GARDENING FOR GOOD

This summer I’ve been dividing my gardening days

Between two gardens.

It’s the first summer that Faith Farm

Has been an all volunteer effort.

It was a leap of faith.

What a fun

And rewarding leap.

We started the season with a plan

Put together by my fellow gardeners

Jim & Michael.

It’s an ambitious three season plan

Since we have a 9 month growing season.

We started harvesting lettuce

In March.

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And we haven’t stopped.

200 lbs of lettuce

120 lbs of gorgeous carrots

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More basil than all of Italy

and almost 900 lbs of cucumbers.

Wow what a year.

We have literally grown well over a ton of vegetables.

All of this done by a dedicated group

Of volunteers.

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Including a few Master Gardeners.

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Twice a week they harvest this bounty

And take it to Loaves & Fishes

Where it is then given

To our hungry neighbors.

Several times a year

Jim offers  gardening classes

To the L & F clients.

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And every so often

We have a Saturday work day

To catch up on the big jobs.

Yesterday was one of those work days.

We had an ambitious list

OK…we had an impossible list.

Thanks to a few new volunteers

We got most of the big jobs done.

Morning glories pulled off the fence

Before they set seed.

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Bolted basil pulled, dried and ground into mulch.

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Ground pecan hulls put on the paths.

And soil added to beds.

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Then there was the shed.

Michael spent the morning organizing it.

Thank goodness.

These are not glamorous gardening jobs

But they are essential.

And feel good to have done.

Along the way we made a few new friends

Loaves & Fishes board member Randi

Brought her family.

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Including her son

Who got to meet Charlotte

Our resident Orb Spinner Spider

She’s been “hanging” around

Since July.

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He also found caterpillars and praying mantis.

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It’s always a good day when you can introduce

A child to the wonders of nature.

And do a little

Gardening for Good.

Gail

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Basil, Bugs, Carrots, Children in the Garden, Community Garden, Compost, Cucumbers, Fall Vegetables, Garden Planning, Gardening Friends, Herbs, late summer garden, Lettuce, Morning Glories, Nature, Orb Spider, Uncategorized, Vegetables

ARRANGEMENTS

One of the joys of having abundant flowers

Is sharing them.

I don’t have a lot of exotic plants.

But I have flowers.

And fall brings arm loads

Of late summer’s glory.

Cockscomb is the staple

This time of year.

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And the beginning

Of every arrangement I make.

If you cut it long

You’ll have lots of branches

To hold other less stable stem in place.

And the color

Just oozes a fall feeling.

I’ve nominated myself

In-house florist

At church

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As well as Loaves & Fishes.

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They are willing to indulge me

And let me bring flowers each week.

Since friends drop vases by

When they clean out their cabinets.

I always have a good supply.

You can create reasons

For other flower fairy gifts.

This week included

A “thank you” bouquet

To a fellow L & F board member

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And a “hello” bouquet

To a new family

Moving on the block.

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It’s a simple way

To keep the cockscomb

Trimmed away from the path

And to share the glory of the season.

Someday when life slows down.

I’d love to do this all the time.

Enjoy the week.

Gail

“I must have flowers always and always.”

Claude Monet

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Filed under Bouquets, cleome, cockscomb, Hydrangea, late summer garden, Uncategorized, Zinnia

FLUTTERBYS

For weeks now

I’ve been seeing the signs

Orb spiders have arrived

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Praying Mantis are hanging around

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As are Locust.

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Dahlias have made their debut

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I can hear the band practice

At the high school football field.

Cockscomb is everywhere

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And Flutterbys

Are here.

Somewhere along the way

Butterflies became flutterbys

At our house.

Elliott loved them as a child.

Even bringing them into the house

To live…briefly!

When you think about it

Flutterby is a more accurate description

Of these late summer visitors.

The Monarchs are on their way

To Mexico.

And a few are stopping by

For a snack in my garden.

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They brought along their friend

The Tiger Swallowtail

Which has been impossible

To get on camera.

I can’t say enough about this season

Especially in a year

That brought such heat.

In some ways I find it

As much a source of renewal

As spring.

It’s cooler days

Are refreshing

Even though I know

My least favorite season

Is close behind.

For now

I’ll pick peppers

And tomatoes…finally

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Transplant roses

And make extravagant flower arrangements.

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Because fall is the season of bounty

In my garden

For that I am grateful.

Gail

Surely this is the last Easter egg out there!

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Filed under Bugs, Butterflies, cockscomb, Dahlias, Fall, Gardening, Gratitude, late summer garden, Orb Spider, Peppers, Tomato, Uncategorized

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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Filed under Hydrangea, Uncategorized

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