Growing Things

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.

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Sure.  

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.

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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.

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2 - Late season seedheads are so interesting!

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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.)

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3 - The pressure is off!

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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.

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

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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 . . . 

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Then, as it opens . . . 

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And, finally, in full bloom. . .

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Flowers are magical, aren't they?

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

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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 . . . 

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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.

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Nice.  But underwhelming.

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

Yesterday, at the end of summer?

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That's what I call a full summer!

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How do you measure summer?

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

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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

Ahhhh.

Summer.

The days are long and the pace is slow.

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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. 

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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.)

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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. . . 

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common milkweed

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

Here's a close up . . . 

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

I love a good garden surprise!

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


On the Clock

So.  Let's get back to wellness.  Specifically, physical fitness.  

If you remember my last post on the topic, we were talking about what "counts" when it comes to exercise.  Because really, as it turns out, anything that gets you moving counts as exercise.  And it happens that a lot of us move . . . by gardening.

So I decided to give it my best "scientific" test.

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On Saturday afternoon, I gathered my gardening tools, and set my Apple watch for a workout.  (I had to choose "Mixed Cardio" because Apple doesn't have a category for "Gardening.")  (Although they should.  As I'm about to demonstrate.)

For the next hour and (nearly) thirty-nine minutes, I gardened.  It was pretty heavy-duty gardening:  cleaning beds, digging weeds, cutting back shrubs, hauling debris -- standard early-spring garden chores. I was pretty intentional about doing as much of my work as I could on my feet (like . . . without sitting for long periods of time on my trusty little garden cart), so I was doing a lot of squatting, bending, carrying, and walking about.  

It was tiring!  But . . . how good a workout was it?

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Turns out . . . it was a pretty good one!

In an hour and (just under) thirty-nine minutes, I burned 341 active calories with an average heart rate of 100 bpm.  That's MUCH more of a workout than I would have predicted.  (Thanks, Apple watch.)  In fact, I had burned nearly the same number of calories on a 5+ mile walk with JoJo and a friend earlier that morning.

Bottom line?  Not only does gardening "count" as exercise -- but it is an effective workout, to boot!  (No longer am I going to wonder why I'm so tired after a session in the garden, that's for sure.)

How about you?  Have you discovered any new ways to move?


When Spring Gives You . . . Snow

On Saturday, we had a freak Spring snowstorm in the forecast.  

My first thoughts went to my garden.  Everything that is blooming or budding right now can take cold temperatures (our average last frost date isn't until mid-May after all), but heavy, wet snow?  That's enough to crush delicate blooms, for sure.  

I kept my fingers crossed that the forecast was wrong (as it often is. . .).  But once I saw the first "snow chunks" falling, I ran out into my garden to Save the Daffodils!

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I cut every blooming daffodil in my garden and brought them all inside.

They made quite a bouquet -- and it gave me a chance to really see all the varieties play together, gathered in one spot as they were.

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I'm so glad I cut them and brought them in!  We ended up with enough snow that they would have been crushed under the weight of it.  (And I still have at least as many daffodil buds out there in my garden, so there are more blooms to come.)

In typical, fickle Spring fashion, the sun was shining brightly on Sunday morning, and by early afternoon, all the snow had melted.  (But for a while there on Sunday I did something I've never done before:  I gardened while there was snow on the ground.)

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When Spring gives you snow . . . make lemonade!

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(Be sure to visit this space on Friday!  Something new and exciting is coming . . . and you won't want to miss it.)

 


All It Takes

. . . is a bit of sunshine and a couple of warmer days to get things popping in my garden!  

A couple of years ago, I planted a big bag of "mixed daffodils," not really sure what I'd end up with when spring came around.  Now, I love the variety -- and I also love that they bloom in waves.  (Some are early-bloomers, some are late-bloomers.)  Here are three different types that are blooming in my garden today:

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I just love them!  And I love their glorious steadfastness, too -- standing straight and tall through heavy rains and roller-coaster temperatures.  (Those spring bulbs are tough!)

What's blooming in your garden today?

 


Greeting Spring In My Garden

"I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose, I would always greet it in a garden."
                    --- Ruth Stout

Spring is fickle, to be sure. 

But it's also. . .  here.  (Finally.)  
And Ruth Stout is right: I will always choose to greet it in my garden.  
Which is definitely coming back to life!

Sweet crocus are blooming.

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My hellebores are waking up.

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And my larch tree is greening up again.

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My garden is the perfect place to greet the spring!
(Even though it's cold and windy today.)  (But, hey.  No snow.)

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Head over to Carole's today for more Three on Thursday.


Going to Seed

It's the time of year for garden clean-up.  Time to prepare the plants for winter and maybe even get a head start on next year's garden.  

But . . . I'm kind of a lazy gardener in the fall.  I've grown tired of weeding and the more tedious garden chores.  I want to just sit back and relax at this point.  (And, besides, I still have plenty of things blooming!)

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Really, though, I do a lot of garden "prep" in the fall.  I move plants around.  I weed (it never ends).  I cut back some of the plants that really need it.  I plant bulbs.  I make a lot of notes for next year.  I bring in all my little garden tchotchkes.  I pull out the annuals and empty my hanging baskets.

But.  I don't tend to cut back my perennials.  I don't mind a garden (even in the off season) that is . . . less than tidy.  I leave seedheads that are . . . interesting.  Or that provide food for the birds.  Or that will seed in a way I want them to seed.  Or that will collect snow in a particularly beautiful way (when that happens) (because it will).

Besides . . . I find seedheads to be quite lovely all on their own.  Here are three that have caught my eye this week:

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Penstemon.  When at it's peak, this penstemon - called Husker's Red - features white blooms on reddish stalks.  I often cut these stalks with seedheads for fall flower arrangements. 

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Butterfly weed.  At it's peak, the blooms are bright orange and a staple in butterfly gardens.  Butterfly weed is in the "milkweed family," so is especially beneficial for Monarchs.  I often share the seeds with friends (intentionally)*, and with my neighbors (unintentionally, but purposefully).  (They love me so.)

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Clematis.  At its peak, this particular clematis ('Tranquilite') sports huge white blossoms with a burgundy/purple center.  Although I go a little weak-in-the-knees for pretty much any blooming clematis, I also love their interesting seedheads once the blooms have faded.

How about you?  Are you a neat-and-tidy gardener come fall?  Or, like me, do you let seedheads . . . do their thing?

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

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*If you'd like some of my butterfly weed seeds for your garden, send me an email or let me know in the comments and I'll mail you a batch.