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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year, Fifteen

Time flies
The ol' rabbit Fourteen's bags were packed and he was checking his watch as he peered through the open garden gate looking for signs of Fifteen.

As he waited, he looked back over the garden and reflected on his year.  He was not particularly proud of the winter he had brought with him. It was surely one for the record books that wouldn't be forgotten for quite some time.  Cold, snowy, icy.  Brrrr...

But he thought he had more than made up for it with a lovely spring, summer, and fall. Some people said it was one of the best spring seasons ever. He was proud of that.

And he hadn't really done much for the new winter, he would leave that to the young, energetic new year, Fifteen.

"Where is that Fifteen", he said to no one in particular.  "He should be coming soon. He can't be late!"

He checked his watch again and looked again at the garden. He was leaving a bit of a mess for Fifteen.  Most of the perennials were still standing and there were weeds in the vegetable garden.

While he waited he reached into his pocket and grabbed a pen and a notebook to make a couple of notes of what to tell Fifteen when he arrived.

He made note that Fifteen really should once and for all plant something in that back strip of bare ground on the edge of the vegetable garden.  There really should be flowers there.  And he must remind him that Carol really does want to clear out the bed by the sun room and plant less-than-hardy Southern plants there.  He thought it a bit foolish, but if that's what she wanted to do, Fifteen ought to help her.

Oh, and Fifteen should definitely encourage Carol to make a decision about those big Viburnums.  He personally wouldn't mind seeing them removed and replaced with PawPaw trees, or at least have Carol stop talking about doing that if she isn't going to do it.

As for the weather, Fifteen should do his own thing and certainly try to have a better Winter than he had, but follow his example for Spring, Summer, and Fall.

There was one more piece of advice he thought about writing down, but as he hesitated on the wording, he could hear Fifteen coming up the lane.  Time had run out.

"Hello Fifteen", he hollered.  "I'm so glad to see you, with all your energy.   I've made a list for you of just a few things and I have one thing to tell you."

Just then, Fifteen, grabbed the list, gave Fourteen a hug and hopped into the garden.  At that exact moment, the clock struck midnight, and Fourteen realized his time was up.  He grabbed his bag and hopped away, leaving Fifteen in his place.

He never did have a chance to tell him one more thing, but it didn't really matter.   He knew Fifteen would do just fine and it would be The Best Year Yet in the Garden.

Happy New Year, Fifteen!

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Tale of the Amaryllis and Other Bulbs to Force in the Wintertime

Miniature Amaryllis
My amaryllis bulbs, including the miniature amaryllis bulbs,  are all up and in various stages of bud and bloom.

The miniature amaryllis is pretty but isn't the variety I ordered. So I wrote the company this morning to see what they can do. My first choice is to get the variety I ordered, but it is sold out.

But I've ordered from this company for years with great success so I'm sure we'll get it all sorted out after the holidays are over.

In the meantime, I can enjoy this one with its pink outline and green throat.  It is pretty, isn't it?

Given that it is a miniature amaryllis, I am a bit surprised that it is as tall as some of the regular big box store amaryllis, but that could be due to a lack of light in the sunroom.

(Sometimes I think "sunroom" isn't a good name for the room with windows facing west, north, and east. It gets a good amount of light but not the amount it would get if it had south windows. I may just rename it "Fairy Family Room" or something like that.)

The three miniature amaryllis bulbs all have minds of their own

One bulb is up and blooming. Another bulb has a nice flower stalk on it and should bloom in a few days and seems much shorter than the blooming bulb. The third bulb just has a leaf. It might not bloom. Or it might bloom, but not for awhile. Time will tell.

Even though I will have amaryllis blooming for several more weeks, I am now turning my attention to other bulb forcing.

I once again potted up some pre-chilled Lily of the Valley pips.

I hope those are in bloom by mid-January.

Later this week, I'm going to set up the hyacinth bulbs chilling in the refrigerator. I place them on hyacinth vases to bloom. I will also pot up some crocus corms that have been chilling with the hyacinth bulbs. I haven't forced crocus blooms in quite some time, so I assume chilling them and planting them will work. I bought them on clearance for 80% off when I put the amaryllis bulbs at the big box hardware store.

I'm also going to pot up some reticulated iris bulbs I held back from fall planting. This is my first attempt at forcing them. I hear they are easy to grow.

And in a few days some supplies will arrive for my next indoor gardening project... one that will really allow me to get my hands in the dirt again. I can hardly wait...

Monday, December 22, 2014

Garden fairies prove existence of Christmas Cottontail

Be careful - garden fairies sleep in amaryllis blooms
Garden fairies here.

We are garden fairies and we have been making plans this past week to prove once and for all the existence of the Christmas Cottontail.

As a refresher, the Christmas Cottontail is a little bunny rescued one Christmas Eve by none other than Santa Claus.  Long story short, Santa's elves trained the Christmas Cottontail how to plant bulbs and sow seeds in the flick of a whisker. Now he rides along with Santa Claus on Christmas Eve and plants bulbs and sows seeds in the gardens of all good gardeners.

