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Monday, October 31, 2011

Personal Assistant for a Gardener

I am thrilled to announce that I have hired a new personal assistant - Miss J. Hortaway.

Miss Hortaway will help me organize the list of bulbs I just planted, so I can easily determine the names of the flowers when they bloom. Then she can assist with cataloging all the other plants in the garden.

She used to work for a banker in Beverly Hills, California, and for some reason keeps calling me "Chief". She is also very much into bird watching and so I expect she'll frequently remind me to fill my bird feeders throughout the winter.

I've got loads of other ideas for how Miss Hortaway can help me. Later this winter, I'll tell her what seeds I want to plant in the spring, and she'll make sure they get ordered in a timely manner. I may also dictate my blog posts to her and she can type them up. I hear the garden fairies may do the same.

She joins other personas characters staff, including my stylist, Gloriosa Vanderhort, who has said she forbids Miss Hortaway from suggesting even the shoes I should wear. She thinks Miss Hortaway is very efficient and all, but says she doesn't know a whit about fashion and style.

Dr. Hortfreud says she is in favor of me getting some help around here, as she is encouraging me to start some new endeavors this winter that will keep me busier than usual.  Her opinion is that hiring a personal assistant can't hurt, especially one as experienced as Miss Hortaway.

Others around are withholding judgment until they see how Miss Hortaway works out and if she sticks around or runs back to Beverly Hills.

I'll keep everyone posted, or rather, I'll ask Miss Hortaway to do so.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Bulbs, in the generic sense

I finished planting bulbs today, in the generic sense, meaning that I planted bulbs, corms and tubers for spring flowers.

Some gardeners, both new and experienced, take great delight in correcting people who say they planted bulbs when they actually planted corms, like these crocus corms that I planted in the lawn out back.

I planted 800 crocus corms which should result in a nice display for early spring.

Those people who quibble about corms versus bulbs likely don't even know the difference between them. I learned it at some point because I probably had to know the answer for a test in college back in the day. Today, I have less need for that information.

For the record, though, if you cut a true bulb in half, you'll find it has layers of what will be the leaves when it grows in the spring. If you cut a corm in half, you'll find fleshy stem tissue.

Then there are tubers, which are like potatoes.

I planted these tubers today.
These are Anemone blanda 'Charmer', also known as windflowers. This particular variety will be pink.

I also planted some true bulbs of daffodils, using this handy rockery trowel.

When I bought the rockery trowel years ago, I had no idea what I would use it for, but it was a trowel I'd never seen so I got it anyway.

As it turns out, it is the perfect trowel for planting smaller bulbs. You thrust it into the ground, push it forward, drop a bulb, or a corm, or a tuber, behind it, then pull it out and tamp down. Gosh, I'm glad I bought this trowel.  (If you want one, I know that the Garden Tool Company carries a couple different brands of it.)

I'm looking forward now to my spring flower display, a mix of old bulbs that should return and new bulbs just planted.

By the way, if you felt a need to correct me just now for writing "a mix of old bulbs that should return and new bulbs just planted" and think I should have written "a mix of old bulbs, corms, and tubers, etc., then  Dr. Hortfreud suggests that you have other issues to resolve, too. She thinks you probably also take great delight in telling people that a tomato is a fruit and not a vegetable.  She thinks you should get over it and just go plant your own bulbs, in the generic sense, before it is too late.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Guest Post: Garden Fairies Explain Fall Leaf Color

Garden fairies here. We are garden fairies and we are doing this special guest post to explain fall foliage color.

Many gardeners, as we call people who come out into our gardens and plant, prune, primp, etc. while taking full credit for what we garden fairies do but we are garden fairies so we don't mind, we actually do not like to be in the spotlight and so we have our ways to put these gardeners in their places and oh my, this sentence has really run off course like a sweet potato vine that has grown out of its pot and into the one next to it.

Whew, what just happened there? We are garden fairies, we get a pass on the above.

Anyway, as we were writing, many gardeners (see above) think that it is the garden fairies who turn the leaves all kinds of colors in the fall.

We are garden fairies, we would love to take credit for this miracle but we are too honest to do that.

It is not the garden fairies who make the leaves turn red, orange, yellow, bronze, brown, burgundy, auburn, magenta, maroon, gold, and even purple.

