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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year, Sixteen!

Hellebores bloom for the new year.
The old rabbit, Fifteen, took one more walk around the garden while she waited for Sixteen to arrive. She lingered a bit and admired all she had done through the year.

She was pleased she had finally gotten rid of the big Viburnums that anchored two corners of the vegetable garden and replaced them with Pawpaw trees.  The newly planted trees were doing well, but she needed to remind Sixteen to weed around them and maybe give them some fresh mulch.

Ditto the quince tree, which she had planted right in the middle of the perennial border called Plopper's Field.  Fifteen was certain that over the years, the quince tree would grow and change the look of Plopper's Field, maybe add a bit of structure to it, and she thought that would be just fine.

As she looked over the garden, Fifteen noted that Sixteen would have to do most of the cutting back of the perennials. She just didn't have the time for it though she wasn't quite sure she could exactly account for the time she should have spent cutting them back.  No matter.  But she thought she had left the vegetable garden in good shape. It was cleaned up enough so that Sixteen would just need to scratch the dirt a bit on one of those raised beds when it was time to plant peas.

As Fifteen got closer to the gate, she checked her watch and realized she only had a few hours left.  "I should make a few notes about the weather", she said to no one in particular.  It seemed so important to Carol. She had done a good job with it overall, though some said August was a bit dry. And she had left most of the winter weather for Sixteen to deal with.  She beamed at how nice she'd made the weather on Christmas Day.

Oh, and how could Fifteen forget.  She was the one who planted the Camellias in the Garden of Southern Follies and Delights.  She would need to make some special notes about those for Sixteen.

Finally, Fifteen edged closer to the garden gate, with her notes in hand, and her bags packed. "Almost time to go and it feels like I just got here."

Then, just as the clock began to chime the midnight hour, right on time she saw the new bunny, Sixteen, coming toward the gate.

"Welcome", said Fifteen to Sixteen. Here are my notes and good luck to you. Take good care of the garden, and take good care of Carol and don't forget...

Too late. Fifteen had to leave before she could offer the last piece of advice to Sixteen.  "Don't forget what?" was Sixteen's first thought as he bounded through the gate and looked around the garden.

"Now, where can I leave my mark on this garden, and where is Carol, I've got a long list of projects I'm going to make her complete this year. Yes, I do".

Happy New Year from all of us at May Dreams Gardens!


Sunday, December 27, 2015

Garden Fairies Stop By to Dry Out

Garden fairies here.

We are garden fairies and we have come in from all the rain for two very important reasons.

The first very important reason is of course to dry ourselves out. It has been raining for two days.  But we are not complaining. Christmas day was very sunny and mild and we hear the people didn't even wear coats when they went outside.

Then the day after Christmas, when it was raining, Carol went outside at one point, when there was a lull in the rain, and found a couple of violas blooming.

She let out a little "whup" and took a bunch of pictures of them, one of which we have absconded and posted on our blog post because after all, we garden fairies are totally one hundred and ten percent responsible for all the flowers around this garden.

Which reminds us.  We were none too happy to see the Camellias posting on this blog the other day.  Like they are going to take over for us? No way. We are garden fairies and we are the official guest posters on this blog.

Anyway, we came in out of the rain for the important reason of drying ourselves out.  There was another important reason we came inside and now we are out of time so we will have to write about that other very important reason some other time.  When we have time. And when we remember what it is.

In the meantime, we hope Carol gets back to blogging soon on her own. Really, we garden fairies and those Camellia sisters are the only ones keep this blog going right now.

Hortifully yours,

The Garden Fairies at May Dreams Gardens, where it is wet and cold and everyone is happy it isn't snowing. Or icing. Or sleeting.

P.S.  We hear Carol might write something on New Year's Eve. Something about two rabbits named Fifteen and Sixteen.  We are garden fairies. We'll believe it when we see it, but don't try to use that logic on us. You can't see us but we are writing here, so that should be enough...


