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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Garden Fairies On the Eve of Labor Day Weekend

Goldenrod begins to bloom.
Garden fairies here.

We are garden fairies and we have once again come here to this blog to tell the truth about this garden and what is really going on here.

Well, we can tell you that we have had virtually no rain for a month and Carol has not once attempted to water any of the flowers in the back gardens.

Oh sure, she stood there and watered the Carolina Silverbell tree one evening, but that's because it was starting to lose a few leaves and anyone could see it needed water.

Nor has Carol done as much weeding as we would like.  The lack of watering and the lack of weeding have combined to leave the garden in a bit of a mess right now.

However, we are garden fairies and we are hopeful on this eve of Labor Day weekend that Carol will use the extra day off to work in the garden and set the stage for a beautiful fall.  After all, this garden isn't done yet. Not by a long shot.

If Carol would just weed a bit, water a few dry areas, and maybe deadhead a few spent blooms, this garden would be all spiffy again and ready to provide delight and joy, yes, we are garden fairies, we wrote delight and joy, for several more months.

All it would take is just a little bit of time to weed, water, and deadhead. Did we mention that? We know Carol will be out here.  We are garden fairies and we have faith in her. Why, we do not know. But we do.  We are like that.

Yep, we are garden fairies. We are confident. We just know Labor Day was made for gardening.  We are ready for Carol to come out here and make things right.

If she doesn't, well, we are garden fairies and we can and are able to defend a garden, and if that's what we need to do, that's what we'll do. This is not a threat.  We are garden fairies, we don't threaten. We act.  We do.

Submitted by:
Violet GreenPea MayDreams, Chief Scribe for the Garden Fairies at May Dreams Gardens

Monday, August 26, 2013

Meet me where the clover grows

Meet me where the clover grows, and I'll take you to a place and time when kids happily spent hours looking through the clover patches, hunting for the elusive four-leaf clover.

I'll show you how kids spent an entire evening picking the flowers and carefully tying them together to make bracelets and necklaces and hoping to set a record by making the longest clover chain possible.

Meet where the clover grows and all around us we'll listen to the symphony of a garden, where the orchestra includes cicadas and crickets, birds and bees.

We'll reminisce about a time when a day seemed twice as long as days today, and when sunsets seemed to take their time pulling the sun below the horizon.    We'll see ourselves as kids again, thinking only as far ahead as a few days when school would start, wondering who our teachers would be and what we might wear on that first day.

Meet where the clover grows, and I'll show you the greenest part of the lawn.

Yes, the only spot in my lawn that is truly green right now is where the clover grows.  It's a magical spot, full of memories.  I want more of this for my lawn. I'm going to buy a bag of clover seed for my lawn.  Don't talk me out of it.  Don't tell me I'll regret it.

I want to always have a patch of clover in my lawn. Meet me there, where the clover grows.



Saturday, August 24, 2013

You Might Be A Gardening Geek: Postal Edition

You might be a gardening geek getting mail if...

You've ever received a package in the mail that contained an old gardening book.

You once waited on the front steps for the mail carrier because you thought a package containing your signed Elizabeth Lawrence book might arrive that day.

You've received seeds in the mail from more the one source.  Bonus points if you've gotten seeds in other seasons besides early spring

You have gotten t-shirts sent to you in the mail because they were garden-y and the sender thought there would be no one who would appreciate that t-shirt more than you would.

You recently got an envelope in the mail that contained a button that said "Plant Ho" because it reminded the sender, from Davis, California, of you.

You once received a package of red worms in the mail to put into your worm composter. Bonus points if the box just barely fit  in the mailbox and it took a lot of extra effort to get it out without crushing it.

You have gotten more than one hoe in the mail and it came wrapped up so that it was unmistakable what it was.

Your mail carrier notices a lot of seed and plant catalogs clogging up your mailbox right after the holidays.

Your step quickens a bit when you see a package stamped "Royal Mail" because you know it is a book you ordered from Great Britain and you remind yourself how thankful you are for the ease of ordering books online.

You've gotten mail stamped "live plants".

When you buy stamps, you always buy ones with flowers or trees or anything else related to gardening or plants.

You aren't afraid of vampires attacking your mailbox because you've ordered garlic bulbs before and maybe the smell of garlic still lingers in your mailbox?

You've used an old mailbox in the garden to keep gardening tools, gloves, and other stuff in.

Finally, you might be a gardening geek getting mail if you've actually gotten mail for your garden fairies in your mailbox.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Reading "Tell About Night Flowers"

Hydrangeas are everywhere in Quebec City
Did you miss me?

I returned to my garden late yesterday afternoon after being away for almost a week at the Garden Writers Association symposium in Quebec City.

I brought back with me hundreds of photos of gardens and plants. Would you like to see them all?

