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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Gardening Universe Provides Me With A Fork Hoe!

The gardening universe seems to always provide me with just the right hoe for whatever it is I’m going to do in my garden next.

And what I was going to do, and did, in my garden next, yesterday evening, was use my new Fork Hoe from easydigging.com to scrape back the four to five inches of mulch covering the planting bed so that I could transplant a large Helleborus and several clumps of Hosta that the “patio guys” had very nicely dug up for me.

This new hoe, which is made by Chillington in England, is my first hoe from England, I think. I have hoes made in various places in the United States, Poland, the Netherlands, China and who knows where else. But I’ve never had one made in England until now. I was long overdue for a hoe from the England, the center of the gardening universe!

This particular hoe, which has a tag on it that says “Chillington Crocodile” is perfect for scraping back mulch because it does have three tines to it. Somehow that seems to make it easier to get up under the mulch to move it aside. I’ve used hoes that are just straight across for this and sometimes find it difficult to get up under the mulch with the hoe to actually move it and instead end up sort of skimming the top of the mulch.

With this Fork Hoe, when I do want to smooth out the mulch, I don’t have to reach for another hoe, I just turn it so that I’m using the side of the tine and it works great for pushing the mulch back in place after planting.

I also used it to work up to the dirt in an area that had gotten a little compacted and a bit weedy (how does that happen) and it worked quite well to create a nice planting bed for whatever I decide to plant in that area.

This hoe has some weight to it, so it can be used for a bit of “grubbing”, too, if there happen to be tree roots, rocks or other obstacles to be pulled out of a garden border or bed.

It’s a keeper, and I am pleased to recommend it as another great tool for gardening.

Thank you to the gardening universe and of course, the people at easydigging.com for sending me this new Fork Hoe to try out. It’s a great addition not only to my hoe collection, but also to my “active hoes”, the ones I actually use for gardening.

For another review of this type of Fork Hoe, check out Essential Tools for Working the Soil on the Fine Gardening website.

Hairy Alumroot

I have several "Hairy Alumroot" plants in my garden. But I like to call them "Heuchera" as in "Hew-ker-ah" because Hairy Alumroot sounds like, well, who names a plant after its root characteristics anyway, if that is even how it got its name?

So I go with Hew-ker-ah, because of the genus name Heuchera.

This is Heuchera villosa 'Caramel', one of several new Hairy Alumroot Heucheras growing in my garden.

Some day, I'll post pictures of all of them - 'Autumn Bride', 'Mocha', 'Citronella'.

Heuchera villosa is a native plant and someone or someone(s) are doing a great job of breeding new colors into it.

'Caramel' is my favorite.

(I also like chocolate covered caramels, but that has nothing to do with why I like this plant. It's all about the leaf colors on this one!)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Betting on Betony

I have two varieties of betony, Stachys officinalis, in my garden. There is 'Hummelo', which has finished blooming now, or pretty much so.

Then there is 'Nana', growing in a little miniature garden setting.


Ancient herbalist thought betony was "effective against sorcery". I've never heard of anyone looking for something "effective against sorcery". Later it was planted in churchyards to prevent the activity of ghosts.

Suddenly, it feels safer to go out into the garden at night, now that I have betony, Stachys officinalis, two kinds, growing in my garden. I fear not those ghosts or anyone who might try to practice sorcery out there.

Plus, modern herbalist prescribe betony to cure anxiety. This is such an easy plant to grow, that I bet just growing it would cure some "horto anxiety" in the garden.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Dear Friends and Gardeners: June 28, 2010

Dear Dee and Mary Ann and Gardening Friends Everywhere,

The report from my garden this week is rather brief.

Plants grew in between all the rain we had last week.

I have lost count of how many days it has rained. Maybe it would be easier to count sunny days? The weatherman said after last night’s rain, this is now the third wettest June in Indianapolis since they started to keep records.

Between the rain, work, and other responsibilities of the past week, I had very little time to spend in the garden. What time I did have was mostly spent just watching it grow, deadheading daylilies and pulling obvious weeds. Obvious as in, “my, that weed is tall”.

Yesterday I drove to southern Indiana for the annual family reunion and got to see my uncle’s vegetable garden. His garden is one zone south of me but always seems a month ahead of mine. I’ve never seen squash leaves so big or tomatoes quite that tall. Plus he has already picked somegreen beans and okra.

