Category Archives: Gardening

PROPAGATING

One of the things I love to do when traveling

Is visit local gardens.

So on our recent family trip

To Newport and its Jazz Festival

We headed for Bellevue Avenue

And the mansions of the “Gilded Age”.

They are spectacular.

Unbelievable really.

Actually, a little too unbelievable for our taste.

There likely were elaborate gardens

At one point.

But not so much today.

There are however seas of hydrangea

Blue mopheads, green limelights and

Of course, Annabelles.

But I like real gardens

The kind that are a bit messy and unkept

Like mine.

Luckily Elliott discovered Blithewold Mansion and Gardens

Down the road in Bristol, R. I.

Though Blithewold was built during the same era

It has a completely different feel.

I feels like a family lived, played and gardened there.

Photo credit Kristina Wynne

The estate is currently 33 acres.

It is filled with a cutting garden, vegetable garden

Water garden, bamboo forest, rose garden, greenhouses

And an arboretum.

Generally, I head straight for the flowers

And they were wonderful.

Many of the things I grow

And others I’ve long been curious about.

It did not disappoint.

But the trees are what captivated me.

In particular the Giant Sequoia.

Now remember, I’m on the east coast

Not California.

I know, I was a bit confused myself.

I don’t remember how the first one came to Blithewold

But Marjorie Randolph Van Wickle Lyon the daughter who grew up here

Took it upon herself

To learn to propagate them.

And propagate she did.

The origianal Sequoia is now 90 feet tall.

Kristina for scale.

There are a dozen more on their estate

All of which are the product of Marjorie’s ingenuity.

It seems she created so many that she gave them

To guests who visited.

I like this lady.

So let’s think about this.

A young woman

Born in 1883

Into an era and a social strata

That shall we say

Didn’t encourage women to do

Well…anything.

Yet, she decides to propagate

GIANT SEQUOIA !

Marjorie never had children

Yet she left a legacy that will last generations.

So as three generations of Wynnes

Explored her home

I couldn’t help but think about the legacy

And memories

We create each day.

Hoping that we will leave such a lasting legacy.

Gail

Photo Credit Kristina Wynne

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Filed under Blithewold Mansion and Gardens, Garden Travel, Gardening, Giant Sequoia, Hydrangea, Legacy, Uncategorized, Wise Women

FLUID CRYSTALLIZATION

There is a section of my garden

Where I don’t have many perennials.

I have given it over to self seeding annuals.

Poppies and Larkspur in the spring

Are followed by Cosmos, Cleome, Cockscomb and Zinnias.

This does however result in a few empty spaces.

For years – decades really – I have planted Zinnias in those places.

This happens later in the season.

Usually mid – June through Mid – July.

So when the first round of volunteer Zinnias

Get mildew

And they will.

I have a second fresh crop for fall.

This accidental plan

Has worked great for years and years.

Then comes this summer.

The first round of Zinnia seeds

Planted in mid – June

Have sprouted and started to bloom.

But the second and third rounds

Simply won’t sprout.

I’ve tried different varieties

From different companies

At different times

And zilch!

Then I read this week

That because of this relentless heat

The soil is too hot to germinate seeds.

Seriously…how can that be.

Think about that for a moment.

It’s a really scarey thought

Since growing food

Requires lots and lots of seed germination.

So, once again, we must adjust our knowledge

Of what works

And what no longer will.

Which brought to mind a book I’m reading.

“From Strength to Strength” by Arthur C Brooks.

In it he talks about the “fluid intelligence” of our 30’s and 40’s

And the “crystallized intelligence” of my stage of life

And ways of sharing our “crystallization” (my word) that will lead to happiness.

So my “crystallized intelligence” of decades in the garden

Needs to become a bit more fluid

To adapt to nature and the changes we are forcing on it.

But that is really how nature works.

Witness the life of poet Mary Oliver

Who walked the woods and shorelines of her home

Writing books and books of poems.

Leaving behind a depth of “crystallized intelligence”

For the world.

Maybe it’s the generations of Presbyterians in me

But I’m thankful I don’t have all the answers.

About gardening

And about life.

There is still space to grow.

Gail

If we don’t change we don’t grow. If we don’t grow we aren’t really living.

