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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Guest Post: Garden Fairies write a poem

Garden Fairies here.

We have decided to write a very rarely seen garden fairy poem as a follow up to Carol's post from the other day in which she wrote a poem and also posted a poem that a squirrel supposedly wrote.

We say "supposedly wrote" in regards to the squirrel's poem because after reading it, we are highly suspicious that a squirrel actually wrote that.

We are garden fairies and we know a few things about squirrels and we have never known a squirrel to write anything, let alone a poem, which as garden fairies we know takes considerable more effort than just writing a few sentences.

But we would never come right out and say that a squirrel absolutely did not write that poem because we are garden fairies and look at us, we are writing a blog post.

We know that some people might be highly suspicious that we garden fairies are actually writing these posts but we don't care because we are garden fairies. People can believe or not believe whatever they want in our opinion as garden fairies.

And so people can believe or not believe that we actually wrote the poem that we are about to show everyone.

Before we wrote the poem, we garden fairies had a meeting and discussed what kind of poem we should write.

Ol' Sorghum Spittlebug thought we should write a limerick but that was vetoed overall because sometimes those limericks can get out of hand if you know what we mean and turn all dirty, and not dirty like dirt, but dirty as in, well, we are garden fairies, we don't really get into that kind of dirty.

Then Sweetpea Morningdew suggested that we write a sonnet. Whoa! We are garden fairies not Shakespeare, though there is some speculation that garden fairies did assist Mr. William with some of his sonnets but there is not really any proof, so everyone decided to skip that idea.

Oakleaf Spinnerweb suggested we should write an ode.  Everyone said no to the ode because that seemed like it would take too long and require a lot of thought. We are garden fairies and staying with one thought like that for awhile generally doesn't happen. No to the ode, no to the ode.

Finally, I, Thorn Goblinfly, convinced the other garden fairies that our poem should be a haiku as that will show that we are garden fairies since it is a very tidy, brief poem that matches our writing style of not using all kinds of extra, extraneous, superfluous words and would demonstrate how we try to make absolutely every single solitary word we use count for something when we decide that we are garden fairies and we are going to post something.

So without further ado, introduction or clarification, we present this haiku about squirrels:

Squirrel sitting there
Eating all the birdie's food
Making Carol mad.

Oh, we are garden fairies and we are so clever. We like haiku-type poems. We might write more of them.

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

(Note from the management at May Dreams Gardens:  We apologize for yet another frivolous blog post by the garden fairies and promise to return to serious garden blogging in the near future.)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Squirrel, Who Are You

I thought at first it was a lost fake fur stole.
The villain has arrived.

She easily climbed up the shepherd’s crook and draped herself upside down on the feeder to reach the bird seed. She began to gorge herself, for who knows how long, until I opened the door and hollered at her.

Then with one jump she was on the ground and sat there looking at me, no doubt waiting for me to leave.

I whistled a stern warning, she fled.

Then I wrote a poem about her, titled "Squirrel, Who Are You".

Squirrel, who are you?
Why do you eat the bird’s food?
What will be left for them when you are done?

Squirrel, who are you?
Who taught you to climb up the pole to the feeder?
Where do you hide when I holler at you?

Squirrel, who are you?
How do you explain yourself to the birds?
When will you leave my garden?

Squirrel, who are you?

Then I found a poem the squirrel left for me, titled "Carol, Who Are You".

Carol, who are you?
Why do you feed the birds?
What will you do when I am done eating?

Carol, who are you?
Who taught you that squirrels shouldn’t eat from bird feeders?
Where do you go after you holler at me?

Carol, who are you?
How do you explain your dislike of me?
When will you catch on that I am here to stay, especially as long as you feed me?

Carol, who are you?

I am not dealing with any ordinary squirrel here.

Let the sparring begin, with some ground rules.

Dear Squirrel,

Please make note of and follow these rules.

No digging up bulbs. This is an absolute must-follow rule.
No planting of black walnuts. (You think I didn’t know it was you who planted those black walnuts in the vegetable garden that sprouted into little seedling black walnut trees last year?)
No digging in containers.
No friends or parties.
No getting on the roof or in the gutters.
No babies, no squirrel piercings of any kind, no squirrel tattoos.
Leave the birds and rabbits alone, and only eat your share from the bird feeder.

