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Monday, September 28, 2015

Petal Drop

When I saw these rose petals strewn about the beach, my first thought was not about the happy couple who had probably gotten married there the previous evening and then been showered with the rose petals.

My first thought was about the wonderful climbing rose my dad grew along the fence in our backyard.

It was a wonderful, marvelous, magical pink blooming rose which put all its energy into one big burst of the rosiest roses I've ever smelled.  Then all at once, it would drop every petal, covering the ground beneath it.

I surely did love to walk through those petals, kicking them up with my feet, smelling the rosy scent.  It was a tiny bit of heaven in our backyard, for at least a day or two until the petals got chopped up by the mower.

Such a grisly end. My apologies.

I do love a good petal drop.

Not all flowering trees and shrubs have a good petal drop.  My crabapple has a good petal drop. Just imagine, because I'm too lazy to find a picture, tight dark pink buds fading to a blush of rose and then dropping in a gentle rain of petals, covering the ground beneath.  I love when it happens and because there is no lawn beneath the crabapple tree, I can leave the petals and let the garden fairies scurry around and take however many they want to take.

Because you know that's what happens when petals fall to the ground like that. They attract the garden fairies who take the petals for all manner of uses... clothing, hats, bedding.

Imagine finding enough rose or apple blossom petals to stuff your mattress full?

Out in that strange land I visited last week, that place called California, I found a nice petal drop from a pink floss tree, Chorisia speiosa 'September Splendor'.

The blooms up close are not too shabby either.
Dear friends in any zone other than 9b - 11, we can just forget about this tree for our gardens, lovely as the flowers and petal drop may be.  Not even I would be foolish enough to plant such a tree and hope for the best.

But there are other trees and shrubs with good petal drop.  And we have falling leaves beginning in late September, so who needs pink floss trees?

Yes, leaves can be pretty on the ground, too, like the lovely golden leaves of my honey locust tree, Gleditsia triacanthos, falling now.

Well, they are sort of pretty, in a fall-like manner.  Maybe, clearly, not as pretty as the petals of the pink floss tree, but that's all I've got right now, so I will make do.

But this coming spring, there will be petal drops galore.  I can hardly wait, for a I do love a good petal drop.

And so do the garden fairies.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Dear Readers, Thank you!

Palm trees in Pasadena
I've just returned from the Garden Writers Association's annual symposium in Pasadena, California, which is about as much fun as a garden writer can have, outside of being covered in one's own garden dirt after a day of gardening.

Just imagine if you were with all kinds of other people from all over who shared your passion for gardening, nature, gardens, flowers, plants, etc. and also shared your love of writing, speaking, and telling others about gardening, and then you got to go on tours of gardens with these people and attend seminars given by some of them.

Just imagine after all that fun if you got to go to a lovely banquet with all of these people where you received certificates for two GWA Silver Awards and then heard your name called as the recipient of the GWA 2015 Gold Award for Best Electronic Writing.
2015 Gold Award Best Electronic Writing
Just imagine!

That's pretty much what this year's GWA symposium was like for me.

And just imagine if I were to write a thank you letter to each of you, it would go something like this...

Dear fellow gardener and reader,

Thank for all the support and encouragement you've given me through the many years I've been posting on this blog. Without your encouragement, I wouldn't have continued blogging, wouldn't have branched out into other writing, and would never have thought to join the Garden Writers Associations.

Thank you, from the bottom of the compost bin to the tops of the trees in my garden. You have always been there for me, commenting on my blog posts, encouraging me to continue.

I'm thrilled to tell you that I've just returned from the Garden Writers Association's annual symposium with two silver awards for blog writing and an e-newsletter article.

For the GWA Silver Award for e-newsletter articles, I submitted an e-newsletter article I wrote for Indiana Gardening, Late Fall Blooms for the Midwest Garden.

For the GWA Silver Award for blog writing, I submitted three blog posts:

Oh give me a lawn...

Compost by the sea

Ten things your garden wants you to do this fall

And at the banquet, I learned I won the GWA 2015 Gold Award for Electronic Writing.

I've enclosed a picture of the award out in my garden. I thought that was a good setting for it because it is the garden that inspires me and gives me the ideas to write about gardening in general.

And then, of course, it is you, dear reader and fellow gardener, who have always encouraged and supported me with your comments and emails which have continued for more years than I ever imagined when I first started blogging and writing about gardening.

I am forever grateful.

Thank you.

With a shared love of gardening,

(P. S. At the risk of stirring up trouble with the garden fairies, I am not giving them part of this award as I did not submit any of their posts.  Hopefully, they will understand.)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Garden fairies send out a search party

Garden fairies here.

