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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wildflower Wednesday - Trilliums

This is the time of year when I go out in the evenings and wander around the garden, looking for new blooms.

I'm rarely disappointed in my search for new blooms. As spring accelerates its arrival, I literally find new blooms every day. The other day, I found the blooms of Great White Trillim, Trillium grandiflorum.

These are native wildflowers, though I've never seen one in the woods. To have any chance of doing so, I would first have to find a woods, then I'd need to visit it regularly, and I hope that on the day the trilliums were blooming, I walked by them.

It's much easier to enjoy them in my own garden, though I should still try to figure out where there are some woods I can hike through regularly.  After all, scientists have done studies to document the health benefits of walking in the woods. In Japan, they call walking in the woods "forest bathing" or Shinrin Yoku. Google that to read more about it.

I have the Great White trillium in my garden because I responsibly bought rhizomes for it from a grower who also grows them responsibly, never going out and collecting them from the wild.

I do have some wild collected trillium in my garden, which I believe is most likely Prairie Trillium, Trillium recurvatum. Other common names include Red Trillium and Butcher's Blood.

I think I'll stick with Prairie Trillium for the common name.

The only reason this particular trillium was collected from the wild was because I knew someone who owned a woods, who was planning to dam up a section to create a 15 acre lake.  When I found out, I made it a point to visit and in that area only, the area that would soon be under water, I dug up anything that I recognized.

And that is the only reason I have a few wild collected wildflowers in my garden. The only reason.

If you enjoy wildflowers, and want some in your garden, always buy them from responsible growers who are not digging them up from our woods and prairies. The only exception is if you are rescuing them from certain death. That is the only exception. And you have permission from the property owner to do so. Always ask.

No matter how pretty. No matter how tempting. No matter if you are alone and no one is looking. No matter. Don't dig plants from the wild. Just enjoy the blooms you see, take some pictures, but leave the plants so others can enjoy them not only on the day you enjoy them, but for years after.

I know Gail from Clay and Limestone, who hosts Wildflower Wednesday on the fourth Wednesday of the month agrees with me on this!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Rescued from the Weeds: The Tale of Pinky and Pretty

Written by Pretty

Everyone thinks the life of a tulip is quite simple.

We get planted in the fall, hunker down all winter, then come up and bloom in the spring and soak up the sun juice to rejuvenate our bulbs. Then we rest all summer, fall, and winter, and repeat the next spring.

If only that were true.  There is much more to the life of a tulip, as Pinky and I will tell you, because one of the worst things that can happen to a tulip almost happened to me and Pinky this spring.

We were almost smothered by weeds.

I'll tell you the tale...

Pinky and I came up early in the spring, as normal, sending up our foliage first, and then our flower buds.  At first, all seemed quite normal.  Sure, there were a few cold mornings  that had us shivering in our roots, but we are used to that so didn't mind at all.

Then one day, Pinky turns to me and said, "It's getting crowded around here."

I looked around and sure enough. It was crowded.

There were weeds all around us.

There was quite a bit of purple dead nettle.  And dandelions, too.

We didn't know where they came from but they teased and taunted us. They stole our food, the nitrogen in the soil. They tried to shade us out.

The dandelion even grew a big long tap root and kept trying to encroach on our bulbs where no one could see it, like a kid who pulls your hair when the teacher isn't looking.

They were thugs. It was awful.

Pinky and I didn't know what to do.  We tried to shout for help, but couldn't shout loud enough to be heard, even with tu-lips.

Then Pinky suggested we just bloom as big and bright as we could and hope for the best.  So we bloomed as big and bright as we could, Pinky and I, like we've never bloomed before.  Finally, after what seemed like days, because it probably was, a gardener came by and saw our blooms amongst the purple dead nettle and dandelions.

Fortunately for us, the gardener was carrying some weeding tools with her and immediately set about freeing us from the clutches of the weeds.

