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Saturday, June 30, 2007

Gardener's Muse on Hoeing

by John Updike

I sometimes fear the younger generation
will be deprived of the pleasures of hoeing;
there is no knowing
how many souls have been formed by this
simple exercise.

The dry earth like a great scab breaks,
revealing moist-dark loam --
the pea-root's home,
a fertile wound perpetually healing.

How neatly the great weeds go under!
The blade chops the earth new.
Ignorant the wise boy who
has never rendered thus the world fecunder.

Yesterday morning, I hoed my other vegetable garden, the one loaned to me by my former neighbor. It was cool for the last day of June and the skies were overcast, so I barely broke a sweat.

I was reminded again that there is great satisfaction in hoeing down a row and then turning around to see the results. Weed-free, freshly chopped earth. It really is a simple exercise and one I recommend for any gardener.

As you can see from the picture of the garden above, the beans are coming along nicely since we got some rain. There are lots of flowers, which hopefully means lots of beans. The sweet corn will truly be just "knee high by the fourth of July". I don' t hold out great hope for an ear of corn from this garden, but I'm certainly going to let the corn grow and see what happens.

And every week to ten days, I'll stop by and get out the old hoe that goes with this garden and watch "how neatly the green weeds go under".

To see other posts with garden poetry today, go to Sweet Home and Garden Chicago where Carolyn Gail is hosting Garden Bloggers' Muse Day.

Rock-a-bye Gardener, in the Tree Shade

What does a gardener wish for when she plants a tree? Just a little shade for her hammock so she can while away the day and dream about her garden.

Here's the view from the hammock...

And if you lay in the hammock long enough, the view changes to this...

Some days, the most important task to do in the garden is...


Rock-a-bye gardener in the tree shade
Dream of your garden and long summer days
When you awake, they'll be plenty to do
But until then enjoy the flowers and muse.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Vegetable Garden Tour Today

Thanks in advance for stopping by to see my vegetable garden this evening!

As you walk into the raised bed garden area, you'll see some Coreopsis 'Moonbeam' growing at your feet. I refuse to call it Tickseed because "ticks" and "flowers" shouldn't be in the same thought!

This is going to be my best year ever for grapes.

Someone asked me if I knew how to prune grapes. What do you think after seeing these? Do you think I know how to prune grapes? And yes, those are daylilies down under those grape vines.

I haven't written much about tomatoes because I feel like mine are later than usual this year and I'm not even "in the game" for the earliest tomato contest.
But when I harvest that first red tomato, there will be a big post about it, I promise, because it is an event whether early or late!

My green beans are blooming.
This year the rabbits won't get all the bean plants. I really do think I scared the main bunny away last Sunday with my little trapping episode.

I've got fancy squashes growing, too. This is a variety called 'Cue Ball'.
I think it will be like zucchini, only round. I also have lots of zucchini but I didn't take a picture of it because you all have seen zucchini before. If you want some of my extra zucchini, just let me know.

I did take a picture of the spaghetti squash vines.
There aren't really growing up that tower, they are more growing through it.

And what have we here? The bane of my vegetable garden, purslane.
This weed can ruin your life, if you let it. But I won't let it ruin my life or my garden. I've been weeding it out as I can and throwing it in the trash. DO NOT put this in your compost bin. Any tiny piece can sprout into a new plant, even a one celled piece it seems. Listen to me, I have experience with this weed. I have made the mistake of putting it in the compost bin. And yes, I know it is edible, lots of vitamins, but it is still a weed in my garden and I'm not going to eat it. However, the rabbits may eat as much of it as they want!

If you were here for real, I'd go get some trash bags now so you could help me weed out more purslane, and you'd help me, wouldn't you?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Quest for Sweet Corn - Actions Taken

Is it just me, or do the coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) seem to have a little deeper color this year? I wonder if it is due to the lack of rainfall?

Wait, I wasn't really out in the garden to take pictures of the coneflowers. I was heading back to take some more pictures of my sweet corn and the coneflowers caught my eye. Sometimes I think I have "GADS", garden attention distraction syndrome. I go outside with one gardening task in mind, see something else to do and say "Gads, I gotta get to that big tall weed" or something like that. Then I end up doing about five other tasks before I get to the task of the moment or even remember why I went out to the garden in the first place.


When I got up this morning, I decided that I needed to thin out the sweet corn to increase my chances of getting a few ears of corn from my "tiny by corn standards" patch of sweet corn.