The Management of May Dreams Gardens

(Note from the garden fairies -- Dear readers, we are garden fairies and we are keeping a close watch on this situation, as we think that it could get vol-a-tile if we do not keep a close watch. We also wrote a poem... but want it to be in its own post and not part of this one. There is far too much poetry in this post already for our taste. We are garden fairies.)

The Squirrel

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Revealing birds, fairies, and letters

Some gardeners are afraid to plant large shrubs that grow wide and tall. I'm not.

This Snowball Viburnum is a mass of branches and has many suckers around its base. But I leave it in its natural form because it provides cover for the birds in all seasons.

In winter, the lack of leaves reveals just how many birds enjoy the cover of this shrub. When I'm not standing nearby trying to take a picture, they are all over it, prancing from one limb to another, darting from it to the nearby feeders and then flying back when I open the back door.

I'll be entertained for hours this winter watching them and trying to figure out what kinds of birds they are.

Elsewhere in the garden, the hostas have died back revealing mossy alcoves here and there.
Any self-respecting gardener will recognize this as a garden fairy lair.

I am certain that throughout the winter, on sunny days  a garden fairy may be found sunning himself or herself on this mossy rock.  It is even harder, though, to be quiet enough to sneak up to this spot and actually see the garden fairies than it is to sneak up on the birds. They are too swift and alert to be caught out in the open by a big awkward gardener like me.

The best we can hope for is that they'll leave some sign that they were there.  Perhaps an extra little pebble or the tiniest tail feather of a bird will be left behind by the garden fairy.  Something will be slightly disturbed and if you are a good observer of details you might have a tiny chance of noticing it.

I revealed something else this past week, though not in the garden.  I found in my mother's papers an envelope containing a letter my older sister wrote to Santa Claus in 1964.
We apparently ordered our dolls from Santa.  We did not ask for dolls or claim to be good, we just ordered them.  And we made sure that Santa knew there would be another order later, presumably for items other than dolls.  Perhaps on that second order I asked for a trowel or something.

I don't recommend this order approach today. I feel it is best to ask.

Birds, garden fairy lairs, and a letter to Santa, all revealed in a few days... I wonder what else will be revealed in the days to come, the days of winter?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Dad's turkey picture circa 1930's
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

On this special holiday, I am grateful for family and for my siblings who have graciously bestowed upon me all of our parents' old papers, pictures, and mementos for safekeeping.

I went through some of them yesterday and found this picture of a turkey that my Dad made sometime in the 1930's.

He made it by cutting out pieces of construction paper for the bird's body and head and for the pumpkins. Then he added the artistic touches with crayons.

It shows me that through the years, in my family at least, Thanksgiving means turkey for dinner.  

I'm going to my older sister's house for Thanksgiving dinner. We'll have turkey, of course, with all the fixin's and plenty of desserts. The best part is that I don't have to make any of those fine fixin's and desserts. Though, for the record, I did graciously offer to bring something. My sister said that wasn't necessary and I should just bring some Starbuck's iced green tea to drink if I wanted that.

I'm also supposed to bring one old paperback book that was my Mom's. Just one. I have several boxes of old paperback books, mostly mysteries, and I could bring one for each person. But I'm supposed to bring just one. It is most likely for our post-Thanksgiving-dinner-sit-around-because-we-are-too-full craft project.

I wonder what we are making this year for our post-Thanksgiving-dinner-sit-around-because-we-are-too-full craft project?

Maybe we should get some construction paper and make our own turkeys, just like my Dad made way back in the 1930's?

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wildflower Wednesday: Boltonia

Boltonia, a perennial flower native to the Eastern United States, grows in my garden in two places.

In the August Dreams Garden border, a named variety of Boltonia, Boltonia asteroides 'Snowbank' covered part of the high summer blooming border in mid-September.