We won't say what the Christmas Cottontail does in the gardens of the bad gardeners. We are garden fairies and we don't like to think of such things, especially during this season of merry and bright.

Anyway, it has come to our attention that some people need more proof of the existence of the Christmas Cottontail, so we are making plans, big plans, to provide that proof.  

We realize our task is made even more difficult because some people don't actually believe in garden fairies and such others of our ilk, but that is their problem, not ours.

We are also amused because we know we are at the same time putting ourselves in the position of becoming the next example of irony. As in "isn't it ironic that garden fairies are trying to prove the existence of the Christmas Cottontail".

Nonetheless, we plan to persevere with our plans for Christmas Eve.  We are all gathering together... the tree fairies, the toaster fairies, the pilliwiggins, the sprites, and of course us garden fairies, for a big welcoming party for the Christmas Cottontail.

Will the Christmas Cottontail attend our party? Oh, how could he not since we will have his favorite snack for him.  A snack he surely cannot resist, even if he and Santa have no time to spare. They will absolutely spare time for this snack.

Right now, even as we speak, Sweetpea MorningGlory is working her magic, under the supervision of Granny 'Gus' McGarden, baking this special treat of Green Bean Cookies.

That's right. We are garden fairies and we know the Christmas Cottontail has a weakness for Green Bean Cookies, as do all rabbits.  We will set out a big plate full of Green Bean Cookies and a mug of hot steaming Cloverberry Tea and wait for the Christmas Cottontail.

Then once we see him, we will report back here on this blog that he really exists, and that will settle that.

Because we are garden fairies.

Merry Christmas from all the garden fairies, toaster fairies, tree fairies, pilliwiggins, sprites and others of our ilk here at May Dreams Gardens.

Submitted by Violet GreenPea MayDreams,  Chief Scribe and Organizer of the Committee for the Proof of the Christmas Cottontail.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Forcing Blooms in Winter

Forcing blooms in winter.

I think each year I won't bother with amaryllis and other flowers forced into winter bloom.  After all, I've grown them in the past, I know what they look like, so why grow them again?

Why grow them again?  If you think that's an actual question, then you aren't an actual gardener and you can just mosey right along now to some other website about "plastic flowers are as good as real flowers" or some such nonsense to validate your non-gardening self.  The garden fairies will now show you the virtual exit.

Everyone else, please stay and keep reading.  You are gardeners. You understand.  The garden fairies will now serve you some tea and tiny cookies to sip and eat while think about forcing  some of your own winter flowers into bloom.

I like to have a few amaryllis blooming in December, followed by hyacinths forced to bloom in January and February.

And that's just the beginning.

Yesterday, I planted up a few pre-chilled Lily of the Valley pips which should be blooming later in January.

I also have some crocus corms in the refrigerator that I need to pot up soon, along with some reticulated iris bulbs I held back from fall bulb planting because I read they are easy to force into bloom with no chilling requirements.  And I'm going to buy some paperwhite bulbs because I can't stand not having them, even if it is the variety from the big box store that doesn't smell that great.

I love my winter flowers and wouldn't end the year or begin the year, as the case may be, without forcing some into bloom.  They keep my hands in the dirt, which I think is essential for good health.    Plus, you get flowers.

And flowers are always good to have around.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - December 2014

It's nice not to have snow on the ground right now
Welcome to Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day for December 2014.

Here in my USDA Hardiness Zone 6a garden in central Indiana, we are enjoying a few days of above freezing temperatures.   Out in the garden, the lawn is still green but clearly, this is the dormant season for us.

I have just one hope for outdoor blooms in December.

All eyes, all hope, all expectations rest upon the Christmas Rose, Helleborus niger.  

Since I started growing them in my garden, I have increased the number from one to six plants. This one is the original, Helleborus niger 'Josef Lemper'.
Helleborus niger
The plant alone provides a nice bit of green in a brown, winter landscape.

Nestled down under the leaves lie flower buds.
Helleborus niger 'Josef Lemper'
On a sunny day, those buds will bloom and I'll have flowers in my garden in the wintertime, which has been a goal of mine since February 2007 when I started this little meme known as Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.

It's a race now to see which will bloom first.  'Josef Lemper' pictured above or Helleborus x ballardiae 'Cinnamon Snow'.
Helleborus x ballardiae 'Cinnamon Snow'
There are also four newly planted hellebores, including two plants of the variety 'Potter's Wheel' which is supposed to have bigger, whiter blooms,  and one that is an unknown variety I purchased at the grocery store last winter for Christmas. They foolishly labeled it as Lenten Rose, but I knew it was a Christmas Rose. The sixth one is another unnamed variety I purchased at the local garden center.

Other than those six hellebores, there isn't much to see outside, so let's wander inside and check out the sun room plants.

I am growing some miniature amaryllis and some big-box hardware store rescued amaryllis that are all showing their buds right now.
Assorted Amaryllis, a Christmas holiday favorite
I should have  a nice display for Christmas from the looks of those buds.

