Search May Dreams Gardens

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wheelbarrow Planter Update

I heard a little voice in my head tell me that maybe I should experiment with other plants in my wheelbarrow planter before I committed some of the mini hostas to it.

Frequent readers of my blog may be asking, "Who's voice did you hear, Carol?"

Isn't it obvious?

Dr. Hortenstein.

Dr. Hortenstein is the experimenter. She likes to try new things and put together new combinations to see what happens. Dr. Hortenstein is a scientist, of course, and looks for data to prove her point. Sometimes, though, what she puts together is just hideous, monstrous even, so much so that the plant combinations terrorize even the garden fairies. And they are not easily frightened.

She and Gloriosa Vanderhort, my stylist, sometimes get into heated debates over something that Gloriosa thinks will look good in a particular container but Dr. Hortenstein, as a scientist, thinks it will only live about two minutes in that container.  Dr. Hortenstein usually gets backing from my practical, sensible, personal assistant Miss Jane Hortaway, who doesn't want to waste plants, and more often than not gets her way.  I'm working through it all with Dr. Hortfreud, my therapist, who thinks that occasionally trying Gloriosa's ideas would be good for a change.

My goodness, I end up with a lot of people in my garden some evenings, loudly debating and discussing. It is a wonder anything gets done around here.  When it gets too loud, I just go off and water or weed and wait for things to simmer down.

Anyway, with Dr. Hortenstein whispering in my ear, I decided that I would experiment with impatiens in the wheelbarrow planter before planting mini hostas in it. This made Gloriosa happy because she has been wanting me to get an old wheelbarrow and plant it up for the longest time.  Miss Jane Hortaway raised no objections because I spent less money on 18 impatiens than I have on any one mini hosta.  "Chief", Jane said, "I think you've come up with a good compromise for everyone."

If the impatiens survive this season in this rather shallow wheelbarrow, next spring I may plant some of the mini hostas in it and park it in the shade of a tree.

If they die, then I'll try something else, like maybe violas and pansies.

If anything else happens, I'll call Dr. Hortfreud.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

My garden speaks to me about weeds

Achillea millefolium Tutti Frutti 'Pineapple Mango'
My garden speaks to me and says, "Carol, your destiny is to weed".

No revelation there, everyone's garden tells them the same thing.  "You must weed".

It matters not what we do in the garden. How much we mulch. How careful we are with not disturbing the soil, lest we expose weed seeds that have been lying dormant under ground, seeds that only need a tiny beam of light and a drop of water to awaken them and cause them to germinate.
Weeds are tricky when they germinate.  Weeds seem to grow deep, expansive roots first, before they reveal their leaves and announce their arrival in  the garden.  Then when you go to pull that tiny little weed, it feels like you are trying to pull a nail out of hardened cement with your bare heads.

Weeds protect themselves, too. They often have thorns and sharp little hairs along the stems so you can't just casually reach down with your bare hands when you first see them. No, you must stop what you are doing, arm yourself for battle and then pull those weeds.  

Weeds know how to hide.  They grow close to desirable plants where they won't be noticed until the desriable plant is hollering, "Help me, I've got a weed taking up my space in the garden."  Then you almost have to perform surgery to remove the weed and leave the desirable plant intact.

I have no hope of a weed free garden, at least not for now.  I know what I'm up against. I even know where the weeds are most likely to grow. I know their names. I know their techniques. I know which ones will laugh and grow back after my feeble attempt to remove them. I know the annual weeds. I know the perennial weeds.

I know that my destiny is to weed.

And now that I know this, the garden can stop growing weeds to drive this point home.

Monday, May 28, 2012

I pledge to help new gardeners...

Every spring, new gardeners emerge from the dark tunnel of their world without gardening into the light of a world with gardening.  These new gardeners can be a bit blinded by the brightness of the gardening world and need our help, if we are experienced gardeners.

Raise your right hand and repeat after me...

I, (state your name), will remember that there was a time when I didn't know much about plants or gardening.

