PASSING IT ON

I consider myself very fortunate to have a garden.

It’s the place I go to work

Get sweaty

And think things through.

Or as my dad used to say

“To think the long thoughts.”

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Lately it seems I need that place

The “long thoughts” are occupying my mind

Much of the time.

Perhaps it’s a stage

Or my age

Or summer

When my schedule is a little freer

Than the rest of the year.

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One thing I do know

Is it’s important to pass this along

To the next generation.

As a toddler Elliott was by my side

In the garden

Then like all kids

He grew to want and need more freedom

And began to roam the neighborhood.

There were days in junior high

That I thought I had failed

To teach him to love the soil.

Not so

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He’s grown into quite a capable gardener

Growing vegetables for their family

And flowers for Kristina to arrange

And share with friends.

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I’m certain Elliott’s time on the farm

With my parents

Contributed to his deep appreciation

Of this earth.

So is it nature

Or nurture

I’ve wondered

As the next generation has come along

These past two years?

Can a child being raised in the center

Of a major city

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Grow into an appreciation

Of the earth

And the things that can be learned there?

Even at two

It seems we have our answer.

Both Harper and Henry

Love being outside

Constantly wanting to check in on

Sally the salamander.

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Who lives in the valve box

Of the park’s sprinkling system.

Or helping with Jojo’s “work”

In the yard.

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Henry seems especially interested.

So perhaps it’s both.

Being born into a family

With dirt under their fingernails

On both sides.

Carrying the name of family members.

And watching their parents

Love and appreciate nature

And the gifts that God has given us all.

Gail

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I’m home from vacation now and will get back to regular gardening stories soon.

Thanks for indulging m

 

 

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Filed under cleome, Gardening, Gardening Mentors, Gloriosa Daisy, Grandchildren, Uncategorized

Marry a Carpenter

I think I’ve written before

About the great match of

A carpenter married to a gardener.

Over the years John has built

Fences and gates and arbors and potting benches

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And much more

Basically he’s handy – very handy.

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A few years back he built this screen

To help hide the back of the garden.

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You know

That place where you store things

Old broken pots

Millions of flats and plastic pots

That you haven’t gotten around to recycling.

Old hoses

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And whatever else you haven’t found a permanent home for.

This “hidey hole” has another side.

It’s where I park my double bin compost tumbler.

I literally wore one out last fall.

It’s taken us this long to get it replaced.

And John decided this time it needed a screen

So he built it.

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Nothing much has ever grown in the space

Opposite the compost tumbler.

So we talked about repeating

The plants that have done well

In the shade of the cedar tree

On the other side of the garden

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John planted Yews that will spread to create a backdrop

More Oak Leaf Hydrangea

And a passalong Hosta.

The largest I’ve ever seen

Which John divided into four large Hosta.

Who knows how big they will get.

 

I’ve also added two “Incrediball Hydrangea”.

They are pretty sad right now,

But since they are related to

Those wonderful Annabelle hydrangea

I’m hoping they’ll thrive like their cousins.

 

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All of this joined existing Hellebores and Ferns.

This fall

I’ll extend the brick path

And sprinkle in a few spring flowering perennials

To complete the space.

Thank you John for hours of hard work

In this hotter than usual summer.

This all started with the death of the old compost tumbler.

I was sad to lose my rusted out old friend.

You just never know what will grow

Out of loss.

Enjoy the week,

Gail

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Filed under Compost, Garden Planning, Gardening, Hellebores, Hosta, Hydrangea, Oakleaf Hydrangea, Uncategorized

HYDRANGEA PRIMER

I love Hydrangea.

They give perhaps more blooms

Than any other flowers

In my garden.

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But the last few years

Have not been great Hydrangea years.

Warm early springs

Followed by late cold snaps

Have limited the blooms for the last three or so years.

It’s one of the most disappointing things I know

Frozen Hydrangea buds!

