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Monday, April 30, 2007

Goodbye, April! Hello, May! Time for Lettuce

Lettuce! From the garden! And yes, quite delicious, it is. I had some on my sandwich at lunch today, and that made my 'brown bag' lunch seem like the finest gourmet cuisine.

And to think that I almost didn't pick this lettuce yesterday evening because I didn't want the month of April to get credit for it. Earlier this month, I documented my thoughts on this April, also now known as "Hate-pril" because it turned so cruel on us.

But somehow the lettuce, a cool season crop, made it through April.

Here's my lettuce bed:

You can see that I am a bit of a lazy lettuce gardener. I plant rows of lettuce in March, then leave it alone and start harvesting in late April. I should thin out the lettuce to get better heads to form, but I don't. I should also do some succession planting to extend the lettuce harvest, but I don't do that either.

I covered this raised bed with row covering when I planted it to keep the rabbits out. That's why the onions on the left look all bent over. They'll straighten up in a few days. Next to them are a few radishes, then a wide space where the beets were before they were zapped by the April cold. Then there is some spinach and the three rows of lettuce: 'New Red Fire', 'Pinetree Mix' and 'Tom Thumb', all from Pinetree Garden seeds. Along the back are some peas, variety 'Green Arrow', just enough to hopefully get a few small servings, raw and cooked.

I am concerned that the rabbits will discover those peas and the spinach, so I sprinkled them with cayenne pepper. So far, so good after 24 hours. Oh, and I used my new stirrup hoe to knock out a few weeds between the rows, which is why the bed looks so nice and weed free. I love my new hoe. It is one of my favorites, definitely in the top ten. How I gardened without it, I'll never know.

And now as the sun sets on April, we have the glorious days of May before us and many more days of fresh lettuce.

What could be better in a zone 5 garden than May, I ask you? All year I wait for this month, and now it is nearly here. Breathe the fresh air, enjoy the sunshine, see how green the grass is, how blue the sky is, watch as each day a new flower blooms. It's time to eat lots of fresh lettuce from the garden! It's time to plant the rest of the garden! It is the eve of May in May Dreams Gardens! Let the fun begin.

When April steps aside for May,
Like diamonds all the raindrops glisten,
Fresh violets open every day,
To some new bird each hour we listen.
- Lucy Larcom, American poet (1826-1893)

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Lily of the Valley

Do certain plants still trigger strong childhood memories when you garden with them every day?

Pam/Digging asked this question in response to a comment I left on a post she wrote about her childhood garden.

The short answer is yes.

Though the plants I have in my garden are familiar to me, since I've known them all my life, several of them always remind me of my childhood.

When the lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) blooms, I recall sunny Sunday afternoons visiting my grandmother. She had a colony of lily of the valley by the side of her house, and when they bloomed we always picked bouquets of them. Even the smallest child can easily pick these flowers, and we picked lots of them. Grandma always seemed pleased when we presented them to her and would set them in vases on her dining room table.

Occasionally, we would also pick violets at the same time, to create a mixed bouquet like this one.

Now that's a bouquet from my childhood, and I like to enjoy one like it every year.

I have two colonies of lily of the valley in my own garden, started from plants I got from one of my sisters. But when I went to my aunt's house last spring to see her garden, I dug up one of her lily of the valley, even though I already had plenty, because hers came from my grandmother. I potted it up and overwintered it, and now I need to give it a home. But I don't want to put it with the other lily of the valley. I want to put it in its own spot, so I'll always know which one came from my grandmother's garden. I just need more shade.

(A special note to a couple of my sisters who are going to read this and ask "why didn't you get one for me"? I don't know why not because our aunt has plenty of it. It was hot the day I dug them up, and it was almost an after thought, because I already had lily of the valley. But then I couldn't resist because these were Grandma's. We can go back for more. Our aunt is generous with passalong plants!)

Green Thumb Sunday - Snow In Summer

I'm referring to the flowers, not the weather! Cerastium tomentosum, Snow-in-summer. It's a beautiful day, not a snowflake in sight, except for this snow-in-summer.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Nesting, Mowing, Racing, Blooming

This afternoon I found this robin's nest in the crab apple tree in front. The bird who built this nest is pretty smart because it is in an ideal location. She was also a fast builder because this nest wasn't here a few days ago, or I'm not very observant.

Now whenever I go out my front door, she'll fly off and sit on the edge of the roof and squawk at me until I leave the area. There are no eggs yet, but I'm sure it is just a matter of time. I'll leave the nest alone until all the birds have hatched and then remove it.

