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Friday, September 30, 2011

Lonely garden seeks gardener...

"Lonely garden seeks gardener who loves purple asters, winding paths, and a crispness in the air. The ideal gardener isn't afraid of bugs, likes to weed, and enjoys growing vegetables in addition to flowers. I'm willing to over look your flaws, dear gardener, if you'll over look mine. Signed, A Garden Somewhere in the Midwest."

Dear Garden,

I'm sorry I haven't had time to spend with you. If you'll pull your personal ad, I promise to spend time with you this weekend - weeding, planting, mowing.  I love purple asters and winding paths.  I like to grow vegetables and flowers. Insects don't scare me and neither does a little cold weather. Please forgive me. I'm here for you, I promise.

Busy Gardener Somewhere in the Midwest

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

How to Tame a Wildflower

How to tame a wildflower.

You can give it fancy leaves...

Heliopsis helianthoides 'Loraine Sunshine'

You can give it double flowers...

Heliopsis helianthoides '(Variety Name Forgotten*)'
You can let it play amongst the other flowers...

You can even banish it to the compost bin...

But you can never really tame it.

It will never really leave.

Once you let a wildflower into your garden, it will decide how it wants to play. It will decide where it will grow and how far it will cast its seeds.

It will decide if it is going to be your friend or your nemesis.

Hopefully, it will be a friend and it's bright happy face will show up where you like it.
Heliopsis helianththoides, false sunflowers, will always be a part of my garden, a wild part of my garden, whether I like it or not.

This post is part of Wildflower Wednesday, hosted by Gail at Clay and Limestone.

*Thanks to the Hoosier Gardener for identifying the double-flowering heliopsis as 'Sunshine Daydream' from Plants Nouveau.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Achieving Happiness in Your Garden: The Twelfth Secret

One day, as I came up the front walk to see if I had a package of bulbs waiting by the front door, I saw a little rabbit jump off the first step to the porch and dart off.

I think he ended up under a nearby spruce tree because I saw him run under the low hanging limbs of the spruce but didn’t see him scurry out the other side. Oh, well, what could one more rabbit do in my garden at this point in the season?

As I stepped up on the first step up to the porch, I noticed that one of the bricks on the step was loose and sitting rather crookedly from where it was supposed to be. I’d been meaning to fix that brick all summer but just never got around to it. Now that I was expecting several big packages of bulbs to show up any day, I decided I should fix it before someone got hurt.

As I reached down to pick up the loose brick, I noticed a little piece of neatly folded paper sticking out from underneath it.

Without hesitation, I picked up the note, unfolded it, and read it to myself. By golly, I thought, I’m still finding out secrets to achieving happiness in your garden and here in my hand I held the twelfth secret. At least I was pretty sure it was the twelfth secret.

I mentally went through the list of all the other secrets, counting them as I went.

Grow the plants you love, size the garden for the resources you have, buy good tools, respect Mother Nature, and share your garden were the first five secrets to achieving happiness in your garden.

Then I discovered five more secrets including plan your garden, feed your soil, strive for balance, ask for help, and change your garden if you don't like it.  And one more secret, try new plants, made for eleven secrets up to this point.

Ye, this was the twelfth one. I thought it was one of the best secrets, too, though it seemed so obvious, it was almost too simple.

Plant for the future.

Really, what else are we planting for, if not the future? Was that really such a big secret?

I thought about it for a minute and remembered that someone once told me the best time to plant a tree is “twenty years ago”. Then I thought about all those people who used to come into the hardware store where I worked one spring and ask where they could buy tulips and daffodils. I wanted to say “last fall”, but reminded myself they didn’t ask when, they asked where.

Then it started to make sense. To be happy in your garden you really have to plant for the future. You have to plant trees while they are young and bulbs when they are dormant. You have to provide proper spacing and allow time for the plants to fill in the gaps. Then when the time comes, whether it is time to enjoy the shade of a mature tree or the first blooms of crocuses in the spring, you’ll be happy to have planted something today for tomorrow.

