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Monday, May 02, 2016

How to lure enchantment to your garden

Clematis integrifolia
Do you know what your garden sounds like?

You might think it sounds like birds singing and bees buzzing. And you might be right if your garden is ordinary and by ordinary, I mean lacking in enchantment.

But if your garden has that element of enchantment that many gardeners seek, it may sound like the soft ringing that can be heard if you listen intently to bell-shaped flowers.

If you listen intently to a bell-shaped flower and hear nothing, I can assure you that your garden is not enchanted and that is a sad state for any garden.

But if you listen and do hear the sounds these flowers make, congratulations.  Your garden is enchanted and you are now a lucky gardener.

And if you listen and discover enchantment in your garden, and I hope you do, remember it is fleeting and can disappear if you don't take care of it.

And now you want to know how to take care of enchantment once you have it in your garden, don't you?

I will tell you how to take care of enchantment once you have it in your garden.

The first thing you must do is what you must not do. You must not hide enchantment and keep quiet about it.  If you do that, enchantment will feel forgotten and unappreciated and it will slowly slip away. You might not notice enchantment is gone, though, until one day you'll go out into your garden and feel a bit bored and unsettled.

What you must do to keep enchantment in your garden is tell others about it, especially children.  You need to tell children how bell-shaped flowers make a lovely sound, and then lean in and listen for the sound.
Convallaria majalis
What else must you do? You must show children how to pick Lily of the Valley blooms (or similar scented, bell-shaped blooms for your climate) and present them to their mothers and grandmothers. Then they will always remember that they did so because Lily of the Valley blooms have the most wonderful scent, along with an enchanted sound, which will make the memory of picking them last forever.

I do hope your garden sounds enchanted and you are sharing its enchantment. If not, plant more bell-shaped flowers and see if you can lure in some enchantment.

I promise you'll enjoy the sounds these flowers make and you'll love the enchantment they bring.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wildflower Wednesday - Trilliums

This is the time of year when I go out in the evenings and wander around the garden, looking for new blooms.

I'm rarely disappointed in my search for new blooms. As spring accelerates its arrival, I literally find new blooms every day. The other day, I found the blooms of Great White Trillim, Trillium grandiflorum.

These are native wildflowers, though I've never seen one in the woods. To have any chance of doing so, I would first have to find a woods, then I'd need to visit it regularly, and I hope that on the day the trilliums were blooming, I walked by them.

It's much easier to enjoy them in my own garden, though I should still try to figure out where there are some woods I can hike through regularly.  After all, scientists have done studies to document the health benefits of walking in the woods. In Japan, they call walking in the woods "forest bathing" or Shinrin Yoku. Google that to read more about it.

I have the Great White trillium in my garden because I responsibly bought rhizomes for it from a grower who also grows them responsibly, never going out and collecting them from the wild.

I do have some wild collected trillium in my garden, which I believe is most likely Prairie Trillium, Trillium recurvatum. Other common names include Red Trillium and Butcher's Blood.

I think I'll stick with Prairie Trillium for the common name.

The only reason this particular trillium was collected from the wild was because I knew someone who owned a woods, who was planning to dam up a section to create a 15 acre lake.  When I found out, I made it a point to visit and in that area only, the area that would soon be under water, I dug up anything that I recognized.

And that is the only reason I have a few wild collected wildflowers in my garden. The only reason.

If you enjoy wildflowers, and want some in your garden, always buy them from responsible growers who are not digging them up from our woods and prairies. The only exception is if you are rescuing them from certain death. That is the only exception. And you have permission from the property owner to do so. Always ask.

No matter how pretty. No matter how tempting. No matter if you are alone and no one is looking. No matter. Don't dig plants from the wild. Just enjoy the blooms you see, take some pictures, but leave the plants so others can enjoy them not only on the day you enjoy them, but for years after.

I know Gail from Clay and Limestone, who hosts Wildflower Wednesday on the fourth Wednesday of the month agrees with me on this!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Rescued from the Weeds: The Tale of Pinky and Pretty

Pinky
Written by Pretty

Everyone thinks the life of a tulip is quite simple.

We get planted in the fall, hunker down all winter, then come up and bloom in the spring and soak up the sun juice to rejuvenate our bulbs. Then we rest all summer, fall, and winter, and repeat the next spring.

If only that were true.  There is much more to the life of a tulip, as Pinky and I will tell you, because one of the worst things that can happen to a tulip almost happened to me and Pinky this spring.

We were almost smothered by weeds.

I'll tell you the tale...

Pinky and I came up early in the spring, as normal, sending up our foliage first, and then our flower buds.  At first, all seemed quite normal.  Sure, there were a few cold mornings  that had us shivering in our roots, but we are used to that so didn't mind at all.

Then one day, Pinky turns to me and said, "It's getting crowded around here."

I looked around and sure enough. It was crowded.

Weeds
There were weeds all around us.

There was quite a bit of purple dead nettle.  And dandelions, too.

We didn't know where they came from but they teased and taunted us. They stole our food, the nitrogen in the soil. They tried to shade us out.