It is the tree sprites.

Tree sprites are very tiny little creatures who start out each spring all full of vim and vigor. They make something called chlorophyll, which is a green color, so that all the leaves are green in the spring. They do this in their chlorophyll factories which we garden fairies have seen. These factories are amazing places and those tree sprites have perfected their chlorophyll making abilities so that they can make almost any shade of green.

They make more shades of green than Carol has hanging in her closet which as we garden fairies know and have seen is full of green clothes.

Anyway, when fall comes and it starts to get cold and the mornings are darker and evenings come earlier, the tree sprites close up shop so to speak, shut down their chlorophyll making machines, pack their bags, and start heading south. They travel in big groups, coming down from the north and pick up new tree sprites along the way until before you know it, there are legions of tree sprites heading south for the winter. 

Obviously, once the tree sprites start to head south for the winter, no more chlorophyll is made so then the leaves show their true colors and oh-my we are garden fairies we think those leaves are the prettiest things we've ever seen and we have seen a lot.
 
Now some garden fairies, but not very many garden fairies, would like to take credit for fall foliage. They argue that people think it is we garden fairies who turn the foliage all kinds of colors, so why not take the credit for it?

But we are garden fairies so we categorically, euphorically, metaphorically, and hortically will not take credit where credit it is not due to us.

We would never do that to our brethren and sistren, the tree sprites. Because if we did, the tree sprites might get upset and stubbornly decide not to make chlorophyll ever again and tell us garden fairies to make the chlorophyll. But we are garden fairies, we have no idea in the world how to make chlorophyll, so we would have fall foliage colors in the spring, and that would just not be right.

Now, we garden fairies are absolutely responsible for cutting the leaves off the trees once they have lost all their green color. We take this job quite seriously and do the trees in a specific order.

Our favorite thing to do is wait until the gardener has cleared off all the leaves we previously cut off and then cut off more of them.  This causes the gardener all kinds of extra work with raking and all.  Then we sit up in the trees and watch until the ground is all cleared of leaves again and repeat until all the leaves have been cut off the trees.

One of the last leaves we cut off the trees are the oaks, like this scarlet oak pictured above. We might just wait until Christmas to cut off these leaves.

So in conclusion, we are garden fairies, as we have mentioned, and we are pleased to have set the record straight on fall foliage. Now, please spend some time enjoying the pretty fall foliage colors and thank the tree sprites for the chlorophyll... and for stopping production each fall to let the trees show their true colors.

Submitted by Thorn Goblinfly,
Chief Scribe for the Garden Fairies at May Dreams Gardens where the tree sprites have just left and the trees are really colorful right now.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Hoes, everywhere

I did a bit of traveling last week for work and found myself in a Cracker Barrel where much of the decor included old gardening tools.  Hoes, shovels, rakes, grass trimmers, even an old wheelbarrow, were hanging on the walls and suspended from the ceiling.

I took some pictures with my iPhone, most of which didn't turn out because of the lighting, but you can just imagine how surreal exciting it was to find myself in such a place.

My traveling companion acted as though she didn't know me, as I stood in wonder looking at all those gardening tools, taking pictures, and exclaiming over them.

I do like gardening tools.  The older the better, just like gardening books.

No one knows quite where this love of gardening tools came from.  My dad owned just one hoe, one rake, and one shovel, plus an assortment of trowels, but only one trowel at a time.

And here I am with more than one hoe, more than one rake, more than one shovel, and several trowels, all owned at the same time. 

No one quite knows...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I hope

I've not seen my garden in the daylight since Monday.

I hope it is okay. I was gone. It rained.

When I got home, I went out in the dark and checked the rain gauge. There was water up to the five inch mark. Is it right? I don't know, but a plastic bucket left out seems to have water to about that same depth standing in it, so maybe it is close.

I have other hopes yet for fall.

I hope for clearer skies, October skies, so that I can plant bulbs this weekend along with a few plants that will do better over the winter if planted in the ground rather than left in pots.

I hope the rain-softened ground gives up the weeds easily, because I plan to pull weeds this weekend, too, and the last of whatever is left in the vegetable garden.

