in the right place… So I waited for about 45 minutes until the sun was just perfect… As I was setting up my shot… This damn insect landed on the flower… Slowly turned its head toward me… And stared… As if I was the asshole… So I settled…

Condammed

“Popular Opinion” – © chriscondello 2013 – Whitney Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA – I guess not everyone is a fan of peace… Or 100-year-old Victorian homes… Or art…

PghPetunias

“Plant Petunias” – © chriscondello 2013 – Whitney Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA – When in Pittsburgh… Expect to see a bunch of petunia photographs this Summer…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

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Complimentary Colors

"Buddies" - © chriscondello 2013 - Frick Park - Pittsburgh, PA - Complimentary colors... Growing in the same patch... Yet... None of them were close enough together to photograph... So I put them together...

“Buddies” – © chriscondello 2013 – Frick Park – Pittsburgh, PA – Complimentary colors… Growing in the same patch… Yet… None of them were close enough together to photograph… So I put them together…

To address my last post quickly…

Complimentary Colors – We call two colors complimentary if their pigments mixed together, yield a neutral gray-black. physically, light of two complimentary colors, mixed together, will yield white.

Two such colors make a strange pair. They are opposite, they require each other. They incite each other to maximum vividness when adjacent; and they annihilate each other, to gray-black, when mixed – like fire and water. – Johannes Itten – The Art of Color

Take it however you want…

To address the comment calling me a closet junky…

My arms show the scars of a million needle pricks…
I can still see them… I can still feel them…
And if I think hard enough… I can still taste them…
Memories are powerful…

Memories of the bad…
Should not supersede the good…
Life should be celebrated…
And death understood…

I would die a million deaths…
To save you from this one…

I know what I am… My question is…

Do you know what you are?..

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

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Plant Impatiens and Question Everything

100_1517Everybody has a soft spot for at least a few plants, for me it’s Impatiens. When I was younger my mom would plant them all the way up both sides of the walkway that led to our back porch. It would amaze me how small they were when she planted them, and within a few weeks they would completely fill out creating a neon mound of color that would last until frost. Still today when I see Impatiens it immediately takes me back to my childhood and makes me think about catching bees and waiting for hummingbirds to visit the colorful flowers. From this point forward I vow to have Impatiens in my garden every year for the rest of my life, if for no other reason than the fact that they remind me of my mom and make me feel good…

You see, the last couple of summers while I was building and maintaining the urban farm on the street I found myself spending all of my spare time studying data sheets on crops and pests, and basically immersing myself in agricultural research. I still do this, but it has made me realize how easy it is to take something that is meant to be peaceful, relaxing and enjoyable, and make it a daunting task associated with work. When your goal is squeezing as much food out of every square foot of garden space you have, aesthetic qualities tend to go out the window.

Gardening is a spiritual and physical connection to the earth that one could not understand without actually doing it, but the earth does a lot more than just feed us. Over millions of years our planet has developed an incredibly diverse bouquet of plants and animals, some feed us, and some simply blow our minds. Ssome things exist out of necessity, and some things are here as one of mother natures vulgar display of power. With all of the attention we currently invest in growing food, I sometimes feel we are forgetting that part of creating a diverse ecosystem also involves growing ornamental trees, shrubs, and flowers… both annuals and perennials.

Over the past several years I have met some of the most incredible gardeners and urban farmers, people who do things that could blow your mind. But they all seem to be focussed on food… if asked a question about growing tomatoes they could answer you in a second, but if asked a question about normal every day annual flowers they are clueless. Are we so caught up in growing food that the art of growing an old school flower garden like our grandparents used to have is getting lost.

The lack of pollinating insects has gathered a lot of attention lately, wouldn’t it be funny if it turned out to be something simple like a lack of people growing petunias and geraniums. Next time you are buying tomato or pepper plants pick up a pack of petunia or marigold plants and intermingle them around your tomatoes. One of my all time favorite mistakes was a bunch of volunteer petunias growing in my corn patch… It was truly a beautiful combination…

I’m not trying to say that I am done farming as I am just getting started, I have big plans involving multiple urban lots that is becoming a reality much quicker than anticipated, but I am trying to get back in touch with the side of gardening where happiness is not measured in yield, but in aesthetic beauty. I love vegetables and farming, but I also love my ornamentals, and whether you can admit it or not there is a symbiotic relationship between food crops and ornamental plants that goes deeper than science will ever be able to truly explain.

I understand that gardening is a way for people to feed themselves, but it can also bring beauty and lift spirits in a way that little else can. This year as you plant your garden, don’t just fill every square inch of space with food for yourself, remember the bees and birds that make our vegetables possible work up quite an appetite as well. If you plant 3 tomato plants for yourself, then plant a petunia just for the bees. If you plant a few apple trees, then plant a serviceberry just for the birds. Consider it a sacrifice of space that may seem to hurt your personal yield but in the long run will increase the overall total yield of the earth as an ecosystem. Just as people should count compost into their overall garden yield, insects and birds that are attracted to your garden could also be considered yield… If for no other reason than the presence of these animals will increase your gardens yield as well as contribute to the quality of your life and your surroundings.

I don’t normally share this with people because it makes me feel like a dork but every fruit tree, bush or bramble that I have planted for my personal consumption over the last 3 years has a flower from my garden under it. I consider it a sacrifice to the plant gods, I feel if the plant is going to sacrifice its energy into producing food for me than I can sacrifice one of my flowers to it. Just my nerdy planting ritual that helps me personally connect with the earth and how I sculpt my surroundings.

plant impatiens and question everything – chriscondello

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