In an area that I call The Shrubbery, Boltonia asteroides bloomed in mid-November where I never planted it.
Based on that, I called it a weed in my November bloom day post.

Then someone emailed me and pointed out that Boltonia isn't a weed, it's a perennial flower.

But this Boltonia showed up out of nowhere in a place where I didn't plant it. Does that alone make it a weed?  It appears, too, to be in its native form and doesn't have that same airy quality that the named variety 'Snowbank' has. Does that just mean it is a wildflower?

Weed or wildflower?  Take your pick. I choose weedy wildflower.

(Please visit Gail at Clay and Limestone for more posts for Wildflower Wednesday, which takes place on the fourth Wednesday of the month.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Garden Fairies Guest Post on a Rainy Fall Day

Garden fairies here.

We are garden fairies and we have come inside to write a guest post because it is raining outside and we are garden fairies and we did not see that Carol was going to post anything so we decided we would come in, dry off, and impart some of our garden fairy rainy day wisdom on any readers who happen to read this post.

We are garden fairies and so we are wise, wiser than our size might indicate. We have been around the garden a time or two, let us tell you, and so we know lots of secrets and other stuff. Why, just the other day, Sweetpea Morningdew was talking about one secret, but we are not telling you that secret. Nor are we telling you what Ol' Sorghum Spittlebug knows. Nope. Not going to tell.

One thing we are going to tell you is that Carol isn't going to see a lot of birds at her feeders if she does not fill them up. She needs to get an umbrella, suck it up and go out there and fill those feeders. Oh, yes, she does.

If she does not, then we are going to tell her personal assistant, Miss. J. Hortaway that she is slacking. Though Miss Hortaway probably already knows that because she is a bird lover, too.

Oh, and we are garden fairies, we expect that as soon as it dries up outside, Carol will come out and do a final mowing for the season, with the mower blade set down one notch lower than normal. We are garden fairies, we insist on this. We also insist that she clean up some of the perennials in Plopper's Field before the snow flies or we will not be responsible and we will not to be blamed for all the self-sowing that will go on over there.

Really, it will be a mess by spring.

However, we are garden fairies and we insist that she leave the August Dream Garden border, pictured above, as is for the winter. The birds will like that a whole lot better. Believe us, we know this, we are garden fairies and we meet regularly with the birds in the garden to discuss current affairs and other such topics. And no, we are not talking about those kinds of affairs like they talk about on TV. We are garden fairies, we are talking about affairs such as the self-sowing in Plopper's Field.

Well, we are garden fairies as we have mentioned and we are just about dried off now and have done far more writing than intended, so we will know turn this laptop over to Miss Hortaway to do any final editing and post this for us.

Posted by,
Thorn Goblinfly
Chief Scribe of the Garden Fairies here at May Dreams Gardens


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Hoe Talk: Corona Oscillating Hoe

Welcome to Hoe Talk where we talk about hoes and other gardening tools. Here at Hoe Talk, we like to cultivate our interest in gardening hoes and dig deep into the world of shovels, trowels, and other gardening tools.

Today, I'd like to address the whispers.

Yes, I heard the whispers, the talk behind my back when people realized that my vast hoe collection did not include...

An oscillating hoe.

But no more whispers now. No more finger pointing.

Thanks to the generous marketing people at Corona Tools I now own and love an oscillating hoe.
I can understand now why people shook their heads in amazement because I didn't own an oscillating hoe but had over 50 other types of hoes.

This is a great hoe for clearing out weeds because it does twice the work of traditional hoes. It cuts the weeds as you pull the hoe toward you and it cuts the weeds as you push the hoe away from you, all with minimal soil movement.

Gosh, I'm kind of embarrassed now that I didn't get one of these a long time ago. This is really going to make a big difference for me out in the vegetable garden where right now the winter weeds are growing and thinking they are set until spring.

Ha ha! Just wait until the rain moves out and the ground dries up just a little bit. Then I'll be out there with my new Corona oscillating hoe cutting off those weeds and sending them off to a winter in the compost bin.

Thank you, Corona Tools, for giving me one of the best hoes I've ever used.