I hope that when I see my red maple in the daylight, its leaves are turning red. Fall, so far, has not been all that colorful, leaf-wise. We could use some stunning fall color.

I hope that the rains have not finished off the asters, like 'October Skies' pictured above, and they'll still have some color on them when I see them in the daylight.

I hope the rains have and will continue to rejuvenate the garden after the dry summer. So far, they seem to be doing that.

I hope that when Halloween comes around, the Halloween Hare shows mercy on my garden, no matter what condition it is in by then.  I hope you also believe in the Halloween Hare and will throw a few pieces of candy out in your garden for him to find on Halloween.

I hope you also have fun in your garden this weekend, wherever your garden is and no matter what the weather is.

I hope.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Old Woman at the Door Visits Again

I was working about in the garden on Sunday when out of the corner of my eye, I saw her walking toward me.

She was wearing her usual attire, this time it was jeans with a long-sleeved green t-shirt. Once again she reminded me of someone I should know, but I wasn't quite sure who. As she walked toward me, with a smile on her face, I greeted her like an old friend, wondering all the while what she wanted.

She admired the flowering cabbage and told me she was a bit surprised that this was the first time I'd planted it for fall. I had to admit, those cabbages did look good, three in one container and one in another. They were simple decorations for fall and would be easy to care for. She felt certain I would plant them next fall, too. How could she know?

After some more mindless chit chat, she got around to the reason for her visit - she wanted to tell me something, give me some advice. I had expected that was the case. The Old Woman at the Door seemed to always have some advice or insight to share with me.

"Carol, do you know what's the fastest moving thing around here?"

I took a guess. Was it the speed at which your neighbor's leaves will blow into your yard after you've finished raking on a pleasant weekend afternoon?

"Sounds like you've been working on that analogy for awhile."

I couldn't lie. I had been looking for just the right opportunity to use it. Faster than a blowing leaf...

"Carol, though leaves are fast moving, I was actually thinking that Time is faster, especially when you look at it in the rear view mirror that everyone carries with them. You look back and you can't believe have fast Time has gone by. But when you look forward, Time seems deceptively slow, like it will take forever to get here. Keep that in mind."

Then, just as quick as I looked down at some weeds tickling my ankle and then back up at the Old Woman, she had once again disappeared. Honestly, she must be the fastest thing around here, the way she comes and goes in what seems like the blink of an eye.

I had no idea why she decided to tell me about Time, but decided I'd think it over some more while I pulled weeds and worked on getting the garden ready for winter. Funny how just a few weeks ago, I thought I had a lot of time to clean up the garden and plant some bulbs. Now, looking at the calendar, I could see that Time was moving quickly. The Old Woman at the Door was right about that.

But why did she make it a point to tell me this now?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Shocking bloom appears at May Dreams Gardens

INDIANAPOLIS - A fothergilla was recently found to be blooming at May Dreams Gardens.  This plant, Fothergill gardenii, generally blooms in early spring, in the April timeframe, and has  previously not been known to bloom in the fall.

"I was walking along the east side of the house when these blooms caught my eye", said Carol M, the owner of May Dreams Gardens. "At first, I didn't know what they were because I never imagined such a thing as fothergilla blooming in October. Usually this time of the year its foliage is starting to turn all shades of red and orange."

Carol went on to say that this fothergilla was one of those that the garden designer moved to this location in the spring of 2010. It luckily survived the dry summer of 2010 and reportedly flowered well in the spring of 2011.

"I did notice", said Carol, "that at one point this summer I thought the drought had killed this shrub. In fact, now that I think about it, at one time there were two fothergilla in this border, but now there is just one, so the other one must have died and I cut it back. Yes, now I remembering doing that.

Local garden authorities were not available for comment but are studying photos of the plant to determine if this fall bloom is drought related.
Carol, on the advice of her garden counsel, coincidentally named Fothergilla Lee Hortlaw, or F. Lee Hortlaw as he is known to most, later declined to further speculate on the cause of these fall blooms. She did say that she wished she had noticed these blooms a day earlier when it was Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, as it would have created quite a sensation. She also expressed gratitude for all who posted for this monthly Internet meme.

