Category Archives: Hosta

SHOVEL SEASON

It’s been a glorious weekend here.

70 degree days

Lots of sunshine.

We are told tomorrow

Will be another story.

This on again off again weather

Has given me the chance to do

Some important fall chores.

So let’s just call this

The weekend of shoveling.

On Saturday I purchased

15 – 40 pound bags of manure

That’s 600 pounds!

I’ve developed a great system

Have it loaded into the back of my SUV

At the store.

When I get home

I just wheel the wheelbarrow

Up to the back of the car.

Split the bag open

And slip it into the wheelbarrow.

I never have to lift one of those big bags.

Then I just shovel 4 – 5 shovels full

Onto each Rose, Hydrangea and Hosta

In my garden.

It does two things.

Provides winter protection.

Serves as a slow fertilizer

Come Spring.

It also makes you a little tired

And sore.

You also may find

A few more Easter Eggs.

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But by Sunday afternoon

I’d recovered enough

To attack the compost pile.

All those leaves, garden clippings and food scraps

Turn into a rich garden amendment

By fall.

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So I got out my handy little shovel

And scooped it into my wheelbarrow

Spreading it onto the garden.

I got about 1/4th of it done today.

There is still more shovel time

In my future.

Having the right equipment

Makes chores like this

A lot easier.

Years ago John gave me this little shovel.

For Mother’s Day.

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Last summer he snapped the handle

On the original.

He quickly replaced it.

A small shovel is a real help

For a gardener’s back.

I did have a friend to help me

With all the shoveling.

This giant praying mantis reappeared.

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I first met it a few weeks ago

When it landed on my dahlias.

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Now it seems to be scurrying around

Looking for a place to hide out

For the winter.

This is not the glamorous side of gardening.

It doesn’t make for lots of

Pretty pictures.

But digging in the earth

Playing in the dirt

Is the beginning of any garden

And perhaps a new gardener.

Photo credit Kristina WynnePhoto credit Kristina Wynne

Gail

P.S.  Thank you to everyone who has kindly mentioned the Oklahoma Gardening video of my garden house.  My favorite comment was from my friend Kay…”I’ve never seen it so clean.”  How true that is!

 

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Filed under Children in the Garden, Compost, Dahlias, End of Season Rituals, Fall, Garden Tools, Grandchildren, Hosta, Hydrangea, Oklahoma Gardening, Praying Mantis, roses, Shovel, 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

ROOTS

I woke up this morning

Thinking about roots

A word that has a double meaning in my life

Since I have deep roots in the prairie

Being the fourth generation to

Live on these plains.

I come from a long line of farmers

My father

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Both grandfathers.

The great grandfathers

Whose story I know

And likely those whose stories I don’t know.

And my mother

Grandmothers

And great grandmothers

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Who farmed along side

Their fathers and husbands.

So I’m genetically connected

To the land.

It’s interesting to me

To see how this genetic predisposition

Translates from generation

To generation.

My great grandfathers

And grandfathers farmed to survive

On the plains .

During the Dust Bowl.

To provide for their large families

Who helped them work the land.

My father’s generation

Would have to be more creative

To continue to farm.

Many taking non farm jobs

To help make the farm work.

Then came my generation.

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No farmers among us.

But in me farming morphed into gardening

Serious gardening.

Rooted in a love of watching things grow.

Knowing that the weather can be

Your greatest friend

Or foe

Now comes Elliott’s generation

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In the span of a few weeks

His graceful old Redbud tree was

Frozen while in full bloom.

His beautiful Hostas were

Shredded by a 20 minute hail storm.

Only to be snowed upon the next week.

Gardening is tough

Even if or especially if you are an urban gardener.

I believe that because gardening is tough

It makes people

Tough

Resilient

Patient

Hopeful

So I’ll go to my garden

To replant dahlias

That didn’t survive the

Frigid blast of early December.

I’ll rejoice in the two purple Poppies

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That will multiply in coming years,

And I’ll thank God

For the deep roots

Of my garden

And my life.

Gail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Farmers, Generations, Gratitude, Hosta, Poppy, Redbud Trees, Uncategorized

Marry a Carpenter

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

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And much more

Basically he’s handy – very handy.

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A few years back he built this screen

To help hide the back of the garden.

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You know

That place where you store things

Old broken pots

Millions of flats and plastic pots

That you haven’t gotten around to recycling.

Old hoses

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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.

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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

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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.

 

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All of this joined existing Hellebores and Ferns.

This fall

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,

Gail

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Filed under Compost, Garden Planning, Gardening, Hellebores, Hosta, Hydrangea, Oakleaf Hydrangea, Uncategorized

The Many Sides of Rain

Spring rain

Has always been a blessing

To gardens

To the soul.

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After decades of gardening

And listening to thunderstorms

Move through the countryside

Just this morning

I realized

Another side of spring rain.

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It rained last night.

Most of the night I think.

So we woke up

To an emerald green world

On a cloudy Sunday morning.

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Any good gardener knows

After a good rain

It’s important when you walk through

Your garden.

To stay on the path

To keep from compacting the soggy soil.

Rain also means

That you won’t get to do much digging

For a day or two.

The result is that

Rain slows me down.

It focuses me on the beauty of the garden.

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Not the “to do” list

In my head.

Rain washes away the clutter

In my mind

So I can see.

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Really see.

Enjoy!

Gail

 

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Filed under Chive Blossom, Columbine, Grape Hyacinths, Hosta, Rain, spring, Uncategorized

EMERGING HOPE

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The last  few weeks I’ve spent removing the blanket of leaves from my garden.