I only had time to mow my grass today. My neighbor was mowing at the same time, with his riding mower. Just like last summer, he rounds the corner at the property line and scrapes the grass there, in my yard, down to bare ground. I'm not going to worry about it because they do keep their yard looking nice and are nice people. Besides, it's in the strip between the sidewalk and street, and it is just grass.

I also saw my sister's neighbor on his riding lawn mower when I was at her house in the morning. This particular neighbor is very nice and traveled around the world as a missionary before he retired. He always wear a white dress shirt and tie, even when he is mowing the grass. And this morning since it was still a little chilly outside, he also wore his suit coat. I'm not making this up. He was mowing the grass in a suit. He always wears a dress shirt and tie. Always.

Spring is starting to progress nicely here in central Indiana and in just a few days it will be May. May is a pretty exciting month around here, could you guess? In May, we transition from spring to summer and everything is very fast, both in the garden and around that race track in Speedway, "the racing capital of the world".

In just a few weeks, or sooner, we will say good bye to the tulips for another year and say hello to the next group of flowers, which includes these alliums that are starting to bloom. They will soon be joined be several other plants getting ready to bloom in a few weeks, including columbine, peonies, and lilacs. The whole month of May and Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day on May 15th should be pretty exciting here at May Dreams Gardens!

Friday, April 27, 2007

I Found Deidre

I found Deidre, my Viridiflora tulips. I posted about them a few weeks ago because I could not remember where I planted these green tulips.

This morning I found them. I remember now what I did. When I planted the tulips last fall, I opened all the packages of bulbs and mixed them together and then planted every single one in the new flower bed I made around the lamp post.

I think that was a mistake for Deidre. She is having a tough time competing with the other tulips. I should have planted these green tulips in their own group someplace where they could be viewed together and not have to compete with all the other tulips.

See how they are in the group? Not too showy.

Deidre just does not stand out like this tulip below.
And since this tulip has no name that I know of, I'm naming it "Spring Sunset".

Once these all the tulips finish blooming, I plan to pull them out of this bed and either compost them, or replant them someplace in the back yard and see if they come back next year. Anyone have any good success moving tulips like that?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Leafing Out

How long will we live with reminders that this spring played tricks on our trees and shrubs, with the early warm weather causing them to break dormancy ahead of schedule and then the return of winter zapping them back to reality?

Looking around, I think it is the trees that were most impacted by the warm-very cold-warm cycle and recovery will take some time. Above is a branch from a honey locust tree (Gleditsia tricanthos) showing the little leaves that were zapped by the cold and the green buds that tell me this tree will be fine.

Below is a red maple tree (Acer rubrum). It, too, will be just fine.

I'm not quite sure what to expect from this red bud (Cercis canadensis). It is struggling a bit trying to leaf out.
And I have a couple of other trees and shrubs that look even worse.

But now is not the time to start pruning. We need to wait and give the trees and shrubs a chance to recover. So, I'm going to follow my normal spring schedule of planting and gardening and then see how the trees and shrubs look before I buy a chain saw.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Garden Bloggers' Book Club April Newsletter

Welcome to the April edition of the Garden Bloggers’ Book Club Newsletter!

April-May Selection

We are reading a book every two months through the spring and summer because it is so busy in the garden. The April-May selection is Passalong Plants by Steve Bender and Felder Rushing. I’ve had this book for many years, but am enjoying re-reading it. It is also one of those books you can skip around in, perfect for when it is busy in the garden.

And if you just simply can’t find the time to read the book this spring, you can post about your favorite passalong plant, either one you regularly give to others, or one you received from someone else. I think every gardener ends up with a passalong plant somewhere along the way, so this is a book club virtual meeting that everyone can participate in.

And it’s easy to participate. Post about the book or a topic related to the book. Leave me a comment or email to let me know you’ve posted so I can find you. Then I’ll put together a “virtual meeting” post on May 31st with links to all the posts I know about.

June-July Selection

Anyone have ideas on what to read in June and July? I’ve got a few books I'm considering, but none of them stand out. That could be because my mind and energy are in the garden right now, or it could just be because I haven’t found the perfect book for summer. We need a book that you can read while lounging in a hammock in the garden, relaxing after the flurry of spring planting. And it should, of course, relate to gardening, gardens, gardeners or plants.

If you have suggestions for the June-July selection, please leave them in a comment or send me an email. I am planning to announce the selection in a few weeks.

