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Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year, Eleven!

The old rabbit, Ten, stood at the garden gate, leaning on a hoe, at the very spot where he remembered Nine stood a year ago to welcome him. He peered off into the distance for the first sign of that young bunny, Eleven, and then looked back over the garden.

He was proud of what he’d done in the garden. There were new flower and shrub borders just waiting for spring planting and a new larger patio with plenty of room for a water feature, containers of flowers, and seating for anyone who wanted to rest a minute and watch the garden grow.

Ten wished he could have done more – the bunnies were willing, and so was Carol and the garden designer. But the weather didn’t cooperate. First it was too wet, and then it was too dry. And it was hot, too, hotter than Nine had ever experienced. Ten tried to remember all he’d heard about the weather – second warmest April in Indianapolis history, third wettest June, driest August ever, and then one of the snowiest and coldest Decembers that anyone could remember.

He knew there wasn’t much he could do about the weather, but he still thought it worthwhile to remind Eleven that he also wouldn’t have much control over the weather, and not to take offense if people grumbled about it.

He also tried to remember all the other instructions and advice he wanted to give to Eleven. As he stood there and thought about what to say first, he looked down at his heavy bag of hours, days, and months gone by. “However will I drag all of that out of here?”

Just then Eleven came bounding around the corner, an eager, young, energetic bunny, the way Ten used to be. Ten knew their time together would be but a fleeting second, so as quick as he could he began to speak.

“Hello, Eleven, and good to finally see you. It’s been quite a year both in the garden and out of the garden. You can see that I got a great start on some big changes, now it is up to you to follow through on them and do most of the planting. Sorry about leaving you with so much to do, but the weather… oh, and I should warn you right now, the vegetable garden is a real mess but Carol has some… “

And with that Ten hoisted his heavy bag on his shoulder and disappeared around the corner, his words hanging in the still night air.

“Carol has some… whatever could he mean by that”, wondered Eleven, as he hopped through the gate and began to take stock of the situation. Ten was right, there had been some big changes in the garden, and there was still a lot to do.

But Eleven felt young and fresh and energetic and ready for the challenge of continuing the changes in the garden. Like all those who came before him, he brought with him some wisdom from the past, a promise to not let the old ways go to the wayside just because, and an open mind for new knowledge he hoped to gain and pass on to the future.

He also had plenty of resolutions and much to do in his year in the garden. No time to waste!

After his final wave back to Ten, he reached down and picked up the hoe that Ten had dropped on his way out. Off in the distance he could hear the faint singing of “Auld Lang Syne”… ushering out the old and ringing in the new, and welcoming him to his first day in the garden.

Happy New Year, Eleven!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pistachios and Pink Taurade

In a fit of year end cleaning, I cleaned out the drawer in the end table next to where I generally sit and write. Amidst some pens, a magnifying glass, a few marbles, some empty seed packets, a few stray plant labels, a little book on Latin plant names, and some spare bulbs for Christmas tree lights, I found some notes scribbled on various pieces of paper – ideas for future blog posts, I assume.

Some of the notes made sense and I could tell I’d already written something about them. Other notes were not quite as clear and I had to spend some time thinking about what I was thinking when I wrote some of this stuff down.

I like closure, so I’ve decided to gather all these notes together and write one giant blog post about them.

In no particular order…

Monotypic. I thought a post about monotypic plants would be fun to write. A quick search of my blog reveals I did bring up the word “monotypic” on two other occasions, but I don’t think I used it correctly on one of those occasions, so I won’t link to it. But in a post about Viburnums, the subject of monotypic genuses came up. A monotypic genus has only one species in it, by the way.

Now that would surely have been a fun blog post. Who can name the most monotypic genuses? Of course, everyone would rush to do an online search, and there would soon be a big ol’ list. Cheaters!

Some monotypic genuses that I know off the top of my head, and I promise I did not look them up, are Ginkgo biloba and Platycodon grandiflorus, commonly called balloon flower (and pictured above).

Monophyletic. I looked this up and my head hurt reading about it. This would not make for a good blog post. I will throw this note away.

Anacardiaceae. The cashew family of plants. I’m not sure what I was going to write about this one, though pistachios are one of my favorite tree nuts, and they are a member of this family. I did mention this family in a post I wrote about fragrant sumac. Maybe that is why I had this written down on a piece of paper and stashed it in the drawer of the end table? 

Pink Taurade. I’ll admit I had to look this up. Turns out it is a variety of Martagon lily. Did I order it? Did I see it somewhere and like it? Do I have a picture of it? Do I want one now that I see I wrote it down on a piece of paper?

Guest post on guest posting by the garden fairies. Ever get those emails from people offering to write a guest post for your blog, promising all kinds of in-bound links? In exchange, you just need to let them have a few links in the guest post to whatever it is they are promoting. Don’t fall for it. Delete those emails as spam. Tip of the day.  Only the garden fairies and Hortense Hoelove ever guest post on this blog, and occasionally Dr. Hortfreud helps with topics.  And I have to ghost write for them, so it is all me, these 1,605 posts and counting. All me.

Dreams not desperation. I must have written this down when we were in the depths of the drought this summer. It is hard to dream about the garden you really want when you are desperately keeping the garden you have alive. But, I also wrote down Proverbs 29:18 “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” 
Maybe it was all about having dreams and a vision for your garden?

