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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Garden Bloggers' Book Club February Meeting

Welcome to the 4th virtual meeting for the Garden Bloggers’ Book Club. This month, we read Two Gardeners: Katharine S. White & Elizabeth Lawrence--A Friendship in Letters, edited by Emily Herring Wilson.

We’ll start out with some links to background information on the two letter writers. I found a biography of Elizabeth Lawrence which is on a website dedicated to her. I also found biographical information on Katharine S. White, but it is on Wikipedia, so consider the source if there are any inaccuracies.

Want to know more? Consider these links:

North Caroline Historic Landmarks Commission website on Elizabeth Lawrence and her Charlotte garden.

A reminisce by Katharine S. White’s son, mostly about E.B. White but with some insights on Katherine.

Excerpts from “A Garden of One’s Own” by Elizabeth Lawrence.

And now, on to our reviews and posts about the book. We have some faithful club members posting along with some newcomers! Click on the link to get to each one.

Old Roses from “A Gardening Year” in New Jersey.

Jenn from “Garden Djinn” in Michigan

Tracy from “Outside” in Minnesota

Carol, your hostess, from “May Dreams Gardens” in Indiana

Colleen from “In The Garden Online” in Michigan

Barbee, from the “Garden at Crocker Croft” in Kentucky (who wrote something 3 years ago but agreed I could include it!)

Annie from The Transplantable Rose in Texas

Genie from “The Inadvertent Gardener” in Iowa

Sissy from “Got Serenity” in Illinois

Apple from “The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree” in New York

Windy, who posted at LibraryThing, go to message 14

El at Fast Grow the Weeds in Michigan

More posts added since first posting:

New member post from Vonlafin at Gardening with God in Indiana! Her blog is brand new and this is her second post.

Entangled at Tangled Branches in Virginia also posted a reivew of The Little Bulbs by Elizabeth Lawrence.

Gloria at Pollinators-Welcome in Illinois

Thank you all for participating, and especially to those of you who have faithfully participated since the beginning of the book club back in November. I need to go back through the 4 posts and make a list of who you are to give you special thanks.

If you posted your review after I published this post, no problem. This is all virtual, so just let me know and I’ll add you to the post. If I missed your post, please accept my apologies! As soon as you let me know, I’ll update with your link.

And now I leave you with this quote from Onward and Upward in the Garden by Katharine S. White:

I have learned more about horticulture, plants, and garden history and literature from Elizabeth Lawrence than from any other one person”.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Garden Bloggers' Book Club Post Round Up

The time has come (or nearly so) to round up all the posts about the February book for the Garden Bloggers' Book Club, Two Gardeners: Katharine S. White & Elizabeth Lawrence--A Friendship in Letters edited by Emily Herring Wilson.

As noted in a previous post, if you didn’t have a chance to read this particular book, you can still participate in this virtual book club by posting a review or thoughts on any book written by either Elizabeth Lawrence or Katharine S. White. Or if you haven’t read any of their books, but have exchanged letters or ideas with another gardener, write about that. I’m not too picky, and will accept any somewhat related post. The more the merrier, and since the club is virtual, there are no limits of space.

If I haven't commented on your post about the book, I haven't found it yet. Just leave me a comment or send me an email with a link to your post, when your post is ready.

Little Green Sprouts

As winter nears its end, we make the biggest fuss over the littlest green sprouts and flowers. Here's my big fuss for the week...

Daffodil sprouts!

Crocus sprouts!

Crocus buds!
I posted about these crocuses in late January. They have spent the last week buried under a foot of snow but here they are today, a little worse for wear, but here none the less.

Does it get any better than this in the garden? Of course it does, but for right now, this is what I have, so I'm making the best of it.

What are you excited to see in your winter garden?

Monday, February 26, 2007

My Garden is Perfect Right Now... At Least in My WInter Weary Mind

I know that someday soon I will be able to remove this shackle of winter, also known as my winter coat, and go outside to work in the garden instead of shovel the snow. Until then, my garden has become “almost” perfect under the last of the snow and in my mind. Want to hear about it?

Weeds? They’ll be tamed this year, no doubt. After all, with 14 hoes, I’m sure I can find at least one that will take those weeds out. Even better, maybe those hoes will do the work on their own.

Undug flower beds? When I finally get out there, the “digging will be easy”. I'll be strong, the shovel will be sharp.

Pests? They don’t exist in the garden I’ve grown in my mind over the winter! Even the rabbits are gone.

Vegetables? Such a harvest I’ll have. Blemish-free fresh produce all summer long. Maybe I’ll harvest the first tomato by the 4th of July instead of July 20th or later.

Flowers? Beautiful, naturally. Blooming everywhere, with bees buzzing about from flower to flower, and best all, the bees are ignoring me.

Butterflies and Hummingbirds? They practically land on me as I sit in the shade of trees that have suddenly grown to the perfect height over the winter to cast just the right amount of shade.

Should I go on? March 1st is just a few days away. It is a milestone date, because March is more of a Spring month than a Winter month. We know that sometime in March, early March we hope, the weather will break, and all the northern gardeners will start heading outdoors. We won’t find the gardens as perfect as we might think they are right now, but that won’t matter, because we will have made it through another winter.

When February sun shines cold,
There comes a day when in the air
The wings of winter
Slow unfold,
And show the golden summer there.
- Philip Savage, American Poet (1868-1899)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Green Thumb Sunday - Orchids, Movies, Other Gardening Blogs and Directories

Stenosarcos Vanguard - Hybrid variegated leaf orchid, (Sarcoglottis speciosus x Stenorrhynchos speciosum).

This is one of the plants I noted was blooming at my house for the 1st monthly garden bloggers’ bloom day.

Though the days are getting longer, winter still seems to have a firm grip in our area. Last night we experienced rain, freezing rain, pelting snow (not that soft falling snow that makes no sound, but the kind of snow that comes down hard and loud like rain), slush, and more rain. So forgive me that once again my Green Thumb Sunday post is of an indoor plant. At least it isn’t a picture of hyacinths and it is a current picture from this morning.

