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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year, Fourteen

The ol' rabbit, Thirteen, gazed cross the garden, taking one last look before his time was over.

"I sure am leaving the garden quite green", he said out loud, in case there was any one there who could hear him. 

"I remember when I arrived and took over for Twelve, this place was snow covered from a blizzard that ol' Twelve threw down before he left for good.

"I kind of like this green, though it is a might bit cold out here."

Thirteen began to reflect back, taking pride in how many crocuses bloomed in the lawn over the Easter weekend. "Even though spring was early, I managed to make it colorful with blooms. I sure hope Fourteen appreciates all the extra bulbs I planted to be sure his Easter is just as good if not better than mine."

When he mentioned Fourteen, he looked toward the gate to see if he could see any signs of him coming.

"I guess it is still early.  I hope Fourteen also appreciates how cleaned up the garden is right now. Why last year, when I got it, it was a just a mess, recovering from that drought that Twelve brought. At least I did better with rainfall. Well, except for August.  I sort of messed up August and made it a bit too dry.  I'll be sure and tell Fourteen not to do that."

"I'll also warn Fourteen that Carol leaves the garden sometimes and then he'll have to take extra care of it.  She left me twice. Once to go on vacation to the ocean and once to go to Quebec City for the GWA symposium.  I wonder where she plans to go next year?"

"I also need to talk to Fourteen about the vegetable garden, and some roses that need to be cut back, and about the new gardening book library that isn't quite filled up.  Oh my, not much time to put my notes together."

Just then, as Thirteen was about to look for paper and a pencil to makes some notes, the garden gate flung open and there was the new bunny, Fourteen, all energetic and exuberant and excited.

"Welcome and goodness gracious, Fourteen. Settle it down. You've got 365 days to go, save a bit of that, that, that, whatever it is.  You'll need it later. And as for notes, well, I didn't get many when I arrived a year ago and I did fine, so I'm sure you'll do just as well without my notes. Just remember, this place is full of garden fairies, tree fairies, and toast fairies, along with pillywiggins and who knows what else, so be careful and watch where your step."

With that final bit of wisdom, Thirteen gave Fourteen a big slap on the back, wished him well, and headed out the gate to the past.  Just as he was almost out of sight, he turned back and offered one more thought, "Happy New Year, Fourteen. Please take care of Carol's garden. She wants this to be its best year yet."

And then Thirteen was gone, and Fourteen was in charge.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Rabbit Holes of Winter

I've recently decided that January is one of my favorite months to think about gardening.

There is time in January to relax a bit.  The holidays are over.  The winds howl and only the hardiest of souls try to garden when the ground is frozen, or nearly so.

It's best to just stay indoors.  Indoors where there are gardening books, and houseplants, and seed catalogs, and warmth, and books.

I'm currently watching my Lily of the Valley pips grow indoors.  I see the beginnings of the flowers.  In just a few days, they should be blooming.

My friend Dee of Red Dirt Ramblings left a comment on a previous post about these pips asking me to report back on how well they work out.  She has never been able to grow Lily of the Valley in her garden, so has never smelled them.

I am pleased to report that so far, they are working out nicely. 

I've also read some comments from other gardeners, both on my post and on a picture I posted on Facebook, about how they may just dig up some Lily of the Valley pips from their own gardens and pot them up inside to force them into bloom.  That may work if they allow time for proper chilling, but proper chilling usually takes from 12 - 15 weeks for Lily of the Valley.  Without proper chilling, I'm not sure when the flowers will bloom.

I didn't like the idea of waiting or wondering, so I paid a rabbit's ransom for my Lily of the Valley pips. Someone else did the pre-chilling before I got them.  I just had to pot them up and then wait a mere three to four weeks.

Because a watched flower never blooms, I've been diverting my attention from the Lily of the Valley to the new library, which was formerly the dining room. Though, to be truthful, it was never really used as a dining room. It was more like that room where I put stuff  to get it out of the way until I decided what I would should do with it.  Mostly what I decided was to let it all just sit there.

But now that room is a library, with proper shelves and cabinets.

This weekend, I started to move the gardening books from other rooms to the library.  I don't really have a system in mind to organize them, yet.  I'm just putting them on the shelves in groupings that probably only make sense to me.

