Bloomin Friday

Go Time

For about two-and-a-half weeks, we've had this weird spring weather pattern here in my corner of the universe. It's been really cold, but . . . not like a normal spring cold snap. Those usually come and go in any northern spring -- a threatened overnight frost following several teasingly summer-like days is normal and expected around here.

But, nope. This cold snap . . . was not "snappy" at all. Frigid air and biting winds swooped in for a long visit. Too long. It was a real drag! And for some reason, it really dragged me down. I don't usually let the weather stop me from getting out in the garden (too much), but these past couple of weeks, it kinda did. 


It was like a freeze frame in the garden! And apparently for me, too. It was like Mother Nature hit PAUSE. And there we were.

Trees that were blooming when the cold moved in (my redbuds and my viburnum, for example) just held onto their blooms the whole time. Normally, those blooms don't last very long - because warm sunshine moves things along quickly in the spring. So it was nice to have those blooming trees stuck in a time warp. And buds . . . just stayed tight buds. (Good thing. Because that protected the tender blooms from the freeze.) The only thing that took a real hit was my azalea (pictured above). It looked just like it did in the photo - with the blooms just opening up - when the cold front moved in. Nearly three weeks later, it looks the same. Only with frost damage. It won't be blooming this year.

Well. I guess I took a hit, too -- in terms of my emotional and mental health. The freeze frame in my garden . . . extended to me, too. (Languishing, I tell you. It's a real thing.) I would've been okay with a typical cold snap. This one just hung around too long.


But yesterday, the temperatures climbed into the upper 60s. And the sun was shining! Today it's supposed to hit 70. I can feel myself . . . thawing out. My garden can feel it, too.

I have some alliums just waiting to pop.


There are beds to clean. Weeds to pull. Containers to plan. Ponds to get running.

I'm feeling better already.


I hope you all enjoy a great weekend -- filled with things that will help you flourish.



The State of Things: An Update

Way back at the end of March, I shared how I was progressing with various projects on my plate at the time. Since then?

  • Overalls. Check.
  • Colorwork Sweater. Check.
  • Taxes. Check.

The garden bed cleanup, though? Still plugging along!


I mean . . . I created a monster. My garden beds are too big and too numerous for me to ever keep up with all at once. (I, of course, never considered this as I kept expanding.) I love it. But it's been a good exercise in . . . letting go of perfection, living with weeds, setting priorities, and knowing when to say "when." (There are so many metaphors for life in my garden.)

I don't regret a thing about my garden.

But sometimes, in the spring, I do question a few things.
(As in . . . what was I thinking???)

At this point, I'm over the half-way point in cleaning up all the beds. (And the toughest ones are complete.) (You know. For the first pass.) And our "lawn guy" (we hire this great kid -- who started his own landscaping company as a sophomore in high school; he's a senior this year, and a master businessman) has helped me by clearing out the real detritus of the garden. And he's started the weekly mowing and edging. Tom is poised to begin mulching. Progress, for sure.

Because there is so much . . . garden . . . to manage, I've "divided" it into 17 "beds" (even though most of them are actually contiguous) so I can keep track of where I'm working and what needs to be done where. I've also named each bed, which allows me to refer to them by name when communicating with Tom, my chief digger and mulcher. (He's got the nomenclature down.)

This area, for example, is referred to as "The SCOD," which stands for Semi-Circle-Of-Death. (In the earlier years, many things . . . came and went, failed to thrive, met their demise . . . in that area of the garden. Things have settled down now, but we still refer to it as The SCOD.)


(The first photo in this post is also The SCOD, but from the opposite direction.) The SCOD . . . requires a lot of work. Every year. All the time. And because it's the main pathway into our backyard and garden, I like to keep it looking pretty good, most of the time. (In the background of the photos, you can see another bed. I call that one Arborvitae Alley. It's much more low-maintenance, and especially since we pulled out 3 unruly red twig dogwoods a couple of years ago.)

Some of my beds are named for their . . . distinguishing features.

The Pergola Area, for example.


Or The Pond. (You can see the pond is not yet set up; the hose. . . )


There's Tom's Garden (because he turned a boring corner of the lawn into a secret corner garden of delight) . . . 


And we have The Butterfly Garden. The Deer Salad Bar. The Arbor.

But most of our garden beds . . . are just named for where they are. The Bed In Front of the Window, for example. Or Against the Fence. Or Front Door South and Front Door North. (This is Front Door North.)