Plant for the future, the twelfth secret to achieving happiness in your garden.

I folded up the note and put it in my pocket. There weren’t any boxes of bulbs on the step that day, but I knew they’d be coming any day now and planting them would be planting for the future, for a bright and happy spring day yet to come. Maybe I should order more bulbs? And plant another tree?

Plant for the future.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Where do gardening secrets come from?

The little rabbit huddled beneath the big shrub, waiting for the rain to stop, waiting for his opportunity. He could not believe that he, the smallest and slowest rabbit at May Dreams Gardens, had been selected to present Carol with the twelfth secret to achieving happiness in her garden.

While he waited for the rain to slow down, he checked and double-checked that he had the note with the secret written on it. He hoped, after all this, that once he finally delivered the message, it would be still be legible.

As the rain continued, he reflected back on the season. It had started well enough, when he was just a young bunny. There was rain when they needed it and the grass and vegetables were plentiful. Then it got hot and dry, just like the previous year, according to the old ones.  If Carol had not watered the vegetable garden and then turned her back so the rabbits could eat freely in the garden, they all might have starved. But somehow, they survived, Carol managed to keep the garden going, and now he found himself waiting under the big shrub.

Finally, the rain slowed down and he knew it was now or never. Without hesitation he hopped out from beneath the shrub and ran like a scared rabbit up to the steps of the house. He knew where to put the note. The older rabbits and garden fairies had discussed it with him. They had even practiced. There was a loose brick on the front step which they all agreed would be a good place to hide a note.

When he reached the step, the rabbit carefully moved the loose brick aside just enough to place the note under it, but not enough so that he risked it falling off the step to the ground below. He knew if that happened, he might blow their cover because there was no way he would be able to lift that brick up off the ground and put it back into place.

When he thought he had moved the brick just enough, but not too much, he carefully placed the folded note under it,  just as they had rehearsed.

So far so good, he thought. Just then he heard Carol’s footsteps. She was heading for the porch. She, too, must be taking advantage of the break in the rain to water the plants that still grew in containers under the shelter of the porch.

His mission accomplished, the rabbit hesitated for just a second, then darted away and hid beneath a nearby spruce. From there he waited and watched to see if Carol would find the note, the twelfth secret to achieving happiness in your garden.

Just then…

Saturday, September 24, 2011

When a gardener orders pizza

When a gardener orders pizza, she is delighted to find some of her favorite toppings on the menu -- Brassica oleracea, Solanum lycopersicum (which she used to know as Lycopersicum esculentum), and a new one, Cynara cardunculus.

When she orders, the gardener translates these toppings for the waiter as broccoli, tomatoes, and artichokes because she doesn't want to embarrass him if he doesn't know botanical names.

When the waiter delivers the pizza to her table and tells the gardener that it is the most colorful pizza he has served all night, she beams with pride. She has apparently designed a lovely garden pizza.

She takes a picture of it, because she likes pictures of pretty gardens, er... pizzas.

Later, as she eats her garden pizza, the gardener thinks about other plants that make pizzas taste so good including many varieties of Capsicum annuum, Allium cepa, and Agaricus bisporus - peppers, onions, and mushrooms.

She also thinks about herbs that taste good on pizza including Ocimum basilcum and Origanum vulgare, also known as basil and oregano.

She wonders if others think of botanical names when they think of plants and then translate those to common names when they speak of them to others.  She likes to do it just to keep her mind sharp. 

Finally, when a gardener orders pizza, she orders a big enough pizza so she has some left over to take home. The next morning, it is just as colorful, just as tasty, and just as pretty a garden, er.. pizza,  as when it was first served.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Guest Post: Garden Fairies Announce Exciting News

Garden fairies here.

We have taken over this blog to bring you all some exciting news. But first, we are garden fairies and we have not posted anything in awhile so we would like to provide an update on what we have been doing.

