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Wednesday, April 01, 2015

When you clean up the garden in the springtime...

Chionodoxa sp.
As the crocuses fade in the back lawn, the Chionodoxa ("key-own-a-dox-ah") are beginning to bloom and they'll be in bloom for Easter Sunday.

Exactly as I planned!

In preparation for Easter, and because it is spring and time to clean up the garden, I'm carefully tip-toeing around the Chionodoxa as I dart from flower border to flower bed and commence a wild flurry of cutting back, raking up, weeding out, and otherwise spiffing things up a bit.

The other day, it was getting late as I recall, I was outside for one of my mad-cap "what can I clean up in an hour" sessions in the garden, when something sparkly in a pile of leaves caught my eye.

My first thought was "piles of leaves aren't supposed to sparkle", followed quickly by "what is it".  I reached down with a gloved hand because one never knows so wear gloves, and picked it up.

Or actually, I picked them up... three gold coins.

What an odd find and in an odd place, too. I looked around to see if there were other coins in the pile of leaves, but found none. Just these three coins.  Where had they come from? Who left them in the garden? How long had they been there?  Maybe someone hid them in my garden on purpose, never thinking I would find them? Maybe whoever hid them in the garden is going to come back for them?

I turned them over in my hands and looked at both sides. They looked old. Very old.  Maybe whoever left them in the garden was long gone?  Maybe they had buried them there years, decades, ago and it was the freezing and thawing that heaved them up out of the ground for me to find?

Other scenarios came to mind, some plausible, some not so plausible.

I took the coins inside and cleaned them up a bit. They sure looked like real gold to me.  Back outside, I poked around where I found the coins and could find nothing else.

The next day, I spent some time looking on the Internet for other coins that looked like the ones I found, and what I found was amazing. Beyond anything I could have imagined.  If these coins are what I think they are, they could make me one happy, happy gardener.

I know, I know, I know, there will be many skeptics who read this today. After all, spring is a magical time in my garden and there have been other spring-time events and discoveries in my garden.

Really, though, I think this is the year.

I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Do you have a theme for your garden this year?

Requisite photo of a garden-y thing
Do you have a theme for your garden this year?

I've been reading Sissinghurst: Vita Sackville-West and the Creation of a Garden by Vita Sackville-West and Sarah Raven and have gotten all fired up about my garden, again.

I'll admit, I usually have a big fire of passion about my garden going most of the time.   Sure, in the winter time I usually just keep the embers of my gardening passion hot, mostly due to the weather, but by spring, I'm ready for a big bonfire, metaphorically speaking, of course.

I received this book, Sissinghurst: Vita Sackville-West and the Creation of a Garden, sometime last fall.  I am pretty sure it is a review copy, but because here at the Home for Old Gardening Books, Well, Any Gardening Books, there seems to be a fairly constant flow of purchased and sent-for-review books coming in, I sometimes forget whether I bought the book or a publisher graciously sent it to me.

Sometimes, I end up with two copies of a book, like Secret Gardens of the Cotswolds: A Personal Tour of 20 Gardens by Victoria Summerley and Hugo Rittson Thomas, because I bought a copy and later I got an offer for a review copy, which I found hard to refuse.  See above about Home for Old Gardening Books, Well, Any Gardening Books.

Some old women take solace in having a house full of cats.  I'll be the old woman in the house full of old gardening books, well, any gardening books.

Back to the original question. Do you have a theme for your garden this year?   If you don't have a theme and have no idea what it might be if you had the good sense to have one, may I suggest for inspiration, you read some of the writings of Vita Sackville-West that Sarah Raven included in this new book about Sackville-West's garden, Sissinghurst?

Then, like me, you might pick a theme around experimenting.  Per Sackville-West, 'a good gardener makes experiments'.

Or maybe you are ready to go all out with reckless risks. Sackville-West also wrote, 'the fun of gardening is nothing unless you take reckless risks'.

Of course, experiments and reckless risks may at some point call for corrections or do overs.

Sackville-West has that covered, too. 'Gardening is largely a question of mixing one sort of plant with another sort of plant, and of seeing how they marry happily together; and if you see that they don't marry happily, then you must hoick one of them out and be quite ruthless about it.'

And... 'That is the only way to garden; and that is why I advise every gardener to go round his garden now - make notes of what he thinks he ought to remove and of what he wants to plant later on...  The true gardener must be brutal, and imaginative for the future.'

There you go. Make a theme out of experimentation, reckless risks, hoicking out plants that just aren't working, ruthlessness.  Throw in some imagination for the future, too.