I thought about going out early in the morning, but I was already dressed for work and I knew if I went out then, I'd get all dirty. When someone comes into work with baby spit up on the back of his or her shirt, everyone just smiles and nods knowingly accepting that it is just part of being a new parent. But if a gardener shows up to work with a little dirt on her knees, people wonder what kind of slob she is. There is no recognition that sometimes there are unseen forces that carry you out to the garden at odd times, when you don't have on the proper clothing, and before you know it, the knees of your good slacks are dirty.

So I waited until after work to go out and thin the corn.

I think this will give the remaining corn a better chance of tasseling and forming ears, but still provide enough corn for pollination. But I'll admit my expectations are low. Just two, maybe three good ears is all I ask for. Then I can start boiling some water, run out and harvest my sweet corn, shuck it, throw it in the boiling water, and cook it for just a few minutes, so it is as sweet as possible. I wouldn't want there to be one extra minute for the sugars to turn to starch.

It took some willpower to thin out the corn. How did I do it? First, it was threatening to rain when I got home, and in spite of the lack of rainfall, I had to wish that it wouldn't rain for just a little while long. That was hard! Then I cut the stalks off rather than pull them out so I wouldn't disturb the shallow roots of the remaining stalks. I kept my eyes at the base of the corn and cut back based on stem size and spacing. I didn't concern myself with height. Cut and remove, cut and remove, down through each row.
Now I have enough corn leaves to thatch the roof of a tiki hut, Hoosier style.

But more importantly, I hope I've improved my chances of harvesting a few good ears of sweet corn.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Conquering Sweet Corn

I'm still working on conquering sweet corn. I have two gardens going this summer, as previously noted. The corn above is in the garden at my house. The corn below is in the garden next to where I grew up. There is quite a difference in the two corn plots, which I can explain rather simply...

I have no idea what I am doing with sweet corn.

How's that?

I have excuses. My Dad never planted sweet corn so I didn't have a chance to watch and learn how he planted it. Last year was the first year I tried to grow my own sweet corn even though I've had a vegetable garden of my own for at least 20 years. I don't always think it is necessary to follow the instructions on the seed packet.

I believe the corn at my house is planted too close together. Since it is a small plot of corn, in a 4' x 8' foot raised bed, I spaced the corn a little (a lot) closer than normal. This is in spite of the problems that I had last summer, which the seed company told me were because my sweet corn was planted too close together. I remembered that when I planted this corn, which is a variety called Bon Appetit from Pinetree Garden Seeds, but that didn't stop me.

I don't always listen very well, even when I am talking to myself.

So when I planted sweet corn at the second garden, I planted the corn in groups of 5 or 6 seeds, spaced about a foot apart. The variety there is Illini Super Sweet. It was the variety that the owner of the garden patch had purchased, and I was happy with it because I think it was the sweet corn variety my aunt recommended I try after reading about my sweet corn struggles last summer. But I think I planted this corn too far apart.

I clearly over compensated on the spacing.

The other difference in the two gardens, besides the spacing, is the amount of watering. I did water my raised bed garden during the 'moderate drought' but we did not water the other garden. So the second garden is struggling a bit (a lot). The beans (not pictured) are soaking up the rain and making a good comeback and are ready to bloom. The corn doesn't look so good, as you can plainly see, but it should still be "knee high by the fourth of July" so I am hopeful.

It will also be quite embarrasing if I don't get at least a few good ears of sweet corn this summer out of one of these gardens, and perhaps a bit of a blow to my overall reputation as a gardener, a well-educated gardener at that.

If these were flowers I was trying to grow, I'd enter Kathy's contest at Cold Climate Gardening and try to win a book. But it's sweet corn. It's sweet corn, which really should not be that hard to successfully grow!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Diagnosis Confirmed

After doing some research and reading several blogs, I've confirmed my diagnosis.

I have Hemerocallis defiencii, otherwise known as Daylily Deficiency Disorder.

Symptoms? I do not have enough daylilies in my garden and I have far too many 'Stella D'Oro' daylilies.

I'm posting the evidence here. These are the only four daylilies I have, other than common Tiger Lilies and good ol' Stella and a daylily that isn't even blooming yet and shows no signs of blooming (I bought it at a big box store, it might be 'a dog'.)

This first one, a little blurry because I was in a hurry due to it starting to rain, is 'Pardon Me'.

