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Friday, November 30, 2012

Guest Post: Garden Fairies Express Alarm

Garden fairies here.

We are garden fairies and we have come to this blog on this evening when we could be enjoying a nearly full moon and temperatures that are not just too, too cold because we want to express alarm.

As usual, it is up to us to keep track of what is really going on here at May Dreams Gardens and tell people because we can't really count on Carol for the whole story.

As evidence, may we present this closet of books.

What is alarming about this, one might ask?

Well, we are garden fairies and what is alarming about this is that this closet used to be full of linens and now it is half full of old gardening books.   Seeing this picture would imply that perhaps Carol doesn't have very many gardening books or she doesn't have many linens.

Well, we are garden fairies and we say "linen closets can be quite deceptive".  We hope that no one is naive enough to think that this is the sum total of all the gardening books Carol has.


We are garden fairies and Carol has more books than we garden fairies can count. That is a lot of books.  There are floor to ceiling bookshelves, three of them, in her den and they are so full of books that books are stacked on top of the rows of books and more books are piled on the floor next to the shelves.   Then there is another bookcase in the great room and it is full of gardening books, too. Oh, and her coffee table has stacks of books on it, too.

Not to mention, and here is where the alarm part comes in for us garden fairies. We are garden fairies and we didn't think too much of Carol ordering one gardening book for herself last weekend when she was doing some online ordering for Christmas presents.    But then we noticed that through the week she managed to order 16 more old gardening books. These are not new books. These are old books. Most of them date from the 1910's!

We are gardening fairies. We are alarmed and wonder what in the world could be in these old gardening books that causes Carol to order them up like that.  We have many questions. What are these books? How long has she been searching for them? What is in them that made Carol order them? Who is Harriet Louise Keeler?  What is Carol going to do with these books once she gets them? 

Perhaps what has us most alarmed is that we did not see this coming. We did not.  We checked around and no one else around here thought this would happen, either. But it did. We are asking the ultimate question...what trigger went off in Carol's mind that caused her to order these books? If we find out that answer, we will become booksellers ourselves and become rich. Rich, we tell you.

Submitted by,

Viola Greenpea Maydreams formerly known as Thorn Goblinfly, chief scribe and head librarian at May Dreams Gardens.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wildflower Wednesday: Euphorbia pulcherrima

I've been thinking about herbaria for several weeks now, ever since I went to an all day seminar put on by the Indiana Native Plant and  Wildflower Society (INPAWS) a few weeks ago.

A herbarium is a collection of plant specimens that have been pressed and preserved, flattened on to sheets of paper, with notations on where and when they were found. They provide a good historical record of plants if well done and well preserved.

There were two speakers at the seminar, both botanists, who talked about how they use the plant specimens in herbaria for their research.  In particular, I was fascinated by how each plant specimen shows us how a plant used to be, and if the collector made good notes, where it was when first discovered and collected.

These thoughts of herbaria plus the upcoming holiday season, led me to wonder what a native Euphorbia pulcherrima, the Christmas poinsettia, looks like and if there are collected specimens in herbaria around the world. Surely there are.  I would love to see one.  I'm certain that where poinsettia grows wild it comes in one color, red, and not the wide variety of colors that breeders have developed over the decades. I'm also guessing that the bracts surrounding the flowers are not quite as full and large as the cultivated poinsettias. And definitely wild growing poinsettia haven't been all tarted up with glitter and infusions of blue and purple dyes.

I looked and looked online and found one picture of a collected specimen of E. pulcherrima, but it appeared to be from a specimen growing in Hawaii in 2004. Poinsettia are actually natives of Mexico, not Hawaii.  "Phooey", as my friend Gail who sponsors Wildflower Wednesday on her blog, Clay and Limestone, would say.  It looked like a Christmas poinsettia.