I quizzed him for his secrets and he said he did till in a load of well rotted horse manure earlier in the spring. Plus, for some of his tomatoes, he dug big holes and mixed in more horse manure. Part of the garden was still wet, so he didn’t do it for all of them. As you can see in this picture, it seems to have made a difference.
The tomato plants on the left didn’t get the full manure treatment. They are still big tomato plants, but not quite as big as the ones on the right which did get extra horse manure. He said he normally picks his first tomato around July 4th but this year he has already picked a few ‘Early Girl’ tomatoes.

His other secret was when it got hot earlier than usual in the spring, he went ahead and planted squash. Everyone said he’d get frosted out, but he figured that squash seeds are cheap enough that he’d take a chance. He said he plants by the weather, and not necessarily by the calendar. I’m more of a calendar planter, in that I wait for a certain date to pass, and then verify the weather. Hmmm… I might re-think that for next spring because seed is fairly cheap.

Anyway, I have never seen squash plants with leaves as big as his.
And down under those leaves are several summer squash just waiting to be picked.



*****

Elsewhere in the garden...

Today, weather permitting, a crew will be here to start installation of the new patio. They should be done in five to six days. Then on Thursday, I’m meeting with the garden designer to talk about plantings in the back yard and than it will be the 4th of July weekend.

How fast the summer seems to go, once it gets started. I’ve already been hearing the cicadas sing their "summer is ending" song - at least I equate their sounds with the end of summer and the start of school. They’ll get louder as the days go by…

But enough talk about the end of summer. I haven’t even picked my first tomato! We have many summer days to enjoy, including most of this week which should be dry and pleasant in central Indiana. I hope to spend many quiet evenings in the garden between now and next Monday.

Carpe hortus!

Carol

P.S. The picture above is my best bet so far for the first tomato in my garden, a variety called ‘Pink Ponderosa’. Below is how the garden looks this morning…
Hope to hear soon how everyone else's gardens are doing as June ends and July begins.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

New Page: Five Secrets To Achieving Happiness In Your Garden

Blog posts are sometimes like the blooms of a flower, here today, gone tomorrow, replaced by another post.   Perhaps the blog post is remembered, or perhaps it is best forgotten, almost a weed.

As I approach another milestone in blogging... post number one thousand five hundred, expected to be posted sometime before the end of July, I've decided to copy a few of my favorite posts, or series of posts, into the new static pages offered by Blogger.

A few weeks ago, I made a static page for my hoe collection

Today, I've added a second one to feature my Five Secrets to Achieving Happiness in Your Garden, along with the details of how I learned these secrets.

Next up will be the obligatory "About Me" page. I think I've got some explaining to do regarding my therapist Dr. Hortfreud, Hortense Hoelove (just who is she?), the Society, SGAFO, GADS, etc.  And maybe some of it will be true!  If you have any questions you'd like me to answer in "About Me", please let me know. 

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the Five Secrets to Achieving Happiness in Your Garden.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Morning In The Garden


Morning in the garden...

The light is softer.

The air is cooler.

The garden smells different.

It looks diferent.

It is filled with sounds and blooms that you don't hear or see later in the day.

It is my favorite time in the garden.

Everything is fresh, everything is possible, in the morning, in the garden.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wildflower Wednesday: Monarda

Monarda ‘Petite Delight’ has a few things to get off her petals. Management at May Dreams Gardens is not responsible for nor necessarily agrees with the statements and opinions of this plant.

“Hello… is this keyboard working? It is? Okay. Well now, we, Monarda ‘Petite Delight’, have just a few things to say.

First of all, we were totally, unjustly and without second thought passed over for Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day and now we are being featured on this meme called Wildflower Wednesday, sponsored by Gail at Clay and Limestone.

Do we look like wildflowers? Don’t answer that, we look all messed up right now because we’ve been blooming for weeks and all this rain has really done a number on our petals. Well, that is sort of right. Okay, we admit it. Our petals look this way rain or shine!

Anyway, we are too often associated with our wildflower cousins, that Monarda, also known as bee balm, the ones that spread all over the garden and self-sow, too. Really, they are just wild beyond belief and more than once I’ve seen management here at May Dreams Gardens yank them out by their roots and toss them onto the compost heap.

Shudder!

Anyway, we aren’t that wild. We are a fancy hybrid, after all, though we aren’t quite sure of our parentage. But never mind that. We are good flowers, even selected as an outstanding perennial by the Chicago Botanic Garden! We stay tidy and neat and we don’t get tall like our wild cousins.

Plus, we rarely get powdery mildew.