Then there is 'Siloam Double Classic', my only double daylily, and I just got it last year.

Here's 'Hyperion', a nice clear yellow, but a bit of a yawner compared to some daylilies.

And 'Fairy Tale Pink', which has a few ruffles but not very many compared to other daylilies I've seen pictures of.

Comparing my daylilies to those of garden bloggers like 'Gotta Garden' is like comparing a tin shack (me) to the Taj Mahal (Gotta Garden). If you check out this post of hers and look in the comments, she has offered some excellent advice on how to cure 'Daylily Deficiency Disorder'. It involves getting more daylilies, of all things. I hope it is not too late for me. I plan to start working on the cure this weekend!

Seven Random Things

"Tag, You're It." I've been tagged by Colleen at In The Garden Online to post seven random things about myself and then tag seven others to do the same. I'm a good sport, so I'll list seven random things.

One, as noted before, I am an Indiana Pacers basketball fan, so this Thursday I will be watching the NBA 2007 draft to see who gets drafted by which teams. Since Indiana traded away all their draft picks to acquire various players, none of whom are part of the team any longer, I'll be listening to hear if they announce any blockbuster trades involving the Pacers. Won't that be fun?!

Two, because of the 'moderate drought', I didn't have to mow the lawn for nearly two weeks in the front, and three weeks in the back, meaning I'm at an all time low for number of times I've mowed the lawn this far into the season. This is an obscure thing and only because I keep track of when I mow the lawn, am I able to know this and share it with you. I mowed on Monday night and there were actually cobwebs on the mower when I got it out. No kidding!

Three, I stop at Starbucks nearly every morning on my way to work and get a venti unsweet iced green tea, no water, no ice, and then pour it over ice at work and drink it all day long. When I walk in the barristas don't even ask me what I want. They just serve me my drink. But that certainly does NOT mean I'm addicted to their green tea. I could stop a-n-y-t-i-m-e. I could. Today when I stopped in they mentioned they had new products, which prompted me to ask if there were any I should try, not that I would give up my daily iced green tea. Well, one of the new products is iced white tea, with a nice blueberry bouquet. I tried it. It is pretty good. Drats. Now I have options to consider each morning.

Four, I cut down a small oak tree a few years ago because it was supposed to be a Red Oak but I think it was a Pin Oak and it was always yellow and sickly. Now these little sprouts come up from where I cut it down, reminding me that I cut down a tree. I cut down a tree. Maybe I shouldn't have cut down that tree. But it was under-performing and I wanted to cut it down while it was still small enough for me to manage. When it sprouts like this it creates this miniature dark little forest, where I think some garden fairies might try to live.

Five, I was recently featured in my company's employee newsletter/magazine in a feature on gardeners. I was one of three gardeners featured, and had to have my picture taken by a professional photographer for the article. Since I mentioned that when I'm not gardening, I'm reading about gardening and looking at seed catalogs, they had me bring a book to pose with. I choose "Beautiful in All Seasons - Southern Gardening and Beyond with Elizabeth Lawrence" by Elizabeth Lawrence. The person who wrote the article did enough "googling" to find my blog and the hoe collection but I wouldn't let her mention either in the article because I have to work with the people who will read the article and have them take me seriously in a not-related-to-gardening line of work. Fortunately for me, the newsletter is not on the Internet anywhere, so don't even think about trying to find it!

Six, there are just over six quarters until I reach a milestone birthday. That makes it seem really soon, but it's not. It's a long way off, it's nearly 600 days from now. I'm trying to think of something special to do for that birthday that doesn't scream out "she's having a mid-life crisis!"

Seven, I have trouble tagging others for memes like this, so if you've read through this far, and I've commented on your blog before, consider yourself tagged! Even I haven't commented on your blog, consider yourself tagged and let me know you are going to post seven random things so I can find your blog.

(The budding flower pictured above is Phlox paniculata 'Creme de Menthe', one of my favorite perennials in my garden.)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Finally, Violas

It's time to confess what seedlings we all still have that weren't quite timed properly or never made it to a "grown up pot". I know from posts in January that there are a lot of gardeners, including me, who do a lot with seeds.

I can not be the only one who still has seedlings that haven't been planted in a container or flower bed at the end of June.

First up, I have the violas. Usually, every other year or so, I get the big idea that I'm going to grow pansies and violas from seed, and sow them early enough that they are blooming and ready for containers by mid-March, in Zone 5, just like the ones that show up at that time in the big box stores and local greenhouses.