I will not roll my eyes or  sigh or otherwise indicate in any way that a new gardener's question is one that has been asked a thousand times before.  I will answer it.

I will not laugh at new gardeners when they attempt to pronounce botanical names, nor will I correct them and tell them my way of pronouncing it, as though my way is the only way, the right way, even if I know that it is.  Well, I won't correct them in public but I won't let them continue to make it obvious that they are a new gardener by continually mis-pronouncing Clematis.

I will remember that the collective wisdom of gardening and knowledge of plants is much bigger than my knowledge of gardening, vast though I think it might be, and therefore, it is possible for a new gardener to encounter some new wisdom or knowledge that I know nothing about.  I will learn from them at times.

I will never give a new gardener a thuggish plant, no matter how much they beg or promise to keep it under control.

Finally, I will remind new gardeners that gardening is a way of life, a journey, and once in the light, their lives will never be the same.

Thank you. You may lower your hand now, grab a hoe and head out to your garden.  Be careful in the heat!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Spending like a Hortefeller

Do you dread getting your credit card statements after the Christmas holidays? Ha! You should see my credit card statements after the month of May.  By early June, those statements often look like a directory of nursery and garden centers around my side of town and beyond.  Some garden centers are even listed more than once.

I have to give some credit or blame to my stylist, Gloriosa Vanderhort.  She has expensive taste and often whispers in my ear, "You work hard all year. What else are you going to spend money on? When will you ever see that plant again? When will you be here again where they are selling these sculptures? Now is the time."

Then Ms. Hortefeller, my other garden center visiting companion, takes over. She marches me up to the cash register, pulls out one of my credit cards and buys the plants and everything else like she has the money of a Rockefeller.

Once Ms. Vanderhort and Ms. Hortefeller get done shopping, I feel like I need to turn to that tightwad gardener in all of us, Ms. Hortwad, to restore the balance and save up for the next big garden shopping spree in the fall. But I try to leave Ms. Hortwad at home when I am actually at the garden centers. She can be a real downer.

Collectively, though, they do provide balance. Gloriosa Vanderhort makes sure I buy good stuff, Ms. Hortefeller makes sure I just buy stuff, and Ms. Hortwad figures out how to make it all balance out.

And when they don't all work together, there is always Dr. Hortfreud...

No one gardens alone, or shops for their garden alone, truly.

Friday, May 25, 2012

We've come a long way in garden blogging

We've come a long way in garden blogging.

I remember the early days, when we were careful to not reveal too much information about ourselves. After all, who were our readers?  Who was really looking at our blogs?

Few of us posted pictures of ourselves, mentioned other family members by name, or even provided an email address.  If you wanted to get in touch with any of us, you had to leave a comment.

Times have changed.  

This past weekend 90 or so of us garden bloggers met up in Asheville, North Carolina for our fifth garden bloggers' fling.  Some of us have been to all five flings and greet each other now as good friends who only get to see each other once or twice year. Others came for the first time or returned after missing a fling or two. It was a grand, good, gardeners gathering.  I give it four G's out of four G's possible in my rating scale of gardening events.

Yesterday, I attended a regional Garden Writers Association meeting at the Taltree Arboretum in Valparaiso, Indiana, and gave a talk on garden blogging.  One of the challenges I made to the group was to either start a garden blog in the next few days, and I would help promote it through my blog,  or if they already had a garden blog, do something to improve it in the next few days.

For my blog, I improved it by adding an "about me" page.

The keen observer will note that on my "about me" page, I have a last name that is like a botanical name.  It is not obvious how it is pronounced. Just like with  botanical names, some people will avoid saying it so they aren't called out for mis-pronounciation. Or they will ask how it is pronounced before saying it. Or they will hear me say it and realize that they have been silently mis-pronouncing it and are sure glad they found out how it is pronounced before they attempted to say it out loud.

I like that.  It is just one more clue that I might be a gardening geek because even my last name is like a botanical name that is often mis-pronounced.

