Growing Things

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!

 


Full Disclosure

The other day, I was looking through old photos, and came across a few from Erin's high school graduation . . . now 10 years ago.  I was kind of shocked at how drastic the changes to my landscape have been!  (A future blog post, perhaps.) Over the last 10 years, I have added garden beds to my yard in a rather significant way.

What this means, in practical terms, is that I've pretty much reached my limit of what I can possibly maintain.  (Actually, I've probably exceeded my maintenance capacity.  But, oh well.)  So there are always "good parts" of my garden . . . and "bad parts."  It's like a constant game of Whack-a-Mole to keep everything looking good.  

At this time of year especially - when everything in the garden is exploding - the "bad parts" are really, really bad.   (Especially in the areas that suffered from my neglect last year.)

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Case in point.  

This is actually my butterfly garden (officially certified as a Monarch Waystation).  But now totally overrun with weeds and random grass and and dandelions and out-of-control knautia volunteers!  I re-named this garden bed The Prairie earlier this spring -- but couldn't get to it right away (because other priorities in that great garden game of Whack-a-Mole).

But last Sunday, I was able to spend about 4 hours out there.

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I actually find weeding to be relaxing and therapeutic -- kind of like meditation.  Or yoga.  Or knitting.  Only with birds.  (And the occasional garter snake and a few toads.)  On Sunday afternoon, this was a great place for me to be.  I was missing Erin, mulling over some new ideas, and working out a few troublesome life-issues.  

Before I knew it . . . I'd filled up 10 or 12 buckets of weeds, located my wayward garden stones (thanks, Tom!), and enlisted my digger (Tom again) to remove some overgrown plants I no longer want in this space.

And . . . voilà!

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Not a great view . . . but you can see that the weeds are gone, the mulch is in place, and the stones are ABOVE the ground now.  Not so much with The Prairie motif anymore.  There's still PLENTY of work to be done in this particular garden, but I can consider this "mole" "whacked" for now.  

(And - in full disclosure - I've got 3 more "bad" garden areas to "whack"!)

 


On Celebrating in New Ways

I often wonder when I got "bit" by the gardening bug.  It might be just be in my blood -- because for generations and generations, my family (on my dad's side) were farmers.  (My dad was raised on an Illinois farm.)  

I like to think, though, that it happened when I was a very little girl, sitting next to my mom at the strip of flower garden planted along the side of our house.  She would name the plants for me . . . moss roses, four o'clocks, snap dragons . . . and show me magical things.  How to collect seeds from the moss roses and four o'clocks.  How to make the snap dragons . . . snap open their mouths.

I'm pretty sure it was there . . . alongside my mom . . . that I discovered the magic of flowers.  (And combined with my agricultural heritage, well . . . gardening seems kind of inevitable, doesn't it?)

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My mom and I spent many a Mother's Day over the years . . . planting.  Or shopping for plants.  Or planning what to plant.  Mother's Day and time in the garden with my mom . . . it's just the way it always was.

So this Mother's Day, my first without my mom, I decided to create a special garden in celebration of her.

It's right there . . . at the very front of the garden bed next to my pergola.  

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We had to have one of the pines removed last fall, so there was new space in the front of the bed.  Tom dug it all out for me on Saturday and prepared it for my planting.

Yesterday, I planted my mom's favorite flowers.  Dahlias.  Alstroemeria.  Snap Dragons.  And, come fall, I'll plant some tulip bulbs there.  (Because my mom loved her tulips!)  Many of the hostas in this garden bed came from my mom's garden over the years.

The location is perfect -- because I can see my new Mom-garden from my kitchen window or from the patio.  And it's right next to the pergola.  I used to sit on the pergola swing and talk to her on the phone nearly every day during the warm months.  She loved to swing.

It doesn't look like much today (you know how new gardens are. . . ), but it will grow and bloom and be a wonderful celebration of my mom all season long.

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The little red bird and the fairy house came from my mom's own garden, but I purchased the memorial stone especially for this space.

Planning - and planting - this garden helped me through a tough day.  I still got to celebrate and garden with my mom -- just in a new way.

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My sister, who loves to bake, celebrated Mother's Day by baking up some of our mom's special recipes -- using Mom's recipe box and baking pans.

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My mom's rhubarb pie . . . as baked by my sister.  New ways to celebrate, indeed!

 

 


Another Bloomin' Friday

Every day, something new in the garden!  It's such an exciting time to stroll around - seeing what's popped into bloom overnight.

Today, we have . . . 

My favorite spring bulb - grape hyacinth.  I just love the contrast of purple and green.  I use that particular color combination all over my garden throughout the season -- but this is really my first real taste of it each year.

