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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Corn Pollination: A One Act Play

Corn Pollination
A One Act Play
Carol M.

Cast of Characters

Corn…………………………....….A sweet corn stalk
Tassel……………………………….A simple tassel at the top of a corn stalk
Silk………………………………… The silk on an ear of corn
Bee………………………………… A simple honeybee
Wind………………………………..A gentle summer breeze

TIME: Summer
SETTING: A garden


(We see a patch of sweet corn growing in a garden)


Look at me, I am a corn plant. I swear, I grow an inch or more a day. I sure want to be knee high be the Fourth of July. In fact, with this good weather and this good dirt, I bet I can be thigh high by the Fourth of July. I just need to concentrate on growing.

(Light fades and a tiny bunny scurries across the stage to show the passage of time)


(The corn is now tall and has a tassel on top and a tiny ear with silk forming.)


Wow. I sure am tall and look what I have on top. Tassels!


You should see the view from up here. It is marvelous. I can see over the fence. I can see the sky. I can see birds flying around.


Down here I can’t see nothing. Why am I even here?

(Light fades and another bunny hops across the sage.)


(The lights come back up in the garden, and we see the Corn just as tall as ever.)


Hey, guess what I just figured out, Tassel.


Tell me, Corn, what did you just figure out?


I just figured out that you have pollen, Tassel, and if you send some pollen down to Silk, she’ll grow a great big ear of sweet corn and that’s what’s supposed to happen.


Yes! That’s what I need. I need some pollen. Send some pollen down here, Tassel.


Um, I don’t know how to do that. Do we need bees?

(Just then a bee flies by)


You don’t need us bees, Tassel. You need the wind!

(Light fades again.)


(The lights come back up and we see the Corn swaying in a cool summer breeze.)


Oh, this swaying. I feel kind of sick.


You feel sick? You ought to be up here. I’m losing all my pollen in this wind. I can’t hold onto it any longer.


Yes, I’m sending the pollen down to the silk.


Weeeee. I’m pollinated. Oh, this is awesome. I am going to be the best ear of sweet corn ever. Keep sending that pollen, Wind!

(Light gradually fades as the corn continues to sway in the breeze .)


And that’s how corn is pollinated.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Grafted Tomatoes: The Truth Grows in My Garden

San Marzano tomatoes
I'm growing San Marzano tomatoes in my garden this season.  San Marzano tomatoes are supposed to be the "gold standard" of paste-type tomatoes, with thick walls and very few seeds.

I did some research on them and found out that they have their own website, history, and following.  I discovered there are also imposters out there that claim to be San Marzano tomatoes, but they are mere shadows of what a true San Marzano tomato is like.

But my story is not about the history and cult-like following of San Marzano tomatoes.  My story is about grafted tomatoes.

It all started early in the spring, possibly late last winter.  (Imagine now a fading out of your screen as we return to seed catalog season).

I was browsing through seed catalogs and decided that I would grow San Marzano tomatoes because even though I've never made my own tomato paste or sauce, I thought perhaps I would this year.  I had probably just come inside after a round of snow shoveling so might have thought that some spaghetti made with homemade sauce would hit the spot.  Yes, I would make tomato sauce!

About that same time, up pops an email from the editor of Indiana Gardening asking me if I would write an article about grafted tomatoes.  I replied that I would and then she connected me with some people at Burpee who sent me some grafted tomatoes to grow in my garden.

I finished the article about the same time as I received the grafted tomatoes which arrived late in May in one gallon containers.  Two of the tomatoes were San Marzano. Good, I thought, now I can grow a seed raised and a grafted tomato of the same variety side be side. I'll find out the truth. I'll see if there is enough difference to justify the higher cost of grafted tomatoes.

Earlier today, I went out to the garden after an absence of nearly a week and this is what I found.

The San Marzano tomato plant that I grew from seed looked like this:

Seed grown San Marzano tomato plant

The San Marzano tomato plant that was grafted looked like this:

Grafted San Marzano tomato plant

Which tomato plant would you like to grow in your garden?