Sunday, December 20, 2015

Dear Southern Camellia Sisters

Camellia bud
Dear Southern Camellia Sisters,

Hello from the north!

We thought it was high time we should write to let you know we arrived safely in the Midwest months ago and are more or less settled in our new home, a place called The Garden of Southern Follies and Delights.  It's part of a garden known as May Dreams Gardens.  We had a lovely spring, a wet, for the most part, summer, and so far, a mild fall. Or so they tell us. This weather is all quite new to us!

As near as we can tell, all those warnings from you Southern Camellia Sisters about "if you all list yourselves as hardy, you're going to end up in a cold place" have not quite come true.  Yes, we've ended up in a cold place, but at least for now the temperatures have been fairly mild, though we admit the winter is just now beginning and so we expect it to get a lot colder.

We actually sort of like living here on the edge of our world, so to speak.  We get a lot of attention. You should have seen the attention and big fuss when 'Snow Flurry' bloomed.

Honestly, you would have thought these people had never seen a flower before, on any plant, what with the way the one gardener, Carol, carried on when 'Snow Flurry' bloomed. She put pics on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and her blog.  'Snow Flurry' posed for so many pictures. And then 'Kuro Delight' and 'April Remembered' had to pose for pictures of their buds, too.

Camellia 'Snow Flurry' Bloom
After 'Snow Flurry' bloomed, the expectations were high that 'April Remembered' and 'Kuro Delight' were going to bloom soon, too.  Carol, the gardener', looked at us all the time, wondering when we were going to bloom, or more likely wondering why we weren't blooming.  Sometimes, when she didn't come out during the day to look at us, she'd come out a night with flashlight in hand to check us out.

Have you ever had your sleep disrupted by someone turning on a big floodlight overhead and then shining a bright flashlight right in your buds? We know from actual experience, it is not pleasant. And then she takes another picture.  We aren't at our best in the dark, just woken up. Who is?
'April Remembered' bud in the dark
Finally, we got Carol to look up the info on us because we were tired of the daily "have you bloomed" visits.  No, we have not bloomed. As Carol discovered when she actually, finally, looked us up, 'April Remembered' is supposed to bloom in April and 'Kuro Delight' should be blooming in March.

Now that Carol knows when we are supposed to bloom and knows our blooms aren't eminent, she is probably and hopefully going to consider our winter protection, though we heard rumors there is some thought about letting us ride out the winter with no protection.

Frankly, that concerns us a bit because this is our first time in a winter climate and we are a bit unsure of ourselves, especially if there is going to be a lot of snow and ice.  Yes, we are as hardy as Camellias can be but even we have some limits. We are now channeling our energies trying to get Carol to provide some winter protection.

And we can already predict what will happen in the spring. Carol will start watching our buds again and she will zero right in on Easter, which is going to be March 27th, for us both to bloom together.  We are not sure yet if we can do that, or if we want to do that. After all 'Snow Flurry' got her own limelight.  We think we each deserve ours, too.

Plus with the fuss Carol made over just one Camellia blooming, we aren't sure she can handle two blooming at once.

Well, that's enough of an update for now, Southern Camellia Sisters. Do give our best to everyone enjoying the warm south and let them know we are doing just fine, for now, in this special place called The Garden of Southern Follies and Delights.

More later, after the holidays and the winter,

Love from,

'Kuro Delight',  'April Remembered' and 'Snow Flurry' aka
Three Camellia Sisters on a Grand Adventure in the Midwest

P.S.  If you have any influence over Carol, please ask her to go ahead and protect us a bit, at least for our first winter here.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Amaryllis, they barely know thee!

Amaryllis blooming
I recently conducted an unscientific polling of 20 random individuals to find out who many know what an Amaryllis is.

I showed them an actual Amaryllis and asked one question.  "Do you know what this is?"

