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Monday, July 27, 2015

Dear Mary Ann, Do you remember my tomatoes?

Dear Mary Ann,

I was out in the garden this evening picking more tomatoes and thought of you and your blog Gardens of the Wild, Wild West.

Do you remember when you visited me in late summer in 2011 when you were here for the Garden Writers Association symposium?  My vegetable garden was such a mess that summer.

Earlier that spring, I had a crew tear out the old raised beds which were made out of cedar boards. The boards had mostly rotted and I decided it was time for a fresh start.  But, I didn't know what I wanted to do to replace them and I didn't have time to do anything in the spring so I just made some rows and planted.

Then it didn't rain, but weeds grew. The weeds always grow, don't they? And I was short on time so never really had a chance to set the garden right before you and several others visited.  But I remember you said your garden was not doing well, either, and you hadn't yet tasted a ripe tomato.  

I did have some nice ripe tomatoes, as I recall, and when you pointed them out, I was more than happy to pick them and share them with all of you.

I'm picking a lot of tomatoes right now.  Even with all the rainy weather.  Here's the latest batch of tomatoes, waiting for me to do something with them.
And that's just what I picked in the last day or two.  I think it is time to make some salsa.

But before I get all engrossed in that, I wanted to take a minute to thank you for all the support you've given me over the past, going back to at least 2008.  You were the one who got me to join the Garden Writers Association and start attending their symposiums, including the one in 2011 in Indianapolis. Including that one I've been to six symposiums now and am looking forward to my seventh one in September.

Can you believe that?

You've always been a big supporter... pushing me a bit, giving me suggestions, and sometimes just flat insisting that I do something. And it's all worked out so far, hasn't it?

Anyway, thank you for all you've done these past few years to encourage me, pester me, and help me branch out a bit in garden writing and speaking.  I appreciate it more than you know.

With a shared love of gardening,

P.S.  The zinnias are all blooming now, too.  See...

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Red Dirt Ramblings, May I Express My Gratitude

Dear Dee,

Thank you for your latest lovely blog post on Summer Flowers for Summer Heat.  I know you feel the heat in Oklahoma much more than we do here in Indiana.

But we are gardeners and somehow we make the best of it, don't we?  Whether it is too much rain, as is my good-to-have problem this year or not enough rain, which we wouldn't wish on our worst enemies, we figure out what will grow for us, don't we?

Speaking of growing, I always think of you when I look at all the day lilies in my garden.  I've added a picture of one here, and now that I see it, I can't believe I didn't deadhead those two spent blooms before I snapped the picture.

My sloppy gardening habits, forever memorialized in that photo.

And roses?  Dee, I know how you've struggled with all the beautiful roses you planted in your garden, now that the dreaded rose rosette disease is in your area.  I admire you, though, for helping to spread the word about this rose disease through your blog and other venues, and then setting a good example of digging up diseased roses and replanting with flowering shrubs and native plants.

Have I told you how proud I am of you for writing the book The 20-30 Something Garden Guide?  It is important to teach future generations how to "grow stuff", whether it is day lilies, roses, native plantings, or one of my favorites, vegetables. Your book is a great gift for new homeowners and newlyweds. I've given it to all my nieces and nephews who have their own homes and a place to garden. And as the others grow up, they'll get copies from me, too.  I'm not sure any of them are gardening much, yet, but I'll keep poking them a bit.  I will see some of them today at a family birthday party. I might take them a few homegrown tomatoes to tease them.

If they only knew how easy...

I need to run back out to my garden now. I just harvested some more tomatoes, beans, squash, okra, cucumbers, and peppers this morning and now need to make a sweep through to pull out the worst of the weeds and decide if that scrawny cucumber plant is worth trying to keep going and if I should remove the sweet corn, from which I harvested two whole ears of corn. I guess being flattened by one of our rain storms last week was too much for it to overcome.

Sometimes when I am out in my garden, like today, I remember fondly the day you and several others actually came and visited me in 2011 and saw my garden. That was a dry summer and the garden wasn't in great shape, but you were kind enough to see the good bones of it, and said nice things about it. Thank you for that, and for being an inspiration to me as both a gardener and a writer.

With a shared love of gardening,

P.S.  I've enclosed some pictures of more of my day lilies.

I like those with an unusual form.

I think this is one I've transplanted from my first garden, to my second garden, to this garden.

Another one which is might actual be a spider type?

This one is pretty.

I know this is the old, old variety 'Hyperion'.  It has a nice subtle scent.

And probably one of my favorites.  It would be nice if I knew the name of it, wouldn't it?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Wildflower Wednesday: May I express my gratitude?

Bee on Cup Plant flower
Dear Gail,

I'm writing today to express my thanks to you for coming up with this wonderful meme called Wildflower Wednesday.  Through your garden, which we've all come to enjoy through your blog posts on Clay and Limestone, we've learned so much about the importance of planting wildflowers to attract pollinators.