Clearly, we'd all like to grow the tomato plant that is not diseased, blighted and ready for the trash.

I don't know if it is a dirty, little secret, but  many of heirloom varieties of tomato plants are not disease resistant and often produce only a few tomatoes before they wither away from some kind of wilt/blight/horrible plant disease.  No one really likes to talk about it because growing heirloom tomato plants is cool. It's popular.  We are convinced the heirloom varieties taste a lot better than newer hybrids. Often they do taste better.  But they don't always grow better.

Unless, it seems, if they are grafted.  The truth of that is growing in my garden

So what is this tomato grafting business all about?  Simply put, a scion from a heirloom tomato plant (the top part of the seedling) is carefully grafted on to the root stock of a nearly wild tomato. The wild root stock has better, stronger roots and is more disease resistant and passes this disease resistance  on to the plant  itself.   It's the same principle as grafting an apple tree or rose but a little trickier because it is done with tomato seedlings.  In other words, leave it up to the professionals to graft tomatoes.

The difference between grafted and not grafted tomato plants in my garden, for this one variety, is striking. After seeing it, one wonders why a gardener would even bother with seed grown tomato plants.

Well, I'll still grow some tomatoes myself from seeds because grafted tomatoes are just being introduced into the retail markets in the United States in the last few years so not every heirloom variety is available as a grafted tomato.   But I am now more than willing to pay extra for grafted tomatoes for those heirloom varieties that I know tend to succumb to disease.

Did I also mention that grafted tomato plants produce more fruit than those grown from seeds? I am going to have to seriously consider actually making some tomato sauce or paste now. I've got all these San Marzano tomatoes...

Friday, July 26, 2013

One safe rule for gardeners

Once upon a time, I lost my footing near an old gardening book, fell in, and ever since then I have been making my way from one book to another, finding all kinds of nuggets of gardening wit and wisdom.

I am fascinated by the connections, the bridges between all these old gardening books.  One author mentions another, my ears perk up and I'm off in search of another writer, another book.

Lately Mrs. Francis King, whom I re-discovered in an antique store, has led me to Kate Brewster. Somewhere, in reading about these two garden writers, I figured out they were quite involved in the genesis of The Garden Club of America. This revelation led me to start looking through my review copy of a recently published history of The Garden Club of America,  The Garden Club of America: 100 Years of a Growing Legacy by William Seale (Smithsonian Books, 2012).

It's a gold mine of the connections of many gardeners and garden writers.

This led me to Google Books, where some of the earlier bulletins of The Garden Club of America can be read online.  In the November 1919 bulletin, I found an essay by the British garden writer Gertrude Jekyll, who turned out to be a friend of Mrs. Francis King. In the essay, titled "Some Aims of Gardening" (page 7),  Jekyll wrote about making a garden, "One safe rule is not to attempt too much at one time."

This reminds me of another quote from Kate Brewster who was the editor of the bulletins.  "...there is nothing stupider than to have so much garden that there is no time or energy left for enjoying it". ~ Kate L. Brewster, The Little Garden for Little Money, 1924.

In other words, "size your garden for the resources you have", my second secret to achieving happiness in your garden.

Can you imagine a dinner with the Gertrude Jekyll, Mrs. Francis King, and Kate Brewster, taking place in the late 1910's?  Can you imagine them discussing how much more enjoyable gardening is when you have a garden which is the right size for you to care for it and still leave time to enjoy it?  Is this where King came up with the idea for The Little Garden Series books?

I don't know if such a dinner ever occurred, but it is fun to imagine that it did.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wildflower Wednesday: Overheard in the Garden

On the fourth Wednesday of the month, we are all invited by Gail of Clay and Limestone to post about wildflowers for Wildflower Wednesday. Gail  organized this garden bloggers' meme to help promote planting wildflowers in our gardens and avoiding the use of pesticides so that pollinators and other insects can enjoy the flowers without harmful chemicals.