I decided to continue my quest by searching through books on Google to see if there was an old book that included a picture of a native poinsettia.  No such luck, though I did find a lovely book, Our Garden Flowers:  A Popular Study of Their Native Lands, Their Life Histories and Their Structural Affiliations by Harriet Louise Keeler (Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1910). You should see the cover on this book.  It has gold lettering on a green background. 

Alas, Keeler did not include a picture of the poinsettia in her book, but did note that it was introduced by Dr. Charles Poinsett of Charleston, South Carolina around 1833.

I suspect I would need to find an actual specimen in a herbarium that dated back to 1833 to get an idea of what a wild poinsettia  looked like back before anyone had a chance to breed the wild out of it.  Or maybe go on a journey to the wilderness of Mexico.  That's not likely to happen, but what is likely to happen is that I'll end up finding a good copy of Our Garden Flowers: A Popular Study of Their Native Lands, Their Life Histories and Their Structural Affiliations by Harriet Louise Keeler and buy it.  Did I mention the pretty green cover  with gold lettering on it?  Did I mention Keeler also wrote several other books about native plants? 

Did I mention this is my contribution to Wildflower Wednesday?  

Monday, November 26, 2012

An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Clematis, slighty used

I imagine a voice that sounds like Sir Anthony Hopkins as the character Frank Doel in the movie 84 Charing Cross Road, one of my favorite movies.

"Carol, I've found a very good used copy of An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Clematis by Mary Toomey and Everett Leeds (Timber Press, 2001) which I see is on the list of books you want.  It is in excellent condition and the price is as low as I've seen it. Would you like me to send it to you?"

I respond in a voice that is not at all like Anne Bancroft as the character Helene Hanff, in the same move.

 "Frankie, what are you waiting for? Don't tease me like that. Yes, of course, I want An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Clematis and trust your judgment that it is a copy worth the price.  Can you send it right away? It's almost winter so I have time to read this book now. Oh, I know this book will lead me on countless hunts across the Internet for Clematis of all types, some of which I may covet but never find, but I am willing to risk that for those Clematis that I will discover through this book and eventually find for my own garden.    But don't rest just yet, Frankie, I have some other books for you to look for.  I'll send a list in a few days so you can get started on finding them in time for the holidays."

Click. Add to cart. Click. Check out. Click. Click. Click. Confirm Order. Click.

My new-to-me copy of An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Clematis arrived today. I've wanted this book for years. Many thanks to the secondary seller, The Salvation Army of Fort Wayne, Indiana, for putting this one up for sale on Amazon at "a very good price".  I am one happy reading gardener this evening.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

'Twas a month before winter

'Twas a month before winter... well, actually it is 26 days until true winter which begins on December 21st. 

The only blooms left are in the sun room.  I'm currently enjoying these orange, orange, orange Thanksgiving cactus blooms. 

I have separated them from some hot pink Thanksgiving cactus blooms because even someone as color-challenged as I sometimes am can see that these clash.

Out in the garden proper, over the last month I moved everything out of winter's way, either stowing it under tarps on the patio or cramming it into the garage.  I planted over 1,500 bulbs and six trees. I also cut back some of the more rampant self-sowing perennials, like asters.  I'll still end up with hundreds of seedlings of aster to pull in the spring, but that is better than thousands of seedlings.

I am only slightly nagged by the thistle and henbit still out in the garden. Give me one decent sunny Saturday or Sunday afternoon with temperatures above freezing and I promise I'll go out and weed out most of those.

I am a tiny bit very concerned that the rabbits will cut their little rabbit teeth this winter on my newly planted apple trees.  That would not please me. To get rid of this concern, I plan to put some chicken wire or hardware cloth around the trunks of the apple trees, at least for the winter. While I have the wire cutters out, I think I will also protect the other three trees I planted.   

'Twas a month before winter... actually 26 days before true winter arrives on December 21st. I think the garden is ready. I think I am ready. 

Now, what nice, warm rabbit hole should I fall down into this winter?   I've been skirting around the edges of one, and think if I just take one step forward toward it, I could fall in and spend an entire winter exploring it, emerging just in time for spring. 