It all brings to mind another quote, one from the beloved southern garden writer, Elizabeth Lawrence. "Are you cruel enough to be a gardener?"  Well, are you?  Sure, you are!

Let this be the season you took the Big Risk in your garden.  What's your garden experiment going to be? Where do you need to apply a little ruthlessness out there in your garden? And I'm all for hoicking, a new word for me.  It means to abruptly pull something out. And abruptly implies sudden or unexpected.

Let's all just do it together this gardening season. Make big changes where changes are called for, and stop the endless dithering, pondering and second-guessing.  Let's hoick out what clearly isn't working and plant something else in its place.  And if you weren't dithering or pondering or second-guessing, and were insulted I even suggested you were, no worries. I wrote that part for me, because I tend to dither and ponder  and second-guess too much sometimes.

I'm enjoying this book, Sissinghurst: Vita Sackville-West and the Creation of a Garden. It's arrival here at the Home for Old Gardening Books, Well, Any Gardening Books is well-timed. I'm just one-third through it, so I'm not ready to write a complete review, but what I've read so far makes me wish for a rainy day with no other obligations so I can sit by the window,  the window from where I can look out onto most of the back garden, and read it all day long.

But no time for that now, so I'll continue to read it at a leisurely pace. It's spring. Time to hoick some plants, start some big experiments and follow Sackville-West's advice to go round the garden and make some notes.

Monday, March 23, 2015

A magical place

I can think of no place more magical than a garden, where every hoe and trowel is a magic wand.

The magic is there in each petal of each flower as it opens up. It's there in the unfurling of each new leaf.

At times the magic seems to take place in slow motion. We wait and wait, and then in the blink of an eye, in just the second we turn our heads, it happens.

Flowers are blooming everywhere here at May Dreams Gardens.

In the front borders the irises, mostly Iris reticulata, are putting on a full show. It's a big production, like one of those fancy, over-done dances where everyone is on stage at the same time.

I am pleased with how it all turned out, having planted over 300 iris bulbs last fall so I would have a long chorus line of blooms.

In the back lawn, new crocuses are coming up to replace the early bloomers as they fade off. I hope, I know, that under ground, they are growing big fat corms so they can return next spring.

In a nearby flower border, larger crocuses are putting on a show.

This crocus is the kind of purple my mom would have liked, I think. This is their second year. Crocuses generally return for many years unless some squirrel or chipmunk gets a notion to dig the corm up and eat it.  I hope these particular crocuses come back and use their magic on me again, that magic that conjures up my memories year after year.

Out in front the first daffodils have made their appearance.

They are only six inches tall but are definitely part of the show here in my garden, and have been for many years.

Bloom by bloom, the magic of spring continues as flowers pop up everywhere. I consider the flowers as announced if I remember I planted them and look forward to seeing them.  They are unannounced if they pop up seemingly out of nowhere and I exclaim, "I had forgotten I planted you!"

And even though we are several days into official Spring, Winter is making a brief return.  Winter is like someone in the audience of the garden's spring show who is doing his or her best to ruin it all.  But, she, or he,  won't ruin it. The show will go on.  The magic in my garden will continue for many more weeks and months. There will always be something new in coming into bloom, just as I had planned.

Yes, indeed. I know of no place more magical than a garden,  especially a garden in Spring, and there is no other place I'd rather be.

Abracadabra! Spring!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Welcome, Spring

Iris reticulata anxiously await Spring's arrival in the garden
Spring arrives today at 6:45 pm EDT.

If you want to be sure Spring comes to your garden, you absolutely must run out right now and open up your garden gate.

If Spring arrives and your garden gate is closed, she may pass you by and you'll face weeks of who knows what kind of weather.  I wouldn't risk it.

If Spring arrives and your garden gate is open, she will enter and take up residence and you will have weeks of wonderful weather, beautiful flowers, and the trees will leaf out in the most wonderful shades of green.

Why risk it, when it is so simple to open up your garden gate, even if just for a few minutes at 6:45 pm EDT?

Of course, as you might have guessed, the same holds true for your house.  You simply must open up a window or door so Spring feels welcome when she arrives.  Then, with Spring in your house, you will feel as though the weight of the world has been lifted from your shoulders.  You'll have that wonderful feeling you get when you take off your heavy winter coat, for the last time until Winter arrives again.

But we need no longer think of Winter. Winter is far, far away in the future now, and Spring is here.  Open the garden gates, open the doors, open the windows...

Welcome, Spring!