Growing Things

Outside Inside

During the gardening season, I love to bring what's blooming outside . . . inside.  You can usually see what's blooming in my garden -- right there on the kitchen counter near the sink.  Or on the dining room table.  Or even in my bathroom.  

Today, we've got . . . 

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Heliopsis

Ornamental onion.

Purple coneflower.

Flowers are magical . . . outside and in!

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Be sure to head to Carole's today to read more Three on Thursday posts.


Out in the Garden

"When the world wearies and society fails to satisfy, there is always the garden."
                                    --- Minnie Aumonier

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I hope you have some time to dig in the dirt (or whatever your soul-filling equivalent may be) this weekend.

See you Monday!


Waystation

I'm up north for a couple of days -- with Tom and my Dad.  The scenes here are much the same as always . . . the lake, the woods, campfires, loons.  

Instead of sharing more photos and stories of the same old thing, I thought I'd take the time to share something a little different. Today, I'm putting in a plug for the monarchs!  And I'm going to tell you how easy it is to help them along their way.

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This tangled mess of a garden . . . is my butterfly garden -- and a certified Monarch Waystation.  It's full of flowers especially appealing to pollinators of all kinds, and three kinds of milkweed for the monarchs.  (The bright orange flowers you can see blooming now?  That's butterfly weed, one type of milkweed.)

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When we first moved to our house 15 years ago, I was thrilled with the gardening possibilities in our new yard.  We were moving from a house with deep, deep shade.  Only shade.  No sun to speak of at all!  And here - in my new house - I had both.  Shade on one side, sun on the other.

I immediately set out to create the English cottage garden of my dreams.  I planted delphinium and foxglove and hardy geraniums.  Clematis and lavender and phlox.  It was lovely.  For about two weeks in early June.  And then it just faded!  Because, really, that sunny location wasn't right for those gentle plants.  Too hot. Too dry. Deer. Rabbits.  

I was so discouraged.

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About that time, I started learning about pollinators and following along as the plight of the monarch butterfly was unfolding.  (You can learn more here.)  I decided to turn my (failing) English cottage-style garden into a pollinator garden -- and, specifically, into a monarch-friendly garden.

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After doing a little research, I discovered that there were published guidelines for creating monarch habitats.  Home gardeners can easily create and certify their gardens as Monarch Waystations by providing:

  • dedicated space (while there is no minimum size requirement for certification, butterfly gardens are most effective at 100 square feet or larger)
  • sun exposure (a minimum of 6 hours of sun each day)
  • shelter from predators and the elements (plants close together without overcrowding)
  • milkweed plants (at least 3 varieties to attract monarchs during their breeding season)
  • nectar plants providing continuous blooms throughout the growing season and into the fall (which is migration time for the monarchs)
  • regular maintenance (weeding, thinning, eliminating pesticide use, watering, etc.)

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When I first certified my garden as a Monarch Waystation, Tom and Brian used to call me and pretend they were monarchs, trying to make reservations in my Waystation.  (Do you have any rooms available tonight?) (Haha. Very. Funny.

My garden does attract lots of monarchs -- and many other types of butterflies, as well.  Swallowtail.  Red and White Admiral. Skippers.  Glassywing.  Fritillary.  It's also popular with various moths, hummingbirds, and bees of all types.  The birds are thrilled with all the seed heads after bloom.  It is a VERY happy place!

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If you have a little space in your garden -- and if you're interested in saving the monarchs while attracting any number of cool pollinators, check out Monarch Watch and see how easy it is to create and certify your own Monarch Waystation.

(And then just get ready for all those monarch calls . . . asking if you have any reservations available!)

 


TGIF, Garden-Style

Back home.  Back in my garden.  And it's Friday.

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Time for a little TGIF . . . garden-style!

T - Thinking About silver linings.

First, it was super annoying to have my air conditioning break down.  Then, I had to dig up large swaths of my garden to facilitate installation.  But, now that it's done, I'm actually . . . 

G - Grateful.

Not only for new (and functional) air conditioning (because YAY), but also for this "clean slate," which allows me to re-fresh yet another garden bed!

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Now I'm totally . . . 

I - Inspired.

Because I have this collection of plants to play with all over again.  (My poor, displaced plants).

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It's like re-opening an almost-new box of paints.  And, really, won't that be . . . 

F - FUN!

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Have a great weekend!  (You'll know where to find me.)

 


Tales from the Garden . . . x 3

At this time of year, my garden is exploding everywhere -- and I am always racing to keep up with it.  (It's my own personal Whack-a-Mole game out there.)  

Sometimes it feels like Major Overwhelm.   Then I need to talk to myself and remind myself that . . . 

I love to garden.

This is the way gardening works.

I couldn't wait to get out there again when it was never-ending winter.

Just. Dig. In.

And so it goes.  

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Here are three little tales from my garden this week.

