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

May 6th, 2010 Posted in Finns, Insects, Late spring flowers, Nurseries, cats

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

  1. 21 Responses to “Finnish greetings, cool new plants, why yellow leaves, ladybugs on patrol”

  2. By mss @ Zanthan Gardens on May 6, 2010

    How disappointing that they didn’t make it down to Austin. I’m glad you were able to see them in Dallas. And what lovely Fiskars. I just bought a new pair of small pruners this week. I love my Fiskars!

    I had only mild damage to my confederate jasmine…the tips above the roofline froze and there a few dead leaves which turned red. Certainly much less than the damage I’ve read about elsewhere around Austin.

    As for my sago palm, your has got it beat. I guess I’ll resign myself to going after it with the Fiskars.


  3. By Margie on May 6, 2010

    I enjoyed reading about Kukka & Jukka and seeing pictures of their home.

    Great tip on keeping the neighbors cat out of the flower beds.


  4. By Pam/Digging on May 6, 2010

    What a fun visit with your Finnish relatives, Linda. Now I know where your unusual name is from too. They sure brought you a great gift.

    Great tip about leaving prickly branches or cuttings to discourage cats.


  5. By Daphne Richards on May 6, 2010

    Thanks for another fabulous post. It’s so nice to “meet” your Finnish family! I’m glad that the volcano finally settled down enough for them visit.


  6. By Annie in Austin on May 6, 2010

    I’m glad your family made it to Texas – just make sure they know Dallas is a lot different from Austin LOL – although there will be no black currant bushes in either place.

    The white flowers are taking over here, too – and my Confederate jasmines had very little winterkill. You are so good at capturing these white plants in photos, Linda – I keep trying but you set the bar very high.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose


  7. By Jenny on May 7, 2010

    Thanks for giving us a glimpse of life in Finland. I’m sorry they didn’t make it to Austin but hope they enjoyed their US visit. I hope the ash cloud doesn’t put a damper on their summer growing season. I remember how smoke from the burning of fields in Mexico affected our growing season one year. Those are some serious Fiskars and such a welcome gift for a gardener who lives in a place where things grow twice as fast as anywhere else! We were glad the freeze caused severe damage to our jasmine. it was the perfect opportunity to cut the whole thing back and take control of its rampant growth. I have seen that same yellowing on my daylilies. Thanks for the deficiency tip.


  8. By Jo Dwyer on May 7, 2010

    So THAT’s where the name Lehmusvirta comes from! Ever see the Jim Jarmusch movie “Night on Earth?” The last segment takes place in Helsinki. It’s wintertime, and bleak, bleak, bleak. Thanks for posting the shot of your relatives’ house, to give us a sunnier perspective!


    Linda reply on May 8th, 2010 8:56 pm:

    I haven’t seen that movie but if you like it, I’ll check it out. Lehmusvirta supposedly means water and trees.


    Jo Dwyer reply on May 9th, 2010 9:50 am:

    Water and trees! Wow…how appropriate is that?! And yes, definitely check out Night on Earth. It’s fantastic, in a decidedly Jim Jarmusch way.


  9. By Darrel Mayers on May 7, 2010

    Thanks Linda for letting us all know about your Finnish heritage. So can Finns only marry other Finns whose name rhymes with their own?!
    Your star jasmine looks happy to be alive.


    Linda reply on May 8th, 2010 8:55 pm:



  10. By Heli Esker on May 7, 2010

    Hei Linda,
    Satuin näkemään haastattelusi viime syksyn Austin Monthly Home -lehdessä, jossa käsiteltiin krysanteemeja. Ja näinpä löysin blogisi, hauskaa! Puutarhanhoito on yksi harrastuksistani ja opettelen yhä näitä Texasin kasveja, jo kahdeksatta vuotta.

    Meitä suomalaisia on täällä pieni joukko, mutta tapaamme ainakin kahdesti vuodessa, vappuna ja itsenäisyyspäivänä. Uusinta uutta on että kaksi taitavaa tietokonehenkilöä saivat aikaan meille oman webbisaitinkin, josta meidät löytää nyt helpommin:

    Kiitos tosi informatiivisesta blogistasi – saan paljon hyödyllistä tietoa nyt kun omistan oman pihankin!



    Linda reply on May 8th, 2010 8:54 pm:

    This is so cool to hear from you! And that you know Finnish! Jukka translated for me. Neat to know you’re in town. I’ve check out Finns & Friends in Austin!


  11. By bangchik on May 9, 2010

    a very promising spring indeed, bringing beautiful colours to garden. Your sago palm is definitely different than what we have in Malaysia. Sago palm here is a big palm, a lot bigger than coconut.
    Cheers, Have a great weekend.


  12. By reneesroots on May 12, 2010

    Linda, what fun to see your Finnish family photos! Thanks for sharing. And I LOVE that little white penstemon bloom. That’s going on the list for my white bloom bed, which finally almost lives up to its name.


    Linda reply on May 12th, 2010 5:55 pm:

    Yes, you must have P. cobaea for your white garden. It can be hard to find. I’m watching seeds for you.


  13. By Kathleen Scott on May 12, 2010

    Hi Linda, I’m still catching up from travel & company so I’m late reading this post…your Rusty Blackhaw Viburnum is amazing! How long have you had it? Ours has grown maybe a foot in four years.

    My mother’s daylilly foliage has always been striated. She got them as starts from her mother in the 1970’s. I got starts from Mom last year, mine are striated too. I thought that was normal for the variety (whatever variety it is).


    Linda reply on May 12th, 2010 5:54 pm:

    Gosh, Kathleen, maybe 10 years or so? I tried two in another spot with no luck. This was the perfect place. It was slow at first and then took off like crazy. Yours has faced drought for two years. See what happens this year with all the rain.

    Interesting on striations. Maybe that is normal. I did give mine some iron and fertilizer this weekend to see if they perked up a bit.


  14. By Tisa on May 17, 2010

    Actually, your surname means “Elm stream” :) Beautiful, and very typically Finnish, in that most surnames here are taken from the nature around us.

    I live in Southern Karelia and we’ve been having beautifully warm weather, after a very long and uncommonly cold winter. Coming in from a day in the garden to read more about gardening on the web is a sweet treat, and your post, Linda, was a nice and entertaining read.

    Terveisia Suomesta! :)


    Linda reply on May 17th, 2010 3:58 pm:

    Wow, Tisa! Thank you for writing. Let’s stay in touch. Linda


  15. By Frederic Padilla on Aug 9, 2010

    I love the little white penstemon bloom. A very interesting story. Thank you because you’ve shared your stories about gardening in Finland. It seems very interesting. I love gardening, and your trip made me jealous.


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