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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Real gardeners grow plants indoors, too.

"I do not do houseplants."

If you tell me that, then I know you are not a real gardener.

Real gardeners also have indoor plants. Or houseplants. Or house plants. Whichever you prefer.

Real gardeners do not stop gardening when the garden outdoors goes dormant.  We don't.  We can't.

Even if we don't intend to have plants indoors, we somehow, somewhere, end up with plants in our houses.

It just happens.

If you are thinking right now, "well, I'm a real gardener and I don't have indoor plants", then you are missing out.  Go get a plant and grow it inside.

Grow it even if it isn't a traditional house plant.

Like coleus.

I took this cutting three years ago and meant to take the back outside after the winter, but it was doing so well indoors, I just left it. But lately, it was getting a little leggy, as some plants do when they are grown in less light than they prefer, so I cut it back some the other day.

It will grow out just fine.  I recommend coleus as a pretty-darn-easy-no-fail-test-of-your-gardening-abilities house plant.

Or grow a fibrous-rooted begonia.
This one snuck up at me at the garden center the other day.  I went there looking for amaryllis bulbs. They didn't have any amaryllis bulbs, but they did have this little pretty sitting there winking its flowers at me.

Speaking of amaryllis, now there's a plant even a fake gardener can grow indoors.  I found some that were "just the bulb" at the big box hardware store, so I rescued six of them.
They are pale as pale can be from being all boxed up, but they'll green up once they realize they are in their own pots and in the light and getting water.  God love 'em and so do I in the wintertime.

By the way, I usually don't buy the amaryllis bulbs with the pot and the compressed coir fibre "soil" that comes with them.  The plastic pots are too lightweight to support the plants and will often topple over. Forget that coir soil, too.  But, if that's all you can find, get it anyway, and pot it up with better potting soil in a more substantial container.

I've got some old plants in my house.
This Swedish ivy, Plectranthus verticillatus, started out as a cutting I took from one of my sister's hanging baskets about four summers ago. Shhh... let's not tell her.  I pinched it. Nicked it. Took it.

But it isn't the oldest plant in the house, not by a long-shot.  The oldest plant in the house is the night-blooming cereus.  I've had it since 1987, and before then my Dad probably had it for a good 15 years which makes it... after a bit of ciphering, I believe this particular plant has been grown indoors by me and my Dad for 42 years.

It's also the ugliest.
Look through this ivy, Hedera helix, I bought just a few days ago to see the night blooming cereus. See it back there on a trellis.  It owns that corner.

I count on my house plants for a few odd blooms through the year. In fact, this crown of thorns, a Euphorbia, is always in bloom.
I bet I've had it for at least ten years.

A newer bloomer is the Kalanchoe.
Just a few buds right now, as you can see. This Kalanchoe, and several other plants in my house, came to me under the sad circumstances funerals.

I could do a whole post on funeral planters, and just might because I often get emails or urgent voice mails from co-workers who received a funeral planter, brought it in to the office, and suddenly it isn't doing so well.  I visit the plant and the person and perform a triage of sorts... Hey, you can't trick me into giving away my secrets for caring for funeral planters!  I'll provide details in another post this winter.

Now, where were we?  Oh, we were going to also mention about garden fairies who become house fairies if you have enough plants indoors.  I'll save that little tidbit of information, plus tips on attracting house fairies,  for another post.


In the meantime, if you don't have house plants, and you insist on calling yourself a real gardener, please go get a house plant to legitimize yourself.

Thank you.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Miniature Amaryllis

Amaryllis bulb, just planted.
You know how amaryllis can get really tall and floppy and sometimes requiring elaborate staking to keep them from toppling over, no matter how heavy their pot is?

And the elaborate staking, with only the depth of a pot to anchor the actual stakes, can look like something Gilligan himself tried to put together using sticks and vines he found on an uncharted, deserted isle?

Well, I found some miniature amaryllis for sale from John Scheeper's bulbs which should only be a foot tall when they bloom.

I'm going to try growing them without staking.

Let me repeat that, since it seems unbelievable.

I'm going to try growing them without staking.

I feel like a tightrope walker walking the wire without a net for the first time.

Or like a little kid on a bike without training wheels, telling her dad not to let go because she might fall.

That's apparently why, as a precautionary measure, when I potted up the miniature amaryllis, 'Molto Bello', which translates from Italian to English as 'Very Pretty', I went ahead and put some stakes in the pot, just in case.

