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Saturday, December 03, 2016

When a gardener collects vintage postcards

When a gardener collects vintage postcards, especially vintage Christmas postcards, she quickly realizes she needs to narrow down her choices for which postcards to collect, or she will soon be overwhelmed with postcards.

So she decides to look for postcards that feature flowers and plants other than the traditional poinsettias, holly, and ivy.

Her eye is drawn to this card which features violets, one of her favorite flowers.

Sent on Dec. 21, 1911

Then she finds one with panies on it, also a favorite bloom.

Sent Dec. 23, 1909

Her horizons are expanded when she finds a card with both violets and lily of the valley on it.
"With love to Aunt Georgie from Edna" - 1909
She does a little on-line sleuthing and finds out that in days of old, lily of the valley pips were once forced into bloom for the holidays.

No date on this one, but addressed to Mrs. Ruby Knight, Sheridan, Ind.
It was a lucky find for her because now she buys pre-chilled lily of the valley pips and forces them into bloom for herself in the dark days of winter.

When a gardener collects vintage postcards, she is bound to find some cards with the Christmas Rose, Helleborus niger, on them.
Sent in 1913
They remind her to look for some in bloom at the store.

Later she found another card with the Christmas Rose on it.
"From Nillison"
This one also featured little elves, which reminded her of the tree fairies that come inside and mess around in Christmas trees, throwing ornaments to the floor and blowing out some of the lights.

Speaking of Auld Lang Syne, if you are Scottish she supposes heather is a seasonal bloom - at least it is on this card.
No date, but based on the stamp, it's British.
She is not sure who thinks irises are a flower of the season.
Sent in 1916, 100 years ago!

But she definitely agrees that snowdrops can be seasonal.
Sent in Michigan in 1908
Though her snowdrops usually come up at the end of January or beginning of February, there are some fall blooming snowdrops that might bloom at Christmas time.

When a gardener collects vintage postcards, sometimes she buys one with no flowers at all on it.
From Bessie to Ella, 1916
This one reminded her of the story of the Christmas Cottontail, which someday she plans to publish as a book.

And finally, when a gardener collects vintage postcards, she can't pass on this one.
Vintage 1922

No gardener could pass up a card with a sentiment related to gardening, even if it does feature the most common of Christmas flowers, the poinsettia.

And so the season begins...

*Most of the postcards in my small collection date from the 1900s through the 1920s. Not all of them relate to gardening and flowers.  Check that. All of the ones I really like relate to gardening and flowers. Otherwise, why have them?

Thursday, December 01, 2016

They say only the best trees are chosen

The birds flew away when they saw the camera.
They say only the best trees are chosen...

Oh, pardon me. Before I get too far along with this blog post, let me introduce myself.

I am Malus 'Guinzam', but most folks just call me Guinevere®. I'm  a flowering crabapple tree. Having said that I know just what you are thinking. Diseases! Crabapples dropping everywhere!

But that's not me!

I have the prettiest dark pink buds that turn pinkish-white as they open around the middle of April.  My fruit is small and so quickly devoured by birds that one hardly notices there was any fruit at all.

Diseases? None here, thank you. I am proud of my foliage which stays green all season until it turns all shades of yellow and orange before gently falling to the ground in the fall.

But I'm not here to extol my virtues, which are many but obviously do not include humility.

I'm here to tell the story of how I was chosen amongst all the trees at May Dreams Gardens to play hostess for Carol's new obsession with feeding birds.

One could say I was chosen simply because I am right outside her library window.

She sits at a little desk in the middle of her library, with old gardening books all around her, and types and types and types. One wonders what she is doing. Anyway, I know I really was chosen because I am right where she can just look up and see me through the windows, which she finally washed so she could actually see out of them, thank goodness.

At first, I was delighted to be chosen for the bird feeding station. Of course, that's when I assumed she'd put up those shepherd's crooks and hang the feeders from them. Then I would just have to provide nice landing spots for the birds.

But I soon realized she got hooks to hang the feeders directly from my branches. "Be careful there, that's not my strongest branch." "Ouch, I think you nipped off a bud putting that hook there." "Can you move that hook over just a bit, I think it's sliding down to my trunk."

Fortunately, she chose some of my stronger branches for those hooks and the feeders aren't all that heavy. There's a tube feeder, which is the main feeding station. She has to fill it nearly every day now that the red finches, sparrows and other birds have found it.

There's also a little platform feeder. She puts safflower in it because she was told that would attract cardinals. Indeed, she has noticed a few cardinals partaking of the safflower. So much so she had to go buy another bag of it.

Then there's the suet cake, which is actually a suet cylinder.  It's been used quite a bit from the ragged looks of it.

And finally, there is a wreath with peanuts in it.

Mostly squirrels are eating the peanuts, with Carol's blessing from all indications. But when squirrels try to eat from the tube feeder when Carol is sitting in her library typing, typing, typing, and looking out the window, she often comes barging out the front door ready to throw a handful of ice at them

Of course, by the time she opens the front door, clomps her way across the porch, and takes aim with her throwing arm, the squirrels have scattered up my branches and on to the roof. There they just sit and look at Carol like she's nuts, and then scamper off. (Sometimes we all just look at Carol like she's nuts, but that's another story for another day.)