When life hands you winter, go to the movies! I saw Miss Potter last night since they finally offered two showings at the nearby theater this weekend. I liked it, the story, the Edwardian time period, and especially some of the aerial pictures of the English countryside. I did notice in one aerial picture of the house at Hill Top Farm that there were no leaves on the trees, but lots of bright, blooming flowers around the house. I’ll forgive them that “goof”, not everyone would notice. There was also a scene in a conservatory and outdoor patio garden that made me want to plant more plants around my own patio to create that tropical feel, but with temperate, zone 5 plants.

Another fun winter activity besides shoveling snow, going to movies, and dreaming about lush gardens that probably won’t happen, is finding other Indiana garden bloggers. I’ve recently found two and I’ll be adding them to my side bar listing of Other Hoosier Gardeners, so check them out and if you like what you see, leave them a nice comment to let them know.

I’ve also been checking Stuart’s gardening blog directory, and finally see that I am not the only gardening blogger in Indianapolis. If you are a gardening blogger, you should list your blog on Stuart’s directory, which is the only directory I know of that is based on geography.

And now having run out of topics to chatter about, I leave you with one more picture of my variegated leaf orchid to show you that it does indeed have a variegated leaf, but right now only one. This bloom could be the final curtain call for this particular orchid, if it doesn’t grow some more leaves. Let’s hope that is not the case!

Wait, there is one more topic, the Garden Bloggers' Book Club! If you are planning to post something for this, send me a comment or email once you have posted, so I can include you in the club post on February 28th.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Accidents in the Garden - My Guest Blogger Returns

My guest blogger, Sophie, age 9, quickly sent me another gardening story after the comments (and payment) she got for the first story.

An Accident in the Garden by Sophie:

Have you ever had an accident when you were gardening? I have had two or three. But the first and most memorable one happened when I was just 4 and my brother was 6. We were digging a hole to help my mom and dad plant a flower bed. My brother turned around to fling his shovel full of dirt at me for fun. But instead of just flinging dirt at me, he accidentally hit me in the mouth with the shovel and split my tooth right in half. So that was how I lost my first tooth (the hard way). It just goes to show that gardening is fun, but it comes with risks. What interesting things have happened to you when you were gardening? Tell us some. I would like to know.

I remember when this happened; my sister had to take Sophie on an emergency run to the pediatric dentist. The dentist had to pull the tooth, and Sophie’s lip swelled up quite a bit. When we asked her what happened, she would pause a bit and then say, in her little four year old’s voice, “I don’t want to talk about it.” She is now remembering, though, and it is a good warning to keep big brothers away when you are gardening!

Fortunately, I haven’t had too many accidents in the garden. Wait, there was that one time, way back one summer when I worked in a greenhouse, when I was taking cuttings from a Cotoneaster shrub and cut a little too close to my finger. I had it checked to see if I should get some stitches, but none were needed, just a tight bandage. But I can still see a faint scar to remind me to either wear gloves or be careful with the pruners. (That’s my accident, Sophie.)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

A Hoe-Some Diversion in Winter

I don’t know how it happened. Really, I did not set out to have a hoe collection. (If you haven’t seen the collection, please feel free to pause at this point and go see it now by following the link. Then come back and continue. Seeing the collection first will help you understand (or appreciate) what is to follow…)

I don’t really know the origins of the hoe collection. It just happened, and though I try to tell myself (and others) that I’m not likely to get any more hoes, I suspect there are a few new hoes in my future. I’ll post more later about why I think I'm likely to get more hoes. (Okay, one reason why I think there are more hoes in my future is because people (enablers?) send me links to hoes I don’t have and I almost feel an obligation to get them and try them out.)

In the meantime, since it is STILL February and the snow is taking its time melting, and people's spirits can get a bit droopy this time of year, I thought I would share a few more hoe pictures. I hope these brighten your day and that you realize that my hoes are not just for work, I have some fun with them, too.

Hmmm… I’m not sure how that last sentence sounds when you read it out loud, but I’ll leave it for now.

Without further comment, I present some more hoe pictures

This is a Hoe Down, or actually, three hoes down.

A hoe hug!

A baby hoe nestled among some bigger hoes. They take care of each other, you know.

A gnome... I think I heard him say "Keep those hoes away from me!"

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

What is That I Hear?

I like every day of winter better than the day before because it is one day closer to spring. And I like this week a lot more than last week because snow is melting instead of falling.

I might even be able to walk around outside this weekend and see what damage the snow caused and look for crocuses and snowdrops. That is, if we don’t get all the rain the weatherman predicted for Saturday.

But I can walk out on my front porch now and see these shrubs that might have suffered from the weight of the snow on top of them.

This first picture was taken last week. Those are Bird’s Nest Spruce poking out from under that snow drift. That’s a scary sight. (Maybe I should have warned you!)

I took this follow up picture a week later. I’m slightly encouraged, as I don’t yet see any branches broken off, but I still can’t see enough of the shrubs to know for sure.

Some of you may be thinking that I should just go out there and knock that snow off those shrubs. Easier said than done. We first got several inches of snow overnight, then we had a day of sleet-snow mixed, followed by more snow the next day, and then a few days later, more snow. So the snow/sleet is packed on there pretty good. Plus, even though day time temperatures are in the 40's this week, temperatures at night are below freezing, so there is some refreezing of what has melted each day.

This week’s melting of the snow does remind us that spring is not too far off. And if the melting snow and mild temperatures aren’t a sign that things are improving, hearing birds sing earlier this morning and then this afternoon, ought to be all the proof anyone needs.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

GBBC February Newsletter

Welcome to the 4th edition of the Garden Bloggers’ Book Club Newsletter. In another week, on February 28th, I’ll post the February “club meeting” post with links to any reviews or posts related to our February selection, Two Gardeners: Katharine S. White & Elizabeth Lawrence--A Friendship in Letters edited by Emily Herring Wilson.