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Red buds are nearly exploding.  They're so subtle -- and make such a lovely scene when I look out my window and see my little red bud . . . with my neighbor's blooming trees as background.

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Lilacs are moving up the bloom-list with a bullet.  This is a new lilac bush I just planted last year (in a corner where something else had . . . failed to thrive) and these are my first blooms.  I'm so excited.

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Virginia bluebells just dancing in the breeze.  (Like so much dancing that I can't get a good shot.)   Virginia bluebells are so lovely while they last -- but they only last about 5 minutes, so enjoy what you see -- bad shot and all!  (Those are celadon poppies in the background, in case you were wondering.)

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The hops are already trying to take over the world.  I love the way they climb the arbor -- and Tom loves growing them.  But.  They are very high maintenance!

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Ferns are unfurling (at least the ones that live up close to the foundation).  These are actually "volunteer ferns" that seeded themselves (or whatever you call it when we're actually talking about spores) up near the foundation.  Later, I'll dig them up and plant them somewhere else.  But for now, I'll enjoy watching them up against the warm foundation.

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And then -- a big surprise!

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Yep.  That sad, little pot?  Nestled in among the biggest weed patch in my garden?  It's a Little Honey oak leaf hydrangea I bought last May at the Master Gardener Plant Sale.  Yeah.  Last May.  I couldn't figure out where, exactly, I wanted to plant it when I first brought it home (which is a problem I often have - sort of the gardener-version of eyes-too-big-for-the-stomach) -- and then, well.  Last summer was a bit of a mess, and it just sat there.  All year.

Anyway.  LOOK!  It has leaves!  It LIVES!  It survived both my neglect AND our mild winter.  I will happily find the perfect spot for it this year!

I just love watching my garden come alive again each spring!

Enjoy the weekend.


Bloomin' Friday

Spring is here, that's for sure.

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But it's that one-step-forward-two-steps-back kind of Spring.

Teasing, fickle Spring.

A warm and 75ºF day . . . followed by a few (too many) chilly, dreary, rainy days.

Ugh.

Tedious.

I'm just not very patient.

But my garden is letting me know that it won't be long now.  Leaves are beginning to emerge.  My daffodils are blooming.  I have "lawn violets" and dandelions feeding the bees in my yard.

What else is going on in my garden?

Well, I'm eagerly watching my little redbud.  Maybe blooms next week?

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And my grape hyacinths (at least the ones in the West-facing beds) are beginning to pop.

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And the first blooms are emerging on my star magnolia tree -- with the promise of many more to come.

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Right now, though?  It's the hellebores that are the real stars of the show in my garden!

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Hard working.  Super showy.  Loaded with buds.

Best of all?  The deer won't touch 'em!

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And, just to keep me smiling, the hops are suddenly up . . . and spreading fast.  Ready to take over the world!

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Here we go!  Just like that . . . it's gardening season again.

 


Looking Down

The windows in my house, for the most part, don't have window coverings.  Some are bare; while some just have light, woven blinds.

Because we live on a hill and, for the most part, neighbors and passersby can't see in.

Because I like a lot of light.

Because I like to look out.

But there's one window I don't really use much.  It looks out over the north side of my house, from high up ("3rd floor" - counting the walkout basement on that side of the house).

It used to be Brian's room.  Now it's my "art room" -- where I paint and draw and (pretty much) store all my art supplies.

The view?

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My "backyard" (delineated by the fence) is an L-shape.  This view represents the short side of the L.  (The patio and my pergola and most of my garden beds are on the other side of the house -- the long side of the L.)  You can also see my neighbors' driveway.  And the street - if you look through the trees.

It's kind of a bird's eye view.

If you remember past blog posts . . . of my garden . . . that corner (that really dead-looking corner) is the newest area of my garden, and it looks pretty good when things get going.  But now?  Not so much.

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When I look down on my yard from this window at this time of year, I can't help thinking about my garden and mentally creating a list of things I want to do back there. . . 

  • pruning the beautyberry down to the ground
  • figuring out what to do where the trees were cut down last fall (victims of diplodia tip blight)
  • transplanting the hostas from the front yard side of the fence to the backyard side of the fence (so the deer have less chance of munching them)
  • is there any way to create a labyrinth for walking? (probably not, because the hill is pretty steep back there)
  • maybe this is the year to finally decide on steps down the hill?

Etc.

I've also decided I need to look out this window more often - especially as my garden comes to life.  Because having a bird's eye view gives an interesting perspective.  (And I can't wait to see my little redbud in the corner . . . blooming . . . from way up here!)

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