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Monday, March 28, 2016

Lessons from Flowers: Don't be afraid to be different

Every time I step out into my garden, it teaches me a lesson.

Today's lesson from the flowers is don't be afraid to be different.

Different is the new black!

Different is the new green!

So what if none of the other neighbors grow vegetables? If you want to plant a big ol' vegetable garden and grow enough zucchini for yourself and the entire block, by all means, do it.

You might be different, but you will eat well all summer.

Who cares of the neighbors all have plain porches and stoops, with nary a spring bloom to be seen? If you want to plant two long boxes and four pots of violas and pansies on your porch, you should. And plant some in the window box, too.

You might be different, but you will smile every time you step out your front door.

Who cares if you were kneeling down with your broad backside in plain view of any one who walked by that fall you planted all those reticulated irises out front?  Plant in multiples of one hundred for the best show.

You might be different, but you'll have the earliest blooms in the neighborhood every spring. And no, it doesn't matter that the neighbors weren't even aware of the contest. You are different. You won!

Don't be afraid to be different. Don't be afraid to garden, to choose the plants you love, even if they aren't from the palette of ten plants, or is it five, that all the neighbors grow.  Beautyberry with purple berries? You bet!  Pawpaw trees in the back garden. Yes, naturally.  And a quince tree, too.

You are different. Good for you.

And don't be afraid to invite garden fairies into your garden, to share early blooms with the pillywiggins.  Chase after lightning bugs in the summertime.  Lay in the lawn and watch the bees in the clover.  Jump in a pile of leaves in the fall.

You'll enjoy the difference it makes in the joy you get from your garden.

Live the lesson of the flowers. Be your own gardener.  Don't be afraid to different.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Mystery, thy name is flower circles

Flower circle 
Mystery, thy name is flower circles.

In early spring, in the lawn, circles of flowers appear in some areas, especially those areas where gardeners have gone to some trouble to plant bulbs and corms in their lawns for spring flowers.

The mystery is therefore not the appearance of flowers. They obviously come from the bulbs planted by gardeners

The mystery is the appearance of flowers in a circle.

Are these related to crop circles? Fairy rings?

Whatever they are, whatever they are related to, I have several flower circles in my garden right now.

However, I suspect scientists won't be rushing to my garden to examine my flower circles to solve the mystery of their appearance the way they rush to fields to examine the appearance of crop circles.

Therefore, it is left to me and Dr. Hortfreud, my gardenalyst and co-conspirator, to determine how these nearly perfect circles of flowers appear in my lawn each spring.

I have several theories.

The first theory is that the squirrels and chipmunks around here suffer from an obsessive compulsive disorder and after I finish planting the bulbs, they dig them up and re-plant them in circles.  However, the flaw in this theory is the appetite of these thieves and robbers of garden beauty. I have not yet met a squirrel or chipmunk who would be able to dig up bulbs and replant them without eating them.

Another theory relates to garden fairies.  Experience has shown me over the last several decades that one must never underestimate what garden fairies might do in your garden when you aren't around.  The question is did they move the bulbs after I planted them or move the flowers once they were blooming?  And how do they do it? Dr. Hortfreud thinks this is the most plausible theory.

A closely related theory involves space aliens. But as soon as you start talking about space aliens, people roll their eyes and whisper behind your back as though you have lost your mind.  I don't even remind them about the big boulder in my garden. I keep this theory to myself. Dr. Hortfreud feels that is the best thing for me to do.

Which leads us to a final theory, one involving a gardener who might just have plopped herself down one fall day and then, too lazy to move, just planted the bulbs in a circle all around her. However, there were no witnesses to this, just as there are no witnesses to the antics of the garden fairies or possible visits from space aliens.

Therefore, according to Dr. Hortfreud, we have a mystery that may never be solved.  That's fine with me.  I'll just enjoy the flower circles in my lawn for as long as they last this spring, and hope they return for years to come.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Tales of Traveling Plants

Traveling plant
"Hey, over here. Look at me. A traveling plant. I made it from way over there by the tree to the edge of the flower border, by the front walk.

I know. I'm impressive, aren't I? A regular vagabond. A pilgrim. A real adventurer I am. After all, I've traveled nearly six or seven feet from the other plants of my ilk.

Want to know how I, a plant with roots, managed to get so far?

Well, pull up a seat, get comfortable, and I'll tell you because we adventurous traveling plants like nothing better than to tell tales of our travels.

Actually, it's a bit of a miracle how I made it so far, what with roots and all.

It all started with my mother plant. She's over there by the tree. That's where Carol planted her, years ago.
Stay-at-home mom plant
First thing that had to happen was she had to get all gussied up and attract a pollinator.  You know, like a bee or something.  Then once she got a bee to notice her, well, this is a G-rated blog so I'll stop there and let's just say that as her bloom faded, my mother flower produced seeds, and one of them was me, the traveling plant.