Asters Interrupted

We interrupt the happiness of spring in the garden to note that one of the Aster oblongifolius 'October Skies' has offered up a flower.

A flower.

This flower is several months early, no doubt because this plant knows it is dying and has decided that it must set seed now before it is in such poor condition that it can't set seed at all.

I suspect it has a botrytis blight of some kind. This same condition occurred on one of six of these asters last year, but I stuck my head in the compost bin and ignored it.

There is no ignoring it now with five of six clumps of this aster clearly infected.
I'm not the kind of gardener who goes rushing for the chemicals when something like this occurs.

Instead, I cut off what looks like the diseased stems or remove the plant.

"Seeing as how" removing a few stems infected last year did nothing and now it is a bigger problem, I no longer think that will work. I'm moving on to the other option. This weekend, I'm digging these asters up and throwing them in the trash.

I'm starting to think about replacements and *gasp*, I'm actually thinking about smaller bluish grasses. We'll see.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I had a revelation about my garden

Bulbarella's garden high in the mountains
I had a revelation about my garden while touring gardens with other blogger/gardeners in and around Asheville, North Carolina for our fifth Garden Bloggers' Fling

It came to me on the last day of our long weekend of seeing all kinds of gardens and hanging out with fellow kindred spirits who are  passionate gardeners who also like to write and blog about their passions.

I was at nearly the last garden when the revelation hit me, though I suspect that the revelation was there the whole time and I just couldn't see it. Or maybe I wasn't ready for it in the other gardens? A seed needs the right conditions to germinate. A revelation needs the right mindset to develop.

I should have seen the revelation way up in the mountains Outside Clyde where Christopher, our main Planner Man for fling, and his mother, affectionately referred to as Bulbarella because of all the bulbs she's planted, carve out their gardens in the lush.

The revelation was a nice takeaway from the trip. But even without my little revelation, the trip was worthwhile and wonderful because of the many bloggers, now friends, who made the same journey to Asheville.

I had my little revelation when I was in the garden of the historic 1889 WhiteGate Inn & Cottage admiring the plants, water features, and focal points.
I'm not sure I have a good photograph of the revelation but this picture, with the Oenothera sp., evening primrose, in the lower left hand corner provides a good example as does the picture above high up in the mountains in Bulbarella's lush garden.

I have some evening primrose in my garden and was thinking last week that I should contain it a bit because it's a spreader. Then I saw this evening primrose and I realized that I like gardens that are full and lush and cottage-y and that to achieve this style faster in my own garden, I should... oh dare I say it?

I should plant some more self-sowing, spreading perennials in my garden.

And I should not be so quick to weed them out if when they become a little loose and free amongst the other plants.  They can be temporary fill-in plants until other plants are added or grow bigger. Then I can pull out these temporary fill-in plants.

Now, mind you, I don't want to go all  berserk and plant some wildly spreading bamboo or variegated Bishop's  goutweed, but what would be so wrong with adding a few more ox-eye daisies or letting a little clump of evening primrose spread a little further?   As I get more plants, I can gradually weed out these fillers.

I am aware of the pitfalls, of the disastrous situation I could have in the garden if I don't choose the fillers wisely and edit some of them out eventually.

But I think I'm willing to risk it because there are still a lot of blank spots in my garden and I want a fuller, lusher, look.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Guest Post: Garden Fairies Left Alone

Garden fairies here.

We are garden fairies and we have been watching to see when Carol would post again and then we got nervous because we didn't see her for several days so we decided to post for her.

Yes, we are garden fairies and once again, we are saving this blog from near extinction.

We got to looking at some of the pictures she has loaded on her laptop and we are all like, "Whoa, these are not pictures of May Dreams Gardens where we live. These are from someplace else."

Then very calmly we figured out that CAROL WENT AWAY AND LEFT US ALL ALONE.  But she is so stealthy that we missed this and did not take advantage of the opportunity for making more mischief and merriment in her absence.