As noted in a previous post, if you didn’t have a chance to read this particular book, you can still participate in this virtualbook club by posting a review or thoughts on any book written by either Elizabeth Lawrence or Katharine S. White. Or, if you haven’t read any of their books, but have exchanged letters or ideas with another gardener, write about that. I’m not too picky, and will accept any somewhat related post. The more the merrier, and since the club is virtual, there are no limits of space. Just leave me a comment or send me an email with a link to your post, so I can find you and include you.

March Selection:

The March selection is The Gardener’s Year by Karel Capek. I’ve not yet read the book but those who have read it talk about how humorous it is. Plus it is only 100 pages, so it should be an easy read, which is what we’ll need as winter ends and spring begins, and soon we’ll all be in our gardens again (us northern gardeners trying to catch up with you southern gardeners!)

And after March… the April-May Selection:

As we all get busier in the garden, there seems to be less time for reading books. But at the same time, isn’t there always time to read a good book? So to continue through the busy gardening months, we’ll go to a book every two months for awhile. For April AND May, we’ll switch gears ago and select Passalong Plants by Steve Bender and Felder Rushing. I’ve had this book for many years, but haven’t read it for awhile. It is also one of those books you can skip around in, perfect for when it is busy in the garden. If you just simply can’t find the time to read the book this spring, you can just post about your favorite passalong plant, either one you regularly give to others, or one you received from someone else.

Amazon Store for the Book Club Selections:

Kathy at Cold Climate Gardening has set up an Amazon book store for the book club. You can find all the books we've chosen so far there, plus some other books that might be of interest, including a collection of the books written by Elizabeth Lawrence.

Thank you!

Thank you again to everyone who has participated so far in the book club. For those who haven’t participated, you can jump right in at any time! All are welcome!

I took the picture above at the Garfield Park Conservatory when I was there to see the Tiger Orchid)

Monday, February 19, 2007

Rare Tiger Orchid Bloom Event in Indianapolis

I saw something yesterday that not many people have seen in the horticultural world!

On Saturday, I read in the local paper that a Tiger Orchid was blooming at nearby Garfield Park Conservatory. (No, not the conservatory in Chicago, the one in Indianapolis).

Yes, a “large, rare tiger orchid”, Grammatophyllum speciosum, blooming in Indianapolis in the middle of winter. According to the newspaper article, written by the paper’s resident garden writer, this is only the 4th time this plant has bloomed since being imported 40 years ago. She also wrote that “the last public bloom of this species in the U.S. was in 2003 at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, where it received a lot of attention from national and international media”

I had to go see it for myself. So off to the conservatory I went on a cold, but sunny Sunday afternoon.

I didn’t know what to expect. Lines of people? Media? All kinds of orchid aficionados waiting to see a glimpse? Maybe there would be so many people I wouldn’t be able to get a good picture?

Guess what? So far, this orchid isn’t attracting much attention, at least on a Sunday afternoon. There were just a handful of people there when I went. I guess I beat the crowds.

But it is a big plant, for an orchid, and I thought it was impressive. I also appreciated that the owners at the Hoosier Orchid Company were very nice and brave to risk moving this large orchid to the conservatory so others could view it. I’m sure moving it was not easy to do, because the branches look like they could snap off from their own weight if they hadn’t been tied up with string.

Above is the orchid in bloom. Below is the entire plant.

Here's the sign that tells more about it.

And below is the vanilla orchid seedling that I did not buy. They had some orchids for sale there, but I resisted temptation, even though I thought it would be fun to own a vanilla orchid. I just didn't know enough about it, how to care for it, and there didn't seem to be anyone there to ask more about it. Maybe next time.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Connecting with "Two Gardeners"

I finished reading Two Gardeners: Katharine S. White & Elizabeth Lawrence – A Friendship in Letters edited by Emily Herring Wilson , the February selection for the Garden Bloggers’ Book Club well before February even started.

I enjoyed this book of letters, reading how Mrs. White and Miss Lawrence’s friendship grew through the years via their letters to a friendship between Katharine and Elizabeth, even though they only met in person once.

Once I finished the book, I wanted to know more about these gardeners, especially Elizabeth Lawrence. So, I went on to read No One Gardens Alone: A Life of Elizabeth Lawrence by Emily Herring Wilson. And now I am reading a book Elizabeth Lawrence actually wrote, Gardening For Love: The Market Bulletins. This is the book that Katharine encouraged Elizabeth to finish and publish, that was eventually published after Elizabeth’s death.

What I think has attracted me to the writings of Elizabeth Lawrence is her love of the plants themselves, her desire to find new plants, to accurately identify each plant in her garden, and to try to grow plants and observe them in her own garden before she wrote about them. She also wanted to find out how the plants grew in others’ gardens and did so through countless letters exchanged with other gardeners throughout her life.

Elizabeth often wrote to Katharine to find out what was blooming in her gardens in Maine, and I’m sure she wrote to many other gardeners to compare notes on bloom times. Reading about Elizabeth’s interest in knowing when plants bloom was the genesis of my idea of encouraging garden bloggers to post on the 15th of each month about what is blooming in their own gardens, so we can compare our bloom times.

We had our first “bloom day” on February 15th, with over 20 bloggers responding. This response to the first “bloom day” confirms for me that gardeners like to be connected with one another and to share about our gardens, even though, or perhaps because, we are often solitary beings tending our plants. When we see that first bloom of spring or finally get a stubborn perennial to flower after several years, we want to share it with other gardeners, and we can do that in mere minutes with our digital cameras and Internet connections.

Elizabeth did the same, keeping up written correspondence with many different gardeners from all walks of life, over decades in some cases, sharing about her garden and asking and encouraging others to share about their gardens. She obviously could not share as quickly and as broadly as we can today, but did it at the speed of her time, one gardener at a time. I can imagine her tending her gardens in North Carolina, seeing a new interesting bloom, deciding who to write to about it, and then going inside to write a letter and send it off with the postman the next day. One letter, one person at a time, she connected with so many gardeners.