Friday, November 23, 2012

You might be a gardening geek: Black Friday Edition

Clematis integrifolia 'Alba' seed heads on Black Friday
You might be a gardening geek on Black Friday if...

You looked at all the ads that came in the paper and decided not to go out shopping because there were no good deals on gardening tools.

You realized that all those ads could be used outside in the garden to smother weeds.  Bonus points if you also thought of using them to make paper pots for seedlings or shredding them to put in your worm bins.

You briefly thought about going to the local big box hardware stores with garden centers to see if they had any bulbs left over but then remembered, sadly, that there are people who don't garden and they might trample you as you stood there looking at bulbs.  Bonus points if you decided to go later in the day when the crowds were probably all gone.  More bonus points if you decided to go to a real garden center on Black Friday.

You thought that Black Friday would be a good day to get out your copy of Black Plants by Paul Bonine and look at all the black plant options available to gardeners.

You noted on Facebook that you thought Black Friday would be a good day to get rid of excess clothes and clutter in your own house but were aghast when someone mentioned your hoes might be part of the excess. 

You got an email from Botanical Interests that all their seeds are 20% off for the whole weekend and decided to spend part of Black Friday ordering seeds for next year's garden. Bonus points if you looked at your gift-giving list to see who else might like to get seeds for Christmas.

You didn't go to the mall to shop because Black Friday was an extra day off from work and you decided to garden instead.

And finally, you might be a gardening geek on Black Friday if you wrote a post about being a gardener on Black Friday or were a gardener that read a post about being a gardening geek on Black Friday.

Happy Black Friday.  Let the planning for next year's garden begin!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Guest Post: Garden Fairies Prepare for Winter

Garden fairies here.

We are garden fairies and once again we feel it is our duty and responsibility, our right and our mission, to take over this blog so that we can provide useful information and great wisdom about gardening and gardens.

Before we start to share the wisdom of why you should  prepare a garden for winter and useful information about how to do it we must comment on the previous post.

We are garden fairies and we were appalled that as a child, Carol thought to dress up shrubs with aprons and jackets and hats.  Goodness gracious, had we known about that post ahead of time we would have done more than post at the end of it that we were appalled.  Truly, it makes us wonder what Carol will attempt to do in her own garden and we are thankful that she has not tried to dress up any of her own shrubs. 

We are garden fairies and we do not know what we would have done had she dressed a shrub here. We would have probably had to call a big meeting and figure out rules of order for meetings and all that nonsense.  Ol' Rainbow Tanglefly told us some stories about previous times when garden fairies attempted to meet like that and let's just say we decided that since Carol has never, to our knowledge, attempted to cloth any shrubs or other plants here at May Dreams Gardens, we have decided to dispense with any meetings and prepare for winter.

Mostly what we do to prepare for winter is wait for Carol to come out here and prepare the garden for winter. We are garden fairies and feel that doing this is a great contribution to the garden.  Right now, we think Carol is just about done. She was out here yesterday cutting back some perennials. Goodness, you should have seen all the aster seeds that got flung all over the garden when she cut those back. There will be aster seedlings for sure in the spring. 

There is a rumor going around the garden that Carol will be mowing the lawn one last time today before she puts up Christmas lights. We garden fairies must be very careful not to get caught in the lawn for this last mowing because Carol drops the blade down and cuts it short for winter.

We are garden fairies. We'll just lay low, literally, and when the door to the house is open, run in there to spend the winter amongst the houseplants, with our sistern and brethern, the toast fairies, and watch with amusement as the tree fairies climb up into the Christmas tree.

Finally, this post is too long but we garden fairies do not want to leave it without saying that we are thankful indeed for all that we have, and we know Carol is thankful to, and can hardly wait for the big feast tomorrow which she does not have to cook. She just has to eat it.  Because of that she had better mow the lawn to pre-burn some of those calories she will consume.