For this month's Wildflower Wednesday post, I've developed a little play of sorts based on the following picture of Heliposis helianthoides, a wildflower that comes up here and there in my garden because I once planted a variegated variety, 'Loraine Sunshine'.  'Loraine Sunshine' is very good at self sowing but many of her progeny revert back to the species.  That's okay, the species is a fine flower with its own merits.  I like its carefree spirit.

For my little play, the characters are Heliopsis, which has the daisy-looking flowers, Daylily, played by the variety 'Hyperion', Grapevine and the very large viburnum, Viburnum. 

The curtain is opening, let's listen in to the dialogue of the new play "Overheard in the Garden".

Helopisis: (in a male voice) Hey daylily, are you photo bombing my picture?

Daylily:  (in a female voice) Your picture?  I thought Carol was taking a picture of my beautiful flowers. If anything, you are photo bombing my picture. Besides, I was here first.

Helopsis:  You were here first only because Carol planted you here. I've heard the talk, you think the neighborhood has gone down hill since we wildflowers showed up.

Daylily:  You said it, not me.  I only have this to say. I think you are here only because Carol was too lazy to pull you out.

Helopsis:  Well, I never...  Grapevine, will you get off of me. For crying out loud. You are about to strangle me with those tendrils.

Grapevine: (in a low, lumbering voice)  Oops, sorry about that.  I just get so excited in the summertime that I can't stop growing.

Viburnum (in an old woman's voice): Speaking of grapevines, I feel like I have no privacy with that grapevine climbing all through my branches, and I think I just saw a clematis coming at me.

Helopsis:  Well, Viburnum, now that you mention it, it is kind of creepy to have a grapevine all over you.  Grapevine, I'm warning you. Get off of me. You're crushing me.

Daylily:  Stop it. Everyone just be quiet. Can't we just get along? All this whining is affecting my bloom.

Helopsis:  Whining? We were just talking. Besides, I think you started it.  Anyway, I thought you'd be happy to see me here. I'm a good little wildflower.

Daylily:  If you say so, but you aren't that little. Hey, wouldn't you be happier over there with your own kind in August Dreams Garden?

Helopsis:  Maybe, but it seems to be getting a bit crowded over there with lots of other yellow flowers. I like it over here.

Daylily:  But I'm yellow, too, or did you notice?

Helopsis:  I noticed, but I think our shapes are different enough that there is room for both of us here.

Daylily:  I agree.  I'm sorry I said unkind things to you.

Helopsis:  That's okay. I'm sorry I photo bombed your picture.  Now, could you help me get this grapevine off of me.

Daylily:  Sorry, I can't help you with that, I'm sort of rooted over here. Besides, that grapevine is heading for me now. We'll have to see if we can get Carol's attention to cut back some of it. I think she calls it pruning.  Maybe she can get rid of some of my spent blooms while she is over here. They are ruining my pretty smile and general good looks.

Grapevine (in the background): Pruning? Pruning! Oh, no! I don't wanna be pruned!

Heliopsis:  Well, I don't want her to cut off my blooms. I see a nice spot over there in that other garden where I'd like to grow next year. I need to make some seeds!

Daylily:   Is that all you wildflowers ever think of, making seeds?  I'm focusing on just being pretty.

Heliopsis:  To each her own. Hey, there's a bee. Hey, bee. Over here! I want to make some seeds!  I'm chemical free. I'm just what you are looking for...

The End

Make room for wildflowers in your garden! The other flowers and all the pollinators will thank you for doing so.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Garden fairies talk about gardening gloves

Garden fairies here.

We are garden fairies and we are compelled, once again, to post on this blog.  We seem to be so compelled always at the end of a weekend.

Why is that? Well, we are garden fairies and let us tell you that after a weekend of watching Carol in and out of the garden, we can come up with about one hundred zillion topics for this blog.

