Tales From the Garden

Tales From the Garden

In my garden - both indoors and out - I tend to do a lot of . . . Face Plants!

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Not the kind of face plants where I fall on my face (although . . . that could happen . . . ). I'm talking about planters . . . with faces.


I've always been drawn to face plants, and I have many of them in my garden. I think they're charming and whimsical . . . and it's fun to maintain their "hairstyles" too.


A couple of weeks ago, I added two new face plants to my collectioon. They're pretty tiny, but packed with fun.


It looks like my "thing" with faces might be expanding, though. Because I also added this little creature to my menagerie. . .


I'm always looking for fun in my garden!
How about you? Do you "face plant" in your garden, too?



Tales From the Garden

Reality bites. 

I'm thrilled that my exterior house "makeover" project is well-underway (at last!), but my-oh-my . . . my garden is taking a serious hit! I knew this would happen. Once you bring in a paint crew and some carpenters and ladders and more ladders and long hoses and power washers and . . . well. Plants are bound to be trampled. Whole hunks of container plants (which I thought had been moved out of the way, but not enough) are gonna break off. I hold my breath and try not to look. . . 

(Also, I just want to say that our painting company? They are the most aware, cautious, and respectful-of-our property painting company I've ever seen. They are absolutely doing the best they can, and I'm pleased with the respect they're giving my garden. Still. Ladders. Lots of ladders.)

So. I'll not share any garden photos with you today.
Let's talk . . . garden fashion instead.


Ever since I completed my 2021 Quest for the Perfect Green Overalls (which I ended up sewing for myself), I have discovered that the VERY BEST thing to wear while gardening . . . is overalls. Comfort. Practicality. Pockets. Seriously, you can't beat 'em. And while I was thinking about making another pair -- hacking them into shorts overalls this time, I found the perfect, ready-made version . . . thanks to my (highly annoying but surprisingly right on the money) Instagram feed. 

These overalls (the ones I'm wearing in my photo) are from Duluth Trading Company (here's a link, and they're on sale right now . . . just sayin). They're lightweight. They have The Best Pockets. The shoulder straps are elastic. And I don't have to unbutton everything (just one shoulder strap) when I need to use the bathroom.


Besides . . . what gardener doesn't want overalls with little gnomes on them, huh?

(And for those of you who don't share my love of quirky gardening gear -- like gnome overalls or "chicken boots" -- they do come in solid colors, too.)


And that's my tale from the garden this week!


Tales From the Garden

I have a bottlebrush buckeye (a shrub) in my garden. I planted it several years ago; just two tiny twigs, probably about 8 inches tall. I wasn’t looking for this particular shrub for my garden when I brought it home, and I didn’t have a spot in mind for it either. I knew it would spread out, and I knew it preferred shade, so I stuck it in the “back woods” corner of my garden.

It didn’t do much for several years.

But. Look at it now! (Last year was the first year it bloomed.)
It seems quite happy!


It’s pretty spectacular, actually.
Yet, I have bittersweet feelings whenever I look at it.

My bottlebrush buckeye is a reminder of the final “garden adventure” I had with a special, long-time, gardening buddy. We each came home with small plantings of the shrub that day, inspired by one we saw in full bloom when we were visiting an out-of-town landscaping center near the lakeshore.

We used to do a lot of “garden adventures” together, my gardening buddy and I. Visiting special garden and landscape centers all over the state. Going on garden tours. Shopping the local cart sale. We were as familiar with each other’s gardens as we were with our own! We advised. We scouted. We shared. We bought plants for each other.

She was actually the first friend I made after chemo –  the first person I knew who hadn’t known me "before." We met at a Master Gardener event. She was very much an extrovert, and just . . . walked up and said, “Hey! I like your sweatshirt. Tell me about your garden.” And just like 6-year-olds at the playground, we became fast friends.


I haven’t seen her since just before the pandemic. We aren’t really . . . friends anymore. We didn’t have a falling out. We didn’t decide . . . not to be friends anymore. But, still, I lost her friendship. To dementia.

It happened gradually. Her personality changed. Never intimidated (she was an ultra-extrovert), her dementia loosened her up even more. She lost all her social filters. She said mean, judge-y things. To me, about me . . . but mostly to people around us. She acted inappropriately, embarrassingly in public. She knew we were friends, but she couldn’t remember how we were friends. She was always surprised when she found out I gardened, that - like her - I was a gardener, too. 