I'm sure you would. Well, all in due time. Patience.  I'm sure that my photos from the many public and private gardens we visited will make their way to my blog eventually. Or perhaps they'll show up in a presentation?

While in Quebec City, I started to read another book, Tell About Night Flowers:  Eudora Welty's Gardening Letters 1940 - 1949 selected and edited by Julia Eichelberger (2013, University Press of Mississippi).

I love books of letters, so what could be better than a book of letters about gardening?   It turns out nothing could be better, at least for me at this time.

It seems like nearly every letter has some gem of wisdom or quotable quote. Two of my current favorites...

"I was born with the feeling that if time and hurry were forgotten, something quiet and wonderful would happen in their place."  

Just think about that for a minute.  No hurry, take your time.  Let it soak in.

Another favorite...

"The delphiniums I planted in my ignorance have all bloomed like everything and are getting ready to bloom for the second time and Mother says the ladies of the garden club come over each day to worship and grit their teeth."

I never had much luck growing delphiniums so I would be one of those who went to Welty's garden to  both worship and grit my teeth. After all, isn't that how we sometimes feel when we see a garden and love it. We fawn all over it  but at the same time we are gritting our teeth at the very idea that someone could make a garden so lovely, and why can't I do that?  

I felt that way just a tiny bit about the gardens in Quebec City.

Mixed border at Domaine Joly-de Lotbiniere
Everything there seems to bloom at once. I would guess this is because the growing season in Zone 3b is primarily June 1 - October 1, so everything has to happen more or less at the same time.   Some of the borders made me worship and grit my teeth. Admiration and envy. 

This, of course, reminds me of another quote from Tell About Night Flowers. I can't find it in the book, but Welty ended it by calling some spider lilies nitwits because when transplanted to a northern garden, they bloomed at the same time as those in her southern garden.  She felt they should have bloomed later, so called them nitwits for not figuring out they weren't in the south anymore.   

I don't normally write in books but I may start writing in this book so I can find the quotes again. Or maybe I'll keep a big stack of note cards by my side when I read so I can jot down the page numbers and a few key words for my favorite quotes.

Tell About Night Flowers was the perfect book to read for the six days I was in Quebec City.  It allowed me to totally immerse myself in gardens, gardening, and garden writing.  Did I mention a couple of the selected letters mention one of my favorite garden writers, Elizabeth Lawrence?

Each day I would read a bit of the book as the sun rose over the St. Lawrence River.

Sunrise in Quebec City
Then I could carry those thoughts with me through beautiful gardens.

Each evening, I ended the day filling my head with more gardening letters from Welty.

Now that I'm home, I'm continuing to savor the letters in the quiet of the end of the day, with pencil in hand to mark the passages that I want to remember.

Tell About Night Flowers.  Five stars. It is like delphiniums to me.

 

Raspberries



My raspberries.

They came to me in the early spring of 2012, three sticks with a few roots attached at one end.

I planted them in an area where I had previously planted some shrubs on the edge of the Vegetable Garden Cathedral.

Who wants shrubs on the edge of a vegetable garden? I decided I didn't. I decided the edge of the garden is a good place for fruits and berries.

I watered my raspberry sticks, and they began to grow and I began to think of all the berries I would be eating. Even though raspberries fruit on second year canes, these raspberries, a variety call 'Caroline', were everbearing. I was hopeful that I would have some berries to pick in the later half of the growing season.

Whew, I am getting long-winded here. If I don't get on with it, the garden fairies will take over. Let me conclude.

The raspberries struggled through the drought of '12 and produced a handful of berries toward the end of the season. They looked pretty bad in the fall. In the spring, I cut back all the canes that had produced fruit, leaving just a few stragglers. By mid summer, my raspberries where tall and lush and growing with abandon. I did not get any early fruiting but now I am reaping a harvest like none before.

Raspberries! Raspberries! Who will eat my raspberries?

I will, and gladly.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - August 2013

Unknown species of Rudbeckia
Welcome to Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day for August 2013.

Here in my USDA Hardiness Zone 6a garden in central Indiana, I am astounded by the difference between this year's blooms and last year's blooms.

Last year, we had no rain all summer. This year, we've had rain mostly when we've needed it and as a result, there is far more blooming now than compared to last year.

I will take this year, hands down, over last year.

Let's start  in the flower border I call August Dreams Gardens.  It is planted with prairie type plants that will mostly bloom in August or later.

At one end, I planted some tall black-eyed Susan type flowers, pictured above. I am becoming quite lax of late in regards to plant labels and tags and so I no longer knew which species this is. But it is four to five feet tall.

August Dreams Garden Border
At the other end of this garden border, another variety of  black-eyed susans, (Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldsturm'? ) are in full bloom along with Joe-Pie weed, Eupatorium 'Little Joe'.  What you cannot see in the picture is that Boltonia asteroides 'Snowbank' is showing its first tiny blooms and the rare goldenrod, Solidago shortii, is not far behind.