I don't mind saying that both Pinky and I were quite brave through it all, even though that sharp weeding knife came quite close to us a few times. We've heard of weeding tragedies, which involved innocent flowers like Pinky and I being de-flowered before their time. It's frightening to see that blade so close to your tender parts, as Pinky can attest.

Fortunately for us, the gardener was careful. She talked to us in a soothing voice through the whole rescue. "There, there, lovely little tulips, I'll get rid of these big ugly weeds. They won't bother you when I'm done with them."

Then weed by weed, she freed Pinky and I from the their evil clutches.
Pinky and Pretty, Two Tulips
To show our gratitude to the gardener for rescuing us from the clutches of those weeds, we are going to bloom for as long as we can.  Though, as hot as it has been, that's not going to be for much longer.

But Pinky and I will bloom in gratitude as long as we can and never forget the gardener who rescued us on a lovely day.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - April 2016

Welcome to Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day for April 2016.

Here in my USDA Hardiness Zone 6a garden in central Indiana, I'm pleased to report that after roaring out of the starting gates at break neck speed, Spring has slowed down a bit and returned to what I think is normal speed.

In other words, what's blooming now ought to be blooming now.

And there is a lot blooming.

Where to begin?  Shall we walk about the garden in an orderly fashion or dart from one end to the other kneeling to exclaim at a tiny bloom then jumping up to see some trees in bloom?

Let's dart!

Without further ado, some of the many blooms here in May Dreams Gardens.

Above is a picture of some 'Lady Jane' tulips. I love the two tone look of them and appreciate how they return reliably from year to year. There foliage is slender and sort of melts into the foliage of other plants around them.

Next up are some flowering quince, Chaenomeles species Double Take™ 'Orange Storm' and peeking out behind them, the blue flowers are Muscari sp., grape hyacinth.

I like the color combination.

Oh look, there in the vegetable garden, the strawberries are starting to bloom.
Someone start making some shortcakes... well, it is a little soon for shortcakes, but it won't be long until there are some strawberries to eat and other produce, too.

In the meantime, how about a jewel of a flower. This is Pearl Bush, Exochorda × macrantha

I should know the variety name but I don't and it would take me a while to find the tag amongst all the plant tags I have around here.  But I do know the reason they call it Pearl Bush is because the buds look like little white pearls.

Look over there, the source of that wonderful scent,  Korean Spice Viburnum in bloom, Viburnum carlesii.
It has a wonderful scent. Did I mention that?

Way on the other side of the garden, there are still some Narcissus in bloom.

But one hardly notices them when nearby the trout lilies, Erythronium pagoda, are blooming, too.

I planted these last fall and think I should get some more to plant next fall.

The serviceberries, Amelanchier sp, are in bloom.
Kids, if you want white blooming trees in the spring, plant serviceberries, not flowering pears. The flowering pears smell awful in bloom, have a weak structure and are invading our woods and forests. End of lecture.

I have some other lovely tulips in bloom. These are Tulipa sylvestris, I think.

And this is a hybrid tulip.
The hybrid tulips dot the garden here and there.  There is one here, one there, one over yonder. None were planted alone but because they don't return reliably, they end up alone.  I just leave them be but don't usually bother planting more.

The lovely Virginia bluebells, Mertensia virginica, are still going strong in spite of some rather nasty cold weather last week.

Who doesn't like a little puddle of Phlox subulata in the garden?

Want to go and see what's blooming in the front garden?

The Burkwood viburnum, Viburnum x burkwoodii,  is blooming.
It's in competition with the Korean Spice Viburnum in back for Most Fragrant Bloom.  I will run back and forth between them and decide later which one wins.

There is no scent on these narcissus, but I still like them.

Do you like how I matched these tulips to the emerging foliage of the spirea behind them?
I will confess the match is purely be accident.

And so we come to the final blooms in this rather long post.  This is Malus 'Gwendolyn', which is just beginning to bloom. It will really shine this weekend.
I planted it 18 years ago and it has bloomed every spring since then.

Thank you for darting around the garden with me. There is more to see, but I'll save some of the pictures for another day.