We sometimes envy that slower pace, or what we perceive was a slower pace, of Elizabeth and Katharine’s lives. I’m sure they felt their day to day lives went quickly and they never had enough time to do all they that wanted to do, often due to their own health issues in the case of Katharine, or due to caring for aging parents, in the case of Elizabeth (whose Mother was bedridden at home for eight years after a stroke). But we still often look back at those times with longing, not only because we think people had more time to garden, but also because they had time to write letters, and time to wait for letters, and time to be connected with others.

Elizabeth Lawrence still connects with gardeners today. Through reading “Two Gardeners”, I’ve discovered a beautiful garden that existed not all that long ago, tended by a true gardener, a plants person, who left us with some wonderful books and letters to read to recall a time when gardening was about the plants, enhanced by sharing between gardeners.

This was the perfect book for my winter reading, giving me a fresh perspective on gardening, gardeners, and plants, and a renewed yearning to be out in the garden this spring, tending my own plants and sharing what I find there with others.

Green Thumb Sunday - Week 7 - Final Week for Hyacinth

Outside, there is a foot of snow, but inside my hyacinths are all in full bloom, both pink and blue. At times, sitting just around the corner 10 feet from them, the scent is almost overbearing but it is better than the smell of snow boots drying in the back hallway.

Remember that first picture, 7 weeks ago? I've never had a "crop failure" when forcing hyacinths, but after posting the picture below, I did momentarily consider what I would do if these bulbs did nothing but sit there. How would I explain if someone asked, "Hey what happened to all those hyacinths you were forcing into bloom?" "What, they did nothing? What kind of gardener are you?"

But they did quite well, as well as they have ever done, so I don't have to think about explaining a forcing failure.

I'll continue to enjoy them for a few more weeks, maybe even split them up and move them to different places all through the house, so I can enjoy them wherever I am. I'd better hurry, though, because some of the pink flowers are already just a few days past their prime.

I am hoping that winter is also just a few days past its prime. I am anxious to see what lies beneath the snow, and how quickly the early spring flowers, like crocus and hellebores, will begin to flower once the snow melts. In the meantime, I have the hyacinths.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Five Things

There is a game of “tag” going around the blogging world, where the “tagee” is supposed to list 5 weird things about themselves. Though I have been “tagged” a few times, I’ve resisted posting on that topic because really, what is weird about me? But now that the “tag” has morphed into listing 5 things readers don’t know about you, I’ll give it a whirl.

1. During all the hoopla of the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl game, I made a few references to the now world champion Indianapolis Colts on my blog, which may have left people with the impression that I am an avid football fan. I am not. I am a fan of Indianapolis and so I am naturally excited when good things are happening in the city, like the Colts going to the Super Bowl. I did watch and enjoy the Super Bowl as did most everyone in Indianapolis. But for most of the football season, I’m still working in the garden and don’t have time to spend an entire Sunday afternoon watching a football game. I didn’t even buy my 1st article of Colts apparel until the Thursday night before the Super Bowl, and then I only bought it because I didn’t want to be the only one in the city not dressed appropriately for Blue Friday. I just never really liked the particular shade of blue of their uniforms.

2. I almost always wear something green. When I show up for work wearing another color, someone almost always comments “you aren’t wearing green today”. I usually just pause, act as though I am thinking about it, and then reply, “maybe I am”. Actually, the lanyard I wear with my work id badge is one I made in a beading class with mostly green and natural colored beads, so I really do have something green on everyday.

3. But when I am not wearing green, it is generally because I am at an Indiana Pacers NBA basketball game at the greatest sports venue in all of sports. The Pacer’s team colors are blue and gold, a good kind of blue. And I have lots of Pacer apparel in my wardrobe. Basketball is a sport for gardeners, especially in cold climates. The NBA regular season goes from early November until mid April, when not a lot is happening in the garden. The only time going to a game conflicts with gardening is during the playoffs, and the playoffs haven’t lasted as long for the Pacers as we would have hoped these last few years. They have been over, for us, by early May.

4. I really do garden a lot in May, and take a few weeks of vacation time during the month of May to spend in the garden. So the name of my blog is no accident! I love the first day of “gardening vacation”, which is generally on a Friday. I like to get up early that first day, put on my best gardening clothes (jeans and a green t-shirt of course) and do a slow walk around to decide what to do first. Then I dig in and start a week or more of wild, frenzied, non-stop gardening. Family and friends have learned that it is not a week to call me up and ask for me to go out for a long lunch, “since I am on vacation”. I just don’t want to give up all that time in the garden unless, of course, it is raining.

5. At work, I don’t have any plants in my office. My office is in the interior of the building and the nearest windows (north facing for me) are across a hall way and beyond some cubicles. But now I’ve decided I will try a plant in my office. Today I divided and repotted my two Clivia miniata plants since they had both sent up little side shoots that were just begging for their own pots. I am going to take one to my office, because now I have five plants and am looking for homes for them. If any plant can make a go of it in my interior office, Clivia can.

And now you know more about me. Consider yourself tagged…

Friday, February 16, 2007

Do You Like to Garden? Guest Blogger Today!

A few days ago, I offered to pay my niece and nephew to be guest bloggers for me, and provide a few paragraphs to post. So far, my nephew has posted a couple of comments under the name “Nephew of the Gardening Aunt”. I hope he knows I’m not paying for comments!

But my niece, who is 9, has finally come through with an actual post. I think it took my sister a few days to get her interested, but when she had an English assignment to “write two sentences that ask questions about gardens”, it all came together.

So, without further ado… a guest post from Sophie, age 9:

“Do you like to garden? I like to garden. I like all of the colors in the garden. I like being out in the sun and I like the feel of the dirt. I like the mystery of what will be in the dirt when you turn the shovel over. Will it be a grub? Will it be a worm? Will it be a slug? Or an old abandoned marble from when my mom was little? Or maybe even a dinosaur bone?

Why do you like to garden? Why don’t you tell us some reasons you like to garden.”