And finally, my last slip of paper… a quote from Vita Sackville-West. “It isn’t that I don’t like sweet disorder, but it has to be judiciously arranged.”

I’ll end with that, something to ponder as you tie up your own loose ends for this year, and this, my favorite end of year post about planting some goals.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

You Might Be A Gardening Geek: New Year's Resolution Edition

You might be a gardening geek who makes New Year’s resolutions if…

You resolve to not buy any more plants unless you know specifically where you will plant them in your garden, but as soon as you see plants in the garden centers again, you buy at least one plant that you’ve fallen in love with instantly, because you also resolved to never pass up a plant you really like, even if you don't know where you'll plant it because if you go home and find a place for it and then go back and buy it, it might not be there and besides, it would just be a waste of time and gas to make two trips because you know you are going to get the plant, anyway.

You resolve to no longer rescue plants from the markdown racks at the big box stores, but as soon as you see the first plants marked down, you change your resolution to “only rescue plants you know you might, possibly, could have a place to plant them”.

You resolve that you will immediately plant every plant you buy, but then create a nursery holding bed in your garden to hold over those plants that you don’t have the time or place to plant immediately and change your resolution to “I will care for the plants I buy, even if I don’t plant them right away.”

You resolve to read the gardening books you have before you buy any more gardening books, but then some new gardening books show up in the bookstore and you buy them because really, they are not like the garden books you currently have and you want to support the publishers and authors.

You resolve to not buy another new hoe, or any other gardening tools for that matter, but don’t go so far as to resolve to not accept an occasional hoe to review. After all, it would be crazy not to accept a free hoe if offered.

You resolve to weed often and regularly so that the weeds won’t take over the garden, and then later change the resolution to “I will weed all weekend, if that’s what it takes to rescue the garden from all the weeds that seemed to grow overnight to take over the entire garden”.

You resolve to not blame the garden fairies for every little thing that seems a-miss in the garden and accept responsibility for it, but then later realize it is the garden fairies who are at fault, so you drop this resolution from the list.

You resolve to ask the seed companies to no longer send you print catalogs because you’ll just look online for their offerings, then you change your mind because it is so hard to circle what you want on each page, and then dog-ear the page so you can find it again when you are only looking online.

You resolve to mark where all the bulbs come up in the spring so you'll know where to fill in with more bulbs in the fall, but then you don't have time in the spring so you just go ahead and order "just a few extra bulbs" in the fall and hope you don't disturb those already planted when you dig holes to plant these "few extra bulbs" which number well over a hundred.

Finally, you might be a gardening geek who makes New Year’s resolutions if you decide the only resolution you really need for the New Year is…

To garden more.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Guest Post: Garden Fairies Get A Fairy Bath and Look Back at 2010

Garden fairies here!

We hope you are still in a holiday spirit these days. We fairies are, but then, we are pretty much always into holiday spirits (wink-wink) celebrating something.

Today, we are writing on behalf of the tree fairies and the toast fairies, though we are still not sure if toast fairies exist or if Carol made them up to cover up that she made toast one day and forgot to take it out of the toaster.

Then when she went to make toast a few days later, the old toast was still there and she blamed "toast fairies". Anyway, if the toast fairies do exist, they are pretty good at hiding because I, Thorn Goblinfly, who can find anything,  looked everywhere and they are not to be found.

Anyway, where were we? Oh, right, we garden fairies have written so much this year on this blog... in fact we have already written six guest posts! We’ll make this seventh one our final one for the year… sort of a recap!

We garden fairies want praise, gifts, adulation, and comments for our hard work!

Do you remember when we wrote about Hortish, the language of gardeners?

Then later in the spring, we got all freaked out when Carol started digging up plants all over the garden! We wrote about how dangerous all this transplanting can be to garden fairies and how Tangle Rainbowfly ended up in a bag of plants dumped unceremoniously at Carol’s sister’s garden.

Many good folks were so concerned about Tangle’s well-being in the land of kids, cats, and dogs, that when he made his great escape and returned to May Dreams Gardens, we wrote a post about that, too. Hooray for Tangle!

Whew, those three posts would have been quite enough for one year, as it was one more than last year, but we garden fairies kept going and contributed to a blog post with Hortense Hoelove and Dr. Hortfreud. That was such fun that we collaborated with Dr. H. and Hortense again on a post about Heliopsis helianthoides ‘Loraine Sunshine’.

Then later, when Carol got back from Dallas, Texas and we got to looking at some of the pictures she took of the pretty gardens down there, we had to write about garden fairy houses. We want some of our own!

We were going to stop posting until we got our houses, as a way of making it known that we are quite serious in our demands for better housing in this garden, but we are garden fairies. We watch over the garden and feel compelled to write when we feel that the welfare of the garden is at stake. So we had to post, yet again, about how slow Carol was in getting out into the garden in the fall to plant bulbs and all.

After we “outed” her on her blog for procrastinating, she sure hustled out there and started planting. We garden fairies never saw someone plant bulbs so quickly!

Then, wouldn’t you know it, we caught her procrastinating again about putting up the Christmas tree and had to write about that, too, on behalf of our brethren and sisteren, the tree fairies.

Which has led us to this final post. We are writing, once again, because we are delighted that Carol got a fairy bath for Christmas, pictured above. It is way too small for her, so we are certain she will set it up for us!

However, we noticed a minor debate on Facebook about whether or not she should heat the water for it in the winter time.