And that's Hoe Talk where we like to cultivate our interest in gardening hoes and dig deep into the world of shovels, trowels, and other gardening tools.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Paradox of Gardening

The paradox of gardening is that you can lose yourself in a garden while finding yourself in a garden.

If you are a gardener, this makes perfect sense.

If you are not a gardener, you may have to think about how someone can do two seemingly opposite things at the same time. You may have to ask a gardener what it means.

Raise your hand if you have lost yourself in a garden while finding yourself in a garden.

Welcome to the Paradox of Gardening.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Achieving Happiness in Your Garden: The Thirteenth Secret

I love vintage gardening tools.

Who doesn't?

Just imagine if those old tools could tell us about who used them, about the gardens they helped create, about that one winter they were left outside to fend for themselves.

Oh, the adventures, the secrets those old gardening tools have locked up inside of them. What if they could tell us those secrets? What if the handle of one was hollow and inside was a little scroll of paper containing a secret?

The tool on the left does indeed have a hollow handle and I suggested a few posts ago it might be holding a secret in there, scrawled on an old piece of paper, long forgotten.

Remember the first five secrets for achieving happiness in your garden?

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 there were 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 then there were two more secrets, try new plants, and plant for the future.

That made for even dozen, a good place to stop.

But there are always more secrets to discover, including this 13th secret.

Take a break from your garden.

Take a break from your garden when you are tired of tending it. Let it go for awhile. Stop obsessing over it. Ignore it. Get someone else to water it for a week or so, if need be, while you are on your break.

Of course, if you live where the snow flies, you naturally get this break once the snow does start to fly because there isn't much you can do in a frozen garden once it is frozen, especially if you prepared it for winter by stowing away the stuff that doesn't like snow and ice. Winter is a nice, natural break from the garden.

During the winter break, or any break, you can make new plans for the garden or even, gasp, do something other than gardening, which often leads to new ideas for the garden.

Winter or not, you should really consider a break from the garden anytime you are ready to throw in the trowel or are so frustrated that you want to get a roto-tiller and plow the whole garden up.

Don't do those things, instead take a break from the garden.

It's the 13th secret for achieving happiness in your garden.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - November 2011

Welcome to Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day for November 2011.

Here in my central Indiana Zone 5b garden, any blooms I found outside could best be described as errant blooms, like this lone blue flower on Vinca minor.

Our growing season is over and we've finally had a killing frost, though it was later than in most years.

I checked my bloom day posts from past years just to remember how Novembers have been these past four years  and found that last year, Symphyotrichum oblongifolium ‘October Skies’ still had errant blooms on it, just like this year.
This is an aster - yes, we can still call it an aster even though someone changed its botanical name. You can keep it to a manageable size by cutting it back by about half in late May. This also encourages more branching, which means more blooms.

Also in the front garden, the Knockout® rose, Rosa ‘Radsunny’ still looks pretty good for this late in the season.

In the back, at the edge of Woodland Follies it is not a bloom that catches the eye, but the dark burgundy foliage of an Oakleaf Hydrangea, Hydrangea querifolia.
This is a shrub that the garden designer planted last fall. It died back to the ground over the winter and was very late to send up new shoots in the spring. I almost dug it for dead, but am glad I didn't.

Over in The Shrubbery, an area that was planted up in the spring but didn't get a whole lot of attention the rest of the summer,  Boltonia asteroides actually looks pretty good.
Too bad it is a weed.

It is most assuredly time to turn our attention indoors to find our blooms.

I am most fortunate to have two Schlumbergera sp., in bud.

One will have orange flowers.

And one will have pink flowers.
These are also known as Thanksgiving Cactus or Christmas Cactus depending on when they bloom. I believe these will both be blooming well by Thanksgiving.

And that's what's blooming in November here at May Dreams Gardens.

What's blooming in your garden on this fine November day? I hope you'll join in for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day by posting about what's blooming in your garden on the 15th of the month.

It's easy to participate. Just post about what's blooming in your garden, then leave a link to your post in the Mr. Linky widget below so we can find you and a comment to tell us a little about what we'll find in your November garden.

All are welcome to participate!