A local resident, who refused to identify herself said, "Absolutely, if Carol had watered this plant at all this summer, it would not have flowered. But now that it has flowered, we garden fairies are going to take advantage of the situation and pick some of these for ourselves."

Other local gardeners seemed to be a little on edge with this recent bloom sighting. As one said, "We used to say 'when fothergilla blooms in the fall' to mean that something was never going to happen. Now we can't even say that any more."

Related story: Dr. Hortfreud reports increase in patient referrals.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - October 2011

Welcome to Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day for October 2011.

Here in my USDA Hardiness Zone 5b garden in central Indiana the first two weeks of October have been some of the best "summer" days we've had all year.

Out in the vegetable garden, it looks like summer with a volunteer petunia growing in a fallow bed where lettuce and radishes grew earlier in the spring.

The marigolds look as fresh as ever, unaware of the pending change in weather.
The zinnias have also never looked better this late in the season.
There's no sign of powdery mildew on these zinnias, and no signs that they'll slow down blooming for awhile.

I think both the marigolds and zinnias are doing so well because I sowed the seeds much later than in other years and we've not yet had any frost.

But though the garden looks summer-like if you look in a few places, elsewhere it is decidedly fall. The toad-lilies, the last new blooms every year are winding down.
This one is Tricyrtis 'Imperial Banner'.

These asters, Symphyotrichum novae-angliae, a favorite passalong plant, are going strong.
I also have some named varieties of asters elsewhere in the garden, but these asters will always be my favorite because they came from my aunt who originally got them from my Dad.

Some of the trees also know it is fall. The honey locust tree has dropped almost all its leaves.
The fallen leaves nearly cover dianthus still sending out new shoots and blooms.
Silly flowers. Don't they know that fall is here and someday, maybe next week, we will have a killing frost?

Once that frost happens, even the red maple, Acer rubrum, will have to get with the fall program and turn more than one leaf red.
That's what's blooming and changing in my garden here in mid-October. What's going on in your garden? What's blooming?

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

Thursday, October 13, 2011

One garden or many gardens?

Given a choice would you prefer to have one garden that was yours to tend for many years so that you could enjoy the trees and plants you planted and see how they mature and how the garden evolves over time?

Or would you prefer to have many gardens, each that you tend for only a short time so that  you could start over with a new garden every few years or so and try new plants and designs that might not have been possible in your previous gardens?

One choice...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

In Defense of Procrastination: A Guest Post

Garden fairies here!

We are garden fairies and so we never do anything when we are supposed to do it. We procrastinate.  In fact, we are procrastinating right now and doing a mighty find job of it.  After all, what's the big rush all about? We are garden fairies, we need to think about what that really means because "rush" isn't really part of our vocabulary.

We do feel like there are some people who shall remain nameless namely Carol here at May Dreams Gardens who think that procrastination is a sign of weakness, unless of course she is the one doing the procrastinating.  Then she calls it pondering, weighing her options, taking care of other business, ruminating. Well, we are garden fairies so we call a spade a spade and a hoe a hoe and we know what procrastination looks like and that's just what she does sometimes.

In fact, Carol procrastinated all the way until June 17th this summer before she sowed seeds for zinnias and marigolds.

We are garden fairies and we were a little bit worried that she wasn't going to sow them at all and we were going to have to resort to drastic measures the likes of which we can not tell you because we are garden fairies and we have secrets.  We are good keepers of secrets, too.

Anyway, where were we?  Oh, right.  Finally, right before we put "Operation Make Her Sow Those Seeds" into action, Carol sowed seeds for zinnias and marigolds on June 17th. We actually were going to do something earlier but we were, well, procrastinating. But we are garden fairies so don't get all "gasp, you wouldn't do that" on us. We would, eventually.

Anyway, the zinnia seeds germinated, the seedlings came up, and Carol did a good job of thinning them out. Now, nearly four months later, she has the most beautiful stand of zinnias that we garden fairies have ever seen.

Look at this one!

This one is so nice that we would like to give it to a little garden fairy we call Queen Atakia which is short for "all the answers, knows it all". Though she is the nicest garden fairy, she always pipes up with an answer whenever there is a question.  Her real name is Fernleaf Gravelgarden. Nice as can be.  Yes, she knows we call her Queen Atakia sometimes. She doesn't mind. She laughs about it, too.