I wasn’t ready for this. I thought I was too young to lose friends to dementia! But . . . my gardening buddy was 12 years older than me. It happens.


Because of a number of . . . incidents . . . (and compounded by the pandemic) I decided it was in my best interest to step away from that friendship. I never imagined that I’d . . .  lose a friend that way. I’m still trying to process it all; trying to forgive myself for walking away from a person I didn’t recognize anymore, from someone who no longer recognized ME. 

So. My lovely bottlebrush buckeye? Anytime I look at it, I’m reminded of a beautiful gardening friendship full of fun memories. But it also . . . just makes me a little sad. 

Sometimes tales from the garden . . . are bittersweet.

(And if you’ve had an experience like mine - losing a friend to dementia - I’d love to hear how you managed.)

Tales From the Garden

This week's tale is all about the happy ending.

I keep a little gardening journal every year. It's pretty much . . . pocket size . . . if you have a biggish pocket. I keep lists of plants I want to buy, tasks I need to take care of, notes and measurements and ideas and garden-y resources . . . that kind of thing. I carry it with me when I'm working in my garden or shopping for plants or attending/listening to a gardening seminar. Here's a page from my journal that lists my . . . 


Big. Goals. For. This. Year.
I'm doing pretty well with my list so far, actually. (There ARE years where I cross nothing off, sad to say. ) (And I can also cross off "new garden solar lighting” now, too.)

Today, I want to talk about the first item that's been crossed off: "Rejuvenate pond area in the SCOD." For regular readers, you may remember that the SCOD is our acronym for the garden zone known as the Semi-Circle of Death. (It's a long story. And I don't want to go into it here, today. Suffice it to say . . . there have been many iterations of this particular section of my garden over the years. You could even say that . . . I've learned my most important gardening lessons right there in the SCOD.)

Anyway. Back in 2009, Brian and our foreign exchange student, Dominik, installed a tiny little pond in my garden as a Mother's Day present. (You can read all about it here . . . in a VERY early blog post from 2009.) Since then, the "puddle pond" (as it's come to be known) has changed . . . but not for the better.

In fact, here's a photo of the badly-in-need-of-rejuvenation puddle pond from May 24 of this year (we'll refer to this photo as the BEFORE) . . . 


Invasive ground cover.
Can you say . . . NEGLECT?

And definitely in need of "rejuvenation."

Tom agreed to help. While I directed, Tom dug out all the plants and weeds. We piled up the rocks. (Yeah. The rocks you couldn't even SEE until Tom started digging.) Tom even dug out and relocated the tiny pond, leveling it in the process (something the boys never did).

Now it looks like this (we'll refer to this photo as the AFTER). . . 


A bit stark, but so much better!


Those are little miniature hostas there on the edge of the pond. They'll stay quite tiny, although they'll definitely fill in a bit. (It won't look quite so stark next year.)


And I ordered a special memorial stone for Jenny . . . who loved the puddle pond AND the hostas (miniature or otherwise).


I "transplanted" the duck weed from my other (slightly larger) garden pond.

All in all, I'm really happy with my SCOD-rejuvenation! It's so nice to finish off an item on your garden-to-do list.
A VERY happy ending to this tale, indeed!



Tales From the Garden

You know how I often talk about gardening as a metaphor for hope and resilience? Well. Have I got a garden tale for you!

Last summer, I stuck my post-bloom amaryllis plants out in the garden for the season. My plan . . . was to let them do their thing in the summer sun, and then put them in a dark place to overwinter for a while before bringing them out in time to force-bloom for my post-holiday enjoyment. At the end of October last year, I stuck 6 amaryllis bulbs (still in their pots) in the garage, right next to the beer fridge.

And that was that.

And . . . that's where they stayed, actually. Because I never brought them into the house after the holidays. I completely ignored them. Didn't want to deal with them. Had no amaryllis bulbs in the house at all this year. (In fact, they're all still sitting in my garage, right next to the beer fridge.)

So imagine my surprise last weekend while I was scrambling around in the garage for my loppers . . . when I noticed one of the amaryllis bulbs sending up . . .



Talk about hope and resilience.

Despite my WORST neglect . . .
cold cement
not a drop of water
every conceivable plant hardship

. . . this bulb is giving me a beautiful bloom! (With two more to come.)


And a reminder that we can, indeed, survive and thrive.
Even if the conditions are far less than ideal.

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(. . . or overwintered in a dark garage, right next to the beer fridge.)