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Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Sighting at May Dreams Gardens

It was a dark and stormy night…

It was Halloween night.

As I walked along the garden path, dry leaves crunching beneath my feet, I thought I heard the sounds of someone else walking through the garden. But when I stopped, I heard nothing.

Nearby an owl let out a screech.

I jumped at the sound and glanced quickly over my shoulder. I swear I saw something in the shadows, but I talked myself out of it. “There’s no one here but me,” I told myself.

Then I stood for a minute in the still night and glanced up at the full moon just as a shadow crossed over it.

I shivered and thought about turning back.

But I continued on, still hearing the footsteps, which now seemed more like something hopping.

Hop, hop, hoppity hop.

I stopped.

It stopped.

I started walking again, this time a little faster. Then I heard it again, and it seemed faster, too

Hop, hop, hoppity hop

I could feel my heart beating in my chest… beat, beat, beatity, beat.

For once, I wished I had brought a hoe with me, a hefty hoe, one that I could use to defend myself.

I continued walking and again glanced furtively back to see what might be in the garden with me. At that moment, a shadowy light came out of nowhere and brought it briefly into focus.

I gasp. I might have screamed.

Horror of horrors, and nightmare of all nightmares!

My garden was visited by the gigantic....


Halloween Hare!*

Run for your life!

*****

Posts from Halloweens Past:

'06 - Green Fingers

'07 - You Might Be A Gardening Geek: Halloween Edition

*****

*According to ancient gardening legend, the Halloween Hare hops from garden to garden on Halloween night looking for Easter candy not found in the spring Easter egg hunt. If the Halloween Hare doesn't find any candy, he will create a little havoc in the garden by pulling up plants or turning over containers. Many gardeners, hoping to avoid this mischief and havoc, will leave a few pieces of Halloween candy out in the garden for the Halloween Hare to find. Sightings of the Halloween Hare are rare.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Absolutes of Gardening: Tender Plants

This plant doesn’t look good at all.

I think I should have moved these Red Banana plants, Ensete maurelii, into the garage before morning temperatures dipped below freezing.

But I didn’t and now they look like a big mess of “cell collapse”.

That’s what happens when tropical plants are left out in the cold. In very basic terms, when temperatures go below freezing, ice crystals form in the tiny air spaces between the cells, which draws the water out of the cells. This causes the cell walls to collapse, which is why the plants go all limp like they do.

Or something like that. Don’t quote me! It’s been quite a while since I studied such stuff in another life time.

Fortunately, plants that are hardy here have mechanisms to deal with the cold, by reducing water in the cells, developing their own anti-freeze type chemicals, and who knows what. (Well, plant physiologists know ‘what’ and did you know they have their own website? )

Seeing these banana plants, I am reminded again of an absolute of gardening. You would think by now I would have figured out most of these absolutes of gardening, but I have to be reminded of them sometimes.

This absolute of gardening is that tropical plants left out in the cold will turn to mush if temperatures drop below freezing.

I hope another “absolute of gardening” is that if these plants are placed in a cool location that stays above freezing all winter, and they are kept relatively dry, they will come back from the roots in the spring once they get a little water and temperatures stay above freezing.

Because that’s what I intend to do with these Red Bananas. And it isn’t going to be easy. The two banana plants are in big clay pots that on their own weigh a lot. When you add the dirt and the plant, it is on the brink of what I can lift and move.

I will also put the rain lilies, Zephyranthes sp., in the garage, leaving them in their containers.

Here they are blooming in warmer days.


I’ve overwintered these for years, for as long as I’ve had rain lilies, and they always start sprouting again in the spring once I bring them out and add water. Every once in a while, I’ll pull the bulbs out of the containers when they are good and dormant and give some away.

(Just watch, one of more of my sisters is going to leave a comment now saying they want some rain lilies.)

That’s all I plan to try to overwinter in my garage this year.
What plants are you planning to try to overwinter?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Frosted Impatiens

I am pretty sure that those gardeners who garden in climates where there is no killing frost, no forced dormancy, no real end to a gardening season, secretly envy those of us who have gardens that die back and go dormant for several winter months.

Why would they be envious of us?

Because in the winter, we northern gardeners get a rest!

I don’t know about others, but I usually just let the garden sleep through the winter and go about doing some non-gardening things like reading gardening books, studying seed catalogs and thinking about what to do in the garden in the spring, the spring of my perfect garden.

(What? Those aren’t non-gardening activities? I’m not getting my hands dirty or using pruners or a hoe when I do them, so they can’t be gardening activities. Therefore, they must be non-gardening activities, right?)

I have time to do all of those non-gardening activities because I don’t have to water, plant, harvest, deadhead, or mow. I just do what I can in the garden in the fall until it’s too cold and dark to do any more and then let the garden fend for itself until spring.

Some northern gardeners put on a good show of whining and lamenting about the end of the growing season. They do it every year, in person, on blogs, through pictures. They’ve mastered it with whines like…

“The killing frost has finished off my vegetable garden.”

“I miss the smell of dirt.”

“I would love to have some flowers bloom.”

And my personal favorite…

“Blowing snow off the drive is a poor substitute for mowing.”

In spite of this well-practiced routine of whining, which I’ll admit to occasionally participating in at times, I’m on good terms with the killing frost. It starts the process of wiping the ‘slate of the garden’ clean for me in the fall so I can start fresh, and renewed, in the spring.

I’m so good with the killing frost that I have chosen to express it in an artistic way. By moving the camera when I took the picture above, I created abstract art.

I call it “Frosted Impatiens”.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Remembering Other Frosty Days at May Dreams Gardens

Today we had a killing frost.

A year ago today, we had a killing frost.

What are the chances of having a killing frost like that on the same day, two years in a row?

I don’t know, as I don’t have the math knowledge to cipher like that, but I suppose you would have to know the range of probable killing frost dates for Indianapolis, and then figure out the likelihood of all the combinations of dates you could have between two years, and then we would know ‘what are the chances’?

But it wouldn’t matter one bit, as we know the killing frost is going to happen, and usually it is going to happen around October 20th, give or take. I suppose this year and last year it was “take”. Or “give”. I don’t know. I guess we just got an extra week this season.

But let’s move on…

A year ago on this date, I wrote a post about what I did in the garden that day. It was about getting started with fall clean up, piling all the plant debris up high in the compost bins, and making some decisions as I went about the garden doing clean up. Goodness, I had a productive day a year ago.

I hope to have a similar day this Saturday. I need to have a similar day this Saturday.

Two years ago on this date, I wrote about the differences between varieties of flowering pear trees.

I don’t have a flowering pear tree, Pyrus calleryana, but my neighbors on each side each have one in their front yards. I should change that to” had”. My one neighbor’s pear tree that always leaned and always turned red first in the fall, fell over in a big storm a month or so ago, so it is no more.

That pear tree just fell over. Literally. It wasn’t uprooted. It just snapped off at ground level and fell over. And it was a pretty good sized tree. Did I mention it just fell over?

We should all remember that this tree just fell over, as it wasn’t the only flowering pear tree in the neighborhood that fell over in that storm, a windy remnant of Hurricane Ike.

We should also remember that when we buy trees and shrubs, we should look to get a named variety because then we are more likely to get a good one. But always do your research before you buy, because having a named variety isn’t a guarantee of a good tree or shrub.