We are garden fairies!

Submitted by:

Violet Greenpea Maydreams, formerly known as Thorn Goblinfly, chief scribe for the garden fairies and the garden fairy who likes to put rocks along the edges of the raised beds in the Vegetable Garden Cathedral (see picture above).

Monday, November 19, 2012

Playing dress up, our thoughts turn to gardening

My sister and I, the sister who does not garden but does a really super job of weeding if she takes a notion to do some weeding, spent some time this morning sorting through old family pictures.  As usual, my thoughts turned to gardening, as they always do.

I had forgotten, until I saw these pictures, that I was apparently not always content to dress up Barbie dolls and baby dolls.

I had to dress up shrubs.
In particular, I dressed up an Alberta spruce, Picea glauca 'Conica'.  Of course, at the time, I did not know the botanical name for this shrub.  I guess I just thought it would be nice to put some clothes on it.

We, assuming my younger sisters might have helped me, though they may disavow any knowledge of doing so, dressed this spruce in multiple outfits.

I especially like this one with the "cone" sticking up above the face. I think we made the face with a paper plate.  

And to cap it all off, we thought to take pictures of our Alberta spruce all dressed up and my mom kept these pictures for all those years. 

Good times. Who needs Barbie dolls and baby dolls to dress up when you have a spruce to dress in the garden?  

(Yes, Dr. Hortfreud has been studying these pictures since they were discovered a few hours ago trying to determine how this childhood activity may have affected Carol in later years, or at least explain a few things.)

(Yes, you might be a gardening geek if as a child you dressed up shrubs instead of dolls.)

(Yes, garden fairies here. We are are appalled.)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Fallow Ground

In the garden there are times when rest is imposed upon us, when all is dormant.  There are other times when we impose rest on the garden, when we choose to leave some ground fallow, un-planted during a time when there could be something growing on it.

Fallow ground isn't always just a plot of ground.  It can be a giant, empty Wardian case, or a large lawn or an uncleared field. When we leave something fallow, we are letting it be as it is, putting off until another day or season whatever we could be doing with it, or hope to be doing with it.

It can be dangerous to leave fallow ground untended.  On its own, it can become weedy. It can become a black hole that nags at us and reminds us of unrealized potential, of opportunities not taken.  Fallow ground is like the blank pages of a book.  If we don't write upon them, do they remain blank or does someone write on them for us?

What really happens to fallow ground left unplanted?  And do we want to find out?

Now, when my gardens are dormant, I am making plans for taking care of fallow ground. Will I leave it be and let nature take its course? Or should I impose my own will on it and turn the fallow ground into something productive, that gives me energy and pleases me.  The answer seems obvious. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Random pictures of the garden

Dormant garden bed
There are some who think I should post more pictures of my gardens on my blog, so I went out this morning and took some random pictures to share.

The vegetable garden is dormant now. It is considered dormant because our growing season has passed for this year and the ground is cleared and bare.  If I showed you this picture in June, and it was still bare ground,  I would call it fallow ground because that's what bare ground that isn't planted during the growing season is called.

I've been thinking a lot about fallow ground lately.

In one of the garden beds, I planted winter rye as a cover crop.
Winter rye cover crop
This cover crop should benefit the soil in many ways.  Its deep roots will help break up hard clay soils and add some organic matter deep down.  Then when I cut this back in the spring and turn it under, it will add more organic matter to the soil.  That's why cover crops are also called green manure.  Finally, while it is growing and covering the ground, this cover crop should help control erosion and keep other weeds from growing in this bed.   All good.

I should sow more cover crops in future years.

I spent quite a bit of time this morning looking at the garden border that I call The Shrubbery.

It never seems quite full enough, quite lush enough for me.  But then I looked at the shrubs in the back and duh, how long have I been gardening? I figured it out. If one is going to plant a garden that is mostly shrubs, some of which will grow rather large, one must realize that it is going to take a few years for it to fill in.