I can attest that it takes great strength and willpower to put these books on the shelves without opening them.  I've had a few "I forgot I owned this book" moments.  I wanted to stop right then and look inside those books, but I was strong and forged ahead with moving more books.

I've also had a few other moments when I've noted "I want to read this book next".  Of course, they can't all be next. I guess once I've moved all the books, the last one I'm holding in my hands while thinking "I want to read this book next" will be the next book I read.

The books are all giant rabbit holes, full of twists and turns. They lead me in all directions, through decades of gardening and around the globe.  Goodness, how many times  have I crossed the ocean in those gardening books?   

I'll probably criss-cross the ocean several more times this winter, with these gardening books as my ship of choice.  I'll be carried away by thoughts of gardening, while outside the wind howls, the ground is frozen and the real rabbits shelter themselves under the big spruce. 

We are all thinking about gardens and waiting for spring.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Blooms for the Twelves Days of Christmas

I suppose it really does work out better if the blooms of the Christmas season reach their peak after the 25th of December.  

I will have more time to enjoy them while I relax after the hustle and bustle of pre-Christmas preparations. 

Imagine me sitting in an easy chair by the window so I have view out into the garden where I can see the birds flitting around the feeders I set out and filled with the finest "boss", black oil sunflower seed. 

If I crane my neck just a bit I can the spot where I planted the Christmas Rose, Helleborus niger, several years ago.  It didn't bloom on Christmas, but is loaded with buds and could bloom anytime the temperatures get above freezing and the sun shines..

Just a few steps away in the sun room, the three amaryllis bulbs I potted up the weekend before Thanksgiving have sent up seven bloom stalks.
They are a bit taller than I'd like, mostly I think because they didn't get enough light.  They are on the table in the center of the room, equal distant from all the windows. Next year, I'll put them by a window and then once they've started to bloom on shorter stalks, I'll move the pot to a location where I can enjoy them.

In another three pots, all the lily of the valley pips, Convallaria majus, are sending up shoots.
This is the first year I've tried to grow these indoors.  I look forward to smelling the blooms, which might be open by New Year's Day.   Later in the spring, I'll plant these out in the garden.

I also have more Christmas Rose plants...

Garden fairies here.

We are garden fairies and we would like to make it known that the bookshelves are in and the dining room is now a library.  But it is a library without books. Carol has no time to sit by the window and gaze at bird feeders or moon over her holiday blooms. Chop, chop, there are books to move. The book fairies are impatiently waiting to ride the library cart from the back room to the library.  We don't know what they will do if Carol doesn't move them now to the library.  Now. 

We are garden fairies and we are sorry to have hijacked this post, but we saw no other way to get the word out, to exert some pressure, to call Carol out for her lack of moving books to the library.  Thank you for your understanding and support. ~ Violet Sweetpea Maydreams, Chief Scribe and Self-Appointed Head Librarian for the Garden Book Library at May Dreams Garden.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Christmas Cottontail's Next Adventure

The tiny elf ran, slipping and sliding on the snow and ice, all the way from Santa's workshop to the potting shed and greenhouse where the Christmas Cottontail was busy getting ready for his big night helping Santa.

It was late afternoon, and there were just two days left before Christmas. 

Just as the Christmas Cottontail was ready to take a break for clover tea and green bean cookies, one of his favorite snacks, the tiny elf burst through the door.

He was out of breath and could barely wheeze out his big news.  "Santa would like to meet with you up at the toy workshop."

The Christmas Cottontail wondered what the big meeting could be about.  He had already met with Santa to go over his list of good gardeners and bad gardeners.  He had packed almost all the seeds and bulbs he would be delivering to the good gardeners  and was ready to load them onto Santa's sleigh.

The elf repeated his announcement. "Santa would like to meet with you up at the toy workshop."  Then for emphasis he added, "right now".

Reluctantly, because the Christmas Cottontail didn't like to have his breaks interrupted, he gave some orders to his helpers.

"Bees, I need you to finish packing up the last of the seeds. I don't think we need any more of the flowers to be pollinated. Just pack up the seeds.  Chipmunks, please stop eating the bulbs and load them into those sacks over there."

Satisfied they would carry on without him there to supervise, the Christmas Cottontail followed the elf up the path through the pine and fir trees to Santa's office, just down from the main toy workroom.