This year the Hydrangea Gods aligned

Blessing us with an abundance of blooms.

All over town.

My friend Karen who was about to dig up her Hydrangea

Gleefully texted a picture in June

Announcing “They’re blooming!”

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Abundant blooms equals abundant questions

Because people want to add them to their gardens.

So here’s a little primer of what I know about Hydrangea.

Old fashioned Macrophyllia or Mophead Hydrangea bloom on “old wood”.

These are the most susceptible to those late spring freezes.

Yet they are spectacular plants

So don’t cast them out.

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Just provide them with a little more northern protection

If possible.

The newer are sold under the commercial brand of “Endless Summer.”

They bloom on new and old wood,

So your chances of getting lots of blooms are greatly increased.

I’ve made room for plenty of both in my garden.

I’ll never confess just how many I have.

Hydrangea are happiest with morning sun

And afternoon shade in warmer zones like mine.

My front bed started in the shade

But became full sun with the death of a pine tree’

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The results is that the blooms don’t last as long.

They fry a little

Actually a lot some years.

Like this year.

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I spent a couple of evenings this week

Cutting off the crispy blooms

And taking them to their final resting place.

The compost pile.

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They will have a second – lesser bloom cycle

Later in the summer.

Meanwhile those living in the shade

Of the back yard cedar trees

Continue to bloom and bloom.

Lucky me.

Then there’s my new friend, Annabelle.

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It’s an old variety

That I discovered a few years ago.

Mine are all planted in mostly shade.

Their white bloom begins in June

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Over the next month they turn to

This wonderful green.

It’s a color I love in the garden

And it’s not easy to get

So I get a little excited when they bloom.

Nature is such an artist.

As the spring pink hydrangeas

Take on a dusty late summer hue

They compliment the purple coneflower

Dahlias and other late summer stars.

I pull them all together

To make wonderful arrangements.

And if you plant enough Hydrangea

You’ll have blooms

Till it freezes.

So that’s what I know.

Hydrangeas give and give

And they play well with others.

We can all take a lesson from them.

Stay cool and enjoy the week.

Gail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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EDITING DAYS

You may not know this

But there are two “gardening deadlines”

Here in my Zone 7 garden

That fall on the 4th of July.

I’ve learned over the years

That the 4th of July is the last time

To plant Zinnias for fall bloom.

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I know

Most of you planted yours weeks

If not months ago.

In my over-planted piece of this planet

I don’t have space for Zinnias

Until I pull up the Poppies and Larkspur

That have gone to seed.

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Yesterday I went a little beyond just pulling up the dead stuff.

I went a little crazy.

My garden is now 11 years old.

As a result

It’s overgrown in may places.

So along with the waning Poppies and Larkspur

I dug up two Rose bushes

About a dozen blue Veronica Spicata

Several white Iris

Some Purple Coneflower

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An a lonely Gloriosa Daisy or two.

Normally, I wouldn’t excavate quite so much

Especially since I have no idea who will adopt these plants

So, I’ve taken a new approach.

Let’s call it the “Urban Dumpster Method”.

In cities if you want to get rid of something

Just lean it against your dumpster

It will disappear long before

The Sanitation Department has a chance.

So this afternoon

I put my garden abundance on the curb

With a sign saying

“Free Plants

Take what you want – need a sunny home”.

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When I last checked they were all still there.

I’m hoping for a swarm of midnight gardeners.

To take this stuff off my hands.

So I’ll feel good when I attack the rest of the garden

Tomorrow.

The second deadline has to do with mums.

If you have the old-fashioned kind

That grow and grow

This is the time to give them one last

Harsh trim

So that they will be thick and full

Come fall.

May have to fudge on this one a bit.

That’s what I love about gardening.

There’s always grace.

Gail

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Filed under Calla Lily, Gloriosa Daisy, Larkspur, Perennials, Purple Coneflower - Echinacea, roses, Uncategorized, Veronica Spicata, Zinnia

EXTRAVAGANT GRACE

Today does not feel like a day

To write about flowers.