I promise I will be more patient with The Shrubbery, and not over plant it, though I still may add a path through it.

Inside, I noted that the Thanksgiving cacti are both blooming now.
I got a cutting for this orange flowering Thanksgiving cactus from a friend at work. Her aunt had it growing on a screened-in porch for years and I begged for a cutting.  Begged. Demanded. Insisted. Asked every day.

I was patient, and she was gracious enough to give me a cutting.

It clashes nicely with the pink flowering Thanksgiving cactus that I bought about 15 years ago.
I am planning a future post about the difference between Thanksgiving cactus and Christmas cactus as it confusing. Of course, I don't have any Christmas cactus, so I'll be buying one or two or three, for the blog. For the blog!

Readers may recall that a few weeks ago, I planted up the Wardian case. The very one that sat empty, fallow, for eight years.  Here's a bird's eye view of what's growing in it now.
In typical plant geek fashion, I deviated immediately from any kind of design when I figured out what a great environment this is for plants in general.

Starting in the lower left, I have a little amaryllis, offshoot of some amaryllis I was repotting. Who could not plant up a little baby amaryllis bulb to see how long it takes to grow to blooming size? No self-respecting plant geek would have thrown it out.

In the upper left is a creeping fig. I bought it when I thought I didn't have enough plants on hand for the Wardian case.  I may have to take it out if it gets too crowded in there.

In the  upper right is an arrowhead plant, one that came out of a planter from my Mom's funeral. It's hard to believe that was over a year ago. I have several plants from funeral planters that I am keeping going for as long as possible. These new plants are a good companion for some pothos vine that originally came from funeral planters from my Dad's funeral over 25 years ago.

Yes, you can keep houseplants growing for a long time.

The pot just below the arrowhead plant is a little plantlet of Tasmanian violets, Viola banksii,  that I'm attempting to root. So far so good.  The other three little pots are Viola labradorica, which I transplanted from outside just when they were starting to go dormant. They responded by drying up, but, but, but, I could see a tiny bit of green coming up from the roots so I am babying them through and hope they continue to grow and one day, hopefully in the middle of winter, they will flower for me. For me!

The rest of the sunroom is not as exciting as the Wardian case.
It will be more exciting if some of those amaryllis plants bloom. 

You know, if I move some of those pots closer together, I think I have room for more plants. I need some Christmas cactus, maybe other holiday plants, some bulbs to force...

Random pictures of the garden of the garden can be dangerous. You study them, you learn from them, and then you go out and buy more plants.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - Novmber 2012

Welcome to Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day for November 2012.

Here in my USDA Hardiness Zone 6a garden in central Indiana, we've had more than one killing frost so outdoor blooms are scarce and most of the leaves have fallen from the trees.

In the lawn, a few volunteer violas, seedlings of violas planted last spring or earlier, are blooming. They seem to be oblivious to the frost, the grass around them and the occasional mower blade that is set just high enough to avoid cutting them off. 

They make me want to buy up packets of viola seeds and cast them about the lawn to see if more will show up.

Elsewhere in the garden, the asters, which in past years were still showing a bit of color in mid-November, are completely brown now.

I should really cut these down now, or by spring time I will have thousands of aster seedlings throughout the garden.

I'm less concerned about tall sedums self-sowing so I'll leave these seed heads standing for the winter.
We like to tell ourselves that these dried up flowers look good with tufts of snow on them in the winter-time.

You might think that there will be no more blooms in my garden until spring.  That used to be true, but now I have Helleborus niger growing in my garden.
It is known to many as the Christmas Rose because it blooms through the wintertime. It already has  at least one bud on it, giving me hope that I and my garden won't be bloomless until spring.

Inside where it is warm, the Thanksgiving cactus is poised to bloom.

It should be in full bloom right on schedule for Thanksgiving, one week from today.

How's your garden blooming on this mid-November day?