Where to begin? Well, first off let us tell you  everything we write here is absolutely true.  The right reverend Hortus Augustus McGarden, whom we all call just Ha, makes sure of that.  At least he tries to make sure but he is terribly busy working on the last rites for everything in the compost bins so Ol' Tangle Rainbowfly may have slipped in an exaggeration or two when Ha was busy and wasn't listening.

Anyway, one funny thing that happened is that sometime midweek, Carol dropped a gardening glove on the grass over to the side of the house and never even noticed it. Well, we are garden fairies and we watched over that glove all the rest of the week and into the weekend.   We thought she was never going to go that way again and see that glove.

We just hoped she didn't blame us, again, for her missing gardening glove whenever she did figure out it was missing. We are garden fairies and we don't take her gardening gloves and hide them as often as she claims we do.

Anyway, on Saturday, Carol started mowing the lawn and we thought at last she'd find her missing gardening glove and Sweetpea Morningdew could stop fussing and worrying over it, but then a big storm blew in and Carol had to stop mowing before she got to the backyard so there that gardening glove lay on the grass getting just soaked with rain water.

Finally, Carol came out on Sunday to mow the backyard.  She started up the mower, opened up the garden gate and began to push the mower forward and we thought oh no, she doesn't see that gardening glove. She's going to run over it.  Sweetpea Morningdew, who was still over there watching it, shuddered at the thought of gardening glove pieces going everywhere and what a mess that would be for someone to clean up.

Well, just then, Carol stopped and peered ahead and we heard her say, "Is that a dead bird?"  A dead bird!? We are garden fairies and let us tell you that if you mistake your old gardening glove for a dead bird then you need new gardening gloves. Or new glasses. Or to wear your glasses. Or something.

We garden fairies laughed when we saw Carol  slowly creep toward that glove and then lean down and see that it was her ol' gardening glove.

Oh my, good times here at May Dreams Gardens. Good times indeed, especially for us garden fairies. 

Submitted by:
Violet Greenpea Maydreams, Chief Scribe for the Garden Fairies at May Dreams Gardens

Carol's Epilogue:

That gardening glove did look like a dead bird from a distance. I didn't notice it was missing because I have more than one pair of gardening gloves. Though I try to keep the gloves together, I have a few pairs of gloves in a basket by the back door, many pairs in a basket in the garage, and some in a drawer in the sun room.  I also suspect there are some gardening gloves near the bottom of the compost heap, but I'll let the garden fairy Hortus Augustus McGarden worry about those gloves. Ha!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Professor Hortledore teaches her first gardening class

Good morning, class!

Good morning, Professor Hortledore.

Well, class, don't you all look spiffy and shiny and ready to learn.  Today in gardening class we are going to discuss "what elements are included in a good garden". 

We'll start our discussion by breaking down the following paragraph from The Spirit of the Garden by Martha Brookes Hutcheson.    Please turn to page 5 and read the last paragraph silently to yourselves, while I gaze out the window and count the number of daylilies.

"Above all, let us have a sense of seclusion in our flowered space, that the calm and peace shall in no way be broken. Here belong the song of birds and the hum of insects. When solitude is looked for, the garden is the place to which we naturally turn. Let it have cool, shaded places, where out of the summer sun one may steal to sit, and, with the sound of dripping water near by, see the brilliant flower beds in their masses of gorgeous color standing out in the full sunlight, with the bees at work among them and the blue sky overhead.  And let the garden be just near enough to the house to be part of the life of its inmates where they may go without effort, in the day or the evening. Does everyone know the garden in the half evening light, when all sharp outline is blended into one luxuriant composition of flower forms, paths, and fountain, held in a mass of green that us unlike that of day? And do we all know it by moonlight, when all green is gone and distant corners are lost in darkness, while perhaps a white evening primrose opens its bloom to the summer night and stands pale and cool with the moon's rays upon it, and its long shadow cast cross the pathway? It is at these moments that our gardens are of unspeakable worth to us and we begrudge no care that has gone to their making." ~ Martha Brookes Hutcheson, The Spirit of the Garden, 1923

Has everyone read the paragraph?