Thank you!

Thank you again to all who have participated in the past. This online book club is really open to everyone, so I hope some of you who have not participated in the past will join us in May.

Happy Gardening and Reading!

(Can you guess what's blooming in my garden, pictured above? It's Viburnum lantana 'Mohican'. Just as every gardener needs some good books on gardening, every garden needs at least one Viburnum!)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

False Flowers, Contradictions in Advice, and Radishes

Not all is always as it seems in the garden. There are false flowers that are real flowers, but called false because they look like something they aren't.

These are False Forget-me-Nots, Brunnera macrophylla, blooming today in my garden. This is one of those plants that started to bloom in late March but then the flowers disappeared when it got cold. Now they are back, all blue and tiny and pretty.

I don't believe that I've ever known anyone who grew real Forget-Me-Nots (Myosotis sp.) around here so I did a Google search to find out more about them. That took me to the USDA Plants database website, and now I have more questions. If you look at this map of where Myositis arvensis (Field Forget-me-not) grows, you will find it grows in all the states surrounding Indiana, but not Indiana. It is as though we've closed our borders to this flower. Hmmm... I'll have to do some more research.

How about someone doing some more research on false flowers in general and planting a whole garden of false flowers? You could plant False Dragonhead (Phyostegia virginiana), False Indigo (Baptisia sp.), and False Sunflowers (Heliopsis sp.) for starters, oh, and False Forget-me-nots. I'm sure there are other false flowers that we could come up with. Who will plant a false flower garden for all of us to see?

By the way, I got a few comments yesterday that perhaps I was offering advice that taken at face value, might be hard to follow. So I wanted to explain how you can avoid buying tender annuals plants too soon when we could still have a frost and yet not wait to buy plants when you find what you want. I'm about to reveal a secret method on how to do this, one that takes a bit of willpower and a small measure of confidence in the methods of growers and retailers. Get a piece of paper and a pencil to write this down, or fire up your printer...

Here's the method...

Don't go to the garden centers until right around your average frost free date for your area.

That's right. I have not yet been to a garden center, so I have not been tempted to buy annuals yet, because I think it is too early here. Yes, I have walked through a big box seasonal department, but I kept my eyes straight ahead and did not look at the annuals.

I'll go the week of May 7th, which is around our usual frost-free date of May 10th. The garden centers will have plenty for me to buy, even then, because they are getting new plants in all the time in the spring. The growers don't sow thousands of annuals on one day and then ship them all out on one day, and that's that. They spread out their sowing over many weeks in the late winter so that for many weeks in the spring they have fresh plants to ship out. And local growers who sell on site are doing the same thing. Every day, they are bringing plants up to the front from their greenhouses in the back, as the plants reach the perfect size for selling.

I've always found what I wanted with this method and have never felt like I was picking through what the early birds left behind. Sometimes I've even run into the early bird buyers, re-buying their annuals after a late frost.

And to ensure you are getting fresh plants, you might just make friends with the staff at your favorite garden center to find out when they will be getting new shipments of plants so you can time your visit accordingly. If they are growing plants right on the premises, and you don't see what you want, ask if they have them in their greenhouses. Sometimes they do, and are just waiting a few more days to bring them out. They should be more than happy to check because their business is selling plants, and they wouldn't want to see you leave and go to the competition, if they have want you want back in their greenhouses. If they won't check, leave and go to the competition.

Which brings me to radishes (and lettuce and peas and spinach and onions). So far, I'm winning the competition with the rabbits to be the first to eat from the garden. This evening I harvested a few radishes and green onions.

I cleaned them up and ate them. They were quite tasty. Better than store bought!

This weekend I'll be harvesting the first of the lettuce. I can hardly wait.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Hurry Up Season Has Officially Begun

Peony buds... the first sign of the "hurry up season" for gardeners in Zone 5. Suddenly, it is warm outside and things are starting to move at a remarkedly quick pace. Now is the time to get going, no time to procrastinate. Hurry up Season is here!

We sat around all winter lamenting the cold and lack of gardening activity. We griped through a colder than normal spring slump, and now it is like summer outside. It's time to put in motion all of our plans and dreams for the garden.

When I saw those peonies with buds this evening while mowing the lawn (for the 6th time, but who counts how many times they mow the lawn?) I darn near panicked, there is so much to do in the spring, and never enough time to do it all. Got to make hay while the sun shines. Got to take advantage of daylight and sunshine, for tomorrow it might rain.

