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Friday, March 30, 2012

There is just one mayapple

Podophyllum peltatum
There is just one mayapple.

I should pull up this one mayapple like it is a weed. It might take over my woodland wildflower garden.

I never planned to have mayapples in my woodland wildflower garden. It's a hitchhiker, a hobo, catching a ride with another wildflower that I saved from the woods-turned-into-a-lake.

There is just one mayapple.

In the woods where the mayapples grow, you never see just one mayapple.

You see a whole field of them. Can you have a field in a woods? Maybe it is a grove of mayapples?

Field or grove, there is never just one mayapple plant, all alone.

There is always a big colony of them.
Yes, colony. A large grove, field, colony of mayapples.

There is just one mayapple.

Is it likely to be happy in my garden? Probably not, or not for a long time.

I think the lone mayapple may hang on for a while, but I don't think it will thrive in my garden. Not enough shade. Not enough good, rich forest soil and humus.

There is just one mayapple.

What harm would there be in leaving it? What would it hurt to just let it be and see if next year there are two leaves, then four leaves?

I've never heard of a gardener cursing the mayapples in their garden, expressing regrets for planting one mayapple or resorting to all sorts of evil deeds and evil thoughts to get rid of mayapples.

There is just one mayapple.

What could happen?

I think I'll leave my one mayapple alone and see.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Guest Post: Breathe, Garden Fairies, Breathe

Garden fairies here!

We garden fairies are so excited that we can barely breathe.  You would not believe all the excitement around here, all the garden activity taking place, and no, we are not talking strictly about the early blooms, though those early blooms are very exciting to us.

No, we are not talking about that threat of frost a few days ago. Nothing happened because there was no frost.

We are talking about other happenings. Really, we are about to explode with excitement because it is all so exciting. We are garden fairies, we get so excited and so anxious to tell about stuff that we often find that we are actually holding our breaths with excitement. We are so excited that right here, right now, we have to take a moment to calm down.

So please, give us just a minute. We promise we will tell about all of the excitement. We are garden fairies, we would never make this a teaser post where we go on and on and then claim we are out of time and leave good, kind people who read this blog hanging, waiting. Ha! Only Carol would do that.

That said, we need a moment to catch our breaths, organize our thoughts, which is not easy for us garden fairies. As a rule, we are not all that organized.  Right now, we will take a moment, so count to ten and then read the next paragraph.

One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten.   And slowly exhale.

Okay, we are garden fairies, we are ready.  We have a big announcement.

Carol brought in people to help re-do the vegetable garden.

Here's a before picture.  If you are squeamish, scroll down real fast now because this picture is not for the faint of heart gardeners.

That sure doesn't look like a vegetable garden. It looks like a field of purple deadnettle. How in the world did Carol let that happen? What happened? Purple deadnettle apparently happened. We are garden fairies and we tried to keep the purple deadnettle under control but we are garden fairies, we can't be responsible for everything that goes on in this garden. Well, we can be responsible for some stuff, but let's not get into that just now.

Now we want to show you the garden after the people came and cleared it off and leveled it up.

We are garden fairies and we think this is just about the prettiest sight we've ever seen, at least so far this spring.  Wait, that's not quite the truth.  Truthfully, we are garden fairies, and we actually think the prettiest sight is these grape hyacinths.

What makes them so pretty is that they are not surrounded by weeds.  That's the other big news we garden fairies are so excited about.  Carol's sister came over and helped her weed and wow, there's a garden and flowers and all kinds of pretties under those weeds.  Who knew? Well, we garden fairies knew, because we were hiding in that grape hyacinths while they were weeding all around it.  And we were never discovered. And you know what else we garden fairies knew and Carol just seemed to have discovered.  Weeding goes twice as fast when you have two people weeding instead of one. Really, it is weeding rule no. 3. Or maybe no. 4.

Anyway, where were we and has any one read this far down? Oh right. We also know that Carol is having those people come back and lay out edgers for brand new, raised beds in the vegetable garden. We are garden fairies, and we are excited to see this happen.