We are garden fairies and we are sending out a search party to find out where Carol is, has been, or will be, and why it is she has not posted on this blog for over a week.

Really, we've had to clear out cobwebs, dust off the paper, find some ink for the dried up ink well, just to be able to write this post.   But we are garden fairies and we are willing to do that so this blog can stay alive.

Honestly, we have no idea what Carol would do without us to pick up the slack around here. And let us tell you, there has been big time slack around her of monumental proportions.  Carol has not been seen since nearly a week ago.  Where did she go? What was she doing?

Ol' Rainbow Tanglefly said he never remembers Carol missing so much of September in the garden. She was gone for over a week, came back, scurried around a bit and disappeared again.

Well, we are garden fairies and we never let an opportunity go to waste. Just wait until she sees the garden in daylight again. She is going to be so surprised.  Really.  But we hope it isn't a shocking surprise that renders her unable to garden because we need her out here.

Tired summer annuals want to be released, let go of, sent off to the old annual's rest home, otherwise known as the compost pile.  Then Carol needs to plant fall pansies and mums in their place.

The vegetable garden plants likewise want to leave. They are exhausted from producing all summer. Their bags are packed and they are just waiting for the ol' heave-ho.

The weeds, well, you know weeds. They continue to party on with no regard for the changing of the seasons. They act as if they own this place. We need Carol-the-weed-bouncer to come and evict them. If she doesn't, this place is going to get all seedy and decent plants won't want to live here.

No one wants that!

Anyway, we've sent out search parties in search of Carol and expect them to return anytime now with a full report of where Carol has been and what she's been up to.

Submitted by,

Viola Greenpea Maydreams, Chief Scribe and Head Scout for May Dreams Gardens, home of...

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - September 2015

Welcome to Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day for September 2015.

Here in my USDA Hardiness Zone 6a garden in central Indiana, a visitor might think I had some mixed up flowers if they came by and saw the Colchicums and Autumn Crocus in bloom this week.

But this is the season for these fall blooming beauties.  I rather enjoy them, now that I have them in my garden.  They and their spring blooming relatives are like bookends with the entire growing season of my garden in between.

Several of the Colchicums blooming in my garden now were sent to my by Kathy at Cold Climate Gardening.  She is quite the evangelist when it comes to spreading the word about fall blooming bulbs like these.

Nearby, the variegated Liriope grass, Liriope muscari 'Variegata', which is not a grass at all, is blooming with its lovely purple blooms.
Liriope muscari 'Variegata'
I like how the two look together, the Liriope and the Colchicums, but of course, I didn't have the sense to provide a picture of them together.

Soon these blooms will wash out and the New England asters, Symphyotrichum novae-angliae, will provide all the purple I need and then some.
First of the asters to bloom
These are just the first clump of asters to start blooming. There are several other clumps of asters budded up to the hilt throughout the garden, promising a spectacular show in a few weeks.  (Isn't that just like a gardener... "you should see the garden next week", or the ever popular "it was stunning just a few days ago...")

Another spot of purple in my garden comes from the Hyacinth bean, Lablab purpureus.
Hyacinth bean, Lablab purpureus
Even the pods are purple.  And isn't Lablab a fun botanical name? And did you know purpureus is the only species in the genus Lablab?  "Dear Plant Taxonomists, Please don't take away the genus name Lablab, like you took away Aster and replaced it with Symphyotrichum."

Speaking of changed botanical names, how about tall sedum?  It was once Sedum telephium and now it appears to be Hylotelephium telephium.
Tall sedum
I have two colors blooming side by side right now.  Yum. I love these easy to grow, never fail, early fall bloomers. And they turn the loveliest brownish-rusty color later in the season. You should see them with little tufts of snow on them.  But let's not think about that quite yet.

What else is blooming? Short's goldenrod, Solidago shortii 'Solar Cascade',  is blooming. That's what else.
Short's goldenrod, Solidago shortii 'Solar Cascade'
This is a great goldenrod, nearly lost to us forever until it was found by horticulturists from the Cincinnati Zoo who helped to propagate it and get it out in the nursery trade, making it available to gardeners everywhere.  Get it.  You will love it.

Next year I hope to also have Barnardia japonica blooming in my garden, just like it blooms in Elizabeth Lawrence's garden in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Barnardia japonica in the Elizabeth Lawrence garden
I took this picture of Barnardia in Elizabeth Lawrence's garden about 10 days ago when I visited it for a second time.  The wonderful Andrea, who tends the garden now, gave me a little pot of it to take home. It is definitely hardy enough for my garden, as we both figured out by looking it up on our iPhones.