We are garden fairies, and we will make her pay for this all summer, in ways that we will not reveal here as we do not want her to know about the extra weeds we will plant, the gloves we will steal and oh, yes, we may also take her first ripe tomato of the season and have our own Festival of the First Tomato.

Oops, we are garden fairies and we got a little loose lipped there. Forget we wrote that. Don't tell Carol or any gardener whosoever whatsoever can happen in their gardens while they are gone.

In the meantime, we are going to continue to look through all her pictures. My blooming radishes there are so many.  Just look at this one!
We are garden fairies and we can tell you this is not a view from Carol's garden. This looks like a mountain top in North Carolina. Well, for heaven's sake. We are garden fairies, and we are not clueless. Carol went to the Garden Bloggers' Fling in Asheville, NC! We are garden fairies. Carol had she better bring us back some souvenirs or we are going to take measures.

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

Thursday, May 17, 2012

In a pomodoro, I can...

In a pomodoro,  I can get a lot done in the garden.

A pomodoro is 25 minutes, the unit of time used in a time management method known as the Pomodoro Technique

The idea is to plan to spend a pomodoro, 25 minutes, on a task, and then take a five minute break.  Then move on to the next pomodoro and either a new task or the continuation of the first task. After four pomodoros, you can take a 15 - 20 minute break.

Francesco Cirillo, who came up with this time management method, used a tomato shaped timer to keep track of his 25 minutes.  The Italian word for tomato is pomodoro, hence he called the 25 minutes of time a pomodoro.

I've owned a tomato timer for several years without realizing that it was such a useful time management tool.  But once I learned it was a pomodoro measurer, I decided to take my tomato timer, my pomodoro timer, out to the garden.

What can I do in the garden in a pomodoro?

Surely, I can plant out these clematis throughout the garden in a pomodoro?

Then they can grace my garden with flowers like Clematis 'Pagoda'.

I think it takes me a little less than a pomodoro to mow the front yard.

And maybe just a little longer than a pomodoro to mow the back yard, if I hurry.

I don't know how many pomodoros I need to spread some mulch in the garden, but it seems like it will take a day full of pomodoros. Who knows?

I should set the timer for one pomodoro, 25 minutes, and see how much mulch I spread in that time. Then I can figure out how long it will take to spread out all 20 bags of mulch that I piled up on the patio and around the garden several weeks ago. (Or six weeks ago. What? Six weeks since I brought in this mulch and I still haven't spread it around?)

I planted out the tomatoes in the garden a few evenings ago.

I don't know if it took me a pomodoro to do it, because I was also planting peppers and I was in a hurry because the sun was setting.

Some gardeners might object to using time management in the garden. They don't want to feel rushed, like they are constantly trying to beat the clock, or the pomodoro timer. They just want to take their time and enjoy the experience.  

I wholeheartedly agree.

Perhaps, then, we can use pomodoros outside of the garden to get more done before we go out into the garden. 

 Then maybe, just maybe, we will have extra time to sit for a pomodoro and enjoy the garden.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Thank you

I humbly offer thanks to each and every person who posted on their blogs for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.

I wish I had the time to visit everyone who posted for this monthly tradition, but when I did the math on that, I determined it would take me over four hours to spend just one minute on each bloom day post. My hat is off to those who do manage to view quite a few of these posts each month.

I thoroughly enjoyed, though, the many comments, each of which came to me as an email to open and savor.  Thank you.

Is there a more beautiful time in the garden than May?

A quick look at a few of the Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day post is all the evidence I need to know that May truly is one of the best months in the garden.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - May 2012

Welcome to Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day for May 2012.

Here in my USDA Hardiness Zone 6a garden in central Indiana, we are seeing blooms in mid-May that we don't normally see until early June, including those of the Japanese tree lilac, Syringa reticulata 'Ivory Silk'. 

This is good because the other lilacs in the garden which would normally bloom in time to cut a big bouquet of them for Mother's Day bloomed out several weeks ago.