The Christmas Cottontail thought he heard elf's whispering to each other as he walked by and out of the corner of his coal black eye,  he caught one or two of them pointing at him.  He ignored them all and hopped straight into Santa's office.

Santa swiveled his chair around to face the Christmas Cottontail just as he entered the room.

"Thank you for coming so quickly, Cottontail", said Santa.

"My pleasure, Santa. The elf made it seem quite urgent that I see you now", said the Christmas Cottontail.

"That's right. It's urgent. We haven't much time, Cottontail, but I think we have just enough time for your new assignment."

"New assignment?"  The Christmas Cottontail silently groaned.  He had plenty to do just to scatter seeds and plant bulbs for the good gardeners. He had no idea how he could take on a new assignment.

"Yes", continued Santa. Do you remember how I found you one Christmas Eve, shivering and cold and attempting to steal some carrots left  out for my reindeer?  Do you remember how I took pity on you and brought you back here to the North Pole?  How the elves trained you to sow seed and plant bulbs with a flick of your whiskers so you could help me each Christmas Eve?  Sure, I know you remember it."

Indeed, the Christmas Cottontail did remember and was forever grateful to Santa for all he had done for him.

Santa continued.  "You've done a marvelous job and so I'm going to reward you with a new assignment."

The Christmas Cottontail hardly thought a new assignment was a reward, but Santa had always been good to him, so he didn't argue.

"Cottontail, your new assignment is... oh, who am I kidding?  There is no new assignment. I just wanted to tell you what a nice job you've been doing and tell you again how delighted I am for you to ride along with me on Christmas Eve, scattering seeds and planting bulbs for all the good gardeners.?

The Christmas Cottontail breathed a sigh of relief, thanked Santa, and turned to leave. He still had quite a bit to do before Christmas Eve, and just two days left to do it all.

The End

Thursday, December 19, 2013

I am not buying a poinsettia this year

I am not buying a poinsettia this year.

I am not buying a poinsettia this year.  Been there, done that.  I'm more into the Christmas Rose as a potted plant for the holidays.

I am not buying a poinsettia this year.  As soon as I bring them home, they start to drop their leaves. I think they put those foil pot wrappers on the pots of poinsettias to hide the bare stems which show after all the leaves start to drop.

I am not buying a poinsettia this year.  All those spray painted, glittered up, tarted up poinsettias in blues and purples seem oh so wrong to me. I usually rush by the displays of poinsettias in the big box stores. 

I am not buying a poinsettia this year.  I'm not afraid to admit I actually have a fake poinsettia plant, complete with a container wrapped in foil, I bought it on clearance years ago. From a distance, it looks like the real thing and I'll set it out if I want to have a poinsettia on the hearth for Christmas.  It's an easy plant to fake, I think.

I am not buying a poinsettia this...

Hey, is that variegated foliage?
I bought a poinsettia this year.  Who can resist that variegated foliage?  What makes it more unusual to me is that the bracts, the specialized leaves that give the poinsettias their color,  are not variegated.

I bought a poinsettia this year.  I'm going to keep it watered and growing inside and then put it outside in the spring after all danger of frost and see how it does as a summer foliage plant.

I bought a poinsettia this year.  Curiously enough, this was the only variegated leaf poinsettia in the entire display. If it had been a toy, I guess it would have been banished to the Island of Misfit toys with the likes of Charlie in the Box.

I bought a poinsettia this year.  It doesn't have a foil pot liner so it looks a tiny bit bare around the base but who cares? No one is going to look at the bare stems with leaves like those.

I bought a poinsettia this year. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Garden fairies report on the book fairies

Garden fairies here.

We are garden fairies and we must tell you about what is going on here at May Dreams Gardens because these events have caused quite the stir amongst the garden book fairies.

Garden book fairies, or book fairies for short and ease of conversation and writing, live in old gardening books, as you know.  

Sometimes they are trapped, asleep in these books for more years than you can imagine waiting for someone, like Carol, to open the books so they can get out and stretch their legs a bit.

Anyway, there are so many old gardening books around here that Carol has taken action, believe it or not, and today people are coming with bookshelves to install in her dining room which henceforth and forthwith and forevermore shall be referred to as "the library".

