Growing Things

Right In My Own Backyard

The other day, we woke up to some Big Drama in the garden . . . 


(Husband included for scale.)



So it's a bit of a drag, for sure. But it could have been much worse.

I'm counting my lucky stars and feeling grateful that . . . 

1 -- It didn't hit the fence.


2 -- It didn't hit "Tom's garden" or the patio furniture. (Although it came close.)


3 -- It didn't take out or damage ANY OTHER trees or plants in the garden.

So . . . good news all around!
(And BONUS -- the tree guy is going to do a well-needed prune and trimming to the rest of the tree when he cleans up the limb next week.)

But not altogether bad drama.


Be sure to visit Carole today for other Three on Thursday posts.



Purple Haze


This is the time of year when all my hard work in the garden (and Tom's, too!) starts to pay off. Everything is generally neat and tidy, the blooms are bursting, and the party's ready to begin. Usually I look for reasons to celebrate in my garden. With other people.

I mean, I do love to just sit in my garden and enjoy. And we do that. Pretty much every evening at the end of the day. But gardens are meant to be shared!

Usually, I host my book group in my garden. I volunteer to have small meetings right on my patio. I invite friends over for drinks or knitting. We host our giant solstice party. But not this year.

So I'll share it virtually with all of you instead!
C'mon back . . . 


People are usually kind of surprised when they come through my garden gate . . . into the back yard . . . because you can't really see my garden from the front of my house at all. It's kind of a secret garden.


(Pretend I remembered to move the yard waste bin out of the way before taking this photo.)

I have gardens beds and landscaping in the front, too. But the Main Event is in the backyard. It's private and hidden and comfortable. (As in not fussy at all.)


It's, well . . . a lot of work (because this is only half of the back yard...), and Tom and I do all of it ourselves. (Except the mowing. We do hire out the mowing.) But it's a labor of love. 

Right now, my garden is in its Purple Haze blooming phase. 

There's the wisteria dripping from the pergola. . . 


and the globemaster allium holding court over the hostas.


I've got false indigo . . . 


and several types of perennial salvia attracting butterflies and hummingbirds.


I wish we all could sit around the patio . . . on this glorious day . . . sipping some wine and enjoying the blooms together. But like so many other things these days, we'll just have to imagine.

Thanks for coming along!

. . . 'scuse me while I kiss the sky.

A Very Different Kind of Happy Place

As I wrote about earlier this week, I'm holding firm to my strict stay-safe-at-home routine. (Technically, this is not an really issue for me yet because here in Michigan, we are still under a shelter-in-place order).

But I decided to make one big exception:  I visited my favorite nursery this morning.  
(Landscaping services and garden-related shops were declared "essential" here in Michigan only recently.)


Normally, going to the nursery is . . . going to my Happy Place.  I wander and I ponder and I take my time.  I find inspiration and I take pictures and I just relax and enjoy myself.  But, of course, these are not normal times.  

This morning, my favorite nursery still LOOKED like my favorite nursery.  The plants were just as gorgeous and lush as always. I knew where to find everything.  It smelled fresh and green and grow-y.  It felt so good to be there again.  

But yet. . . 

It also felt really weird. Surreal, actually. All the other gardeners had masks on. Everyone was polite and careful about making sure we could social-distance appropriatately. The nursery had all kinds of procedures in place to make shopping safe:  one-way aisles, carefully wiped-down carts, no-touch hand santizer dispensers, no-contact credit card readers, everything you need to feel (sorta) comfortable plant-shopping in a pandemic.  But it was so . . . quiet. No one was laughing or talking or even asking for help. It was so very, very quiet.

(At one point, I just felt so overwhelmed that I shed a few tears. It just . . . happened. And I couldn't do a thing about it.)


I got in. I got out.

I picked up what I went in for: my herbs and a few plants for my front porch containers and hanging ferns for my patio. I didn't jot any notes. I didn't take pictures of anything for future reference or inspiration. I didn't browse. (Much.) (Because I did still end up with a few things that just caught my eye. . . )

And then I came home and jumped in the shower!

So it IS still my Happy Place.
It's just a very different KIND of Happy Place.  
("Enriched" now, as it is . . . with sad, scary, surreal-ness.)


The State of Things

. . . in my garden.

March is here.  Which means I start getting a pretty strong itch to get out in my garden!

This year, the snow is already (pretty much) gone (although there is more on tap tonight), so the itch is stronger than usual this early in the season.  I know, though, that no matter what happens weather-wise over the next few weeks, it's still too early to begin anything out there in the garden.  But soon.


There is still ice on my little ponds, but a quick walk 'round my garden this morning showed these three sure signs of life out there today:

Crocus leaves!  These are the super-early blooming variety, and they get lots of warm sunshine every morning, so it won't be long and they'll be blooming.  (I can't wait.)


Hellebore buds!  Yeah, they don't look like much today. . . but they'll be wonderful in a week or two.  (Just you wait!)


Mourning doves!  Yes, possibly the most stupid of birds - the mourning doves, have returned to my garden.  I'm happy to have them back (as is JoJo, who loves to chase them) (because they really are kind of stupid).  (I still haven't seen a robin, though!)

How about YOU?  What signs of spring are you seeing in your corner of the world?  


Be sure to hop on over to Carole's, for more Three on Thursday posts.

Flying Off the Needles

Little Miss I'm-Not-Knitting-for-Christmas just wants to say . . . 


those Woodland Loafers just fly off the needles!  (That's a stitches-away-from-being-finished pair in all their unblocked glory there in the photo.)  (And another pair, waiting in the wings.)  (Which is really only a wound ball of yarn at this point, but I know you know what I mean.)