Really, after all we’ve done in her garden and all we’ve written on this blog in 2010, why would that even be a question? 'Nuff said. Case closed. She will heat the water for us. She'd be afraid not to at this point, she is so indebted to us.

From all the garden fairies, we hope you enjoyed our blog posts in 2010 and that you have a most excellent 2011.

Thorn Goblinfly

Chief scribe and blog post writer for the garden fairies, tree fairies, and maybe toast fairies, at May Dreams Gardens.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Brighten Up Your Day with A Flower Bouquet Giveaway

When the weather outside looks like this:

And someone who calls himself SunflowerGuy sends you an email offering the chance to receive a bouquet of fresh flowers to review, you can't help but say "yes".

When the box arrives at work a few days later, more than a few co-workers were curious about it, eager to see what was inside it.

After all, it is not every day that a colorful box of flowers arrives in the office mixed in with all the white and brown boxes that we seem to get regularly.

I took the box home and followed the instructions, which were pretty clear.

And carefully lifted the box top to reveal...


From somewhere in southern California to my house via overnight flower delivery.

These flowers came from and arrived in pretty good shape, considering the cold weather they traveled in to get here. It's mixed bouquet featuring sunflowers, of course, and roses.

Here is how the people at Sunflowerguy describe their flowers:
  • "For the most part, the flowers you get from us are “grower direct”. We grow all of our own sunflowers and much of our filler greens. We do get some flowers from other, mostly local source.
  • Our bouquets feature a lot of sunflowers. We are the largest (through our parent company Dos Gringos) grower of ornamental sunflowers in the world.
  • Our bouquets are all designed by floral designer RenĂ© van Rems.
  • The thing that is probably most unique about our business is our shipping container. We think it is superior to any other flower shipping method. It keeps the flowers hydrated, and prevents the bouquet from being crushed or damaged in any way. Our competitors simple pack flowers into a narrow box, which works if you’re a florist, but most consumers don’t want to have to cleanup, cut and rearrange their flowers."

Would you like to receive your own bouquet of flowers from Sunflowerguy to brighten up your house on a cold wintry day.

If yes, then leave a comment below telling us about your weather and why you need fresh flowers "Right Now". Hurry, contest ends on Tuesday, Dec. 28th at 9:00 pm. Winner will be chosen by random drawing after that!
(U.S. residents only, must by 18 years old.)

Update 12/28/2010 -- The winner is Commonweeder! Congrats and enjoy the bouquet.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Secret Gifts in the Christmas Basket

There are some secret gifts for my nieces and nephews in my Christmas basket; some presents that embody all that a gift should be.

There’s a bit of Mystery to them because no one but me knows what gifts are in the basket.

There’s some Meaning in there, too, that the recipients will understand, maybe not today but someday.

There are the makings of fond Memories, too, in that basket.

There is also a Moment in time to be captured, whenever the gifts in the basket are revealed, mostly likely after all the other gifts of the day have been opened.

And hopefully, there is a fair amount of Merriment in these gifts, enough to go around for everyone who receives one.

I like these elements of secret gifts – Mystery, Meaning, Memories, Moment, and Merriment - to be a part of my garden, too, making it a special place to be, not only in the springtime, but on a cold Christmas Day, when everything is covered with fresh snow, and the only signs of life are some tracks of a rabbit going across the garden and some birds at the feeders.

And these elements of secret gifts exist in the true gift of Christmas Day, as told in the gospel of Luke,

“The angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord.”

Merry Christmas to All!

May your days and gardens be filled with the wonder of secret gifts.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Origin of Tree Fairies

Once upon a time, a garden fairy named Bud Greenleaf was out and about in the daylight, a time when garden fairies are normally hiding beneath shrubs and other low growing plants.

His mama, Bloom Greenleaf, had warned him many times not to go out during the day, but if he did, he should be careful not to be discovered by a cat or a dog, and absolutely to take cover and hide if he saw a gardener in the garden.

Bud remembered his mama’s warnings, but wanted to see a sunflower in daylight, so he stayed up that day, even though he had been up all night, and headed toward the vegetable garden where the sunflowers grew.

Carefully he walked along, following the edge of the flower border, looking all about for cats and dogs when suddenly he realized the gardener was in the garden. As soon as he saw her, he stopped and stared. “Oh, how big those gardeners are”, he said to no one in particular.

No one had ever told him how big gardeners could be.

Just then, the gardener turned and look right at Bud, or maybe she looked right past Bud.

He couldn’t quite tell if he had been seen, but instinctively he turned and fled and ran smack dab into a large tree. Without thinking, he scampered up the trunk, and went from branch to branch until he found a spot where he could rest for a minute to figure out what to do next.

As he looked down through the tree canopy, he realized that he could see almost the entire garden from where he sat, but no one could see him. He could see where Thorn Goblinfly and many of the garden fairies lived during the day, down under the snowball bush. He could see the sunflowers towering over the vegetable garden. And he could see the gardener as she worked in the garden.

“Wow”, he thought, “I should climb up into the trees more often.”

He stayed in the tree most of the day, enjoying the view and learning so much about the garden. When dusk came, Bud slowly and reluctantly climbed down from the tree and went back home. There he told all the garden fairies of his big adventure and his discovery of the view from the trees.

His tale was so exciting and his description of the view through the tree canopy was so intriguing that he convinced some of the other garden fairies to join him in the trees, and thus the tree fairies were established in the garden.

