Growing Things

All Things Must Pass

Garden Buddha has been sitting sentinel in my garden for 6 years now.

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Sitting in the middle of a dying fall garden or nearly hidden by summer blooms; covered in winter snow or surrounded by spring crocus . . . my Buddha is a constant in the garden.  I love looking out my kitchen window and seeing the sun shining on my Buddha.  He brings a peaceful presence to my garden every day.

But.  All things must pass.

We've decided to re-locate the path that leads through this garden bed.  Which means . . . Buddha needs a new home.

Yesterday was his moving day.

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Tom prepared the ground in his new location, loaded him up in the wagon, and settled him into his new space.

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(You can see that Garden Buddha got an upgrade:  waterfront property!)

I think this will be a perfect location for him.  He'll appreciate the calming water and the shade of the larch tree.  And, while I'll miss seeing him out my kitchen window, now I'll be able to keep my eye on him from the living room.

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In honor of Garden Buddha's move, Tom has written a poem.  (Haiku, of course!)

Buddha relocates
Garden eminent domain

He remains sanguine


Still Hanging In There: A Three on Thursday Post

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm still actively working out in my garden.  Not with as much vigor and enthusiasm as in the spring, surely.  But I'm still out there every day.  Shifting and pruning and lamenting and, yes . . . celebrating.

This has been a tough year, weather-wise, for my garden.  Until just this week, we've been in a drought here in my area.  Pretty much no rain all season.  Our summer wasn't too bad heat-wise -- and, in fact, it was on the rather cool side.  Until mid-September.  And then all hell broke loose (as in hot as hell).

My entire garden fried.  The lush, green foliage looks like potato chips now.  Fall blooms lasted about 2 minutes in the heat.  If plants didn't wilt, they just shriveled.  It's been . . . Not Good.

Still.  Flowers are magical.  They continue to bring joy.  Here are three things blooming in my garden even now . . . after a really wacky weather growing season.

1 - Autumn Joy Sedum (now showing with potato chip hosta leaves in the background. . . )

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Some of my gardening friends wrinkle their noses at my Autumn Joy sedum, considering it "too common" for their own gardens.  I say FOOEY!  It's hard to find a more hard-working plant in the fall garden.  It looks lovely for months -- and attracts bees and butterflies like crazy.  It even looks great in the winter, because it's dead seed-heads catch the frost and snow in delightful ways.  I'll never plant a garden without it.  

2 - Toad Lily

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I was sure my toad lily wouldn't bloom this year.  Toad lilies are shade plants -- with the most delightful fall blooms ever.  They look so exotic and fussy.  But they're not . . . as long as you give them what they need:  shade and water.  I've been pushing the envelope in terms of shade with this little guy for a couple of years now -- ever since we chopped down the cherry tree (a black cherry that was split and dying and in danger of falling on the house).  But this year?  WAY too hot; WAY too dry.  (You can see the burned leaves in the picture.)   Still . . . I've got some blooms!  (And I have plans for a new tree to bring back some shade to this corner of my garden.)

3 - Rozanne Geranium

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This plant is another of my "workhorse" plants.  It does a lot of heavy-lifting in my garden all season long.  Although this (kind of crappy) photo doesn't really show it, this plant is a mound about 3 feet across (yeah, this one is on my divide-and-transplant list) and FULL of blooms.  In fact, it starts blooming in May and never quits!  It's still blooming - and attracting bees - even now.  It winds in through neighboring plants and helps them look lovely, too.

Even though it's been a tough gardening season, I'm still enjoying some color and blooms out there - even in October.  

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Today's post is part of Three on Thursdays.  Check in over at Carole's to read other Three on Thursday posts.


Curb Appeal

I've said it before and I'll say it again:  Our yard is weird.

Our house is built into a cross slope, which means . . . we have a steep, downward slope -- in two directions.  Because of the hill, our front yard is completely dominated by this (rather extreme) hill.  To manage the sloping front yard, we depend on retaining walls.  There are two:  A long, high stone wall that moves across much of the front of the yard, and then a two-tiered timber wall up at the front of the house along one side.

In the nearly 30 years since our house was built (we've been here for 14 years), the original retaining walls have gotten a bit . . . tired.   These two retaining walls have been evolving into, well, eye-sores for a while now.

(Just as a side note . . . I don't garden much in the front of our house.  The gardens I spend most of my time growing and tending are in our backyard.  Where the slope is less extreme, and where we spend most of our time.)

Here's a photo of our front wall taken early last spring as Tom was . . . considering and assessing the situation.  Which wasn't good.

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English ivy (planted by the former owners) had taken over the rock wall.  Should we pull it off?  Would it look better?  (No.)
Weed-trees had rooted themselves between the boulders.  Impossible to pull them out, though.  The only option was to cut them back.  (Ugh.)
Boulders were dislodging and rolling off the wall and into the lawn below.  (Landslide waiting to happen.)
Ground bees had nested behind the boulders.  (And there were likely snakes comfortably sitting behind that ivy.)
Plus . . . the whole thing was just not attractive anymore.

