Growing Things

In The Blink of An Eye

Like many of you, last week we had a week-long stretch of unbelievably wonderful fall days here in my corner of the world. Just day after day of blue skies, warm temperatures, and open windows . . . unheard of in November in Michigan.

Tom and I took full advantage of this weather by taking care of some lingering outside chores, taking the dogs on neighborhood walks (where they enjoyed crunching through the leaves gathering at the curbs), and . . . sitting out each night for drinks-on-the-patio.

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Such a glorious weather-week.

And . . . over in the blink of an eye!

On Tuesday night, a cold front moved through. And now? November is back, and all the remaining leaves dropped from the trees in one night. So today, seeing that it's a Three-On-Thursday kind of day, I thought I'd share three wonderful colors-of-fall in my garden - now gone, sadly. But wonderful while they lasted!


Until next year, fabulous garden color!

"In the garden, Autum is, indeed the crowning glory of the year, bringing us the fruition of months of thought and care and toil. And at no season, safe perhaps in Daffodil time, do we get such superb colour effects as from August to November."
            --- Rose G. Kinsley, The Autumn Garden, 1905



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


And do let me know in the comments if you'd like to join us for our first ever Read With Us Zoom meet-up to discuss The Women of Brewster Place -- Tuesday, November 17 at 7:00 pm Eastern Time. (You can also send me an email; address in the sidebar.)


Time To Button Up

Well. It's time to button up my garden for the coming winter.


I really enjoy being out in my garden in the fall. It's cooler, for one thing, which makes it much easier to take care of my chores. It's beautiful, too. Not just the leaves on the trees (which are absolutely stunning this year) -- but also the last force of blooms on some of my plants (I have zinnias, dahlia, goldenrod, and hardy geraniums going to town right now) and even the dead-and-dying stalks and leaves. Because there is a beauty to the decay in my garden, too.

And the dogs love it in the garden at this time of year! They like to crunch down into the plants and dig a little here and there. There are squirrels to chase and possums to track. Exciting times, if you're a dog!


(This photo isn't crooked; my yard is crooked - big hill - and this photo really shows it!)

Sadly, the deer are also happy in my garden this year. Usually . . . they don't venture into my fenced back gardens until spring. This year? They've already arrived. Mostly just munching on my hostas. Oh, well. Just another challenge to deal with in the garden. . . 


(Jenny, now 13-and-a-half, has always loved hanging out in the hostas -- ever since she was a tiny pup. Some things never change.)

When it comes to buttoning up my garden for the season, I tend to take a . . . relaxed approach. I do what I can to prepare things for spring - a bit of pruning, a little more deadheading, some planting (fall is a great time to plant perennials) (and bulbs, of course). I like to take stock and make notes -- to remind myself of things that worked/didn't work, for example, and to remind myself in the spring of things I want to be sure to do then.

But I leave a lot of dying-back plants and seed heads . . . as is. I don't rake the mulch from my garden beds (much). I'm trying to provide a "friendly" environment for my garden friends -- the birds, the beneficial insects, my frogs and toads. (I do tend to get the leaves off the grass -- if they fall before the snows come. Always a crap shoot around here . . . ) I also like to let my self-seeding plants do a little self-seeding. I tend to like "volunteers" in my garden. I can always pull them next spring if they get a bit too exuberant, or if they show up where I don't want them to be.


Now is the time I bring all my garden "tchotchkes" in for winter storage. And usually the furniture -- although this year, we're leaving some things out in an attempt to extend our outdoor time as much as possible. (Thanks, Mr. Heater!). I re-plant my containers several times in the fall -- mums and pumpkins for early fall, pansies for as long as they last, and then grasses and (usually) dead branches/brown hydrangea flowers and berries for later fall.

Fall . . . is a peaceful time in the garden for me. There isn't much stress-and-pressure like there is in the spring - when everything is exploding everywhere and I can barely keep up. It's more quiet. There is time for reflection; a gentle unwinding. It's a good time to BE in the garden.


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


PSA: I want to point out that my laissez-faire attitude about fall garden chores and clean-up is appropriate for perennial gardens; NOT vegetable gardens -- where meticulous clean-up is absolutely necessary. (Another reason I don't have a vegetable garden, to be honest.) Here is an excellent article by Margaret Roach (perhaps my favorite garden expert) full of fall garden clean-up tips for both perennial gardens and vegetable gardens. You can find a lot more great information on her website (including links to her podcast).


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!

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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!