As you can imagine, this has the garden book fairies, or book fairies for short and ease of conversation and writing, as excited as a... as excited as...  well, just excited.  

They all cannot wait to move into the library.  At least they were all excited about moving into "the library" until the realized that some of them will probably be staying in the den and others will be kept on a bookcase in a back bedroom.

Well, as you can imagine, or not imagine, this revelation caused quite the discussion, debate and wee bits of arguing amongst the book fairies as to who should go where.  Everyone, of course, wants their book to be moved to "the library".  

This discussion, debate, and wee bits of arguing has gone on for days since the discovery  of the plans for "the library".  Then one day, a cart showed up, the kind that has wheels on it and a slanted shelf for books to ride on.  Well, at that point, the book fairies said they didn't care where they ended up, as long as they got to ride on that cart.

We are garden fairies and we will provide a full report, perhaps a tour of "the library", when all is finished and all the book fairies have been moved to their new homes, whichever place that may be.

Submitted by:
Violet Greenpea Maydreams, Chief Scribe and Head Librarian for the garden fairies and garden book fairies at May Dreams Gardens

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - December 2013

Helleborus niger 'Josef Lemper'
Welcome to Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day for December 2013.

Here in my USDA Hardiness Zone 6a garden in central Indiana, we have snow cover today.

I checked past bloom day posts and this is only the second time since 2007 we've been snow covered like this in mid-December. The other time was in 2010.

I did put on my boots, coat, hat, gloves and scarf to take a quick walk around the garden.

I found the tips of the leaves of the Christmas Rose, Helleborus niger, sticking up out of the snow.  This one is the variety 'Josef Lemper'. 

Once the snow melts, it will provide some nice bloom in the middle of winter, I promise.

Brrr... come on in and take off your boots, coat, hat, gloves, and scarf and let's see what's going on in the sun room which is quite cozy, even with windows facing east, north, and west.

Yes, this is another Christmas Rose getting ready to bloom.
Helleborus niger 'Potters Wheel'
This is Helleborus niger 'Potters Wheel'.

I have two 'Potters Wheel' Christmas Rose plants in my sun room right now. I ordered this particular one from Arrowhead Alpines a week or so ago.  I also have another one that Jo Ellen, the Hoosier Gardener, bid on for me at a silent auction benefiting a local park.  It's not quite as far along as this one so it will bloom a bit later, extending my bloom season for indoor hellebores.

Once these bloom, I'll try to keep them alive in my sun room until spring and then plant them out in the garden. They should then bloom outdoors for me every year.

Joseph T. from Arrowhead Alpines thoughtfully tucked another little plant in the box with my Christmas Rose when he sent it, with a note saying it is his favorite Christmas flower.

Oxalis versicolor
This is Oxalis versicolor, which is not quite blooming but look at those red and white striped buds. Pretty! Thank you, Joseph, for sending this to me. 

While we are thinking of buds, I have some other buds to show you.

The amaryllis bulbs which I potted up three weeks ago are coming up with big fat buds.
Amaryllis buds
I also have some Lily of the Valley pips I potted up earlier this past week.

Lily of the Valley pips
I'm looking forward to the day these bloom.

In the meantime, there are some other flowers in my sun room to enjoy this winter including these kalanchoe.

Kalanchoe
I never thought I liked kalanchoe, but since getting these in a funeral planter a few years ago, I don't know how I gardened indoors without them.

And that's my garden, indoors and out, on this cold, wintry December Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.

What's blooming in your garden? We would love to find out, whether your blooms are indoors or outdoors.

It's easy to participate.

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

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




Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Lily of the Valley for Christmas

On the surface, the story appears to be that I happened to see some pre-cooled Lily of the Valley pips for sale and decided to order them and give them a try.

But actually the story of how I came to this point of planting Lily of the Valley pips a few weeks before Christmas so they will bloom for the holidays starts way back many decades ago when I was a little girl.

Every Sunday when I was growing up, we drove from our house in the suburbs to my grandma's house on the near East side of Indianapolis for an afternoon visit.  Visits in the spring were especially exciting because when the Lily of the Valley were in bloom, we were allowed to go out and pick them, as many as we could hold in our hands.

We'd give our bouquets as gifts to Grandma and my mom who graciously accepted them from us and remarked, always, how pretty they were. Often we picked violets, too.  Grandma would put them in little vases and row them up on her china buffet.