Yes, Professor Hortledore.

Good, now, eyes to the front of the class room.  What does this paragraph tell you about the elements of a garden?

That there is a sense of seclusion?

Good, yes.  That's one thing. Anything else?

It's flowered.

Yes, indeed, a garden has flowers.

There are birds singing in it and insects humming?

Absolutely!  Which means, say it with me class, "We avoid the use of pesticides that might harm the birds and the bees." Good job, class.

Professor Hortledore?


Are we going to talk about the birds and the bees in this class because I heard...

No, this is not going to be that kind of class. Now, focus, please. What other elements are in a garden, according to Miss Hutcheson?

It has cool, shady places to sit down and rest?

Yes!  What else?

The sound of water?

Good, class, very good.  A garden should include the sound of water in it.

From a recording, Professor Hortledore?

No, class, not from a recording. That would be awful. The sound of water needs to come from a water feature like a fountain or a pond.  Now class, we are almost done.  What else does a garden need?

It needs to be close to the house so people won't have to go far to get to it.

Yes, that's right!  What one other element in a garden is mentioned in the paragraph?

Paths and pathways?

Excellent.  Yes, you need paths to walk through the garden.

Class, I am very impressed.  I think you get it.  A garden includes a sense of enclosure, flowers, birds, bees, water, cool shady places to sit, paths and is close to the house.  I'm very proud of you class. Now you may go out to recess.  When you come back, we'll go even further into Miss Hutcheson's book to find out even more about making gardens!

Thank you, Professor Hortledore.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Spirit of the Garden

If you wonder why I buy and read old gardening books, I hope this passage from The Spirit of the Garden by Martha Brookes Hutcheson (1923) explains it.

"Above all, let us have a sense of seclusion in our flowered space, that the calm and peace shall in no way be broken. Here belong the song of birds and the hum of insects. When solitude is looked for, the garden is the place to which we naturally turn. Let it have cool, shaded places, where out of the summer sun one may steal to sit, and, with the sound of dripping water near by, see the brilliant flower beds in their masses of gorgeous color standing out in the full sunlight, with the bees at work among them and the blue sky overhead.  And let the garden be just near enough to the house to be part of the life of its inmates where they may go without effort, in the day or the evening. Does everyone know the garden in the half evening light, when all sharp outline is blended into one luxuriant composition of flower forms, paths, and fountain, held in a mass of green that us unlike that of day? And do we all know it by moonlight, when all green is gone and distant corners are lost in darkness, while perhaps a white evening primrose opens its bloom to the summer night and stands pale and cool with the moon's rays upon it, and its long shadow cast cross the pathway? It is at these moments that our gardens are of unspeakable worth to us and we begrudge no care that has gone to their making." ~ Martha Brookes Hutcheson, The Spirit of the Garden, 1923

Passages like these leave me speechless.  I read this and I am ready, even in the dark of night and when tired from a long day, to head out to the garden to see which flowers prefer the night, to listen to the sounds of the garden at rest, to remember why it is that I garden.

Passages like these, combined with being in a garden, are what feed my gardening soul and give me the strength to dig and weed and hoe and water through drought and heat, through floods and cold, because I know that tomorrow or the next day or the day after that there will be a perfect day in the garden for me to enjoy. 

Passages like these encourage me to read old gardening books with the hope that I might find some long-forgotten passage that deserves to be shared with others, just as we might cut a bloom that grows in the far corner of the garden and bring it into the house for others to enjoy.

This passage, this gem of writing, is why I keep finding and buying old gardening books.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Little Garden series... reunited

The end of the story...

I fell into a giant rabbit hole of old gardening books and when I finally found my way out, I brought with me, all the way from the 1920's, the nine books in The Little Garden Series, written or edited by Mrs. Francis King.

The beginning of the story...

I was on vacation enjoying a late breakfast on a rainy morning.  The day was unfolding slowly, as all good vacation days do.