At the base of the tree, an unnamed passalong sedum ground cover is also in full bloom.

I'm usually quick to cut these blooms back when they are still buds to neaten up the garden, but I haven't gotten around to it. In full bloom, they are a magnet for gigantic, slow-moving, loudly buzzing bumble bees, so I'm leaving them for awhile.

Elsewhere in the garden, there is a nice flush of blooms on the geraniums.

I apologize for not knowing which one this is, but I find that as I continue to garden, I'm less interested in knowing the exact names of some flowers.  "True Geranium" will have to be good enough for now.

I do know the name of this clematis and can almost hear them "ring" throughout the garden.
This is Clematis 'Pagoda'.

And this is Clematis integrifolia 'Alba'.
I just let it creep along through the Ploppers' Field, my border of plants that are just plopped in wherever there is room for another plant  In the background Salvia and Penstemon have been blooming for a good while.

Elsewhere in the garden, roses, false indigo, more Salvia, Penstemon, Amsonia, garden peas, and columbine have been blooming for several weeks, including, finally, my long coveted yellow columbine.
I've wanted yellow columbine for years so was happy to see these in my garden this spring.

Finally, I've decided each bloom day that I should stand in the same spot to show a long view of a garden border so I can see how it changes each month.  I chose a spot that shows most of  Ploppers' Field.
It doesn't look like much right now, but just wait  until the daylilies in there start to bloom.

What's blooming in your garden this month of May?

We'd love to have you share your blooms with us on the 15th of each month by joining us with your own Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day post. Just post on your blog about what is blooming this month in your garden and then come back here and leave a link to your blog post in the Mr. Linky widget below along with a brief comment to let us know you've posted.

The rules are simple... no rules! You can include pictures, lists, no lists, common names, botanical names, whatever you’d like to do to showcase your blooms. All are welcome!

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

Monday, May 14, 2012

An impractical good choice of Wisteria

If one is going to do something  impractical like purchase a wisteria, at least purchase a native wisteria like Wisteria macrostachya, sometimes referred to as the Kentucky wisteria.

Why is it impractical?

This is a woody vine that grows up to 25 feet so it will need some support, some strong support. 

I've just about figured out how I'm going to provide that support.  I need a bit of lumber, some strong nails.

In fact, I've figured out enough about the support to convince myself to go ahead and plant the wisteria.   So I planted it.

Now I've just got to finish building that support before the wisteria really gets growing.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

On Mother's Day

A "vintage" card for Mother's Day...

Circa 1966

Found in my mother's files, saved for over forty years. I don't even remember drawing it, but what other Carol M. could there have been?

Happy Mother's Day to all.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Allium schubertii captures spring feeling

I've recently discovered  a new spring flower that perfectly captures the frazzled feelings of so many gardeners in the spring when...

- everything is blooming all at once,

- you are purchasing plants at the garden center faster than you can plant them,

- everything is blooming early, leaving you with a rushed feeling,

- you actually are rushed because perennials like asters and mums need to be cut back now to encourage more blooms later, not in two weeks,

- it's warm but not quite as warm as you'd like it to be to plant the vegetable garden,

- you are actually going to leave your garden in May for five days. Oh so much you could do in your garden in five days!

- the weeds are growing faster than your lawn,

- your lawn is growing faster than you've ever seen it grow.

May I present Allium schubertii.
Allium schubertii

Wild and wooly, sending out florets in a scattered sparkler-like design.   I just hope I get everything done that ought to be done before that sparkler burns out.

Happy spring!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Tree blooms and birds up close

Blooms of Catalpa speciosa
In other news of the garden this spring, I've noticed that the early bloom phenomenon continues.

Catalpa speciosa trees are blooming now with big, white ruffly blooms that are usually so high up from the ground that they just look like popcorn from afar.

But when you slow down to take a closer look, the catalpa blooms look rather exotic, like something from the tropics rather than something one finds in an Indiana garden.