But then that fall, the leaves fell from the trees, and Bud and the other tree fairies noticed that it wasn’t as much fun to be high up in the trees, swaying in the wind, shivering in the snow, constantly watching out for curious birds looking for a little morsel, such as a tree fairy, to eat.

Just about the time they were planning to abandon the trees and return to being garden fairies, the tree fairies looked down toward the gardener’s house and noticed, of all the curious things, that she had a tree inside, and it was all decorated with colorful lights and garlands and shiny ornaments.

Well, you can just imagine the rest of the story. Bud talked all the tree fairies into leaving the trees and sneaking into the house where, unbeknownst to the gardener, they took up residence in her Christmas tree.

Not willing to just enjoy the warmth of being inside, the tree fairies played amongst the lights, turning some of them off and on without warning, just to watch the gardener’s reaction. And sometimes after a night of drinking and merrymaking, they would toss an ornament or two off the tree just to see what the gardener would do.  On Christmas Even, though, they mostly behaved and took turns watching to see if the Christmas Cottontail stopped with Santa Claus and planted bulbs and seeds in the gardener's garden.

But as everyone knows, Christmas trees don’t stay up for ever, and the tree fairies soon learned this lesson themselves. When the gardener took the tree down, just a few weeks into winter, the tree fairies looked outside at their tree swaying in the wind, covered with snow, and decided that somehow they would stay inside the gardener’s house until spring.

So they took refuge in the house plants and stayed there, mostly sleeping, until spring finally came and the trees leafed out. Then they carefully crept out of the house to return to the shade of the trees to enjoy another season in the garden until the gardener put up her Christmas tree again.

The End.

(Bud never did get to see a sunflower up close, but he still has that as one of his goals and hopes he can see one next year.)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Ten Ideas For Hobbies Other Than Gardening

My therapist suggested that I should think about some hobbies other than gardening to balance out my life. I gave it some consideration and then decided “why not”? It might be fun to do something other than gardening, especially during the cold, snowy, icy, dark winter months.

Here are ten hobbies other than gardening that I’m considering…

1. Stamp collecting. I could collect stamps with plants on them, like the holiday stamps I bought this year. I’m sure I could find stamps with flowers, vegetables and other botanical delights on them, too.

2. Counted cross-stitch. Back in the day, I did my fair share of counted cross stitch. I could take it up again, albeit with some good reading glasses, and make a pillow with a saying on it, perhaps a saying like “We can have flowers nearly every month of the year.” by Elizabeth Lawrence.

3. Cooking. I could specialize in cooking that involves the vegetables I grow in the garden, maybe branch out to canning and freezing them.

4. Model Railroading. Wouldn’t it be fun to set up one of those miniature railroads out in the garden somewhere? I could plant all kinds of miniature plants and arrange mini landscapes around the tracks.

5. Fishing. I could dig a few worms out of the garden, catch some fish, and then bury the fish heads in and around the corn for fertilizer, the way the Indians did.

6. Sewing. Ha ha. My sisters are laughing over this one. I never "took" to sewing. I’m not sure what I’d make – maybe quilts? I’ll bet there are all kinds of floral fabrics to choose from.

7. Apron Collecting. Do you think I could collect aprons with flowers on them, maybe make it a goal to find aprons with the various state flowers on them? Or maybe I could find some aprons made out of old seed sacks?

8. Scrapbooking. Oh, yes, I could make scrapbooks for all my gardens and include pictures of all the plants. The scrapbooks would be sort of a catalog of the garden.

9. Tropical Fish. As a bonus, I could grow aquatic plants!

10. Basketball. Well, I wouldn’t play basketball, I’d just watch it and notice all the subliminal messages about gardening.


Yes, Dr. Hortfreud?

I’ve been looking at your list of other hobbies.

What do you think?

I think you’d better just stick with gardening as a hobby.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Wintertime Ruminations: Gardeners and Instructions

In the beginning, many people diligently read the instructions and carefully follow them as they sow and plant. They try to get the spacing just right, the depth just so, where conditions will be optimal, all according to the directions.

They must think as they garden or they don’t think it is right.

Then one day, they realize they aren’t so tied to the instructions. They sow and plant and never think about reading the directions on the seed packet or the plant tag. They do what feels right, what has worked before, all according to their experience.

They can garden with a sureness and a feeling that they are doing it right.

And when they do this, their minds wander and they think of many other things while they garden.

It’s not always easy to identify when a person goes from following the directions to just doing what they feel is the right thing to do. One day, they just realize they aren’t even looking for instructions.

Is that the moment when most people who garden are willing to call themselves “gardeners”?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Dear Christmas Cottontail...

Dear Christmas Cottontail,

I hope that it is okay that I am writing directly to you instead of Santa Claus, but I thought since you and I are both gardeners you would understand my wants and needs and be able to convey them to Mr. Claus on my behalf.

Plus, much of what I want for Christmas can’t exactly be made by the elves in Santa’s workshop.

What I want is more your specialty, I think.

First and foremost, I’d like to have a nice seasonable year of weather in 2011. Not too hot in the summer time, not too cold in the winter time, with rain and snow when we need it, mostly at night. If that’s all I get, I’d be a happy gardener.

I’d be a happier gardener if you could also bring me a pile of dreams for the garden. These dreams will look a lot like seed catalogs and gardening books, by the way. I have several, but could always use more. 