Or Back Corner . . . 


Like I said . . . it's a lot. But it's also a lot . . . to love.

Perhaps I'll come back and show you how the beds are shaping up as the season progresses. It's all still in the just-emerging phase right now; preparing to launch. It'll be much more spectacular and impressive in a few weeks!

For today? I've got my work cut out for me as I take on The Herb Garden and The Bed In Front Of The Window!


Have a great weekend, and I'll see you on Monday. 




Gardening. So Much More Than Pretty Flowers.

"A garden is always a series of losses set against a few triumphs, like life itself."
        –May Sarton (2014). 'At Seventy: A Journal'

You learn a lot of things when you garden. 

And I'm not just talking about soil composition, color balance, last-average-freeze-dates, pruning skills, or how to properly mulch a tree. That's all vital information for a gardener, but I'm actually talking about . . . 
Secrets of the Universe.
What Makes the World Go Around.

That kind of stuff.


Case in point.

See that gorgeous, flowering redbud there in my front yard? It makes my heart leap a little bit everytime I see it out my front window . . . or whenever I walk the dogs up the hill in front of my house these days. I love it so!

And you know what?

I didn't plant it.
Neither did Tom.

It's a garden "volunteer!" It just . . . showed up one year. I was weeding out in that particular bed (which I refer to as the "Deer Salad Bar" because they eat whatever I plant there) (except for the hellebores) (because as far as I can tell, that's the only plant in my garden deer WON'T touch), and I noticed a little tree sprouting up. The leaves gave me pause . . . because they were heart-shaped . . . and I wondered if it might be a red bud that somehow ended up among my Austrian pines. I decided to just . . . let it be. And find out.

(Note: I get a LOT of "volunteers" growing in my garden. Many of them - the dreaded buckthorn, for example, or the English ivy my neighbor planted as ground cover, etc. - I dig out as soon as I find them. Others? I've learned to just . . . see how things go. It's easier that way.)

Anyway. Now, several years later, I have this rather glorious redbud in my front yard!

It gives me great delight every spring.

And it makes me think (a lot) about the very essence . . . of gardening. 

I mean, gardening . . . is really trying to tame a bit of nature for yourself. To make your little plot of land . . . do something it might not want to do, given its own rhythm and the whole "nature" thing. It takes a lot of work to keep formal, tidy gardens looking formal and tidy! I always tip my hat to those gardeners who manage to keep everything looking tip-top because . . . it ain't easy! Shoot . . . if you do what "good gardeners" do and create the soil conditions to grow whatever it is you want to grow (vegetables, flowers, shrubs, whatever), well . . . you're also going to invite the things you don't want to grow (weeds, volunteers, insidious ground cover). Because (nearly) every plant is looking for great soil and plenty of water, y'know? Nature finds ways to keep doing what it wants to be doing. And it wants to put down roots. To grow. To keep on keeping on!

Back to my rogue redbud.


(It really is a stunner, isn't it?)

This redbud is giving me more than just beautiful blooms right now. It's also reminding me that . . . 

  • You really can bloom where you are planted.
  • Sometimes the right answer is to just . . . let it be.
  • It's okay to be curious and see what happens.
  • Nature will do what nature does, and often, it disrupts.
  • Life is easier when we can allow ourselves to go with the flow.

Gardening is so much more than pretty flowers, y'know?

"The garden suggests there might be a place where we can meet nature halfway."
        – Michael Pollan (2007) ‘Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education’


Enjoy the weekend!
I hope you find some beautiful, blue sky blooms in your corner of the world.





Welcoming Spring

Tomorrow is the Spring Equinox. To celebrate, I have some magical flowers and a sweet little poem for you. (The flowers are an early variety of crocus, and they pop up all over in my garden -- WAY ahead of the more usual crocus varieties. Truly magical -- but very short-lived.)

IMG_2968 2

Two Sewing
by Hazel Hall

The Wind is sewing with needles of rain.
With shining needles of rain
It stitches into the thin
Cloth of earth. In,
In, in, in.
Oh, the wind has often sewed with me.
One, two three.

Spring must have fine things
To wear like other springs.
Of silken green the grass must be
Embroidered. One and two and three.
Then every crocus must be made
So subtly as to seem afraid
Of lifting colour from the ground;
And after crocuses the round
Heads of tulips, and all the fair
Intricate garb that Spring will wear.
The wind must sew with needles of rain,
With shining needles of rain,
Stitching into the thin
Cloth of earth, in,
In, in, in,
For all the springs of futurity.
One, two, three.