Across the path from August Dreams Garden, I have a clematis climbing up and throw a bayberry shrub, making it appear that the bayberry is blooming.
Unknown clematis blooming in bayberry
I do like the pure white flowers of this clematis, but sadly, I do not remember which cultivar this is.  Um... one of the white ones.

Across the way, a dwarf butterfly bush is blooming and attracting butterflies.
Butterfly on a butterfly bush
This is not the 'Lo & Behold Blue Chip' butterfly bush. I have loads of them blooming in the front garden. This is a different variety that gets a little larger than those. Which variety? See above how lax I'm becoming about variety names.

A volunteer Verbena bonariensis nearby is attracting bees to the garden.
Bees are an affirmation of a garden's health.
I'd like to thank both the bee and the butterfly for not flying away while I took their pictures.

Another bloom that is attracting many pollinators to the garden is calamint,  Calamintha nepeta supsp. nepeta.
A mostly well-behaved member of the mint family
This plant is fairly well behaved for a member of the mint family.  It grows along the edge of the border called Ploppers' Field. I like to mow right up next to it so I can smell its minty goodness when I walk by.

There are other blooms in the garden in mid-August. Many of them including coneflowers, shasta daisies, the Knock-out roses, and hydrangeas are carry overs from July.  Others, include the old-fashioned hosta that I call August Lilies are just beginning to bloom.

All of them are a delight to me, and make me love my garden this year, especially.  

What's blooming in your garden in mid-August? 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





Monday, August 12, 2013

August Harvest: Red Raspberries

Big drops of red raspberries drip off into my hand.

I pick. I eat. I pick some more.

Very few make it all the way indoors.

Why did I wait so long in my gardening life to plant raspberry briars?

Oh, right. Because they are briars, suckering up all over the place. Encroaching on the vegetable garden path. Making their way out toward The Shrubbery.

But all is forgiven when I stand there, precariously making my way between the raspberries and nearby roses to pick and eat those big drops of red raspberries.


Thursday, August 08, 2013

The dream of a weed-free garden

"As I walked around my garden, I slowly began to realize that I had finally achieved my goal of a weed-free garden.

I walked along the path I call Ridgewood Avenue, looking at the garden border called Woodland Follies on my right and Autumn Dreams Gardens on my left. I saw no weeds in either border.  Plus, not only was the path free of weeds, but it seemed time-worn, as though it had been there for decades.

The vegetable garden paths were clean and weed-free, too. Each raised bed in the Vegetable Garden Cathedral contained healthy, vigorously growing vegetable plants. I could reach out my hand in any direction and pick tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, beans.

The Shrubbery garden border was without weeds, too. I began to wonder why I was bothering to carry along with me a trug and a weeder. There were no weeds to pull.  There was nothing to put in the trug.

Ploppers' Field, with its mix of perennials and odd sorts of mis-matched plants, suddenly seemed well-organized, and though I tried my best to find a weed poking out from between the plants, I found none.

From border to border, I walked through the garden, and was delighted to find that for once, there was no need to weed. I had really done it. I had finally done it.  I had achieved a goal that every gardener has.

I had conquered the weeds and the garden belonged to me. The garden belonged to the plants I chose to have in it. It belonged to the birds and the bees and the butterflies.  There were no weeds.

I could not wait to share my secret for how to have a weed-free garden with others. I knew it would make so many other gardeners happy."

Carol?

Yes, Dr. Hortfreud.

That's quite a dream you had.  Tell me what you think it means.

Dr. Hortfreud, aren't you supposed to tell me what my dreams mean?

Carol, it doesn't really matter what your dream means, as long as you believe in your dream. If you think it can come true, then it can come true. But you must realize that dreams require work.  Keep pulling those weeds and someday, maybe this dream can come true for you.

Thank you, Dr. Hortfreud.  Your advice is a as useful as Loudon's Rule of Horticulture, No. 7.

You are welcome. Before our next session, I suggest you put into practice Loudon's rule no. 7 and then we can discuss if it is helping you achieve your dream of a weed-free garden.  But leave out the insect part.

“Never pass a weed or an insect without pulling it up or taking it off unless time forbid.”



Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Suspense and Mystery in the Garden

Bird's Blanket Garden Border
I've been reading Agatha Christie mysteries featuring Miss Jane Marple and watching clips of Alfred Hitchcock after watching the movie "Hitchcock" the other night.

Do you know what this means?

This means new ideas and thoughts about gardens and gardening related to mystery and suspense are swirling around in my mind.

Alfred himself explained the difference between mystery and suspense which you can hear on a clip on YouTube.