I noticed that there was a small shopping area across the road from the restaurant and that most of the stores sold antiques. Tired of all the outlet malls and t-shirt stores that seem to be the norm around vacation spots, I suggested we go over there to look around a bit, not to kill time, as that's just not a good thing to do, but to see if I could find something that heretofore I never knew I needed.

We browsed a bit and the store owner asked if she could help us find anything in particular.

"Do you have any old gardening books?"

She thought for a moment and then with the help of her husband, pointed out a bookshelf where she thought some old gardening books might be mixed in with a variety of other books.  I quickly found The Little Garden by Mrs. Francis King (1921), and though I knew I had one copy of it already, I decided to buy it.

Then I found The Little Kitchen Garden by Dorothy Giles (1926), Spring in the Little Garden by Frances Edge McIlvaine (1928) and Variety in the Little Garden by Mrs. Francis King (1923).

I was beginning to notice a little theme.

I bought all four books.

Later that evening, I looked through the books and realized there were five more Little Garden books listed in the last one published.

Five more books.

I confirmed through an online search for information on Mrs. Francis King, whose name is really Louise Yeoman King, that there were indeed nine books published in the Little Garden series.

Five more books.

It didn't take me long to find and purchase from some online sources, the other five books in the series:  Peonies in the Little Garden by Mrs. Edward Harding (1923), Iris in the Little Garden by Ella Porter McKinney, Roses in the Little Garden by G.A. Stevens (1926), Design in the Little Garden by Fletcher Steele (1924) and The Little Garden for Little Money by Kate L. Brewster (1924)

Today, the final book came and the Little Garden series has been reunited.

I'm enjoying looking through these books, finding little nuggets of gardening wisdom.  Some of this wisdom may eventually find its way into different blog posts or Facebook updates.

I may put some of the information to use in my own garden.  And I will probably include some of the  nuggets of knowledge in a presentation I've titled "Wit and Wisdom from Old Gardening Books from the 19th and 20th Century". I've presented it to a couple of groups already and I'm scheduled to present it again in August. We'll see. 

And that's pretty much the story.  I have reunited all nine of the books that make up The Little Garden Series, written or edited by Mrs. Francis King in the 1920's.

It's a grand set of books to have, if you enjoy old gardening books.

(And how about those colors? Wouldn't those colors make a nice color scheme for a den for a gardener who has a small collection of old gardening books.)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - July 2013

Double Tiger Lily 'Flora Pleno'
Welcome to Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day for July 2013.

Here in my USDA Hardiness Zone 6a garden in central Indiana, I rejoice this summer for all the rain and "normalness" we've had, weatherwise.

As many others experienced or recall, last year was the hottest, driest summer we have ever lived through in this part of the United States. It set all kinds of records that I hope never to see broken.  My bloom day post for July 2012 shows a pathetic lack of blooms.

This year the garden is blooming and showing all kinds of blooms in mid-summer.

Shall we take a walk around the backyard and see what we can see?

Please ignore all of the weeds, tree seedlings and general lack of deadheading, as this has also been a busy summer, and I was on vacation out of town for ten days just a week ago.

We'll step off the patio, past this container which contains a banana plant and some vinca.

Common banana plant with vinca flowers

In the corner of the fence, a hydrangea is beginning to really bloom.

Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight'
 I need to put something around her, just to keep her company and to crowd out those weeds.

We'll head down a path now called Ridgewood Avenue where we can see the "backside" of the August Dreams Garden border.
Eupatorium dubium 'Little Joe'
The joe-pye weed is beginning to bloom, already!

Further down, a tall white phlox is showing its stuff.
Phlox paniculata 'David'
It glows at night.

We'll leave this border now, and head over to the Vegetable Garden Cathedral.
Dill setting seed
The first thing you'll smell and see is the dill.  It's tall and setting seed.  I need to cut that back or I will have a garden full of dill seedlings next year.  That's the nice thing about dill. Once you plant it, if you let it go to seed, you will have dill for the rest of your life. That's also a not very nice thing about dill.

