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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Garden Muddles

Yep, a flower blooms on Nov. 29th
One would assume after nearly 20 years of gardening in this place I call collectively May Dreams Gardens that I would have named every garden bed and border.

Don't assume such a thing. I have not done so, but came a little closer to naming all of them a few weeks ago when I finally decided on names for the plantings along the sides of my house.

Those plantings, one on the east side, one on the west side, are  a mish-mash of shrubs and miscellaneous herbaceous plants and never seemed to rise to the level of "garden border", at least in my mind.

On the west side, there is a little puddle of hardy geraniums which add spring color, for awhile.  Down from them are three large lilacs, which go by the rather long name of Syringa pubescens subsp. patula 'Miss Kim'. I just call them 'Miss Kim'.

They all three could use a big whacking back and I intend to do just that after they bloom next spring.  Hidden under them is a little peony that has no chance of doing much more than growing a few leaves because the lilacs take all the sun, moisture, and nutrients. Big bullies.

That side is finished out with a spirea, variety unknown, another puddle of violets, a struggling iris, and a juniper, Eternal Gold™, Golden Sea Green Juniper, Juniperus chinensis 'Etgozam'. It's a lovely golden shade and looks good against the dark brick of the house. Behind it, there's a trellis with a tri-color climbing honeysuckle vine that does all right, but not great.

In early spring, an orderly row of hyacinths comes up along the far edge of the planting in shades of white, blue, and pink.

It's a mish-mash of plants and I'm not likely to straighten it out any time soon, so I've given it a name that befits such a planted area.... drumroll...  The Lilac Muddle.  Because muddle is a good word for a mish-mash of anything.

On the east side, it's a similar mish-mash of plantings which include several Deutzias, a lone Fothergilla, the air-conditioning unit, a big blank spot where I removed a Low-Gro Sumac, a splash of tiger lilies, some vinca ground cover, and a few spots of lily-of-the-valley.  I'm thinking of completely clearing out that area  and planting it up with most likely a completely different mish-mash of plants.

It, too, will be called a muddle... The Ginkgo Muddle.  Because that's the side of the house where I also planted a ginkgo tree.

Whew. I'm sure glad I finally named those garden areas. They fit in well with Neighbor's View, Plopper's Field, The Shrubbery, The Vegetable Garden Cathedral, Bird's Blanket, The Woodland Follies, August Dreams Gardens, Family Circle, and The Garden of Southern Follies and Delights.

Now, I have just one more area of the garden to name. No rush. I'm sure the right name will come along in due time.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

It was an amazing fall

It was an amazing fall.

One day the high temperature was 73º F and the next day the high temperature was just 43º F.  If ever one was looking for a sign that our amazing fall of 2016 was over, I suppose that 30º drop in high temperatures from one day to the next was it.

What made this fall amazing?

It seemed to go on and on with fairly moderate temperatures. Even now there are still leaves on the Fothergilla, still a few brave violas blooming here and there where they've begun to naturalize themselves, and the last of the autumn crocuses are still blooming.

These fall blooming crocuses are just as easy to plant as those that flower in the spring and deserve to be more widely planted.  Of course, I am assuming that spring flowering crocus are widely planted, but I don't think that's as true as it has been.  I think people today just don't plant bulbs like they used to. I have no basis for that statement. I just have a sense that the numbers of gardeners, like me, who plant hundreds of bulbs every fall is dwindling.

This fall, I planted bulbs for 300 tulips and 500 Chionodoxa (Glory of the Snow).  That sounds impressive but was easy to do.

For the tulips, I dug large holes on the ends of the vegetable garden beds and planted about 40 tulips in each hole. I also dug a similar large hole near the front walk and planted the rest of the tulips there. In the process, at least in front, I dug up bulbs for reticulated irises and crocuses (which I know are technically corms). I set those aside and replanted them on top of the tulips. There will be room for all.

I planted the Glory of the Snow bulbs in the back lawn. It's easier to do that you might think. I plunge a narrow bladed trowel (technically a rockery trowel) into the ground, pull it back, drop a bulb behind it, pull it out, pat the ground and move on. After the first one hundred bulbs, I develop a certain rhythm of motion and get faster until I am done. It took me about an hour.