Do you want some advice on what you should not procrastinate on in the spring?
  • You should not hestitate to buy the perfect plant or the perfect flat of annuals at the garden center when you first see it. If you wait and see if the next garden center has something better or cheaper, they won't, and when you go back to get what you wanted, it will be gone. Some other gardener will have purchased it.
  • You should pull weeds when they are small. Big weeds fight back when you try to pull them, and they flower and go to seed.
  • You should transplant perennials while they are small, they'll do better in the long run. This evening I checked all the perennials I transplanted yesterday. All looked good, no plants seemed droopy or pouty about being divided and moved.

And how about some advice on some things you should not to do in the spring...

  • Don't buy frost tender plants too early. It seems all warm and summery now, but we could still have some frost. I've personally experienced frost as late as May 20th in my Zone 5 central Indiana garden.
  • Don't look at the garden center if you are just driving by. Keep looking straight ahead. Otherwise, you'll get all crazy and twittery with the idea that when you finally get there, all the good plants will be gone.
  • Don't forget to actually relax and breathe and enjoy the process of gardening. Remember this is supposed to be fun!

Trust me on this advice, I've learned from my own experience. I've passed up on buying plants I later wanted. I've left weeds until I almost needed a chain saw to cut them down. I've planted too early and lost precious tomato seedlings to frost. I've gotten all twittery thinking about people getting to the garden centers before me and taking all the good stuff.

But I think I've always managed to have fun gardening, Why else would I do it all these years, since I was 5 years old? Why else?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Renovation of a Flower Bed - Completed

In the spring, there are slivers of time when the sun is shining and the ground is dry enough to work when you just have to make time to work in the garden. I took advantage of one of those slivers of time today to finish renovating my perennial flower bed. I had already widened it earlier this spring, and was just waiting for this kind of day to complete the renovation. Here is the bed at approximately at 10:30 this morning, right before I started to dig out the perennials.
Two hours later, I finished digging out all of the plants. That took a bit longer than I had hoped.Two more hours later, around 2:30, the ground was prepared for planting. It didn't take me the whole two hours to do this, as I was taking a lunch break for part of the time. I did not attempt to completely overturn all the soil, I just roughed it up a bit with a spading fork and a hoe, and then added some black top soil on top and raked it all smooth.

Guess what didn't take all that long? That's right, replanting the perennials took me only 45 minutes. This included going around to a few other flower beds and digging up some other perennials that were either crowded out where they were or that I just wanted to put in this bed. And look, I have some left over plants, still on the tarp on the right hand side of this picture.

Here's the finished bed, after adding mulch. I used cocoa hull mulch, which smells yummy, like I was baking a big chocolate cake outside.
By now it was about 3:45 PM and I was starting to fade a bit. Please note that the tall obelisk feature is only there as a place holder. I intend to put a better feature there, but haven't had time to shop for it. Also, those aren't weeds in between the bricks on the patio, that's some sedum and thyme. It won't look so messy once I add the furniture and a few pots.

The leftover perennials were primarily Black-eyed Susans, False Sunflower, Shasta Daisies and some Autumn Joy Sedum. I decided while digging them out that they were not well enough behaved to go back in that bed (except for the Shasta daisies and Autumn Joy Sedum, they are well behaved, but I just had too much of them). So I planted most of them in another perennial bed that is a bit out of control anyway. They'll fit right in. And, yes, some of them ended up in the compost bin. There is only so much room for Black-eyed Susans and there were some geraniums that were too infested with grass to save, especially at the end of a project like this when the gardener is tired. They weren't all that spectacular, anyway, so I hope I don't regret tossing them.

I do work fast on projects like this, but take several little mini breaks. I've been gardening for "awhile", so I know basically what I need to do, and how I want to do it so I just dig in. I also generally work alone, so there are few distractions. I will say that on this project, it would have been nice to have someone there who could have helped with some design decisions. But, there wasn't anyone around, so I designed as I planted as best I could. If something doesn't look right later, it will be fairly easy to dig and replant, right?

If we don't get too much rain this week, next weekend I'll replant the hosta bed that runs along the back of the house and connects in to this bed. The show plant of that bed will be the giant hosta I got from my sister last year.

And finally, before I finish up this chapter on the renovation of this perennial flower bed, I have a few family members to thank for making today possible. They know who they are. I'll make it up to them some day when it is raining!

Purple Velvet

These pansies have been through a lot of seasons since I planted them on March 16th. First, it got really cold and then it warmed up quite a bit, then it got really cold again for several weeks, and then it got warm again. Today it should get to 78 degrees and there won't be a cloud in the sky.