And up at the house?  Things were no better.  The timbers were ugly -- and rotting.  There were gaps.  And weeds.  And bees.  Plus, the wall was no longer . . . retaining!  Soil was washing out, and our front porch was collapsing.

Tom - always willing to tackle a challenge - watched a few You Tube videos about building retaining walls.  But with a job of this scope, he knew right away that he was out of his league.  So we called in a landscape architect last spring.  He gave us options and designed new walls for us.

And then we waited.  With the wedding and other summer vacations and plans, we asked to be put on the schedule for fall.  Knowing that we were going to be tearing the front yard up come fall, we just let everything go, garden-wise, up front . . . all summer long.  (Which was kind of freeing, y'know?)

Here are photos from the morning the work began (and after we had rescued the few plants I wanted to save).  

Before:

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The work itself took about two weeks.  Two weeks of mess, noise, and WAY more tearing up of our lawn than I anticipated.  (Because I just failed to realize what two bobcats would do, y'know?)

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The project is finished now, though.  And I must say . . . it turned out better than I ever imagined!  

After:

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We love it.

(And . . . look at that blank gardening canvas, would you?)

If you're ever in the neighborhood, be sure to come around front, okay?

 


Flowers are Magical

Last night, a gardening pal and I joined a group of our fellow Master Gardeners for a couple of "garden walks."  These walks are usually fairly close to town -- but last night we drove far out into the country.  Dirt roads, barns, corn fields stretching on for acres, and even a big Christmas tree farm.  We were so far out in the country that Siri wouldn't have been able to help us if we had gotten lost!  (Luckily, we didn't.)

We almost didn't go.  I've got a wedding in (gulp) 9 days.  My friend - who just returned from a week's vacation up north - is flying out to the west coast for another this morning.  Really.  Neither of us had time for this.

But we went.  And I'm so glad we did!

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Both gardens we visited . . . were dahlia farms (one for business; one for sheer love of dahlias).

Dahlias are just gorgeous flowers.  Stunning, in fact -- and especially so when you see big fields of them, all different types and colors and sizes!  They are truly the stars of late summer and fall gardens -- blooming and putting on quite a show when pretty much everything else is winding down.  

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But.

Dahlias are also a lot of work -- and especially at a tough time of year to be out in the garden!  Because dahlias grow from tubers, and those tubers need to be dug up each fall (but not until AFTER the first hard frost) and lovingly stored in a cold (but not freezing), dry location where they overwinter until the threat of frost is passed each spring.  I can't even begin to imagine the work these gardeners do -- to dig up and overwinter and re-plant thousands of dahlia tubers each year.

But, oh my!  What a payoff!

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In addition to their obvious charms, dahlias hold a very special place in my heart.

My mom loved dahlias.  

She always grew them in her own garden, and was constantly trying various methods of overwintering her tubers.  (Her condo did not quite have a cold enough storage space, so often her tubers got moldy over the winter.)  When I was going through my mom's files last fall, I came across a huge file folder stuffed with articles and information she had printed out from the Internet -- all about overwintering dahlias.  (Hope springs eternal when you're a gardener. . .)  I always gave my mom at least one dahlia plant for Mother's Day.  We marveled at their beauty every year when they bloomed -- and especially when they made it through to bloom the next season.

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I've been thinking about my mom a lot these last few weeks.  

It was a year ago now that my mom's health was in rapid decline.  It was a very hard time for me.  I was struggling with decisions, shock, feelings of helplessness, the burdens of responsibility.  But most of all, I was struggling with overwhelming sadness.

Those feelings are all re-surfacing now, a year later.  Missing my mom . . . and replaying all the not-so-pleasant parts there toward the end.

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But being surrounded by dahlias last night turned out to be a surprising gift.

It was like I flipped a switch in my head.  

Instead of remembering all the hard stuff of a year ago, I started remembering all the happy times of gardening with my mom instead.  

How much she loved dahlias.  

How delighted she would have been to see so many dahlias -- all in one place. 

How each dahlia . . . was kind of like my mom . . . smiling right at me.

I'm in a much better place now.

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Flowers are magical.

 


Deadheading: Good for More Than Gardening

In gardening, deadheading is a particular maintenance practice that prolongs blooms, prevents seeds from spreading where you don't want them, and keeps things looking neat and tidy in the garden.

Basically, it means pinching or snipping off spent blooms -- those blooms way past their prime.  (My favorite gardening mantra:  If it's brown, cut it down.)

Some gardeners hate this chore, but I love it!  I find it very meditative and centering -- and it's a great way to keep in close touch with what's happening in my garden.  

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(That's a look down into my bucket after a good deadheading session last weekend.)

So, last weekend - as I was deadheading my perennials and containers - I started thinking about the value of getting the spent "stuff" out of the garden.   

It certainly makes things LOOK better.  (Because a clump of dead daisy heads is really not attractive, y'know?)  

