Category Archives: Gloriosa Daisy – Rudbeckia

PERENNIAL PLACES

At some point early in my gardening days

I decided on a perennial garden.

My memory is it grew out of my desire to have flowers to cut.

My friend Sally passed along some Gloriosa Daisies

The morning the backhoe showed up in her garden.

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I was off to a good start.

Over the ensuing decades I’ve bought,

Been given, planted, nurtured and killed

More plants that I care, or would want to count.

I’ve had two big perennial gardens

With a borrowed temporary garden in between.

Yet, every year this time I’m amazed with what I see

In my own backyard.

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It’s the rhythm of life

Played out in a growing season.

It is life

With all of its surprises and disappointments

Joys and sadness.

This has been a week

That has reminded me

Of my life chosen to live

In this “perennial place”.

In the span of a few days

I’ve watched my garden

Go from dying back tulips

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To the first blooms of Iris

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And Peonies.

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With lots of buds coming soon.

Life beyond the garden

Brought this delightful note

From the lady who delivers our morning paper.

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A few curves thrown my way

And friends who have decided the time has come to retire

Yet struggle with that decision.

I was blessed with surprise May Day flowers

Delivered by charming little girls

And their caring mothers.

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The week ended appropriately

With the hope of the next generation.

A garden baby shower for Megan & JP

And their baby boy to come this fall.

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The new week began this morning

With communion

In a place where I have worshipped

For over 40 years

With people I’ve known a few months

And others many decades.

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Perennial places.

They give us roots

To grow and blossom.

Deep roots to keep us upright

When the winds blow and bend us.

Deep roots to strengthen us.

Deep roots to grow branches

That encircles our lives

Individually and together.

Gail

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Filed under Baby Showers, Gardening, Gardening;Perennials, Gloriosa Daisy - Rudbeckia, Peonies, tulips

GYPSY GARDENER

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I’ve been reading a great gardening book

“Grass Roots Gardening”

By Donna Schaper

It’s a quick read

Packed with thought provoking words of wisdom

She is described as:

“Senior Minister of Judson Memorial Church

Mother of three children

Author of 28 books

And happiest when she is in her garden.”

She has introduced me to the idea of being

A “Gypsy Gardener”

You see she has found herself gardening

All over the country.

From Arizona to New England

To Florida to Minnesota.

She has covered the country with her gardens.

This is a great read.

I found my copy on the close out table.

Find it and buy it.

I finished her book this week while vacationing

In Colorado

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And as it happens

I got to garden there.

I’ve learned a lot in these few short days

Of high desert gardening.

One – don’t get gardening advice from the Big Box Stores.

Me:  “What is the USDA zone for this area?”

Big Box Employee:  “Western”

Me:  “No it’s a number.”

BBE:  ” Oh 7.”

Me:  “I don’t thinks so Oklahoma is a 7.”

BBE:  “We have a lot of varying weather here”

Seriously!

Time to move on.

So I just started digging.

Here’s the problem

Mulch

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Inches and inches of cedar mulch.

Now, I usually try to not get too opinionated in our weekly visits

But, I’m about to go off the deep end on the subject of cedar mulch

So if you are a big fan of the stuff

I’d suggest you just stop reading now

And tune back in next week

When I’ve put my high horse

Back in the barn.

So let’s talk mulch.

I have long held the theory that cedar mulch is part of

A “great cosmic commercial gardening conspiracy.”

Think about it.

Convincing homeowners all over this country

That each year they should buy bags and bags and bags

Of commercially produced mulch

Now forget that they never tell you that

As the mulch decomposes it will zap every bit of nitrogen from your precious soil.

And all kinds of ants and other not so great insects love this stuff.

My theory has always been

That if I – a living thing – don’t want to live under it

Why would any living thing.

Like a prized perennial.

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The thing is this new garden that I was digging in this week

Is covered with no less than 4 – 5 inches of cedar mulch.

I’m told a heavy layer has been added each spring for years.

“Keeps the weeds out and the moisture in.”

They say.

Except that as I began to work I discovered that the mulch is so heavy

That the rain and irrigation water only go as deep as THE MULCH.

The soil is as dry as can be.

And there were weeds

Mostly grass and not overwhelming,

But weeds.

And forget worms.

In three days of digging I only found 5 worms.

Not good.

Though I did meet a fox

Up close

And Peg met a deer.