But the minute I determine those stakes aren't needed, I'm pulling them out.  I'm walking the wire without a net, riding the bike without training wheels.

I'm going to be growing amaryllis with no staking.

I'll post regular updates.

I add ivy and green moss to the amaryllis planting to dress it up a bit


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Seed Heads: A One Act Play

Seed Heads
A One Act Play
By
Carol M.


Cast of Characters

Seeds…………………………......Several seeds on a coneflower
Bird………………………………A little finch


TIME: Late Fall
SETTING: A garden

ACT ONE
SCENE 1

(We see a stand of coneflower seed heads in the garden)

SEEDS

Hey everyone. How's it going? Everyone hanging on okay? Geez, it is getting cold at night, isn't it? I'm sure glad we haven't been cut back and thrown onto the compost pile. I hate spending the winter rotting.

(Light fades and the scene switches to a bird's eye view)

SCENE 2

(Seed heads are quietly chattering in the background.)

BIRD

I'm hungry. Is there anything to eat in this garden? Oh, look seeds. I do love some seeds in the winter time.

(The birds swoops down and sits on top of the seed head, and begins to eat the seeds.)

SCENE 3

(The lights are dim and we hear a seed off in the distance.)

SEED

Hey, where am I? Where's the garden? It's dark in here. And there isn't a bunch of room. Hold on, something's happening. I'm falling. Oh, yuck, what is this around me?

(A bird sitting on a branch takes off, leaving a dropping of bird doo on the ground.)

SCENE 4

(The lights come back up and we see the seed lying in the bird doo.)

SEED

Where am I? What happened? What is all this around me? Oh my. It's food for me to grow in, isn't it? I know what I'm supposed to do now. I'm supposed to germinate. I'm going to be a whole new plant. In my own space. Oh, I am so ready for this. I am. First, let me grow a little root, then a shoot. Pretty soon, I'll have leaves and flowers. Then more seeds. That bird eating me was the best thing that every happened to me.

(Light gradually fades as another bird flies by, leaving a dropping with another seed in it.)

THE END

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Are you a scattershot gardener or a bullseye gardener?

Do you know the difference between scattershot gardeners and bullseye gardeners?

The difference is focus.

Scattershot gardeners like all kinds of plants and flowers.  They are likely to buy a plant they've never heard of because they saw it, liked it, and immediately felt they could not possibly have a garden without it.

Scattershot gardeners grow a little of everything in their gardens. They plant whatever strikes their fancy.

Every once in a while, someone will become a bullseye gardener.  Bullseye gardeners focus in on one particular type of plant and spend most of their time and money on plants of that type.  Maybe it is roses. Or daylilies.  Or venus flytraps.  Almost to the exclusion of all other plants, the bullseye gardeners have only these plants in their sight.

Scattershot gardeners tend to know a little about a lot of gardening.  Bullseye gardeners often have deep knowledge of whatever it is they are focusing on.

Of course, many of us are a little of both types of gardeners.  We are all scattershot, hit or miss, and then every once in a while, we hit the bullseye of a plant that strikes our fancy more than others so we briefly pause and focus in on that one particular genus.  But our focus doesn't last all that long. Another flower comes along, a leave flutters in front of us, our attention is diverted, and we are on to the next plant.

I admire both types of gardeners, scattershot gardeners and bullseye gardeners, and all the variations in between.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What do garden fairies look like?

It's time once again to take a peek inside "The Secret Diary of a Garden Fairy" to read about what's really going on with the garden fairies here at May Dreams Gardens.

Of course, I'll put on a fairly clean pair of garden gloves when I handle the diary. I don't want to leave fingerprints as evidence of   reading their diary, do I?

Oh shush, and don't worry that we'll get caught.  The garden fairies leave their diary out in plain sight, which I think is just a ploy to get us to read it. Plus, we'll put it right back when we are done.

Yesterday's entry...

"Dear Diary,

I just got on Carol's computer and took a look at pictures of garden fairies on Pinterest.  I am appalled and take great umbrage at how they think garden fairies look.

Some of those drawings of garden fairies look absolutely frightening, with pointed ears and mean looking faces. Others look all moon-eyed and comical, with eyes nearly as big as their heads.  And don't get me started on the plastic statues of so-called garden fairies. Those in no way represent real garden fairies.

Where in the world do people get their ideas about what garden fairies look like?  I really should set them straight.  If I could tell them, here's what I'd say.