We are garden fairies, we have been doing what garden fairies do. 

Just yesterday, when Carol came home from work and immediately took a nap instead of going out to the garden to do some important work like weeding and fall planting, we garden fairies took advantage of the situation and hid the left hand glove of a pair of her gardening gloves.

Yes, we could have hidden the right hand glove, too, but we are garden fairies and hiding both gloves of a pair of gloves is for amateurs.  We are garden fairies, we are professionals.

Believe us when we tell you that hiding just one glove is better because if you hide both gloves of a pair, generally the gardener will forget they even owned that pair of gloves and never go looking for them.  But if we hide one glove of a pair, then the gardener has the other glove and goes looking for the one we hid.  Woo hoo. Then the fun begins. Do you know how much time a gardener can waste looking for one glove?  We are garden fairies. We know they can waste a lot of time looking for gloves they will never find.

We are garden fairies and we have noticed that Carol has not been weeding like she should be. Hierarchy-smierarchy on the weeding.  We know we could maybe help with the weeding but we really like all plants and can't think of any plants we would consider a weed. They are all useful to us. So we just sit back and wait for Carol to come out and do that thing she calls weeding.  Not to mention, we are garden fairies so we are inherently opposed to any and all activities that seem like any kind of work.  That is just  not our style.

It is also not our style to lead you on with false promises of exciting news and then not deliver the goods, the way Carol will sometimes do. She is tricky that way, but we are garden fairies, so we will now proceed forthrightly and right now to tell you the exciting news.

Fall is coming.

Yes, that is our exciting news. Fall is coming.  Sooner than you think. Fall is coming tomorrow.

We are garden fairies.  We had a nice summer, though it was a bit hot and dry, but now we are looking forward to fall. But trust us, as soon as we hear the F word  - no, we do not mean frass, we mean frost -  we will be sneaking inside the house to join the tree fairies and toast fairies for a long restful winter.

But Carol shouldn't think she has time to rest. No way!  She has too much to do. We are garden fairies so to earn our keep in the winter we are going to do our best to keep her focused and on task and not let her wander around and nap like a garden fairy.

Submitted by
Thorn Goblinfly
Chief Scribe for the Garden Fairies at May Dreams Gardens

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Hierarchy of Weeding and Plant Removal

As soon as a gardener declares an area to be a garden and plants that first plant, it is time to start weeding and removing plants that are not part of the garden plan. This is because a garden is not made just by adding plants, though this is a major pleasure of gardening.  A garden is also made by removing plants.

Are you familiar with the Hierarchy of Weeding and Plant Removal?

At the bottom of the hierarchy is weeding out those plants that are obviously weeds, like poison ivy, prostrate spurge, black medic, bindweed, crabgrass, Bermuda grass, nutsedge, thistle. Every gardener knows or soon learns that these are weeds and removes them as soon as they can without a second thought. Or at least removes them as soon as they have time, but still without a second thought other than “Where are all these weeds coming from and why didn’t I take the time to pull them when they were tiny?”

On the next level of the hierarchy are weeds that could possibly be useful. While the gardener may pull them, the whole time they are doing so they are saying, “This plant may be useful”. Clover fixes nitrogen in the soil and the rabbits seem to prefer eating it instead of what’s in the garden. Should we really pull it? Purslane is supposed to be so nutritious. Should we eat some of it? Ditto dandelion greens. And violets, they are oh-so-pretty. In the end, most gardeners end up pulling most of these weeds but they think about it first.

In the middle of this hierarchy is the removal of dead plants that were once purposely planted in the garden. Why are these so hard to weed out or remove if they are dead? Because first the gardener must be convinced they are truly dead. They look for signs of green shoots at the base. They scrape any stem with the least bit of bark to see if it is green underneath. After all, no gardener wants to purposely or even accidentally remove a plant that might still be alive and is a desirable plant to have in the garden. No one wants to throw such a plant in the compost bin and then find it growing there a few weeks later.