Second of all, who can we complain to about being planted way out here in the vegetable garden? We got moved here this spring. Hello?! We are perennials.  We are not vegetables! We will admit that our wild cousins were often used for medicinal purposes, and we are proud of them for that, but we…

Oh my sweet pea! Blooming radishes! What in the name of chicory and dandelions happened to our original flower bed?
And where did the patio go? My goodness. Never mind. We take back our complaint. We are fine back here with the vegetables. That other area has gone to… well wildflowers, if you want to stretch your imagination and call those weeds by the fancy name “wildflowers”. I sure hope management has a plan for that area. Thank goodness we are back here safe and sound in the vegetable garden!

We are sorry to have shown you that mess. Really, truly, sorry. We recommend that you visit Clay and Limestone just as soon as possible to see pretty wildflowers and check out all the other posts for Wildflower Wednesday. It should help you rid that horrifying image of our former flower bed and patio from your mind. Tell ‘em Monarda ‘Petite Delight’ sent you!”

Management at May Dreams Gardens would like to assure Monarda ‘Petite Delight’ and everyone else that there is a plan for the patio area… a new, bigger patio.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Porch Chat: Five Pictures From My Garden

This evening was a good evening for a porch chat, once I sprayed myself with some mosquito repellant (all herbal) and walked around the garden for a bit, tending to one thing and then another in a more or less random, mindless manner.

I call it Slow GADS, when you wander around doing not much of anything but still doing a few things, like deadheading daylilies, suckering and tying up tomatoes, watering containers that are up on the porch and didn't get three inches of rain dumped on them last night, and taking a few pictures.

Here are five pictures I took before I sat on the porch to think and reflect a bit...

This tiny tomato already promises to be something special, almost freakish.
It's the variety 'Reisetomate'. It looks like it will be perfect for some kind of tomato growing contest this summer.

This is what a Japanese beetle looks like right before it dies. It was found quilty of causing all that leaf damage and so was sentenced to death.
Death by squishing. Don't ask. But yes, they have returned to torment us gardeners, right on schedule.

This zinnia bud looks like it should pop open any time now.
Any guesses as to the color it will be? I assure you it will not be red, orange, or yellow. That leaves purple, lilac, white, green, and pink.

Is it my imagination or do these two little round 'One Ball' squash look like they are wearing pointy hats and talking to one another?
"Who do you think she'll pick first?"
"Do you think she'll pick us in time or let us get oversized first?".
"I hope I end up in a zucchini pie."
"Not me, I want to be sliced up and sauted a bit."

And so on...

Finally, 'Hyperion' daylilies are blooming at the entrance to the vegetable garden.
According to the American Hemerocallis Society, this variety was introduced in 1924. I can imagine it growing in my grandmother's garden. After all these years, it is still a lovely daylily and somehow managed not to cheapen itself like 'Stella D'Oro' did.

Plus it smells nice, too.

And that's five pictures from my garden. Thanks for stopping by for a porch chat!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Dear Friends and Gardeners: June 21, 2010

Dear Dee and Mary Ann and Gardening Friends Everywhere,

I’m writing a bit later than usual this week. Been busy. Out in the garden. Out and about.

I’ve taken on a new rallying call… Carpe Hortus. Seize the garden. Go for it. Plant it, pull it, hoe it, do it. And that’s what I’m doing.

Out in the vegetable garden, everything is growing well, partly or mostly due to all the rain we’ve gotten. There are blooms on everything, but no squash or tomatoes or beans just yet.

One of my co-workers is bragging about his tomatoes on the vine, but he bought plants already blooming, so I don’t count those as anyone’s first tomatoes. It is a whole ‘nother story when you grow them yourself from seed, nurture them along and plant them out in the garden in mid May!

Soon enough I’ll have some nice tomatoes to brag about. I may even try another online tomato growing contest. Of course it will be the kind of contest that I’m sure to win…

Here’s a picture of the vegetable garden from Sunday evening.


Outside of the vegetable garden, the garden design continues to take shape, sometimes with big changes, like the day they planted three serviceberries to form a copse, and other days with small changes, like Sunday when I moved some perennials that were growing where there will be a grass path through two flower beds.

Carpe hortus… I normally wouldn’t move plants at the beginning of summer, though I would buy and plant a plant if I found one I wanted. The ones I moved look like they are none too happy with the uprooting, but they’ll probably make it if we keep getting all this rain and I keep watering them in between all the rain.

I checked in with the patio guy earlier today and they may actually start working on the patio later this week. I’m excited about that, and can’t wait for the patio to start taking shape. Soon I also hope to be figuring out the design for the gate leading into the vegetable garden so that can be installed later this year, along with more of the foundation plants around the borders in the back yard.

Yes, indeed. Lots of changes in the garden, all for the good.

Carpe hortus!  Seize the Garden!