Anyway, these zinnias are still blooming and growing in mid-October and there is not even a hint of that awful powdery mildew on any of the leaves. This is nearly unheard of.

Well, we are garden fairies so we aren't sure why this is, but we wonder if it is because Carol planted these a full month later than she normally does.  Or was it the weather? Or were these special zinnias?   We aren't sure, even Queen Atakia doesn't have a definitive answer.  But we are garden fairies and we love these zinnias and plan to enjoy them for as long as they last this season. 

We may even come up with a scheme to make sure Carol sows her zinnia seeds late next year, too.

We are garden fairies, we can do that!

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

Monday, October 10, 2011

Throw me a liana

Throw me a liana and  hoist me up out of this new rabbit hole I've been exploring.

Liana, you ask? 

Yes, liana - a woody vine that is rooted at the ground and uses trees and other vertical structures to climb up. That's the first thing I found in this rabbit hole.

Liana - like this Trumpet Creeper vine, Campsis radicans, that is growing up and over a metal trellis in my sister's garden. I remember when they got it, they were all excited about their new Clematis.   I hated to burst their little gardening bubble of excitement, but I told them it was nothing more than common trumpet vine.

I said... "Remember how the neighbor had that big vine that grew up through that spruce tree in their front yard and every year he tried to cut it back and it always grew back and had those big orange flowers on it?"

"Yes."

"That's what you just bought."

They kept it anyway. In their defense, it is not a bad vine. It is just a big woody vine, a liana, that needs the right home.   I think their metal trellis is a good home for it.

A few days ago, I saw the seed pods on this Trumpet Creeper. I'd never seen them up close before, or remembered them if I had. This sent me down into the rabbit hole to find out what family this plant comes from.  I didn't plan to stay long in that rabbit hole.

It's in the Bignoniaceae, also known as the Trumpet Creeper family.

You know what other plant is in the Trumpet Creeper family? Catalpa, as in the southern catalpa tree, Catalpa bignonioides and the northern catalpa tree, Catalpa speciosa.

My grandmother had a big catalpa tree in her backyard and we always called it the cigar tree. It also had long seed pods that hung from its high branches. When they finally fell to the ground, we'd pick them up and want to take piles of them home. I'm not sure what we ever did with them, once we had them in our little fists.  We (because I assume my sisters and brother thought the same) had visions of Indians picking them up and actually smoking them as cigars, because sometimes the grown ups called it the Indian cigar tree. We had no idea where cigars actually came from, never knew that cigars were made, not grown, so why not think they grew on trees? We were little kids, what did we know of these worldly things? 

As far as the tree, I presume it was a northern catalpa (C. speciosa) because that species is native in this area. 

I don't recall if it ever had catalpa worms on it, though.  That's what we called the larva of the catalpa sphinx moth that feeds on the leaves of the catalpa tree in the spring. I've seen those worms in other catalpa trees over the years, just not in my grandmother's old tree. Catalpa worms are supposed to be an excellent fishing bait, though I have no personal experience with this.  I'm not much into fishing. I'm guessing my Dad, who was a fisherman, might have tried to fish with catalpa worms. As I recall, you could buy them in the spring at bait shops. You probably still can.

Anyway, back to lianas. I also discovered that the seeds of the Trumpet Creeper vine have to be stratified (exposed to cold for a period of time) to germinate.  Remember that if you decide to collect some seeds and sprout your own.   Remember also that this particular liana is somewhat invasive in some areas so plant with caution.  Maybe, if possible, you should remove the seed pods before they mature, just to keep it from self-sowing elsewhere in your garden.

So, where's that liana? Hoist me up with it, I've been down here in this Bignoniaceae rabbit hole long enough, exploring woody vines, large trees, and remembering times when I was a kid.

Whew, that's a pretty nice rabbit hole, if you ask me.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

The best days of summer so far

Symphyotrichum oblongifolium 'October Skies'.
These October days have been the best days of summer so far this year.

In all likelihood, we probably did have some nice summer days, but they are crowded out by the memory of one hot, dry day after the next through most of July and August.

Now that it is October, the mornings are cool and the afternoons are warm, but not hot. The sun is shining and the sky is as blue as the aptly named aster, 'October Skies' (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium 'October Skies'.)