It feels frivolous.

But nature has a way of pulling me in

Of teaching me about life.

As I looked out my second floor

Office window this afternoon

The thought occurred to me

Why can’t people be more like a garden?

To accept our differences.

To celebrate them .

To co-exist in peace.

To be a garden

Endless varieties

Living together in extravagant grace.

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My heart is with Orlando.

Gail

 

 

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FREE RANGE OR HOVER MOTHER

Recently I had the great joy

Of helping to care for my grandchildren.

In my case that’s twin 22 month-olds

Harper and Henry.

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Or as I sometimes call them H2W.

They are as you would expect

Perpetual motion

Times 2.

So their parents wisely

Planned a few activities in advance.

On Tuesday morning

We headed to the Denver Botanical Garden

For a class on Sunflowers

Designed for 18 – 24 month-olds.

The room was all set up for the class.

An oval rug for sunflower story-time.

Toddler sized table and chairs for the 2 dozen or so participants

Which included 3 sets of twins.

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And a row of adult sized chairs along the perimeter.

Henry and Harper found a chair and settled in

For whatever was to come

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Kristina and I found a chair in the adult section.

When the sunflower art session started

We realized we were the only adults

Not hovering above their child.

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Now, I’ve heard the phrase “hover-mother”

But I’d never seen it in action.

Folks, it’s real.

Where Henry and Harper created abstract masterpieces.

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Other’s somehow formed perfect rows

Of perfect sunflowers.

It made me think of my garden

Am I a “hover-mother” gardener?

I love to putter around my flowers.

Deadheading – staking things,

Moving plants to what I think is a better location.

When I got home I realized that I’m likely

More free-range.

What with that crazy hollyhock having returned

To the front of the garden.

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Not to mention Larkspur run a muck.

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Later in my visit

The weather warmed up enough

For us to play outside.

Elliott provided plenty of water.

For Harper and Henry to play in.

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They were generous.

A little on the plants

A little on their grandfather’s shoes.

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And eventually a little on each other.

Parenting styles seem to be like gardening styles.

Some of us need to be all hands on all the time

While others step back and let nature be

What nature can be.

I’m thankful we seem to be

A free-range family.

Gail

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Filed under Children in the Garden, Gardening, Grandchildren, Gratitude, hollyhocks, Larkspur, Sunflowers, Uncategorized

TRADITIONS

Keeping traditions alive

Can be a tricky business.

I’m a believer in tradition

It gives a continuity to life

Between generations.

But you have to pick and choose

What to hold on to

Or there’s no room for the new.

The May Day’s of my youth have

Disappeared for a decade or several.

The last few years have given me hope

That this gracious tradition is not dead.

May Day had many incarnations

My favorite is the May Day of my youth.

Makeshift construction paper baskets

With pipe cleaner hangers

Filled with flowers

And hung anonymously

On doors of family, neighbors and friends.

A simple kindness.

It just seemed natural

That there should be a way

To re-introduce May Day to the next generation

What better chance than the church youth group.

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So this evening they came to make bouquets

For members of the church.

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You never really know

When you do something like this

If kids are going to like it

Or if you really are a much older lady

Than you let yourself believe you are.

They jumped right in

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Making 10 wonderful arrangements

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To spread kindness

Throughout the town.

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When I came back into the house.

As fate would have it

Some anonymous children

Had left a May basket on our door.

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And decorated the pot at our front door.

With none other

Than an original ladybug.

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Judging by the glitter

I’m pretty sure

Cassidy, Sloan and Beth

Made a surprise visit.

Kindness training

Something we all need

I’m guessing even more so

In 2016

Happy May Day

Gail

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Bouquets, Children in the Garden, Flower Arrangements, Lady Bugs, May Day, Nature, Uncategorized