I thought of you when my garden designer sat down with me a few years ago and pointed to a newly proposed flower border  in her design and suggested I could either plant it with day lilies or make it a prairie-type garden.

Prairie-type garden, was of course my answer. I could envision it planted with wildflowers of different sorts, all blooming more or less toward the second half of the summer.

Now after several years, I am thrilled with my choice.  Mixed in with grasses, primarily Little Bluestem, Schizachyrium scoparium, I've planted mostly prairie type wildflowers including Cup Flower, Black-eyed Susan, Tall Phlox, Joe Pye Weed, Boltonia, Goldenrods, Asters, Culver's Root, and Liatris, to name a few.

Did I mention I was thrilled with my choice? I did, didn't I! Well, it bears repeating, I could not be happier with this garden border filled with native wildflowers.

If we are fortunate and watchful, occasionally people cross our paths and teach us through their examples. Gail, you are one of those individuals! I am grateful everyday that you have crossed my path, virtually visited my garden, and allowed me to virtually visit your garden.   I am grateful for your inspiration as you ever so gently show us through your blog posts how wonderful wildflowers are in the garden.

Oh sure, I still have many non-native, highly cultivated flowers and plants in my garden, but in my little prairie garden, I try to plant only native wildflowers. It has turned into a marvelous garden, which I call August Dreams Garden, and it is filled with pollinators.

Thank you for all you've done to promote gardening with wildflowers and gardening to attract pollinators.  You've helped make my garden better.

With a shared love of gardening,

P.S. - Some pics around August Dreams Garden just as it is approaching its peak bloom season.

Culver's Root, Veronicastrum virginicum

Black-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldsturm'

Cup Plant, Silphium perfoliatum

Tall Phlox, Phlox paniculata 'David'

Joe Pye Weed, Eutrochium purpureum 'Little Joe'

August Dreams Garden

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Read the Secret Diary of a Garden Fairy...

Want to know what's been going on around here?

I read the Secret Diary of a Garden Fairy to find out.

Monday -
Dear Secret Diary of a Garden Fairy,

What a day we had. First, Carol came out and harvested green beans when she wasn't supposed to be here. Then there was a gigantic thunderstorm that turned the day into night and knocked down the sweet corn.  Granny Gus McGarden was just beside herself with upset over it all.

Tuesday -
Dear Secret Diary of a Garden Fairy,

Well, Carol finally came out to see if she could get the sweet corn to be upright again.  I am telling you she did a lazy thing to do it. She brought out ONE stake and proceeded to pound that into the ground at one corner of the little corn patch.  We saw her coming and made sure the young ones were out of the way first. Then she used some silly plastic-y twine-y string-y stuff to sort of lasso all the corn in a big loop and tie it to the one stake.  What a mess it still is.  We hope she comes back and fixes it right.  Does she really expect to still harvest any sweet corn?

Wednesday -
Dear Secret Diary of a Garden Fairy,

Carol is still hanging around. We've deduced she is on some kind of vacation where you hang around and torment garden fairies or something like that.  Today she came out and did a full trimming and mowing of the lawn.  It was the 28th mowing of the season, which is a new record of some kind.  We want to blog about it, and will in time.

Thursday -
Dear Secret Dairy of a Garden Fairy,

We were so excited today when Carol showed up with bags of mulch for the paths in the vegetable garden.  Those paths are getting so bare and make the whole garden look a mess.  Granny Gus McGarden is almost embarrassed to have company come back there. Well, our excitement was short-lived because all Carol did was stack the bags of mulch into three fairly neat stacks. At least the bags are neatly stacked.  We'll give her that.  We garden fairies wish we could spread the mulch but we are garden fairies.

Friday -
Dear Secret Diary of a Garden Fairy,

Carol was here again.  This time she harvested all kinds of green beans, squash, peppers, cucumbers, and even tomatoes. She was so proud of it all she took pictures.  Then she left again.  But then she came back and planted some lilies she had purchased on Saturday. She sure takes her time sometimes when it comes to planting plants she has paid money for. Later another big storm blew in and then another one and well, we garden fairies were soaked by it all. Over four inches of rain. Granny Gus McGarden is very thankful Carol has raised beds in her vegetable garden. Otherwise, Granny said everything would have drowned by now.

Saturday -
Dear Secret Diary of a Garden Fairy,

Pretty quiet day around here but it was so hot, who wanted to do anything? We thought for sure we would be safe to just lounge around in the shady areas of the lawn, drinking iced clover tea and telling stories of what goes on around here, but then late in the day, here came Carol with the mower. 29th mowing this season. And so hot. We think she mowed because it is going to rain again. She seems to rush out and mow anytime they say it is going to be rainy.  She seems obsessed with the mere thought of her lawn being overgrown and boy-oh-boy is it growing with all the rain we've been getting.  Anyway, we were scrambling out of the way and it was oh-so-hot.  Oh, and we found that picture of Carol's harvest from the other day.

I hope the garden fairies don't mind that we found and read a little of their secret diary...