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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.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - October 2014

Autumn crocus, Crocus speciosus
Welcome to Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day for October 2014.

Here in my USDA Hardiness Zone 6a garden in central Indiana, I am pleased to introduce a new bloom in my garden for mid-fall.

Please give a hearty GBBD welcome to the Autumn Crocus, Crocus speciosus.

It's nice to have crocuses blooming in the fall. 

Just like in the spring, the first one bloomed and I was excited. Then one day I walked out the back door and all of them seemed to be blooming at once.  I could hardly contain myself.

These autumn crocuses, which are magical according to the garden fairies, are as easy to plant as the spring blooming Crocus species. Just plant the corms and forget about them.

When they bloom the following year, these Autumn Crocuses will lure you into taking many, many pictures of them, just like the spring Crocuses do. It's as though they make you think they are the last flowers you will ever see.

Of course, they aren't the last flowers I'll ever see, but they are the tail end of new blooms for my growing season.

I find it hard to believe another growing season is almost over.  We haven't yet had a first frost, even though our average date for a first frost is around October 10th, but I'm expecting one next week.  Then before I am ready, no doubt, we'll have a killing frost and then it will all be over.

Brrrrr... let's not talk about all that just yet.

As we stand on the edge of the growing season, ready to fall off the cliff into winter, what a gruesome image, there are some other blooms in my garden to enjoy.

The asters are still putting on a good show and are still attracting butterflies.
Aster with Monach butterfly
The butterflies are all flitting around amongst the butterfly bushes, too.

Shrubs add color to the garden in fall, just like trees
Though, in this garden area, called The Shrubbery, the real stars right now are the colorful shrubs, which are just reaching their peak of autumn color.  The two tall shrubs in the back are Cotinus coggygria. On the left is 'Golden Spirit' and on the right is 'Royal Purple'. The reddish shrub is a lilac, Syringa meyeri, but I can't say it is always that red. It's as pretty as I've ever seen it.

Nearby, the shrub rose, Rosa 'Meiboulka', sold as Oso Easy® Cherry Pie, is loaded with rose hips and one bloom.
Rosa 'Meiboulka' 
Those colorful rose hips, which echo the color of the blooms, will be around for most of the winter, providing a spot of color in an otherwise dreary landscape.

Over in Ploppers' Field, I did notice I was a bit remiss in not weeding out fleabane,  Erigeron annuus.
Fleabane, just a weed but kind of pretty
I should really pull it out before it sets seed, but it is probably too late. No doubt there were earlier blooms and the seeds have already been sown for next year.

And so it goes in my garden. 

The toad lilies are no longer hopping, the goldenrod is not as golden as it was in September, and all around I have decisions to make on whether to cut back now or leave well enough alone until spring.  

One such decision is already made. I will definitely not cut back the Christmas Rose, Helleborus niger.

Helleborus niger, a flower for winter
I'm relying on its blooms to carry me through winter until once again, the crocuses are blooming in the spring. It's a lot of pressure to put on one plant, but so be it.

What's blooming in your garden in October?  Join us for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and show us.

It's easy to participate. Just post on your own blog about what is blooming on the 15th of the month in your garden,  then come back over here and leave a comment to tell us what you have, and then enter your name and the url to your bloom day post in the Mr. Linky widget.

If you have any problems with commenting or with Mr. Linky, send me an email and I'll be happy to help you out.

As the garden designer and writer  Elizabeth Lawrence once wrote, "We can have flowers nearly every month of the year."

She was right, you know.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Magical Autumn Crocus - A Story

Once upon a time, in the autumn time, a bouquet of garden fairies were sitting in a garden, resting after a long day spent painting tree leaves in the traditional colors of fall.  

The garden fairies were all covered in fall colors - gold, orange, crimson, yellow, burnt umber, brown and all colors in between.  They were tired but satisfied they had done as good a job as they had ever done painting leaves in the fall.

As they sat and drank their cloverberry tea, one of the garden fairies, Sweetpea Morningglory, lamented about the lack of flowers in the garden.  She longed for the new blooms of early spring days.

Though the other garden fairies pointed out there were still asters and goldenrod in bloom and many of the summer flowers had pushed out one or two more straggly new blooms, she said they weren't the same as what she wanted.

"I'd love to see some flowers pop up in the fall," Sweetpea said, "just like they do in the spring".

They all nodded in agreement. Such flowers would be wonderful!  After a bit, just as they were about to doze off, tiny little Deema Mae Flowerweb piped up and said, "Maybe we should make such a flower?"

Oh what a wonderful idea, they all said in unison. Then they began to think. What should such a flower look like?

They all agreed it should be something at ground level, just like the spring flowers. And it should be hidden all summer so when it came up and bloomed, it would be a surprise and delight to everyone.

Then they began to discuss what color it should be.  Some wanted it to be a color of fall - orange or yellow or crimson.  But others said it should be the color of spring, to give them a glimpse of what would bloom after the great snowfalls of winter.

Finally, Deema Mae Flowerweb piped up again, "Let's make it the color of spring, but we'll add orange stamens so it complements the colors of autumn."

Brilliant, they all said.  And so the garden fairies began to work on their vision and came up with the Autumn Crocus, Crocus speciosus. 

Just like the spring-blooming crocuses, Autumn Crocus corns are planted in the fall. In the spring, leaves will appear, but not flowers. Then the next fall, when the gardener has almost forgotten she ever planted them, the Autumn Crocus blooms pop up out of the ground.

When the gardener steps into the garden in October and sees the Autumn Crocus blooms, she is breathless with excitement.

She marvels at how the stamens of the blooms perfectly complement the color of the fallen leaves.
She is reminded of the spring crocuses which will bloom in her garden after the winter time has passed.

She wonders at who could have designed such a perfect flower for Autumn.

And nearby, a tiny little garden fairy named Deema Mae Flowerweb snuggles down in an old watering can, smiling.  She knows how the Magical Autumn Crocus came to be.  And she is as pleased as anyone to see it each Fall.

The End