The dandelion even grew a big long tap root and kept trying to encroach on our bulbs where no one could see it, like a kid who pulls your hair when the teacher isn't looking.

They were thugs. It was awful.

Pinky and I didn't know what to do.  We tried to shout for help, but couldn't shout loud enough to be heard, even with tu-lips.

Then Pinky suggested we just bloom as big and bright as we could and hope for the best.  So we bloomed as big and bright as we could, Pinky and I, like we've never bloomed before.  Finally, after what seemed like days, because it probably was, a gardener came by and saw our blooms amongst the purple dead nettle and dandelions.

Fortunately for us, the gardener was carrying some weeding tools with her and immediately set about freeing us from the clutches of the weeds.

I don't mind saying that both Pinky and I were quite brave through it all, even though that sharp weeding knife came quite close to us a few times. We've heard of weeding tragedies, which involved innocent flowers like Pinky and I being de-flowered before their time. It's frightening to see that blade so close to your tender parts, as Pinky can attest.

Fortunately for us, the gardener was careful. She talked to us in a soothing voice through the whole rescue. "There, there, lovely little tulips, I'll get rid of these big ugly weeds. They won't bother you when I'm done with them."

Then weed by weed, she freed Pinky and I from the their evil clutches.
Pinky and Pretty, Two Tulips
To show our gratitude to the gardener for rescuing us from the clutches of those weeds, we are going to bloom for as long as we can.  Though, as hot as it has been, that's not going to be for much longer.

But Pinky and I will bloom in gratitude as long as we can and never forget the gardener who rescued us on a lovely day.


Friday, April 15, 2016

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - April 2016

Welcome to Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day for April 2016.

Here in my USDA Hardiness Zone 6a garden in central Indiana, I'm pleased to report that after roaring out of the starting gates at break neck speed, Spring has slowed down a bit and returned to what I think is normal speed.

In other words, what's blooming now ought to be blooming now.

And there is a lot blooming.

Where to begin?  Shall we walk about the garden in an orderly fashion or dart from one end to the other kneeling to exclaim at a tiny bloom then jumping up to see some trees in bloom?

Let's dart!

Without further ado, some of the many blooms here in May Dreams Gardens.

Above is a picture of some 'Lady Jane' tulips. I love the two tone look of them and appreciate how they return reliably from year to year. There foliage is slender and sort of melts into the foliage of other plants around them.

Next up are some flowering quince, Chaenomeles species Double Take™ 'Orange Storm' and peeking out behind them, the blue flowers are Muscari sp., grape hyacinth.

I like the color combination.

Oh look, there in the vegetable garden, the strawberries are starting to bloom.
Someone start making some shortcakes... well, it is a little soon for shortcakes, but it won't be long until there are some strawberries to eat and other produce, too.

In the meantime, how about a jewel of a flower. This is Pearl Bush, Exochorda × macrantha

I should know the variety name but I don't and it would take me a while to find the tag amongst all the plant tags I have around here.  But I do know the reason they call it Pearl Bush is because the buds look like little white pearls.

Look over there, the source of that wonderful scent,  Korean Spice Viburnum in bloom, Viburnum carlesii.
It has a wonderful scent. Did I mention that?

Way on the other side of the garden, there are still some Narcissus in bloom.

But one hardly notices them when nearby the trout lilies, Erythronium pagoda, are blooming, too.

I planted these last fall and think I should get some more to plant next fall.

The serviceberries, Amelanchier sp, are in bloom.
Kids, if you want white blooming trees in the spring, plant serviceberries, not flowering pears. The flowering pears smell awful in bloom, have a weak structure and are invading our woods and forests. End of lecture.

I have some other lovely tulips in bloom. These are Tulipa sylvestris, I think.

And this is a hybrid tulip.
The hybrid tulips dot the garden here and there.  There is one here, one there, one over yonder. None were planted alone but because they don't return reliably, they end up alone.  I just leave them be but don't usually bother planting more.

The lovely Virginia bluebells, Mertensia virginica, are still going strong in spite of some rather nasty cold weather last week.

Who doesn't like a little puddle of Phlox subulata in the garden?

Want to go and see what's blooming in the front garden?

The Burkwood viburnum, Viburnum x burkwoodii,  is blooming.
It's in competition with the Korean Spice Viburnum in back for Most Fragrant Bloom.  I will run back and forth between them and decide later which one wins.

There is no scent on these narcissus, but I still like them.

Do you like how I matched these tulips to the emerging foliage of the spirea behind them?
I will confess the match is purely be accident.

And so we come to the final blooms in this rather long post.  This is Malus 'Gwendolyn', which is just beginning to bloom. It will really shine this weekend.
I planted it 18 years ago and it has bloomed every spring since then.

Thank you for darting around the garden with me. There is more to see, but I'll save some of the pictures for another day.

What's blooming in your garden today? Why don't you join in for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and show us?

It's easy to participate. Just post on your blog about what's blooming in your garden, then come back here to this post and leave a comment to tell us what you have and put your link on the Mr. Linky widget to make it easy for us to visit.

We welcome everyone!

And remember, "We can have flowers nearly every month of the year.” ~ Elizabeth Lawrence