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Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Halloween Hare: Do you believe?

This year I feel certain the Halloween Hare is going to visit my garden and create havoc if I don't take preventative measures.

What? You don't know about the Halloween Hare? You must be new here.  Put down your leaf rake, pull up a chair and I'll tell you all about him.

According to ancient gardening legend, the Halloween Hare hops from garden to garden on Halloween night looking for Easter candy not found in the spring Easter egg hunt.

If the Halloween Hare doesn't find any candy, he will create a little havoc in the garden by pulling up plants and turning over containers. Many gardeners, hoping to avoid this mischief and havoc, will leave a few pieces of Halloween candy out in the garden on Halloween night for the Halloween Hare to find. Sightings of the Halloween Hare are rare.

The reason I think the Halloween Hare is going to create havoc in my garden on Halloween night is because my garden is a big mess. I haven't even begun to do fall clean up.

Nothing has been cut back. No vegetable plants have been pulled out of the veg garden. The container plantings look abandoned and in most of the flower beds, opportunistic weeds have taken up residence and are putting down some serious roots.

I feel as though even if I do leave some candy in the garden for the Halloween Hare to find, the chances of him actually finding the candy in all the fall mess are slim.

Or maybe not. The Halloween Hare does hunt for leftover Easter candy so surely he can find some Halloween candy in plain view in the lawn.

The whole reason you don't want to take a chance with the Halloween Hare is because if he makes a big mess in your garden and you leave it that way, the Christmas Cottontail is likely to bypass your garden on Christmas eve.

Why is that so bad, you ask?  Goodness, where have you been? The Christmas Cottontail is reasonable for planting seeds and bulbs for the spring flowers in the garden, but refuses to do so in messy gardens that look as though no gardener tends them.

All these rabbits are related. They all work together.  It all starts on Halloween night. Or maybe it starts on Easter? Or Christmas?   Actually, no one is quite sure where it starts, but those in the know  are well aware of the hazards of ignoring any of them.

So be a smart gardener.  Get your garden ready.  Throw some candy on the lawn. The Halloween Hare is coming!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Rocking the bulbs in the lawn

This is a rockery trowel
People ask, "How do you plant bulbs in the lawn?"

I answer, "With a rockery trowel."

They nod knowingly. Of course, they should have thought of using a rockery trowel.

As if they knew what a rockery trowel was.

Show of hands... who knew what a rockery trowel was before reading this post?

A rockery trowel is a trowel with a long skinny head which allows me to plant hundreds thousands of bulbs in my lawn.  I merely thrust the trowel into the ground, push it forward, plop a small bulb in the hole behind the trowel head, pull out the trowel, wipe off any dirt that stuck to it, and pat the hole closed.

Then I move on to the next one.

And it is more of a slap than a pat because I move pretty fast.

How fast can I plant bulbs with my rockery trowel? Sunday afternoon, I planted 500 crocus corms in 59 minutes, which means I planted approximately 8.47 bulbs per minute.

Last week, working several evenings, and finishing up on Saturday morning, I planted 1,000 Chionodoxa gigantea bulbs in the lawn.

And then I ordered more bulbs for the lawn.  Why not?

Between the 500 newly planted crocuses, 1000 Chionodoxa bulbs, plus the 2,000 crocus corms I planted last year and the year before, I should have a nice display.  Especially after I plant 1,000 more Chionodoxa bulbs.

People will ask, "Do the bulbs come back each year?"

I am tempted to respond, "Well, technically the bulbs don't go anywhere from year to year, so they have no where to come back from."  But what people really meant to ask is do they flower each year.  The answer is yes, they do.

Do they multiply? Hard to say.  I don't count them in the spring.

Do chipmunks eat them?  Not in my yard, but I've heard chipmunks especially love crocus corms.

What about weed killers? I don't use weed killers on this lawn so I don't have to worry about weed killers being the cause of their disappearance, should these flowers disappear.

What about dandelions? And clover?  Oh yes, I have plenty of dandelion blooms, too.  I consider them Mother Nature's contribution to the floral display.  And just so I don't show up Mother Nature, I don't plant yellow crocuses in the lawn.

And clover? It's really the best thing that's ever happened to my lawn. I even sowed clover seed in my lawn to be sure I had plenty.  The clover stays green even during periods of no rain, fixes nitrogen in the soil and has pretty white flowers. Bees come from everywhere to feast upon the clover blooms in my yard.