Breathing again at May Dreams Gardens,
Thorn Goblinfly, the chief scribe and calmest garden fairy at May Dreams Gardens

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wildflower Wednesday: An update on my woodland wildflowers

Rue Anemone, Thalictrum thalictroides
My tiny woodland wildflower garden is outshining the rest of the garden with sweet little blooms this spring.

"They survived", chant the garden fairies and gardener alike, as the tiny plants reveal themselves, blooming early like the rest of the garden.

One of the showiest blooms so far is rue anemone, with its dainty leaves and sweet white flowers.  What look like petals are actually sepals.

I dug up this wildflower and several others from a woods in an area that was going to be logged out, dammed up and turned into a lake later in the summer.  If that had not been the situation, I would never have dug up wildflowers from a woods to bring to my garden.  Never.

All the plants I dug up and transplanted are confined to a tiny area about three feet in diameter at the base of a redbud tree, Cercis canadensis.  Confined is not quite the right word. They are planted there but if they decided to seed themselves elsewhere, that would be okay with me. Regardless, they seem happy there, happier than they would be if they were attempting to grow in the bottom of a lake.

Other wildflowers in this little garden include twinleaf (Jeffersonia diphylla), trillium (Trillium grandiflorum?), white violets (Viola blanda?), may apples (Podophyllum peltatum), wild blue phlox (Phlox divaricata) and hopefully soon Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum).

There is also another wildflower there with tiny white blooms similar to the rue anemone but with fewer sepals. I suspect it is false rue anemone (
Enemion biternatum).  

There's something magical about a tiny garden such as this, separated from the rest of the garden by a ring of stones. Who knows what goes on in that area in the gloaming at the end of the day?  I'll have to sneak out there sometime and see and then report back.

For more on wildflowers, head over to Clay and Limestone to visit Gail and see who else has wildflowers blooming on this first Wildflower Wednesday of spring.



(Update from the garden fairies. No way are we going to let Carol find out what happens in the wildflower garden in the gloaming. No way. Forget she even had that idea of trying to find out. What goes on in the wildflower garden, stays in the wildflower garden. ~ Thorn Goblinfly)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Hunker Down and Wait for Frost

Shhh... whisper, please. We don't want to be discovered.

We are hunkered down here at May Dreams Gardens on an afternoon with clear blue skies and temperatures in the upper 50's waiting for the arrival of frost. We do not know when the frost will arrive or if it will arrive at all.

We just know we are under a frost advisory so probably early in the morning when all the radiant heat has escaped from the earth up into those clear blue skies, we'll have temperatures drop to below 32F, freezing the dew and turning it into frost.

When that happens, all the plants that have bloomed or leaved out will be left to fend for themselves.

There are blooms a-plenty.
A sampling of what's blooming on March 26, 2012
 And lots of leaves, too.
A sample of leaves leaved out on March 26, 2012

All we can do is hunker down. There are not enough sheets, blankets or drops cloths here to cover everything, even if we were foolishly inclined to do so.  And heavens no, we do not use plastic sheets. Or put trash bags over the tops of trees. That is all foolishness.

We do nothing. We hunker down. We wait. We wonder. If there is aftermath, we'll deal with it.

This won't be our last frost advisory before our usual frost free date of May 10th. Or May 15th. Or May 12th. Or whenever it is.

April, which is right around the corner, is a cruel, cruel month for gardens, and gardeners, especially those gardens that spend two weeks in March acting like it is high summer. April will have its share of frost advisories, and warning, too.

Hunker down.  And wait. That's all we can do.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

I will not panic...


As I head out to the garden on this lovely May March morning,

I will not panic at the sight of lilacs in bloom and run inside to check the calendar again.

I will not falter in my quest to remove all the weeds that seem to think this early spring means "grow faster".

I will not go faster just because my eyes see blooms that make me think it is May, not March.

I will not worry about April, with her cruel frosts and freezes.

I will not speed up my planting and plant anything that is frost tender before May 10th, our traditional frost-free date.

I will enjoy the lilacs.

I will steadfastly weed.

I will pace myself.

I will graciously accept whatever weather April brings.

I will follow my usual timetable for spring planting and prepping in the garden.