1 - Earth Moving

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This little garden bed near our back patio had gotten WAY overgrown in the last few years.  The old path was pretty much inaccessible.  Too many plants growing too well . . .   So.  We battled the heat over the weekend (near 100 degrees F every day) to dig out plants, level the ground, and re-set the path.  (JoJo is happy to demonstrate that even the dogs appreciate an easy-to-walk pathway through the garden.)

I have more work to do out there -- a bit more thinning-out and some planting-in.  We placed three big rocks in the newly-opened area to remind me NOT to overplant.  I'm happy with the new path -- and I want to keep it open and functional.  

2 - Resilience in Action

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One day early last summer, I stopped at Lowe's for . . . something (but not a plant).  I entered the store through the nursery department (as one does), and a couple of lovely, blooming, Asian lilies caught my eye.  (It was their stunning orange blooms.  They get me every time.)

On impulse, I bought 'em.

But once I had them at home, I couldn't figure out where I wanted to put them.

So they hung out on my patio - in their original plant containers - all summer.  I took care of them, of course.  I kept them watered and sheltered while I tried to figure out just where they might fit in my garden.  But, by fall, I realized they were going to have to overwinter on their own, still in their little pots -- and I was completely prepared to just let them go.

The photo above?  The same lilies (in the same pots) today.  Resilient little suckers, non?

(I'm still looking for a place to put them.)

3 - Over Too Soon

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I love my allium blooms . . . hovering there each spring over the newly-unfurled hostas in my garden.  It always looks so magical.  And it did this year, too.  For like . . . one day!  I didn't even get a picture this year . . . 

You see, allium are spring blooms.  They like gently-warming days.  You know . . . the kind you usually get in, oh . . say, late May?  Cool nights, warming days.  That kind of thing.  And the blooms will last for weeks under those conditions.

This year?  We went from mid-50s to upper-90s in the same week!  Those allium?  Super confused.  From bloom-to-done in a couple of days this year.

(I'm tempted to spray paint them.  I've seen that done on many a garden tour . . . )  (But I probably won't.)

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And now?  I'm headed out for some early morning weeding.  (It's the only way when it's This Hot.)

Head over to Carole's for more Three on Thursday posts today.

 

 


Sometimes Mondays

. . . look like rain.

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But that's just fine by me!

It's so good for my thirsty, growing garden.

And wet soil makes it much easier to pull weeds.

And it gives me a perfect excuse to run around in my chicken boots.

"The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain."
                    --- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Flowers are Magical

"Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful.  They are sunshine, food, and medicine for the soul."
                                                                                                    --- Luther Burbank

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Now that SPRING has decided to show up around here (thank you!), I'm scrambling out in the garden.  There is so much to do out there . . . that sometimes I just spin around, not knowing where to begin.

But then I just begin.

Clipping and pulling and raking and digging.  (And sometimes shaking my head . . . as in where did that come from???)

After three big days in the garden . . . my nails are crap, my arms are totally scratched up, and my back is tired.

BUT.  I'm also better, happier, and more helpful!

Flowers are magical -- and gardens, indeed, are medicine for the soul.


3 Blooms on a Cold, Dreary Day

Last fall, I ordered 6 amaryllis bulbs from White Flower Farm.  Bulbs from WFF are stupidly expensive -- but worth every penny to me.  I consider it an Investment . . . in my health and well-being during the Dark Months.

Now, every amaryllis is a beautiful amaryllis -- don't get me wrong.  I have purchased many a box-store or grocery store bulb over the years, and I have enjoyed their blooms immensely.  But they tend to be rather short-lived, and in my experience, seldom get another bud after the first is spent.  That's why I started ordering my bulbs online.  (There are several other great online amaryllis sources out there.   I just settled on WFF.  It's where I order all my bulbs -- spring bulbs like daffodils and tulips and the amaryllis.)  When it comes to blooms -- color, variety, bloom-time -- you really do get what you pay for.

I like to have some sort of amaryllis blooming beginning in January and continuing right on through February.  They do an amazing job at brightening up my house -- and my spirits.  This year, my choices are doing the job splendidly.  One of the bulbs is just now opening for its first bloom, and two of them are in the process of blooming from their second set of buds.  

Here are the 3 blooms bringing light and hope to the dreary day outside right now:

One. . .

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(This one is in its first bloom.  The blooms are smaller and more compact than the more "standard" amaryllis -- and the colors are very intense.)

Two . . . 

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(This one is beginning to bloom from its second bud.  It takes a few days for this amaryllis to completely open because it's a "double" -- it has two layers of petals.   You can see the interior layers just beginning to unfold.)

Three . . . 

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(This one is just beginning to burst open, also from its second bud.  The blooms are deep red and kind of shiny -- living up to its name "Ferrari.")

This year, I think my blooms may take me all the way into March.  

You see, I have two other plants that I thought were finished after their initial set of buds.  They started putting out their leaves, which is usually a sign of  "done-ness."  But the other day, as I was giving them a water, I noticed these . . . 

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Each plant has a second bud coming.  

Bring it on!  
(Because these dreary days of winter will be hanging on for a while yet, I'm afraid.)

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Be sure to hop on over to Carole's today to read more Three on Thursday posts!