I hope you can get outside to greet the Spring tomorrow . . . wherever you are.


The poem, Two Sewing, is in the public domain. You can learn a little more about the author, Hazel Hall, here.

A Cheery Bit

Well . . . winter has finally arrived here in Michigan
(I figured it would show up eventually).
And we got the "package deal" . . .  

Plenty of snow.
Ice underneath.
Howling wind.
Temperatures in the single digits.

But I'm warm inside, and I've got these to bring me cheer . . . 



Wherever you are - and whatever your weather - I hope your weekend brings YOU something cheery!

See you next week.

The Thing with Gardening

Here's the funny thing about gardening:  You wait and wait and wait and wait (and after this last winter - you wait some more!), just wishing and hoping and itching to get out in the garden.


Then. . . one day . . . the temperature suddenly spikes to the mid-70s (without so much as a ramp-up) and stays that way for a couple of days.  And then, just as suddenly, gardeners are woefully behind on All the Tasks.  Like . . . right now!

It always feels a little like garden-panic in the spring.  But it will work out.  (It always does.)

Here in my corner of Michigan, we're still way behind "normal" in terms of what's budding and blooming, but thanks to a couple of warm, sunny days this week, things are beginning to pop.   (Kalamazoo's average last frost date is May 21, so it's not like I'm trying to plant anything yet.)  (Our cottage up north?  The last average frost date there is June 11!)

So, amid great fanfare and a bit of garden-clean-up-exhaustion, here are 3 things blooming in my garden today:


1 - Hellebores.  (These have been blooming for a couple of weeks now.)


2 -- Grape hyacinth.


3 -- Dandelions!  (Never fear --- my position atop the Neighborhood Dandelion Leaderboard remains secure for yet another season!)  (My neighbors hate me.) (Although most people consider dandelions a scourge, I think of them as "first food" for the bees and pollinators.)

And, coming up with a bullet?  We've got . . . 




Virginia bluebells!

(And lilac, too.  Just no photos.)

The thing about gardening?  Flowers are magical, and spring is a wonderful thing!  (Even if everything feels a bit out of control at first.)


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


Bloomin' Friday: Early Spring Edition

I am happy to report that we have no snow on the ground.

We have sunshine and blue skies.

Don't get all excited, though.  We also have cold north winds.  And they've been blowing for a few weeks now.  
(Apparently, the same weather pattern that is sending nor'easter after tedious nor'easter to the east coast is keep those cold north winds blowing here.)  

So it's cold.  Bitterly cold.  
(Which is such a rip-off when the sun is shining so brightly, y'know?)

Not much blooming on this sunny, cold Friday.  
(Even the crocus are staying pretty much in tight bud right now, holding out for just a bit of warmth.)

Outside, that is.
Inside, though?  That's another story.  Because I've got blooms!


The last blast from my amaryllis crop.


And my "Christmas" cactus . . . blooming at Easter time.  
(As it does.)  

Hope you've got something blooming in your world!
Happy Friday.

Bloomin' Friday: Winter Edition

Mid-January in western Michigan is a very bleak and gloomy time.  Winter has taken hold by now.  Bitter cold.  Lots of snow.  Perpetual cloud cover.  And even though we enjoyed a January Thaw yesterday, it was bleak.  Rain, fog, grey skies.  We haven't seen the sun in a while.  And overnight, the temperature plunged over 30 degrees and it is snowing again.

Fun times.

I need something to brighten my dreary corner of the world.


Enter . . . amaryllis.  The most magical of all flowers (at least, in the middle of winter).

My strategy with amaryllis . . . is to plant them a bit later in the fall.  I don't need blooms at Christmastime.  I need blooms in the bleak days of January and February!

They are the bright spots in my very bleak landscape.


Bring on the blooms!


Another Friday . . . Another Amaryllis

It's Friday.  The end of a hectic week.  

In fact, things were so hectic around here that I nearly missed this amaryllis bloom.


Meet Rosy Star.  

Lovely -- but . . . a very, very short bloom-time.  Which was pretty disappointing, actually.  All the buds on both stems opened up at nearly the same time -- and then only lasted a couple of days.  I've never had an amaryllis "go" that quickly!

Oh, well.

A bright spot while it lasted!