I think that Lily of the Valley is the first flower that I really knew by name and could identify when I saw it, along with violets.

I've always had at least a small patch of Lily of the Valley growing in my garden through the years.  Here in my current garden, my little patch has become a bit sparser lately as I dug up borders and beds where they grew for various and sundry reasons.  That's one of the reasons I used to rationalize my purchase of pre-cooled Lily of the Valley pips. After they bloom, I can grow them on and plant them in the garden in the spring.

I received my Lily of the Valley pips yesterday and potted them up last night.  I look forward to seeing the leaves and then the blooms in a few weeks.

Smelling the blooms of Lily of the Valley in the wintertime will remind me of my grandmother and my mom, of warm spring days, of times long past.  I won't think just of spring, though, I'll remember the Christmases of my childhood, when Grandma would come to our house on Christmas Eve to spend the night and read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas' to me and my siblings.

I'll remember aunts and uncles long gone, too and cousins who we rarely see these days. I'll remember the dinners, the presents, the laughter of many Christmases a long time ago.

And that's really the story of why I bought Lily of the Valley pips to force into bloom in the winter time. I really bought them for the warm memories contained in the scent of each tiny bell-shaped flower.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Christmas Gardening Books

My Christmas decorations include a stack of Christmas gardening books on the coffee table.  They are there should anyone have a notion to read about Christmas plants and ways to use plants around the holidays.

I've also included on the stack a couple of books about winter gardening, just because.

There is just one problem.

There is a little elf with green boots, a green dress, and a green hat sitting on top of them.

I won't say that she talks to me.

That would just be weird.

As long as she is sitting there looking at me, though, I'm going to leave those books alone.
After all, this isn't a one horse rodeo. I have several other books I can read.

It's almost like a staring contest.
Something tells me, I'm going to blink first. 

Saturday, December 07, 2013

First Snow Starts the Thinking Season of Gardening

First snow. Thursday night into Friday morning. About four inches here, give or take. Plus it is quite chilly. 

No one is going to sit in those chairs for a while now. They are made of engineered wood and will withstand the wintry weather, so I leave them out in the garden.

They are too heavy for me to move around every fall and spring, anyway.

I'm not much of a winter vegetable gardener, so the vegetable garden will also be undisturbed until spring.
I am sowing some flats of microgreens inside this weekend. They'll be a nice, healthy addition to my lunch salads.  

When I walk about the garden, I realize that I am not alone.
Those are probably rabbit tracks.  I put little chicken wire fences around several newer trees and shrubs to keep the rabbits from eating them down to nubbins. I don't begrudge them eating whatever else they find, in the neighbors' gardens, of course.

I left this wheelbarrow out in the garden for the winter.
It's old, and I bought it old to use as a garden sculpture. I hope this just adds some nice patina (rust) to it and doesn't ruin it.

While I was outside taking some pictures, I checked on my Christmas roses, Helleborus niger 'Josef Lemper'.
You'll just have to believe me that there are flower buds under that snow. I was tempted to carefully remove the snow but decided to leave it be.  It's better for the snow to gradually melt rather than to have me scrape it off and risk breaking off the flower buds. Plus, the snow helps to insulate the crown of the plant.

If you don't mind, we'll go inside now. It is cold outside, but inside...  inside is where a lot is going on these days. New library room, new flowers, new books, new ideas for gardening... it is officially the Thinking Season of Gardening.
Wherever you are. Stay warm!

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Garden fairies urge patience

Improper way to store gardening books
Garden fairies here.

We are garden fairies and we are posting on this blog to urge patience amongst the tree fairies and the book fairies who reside here at May Dreams Gardens.

The tree fairies are up in arms because they do not see the big Christmas tree yet and do not even see a place where it  might fit in the great tree room where it usually was in years past.

This seems to be due to a bigger teevee which was brought in after Christmas last year.   We garden fairies were not consulted on this purchase but have accepted it because on this big teevee Carol can stream British gardening shows via the Internet and we garden fairies like to watch those with her.

Anyway, the tree fairies, being resourceful fairies, began a room to room search to determine where Carol could maybe move some furniture from the great tree room to another room, even temporarily, to make room for the big Christmas tree.