I think they are blooming a few weeks earlier than normal.  

These blooms are not in my garden by the way.  Catalpa trees get very tall and are too big for my garden.

Also to be filed under exotic is the reappearance of a pileated woodpecker in the neighborhood.

This time, he was tapping on my sunroom window.
Tap, tap, tap.

Whatever could he want?  His picture on a blog post, again?

Tap, tap, tap.

He's not going to get much food from tapping on aluminum clad windows.

But he did get his picture posted on another blog post.

I'm here to please the birds, apparently.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Did I plant that?

No matter how long you've gardened, or how good your record keeping is, there comes a time when you look at a plant and ask yourself, "Did I plant that?"

Did I plant this?

It looks like I might have.  There's a little piece of last years dried up growth still clinging to the base.  That could just mean it probably was there last year, but it still could be a weed I just didn't get around to pulling.

It looks sort of like a weed. Jimson weed? Hmmm... doesn't seem quite like Jimson weed.

Walnut tree seedling? No, I've got those in other parts of the garden and they look different.  Though, heaven knows, or actually the squirrels know where there are walnut trees around here. I guess the woods behind the houses across the street include walnut trees.  The squirrels like to bring walnuts over to my garden and either bury them or throw them on the driveway to crack them open.

Do I let it grow a little more and see if it starts to look like some plant I want to keep?   There's just one of whatever it is, how much harm could it cause?

There's a lot to do in the garden this time of year, so I think I'll just let it grow a little more and see what happens.

Maybe some nice reader will come along and identify it for me?

In the meantime, I do know what this plant is.

Hardy ground orchid, Bletilla striata.

I definitely planted it, and several more like it. I'm working on getting it to naturalize around this locust tree.

Update a few hours later:  Thanks to Mr. McGregor's Daughter, I remembered that my mysterious plant is Angelica giga.  I bought it about three weeks ago. Wonder where the tag is? Wonder where my memory is? 

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Social Media and the Pileated Woodpecker

Tap, tap, tap.

Where is that noise coming from?

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.

Is someone outside doing something in their yard this early on a Monday? Oh wait, I'm out doing stuff, actually planting a shrub in my friend's house next door, so why shouldn't others be outside, too?

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.

Oh my blooming radishes, is that a giant woodpecker looking for insects on the neighbor's half-dead willow tree?

Click, click, click, I took pictures with my iPhone.

Then I did what anyone would do.

I posted a picture on Facebook and discovered the following within a few hours:

People are excited when someone sees an unusual bird close up.

It's actually a pileated woodpecker, probably a female.

Pileated woodpeckers aren't often seen in wide-open subdivisions. They generally stay in wooded areas.  This one must have come from the wooded area behind the houses across the street.

Tap, tap, tap.

I wonder what happens when you tell the story of the pileated woodpecker on a blog post?

Tap, tap, tap.

Monday, May 07, 2012

My Clematis Phase

Clematis 'Pagoda'
My Dear Dr. Hortfreud,

And so I find that I am rather inexplicably entering into a Clematis phase in my evolution as a gardener.

Mother Nature, with help from some enabling nurseries like the nearby Soules Garden, has put me in the enviable position of having eight new Clematis plants to put out in my garden

Truly, I thought I was safe going to Soules Garden, at least when it came to Clematis, because they are known more for their daylilies, hostas, and Arisaema, and many plants for fairy gardens. Though why I thought I was safe in a place that has so much for fairy gardens is laughable in hindsight.  But I left with just three new Clematis to plant in my garden and one wisteria, the native Wisteria macrostachya

Miss Jane Hortaway insists that I need to catalog these three new Clematis from Soules Garden, plus the three I purchased a few weeks ago at the IMA Hort Society's plant sale and the two I've been overwintering, and learn more about each one before for I just plop them in the garden and move on to another phase in my evolution as a gardener.

I know some will need support, especially the C. tangutica and C. 'Huldine'  Another one, C. heracleifolia is more shrub like and I can just plant it out in Plopper's Field.