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

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I stowed summer away

I stowed summer away for the winter under a big tarp that looks like camouflage.

The garage is full and I don't have a shed, so this is the best I could do.

I've hidden a table and four chairs, two lounge chairs, two birdbaths, several large pots, a small bench, and other decorative garden items under that tarp.

It was windy as all get out when I tied that tarp down so I feel pretty confident that the tarp is tied down enough that it won't go flying off in the middle of winter.

There is nothing worse than seeing the tarp covering summer fly off in the wintertime, leaving it all exposed to the ice and snow. Summertime garden stuff does not like wintertime, at all.

I posted a few years ago that I always think of The Beverly Hillbillies when I tie that tarp down over all that stuff. I even wrote some lyrics to their theme song, which looking back on them, aren't all that bad.

Come listen to a story about a gardener like me,
A gardener who happens to be in good ol’ 5b,
Now one day I’m gardening and I see a bit of frost
And then the plants succumbed and I was lost.

Cold that is, wintertime, Indiana snow.

Well the first thing you know I’m running around
Pulling all the annuals up out of the ground
They said the indoors is the place I oughta be
So I loaded up the patio and moved some plants indoors.

Sunroom, that is.
Blooming plants, forced bulbs.

The Wintertime Gardeners!

Well, okay, I agree, those lyrics aren't all that good either.

Anyway, I've reached the point of fall clean up where if we had a big snow storm I wouldn't be panicking and running around like the sky is falling. I still have some stuff to do, but I feel like there will be time to do it before the snow really flies around here. 

It's a good point to be at, just ask any gardener in good ol' 5b.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Phases of house plant care identified

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. --After extensive study and observation, Dr. V. Q. Hortfreud recently determined that those who have house plants generally follow a predictable and repeatable pattern in caring for their house plants. She further observed that this pattern of care can be broken down into four phases.

In the first phase, which Dr. Hortfreud labeled Acquire, the indoor gardener acquires the house plant with promises to care for it and give it a spot where it will get the best light in the house. She vows to make sure it has a pretty pot to live in and promises that she will water it whenever it is thirsty and fertilize it when it shows even the first hint of a yellow leaf. She admires this wonderful plant she has in her home and feels so happy to have it.

In the second phase, which Dr. Hortfreud labeled Nurture, the indoor gardener does tend to follow through on her promises to the plant. She gives it a good spot where there is plenty of light, waters it when it is dry and feeds it at the first sign of a yellow leaf. She dusts off the leaves and mists the plant with distilled water while tenderly whispering to it sentiments such as, “Grow, little plant. Flower if you will. I love you”.

In the third phase, which Dr. Hortfreud labeled Neglect, the indoor gardener begins to fall short in her promises to take care of the plant. She lets it go just a little longer between waterings and abandons the idea of fertilizer. She pulls off the yellow leaves and wonders why the plant isn’t doing well, if she notices it at all. She may even move it away from its spot in the best light because it just doesn’t look very good. This phase often occurs in early to mid spring when the outdoor gardening season is beginning. It can also occur just because the indoor gardener gets busy or gets lost in various rabbit holes.

In the fourth phrase, which Dr. Hortfreud labeled Rescue, the indoor gardener looks at the plant one day and wonders how it got to be such a sorry looking plant. She feels remorse. She feels horrible that she neglected the plant so much that it dropped nearly all of its leaves and its roots are tightly bound up in a pot that is two sizes too small. She immediately puts on her SuperGardenHero cape and apron and begins a rescue operation. She cuts off the dead leaves and stems and repots the plant in a larger pot with fresh dirt. She returns the plant to a spot where it will get the best light and begins again to regularly water it and fertilize it. She dusts off its leaves and mists it while whispering “I’m sorry, please grow again. I promise to be faithful to you and never let you dry out again.”

At this point, Dr. Hortfreud observed that the cycle of Nurture, Neglect and Rescue can be repeated several times until at some point, the rescue is too late. Then the indoor gardener will summarily dispose of the plant and start the entire cycle again with Acquire as soon as she sees a pretty indoor plant that would look just perfect in the window where the other plant once grew.