And when you pinch off dead-and-dying blooms, you provide more energy for the plant to produce NEW blooms -- or to grow deeper roots if the blooming period is really over.  (Roses respond especially well to deadheading.  And those daisies?  Once I deadhead the dead daisy heads, I get a second round of blooms.)

And deadheading allows you to gather seeds to share or to plant where you want them.  (Rather than the wild self-seeding that can happen with some plants if you're not careful.)  (I'm talking to you, Japanese anemone.)

All good things . . . for the garden.

But.

Isn't the same true of our lives?

Perhaps we should also be doing some "life-maintenance" once in a while. . . deadheading out the "spent" stuff in our lives.

Relationships.
Situations.
Habits.
Notions.

With regular deadheading, we can create space and energy for our own new growth.  We can keep old, negative seeds from spreading and growing where we don't want them.  We can keep our minds neat and tidy . . . and ready for new blooms.

Deadheading.  Turns out it's good for more than just garden maintenance!


The Little Things

It's a beautiful day here.  Rainy earlier; sunny now.  Not too hot.  And my schedule cleared up rather unexpectedly.  Sounds like a perfect day to mess around outside, non?

I often share what's blooming in my garden.  For a change, I decided to share a few of my favorite things that never bloom in my garden!  Little things.  Things that you might miss when you're busy looking at blooms.

Things like . . . Namaste Frog.

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This little guy has been sitting near the waterfall in my pond for many years.  (So many years . . . that Brian, who still lived at home then, gave him his name.)  He's a little worse for the wear now (the frog, not Brian), because one year he spent the winter at the bottom of the pond -- having fallen in during the shut-down phase and not discovered again until the following spring.  Still, he just sits . . . a bit faded but very chill . . . and a great reminder for me to live in the moment out in the garden.

This year I added a little Fishing Frog.

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I especially love how there is a silhouette of a "real" fish there on the sign.  Because Fishing Frog?  He may be whimsical and totally animated, but he's going for the Real Deal.

I tuck lots of little birds here and there in my garden.

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There are plenty of actual, singing birds in my garden, sure.  But I like having a little bit of bird-whimsy around, too.

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I stick some things in my garden just because they make me smile.

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I love picking out the "hair" for this planter every year.

And I love the stone chimney on my little house.  (I keep this one near the edge of the patio, right near the house, where it is less likely to get wet in a rainstorm.)

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And then, there's always THIS "little" thing in my garden.  She never blooms -- but always makes me smile!

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Enjoy your day -- and take time to find the little things that bring you joy.

 


Bloomin' Friday

Most mornings, I start the day with a walk around my garden.  Sometimes with a cup of coffee, sometimes with a bowl of cereal, sometimes with my camera.  And always with the dogs!

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It's good to start the day with flowers, I think . . . but walking around in my garden each morning also helps me figure out my daily gardening to-do list.  (Which, by the way, is NEVER finished.)

Since it's Friday, I thought y'all might want to come along and see what's going on in my garden today!

While there are a few things in bloom -- this clematis (one of the oldest plants in my garden), for example . . . 

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my garden - as a whole - is in a kind of bloom-lull right now.  When I design my gardens, I work hard to have something (and often lots of somethings) in bloom from the very earliest days of spring to the very latest days of fall.  Generally, I've done a good job at that -- and you can see that there are some things in bloom today.  But . . . there are definitely a few peaks in the blooming throughout the summer.  (You should've seen it last week!  EVERYTHING was bursting with color and bloom!)

We're about to hit another peak bloom time -- probably next week, or so.  Lots of things are on the verge of blooming.  See?

My oak leaf hydrangeas are just starting to pop.  By next week, they should be quite showy!

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There are little allium flowers just ready to pop open all over my garden.  They'll just kind of hover there . . . in their purple-y-pink-y way . . . above the foliage in the shade.

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And out in my butterfly garden, by next week I imagine the bright orange of butterfly weed (a form of milkweed especially preferred by the Monarch butterfly) will be hard to miss!

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When I walk my garden each day, I keep mental track of what's blooming, what's finished, and what's likely to be in bloom next.  

On my walks, I also figure out where I need to focus my weeding and deadheading efforts for the day (it's a constant game of Whack-a-Mole in my garden!) . . . 

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and I check out the ponds each day to see if the filters are clogged (or if anything has fallen in during the night) . . . 

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I water my annuals and re-fill my birdbaths . . . 

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My walks always show me what's "wrong" with my garden -- what needs tending or fixing or adjusting.  But they usually also show me what's "right."  (Or, at least, "right" . . . right now.)

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Which is really why I garden in the first place!

Enjoy the weekend!

 

 

 


Bloomin' Friday

I have a little herb garden.  It's right off my patio, which is right off my kitchen . . . which is a super handy place to have frest herbs.

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It really doesn't look like much now, but it will fill out and grow into its space.

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In fact, before long, I'll have plenty of my favorite herbs to snip for cooking or for drying and preserving.

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I love having fresh herbs right outside my kitchen door.  It's one of my favorite things in my garden!

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Enjoy the weekend!