My neighbor commented that these look like purple velvet, so soft that even she, who doesn't garden, reached down to touch them to see if they felt like a soft velvet.

They do.

Where did I get these you ask? From a local grower. I'm not going to be all high and mighty and claim that I've never purchased a plant from a big box store, because I have, plenty of times. But I'm always a little happier with my purchase when I get it from a local grower. The local grower in this case is CourtsYard and Greenhouse, formerly Boston Greenhouse.

The name of this flower? Came in a mixed flat, so it has no name that I know of. That means I get to name it! But wait, why don't some of you who come here to look around give me some ideas for names?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Do Grape Vines Cry?

Knowing when and what to prune is something every gardener has to figure out at some point. We all learn the basics. We observe what works and watch to see what others do. Prune spring flowering shrubs after they’ve bloomed, prune summer/fall flowering shrubs in the spring. Prune trees when the wood isn’t frozen, preferably in late winter. Prune deadwood at any time.

Grapes should also be pruned back in late winter. However, the head gardener here at May Dreams Gardens (me) didn’t prune the grapes in late winter. I did think about it in early March, but then, as is well-documented, it got quite warm and the buds starting to break on the vine, and I decided it might be too late.

Then it got cold again for several weeks and I thought maybe I could prune the grapes anyway, but I didn’t. Now it is warm and nice and sunny again. Almost like summer, except it still gets cool at night.

This afternoon, I was weeding around the grape vines, and a couple of the vines got in my way, so I reached up and cut them off. I figured it wouldn’t hurt the vine, and with all the buds now brown from the cold, I’m not counting on any grapes this year.

Then I proceeded with my weeding and felt a drop of water hit my arm. What was that? Bird droppings? Nope, just water. But it wasn’t raining. Several more drops hit my arm before I looked up to see the grape vine dripping water from where I cut it off. I watched as one drop after another formed. I’ve done a lot of pruning and I've studied plant physiology enough to know basically what's going on with the plant, but I have never seen a cut like that literally drip water.

I guess that means that this ISN’T a good time to prune the grape vines.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Tart of a Tulip

I was startled the other day to find this red tulip blooming in my front flower bed. Goodness sakes, I thought, where did that come from? It was really quite shockingly red, and a bit disturbing in a bed otherwise filled with calm pastel and white spring flowers.

I immediately thought of names for this tulip like Red Harlot or Tulip Tart, neither of which is all that flattering. But really, that is quite RED, is it not?

So, I'm asking myself, where did I get this tulip, in a color I wouldn't normally buy? Where? And what is its real name?

Yes, I have a garden journal and I generally write down what I plant and where, but I failed to do that when I planted bulbs. So I don't know if I planted it last fall, but I must have because I don't think I've seen it before.

Maybe it was a mix-up in the packaging? Maybe this is supposed to be a white or pink or purple tulip? Regardless of how it came to be planted there, I have it now, so I'll let it stay. But I think next year when it blooms, I'm going to cut it and bring it inside right away. After all, I don't want the neighbors to see that tart in my garden.

I'd rather they see tulips like this dark purple one blooming near the red tulip. That's more what I like. It is almost a royal purple, so I'm calling it Purple Queen of the Garden.
Of course, if anyone thinks they know the true names of these tulips, let me know. I usually like to know the real names of my plants, really I do.

Proud Guinevere Makes an Attempt

It doesn't take much warmth and sun to perk up the trees and shrubs that were shivering in the cold last week. And the gardener around here (me) likes the warmer days better, too.

This is one of those trees and shrubs, my crab apple tree, 'Guinevere', attempting to bloom Thursday (April 19th).

Because it was so warm in late March, I thought this tree was going to bloom about two weeks earlier than usual, but instead all the buds literally froze in the cold and the new leaves drooped. It was a sad sight, because I know what might have been. The picture below was taken exactly one year earlier on April 19, 2006.

I did not take a picture of the full tree this year because 'Guinevere' is a proud tree and wouldn't really want her current bedraggled appearance published for all to see. Instead we can remember her beauty from last year and hope for next year.

What I like about 'Guinevere' is that the buds start out pink and then as they open, the flowers turn almost white. And where the branches were grafted on, there's a cozy little place perfect for a bird's nest, but I've only seen a nest there once, a few years ago. This tree is one of my garden favorites!