Seriously.  These things are fun to knit, easy (especially once you cut your teeth on the first one), and kind of magical.  If you're looking for a rather quick gift-knit, I recommend these cute little slippers.  It took me about 3.5 hours to knit the first one, but only 2.5 hours for the second.  (There is definitely a learning curve.)  (Plus movie-watching on the first one.)  I'm hoping to make good progress on the 2nd pair today -- I'm heading to Chicago and not driving.  That's hours and hours of knitting time!

If you're doing gift-knitting this year, how's it coming along?


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

Fall Gardening

It's really easy to love a garden in the spring and summer - when everything is bursting with bloom.  Most folks don't find fall gardens quite so charming, though.  

But I do!  I love my garden all the time . . . and maybe especially in the fall.



Everything is way past its prime in my fall garden.  Most die-hard gardeners I know rush to cut back dying perennials in the fall, ready to be done with garden-tending for another season.  And . . . well . . . I am, too.  But also . . . not.

Fall in my garden is really a wonderful time, and I relish these days in my garden.

Why?  (Besides knowing I need to get my fill of it before snow keeps me out of it?)  Well . . . let me count the ways:

1 - I love the muted colors and crispy textures of my fall garden.


In fact, I find some of my favorite color combinations in my fall garden -- and in fall landscapes, generally.  I often go on to use these fall garden color inspirations when it comes to choosing colors for a knitting project . . . or putting together pieces in my closet to wear.


2 - Late season seedheads are so interesting!


The blooms are long gone, sure.  But I love seeing the puffs and tufts of the seed heads in the fall.  Besides . . . I get even more blooms later (albeit maybe not where I want them) when the seeds scatter in my garden beds.  But I've discovered that "volunteer plants" often bring an unplanned unity to my garden.  Plus . . . free plants!  (And I can always pull them if I'm not happy about where they land.)


3 - The pressure is off!


No time to weed?  Lose track of your deadheading?  Well . . . in the fall, no one cares.  No one expects your garden to look good in the fall.  Shoot -- it's just a delight to still find something blooming.  And finches love the seedheads.  And there's always springtime for cleaning up!  Besides . . . if you leave some stuff out there in the garden, it becomes "winter interest" and will light up the garden when it catches the snow as it falls.


I really do love a garden in fall.  How about you???


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


Zinnia Magic 1-2-3

One of my favorite flowers in my fall garden is the hard-working zinnia.  It's just lovely . . . and magical at every stage of bloom. 

First, as a bud . . . 


Then, as it opens . . . 


And, finally, in full bloom. . .


Flowers are magical, aren't they?


Be sure to visit Carole today -- for more Three on Thursday posts.


And don't forget to check out my stash giveaway for the this month!  The deadline for comments is next Tuesday, October 1 at 5:00 pm Eastern.

Measuring Summer

There are so many ways to measure summer . . . 


Number of days.  Hours of daylight.  Temperature.  How many inches your kids grew.   Days until vacation.  Days of vacation.  Miles walked.  Or biked.  Books read.  Stops at the ice cream place.

So many ways.

I like to measure it in the garden.

In early June, I bought two gigantic pots for my front porch at Costco. Huge pots.  Great price.  (I'm thrilled with these pots!)  And I filled them with annuals.


Nice.  But underwhelming.

I knew, though, that those little plants would grow.

Yesterday, at the end of summer?


That's what I call a full summer!

IMG_3089 2

How do you measure summer?


Enjoy the weekend.  I'll see you back in this space on Tuesday next week.


As for the stash giveaway?  The Bloomfield yarn will be making its way to Roslyn, and the Hacho will be off to Juliann.  Thanks to all of you who expressed interest in the yarn.  There will be another giveaway in September!

Over the Top on the Fun-O-Meter and a Garden Surprise



The days are long and the pace is slow.


Except . . . when it's not!

For me, this has been a non-stop kind of summer.  High on the Good-Things-and-Fun-O-Meter, for sure!  But the pace has been relentless.  (Someday, maybe I'll have a chance to actually sit and rest in this lovely corner of my garden.)

I have nothing to complain about here, truly.  I've enjoyed a long visit with my sister, visited Mackinac Island and Chicago, co-hosted a super successful fundraising wine tasting event . . . and a summer solstice party (in the same week), (finally) spent a week up north, helped Brian and Lauren move into their new digs in Grand Rapids (on the hottest and muggiest day of the summer).  And now?  Well . . . I'm headed to Alaska with Tom later this week.  So.  Really . . . nothing but fun.

Still.  Constant activity - even when it is the fun kind - is always tiring, y'know?  

Okay.  Enough whining.  
Let's have a cool garden story instead, shall we?  

I have this WILD butterfly garden. 


I do my best to keep the path clear, and I try to keep the weeds down.  But, mostly . . . I let it do it's own thing.  It's an . . . organic, flowing, constantly-changing kind of garden.  Easy care.  Friendly to pollinators.  Always packed with bees and butterflies.  (It looks pretty good, too.)

There is lots of milkweed in my butterfly garden -- common milkweed, swamp milkweed, and butterfly weed.  (Plants in the milkweed family are the ONLY plants Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on -- and the only plants Monarch caterpillars will eat.)

butterfly weed

Over the weekend, I happened to be checking out one of the milkweed plants to see if I could find any Monarch eggs -- and was thrilled to find this instead. . . 

common milkweed

See him down there?  Near the bottom of the photo?

Here's a close up . . . 


A Monarch caterpillar . . . just munching away on my milkweed.

I love a good garden surprise!


How about you?  How's your summer coming along?