Category Archives: hollyhocks

HOLLYHOCK HOTEL

Saturday morning was

Cool, crisp and cloudy.

A very lovely way

To begin summer.

We got 3/4″ of rain last night.

What a blessing!

As I headed into the garden

I saw that last night’s rain

Had knocked down

That crazy pink Hollyhock

That’s insists on living

At the front of the garden.

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When I started righting it

I noticed that almost every bloom

Had a sleeping bumble bee inside.

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They were all sleeping in

Which allowed me the chance

To whip out my cell phone

Plus my handy little macro lens

And seriously invade their privacy.

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The only way I would get this close

Is if the bees are sleeping.

In other words

You may not want to try this at home!

I could even see one breathing

So I’ve included a short video

Of a breathing bee

With birds providing the background music.

Such fun.

When the clouds cleared

And the sun began to shine

The bees began to stretch and yawn

And eventually fly on to

Pick up breakfast.

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I headed on for a day of weeding.

We were both happy.

Looking forward

To a productive Saturday

In my garden.

With the sun going down

Behind the garden house

I walked by the hollyhock.

Looks like everyone’s tucked in

For the night.

Gail

P.S.  Thank you to all who responded to my blog post about my depression.  Many of you openly told your own story.  Those ripples in the pond will help countless people.  Please keep talking about your experience and listening to those who are hurting now.

 

 

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Filed under Bees, Gardening, Gardening;Perennials, hollyhocks, Uncategorized

PUTTERING AROUND

You can tell that spring is winding down.

The temperature is rising slightly.

There are fewer rainy days.

And the big garden jobs are done.

The few pots I have are planted.

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Tulips have been pulled.

And the plants I couldn’t resist

Have nestled into their new home.

Now comes the weekend

When there is time

To putter.

You know

Doing the little things

That you’ve been walking past

And ignoring

Till the time was right.

Digging and thinning the Iris.

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Hanging the sticky traps for those nasty thrip.

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Spreading the crushed egg shells around the Hosta

Hoping to discourage the slugs and snails.

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Planting the first Zinnias in the bare spots.

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Staking, trimming and caging the tomatoes.

It’s going to be a good tomato year

Since I’m all ready seeing blooms and tomatoes

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And finding time to see the world

Through my macro lens

Discovering a pollen laden bee

Inside a Hollyhock bloom.

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I so enjoy puttering.

Gail

P.S.  In my last blog I said that there was not a farmer in my generation.

I stand corrected and apologize.

My sister Ann took delivery on her new tractor this week.

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She’ll use it as she tends her 40 acre pecan grove.

Planted by our father.

Which she inherited

And is improving.

So she can pass it on

To the next generation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Bees, Generations, hollyhocks, Hosta, Nature, spring, Tomato, Uncategorized, Zinnia

FREE RANGE OR HOVER MOTHER

Recently I had the great joy

Of helping to care for my grandchildren.

In my case that’s twin 22 month-olds

Harper and Henry.

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Or as I sometimes call them H2W.

They are as you would expect

Perpetual motion

Times 2.

So their parents wisely

Planned a few activities in advance.

On Tuesday morning

We headed to the Denver Botanical Garden

For a class on Sunflowers

Designed for 18 – 24 month-olds.

The room was all set up for the class.

An oval rug for sunflower story-time.

Toddler sized table and chairs for the 2 dozen or so participants

Which included 3 sets of twins.

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And a row of adult sized chairs along the perimeter.

Henry and Harper found a chair and settled in

For whatever was to come

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Kristina and I found a chair in the adult section.

When the sunflower art session started

We realized we were the only adults

Not hovering above their child.

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Now, I’ve heard the phrase “hover-mother”

But I’d never seen it in action.

Folks, it’s real.

Where Henry and Harper created abstract masterpieces.

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Other’s somehow formed perfect rows

Of perfect sunflowers.

It made me think of my garden

Am I a “hover-mother” gardener?

I love to putter around my flowers.

Deadheading – staking things,

Moving plants to what I think is a better location.

When I got home I realized that I’m likely

More free-range.

What with that crazy hollyhock having returned

To the front of the garden.

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Not to mention Larkspur run a muck.

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Later in my visit

The weather warmed up enough

For us to play outside.

Elliott provided plenty of water.

For Harper and Henry to play in.

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They were generous.

A little on the plants

A little on their grandfather’s shoes.