Even if Mother Nature doesn't.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Pearlbush

Exochorda x macrantha 'The Bride'
I'd rather have a garden full of flowers than a jewelry box full of jewels.  Give me gold, and I'm likely to sell it to buy more plants.

The first blooms of Pearlbush, Exochorda x macrantha 'The Bride',  opened earlier this week.  New to my garden,  this small shrub, endured a long, hot summer trapped in a black plastic pot on my patio two years ago.

I planted it in the garden that fall, then  unceremoniously dug it up and moved it to another spot in the garden early the next spring.  There it suffered through yet another hot, dry summer last year with very little watering.

This spring, the Pearlbush shrub looks a little rough, but it is blooming.

The common name Pearlbush comes from the shape of the tight flower buds, which look like pearls.

Pearlbush is named for its buds
I'm not surprised to read on the tag that this plant thrives on neglect.  I have showered it with neglect for the past two years and it is doing well.

I am good at showering neglect on the plants in my garden. I have that gardening technique mastered, having learned that more plants survive with less care than with more care.

I've also learned that you really do want plants that flourish with a bit of neglect, instead of those that barely hang on with lavish care.  You'll be a happier gardener when you learn this, too.

Pearlbush looks like a keeper, a great addition to my jewelry box of flowers.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Overheard in a garden: Narcissus 'Emcys'

Narcissus 'Emcys'
Overheard in a garden...

"Hello, I'm here! Is it Easter? I was planted to bloom at Easter and so here I am. My timing might be a little off but I'm new here and by golly, it seemed so warm and all, I thought it must be Easter.

Hey, where is everyone? Why aren't we having the big egg hunt? I was hoping for a little candy around me so I'd be noticed. But I'm so pretty, I'd be noticed anyway.

It's just the first day of spring? What is going on here? I see another me way over there and another me way on the other side. I would look so much better if they were planted closer to me. It would show how pretty I am. Don't tell me the gardener planted us in a row like she planted those Irises all in a row?

Speaking of Irises, where are they? 'Natascha'? 'Katharine Hodgkins'? 'Mrs. Beatrix Stanley'? I guess they couldn't take the heat and hurried up out of here. They sure had pretty names. My name is 'Emcys'. What kind of name is that? Well, it's my name so it is the prettiest name of all. Yes, it is. I know it is. I am all about me, which is why I'm a Narcissus. Me, me, me.

Whoa, is it hot out here or what? I wasn't planning for this heat. It's not good for me to be so hot. It's supposed to be about 20 degrees cooler. I don't like this heat. Can someone turn down the temperature please? Really, even a bit of frost wouldn't hurt me and might be, shall I say it, a bit more seasonal. There, I did say it. It's too hot. Can I talk to management about this heat?

Shhhh... here comes the gardener with a camera. I'm going to just sit here all pretty and see if she takes a picture of me. Of course, she is taking a picture of me. I expected she would. I am the prettiest flower out here. I am. Really.

Is that my best side? Hey, not so close with that camera. I want to look like the star that I am. Could I get a garden fairy over here to make sure no mud splashed up on me during that thunderstorm the other night? Geez, could that gardener put down that camera and get some mulch around me?

I hate to say it, but I'm a bit lonely. Could that gardener possibly move those other Narcissus closer to me or even plant some pansies near me. It would help show how pretty I am by comparison  Oh my, is that a little weed coming up next to me? What kind of garden is this, anyway?

I don't mean to complain, but it is so hot out here. Is it Easter? I was planted for Easter, you know..."

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Pinning up a vegetable garden

My vegetable garden at its peak a few years ago.
By golly, it finally clicked for me what the value of a site like Pinterest is.

Like many others, I received an invitation to join Pinterest, dutifully signed up and then timidly "pinned" a few items on a board.

I wasn't sure what I was doing and I wasn't sure if this was going to turn into a giant rabbit hole, sucking in the last few precious minutes of the day. I looked at the site occasionally, but still couldn't decide how it would be useful to me.

What value was there in sharing images?  And what about those concerns that pinning images of others might violate copyrights?

Then three things happened.

