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Monday, August 31, 2015

Dear Jo Ellen, Do you remember?

Dear Jo Ellen,

I was thinking back this evening to when I attended my first Garden Writers Association symposium back in "the aughts", as in '09, and remembered that is the year I met you in person.

Two years before my first GWA meeting, I met Mary Ann from Boise, Idaho at the first Garden Bloggers' Fling in Austin, Texas. She suggested I join GWA and go to one of the symposiums.  Wait, I think she insisted, not suggested. Anyway, I was resistant, though resistance was futile and short-lived. You know how Mary Ann is. If she decides something is going to happen, by golly, it is going to happen.

So I registered to go to the symposium in Raleigh.  Then Mary Ann insisted I should meet you in person before going. After all, you are "it" when it comes to writing and speaking about gardening around here.

Long story longer, we met and I've now been to GWA symposiums in Raleigh, Dallas, Indianapolis -what fun it was to help you on the local organizing committee - Tucson, Quebec City, Pittsburgh, and soon I'll be heading to my seventh symposium in Pasadena in just a few weeks.

And all through these seven plus years you have been the best supporter a fledgling garden writer and speaker could ever have.

Most of my opportunities to speak to groups have started as an email that began with "Jo Ellen suggested..."  How can I even begin to thank you for all your support?

And it isn't just me. I could name many others in Indianapolis and elsewhere whom you've helped along the way, suggesting us to others for speaking and writing opportunities, introducing us to people who could help us, and in some cases pushing us out of our comfort zones.

Don't get me started about my comfort zone. I am very fond of it.

And when I said I thought I needed the help of a garden designer. Boom! You knew the perfect person and she did a fabulous job with my garden.

Jo Ellen, your well is deep and you draw from it often to help others.  You are always ready to help answer a question, source a picture, find a plant, provide encouragement, offer advice, visit a garden... I couldn't even begin to thank you in a letter for everything you've done for me, but thought I would give it a try.

Oh, I meant to mention, too, how much your column in the local paper and published in a sometimes longer form on your blog, The Hoosier Gardener, is a part of my weekend and I know it is part of required weekend reading for many, many gardeners across central Indiana.  I am in awe when we attend different garden shows and the local spring garden clinic how many people know you, admire you, and have you to thank for the information you've provided and the connections you've helped them make in the gardening community and beyond.

Thank you for all you've done for me to extend my reach in this world of gardening.

With a shared love of gardening,

P. S.  I've enclosed above a picture of Lablab purpureus 'Ruby Moon'. It has a nice purplish cast to it, the color of royalty, because you are gardening royalty around here.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Enjoy each flower as it blooms

Crocus speciosus
I like to think if you blinded folded me and lead me gently to the center of my garden on any given day of the year, and then took off the blindfold, I could look around and tell you about what time of year it was, give or take a week or two.

Today, I'd be off by a few weeks because this autumn crocus is blooming and I think it's early.

I usually look for the autumn crocus, Crocus speciosus, around mid-September.

Why is it early?

It could be because after record amounts of rainfall in July, it is now quite dry in the garden and so this flower thought it had better bloom now before it dries up.

It could be blooming now because we are going to have an early frost and a wicked cold winter, and this bloom wanted to flower, or this flower wanted to bloom, take your pick, before any frost showed up.

It could be a trick being played on me by the garden fairies. They do stuff like that to me. All the time. In fact, now that I think about it, the toad lilies, which are usually quite late to bloom, started blooming several weeks ago.

What do the toad lilies know?

I'm on high alert now to watch and note when the rest of the fall bloomers, including Colchicum, Solidago, and Symphyotrichum, show up.  Will they be early? Will they be on time? What is "on time", anyway?  Does their bloom time tell us anything about the upcoming winter?

Time will tell, as they say.

In the meantime, enjoy each flower as it blooms, that's my new motto. And I'm enjoying autumn crocus in my garden.

Autumn crocus, Crocus speciosus, is as easy to grow as spring-blooming crocus. Purchase and plant corms in the fall. Leaves will sprout in the spring and then die off. Flowers will come out and bloom in early fall.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Garden Revival: A One Act Play

A Garden Revival
A One Act Play
Carol M.

Cast of Characters

Gardenangelist…………………………......An evangelist of gardening
Garden Fairies………………………………Assorted Garden Fairies
Granny Gus McGarden..................................The garden fairy who tends the compost bins

TIME: Late Summer
SETTING: A garden


(We see some garden fairies looking at a sign in the garden)

GARDEN FAIRY 1(Jumping up and down)

Hey, what's that sign say. Who can read around here? What's that sign say?

GARDEN FAIRY 2 (Standing beside GARDEN FAIRY 1)

It says "Garden Revival Tonight. All garden fairies should attend." I guess we'd better go.


Oh goodie, I've always wanted to go to a gardening revival!

(Light fades and the scene switches to semi circle of garden fairies looking at a podium)


(Garden fairies are whispering and talking to each other as the Gardenangelist steps to the podium.)


My dear garden fairies! Thank you for coming this evening to the great garden revival. Now I know some of you garden fairies are weary, tired of opening new flowers, wondering where you'll get the strength for the mad rush to open fall flowers, not to mention paint all the leaves. I'm here to tell you that you will find the energy. Look around! Be grateful! Oh sure, it's a little dry but the gardens have never looked better. She weeded! She is starting to lay down more mulch. Surely, you all can hang on for a few more months? Let's make this the best fall ever in the garden!

(The garden fairies began talking excitedly amongst themselves and you hear many of them saying "Yes, yes we can" as the light fades.)


(The lights come up and we see the gardenangelist is still at the podium.)


And great things are planned for the garden. I can't tell you all the plans, but some of them involve the compost bin.

(At the mention of the compost bin, the Garden Fairy Granny Gus McGarden leaps to her feet and scurries forward to the podium as the light fades)


(The lights come back up and we see Granny Gus McGarden at the podium with the Gardenangelist standing nearby.)


You heard the gardenangelist. We can hang on. We are garden fairies, after all. We've come so far this season, we can make it through fall. Who's with me? Let's go!

(The garden fairies all jump and applaud Granny as they rush up to the podium to congratulate her and the gardenangelist on the inspiring message.)


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Gardenangelist Defined

gardenangelist (gär dn ān′jəl ist) n 1. A person who loves gardening and tries to convince others to love it, too.  2. A spokesperson for the love of gardening.  3. Someone who donates lavishly to a garden, a benefactor.  4. An evangelist for gardening.

v gardenangelize 1. To speak about one's love of gardening. 2. To attempt to convince others to garden. -zed, -zing

n gardenangelism 1. The spreading of the love of gardening through speaking and one on one conversations.

The other night, I googled "gardenangelist" and Google knew nothing about such a word.  So I tried Bing. I got millions of hits for "garden angels", but nothing for gardenangelist. Ditto other search engines.

I believe it is a perfectly good word, so I've defined it and hope the search engine gods find it someday, buried here on my blog.

 I am a gardenangelist, based on the first definition.  When I speak to a group about gardening, I become the second  and fourth noun definitions and do the verb definitions. Maybe someday I'll become the third noun definition?

I think I need new business cards.

Carol M.
An evangelist for gardening

What do you think?