What's blooming in your garden today? 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, April 09, 2016

Mrs. Belmont's Farm for Women

"Within three days last week no less then 210 girls made up their minds they wanted to be farmers.  The 210 came from many different social classes, but for the most part they were women of education."  ~The New York Times,  March 5, 1911

I've fallen down a rather deep rabbit hole and then took another plunge into the history of Mrs. Belmonts' Farm for Woman, also known as the Brookholt School of Agriculture for Women.

It was established by Mrs. O.H.P. Belmont in 1911 to "reach the working girls who are tied up now in unpleasant factories doing monotonous things with machines".

I do hate doing monotonous things with machines.  Except when I am mowing. That's not monotonous. That's exercise, fresh air, a time to think deep thoughts about gardening and life, a chance to see all of the garden.

The entire article in the NYT spells out the grand plan for the farm and how it was supposed to work as a training ground to introduce city women and girls to farming and help them establish their own farms.  However, a year later, it was announced in the NYT that the farm would not continue for a second season.

While those who worked on the farm that first season seemed to enjoy themselves, they didn't quite take to farming. They apparently "were given to wearing high-heeled slippers and dresses poorly adapted to rough work on a farm."  

Which goes to show that clothes can make a difference when you are actually working in a garden or on a farm.

Thanks to the Library of Congress, we have free online access to several pictures from the one and only season the farm was in business.

This picture is titled "picking worms from plants".
 If you are going to try to get others interested in gardening or farming, at some point they need to be introduced to worms and insects but I wouldn't do that until you were quite certain they were smitten with plants and flowers and home grown vegetables.

Then tell them about worms and insects, and spiders.

It's good to see they are all wearing hats in this picture, but only one has on what I would consider suitable gardening clothes.
 Guess which one? She looks sassy enough to be a gardener.

More worming.
I would not use this picture of a woman picking worms off of a plant to entice others to come on down to the farm.  She looks like she is disgusted with the worms she is picking off those plants.  Not a good game face for gardening.

What's gardening without hoeing?  And the companionship of others?
I guess without hoeing, gardening is weeds.

And without companionship, it isn't as much fun.

Perhaps this summer I should establish Miss Carol's School for Gardeners here in my garden? With the proper clothes... maybe I could get at least one season of good work out of a few eager students?

All images from, No known restrictions on publication.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

For the 2,500th time...

These tulips keep coming back!
Dear Readers,

For the 2,500th time, I am posting on my blog to share with you a bit of my garden.

I've been thinking for a few days about what I should write for this particular milestone post.  Should I post as normal and just mention at the end, "Oh, by the way, this is the 2,500th post"?

Or maybe I should write a retrospective post with links back to some of my favorite posts?

I was most assuredly not going to let the garden fairies write this 2,500th post, though it was close, as they wrote the 2,499th post.

I thought and thought, for at least two days, and finally decided I would write this simple letter to you, Dear Readers, to thank you for all your support during the years I've been posting my thoughts and exercising my writing muscles on this blog.

Along the way, I've met some of the most amazing, kind, considerate, generous, funny, and smart gardeners, now friends, who have changed my gardening life forever.  You all know who you are. You all are the best.

And because of these friends, I've left my garden many times now to meet with other gardeners in places as far flung as Austin, Chicago, Buffalo, Raleigh, Asheville, Dallas, Tucson, Quebec City, Pittsburgh, Pasadena and soon Atlanta.

I don't think anyone who knows me in real life would argue that this blog hasn't just changed my garden, hasn't changed my life, because it simply, subtly, definitely has.

To all who've come along here to read about my garden and my thoughts on gardening, from the downright drivel to "I don't mean to brag™" award-winning posts, thank you for your support, encouragement and comments.

What's next for my blog and what's next for me?  Time will tell.  It's spring, a new season for the garden. I have plans for this year's garden to be the best one yet. I always do.  I have plans to keep posting on this blog. I have plans...

