Sunday, April 22, 2012

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival 2012

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival 2012
It has been many years (6 years, actually - see 2006 post) since we last went to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in La Conner, WA.  So this Saturday, we rounded up the family and visited again.  It didn't disappoint.  However, this year we didn't pick the large commercialized Tulip Town or Roozengaarde fields, but instead a quieter field, but one with beautifully contrasting swaths of yellow and red.

Here are some more photos that don't do justice to the beautiful colours there:
I loved this muddy ol' truck in the field.  A small group of Mexican workers were gathering armfuls of tulips (presumably the old blooms, although I couldn't see how they were different than any of the other blooms around us) and tossing them onto the truck.  I think it made for a neat photo.
Of course, the real aim of any such visit it to catch some nice photos of the family, especially the kids.  We got our share of our teenage daughter looking grumpy and squinting into the sun, and my son goofing around.  But then there were a couple of gems which made the photographic attempts worthwhile.
It's funny, looking back on these few happy and relaxed photos of the kids, that all of them were in the daffodil field, where we spontaneously pulled over to the side of the road, on our way while driving around to decide on a tulip field.  Once we were actually in the tulip field, it seems all the kids wanted to do was leave.  Reminder to self: Plan for an impromptu photo session prior to the real photo session again next time.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Forsythia : You Can Grow That!

I received so many encouraging comments on my "You Can Grow That" post about espalier fruit trees last month, that I have been looking forward to joining C.L. Fornari of Whole Life Gardening, in this month's edition of "You Can Grow That".

At first I planned to write about strawberries in the garden, but I may save that for a future post.  Instead, I have been admiring the cheery yellow blooms of forsythia all around the city, and have chosen that for today's topic.

You can grow forsythia, and if you know of any bushes in your area, you can start your own very economically.  Forsythia cuttings can be easily rooted in water.  So all you need to do is clip a twig or two, and set them in a vase.  Soon they will be sprouting and likely will send out roots.  Once the roots are visible, the forsythia can be planted out into the garden, and will quickly grow into a shrub.  I have a forsythia plant behind my compost boxes (see photo below), which was started this way, a couple of years ago.

Although you can cut a flowering twig, and both enjoy the blooms, and then the greenery which will quickly develop, the best time to take a cutting is once the blooms have disappeared, and the plant is directing its energy into growth.  No growth hormones or special treatment are required.
Although the forsythia naturally grows as a floppy bush, it can be trimmed into a hedge, as I see in many yards.  It can also be grown as a standard.  I discovered a wonderful example some years ago while driving, not far from home, and have a photo somewhere of this wonderful forsythia standard in bloom.  I returned the following year to discover that it was gone, replaced by a very small forsythia twig, which the owner appeared to be training in standard form.  I wondered if the wonderful one I had seen had been damaged, and he/she was starting over, or whether it was so beautiful that someone had bought or relocated it.  I never did find out.

I don't know how much work it would be to trim and train it into standard form, but since it grows quite vigorously and is flexible and easy to trim, I don't imagine it would be difficult, if one had patience to wait for the result.  With some diligence at supporting the stem so that it grows straight, trimming away any other stems or lower branches, and trimming the upper branches into a globular shape, but you should be able to grow that, too.  Some day I want to give it a try.  When I'm ready, I can take a cutting from the bush behind my compost bins.
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