I hope our amazing fall leads way to a picturesque, storybook winter, with occasional snow and moderate, for winter, temperatures.  Don't I deserve that? After all, I've done my part to ensure an amazing spring.

I planted bulbs.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - November 2016

Welcome to Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day for November 2016.

Here in my USDA Hardiness Zone 6a garden in central Indiana, we just woke up to the first freeze of the season a few days ago. This beat the old "latest first freeze record" set in the 1940's by about four days.

This means my bloom day post for November features some  seed heads covered with heavy frost.  They are the ghosts of the growing season past.

Do you recognize Joe Pye Weed in the first picture?  I plan to cut off those seedheads in the next few days. I love Joe Pye but would not care to have its flowers all over the garden.

The same is true of the goldenrod.
I enjoy goldenrod in late summer and early fall and so do many pollinators, but it would not be good to have it all over the garden.  Those seedheads' days are numbered.

I'll let the seedheads for tall sedum stand through the winter.
It provides a nice landing pad for snowflakes in the winter time and I've never seen it self sow.

It's funny how that first freeze stops everything in its tracks, including these autumn crocuses.
Some of those buds might open up when the sun hits them and warms them up, or not. Shrug. We gardeners in temperate climates with four seasons must grow to love and accept our seasons including winter. No flowers last forever and that's okay. We would grow weary and tired of them if they did.

I made one last check for buds on the Christmas Rose, Helleborus niger, before heading inside.
I'm hoping for some winter flowers around Christmas time or earlier from this hellebore because if I don't get blooms from it, I'll be bloomless outside until possibly February when the  snowdrops and witch hazels wake up.

But inside...

There are always blooms on the Crown of Thorn plants.
I have two of these euphorbias, one with yellow flowers, the other, in the background, with pink flowers.

Nearby, Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender' is blooming.
The blooms are much lighter, nearly white, which makes me wonder if this was mis-labeled or if it just has faded blooms when it blooms under low light conditions like those indoors.

Or is it copying the nearby Thanksgiving-Christmas cactus?
And that's what's blooming here at May Dreams Gardens.

What's blooming in your garden today? We'd love to have you share what's blooming in your garden with us for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. It's easy to participate. Just post on your blog about whatever is blooming in your garden, then come back here and leave a comment to tell us all about those blooms and then put a link in the Mr. Linky widget so we can find you.

And remember always...

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

Friday, November 11, 2016

Garden fairies discuss someone's laziness.

Garden fairies here.

We are garden fairies and we have decided to post on Friday instead of our usual Sunday because Carol is lazy.  That's right. We said it. She's lazy.

She has barely lifted a finger to do garden clean up around here. Though, come to think of it, she has cleared off the beds in the Vegetable Garden Cathedral and put a nice layer of leaves and grass clippings on top of them.

We've been hearing rumors that she's going to tear apart the three compost bins that are full of rich, dark compost and put the compost on the beds, too.  Granny Gus McGarden, who is in charge of the Vegetable Garden Cathedral, is over the moon excited about the very prospect of it.

But as for the rest of us, we will believe it when we see the compost on those beds.  See above about "lazy".

In other news, we have heard rumblings that we garden fairies are being accused of being lazy because this has been a warm fall and some trees are still turning colors. To that we say, "Hey, if the weather's nice, why ruin a good thing?"  I think you all agree with us on that.

We do want to report that Carol has not actually been doing nothing around here. She planted 300 tulip bulbs! We are garden fairies and this is beyond exciting to us. She planted the bulbs at the end of all the veg garden beds. They should be blooming on Easter, if we garden fairies get our act together and time it just right. The package said "early" so we figure that's mid-April.

Plus, she planted some tulips in the front garden.

Oh, the tulips are going to be so pretty.

Then Carol planted 500 Glory of the Snow bulbs in the back lawn.  We garden fairies are just as excited about those flowers.  We are also just a little miffed that critters, and by critters we mean squirrels, have been digging up some of the bulbs in the lawn.  We know what you are thinking. No, we can't be chasing them away all of the time because we are garden fairies, not garden guards.

Carol needs to do something about it. We think she should sprinkle/spray some kind of deer/rabbit/critter repellent on the lawn. She says she is going to, but does she?  See above about "lazy".