Carol

P.S. Pictured above is one of my spider-type daylilies, currently planted in one of the beds in the vegetable garden. Someday I’ll move this daylily out to one of the new borders, along with about 18 other daylily varieties growing in the vegetable garden, and reclaim that bed for vegetables.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Carpe Hortus! Moving Perennials On Days Like This

Carpe hortus!

Seize the garden!

This morning, I went for it.  I grabbed a shovel, rake and digging fork and cleared out the section of the perennial border that is being taken out to be replaced with lawn.

Here's the before picture from earlier in June.


Here's the after picture this afternoon after I dug up the perennials that were there.

Perhaps I should not have chosen a day when the temperatures were forecasted to get close to 90 F, followed by more days of the same, to move perennials. But I did.

I just decided to do, but I don't recommend that others do the same.  Do as I say, not as I do.

Carpe hortus... seize the garden.

The plants I moved this morning now look pretty tired, wilted, and droopy in the late afternoon sun. I'm hoping a little more water and a cool evening will help them some. I did cut them back when I moved them and do realize they may not recover.  Or they will look bad for most of this year but recover in the spring.

It was a gamble, but looking over the plants I moved, I realized that those that were "one of a kind" were not so rare that I would lament their passing, and others were one of multiples. If they don't make it, I know where I can get more of them next spring, either in my own garden or the gardens of one of my sisters.

I'll wait until early fall to sow grass seed there.

Carpe hortus!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

And So I Let Them Stay...

Some of the plants in my garden are, shall we say, poorly behaved, actually thuggish in some cases.

I wonder at times why I haven’t pulled them out by their roots and tossed them to their greater reward in the compost bin. But then they do whatever it is they do that makes me like them again, and so I let them stay.

Heliopsis ‘Loraine Sunshine’ self sows itself all over the garden and its offspring are more often than not just the plain species Heliopsis, which is a large plant that also self sows frequently.

But ‘Loraine Sunshine’ has outstanding foliage... so I let it stay.

Lamb’s ear, Stachys byzantina, sends up the kind of flower stalks that flop over at the first sign of rain and become a big mess in the rain. It spreads slower than other members of the Mint family, but still spreads.

But Lamb’s ear is a decent enough ground cover if you trim off those flower stalks and it has interesting, soft leaves. I used to make bows out of those leaves and use them to decorate the birthday gifts of my nieces with summer birthdays. I know they remember them and and someday they might want me to make them a Lamb’s ear bow “for old time’s sake"... so I let it stay.

The Michaelmas daisies, shown here blooming in the fall, get all big and floppy and they like to self sow, too.
But few other plants attract as many butterflies in September as these asters, plus this one is a passalong plant from my aunt and she said she got it from my Dad... so I let it stay.

And on and on around my garden, I can point out the bad habits of many plants. But I can also point out what is good, sometimes so very good, about them, and why I put up with their sprawling, self sowing, splaying and other bad habits.

No plant is perfect, nor are people. We have to take the good with the bad, otherwise our gardens would be bare and our lives lonely.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to put on some old clothes and cut back the seedheads of the blue dog bane, Amsonia tabernaemontana. It has sprawled all over itself with this last rain, and its seedlings will be everywhere if I don’t cut those seedheads off. But I need to make sure I’m wearing really old clothes that I don’t mind getting spots on because Amsonia is full of a white sap that is as thick as Elmer’s glue and will stain everything it gets on and it will get on me when I trim those seedheads off.

But goodness gracious, look at its pretty blue flowers!
And so I let stay, too.

They all stay!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Society Meets: Anticipating the End Of Spring, Start Of Summer

Greetings to all 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 for life, am hereby calling to order this special meeting to share an important piece of information.

It has been some time since we last met. We refer to the previous meeting minutes to determine that we last met for the annual Society Christmas meeting. Where does the time go? We are long overdue for a meeting, since it is already mid June.

Wow, is it summer already? Well, not quite. Summer does not officially begin until Monday, June 21, at 7:28 am EDT.

Do you know what this means, Dear Members of The Society?

Of course you do!

It means that anything we get done in our gardens this weekend will have been officially completed this spring. And that sounds so much better, and more efficient, and more “on top of things” than when we say we didn’t get something done until the summer time.

To wit, isn’t it better to finish potting up your container plants in the spring, than in the summer? Of course it is. So just do it this weekend.

And no doubt for all of us, there are many other “to do” items and tasks that we promised ourselves we would do this spring. Well, if we can complete those items this weekend, we can truthfully, honestly and without reservation, say that we completed them this spring.