We would love to have you join in for Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day and tell us all about what is blooming in your garden on the 15th of the month.

It’s easy to participate and all are invited!

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

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

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Beguiling plants

A thousand random thoughts of gardening are scattered through every day.

Why don't people use the word "beguiling" more often in describing plants and flowers? 

Beguiling perfectly describes many flowers that enchant and charm us, lure us in to planting them in our gardens. Then they break our gardening hearts.  Where did we go wrong? Why did we fall victim to the charms and enchantments of these plants, again?

We know these plants are thugs ready to take over, or maybe they are wimps that will never survive in our gardens. We think they are cute, and in our gardens we'll manage them.  

Perhaps "beguiler" should be included in some botanical names, just to warn us.  Viola beguiler.  Rosa beguiler.  Hemerocallis beguiler.  Plant beguiler.

The species name would clue us in, at least, to the potential to be charmed by some plant or another.  We would still fall for the plant, be beguiled by it, but at least we would have been warned.   

Beguiling plants... one of a thousand random thoughts of gardening scattered through every day.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Old Woman returns with an apple and advice

I was startled when the doorbell rang. I was not expecting anyone. My package of dwarf apple trees had already arrived earlier in the afternoon, so I was also not anticipating any more deliveries, especially on a Saturday.

I should not have been surprised to see the Old Woman at the door.  She has an uncanny knack for showing up just as I finish a project in the garden.

For this visit, she was dressed in her usual attire, which I had begun to think came from my own closet. She was wearing old olive green pants and a green long-sleeved t-shirt that didn't quite match, but didn't exactly clash with the pants.  As usual, she invited herself in and sat down next to me. This time she offered me half of an apple, which I politely declined.

I did wonder where she got the apple and thought it quite a coincidence that I had just planted three dwarf apple trees on the east end of the vegetable garden in the last bed by the compost bins, right before she showed up on my doorstep.  This last bed is narrower than the others and I decided late one night that I should plant fruit trees there.  Once I decided that, it didn't take long to find what I wanted online and order them up for fall delivery - 'Gala', 'Goldrush' and 'Enterprise' apple varieties.

"Carol", the old woman said, "I must say this is a good apple. I'm glad you planted those apple trees today".

I wasn't sure how she knew I had just planted those apple trees, unless she had been watching me, but I let her proceed with the conversation.

"I know the conventional wisdom is that apple trees are more trouble than they are worth for most gardeners, but I think that's a bunch of hooey, so I'm glad you planted them anyway.  I know you'll like them.  I say if everyone followed conventional wisdom in the garden all the time they would miss out on a lot of good plants and some good food, too.   I also approve of your raspberries, both the red and the gold varieties.  I don't mind telling you that I may have nipped a few here and there when you weren't looking, but you won't miss them, I promise."

Interesting how she knew about the raspberries, too.

I agreed with her assessment about conventional wisdom and without going overboard, I told her so.   She then went on about the bulbs I planted a few weeks ago and told me how much I would enjoy those blooms in the springs to come and to always find a way to plant bulbs in the fall.    I thanked her for that advice and asked her if she had any other wisdom to share with me.

"Blueberries", she said. "You really should plant some blueberries.  I know that they need more acidic soil than you have, but I think if you plant them along the back fence in the vegetable garden, you'll figure out a way to provide them with the conditions they need."

Well, I had wanted to use that bed for clematis vines and other flowers, but maybe I could find a spot for a few blueberry bushes, too?

Just as I began to think more about getting some blueberries to plant, The Old Woman got up and said she had to go see about making a list of more conventional wisdom for me to ignore.  "After all, I wouldn't want you to go all stale in the garden, following a bunch of conventional wisdom that may just be someone else's limitation and not your own".

She left as quickly as she came and I was left wondering just where she got that apple, wondering if she had been here at all.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Dr. Hortfreud discusses Viola banksii

Hello, Carol. 

Hello, Dr. Hortfreud.