'Guinevere' sits in the middle of the front flower bed that is now under renovation and needs to be surrounded with just the right flowers for early spring, mid spring, and summer blooms to enhance her beauty. I've got my work cut out for me both in deciding what to plant and then in actually finding those plants and planting them.

I am quite open to suggestions and others' ideas so feel free to suggest what you think should be planted with 'Guinevere'.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Spring Came Back, No Explanation Offered

There is a correlation between weather and how busy one is outside of the garden. I can offer proof. The first part of April, when the weather was cold and rainy, I had all kinds of time to work in the garden, and had to just sit and wait out the weather.

But now that Spring has decided to return, I am as busy as ever and have little time to spend in the garden, at least for a few days.

Did I not mention that Spring had returned on Sunday? It did, still a little wobbly and cool in the mornings, but improving each day. It offered no explanation as to where it was those first few weeks of April, it just came back, and brought with it the woodland violets, which had also disappeared when it got cold again.

And Spring offered no apologies for what its absence did to some of the flowers and trees and shrubs. But I think Spring feels bad about disappearing and is trying to make amends with blue skies, sunshine and temperatures that get closer to perfection each day.

Weekend weather should be outstanding... so it is hard to stay mad at Spring.

If only I wasn't so busy.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Where's Deidre?

It is well-documented that on occasion a gardener can become obsessed with a particular type of flower, like orchids, or daylilies, or tulips.

Once a particular flower obsession sets in, is there a cure?

Do I want a cure for my current tulip obsession? The tulips have done so well in the unseasonably cold April weather that I think they deserve the attention and fuss I've been making over them, don't you?

This pretty little pink tulip is one of those "single tulips" that seem to come up where once I had a whole group of tulips. I was lamenting those single tulips before, but now I don't mind. This is such a pretty little tulip that I think it is better to be alone to show itself off.

But lest you think that all my bulbs are tulips, here are some Star Flowers (Ipheion uniflora) I'm also smitten with. I planted these about eight years ago, and they've been very reliable in coming back and blooming each year.

I like these soft blue flowers so much that I'm going to get a lot more of them to plant this fall, along with the tulips. They are such a nice shade of blue and blue is one color that tulips don't come in, so it will be a nice backdrop to all the pinks and purples and reds and oranges and yellows that I will have in the tulips.

I will also plant more green tulips, like these.
But I do have one problem right now with these green striped tulips.

I can't find them.

Really, I can't remember where I planted them and I haven't found them blooming yet. The variety is 'Deidre' according to the package, which also states they are a late bloomer. So I guess I have some time before I should really wonder too much about where these are.

But if they don't start blooming soon so I can find them, I might be playing a new game of "Where's Deidre?" in my garden in a week or so. Seriously, I can't find figure out where I planted them and I don't see a grouping of 15 tulips that might be these. I hope they weren't just a total no show!

By the way, while I was outside on this beautiful spring evening, looking again for my pretty green tulips, I found this lone late daffodil. I don't know its name, so I've dubbed it "Spring Sunshine Rose Daffodil", because that center reminds me of a rose and it is yellow.

Monday, April 16, 2007


I woke up yesterday to find that several people had already posted about their April 15th blooms for the 3rd monthly Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and new posts were being added all day long and even today. I don't have a final count but I'd guess somewhere around 40 bloggers showed us their blooms! That alone was quite overwhelming, to have so many people participate in bloom day, but then seeing what some people have blooming in their gardens right now... wow! There are some colorful gardens out there beyond my Zone 5 early (mid?) spring world. I tried my best to visit each blog with a post for bloom day and leave a comment. If I missed you, let me know. A big "Thank you" to all who participated.

And then, I was totally overwhelmed when I checked out Colleen's In the Garden Online blog and found out that I was nominated for some 2007 Mouse & Trowel awards. Like many readers of this blog, I nominated my favorite blogs and hoped to get a nod in a category myself. I ended up being nominated in three categories: Most Innovation in Garden Blogging, Garden Blogger You'd Most Like to Have As a Neighbor, and Garden Blog of the Year.

I've been back to Colleen's site a couple of times to double and triple check that it was this blog, May Dreams Gardens, that was nominated and not May You Dream About Gardens, or May Gardens Dream or Gardens May Dream or some closely named blog that I was not aware of. But the links all lead back here.

First, and foremost, thank you to all who nominated me! I am very appreciation of being nominated in these three categories. You can go here to vote now for your favorite in all the categories and if you like what you see here, I'd love to have your vote.