Consider this little tidbit of seasonal information a gift from me to you to help you feel better about yourself and your garden and all that you were able to get done this spring.

Really, thanks are not necessary. I, your self-appointed president of The Society, am merely here to serve and support the membership in any way I can with useful information such as when summer officially begins and how to use this information to your advantage.

Should you have questions about this information or need to seek me out for clarification, look for me in the garden most of the weekend. I have a lot to finish up this spring.

Humbly submitted by:

Carol
Current President, SPPOTGWLS
May Dreams Gardens

P.S. Pictured above is Stachys officialis ‘Hummelo’ apparently also known as Stachys monieri ‘Hummelo’. A lovely perennial - plant it in your garden and then let’s talk about those taxonomist and all their name changes!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Upon Close Inspection: Tomato Blossoms

Upon close inspection, I find that not all tomato blossoms are the same.

In this collage, the top blossom will one day be a ‘Reisetomate’ tomato, a very odd tomato that looks like a bunch of little tomatoes all growing together.

The bottom blossom will one day be a 'Trusty’ tomato, a large slicing tomato.

I’m looking forward to trying both of them, hopefully by early August.

"Close inspection" is a good practice in the vegetable garden, in any garden. That's how you notice little problems before they become big problems.

So far, I've found no problems with any of the tomatoes, but I am on watch for tomato hornworms and signs of blight, two problems that if left unchecked could mean no 'Trusty' or 'Reisentomate' tomatoes for me!



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Thank you to everyone who joined in for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. How fun to read through all the posts, to see that we really don't garden alone, but virtually together, each in our own unique way. I encourage everyone to review the list of those who posted about what is blooming mid-month, find some new-to-you garden bloggers and check out their posts.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - June 2010

Welcome to Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day for June 2010.

It seems like June is a month when gardeners from all hardiness zones begin to have more plants blooming in common, though we sometimes grow those plants differently.

Who doesn’t have coneflowers, Echinacea purpurea, pictured above? (Thank you to the butterfly who decided to pose there for a picture.)

Hardy from zone 3 to 9, coneflowers are surely blooming by now in almost all gardens where they grow. These will continue to bloom from now until frost in my garden, attracting all kinds of bees and butterflies.

I suspect we’ll also see many colors and sizes of daylilies, Hemerocallis, today amongst the bloom day posts. Here in my garden, there are still ‘Stella D’Oro’ daylilies blooming, even though I thought I dug them all up and tossed them out earlier this spring. They are not easily gotten rid of it seems!

I also have the common ditch lilies, Hemerocallis fulva, blooming on the utility side of my house.

Sometimes I wonder why I have this little stand of ditch lilies. There are so many other daylilies that are nicer than these ol’ common ditch lilies, like this spider-type daylily, 'Longstocking' which started blooming over a week ago out in the vegetable garden.
The one advantage that the common ditch lilies have over other daylilies in my garden is that every time I walk by them, I’m reminded of summer drives to southern Indiana to see my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. So they get to stay.

Elsewhere in the garden, I have the rain lily, Zephyranthes sp., in common with other gardeners in warmer climates.
I grow mine in shallow containers and store them in my garage all winter. Grown this way, they seem to last for decades. They would never survive if I left them outside all winter here in Zone 5b.

I also have a new-to-me plumbago type flower in my front garden, Ceratostigma plumbaginoides.

It’s not exactly the Plumbago grown in southern gardens, which would have to be a one season container plant here, but it does add a nice touch of blue to the garden.

Another plant I have in common with southern gardeners is the Queen of the Night, Epiphyllum oxypetalum.

Mine bloomed Sunday night, which is close enough to bloom day for me to post another picture of it.

I keep mine inside year round, so its one or two blooms a year are special events. I know that where it is grown outside year round, it can be covered with blooms all opening at once. Wow, that would be something to see!

There is much more flowering in my garden in mid June, but I’ll save those blooms for another day and end with Kalimeris pinnatifida ‘Hortensis’, also known as the Oxford Orphanage Plant.

I read about this plant on the website, Human Flower Project, when Allen Bush wrote about getting it as a passalong plant from Elizabeth Lawrence.

It’s not as double as I thought it might be, and in this, its first full year in my garden, it is a bit straggly, having been moved earlier this spring with other favorite plants to the vegetable garden to wait out the construction of the new patio and cultivation of new flower borders.

But when I see it, I'm reminded that it was Elizabeth Lawrence who helped to inspire Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day with her quote - “We can have flowers nearly every month of the year" - and so it stays, too.