First, there is no way for mere gardeners to know what garden fairies look like. We live in a dimension called the garden dimension. Only a small handful of people have ever spent enough time in a garden to actual see into this dimension. And even when they do see into this garden dimension, they have no idea they are seeing garden fairies.

Second,  we are nearly invisible and  are masters of disguise and camouflage.

We can lay on a flower, and look like a bit of light shining on a petal.   We can stretch across the edge of a leaf and make it appear as though the edge of the leaf has just curled up a bit.

We can flicker by a gardener sometimes looking like butterflies or bees or late at night we look like moths. Sometimes we look like a tiny bird feather or a wisp of rabbit fur, floating through the air.

We can hide in in the crevices of tree trunks. No one ever sees us there.  Nor do people think to look in patches of clover, where we hide during the day. We don hats made of clover flowers and to most people we just look like clover flowers.

Finally, I would tell all the good people who are trying to draw us to just think of the flickers of light and shadows amongst the flowers and leaves.  That's usually us, in the garden dimension, visible for just a split second, hardly enough time for anyone to see us, but just enough time for someone who is a believer in garden fairies to know we are there.

Dear Diary, that's what I would explain to people about what garden fairies look like, if I could.  But most wouldn't understand and would continue to draw their silly drawings and paint those awful plastic figurines.  

But perhaps it would be worth explaining for those few gardeners who would understand?"


Wow, that was quite the diary entry. Much more info than I ever expected, but it does explain quite a bit about what garden fairies look like.  The next time I'm in my garden, I'm going to watch the light and shadows and see if I can see into that garden dimension where the garden fairies are.

Oh don't worry. I'm putting the diary back where I found it.  I promise to get it out again soon and pass along any other interesting entries.


Monday, November 17, 2014

A garden is a living thing

A garden is a living thing and we are wise to remember that.

There is a constant cycle of life occurring each day.

New flowers open, old flowers fade. Seeds drop to the ground and lie dormant, waiting for the right time and the right conditions to germinate.

New leaves unfurl in the spring, hang around all summer, then in the fall, they cease their chlorophyll production. Their green color fades and let's the yellow or red or orange make its appearance known, before the leaves lose their grip and the wind carries then off to places near and far.

When the leaves land on the ground, a village full of micro-organisms, insects, and even earthworms pounce upon them and slowly, surely, devour them, leaving behind compost.

There are insects in all their stages of life hanging around the garden, some literally hanging as cocoons from branches, others hidden on the undersides of leaves. Rabbits, mice, chipmunks, squirrels, even birds, are born in our gardens and may live their whole lives in our gardens.

A garden is a living thing, and we are wise to remember that we are also living things. We go through cycles of life, too. There are time when we have plenty of energy and agility and the time to spend it on our gardens.

There are other times when we lack the time, or the energy and agility, or both, and the garden becomes a wild living thing. It begins to run from us, and we must figure out how to catch it, retrieve it, and bring it back to its place as a garden.

It's all part of the cycle of life, because a garden is a living thing and was never intended to always be the same. It will grow and change, mature and adapt, just as we do.

We are wise to remember that.




Sunday, November 16, 2014

But I still have garden clean up to do...

Streptocarpella saxorum blooms inside
I rushed outside this morning and planted the last of the bulbs, more 'Chestnut Flower' hyacinths, to add to the three of that variety I planted last year.  It's the absolute prettiest hyacinth I've ever seen.

Then I grabbed a bag of seeds for wildflowers which are supposed to do well in lawns.  According to the directions, you can sow them after the first freeze.  But you are supposed to sow them on bare ground and barely cover them.

Instead, I just tossed them out on to the lawn.  I figured they have a better chance of germinating in the lawn than in the bag and I didn't have time to prepare an area.

Planting the hyacinths and sowing the seeds took me less than 10 minutes.

I can move fast when snow is imminent.

I am hopeful this first snowfall of the year, which is coming down as I write this, will melt fairly soon and that will help settle those seeds in for the winter, and then in the spring, they'll germinate and come up through the lawn.  I am also hopeful the snow provides a bit of insulation and actually keeps the ground from freezing too quickly so the hyacinths have a chance to settle in.

Time will tell.

This snow didn't actually catch me by surprise. They've been predicting it for days.  But I'm still not ready for it. I want to cut back more of the perennials and oh, right, the corn stalks are still standing in the garden, along with the okra.