Many gardeners struggle mightily with the next hierarchy of weeding – the removal of seedlings of plants they planted in the garden. All those black-eyed Susan seedlings? Maybe there is another place in the garden to transplant those to? Maybe another gardener might want them? They are plants! The original black-eyed Susan might have been purchased with real money. Now it is repaying the gardener with free plants. Free plants! They can be so difficult to remove.

The final level of weeding and plant removal is the most difficult because it requires the gardener to go through some gut-wrenching soul searching to come to the realization that they may have actually planted a plant where it didn’t belong. Now it must be removed and it may not go easily. Even these plants fall into two categories. The first category, the easiest, is the “I can’t believe I really planted that” and relates to thugs like perennial sweet peas, variegated goutweed, evening primrose and other invasive plants. We were fooled into planting them. Seduced. Manipulated. Duped, even. When we remove them we have to finally admit to ourselves that we made a mistake and it is time to fix that mistake. And then we find out that the removal of the plant, which is now likely many plants, can take years, depending on how invasive or aggressive it is.

The other category of this final level of weeding is removing a plant because we simply planted it in the wrong place. We didn’t give it enough room or enough shade or enough sun or enough of whatever it needed and now it must be removed. It may or may not be able to be replanted. That is not the point. We have to remove a good plant that we just didn’t put in the right place. We realize that regardless of whether it ends up in the compost bin or planted in a new location better suited for it, it must be removed.

It often takes years of experience for a gardener to work through these hierarchies of weeding and plant removal and become adept at them.

But those gardeners who do reach the top of the hierarchy of weeding and plant removal become the master of their gardens, or at least have as much control of their gardens as is given to them by the plants they are able to remove.

Judge for yourself where you fall on the hierarchy of weeding and plant removal. Master all levels and you become the master of your garden.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bounty in the Garden

What joy is ours when we go out to the garden to find bounty in it. It's why we grow vegetables, isn't it? And flowers, too, like this verbena that I let self sow all around my garden. It is bountiful right now, even as the vegetable garden, which was bountiful earlier in the season, slows down its giving.

The Free Dictionary online defines bounty as "liberality in giving". I like that way of putting it. Liberality in giving. It just rolls off the tongue. It sounds so generous. Giving a lot. That's what gardens do for gardeners.

I believe that most gardeners stay with their gardens through hot and cold, rain and drought, because their gardens give back so much more to the them than they give to their garden. Otherwise, why would we continue to garden if it were not at the very least an equal proposition?

There are also bounty hunters, who seek payment, a bounty, for finding and bringing criminals in to law enforcement. Some gardeners might be willing to pay a bounty to anyone who might rid their gardens of rabbits, raccoons, or deer, but only in a kind, humane way. After all, we are for the most part kind and gentle souls who are willing to share the bounty of our gardens, as long as someone or something doesn't try to take it all.

I was overjoyed yesterday when I found bounty in my garden. I knew then and there that no matter the weather, no matter how much work it was, and no matter what anyone else might think, I would continue to garden. I can't stop now, regardless. I've had my hands in this gardening thing since I was just two years old and my mom found me in the garage with my hands in a bag of fertilizer. It's in my blood, it's part of my DNA. I can't stop. Not now. I've got too many bulbs coming for fall planting.

Would you like to see the bounty in my garden?

Here it is...

Bounty in my garden.
I hope this Bounty in my garden brightens your day and gives you hope that if you work hard enough at it, you, too, can have Bounty in your garden.

I hope it inspires you to keep gardening, to keep your sense of humor, to keep your hope alive, through this season and all the seasons of the garden yet to come.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Achieving Happiness in Your Garden: The Eleventh Secret

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae 'Alma Potschke'
Before the festivities of Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, I attempted to post a secret I learned from the praying mantis. The garden fairies boldly intervened, however, and ripped the secret off the post.