And today, it is again Lawrence who inspired me with her preface to The Little Bulbs to not only share about my blooms but also to compare them with how the same flowers might bloom in other gardens…

“It is not enough to grow plants; really to know them one must get to know how they grow elsewhere. To learn this it is necessary to create a correspondence with other gardeners, and to cultivate it as diligently as the garden itself. From putting together the experiences of gardeners in different places, a conception of plants begins to form. Gardening, reading about gardening, and writing about gardening are all one; no one can garden alone.”

What’s blooming in your garden on this beautiful mid-June day?

We'd love to have you share your blooms with us on the 15th of each month by joining us with your own Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day post. Just post on your blog about what is blooming this month in your garden and then come back here and leave a link to your blog post in the Mr. Linky widget below along with a brief comment to entice us to virtually visit your garden.

The rules for Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day are simple... no rules! You can include pictures, lists, no lists, common names, botanical names, whatever you’d like to do to showcase your blooms. You can post early, you can post late. We are grateful for whatever you share with us. Thank you, and all are welcome!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Dear Friends and Gardeners: June 14, 2010

Dear Dee and Mary Ann and Gardening Friends Everywhere,

Greetings! As I write this letter, I smell the distinctive, strong scent of my night bloomer, Epiphyllum oxypetalum, which bloomed this evening for me.

I’ve been so busy outside that I just noticed the flower bud a few days ago, and then this evening I decided to check to see if it was getting close to blooming, and there was the flower.

I’m glad I saw it, though I’m sure if I hadn’t thought about checking on it, I would have eventually smelled it. It has a rather distinctive smell and reminds me of an old lady, a grand, elegant old lady, who puts on way, way too much perfume.

I’ve posted about the Queen of the Night before. It dominates the corner of my sunroom year round so it only blooms once or twice a year for me. It is fun to watch it literally open in one evening. I can’t think of any flower that looks quite as elegant or quite as mysterious as this one.

Anyway…

Out in the vegetable garden, I’m weeding out tons of purslane, which is neither mysterious nor elegant. It’s everywhere, like it is every year, and I’m pulling it out as I can, in between thunderstorms, which seem to be a regular event this past week. This morning I pulled purslane out of the raised beds as I suckered and tied up the tomatoes, some of which already have blooms.

The green beans also look good, and so does all of the squash. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a squash blossom this week and maybe some tiny squash.

The corn is up and already knee high as you can see in the corner of this picture taken Sunday morning.

For the most part, everything looks good in the garden, except cucumbers. I sowed seeds for those late and none of them came up, so I sowed some more seeds on Friday night. I hope those come up or I might have to – gasp - go buy some cucumber plants somewhere, if anyone even has them at this late date.

There will be no more lettuce in the garden this year, unless I sow some for fall harvesting.
By last week, it had pretty much all bolted so I pulled the last of it out and tossed it on to the compost pile. This week, I’ll probably pull out the pea vines, as they are mostly done now, too.

Whoever said that time stands still in a garden was nuts. Time seems to be moving quickly in mine. Lettuce and peas are done and now I am waiting for squash. Didn’t we all just plant our gardens?

And already, it is time for another Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day tomorrow. I just hope for clear skies this evening, so I can take some pictures for my bloom day post.

I hope your gardens are flourishing and your weeds are withering…

Hortifully yours,

Carol

Saturday, June 12, 2010

You Might Be A Gardening Geek: Rock Edition

You might be a gardening geek who likes rocks in your garden if…

When your shovel hits a big rock in the ground, you immediately get out other tools to gently pry the rock out so you don’t scratch it all up.

When you find a rock while digging, you get that same feeling you get when opening an unexpected present as you gently brush the dirt off to see what the rock looks like.

When you come in from a day of gardening, you have a pocketful of rocks found here and there in the garden.

You have a stockpile of rocks you dug up, just waiting to be used somewhere else in the garden.

You have a bowl on your coffee table filled with some of the more interesting rocks you’ve found while digging in your garden.

Other gardeners have sent you rocks because they know how much you like them.

You got your uncle to give you a big rock that was once part of the foundation of your ancestors’ house, long since torn down.

When you had to dig up your miniature garden to make way for a new patio, you made sure to gather up all the rocks from that garden and put them in a big bucket to use later.

When you visit other gardeners' gardens, sometimes you ask for a rock instead of a passalong plant.

You can identify with "Taci" in the Lucy/Desi classic movie, "The Long Long Trailer".

(Go to about 6 minutes in on this clip.)

And finally, you might be a gardening geek who likes rocks in your garden if…

You’ve actually purchased rocks to put in your garden. (Now that I’ve never done!)