Gail Sheehy

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Filed under cleome, cockscomb, Cosmos, Garden Planning, Gardening, Larkspur, Nature, Perennials, Poppy, Seeds, self seeding annuals, Timing, Uncategorized, Zinnia

STAYIN ALIVE

It’s been over a decade

Since we have had

This kind of heat.

Generally I try not complain about the weather.

After all, my grandmother drove a conastoga wagon

From Iowa to Oklahoma when she was 18

During the summer.

What have I got to complain about!

Yet, somehow this feels different.

It is unrelenting.

I think we are on week 4 or 5

Of most days well over 100.

Keeping the garden alive

Can be a full time job

In years like this

If you haven’t prepared for it.

There are two things I did by instinct

That help my garden survive.

Granted not everyone wants a full blown perennial garden.

But adding perennials to your flower beds

Will save you time, money, water and worry.

Because perennials intend to survive

More than one season

They are more deeply rooted

Meaning they can take the slings and arrows

That nature is throwing these days.

Some even thrive on it.

So right now these things are not just surviving

But are actually happy in my garden.

And providing all the nector

The flock of buzzing pollinators living with us

Seem to need.

Happy perennials are Maxmillion Sunflower

Purple Coneflower, Tall Garden Phlox, Gloriosa Daisy,

Veronica Spicata and Sunny Border Blue and Verbena Bonariensis.

All of these not only come back but also spread.

No perennial gives more than Annabelle Hydrangea

And her cousin Incrediball.

Then there are the self seeding annuals

Zinnia, Sunflower, Cleome and the ever present Cockscomb.

These are the foundation of my high summer garden.

Other plants may bloom a little but these are the staples.

Even in this heat they only require water about every 5 days.

That, of course, is with drip irrigation.

Fifteen plus years ago when we built my garden

I ordered a really large roll of inline emitter drip line

From Dripworks.

1,000 feet of coiled drip line was like a giant snakey octopus

All over my backyard.

Once it was softened by the sun

And put into place

It has been the lifeline of my garden.

I connect the line to two faucets at opposite ends

Of the back of the garden.

We are lucky to have a well.

I turn them both on at once

And let them slowly drip for several hours.

That’s right.

I want the water to go deeply

To the low roots of even the biggest plant.

The water will draw the roots even deeper

Helping the plant survive

The 114 degrees predicted for next Tuesday

And the two weeks near zero

That will surely come next February.

I don’t know whether plants are like people

Or people are like plants.

But I do know that without my deep roots

And firm foundation

The last 2 1/2 years would have been

Even more difficult.

For me and my garden.

Gail

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Filed under Annabelle Hydrangea, Bees, Bugs, Bumblebee, drip irrigation, Garden Planning, Gardening, Gardening;Perennials, Gloriosa Daisy - Rudbeckia, HELIANTHUS, Maximillian Sunflower, Perennials, Purple Coneflower - Echinacea, self seeding annuals, Sunflowers, Tall Garden Phlox, Uncategorized, Veronica Spicata, Zinnia

A JOB WELL DONE

Last week’s predicted freeze

Did not materialize.

But we didn’t know that

Last Monday

When a full crew of Master Gardeners

And friends

Gathered at Faith Farm

To pick everthing on the vine.

And pick we did.

341 pounds of peppers and green tomatoes

And eggplant and turnips and radishes

And green beans and cucumbers.

Bringing us to an all time record

Of 4,027 pounds of fresh organic produce.

That’s a ton…well 2 tons actually

All going to provide our hungry neighbors

With the freshest possible produce.

It’s a mission that is easy to wrap our hands

And hearts around.

Over time it has become more than a mission

To those of us who come.

We have become a sort of gardening family.

Moving through the garden twice a week

Catching up on family news

Sharing stories of our own gardens

And ideas of how to grow even more

At Faith Farm.

Spending a few hours each week

In a garden

With fellow gardeners

On glorious spring days

And the dog days of summer

Growing vegetables

For hungry neighbors

Is a joy.

Thanks everyone.

Gail

“The people who give you their food give you their heart.”