After you've voted, I hope those of you who didn't participate in the Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day yesterday will join us either yet this month or next month by posting what is blooming in your garden on the 15th. If you post today or even tomorrow, we won't say anything, we'll just assume you spent yesterday working on your tax returns. Even if you don't post about your blooms, check back here when you can because I am planning some special posting days to give everyone a chance to show off more of their gardens and garden related items, like hoes, in their blogs.

And finally, before I finish up this post and go check those nominations again, I'd also like to invite everyone to join us in the Garden Bloggers' Book Club. You can go to this blog to get to links to all the posts about how to participate.

Thank you again for the nominations, wonderful comments, and great support for my blog, May Dreams Gardens.



Sunday, April 15, 2007

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - April 2007

Happy Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day from May Dreams Gardens!

Here’s what's blooming today in my gardens.

Really in Bloom:

Tulips (lots of tulips!)
Pansies and violas
Grape Hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum)
Star Flowers (Ipheion uniflorum)
Periwinkle (Vinca minor)
Striped Squill (Puschkinia scilloides)
Lenten Roses (Helleborus orientalis) pinkish-rose, and white
Korean Spice Viburnum (Viburnum carlesii)

Not necessarily welcome, but blooming anyway

Taraxacum officinale (A lovely yellow flowering, low growing plant in the Aster family also know as Dandelions)
Lamium amplexicaule (An early blooming member of the mint family, generally the first thing to bloom in my garden…Henbit)

In Bud (I'm not sure if some of these buds will actually bloom, due to the cold temperatures!)

White Flowering Lilac (Syringa vulgaris ‘White Angel’)
Wayfaring Tree Viburnum (Viburnum lantana ‘Mohican’)
Blackhaw Viburnum (Viburnum prunifolium)
Dwarf Fothergila (Fothergilla gardenii)
Snowball Bush (Viburnum opulus ‘Sterile’)
Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)
Meyer Lilac (Syringa meyeri)
Miss Kim Lilac (Syringa patula ‘Miss Kim’)
Crab Apple (Malus ‘Guinevere’)
Apple Tree (Malus sp.)
Variegated Kerria (Kerria japonica ‘Variegata’)

Fading flowers (They’ve seen better days)

Red Bud Tree (Cercis canadensis)
Daffodils (I found just one sorta kinda blooming, so it counts)
Hyacinth (I only had 2, anyway)

Flowers that should be blooming but disappeared in the cold. (I think they’ll come back next week once it warms up.)

Wild violets
False Forget-me-not (Brunnera macrophylla)

And a Happy Surprise

Variegated Spurge (Euphorbia polychroma ‘Variegata’)

Picture Gallery

The variegated spurge... I didn't expect to find it blooming, so that is why it is a happy surprise. You can see from the water on the leaves that the weather was not all that great for walking around the garden to see what was blooming, but I'm glad I "toughed it out" and went out there anyway. Otherwise I would not have noticed the flowering spurge.

And my tulips.
I think I heard one of them ask why they were getting their picture taken again, and on a cloudy day. I have taken a lot of pictures of these tulips because they have survived a lot of cold nights and days in the last few weeks. All the tulips have!

The Lenten Rose. I love that little bit of green inside the flowers.
And I know you'll all be polite and not notice how some of the petals have turned a little brown at the edges, presumably because of the cold weather.

Some dandelions.
Ever seen foliage like that on dandelions? Me, either. Actually, these dandelions are trying to grow in the exact same space as a daylily. To get rid of the dandelions I'm going to have to dig both plants up, divide the daylilies and toss the dandelions.

And look what I found when I was looking for blooms. A plant that, along with its other skin-irritating buddies, has its own genus because no other plant wants to be associated with them...

Toxicodendron radicans, Poison Ivy. I wasn't wearing gloves when I saw it, so I left it to pull another day. It's right up by the house next to a drainage pipe connected to a downspout. Normally, the pipe is all covered with mulch, which reminds me that I need to re-mulch a few areas!

Following the special April 2007 rules, I pulled this picture of my Red bud tree from my archives. It was quite beautiful in mid-April last year as compared to this year!