When asked if there was any way to avoid the Neglect and Rescue phases, Dr. Hortfreud said, “It is my opinion that these phases are preventable through extensive therapy, education, and encouragement plus constant reminders, especially before there is the first sign of Neglect. I’ve been working with one particular gardener for years now. Though she has gotten better, she still occasionally lapses into this rather predictable cycle, most often in the spring when she is drawn to the outdoors. But I remain hopeful that she can be cured once and for all, and I continue to encourage her to acquire more house plants”.

Dr. Hortfreud named this predictable cycle of house plant care the Acnunere Cycle, pronounced “Ack nu ne ree”. She wanted to name it after the gardener she studied the most to learn of this cycle but after seeking counsel from her publicist, Publicus McGarden, that gardener declined with the following statement, "Though I am honored to be a patient of Dr. Hortfreud's and have the greatest respect for all that she has done for the horticultural community, I do not feel that having something that involves plant neglect named after me will enhance my reputation as a gardener".

When asked why gardeners go through these phases so predictably Dr. Hortfreud said, "I do think some gardeners are addicted to the Rescue phase. Bringing a plant back from near compost makes them feel like they are better gardeners with greener thumbs. Some gardeners are so addicted to this phase that they will actually seek out plants in the Neglect phase from other gardeners, just so they can rescue them".

She also noted that this same cycle can be observed in the care of outdoor container plantings, though the cycle is often cut short by the first freeze of fall.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Eleven random gardening thoughts for 11-11-11

On this eleventh day of the eleventh month of the eleventh year, our thoughts turn to gardening as they always do.

I have eleven random thoughts about gardening to share.

1.  Writing a gardening post about elevens is a lot harder than writing a post about tens back on 10-10-10.

2.   I counted the deciduous trees in my yard and I think I have eleven trees. One scarlet oak, one Japanese tree lilac, two red maples,  one honey locust, four service berries, one ginkgo, and one red bud. I feel the need to plant more trees but I’m not sure where I’d plant them. I don’t want to compromise my garden design, too much, after all. (Oops, I forgot to count the crabapple tree. I have more than eleven trees.)

3. When the leaves fall from the trees in the fall, I see all the bird nests. I don’t know much about birds and only know the very basic types, like cardinals and robins and bluejays and oh, yes, goldfinches. This winter, while I’m sitting in my winter lair, I should try to learn about eleven new birds that might visit my bird feeders. Or maybe I should study books about butterflies? Or old gardening books of any kind?

4. If someone gave you eleven plants, all the same variety, how would you plant them? In three groups of three and then give two away? Or plant in two groups of four and one group of three? Or one group of three, one group of five and give three away? So many combinations.

5. What would my life be like if I had stopped acquiring hoes after I had eleven of them? I’m sure it would be quite different. I have almost five times eleven hoes now and I wouldn’t give any of them back.

6. Usually on the eleventh day of the month, I start thinking about Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day on the 15th day of the month. I’m sure it is no surprise to anyone that I have to plan ahead to make sure my post goes up shortly after midnight on the 15th.

7. The eleventh post on this blog appeared on Jan. 22, 2006 and was about DVD’s for gardeners. I’d write it a little differently if I were posting it today, but generally, I don’t go back and edit old posts. I still have those DVD’s and should watch them again.

8. Did I mention that eleven is a harder number than ten to create any kind of theme around? I searched for the number eleven on my blog and came up with the post I wrote about a bunny named Eleven who arrived at the stroke of midnight eleven months and eleven days ago. It reminded me that I need to think about the bunny Twelve who will be here sooner than any of us can imagine.

9. The eleventh gardening secret that I’ve revealed is try new plants. This reminds me that I put out a little teaser post the other day about the latest gardening secret. I still need to follow through and post about that secret. It will be gardening secret number 13. But, I just couldn’t pass up on this opportunity to talk about elevens, so this post came first.

10. Can you describe your garden in eleven words? My eleven words would be “A personal space for plants full of memories and garden fairies”.

