Category Archives: Gardening Friends

We moved into this house 9 years ago this summer.

It was a very busy summer.

It began with my father’s Memorial Day visit to the emergency room

Followed by his quadruple bypass surgery the next week.

Daddy and his grandsons on his 85th bir

Daddy and his grandsons on his 85th birthday

Two weeks later Elliott and Kristina were married.

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Two weeks after that we moved here.

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By August I was unpacked

But far from settled.

My memory is it was a cool August.

Much like this year.

I had moved my house

And since I work at home

My office had come along.

The only thing left behind

Was my garden.

Kind of.

Earlier that spring

Before we put our old house on the market.

I had dug up about 1/2 of my garden

And planted it in a borrowed bed.

My old friend and new next door neighbor Patti

Was graciously loaning me a flower bed

At her house.

It was packed with plants

I was anxious to put in their permanent home.

But it was after all August.

And our “new old” house

Didn’t have a single flower bed.

The back yard was a blank slate.

We had big plans to add beds

But not until the next spring.

So it was my first summer in decades

Without a garden.

A slight depression began to set in.

I was understandably tired

With no place to contemplate it all.

Nothing to lose myself in.

No garden for my quiet conversations with God.

Then one day hope arrived.

I stepped out the back door

Rounded the corner of the house

There they were

With no warning

Right in the middle of the yard.

Surprise Lilies

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Alias Naked Ladies.

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I’d seen them around town

But never had planted any.

What a gift.

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Though I’m sure the saying

“Hope springs eternal” is true.

In my case it’s more like

“Hope sprouts eternal”

Gail

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Filed under Gardening, Gardening Friends, Gardening;Perennials, late summer garden, Surprise Lilies, Uncategorized

SHARING SEASON

Gardeners are known for sharing.

They love to share

Information

Plants

Flowers

Seeds

Cuttings

And, of course, the bounty of their gardens.

Zucchini comes to mind.

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For me it’s all of the above

But mostly flowers.

I have long contended that flowers

“Are food for the soul”.

That we need flowers

Just like we need food.

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I think this goes back to college

And John.

When we first began dating

He brought me flowers several times a week

For months on end.

The most spectacular was that first spring.

He brought me an enormous bouquet

Of Iris.

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Years later I realized that florists don’t sell that kind of Iris.

You know them – German Bearded Iris.

The kind that grow in little old ladies gardens

In college towns.

I’m not sure she intended to share!

His choice of vases was most unique.

A plastic pumpkin

Left from Halloween.

Simply had to marry the guy after that!

And so in the ensuing 40+ years

I’ve made it a point to make bouquets

And spread them around.

I’m pleased to say that Elliott and Kristina

Are carrying on the same tradition.

Kristina rarely leaves home for an evening with friends.

Without a bouquet in tow.

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And she always has fresh flowers throughout their home

When we come to visit.

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I must confess here that this year my bouquets are going

Not to individuals so much

As to places.

On Saturday I pluck whatever is happy

For church on Sunday.

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Then during the week

Loaves & Fishes gets a bouquet.

A cheerful greeting for the volunteers

And clients who come in need of help feeding their families.

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Now all of this is well and good.

Lovely really

But it doesn’t hold a candle to the real pros

When it comes to sharing from your garden.

Those of you who focus on vegetables

Leave the rest of us in the shade.

Just this week

Kelly came by with a basket of green beans.

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Yum!

Earlier in the week the Koehns

Brought tons of cucumbers and squash of all sorts

To Loaves & Fishes.

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Mitch brought squash, too

Ann gave her weekly supply of basil

And assorted veggies.

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Then yesterday the fun and lively members of the Freed family

Called at the end of the Farmers Market

To donate what was left to Loaves & Fishes

I met them there.

Their 4 sons, daughter and her friend

Unloaded hundreds of pounds of freshly picked produce

Watermelon

Cantaloupe

Peppers

Eggplant

Squash

After working at their produce stand all morning.

They loved the cooler.

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What a great family

Working together

Laughing

Sharing

Those are lucky kids.

I know

I come from the same kind of family

And it has painted my life

With sharing.

Gail

Early 1950's

Early 1950’s

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Filed under Basil, Bouquets, Farmer's Market, Flower Arrangements, Gardening Friends, Herbs, Iris, Uncategorized, Vegetables

COMMUNITY GARDENING

I have long been interested in community gardens.

They come in several different configurations.

It can be a large area divided into plots.

Each plot tended by a different gardener.

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Or it can be a place where a community comes together

To grow things.

For themselves

Or for others.

This spring I finally get to participate in a community garden.

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You may recall I wrote about planting it a few months ago.

It’s located at our new local client choice food pantry

And food resource center named Loaves & Fishes.

At the moment this garden consists of 10 raised beds.

 

Built as an Eagle Scout project.

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Then our volunteer extraordinaire David

Added 3 – 250 gallon rain barrels that are catching the rain water

From the roof of the building.