Then could you re-arrange my vegetable garden and replace the rotting cedar boards that are framing each bed? If this is not possible, I’ll accept just a good idea and some decisiveness for me to figure out what to do. Oh, and some good weather in early spring to do it.

Speaking of the vegetable garden, I’d also like a new gate for it and could you move the compost bins just around the corner from where they are now? It would make them less visible as you enter the garden through the new gate.

I hope the above is not too much to ask for because there are just a couple more items on my list.

I’d also like for all the shade in my garden to be dappled, for the grass to be green but not grow too fast, and for the spring flowers to be as pretty as they’ve ever been, some new Felco pruners, a new hoe for my collection, a greenhouse, mulch, guys to haul the mulch, new gardening pants, new gardening shoes, a gardening hat, some new gardening gloves, antique clay pots, antique gardening tools, orchids (any kind), a terrarium, maybe a few packets of seeds for my stocking, and a subscription to the new magazine, Indiana Gardening.

Christmas Cottontail, if I’ve forgotten to include anything on my list, and you think I need it, remember that my favorite color is green.


Your gardening friend,

P.S. I do not feel it is necessary for you to check Santa’s “naughty and nice list”. I should be solidly, clearly and unequivocally on the nice list but should you just happen to take a peak at the list and find any issues, I’d appreciate some advance notice so that I can explain and set the record straight. Or should you need any character references to speak on my behalf, I ask that you check with my therapist, Dr. V. Q. Hortfreud and my advice giver Hortense Hoelove. Do not ask for references from the garden fairies – they make up stories and can’t always be trusted to tell the truth.

P.S.S. I will leave out some green bean cookies and alfalfa tea for you to snack on when you visit on Christmas Eve. This is not meant to be a bribe, just a bit of gardener-to-gardener hospitality.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

When A Gardener Goes To A Basketball Game

When a gardener goes to a basketball and her team plays poorly and doesn’t seem all that interested in winning, her mind wanders and she begins to notice subliminal messages about gardening in the advertising around the court.

She sees “time”,

And begins to think about thyme and how often writers use the phrase, “thyme in a garden” to mean not only the little tiny herb, thyme, but also the actual time, as in days, hours, and minutes, that seems to pass so quickly on warm spring days, but drags on forever on cold winter days and during basketball games when her team is so far behind.

She also wonders if it is time to add some thyme and other herbs to her garden.

She sees “lilly”,

And begins to think about lilies in her garden, not just daylilies but martagon lilies, too, and how she planted more of them this fall.

She also wonders if there are some other lilies she should get to plant in the spring.

She sees “buds”,

And thinks about how sometimes buds of flowers can be just as pretty as the flowers themselves, like rose buds and tulip buds.

She also wonders at how all the buds of next spring’s leaves and flowers already formed can survive the winter, and tries to remember what she learned about this in college, but finally gives up on that mental exercise and decides to just be thankful that they always do.

She sees the word “legends”,

And thinks about the legendary gardeners and writers who have shaped the gardening world through their writings and ideas and thinks that would be a good subject for a future blog post.

The gardener also wonders if anyone else has noticed these subliminal messages about gardening when finally the buzzer sounds, the game ends, and she heads out into the cold night putting the horrendous performance of her team out of her mind and replacing it with thoughts of herbs, lilies, buds, and garden writing legends.

(Click on the  pictures to enlarge them if you can't see those subliminal messages!)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - December 2010

Welcome to Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day for December 2010.

Winter has arrived here at May Dreams Gardens in USDA Hardiness Zone 5, bringing sub freezing temperatures and four or so inches of snow, so far.

I took one look outside at the cold snow covering the garden, felt that wintry blast of wind on my face, and quickly decided to just take a picture standing at the back door. I never even ventured outside to see if there was a bloom somewhere under all that snow.

Then I bravely stepped outside in front and took a picture of the Rosa ‘Radsunny’ Knock Out® Roses, which I’ve featured in my bloom day posts for several months in a row.

That’s enough outside! Brrrr!

Inside in my sun room, I found some blooms, including those on the ever-blooming Crown of Thorns, Euphorbia splendens var. milii.

Of course it's blooming. It's always blooming. I’ve noted before that it is sort of an emergency bloom day flower, one I can count on for a bloom nearly every day of the year.

Another flower blooming is a new African Violet, Saintpaulia ‘Neverfloris’ that I picked up from Optimara at the Garden Writer’s Association symposium in September.
We’ll call this a bloom even though they describe it as “hundreds of tiny buds which will NEVER flower”. They are marketing this more for florists to use in foliage arrangements, but I like it because it is green and unusual.

One final bloom for December… the traditional Christmas poinsettia, Euphorbia pulcherrima, with un-traditional pink mottled bracts.
It was a gift and I’ll enjoy it for as long as it provides me with color, a nice contrast to the white winter wonderland outside my window.

How is your garden blooming this month? Are you snow covered or still enjoying outdoor blooms?

Whatever your circumstances and however your garden looks during these December days, I hope you’ll join us for Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day this month.

All are welcome!

It's easy to participate. Just post on your blog about what is blooming in your garden on the 15th of the month and then leave a link in the ‘Mr. Linky’ widget below, plus a comment to give us a hint as to what we might find in your garden in December.

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

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Winter: We are going to need...

We are going to need some supplies. Seed catalogs, gardening books, houseplants, and a stack of gardening magazines. That stack of gardening magazines that piled up while we were out in the garden all summer will do nicely.