So I set about removing years of bad gardening decisions.

Mulch is gone

Mushroom compost added

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Probably not enough

But it’s a start.

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I bought a few perennials that I can’t grow at home

Delphinium, Iceland Poppies and Lupine.

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And planted Arugula and Mixed Salad Greens

Which will probably  be eaten by the deer

Before I have a chance to return and make a yummy salad.

And with much of the mulch now history

Perhaps seeds from the existing perennials

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Or those I bring from my first love

My home garden

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Will have a chance of filling in the blank spaces

And making this mountain garden

Look more like an actual garden

And less like a Mad Men ad for mulch.

So my advice for this week is

Buy the book

Forget the cedar mulch.

Pretty simple.

It will be safe for all to return next week.

Till then

Happy digging.

Gail

P.S.  Next week if I remember we’ll talk about what I do in place of mulch.

Wouldn’t want to leave you hanging.

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Filed under Delphinium, Gloriosa Daisy - Rudbeckia, Lettuce, Peonies, Perennials, Poppy, Uncategorized

LARKSPUR – THE NEW BLACK

Most women own way too many black clothes

I am among them

But we all know that black “goes with everything”

And it does.

So every time the fashion industry

Wants to sell a new color

They dub it

“The New Black”

I’ve decided that larkspur

Is the new

And the old

Black of the garden.

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It truly does go with everything.

This spring is an amazing example.

I’ve been a little under the weather since the first of May

Very little time has been spent in the garden

As a result every single seed that dropped last spring.

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Has bloomed and bloomed.

Never got around to thinning

Or just plain murdering

All that volunteer larkspur.

I’ve been cutting away at it

Making arrangements when needed.

But it hasn’t made a dent.

It’s everywhere

And it’s thick.

Some paths are impassable.

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But it’s true.

It goes with everything.

Now we all know that purple and yellow

Are a great combination.

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Being “secondary” cousins on the color wheel and all.

But it’s also great with pink roses

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And crisp white lilies

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And softer shades of yellow

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And the more golden ones.

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So when I was forced to the gardening sidelines in early May

And the A team took over

God knew exactly what to do.

Let the larkspur have its way.

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Spread it everywhere

Bringing cheer and happiness to every corner.

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Once again

Gardening echoes life

Or does life echo gardening?

Step aside – pull back – relax

God’s got it covered.

Gail

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Filed under Flower Arrangements, Gardening, Gloriosa Daisy - Rudbeckia, Larkspur, Lilies, roses, self seeding annuals, Uncategorized

GLORIOSA DAISY

There’s a reason someone named them Gloriosa Daisies.

They are glorious!

Or maybe it’s just sentimental on my part.

They are, after all,  the first perennial I remember in my garden.

I remember the day very well.

It was December.

I was decorating for a party for Shirley Jones.

You know…of “Oklahoma” fame.

She was in town doing a concert.

The party was across the street from my friend Sally’s house.

Sally was well….distraught.

There was a backhoe in her garden.

Chewing things up.

She scooped up some plants and asked me to take them home.

They needed a safer place to reside.

So home we went.

Thus began my first perennial garden.

When they bloomed the next spring

I thought it was the most glorious thing.

Sally’s garden always has great patches of this bit of floral sunshine.

Now, all these years – decades – later I do too.

They begin blooming as the larkspur is waning.

The gold and blue combination is stunning every year.

Gloriosa or Rudbeckia if you like the Latin

Are easy to grow. 

They like a sunny spot where they can become a small bush.

About the size of a peony.

They can get tall and fall over

So support is a good thing.

I put small portable green wire fencing around them.

Gro-Thru hoops also work.

If you deadhead them.

They’ll bloom off and on all season.

They are a good cutting flower.

Bringing the same sunshine to any arrangement.

Just be sure to remove the leaves below the water line.

And slit the stem and inch or two to increase water intake.

I don’t know what varieties I have.

We’ll call them Sally’s Mom’s Gloriosa.

Since that’s their lineage.

They do self seed and make lots of babies.

To share.

Most recently with Megan and Torry.

There is one variety I don’t recommend.

Rudbeckia Goldstrum. 

The flowers are great.

But the root system is greedy.

It spreads into a giant mass.

It’s like digging up a tree to get rid of it.

Be warned.

As I look across my garden it occurs to me

That Gloriosas are like the exclamation point.

