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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Mercy Pulling Time

When you "sedum" bees on the barely opening sedum flowers, you know it's time*.  Let's not put it off.  Don't wait. You know it's over.

Yes, it is time for mercy pulling in the garden, as in "For mercy's sake, that flower did not perform well, pull it out and move along."

I would rather look at bare ground than flowers that are begging to be mercifully pulled out of their misery and moved on to the next phase of their lives.

The compost bin.

I've performed several mercy pullings this past week.

Cucumber vines and squash vines thanked me for ending their squash bug invasion and letting them begin new lives as compost.  And I pulled out two tomato plants which had succumbed to blight. I like to think the tomato plants around them were thankful but they surely must know as the days shorten that their days are numbered as well.

The zinnias need no mercy.

They are happily blooming along and have been for months, and seem to be oblivious of the shortening days. They shall stay, along with the sunflowers, which are destined to become bird food before too much longer.

And while some might say I'm merely hiding the evidence of poorly cared for plants, on my part, by pulling their under-performing stems, roots, and shoots and tossing them out, I will stick to my story.

These are mercy pullings.

It's time. The garden will look better after you've pulled out these plants, and you may create space for something else by doing so.

Like a fall sowing of lettuce where that squash was. Or ornamental cabbages and perhaps some mums and violas where petunias once looked as though you deprived them of water and fertilizer, even though you swear you didn't.

Do it now.  And yank some weeds, too, while you are out there.

The flowers that are left will look so much better. And if those that are left look better, then the whole garden is suddenly transformed from tired and weedy to a serene backdrop for fall, with its colorful leaves, clear blue skies and new fall flowers.

Now suddenly, that mercy pulling doesn't seem to be all about the plants.  Now it's all about the gardener and the joy you get from a garden that is well cared for, where every flower looks good and everything contributes to a serenity that you can find only in a well-kept garden.

Mercy pulling. For the garden.

For you.

*The sedum blooms really aren't the trigger for "mercy pulling", I just wanted to use that pun. You should pull flowers and spent plants out whenever they detract, rather than add, to your garden, regardless of the sedum blooms.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

WIldflower Wednesday - August Dreams Garden

My late summer-autumn blooming border is coming along nicely as we round the corner and head straight to the end of August.

I affectionately call this particular border August Dreams Garden because it is planted with mostly native plants that bloom in mid to late summer and early fall.  It's the most designed garden I have, and I try to stay true to the overall concept by planting mostly native, prairie type flowers that bloom late in it.


I will admit there is one daylily called "Notify Ground Crew" with flower scapes that are nearly five feet tall planted in there and near the edge, I snuck in a couple of mums I got to trial.  And earlier this summer I planted one Crocosmia 'Lucifer' in a bare spot.

I have every intention of moving the Crocosmia next spring, and may for sake of "sticking to the plan" go ahead and move the daylily and the mums. Then this truly would be a completely native wildflower garden.

Pardon me if I don't use the botanical names to tell you it is filled with Black Eyed Susans, Joe Pye Weed, Boltonia, New England Asters, Snakeroot, Rattlesnake Master, Sneezeweed, Goldenrod, Tall Phlox, Blazing Star, Cupflower, Wild Petunia, Swamp Milkweed, and Prairie Dropseed. At one end, there is a copse of three serviceberries and at the other end, a red maple.  All native to North America.

Because not much happens in this border until around the fourth of July, I have a sculpture in the center of it, from Girly Steel, a local artist, to add some interest when there are no flowers. I like this sculpture, which is actually a bunch of curlicues and a few straight leaves made out of steel.  It fits in with the overall look of this border. I can't imagine what it would look like with a sculpture of a Greek god or goddess, can you?

I will admit when the garden designer first proposed this option for this border, I had to throw out some of my notions of what I did and did not plant in my garden, like did not plant grasses. I'm glad I tossed those notions into the compost bin where all my dumb ideas go.

This garden is easy to maintain.  I just let it grow and then at some point, which has lately been early spring, I cut it back to the ground.  However, even if I wait to cut it back, I look at those seed heads and ask myself "do I want those plants to grow all over the garden?"

For the most part, I don't. I've learned the hard way how prolific New England asters can be, and how far and wide they can cast their seeds. I've noticed that the Black Eyed Susans can do likewise.  And given the size of the Cup Flower plants, I don't want to find out how well they self sow.  So late in the fall, well after the killing frost, and after the birds have had a chance to eat a bit from the garden, I cut off many of the seed heads.

