Just when I think
May overcome me
Take care of yourself and stay safe,
Just when I think
May overcome me
Take care of yourself and stay safe,
In the cold and snow of winter,
There’s a spring that waits to be,
Unrevealed until it’s season,
Something God alone can see.
Usually by the time of the first killing freeze
I’m ready to hang up my pruners.
I’m fortunate to live in a place
With a long growing season.
But I do appreciate the break winter brings to me.
First freeze is normally followed by
A flurry of holiday activity.
So by the time we ring in the New Year
I’m ready to settle in with a good book
And the multitude skeins of yarn I plan to whip
Into something fun for H & H.
Along about now I begin to get itchy.
I’ll step into the garden on a sunny afternoon.
Looking for the first bud on the Hellebores.
Or I’ll take a slow walk around the garden looking for
Daffodil and Tulip noses peeking out through the frozen earth.
Last weekend I found both.
I instructed them to retreat
Knowing the “polar vortex” was coming.
Fortunately, I’m far enough south that they will survive.
So far during this colder than usual winter
I’ve been able to dump bagged leaves into a compost area.
Organize my endless supply of deadheads and saved seeds.
And, of course, order more.
Seeds that is.
I’m planning to try some new annuals to add to my standards.
China Aster is the one I’m most excited about.
We’ll see if those big fluffy blooms are in my future.
So where do gardeners go in the winter?
Mostly inside their heads
With the help of endless seed catalogs.
And flower farmers Instagram feeds.
It’s a busy season.
Happy garden dreams,
In my core I am a flat lander.
A fourth generation flat lander.
As a kid I was taught by example
To be in awe of sunsets.
My father loved them.
A get everyone up from the dinner table
To admire them
Kind of loved sunsets.
He traveled the world
Met fascinating people
But was never happier
Than when standing in his own front yard
Taking in the full 180 degree sunset
In the evening sky.
We do have some pretty spectacular sunsets.
My friend Mike Klemme has captured many of them.
I know this place.
With it’s long growing season.
I know that sometime in late January
I can start looking for buds on the Hellebores
And by Valentine’s I’ll see the first nose of a daffodil.
If not an out and out bloom.
I know that each fall when I spread the summer’s compost
Around my garden
I can expect a spring crop of worms
The size of small snakes.
Happily digging their way through
The rich soil they helped to create.
But for the past few years
I’ve been cheating on my garden.
I’ve taken up gardening
In another place.
A place that couldn’t be more different
Where here there is a generous 9 – 10 month growing season.
There the last freeze date isn’t until June 15th
And the first freeze date can happen anytime after Labor Day.
How do people live like that.
For me it’s because of my grandchildren.
So I’m learning to garden again.
In a new place.
Now don’t get me wrong.
Home is still home.
But I now have the opportunity
To grow things
That absolutely hate it here on the plains.
I’m trying my hand at
And even Foxglove
Which I have no luck with
No matter where I try.
I’m learning how to out wit
Though they seemed to have eaten
Most of said Poppy buds.
Most challenging of all is the soil.
They don’t call them the Rocky Mountains
For their light airy loam.
Even staking up a delphinium bloom
(to make it more accessible to the deer)
Is an excavation project.
But the mountain air
Does make for glorious color
In all that grows there.
So, I’m literally putting down part time roots
In a new place.
In order to give the next generation
Growing up on the plains
It has just been a part of my life.
My father always said that his mother,
A woman who kept house during the dust bowl
Putting wet towels around doors and windows,
Understood that wind was important to staying cool
In the summer.
And she never cursed it.
Rogers and Hammerstein even wrote it into
What would become our state song.
“Where the wind comes sweeping down the plains.”
I’ve always tried not to complain about the wind.
But these past few days have really tried my resolve.
The wind has been howling off and on.
One day it’s an unusually hot wind out of the south.
Then it turns on a dime and gives us a mid-April frigid north blast
Leveling my tulips for the third time.
With wind in the forecast for last Friday
I was fearful we might have to cancel a long planned fun morning
Of Debra and her camera in my garden.
But on Thursday she called to say she was coming.
Luckily my garden is somewhat protected
With old trees and a two story house
Covering it from the south and north.
It was still pretty
Shall we say breezy
When Debra arrived Friday morning.
For the photographer in Debra
My backyard is something akin
To a village of bouncy houses
For a three year old.
She just doesn’t know what to jump on first.
The parrot tulips in the pots on the patio
Drew her in
And the clicking began.
But the wind was wanting to play as well.
Some of the pictures were clear
And some take your breath away.
It did not detour her
Finally declaring she would just wait
“The wind will die down…it always does.?
She moved from parrot tulips
To the more protected Hellebores
To the tulip lined path
leading to the garden house.
The light and the wind
All of which were joyfully accepted.
Her patience paid off.
As you can see by the results
I’m sharing here.
This reminded me of my grandmother.
Accepting what she couldn’t change.
Finding the good in what some would consider bad.
And just simply making the best of what you are given.
Some might call it Pollyannish.
I call it grace.
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
And much more
Basically he’s handy – very handy.
A few years back he built this screen
To help hide the back of the garden.