(As evidence that not all named varities are good, I present that 'dog' of a forsythia I had, Forsythia x intermedia 'Arnold Dwarf'. Fancy hybrid, indeed! It was a big disappointment of an impulse purchase.)

Considering flowering pear trees in general, there really are better ornamental flowering trees.

*****

So why am I going back through old posts?

In preparation for an upcoming blogging milestone, I’m looking back through old posts from the past two plus years to see what I’ve written and pick out a few of my personal favorites.

If you are a regular reader of my blog or even a newer reader, I'd be interested in knowing if you have a favorite post or two here at May Dreams Gardens. If it isn’t too presumptive or pretentious to ask, which ones are they? You can leave me a comment or send me an email.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Other Colors Revealed

Botanists tell us that the fall leaf colors, those yellows, oranges, and reds, are in the leaves from the beginning but are masked by the green of chlorophyll for the duration of the growing season.

But as the days get shorter and colder, the plant makes less chlorophyll allowing the other colors to shine through.

It seems in my own garden that it has only been in the past few days that we’ve started to see those other colors.

There are the yellows of Amsonia tabernaemonta, Blue Dogbane
This is a perennial that dies down to the ground in the fall once it provides a nice spot of yellow in the perennial border.

There are the oranges, pinks, and more of Viburnum carlesii, Korean Spice Viburnum.
If you want a good, smaller Viburnum, this is the one to get.

And there are the reds of the Acer rubrum, Red Maple.
This is either ‘October Glory’ or maybe ‘Autumn Blaze’. I have another one that is either ‘Autumn Blaze’ or ‘October Glory’. I call them both ‘Autumn Blaze or October Glory’, all one name, because I forgot which one I planted in the front and which one in the back.

(I might have planted them in ‘alphabetical order’ front to back, making this one ‘October Glory’. But I’d never admit to doing something like that to keep track of which tree is which variety. Really, I do not recommend planting in alphabetical order unless you are running a nursery, and then it might make sense.)

We see other things in our gardens in the fall besides what colors were hidden underneath all that chlorophyll.

We see the true form of the trees and the branching that was hidden beneath the leaves.

As we cut back perennials and remove spent annuals, we see again the structure of the garden. We notice the size of the flower beds, the curves of the paths, the empty spaces.

We see potential and opportunities in open spaces and cleaned up flower beds.

Seeing all this bare garden in the fall gives us an opportunity to take a good, long look at the state of it all, and think about what we want to change. Then we have all winter to figure out what that change should be.

(Visit more posts about fall color by going to the Garden Blogger Fall Leaf Project hosted by The Home Garden)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Answer is Roses!

I have a problem in my garden and I think that roses are the answer.

This may surprise some people who know me and my garden because currently I have only two roses.

One is this white rose, a Flower Carpet® rose that is planted in a bed in the front, but not in any place where it stands out.

In fact, for much of the summer, this white rose is crowded out by Potentilla fruticosa 'McKay's White' next to it and the silvery foliage of Snow-in-Summer, Cerastium tomentosum, growing up and over it and all around it. The rose doesn’t get all that tall, maybe a foot or so. (Hey, I bet that’s why they call it a “carpet” rose!)

My other rose is a passalong rose that’s in the back somewhere. “Nothing to write home about” so far, since I left it in a pot for two years and just planted it out earlier this summer. We’ll check on it later.

The problem that I think I can solve with roses is that the front flower bed with the Potentilla, Snow-in-summer, and some scraggly Geraniums, looks terrible!

And it is right in the front of the house, which faces south and gets sun all day long.

Why do I think the answer to this problem is roses?

Because I helped my neighbor get two roses to put in front of her house last fall and right now, one of them looks like this.
Now, wouldn’t a nice row of those roses, or some that are a little less pink, be better along the front of the house than those ratty Potentilla shrubs?

Why didn’t I think of roses earlier?

There are a lot of good roses available now, like the one my neighbor has, that don’t need regular spraying to stay looking nice. I’m going to do my research this winter and be ready this spring to buy some of those types of roses to plant in front in place of the Potentilla.

Yes, I’m convinced that roses are the answer, and though I’m probably never going to be an all-out rosarian, I’m going to finally embrace roses in my garden… for a happier life, or maybe a better looking flower bed.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Stories About the Garden and the Gardener

Remember that time I caught a rabbit in a trap, but the trap door wasn’t secured?

I took pictures of the rabbit, while standing there in the pouring rain, and then when I picked up the trap… Bam! That rabbit shot out of there like a champagne cork on New Year’s Eve and ran off faster than a moonshiner with Andy and Barney in pursuit, leaving me standing there with an umbrella in one hand and an empty trap in the other, wondering what had just happened.

Or how about that time I found that mysterious plant growing in my compost bin? That was an exciting day in my garden and on my blog, just like the day I found out about the Indian burial ground on my property.

Then there was that time last fall when I tore down and rebuilt a small retaining wall for everyone’s amusement who walked by that day. The neighbors are also amused in the fall when I get out my electric drill, arm it with a spade bit and use it to plant crocus corms in my lawn. Some of the neighbors, I’m sure, think I’m hand aerating the lawn.

There are other stories I’ve told on myself, probably enough to be put me on a watch list for possible “eccentric gardener”, and to confirm that I am a gardening geek.

There were the tales from the rabbit wars and the triumphs with green beans and peas. And there was that day when I was crazy busy with indoor plants, lost my mind for a minute and posted a picture of myself (which is mysteriously gone now).

Oh, let’s not forget the ritual of the first tomato, it goes along with all those other vegetable tales.

Indeed, I’ve posted a few stories, maybe even a tall tale or two, on my blog, and I’ve enjoyed reading stories on other gardeners’ blogs about what they are doing in their gardens, too.

As it turns out, of the 100 people who took my garden blogging survey, a whopping 90% like to read “stories about what other gardeners are doing”. So if you ever wonder what to post on your blog, tell a story!

What else are these 100 people looking for on garden blogs?

28% are looking for basic gardening information.
44% are looking for advanced gardening information.
90% like to read stories about what other gardeners are doing.
23% want to read about products used in gardening. (oh, like hoes?)
17% are interested in book reviews. (that helps to explain the drop off in interest in the GBBC perhaps?)

And then there are 19% who are interested in other topics like…

Landscape ideas, plant ideas”

“What’s blooming”
(the 15th must be their favorite day of the month)

“Local, national, and global movements for the promotion of the home kitchen garden”,

“Humor - nothing better than coming away from a blog with a smile! and what about "some gardening information" because I can't decide between basic (do I know it already?) and advanced (sounds too serious)”

“All of the above. It's the style or 'voice' that matters most to me.”

“Gardening as an intellectual pursuit...thoughts, views, history, concepts that expand the mind on gardening..”

“Ideas from other gardeners. Plus what's happening all over the gardening world at that time of year.”

“Information about how things are done in different parts of the world. And, some feel for the kind of person the gardener is.”

“The why of gardening, not the how”

What are you looking for on gardening blogs?

*->*->*->*->*->*->

For anyone interested, I updated the OLOGBA, the Official List of Garden Blogger's Acronyms that have cropped up in garden blogging, if you'd like to keep it handy for reference or add it to your sidebar. I'll continue to update it as I find or commission new acronyms.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Porch Chat: How to Tend Your Imaginary Garden

It’s a little bit chilly this evening, but with a jacket, a hat, and some gloves, it’s pleasant enough to sit on the porch and enjoy the crispness in the air.