Anyway, we are garden fairies. We do what we can. We change the colors of the leaves. We open blooms. We add sweetness to apples. We do all we can to make this garden as enjoyable and lovely as it can be.

Now it is up to Carol to do her part. It won't stay warm forever. We don't want to hear her complain about cleaning up the garden in the snow. She needs to get on with it.

Because, we are garden fairies.

Submitted by,
Violet GreenPea MayDreams, chief scribe and busiest garden fairy of all the garden fairies at May Dreams Gardens

Thursday, November 03, 2016

I had some time, I had some seeds

I had some time, I had some seeds, so I decided to sow those seeds for a fall harvest in my vegetable garden. I put them all in one bed, the bed where squash plants met an early demise at the first sign of those awful squash bugs.

By putting them all together in one bed, I figured I could cover them easily enough if we had an early frost.

But we didn't have an early frost. In fact, we've only had one morning where there was even a hint of frost. Overall, the weather has been mild all fall and so with minimal effort on my part, I've got some salad veggies to pick.

First up—a few plants of the new pea variety from Burpee, 'Masterpiece'. They tout that this variety doesn't need support and it has those really awesome tendrils.  The leaves, tendrils, pea pods and peas are all edible.

I was surprised the peas grew enough to flower and then lo-and-behold, there is a pea pod, too. I'm not sure why I was surprised, though. Peas grow.

The tendrils are my favorite part of this variety. They look good all on their own in a vase and would make a nice garnishment for a vegetable dish or a salad.

I also grew kale.
I rarely grow members of the Brassicaceae family, the cruciferous vegetables like kale and its cousins cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, not because I don't like them, but because they are almost immediately attacked by little green caterpillars and presumably other bugs.

I was pleasantly surprised that the bugs have left the kale alone. I guess it isn't the brassica-eating bugs' season, so the kale continues to grow virtually untouched, except by me. I've been snipping off leaves here and there for salads.

On the other hand, just as an aside, the Brussels sprouts I planted in the spring have been nearly decimated by bugs.
"Carol, why didn't you do something about that?"you are asking yourself. I shrug my shoulders. I just didn't. Maybe because the Brussels sprouts are an experiment for me, an experiment I wanted to fail.  I only grew them to live up to my own challenge—Grow vegetables you don't like because maybe you will like them when they are homegrown.

But it looks like in spite of my lack-a-daisical approach to growing them, I'm still going to get some Brussels sprouts. And I'll have to eat them.

Side note, you can see in the picture of Brussels sprouts that I've started to put shredded leaves on the veg garden beds. I decided the beds need more organic matter, so I'm adding leaves from the lawn and plan to harvest three bins worth of compost to put on top of the leaves. Then, where those three bins are currently, I'm going to make that area another flower border.  I have two other compost bins that I've set up on the other side of the veg garden, next to a Brown Turkey fig I just planted. I'll make do with just two compost bins.

Anyway, what was this post about?  Or right, fall sown vegetables.

I'm pulling some nice lettuce out of the garden.
I generally plant lettuce pretty tight and then just reach in and snip the bigger leaves as I'm ready to eat them.

I'm also growing some spinach—you can see the tiny green leaves in the upper right of the picture of lettuce—but I haven't been as impressed by it, perhaps because that's the one crop the rabbits seemed to take a fancy to. And no, I didn't do anything to protect the spinach from the rabbits. But there are a couple of little plants of spinach left so I'm hopeful with the continued mild fall, they'll grow a bit more and I'll have some spinach to eat with my lettuce.

The other vegetable I planted was radishes. They did okay. I thinned them just a bit late so they didn't form roots as big as I would have liked. Either that or I planted them when the moon was waxing and I should have planted them when the moon was waning, if you take stock in such things. But in spite of my laziness and potentially poor timing, I still got a few to eat and there are more coming on.

Considering I've not really planted much for fall in my little garden in the past, I am pretty happy with what I'm harvesting now. It is better than nothing and honestly took minimal time. A little sowing, a litte weeding and now I can make a fresh salad out of it.

My only complaint is I didn't sow enough of these little crops. I sowed short little experimental rows.  Too short. Where was my faith in those seeds and my gardening abilities?

I'm making notes now to plan for a bigger fall veg garden next year.

Who knows, I might even try some fall cabbages.