Cesar Chavez

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Filed under Community Garden, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Turnips, Radishes, Green Beans, Cucumbers, End of Season Rituals, Fall, Fall Vegetables, Garden Planning, Gardening, Green Tomatoes, Hunger, Master Gardeners, Peppers, Radishes, Uncategorized

THE POWER OF A SEED

My mother loved to garden.

Her only problem was

That for much of her life

She lived in two different towns

At the same time.

Sometimes even two different states!

That made tending a garden

A bit of a challenge for her.

When Daddy finally retired

They added a greenhouse

To the house on the farm.

She would putter there for days.

I watched her tenderly

Prick out baby lettuce plants

And give them their own home.

Knowing that since they lived in the country

Chances were pretty good

That a mouse

Would likely enjoy more lettuce

Than she would.

But she kept at it

Year after year.

She died suddenly one summer

While we were all on vacation together

Leaving everything in her life

And her greenhouse

As something of a still life.

One glorious fall day

I walked into

Her untended playpen

To find it full of vines

Covering floor to ceiling

And loaded with dozens of

Baby Boo Pumpkins.

She had been gone

For over a year.

Yet the power of a seed

Brought her right back

To me and my memories

Of her in this place.

Perhaps that’s why

I have an endlessly

Growing collection

Of seeds.

They connect me to the past

And show me

The hope of the future.

Gail

“A seed neither fears light nor darkness, but uses both to grow.”
― Matshona Dhliwayo

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Filed under Fall, Farmers, Gardening, Gardening Mentors, Generations, Oklahoma Gardening, Pumpkins, Seeds, Uncategorized, Wise Women

It’s Buggy Time

Late summer is buggy

In my garden.

I don’t really know why

But there are always good bugs.

Last year the Orb spiders

Were everywhere

Spinning their zig zaggy webs

To my amazement.

This year I’ve only had a few visit.

Though this guy did claim

The inside of my garden house

As his new home.

But Praying Mantis are

Everywhere.

One day I rescued seven

From the clippings

Headed to the compost bin.

Lately, my garden has taken flight.

I spent hours

Over two days

Watching this Swallowtail

Feast on tall garden phlox.

Thankfully, I hadn’t gotten around

To deadheading it.

An now I wouldn’t dream of it

Even though it’s really ragged.

Last Wednesday at Faith Farm we counted

THIRTEEN swallowtail caterpillars

On one bronze Fennel plant.

The Monarch butterflies

Are flitting everywhere

And then there is this new friend.

Actually they brought the whole tribe

Right to my garden.

I have hundreds on what else

But Cockscomb.

And we all know you can’t have just

One Cockscomb.

My research tells me

They are harmless Goldenrod Soldier Beetles.

Actually a bit beneficial

Dining on aphids and “other plant pests”.

All of this fluttering and flying and buzzing

Makes a sunny afternoon

Stroll through the garden

A joy.

But then

When isn’t a garden

A joy?

Gail

“If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.” ~Author unknown

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Filed under Bugs, Butterflies, cockscomb, Community Garden, Dead Heading, Garden House, Gardening, Goldenrod Soldier Beetle, late summer garden, Nature, Orb Spider, Praying Mantis, Spider Web, Swallowtail Butterfly, Tall Garden Phlox, Uncategorized

THE MYSTERY CONTINUES

A month or so ago

I wrote about a 12 foot tall sunflower

That had planted itself

At the front of the garden.

A sort of “magic bean” situation.

Over this month I have cut dozens

Of blooms from this tower of sunshine.

It simply makes me smile

Everytime I look it’s way.

But the blooms have faded

And it’s setting seeds.

So I decided that today was the day

To chop it down.

After church I went out my back door

Only to be stopped in my tracks

By something glistening in the sunlight

It was large – really large.

A very industrious spider

Had spun a web on the side

Of the sunflower.

But the really amazing thing

Was that it connected the other side

Of the web

To the cedar tree TWENTY FIVE FEET away.

I’m not making this up.

My neigbor Torry and John

Are witnesses.

We have no idea

How this was accomplished

Simply a miracle

In my own backyard.

It reminds me of something Elliott said last week

When we had all climbed the side of a mountin

To help H & H look for fossils.

Some in our group scoured a big area

While H & H just kept digging

And looking in a small space around them.