I once thought it was only a lazy gardener who left her vegetable garden standing through the winter. Now I realize it is also a busy gardener who leaves her vegetable garden standing through the winter.

Oh well, with the snow comes a bit of freedom to not worry so much about the garden clean up.  Move that task to spring, I guess.  Put away the hoe and get out the snow shovel. Time to plan for next year, which looks like it will start early with a big massive clean up of the garden...

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - November 2014

Welcome to Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day for November 2014.

Here in my USDA Hardiness Zone 6a garden in central Indiana, we are experiencing that blast of cold air that the weathermen have been telling us about for days.   They like to call it a polar vortex.

Back in the old days, we just called it "winter".

Out in the garden, we finally have a sunny day after several cloudy days.  The garden is frosty and in need of a gardener's attention to finish its final preparations for winter.

But let's not be too hasty doing the clean up.  The tall sedum above looks lovely tipped by Jack Frost in the early morning.  We wouldn't see that if we had cut it all back by now.

I've been watching the Christmas Rose, Helleborus niger, to see if it has any flower buds yet.
I don't see any yet, but I'm sure it's because I didn't stay out long enough to really look.  It's cold out there!

Inside, though, some of the house plants are blooming right on schedule, including these two Thanksgiving Cactus, Schlumbergera truncata.

I purchased this white one because the store where I buy groceries puts them right in my path and I am weak and like to buy pretty flowering plants.

I got this one from a co-worker. It's an orange red color, perfect for fall.

I know these are both Thanksgiving cactus and not Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera x buckleyi)  because of when they bloom (around Thanksgiving time) and because their stem sections have points on them. Christmas cactus have rounded stem sections.

I rarely see true Christmas cactus plants in the stores, but I always stop and look whenever I see any them on display, just in case. If I find one, I'm buying it.

There are a few other houseplants blooming inside, including Crown of Thorns and Streptocarpella, but other than that, its a light bloom day for me as we head into the winter season of rest.

What's blooming in your garden on this cold November day?

We'd love to have you join in for Garden Blogger's Bloom Day and show us what's blooming in your garden right now.  It's easy to participate.

Just post on your blog about what is blooming in your garden and then leave a comment below and put a link to your post in the Mr. Linky Widget.  If Mr. Linky doesn't cooperate for you, send me an email, and I'll help you out as soon as I can.

Now, together, let's recite the quote that started this whole bloom day business so many years ago...

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

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Society for the Promotion of Mums as the Quintessential Fall Flower

Who will buy these?
The Society for the Promotion of Mums as the Quintessential Fall Flower* would like to lodge an official protest regarding the disfiguration of poinsettias to modify their colors to allow them to be sold in the fall as an alternative to mums, which are the quintessential fall flower.

The Society is concerned that allowing this practice of coloring poinsettias in shades of Autumn will no doubt lead to Santa Claus himself putting on a pilgrim's costume and hitching up a sleigh pulled by turkeys.

Furthermore, The Society disapproves of the use of glitter on all flowers.

Please join The Society in saying "no thank you" to fall-colored poinsettias by purchasing mums or other fall flowers for Thanksgiving.

By comment below, you indicate your support of The Society.

*You know there really is no Society, right. I made it up.  Just for fun.  Though, I still don't care for fall poinsettias.



Tuesday, November 11, 2014

When my back is turned in my garden

This is what I think it looks like in my garden when my back is turned.

Rabbits and squirrels having a big party.

I know it happens because there is evidence of it. I won't go into details, but there is no denying what's going on when my back is turned.

The only difference between this picture and my garden is my garden has garden fairies in it, along with rabbits and squirrels.

There are a few other differences, but they are minor. For example...

Garden fairies here. We interrupt this post to protect the innocence of the rabbits, squirrels, toads, and our fellow garden fairies.  Carol truly has no idea what goes on in her garden when her back is turned.  

She got this silly post card with a picture by Racey Helps and now she wants to pretend it represents the goings on in her garden. It's all wrong, though.  First of all, the boy bunnies are shown with only coats in the picture. That's ridiculous. They also wear pants. Ditto the little mouse and frog in the little right hand corner.  

Other than that...

Well, we are garden fairies. We don't tell tales.  We report facts.  And we keep secrets.

Submitted by:

Violet Greenpea Maydreams, keeper of the secrets in the garden at May Dreams Gardens.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Vintage Postcards

Postcard with pic by Hannes Petersen
Daily posts continue here on May Dreams Gardens!