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And eventually a little on each other.

Parenting styles seem to be like gardening styles.

Some of us need to be all hands on all the time

While others step back and let nature be

What nature can be.

I’m thankful we seem to be

A free-range family.

Gail

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Filed under Children in the Garden, Gardening, Grandchildren, Gratitude, hollyhocks, Larkspur, Sunflowers, Uncategorized

A SIMPLE DAY

Yesterday dawned cool and cloudy.

Rain had been predicted for the day

But it didn’t materialize

And so we had a simple Saturday.

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My maiden voyage as a grandmother

Meant that my garden

Was completely ignored

For the last half of August. 

Abandoning my garden for grandchildren

Is a no brainer.

But it does mean that the garden

Is well….overgrown

It needs serious deadheading

As well as a clean sweep of weeding. 

But instead of going head long into the garden

I was more in a meandering mood.

So I slowed down  

And worked at a more relaxed pace.

Along the way

I ran across a few late summer friends.

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Orb spiders are making there return

After a year’s absence.

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The count in the back is up to 3.

I’m thinking we should name them this year.

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They hang around for quite awhile

So it seems a naming is in order.

And the monarchs are beginning to migrate.

They love the zinnias that are just now coming into their own. 

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A late blooming Hollyhock

Kept a bumblebee happy for some time.

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And all the while

Coco kept watch

Over the garden.

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They joys of simplicity

They are ours for the taking.

Enjoy the week.

Gail

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Filed under Bugs, Butterflies, Dead Heading, Fall, Gardening;Perennials, hollyhocks, Orb Spider, Perennials, Zinnia

A SIMPLE DAY

Yesterday dawned cool and cloudy.

Rain had been predicted for the day

But it didn’t materialize

And so we had a simple Saturday.

DSCN5005

My maiden voyage as a grandmother

Meant that my garden

Was completely ignored

For the last half of August. 

Abandoning my garden for grandchildren

Is a no brainer.

But it does mean that the garden

Is well….overgrown

It needs serious deadheading

As well as a clean sweep of weeding. 

But instead of going head long into the garden

I was more in a meandering mood.

So I slowed down  

And worked at a more relaxed pace.

Along the way

I ran across a few late summer friends.

DSCN5009

Orb spiders are making there return

After a year’s absence.

DSCN5079

The count in the back is up to 3.

I’m thinking we should name them this year.

DSCN5088

They hang around for quite awhile

So it seems a naming is in order.

And the monarchs are beginning to migrate.

They love the zinnias that are just now coming into their own. 

DSCN5097

A late blooming Hollyhock

Kept a bumblebee happy for some time.

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And all the while

Coco kept watch

Over the garden.

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They joys of simplicity

They are ours for the taking.

Enjoy the week.

Gail

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Filed under Bugs, Butterflies, Dead Heading, Fall, Gardening;Perennials, hollyhocks, Orb Spider, Perennials, Zinnia

RAINDROPS ARE FALLING ON OUR HEADS

 

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For several years now we have been living under “extreme drought” conditions.

Going back to the summers of 2011 and 2012

We’ve been below normal rainfall.

And those summers were hot….really hot.

Last summer got better.

A little more rain.

A little less heat.

Then came the summer of 2014.

What a gift.

Mild temperatures.

Crisp morning.

And rain.

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During June it was as if we lived in Camelot.

Remember the line?

“The rain never falls till after midnight.”

Well that’s where we’ve been living.

Camelot.

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OK, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch.

Especially since Camelot is fictional.

People kept saying

What till July.

So when July came

And it got cooler

We were amazed.

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Last week we got several days of rain.

Alternating between hard driving rain

And soft gentle misty drips.

With mornings in the low 60’s

And days struggling to hit 70

We were in heaven.

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Humans love these days.

But gardens

Well gardens come alive.

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It’s amazing to me the difference that rain makes.

I know it’s a fact

Given the extra nitrogen that comes with rain.

But I am amazed each time

I walk through my rain soaked garden.

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There’s something about standing in rain.

Soaking it in

From the roots

To the tips of the last petal

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Letting the goodness that falls from the sky

Wash over an entire garden.

We are all attuned to the weather these days.

For good reason.

It takes drastic swings

And is entirely unpredictable.

Perhaps we need to take a cue from the garden

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And stand in the rain

Soaking in the goodness

Experiencing the renewal it brings.