When I was out looking for amaryllis bulbs, I found a begonia to purchase and grow indoors.
Begonia benariensis Surefire™Rose
It's nice enough but hardly the 'Glorie de Lorraine' begonia I long to try to grown indoors, ever since I read Gardening on Main Street by Buckner Hollingsworth. You can't get 'Glorie de Lorraine' any more. I think it is truly lost to the past.

Here's a bloom not lost to the past, that I'm seeing more and more in indoor plants, Kalanchoe.
If this Kalanchoe could talk - "I need some light!"
I've had this one for three years now and it is not the tight compact plant it once was when we got it a planter when my mom died.  It's now a leggy stem or two reaching for the light, but I still like it, and it still blooms, so I'm keeping it.

And that pretty well sums up my bloom day flowers here in December.

With this post, I have eight years of records of what's blooming in my garden going all the way back to February 2007 when this gardening meme started.  Looking back, I can see how by paying attention to when things bloom, I've slowly added different flowers and plants to my garden to fill in gaps of low bloom activity.

I truly believe that with some effort and planning, it is as the southern garden writer Elizabeth Lawrence said, "We can have flowers nearly every month of the year".

What's blooming in your garden on this fine December 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's blooming in your garden today 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.

Happy Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Proof of the Existence of Garden Fairies, Once Again

Once again, I have proof of the existence of garden fairies. 

Evidence in the form of mail delivered by the postal services to one Violet Greenpea Maydreams, a garden fairy.

What further proof do you need?

And here are the little tools that were in the envelope along with a note.


Violet, clearly a garden fairy, is very grateful for both the mail and the tools, which were sent by the Hoosier Gardener.

Though, as a garden fairy, she would like it to be known that this will not in any way increase the work the garden fairies do in the garden. Not in any way at all.

Now, go believe in garden fairies. It's good for your garden, and who knows, they might get some nice tools that you can take from them and call your own.

Because yes, I took the hoe.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

How it is in my garden

I finally found a picture of how it is in my garden, or at least how I like to think it is in my garden, when I am not around.

Because we all know, of course, when we are not around our gardens, there are goings-on, as we like to say, the likes of which we probably cannot imagine.

Or maybe we can imagine them?

I was thrilled to find the picture and thankful to the artist, Molly Brett, who painted it many years ago, probably before my garden existed. In fact, yes, she did paint it before my garden existed because she died in 1990 and my current garden was established in 1997.

But no matter. I'm sure this picture accurately represents how it is in my garden when I am not around.

Here it is.

Postcard - Here we go gardening by Molly Brett
Of course, there could be a few differences between Brett's picture and my garden.

Perhaps in my garden the ducks are doing the trimming and watering and the rabbits are carrying around baskets of berries.  Or maybe the squirrel is in the wheelbarrow and a big hedgehog is pushing him around.  And where are the chipmunks?

One of the uncanny similarities between this picture and my garden is that no one is weeding.

Anyone who has seen my garden at the end of the summer knows there is not much weeding going on around here.

Yes, indeed, this is a fairly accurate depiction of how it is in my garden when I'm not around.

Isn't this how it is in your garden?

Friday, December 05, 2014

Pansies, for all seasons

Vintage Postcard
Pansies in the spring,

Pansies in the fall,

Pansies to wish seasons greetings to all.

Monday, December 01, 2014

When a gardener collects vintage Christmas postcards

When a gardener decides to collect a few vintage Christmas postcards...

She soon realizes she had better come up with some criteria for which postcards to collect before she has hundreds of postcards.

She decides she will collect those with unusual Christmas flowers, like this one with Lily of the Valley flowers.
Some of the cards have been sent and she likes to read what the senders wrote.  This one says, "Not dead but sleeping, suppose you have a whole pile of Christmas candy, etc..."

She finds another card with Lily of the Valley flowers,
But isn't quite sure what the other flower is.  Maybe a hellebore? Though the leaves aren't quite right. She just knows it was sent to "Dear Niece Florence" in Los Angeles, California.

Speaking of hellebores, she got this postcard with hellebores on it,
But she would have gotten this one with any flower on it.  She just likes it.

She got this postcard because it features snowdrops.
"With love and affection, S. E. Patton".

When a gardener collects vintage Christmas postcards based on the flowers featured, she jumps on this one with violets.
She can't quite make out the sentiment on the back and decides it was written in German, though it was sent to someone in Oregon.

She gets this postcard, even though she isn't sure what the flowers are.
Maybe a Pieris flower or just artistic license on the part of the artist who painted the picture for this postcard?

When a gardener collects vintage Christmas cards, there is no end to what she will find.
Perhaps more elves with hellebores?

Or maybe a card with traditional holly and berries, which she got because it has a nice sentiment,
and because she should have a few postcards with traditional Christmas flowers on them.

When a gardener collects vintage Christmas postcards, she has no idea what she'll find, but she knows she'll have fun along the way, sneaking a peak into how Christmas was celebrated in the past, and finding a few unusual flowers along the way.