The particular amaryllis I showed them was sitting on a bed of decorative rocks in a large clear glass vase so the entire bulb, some foliage, and a big flower bud were all in full view.

Pretty straight-forward.

Do you know how many people correctly identified the Amaryllis?

Five.

Yes, an unbelievable 15 out of 20 people, some of whom claimed gardening as a hobby, had no idea what the Amaryllis was. A few offered a guess.

Onion?

Avocado?

Armadillo?

No.

No.

and

No.

Amaryllis, they barely know thee, but I love thee quite a bit.

I cannot image celebrating Christmas without at least one Amaryllis in bloom and some years I grow half a dozen.  I mostly treat them as annuals, but I have successfully grown some on and coaxed them into flowering again a year later.

It isn't hard to do when you grow them as house plants. Just stop watering them in the summertime, which is easy to do as summertime is also known as "the season of the neglected house plant".

Then in the fall, which is also known as the "oh gosh my house plants sure look neglected I better give them better care season", cut off the foliage, which is probably brown by then because the plant wasn't watered for most of the summer, and start watering again.

Then you can enjoy the Amaryllis blooms during the midst of winter, also known as the "what would I do without house plants season".

My Amaryllis bulbs, both the one in the vase and others potted up in my sunroom, look pretty good to me right now, all in bloom, right on time for Christmas.

I'm enjoying them, and talking nice to them,  and re-assuring them that though many people barely know them, I know them, love them, and will always have them.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - December 2015

Helleborus niger 'Josef Lemper'
Welcome to Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day for December 2015.

Here in my USDA Hardiness Zone 6a garden in central Indiana, we are in the midst of the tail end of a warm spell of record high temperatures.

On both Saturday and Sunday we had temps in the high 60s, which is about 30 degrees warmer than usual.

This mild weather has resulted in the beautiful display of the Christmas rose, Helleborus niger, as nice as I've ever seen.

Some little snowdrops I planted earlier this fall popped unexpectedly a week or so ago and look pretty good for December.


And there was one single Camellia bloom on the 'Snow Flurry' camellia.


I'm still watching the flower buds on another Camellia 'April Remembered'.


If a watched bud never opens, then this one is going to remain tightly closed for quite some time.  But I won't complain.  The Camellias are marginally hardy for my garden so having any bloom, any bud is enough for me.

Inside, as usual, I have amaryllis blooms almost ready to pop open, just in time for Christmas.

What's blooming in your garden on this lovely December day?  We'd 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 the 15th of the month, or thereabouts, then leave your link in the Mr. Linky widget below and a comment to tell us what you have waiting for us to see.

And remember,

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



Sunday, December 13, 2015

Dear Mother Nature, I would like some winter

Geranium foliage, late fall
Dear Mother Nature,

I would like some winter, please and thank you.  I love my winter. I don't want my winter to be like fall or spring.

Winter gives me the freedom to leave the garden for a bit and turn my attention to other activities like reading about gardening, napping and dreaming about gardening, and  convincing myself it is too cold to be out in the garden doing any actual gardening.

When the temperatures in early winter are record breaking warm, and occur on the weekend, I feel guilty if I don't go out into the garden and do something.  I feel as though you, Mother Nature, are telling me, "Go outside right this very minute young lady and cut back those perennials you didn't cut back earlier and you do it before I send down the torrents of snow which will be your payback for these warmer than usual days".

After I heard that lecture, I did go out into the garden and started cutting back some perennials. Then I noticed the egg case of a praying mantis so I stopped because, Mother Nature, I was sure you didn't want me to destroy that, did you?  Not to mention, I'm just not used to gardening in December and it felt all wrong to be out there.

But what is going to be our payback for these extra warm days?

You know every person, whether they garden or not, is thinking we are going to pay for this warm weather come January and February.  Can't have the good without the bad, right?  What did we do to deserve this weather? What's the catch here? What's the trick? What's going to happen the rest of this winter, which has barely begun? We are going to have a blizzard! It's going to be awful! Where's the snow shovel?