First, I read several articles about the founder, Ben Silbermann, and his vision for Pinterest. I read about how he used to collect insects and pin them to a board to display them.  I also read that Pinterest gained a lot of momentum when he shared it with interior designers, who immediately took to it to pin up boards of decorating ideas.

Second, the boards around the raised beds in my vegetable garden had been slowing rotting over the years and were no longer holding in the dirt, so I had a crew tear them out last year and haul the rotted wood away, leaving me with a blank slate. I proceeded to plant the vegetable garden without the raised beds, primarily because I didn't have time to build new frames but partly because I couldn't decide what to frame them with. Wood again? Brick? Stone? Nothing at all?

Third, and finally, I walked out to my vegetable garden yesterday morning and found it overrun with deadnettle.  Oh, the horror.  I immediately decided that I need to re-install the raised beds, and do it soon.   But this time, I've decided I'm going to do it with something more permanent than the wood I used before. In ten more years, when I am ten years older, I don't want to be faced with re-doing them again.

And that's when the "click" came regarding Pinterest.  I need a place to collect ideas for my new raised bed vegetable garden to share with others who are going to help me build it. Why not do it on a site that is built to share images?

Ta da!  Click.

I've created a new board on Pinterest called "Vegetable Garden" and started pinning. I'm starting to search through Pinterest to find images of vegetable gardens that I like and re-pinning them to my board. I'm searching the web, too, but that is slow going. I could use some help, your help.  If you know of an image online or already on Pinterest of a pretty, cool, neat-o vegetable garden, let me know. I can pin it to my board and see if it fits with my overall vision.

Pinterest. It turns out to be a little bit of a rabbit hole, but a very useful one for someone who is re-doing her vegetable garden, all over again.

Purple Deadnettle

Purple Deadnettle
My heart races and my mind goes in a thousand directions at once when I step outside and see what seems like every plant blooming at once.

Daffodils, hyacinths, crocuses, snowdrops, star flower, glory of the snow, pansies, violas, forsythia, star magnolia, red maples, and purple deadnettle are all in full bloom.

Leaves are coming out for this spring madness of warm weather, too.  Leaves that should know better, leaves that could be zapped by a frost or freeze.

It's enough to cause a gardener to run madly around her garden trying to figure out what to do first and next, all at the same time. 

So yesterday, I took a deep breath and decided that I would stay on course, stick with the time table of my choosing and plant some peas because that's what I do on St. Patrick's Day.  I plant peas.

I gathered up some tools -- a rake, a hoe, the wheelbarrow -- and headed out to the vegetable garden only to find that it was a bit over run with a weed that I've decided is purple dead nettle, Lamium purpureum.  The other choice was also a deadnettle, sometimes called henbit, Lamium amplexicaule.   It doesn't really matter which weed it is, the cure is the same.  Pull it out.

I looked upon my vegetable garden with its bumper crop of this "late winter annual" and took a deep breath.
"A bit overrun" is a tiny understatement. It is a lot overrun. As overrun with deadnettle as it has ever been. 

I thought to myself... just one square foot at a time... just one square foot at a time and soon enough, you'll have this under control, Carol.  Ha! Though it is a winter annual, deadnettle doesn't respond to the hoe as one might expect, with its mats of roots clinging to the dirt for dear life. It is almost hoe-proof.  After a few attempts at knocking the deadnettle back with a hoe followed by a few minutes of sheer panic, I said to myself, "Oh my blooming radishes, how will I ever have the time and strength to remove all this purple deadnettle, this Lamium purpureum, and set up new raised beds in time to plant anything in May, let alone peas today."

I decided then and there to get some help, and so help is on its way.

In the meantime, along the fence, I had created a flower border of sorts and edged it with some leftover retaining wall stone to separate it from the rest of the vegetable garden. Fortunately, I was able to use my hand-digging hoe to clear the deadnettle out of this area, one square foot at a time, so that's where I planted the peas.

I planted 'Green Arrow' peas for shelling and 'Mammoth Melting Sugar' snow peas for pods.  Long-time readers could have guessed I planted 'Green Arrow'.  It's my sentimental favorite.

I marked the rows of peas with some new bio-degradable plant labels from Cobrahead.
You should always put a label where you sow seeds, just so you'll know what it is when it comes up there. Otherwise, you'll look at the little seedlings and wonder what they are.