So far, I've never gotten the timing quite right. My violas from seed are just now blooming and are still in the original flat I sowed them in.

But aren't they pretty? It's Viola cornuta 'Arkwright Ruby'. (Wait, that close up looks like the flower is sticking its tongue out at me! I just noticed that.)

I think I'll pot these up now and see if I can keep them through the hot summer so they can be part of a fall planting. Then I can tell people that is what I planned to do all along.

Then there are the Foerster's hybrid delphinium seedlings all potted up in three inch pots but not quite ready to be planted out with 'the big plants' in the wilds of the perennial bed where I intend to plant them. I left these inside under lights for far too long. I finally set them out a few days ago when it started to cool down a bit. Once I give them a little fertilizer, I think they'll be fine. My plan is to plant these out in early September, which will hopefully give them enough time to establish themselves before they go dormant. And by waiting until then, it will give me a few more months to prep the flower bed for them. Then next summer, will I have some delphiniums in bloom? I hope so!

However, this is my first time to try Delphiniums from seed, so if anyone thinks that my plan is all wrong, let me know now, not when I post about about a tragic loss of Delphiniums in the spring!

What seedlings do you still have? I think there are a lot of gardeners who always have some seedlings or cuttings or other experimental plants scattered about. I keep mine on the patio, where I can keep an eye on them. That's why my patio will never have that "finished" outdoor room look that you see in magazines pictures. I'll always have a few little flats of plastic pots with something or other growing in them tucked in among the container plantings.

In fact, I'm just a little bit suspicious of a gardener who has no seedlings or cuttings that they are still nurturing along in the middle of summer. Really, who gets absolutely everything planted in the spring?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Raining and Rabbits

It's raining again today and it looks like it is going to rain off and on all day long. In the previous 24 hours, my rain gauge measured one inch or so of rain.

So many plants seem happier when it rains. Like the Hydrangea 'Endless Summer'. Before the rain, the flowers were droopy and limp and seemed dull.

Now they are bright and perky and soaking up the rain.

Rain Lilies (Zephyranthes sp.) actually bloom when it is rainy outside. I usually refer to these as Fairy Lilies but today, they are Rain Lilies.

Even though they were watered every day, the lilies didn't bloom when it was so dry out. They waited until this weekend to bloom. I assume it was the rain that caused them to bloom and not Midsummer's Night?

Today, the bird bath fills itself.
Rain is such a miracle after you've been without it for so many weeks. And even though everyone has seen rain and wet gardens before, I decided to go out in the rain with my umbrella and just see what was going on and what I could find.

Look what I found.
A rabbbit in my trap. I put the trap in between rows of green beans several weeks ago, where the bunny was eating constantly. I figured at some point Mr. (or Mrs.) Bunny would go down that row and end up in my trap. And I was right.

After making the rabbit pose for pictures, I picked up the trap to put it in the back of my truck and take the little bunny for a little drive. My plan was to take Mr. Bunny to a nearby park that was across a creek and a few miles from here so he couldn't find his way back.

But when I picked up the trap, the rabbit got all jumpy and wild and ended up pushing open the one end of the trap and escaping! Escaping and running off through my garden, finding shelter under a nearby snow ball bush.

I guess I forgot to flip down the wire "hoops" to further secure the trap doors, and because I was holding the umbrella with one hand, and the trap with the other, as the rabbit moved to one end, the trap flipped downward and gravity and "rabbit super-strength from eating my bean plants" was enough for the rabbit to push open the door and jump to freedom.

So there I stood in the rain, with my empty trap in one hand and an old umbrella in the other, getting wet and watching my catch of the day run off. Was that the little snickers of garden fairies I heard, laughing at my thwarted attempt to catch a rabbit?

Drats! The rabbit wins today's round but the trap has been reset. I'm not giving up yet! I hope the rabbit is telling his family, "You would not believe what I've been through! Stay out of Carol's garden, it is just too dangerous". Or I hope that I re-trap the rabbit, and next time I remember to secure the doors!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Guest Post Today

I was busy most of the day with a garage sale, so my niece Sophie surprised me with a guest post. She's nine and three-quarters years old, and loves to work out in the gardens with her Mom and Dad.

I don't know if she remembers that I once offered to pay her one dollar per paragraph for guest blogs. I'm guessing not since she made her post one big paragraph.