I would like to thank everyone who posted about their blooms for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. You all provided a great resource for everyone to check out blooms across the country and around the world. I appreciate each and every post, even if I can no longer get to all of them. I try to get to as many as I can.

You also gave me some time to negotiate with the garden fairies to be allowed to post about this secret. They are not easy to negotiate with - they are garden fairies.

By my accounting this is the 11th secret to achieving happiness in your garden that I've discovered and shared. I published a separate page for the first five secrets and have posted  secrets six through ten. I have it on good authority that there are well over thirty secrets, enough to fill a small book.

But I digress. Without further ado, and with the permission of the garden fairies, I can now share the eleventh secret.

Try new plants.

That's it. Try new plants.

Often we gardeners get stuck in a rut and plant the same plants over and over and over and over and over. Ad nauseum. I've even heard that some garden designers will do the same thing and offer the same palette of twenty or so plants that they know and are comfortable with it. Over and over and over and over again.  They may use the excuse that these are their signature plants, or some such lazy nonsense like that.

Just imagine, though, how nice it is to plant something different. In my garden, I avoided red. Can you imagine? Now I have the beautiful aster, 'Alma Potschke', (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) just beginning to show its bright reddish-pink color in my garden and I couldn't be happier with it.

Across the way is the red flowering OSO EASY™ Cherry Pie rose, Rosa 'Meiboulka'.
OSO EASY™ Cherry Pie rose, Rosa 'Meiboulka'
Please note that I'm not converting my entire garden over to red flowers, but the few that I have will always remind me that one of the secrets to happiness in your garden is to try new plants. Branch out. Do it. Find a plant that you've never grown before, pick a color you've avoided, and plant them in your garden.

Or as in my case, listen to your garden designer and the hort-enabler when they push you to include new-to-you plants in your garden. You'll see. It will make you happy to have something new.

Try new plants.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - September 2011

Short's Goldenrod, Solidago shortii
Welcome to Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day for September 2011.

Here in my USDA Hardiness Zone 5b garden in central Indiana, I feel as though I am reliving the same September that we had in 2010, yearning for some rain to fall.

The primary difference is that this year, I have a garden border that was designed and planted to be in prime bloom late in the season. I spent most of my time there looking at blooms, mostly because I couldn't look at the mess that some of the other areas of the garden are in right now.

In my late blooming border, though, I have goldenrod blooming, in particular the world's rarest goldenrod, Solidago shortii.

I also have some new asters starting to bloom. One is a dark reddish pink ('Alma Potschke') and the other one is more the traditional violet blue.
This is Symphyotrichum novae-angliae 'Purple Dome'.

Nearby, Boltonia asteroides 'Snowbank' covers part of the high summer blooming border.
When I squint to look through it, it does make it appear like I'm looking through falling snow to see the garden. Falling snow? Perish the thought of it now, though it has turned much cooler as of yesterday and I thought I heard the weatherman say "patchy frost".

Elsewhere in the garden, I have some OSO EASY™ Cherry Pie roses, Rosa 'Meiboulka' that have survived in full sun with almost no extra watering.
Imagine how they would do if I actually gave them a little care. This one's a keeper for sure, even though it is as red as any flower in my "I don't like red flowers" garden.

It's fun to see what we end up with when we forget about what we don't do, and just go ahead and do it anyway. I must credit my garden designer and the hort-enabler for pushing me a bit to allow this "red" rose to be planted in my garden.

Out in the front, another keeper rose is Sunny Knock Out® Rose, Rosa x 'Radsunny'.
It's got a little bit of everything going on right now. Buds, blooms, faded blooms, and the beginnings of rose hips. I do nothing to it. Nothing. And look at that beautiful foliage. Not a hint of black spot.

I'd like to claim it is all my doing, but really, since I do nothing, that would be taking way too much credit. I might as well give credit to the praying mantis that seems to have taken up residence in its branches.