Today, I'll sow seeds for lettuce, spinach, radishes, and Swiss chard in this cleared area, and maybe buy some onion sets to set out, too.  

As for the purple deadnettle? I'm ignoring it for now.  Help is on its way.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - March 2012

Star Magnolia, Magnolia stellata
Welcome to Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day for March 2012.

Here in my USDA Hardiness Zone 6a garden in central Indiana, the blooms are either quite confused or we are enjoying a very early spring.

I see flowers blooming that I've never seen blooming in mid-March and then I go inside and check the calendar.

Yes, it is mid-March.

In past years, mid-March was the peak of Iris reticulata bloom and the beginning of the grand show of crocus blooms. I checked every year to verify this. 20072008200920102011. The posts from these past March bloom days are filled with pictures of irises and crocuses.

Not so this year.  The Irises are nearly gone and the crocuses are not far behind them, especially those planted several years ago.

Newer plantings from last fall are still going strong, including these crocuses that I planted in the back lawn.
Garden fairy view of crocus in the lawn
I need to plant more crocus in the lawn next spring for an even bigger display.

In past years hellebores (Helleborus sp.), Glory of the Snow (Chionodoxa sp.) and windflowers (Anemone sp.) would still be in bud in mid-March.

This year they are all blooming.

Hellebores
Glory of the Snow
Windflowers

Elsewhere in the garden, a few of my favorite flowers, violas, managed to survive the winter up near the house where they got some radiant warmth from the brick. They've formed some nice clumps and have been blooming like crazy for several weeks, begging to be included in this bloom day post.

Beloved, most favored, violas
I like to oblige my flowers and do as they say.

We even broke a weather record on the 14th with a new record high temperature of 80 F.  The previous record of 79 F was set in 1990.  No wonder the flowers are all going crazy and blooming like it is April.

What's blooming in your garden today?  Is spring arriving early for you, too? 

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

Just post on your blog about what's 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 enter your name and the url to your bloom day post on the Mr. Linky widget below so we can all find your post.

That's it, unless you also want to take the tiny, little extra step to vote for Garden Blog of the Year. May Dreams Gardens is one of the blogs included as a finalist.  Just follow the link to vote. You can vote once every 24 hours until March 21st.

All are welcome for bloom day!

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

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Guest Post: Garden Fairies discuss the weather

Garden fairies here!

We do not have much time to post on this blog but feel it is important to tell everyone how beautiful the weather is wish you were here even though we are garden fairies and absolutely do not wish everyone really was here.

Because if the garden was full of people, we garden fairies would have to go under cover so as not to be seen and then we would miss out on these gorgeous spring days, actually gorgeous late winter days since spring does not start until next week sometime, officially.

But who cares about officially. We are garden fairies.  This weather has us all gobsmacked about how nice it is and we are in a tizzy wondering if it will last or if Mother Nature will realize she didn't give us all that much winter and later will decide she'd better unload a bunch of extra left over winter on us, just for good measure and to put us in our place.

That would be so wrong though, if that happened. We are garden fairies. We won't think about that. We'll just sing and dance and run from bloom to bloom trying to take it all in. We have never seen some of these blooms so early.  We are garden fairies, we will let Carol tell you all about that tomorrow for that Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.   We will give you a sneak peak though, with the Star Magnolia pictured above. It is not really supposed to be blooming now. But that is it, just a sneak peak. We are garden fairies, after all.

We garden fairies would also like to point out that this blog is up for Garden Blog of the Year. We would appreciate if you would vote for it, because we are garden fairies and we do not have email addresses so we can't vote for it. And since we post so often, voting for this blog is like voting for us.  Please vote for us garden fairies! Just click here --  Garden Blog of the Year. Then enter your vote. You can vote once every 24 hours until March 21st.

That is all we garden fairies have time for today, but we think that is enough. We have to make plans for the day which might end up with a record high temperature of 80F. We are garden fairies, we know that means it has never been this warm on this day in this garden ever before.  This is exciting!