These crisp fall days are numbered. Rain is expected to arrive later tonight and temperatures will be dropping steadily through the weekend. We’ll probably have a killing frost by Monday morning here at May Dreams Gardens.

Then it’s officially over for this season.

What then? What do we do after we’ve cleaned up the garden?

We start thinking about and tending our imaginary gardens, of course.

Imaginary gardens? Oh, yes, there are eight people who took the recent garden blogging survey who said that their favorite kind of gardening is “imaginary”.

If that’s the only kind of gardening they do, that’s a little worrisome. But if it’s just one of many types of gardening they do, then they are in good company, because don’t we all tend an imaginary garden, based on the kind of garden we hope to have someday?

For example, I have an herb garden I’d like to have someday that's just imaginary right now.

It’s a wonderful garden full of interesting herbs, brick-lined paths, and just enough sunlight for the herbs to grow, under the dappled shade of nearby trees. The trees are mostly fruit trees, but there is never any rotten fruit on the ground. You can just reach up anytime, grab a perfect piece of fruit off a perfect tree and eat it right there in the garden. There’s also a bench or two tucked in here and there that invite you to sit a spell and take in the scents and watch the bees amongst the flowers.

And I imagine what my current garden would be like if it was weed free and had a bit more shade in general, preferably dabbled shade. While I’m imagining it, I need more roses and lots of Delphiniums, too.

There are some clear differences in tending an imaginary garden versus a real garden. For example, with imaginary gardens, you miss out on some of the good things about real gardening, like getting dirty and sweaty, using gardening tools like pruners and hoes, occasionally getting stung, and ending the day exhausted.

But it’s nice to sometimes sit up on the porch and tend your imaginary garden, too.

How do you tend an imaginary garden? I don’t know how you tend your imaginary garden, but here’s what I do.

Read gardening magazines. I mostly buy gardening magazines for the pictures. I know the gardens are staged and full of impractical suggestions, and some include plants that wouldn’t grow in my climate, but they are still good sources of ideas for my imaginary garden, and my real garden, too.

Read gardening books. I like gardening books written by gardeners like Henry Mitchell and Elizabeth Lawrence, especially, but I don’t limit myself in any way, it seems, when it comes to buying gardening books.

Look at every garden you pass by and note what attracts you to it or what repels you and makes you want to run the other way, as the case may be. Well, you don’t have to look at literally every garden, but you’ll notice most of them anyway, because you’re a gardener. Believe me, non-gardeners don’t seem to notice gardens and plants like gardeners do. I’ve asked them if they do, and they don’t.

Read gardening blogs. Of course! There are lots of good gardening blogs with lots of good ideas for your own garden, imaginary or not!

Read seed and plant catalogs. You can find out about all kinds of new and interesting plants by reading through catalogs from good seed companies and nurseries.

Think about other things. Yes, sometimes you should think about something other than gardening, if you can, and let the imaginary garden go. Give the gardening half of your brain a rest. Before you know it, though, you’ll end up thinking of something new for your imaginary garden, maybe your real garden, too.

I'm very much in favor of allowing yourself the time to tend your imaginary garden, but don’t forget to tend the real one, too. Because believe me, you can hide the weeds in your imaginary garden; you can’t hide them in your real garden.

Here are the rest of the survey results for the question “My favorite kind of gardening is”…

57% - Flowers
6% - Indoor plants (What? Oh, wait, I did say “favorite”…)
31% - Vegetables
8% - Imaginary
25% - Landscapes
15% - Other

The most common comments for “Other” included herbs and native plants, but two respondents wrote in “vignettes’.

(The reason the survey results don't add up to 100% is because people were allowed to pick more than one favorite kind of gardening, because it's hard to choose sometimes, isn’t it?)

Goodness, I’ve done all the talking tonight and just went on and on! I’ll let you talk now. What does your favorite imaginary garden look like?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Embrace Fall Clean-Up for A Happier Life

There are some gardeners who claim that they do little to no fall clean-up. They make it sound quite virtuous to let nature do its thing through fall and winter.

They want us to believe that once the first leaf falls from a tree, they put up their hoes, put up their feet, and watch the season change.

That’s not what I do! I do fall clean-up. Yes, I do! I’ll admit it.

I embrace fall clean-up for a happier life.

I’m not terribly neat about it. I don’t end up with a clean-swept garden, with every perennial cut back to precisely three inches and every leaf picked up and contained in the compost bins. I like to call what I do “preparing the garden” so that in the spring, I don’t have a lot of clean up to do before I start planting again.

Even if you don’t believe in fall clean-up, there are some things you should do in the fall to avoid problems in the spring.

- Prune out diseased plants and throw them away (away-away, not into the compost bins)

- Prune out any dead wood. (Do that any time.)

- Weed. Embrace weeding in a big way and don’t give those weed a chance to live through the winter.

- Put away garden furniture, containers, and ornaments. They’ll last longer if they don’t get a bunch of ice and snow all over them.

- Rake up leaves that form thick mats if left alone, like maples, for example.

- Continue to water newly planted trees, shrubs, and perennials until it’s good and cold out.

- Start an exercise program, if you consider “gardening” your exercise, so that you won’t get all out of shape in the winter and then aren’t able to garden in the spring.

The other gardening activity that is good to do in the fall is planting. Trees and shrubs do quite well when planted in the fall. And of course, we all know that spring flowering bulbs are planted in the fall.

It takes a bit of discipline to keep gardening in the fall, when the days are shorter and its colder out, and dog-gone it you are just plain tired of this year’s garden.

You might even be waiting for a frost, like I was, to signal that it is time to start clean-up in earnest. (It was a great excuse for awhile...)

Just remember, as you are waiting, what Henry Mitchell wrote:

“… but fall--not spring—is the great planting season for woody things. If, in other words, you had thought of lolling in the warm weekends admiring the chrysanthemums and the dogwoods turning red, congratulating yourself perhaps that the weeds are losing heart, let me cheerfully remind you that you should be exhausted (not lolling) since this is the busiest of all the garden seasons. When you are not planting bulbs, digging up bindweed roots, rooting out pokeweed, soaking bamboo, there are still other tasks. Thousands of them. You are terribly behind. The very idea of just sitting about in the sun!” Henry Mitchell

Now, who has been lolling about when they should have been out and about in the garden in this very busy season?

I’ll admit I was, but I am back at it now. The vegetable garden bed above looked like this just a few days ago.
Now it is all nice and neat with just three volunteer petunias still growing in it.

I left the petunias because we haven’t had a killing frost yet, so they are still blooming. It’s hard to pull out flowers that are still blooming, isn’t it? (Please validate that I am not the only one who leaves annual flowers in the ground or in the containers as long as they are still blooming?)

I’ve got a lot more to do to get the garden ready for winter, but I’m embracing the fall clean-up and doing it a little at a time. Before I know it, I’ll be all ready for winter again.

Well, the garden will be ready for winter, but I’m not sure I’m ready for the cold and snow just yet.

*****

Update:

My delphinium is still alive.
If we don’t have a killing frost this week, maybe it will bloom. Or is it already too cold and those buds are going to stay just like that? Time will tell...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Warning: This Post is About Hoes!

Is hoeing becoming a lost skill amongst gardeners? A dying art? A forgotten trade?