Seeds On The Back of The Cracker Box

Is it just me, or are others starting to notice how non-gardening related products are starting to market gardening and growing plants, including vegetables?

My thoughts always turn to gardening, so maybe I’m the last to catch on that the rest of the world is starting to think about gardening, too.

I noticed earlier this spring that some of the boxes of Triscuit crackers have information on them about “Join the Home Farming Movement!”, which sort of cracks me up because it means that I might actually, for a brief moment in time, be ahead of the curve on “what’s hot” these days – gardening and growing vegetables.

On the back of some of the boxes, there is even a patch of cardboard containing either basil or dill seeds with instructions on how to plant them.

How successful are those cardboard laden seed patches?

I aim to find out.

I received two boxes of Triscuit crackers (regular and my favorite – reduced fat) and a $20 gift card to help with expenses to try these seed patches out. Just to be clear, the marketing people for Triscuit crackers wanted me to be sure and let everyone know that they supplied these crackers and the gift card and that they have more information on the Triscuit Home Farming website.

On the website, they have expert information from Paul James, who we all know as “the Gardener Guy”, details on community-based home farms they are sponsoring, and a place where you can put the location of your “urban farm” on a map.

Gardeners like me who always have on hand all kinds of flats and pots and potting soil don’t necessarily need the kind monetary donation for supplies to try out these seeds. So I donated the $20 gift card to my niece who teaches third grade. Like every teacher, she is always looking for supplies for her classroom and a little extra help.

Many of her students don’t get information on gardening at home, unfortunately, so she helps them plant seeds in the spring and tend to some indoor plants all year long. I was going to ask her to try out the seed patches, but it is summer-time, and she’s on break. Well, she’s on break for another week or so, then she goes back to the school to help with an “at risk” program for kids who aren’t fortunate enough to always get breakfast and lunch at home and could you some encouragement to keep reading through the summertime.

Hey, wait, she’ll be around kids this summer – maybe she can get some of them to help her grow some dill and basil from seeds, compliments of Triscuit crackers?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Garden Design Update: View Through A Copse

Copse - a thicket of small trees or shrubs

Thicket - a dense growth of shrubs or undergrowth

Grove - A small growth of trees without underbrush

Forest - A dense growth of trees, plants and underbrush covering a large area

Pale - An area enclosed by a fence or boundary.

As in... "Within the pale, we began to see the beginnings of a copse, a thicket of plants looking much like a grove initially that will never begin to be large enough to be a forest."

When fully planted, it will be a destination in the garden with a path through plantings leading to it and a bench nestled within it providing a place to sit and rest and think about definitions of landscape terms like copse or anything else that comes to mind.

Amelanchier x grandiflora 'Autumn Brilliance'
Spiraea japonica 'Limemound', recycled from the front landscape.

With these trees and shrubs in place, the largest bed in the garden begins to take shape.

Next up, patio construction.

Find a nice bench for seating in the copse.

Consult with garden designer on additional plantings in the back yard and to layout the path through the copse garden.

Get serious about a gate design for the vegetable garden.

Look for a fountain for the patio.

Watch the night blooming cereus bloom, which really has nothing to do with the garden design, but it does have a great big flower bud on it and I think it should bloom in a week or so.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

New In My Garden - Diervilla

New in my garden, Diervilla lonicera.

A native shrub, one of its common names is Northern Bush Honeysuckle.  It's on Indiana's threatened and endangered list, where it is noted as "rare".

The garden designer suggested it, and I looked it up and then said yes.  I said yes to most of the plants she suggested, as I recall, and was enthusiastic about all her plant choices.

She might recall that I was a gardener with definite likes and dislikes, who had to be convinced on the merits of some of the plants she suggested.

Either way, look at that pretty yellow flower of the Diervilla, now blooming in my garden, a hint of what's to come on  Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day next week on the 15th.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

This Evening's To Do List... Before The Garden Designer Returns

The garden designer returns tomorrow morning with trees to plant the copse in the backyard. Did you note that?

Tomorrow.

The garden designer returns.

To my garden.

I made myself up a little "to do" list so that she won't think I'm a lazy gardener if she might happen to look around.

I need to...

Spot weed. I should at least pull any obvious weeds because I won't be here to explain them away as some kind of horticultural experiment that I'm conducting. Back up plan is to put up a sign that says "All weeds are part of an important experiment, please leave alone. Sponsored by iGROW."

Deadhead. If I can't dead head, maybe I should put little tags around some of the spent blooms to make it look like I've marked those to save the seeds from.