I had no idea that Sophie liked to dig in the garden! I wrote a post about digging quite awhile back, about finding things when you dig. Sophie is growing up in the same house we all grew up in, so every once in awhile she digs and finds something, like a marble, lost in one of the flower beds by her mom or aunts and uncle.

Thank you, Sophie, I’ll pay up this weekend!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day Inaugural Post

We can have flowers nearly every month of the year.” – Elizabeth Lawrence

Welcome to the inaugural post for the Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day! I hope some of you will join me on the 15th of each month with a simple post listing the flowers you have in bloom in your garden today.

To participate, just post on your blog a list of what you have blooming on the 15th of the month and add a comment to my post for the month to let us know you have posted so we can find you. If you don't have a public Blogger profile, don't forget to include a link to your post in the comment.

A few questions have come up...

Can you list buds? Sure, why not? Just note they are buds.

What about indoor plants? Absolutely! Isn't that why northern gardeners keep a few plants inside? Otherwise, what would we list for February after a big snowstorm?

Pictures? As many or as few as you would like.

Does it have to start blooming on the 15th? No, feel free to list anything blooming on that day, no matter how long it has been blooming.

Latin or common names? Whichever you prefer or both.

What if I miss the 15th? You can post early or late, no problem. Molly at Life on Tiger Mountain posted a few days ago because she knew she wouldn't be able to post today and so for being the first, she gets a special mention!

We may get fancier later on with a blogroll or something else to keep track of those who participate, but for now, I'm keeping it simple, just comment to let us know about your post.

Here is my bloom list for February 15th:

Nothing, see picture above. I couldn't even find the two crocus buds from January under all that snow.

Ludicia discolor - Jewel Orchid
Phalaenopsis sp. - Moth Orchid, lavender flowers
Stenosarcos Vanguard - Hybrid variegated leaf orchid, (Sarcoglottis speciosus x Stenorrhynchos speciosum)
Clivia miniata - Kaffir Lily (barely blooming)
Hyacinth - Pink and Blue (the blue is just starting to bloom, pink has been around for a week or so)

That's it for my bloom list! What about yours?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Bright and Sunny Places

It is a bright, sunny day in central Indiana with clear blue skies overhead and pristine white snow underfoot. Lots of pristine white snow.

And, underneath that snow surrounding the lamp post, there is a bed of tulips just waiting to come up and bloom. It is hard to imagine it now, but I planted the bulbs myself, took pictures and all, so I know they are there.

It will be so nice to see the tulips, once all this snow melts. And from what I am reading about our extended weather forecast, we could see some snow melt this weekend. But still, when I post my list of what is blooming in my gardens for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, tomorrow, it will be a rather short list. I'l have to include some indoor blooms.

Why I am I so chipper while buried under all this snow?

Partly because in all this mess, I've found out that I have some very nice neighbors. One day last week, my next door neighbor, Jim, blew several inches of snow off my drive before I got home from work. Then yesterday, another neighbor, Mr. K, helped me start my snow blower. It just needed a good strong pull of the handle. Then today, yet another neighbor from across the street helped me dig out the bottom of my driveway, where the snow plow had thrown all the snow from the street, so I could get out and go get more gas for the snow blower. Good neighbors, they are, even if we all don't know each other all that well.

Happy Valentine's Day from a bright, sunny place known as Indiana.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

What Comes to Those Who Wait

What comes to those who wait?

We got the wintry mix. I do not wish it upon anyone else. For those east of me, watch out. I am not “officially” in a county where they’ve declared “blizzard”, but I’m just two counties south of the official blizzard. We got our fair share of snow, I’m guessing 6 to 8 inches, followed by sleet. And the sleet came down a-l-l day long. I shoveled my driveway in the morning, then my neighbor (bless Mr. K.!) helped me start my snow blower, and I finished “round one”. Now I am out of gas for the blower, and it is time for “round 2”. Time to call someone to dig out my driveway tomorrow!
One of the blue hyacinths is just about ready to bloom! The pink ones are still going strong and their scent permeates my great room. It is almost too much scent, but I won't complain.

And the mail man brought me two books by Elizabeth Lawrence, A Southern Garden and Gardening For Love: The Market Bulletins. Even though I don’t live in the South, after reading Two Gardeners: Katharine S. White and Elizabeth Lawrence – A Friendship in Letters, I wanted to read some books by Elizabeth Lawrence and so picked these two out. Now it is time to write my review of "Two Gardeners" for the Garden Bloggers' Book Club. The official club post will come out on February 28th, so if you are participating, send me a comment to let me know when you have posted, so I can include you. (And don't forget, there are several other options for participating, even if you didn't read the actual book we selected!)

That’s what I’ve gotten so far for waiting, what did you get?

Monday, February 12, 2007


Waiting… for a wintry mix of snow and rain expected to start later tonight and continue until late Tuesday evening. I can handle snow, I can handle rain, but wintry mix? That could include ice. And ice could cause problems with power, with driving, with trees, with shrubs. I drove by a grocery store on the way home, and it appears a lot of people will be waiting in checkout lines this evening.

Waiting... to see if this really will be the worst storm in "years" around here.

Waiting… for some blue hyacinths. As reported yesterday, all my hyacinths being forced in vases so far are pink, but it looks like the next four to bloom will all be blue.

Waiting… just a few more weeks before I sow seeds for tomatoes and peppers. I don’t want to sow the seeds too soon and end up with leggy plants before it is time to plant them out in the garden. I also have some seeds for perennials and violas to sow, and there is no need to wait on those!

Waiting… or procrastinating, on ordering annual flower seeds. I’ve got the vegetable seeds, but still need to get going on the flower seeds.

Waiting… for a stretch of above freezing weather when the ground is not too damp, to dig out a forsythia shrub in the front that it is crowding out a larger evergreen tree. Or rather the tree is crowding the shrub out. There is no longer room for the both of them where they are, so I’m digging out the forsythia and will attempt to transplant it to another location. The tree is too large to move, anyway.