Elsewhere in the garden, the corn is tasseling.
Those aren't the prettiest flowers, but they are a sign of some sweet corn that I will surely be picking in another week or so.

Leaving the vegetable garden,we come around to another garden border called The Shrubbery.
Buddleia variety not remembered
This was planted last year and the year before, and this year the entire area has been growing and filling in.  Next to my chair is a dwarf blue butterfly bush and some potentilla.  That potentilla has been blooming all summer long.

No time to rest, we are coming up now to Plopper's Field.
Heliopsis 'Loraine Sunshine' and Phlox paniculata
Pink tall phlox and variegated ox-eye daisies are competing for brightest color on the edge of this garden border.

The main section of the border shows just how "full" Plopper's Field has become.
Plopper's Field looking south
It also shows that I have not been diligent in dead heading flowers. Please look past the seed heads of the salvia and see the pretty daylilies.

Or walk around the border and see the daisies and coneflowers.
Plopper's Field looking east
They are flanked by tall Michaelmas daisies that I did not have time to cut back in late May so they wouldn't get so tall. Oops.  Now we'll see how floppy they get in September when they bloom.

One more view of Plopper's Field from the other side.
Plopper's Field looking north
I should title this bloom day post "I'll show you my mess of a garden if you show me yours".  I see weeds everywhere.

I also see a clematis scampering through the serviceberry tree on the corner of Plopper's Field.
Clematis triternata 'Rubromartinata'
This clematis has scampered its way to the top of this tree, which is about 15 feet tall. I tried to get a picture of it, but my photography skills would not allow it.

Let's go around to the front garden to see some blooms there, too.
Burpee's Cool Wave® Pansies
I long ago ripped out most of the pansies and violas, but left this container of them because they didn't look half-bad. They are still doing well, even though it is summer time. They probably didn't get the message that pansies don't do well in the summer time. Now that they've gone this far into the season,  I'm going to keep them going for as long as I can.

On the other side of the sidewalk, in a border I have yet to name, some pink coreopsis self-seed themselves around every year and I just let them be.
Coreopsis rosea with Ceratostigma plumbaginoides
Those bigger leaves are not their leaves, by the way. They belong to another plant, leadwort.

There are other flowers to see, but nothing else too exciting in the front, where the theme is "let's not go all wild so they think a crazy gardener lives here". We'll return to the back where we started, and admire the black-eyed Susan's in August Dreams Gardens.
Rudbeckia hirta
We can stand here and talk about how green the lawn is, how plentiful the rain has been, all my weeds, or you can show me what's blooming in your garden.

What is blooming in your garden in mid-July?  I'd love to see and read about whatever it is that brightens your garden on the 15th of every month.

Please join in 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 entice us to virtually visit your garden.

The rules for Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day 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. You can post early, you can post late. We are grateful for whatever you share with us. Thank you, and all are welcome!

Now, say it together with me...

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

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Best Green Bean Year Ever

Do you know what we call a whole lot of green beans?

We call it a "mess of beans" around here, as in "I just picked a mess of green beans, nearly five pounds worth".

I also picked green beans last Sunday, and though I didn't weigh them, I would guess I picked maybe three pounds worth.

These are the very best green beans I have ever grown in all the years - and there are many years - that I have had a vegetable garden.

There is not a single bug spot on any of them.  I didn't even see any bugs in the garden when I was picking the beans except for a few bees busy around some nearby squash.  Bees, as we all know, are good bugs.

And no, I do not spray anything on my vegetable garden. Or dust it with mysterious white powders. As I tell people when they ask, "you can buy pesticide laden vegetables in the grocery store."  If the bugs are bad one year, I just don't get as many green beans


I sure am blessed to have this mess of green beans. I think I have enough to give away and also to freeze for winter time eating. Oh, and I'll fix some to eat this week.