So how did I get from way over there by the tree to way over here by the front walk?  I had to get someone to carry me as a seed, that's how.  I'm not sure if it was the wind that picked me up and carried me. That's how some seeds get around, especially dandelions.

It could have been a more adventuresome trip by mouse. Yes, I might have hitchhiked on the foot of a mouse and had the mouse drop me off way over here.

Or maybe I fell on a leaf and then the leaf blew in the wind and landed over here by the sidewalk?

It was dark and I was a seed, so it's hard to say.

Anyway, there are lots of ways for a seed to travel, just know I traveled, okay?

Once I was here, I had to germinate, send down some roots and send up a shoot.   Then, I had to kind of lay low and avoid attracting Carol's attention so she wouldn't see me, think I was a weed, and pull me out.

Ouch, I shudder to think...

Actually, as it turns out, that was sort of the easy part because Carol is kind of lazy about weeding. Unless you are a dandelion, or thistle, or henbit. She pulls those right up. But other plants, especially good looking plants like me, she tends to leave alone because as I've said, she's a bit lazy about weeding.

Anyway, after I carefully avoided bringing attention to myself, I just sat there and grew. And grew. Until one spring day, this year as a matter of fact, I bloomed. Then Carol noticed me. And smiled. I guess she likes us traveling plants.

I wish I had known that, I could have worried a little less and maybe gotten bigger and gone farther, like that plant over there on the other side of the front walk.

A really adventurous traveling plant
Now that's impressive, to travel not just to the other side of the border, but across the front walk to a whole other border. Maybe someday, my seeds will cross the great front walk and keep those other plants company?

Hey, what if those are my sisters over there?  If they are, I'm sure proud of them, carrying on the tradition of the traveling plants. Who knows how far their offspring will go, what tales they will tell?

After all, once a traveling plant crosses the front walk, there's nothing to stop them from going all the way over to the next border... that one by the other tree...

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Flowers in the Lawn

Glory-of-the-snow in the lawn
Would you like to have flowers in your lawn in the springtime?

Of course you would!

And you can.

It's easy.

Just order some corms for crocuses, Crocus tommasinianus is preferred over other crocuses, and some bulbs for glory-of-the-snow, Chionodoxa luciliae.  I like to order them as soon as they start selling them in late spring, early summer.  I usually don't get charged for them until they ship them in the fall and I don't have to worry they will sell out before I reserve mine.

When the corms and bulbs arrive in the fall, plant them in the lawn.  These are small corms and bulbs so it doesn't take much to plant them.

The next spring... just like that, flowers in the lawn.

I should warn everyone, once you plant flowers in your lawn, you should refrain from using any herbicides because they'll kill the flowers over time.  This means, of course, that you will get some wildflowers growing in your lawn, including dandelions.

Dandelion with crocus foliage

I don't mind dandelions. Other than a few weeks in the spring, no one notices the dandelions, other than the bees. The bees love dandelions in early spring.

You will also likely end up with clover in your lawn. Consider clover in your lawn a blessing, even if you never find one with four leaves. Not only does clover attract bees, it also is one of the legumes that fixes nitrogen in the soil, which helps to fertilize the lawn grasses.

And you might end up with some violets in your lawn. I love violets in my lawn.

You might wondering if all these flowers will choke out the actual lawn grasses.  That's not likely to happen, especially if you follow the advice of "mow high". Taller lawn grasses will compete quite well with dandelions, violets, and other wildflowers.

You might also wonder if squirrels and chipmunks will find and eat all your bulbs and corms. They might. In my own lawn, though, they haven't eaten all of them but I can't say they haven't eaten a few of them. But I've planted so many flowers in my lawn, I think it would take a herd of squirrels and chipmunks to wipe out all the flowers.

I see no downside to flowers in the lawn.
Crocus in the lawn in late winter
Do you?

I didn't think so.

Plan to plant some in your lawn next fall.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - March 2016

Miniature daffodils are in full bloom.
Welcome to Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day for March 2016.

Here in my USDA Hardiness Zone 6a garden in central Indiana, I have decided Spring is early this year.

To verify this, I went back through all my old bloom day posts  - 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015. The only year that comes close if you look at flowers blooming around March 15th is 2012.

I also checked the temperature records for past years, including 2012, at least what I recorded, and determined the last frost in 2012 was quite early for us, around April 11th.  Normally, we can't be assured of being frost free until around May 10th and I recall one year we had frost on May 25th.

So what will happen this year?  Will we see our last frost in less than a month? Or will we have frost into May.  No telling!

And since there is no telling, I'll just enjoy the blooms as they come because I can't make them slow down or speed up.

I've been enjoying crocuses for weeks, it seems, including these crocuses which looked much better a few days ago before they got rained on all day.
That rain sure beat them down.

The forsythia are blooming, in spite of the rain.
This is the smaller variety 'Gold Tide'.  It's been a reliable shrub for me, even enduring a couple of moves in the garden.

Normally, I don't plant violas and pansies in pots until after St. Patrick's Day.
This year, I planted them up on March 6th when the local grower alerted me they were jumping out of their pots they were so ready.