The patches here and there give accent to the colors around them.

Blasts of happy faces everywhere.

Just love this one.

Enjoy the week.

Gail

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Filed under Bouquets, Dead Heading, Garden Planning, Gardening, Gardening;Perennials, Gloriosa Daisy, Gloriosa Daisy - Rudbeckia, Larkspur, Uncategorized

A SEASON OF ORBS

It’s Orb season.

Every year in late summer

Orb spiders begin to build their itricate webs.

This year 2 came to the garden in early August.

Signature zig zag woven into an Orb spider's web

Then a third one appeared by the breakfast room window.

Number four built a mansion of a web in the hydrangea bushes in the front yard.

Then last weekend John discovered number 5 in the boxwood outside the den window.

We have spent hours watching the spider in the front yard.

I’m sure people walking through the neighborhood are beginning to wonder about our sanity.

John loves feeding them. 

At first he would just catch a small moth and toss it into the sticky web.

Dinner!

Now he seeks out food for them

Moths big and little – dead crickets from the garage

Since some things seem to stick better than others

He’s developed a technique of making sure dinner stays put.

Tweezers – who knew?

Once “dinner” has flown into or been placed on the web the Orb will move to it

and begin to spin a cocoon around its victim.

 

This happens with great speed.

After the cocoon is spun and the “meal” is stabilized the Orb begins to eat.

She usually begins with the head.

Now…Orb spiders are no small thing.

The big one in the front is about 3″ – 4 ” long.

Yet it moves with lightening speed and accuracy.

Because we are spending so much time in the front we have shared our fascination with anyone walking by.

Which seems to be mostly mothers and young daughters.

First came Torry, Cassidy and Sloan.

No fear of giant spiders here.

Cassidy caught a bug and placed it on the web – twice.

Cassidy fixing dinner

Mom’s not afraid – why should I be.

Next came Michaela and Bridget on their way to school one morning.

Had no idea these California girls were so into spiders.

But not everyone.

By Saturday when Jessica and Madeline strolled by we could tell they were polite

But squeamish.

Giant spiders aren’t for everyone and that’s OK.

I’ve done a little research on these creatures.

They don’t bite unless aggravated

Their bite hurts but is not life threatening.

They have a life span of one year

The female is the big one

The male is only 1/2 inch long.

You can see them both in this picture that Debra took when she came to visit this week.

The female will lay one or more egg sacs and encase them in the same thread material as their food.

Each egg sack can contain between 300 and 1400 eggs,

She attaches her egg sacs to one side of her web

Close to her in the center of the web.

She will watch her eggs until the first hard freeze

When she will die.

Around here the hatchling spiders will remain dormant in the egg sacs till spring.

When like many things the cycle begins again.

They like to make their homes among flowers, shrubs and tall plants.

Which makes them lovers of Hydrangea.

I have taken endless pictures of these busy creatures.

Spiders, John, Elliott and neighbors.

It is nature in a pure form

Well, except for the part where we catch the bugs.

Watching these intricate sticky webs.

So strong that they withstand wind and rain and stupid human tricks

Knowing that they work hard to create the next generation.

And make the world a safe place.

We all have something in common

We share the same space

What an amazing space this is.

Take care,

Gail

P.S. And just when I think I’ve taken the last picture – last night’s dinner was a DRAGON FLY!!!

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Filed under Fall, Gardening Friends, Gloriosa Daisy - Rudbeckia, Hydrangea, late summer garden, Orb Spider, Perennials, Uncategorized

SEEING

Recently I bought a new camera.

Just a simple point and shoot that hopefully will give better color to the pictures I share.

I’ve noticed something since I got it.

I see differently

more, actually.

Can’t wait for the sun to come up to go into my garden and take pictures.

Pictures of the same flowers and bugs that I’ve known for years.

Decades really.

Late summer visitor - Orb spider

But I’m seeing them differently through this new lens.

Veronica spicata, for instance.

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It’s not a terribly showy flower.

I’ve called it a “filler flower” for years.

Probably not politically correct to cast it in such a subservient role.

I’ve even threatened to dig it all up from time to time.

But…the truth is it’s a great flower

now that I see it through a new lens.

And cockscomb

Sure, I’ve marveled over the big “brainy” blooms

Now I’m fascinated by the clusters of feathery blossoms as they rustle in the breeze.