There are many signs, though, that this is October, not summer. The most obvious sign is the shortened days. Until we "fall back" an hour for the seasonal time change, it is dark in the mornings until well past 7:00 am. It also gets dark earlier each evening.

Outside, the leaves of the honey locust blanket the newly planted ground cover bed around its base.
The honey locust tree is always the first to lose its leaves each fall.  I'll just leave these leaves in place to decay and enrich the soil.

In this same bed one of the toad-lilies is blooming.
Tricyrtis 'Imperial Banner'
I just planted it a few weeks ago. They told me at Soules Garden where I purchased this 'Imperial Banner' toad-lily that it would have foliage that was nearly all green in spring and gradually become more variegated through summer and fall.  The toad-lilies are usually the last new flowers of the season here in my garden.

Elsewhere in the back, at the edge of Plopper's Field, my passalong asters are all blooming now, too.
Some people call these Michaelmas daisies because they generally bloom beginning in late September, especially around September 29th, the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel.  They are covered with bees and butterflies who know that these nice days will not last forever.

I also know that these October summer days will not last forever.

I find myself wanting to admire the days away rather than scurry around the garden preparing for winter like the squirrels are doing now.  I'll fight that urge to just sit and be, though hopefully there is time for that, too.  I'll mow the lawn, which is growing like summer now. Soon I'll be planting bulbs for spring flowers. Two of four bulb orders have already been delivered; the other two orders are surely on their way.

I'll perhaps add some mulch to the flower beds and  plant a hand for Halloween.
I'm still working on the placement of the hand, but I have a few weeks to get it right. I hope those few weeks are as nice as last week.

These October days have been the best days of summer... even though it is fall now.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Hortense Hoelove Ponders Gardening and Answers Questions

"Golden leaves carpet the ground beneath the honey locust, each one a memory of summer."

Dear Hortense Hoelove,

What is it about fall that makes us become reflective and sedentary?

Signed,

Goldie

Dear Goldie,

Speak for yourself. I've got four bulb orders on their way and an entire garden to weed and clean up for fall. I also need to clean up the garage and make sure that all of the hoes are safely stored for the winter. Plus, I need to entice the garden fairies into the sun room, plant some hands in the garden for Halloween and oh, my look at the time. I need to get to work.

Anyway, there will be time to reflect on summer and gardening when it is too cold to be outside. In the meantime, I can assure you that the leaves of the honey locust are so small and fine there is no need to rush out there with your best leaf rake so you can rake them all into a big pile. Just mow over those that fall on the lawn and leave those that fall on the borders and beds alone. It looks nice and fall like.

Busily,
Hortense


Dear Hortense,

I need help putting the fun back into gardening. Can you help?

Sincerely,
Drooping Dahlia

Dear Drooping,

Let's see... how to put the fun back in gardening. Would that make it garfundening? Or gardenfuning? Or maybe gfunardening, pronounced with a silent "g"?

I'm kidding. There are lots of ways to put the fun back in gardening. Start by making your garden a "garden fairy" friendly environment. Once you've done that -- who hoo -- there will be no end to the fun you'll have in gardening.

Garfundenly,
Hortense
(With assistance from Thorn Goblinfly, Chief scribe for the garden fairies for May Dreams Gardens)


Dear Ms. Hoelove,

What do you call someone who puts the fun in gardening?

Signed,
V. Q. Gardener

Dear V. Q.

I call someone who puts the fun in gardening a Garfundenologist.

Sincerely,
Hortense

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Five Tasks to Add to Your Gardening "To Do" List for October

Management at May Dreams Gardens has been advised by staff that many gardening "to do" lists published for October are not complete.

They lack certain key tasks that are regularly part of the gardening activities here.

Following are five of these missing tasks offered freely to  readers to add to their own lists.

(Management also believes in giving credit where credit is due and so has included the names of the individuals who came up with each item. Management does not wish to show preference for any one staff member over another and is therefore listing these in no particular order.)