I am a traditionalist at heart so I'll wrap up this bloom day post with a traditional September bloom - tall sedum, Hylotelephium sp.
These plants are also carefree and seemed to have thrived in the hot, dry summer. All in bloom now in September. They are buzzing with bees and butterflies which flock to them like a gardener flocks to a plant sale. They just can't seem to get enough.

I'd show you more blooms, but the rest of the blooms shall be noted to have looked as though they just survived another hot, dry summer, with 42 days of temperatures that were 90F or above and very little rain. The edges of their leaves are crispy, their blooms are all mussed up, and they have seen better seasons.

They, and I, are happy to see the beginnings of fall, a time to renew the garden, renew are spirits, and plan for another spring.

What’s blooming in your garden?

We would love to have you join in for Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day. It’s easy to participate and all are invited!

Just post on your blog about what is blooming in your garden on the 15th of the month and leave a comment to tell us what you have waiting for us to see so we can pay you a virtual visit. Then leave your name and the url to your bloom day post in the Mr. Linky widget below so we'll know where to find you.

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

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

We see it all in the Fall, and hear a new secret

We see it all in the Fall.

There's a remnant of spring in the new yellow rose buds, a touch of summer in the white rose flower, and a bit of fall in the orange rosehips, all on the same branch of a rose.

If you look carefully, you'll see that there is also a praying mantis hanging from the rose, looking at me as I happily snapped pictures for the upcoming Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.

What? The praying mantis is trying to tell me something?  I wonder.  Really? The praying mantis has a secret for me?  Goodness gracious.

I stood there quietly.  I listened. I learned.  And when the mantis had finished, I thanked her, left her be and went on about my business.
I can assure you, the mantis not only provides directions, she also tells secrets. At least she tells secrets to those who are willing to stop and listen.

The secret is...

Garden fairies here!  This secret is not one to be shared like the other ten gardening secrets Carol has already broadcast to the world on her blog. We are garden fairies. We know the mantis's secret. We will not let Carol share it. Sorry.  No can do. We are garden fairies. We will remain steadfast and vigilant over this post. We will not let Carol so carelessly reveal a secret like this. Sorry, gardeners, there is nothing to see or read here. Go on about your gardening business and come back for bloom day.  Move along now,  don't dally. Honestly.  Okay, fine, leave a comment to beg us to share the secret, but we are garden fairies. It will take several meetings and councils and much discussion before we could ever be coaxed into revealing something this big and we are garden fairies, we do not like meetings. We are garden fairies. We've said too much as it is.

Secret saved by Thorn Goblinfly,
Chief Scribe for the Garden Fairies at May Dreams Gardens

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Bulb hoarding

As soon as I read the headline, a thousand thoughts went through my mind.

Did I buy enough bulbs this spring for fall planting? People are hoarding bulbs. Why are they hoarding flower bulbs? Do they know something I don't know? Is there a shortage of bulbs this fall? Maybe I should go buy some more now? People are hoarding bulbs. Should I send emails to make sure the bulbs I pre-ordered in the spring are really going to be shipped to me this fall? Oh, dear. I need to let other gardeners know. But should I wait  until after I've made sure I have enough bulbs to tell them? After all people are hoarding bulbs. What do they know that I don't know? 

Then I finished reading the rest of the headline.

Oh, they are hoarding light bulbs. Well, never mind then. Whew. That was a close call. Really, seriously, who would hoard flower bulbs. It seems ridiculous to even consider.

But then again, maybe I should double-check on those spring flowering bulbs I pre-ordered? I'm sure when I ordered them in the spring, I thought I was ordering enough. Now I'm not so sure. I think I'll need a few more. After all, every spring when the bulbs come up, I never think I have enough of them.

Yes, I should pretend like I didn't pre-order bulbs this spring and go ahead and get some more. Yes, that's exactly what I should do, just in case...


Yes, Dr. Hortfreud? What a surprise to hear from you.