Here's her post:

Do you remember those spiders in our backyard last year? The ones that were so big we were afraid they would carry off our kittens? Well, we were outside transplanting little rose bushes dreaming of our dog pen that we plan to create in our little woods when my mom went off in search of her clippers. She called me over to tell me that she had found a praying mantis on the Alberta Spruces. And then my mom saw something that freaks us out – a two inch long fat spider, along with about 10 sisters, and even worse – there was an egg sack. A big egg sack. An inch in diameter egg sack. My dad had the nerve to say, “Great! Keep them! I love spiders!” Keep in mind each spider can grow to about 3-4 inches. Sometimes that doesn’t even include the legs. What is my dad thinking? Of course, this comes from the same person who loves snakes. My mom and I were so freaked out that we are considering getting rid of the Alberta Spruces. Do you think that will get rid of the spiders? Please vote: 1. Keep spiders and move away. 2. Cut down Alberta Spruces hoping the spiders will go someplace else. 3. Capture the spiders and take them to Aunt Carol’s garden so they will eat her rabbits.

I don't blame Sophie one bit for trying to figure out how to get rid of those big, ugly spiders. But please vote no on moving them all to my house, please! There is another choice, but I suppose they won't hear of it.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Garage Sales and Gardening Tools

The neighborhood garage sale is tomorrow and as one of my sisters pointed out in a comment on another post, that is why we are expecting scattered strong storms and thunderstorms tomorrow morning.

After so many dry hot days, now that there is something going on that we'd really like it to be nice and sunny for, it rains.

But you won't hear me complaining. I'll take the rain any time right now, no matter what it interrupts.

I am participating in the sale with my friend and neighbor from next door. Everything is nearly set up and ready for the bargain hunters.

But do you know what you won't find at my sale? Gardening tools, pots, plants, stuff gardeners would want. I think I have some kind of addiction to gardening as I just can't part with any gardening related items, even if I don't think I will ever use them. Yes, I even keep broken clay pots, because the pieces are useful to put in the bottom of other pots. Does any gardener part with garden-related items at their garage sale?

Consider those three trowels in the picture above. They are from the early days, before I allowed myself to buy hand-forged stainless steel trowels from the Netherlands. I'll never use them. For one thing, they bend easily when you try to dig with them when the ground is hard and rocky. And they aren't all that comfortable to use, I think it is something about the handles and the weight of them.

My heavens, I sound like such a snob with my gardening tools! I'm not really, truly. Okay, maybe just a little bit, but you don't have to have tools like mine to be a great gardener. I just believe that you get a lot more enjoyment out of something if you have good tools to use. There are enough things you can't control in the garden, like weather, and rabbits, and plants, and insect infestations, so why not take control of what you can, with good tools?

You would think I'd sell these trowels in the garage sale for twenty-five cents or something like that. But I probably won't. You know why?

What if someone comes to the garage sale, sees those trowels and thinks, "Hey, why don't I buy those trowels and try gardening for a hobby?" Then they take them home and the first time they try to use them, they bend and it hurts their hands and they decide gardening isn't worth it, and they give up.

I can't have that weighing on my conscience!

So, anyway, no gardening items for sale tomorrow. In fact, after all this rain, I'd actually prefer to spend time in between whatever storms we are fortunate enough to get doing some weeding in the gardening. Because after the half inch or so of rain we got this morning, the weeds are suddenly rejuvenated and growing like, you know, weeds!

And I want to get my tomatoes tied up some more. I did nip off some of the suckers a bit ago and checked for tomatoes. I've got a few coming on, but I am a long way from having a ripe tomato. I think this year, I might have the latest ripe tomato of my record-keeping years of gardening.

I think it's the weather that is slowing down the tomatoes. It couldn't be anything I did or didn't do, right? But rest assured, when I do get my first ripe tomato, you all will hear about it! Because the first tomato is very special, isn't it?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Five Oh Oh

I realized a few days ago that this week I would probably post the 500th post on this blog. Five-Oh-Oh.

And this is it.

I started this blog in 2004 and left six posts from that year. There were a few earlier posts that I thought were pretty lame, so I deleted them. Then in 2005, I posted only twice. In 2006, I started posting again on January 11th, and as they say “didn’t look back”. In the process of blogging I also started a couple of other blogs.

