Category Archives: hollyhocks

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

SEEDS – THE BEGINNING & THE END

My father often told me that he didn’t want to slow down as he aged.

 

Mother and Daddy riding in a parade circa 1962

Mother and Daddy riding in a parade circa 1962

 

Parkinson’s Disease forced him to

But it wasn’t his idea.

He would say

“If I sit down I’ll go to seed.”

Time and Parkinson’s won out

And his life slowly wound down.

But never completely

He conducted a meeting about the future of public education in Oklahoma

On the Thursday before he died the next Tuesday.

He got his wish

He never went to seed.

But going to seed is a natural event in a garden.

Flowers come from seed

And most go back there sometime during the season.

That process has begun in my garden

The “going to seed” sequence

Follows the blooming sequence

So since Poppies are the first

Of the “self seeding annuals” to bloom

They are the first to go to seed.

So the process looks something like this

Bud

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Bloom

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Seed Pod

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Dried Seed Pod

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Seed

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Next spring it will begin again.

This week it’s the Larkspur’s turn

I know

It’s late

But remember that the season

Could be as much as 1 month behind normal.

So the Larkspur blooms have begun to turn

To seed pods.

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I’ll let some dry out in the ground

But not all.

I can’t imagine how much Larkspur there would be

If I let it all “go to seed”.

So I’ve begun the process of pulling up Larkspur

And laying it on the garden house floor

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To dry

So that I have seeds to share

With anyone who would like some.

And what goes in the space created

When I pull up the Poppies and Larkspur?

What else but

Zinnia and Cosmos seeds.

They will go through the same bud, bloom and seed process

During the second half of the season

Hollyhocks

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Cleome

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And crazy Cockscomb

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Will follow.

These are the things that give my garden that look of abundance.

They fill in between all the flowering shrubs and perennials.

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So, though the actual plant dies after one season

The seeds fall to the ground

Waiting patiently for the next year.

Popping up in new and unexpected places.

Teaching me each season.

It’s the cycle of nature

A going backward

So that we can go forward.

Nature

Pay attention to it.

Take time to observe it.

It has much to teach us.

Gail

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Filed under cleome, cockscomb, Cosmos, Gardening, Gardening;Perennials, hollyhocks, Larkspur, Perennials, Poppy, roses, Seeds, self seeding annuals, spring, Uncategorized, Zinnia

THERE’S A BOBCAT IN MY GARDEN

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There’s nothing more scary than

Heavy equipment in your garden.

We had known it was coming for months now.

The utility company is replacing all the lines in our old neighborhood.

Somehow we had escaped destruction in the garden

When they were in the neighborhood all last fall

Laying the main lines.

But now it’s time to connect each of us to the new main lines.

Fortunately, though it didn’t seem fortunate at the time,

We had discovered a gas leak shortly after moving into this house.

Actually our friend Clark figured it out

From the circle of dead grass in the middle of the backyard.

So we have a new connecting line

With the meter placed at the house.

The preferred location.

All of this is important because

The main line

And the connecting line

Intersect at the back of my garden.

I was told last Friday

That my number would be up on Tuesday.

So I didn’t dare leave home.

And shortly after 8 they began.

Around 11:30 I discovered

A Bobcat in my backyard

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Heading straight for the garden.

Luckily after a quick conversation

They broke for lunch

And I began digging plants

Filling the wheelbarrow.

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They even found a leftover Easter Egg.

Filled with chocolate.

Which every girl needs

At such a stressful moment!

Most of the things in their path

Were pretty strong plants.

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Daylilies

Tall Garden Phlox

Gloriosa Daisies

Lamb’s Ear

There were however some more finicky items.

Hollyhocks whose tap roots don’t make transplanting much fun.

Alliums which I simply cut and hoped for the best.

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And the greatest loss

Purple Poppies.

I’ve never had purple poppies before.

I spotted these last year in my friend Becky’s garden.

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She was able to remember the source of the seeds.

So I ordered a supply.

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Held on to them through the fall and early winter.

Actually remembered I had them

Then found them

And sprinkled them on the snow

One day last winter.

This, I have learned, is the most effective way to plant poppies.

I had a really good stand of them

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And was looking forward to their blooming

Going to seed

And making lots of purple poppy babies.

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But they were right smack dab in the wrong place

For the Bobcat.

So I quickly found some empty space.

Dug holes for their new home

Before I even dug them

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Then dug them with as much dirt as possible.

And popped them into their new home

With a good quick drink.

Will they make it?

I don’t know.

Time will tell.

It is only fair to report

That the utility crew

Was as gentle as they could

When you’re digging a hole to China

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In a garden

At the end of May.

O Blah Dee O Blah Da … Life Goes On.

Gail

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Filed under Allium, Gloriosa Daisy, hollyhocks, Poppy, Seeds, self seeding annuals, Tall Garden Phlox, Uncategorized

GOING TO SEED

In his later years my dad was concerned about “going to seed”.

Well into his 80’s he was trying to keep the same pace of his busy life.

His theory was if  ” I sit down I’ll go to seed.”

Not something a farmer was interested in doing.

Parkinson’s disease slowed his pace but it never
stopped him.

The truth is his mind was a fertile seed bed.

Ideas grew there for almost 9 decades.

On a Thursday in September he called a meeting of long time trusted associates.

He traveled out-of-town to attend.