By golly, Mother Nature, don't tease us like this. Don't leave us in suspense as to when you are really sending winter.  We actually want some snow and winter because if it doesn't snow enough or get cold enough we will soon be wringing our hands and muttering about the bugs and how many there will be next spring and summer and how big they will be if we, and by "we", I mean you, Mother Nature, don't kill some of them off with the snow and cold.

But please don't provide too much snow and cold. After all, Mother Nature, I planted Camellias and they are doing quite well so far with this warm weather.  And did I mention this is the best the Christmas Rose, Helleborus niger, has ever looked, Mother Nature?  Great job on those!  And great job on the Christmas coloring on the geranium foliage. Festive!

My kind request for the rest of this winter that is just beginning, Mother Nature, is to please send us  some seasonal weather, and by that I mean a little snow when it is cold, and no precipitation on those days when you can't make up your mind on the temperature and hover around 32F.  No offense, but no one likes the ice. No one.

If you would just do that, Mother Nature, I promise to make sure I cut back the rest of those perennials on the first warm spring day you send after Valentine's Day. You have my word.

With a shared love of gardening,
Carol




Friday, December 11, 2015

Oh, Those Camellias!

Oh, those camellias!

They lured me out in the wee dark hours of the morning with a flashlight in hand to check on their flower buds.

The buds are still there.

The weatherman says near record high temps this weekend.

The excitement builds.

Will these camellia buds open in the next few days?

I'll check them every little bit now and again and find out.

It's like waiting for Christmas!


Sunday, December 06, 2015

Holiday Bulbs Giveaway

Amaryllis - picture courtesy of Longfield Gardens
If you are the type of person who heads right to the buffet table as soon as you arrive at a party, here’s what’s on the table.

The good folks at Longfield Gardens set up a nice buffet, I mean giveaway, of a Winter Gift Kit, featuring amaryllis or paperwhite bulbs, plus a rare bulb called Scilla madeirensis.

Leave a comment below to enter the drawing by 11:59 pm EST on Dec. 10th. One person will chosen on Dec. 11th to win both prizes.

To enter  the drawing a second time, tweet a link to this post, and then comment again telling us your Twitter name.

Want to enter a third time? Just post a link to this contest on your Facebook page and leave a third comment here to let me know you did that.  That's three trips to the buffet table, I mean three chances to win.

But if that isn't enough entries, you can enter a fourth time by subscribing to Longfield Gardens email newsletter and then adding a fourth comment below.

That’s up to four chances to win.  Crazy good chances to win. It's the holidays, after all.

What else about entering? Oh, yes be sure to include contact info on your comments so I can email you afterward to let you know you've won and to hook you up with the good people at Longfield Gardens.  You can disguise your email address by spelling it out something like this:  Name at whatever dot com

And in case you don’t win, and decide you can't live without growing that Scilla or some other bulbs, you can get 20% off your Longfield Gardens order anytime until Dec. 20th by entering "MayDream20" as the discount code.  Only one discount per customer, and discount can not be combined with other offers.

Contest is for U.S. residents only.

Whew...  let's slow this down a bit...

Now, if you are the type of person who likes to mingle a bit at the party before heading over to the buffet table and stuffing yourself full, read on…

It’s the holiday season…

There are toys that make noise - whistling, beeping, and clanging.

There are lights a-plenty, too - the bright lights of stores and over the top holiday displays.

The traffic, oh my, and don’t even get near a shopping mall.

It’s enough to fray the nerves, and it does.

Slow down, I say, and what better way to do that than to put your hands back in the dirt and grow some indoor bulbs. Nothing could be easier, whether you grow amaryllis or paperwhites or even something a bit more exotic like Scilla.

Most indoor forced bulbs grow fairly quickly, too, yet slowly enough to force you to slow down a bit, to wait awhile, until one day, there’s a bloom.