Waiting… for a couple of orchids to bloom that have not bloomed since I acquired them. I have some orchids that bloom reliably every year, but a few have never re-bloomed. I remain hopeful, they are still alive.

Waiting… for a couple of books I ordered to arrive in my mailbox. Suddenly, I am very interested in reading more books by Elizabeth Lawrence.

Waiting for winter to be over and for spring to arrive.

Waiting… for a few nice comments… I can’t be the only one waiting!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Green Thumb Sunday - Week 6

As noted earlier this week, I have hyacinth in bloom. So far, all pink, but the blue flowers will not be far behind. ANYONE can grow hyacinth in vases like this. There is little to no effort involved. First, buy a hyacinth vase and bulb. I think if you buy as a kit, the bulb has already been kept at a cool temperature. If you do like I do and just buy the bulbs to use with vases you already have, just buy a bag of hyacinth bulbs in the fall and store them in the back of the refrigerator for 10 weeks or so.

Step 2, remove the bulbs from the refrigerator around January 1, place them in the vases with some water, and leave them alone. I did check water levels once and added a bit of water to a few of them a few weeks ago. That's it. They are doing this all on their own.

I've only known of one person who couldn't get their bulb to bloom, and that was because she didn't realize which end was up. Flat end goes down, tip goes up! "Practically" fool proof!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day Announcement

“We can have flowers nearly every month of the year.” – Elizabeth Lawrence

As I think of my own garden, I believe that I did not have flowers outside in December, but have had and will have flowers outside every other month, if I’m allowed to count the two little crocus buds that showed themselves in late January. And if I had planted pansies in the fall, I probably would still have had some of them blooming in December.

My November flowers were probably just leftover blooms from October, but they were still there in November, so I believe I also had blooms that month. For February, I may have some snow drops and once the snow melts, I should see a few more crocuses in bloom. Every other month, I no doubt have flowers to count.

I am convinced that if I do a little more planning, I can have some flowers outside nearly every month of the year, if not every month of the year in my zone 5 garden.

What about in your garden? If you are south of me, I know you can have flowers every month of the year. And if you are north of my zone 5 garden, I suspect you might struggle a bit with the winter months, but that’s why we have indoor plants, right?

I’d like to share each month what is blooming in my garden and also see what others, north and south of me, have blooming at the same time. I know everyone posts all through the growing season as each new flowers presents itself, but what if we all posted a “bloom list” on the same day each month? Then we could really see differences and similarities in our gardens, both in what we can grow and in when plants bloom.

With that in mind, I’m designating the 15th of the month as the day I will survey my gardens, list what is blooming and then post that list, along with a few pictures, for “Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day”.

I invite everyone to join me and do the same on the 15th of each month. To participate in “Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day”, all you have to do is post your list of what is blooming in your garden on the 15th of the month, and then leave me a comment on my post with a link to your list, and then we’ll all be able to compare who has what blooming. Or, if you don’t want to post your list, you can just leave comment on my posted bloom list with your bloom list.

Northern gardeners (on both sides of the ocean) can see what blooms we have to look forward to and what flowers we can’t have, and Southern gardeners will get to see what they can’t have due to heat or lack of cooling. And we’ll all be envious of the Australian gardeners who have long lists of blooms during our Northern hemisphere winters and vice versa.

I’ll be posting my first bloom list on February 15th. It may be short, but it will be a start. I hope a few of you will join me.

I've Offered to Pay for Blogging Material!

Today I am officially tired of winter. There is snow on the ground and with single-digit temperatures, it won't be melting anytime soon. I am at least grateful that there is only one set of tracks through the back yard, which hopefully means that there are not a lot of rabbits out there trying to eat the bark off my trees or get to my tender young blueberries, which I am protecting with wire cages.

I've finished reading the February selection of the Garden Bloggers' Book Club, Two Gardeners: Katharine S. White and Elizabeth Lawrence - A Friendship in Letters edited by Emily Herring Wilson, and have been thinking about what I want to write for my review of the book. In the meantime, I've moved on to No One Gardens Alone: A Life of Elizabeth Lawrence by Emily Herring Wilson. After that? I think I might try to get the biography of Katharine S. White, Onward and Upward: A Biography of Katharine S. White by Linda H. Davis. (Used copies for 3 cents plus shipping... less than the cost of a fast food meal!) I'll admit I am fascinated by these two writers who wrote letters back and forth for decades, first about plants and gardens and then really about their lives, but only met once. But, I've always liked books of letters. It's a less guarded type of writing, much like blogging.

Speaking of blogging, one of the concerns that many bloggers expressed early in the fall was how they would continue to post when their gardens were dormant. I'm always thinking about or doing something related to gardening, (when I'm not at work, that is!) so I've managed to keep posting through the winter. But today I did offer to pay someone to write a post for me.

My nine year old niece is working to earn money to buy a video game, so when I stopped by there earlier today, my sister ask if there was anything my niece could do for me to earn money. I immediately said, "write me two paragraphs related to gardening and I'll give you 2 dollars". My intent is to take those two paragraphs and post them here. My niece does like to garden (though when asked directly, she won't admit it because she is 9 years old) but doesn't particularly care to write. Her brother who is 11 said he would write something for 2 dollars. He doesn't garden much, but he does like bugs, so he might have something interesting to write about.

So we shall see if either or both decide to take me up on my offer, 1 dollar per paragraph, must be garden related! And by the way, I'm not making this offer to everyone, just those two.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Five and A Half Weeks Later - Bloom!

Five and a half weeks after I took the hyacinth bulbs out of the refrigerator and placed them in hyacinth vases, I have bloom. Pink, obviously. Fragrant, too.

Outside, we have snow and cold. Winter took awhile to get here, but now it is here in a big way with snow on the ground and temperatures mostly in the single digits. That's cold!

Awhile back, I posted (boasted?) that I am planting my peas earlier this year, on March 6th to be precise. Now with this all this snow and cold, who knows?