If I may paraphrase, we have an intellectual response to mysteries. We have information and we want to figure out why or who-dun-it.  On the other hand, we have an emotional response to suspense. We have enough information to know something could happen but we don't know when or what's next.

In the garden, for example, it is a mystery to me where all the tulips and grape hyacinths are in the garden border around the locust tree that I call Bird's Blanket.  I know, though, that they are buried somewhere in that border, so if I dug in there now, there would be suspense each time I shoved the shovel in the ground. Will I slice a bulb in two? Or will I miss them completely?

Forget that every gardener knows that as soon as you dig around where bulbs are planted, you are going to slice a bulb right in half, or so it seems.  The point is there is a difference between mystery and suspense.

I'm going to move some surprise lilies, Lycoris squamigera, to Bird's Blanket. I'll do it in the spring when the foliage of the tulips and grape hyacinths solve the mystery of where the bulbs are planted.  Then I'll know the lilies are there and the enjoy the suspense of waiting for them to pop up out of nowhere in early August.

Lycoris squamigera hiding in the hydrangea
Then I'll go off and think more about suspense and mystery in the garden. Or maybe I'll get two cats and name them Suspense and Mystery?  

Who knows?  

-or-

Who knows what will happen next?


Sunday, August 04, 2013

Surprise Lilies and Surprise Announcements

Garden fairies here.

We are garden fairies and we have taken it upon ourselves to wipe out everything Carol just wrote about the surprise lilies, Lycoris squamigera, because it was all so boringggggg.

We garden fairies do not like boring posts whatsoever. In fact, we gave what Carol wrote six G's out of a scale of five G's because it was beyond anything we could imagine when it comes to boring.

She wrote another post about surprise lilies back in the spring of 2010. If you want to know about growing these lilies, we suggest you go read that and then come back because we are garden fairies and we are going to announce something big here.

Are you back? We don't want to waste our time if you haven't returned from reading that other post.

We are  now going to turn this post over to Granny Gus McGarden  for the big news.

Granny Gus McGarden here. As you know, my son, the right reverened Hortus Augustus McGarden, and I are  in charge of the vegetable garden.  In particular, dear Hortus takes care of the compost bins.

Well, the other day, he was over tending to the compost bins and decided to walk around to the backside by the fence where there is just about a foot between the bin and the fence.   He rounded that corner and nearly fell into a gigantic hole. It was close. He was teetering on the edge of it for just a second but managed to regain his balance in the nick of time.

I heard him a-hollerin' to come look-see, so I dropped the paint brush I was using to turn all the red raspberries  from green to red at the other end of the garden and headed over to see what was what.

Sure enough, there was and still is a big hole dug by someone or something behind the compost bin.  We feel certain Carol saw this big hole and we are now waiting to see what she does about it.

And that is our big announcement. Please excuse me now. I need to go back and tend to those red raspberries.  They don't turn red on their own, you know?


Thank you, Granny Gus, for that important announcement. We shall all watch and wait to see what comes out of that hole.  In the meantime, we will enjoy the surprise lilies and celebrate their arrival with a surprise party. Shhh... don't tell them!

Submitted by
Violet Greenpea Maydreams,  Chief Scribe and Head Raspberry Taster at May Dreams Gardens

Friday, August 02, 2013

Bury the body in the garden

What lies in the ground beneath the flowers?
How many murder mystery books have you read where the body is finally found buried in the garden?

I've just embarked upon a summer reading obsession program that includes reading all twelve mysteries written by an author with the initials A.C. where the person who helps solve the mysteries is an older woman whose initials are J.M. She is generally addressed as "Miss" and is often characterized as just sitting and knitting and listening.

Although, in one of the two mysteries I've read so far she often seemed to be out in the garden pulling bindweed, and listening.

Anyway, I don't want to give away too much about which books I'm reading in case you haven't read the books and decide that you will.  They are set in England, by the way.
 
The two books I've read so far happen to be the last two books written by A.C. with this sleuth, J.M. In both books, the body was eventually found in the garden.  I'm getting ready to read another book in this series which will actually be the first book of the series. My intention is to read all the books in order now until I've read them all. 

I'm curious, after reading that the bodies in the first two books were found buried in gardens, if all the bodies in the other books will be found buried in gardens.

I certainly hope that is not the case. If it is, it will be quite obvious to me with each book where the body is.  Not to mention, it gives gardens a bit of a reputation for being a good place to bury a body, and nobody wants that.

I have read other mystery series, though I won't divulge which ones because I don't want to be accused of spoiling them for anyone else. In those books, the bodies were not always buried in the garden, but the victim was usually killed off with some herbal potion. Is that any better for a gardener?

I'll have to enlist the help of Hortlock Holmes and Hortcule Poirot to figure that out.

Update:  I've discovered an Alfred Hitchcook TV series episode involving murder. Guess where the murderer hid the body?