What they found was shocking to them. Beyond belief.  Amazing.  Unexpected.  Flabbergasting.

They found an entirely empty room. 

An empty room with nothing in it. Empty.  Echo-y empty.  They immediately began planting the seed in Carol's mind to get her to think of moving at least one piece of furniture from the great tree room to that room to make room for the tree.

So far, they have been unsuccessful. Carol won't budge on this.

Why? Because of the book fairies.  Carol emptied the other room, which she once called "the dining room", of its contents and is now calling it "the library" even though it is currently an empty room.

We garden fairies have deduced that Carol is getting bookshelves for this now empty room which will allow her to give the garden books, and the book fairies that live in them, a good and proper home, where they can stand up next to each other instead of being piled up in big stacks.

Some of the book fairies heard that the tree fairies were trying to get Carol to move furniture into their library to make room for the Christmas tree and they cried out, "No way. We are tired of being squished at the bottom of these stacks of books. We deserve nice bookshelves where books can be kept as they should be kept and not in these big piles which sometimes topple over because the book Carol wants is always at the bottom of the stack."

The tree fairies protested right back that they came inside to take up residence in the big tree, which isn't there. But they refuse to go back outside where they came from and where there are trees a-plenty because the weather forecast calls for snow and cold to commence in the next 24 hours and it is nice and warm in the house.

We garden fairies are working to bring both the tree fairies and the book fairies to some kind of agreement.  Once we have an agreement we just need to get Carol to cooperate, and then there will be peace for the winter here at May Dreams Gardens, with garden book fairies all snuggled in their books on actual bookshelves, and tree fairies enjoying the shelter of a lovely tall Christmas tree.

Until this all happens, which will be in about two weeks, we garden fairies urge patience. The library will be nice and the tree, when she gets it, will be a welcomed haven for tree fairies.

Patience.  We urge patience.

Submitted by:
Violet Greenpea Maydreams, chief scribe and peace maker for the garden fairies, tree fairies, book fairies, toast fairies, and laundry fairies at May Dreams Gardens

Monday, December 02, 2013

Reading to take my mind off gardening

I'm taming a coleus and making it a houseplant.
Awhile back, a co-worker suggested I read Nemesis by Agatha Christie because the murder takes place on a garden tour.

Of course Christie's famous detective, Miss Jane Marple, is on the tour and figures out who committed the murder.

I was hooked after I read Nemesis and decided to read all twelve Agatha Christie mysteries featuring Miss Marple.  

They would be a nice diversion from gardening and gardening books!

I'm pleased to report that I just finished reading the twelfth book this past weekend.

Along the way, I highlighted a few of my favorite passages. I've shared some of them before, but they are worth sharing again, all in one place.

Would you like to read a few of them?


"It is like when you get ground elder really badly in a border. There's nothing else you can do about it--except dig the whole thing up."    Isn't that the truth. Sometimes there are so many weeds it really is best to just dig up the whole border and replant it.

"The out-of-date becomes picturesque... Look how people wanted old-fashioned roses now, and scorned hybrid teas. I was a bit taken back when I read this. I pulled this quote from a mystery written in the early 1960's. I thought hybrid teas were all the rage back then. I had no idea that people were already turning back to the old-fashioned roses in the 60's. I thought that was more recent.  Guess it goes to show, what's old is new again, just like the quote says.

"Mrs. Bantry was on her knees. A good day for hoeing. Nice dry soil. But hoeing wouldn't do everything. Thistles now, and dandelions. She dealt vigorously with these pests."   If you didn't garden you would learn two things from this quote.  First, that nice dry soil is best for hoeing. Second, that hoeing isn't always the answer for tougher weeds. For those, nothing short of hand-to-hand combat-- pulling--will work.

"Gardening is as good as a smoke screen, and the habit of observing birds through powerful glasses can always be turned to account."  Don't tell anyone but it is true that the gardeners in the neighborhood always know more than other neighbors about what goes on in the neighborhood. After all, when you are outside, you can't help but notice...

"But it's gardening that's needed here. And that isn't learned in a day. Gardening, that's what this place needs."  I've decided that this is my new answer to every problem, every question about what to do. "It's gardening that's needed here."  Those are words to live by.

Yes, it was good to read some Agatha Christie mysteries to take my mind off gardening, even for a short time.