Now, run out and play in your garden, take some pictures for bloom day, and don't forget to vote.  We  are garden fairies, we have to go out and move more of Carol's flowers into straight lines because it freaks her out and we are garden fairies, we love when she is all freaked out.  

Submitted by,
Thorn Goblinfly, Chief Scribe for the Garden Fairies at May Dreams Gardens and Team Lead for the "Move the Flowers into a Straight Line Initiative"

Monday, March 12, 2012

Violas and irises all in a row

Decoy viola picture
Well, now, this is certainly embarrassing.

I'm not sure how it happened and wonder if it was caused by some unseen force (garden fairies) at work in my garden, playing tricks on me.

That's one possible explanation.

The other possible explanation is that I did this in some sort of subconscious gardening-in-a-hurry state of mind as I quickly planted bulbs last fall.

As a long time vegetable gardener, my natural, self-taught method of planting falls along these lines. I call it Straight-line Obsessive Planting or SLOP.  Apparently, being aware of a tendency toward SLOP doesn't prevent a gardener from planting bulbs in straight rows.

Here is the embarrassing evidence.

Lovely irises, in this case Iris reticulata 'Natascha', have some how ended up in a row formation.  I would have bet money that I dug one big hole last fall, which I did, and scattered these bulbs in the hole in some kind of a non-linear, random fashion.

Apparently, " non-linear, random fashion" means slightly crooked rows.

Too late now, violas and irises all in a row.

Violas, you say?

I planted three flats of violas out and about in the garden here and there and everywhere in preparation for Easter festivities in my garden on April 8th.  I hope the violas aren't truly "all in a row".

If they are all in a row, maybe I should dig them up and try again.


I may need  Dr. Hortfreud to guide me the next time I plant something other than vegetables. These natural tendencies are apparently often difficult to overcome on one's own.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Selection Sunday, Our thoughts turn to gardening

I bought and planted violas.
It's Selection Sunday, when college basketball teams find out if they've been chosen to play in the NCAA tournament, and our thoughts turn to gardening, as they always do.

This is to be expected, what with everyone talking about seeding and who will get which seed in the tournament. What gardener wouldn't immediately think about their seed stash and which seeds they are going to start indoors and which seeds they are going to sow outdoors?

By now, most gardeners have chosen and purchased their seeds for this year.  If they haven't done so by now, then maybe they aren't really gardeners? Or maybe they are going to buy their seeds at the local garden center and just choose from what's on the rack? It does limit your choices, but maybe that's okay for some gardeners.

I have all my seeds.  I tossed all the packets into a big basket, though, so I need to to sort and organize them so I don't forget about any of them. I'll list them on a spreadsheet so I can keep track of them and compare the current lists to previous years. When I do this, I can also see what might be missing, although looking at my basket of seeds, it is hard for anyone to imagine that I need more seeds.  (No, I will not embarrass myself by posting a picture of said basket of seed packets.)

I'll start sowing tomato and pepper seeds inside later this week and next weekend, on the 17th, I'll sow peas, spinach, and lettuce seeds outside directly in the garden.

Then if there is time, I'll watch my favorite basketball team play in the tournament, probably while organizing my seeds.


Friday, March 09, 2012

Dang and Darn in the Garden

Have you seen Dang and Darn in your garden?

Whenever you start to garden, whether it is at the beginning of the season or for the first time in your life, they show up in the first five minutes and then they stay forever.

Dang is not hard to find, if you just take a minute to look in your GArDeN.  Darn is just as easy to spot in your gARDeN and is often with Dang.

I have a lot of examples of Dang and Darn in my garden.  Sometimes they are together, Dang and Darn, and sometimes they operate alone.

In just a few minutes of my describing my garden, it's easy to see just how pervasive these two are here.  For example...

Dang, I wish I could remember the name of those little white flowers in the picture above. Glory of the Snow?  Is that the common name for Chionodoxa gigantea alba?  Dang, I'm not saying that outloud. I do remember that the other flower is Ipheion uniflorum,with a common name of Starflower. 