Carol, I'm here because you seem a bit traumatized by this bulb article, and it isn't even about flower bulbs.

Well, wouldn't it scare you if you thought there weren't going to be enough flower bulbs to go around this fall?

Maybe a little, but I think you've gone a bit overboard. Why don't you go look at your pre-orders and see what you have coming before you go off and buy even more bulbs?

Dr. Hortfreud, that sounds like a good idea, a very practical suggestion. But I'm still going to buy more bulbs.

Carol, if it weren't for the confidentiality of our sessions, I think I have enough material to write an article about real bulb hoarders. I think I know one...

You do? Who?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Auditioning insects

Fall, and the insects line up on the flowers like actresses and actors at an open audition.

They hover, waiting to be noticed, to be discovered. Who will be the big star, who will be the next "glamour bug" to be featured on a blog, or in a magazine article, or even in a book?

"All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close up."

Some like this un-named waspy type insect with that menacing stinger are more suited to tough guy roles.

"We'll call you if we need you. Security, please watch this one to make sure he doesn't make any sudden moves toward us."

Next up is a butterfly.

So predictable, the butterflies are always the star of the show.  They are attractive and few people run screaming in the other direction when they see one.  This would be a safe choice.

"Can you come back and bring lots of your friends, Ms. Butterfly? We are casting for a big dance number with asters as the backdrop and we think you'd be perfect for it."

Or do we want to go with an unknown, tiny insect, waiting to be discovered.
I don't know, she looks a little small for the part.

"Kid, come back later when you've added a few ounces."

This bee looks like he just came for the free food.
 Surely there is a role for this insect, maybe as a sumo wrestler?

"Can someone re-stock the buffet table for the sumo wrestler bees, please."

Good news, there are parts and roles for all these insects. After all, we are auditioning them for a giant insect flash mob to take place in my garden, and your garden, on a sunny September day, when the fall flowers are blooming, the sky is blue, and the garden is being prepared for another season.

Watch for it, it will happen when you least expect it.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Five Daily Habits that Lead to Happiness

At a recent gathering here at May Dreams Gardens, those who claim residence in this humble place came up with a list of daily habits that they thought would make people happy and gardeners even happier.

It was quite the meeting with everyone talking at once, the usual suspects claiming superiority (hint, they are garden fairies) and the peace makers sitting back at the beginning to observe the proceedings before calmly stepping forward and bringing order to the disorder. (Thank you, Dr. Hortfreud and the Old Woman at the Door)

I’m amazed that after all was said and done, we ended up with the following list of proposed daily habits that we think will make people happy and gardeners even happier.

From Dr. Hortfreud… Breathe fresh air, and if you can do so while exercising outside, so much the better.

From Hortense Hoelove… Smell a flower, and if you can have some fresh flowers around you all the time wherever you are, so much the better.

From Gloriosa Vanderhort… Touch a leaf, and if you can have a plant nearby at all times, so much the better.

From The Old Woman at the Door… Sow a seed, and if you can sow seeds of kindness and helpfulness along with plants, so much the better.

And finally,

From the Garden Fairies… Get your hands dirty in real dirt, and if in doing so you create a lovely garden for them to live in, so much the better.

So there you have it - a list of five daily habits that we here at May Dreams Gardens believe will make people happier and gardeners even happier.

Breathe fresh air, smell a flower, touch a leaf, sow a seed, and get your hands dirty in real dirt.

I think I’ll try it for a while and see how it goes.

Monday, September 05, 2011

The rush of time

I feel the rush of time moving through the garden. It rides the breeze that brings the cooler weather. It rattles the dry stalks of corn, still standing in the garden. It scurries by with the first leaves blowing across the patio.

There is still much to do as summer winds down. I should be rushing around the garden like I do in the spring. But I feel like taking it much slower, as though my slowing down will slow the passing of this summer into fall and eventually halt the arrival of winter.