In such a small garden, it helps me maintain some sense of order, in a garden that doesn't at first appear to have much order. But it has an order, an order that only wildflowers can bring to a garden when they are happily growing amidst, between, up through, around, and over one another in one happy late blooming party.

Join in for Wildflower Wednesday hosted by Gail at Clay and Limestone on the fourth Wednesday of the month to see more posts about wildflowers.

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Smiles of Sunflowers

I don't believe it is possible to look at a sunflower without smiling.  I've tried to do so since mine began blooming and have determined it is just not possble.

As I stand on the ground and look up at the sunflowers, now nearly ten feet tall, I automatically smile. I don't know if it is because I have to look up so far to see them, or if there is some other force making me smile, I just know I smile without even thinking about it whenever I see sunflowers.

This year, I'm growing a variety called 'Heirloom  Titan' from Renee's Garden.  The tallest flower is at least ten feet tall and the only way to see it is to crane your neck back and look up.

And then you automatically smile.

I'll bet you are smiling just reading about how sunflowers make you smile.

I think the secret is Mother Nature captures smiles from little kids and puts them in the sunflowers, thus causing anyone to look at them to smile.
The bees are smiling all over the sunflowers right now.  Every flower has six, eight, ten bees on it, all day long, all going nuts for the pollen and no doubt smiling while they do so.

In a few weeks, when the sunflower seeds begin to ripen, I plan to set a chair up in the garden and sit there and watch the birds perform their acrobatic stunts to get to the seeds.
It's going to be a grand show, as the sunflowers, heavy with seed, nod toward the ground. The birds will have to be almost upside down to get to the seeds, no doubt smiling and laughing as they do.

And I'll be smiling as I enjoy the show.

Sunflowers. Smile makers. Essential for my veg garden. Easy to grow from seed sown directly in the garden in the spring. Impressive amount of growth in one season, going from seed to ten feet tall in just three months.  If you've never grown sunflowers, grow them next year. They are super easy to grow, and they are guaranteed to make you smile.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Turning Facebook Into Flowerbook One Pic at a Time

I seem to have become known for zinnias this summer, at least amongst my friends on Facebook.  I've posted a lot of pictures of zinnias since they began blooming and started tagging them with #TurnFacebookIntoFlowerbook.

In turn, a few friends, maybe three or four, have posted pictures of their zinnias and tagged me.  I'm tickled zinnia pink when they do so.

After all, we need more flowers and more flower pictures in this world.

And wouldn't it be nice if Facebook was filled with all kinds of flower and nature pictures? Yes, move over kitty cats, cute babies, and selfie addicts, here come the flowers.  I would love it if my FB feed was filled with flower pictures, all tagged with #TurnFacebookIntoFlowerbook.

To see it as a trending hashtag would be "awesome", as some are found of saying.

Of course, the ulterior motive behind getting people to use the hashtag #TurnFacebookIntoFlowerbook, is to get more pictures of flowers on Facebook. It's that simple.

I believe if more people saw more pics of flowers grown by their friends, they might be inspired to add flowers to their own life and Facebook feed.  Those flower pics are powerful. I know of at least one friend who swears she is now going to buy zinnia seeds next spring to sow in her own garden after seeing all the pics of my zinnias.

To that I say "copy cat, get your own signature flower"! Kidding. To that I say "bravo" and maybe sow a few seeds for marigolds while you're kneeling down there sowing those zinnia seeds.

Might as well.  And sow some seeds for sunflowers, too.  There is nothing that is as impressive as a sunflower plant in mid-to-late August soaring eight or nine feet in the air with a big ol' happy flower on top.
My tallest sunflower this summer is a variety called 'Heirloom Titan' from Renee's Garden Seeds. It is nine feet, six inches tall, so far.  I don't care who you are or what you grow in your garden, you cannot deny it's impressive that one seed, one small seed no bigger than a sunflower seed, can grow into such a tall plant in just a few months.

Now that's the kind of "wow' stuff we need to see on Facebook. Extra tall sunflowers.  And pretty zinnias.

Wouldn't you agree? Oh, you do agree? Then post your own picture of flowers on Facebook and tag them "TurnFacebookIntoFlowerbook".  Let me know about it, too, so I can keep a count.

Who knows? Perhaps one day there will be too many posts on Facebook tagged with "#TurnFacebookIntoFlowerbook" to count them all.

Wouldn't that be great? Then we'd have the Flowerbook we all long for.