Did I mention I've started the tiniest little collection of vintage postcards?

Oh, I didn't mention my tiny little collection of vintage postcards?  Well, let me tell you, I have started the tiniest little collection of vintage postcards.

I tend to like Christmas postcards with unusual flowers on them, like lily of the valley and violets.  One doesn't often associate the holidays with those flowers today, but back in the day, they did.

And lately I've taken to finding postcards with fanciful drawings like this one of an angel riding on top of some kind of beetle (or is it a roach) which is being pulled by two butterflies.  This particular postcard is German and the artist "Hannes Petersen" is really Johanna Helene Charlotte Schröder. Most of the websites about her are written in German so I only know she was born in 1885 and died in 1960 in Berlin.  On the back of this particular postcard, someone also wrote a message in German, and I have no idea what it is.

I've discovered several other artists from this same time period who drew fanciful pictures of little bunnies and mice and other forest creatures all dressed up for postcards.   So far, I've discovered Molly Brett, Racey Helps, and Hester Margetson,  I made a Pinterest board for them called "Bunnies and Mice - Illustrations".

I'm sure there are other such artists of the same ilk and if I'm meant to find out about them, I will. Of all of them, I like Molly Brett the most, at least today. That could change tomorrow.

Really, it's just the tiniest little collection of vintage postcards.  Oh, and did I mention I also like postcards with pictures of people in their gardens?  That's another current obsession interest.

Really, it is just the tiniest little collection and if I limit it to certain flowers, a few artists and gardeners in their gardens, it should stay tiny, I think.  I hope!

Sunday, November 09, 2014

A hole in my garden - autumn-flowering snowdrops

Spring flowering snowdrops.  
Yesterday, I found out there are autumn-flowering snowdrops.

Autumn-flowering.  As in blooming in October.

And now I want some.   I never knew they existed until yesterday and now there is a hole in my garden without them.

I believe the botanical name is Galanthus reginae-olgae subsp reginae-olgae.

Every source I've checked so far is sold out, but that's okay because it is probably too late this season to plant them here, anyway.

I will patiently wait until the supplies and catalogs are updated in the spring and then order some next year to plant.  Then I will have some snowdrops blooming in my garden in the fall of '17. Won't that confuse people?

I can hardly wait, but wait I must.  You can't hurry up flowers. Your only choice is to wait for them or go on without them. I'd rather wait.

How, you ask, did I find out about this hole in my garden that can only be filled by planting autumn-flowering crocuses?

I found out about this hole in my garden because I have various Google alerts set up for key words like "gardener" and "garden" and one popped up yesterday about Margaret Owen, a galanthophile (expert on snowdrops) who recently passed away in Great Britain.   This particular alert caught my attention because I was looking for some pictures of gardeners in their gardens for my new Facebook page, Gardeners in Their Gardens, and there was a lovely picture of Margaret in a garden in the alert.

I read through her obituary, and learned of her love of snowdrops and the snowdrop parties she was famous for.  At the end of the obituary,  they mentioned how another galanthophile visited her hours before she passed away, bringing her autumn-flowering snowdrops.  She briefly opened her eyes to look at them before she died.

Oh yes, I am definitely going to have autumn-flowering snowdrops in my garden someday.


Saturday, November 08, 2014

Announcing Gardeners In Their Gardens

How many pictures do you have of yourself in your own garden?

None? I thought so!

We gardeners take all kinds of pictures in our gardens these days... flowers, vegetables, trees, shrubs, butterflies, bees, leaves... if it's in our gardens we've probably taken a picture of it with our smartphone or digital camera.

But we rarely remember to have someone take our pictures in the garden.

And I think that's a shame because where are you happier than in your own garden, with dirt under your fingernails and leaves in your hair, probably holding a bouquet of flowers you grew or a basket full of freshly picked veggies?

Yesterday morning, I decided to do something about this lack of pictures of gardeners in their gardens by starting up a Facebook page called Gardeners In Their Gardens and posting pictures of gardeners in their gardens on it.

I've invited gardeners to send me photos of themselves in their gardens, and I'm looking around the web for good pics of gardeners in their gardens to add as well.

I'd love to have readers of this blog join in, too, if you haven't already.  First, go like the FB page, Gardeners in their Gardens.

Then send a picture of yourself in your garden to Gardenersintheirgardens at yahoo dot com with a couple of sentences telling me something about how you garden, what you like to grow, your happiest moment in your garden... anything along those lines.  