There’s the Hoe Collection blog where I put the hoe pictures and hoe collection, along with some other mostly picture entries from last summer. I don’t update it any more, unless I get a new hoe.

There’s also the Garden Bloggers’ Book Club blog which I started before Blogger added the feature of tags. I thought the separate blog would make it easier to find posts about the book club that I put on May Dreams Gardens. Now tags would serve the same purpose, but it would seem “incomplete” to me to disband the GBBC blog.

Not related to gardening, some of you may have discovered the blog with the posts of my Grandma’s diaries from the 1920’s and the companion picture blog. On that blog I posted the 500th entry yesterday. I only have diaries through 1927, so that blog will have a natural end in another year and a half.

But the May Dreams Gardens blog? I’m not sure where it will go from here or how it will end or if it will end someday. I just keep posting as things happen in the garden or thoughts occur to me about gardening in general.

I’m often asked how long it takes me to write up a post so I’ve been timing it recently and the average is 30 minutes. That’s 30 minutes that I didn’t just veg out and watch TV!

In honor of this 500th blog entry, I’ve come up with five questions to answer about my gardening. If you would like to answer these same questions on your blog, too, please do so!

What are you most proud of about your garden?
I am most proud of the fact that other than the fence and the lawn, I have installed or planted everything in my garden. However, pride goeth before a fall, they say, so at some point, to take my garden further, I’m going to probably have to hire some help.

When you go to sleep at night, what are you worried about in your garden?
I’m worried we won’t get any rain this summer! And that the rabbits will once again eat all of my green beans. See below for a picture of the garden and that darn rabbit who won't leave! He acts as though this is his home and garden!

When others come and see your garden, what do you think they remember most about it?
I think they remember the raised bed vegetable garden. I am an evangelist for raised bed vegetable gardens (see below). It makes it so easy to start planting in the spring and to keep up with weeding throughout the season. And if I show them, they remember all the hoes hanging up in the garage.

What is your favorite gardening tool, the one you would recommend every gardener get?
You all think I am going to list one of my hoes, don’t you? But I can’t really choose a favorite hoe, they are all my favorite! So, I’ll say the tool I think every gardener needs is Felco pruners. And maybe a really good trowel. And a Cape Cod Weeder. And of course, a good hoe.

If you woke up this morning with all the time and money in the world to spend in your garden, what would you do first?
I’d finally plant a nice shrub border along the east side of the back yard by the privacy fence, and also add a nice pond and a garden shed (forget those neighborhood covenants), and then install some nice walking paths to lead you from garden bed to garden bed. That’s what I would do!

How about you, how would you answer these questions?

This rabbit is my enemy. The one above at the top of this post is my new statue for my new miniature garden. This one here was caught, again, in the vegetable garden

This is the garden today, the first day of summer. It's overcast, maybe it will rain!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I Only Got One Mini Hosta!

The American Hosta Society 2007 National Convention is in town this week.

The vendor sales area is open to the general public.

So I went.

Without supervision.

My goal was to get two new miniature hostas for my miniature garden.

I fell short of my goal and only got one miniature hosta, Hosta venusta. It's a species hosta and fairly inexpensive, compared to some of the hostas there.

I've always admired gardeners who focus in on one genus or group of plants, and I found myself in a room full of them earlier this afternoon. As one woman said, they think of the plant world as consisting of hostas and companion plants for hostas. Or something like that.

Do you feel sorry for me, being in a big room full of people selling every size and shape and color of hosta (and companion plants) and only ending up with one miniature hosta?

I have no one to blame but myself. But my excuse is that I got distracted by a few other plants.

These are all the plants I purchased at the sale.

Hosta 'Praying Hands' - It has these skinny upright leaves with just the tiniest bit of a white margin on the leaves. The pot has two "eyes" so I think I can divide it into two plants.

Hosta 'Tea and Crumpets' - It was sitting next to the 'Praying Hands' and I loved the name of it and the little round spoon-like leaves with creamy yellow margins.

Heuchera 'Petite Lime Sherbet' - Such pretty pale leaves, who could resist?

Tricyrtis hirta 'Lightning Strike' - A new toad lily for my new toad. This has such pretty leaves with just a hint of a swirl of green variegation in them.

Aruncus aethusifolius - Dwarf Goatsbeard. I also bought a miniature arbor to put in my miniature garden and the lovely lady selling me all these plants convinced me this would look great on one side of the arbor.