What other flowers am I going to plant in my lawn?  For now, this is it. Crocus, Chionodoxa and clover.

I can hardly wait for spring...

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wildflower Wednesday - Flowers in the Lawn

Pretty little mystery flower in the lawn
I've spent time the last three evenings on my hands and knees and sometimes on my butt planting bulbs for Glory of the Snow,  Chionodoxa gigantia (also known as Chionodoxa lucillia), in my back lawn.

I bought 1,000 bulbs of Glory of the Snow, which doesn't take as long as you might think to plant. I timed my first 300 bulbs.  40 minutes.  Not bad.  After three sessions, I'm almost done planting these bulbs, which also don't go as far as you might think in a great big lawn. It's a good start, as they say.

Next I'll plant 500 more corms of tommies, Crocus tommasinianus, in the back lawn to join the 2,000 tommies and other crocuses I've planted over the last several years.

Then if all goes according to plan, I'll have a lovely lawn dotted with purple and white blooms in early spring.  First the crocuses will bloom and then Glory of the Snow will flower, and hopefully one or the other or maybe both will be at their peak on Easter, April 5th.

After that the grass will start to grow and the blooms in the lawn will be dandelions followed by clover. I love the clover. I tolerate the dandelions.

While I was planting the bulbs this evening, I ran across a tiny white, daisy like bloom in the lawn by the edge of the patio.  Pretty little thing, and tiny. Hardly bigger than the three leaves of a tiny clover.

I have no idea where it came from or what it is, other than a little daisy like bloom.  Bellis perennis, the English daisy? I don't think so. English daisy is not a native flower for me, and it isn't one I've ever planted here. And all the neighbors have traditional lawns, so where would the seed have come from?

Honestly, I don't really care what the flower is, I'm just happy to have it in my lawn.  I'm leaving it and hoping it sets seed and starts a colony right there.  In my lawn.

It reminded me that earlier this spring, I received an alternative lawn mix of wildflowers from American Meadows to try in my garden.

As sometimes happens, sowing those seeds got caught up in the never-ending battle between must do, need to do, should do, and want to do. Oh, and like to do. It was in the battle, too. As I recall, sowing the wildflower seeds, along with many other wants, hopes, and dreams I had in the spring, lost out to must do, as most of the other "do's" do.

But all is not lost and the seed will not go to waste. As luck would have it,  the lawn alternative wildflower seeds can also be sown in the fall after the first killing frost.  That's good news for me. We haven't had a killing frost yet.  I have time!

Once we have the killing frost,  I'm going to clear out the area just inside the vegetable garden gate, which right now is mulch, and sow these wildflower seeds.  Then later next spring, after the Glory of the Snow and the crocuses are all bloomed out in the big lawn, a little patch of low growing, lawn alternative wildflowers should be growing just inside the garden gate.

Then I'll really have something to write about for Wildflower Wednesday, hosted by Gail of Clay and Limestone on the fourth Wednesday of the month.

I'm looking forward to it!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Every garden is a story

A garden is more than plants and flowers. A garden is the story of a gardener.

Each season is a new chapter. Each plant and flower adds a sentence or two.

Some gardens are made up of many stories, when they are tended by gardeners who have come and gone, each adding their chapters to a long tale.

Sometimes, the story of a garden is a mystery. What was the gardener thinking? Where did she get that tree? What is that flower she planted there, that no one seems to know the name of?

Other stories become long odysseys, when gardeners stay for years in the same garden.

All the garden stories include comedy and tragedy, drama and suspense. They offer unforeseen turns of events. They cover life and death. They include interesting characters who come and go, each leaving their mark on the garden.

But no matter what else is in the story, the story of a garden almost always includes love and hope and a belief that by planting a garden, somehow the gardener has made the world a little better place.

If someone handed me a plant list and showed me a garden, I might remember the plants, but would I remember the garden?

Tell me the story of the gardener who tended the garden, and I'm sure I'll remember the garden as a place where a gardener planted their hopes and dreams, and maybe watered it once or twice with their sweat and tears.

I'll enjoy the garden much more, if I hear the story of the gardener,  because a garden truly is the story of a gardener.