With a shared love of gardening,

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Garden Fairies Notice Winds of Change

This isn't really Carol! (Library of Congress photo)
Garden fairies here.

We are garden fairies and we are taking over this blog once again while Carol sits and ruminates by the fire.

We do not profess to know of what she ruminates, and we are pretty sure this isn't even a picture of her, but it will have to do.

The winds were sure blowing yesterday. Once again, the theme is where was Carol? We are not sure where she was, but we were too busy to look for her.

When winds blow like that it is all we can do to keep all the flowers on their stems.

We did all right yesterday, though between the wind and the cold, the Star Magnolia blooms are done for the season.  But we did keep the blooms on these tulips.

Possibly Tulipa sylvestris
Carol loves these tulips because they don't really look like tulips. They almost look like daffodils without their trumpets, which we assume would be quiet daffodils, but then why is the color so loud? Or maybe she likes them because they look like lilies. And what is the name of these tulips?  Oh, that's a good question and if Carol ever remembers, I'm sure she'll post about it.

Anyway, we are garden fairies and we sure felt the wind yesterday. It's a sign you know. When the wind blows, it brings changes. And it gets rid of stuff, too, like electricity.

The way the wind was blowing yesterday, we garden fairies think there are some big changes blowing in. We aren't sure what changes, but we will be on high alert until we figure it out. There are signs.  See above about Carol ruminating.

In the meantime, Dandy Lionflower wanted us to post about how he has been keeping the dandelion flower stems short so when Carol mows, she doesn't mow off the flowers.
Dandy is quite proud of himself for this. He says dandelions are mis-judged, falsely accused, maligned and otherwise not appreciated for the value they bring to the garden. The dandelions are actually thinking about striking by not blooming until they are more appreciated.  But then they realized no one would notice them without their blooms.

At this time, we do want to apologize on behalf of Dandy and others for sowing seeds of dandelions in the flower beds and along the paths in the garden. We know the dandelions belong in the lawn.  We will henceforth be more careful.  Possibly.

Oh, who are we kidding. We are garden fairies and we make no apologies and we sow where we want to sow.

Submitted by:
Viola Greenpea Daydreams, Number One Sleuth of the Garden Fairies Who is Looking for Clues as to What Changes the Wind is Blowing In.

Friday, April 01, 2016

May I Introduce the In-Ground Bulb Finder?

Every gardener knows that sound, the sound in the fall when your trowel slices through a flower bulb as you are digging to plant more flower bulbs.

Ugh. It's difficult to remember where all the bulbs are planted.  Sure, you can mark all the spots in the spring when all the tulips, daffodils, crocuses, glory-of-the-snow, scilla, irises, snowdrops, narcissus, grape hyacinth and hyacinth are blooming, but then all summer your garden looks like a garden fairy cemetery with all those markers.

There has to be an easier way.

And now there is.

I'm pleased to introduce a new invention I've been working on for several years, one I finally have working well enough to share with other gardeners.

What is this new invention? It's the In-Ground Bulb Finder, IGBF. I don't have pictures of an IGBF to share quite yet, but it is a wand like device that you connect to your laptop via a USB connection.  Once connected, you slowly wave the wand over the area you are going to dig in and watch as a 3D image of the area, down to 12 inches deep, appears on your screen.

You can see everything. Bulbs, rocks, even worms! It's amazing. With this device, you can see what an area looks like, and then dig with confidence as you plant new bulbs.

Current models will scan and show one square foot at a time, but we are looking to make a bigger wand capable of scanning as much as three square feet in one pass.

How can you get one?

Right now, we just have the prototype, so you can't get one. Plus we haven't gotten all the patents squared away, so we are sort of guarding the one we have. That's why I can't show pictures of it, just yet.

But when we can release it to the world, which we expect to do around 04/01/2017, it's going to totally change how we plant bulbs in the fall.  Currently, we expect the IGBF to retail for $401, which I know is a lot, but think of the bulbs you will save!

Stayed tuned for more information!