Usually, Carol still throws the ice, sometimes right at me. "Hey, be careful there!" It's really not my fault I'm attractive to squirrels. Or is it the peanuts and birdseed they are attracted to?

Speaking of being attractive, I do enjoy most of the birds that visit and dine, but that one downy woodpecker keeps pecking at my bark. I wonder if I have insects under there? Now that would be embarrassing for such a fine tree as me, wouldn't it?

Did I mention there's an old nest in my branches? I'm proud of that nest. Have I ever told you the story about how when my leaves dropped one fall, Carol realized I had played hostess to a bunch of bald-faced hornets all summer?  She didn't like that nest one bit.

Anyway, the bird feeding from my branches is going quite well and seems to please Carol since she keeps filling the feeders and added a–get this–heated birdbath.

Between my lovely branches, which she also draped with Christmas lights the other day, the feeders filled with high quality, top notch bird seed, and the bird bath, we are practically four star when it comes to hospitality.

I've never been prouder.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Garden Muddles

Yep, a flower blooms on Nov. 29th
One would assume after nearly 20 years of gardening in this place I call collectively May Dreams Gardens that I would have named every garden bed and border.

Don't assume such a thing. I have not done so, but came a little closer to naming all of them a few weeks ago when I finally decided on names for the plantings along the sides of my house.

Those plantings, one on the east side, one on the west side, are  a mish-mash of shrubs and miscellaneous herbaceous plants and never seemed to rise to the level of "garden border", at least in my mind.

On the west side, there is a little puddle of hardy geraniums which add spring color, for awhile.  Down from them are three large lilacs, which go by the rather long name of Syringa pubescens subsp. patula 'Miss Kim'. I just call them 'Miss Kim'.

They all three could use a big whacking back and I intend to do just that after they bloom next spring.  Hidden under them is a little peony that has no chance of doing much more than growing a few leaves because the lilacs take all the sun, moisture, and nutrients. Big bullies.

That side is finished out with a spirea, variety unknown, another puddle of violets, a struggling iris, and a juniper, Eternal Gold™, Golden Sea Green Juniper, Juniperus chinensis 'Etgozam'. It's a lovely golden shade and looks good against the dark brick of the house. Behind it, there's a trellis with a tri-color climbing honeysuckle vine that does all right, but not great.

In early spring, an orderly row of hyacinths comes up along the far edge of the planting in shades of white, blue, and pink.

It's a mish-mash of plants and I'm not likely to straighten it out any time soon, so I've given it a name that befits such a planted area.... drumroll...  The Lilac Muddle.  Because muddle is a good word for a mish-mash of anything.

On the east side, it's a similar mish-mash of plantings which include several Deutzias, a lone Fothergilla, the air-conditioning unit, a big blank spot where I removed a Low-Gro Sumac, a splash of tiger lilies, some vinca ground cover, and a few spots of lily-of-the-valley.  I'm thinking of completely clearing out that area  and planting it up with most likely a completely different mish-mash of plants.

It, too, will be called a muddle... The Ginkgo Muddle.  Because that's the side of the house where I also planted a ginkgo tree.

Whew. I'm sure glad I finally named those garden areas. They fit in well with Neighbor's View, Plopper's Field, The Shrubbery, The Vegetable Garden Cathedral, Bird's Blanket, The Woodland Follies, August Dreams Gardens, Family Circle, and The Garden of Southern Follies and Delights.

Now, I have just one more area of the garden to name. No rush. I'm sure the right name will come along in due time.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

It was an amazing fall

It was an amazing fall.

One day the high temperature was 73º F and the next day the high temperature was just 43º F.  If ever one was looking for a sign that our amazing fall of 2016 was over, I suppose that 30º drop in high temperatures from one day to the next was it.

What made this fall amazing?

It seemed to go on and on with fairly moderate temperatures. Even now there are still leaves on the Fothergilla, still a few brave violas blooming here and there where they've begun to naturalize themselves, and the last of the autumn crocuses are still blooming.

These fall blooming crocuses are just as easy to plant as those that flower in the spring and deserve to be more widely planted.  Of course, I am assuming that spring flowering crocus are widely planted, but I don't think that's as true as it has been.  I think people today just don't plant bulbs like they used to. I have no basis for that statement. I just have a sense that the numbers of gardeners, like me, who plant hundreds of bulbs every fall is dwindling.

This fall, I planted bulbs for 300 tulips and 500 Chionodoxa (Glory of the Snow).  That sounds impressive but was easy to do.

For the tulips, I dug large holes on the ends of the vegetable garden beds and planted about 40 tulips in each hole. I also dug a similar large hole near the front walk and planted the rest of the tulips there. In the process, at least in front, I dug up bulbs for reticulated irises and crocuses (which I know are technically corms). I set those aside and replanted them on top of the tulips. There will be room for all.

I planted the Glory of the Snow bulbs in the back lawn. It's easier to do that you might think. I plunge a narrow bladed trowel (technically a rockery trowel) into the ground, pull it back, drop a bulb behind it, pull it out, pat the ground and move on. After the first one hundred bulbs, I develop a certain rhythm of motion and get faster until I am done. It took me about an hour.

I hope our amazing fall leads way to a picturesque, storybook winter, with occasional snow and moderate, for winter, temperatures.  Don't I deserve that? After all, I've done my part to ensure an amazing spring.

I planted bulbs.