In my most recent survey of readers who visit this blog, it turns out that out of 100 respondents, only 13 have more than three hoes, and that includes me. (I’m not sure how many hoes I have, but I know it is more then three.)

14 gardeners have three hoes, 18 have two hoes, and 35 have one hoe.

An astounding 17 people who responded to the survey have no hoe at all!

But many had comments, including…

“It’s a borrowed hoe.” Borrowed? From who (or is it whom?) I never loan out my hoes and no one will let me borrow a hoe, for fear it won’t be returned. Let me go on record stating that I have never stolen a hoe, so I have no idea where anyone would get the idea that if I borrowed one, I wouldn't return it.

“Well, some of them are not technically mine. I'm assuming that anything in the shed counts.” Well, if it is a hoe it counts. But why would a gardener have someone else’s hoes in his/her shed?

“Two really old ones from when this house belonged to my father-in-law, but, I have not used them. Blasphemous I know! I actually prefer to get down on my knees with a small hand tool.” No comment. It is kind of blasphemous to leave a couple of old hoes unused in the shed. Oh, wait, I have several old hoes that I don’t use anymore, either, so maybe it is okay.

“I mean...I thought pimping was illegal in the US?” Everyone’s a comedian these days! I guess the comment “tee hee” should go along with this one. For the record, I’m writing about gardening tools here, fellow bloggers and gentle readers, and nothing else. I’m sorry you had to read that.

“None, and it's a good thing this is anonymous!” I can only guess who left this comment, but really, I don’t judge a gardener by their hoes. Really, I don’t.

“I *use* one, but I don't actually own it... I rent an apartment and I found a hoe in the basement and just helped myself.” Another borrowed hoe! But I guess hoeing with a borrowed hoe is better than not hoeing at all.

“Honestly, for the size of my yard I have not needed one yet. Again, maybe next summer I will aspire to hoe-ownership!” Clearly, this is a smart person who understands that owning and using hoes, in the garden, is a good thing, something to aspire to.

“If you count hand hoes. I had to run outside (in the moonlight) to count, though, so I'm not a hoe ho.” Does this mean this gardener left their hand hoes outside instead of safely inside in a shed? Oh, I think I know who left this comment! And what exactly is a hoe ho?

So what conclusions can we draw from this survey question?

If you were a hoe maker, would you have hope for the future of the hoe industry? Will hoe collecting ever become “the next big thing” like collecting Beanie Babies or Hummel figurines?

Is hoeing a forgotten skill amongst gardeners? Will their be a resurgence of hoeing as more gardeners take up vegetable gardening? Will more gardeners grow vegetables?

Like most surveys, this one gives us much to think about and actually raises more questions!

******

Thanks to all who participated in the survey. It’s closed now due to having 100 respondents, the most I can have with the free version of the tool I used. Watch for future posts on the responses to the other four questions. Some of the information may actually be useful…

In the meantime, feel free to use this hoe information as you feel fit, as long as you link back to this post as the source of this Important Hoe Research!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Hurry Up! No, Wait, Slow Down...

Winters going to happen again, summer is over, so let's just move things along, shall we. Let there be a killing frost.

Then it can warm up again for a few days, but not get too warm, while I clean up the garden, empty out the containers, and put all the garden doo-dads away for the winter.

You see, I need that first frost to trigger something inside me to start serious garden clean up. Without it, I seem to be able to pretend winter isn't going to happen, again, and there is plenty of time before the snow flies. I putter around in the fall garden but don't seem to make much progress.

But there isn't much time left. Times a-wasting, let's get going. Bring on the frost!

I know it might mean the end of this foxglove, with a nice new bloom that I didn't notice for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day last week. If I had noticed it, I would have made a big fuss over it, and perhaps featured it as the "lead" flower instead of tomato blossoms. Maybe it just started blooming?

But this is no time to be sentimental about a bloom! If we have to sacrifice this bloom to the first frost, so be it. Let's just move this end of the season along. Chop chop, hurry up!

Notice that I left an earlier bloom stalk on the foxglove, hoping seeds will mature and fall to the ground to germinate somewhere in the garden. I am also hoping that I'll have the good sense not to mistake the foxglove seedlings for honest-to-goodness weeds and pull them in the spring.

Really, I was ready for the end of the season, and then I saw this.

It's one of the Delphiniums that I started from seed this spring and it's sending up a bloom stalk, getting ready to bloom.

It's not a towering gigantic Delphinium but Delphiniums have alluded me for so long, I'll welcome any bloom from one.

Yes, this Delphinium bloom changes everything.

Why hurry up this end of the season? What's the big rush?

Let's just slow this whole change of seasons down a bit, shall we? Let the first frost wait until this Delphinium has bloomed, or at least bloomed enough that I can cut it and bring it inside to enjoy.
Is that too much to ask?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Benefits of Not Weeding

One of the benefits of not weeding is seeing volunteer petunia seedlings blooming amongst the dried up corn stalks on a beautiful October day.

These petunias are almost exactly the color of the original Wave™ Petunias, giving me a clue as to where they might have come from.

I spotted them yesterday afternoon, as I stood on the edge of the vegetable garden thinking about how someone needs to get busy with cleaning it up.

At the risk of shattering any image that anyone might have about me having neat and tidy raised garden beds at all times, here is what the corn patch looks like now.
You may now resume thinking of me as having a neat and tidy garden, even with this evidence to the contrary. After all, does evidence really matter much these days? I say it's neat, so it must be neat.

These petunias do make a compelling case for not being too rambunctious about weeding, don't they?This is a pink version. (As you can clearly see, so I don't know why I wrote that. I guess it is in case you are viewing this post on a black and white only monitor.)

And here's the light pink version.(See note above about black & white monitors.)

That's mostly henbit growing around it with what looks like a thistle trying to hide nearby. I see you, thistle, your days are numbered.

Some newer gardeners might be confused at this point as to how not weeding can be a good thing, because I have in the past encouraged everyone to embrace weeding for a happier life.

For the most part, weeding is a good thing. Had I kept on top of my weeding I wouldn't be facing this monster weed in that same raised bed with the petunias and dried up corn stalks.I'm going to need some tools to get this out. Maybe a hoe, maybe a shovel, and I definitely will be wearing some heavy gloves. I might even have to take a big swig of iced green tea before I dig into it.

The trick to weeding is to recognize some of the "good" self sowers in the garden and let them be if you like the spot they chose, or move them if you don't. Or weed them out if you have too many, because too many of some plants can also be a bad thing in the garden.

It is nice to know that if you like a plant, you have options.

In my garden, I'm still deciding on spiderwort, Tradescantia sp. It's a good thing on a fall day when it is blooming like this one.It's a bad thing when it is coming up all over in the spring where I don't want it to grow. (Image added to replace the bad images above of weeds, so you leave this post thinking about pretty flowers, not gruesome weeds.)

I guess that's the real secret to weeding. If it is a plant growing where you don't want it to be, embrace weeding or at least transplanting, so you have the garden you want to have.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Petunias: A Case Study

There was a time when I had written off petunias. They seemed to be such a bother.

To keep them blooming, you had to deadhead them all the time. And they were so sticky, it wasn't like you could just idly walk by them, reach down and deadhead a few with a quick pinch and then continue on to whatever else you were going to do. Once you deadheaded a few, your hands would be all sticky until you washed them.