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After a 2 inch rain

They are full.

We’ve been cutting greens each week

To share with the clients who come to us for food.

Imagine going to a food pantry and getting a bag of freshly cut spinach

Or lettuce.

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Or Swiss chard.

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It’s just heavenly!

But we’ve had a few challenges along the way.

As it turns out our garden sits at the bottom of a slight bowl.

And it’s been

Well a bit of a pond.

So Saturday was Family Volunteering Day

At Loaves & Fishes.

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75 volunteers from the community,

A Cub Scout Troop

As well as the corporate sponsors for the day

Triangle Insurance

And Central National Bank

Came to help.

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They made quick work of spreading

A truck load of fill sand.

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Then moving gravel into the paths between the beds.

Within a few hours we went from pond

To problem solved.

It was an amazing transformation.

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Now this is really more hardscape work

Than actual gardening.

And we may have completely worn out this group of volunteers.

But the thing is

We are community.

Cheerfully helping

To solve a problem.

Growing great food

For people who really need it

And appreciate the care

We take to help them.

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For years my passion has been feeding people in need.

Now at Loaves & Fishes I get to watch others find their passion.

If you haven’t found a way to help others.

I hope you find a passion

And a home for it

That is as much fun as this wonderful community.

Or better still

Come and join us

Gardening for good and helping feed others.

Gail

P.S.  If you have extra produce or eggs from your own garden we would appreciate

Your bring them to Loaves & Fishes.  We’ll find them a grateful home!

 

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Filed under Community Garden, Gardening, Gardening Friends, Hunger, Lettuce, Rain Barrels, Raised Beds, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Uncategorized, Vegetables

MEGAN

A couple of decades ago my job was designing, installing and maintaining perennial flower garden

All around town.

It was fun and very hard work.

During the summer maintenance season

I would hire daughters of friends to help me.

Megan, Cristina and Ashley outlasted them all.

For instance Megan’s sister Katie told me at the end of the first…and only summer for her.

“This has been fun, but I don’t ever want to do this again.”

But it was Megan who just kept coming back.

She worked from Jr. High through High School.

Then in college she would come back each fall to help me plant bulbs.

Even post college she was there for me digging trenches

And burying bulbs.

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We’ve had great conversations

That have matured with each year.

We often talked about the garden party I would have for her.

When she married.

Last fall when Megan came for our bulb planting ritual

There was only one subject of conversation

JP

So it was no surprise that at Christmas Megan and JP were engaged.

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After years of dreaming about Megan’s wedding and parties

The planning began.

What’s that saying about making plans.

“If you want to make God laugh…tell him your plans.”

Well God must have doubled over with laughter at this one.

Because JP is in the Navy

Scheduling of everything was on Navy time.

In this instance that means fast.

A mid-April wedding was planned not at home

But in Corpus Christi where JP was stationed.

No problem…if there’s anything Megan loves as much as JP and gardens

Its’ the beach

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But there was only time and space for family and a few close friends.

No problem…we’ll have a reception here

In my garden

Just like we planned

Sometime in Mid-May when all is happily blooming!

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Well…maybe not.

JP and Megan have to be in their new destination by May 6th.

OK we’re flexible

May 2nd it will be.

A simple ice cream social with wedding cakes

Friends and family in attendance for the perfect send off.

Well…maybe not.

The morning of May 2nd brought

Sleet

Rain

Clouds

30 mile an hour north winds

With gusts to 40

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OK God I get the idea.

Thankfully for once I half way believed

Our over zealous weather forecaster

And cut every tulip that was blooming

The Saturday before the party.

They spent the week in the safety of my spare refrigerator.

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And the day before the party Kay – Megan’s mother suggested

“We might want to go ahead and cut whatever else we need.”

So we cut buckets of Boxwood and Viburnum

And even cut a few Lilacs from Kelly’s yard.

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We simply brought the garden indoors.

Now there’s no doubt that I was disappointed

That I couldn’t give Megan the garden party of her dreams.

But here’s the thing.

When Thursday night came.

Megan and JP were beaming

Friends who have watched her grow up

Family who loved her from the moment they knew she was coming into this world.

All of us were there

Eating gelato and wedding cake.

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And sending Megan & JP out into the world

Knowing that they are deeply loved.

That they are rooted and grounded in this place with these people.

As my sister Pat said at Elliott & Kristina’s wedding.

“We have loved giving you roots and wings

It is the greatest satisfaction of our lives.

Know that we celebrate with you as you join hands,

Spread your wings and fly.”

Here’s to a happy life Megan

And gardening all over the world.

All my love,

Gail

 

 

 

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Filed under Bridal Showers, Flower Arrangements, Garden House, Gardening, Gardening Friends, Gardening;Perennials, Perennials, spring, Spring Flowering Bulbs, tulips, Wedding Flowers

FAITH

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It happens every year.

When I finally get winter’s blanket of leaves removed

I wonder where everything has gone.