The hyacinth are blooming ahead of schedule, too.
I can smell them before I see them.  This particular variety, plus a white variety, have been returning for years.  I don't know their names, sadly.

Elsewhere in the garden, the Lenten Roses, Hellebores sp. are in full bloom.
I think I'll hide pink and purple eggs under these in a few weeks.

Would it be wrong to hide white eggs in the garden on Easter?
I guess it would be so I'll figure out other good hiding places for Easter eggs other than under this Lenten Rose.

I'm sure by the time Easter arrives,  there will be plenty of blooms and plenty of hiding places for colored eggs. I look forward to the day.

What's blooming in your garden as Spring gets underway? Why don't 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, then come back here to this post and leave a comment to tell us what you have and put your link on the Mr. Linky widget to make it easy for us to visit.

We welcome everyone!

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

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Time for some change?

Is it time for some change in your garden?

I think it is time for some change in my garden.

More details in the weeks ahead...

In the meantime, look at all the change I've already found in my garden!


Thursday, March 10, 2016

The year she planted her peas early

Garden fairies here.

We are garden fairies and we are here to report that Carol, who insists everyone should plant their peas on St. Patrick's Day, planted her peas on March 8th.

That is not St. Patrick's Day.

We saw her do it.  Here is how it went down.  It was a warm summer's eve... wait, it wasn't summer, it was late winter, but it was warm... low 70's, we think.

We garden fairies were relaxing in the garden after spending hours opening up all kinds of flowers... irises, crocuses, snowdrops, daffodils, even a little species tulip.  We've never been so busy in March like this.

Anyway, the back door suddenly flew open and out bounced Carol with a look in her eye and a spring her step.  We garden fairies took cover and watched as she nearly ran out to the veg garden.

Next thing you know, Granny Gus McGarden came running up out of the veg garden all excited like and told all us how Carol sowed peas.

Wow. That's all we could say. Wow.

And then we all wondered why she didn't sow seeds for lettuce, radishes, spinach and why she didn't plant out the onion sets.

We are garden fairies. We sure hope she comes back soon, after all the rain is gone that is, and sows seeds for those, too.  We bet she does.

In the meantime, Ol' Rainbow Tanglefly gave us all a lecture about how we planted some crocuses in a circle, which he said would draw attention to the fact that garden fairies abound in this garden.

We blame the younger in-experienced garden fairies.

Submitted by:
Viola Greenpea Maydreams, Chief scribe for the Garden Fairies and Keeper of All Garden Fairy Secrets

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Secret sources and mysterious methods for early spring blooms

Iris reticulata
 Iris reticulata is my favorite early spring flower, this week.

It's a resilient little bloomer, able to handle the cold and a bit of snow, which it did a few days ago.

Those who don't garden much are surprised to see them this early in the spring, too.

They recognize them as "irises" because of their distinctive flower form, but scratch their heads because they only know about their grandma's big irises that bloom late in the spring.

Such small horticultural lives they lead!

When they see them in my garden in early spring they think that I have secret sources and mysterious methods for growing these little irises and making them bloom so early.

I don't generally bother to tell them otherwise.

Kidding, I do tell them how easy they are to grow. Just plant the bulbs in the fall and wait.  No secret sources. No mysterious methods.

But as an emerging eccentric gardener, I still want them to think I have secret sources and mysterious methods.

Last week, my favorite early spring flowers were the crocuses in the lawn, which have arrived in waves by color.

First there were light purple crocus blooms, then a pinker variety showed up, followed by another darker purple variety, and then a white variety.  I like how the waves of varieties extend the crocus bloom season.
Crocus in the lawn
How did I get the crocuses to flower in color waves? Secret sources and mysterious methods.  I can't tell you.

Tomorrow, my favorite early spring blooms will probably be the violas and pansies, which I hear are popping up out of their trays at the local greenhouse, they are so ready to be planted.  I will plant up several containers of them to enjoy for as long as they last.

And I'll be the first on my block to do so. I always am. In fact, most years, I am the only one on the block to plant violas and pansies. That's kind of sad, isn't it? I guess because it is still March, people think you can't plant yet. "It's not Mother's Day", they cry out.  "We don't know the secret sources and mysterious methods", they lament.

Oh how wrong they are.

Later this afternoon, I can't promise I won't be caught kneeling on the front walk looking at another favorite bloom, a double-flowering snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis 'Flore Pleno'.

Galanthus nivalis 'Flore Pleno'
Oh, you want to see the actual double flower? Well, to do that, you need to get down on your knees, say a little prayer of thanks that after the winter you still can get down on your knees, and then gently tilt the shy flower toward you.
Galanthus nivalis 'Flore Pleno'
It's worth the trouble to do so, as you can see.

All the early spring bloomers are worth the trouble, if you ask me.  They make winter worthwhile.

And no secret sources or mysterious methods are needed to grow them, I promise.