We are going to need a good memory. Garden pictures, old blog posts, and garden journal notes.

We are going to need something to keep us warm. Blankets, a fire in the fireplace, warm slippers, hot chocolate, and maybe a steaming bowl of chili, with the heat added by jalapeno peppers from the garden.

We are going to need patience, strength, and sheer willpower to make it through until Spring.

We are going to need gardeners in warmer climates to remind us that the entire world is not gripped by cold and snow, that somewhere flowers still bloom.

We need all of this because winter has really, truly arrived with its nose-nipping, eye-stinging, ear-reddening cold. With snow, ice, and wind. It has begun in earnest and it is not nearly as much fun as I’ve made it sound. But it is pretty close.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Guest Post: Please Help The Tree Fairies!

Garden fairies here.

We thought we’d post this weekend to help Carol out and bring to the world’s attention matters of grave importance and concern to our brethren the tree fairies.

The tree fairies live in the trees throughout the garden, such as they are at May Dreams Gardens. Every year at this time, they look forward to a little vacation inside in the Christmas tree, where it is warm.

For as far back as we can remember, as soon as the tree fairies see the Christmas tree lights through the window at the beginning of winter, they pack their provisions, mostly leaves and bark, and begin the long trek through the garden to the house, where they sneak in through the hidden fairy door and then take up residence in the Christmas tree.

Oh, the fun they have! They are quite adept at making lights blink for no reason. Then when Carol gets up to go see why a light is blinking, quick as can be, they scamper back to the far depths of the tree and watch and laugh as Carol puzzles over those lights.

Sometimes, oh, and this is very funny, they knock an ornament off the tree and watch as Carol goes from almost dozing in her chair to sitting up straight and exclaiming, “What was that!”

But mostly the tree fairies do no harm. They just like to enjoy the lights, the garden-y Christmas tree ornaments and be a part of the holiday festivities, whether simple or elaborate.

Now you can see why the tree fairies are alarmed that there is just two weeks left until Christmas and still no sign of a tree.

We garden fairies suppose that if they absolutely have to, the tree fairies could make do if Carol at least decorated the fire place mantel with some holiday greenery. But they would prefer to take up residence in a tree!

Therefore, we implore whoever reads this post to please suggest to Carol in whatever terms are necessary to get that tree up!

Thank you,

Sweetpea Morningdew

Filling in for Thorn Goblinfly who normally does these posts. Thorn couldn’t post today. She is out and about investigating a situation regarding toast that mysteriously showed up in Carol’s toaster the other day. Carol tweeted that it was left by the toast fairies. Well, we garden fairies have never heard of toast fairies, so we are trying to determine if they are real or if Carol made them up. (We think Carol makes up stuff sometimes.)

Thursday, December 09, 2010

You Might Be A Gardening Geek: Texting Edition

It seems that everyone is sending text messages and using online chat these days, even gardeners.

You might be a gardening geek when it comes to texting and online chatting if…

When you arrive at a garden center and find that the plants are on sale, you immediately text to your gardening geek pals, POS at the GC!

You automatically figured out that GC stands for “garden center”.

You text BRB WTP if you are leaving a chat session to “water the plants”.

If someone texts you with WITP, you look for the picture that goes with it because you know they are asking “what is this plant”. Bonus points if you also know that PID is short for “plant id” and should also be accompanied with a picture of the mystery plant.

You know that BNP means “botanical name please”. Bonus points if you are frustrated that you can’t easily italicize the botanical names when you text them to others. Double bonus points if you remembered that botanical names should always be italicized.

You text MOS when you find out that the mulch is also on sale at the GC.

You know that anything that ends with IB means something is “in bloom”, such as AIB for azaleas in bloom, BIB for Brunnera in bloom, CIB for crocus in bloom, DIB for daffodil in bloom, EIB for Echinacea in bloom, FIB for flowers in bloom, GIB for glads in bloom, HIB for Hibiscus in bloom, IIB for Iris in Bloom, JIB for Jasmine in bloom, KIB for Kalimeris in bloom, LIB for lavender in bloom, MIB for Monarda in bloom, NIB for Narcissus in bloom, OIB for ox-eye daisy in bloom, PIB for peas in bloom, QIB for Queen of the night in bloom, RIB for roses in bloom, SIB for strawberries in bloom, TIB for tomatoes in bloom, UIB for umbrella palm in bloom, VIB for violets in bloom, WIB for wallflowers in bloom, XIB for 10 flowers in bloom, YIB for yarrow in bloom, and ZIB for zinnias in bloom. Bonus points if you read that entire list.

You often text O--> which is meant to be a virtual flower. Or if you prefer <--O

When you text LOL, it often means “lots of leaves” instead of “laugh out loud”. Bonus points if you know that BYOH means "bring your own hoe".

You can immediately figure out that S4S means “seeds for sale” and P4S means “plants for sale”.

You text MTL when you are going to mow the lawn. Bonus points if you have a “no texting while mowing” rule around your garden.

Finally, you might be a gardening geek when it comes to texting and online chatting if you get a text of WMN from a mysterious source and realize it is from a plant in your sunroom demanding “water me now’.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

When A Gardener Sends Christmas Cards

When a gardener sends Christmas cards, she often chooses cards that reflect something from the garden, or remind her of gardens and plants, like this card featuring a window box arrangement with cardinals.