And double-petunias? It seemed like every time it rained they ended up looking like little wads of crepe paper, and not in an attracive way.

But then one spring day back in 1995, like many gardeners, I discovered the purple Wave™ petunias. We were all ga-ga over them, even though they came in only one color, purple. They never needed to be deadheaded! They just grew and grew and grew, and flowered and flowered and flowered.

We called ahead to garden centers and nurseries to see who had them. We paid a premium price for them, as we gently extracted a few plants from a flat. Remember how they would be all tangled up in those flats because of how they grew? Oh, wait, they still do that, but now they sell them in those six packs, and while they still get all tangled up, they are at least all your plants that are tangled up together.

To me it seemed like the Wave™ saved the Petunias from near extinction, at least in my garden.

I'm not saying I'm planting them all over the place or that I've joined their fan club. I'm just saying I generally buy a few Wave™ petunias to plant here and there and in a container or two every year.

Now I find out that in addition to regular Wave™, there are now Shock Wave™, Double Wave™, Easy Wave™, and Tidal Wave™ petunias. And they have their own website. And we all know they come in many more colors than that original purple

Suddenly, I'm getting all excited about petunias for next spring. The few I planted this year, four plants to be precise, or was it six plants, isn't going to be enough. I'm going to need a lot more!

Now, what other annuals could use a "wave" like boost?

How about Ageratums? I've always wanted them for their blue flowers, but they just seemed to do nothing and then dry up in my garden.

Or maybe Stocks, Matthiola incana? I'd love to have better performing stocks, wouldn't we all? And the flowers are supposed to be very fragrant, but I've not had much luck with them.

It's a good thing this season is starting to wind down, as suddenly, I feel like doing a whole bunch of research into a lot of flowers that I've never had much luck with, to see if there are some new varities I should be trying.

Yes, I'm already thinking about next year, when I'll have my best garden yet.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Maligned Mums

A family member recently sent me an email note with a couple of gardening questions.

She attached some pictures of her porch and noted that "even though you don't like mums, I think they make my porch more inviting".

Uh-oh. Did I say I didn't like mums? Actually, what I think I said was that I was kind of bored with mums (Chrysanthemums) and so I don't go out and buy big pots of them in the fall as much as I used to.

I'm quite tempted to do so, though, whenever I visit a garden center in the fall and see all those rows and rows of mums.

Here's the porch without mums.

Yes, that is a bit plain.

Here's the porch with the mums.I think the mums do make this a more inviting porch, don't you?

Honestly, I really don't mind mums and I'd like to apologize to the mum growers if I maligned mums or inadvertently said anything that caused anyone I know to hestitate to buy any mums.

I have some mums myself, as shown on my bloom day post yesterday. I bought them six or seven years ago from someone at work who's daughter was selling them for a school fundraiser. (Whenever someone's kid is selling anything plant related, they seem to come right to me... why is that?)

As soon as I got them, I planted them in a little spot by the front door and left them alone.

Now they just come up each year and sort of fill in their little spot. I don't eagerly await their bloom, like I do some flowers I have, but I also don't try to rip them out and hope they don't bloom.

They are just there, adding a spot of color in the fall.

I would like to officially go on record as saying that I don't mind mums, they are a nice flower to add a kick of color in the fall. It's perfectly acceptable to buy a few containers of them to set about for a spot of color and quite understandable why people do that.

However, if you want to have them come back year after year, here's what works for me...

Get them out of those pots and in the ground as soon as possible. In fact, you don't have to wait until fall to buy mums. If you can find them in the spring, you should buy them then and plant them out. If you do plant them out in the fall, be sure to keep them well watered, like you would any other recently planted flower.

Don't cut the foliage back in the fall after they are done blooming. Leave them alone for the winter and then cut them back in early spring when you start to see a little green at the base of the plant.

Give them a little extra mulch after the ground freezes to keep them from heaving up out of the ground. That's usually what kills mums around here. They get "unplanted" as the ground goes through freezing and thawing cycles and then they dry out and die.

As we do with other late flowering perennials like asters, cut them back once in early summer to encourage more lateral branching and more flower bud formation. In my garden, I do this around Memorial Day.

If you also like mums but think they are a bit too common and overused, you can try to use their new name, Dendranthema. Impress your friends by telling them about these 'new flowers' you found that come in all different colors... yellow, pink, purple, lavendar, and red and everything in between except blue. You can tell them that they are relatively disease free and don't require a lot of attention.

People will then think you've got some fancy new flowers and they'll want to get some, too, because some people are like that. They have to have anything new.

As for me, I'm going to keep calling them mums, but I'm going to be more careful about what I say about them. Let the record show that I think they are a perfectly good fall flowering perennial with the added versatility of being a good container plant as well! Long live the mums!

******

Bloom Day Update: Thank you to everyone who posted for bloom day! I haven't been around to visit all of the blogs, yet, but I will do so in the next couple of days. It's nice to see so many blooms in the fall!

Survey Update: I'll post results from my completely unscientific, just for fun, survey in the next few days. If you haven't completed the survey, feel free to add your two cents in!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - October 2008

Our gardens may seem the same from year to year, but they never really are.

There are always a few surprises.

My biggest surprise for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day this October 15th is that I still have a bright, green healthy tomato plant with new blooms on it.

A month ago, this tomato plant, like most of the vegetable garden, seemed destined for an early visit to the compost bin, after a very dry August and September.

Instead, it is showing me what a little bit of rain followed by a few warm days will do to perk up a plant, and a gardener.

But, alas, it isn't going to last. After near record high temperatures this past weekend, by Friday our high temperature will be 57 F. I'm sure a frost is in the near future, too.

Elsewhere in the garden, there are some mums still blooming.

These will still be blooming in November, and will join some pansies that I planted in September as the last bits of color in the garden as we head into the winter.

The asters started a big show just a week or so after the last bloom day in September.They are a little beyond peak now but are still attracting quite a few bees.

Back out in the vegetable garden, the nasturtiums also made a comeback after some recent rain.I like how they add some late fall color to the otherwise dreary vegetable garden so I'll plant these again next year. Plus, look how pretty that variegated foliage is. I love variegated foliage.

And here's the last "new" bloom in my garden, the toad lilies, Tricyrtis hirta.The toad lilies aren't particularly showy, but I like freckled flowers and plant names like "toad lily", so I'll always try to have some in my fall garden.

The rest of the garden is spotted with some straggly, leftover flowers... a rose or two from my one rose shrub, a few blooms on some Potentilla, some coneflowers, a confused daylily, to mention a few.

It's not the absolute end of the garden for this year, but it is getting pretty close. I'm going to try to nurture a few of the flowers along, so that perhaps what Elizabeth Lawrence said, “We can have flowers nearly every month of the year”, can be true at May Dreams Gardens, too.

*****

What's blooming in your garden in October? Join us for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day by posting on your blog about the blooms in your garden on the 15th of the month, then leave a comment here so we can find your blog and stop by for a virtual visit in your garden. All are welcome to participate!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Another Quarterly Report from MDG

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., October 14, 2008 – In the interest of full disclosure, management is once again providing this quarterly report on the operational activities and overall production outlook for May Dreams Gardens (GSE-MDG).

This report covers the time period from July 1, 2008 through September 30, 2008. The previous report covered the time period from April 1, 2008 through June 30, 2008, and may be cross-referenced to this one for a clearer assessment overall.