And then, I saw this trough container made of hypertufa.
Who could resist this? I love my miniature garden, but it is mostly in the shade. With my new trough, I can have some sun loving miniature plants! My new gardening best friend, at the booth selling these, was sooooo helpful in assisting me in finding just the right plants to put in this. So I also ended up with...

Spiraea japonica 'Golden Elf' - A little miniature spirea that only gets six inches tall!

Sedum rubrotinctum 'Mini Me' - Won't a little dwarf sedum look great around the edges?

Leptinella squalida "Pratt's Black' - I love the dark reddish color of the little tiny fern like leaves.

Ophiopogon japonicus 'Pygmaeus' - Dwarf Mondo Grass - These almost black leaves will be a great contrast to the light color of the spirea.

And a special little garden statue.

Once I have everything planted and arranged, I'll post about the miniature garden ornaments I purchased, including the little statue, the miniature arbor, a miniature bird bath and a miniature bench. (That's a whole lot of miniature in one sentence!)

Since I only bought one miniature hosta, I'm tempted to go back, but I won't. There are too many other things going on and I don't have the time. My new gardening best friend at the booth with all the miniature plants and garden ornaments will just have to get through the rest of the week without me.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

What To Do With Leftover Flowers... And Send Rain!

We got enough rain today to wash the dust off my umbrella, not nearly enough to catch up from what is being called a "moderate drought".

The only plants not really suffering are those in containers, because I water them every evening. When I water the containers in the back, my little toad seems to show up and I give him a good shower of water, because I want him to be happy and stay and eat bugs. Up around my patio is one of the only places around for him to not dry out like a lizard right now.

Sometimes I wonder why I water the plants in the containers when throughout the garden there are shrubs, perennials, and trees that thirst for a long drink of water.

I've given up on the grass. It is now officially dormant so I won't worry about it until it starts to rain again. They've lifted the voluntary ban today on watering lawns and we are back to the even - odd system. Tomorrow will be an even day, my day to water, so I'll give the vegetable garden a good soaking, and also water some of the trees and maybe set up some soaker hoses around some of the shrubs and perennials.

In the meantime, isn't that a pretty geranium with variegated foliage? I'm too lazy to look at the tag to tell you the variety. It's down there in the pot. It was one of the last plants planted in the containers, and ended up in what I generally call the 'leftover' container with a mis-match of plants that just didn't end up being used any place else. Do you have a 'leftover' container of plants at your house?

See the whole container? If you saw it in person, what would you say to the gardener who put those flowers together? "Hmmm... interesting choices".

You can look all over the Internet at sites that show different combinations for container planting, and I guarantee you won't find that particular combination. It's one of a kind!

Now, back to the subject of rain... today's rain was just a teaser, not enough rain to make a difference.

But there is hope! The weatherman says we might get rain on Friday, maybe Saturday morning. I'll take it, any time. In the meantime, I am going to do all I possibly can do to get it to rain, like get my car washed, leave all my umbrellas at home, put something in the yard that I absolutely, positively do not want to get wet, participate in the neighborhood garage sale on Saturday, stuff like that.

Do you have any other ideas to conjure up rain? We really need some as you can see from the picture below.

Warning... the picture below is pretty sad looking and may cause some gardeners to spontaneously weep... My viburnum cries for rain!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Where Did That Double Flowering Clematis Come From?

I have a new gardening goal. I want to grow clematis that out-grow those that my older sister has around her garden. A few weekends ago, we were all at her house, and my youngest sister and I decided to go out and look around at all the plants and gardens.

After all, that's what we do when we visit one another, we go out and look at each other's gardens and steal ideas, if not actual plants. (Kidding! I never took a plant I didn't ask for first and I am always willing to give my sisters plants when they visit me!). I can't say as how I didn't take an idea or two from their gardens, however.

Anyway, my older sister was too busy with other guests to accompany us on a tour of her garden but she had a moment to holler out "Don't take any pictures to put on your blog that make my garden look bad!"

Honestly. Look at that clematis growing through that picket fence in the picture above. Does that make her garden look bad? Doesn't that look beautiful?

And how about this clematis growing by their front porch?
Look how big that one clematis flower is, and how the yarrow spirea flowers complement the color of the clematis so well.

And this clematis. What a stunner, just loaded with flowers.

I really had seen enough when I asked where she got this double clematis.
Her answer? It wasn't a double clematis when she bought it.