And, if you run across an article on the web with a picture of  gardener in her or his garden, send me a link at the same address.  I'll give you a nice "tip of the trowel" if I post a link to the article on the FB page.

Some of the pictures and stories will also make it to a blog I've set up for Gardeners In Their Gardens.  I'm just getting that launched, so there isn't much there yet, but I'll fill it out in the days ahead.

Now, what are you doing? Go put on your best gardening outfit and get your picture taken in your own garden.


Friday, November 07, 2014

Postcard, with violets

A postcard, from me to you.  1911 style.

"Dear Frida, Got your card and glad to hear from you and also so glad to hear from Mother. We know we can't have her many more years -- how I wish I lived where I could see her often. Write me Frida often as you can. As ever Belle with love."

"But once"
I shall pass through 
this world but once.
Any good there-
fore that I can do-or any
kindness that I can show
to any human being, let 
me do it now.  Let me 
not defer or neglect it.
for I shall not pass 
this way again.

written by 
Edward Courtenay
Earl of Devonshire


Thursday, November 06, 2014

Book Review: The Writer's Garden

Cold weather is heading this way and the activity in the garden is starting to slow down a bit.

And though I still need to plant a few bulbs, clean up most of the vegetable garden, cut back all the perennials, and hopefully harvest the compost from the compost bins before it freezes up,  I've started into the winter garden book reading season.

Well, yes, I do read garden books year round, but in the winter, I pick up the pace.

And I need to pick up the pace because I've had a little difficulty lately turning down offers of books to read and review.

One of the books I accepted to review is The Writer's Garden: How Gardens Inspired our Best-loved Authors by Jackie Bennett, with photos by Richard Hanson (Frances Lincoln Ltd, 2014).

Do you know what this book has done to me? It's made me want to go straight to England and travel all around to see the gardens owned and often tended by famous British writers including Agatha Christie, Beatrix Potter, and Walter Scott, to name a few.

It's also given me a renewed interest in English literature in general and taught me about a few writers   I didn't know about.  Or know much about.

For each writer, Bennett tells us the story of how the writer came to own or live at the house and garden, what it would have been like for them living there, what they wrote while in residence, and  who tends the gardens today.  Hanson has provided beautiful photographs of the gardens to accompany the stories.

I think of each chapter as a gardener's bedtime story.  One chapter a night, or maybe two, and I've forgotten the cares of the day and the chores of the garden as I look at the pictures of the writers' gardens and read the story of each writer in his or her garden.

Then I  dream of one day going to England and seeing some of these gardens in person.

That's what this book has done to me.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Fall Floral Flotsam

Fall Floral Flotsam on Viburnum
"A bit out of season, but a reminder that every season leaves something behind when it moves on, a remembrance, a bit of debris, some floral flotsam."

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Garden fairies discuss bulb planting

Crocus speciosus are done for the year
Garden fairies here!

We are garden fairies and we want to know right now before we take the time to continue writing this post if any of the lovely readers of this blog missed us?

After all, it has been quite a while since we posted on this blog but we have been so busy we can hardly see straight.

One would think we should be winding down our various and sundry highly important activities but that is hardly the case.

We are so busy. We have been coloring up all of those leaves. And that is hard work.  Some of us look about as worn out as the two autumn-flowering crocuses pictured above.  We opened and closed those flowers faithfully until they just laid over and said "We are done".

Did you know by planting corms for the autumn crocus, Carol created extra work for us? She did. Once again, who do you think opens those flowers when the sun is shining and then closes them on cloudy days? You think that just happens?

It does not just happen. We are garden fairies and we make it happen.

Speaking of "making it happen", we have watched for several days as Carol has been all over the lawn planting more corms for crocuses and some bulbs, too.  We counted. She planted 2,444 bulbs and corms in the lawn.   This is because she held back six Glory of the Snow bulbs (Chionodoxa gigantea) to force into bloom in the winter time.

Over the previous two years, if our records are correct and we don't know that they are because we have not validated them so don't take it to the bank, she planted 2,000 corms for Crocuses in the lawn.

We are garden fairies and we are calling in extra garden fairies from near and far for this spring because we will have double the work and then some to wake up all those bulbs and corms, get them to send up their flower shoots and then open the flowers on sunny days and close the flowers on cloudy days.

It will be oh-so-pretty but it is sure going to be a  lot of work for us garden fairies.