To all kinds of lives.

Gail

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Filed under Calla Lily, Clematis, cleome, Cosmos, Dahlias, hollyhocks, Mandavilla, Oriental Lilies, Rain, Tall Garden Phlox

PUSHING TO THE FRONT OF THE LINE

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There’s a theory when designing a perennial border

That plants should be placed according to their height.

Short in the front

Tall in the back.

Kind of like the order of an elementary class picture.

And orderly it is

Or would be

If everyone stayed put.

But over time

Things seem to move around.

I rely on several self seeding annuals

To fill in between the perennials, flowering shrubs and roses.

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So over the years the number of plants increase

As do the seeds they produce

And the more disorganized it all becomes.

This has been going on for a while now

But this year

It’s as if everyone has run out of patience

And pushed to the front of the line.

Especially my lovely pink Hollyhock.

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The seeds came from Patti when she lived next door.

The number has sadly reduced over the years.

This year I only have one good stand.

Right on the front edge of the garden.

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Tall

Stately

And totally in the wrong place.

Now, in case you don’t know Hollyhocks

They don’t transplant

Because they have a tap-root.

So, where they sprout

Is where they stay.

The other major offender of front to back order

Is Larkspur.

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Lately it seems to want to sprout

Along the edge of every path.

Then it lays down on the path

It has totally covered the Stella d Ora

I thought I was edging my garden in

All those years ago.

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So, exactly how am I to restore “order”

To the front of this border.

Simple

I don’t

I surrender.

My garden has very deep beds

For that reason I’ve made brick paths

To divide it into manageable pieces

Giving me a place to walk

And keeping me from compacting the soil.

But it also gives me a logical path for wondering.

And wondering is something I love to do

Because often I

Wander as I wonder.

Gail

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Filed under Garden Planning, Gardening, Gardening;Perennials, hollyhocks, Larkspur, patience, Seeds, self seeding annuals, Stella d Ora Daylily

CLEANING HOUSE

Every gardener needs an unkept place.

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A place to park your wheelbarrow,

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And the city composting bins

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And the stack of bricks

Leftover from the patio remodel.

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And my compost tumbler

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And the old potting bench

Lovingly built by John

Years ago at my first big garden.

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And miscellaneous clay and plastic pots.

For me it’s the area behind my garden house.

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And it really needed a good cleaning.

So this was the weekend.

It’s actually driven by the fact that

My garden house floor is littered with

Larkspur, Poppy and Hollyhock stems

That have been drying out for several weeks.

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You see if you compost them when you first cut them back

You’ll be very sorry.

Seeds don’t actually break down in my compost

It just never gets hot enough.

So I dry out the stems and thus the seed pods.

Shake them out good

And save the seeds.

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Only then is it safe to compost the stems.

If you do this too early

You’ll have compost full of seeds

Which will be like seeding your garden to Larkspur

Or Poppies or Cockscomb come fall.

When your garden is new

That’s not such a bad thing.

But if you keep doing that

Year after year.

Oh my

So the garden version of Dominoes began

On Saturday morning.

In order to make room in this area

For all this dried stuff.

It went like this.

Load up and haul away 2 years of plastic flats and little pots.

Luckily my favorite green house – the Garden House

Reuses these so I don’t have to add to the land fill.

Take bags of last spring’s leaves

To Loaves & Fishes for their new garden beds.

Thankfully John has learned never to put leaves on the curb.

They will find their composting home sooner or later.

Then dig up compost and take it to where I’ll be testing out

A fall vegetable garden spot.

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Plant lettuce in the empty spaces

Along the edge of the garden.

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Move some of those leftover brick to finally finish out my path.

How excited will the kids be next Easter

When they discover they can walk the path

Through the garden – end to end.

I haven’t had a day this productive

In months.

Tired hands.

Tired body.

Now this kind of work

Doesn’t really make for pretty garden pictures.

So I’ll just dot in a few

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Without any real connection.

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But as always

There seems to be a lesson here.

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The beauty of a garden begins

Deep within the soil

Waiting for someone to come along

To care for it.

To nurture it.

To bless it.

Just like people.

Gail

Dahlia in Elliott & Kristina's Garden

Dahlia in Elliott & Kristina’s Garden

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Filed under cockscomb, Compost, Dahlias, Dead Heading, Fall Vegetables, Garden House, Gloriosa Daisy, hollyhocks, Larkspur, late summer garden, Lettuce, Poppy, Seeds, Uncategorized

MARY, MARTHA & BUMBLEBEES

 

It’s been a glorious week here for gardening.