In the area of mowing, as of the end of September 2008, the lawn had been mowed 36 times which was fewer times than anticipated, thus resulting in a conservation of energy on the part of the gardener and a reduction in fuel costs compared to predictions. However, as there was very little rain in August and September the reduced fuel costs were offset by an increase in water costs, due to supplemental watering.

Production activities in the vegetable garden continued but with an overall decrease in production due to the lack of rain. Tomato production was down compared to previous years and the first tomato arrived much later than anticipated, yet still a record was set for the World's Ugliest Tomato.

It was noted that in the third quarter, a new video division of May Dreams Gardens was spun off, with mixed results.

In the area of expense and income, it was noted that the 3rd quarter is traditionally a time of revenue in the form of fresh vegetables as all the raw materials in the form of seeds, soil, and plants begin to bear fruit and indeed, the increased production did offset the expenses, as anticipated. However, it is noted that accounting procedures are quite lax at May Dreams Gardens and this financial analysis is based on sheer conjecture on the part of the head gardener, who, truth be told, does not like to track expenses spent on the garden.

It was also noted that overall flowering was good through most of the quarter, as noted in various Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day posts for July, August, and September. A particular highlight was the blooming of the night-blooming cereus in July.

The October report to be filed for Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day on October 15th will show some new flowers, but future bloom posts for the quarter may be more colorful if leaves are considerd as blooms for those months.

Management and staff were noted to be more absent from the garden during the dry, hot days of August and September, which resulted in the lack of completion of some necessary gardening tasks such as mulching. And weeding. However, with a concentrated effort in the 4th quarter and an embrace of hard work, it is presumed that the garden can get squared away before winter arrives in December.

As in the past quarter, all of management and staff are encouraged to continue to look for opportunities to learn more and bring this knowledge back to the garden, while at the same time completing the plant catalog of the garden and the gardener’s life list to provide focus, as time permits.

Analysts believe there should be windows of opportunity (WOO) to complete these activities, but are not optimistic about planned garden expansion.

However, analysts are optimistic that May Dreams Gardens, the blog, will reach a particular milestone within the quarter and management is encouraged to allow for a brief celebration of this event when it occurs.

(The forward-looking statements included in this release are made only as of the date of this release, and we undertake no obligation to update any of them to reflect subsequent events or circumstances.)

How’s your garden doing?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Questions, And You Have the Answers

Where else, but in a garden, can one find the answers to the questions that need to be answered?

I've been asking myself a question for several days now.

It's a question that could have significant implications for my garden.

I was afraid if I didn't answer it soon, all would be lost. My years of preparing the soil, planting trees, shrubs, flowers, and vegetables would be lost.

But this evening, before the last light of the day slipped below the horizon, I found the answer to my question.

I also came up with five questions for YOU to answer and put them in an easy to complete survey.

The survey is completely anonymous, and has nothing to do with politics, economics, gas prices, stock markets or anything else. It's all about gardening and garden blogs.

Follow this link to weigh in and have your opinion count.

Then go out and plan your post for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. It's coming up in just two days, on the 15th. You remembered that, didn't you?

Was there anything else I wanted to post about ?

Oh, yes, that question I've been asking!

Ready...

Here it is...

Where does one start weeding when your garden is full of weeds?

The answer....

Anywhere.

Columbus Day... Our Thoughts Turn To Gardening

It’s Columbus Day in the United States and our thoughts turn to gardening, as they always do.

In many ways, today is kind of a “discovers’ holiday”, celebrating not just Christopher Columbus, but all those brave men and women who, like Columbus, left the known and sought out the unknown. They discovered new lands, new people, new animals, and for us gardeners… new plants!

What would our gardens be like if there had not been such great explorers, botanists and others willing to leave home and travel to far off lands to find new plants? Look around your garden and think about how many plants you wouldn’t be growing right now if they had all decided to just stay home.

For most of us, it’s quite a few plants.

In my own garden…

Lilacs? All the lilacs in my garden, like the one pictured above, are probably from Asia, yet we identify closely with them as the quintessential spring flowering shrub in USDA hardiness zones 6 and colder.

Tulips? I think they came from Turkey and surrounding areas.

Peonies? Even the peony, our state flower here in Indiana, originally came from Asia.

The other reason our thoughts turn to gardening on Columbus Day is because it is a well-timed day to have off from work if you are a gardener.

In my garden, if I had the day off, and I don’t, I’d be doing fall clean up or maybe planting a tree.

In more southern gardens, I assume those gardeners with the day off would continue to enjoy their ‘second season’ of gardening by planting seeds and flowers that will continue to grow for several more months.

Whatever you are doing, working or gardening, I hope you take a minute and think about all those explorers, including Columbus, who made it possible for you to be gardening with the wide range of plants available to us today.

Yes, it's Columbus Day, and our thoughts turn to gardening, as they always do.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

LAPCPADPOUB

There were just enough posts in my feed reader this morning with the acronym LAPCPADPOUB to make me curious enough to find out what it meant, even though I’ve heard that curiosity killed the cat.

But I took my chances.

Like a cat who catches a whiff of catmint and won’t be satisfied until he founds the actual plant, I followed a trail of links to trace this acronym back to Happy Mouffetard of The Inelegant Gardener blog from across the big pond over in England.

LACPADPOUB stands for ‘'Lets all post cat photos and dire poetry on our blogs’, and today, October 12th, is the day they chose for this great blogging event.

This seemed right up my alley since I like acronyms, having listed many of the more commonly used ones on my blog the other day.

But I did have to embrace and overcome three obstacles do this post.

1) I don’t have a cat,

2) I’m not a very good poet, and

3) I might risk offending cat lovers or embarrassing my family by writing about the cats in my neighborhood, none of which comes running up to me to be petted, but all of which seem to find my garden a nice place to prowl around at night and leave deposits for me even though none of them should be outside roaming around because we have a city ordinance that says they shouldn’t be allowed to roam freely, but that doesn’t seem to stop them or their owners.

But obstacles are put in our way to be overcome! Finally, I have an excuse to post a cat picture and write bad poetry. It’s a two for one.

The picture above is of the neighbor’s cat.

I’ve caught him in my garden more than once, and I’ve chased him away, more than once. I’ve, oops, accidentally watered a shrub he was laying under, only to have him come running out like he was shot from a cannon. Yes, honest, the first time that happened, I didn’t know he was under that shrub.

Really, everyone who loves cats, I am doing this cat a big, potentially life-saving favor when I chase him out of my garden and back toward his own yard.

You see, his owners had him de-clawed, all four paws, so he can not defend himself if/when he runs into trouble. And he does run into trouble in the wilds of my neighborhood. In fact, the owners told me that earlier this summer he got in a big fight with something, and they had to take him to the vet to get stitched up.

I haven’t seen the cat in a while, which hopefully means his owners have finally figured out that a de-clawed cat is a house cat, not a yard cat, and definitely not a cat that should be roaming about the neighborhood.

Now, to complete this cat meme, here’s the poem to go with the picture...

There once was a cat without claws,
Who came to my garden to pause,
I chased him away,
But he came back the next day,
Oh, that made me mad when he thought my garden was his litter box, so mad that I can’t even figure out how to finish this limerick.


And that concludes my contribution to LAPCPADPOUB.