But we are up to the task and with reinforcements from perhaps even your garden if you didn't plant bulbs in your lawn, we will make it happen, just like it happened in the one act play Carol wrote yesterday.

Posted by:
Violet Greenpea Maydreams, Chief Scribe and Team Captain for the Garden Fairies at May Dreams Gardens

P. S.  The front yard garden fairies asked me to let the readers know that in the front garden, Carol planted 300 bulbs for Iris reticulata of various varieties plus 50 bulbs for double snowdrops, Galanthus nivalis 'Flore Pleno'.  We are garden fairies and this makes us very happy.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Glory of the Snow Bulbs: A One Act Play

Glory of the Snow Bulbs
A One Act Play
By
Carol M.


Cast of Characters

Bulb…………………………....….A tiny bulb of Glory of the Snow
Corm………………………………A tiny corm of a Crocus
Pillywiggins………………………A song and dance troupe of Pillywiggins, garden fairies who specialize in spring blooms


TIME: Late Fall
SETTING: A lawn

ACT ONE
SCENE 1

(We see a lawn littered with leaves)

BULB

Is it crowded in this bucket or what? Where did all of us bulbs come from? I remember being in a package with other bulbs, then in a box, then someone dumped all of us bulbs into a bucket. I wonder what's going to happen next? Hey, someone just grabbed me in their hand. Help!

(Light fades and the scene switches to a nearly dark stage)

SCENE 2

(Bulb is now underground.)

BULB

Where am I? It's dark. I can barely move. All this dirt. Oh my goodness, am I in the ground?

CORM

Welcome, Bulb! Now, don't be afraid little buddy, you are right where you need to be to grow big and strong and flower.

BULB

Flower? What are you talking about?

CORM

Yes, Bulb, you are a flower. You need to grow some roots now and then go to sleep. It's all part of the plan.

(Light fades and snow falls on the ground. The bulbs and corms are all sleeping.)

SCENE 3

(The lights come back up in the garden, the snow is gone, and we see the the song and dance troupe of Pillywiggins dancing and singing on top of the ground.)

BULB

Hey, what's going on up there? I was sleeping. Oh my, look at me. I have roots now. And what's this green sprout coming out of my top?

CORM

Bulb, that's your flower coming out of your top. Hear those Pillywiggins dancing and singing on top of the ground? They want us to send up our flowers now because it's Spring. I'll go first.

BULB

Is that what they're doing? Alright, I'm new here so I'll follow your lead, Corm.

(Light fades again.)

SCENE 4

(The lights come back up and we see Glory of the Snow blooming in the lawn along with hundreds of other flowers.)

BULB

Oh my. I'm beautiful. Look how pretty my petals are. Oh how nice the sun feels after those months of the damp, dark dirt. I could just sing I'm so happy. And look how many of us there are. Why, there must be hundreds of us here, all in shades of pink, and purple, and white. Hey Corm, now what?

CORM

Now, we bloom. We look pretty. We attract bees. And we make the gardener happy. Then we go back to sleep through the long summer, fall and winter and do this all over again.

BULB

How exciting. I love being a flower! I love all you other flowers. I love you, Pillywiggins, for your singing and dancing to wake me up. I wouldn't want to miss this. I am definitely coming back every spring.

(Light gradually fades as a bee comes along and visits several of the flowers.)

THE END

Chionodoxa sp. and star of the play

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Bon Jardinage! - Garlic and shallots

I couldn't pull this sweet alyssum when I weeded today.
As visions of Julia Child danced through my head, I planted shallots and garlic in the vegetable garden today. This was the perfect day for it.

We finally got our first frost and our first freeze on Saturday morning. Hallelujah and glory-be. I was ready for it. I'm used to the first frost coming around October 10th and that's the signal to start garden clean up.

Forget that I don't ever really start garden clean up in earnest until November.  Just accept that I needed the first frost to remind me to at least start planning to clean up the garden messes.

Really, everyone needs a little time and some early signs of the end of the growing season, like frost,  to start thinking about garden clean up before they actually do it.  We need time to process that it is truly the end of the growing season again.

Now I feel all behind.

But I'll pull myself up by my gardening boots and get on with it now that it is November and we've had frost.

So today, under clear skies with temps in the 40's, I cleaned up just one raised bed in the veg garden,  the one where I planted shallots and garlic.

Did you know we should plant garlic and shallots in the fall? Sure you did.