Elliott noted that looking closesly

Right in front of our eyes.

Revealed more and more.

Looking closely.

Slowing down to observe.

Delighting in the mystery of nature.

Time well spent.

Gail

” When one tugs at a single thing in nature they find it attached to the rest of the world.”

John Muir

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Filed under Fossils, Gardening, Grandchildren, Grandchldren Generations, late summer garden, Miracles, Mystery, Nature, Oklahoma Gardening, Spider Web, Sunflowers, Uncategorized

POPPY PLANS

Years ago,

When I designed

And maintained gardens

For other people,

I had a friend with a sandy spot.

We planted purple larkspur

And red poppies.

I have repeated that combination

In my current garden.

They are the star of my late May

And early June garden.

When they finish blooming

Seeds fall.

This pattern has repeated itself

Each year in this garden.

But…

One day I was walking the neighborhood

And saw a PURPLE poppy.

The generous neighbor gave me seeds

Then I ordered a few more packets of

Lauren’s Grape poppy.

This year

For the first time

I have PURPLE poppies.

They are divine.

Now I’m trying my best

To keep the red ones in the “red bed”

And creating an area just for the purple ones.

I know…I know

It’s an attempt to manipulate nature.

Not a smart idea.

After all birds and winds and who knows what else

Move these tiny seeds around the garden.

The organizer in me just has to give this a try.

I’m marking the color of wayward plants

With pink tape

Hoping to get them back into their assigned seat.

If Mother Nature will indulge me

This one tiny bit of control.

I promise after this

I’ll surrender!

Gail

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Filed under Garden Photography, Garden Planning, Gardening, Gardening Friends, Larkspur, Nature, Oklahoma Gardening, Poppy, Seeds, self seeding annuals, Uncategorized

IT’S MAY!

There’s a line

In the title song of Camelot

That rings in my head

This time of year.

“It’s May

It’s May

The lusty month of May.”

I’m pretty sure they were singing

About a garden.

Iris

Peony

And Roses

Are hitting their stride

Just in time for Mother’s Day.

So sharing seems like

The natural thing to do.

Thanks for coming girls.

Happy Mother’s Day

To every conceivable kind of mother.

Gail

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Filed under Flower Arrangements, Garden House, Gardening, Gardening Friends, Generations, Iris, Mother's Day, Peonies, roses, Uncategorized

THANKS FOR GIVING

Gardeners are known

To be generous people.

We like to share plants

And seeds

And plans

And tomatoes.

It’s just in our nature

To spread our joy around.

I have to admit though

That I do covet

My time in my garden

Time is something

We just can’t grow

No matter what zone we live in.

That’s why I’m so grateful

For the generous gardeners

Who help at Faith Farm.

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Every Monday and Wednesday

Throughout the growing season

This crew shows up

And works hard.

We start in February

Planting onions

And carrot seeds

And ended just a week ago

Prepping the the beds

For their winter’s nap.

They have planted

Harvested

IMG_2640(2)

Washed

And loaded

IMG_2055(1)

Thousands of pounds

Of fresh organic vegetables

img_3426-e1574727577660.jpg

That we grow

For our hungry neighbors

Who come to Loaves & Fishes

For help in feeding their families.

All of them are either Master Gardeners

Or related to a Master Gardener.

 

IMG_2049

They come on the crisp mornings of spring

The glorious days of fall

And all that heat and humidity

In between.

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We’ve had a great season

Getting to know each other better

As we’ve spent hours

Picking and weeding

And trying to figure out

Why all that spring rain

Made the cucumbers

So unhappy.

We learn a little

Share a little

And give a lot.

Thank you Martha, Dennis, Kay, Janelle,

Clayton, Diane, Jenny, Linda & Michael.

You have made a difference

To so many.

Gail

P.S.  This is where I planned to place a great picture I took of all the crew.  Unfortunately, I can’t find it AYWHERE.  So just imagine these generous souls, or better still imagine yourself in this group or others around the country…gardening and giving.

 

 

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Filed under Carrots, Community Garden, End of Season Rituals, Gardening, Gardening Friends, Hunger, late summer garden, Master Gardeners, Onion, Uncategorized, Vegetables