Finally, I experimented with using my scanner as a camera and captured these images of my violas and pansies. The idea came from several posts from Kathy at Cold Climate Gardening. This first scan is a nice orderly row of violas and pansies for those who like order in their worlds. I agree, it would be more orderly if I had left off that large pansy, then I'd have sort of a 'natural progression' of color.
There, like that. But now there are four violas, which isn't an odd number, and we are all taught to plant in odd numbers!
Oh, well, moving on... For those who don't mind mixing it up a little, here's another picture. I chose these flowers because they were in a pot on my front porch, making them the only dry flowers around on this gray, rainy, sleety, cold weekend. For the black cloth covering, I used a black blouse. It's one I bought a while ago, but it still has the tag on it, so I haven't worn it yet. I knew it would come in handy for something.

And that's what's blooming at May Dreams Gardens on April 15, 2007!

What's blooming in your garden? Please leave a comment to let us know when you have posted for Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day so we can find you, visit your blog, and make a fuss over your flowers, no matter how few you have. And if you don't have a blog or the time to write a post, leave your list in a comment here. All are welcome and encouraged to participate!

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

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Hoosier Bloggers and Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day Reminder

Have you noticed that we have a few more Hoosier Garden Bloggers this spring? (You do know what a Hoosier is, don't you...someone who comes from or lives in Indiana. Not to be confused with a "hurrying hoosier", the mascot for Indiana University. We Boilermakers do not like to be called that kind of hoosier...)

There's Vonlafin, Gardening With God, who gardens in the Lafayette area and Robin, Robin's Nesting Place who is somewhere around Indianapolis, and Steven, Granny Gruner's Garden, who is also somewhere in the Indianapolis area. We already had Earth Girl blogging at The Good Earth in northeast Indiana and also Girl Gone Gardening up in Portage. And Earth Girl has started a new blog for the Gene Stratton Porter State Historic Site.

Both Robin and Girl Gone Gardening are from other places, so they are trying to figure out some of the tricks of gardening in Indiana, like how do you know when the spring frost free date really is? (I'll tell you in July when the frost free date was this year!)

Any other Hooser garden bloggers out there? Let me know who you are. I'd love to add you to my special list on my side bar of Indiana-based gardeners .

And for all gardening bloggers, wherever you are, don't forget that tomorrow, April 15th, is Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. Finally, something to like about April 15th other than taxes being due! I'll post my entry early, early on April 15th, then when you've posted about what is blooming in your garden, come on over and leave a comment so everyone can find you and come visit your blog.

I'm looking forward to seeing lots of blooms, especially in areas not living through this fifth season, Wring.

Friday, April 13, 2007

I Got the Vase!

Sometimes you have to give up something to get something. And I had to give up quite a lot so I could get the one family heirloom I really wanted, this purple vase.

Yes, I have the purple vase. The origins of this vase? I'm not really sure. My mom's mother had it, but we aren't sure if she had it for long or got it from other family or just where she got it or how old it is. Somehow it just came to be in the family, and I was determined it would be passed along to me.

I know my siblings wanted it only because they knew I wanted it, so my mom held on to it while we bickered and bartered for years over who was to get it.

And finally I got it by giving up an antique clock. Isn't it a pretty vase? Wasn't it worth it?

I have another family keepsake that I'm willing to pass along to all my sisters and brother, without them having to give up anything except a little space in a sunny corner of their house. But so far, only my oldest sister has taken me up on it. It is starts of the Night Blooming Cereus, (Epiphyllum oxipetalum), that came from my aunt's night bloomer that came from my Dad's night bloomer. Can't get much more family than that!

However, I think my siblings are just a little concerned about how big mine has gotten, and that if they take a start of it, theirs will get that big, too. But my aunt's didn't get that big, I tell them, and show them, because I have my aunt's night bloomer as of last summer. She asked me if I would take it because she couldn't handle it any longer. So I took it because you can't throw away a plant like a night bloomer. You just can't.

When I was transporting my aunt's night bloomer to my house, a branch broke off, and rather than toss it, I started six more plants from it. I'm not sure why I started six more night bloomers because I don't have room for more of them. I guess the plant just cast a spell on me or something.

So anyway, my oldest sister finally took one of the starts last week and I now I'm waiting for my other siblings to claim theirs, once they realize that this plant is also a family heirloom!

When my sister took one of these starts, in its cute little 4" pot, she asked when it would bloom. Ummm... not this summer, not next summer. Maybe in 3 years, if she is lucky and figures out the tricks to getting one of these to bloom, but that would be a long shot and that would make me mad if hers bloomed that soon. I've had mine for 20 years and I am just now starting to understand it, and what makes it bloom. It has bloomed 3 times in those 20 years.

Here's my night blooming cereus. Really do you think this is too big for a houseplant?

Because if you take care of it, you get this!

A family heirloom you would not soon forget!