*****

(Don’t forget to leave a comment on yesterday’s post before 9:00 PM EST today, October 12th, to enter into the drawing to win a free pair of garden shoes)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Win A Free Pair of Daily Garden Shoes

This weekend, I'm happy to be hosting a random drawing for one lucky commenter to win a brand new pair of Daily Garden Shoes from Muck Boots.

If you are one of those readers who doesn't read beyond the first paragraph, I'll post the rules right up front before I go and on about my my love for my own Muck brand shoes.

To enter, please leave a comment by 9:00 PM EST on Sunday, October 12, that ties back to your blog, or if you don't have a blog, leave a comment with a valid email address. I need a way to contact you if you win! Anyone may enter, but enter only once, and shipping is free in the U.S. only.

Sometime after 9:00 PM EST on Sunday, October 12, I'll use a random number generator to generate a random number between one and however many comments there are, and then count down through the comments to that number to find the winner.

Geez, I've made that sound kind of complicated, and it isn't. Just comment to enter.

Anyway, let me tell you about my muck shoes. I don't have the actual Daily Garden Shoes, I have a pair of the Muskster Pet Lovers Muck Shoes. The irony of this is that I have a lot of garden, but no pets.


But I bought them at a garden center, and they assured me that I would love them to wear in the garden, and I do. They are comfortable to walk in all day long, and they keep my feet dry. And they are sturdy enough to use for most shoveling. I wear them for all kinds of activities, including mowing in slightly damp grass.

About the only thing I wouldn't wear them for is when I am using a roto-tiller. When I do that, I usually wear a pair of hiking boots, the kind with the red laces, that I bought when I was in college in the late 1970's. Everyone wore them back then. You just had to have a pair to be cool! Who knew that all these years later, I'd still have them and they would be in the garage patiently waiting for those rare times when I actually use the roto-tiller.

But I am digressing. Feet are an important tool for gardening. If your feet aren't dry and comfortable, it is hard to do much in the garden. Just ask Kathy from Cold Climate Gardening and she'll agree, if your feet hurt, you aren't going to be able to do much gardening.

Gardening? Oh, yes, that's what I'm going to do today, so if you'll excuse me now, I'm going out to put on my own Muck shoes and head out to the garden.

Before you go out to your garden, be sure and leave a comment to enter the drawing before 9:00 PM on Sunday, October 12. Good luck, and happy gardening!

*****

Update Sunday Evening...

Congrats to commenter #8, Vertie, who has just won a pair of Daily Garden Shoes!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Embrace Seeds For A Happier Life

It seems that everyone wants to push the seasons.

I haven’t even raked the first fallen leaf and already the mailman has delivered the first seed catalog of the season. It’s from the same company that sent the first seed catalog in past years, at least according to my garden journal.

(Well sure I write down in my garden journal when I get my first seed catalog each year. Don’t you? I don’t record when all of the catalogs arrive, there are too many for that, but I generally note when I get the first one.

It’s always from Thompson & Morgan and generally arrives in October. They are certainly a hopeful seed company. They send a catalog to me faithfully every year, even though I haven’t ordered any seeds from them in at least five or six years. In fact, I’ll probably get five or six more catalogs from them between now and March.)

I have a whole process for dealing with seed catalogs and seeds, but I don’t really start that process until after the first of the year. For now, I just let the seed catalogs pile up in a corner and keep my attention focused on the beauty of fall in the garden and the upcoming holidays, and try to enjoy it all, one event at a time.

Then after the first of the year, I open the seed catalogs and let the dreaming begin.

I wouldn’t even think of gardening without seeds, but I’ve heard rumors that there are some actual gardeners who don’t “do seeds”.

At first, I didn’t believe it.

But as I’ve written and posted about seeds, I’ve gotten a few comments and emails from some of these “seedless gardeners”, so I know they exist. They have their reasons, and I suppose those reasons make sense to them. I just don’t quite understand them and their “don’t” or “can’t” attitude about seeds.

There’s very little about gardening, including seeds, that I won’t try at least once, as long as it is legal, but that’s a subject for another post. For now, I’ll just try not to be a haughtyculturist about this whole seedy business.

But I will say embrace seeds for a happier life.

Why?

Buying seeds is often the only way to get many varieties of vegetables and some flowers.

Sowing seeds can be a more economical way to grow some plants, especially easy to grow annuals, vegetables, etc.

Sowing seeds is often the best way to ensure success with many flowers and vegetables and other plants that don’t transplant well.

Sowing a tiny little seed, maybe one that is no bigger than a gnat’s eye, and watching it grow is a very rewarding experience.

Embrace seeds for a happier life.

*****

Other embraces:

Embrace weeding
Embrace bugs
Embrace your weather
Embrace your soil
Embrace mowing
Embrace botanical names
Embrace never finished
Embrace garden journals
Embrace hard work
Embrace plants
Embrace the GADS
Embrace the end of the growing season

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

An OLOGBA for the Society

Dear Esteemed and Potential Members of the Society for the Preservation and Propagation of Old-Time Gardening Wisdom, Lore, and Superstition (SPPOTGWLS or “the Society”),

I, your self-appointed society president, have taken it upon myself to compile a list of all acronyms currently or formerly in use in the garden blogging world (GBW) to aid all new, current, former and future garden bloggers and readers of garden blogs in the understanding of same as they apply to garden blogs.

Without further ado and discussion the following are presented for the membership to consider. There will not be a quiz.

AGB – Austin Garden Bloggers. Far and away the largest congregation of garden bloggers is within and around the city of Austin, Texas, so they shall be referred to as AGB’s

BIRDS - Bird Information and Reference Deficiency Syndrome. The general condition of not knowing very much about the birds that visit your garden.

BTS - Black Thumb Syndrome. According to Kate from Gardening Without Skills, there are some people whot are afflicated with this. No matter how hard they try not to, they kill green things. They've been trying to get the AMA to recognize it as real for years so they can go through their health insurance for therapy. It's quite sad really.


CCG – Cold Climate Gardening. One of the pioneers of garden blogging, Kathy Purdy named her blog Cold Climate Gardening because she gardens in a cold climate, USDA Hardiness Zone 4. She has already reported frost this year.

CGB – Chicago Garden Bloggers. Though not as numerous as AGB’s, the CGB’s have graciously volunteered to host the next GBSF the weekend of May 29 – 31, 2009 in the windy city, Chicago, Illinois. Please, oh please does the event include a visit to the CBG?

DIPT - Did I Plant This. First coined by Beckie from Dragon Fly Corner, this is nother syndrome some gardeners seem to suffer from which causes them to forget what they planted, and thus they are often happily surprised when a pretty flower shows up in their garden that they didn't remember planting.

EGG - Egregious Garden Gloating. Identifed by Eliz. from Gardening While Intoxicated, this is when one gardener gloats in the presence of other gardeners about his or her better weather, plants, flowers, climate, soil, etc. An EGG violation is scored from one to ten, with ten being reserved for the most egregious violations. This is very similar to EGT, Egregious Garden Taunting.

GAD$ - Garden Attention Distraction Syndrome, Shopping Version. An affliction that causes gardeners to buy plants and other garden supplies at random, often resulting in spending more money than was originally planned to be spent.

GADS – Garden Attention Distraction Syndrome. An affliction that most, if not all, gardeners suffer from, the primary symptom being the inability to focus on one garden task until it is done. Instead the gardener moves from task to task, as they are distracted by one plant and then another, like bumblebees flitting from flower to flower.