When nights are cold, leave the doors to your house open just a crack and unattended for at least five minutes, then flick the porch light off and on a few times to signal the all clear for garden fairies to sneak inside. The garden fairies will spend the winter amongst the houseplants, be no bother at all (most of the time) and may even occasionally fill in for the toast fairies and make you a nice piece of toast on a cold Sunday morning. They promise that when they have their annual Christmas party with the tree fairies there will not be a repeat of last year's unfortunate incident which resulted in a broken tree ornament or two or three and a strand of lights that mysteriously stopped working.  (Submitted by Thorn Goblinfly, Chief Scribe for the Garden Fairies at May Dreams Gardens.)

Show your good style and sense of fun by planting a pair of hands in the garden in October. Oh, how the Halloween trick or treaters will jump when they see these beauties sticking up out of the ground.
Hands at Dragonfly Farms Nursery
But please refrain from making the hands look all bloody and gross. That would be classless and lacking in style. (Submitted by Gloriosa Vanderhort, Carol's garden stylist.)

Speaking of Halloween, make a note to throw a few pieces of candy around the garden for Halloween. This will ensure that your garden will be passed over by the Halloween Hare. Believe us, you want the Halloween Hare to find candy in your garden. Or else. Don't tempt him, leave the candy, leave lots of candy, preferably chocolate and no, popcorn balls are not candy.  (Submitted by the Halloween Hare.)

Make up with your houseplants. You know you neglected them all summer long. Soon you will need them. You will regret how you mistreated them when the garden was all a-bloom outside. Give them a nice bath, water them well, and freshen up their potting soil by removing the top layer and replacing it. They'll do so much better this winter and reward you with companionship, oxygen, and maybe, if you are lucky, a flower or two. (Submitted by Dr. Hortfreud.)

What should you do about the weeds? Evict them. Really, you've let the garden be overtaken with them. They are ruining the ambiance, sucking up the plant nutrients. They are thugs, thieves, tramps, and worse. I'm not going to be able to stay much longer if the conditions regarding the weeds get any worse than they are around here. (Submitted by Hortense Hoelove.)

Don't wait until the end of the month to complete your to do list for October. You'll regret it. But if you keep working in your garden a little bit at a time, every time the weather is good, you'll fall in love with your garden all over again. (Submitted by The Old Woman at the Door).

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Fall in love with your garden all over again

October has been declared to be "Fall in love with your garden all over again" month.

You'll find no links to the source of the declaration because THIS is the source.

The weather is perfect, the garden is waiting.

If you've ever loved a garden, this month is for you.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Decoded: Our thoughts turn to garden mysteries and secrets

Last night, I started watching episodes of Brad Meltzer's Decoded on The History Channel. For those who missed out on season one and the re-running of several episodes last night and this morning, Decoded features a professor/journalist, an engineer and a trial lawyer/skeptic who help author Brad Meltzer prove or disprove different mysteries and rumors of history.

I watched episodes about secret societies, the Statue of Liberty and John Wilkes Booth. Oh, and, how could I forget, I also viewed an episode about the end times as predicted by the Hopi and Mayan Indians, among others.

My thoughts turned to gardening, as they always do.

There are plenty of mysteries and rumors related to gardening, not to mention secret and not so secret societies. We could film an entire season and never leave the garden.

We could prove or disprove...

1. Who is the Old Woman in the Garden? Is she a real person? What is her background? Does she have any credentials to be offering advice?

2. What are the real origins of the Green Bandana Garden Club? Does it have ties to SGAFO or The Society? Who are the members and what do they do? Do they control what gets sold at the garden centers?

3. Where do colchicums come from? How do they emerge from the ground like that, with no protection, and have nary a spot of dirt on them?

4. How does compost work? What causes seemingly normal plant debris to turn into rich compost, full of nutrients that all plants need? Is alchemy involved?

Finally, as the season finale who could answer...

5. Do garden fairies really exist? Or are they figments of the imaginations of over-worked gardeners? We know that some garden fairies have received letters, which may or may not prove their existence. But was that a hoax? (Garden fairies here. We are insulted by this topic choice, we are garden fairies).

The garden is full of horttery, secrets, and unexplained mysteries. There is no end to the possible topics.

For our experts, I suggest myself, Dr. Hortfreud and Hortense Hoelove. Gloriosa Vanderhort will make us all look good.

It's sure to be the next big hit. Will you watch?