11. If you could spend eleven hours in your garden this weekend, what would you do? We had snow flurries on the eve of the eleventh day, a reminder that winter is surely coming and only a fool would act like it isn’t. I guess I’ll be spending at least part of those eleven hours getting the garden finally ready for winter.

And that concludes my eleven random thoughts related to gardening.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Vintage gardening tools

Give me those old time gardening tools.

Give me simplicity of design.

Give me quality that lasts for decades.

Give me the patina of age, of tools well used by past gardeners.

My sister-in-law found these two old garden claws at an antique store and wonder of wonders, she thought of me when she saw them and thought I might like them. She's very smart that way.

I do like them. I like to think of the digging they did, of the seed beds they prepared.

I like to think about what kinds of gardeners used them. No doubt, they were used by wise, old gardening men and women, who tended their gardens with care and consideration for their entire lives.

I like to think they used these tools for decades, during a time when a few simple, well-made tools, were all a gardener needed to create a beautiful flower bed, a bountiful vegetable garden.

The tool on the right appears to be made of cast aluminum. I like it, but I love the tool on the left, which, though not as well made, has a bit more character.

It looks like a raccoon's hand and has a hollow handle.

A hollow handle. If I look down that hollow handle at just the right angle, I think I can see a piece of old paper stuck down in there.

Does it have something written on it? Does it contain a secret message, perhaps more gardening secrets?

Could it be? Could it be that this gardening claw contains the thirteenth secret to achieving happiness in your garden?

Or some other message for gardeners?

Sunday, November 06, 2011

A gardener's winter lair

One of the most important preparations a gardener can make for winter is to set up a winter lair.

The winter lair should be indoors for obvious reasons, like snow and sleet and ice and rain and cold winds that knock the breath out of you.

It should be comfortable and if at all possible situated so that the gardener can see out into the garden from the lair.

I've never set up such a spot for myself. Until now.

Just for select readers, here is where I plan to spend many hours this winter, my gardener's lair.

The green chair is actually a recliner, because sometimes the best ideas for gardening come when you are lying back, with eyes closed, covered up with a warm throw. No, not sleeping. Just thinking. Well, maybe a little sleeping, but that's okay because every gardener needs time to rest and dream about next year's garden

I put a basket on the floor to hold catalogs and magazines. Currently it is loaded down with bulb catalogs and last year's seed catalogs. I'll recycle those soon in anticipation of receiving the first seed catalogs any day now.

I added a new lamp, adorned with a little bird. From my lair, I'll be able to see two bird feeders I set up for the winter. Already, after just a few days, I've seen several cardinals at the feeders. Or maybe it is one cardinal visiting several times. Regardless, I have a good view of the feeders from my chair in my gardener's lair.

I'll have many books piled on the table before winter is over. Many of them will hopefully lead down into deep, interesting rabbit holes. One rabbit hole I'll go down soon is into two books by Sydney Eddison - A Patchwork Garden (1990, Harper & Row Publishers) and Gardening for a Lifetime (2010, Timber Press). I heard her speak today at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. If you ever have a chance to hear her speak, you should go.  She will tell you about how a garden changes through the seasons, and how each change gives you a chance to simplify and continue gardening, with a little help, even when you are not as strong as before.

For a little ambiance, a tiny mouse holds a little tea light candle for me.
I purchased this one in Seattle this past summer when I was there for the last garden bloggers' fling. Why, yes, I am planning to attend the fifth fling in Asheville, North Carolina, thank you for asking.

Off in the corner, where I can see it out of the corner of my eye, is the little garden fairy door.

There is no way that any garden fairy is going to sneak in without me knowing it. Well, they might sneak in without me seeing them, but at least I'll know where they came from when they do get in. They are quite obvious, if you let them be.

The fairy door is by the fireplace hearth, because they are attracted to its warmth, which means my little gardener's lair is also close to the fireplace, because I like its warmth, too.

I'm looking forward to the first snowy afternoon, which will hopefully be on a Sunday, so I can sit in my green chair, gaze out at the bird feeders and garden, keep one eye out for garden fairies, and read some good gardening books. And maybe close my eyes a bit to dream of next year's garden.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Guest Post: Garden Fairies Discuss Time and Whodunit

Garden fairies here. We are very excited about upcoming events that will be taking place this weekend here at our year-round home and garden, May Dreams Gardens.

