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July 2018

One of THOSE Days

"In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
            --- Unknown (although often attributed to George Orwell*)

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It's another of those days when . . .


So I'm going to control what I can control.  I'm going to pet my dogs.  And text my kids.  And hug my husband.  And dig in the garden.  And clean my bathroom.

Speak truth, my friends.  
Shout it from the rooftops.  

(Here's a thought-provoking essay by Rebecca Solnit - one of my favorite authors/thinkers.  Just thought y'all might be interested.)


*  Although this quote is often attributed to George Orwell, a thorough analysis shows that he never said those actual words, all together, as a quote (written or spoken).  Read all about it here.

Out in the Garden

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


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

See you Monday!

Foliage is Cool, Too

When I'm talking about my garden (or anyone's garden, for that matter), I often say . . . flowers are magical.

Because they really are!

But y'know what?  Foliage is cool, too.


I've designed my garden such that something is blooming any time, in any season.  May and June are easy.  Late July and August are much more challenging (except for those hardy alstroemerias blooming their hearts out in the photo above; they bloom all summer long).  

To keep my garden looking good throughout the season, I rely on interesting foliage to bring variety and interest.  When combining plants in my garden, I look for foliage with different:

Patterns (like these lungwort leaves).


Textures (like the leaves on this Japanese maple).


and Colors (like this cascade of Hearts-of-Gold Redbud leaves).


Even without any blooms, the foliage in my garden puts on a lovely show.  It turns out that foliage is the essential workhorse in the garden!

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Flowers are magical . . . but foliage is cool!


Today's post was inspired by Three on Thursday.  Be sure to read other ToT posts today over at Carole's!



Knittin' on the Dock of the . . . Lake

I'm enjoying a relaxed approach to my knitting this summer.  
No mystery knits, KALs, or speed knitting challenges for me this year (tempting as they may be).


This year it's just me.  
And some lovely linen.  
Locked in a rhythmic design.*


Knittin' on the dock of the . . . lake.

Watchin' the ships loons roll in. . .
And then I watch 'em roll away again. . .


This is a perfect summer knit.  Easy.  Soothing.  Cool.

Wastin' time. . . 
(I think not.)

 How about you?  What are you knitting this summer?


Be sure to head over to Kat's to read more Unraveled posts today.


*  This is the Albers Shawl from the Mason-Dixon Knitting Field Guide No. 6 - Transparency.  I'm knitting with Reed by Shibui Knits.  (And I only had to unravel once.)  (So far.)  (Because counting.)

C'mon Along . . . Paddle with Me

The past couple of mornings have been perfect for long kayak paddles on the lake.  (So perfect, in fact, that I have blisters on top of blisters.)  I thought you might like to join me . . . for a paddle around the lake!


Such a great way to relax, hang out on the water, and get a little exercise, too!  
(Hope you didn't get any blisters. . .)


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.


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.)


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.


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.


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.)


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!


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!)



Although yesterday felt like Monday, today is actually Friday.  And that means . . . 



T - Thinking About . . . drawing.  I don't take art classes during the summer (too much garden and up north), so I don't have the structure a regular schedule provides.  I'm starting to miss it (although I do have a one-day workshop coming up later this month), and I have Ideas.  Now, I just need to get my pencils out.

G - Grateful For . . . waking up to a surprising change in the weather.  After weeks of super-hot-and-super-humid, it's . . . sunny and pleasantly cool this morning.  I wasn't expecting this (nor was the weather app on my phone).  We actually turned off the air conditioner and opened the windows this morning.  I'm grateful for fresh air, bird song, and the sound of sprinklers -- and especially for this little reprieve from the oppressive heat.

I - Inspired By . . . almost everything.  I seem to be wide open when it comes to inspiration these days.  Maybe it's the summer, with its explosion of color and texture and sound and smells.  Or maybe it's just that I've cleared enough space in my head so I can BE inspired.

F - Fun . . .packages for my kids.  I explained a couple of weeks ago that I've been sending my far-away (and very grown up) kids "care packages" every month.  Some months I send them useful items, sometimes seasonal items, sometimes hand knits, sometimes treats.  This month?  I've put together summer fun boxes -- with squirt guns and bubble guns and and flying parachute men.  (The only thing missing is popsicles. . . )  Kids nearing 30?  No problem.  I know they'll have fun with this stuff!

Enjoy your Friday -- and have a great weekend!

Tales from the Garden

It's HOT out there.

Too hot, really, to be comfortable outside for very long.

So the weeds are taking over in my garden.  And I'm back to dragging hoses where my sprinkling system doesn't reach (pretty much all the border beds) (yay).  And my containers look like C.R.A.P.

Ah, yes!  Gardening is tough . . . in the hot months.  (But so much better than NO gardening in the cold months, y'know?)


So.  Let's look on the bright side, shall we?  
Here are three Tales from the Garden that focus on some good things in my garden today.

1 - Resilient Lilies


Earlier this summer, I told you about the Asian lilies I impulse-purchased last year at Lowes.  And never planted.  They defied odds and made it through the winter.  


I planted them.  And they are thriving!  A happy ending all around.  (And now maybe you can see how the impulse-purchase happened in the first place.)  (Because lovely, non?)

2 - Water Lilies

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I have had this hardy lily in my pond for a couple of years now.  It was an expensive plant, and I was disappointed in it.  It threw up a few lily pads in those past years, but nothing impressive.


This year, it's not only sending up the pads -- but lovely lily after lily as well!  What a treat.  (I'm thinking it's the new presence of my Garden Buddha.)  (Seriously.)


3 - Finch Ferns


Every year, I have two hanging Boston ferns on my patio.  Tom and the kids used to get them for me for Mother's Day.  And as soon as those ferns were in place on the patio, finches would move in and nest in the ferns. Every. Year.  (And sometimes multiple generations through the summer.  Kind of . . . a condo development for the finches!)  

Now that the kids are older and on their own (and do other things like send wine and flowers), I get the ferns myself.  This year, I got them quite late in the season -- not until mid-June, when usually it's mid-May (because Mother's Day).  I figured we'd missed out on the finches; that they'd nested elsewhere.


Nope.  As soon as I hung the ferns, a finch family moved in!  (Some things never change.)  (Obviously a popular finch neighborhood. . . )


So.  Bottom line:  Even when the gardening is tough, the gardening is good!


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