Henry David Thoreau wrote, “Live in each season as it passes”. I find that difficult to do in the fall. In the fall I am either looking back at what was the garden or planning what will be the garden next spring. Fall planting, after all, is planting for tomorrow, for a new spring, for next summer.

But I’ll do my best, as the cooler breeze carries time through the garden, to make the most of each day we have left in this season. That’s all that any of us can do.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

When a gardener shops for furniture

When a gardener shops for furniture, her eye is drawn to the wood furniture with the carvings of leaf branches.

She wonders what plant that might be and if it is botanically correct. After all, she would not want just any plant to twine up her bed post or decorate the corner of a chest of drawers.

She decides, though, that this plant is okay because it does  not have "leaves of three" so it probably isn't a horrible plant like poison ivy.

She sees these pictures of the Beatles and thinks that she would not decorate with this picture.

But she might consider other beetles. Then she thinks about how some people find insects to be creepy and might not feel at ease in a room decorated with pictures of them all over, so she decides that if someone is going to decorate with an insect motif, they should stick with butterflies and other pretty insects.
 She notes that botanical prints can still be found.

And thinks these would look good in her house because they are mostly green.

She notices this green bedside table,

And thinks that even though she likes green, it is so bright it might keep her up at night. She later sees this arrangement of potted fake plants on another bedside table,

And thinks it would be nice to wake up with it by your bed, only she would want the plants to be real.

She checks out some of the upholstered furniture,

And is reminded that just because something is floral, it doesn't mean it is pretty. She would not buy this.

She would, however, buy this chest of drawers,

Just for the arrangement on top.

Finally, when a gardener shops for furniture, she ends up in the mattress section

And is reminded that beds are for vegetable gardens and borders are for flowers and that she has spent quite enough time shopping for furniture. The garden awaits...

Friday, September 02, 2011

I was once a solitary gardener

I sat down last night to write out a blog post based on a presentation I gave as a participant in a panel discussion on garden blogging at the recent Garden Writers Association symposium in Indianapolis.   Dee of Red Dirt Ramblings and Mary Ann of Gardens of the Wild West were on the panel with me and we titled our discussion "Down the Garden Blogging Path".

We wanted to tell others how garden blogging led to other opportunities in garden writing.

And so I began...

I was once a solitary gardener...

I quickly decided that the entire story, which took about 20 minutes to tell, was too long for a blog post so I'll provide the ending.

I was once a solitary gardener.

In between the beginning and the ending, I told my story.  To sum it up, garden blogging was and is like opening up the gate to your private garden, your private world, and letting others come in. Once inside, they are encouraging and supportive and will prod you right along.  They'll even pull you out of your private garden world into a bigger, broader world of other gardeners who share the same passion and interest you share in gardening and plants, and writing about them.

My list of who to thank is long and grows longer every week, but includes Dee and Mary Ann, and Jo Ellen, the Hoosier Gardener, plus Pam of Digging and Jean of Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. And I can't forget Robin Chotzinoff who once wrote that I was a garden blogging rock star.  They all gave me the courage to open the gate to my garden and see what was on the other side of it, even as I shared what was on my side of it.

I finished my portion of our presentation with this quote from one of my favorite garden writers, Elizabeth Lawrence. She was known for corresponding with many gardeners from all areas of the country and all walks of life. Many of us believe Elizabeth would have jumped right into garden blogging had she been alive now.

 In The Little Bulbs:  A Tale of Two Gardens, published in 1957, she wrote.

“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 experience 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 gardens alone.”

So that’s my story… I was once a solitary gardener who wanted to write and share about her garden and now thanks to starting a garden blog, I’m in a supportive community of garden writers. Since I started my garden blog, I've had the opportunity to write articles for magazines and I write a weekly newspaper column on gardening. Plus, as of this past week, I've participated in a panel discussion at the Garden Writers Association symposium with two of my favorite friends and fellow garden writers.

I wonder what will happen next?