There is one that is tiny enough for rock gardens, C. columbiana var. tenuiloba  which I think for now I'll plant it in a bed where I'm sure to keep an eye on it.  Another one, the native C. pitcheri,  I think can scramble through other plantings.   C. viticella 'Venosa Violacea' will definitely need support.   And C. 'Lord Hershell' only grows a foot tall, so I can plant it safely in several different locations.

Finally, I have C. integrifolia to plant. It should have the same growth pattern of my C. integrifolia 'Alba', which sprawls and blooms where I planted it in Plopper's field.
C. integrifolia 'Alba'
By mine own counting, the addition of these eight Clematis to my garden will just about double the number of Clematis in my garden, Dr. Hortfreud.  

And to think that growing up I thought of Clematis as just that big, garish Jackmanii that so many planted.  I was never going to have that in my garden, and I'm still not, but many of its relatives are welcome.

Thank you for listening to me ramble on about my Clematis phase, Dr. Hortfreud.  Though I know what you'll really want to talk about is that wisteria and where I'm going to plant that in my garden.  I'll write about that another day, I promise.

For now, I need to get out into the garden and do some weeding before it rains or I'll be entering, once again, my weedy phase of my evolution as a gardener.


Saturday, May 05, 2012

You Might Be A Gardening Geek: Car Edition

You might be a gardening geek in your car if:

You know exactly how many bags of mulch will fit in your trunk and just how to arrange those bags so you can maximize all the space.

You swore you would never put bags of mulch in your back seat but now you also know how many bags of mulch will fit in your back seat.

You keep your own plastic protector sheets from previous garden center visits in your trunk for any impromptu trips that result in you buying more plants.

You have a trunk tidy from England to help keep all those plants upright in the trunk.

You keep a trowel, some plastic bags and an extra pair of gardening gloves in your trunk so that if someone offers to let you dig up a little plant, you are all set.  Bonus points if you also have an extra pair of pruners in the glove compartment, just in case.

You have a bumper sticker on your car that says "I stop at all garden centers". Bonus points if you've also purchased a vanity license plate with something like ILUVPLTS on it.  Or ILUVGDNG. Or FLOWERS. Or GDNGROX.

You are convinced that if you visualize the plants fitting in your car, they will fit, especially if you get some friends to help shove them in the back of your SUV.
Photo provided by Gardening with Confidence ®

You've considered buying a convertible because you could lower the top to make it easier to haul big trees and shrubs in the back seat.

Your friends automatically wipe their hands across the seat in your car before they get in so they don't end up with mulch or leaves stuck to their hind end when they get out of your car.

Your car is seen so often in the parking lot of the local garden center that friends and family are beginning to wonder if you actually work there.

You've purchased so many plants in one trip to the garden center that it looked like anyone who came with you would have to hold a plant or two or three in their laps for the drive home.  Bonus points if you bought so much it took two trips in your car to get it all home. Subtract points if you ever left friends or family stranded, even for a short time, because you drove the plants home first.

And finally, you  might be a gardening geek in your car if you bought a truck for gardening because that would make it easier someday to bring home a big bottle tree and an old rusted out wheelbarrow.

Iris 'Lucky Lazy Patience'

The best way to look at your garden differently is to show it to someone who has never seen it before.

A few springs ago, I was showing someone my garden for their first time and we came across a lone iris plant by the side of the house. It's one of those old-fashioned bearded iris that many people remember seeing for the first time in their grandmother's garden.

She asked what color the blooms were and I told her I didn't remember because after blooming the first spring after I planted it, I didn't think it had bloomed since.  That meant of course, that I had left an iris plant grow in my garden without blooming for at least ten years. 

She then asked me the obvious question, "What's wrong with it?"

Which was probably followed by the thought, "What's wrong with you, Carol, that you would leave an iris growing in your garden for ten years without it blooming and you didn't do anything to try to get it to bloom, like move it to a sunnier spot, see if it was planted too deep, or needed fertilizer or something?"