If she can't find a card with a picture of a window box arrangement, she might consider cards that feature wreaths made from all the goodness of a garden.

Finding Christmas cards with wreaths on them is easy, but when a gardener finds a card with a wreath AND a trowel...

She considers that a great card for a gardener to send to friends, family, and fellow gardeners.

When a gardener can't find a Christmas card with a suitable garden-y feel, she sometimes looks at those with snowmen, like this snowman card she got from her sister a few years ago.

While it does make one think of a garden, it doesn't quite have the same feel as a card like this one with the word "gardens" included in the design.

But not every Christmas card can include the words "gardens & nursery" on it, so the gardener might also consider cards that show a wintry garden gate scene like this one sent to her by a cousin.

Or this card with a winter garden gate from The Lang Company.

When a gardener sends out cards, she just might choose one like this one, also from The Lang Company, just because it is pretty and speaks of the bounty of a garden.

Some people might expect to get a handmade card from the gardener that perhaps features a little bit of hoe.

Or a whole lot of hoe, hoe, hoe for the hoelidays.

If money were no object, when a gardener sends Christmas cards to everyone, she might choose this one from Hallmark, which is unfortunately not one of a box of cards, but one card sold individually.

By the way, when a gardener writes a letter to include with the Christmas cards she sends, she needs to remember that family and friends might want to read about more than just how well her garden did this past year, though she considers that information to be quite fascinating and newsworthy.

She should also remember to never let the garden fairies write the letter, or she might risk revealing far more information than should be revealed in such a letter.

But regardless of the card she chooses or the letter she includes, when a gardener sends Christmas cards she hopes they bring a bit of joy and fun to those who receive them and appropriately reflect the sentiments of the holiday season... while of course reminding people of gardens and gardening.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

How Do You Know That It Is Finally Wintertime?

How you know that it is finally wintertime in your garden?

It is 13 degrees Fahrenheit outside.

Is it when you no longer hear the sounds of the cicadas in the trees?

It is 13 degrees Fahrenheit outside.

Is it when you've raked just enough leaves so that the neighbors are not annoyed that your leaves keep blowing into their yard?

It is 13 degrees Fahrenheit outside.

Is it when a particular type of bird shows up in your garden, like maybe juncoes?

It is 13 degrees Fahrenheit outside.

Is it when the seasonal centers at the big-box stores mark all the garden-y stuff down to 75 percent off and bring all kinds of holiday decorations to sell?

It is 13 degrees Fahrenheit outside.

Is it when you see the first poinsettia for sale, that one with the blue spray painted leaves that makes you want to scream, not because you finally found it but because you can't believed they actually do that and people actually buy them?

It is 13 degrees Fahrenheit outside.

Is it when you look out and see that your garden is coated in the beauty of the first snowfall of the year?

It is 13 degrees Fahrenheit outside.

Some signs of winter's arrival are subtle, others are more obvious.

It is 13 degrees Fahrenheit outside.

Just how do you know when winter has finally arrived in your garden?

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Five Books To Leave On Your Coffee Table...

With all the extra entertaining during the holidays, it is possible that you might actually have friends or relatives visit you who previously have shown no interest in gardening.

Whatever will you talk about if you don’t talk about gardening?

After all, as the host or hostess, it would be rude to not say anything to these non-gardening guests. And you can’t just start babbling on about gardening until their eyes glaze over.

Well, you could talk about gardening until their eyes glaze over, but too soon they will be furtively looking for their coats and sending out that pre-arranged signal that is intended to be picked up by whoever they came with, the signal that means  "save me from the gardener" or "let's go NOW".

Instead, you can talk to them about books, specifically, the five books you’ve left on your coffee table because they might spark an interest in gardening in the non-gardener.

You’ve strategically and purposefully left these books out in hopes that they might lead to a conversation about gardening that won’t cause the non-gardener to roll their eyes and act like they just saw a long lost friend on the other side of the room, please-excuse-me-I-need-to-go-say-hi.

Hopefully these books will lead to a conversation that soon has the non-gardener ordering up some seeds and a hoe, and asking you what to do first in their garden.

What are these magical books that could turn non-gardeners into gardeners?

In no particular order, I present “five books to leave on your coffee table because they might spark an interest in gardening in the non-gardener”.

Bulb by Anna Pavord. Someone will see this book and the pretty tulip on the cover and think it is a book about just tulips. Then when they open it up and see the hundreds of flowers that are planted in the garden as bulbs, they will fall in love with the idea of planting bulbs in their garden… or something like that.

Flowers and Herbs of Early America by Lawrence D. Griffith. Is there a non-gardening history buff at the party? They’ll see this book as a history book first, but will be amazed by the pictures and soon will be reading about all these plants. “Who knew”, they will think, and then they will start planning out their own garden using some of these very same plants.

How to Grow Vegetables and Fruits by the Organic Method, edited by J. I. Rodale and staff. When your non-gardening party guests pick this book up you can tell them that it is just like the book you used to check out of the library over and over again when you were a kid and you found it at a used book store for $8 and had to have it. They will then think that perhaps they really should take a second look, or a first look, at planting a vegetable garden.

Edible Landscaping by Rosalind Creasy. Your non-gardening party guests will see this book and look again at the appetizers and other food you are serving and wonder if they are perhaps eating something you clipped off the shrubbery out front. You can assure them they aren't, unless you really did do that. Then you can go through this book with them to show them how beautiful fruits and vegetables can be when you grow them in the landscape.