The topic was his latest idea to improve his beloved state.

He reminded them that he wouldn’t be around forever and that someone needed to take charge of this project.

A seed planted.

He died early the next Tuesday morning.

Having never gone to seed!

What a gift to him – to us.

But going to seed is in some ways a good thing.

A way forward.

A continuation.

Of ideas.

Of plants.

And that’s how it is in my garden.

Much of it goes to seed this time of year.

As I walk through the path the soft fern like leaves of spring’s Larkspur

Now rattle like a morocco.

Dried Larkspur

It’s time.

Pull them up.

Cut them down.

Shake a few into the garden for next year.

Think forward.

“To everything there is a season.”

The 3 day 4th of July weekend was spent doing just this.

Rising early I pulled up a mountain of Larkspur plants.

Next I cut the tall stems of Hollyhock to the ground.

Separating the pink from the red – I hope.

Then a little aggressive cutting back of purple Veronica Spicata.

Followed by the Purple Coneflower.

Purple Coneflower at peak bloom

And presto!

More open spaces for the last of the zinnia seeds.

And just in time for my self imposed deadline of the 4th!

Life is good!

So now the question of what to do with all those seed bearing plants.

Can’t compost them because it doesn’t get hot enough to actually kill the seed.

And too much of a good thing in the garden is well….a mess.

I’ll first let them finish drying.

On the floor of my garden house.

Pink Hollyhocks drying on the garden house floor

Outside on my old potting bench tucked into a shady corner.

Then, I’ll harvest some.

This year the rest are going to my sister Ann.

She’s just finished lots of work on the dam of the “big pond”.

It’s totally bare.

After a little ground work she’s going to spread them out and see what happens.

A wild idea.

The kind Daddy would like.

Gail

 

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Filed under hollyhocks, Larkspur, Purple Coneflower - Echinacea, Seeds, self seeding annuals, Uncategorized

MURDER IN THE GARDEN

You may remember earlier this spring I talked about wanting to learn more about
growing vegetables.

Working them into my existing perennial beds.

I decided that this was the year I would focus on Sugar Snap Peas.

See if I could improve on the yield.

I got them in right on time and they have rewarded me.

Looks like a good crop. 

Then just last week I reported that Peg, our Scottie, likes them.

It was even cute that John and Cassidy were feeding them to her.

It’s not cute anymore.

Earlier this week I was out picking a few peas when I heard a snap behind me.

Peg was helping herself.

I scolded her and went on about my evening.

When I went to the garden the next morning an entire row of peas had been
well…murdered!

Peg in her zest to “eat local” had tromped down and munched through the row.

She promptly started on the next row.

We even caught her with pea stems hanging out of her mouth.

Horrors!

Well the whole area has now been fenced.

And re-fenced since she has broken in a couple of times.

I stopped just short of razor wire.

I’m sure she has fence marks all over her nose from breaking in.

So far the fencing is holding.

Hopefully I can outwit a Scottish Terrier!!!

 

 

The beginning of June is a glorious time in my garden.

The larkspur continues with its vivid purple.

It’s complemented by the gold of Stella d’ Ora miniature day lilies.

Asiatic Lilies begin to bloom.

 

Poppies are opening up here and there.

They are interesting at all stages.

From their droopy buds

To their short-lived blooms

To their seed pods left to dry out and reseed for the next year.

Self-seeding annuals provide a lot of fill-in flowers in my garden.

As well as tons of cutting potential.

A self-seeding annual is a flower that if left to mature ie. dry out in the
garden will drop seeds and make lots of babies next year.

So even though the plant does not make it through the winter you will likely have
that type of plant in your garden each year.

You just never know where they will pop up.

The flowers that self-seed in my garden are Columbine, Poppies, Larkspur, Hollyhock,
Cleome and Cockscomb.

Hollyhocks

I also get a few Zinnias.

Now…this  sounds like a good deal.

And it is…to a point.

Free seeds.

No planting.

But you have absolutely no control over when they come up.

Or where they come up.

Or how many come up.

And because I compost the old plants at the end of their lives I end up with plants

EVERYWHERE!!!

This is most true of Cleome and Cockscomb.

They lay a carpet of seedlings.

There comes a time when some of them have to go.

Yes, friends, Peg is not the only murderess at our house.

I’ll spend the week pulling up and composting thousands of baby plants.

So how do I decide who lives and who dies?

There are a few bits of logic to apply here.

Since both Cleome and Cockscomb will get about shoulder high I will start at the
front of the garden.

Everything within the first foot of the edge should go.

Now, I do this every year but somehow they find their way back.

Next I’ll make sure that they are not growing up in the middle of other plants –
like rose bushes and tomatoes.

Then I’ll pull them up from the middle of the paths.

Cockscomb and Cleome gone wild in path

And finally I’ll go into the open areas and thin away.

A few years back I thought I’d just let them all live and see what happens.

Not a good idea.

They are so crowded that nothing really matures and comes into its own.

So…it has to be done.

Come fall I’ll be glad. 

My garden will turn from the pales of early spring

To the hot colors of the heat of summer

Followed by the richness of fall.

Cockscomb will come fully into its own.

Fall flower arrangement with cockscomb

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

For now I’ll just thin.

Knowing that it’s the best thing for everyone.

Gail

 

 

 

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Filed under cleome, cockscomb, Columbne, hollyhocks, self seeding annuals