Dang, I wish I had spent more time weeding the vegetable garden late last fall.  It's going to be a mess to clean up now with all those Darn weeds.  And there's a lot of Dang out there because I haven't rebuilt the Darn raised beds. It just goes to show that  Dang and Darn do like to hang out together.  Though, I keep reminding myself that I only have to build one raised bed by March 17th so I can sow seeds for peas.  I can build the rest of the raised beds after that.

Dang, I wish I could find a couple of flats of old-fashioned violas. I'd plant them along the path in the woodland garden. They would add some color  there for the big Easter egg hung.  I just didn't plant enough Darn bulbs along that path.

Dang, I need to call someone to remove that Darn suckering Viburnum out in The Shrubbery.  If I don't I'll be danging it all summer-long.  Dang, no one wants that to happen.

I could go on about how much impact Dang and Darn have on my garden, the mischief they cause, the antics they do. There are countless examples. I'm sure others have Dang and Darn in their gardens, too.  Some see them more, some see them less. But no one escapes these two. It doesn't matter how good or experienced a gardener you are, Dang and Darn are there in your garden.

The trick to gardening with Dang and Darn is just that, to garden with them, accept and embrace them,  If you do that, it lessens their power over you.

Oh, and if you laugh at Dang and Darn? Try that, you won't believe what will happen. Dang and Darn will actually become your friends.


Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Madness

Madness.

How else does one describe the thoughts of a gardener on the first warm day of spring?

How does one explain the furtive glances out the window, the longing to go out and do something, anything, in the garden?

How does one explain the head turning and walking through the garden, the gardener nearly running from one bloom to another?

How can irises be fading already? Where have the snow drops gone? And crocuses? Where did these new blooms come from? And miniature daffodils? Already? How can it all be happening so quickly?

Madness. Gardeners know that feeling, that feeling that...

Garden fairies here. Whoa, we are garden fairies and we saw quite a sight this afternoon. We were minding our own business, which is what we always do, rumors and whispers to the contrary not withstanding, when here comes Carol. And what does she have? Three flats of pansies, that's what she has. Pretty ones, too. All white and purple and lilac colored. None of those faceless pansies, either. We don't like those. They are soulless. We like our pansies to have faces. Though, like Carol, we don't like other things to have faces in the garden, other than flowers.

Whoa, we are garden fairies and we got off track a bit. Sorry about that, we are garden fairies.

Anyway, the next thing we know, Carol has hauled out the wheelbarrow, some bags of potting mix and the containers that she only uses for pansies. We were so excited! Yet a bit afraid. We ran for cover but were close enough so we could see the dirt a-flying and the pansies a-flinging. Next thing we know, Carol has containers all planted up and the window box, too, all full of pansies. Yeah. We are garden fairies, we love this day every spring, though this spring it seems a little earlier than usual. Hey, we are garden fairies, we checked and she did plant earlier, by about a week.

Carol sure can move fast. We are garden fairies, we'll have to keep that in mind. For our own safety, mind you, because we wouldn't want to accidentally be seen or worse -- stepped on. Shudder at the thought.

We are garden fairies. We can only describe what we witnessed as madness out there late this afternoon until nearly dusk. But really, it was a good kind of madness. It was the kind of madness that ends with a front porch transformed from later winter to early spring with the addition of a few pansies, the kind of madness that we garden fairies can appreciate.


All of us at May Dreams Gardens are pleased that this blog has been included as a reader's choice finalist for About.com's Best Garden Blog.  You can vote once every 24 hours until March 21st with any valid email address.  We (the garden fairies and I) appreciate your votes, if you are so inclined to vote.  Click on the link to do so. Thank you!


Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Feeling the garden

How would you describe this garden?

By the names of the flowers - coneflowers, statis, coreopsis?

By what is there - flowers, lawn, evergreen, fence?

Or would you describe it by how it makes you feel -- peaceful, pretty, serene?

I believe that the gardens that really make an impression on us, that make us want to return to them again and again are those we describe with feelings, not by what grew there.

I believe that most gardeners, who have gardened for awhile, are planting to achieve a feeling, too, rather than to have a particular plant.  Of course, we have our favorite flowers and colors and shrubs and other garden elements and we include them in our gardens.  But how put them together to create a garden that we can feel is what really matters.