Two Gardeners: A Friendship in Letters by Katharine S. White and Elizabeth Lawrence. Once the seed of interest in gardening has been sown in the non-gardeners at your party (do you like that phrase?) you can talk about the many facets of this book. To some it can be read as an interesting exchange between two women who only met a few times in real life, and then not until well after they had corresponded for many years. Interesting comparisons can be drawn to how garden bloggers often correspond online through emails, blog posts, comments, etc. and then later meet. Or, you can use it as a way to introduce the budding gardener to the writings of these two garden writers and suggest other classic garden books for them to read.

And that’s “five books to leave on your coffee table because they might spark an interest in gardening in the non-gardener”.

Thank you to Genevieve at North Coast Gardening for suggesting this meme, Five Books: Essential Reads for Gardeners!

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Obligatory First Snowfall Post

Indianapolis, IN: It's snowing today, which means I feel a certain obligation to post some pictures of snow scenes in my garden.

If you live where the sun is shining and you can skip about your garden in summer clothes today, you might want to get a blanket to wrap up in before continuing to read this post. Just the mere viewing of these pictures of snow scenes could cause your internal body temperature to drop a few degrees.

Or at least you might shiver once, just in sympathy.

The first picture above is of my new patio under snow. If you look closely you can just make out where the edge of the patio meets the edge of the lawn, up near the top.

Let me lift the camera up a bit to give you a broader view to put it into perspective.
This is not yet a deep snow. I can still make out the wooden forms around the raised bed vegetable garden off in the distance. That reminds me that I most assuredly, definitely, unequivocally want to, need to, must replace those raised beds in the vegetable garden this spring.

Speaking of the vegetable garden, I saw my aunt and uncle yesterday for a brief half hour when they stopped to visit with my mom. We talked about hot beds and cold frames. My uncle calls them hot beds, I call them cold frames. What do you call them?

Whatever you call them, he said if I built one and buried horse manure down under it, the decomposing horse manure would generate enough bottom heat to at least grow spinach, lettuce, and other cool season crops in the cold frame when it is cold outside. I've got to try that. There is a horse farm literally at the end of my street. I'll bet I could get some "stuff" from them.

Ah, dreams of the vegetable garden... but let us return to the reality of winter..

This first significant snowfall has the weatherman and news reporters all in a frenzy. They are broadcasting from various roads and parking lots, reporting on the conditions of the pavement.

Sometimes they have to report that the pavement is just wet because the snow isn't sticking.
That's the case with the front walk which is on the south side of the house. Snow is not yet sticking to it. Contrast that with the patio in the back of the house, the north side, where snow is sticking quite a bit.

As temperatures drop and the heat stored in the pavement radiates away, snow will eventually stick to the front walk and the driveway, too. When that happens, I'll get out my new Troy-Bilt Storm 3090 XP Snow Thrower and see how it works.

Until then, I'll just enjoy the pretty view of the snow falling gently on the garden, coating the branches of the evergreens in a mostly decidedly festive, holiday coating...

And maybe get out some of my books on vegetable gardens and think about spring.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

A Gardener’s Guide to Talking to Santa Claus

You know you need to do it, you want to do it. You are biding your time, waiting for a day when the kids are in school, waiting for a moment to present itself when he is all alone.

When that moment happens, don’t blow it. Be ready. Be prepared. You don’t want to rush, to appear greedy, as though this is all about you.

You want to speak clearly, make your needs and wants and deepest desires known so that your holidays are not marred by a blown opportunity.

In that spirit, I present…

A Gardener’s Guide to Talking to Santa Claus

Plan ahead. Write down what it is you want so you don’t forget when it is your turn to do the asking.

Be specific. If you really, honestly, unequivocally want a pile of mulch for Christmas, make sure to specify what kind, how much and perhaps most importantly, when you want it delivered. Explain to Santa that while you want the mulch, you would like him to deliver it in April or May. After all, you don’t want to be the one who grounded his sleigh on Christmas Eve because you wanted a couple of tons of compost!

Ask for tools. Don’t be a fool! Christmas is the perfect time to ask for gardening tools. Some are even small enough to hide under the tree. May I suggest Felco pruners if you don’t already have a pair, a Hoe*Dag made in Idaho or perhaps a Cobrahead hand weeder? Maybe some Jollys garden shoes?

Remember the seasons. As we all know, Santa comes just as winter takes a firm grip on the garden so be careful asking for plants, seeds, and bulbs that are best acquired in spring, summer, or fall. If you really, really want them, ask Santa for coupons for them and an iron-clad guarantee that he’ll provide them at the appropriate time.

Consider others. It is just as good to give as it is to receive, so offer Santa Claus some ideas of what other gardeners might like or what he might get for some of his elves.

Skip the jokes. Santa has heard all the “hoe hoe hoe” jokes already. Trust me, he has.

Inquire after the Christmas Cottontail. Ask how the elves and reindeers and Mrs. Claus are doing, too. Santa appreciates people being concerned for his well-being and the well-being of those close to him.

Give Santa a gift from your garden. If you have some good jams, jellies, or other preserves made from the produce of your own garden, you might take Santa some, not as a bribe, but as a gift. He looks like he likes good food. Others on your list might also like something from your garden or for their garden.

In fact, give all gardening related gifts this year! ‘Tis the season, spread the love of gardening!