Care to talk about this box from Logee's Greenhouse that showed up on your porch yesterday, Carol?

Well, that depends, Dr. Hortfreud, if you think it is a good thing or a bad thing or just a thing that there was a box with plants.

For now, let's consider it just a thing.  What plant was in the box?

Plant? Singular? 

So it was more than one plant, Carol?

Well, actually, there were three plants in the box, with the potential for many more.

Interesting.  Let's see what's in the box.

Okay, Dr. Hortfreud.  There were three plants wrapped up like this.
Okay, they look well wrapped.  Care to show me the actually plant?

Well, inside that wrapping, there was this wrapping.
Nice sneak peak.  Show me the rest of the plant. Remember I'm paid by the minute.

When I took off the black wrapping, there was this.
The white stuff is a nice touch.

Yes, that's helping it stay moist and keeps the dirt from falling out of the pot during shipping.

And... keep going, Carol.  

I bought three Viola banksii.
Very nice, Carol. Wherever did you get the idea for this plant?

From The New Terrarium by Tovah Martin.  She mentioned Viola hederacea as a terrarium plant and suddenly, I had to have it.

"Suddenly, you had to have it"  I've heard that before, about a hundred times, if I've heard it once. That's the elephant in you talking, no doubt. But you bought Viola banksii?  

Well, that's because I couldn't find any V. hederacea online but I did find V. banksii.  They were once thought to be the same plant but later it was determined that they are different and V. banksii is available, and V. hederacea isn't, so that's why I bought V. banskii.

Carol, it concerns me a bit, but that actually seems to make sense. What are your plans for V. banskii?

Well, I'm going to plant one of the plants in a low wide container and put it under my cloche, maybe with little feet under it to provide some air circulation.  I'm going to pot up another one to take to work.  Then the third one I think I'll put in a small hanging basket and hang it in the sunroom. This viola spreads by sending out little plantlets, so I hope to soon have more of these plants, maybe to share with others. 

Seems like a good plan, especially the part about sharing with others. That's always good.  I will remind you, gently, that it took you over eight years to plant your Wardian case.  I thought you would never plant it, but you proved me wrong, again. When do you plan to plant up these violas?

This weekend, Dr. Hortfreud. I've learned my lesson.  I promise.

Good, Carol. There is hope for you yet, I think.  Now, please see Miss Jane Hortaway on your way out to make your next appointment for Monday. I want to check on your progress on potting up of these violas.

Will do. Thank you, Dr. H.  I find our sessions very helpful.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Riding an elephant through a garden center

I ran across a metaphor for how we think emotionally and rationally, and my thoughts turned to gardening, as they always do.

In summary, our emotional thinking, when our instincts kick in, is like an elephant.  Our rational thinking, which applies reason and thinks about the long-term, is like a little rider on top of that elephant trying to keep control of it.

Now picture when you go to a garden center and see a plant you love from a distance. The elephant in you awakens, rears up on her hind legs, trumpets loudly and goes thundering toward that plant. Pity the casual shopper standing in your elephant's way, your emotional self,  as you run instinctively in the direction of the plant, looking neither left nor right, until you finally grasp that plant in your trunk and bellow out "mine, all mine".

Then picture that rider on the elephant, who has been clinging on for dear life until the elephant finally has the plant in her grasp.   Now the rider gets her turn and regains control of the elephant. She starts to ask questions.  Where are you going to plant that?  Is it worth all the grocery money to have that plant?  Do you really need it to be complete as a gardener?

Oh, that elephant rider can be such a downer. She is so practical. She is so logical.  Sometimes she lets the elephant buy the plant. Other times she calmly convinces the elephant to put the plant down, apologize to all the people she stampeded past and pick out a more practical alternative.

But sometimes the elephant doesn't listen to the rider.  She won't let go of the plant. She loves the plant and it is going home with her regardless of what the rider does or says.