Well, without explanation, change, or anything else happening, it bloomed last year.  And it is blooming this year.

Which means, of course, that I have great patience and can out-wait an iris.   It may also mean that I am inherently a lazy gardener and I just got lucky. 

Believe it or not, I still have the packaging from when I bought this iris in the late 90's.  It's called 'Dawn of Change', but I think I'll personally call it 'Lucky Lazy Patience'.

It's a good sized plant now, I think I'll also maybe, possibly, dig it up and move it to a better location with more sun and some other perennials to keep it company.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Choosing the right music for my grape vine

Some people might look at this grapevine with frost damaged leaves and decide it is time to go get a shovel and queue up Chopin's Piano Sonata No.2 in B Flat Minor, Op.35, CT.202: III. Marche Funebre  to play on their iPod while they commence digging out the vines.

Everyone knows Chopin's Piano Sonata No.2 in B Flat Minor, Op.35, CT.202: III. Marche Funebre. Hum along... dum dum de dum dum de dum dum dum dum dum.

It's commonly called the funeral march.

But stop and think a minute. Why would that be the first song that comes to mind when you see an entire grape vine with frost damaged leaves?

Oh, ye of little gardening faith.  Let's apply some reason to this and think this through.

When I go see old gardens, I often see an ancient looking grapevine growing along a fence or, as mine is, growing along a couple of heavy duty wires strung between two old posts.

Those grape vines sure didn't grow old by wimping out every time they leafed out and then got zapped by frost in the spring. No siree hort-bob, they didn't.

Dum dum de dum indeed.

 Just look at my grapevine now. 

New leaves and new flowers.

Let me repeat.

New leaves and new flowers.

By jove, I think I will get some grapes this year after all. I never doubted that for a second.

Queue up  Handel's Hallelujah chorus, a better song for this occasion.  Everyone knows this song, too. Hal----lelujah! Hal---lelujah!  Hallelujah.  Hallelujah. Hal-leeeee-lujah! Or something like that.

Have faith that most plants will recover from being zapped by late frost, and some will even grow new leaves and flowers.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Finished with Frilly Flower Phase

I think I'm finally finished with the frilly flower phase of my gardening life.

I realized it when I walked through the garden yesterday evening checking out all the columbine (Aquilegia) blooms.

Most of the columbine in my garden sure are frilly.  Foo-foo, even.  Not quite like me, that's for sure.

They have self-sown a bit around the garden so they come up here and there with some variation in their frilly flower colors.  I just let them grow where they sow themselves. 

I have Aquilegia vulgaris 'Tower Pink' growing back by the compost bins.

It's a volunteer seedling that showed up a couple of years ago and I just let it grow there.  This spring it even survived the complete makeover of the Vegetable Garden Cathedral.

I also have 'Black Barlow' blooming in Plopper's Field.
I plopped it there a while back and forgot about it. It's hard to miss now, especially in bloom.

Elsewhere 'Tower Blue' is blooming, too.
This one came up in a hosta bed that doesn't have a name yet.

"What," you say. There's a garden area in Carol's garden that doesn't have a name yet? Don't pressure me. I'll name it in due time. I might name it Hellebore Haven right now because it is also where the Helleborus are planted. We'll see. No rush.

I'm now on the look out for single-flowering columbine, mostly to plant along Ridgewood Avenue, the path that divides Woodland Follies from August Dreams Garden. (Yes, those areas of the garden are named.) I bought a few last year, but they struggled a bit in the drought. I need a lot more.

I won't be getting rid of these columbines with frilly flowers. After all, they really are old varieties, heirloom even, not like some of those new-fangled frilly flowers that have just started showing up in garden centers. I don't as a rule buy those.  I just want more single-flowering, plain columbine for my garden.  Preferably yellow.

I've added them to my shopping list which grows longer every day. Look out garden centers, here I come.