My sister turns single flowering clematis into double flowering clematis! And then she asked "did you see that clematis on the trellis in the front bed?" Yes, I did. "I didn't plant it there, it just came up this spring". And clematis self-sow around the garden for her, too.

Or she is getting so old she can't remember where she plants her clematis and what she buys.

Now is there anything bad about my sister's gardens in this post? See I can be nice, I can be trusted with a camera in someone else's garden. Really, I can!

While I was looking around, I took careful notes on how and where she is growing her clematis so I can try to grow them like that in my garden.

But in case I missed something, does anyone have any hints or tricks to growing clematis that they can share with me?

"You Are In Such Trouble"

My sister called me the other day and I cheerily answered "Hello!" in a sing-songy happy voice. She greeted me with "You are in such trouble!"

Moi? I searched my conscience, it was clear, as usual. I had no idea what I could possibly have done to get in trouble.

"You didn't tell me about this new greenhouse place!"

Uh, yes I did. All spring, my sister asked me where I was buying my plants and all spring I told her about this place. (Court's Yard and Greenhouse, I even mentioned it in a post on March 16.)

It's not my fault she didn't get over there earlier. But now that she's been there, I think she has been back two more times.

"You are going to be sooooooo jealous of what I got there". Really? A week later, I dropped by her house and gardens to see what was going to make me so jealous. She was referring to the edging in the picture above. Yes, that is cute and it looks very nice with the soft grayish color of the Lamb's Ear. Maybe I'll get some for a spot in my garden where I have some Lamb's Ear by my patio?

Then she showed me what they had done with their vegetable garden. I knew about the raised beds, as I'd been telling her to do that for years, and I told her how to do it. But I didn't know they had purchased that wrought iron fencing.

It's primarily there to keep the dogs and kids from running through the garden. They bought it in sections and she said it was easy to install. It does look nice and her vegetable garden is doing quite well.

But she still has the shrubs with the big spiders in them. And seeing those webs, it looks like they are back this summer. So, am I jealous? I'm not telling, but I'm sure not jealous of those spiders!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Where The Zinnias Were Six Feet Tall

Old pictures tell some interesting stories and often remind us of details long forgotten.

My Dad always enjoyed working in his garden, especially the vegetable garden. I have a vision of that garden in my mind, and can tell you how he rowed up his vegetables and what he planted where. And I remember that he always had a row of flowers along the edge of the garden.

But until I found this picture, I did not remember that he once grew a zinnia that was over six feet tall.

That might not be a world record, but that is one tall zinnia. I betcha my Dad's zinnias were taller than your Dad's zinnias!

His secret was in the soil. All the leaves and grass clippings seemed to end up in the garden, enriching the soil year after year. I try to do the same with my gardens. Though I don't bag my lawn clippings, I do have compost bins and put all that rich compost back into my own raised bed vegetable garden every year.

It makes a difference. With good soil in the garden, it is amazing what you can grow.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Home of the Green Towers

Welcome to May Dreams Gardens, home of the purple bench and now home of the twin green towers.

I finished painting my towers this morning and set them up in the garden.

This particular tower will probaby end up with squash vines on it, as I've placed it in a bed with spaghetti squash, which I think will climb up the tower if it is there, or I could let the vines sprawl across the ground. The other tower is at the other end of the garden and I'll plant a late crop of pole beans to climb up it.

Some of you may be asking why I didn't go with a bolder color choice like purple for the towers? I'll tell you why. I picked green because it is my favorite color and I want the plants that grow on these towers to be the show, not the towers themselves.

And for me, the purple bench is quite enough color in the garden. I don't want it to look like a cheap carnival park out there! I want it to be an attractive vegetable garden, a potager, a place to relax.

I also want to have a garden that attracts birds and bees and toads and insects like praying mantis and butterflies (but not tomato hornworms).

It takes awhile, you know, to turn a blank, barren field of a suburban lot into a place that attracts wildlife again. And after ten years, I think my garden is finally getting to be a place for wildlife because I finally have some toads.

At least one toad, and he enjoys the miniature garden most of the time.

Now if I can just figure out a sure-fire way to get rid of rabbits and keep all the other wildlife...

(By the way, if you missed Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day yesterday, you can still join in this weekend by posting what is growing in your garden and adding your comment to yesterday's post here at May Dreams Gardens. All are welcome, the more the merrier, as we compare what is blooming in gardens all over the world.)