That place where you store things
Old broken pots
Millions of flats and plastic pots
That you haven’t gotten around to recycling.
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.
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
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.
All of this joined existing Hellebores and Ferns.
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,
It’s the height of summer here.
Endless sunny days.
And because we had all those wonderful
Badly needed rainy days.
The humidity is back
So what’s a gardener to do.
This time of the year is basically for maintenance.
Deadheading and weeding and watering are the order of most days.
I love it because it can all be done in little snippets of time.
But there is one more activity for high summer.
For some reason I don’t bring a lot of flowers into my house.
I have a few here and there
But mostly we enjoy them from the inside of the house
Or on the morning garden walk.
So it’s great fun
When I have a reason to make flower arrangements.
Friday night was just such a reason.
We were one of several host couples
For a shower for our minister Andrew
And his bride to be Katie.
Now it’s too hot to have the party in my garden
So it was held at a local lodge.
Decades ago it was part of an amusement park
And has been lovingly restored.
So along with chamber music
Including crab claws In honor of Andrew’s Maryland roots
Family from home
And local friends
We needed flower arrangements
And lots of them – 26 to be exact.
First order of business
Find 26 vases.
I’m embarrassed to say that 25 of them
Were alive and well living in my garden house!
The schedule went like this.
Weekend before dig out all the vases
And wash them
Tuesday the vases were taped with cross hatch pattern
To hold the flowers in place.
It was also the day to cut Euonymous.
They last for days if you sear the end as soon as you cut it
And let them rest in buckets of water up to their necks.
Wednesday morning Linda came to help with the harvest.
We cut buckets of Phlox, Purple Coneflower, Dahlia & Dusty Miller
We added bits of White Balloon Flower, Veronica Spicata, Hellebore leaves and blooms.
Linda and Virginia each cut a bucket of Zinnias – one fuchsia and one pale pink.
I even used the blooms on the radishes that should have been pulled long ago.
Wednesday night the arranging began.
Linda, David, Mary and Gay came on Friday morning to complete the arranging
And haul it all to the lodge.
It takes a village!
Friday was a warm evening.
Not just the temperature.
But the people, the place and the occasion.
There’s something wonderful about small towns.
When I looked around the room
There were people I had known for decades.
We have raised our children together.
We have buried our parents together.
We have thrown a million wedding and baby showers together.
We have welcomed newcomers together.
Those newcomers have become new friends.
What is there to do in a garden
In the mid- summer heat?
Photo Credit David Meara
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.
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.
It’s as important to gardening as fertilizer, healthy soil and water.
It’s the belief that a tiny green frond
Will unfurl into a gorgeous fern.
That the precious buds on my Japanese Tree Peony
Will soon take my breath away.
That come June
These few leaves at the bottom of what looks like a stick plant
Will give astonishing blooms.
The robins have returned.
Lady bugs and honey bees abound
Peg is on her never-ending bunny search
And the Hellebores are blooming their hearts out.
It must be spring.
All we need to do is trust
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.
I love gardens
So it is with great joy
that once again we hosted
The 1st Presbyterian Church Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday.
My friend Kay is my partner for this.
She gives her considerable talent, creativity, energy and education
To the children of our church each week.
She does the lion share of the work for this event
Along with other talented friends.
Four generations of friends, neighbors and church members gather for the fun.
When you think of it, what better place for an Easter event
Than in a garden.
But you may recall I was concerned that because Easter is so early this year
That my garden wouldn’t “look good”.
The grass was not picture perfect green.
Actually it’s mostly brown and still crispy.
Just a few things are blooming
Forsythia, hellebore, pansies and violas
And plants are just emerging from their winter’s sleep.
When will I ever learn that I am not in charge here!
God has it covered…every time.
She had many activities and stories.
All of which told the story of Easter
Resurrection and new birth
From the live grass for the Easter baskets
Planted a month ago during Sunday School
To the annual Lady Bug release
(Aphids don’t stand a chance in this garden)
To enacting butterflies emerging from their cocoon
(A card table covered with a brown cloth)
Learning about and experiencing nature
Is there a better way to spend a glorious spring Saturday
Than to create memories for children and adults
To experience nature
What a gift.
Remember that old ketchup commercial?
An upside down bottle
Carole King singing “Anticipation” in the background.
But the ketchup just wouldn’t come out.
This spring feels like that ketchup.
It just can’t get started.
And so we awoke this Palm Sunday morning
To yet another snow.
After all it is still March!
But I’m just a little anxious.
The fact that I’m having the church Easter Egg hunt next weekend
And my yard hasn’t even been scalped
Is driving me just a bit!
So today I did a little “snow gardening”
Yes, it was cold.
But after putting on tights, pants, sock liners, socks, boots, wool sweater, coat, glove liners, gloves & ear muffs
Combined with sunshine and a wind block.
It was pretty toasty out.
Smiling violas kept me company
Just waiting for companion tulips to appear
The leaves were wet with snow
But they rack up just like dry ones.
And there is life beneath.
The hope of spring
Of garden days to come.
Of blooms to breath in
Sunshine’s on it’s way.
Enjoy the week.