Plant. I still have "a few" plants on the front porch that should be potted up or hidden away. Did I say hidden away? What I meant to say was move them to the back somewhere and put them in a location that makes it look like I... well, no excuses. Everything gets planted tonight, even if it is into a plant holding area.

Tidy up. The garden designer is planting the copse near the vegetable garden so in case she glances that way I need to pull out the bolted lettuce. I won't be there to explain how good bitter bolted lettuce is! But it is kind of interesting so maybe it can pass as an ornamental plant?

Dig up. There are just a few more plants to dig up around the patio, or where the patio used to be. The "patio" is now a big sand pile, with the brick pavers all stacked up neatly nearby. I'm going to dig those plants up and take them to work. Free plants! Black eyed Susans, Shasta daisies, lily of the valley, rose campion, phlox, 'Stella d'Oro daylilies, to name a few that I need to dig out. If I don't get them dug out, I'll just put a sign in the middle of that area that says "Free plants, dig what you want and I'll take care of the rest", so it looks like I am offering them to her first.

Once I get through this "to do" list, I think my garden will be quite ready for the garden designer to see again, and she won't think I'm a lazy gardener.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Tangle Rainbowfly's Great Escape: A Guest Post By The Garden Fairies

A guest post by the garden fairies...

We garden fairies have some extremely important extra exciting news to share, which has caused us to write yet another guest post.

This will be our third post this year, which is some kind of record for us garden fairies. Usually we don’t like to do this much work, but when news is this exciting, we do what we have to do.

Are you all caught up on the goings on around here with the new garden design? We still don’t know what to make of it all, but we were more or less getting used to the changes when those two young fellers showed up, again, and started tearing out the brick patio, brick by brick.


My goodness! What is Carol going to think when she sees all this? We know she’s got some big plans. We just hope these two young fellers are supposed to be tearing up this patio. We have a special fondness for it. After all this is where our garden used to be, the miniature garden. It’s long gone, but all the plants got loaded up into big containers and moved out yonder by the honeylocust tree.

(Where's the picture of the plants from the miniature garden out yonder by the honeylocust tree? I could have sworn Carol took one? She's messing up our guest post by not having a picture of the tiny hostas all potted up. Oh, wait here's one taken right before she moved them out by the tree...)
It shows that wooden step that she never did like.

Anyway, what were we garden fairies writing about? I swear, sometimes we have the attention span of a gnat. No offense to those gnats, who are our friends. They entertain us sometimes by flying around Carol out in the garden, then we howl with laughter watching her swat at them.

We do know that we like one of Carol’s new flowers, a little Lilium cerneum ‘White'. It’s pictured up top of this post. You see that little bug on top there? Carol zoomed that right in and turns out that is a mosquito!


Even we garden fairies don’t like mosquitoes. They can suck all the… well never mind. We do like that pretty little lily and we like that she planted it near some foxglove, another favorite flower of ours.

Did you ever see those spots on the inside of a foxglove flower? Carol always says those are fairy foot prints, and she’s right about that. But it’s our secret how they get there.

Oh, wait, we writing about our big news, weren’t we.

Guess what?

Tangle Rainbowfly is back!

Some of you nice readers were concerned that he ended up in a bag of plants back in April and got hauled off to Carol’s sister’s garden where there are dogs and cats and kids, oh my! Well, that’s exactly what happened! But ol’ Tangle, he’s been around a couple of centuries, so he didn’t panic. Instead he bided his time, hid from the animals and kids and then one evening, when they were all gone, Carol showed up again with some ferns.

Ol’ Tangle saw her and knew that this was his opportunity, his one chance to escape and return to May Dreams Gardens. He waited until she threw down the last bag of ferns, then just as she was about to walk away, he grabbed onto her pant leg and hung on for dear life. She never even knew and got back in the truck with Ol’ Tangle still attached. Then she drove him all the way home, still not realizing he was there. That’s because he tried to stay as quiet as can be and he held his breath, too. At one point he thought he was going to get truck-sick, but he didn’t, thank goodness. He made it all the way back and as soon as Carol got out of the truck, he released his grip on her pant leg and ran as fast as he could toward the lawn and safety.

He thinks she almost saw him because she reached down at one point and he thought she was going to touch him, but she didn’t.

We were so excited to see Ol’ Tangle again and had quite the party that night in his honor, which partially explains the footprints on the foxglove, but then we party like that every night and try to sleep all day, except when those young fellers show up and start tearing out the patio!

Anyway, as long as blooms like that lily keep popping up, us garden fairies don’t get too shook up about all the changes around here, even though there sure are a lot of them!

Posted by Thorn Goblinfly,
Chief Scribe and Typist for the Garden Fairies