But we know that as soon as early March we could actually have a day or two with temperatures "near 70". I've seen it before! I recall in 2000 I took off a few days in early March and it was unexpectedly warm.... warm and dry enough for me to work outside on some garden clean up. That first day working in the garden in the spring is always a special day, regardless of when it occurs, so I always remember it.

I'll just hope for a day like that in early March. In the meantime, I need to order my flower seeds (I'm feeling behind in doing that!) and replenish my seed starting supplies so I can start my tomatoes and peppers. Spring will be here before we know it. Happens every year.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Garden Bloggers' Book Club March Selection

Are we talking about March already? With today's snowfall, it is hard to think about spring or even imagine it. Everything is buried under a thick blanket of snow. But soon it will be March and so it is time to announce the March selection for the Garden Bloggers' Book Club.

There were many suggestions, but one in particular caught my eye, and though many books were considered, I kept coming back to this one , The Gardener's Year by Karel Capek.

Here's what M. Sinclair Stevens wrote when suggesting it:

"One of the funniest books and most observant books I've ever read about gardening ..."

That's good enough for me. It's now next on my reading list, right after I finish re-reading and writing about Two Gardeners: Katharine S. White and Elizabeth Lawrence - A Friendship in Letters edited by Emily Herring Wilson. (I'll be posting the February book club post on February 28th, so when you've posted your review, send me an email or a comment to let me know so I can include you.)

Snowy Places

When it is really cold outside, with temperatures in the single digits, we always wish for snow to provide some insulation for the plants.

We got our wish today! It started to snow around lunch time and by 4:00 PM, depending on where you were in the area, between 4 and 5 inches of snow fell. Let me do the math... that's about an inch an hour. Fortunately, it isn't very windy so there is not a lot of drifting, so far. However, because it is so cold out, this is a very powdery snow, so it wouldn't take much wind to get some pretty good drifts.

The driveway has been cleared (thanks to my helpful neighbor, Jim!) the walk-way shoveled (thanks to me!) and so there is nothing left to do but enjoy the quiet of the snow.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Happy Places

What does a gardener do in the middle of winter on a day when the temperatures don't even get above single digits? Sit and think about places in her garden that make her happy, that's what!

We all have a favorite spot or two in our garden. Here are two of mine. First, there is the gate to the back yard. I like how when you enter, you have to go around the corner to see what is there. Or at least that is what I attempted to have happen.

I also like my vegetable garden, particularly when all is growing in abundance. I took most of my pictures last season from this same spot in the early evening, with the sun setting behind me. (Or maybe this is one taken in the morning with the sun in my eyes?) Either way, this is the spot where I most often stood to survey the garden. I wonder if that will change next summer as I rotate crops between the various beds? We shall see..

What are your favorite places in your own garden, where you are happiest with the results?

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Proud to be Gardening In Indianapolis

Proud to be gardening in Indianapolis!!


Green Thumb Sunday: Hyacinth Week 5, plus Hellebores

Here are the Hyacinths after 5 weeks. I have no explanation for why there is such variation in growth. All the bulbs came out of the same bag and were kept in the back of my refrigerator for the same amount of time. If I was trying to grow these to sell, I'd be concerned, but since I am growing them for pure enjoyment and fragrance, I'll just be happy that it appears like I will be enjoying hyacinths for quite a while.

And here is a close up of one that looks like it will be the first to actually bloom. I think it might be pink, though it really is hard to tell at this point. Do you have a prediction on when I'll see my first real bloom? I predicted a blue bloom today for Super Bowl Sunday. That didn't happen, so I'll revise my predication to be a pink bloom on Valentine's Day.

And yesterday I braved the biting cold winds to take this outdoor picture. This is Helleborus orientalis, Lenten Rose. In spite of the cold, some plants are starting to show signs of growth! See those flower buds? There is one kind of in the center and a couple more toward the top, just left of center. They are cold now but I know they'll be fine and I'll have blooms in late March, during Lent.

Green Thumb Sunday

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Updates: Crocuses, Terrariums and Pets

Last weekend, I posted a picture of crocuses taken by my front step and several commented that they had never seen crocuses bloom this early in zone 5. I swear that picture was truly taken last Sunday. Since then, the outside temperature has been steadily dropping and so today, the crocuses look exactly like they did last weekend. Just those two buds, frozen in time.

I suppose I took some liberties by saying those were blooming, because really all you see is the bud. And that is all you would see today if you stopped by. But you will be pleased to know that once it warms up again to above freezing, and the sun shines on them, those crocuses will open up. They always do. I'll try to take a picture when it happens.

Later in the week, I showed you all my empty terrarium. I got some helpful comments about what I might plant in it. And now that you all know about that empty terrarium, I feel I must put plants in it and post a picture of it again. Have any of you garden bloggers done that? Posted about something you needed to tend to in the garden, and then you got comments, and so you felt you had to just to tend to whatever it was? I WILL be planting that terrarium sometime this spring! Then we'll have a party. Maybe I'll have it planted by the time we have the next book club meeting at the end of February? That is, if I can find plants locally and don't have to order by mail.

And I was particularly amused by my sister and Annie commenting about adding geckos or lizards to the terrarium. My sister was being funny. She knows my history with pets. It begins and ends with an aquarium. That's right, no cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, chinchillas, African hedge hogs, ferrets, iguanas, snakes, lizards, geckos, as pets for me. But between two of my sisters, they have had all those animals as pets at one time or another, and probably others I can't remember.

As I said, my attempt at keeping another living thing alive began and ended with the aquarium, or as I refer to it, the "underwater garden". I woke up one day and I decided I should have a pet, and fish seemed like a good choice because they wouldn't demand my attention all the time, but I could tap on the glass and get their attention if I wanted to. Plus, I could put plants in with them! I wouldn't dream of landscaping the aquarium with fake plastic plants, I wanted real plants. So, I got myself all set up with a 20 gallon aquarium, then went to the pet shop and bought several different plants, and oh, yes, some fish, too. I planted the plants, added the fish, and viola! Pets.