It's good to have a mess of fresh green beans in the summertime, along with zucchini squash and sweet peppers, which are under the mess of green beans in my harvest trug, and a bowl full of hot peppers.

Now, if a tomato or two would please turn red and some of the sweet corn would please plump up a bit, and some of the eggplant would please get bigger, I'd have the fixin's for a very fine summer supper.  

Update:  This year I grew the following varieties of green beans:

From Botanical Interests Seeds:
    Gold Rush
    Roma II
    Tiger's Eye
From Renee's Gardens Seeds:
    Royalty Purple Pod

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Waiting, anticipating, looking forward

I'm waiting.

I'm anticipating.

I'm looking forward.

There are green tomatoes in the vegetable garden.  I'm waiting for them to turn red. I'm anticipating the first big ripe tomato. I'm looking forward to eating it.

The golden raspberries are almost gone, but the red raspberries are like green jewels ready to ripen in the sun.
I am waiting for the morning when I can pick the first ripe red raspberry. I am anticipating how good it will taste. I'm looking forward to picking bowls of raspberries to share to eat.

The sweet corn is tasseling and the silks are showing.

I'm waiting for those first ears of corn to fill out. I'm anticipating how sweet that corn will be when I pick it.  I'm looking forward to eating it.

I'm waiting for a special old gardening book to arrive in the mail. I am anticipating what will be between its covers. I'm looking forward to telling readers about it.

I'm good at waiting, good at anticipating and good at looking forward. Why? Because I'm a gardener.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Garden fairies discuss the lawn

Garden fairies here.

We are garden fairies and we are once again compelled to post on this blog about what is happening here around May Dreams Gardens.

Well, what is or was happening was that Carol left the garden for ten days and we garden fairies had the place almost to ourselves.   And certain garden fairies, namely the lawn fairies, had their way with the garden, and the lawn.

It was so nice and pleasant around here while Carol was gone, kind of cool and kind of rainy. The lawn especially loved it and just grew and grew and grew.  Oh, sure, Carol cut it really short before she left but you could not tell that she had ever cut it after ten days of no mowing when the weather was so cool and rainy.  The lawn fairies, as we noted, had a hay day.  Not because you could have cut the lawn for hay after 10 days of no mowing, though you maybe could have it was so tall, but because they like to play in tall grass.

Those lawn fairies behaved like teenagers whose parents left town and left them in charge. Oh, my, goodness, the parties and all that went on. Legendary. The two ring leaders were the lawn fairy twins, Rye Poarunner and Fescue Poarunner.  They had the best time...

Then, party's over. We garden fairies believe that Carol set two lawn mowing records in the last 24 hours. At least, Ol' Tangle Rainbowfly, who pretty much remembers everything that goes on around here, thinks they were records.

First, Carol set a speed record for the time it took her to park the car in the garage, go inside and change into mowing clothes, and then come back out and start mowing. We garden fairies think it was less than five minutes. I know it sure did set the Poarunner twins to scrambling to clear out before they got mowed over.

Then, for her second record, she mowed the lawn again less than 24 hours later. It seems that she mowed the first time on the highest setting of the mower, which she calls the emergency setting because it is used only in emergencies when the grass has gotten too tall to mow at the normal setting. Like yesterday. Then she came back after a mere 18 hours and mowed the lawn again on the normal setting which is one notch below the emergency setting.

We are garden fairies and we have heard Carol advise people that this is the way to go with mowing.

Now that the lawn has been cut twice in less than 24 hours, we garden fairies do have to admit it looks nice.  The picture above is after the first mowing. 

We garden fairies also cannot believe how green the lawn is for July.  We went through Carol's pictures and found this one from last July, 51 weeks ago.

See how brown the lawn was at this time last year?

We are garden fairies and we like it better this year with all the rain.  Everyone does. Especially Rye and Fescue Poarunner.

Submitted by:

Viola Sweetpea Maygardens, Chief Scribe and Lawn Spotter for the Garden Fairies at May Dreams Gardens