GBBC – Garden Bloggers Book Club. This is a now-defunct book club formed to promote garden bloggers reading and posting about a garden book selection every two months.

GBBD – Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day. GBBD occurs on the 15th of every month when garden bloggers post pictures and lists on their garden blogs of what is blooming in their gardens on that day and then leave a comment on the GBBD host blog, MDG, so we can find them and pay a virtual visit to see what they have in bloom.

GBSF – Garden Bloggers’ Spring Fling. A meet-up of garden bloggers from near and far that occurs in the spring. The first GBSF was hosted by several AGB’s in Austin, Texas in April 2009. A grand time was had by all. The second annual GBSF will be in Chicago the weekend of May 29 – 31, 2009.

GR - Garden Rant. One of the few garden blogs with an actual manifesto, they are 'uprooting the gardening world' one post at a time.

GRTH - Gardener's Reduced Time with Horticulture. One of the side affects of not spending enough time gardening is an overall increased in the gardener's own girth.

GVAD – Garden Visit Anxiety Disorder. First coined by Dee of Red Dirt Ramblings, GVAD is what a gardener suffers from when they are preparing their garden for a visit from a SOGI

GWI - Gardening While Intoxicated. The place to find out about gardening in Buffalo, NY, where EAL swears there is not snow on the ground nine months out of the year. If there was snow on the ground all the time, that would be a good reason to garden while intoxicated.

HHSBP - Horticultural Hypochondriac Syndrome by Proxy. Mr. McGregor's Daughter suffers from this, the constant worry that something is wrong with your plants.

IGT - Iced green tea. This is the beverage of choice for discriminating garden bloggers! Starbucks brand is preferred.

LAPCPADPOUB - Lets all post cat photos and dire poetry on our blogs. A one time event created by Happy Mouffetard of The Inelegant Gardener.

MCOK - My Corner of Katy. A very interesting cottage style garden in Houston, Texas, this also refers to the Cindy, the gardener there.

MDG – May Dreams Gardens. That’s my garden, also used to denote my blog of the same name.
MSS – M Sinclair Stevens. Also one of the pioneers of gardening blogging, this blogger’s blog is Zanthan Gardens, and she is one of the AGB’s.

MSSGB - Moist Society of Southern Garden Bloggers. According to Compost in my Shoe, humidity breeds more than a slight aroma. I guess that means these gardeners need to stick together.

OGS - Obsessed Gardener Syndrome. Closely related to HHSBP, the primary symptom appears to be constant worry about your garden.

OLOGBA - Official List of Garden Bloggers Acronyms. That's this list that you are reading right now.

PLANTS – Pleasing, listed, achievable, nature-friendly, time bound, specific. A way to ‘plant’ goals for your garden.

RDR - Red Dirt Ramblings. The wonderful musings about gardening by Dee, who gardens in Oklahoma.

SGAFO - Society of Gardeners Age Fifty and Over. Enough said.

SLOP – Straight Line Obsessive Planting. This is a disorder that some gardeners, especially those who grew up planting vegetables, suffer from which causes them to instinctively plant nearly everything in a straight line. This creates a disaster when the SLOP affected gardener attempts to plant tulips bulbs. At least one garden blogger refers to this as Always Neat And Lined-Up.

SOGI – Someone of Garden Importance. Dee of Red Dirt Ramblings suffers from GVAD when a SOGI is coming to visit. We all do!

SPPOTGWLS – Society for the Preservation and Propagation of Old-Time Gardening Wisdom, Lore, and Superstition. A society for all garden bloggers, the only requirement for membership is to occasionally leave a comment to indicate “present”.

WOO – Window of Opportunity. A gardening WOO is the perfect amount of time for a gardener to actually work in their garden without interruption and feel like they got something done.

WUT – World’s Ugliest Tomato. And yes, I did grow the world’s ugliest tomato this year! Some bloggers may have attempted to compete, but in the end the WUT in my garden prevailed as the one and only WUT.

If any members know of any acronyms that have been inadvertently left off this list, please raise your hand and reply with comment so the missing acryonym can be added to this list, which will hereby be known as the OLOGBA (Official List Of Garden Bloggers Acronyms).

Submitted by,
Your Self-Appointed Society President,

Carol, MDG

Monday, October 06, 2008

Gardener Seeking Perfect Mulch

Experienced gardener seeks the right mulch for a long-term relationship. Loves mulches that are environmentally responsible, willing to stay put, and do their part in suppressing weeds, retaining moisture, and breaking down slowly. Must love plants and gardening and not break the bank. I’m not moving and neither are you, so must be locally available. Prefer bags for easier handling but truckloads, let’s talk! No rocks or rubberized ‘mulches’, please.

I’ll be the first to admit that after years, decades, of gardening, I’m still searching for the perfect mulch. Does it exist? Around here, mulch options include cypress, cedar, hardwood, and pine bark, along with cocoa bean hulls, mushroom compost, cheap wood chips and any leaves or compost you can get from your own garden.

I have a history of trying most of them, so you would think by now I would have settled down with one or two of them. But I haven’t. I still feel like I’m playing the field, trying to find the perfect one.

My history of mulch relationships is probably similar to many other gardeners.

For a long time, I used cypress mulch around the landscaping. I was not ever all that pleased with it, but it was readily available and often on sale. Then I found out that the cypress mulch wasn’t a forestry byproduct like I thought it was. It seems that they actually chop down cypress trees to make the mulch. Once I found that out, I broke up with cypress mulch.

Last summer, I tried a mulch called ‘hardwood fines’. It seemed ideal. The byproduct of Indiana’s own hardwood industry, it didn’t have to travel far to get to my garden. It didn’t cost a fortune. But it was a bum! It had a tendency of ‘sheeting’. ‘Sheeting’ is what happens when the finer particles get wet. They act like a glue, locking all the particles together in a big sheet. Those sheets can keep moisture from reaching some plants, and I can imagine that in the heat of summer, they heated the soil up pretty good, too.

It was a happy day when I got my first bag of cocoa bean hulls, many years ago. Such a rich color, such a chocolate-y aroma. Oh, the love. Even when it molded a bit, I forgave it. It was easy to stir it up a bit and get rid of the mold, which is harmless. Even when it blew around a bit and floated in the rain, I raked it back into the flower beds and forgave it. I used it mostly around my perennials and on container plantings. Even though it is expensive, I still love it. Unless I can find something else, I’ll go back to using it around perennials, even at the inflated price of $6 per bag.

But I can be cheap, too, and that’s why I use inexpensive wood chips, called ‘Playsoft’, for the paths throughout my vegetable garden, with good results. It’s easy to walk on, and did I mention it’s cheap?

Oh, I wish my garden produced enough leaves and compost to use to mulch everywhere, but it doesn’t. Maybe someday. What it does produce I usually put on the raised beds in the vegetable garden.

So this weekend, desperate to add mulch around the trees and shrubs in the front, I turned to “premium pine park mulch”. I think I like it. It isn’t those big chunks of pine park, it’s more finely chopped up, and the color is good, at least for now. We’ll see. Hopefully it will keep its color for awhile and stay put with the first heavy rain. If it does, I may be interested in a more long term relationship.

Really, I hope it works because I’m almost out of options, other than groundcovers, on what’s available around here.

We’ll see what mulches answer my ad. Feel free to speak for them in the comments…