Everything went quite well for several months, no fish died and the plants thrived. I remembered to feed the fish and I even named them. I can't recall exactly what types of fish I had, I got what they recommened at the pet store. There were three fish named Richie, Potsie, and Ralph; I think they were some kind of tetras. And another fish named Fonzie. And there was one slightly bigger fish named Beatrix Potter. Beatrix Potter is my all time favorite pet name, the one I am hanging on to in the event that one day I decide to get a dog or a cat. You can call the animal Bea, or Trix, or Trixie, or BP. Lots of good nicknames!

Anyway, as I said all went well for a few months with the aquarium and my pet fishes. Then I noticed that the plants were starting to thrive just a bit too well, and needed to be trimmed back. So I did that. I rolled up my sleeves, reached in and did a little pruning on the plants.

Well, the next time I looked at the aquarium, I was shocked to find that algae had started to take over. More algae than even the algae eating fish could eat. Now what? Well, I took measures recommended by the pet store to clear up the algae, but the plants were never the same again. I had to remove them and replace them with plastic plants. After that, I began to lose interest in the aquarium. Over the course of a few years, the a few fish began to die off (they don't live forever, you know) until I was down to two fish (fishes?). Richie and Potsie, or maybe it was Potsie and Ralph?

Anyway, I called my youngest sister, who never turns down the opportunity to have another pet, and offered her the aquarium and the two fish. She said yes, that would be good for her kids to experience. So I fished out Richie and Potsie (or Ralph), drained and cleaned the aquarium, and delivered the two fish and the aquarium to my sister before she could change her mind. I think I even helped her set it all up again at her house.

So you can see why I am amused at the idea of using my terrarium to house a pet, of any kind! I'm going to stick with just plants for now. Or maybe that suggestion was just a way for my sister to try to get me to give her the terrarium, once I tired of the lizard? Anyway, if I do get a lizard for the terrarium, guess what I will name it?

Friday, February 02, 2007

Procrastination in the Garden, Need Help!

Did you ever buy something for your garden and then never quite got around to putting it where you intended? Or maybe you bought a new container and then never planted anything in it because you couldn’t find the right plants? Or worse, you bought a new plant and NEVER planted it? Be honest, now, I know I can’t be the only gardener who has done this, who has procrastinated after buying something they really wanted for their garden. Here’s my story:

I bought a big terrarium because I thought it would look nice in my great room. But I’ve never planted anything in it. For a few months, I put a potted poinsettia in it, just so it would have something in it. But other than that, it has remained empty.

After I bought the terrarium, I decided that to get the plants I wanted to put in it, I would have to order them and have them shipped to me. But it was already fall, and since the plants would not be cold hardy, I decided I should wait until spring to actually place the order.

Then spring came and the outside gardens called for my attention, so I didn’t end up buying any plants to put in the terrarium that first year.

Or the second year.

Or the third year.

Yes, I know what people are thinking… it is high time I planted something in that terrarium!

I’m to the point now that I need to re-do my research on what to even plant in the terrarium. I’ll do some online searches and all, but thought in addition to confessing online about my procrastination, I would post my terrarium questions, as maybe among those who read this blog, there is a terrarium expert or two. So garden bloggers, and others…

Do you have experience with terrariums? Any tips to pass along?
What is your favorite source for mail ordering houseplants or plants suitable for a terrarium?
Should I plant directly in the tray or keep the plants in separate pots and put moss around them to make them look planted?

The terrarium is 18 inches by 18 inches and the tray will allow for about 3 inches of soil. The whole thing is 2 feet high, a little higher at the peak, and I’ve placed it by a north window. I've added a picture of it below. You can see that it is empty, empty, empty.

So, that's my story, my confession of something I've not gotten done that should be done.

What’s your story of procrastination in the garden? Can we garden bloggers help and encourage you to just get on with whatever you haven’t done yet in the garden that you need to do? Post on your own blog and let us help! (Because after all, spending time helping others and writing about what you aren't getting done is a good way to keep procrastination alive and well in your own garden!)

Thursday, February 01, 2007

New Month, New Book

Thank you again to everyone who participated in the Garden Bloggers’ Book Club for January. Are you ready for a completely different type of gardening book for February?

I hope so, because that’s what we have with Two Gardeners: Katharine S. White and Elizabeth Lawrence – A Friendship in Letters edited by Emily Herring Wilson. (Click here for Powell’s instead of Amazon.)

A few days ago, Collen at In the Garden Online wrote the following about the book:

“Whoever suggested Two Gardeners for the Book Club deserves either a great big hug or a stern finger wagging. A hug because I've never read a book of letters, and I absolutely loved this one. I literally could not put it down---better than any novel I've read recently. A stern finger wagging because while reading it, I found myself tearing up and even crying....over a gardening book! Granted, not your typical gardening book, but still.... I'll go for the hug, because this book has changed the way I look at this whole blogging thing....more about that in my actual book club post later on. I want to re-read parts of the book again.”

Though I’ve been making the final selection each month, I do so with input from any one willing to make a suggestion, so I looked back through all the comments and I believe we have Tracy (Outside) to thank for suggesting this one. Thank you, Tracy!

And what should you do if you can’t get a copy of this book or have no time to read it? You can still participate by writing a post about any book written by either Katharine S. White or Elizabeth Lawrence. Don’t have access to any of their books? Well, you really should read a book to participate in a book club, but I can see where for some gardeners, February is a busy month. So, in keeping with the theme, two gardeners, you could also write about another gardener who you’ve exchanged ideas with over the years, even if not by letters.

The official club post will be posted February 28th, to provide as much time as possible for people to read the book and post their thoughts on their own blog. Just leave me a comment or an email (see the sidebar) when your post is ready.

Happy Reading, stay warm in this winter and…

Go Colts!!

(Oh, and one more thing, I’m getting ready to announce the March selection, but am having trouble making up my mind. If you want to weigh in, send me an email, I’ll send you info on the two finalists, and you can give me your input.)