Sure the early blooming show offs are visible

The Iris and Peonies.

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And Larkspur sprouts are everywhere.

But right now I’m wondering why is there so much dirt showing.

And what is lying in wait beneath?

My friend Suellen used to call every spring

To tell me that everything had died over the winter.

Then…she’d call back in a week

Saying it’s OK.

And we would have a good laugh

Remembering the same conversation from the year before.

Faith

It’s as important to gardening as fertilizer, healthy soil and water.

It’s the belief that a tiny green frond

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Will unfurl into a gorgeous fern.

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That the precious buds on my Japanese Tree Peony

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Will soon take my breath away.

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That come June

These few leaves at the bottom of what looks like a stick plant

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Will give astonishing blooms.

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The robins have returned.

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Lady bugs and honey bees abound

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Peg is on her never-ending bunny search

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And the Hellebores are blooming their hearts out.

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It must be spring.

Faith

All we need to do is trust

And believe.

And as my friend Jerry used to say

Do the best we can…

God will take care of the rest.

Take time to breathe it all in.

Gail

 

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Filed under Bugs, Ferns, Gardening, Gardening Friends, Grape Hyacinths, Hellebores, Hydrangea, Iris, Japanese Tree Peony, Lady Bugs, Larkspur, Peonies, Perennials, Redbud Trees, Violets

A GOOD DAY

I love the mundane.

Now I realize that isn’t “culturally correct”.

But really, there is nothing like a day of regular.

And that is what today was – mundane – regular – wonderful.

After a quick trip to the last Farmers’ Market.

I headed straight to the back yard

The goal was to finish transplanting on “the hill”.

It began about a month ago.

I was tired of the vinca minor running the show.

So I began to dig it up

And pull it back like a carpet.

Then I transplanted 5 big ferns.

I’m not sure but I think they are Cinnamon ferns.

They’ve settled in nicely.

So, today was the day to dig the hostas in the front bed

And bring them to their new home on the hill.

These were planted about 3 years ago.

They were bare root so they were tiny.

Unfortunately they just get too much sunshine in the front

And the last 2 summers they have simply fried.

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So a home on the hill under the shade of the old cedar trees

Should make them much happier.

The root balls were the size of small trees.

I’m thinking they’ll be just fine.

Smaller hostas were also relocated.

Layered in the front between the Hellebores and Ferns.

I did have my assistant gardener close by

She has figured out that when I dig

Worms appear.

And she loves worms!

Unfortunately some things disappeared.

My favorite pruners can’t be located.

My best guess is I buried them under one of those

Very large

Very heavy

Hostas.

Didn’t have the energy to dig around for them.

Hopefully they’ll surface tomorrow!

There are lots of little surprises

In the fall garden.

So on this

Mundane

Regular

Wonderful

Saturday night.

I thought I’d share a few.

May you find the blessings

Of a mundane day soon.

Gail

 

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Filed under Clematis, cockscomb, Dahlias, Fall, Farmer's Market, Ferns, Gardening, Gardening Friends, Hellebores, Perennials, Plumbago, Pruners, roses, Shade Garden, Tall Garden Phlox, TRANSPLANTING

BENIGN NEGLECT

Yesterday I took a friend on a little tour through my garden.

Frankly, it was embarrassing.

I knew I hadn’t spent much time in my garden

For weeks.

But I hadn’t realized what bad shape it was in.

It has a major case of “the flops”.

Between the rain

And Peg looking for bunny rabbits

Plants – especially cockscomb – have fallen down everywhere.

Paths are almost impassable.

Weeds are well…being weedy.

It isn’t pretty.

Luckily, today was a spectacular day.

Cool with a high of around 65 degrees.

And cloudy all day long.

So I spent the day doing what I should have done all along the way.

Cutting back

Pulling out.

I think I have mentioned before

I have a problem of shall we say “editing”.

I let too many tiny seedlings

Grow into giant plants.

Too much of a good thing like cockscomb

Will strangle even a rose bush.

Rosa Julia Child and New England Asters

Rosa Julia Child and New England Asters

Tomato plants run amuck

Will completely shade other plants into oblivion.

So even though it’s very late in the season.

I’m whacking away.

Hopefully they’ll be time for all of this to recover.

And just in case there isn’t.

I’m throwing lettuce seed in all the empty spaces.

It’s a little late for that, too.

But what the heck

You never know

If you don’t try.

So the lesson here is simple.

From time to time

You have to cut things back

Or completely pull them up and compost them.

Begin again.

As the decades roll by its harder and harder to do that.

At least for me.

Familiar is comfortable.

Safe.

But then you end up living in the shade of your past.

You just don’t grow as much in that shade.

Not good

For roses

Or for people.

Fall officially begins next week.

Enjoy,

Gail

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Filed under cockscomb, Compost, Fall, Gardening, Gardening Friends, late summer garden, Lettuce, roses, Timing, Uncategorized