Imagine.

Mid-July

Three days of rain.

Slow soaking

Drenching

RAIN

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Cool crisp mornings

And bike riding evenings.

Which, of course, leads to weeding.

The ground is soft and willing

To let the weeds go.

What joy.

All of this means that I’ve spent the week

Crawling around my garden

Pulling weeds.

It’s amazing the difference a week can make in a garden.

And I only spent a few evenings

And Saturday there.

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From my ground level vantage point

I’ve noticed that this year

It seems that lots of Bumblebees

Have decided to call my space home.

During this morning’s sermon on Martha and Mary

It occurred to me that Bumblebees are the blend

Of these two sisters

That Andrew, our minister, was encouraging us to strive for.

 

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They are known for their Martha like busyness.

Buzzing about all day.

Even major pieces of music have been composed

And played and played

About the busyness of the Bumblebee.

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They have work to do

And they do it.

Constantly.

Or maybe not.

I’ve noticed this week

That they also rest.

I have found them during the middle of the day

Being Mary

Nestled into an east facing Hollyhock blossom.

Sheltered from the afternoon sun.

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I imagine that they sleep there as well.

But the place I most often find them

Is fast asleep in the spent blooms

Of the Disco Belle Hibiscus.

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I have a habit of walking through my garden

First thing in the morning.

As I walk I often deadhead a bit.

Popping off spent blooms here and there.

But I’ve learned  that morning is not the time

To deadhead these perennial Hibiscus.

Here they start blooming around the 4th of July.

And if you deadhead consistently and properly

You’ll have some blooms through Labor Day.

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And these are BLOOMS.

The size of dinner plates.

But they only last one day.

And as they close their petals

At the end of their single day of glory

They create a soft cocoon.

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That Bumblebees consider

A perfect bed and breakfast.

They seems to have struck

A balance in their life.

Doing the work that God created them to do.

And just “beeing”.

Enjoy the week in your garden.

Gail

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Filed under Bugs, Bumblebee, cleome, Dahlias, Dead Heading, Gardening, Gardening;Perennials, Hardy Hibiscus, hollyhocks, Larkspur, Uncategorized

The Untended Garden

I have often wondered how long a garden lasts

When there is no one there to tend it?

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A season?

Maybe two?

I’ve come close to getting my answer this spring.

I’ve spent very little time in my garden

Since May

And…well…it’s a mess.

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Oh, not to the casual observer

But to me

The gardener

Who knows the bones and body of this place

It’s a mess.

The larkspur is well past its prime.

And should be long gone.

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In this year where everything is about 2 weeks late

Cockscomb is all ready starting to bud and bloom

Crab grass and clover think they’ve died and gone to heaven

Because I’ve let them grow

Unfortunately.

There’s a forest of baby trees.

Mimosa, Elm, Maple and Pecan

Planted by well meaning squirrels last winter.

And so you lovers of mulch

Are likely wagging your “I told you so” finger at me.

Remembering the tough stance I took on the stuff last week.

But the truth is for me

Well, I’m standing my ground

Even at this stage of disarray!

Here’s why.

I rely on a variety of self seeding annuals to give my garden

That lush cottage feel.

We’ve talked about them before

Poppies, Larkspur, Hollyhocks

And the 3 C’s Cleome, Cosmos and Cockscomb.

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Without them I would find myself needing a lot more perennials.

Now I love them all

But to have so much renew itself each year

Is a strong statement of life.

If I covered my garden with inches of wood chips.

Few of these seeds would work their way into the soil

And grow and bloom.

So what do I do to prevent those much maligned weeds.

Nothing.

I don’t use a pre-emergent

And I don’t mulch.

I accept them as part of this creation

I don’t plant them

But they just keep coming

So there must be some reason for them.

And I think I’ve finally figured it out.

They are there to slow me down.

To make me sit in my garden

And pull weeds.

You really can’t see the details

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And touch the earth

Unless you sit

And dig

And pull

Disturbing the soil along the way

Just long enough to experience

The life within.

Gail

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Filed under cleome, cockscomb, Cosmos, Gardening;Perennials, hollyhocks, Larkspur, Poppy, Seeds, self seeding annuals, Shasta Daisy, Uncategorized