I imagine if Elizabeth had been alive, she would have run inside to her study and looked it up in one of her hundreds of books to verify its hardiness.

While I was visiting the garden, Andrea showed me some of the journals Elizabeth kept to record when flowers bloomed in her garden.

Oh, look, here's one turned to September.
Page from one of Elizabeth Lawrence's bloom day journals
If you are Andrea and have been studying many of Elizabeth's handwritten notes for several years, you will see that on September 15th, Lycoris albiflora was blooming.  The rest of us will have to take her word for it.

And the same Lycoris was blooming while I was there.
Lycoris albiflora blooming in the Elizabeth Lawrence garden
It appears to be marginally hardy for me, but may be worth a try.

And that's bloom day for me with a wonderful little side trip to Elizabeth Lawrence's garden.

What's blooming in  your garden as we move too rapidly toward the end of the growing season here in the Northern hemisphere?  We would love to have you join in for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and show us.

It's easy to participate. Just post on your blog about what's blooming in your garden on or about the 15th of the month, then leave a link to your bloom day post in the Mr. Linky widget below and a comment to tell us what you have for us to see.

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

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Gardens Should Not Be a Burden

My first thought upon seeing this sculpture/planter was "gardens should not be such a burden".

Gardens should delight us, teach us, lift us up, and bring joy to our lives.

Gardens should not burden us, weigh us down, or sap joy from our lives.

Of course, there are times, like the entire growing season, when our gardens require our time and attention for planting, trimming, weeding, and watering.  But if all that is a burden?   Well, then, perhaps it is time to re-think your garden.

You can reduce your garden burden by making the garden smaller, hiring help, or changing out fussy plants for those that need less fussing.  

You can't do it overnight. But you can do it gradually, eventually.

Figure out what is causing the extra weight, what is the most burdensome, and plant by plant, do what you can to reduce the weight, ease the burden, until you have a garden you can once again carry and enjoy.

Because gardens should not be a burden.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Dear Andrea, Thank you for your hospitality

Dear Andrea,

Thank you so much for the wonderful tour of the Elizabeth Lawrence garden and house, maintained by the Wing Haven Foundation.

The garden looked wonderful, and full, and one could just imagine how pleased Elizabeth herself would be with it right now. Though the crinums and camellias weren't in bloom your descriptions helped me imagine what it must be like when they are in bloom, along with the magnolias.

Of course, there were still plenty of blooms to delight anyone visiting in late summer.

I was particularly excited to hear how Elizabeth's (can I call her Elizabeth instead of Ms. Lawrence?) niece and nephew are bringing some of her personal items back to the garden, like the sun dial which sits just outside her study window.

One can imagine how she once was sitting in her study, writing about her gardens and gardening, and then looked out her window and saw the sundial and the garden.
What an inspiring view both then and now.

The entire garden stands as testimony to the love of gardens and gardening shared by you and others, and shows great dedication to preserving the memory of one of the great garden writers of the 20th century.  I can't imagine any gardener coming within a hundred miles of this garden on Ridgewood Avenue in Charlotte, without taking a detour to visit.

I want to especially thank you for the Barnadia japonica, which she would have known as Scilla scilloides.  While we both looked it up on our phones to make sure it was hardy enough for my garden, I can just imagine Elizabeth would have gone into her study and pulled one of her hundreds of gardening books off the shelf and looked it up to determine the same.

Thankfully, it is hardy enough and will be a treasured plant in my garden, knowing it came from the same bulbs Elizabeth planted in her garden so long ago.

Thank you again for the care and love you give to this garden, each and every day.

With a shared love of gardening,

P.S.  I hope the Barnardia blooms as well in my garden as it does in Elizabeth's.
Barnardia japonica

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Carry your garden with you

You can't hold the scent of a garden in your hands, but you can carry it with you wherever you go.

It's almost like a riddle. What can you carry without holding it in your hands?

Your garden, of course. How it smells. How it looks. The pleasure it gives us. We carry it in our thoughts. We carry it in our hearts.

We carry it in our conversations with others.  Someone will ask an innocent  question like "how are you". And we'll respond we are fine and you should see my zinnias right now they are so tall.

We all carry so much with us each day. Unseen baggage of troubles and joy, thoughts and worries. Unspoken aches and pains. Happy memories and sad remembrances.

And some of us carry a lot of garden with us as well.  Knowledge of plants. Memories of floral and earthy scents. Plans for planting, hopes for harvesting.

We carry our gardens with us wherever we go, and happily so.  We are gardeners.