This year, I planted French Grey Shallots and three kinds of garlic - 'Chesnok Red', 'Metechi' and 'Purple Glazer". These are all hard-neck garlic varieties, which do better in my climate than the soft neck varieties.

Shallots and Garlic all in a row
I bought the garlic bulbs from Botanical Interests because they sell them by the bulb instead of the pound. I truly do not need to plant garlic by the pound. Same with shallots. Just one little bag from Renee's Gardens is enough for my garden.

To plant garlic, you first need to separate the cloves from the bulb.
One bulb, many cloves
Each clove will grow into a nice new bulb of garlic.

The number of cloves per bulb varies, as I found out. The 'Metechi' bulb was nice and big but was made up of only five or six cloves, which was about half a row. What about the rest of the row? Leave it blank?  It wouldn't look right in the spring.

I don't usually suggest people plant garlic cloves from garlic bulbs they buy at the grocery store. Who knows what the variety is? And maybe the bulb was treated with something to keep it from sprouting. And maybe, if you didn't check closely, it came all the way from China.

But I had some organic garlic from the grocery store that came from California so I decided to plant some of it to fill out the row.  And to satisfy my curiosity about how well grocery store garlic would grow for me.  After all, it is probably a soft-neck variety. It might not grow well, but then again, it might grow just fine.

In either case, hopefully it will fill out the row. Symmetry restored.

Of course, I labeled my shallot and garlic rows.
Always label the varieties. You WILL forget.
And then I planted them in alphabetic order. You never know what could happen to a wooden plant tag in the wintertime. A bunny could run off with it. It could get erased by snow and ice. Or it could just get picked up by the wind and tossed about.

Yes, best to plant in alphabetical order if you can.  Left to right as you stand and look west. That's the order I went alphabetically, in case anyone asks. And the grocery store garlic? I labeled it 'Grocery Store'.

Now to wait until the end of June or thereabouts when the tops of the shallots and garlic begin to yellow and die back.  Then I'll harvest, clean, and air dry my crops and begin perusing through some cookbooks to see what I should cook, Julie Child style.

To borrow a phrase from Julia, "Bon Appetit"!  Or shall I say "Bon Jardinage"!



Saturday, November 01, 2014

There are Messes in My Garden

There are messes in my garden and someone needs to clean them up.

The corn stalks are still standing, though barely.  I would like to plant some garlic and shallots tomorrow where the corn was growing, but someone needs to clean up that mess first.

Corn is a heavy feeder so before I replant, I think I'll mix a little organic fertilizer in the soil in that bed, just to be sure the poor garlic and shallots don't starve.

There are piles of forks in the garden, too, leftover from when someone used them to build fortresses around the pepper plants and green bean rows to keep out the rabbits.


The fork fortress technique mostly works, but isn't one hundred percent.  Nothing is really one hundred percent when it comes to keeping rabbits away. It's best to use a variety of techniques, including a bit of wishful thinking and optimism, when trying to keep rabbits out of your garden.

And after they pick up that pile of forks, someone needs to pull all of these out of what was once a flourishing patch of green beans.

Those skeletonized plants are holding on to some dried beans, so maybe when someone cleans up the mess, they can pick some bean seeds, too.  I've always wanted to save dried beans. I think I have a good opportunity to do that this year.

Then someone needs to go right over to the okra patch and save some pods full of seeds of future fried okra.
Of course, if someone had not been so lazy last summer,  there wouldn't be that many dried okra pods to pick now, but let's not talk about that. I like the variety, though, so it is worth saving the seeds. I think it is 'Emerald Green', but may need to check my notes.

Someone needs to eventually cut back the Amsonia.
But they shouldn't cut it back yet. It's too pretty right now.  But thank goodness I cut it back earlier in the summer to remove the seed pods. Amsonia is a prolific self-sower and I know from experience its seedlings are not easy to pull out.  I think those seedling grow roots a foot deep before they ever grow leaves and reveal they are there.

Ditto the Alyssum.  Well, not really, ditto the Alyssum. This is a kinder and gentler self-sower, which is easy to pluck out if it comes out where you don't want it.

But I usually find I want it where it comes up and want more, so I buy some every year.

There are other messes in my garden.

Just look at this compost bin, full of weeds, and even petunias plucked from containers to make way for pansies.

Someone should really start their fall clean up with these compost bins, to make room for more of the messes that are all over the garden.

Hmmm, I think the someone is me. I will clean it up, but only after I've planted some more bulbs.