Finnish greetings, cool new plants, why yellow leaves, ladybugs on patrol

Hei Austinin puutarhurit! Aurikoiset terveiset keväisestä Suomesta.
(Hello gardeners of Austin. Sunny greetings from spring-like Finland.)

Vantaa Finland sky during Iceland volcano

That’s the clear sky at Kukka & Jukka Lehmusvirta’s house in Vantaa, Finland (a Helsinki suburb) as the volcano in Iceland shut down all travel for days. With bags packed for their inaugural trip to Texas to meet fellow Lehmusvirtas (me & Dad), their Nokia (Finnish company) phones got a workout with their travel agent. After days on standby, they finally headed to the airport. They had to bypass Austin after all, but made it briefly to Dallas, where we joined up with them for a quick Sunday visit. Here’s Kukka, Dad, and Jukka.

a bunch of Finns

Nyt on aika leikata omenapuita ja puna- ja mustaviinimarjapensaita. Lumikellot ja krookukset alkavat kukkia Etelä-Suomessa. (Now it is time to cut apple trees and red and black currant bushes. Snowbells and crocuses are beginning to bloom in southern Finland.)

Crocus in Vantaa, Finland

It was still freezing in Vantaa when they came to balmy Texas. Their vegetable and flower gardening season is short: from June to September. I rather envy them. Here’s what it was like at their house not so long ago.

Vantaa Finland snow garden

When my garden hit 10º this winter, it would have seemed a bit mild to Kukka & Jukka. My cycad (sago palm) laughed at all our concern, too. I cut it back a month ago, and lookie here!

Cycad, sago palm after freeze damage

This was the first winter my star jasmine suffered. When I cut back all the dead branches, I never expected such a quick recovery or flowers this spring. Boy, was I wrong. By serendipity, I’ve been training it as a shrub as an entrance to the patio cove. The youngster on the other side should catch up in two years to “formalize” the patio cove.

star jasmine, confederate jasmine austin texas Star jasmine trained as shrub

I love the cycles of color in my garden. Now, we’re into white. Here’s Penstemon cobaea.

Penstemon cobaea austin texas

Salvia greggii next door.

White Salvia greggii

Rusty blackhaw viburnum (Viburnum rufidulum) hides our storage shed from Amelia’s backyard view.

Rusty blackhaw viburnum as hedge screen

Last Sunday, I cleaned up and pruned like crazy. Barely made a dent, so round two this weekend. The bigger chores are easier thanks to the Fiskars pruners that Kukka & Jukka brought.

Fiskars pruners

Oh my gosh, are they fabulous!  Lightweight, and easy to manipulate with one hand. I didn’t realize that Fiskars was founded in 1649, Finland’s oldest company.

This week on CTG, meet some fabulous hands-on gardeners, along with great ideas for your garden!  With their passion for plants, Christine and Bill Reid opened Reid’s Nursery in Maxwell, just minutes from Austin and San Marcos. Along with their organic frame of mind and personal advice to every gardener, they promote diverse and interesting plants. And they even sell expanded shale, which is hard to find.

Tom and I were fascinated with their selections for CTG. If you’ve got shade, you must try Job’s Tears (Coix lacryma-jobi). Nature designed its beautiful round stone-like seeds for jewelry!  Each seed has a perfect hole for threading. Wouldn’t that be a fun one for kids (and for you, of course)?

On CTG’s website, get their complete list for must-haves (including Christine’s detailed info about each plant). Reid’s also hosts free seminars throughout the year. On May 16, they host Sara Holland of Wimberley Herbs. On May 23, check out their workshop on butterfly plants.

Every year, so many gardeners destroy the ladybugs they covet or even pay for!  This week, Trisha brings special guests to CTG, including a ladybug larva that ate aphids right on cue.

Yellowing leaves? Daphne gives the best explanation of nitrogen vs. iron deficiency that I’ve ever heard. We thank viewer Ramona, who sent us this picture of her daylily!

Iron deficiency on daylily

Daphne believes that the striations mean mostly an iron deficiency, but she would recommend a well-balanced fertilizer with micronutrients.

Want to scat cats from using your garden beds as litter boxes? Here’s a great viewer tip!  Vicki and her husband moved into their first house, which the neighborhood cats had already claimed. Vicki tried everything to keep them from over-littering their newly planted garden.

One day, her husband saw some pruned prickly branches left on a curbside.  They scattered them around, and so far, they’ve had great success!  No clue what the prickly branches are, but this is a great tip. Perhaps thorny rose prunings would also break the habit.  Thanks, Vicki, for this great tip!

Until next week, Linda