I’m suddenly drawn to the things that have been right in front of me.

Things I walk past each day

Yet don’t truly see.

Like this short but mighty Gloriosa Daisy that just begged me to take its picture.

Seeing

It’s so important.

Critical really in much of life.

Perhaps seeing is the thing that ties the varied parts of my life together.

Because I garden

I observe.

My mind keeps going to another of my passions.

Hunger

How to solve it.

It, like veronica spicata, is right in front of us.

Everyday.

We may not see it.

We likely don’t realize it’s even there.

But it is

Everywhere

Close at home

And far away

If we look – choose to see.

Recently we opened a food pantry at the high school.

It will provide food for kids who have none on weekends.

It has refrigeration so kids can have access to fresh food

A staple for so many of us.

A luxury for so many more.

Kelly is planning to plant another “field” of lettuce this fall.

Harvesting last spring's lettuce

I’ll have a row or two.

We’ve made arrangements to have volunteers come and cut and take it to the high school.

Lettuce bagged and ready to deliver

Seeing a need right in front of us.

Planting a way to meet that need.

Seeing the world connected.

Is it any wonder I love to garden!!!

Gail

P.S.  If you have extra fruit and vegetables you’d like to share, just let me know.

A potential fall tomato crop?

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Filed under cockscomb, Gloriosa Daisy - Rudbeckia, Hunger, Lettuce, Orb Spider, Tomato, Veronica Spicata

THE LATE SUMMER GARDEN

The late summer garden.

There comes a time in summer

When you have to decide.

Let the blossoms linger

Or…cut them back so that they can bloom again in fall.

That’s what I’ve spent much of the last week doing.

Cutting back.

Deadheads from this week's efforts.

I may be a bit late.

It’s always hard to tell.

After all we don’t know when the first freeze will come.

At this point we can hardly imagine a freeze at all.

But before we know it we’ll be looking back at this summer.

We get a lot of bad press in this part of the country about weather

Much of it self-inflicted

Some people gripe about gardening here.

But for me the truth is this is a great place to garden.

We have 4 distinct seasons.

Granted they get a little confused some years.

And occasionally we miss one all together.

But almost every year I can garden for 9 months.

Sometimes 10.

What more can you ask for.

When one of my first gardening clients, Liz, died on New Year’s Eve.

I remember going into my yard to cut a few flowers to add to an arrangement to take to her home.

Liz loved arranging flowers. 

She was an artist.

She knew color and scale.

Even on days when she wasn’t feeling well I would find her out in her cutting garden when I came by for the weekly maintenance.

Frequently there will be daffodils and hellebores on Valentine’s Day.

But in order to do this you have to plan and…

You have to be ruthless this time of year.

It also means that you’ll have less color for a few weeks.

Unless, of course, you planted zinnias during late June.

The purple wedding zinnias are starting to bloom.

Then, they will pick up the slack when it comes to garden color.

My friends Martie and Cheri have both reported the first zinnia blooms in the last few weeks.

The Monarch Butterflies will be grateful to them.

Soon they’ll begin their flight to their winter home in Mexico.

The sunny flat faced blossoms of zinnias give them all the food they need for the trip.

Zinnias awaiting visitors

There have been years where they absolutely come in flocks to dine on late summer zinnias.

So what you may ask am I whacking away at.

Tall garden phlox.

Too tall phlox

This year it’s been really tall since I didn’t get it cut back in the spring.

And for some reason I haven’t cut much of it for arrangements.

Along with phlox other hot summer staples Gloriosa Daisies and Purple Coneflower have gotten harsh hair cuts.

Pladycodan (Balloon Flower) also got whacked severely.

Shasta Daisies are still blooming. 

Just deadhead them to keep them going.

No severe treatment here.

Though I do need to dig and divide them come fall.

Basically this time of year there’s not much else to do but deadhead and weed.

Or in simpler terms putter.

And enjoy!

Gail

P.S. I know I’m repeating myself, but I’m seeing more and more trees around town in
severe stress.  Drag a hose to any tree or shrub at your house and let it trickle.
Move it in concentric circles for a day or two.  Soak it slowly to go deeply. 
You’ll actually hear them thank you!

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Filed under Dead Heading, Gloriosa Daisy - Rudbeckia, late summer garden, Purple Coneflower - Echinacea, Shasta Daisy, Tall Garden Phlox, Uncategorized, Zinnia