Elephants look calm, but watch out if they want something.
I certainly have enjoyed many a ride  through a garden center on my elephant.  Sometimes the rider in me makes my elephant put down the plant.  Fortunately, sometimes the rider stays quiet and lets the elephant in me buy my folly, I mean plant, and I'm grateful for that. It makes gardening more fun if we sometimes allow our emotions to decide on which plants to purchase.

After all, all practical and logical does not always a surprising, fun garden make.  Though at times, the rider has had to fix what the elephant did, or deal with it after the fact.  I swear it was the elephant who bought 1,100 crocus corms to plant this fall, ignoring the rider trying to control her, calm her down, convince her to settle for a more practical number. All the elephant could think of was how the crocuses would look blooming in the lawn in the spring.  I'm glad, though that the elephant, the emotional one, got her way.  The rider, the rational one, cleaned up the mess and figured out a way to plant all 1,100 crocuses in an afternoon. Both the elephant and the rider now look forward to spring.

Watch out for your elephant and other elephants the next time you go to a garden center or tour a garden.  You know who they are, how to spot them.  And for goodness sake, stay out of the way if two elephants stampede toward the same plant.  Or at least hope that there are experienced riders on board who can come to a nice comprise on who actually gets that plant.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Understanding Gardeners - Breathing

Someone told me she were taking a break from her garden.  I told her that was fine but she could only hold her breath for so long. Soon enough, she would have to exhale and then she would be back in her garden again.

If you are a gardener,  comparing a pause in your gardening activities to holding your breath makes perfect sense.  If you are not a gardener, you may be shaking your head, wondering why a gardener would hold her breath.

Well, really, we don't actually hold our breaths if we leave our gardens.  But we do breathe best with our hands in the dirt and our noses stuck in flowers. 

In temperate climates, we don't get to spend all year breathing in a garden. We are more or less forced to head indoors and leave the garden when fall turns winter-like and then winter settles in.  When this happens, and it happens every year, we find reasonable substitutes for breathing gardening.  We tend to our houseplants. We read gardening books. We eagerly await seed and plant catalogs and browse online for more plants for our gardens. 

We remember what it is like to breathe in a garden in May, and use that memory to sustain us through the long winter.


Friday, November 02, 2012

This is my garden

Lest anything think otherwise, I have placed a sign in my garden so that everyone will know that it is my garden.

This is my garden. I am responsible for the weeds, the bare spots, and the unraked leaves. 

This is my garden. I am also taking credit for each and every bloom, each and every surprise, whether good or bad.

This is my garden because...

Garden fairies here! We are garden fairies and we cannot let this drivel continue, this grandstanding, self-righteous bunch of.. well, stuff.

Carol is not quite the owner of this garden as she thinks she is, in spite of her claims and signs and possessiveness of it. We are garden fairies. We are out here day in and day out, night in and night out and this is our garden. We are responsible for it and take great pride in it. We are the ones who have to correct Carol's mistakes. We are the ones who have to endure some of the crazy stuff she tries in this garden.

We only stay in this garden because there is great potential here and it is kind of fun to see what Carol does out here, stuff like planting 1,100 crocus corms in the lawn. We were as excited as pillywiggins to watch that. Wait, some of us are pillywiggins.  Anyway, that was exciting.

We are also excited because Carol bought just a few more bulbs the other day.  Once she plants those, she'll go around saying that she planted more than 1,500 bulbs this fall. Well, numbers don't mean diddly to us garden fairies, we are more excited by the all the blooms that will be here this spring.

Carol's garden, indeed.  We'll let her think that this is her garden so she'll keep buying plants and flowers.  We'll lead her on so she'll pull weeds and add mulch.  We'll let her put up her little sign in the vegetable garden. We'll do all that because, say it together with us, we are garden fairies.

Submitted by:
Violet Greenpea Maydreams, formerly known as Thorn Goblinfly, chief scribe for all the garden fairies and those of that ilk here at May Dreams Gardens.