We get an extra hour.

That's right, we are garden fairies, and we get an extra hour on Sunday because Carol is going to turn the clocks back one hour. Just for us garden fairies. We are garden fairies, we appreciate these kind gestures.

Wait, we are garden fairies. We do not use clocks or watches. We don't really care about time. For us it is either dusk, night, dawn, or day. That is it. Our days have those four parts. Well, we do sometimes divide the day into short shadow time and long shadow time, but that is about it. So this "falling back" one hour matters not to us.

What matters to us is that there was some kind of critter, most likely a chipmunk or maybe a squirrel, who dug in one of the containers Carol had on the front porch and they left a big ol' mess.
We are garden fairies, we do not like this because we are afraid we will be blamed and we are garden fairies, we don't make messes like these.

Oh sure, we do stuff in the garden just to make Carol wonder but we never just make a mess like this. This is amateurish.  No, we do not do this type of stuff because -- say it with us -- we are garden fairies.

We plan to organize a meeting of all the critters here at May Dreams Gardens and see if we can find out who did this. Then we are garden fairies, we will make them clean it all up. Oh, yes. We will. Because that is how it is done.

Now, when we have meetings, we follow our own rules and protocol. We will explain those later.

In the meantime, we are garden fairies and we are done with this post.

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

Thursday, November 03, 2011

It's time

The garden is bare now, except for the weeds left from a season that silently, softly slipped away.

With fall days that felt more like summer,  the only sure sign that this was the end of the season was the curtain of dusk that fell earlier each day, until finally a freeze brought the curtain down for good a few days ago.

Now it’s time to reflect on the past season and plan for a new season.   It’s time to explore some rabbit holes.  It’s time to figure out what is next for me and my garden.

It's time to write.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Memory Gardens

The last violet of the season
I spent some time cleaning up the vegetable garden earlier today. A slight breeze rustled through the last of the corn stalks as fallen leaves from the nearby grape vine danced across the garden. The remnants of tomatoes I never picked hung from the frost-blackened vines.

I worked crop by crop, pulling out the spent plants and piling them on to the compost pile. The sky was blue and I marveled about how nice a day it was, a good day to spend in the garden, reflecting on the past and remembering how I learned to garden.

My Dad first showed me how to plant a vegetable garden by his example. I helped him plant peas, lettuce, onion sets and radishes early in the spring. I followed along as he set out tomato plants and sowed green beans in mid-May.

I remember how he always added some flowers for color, usually zinnias and marigolds. He kept the garden weed free, but never made us kids weed for him, so I never thought of gardening as work. He harvested regularly and cleaned it all up in the fall so he had a blank slate to plant all over again in early spring.

Today, nearly a quarter century after my Dad passed away, I think of him every time I step into my vegetable garden and I still plant my garden in much the same way that he taught me.

Many people talk about memory gardens, planted purposely in memory of someone close to us who has passed way. That is what my vegetable garden has turned out to be, though it wasn’t intentional on my part. I planted it to be a vegetable garden, but then through the years I realized that it has turned into a memory garden. It isn’t just about growing food – it is also about remembering my past and my Dad.

This spring, I will plant a memory garden for my Mom, who passed away last week. It will be filled with violets, her favorite flower. If the violets spread about the garden or yard, that will be fine with me. Violets will never be a weed in my garden. How could they be? My Dad used to let us dig wild violets from the woods and bring them home to plant in our garden because my Mom liked them. I’ll plant a lilac, too, as fragrant as I can find, one that will bloom around Mother’s Day. I’ll also add some Lily of the Valley from a clump I have that I got from my aunt, who got them from my grandmother.

It won’t be a large garden. I'll tuck it away in a corner somewhere. Others may see it and not even realize the memories it holds.  I won’t have to look up anything in books to figure out how to plant this garden or how to design it, either. There will be no need of that.

I’ll plant it by what is in my heart, by memory.