And isn’t it a good thing to slow down a bit during the holidays, to be forced to wait, and then experience something that doesn’t make noise or have bright lights or tie up traffic? And it calms your nerves, too?

I know it's a good thing. I always pot up some amaryllis and paperwhites during the holidays. And I give them as gifts, too.

This year, Longfield Gardens provided me with some amaryllis to grow. I potted them up before Thanksgiving and already they are up and soon will be in bloom.
Amaryllis sent to me by Longfield Gardens
And they sent me a Scilla bulb, too. When it blooms it will look like the one in this picture.
Scilla in bloom, picture courtesy of Longfield Gardens

It’s magical looking in the pictures, isn't it, with just enough sparkle to make me want to grow it, to see for myself.

Compliments of Longfield Gardens, I am giving away some bulbs to one lucky commenter here at May Dreams Gardens. See above on how to enter the drawing up to four times to win your own bit of holiday slow down, also known as a Winter Gift Kit and a rare, exotic Scilla bulb.

The contest ends Dec. 10th, so don’t delay. It costs nothing but a few seconds of time to enter by leaving a comment, multiple comments, so go ahead. Do it. Slow yourself down this holiday season with some indoor gardening. Grow some bulbs.

~~~~~

For More Information on that rare exotic Scilla check out these articles:

All about Scilla madeirensis and An Exotic Fall Blooming Bulb


~~~~~

Update Dec. 11th. The random number drawn was 9, so our ninth commenter, Gail, is the winner. Thank you all for entering and remember the Code MayDream20 will get you 20% off on the Longfield Gardens website until Dec. 20th!

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Bending down and peering

Thus begins the season of bending over and peering down at the ground looking for signs of life, for flowers in the snow, for little signs of hope.

In the back garden, I bend over with abandon, confident that no one can see over the fence to see my broadside sticking up in the air while I'm looking down at a little snowdrop which came up and flowered unexpectedly last week.

"Pretty little snowdrop. Are you confused? I just planted you a month or so ago. Didn't expect to see you until late February. Will you come back again in the spring or is this it until spring of 2017?"

I saw another snowdrop, also just planted, in the front garden. Don't think for one minute I leaned over with my broadside toward the street.  Wait, never mind.  I might have broken my rule about not leaning over with my bum to the street.

But I can be forgiven for that, can't I? There was a snowdrop blooming in November.  Of course. Bygones.  And most of the neighbors are indoors at this time of year.  No one saw.

Back in the back garden, I've also been peering down at the Christmas roses, Helleborus niger.
Lots of buds on this one, which is 'Josef Lemper'. I'm sure as soon as the sun shines again these buds will open right up.  And I'll be happy to see them.

I'll also be happy if I see the blooms on this Camellia.
For days I've been bending down and peering at these buds. Are they changing? Is that a hint of petal I see peeking out of the top of that bud? Will these buds freeze before they open? I need to cover these Camellias before winter really sets in but I would hate to cover them and then have them bloom and no one be able to see the flowers.

I've never grown Camellias before and I don't know anyone who has done so around these parts, so I'm making it up as I go, with some help from a book, Beyond the Camellia Belt:  Breeding, Propagating, and Growing Cold-Hardy Camellias by William L. Ackerman.  I need to re-read the part about what to do when your camellia is in full bud and winter is just around the corner.

Dear Mother Nature,

I know winter is officially arriving in just a few weeks, but I need another couple of nice days, preferably on Saturdays and Sundays, so I can finish raking a few leaves and cut back some of the perennials, especially the rampant self-sowers.  Once I'm finished, I promise to still come out to the garden on a regular basis, to bend over and peer down at those places where snowdrops, crocuses, hellebores, and even camellias are supposed to bloom.  Did I mention camellias? If you don't think I deserve a few more nice days, please provide them for the camellias. Thank you.

Carol