I believe that this is the season that I'm going to pay more attention to how my garden makes me feel than worry about what I plant in it.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

You Can Grow That! Iris reticulata

Iris reticulata
Pssssst... over here. Did anyone follow you?  Are we alone? I have something to show you in my garden.

It's a tiny little iris that is blooming right now in my USDA Hardiness Zone 6b garden. It's about four inches tall, garden fairy-sized actually, and it is as blue as blue.

I'm going to reveal to you the secret of how to grow this in your garden so that next March you can tell your friends you have irises blooming in your garden. They will, of course, look at you all funny like because they will immediately think of those great big bearded irises that their grandmother grew that bloom in May and wonder how you got those to bloom so early when there are still chances of snow.

You will, of course, smile and say, "Not those. I'm talking about Iris reticulata, a little iris that blooms in early spring, as early as the crocus blooms."  You will not say it as a haughtyculturist might, however, or this will be the last secret I share with you.

Ready for the secret?

Buy some Iris reticulata bulbs in the fall, plant them like you would a crocus corm, about three to four inches deep, in an area where you will see them in the spring. Then in the spring, enjoy them as some of the first flowers of the season.

That's it. Plant in the fall, enjoy in the spring. You don't even need to dead head these. Just enjoy the blooms and let them die off later in the spring.

Now that you know this secret of Iris reticulata, go find another gardener, show them these pretty little Iris reticulata and tell them, "You can grow that"!

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This post is offered as my inaugural post for Garden Bloggers You Can Grow That Day! on the fourth of every month, started by C. L. Fornari of Whole Life Gardening. Check out the You Can Grow That! Facebook page for other posts.

Friday, March 02, 2012

You might be a gardening geek: Words with Friends® Edition

You might be a gardening geek who plays Words with Friends® on your iPhone (or iPad) if...

You have a user name that includes the word "garden" or "gardener" in it.

You say "Hey, that's my word" if your opponent plays words like "hoe", "rake", "garden" or anything else related to gardening. But then you remember that you can still play that same word someplace else if you have the right letters.

You can hardly wait to get the letters z, o, y, s, i, and a so you can play the word "zoysia" and get lots of points, but deep down you think that if you ever did get those letters, you are likely to get the message "Sorry, zoysia is not an acceptable word" which will ruin your dream of scoring lots of points with that word.

You've played a lower scoring word just because it was a garden-y word.   Bonus points if you know that the word "hoe" is generally worth five points unless you can land that "h" on a double-letter or triple-letter square or get one of the letters on a double-word or triple-word square.

You are proud of your plays of "thrip", "toad", and "tree" and how garden-y they are.

When you get the letters H-F-N-E-D-O-J in your tray, you hope there is a place to play the word "hoes" on the board, never mind that "joes" is a valid word and would be worth more points.  Secondarily you hope there is a  "P" on the board so you can play the word "pod" because it is garden-y, too.

Finally, you might be a gardening geek who plays Words with Friends® if...

You are playing Words with Friends® with at least one other gardener who you originally met through garden blogging.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Once there was a garden there

Once there was a garden there.

I caught a glimpse of it in the crocuses blooming in the winter-weary lawn. 

The garden is gone, for the most part, but I could see the shadows of where it once was. I could tell that at one time those crocus blooms weren't in a lawn but were part of a flower border running alongside the walk-way to the front door, a flower border that someone planted and tended.

Once there was a garden there.  I remember seeing it years ago. 

Last weekend I was near where my Mom grew up, where my grandmother lived for most of her adult life.

Once there was a garden there, too, and I wonder sometimes how much of that garden still exists today, forty years after my grandmother's death.

I remember the lily-of-the-valley and the old fashioned August lilies along the side of the house.  I can see in my mind the big old apple tree that was just a few steps from the back door.  I remember collecting the seed pods of the catalpa tree and picking the violets that grew in the lawn.

Once there was a garden there with a snow-ball bush and white-blooming spirea and perennials, including mums and phlox.

I thought of driving by to see how the house and garden look now - it was just a few blocks away. But I didn't.  Sometimes it's better to just remember that once there was a garden there, and imagine that it is still there today.