It’s a tedious but necessary task.

Last fall John mowed up the leaves from the yard

And dumped them on my garden.

It’s a natural way to protect the garden from winter.

I’m grateful he took the time to chop and distribute all those leaves.

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But once spring begins.

It’s time to remove the blanket

And let the sunshine in.

This is not a quick haphazard job.

It needs to be done carefully

To protect the tender shoots

Emerging from their winter’s sleep.

The new life that is sprouting forth.

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As a result I spend hours on the ground

At eye level

Observing miracle after miracle.

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Nurturing the garden

And my soul.

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Each spring I am in awe of this process.

What may look like a garden of dirt one week

Will quickly begin to unfurl

With hope.

And hope does not disappoint us.

Gail

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Filed under Ferns, Gardening, Gardening;Perennials, Hosta, Peonies, spring, Spring Clean Up, Timing, Winter Garden

PASS ALONG PLANTS

One of the things I love about gardeners

Is there willingness to share.

I’ve mentioned this before.

Sharing is so prevalent

It’s even  been given a name.

Pass Along Plants.

Sally's Pass Along Larkspur

Sally’s Pass Along Larkspur

Most well-kept gardens

Produce babies.

Lots of them. 

And there’s a need to find them each a good home.

At least that was true when I first started gardening.

After all I had been given plants by my friend Sally to start my garden.

I should certainly pay it forward

When the time came.

The truth is it’s impossible to find each seedling a new little bit of heaven.

But I still try.

Twice this season I’ve had the chance to share lots of plants.

First my friend Mary wanted to fill in some empty spaces in her flower beds.

She moved a few of her things around.

Divided some hostas

And dug from my garden.

Ferns, Gloriosas, Purple Coneflowers, Larkspur.

And a Rosebush which had a Helianthus growing up the middle.

Then last weekend Megan came.

Megan & her trunk full of plants

Megan & her trunk full of plants

She got here as I was finishing up the big dahlia dig.

So she got a bit of this and a bit of that.

Ferns, Stella d’ Ora Daylilies, a mystery Day lily,

Two pieces that fell off one the Blushing Bride Hydrangeas.

They are real babies, but patience will reward her.

More Gloriosa Daisies, Purple Coneflowers, tall garden Phlox and Larkspur.

A Butterfly Bush

Dahlia tubers

Tiger lily bulbs that appeared in the mail without being ordered.

And volunteer Hellebores – which I’ve never had to offer before.

Then we hit the leftover seeds for more goodies.

We dug

And visited

And laughed

And remembered our “professional” gardening days together.

During her Junior High and High School days.

It gives new meaning to sharing.

Sharing gardens

Sharing lives.

The timing was perfect

Just as the Larkspur was hitting full stride.

Larkspur & Friend

Larkspur & Friend

The Larkspur growing from seeds given to me by Sally

Who got it from her mother.

Generations of plants ago.

Life is good.

Gardening makes it even better!

Gail

 

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Filed under Dahlias, Ferns, Gardening, Gloriosa Daisy, HELIANTHUS, Hellebores, Hosta, Purple Coneflower - Echinacea, Seeds, Tall Garden Phlox, Uncategorized

Good Night Garden

We’ve come to the end of the season.

True, I’ll likely find a way to spend some hours puttering away over the next few months.

But for the most part gardening season is over.

There are a few end of the year tasks that create the ritual I call

“Putting the garden to bed.”

In the perfect garden universe

I would have time to do a complete weeding sweep through the garden.

Ha!

Next would come a car load of manure

15 or 20 bags.

I’d cover the crown of each and every rose bush.

Providing winter warmth and slow release fertilizer.

The reward is new spring growth from the roots.

Hydrangea, Hosta and Hardy Hibiscus all get a good dose as well.

Next comes a “blanket” of leaves.

Remember the leaf rule.

Never…never…never put them on the curb.

Instead of raking them up

Mow them up.

This chops them into a perfect winter mulch for

Everything!

John did this for me this fall as he mowed his fescue.

Makes sense

Fescue is a shade grass so the leaves fall …on the fescue.

What a gift this was.

Thank you John.

Cassidy & William helped too!

It’s also a good time for review.

I often make notes of what did and didn’t work.

What I’ve learned

How I’ll do it differently next time.

But this year the review feels more like

“What I learned during my 1st season of blogging.”

Technically, I’ve learned a lot – though I’ve got miles to go.

I think most of what I’ve learned is about myself.

For instance over Memorial Day I wrote of garden mentors.

About the “gumption”  my mother gave me for gardening and for life.

What an incredible gift.

Courage to try everything.

She never read the instructions to anything.

I’m guilty of the same.

Just jump in and see where it takes you.

I’ve also learned that I have a low threshold for “weather whining”.

I know

This is an historically bad weather year in about 9 different categories.

But really, folks.

Get over it.

I couldn’t end this first season without thanking many people.

So many of you have been encouraging with your compliments.

I love life in a small town.

It suits me.

Running into you around town

Sharing stories of our gardens

And our lives.

It warms my soul.

You may recall that I began blogging at the suggestion of a friend.

Amy grew up next door.

I’ve known her almost her entire life.

Recently, she came to lunch.

No longer the child I’ve watched grow.

She is a woman…wife…mother.

We have much in common as women.

We had lunch in the garden house.

Sharing stories of our current lives

And memories of her mother, Patti.

Thanks Amy, for the idea

And the encouragement.

And the friendship.

So…this will wrap up the first season of “In My Garden…tales from deep in my soil.”

I’ll be back in late winter.

Till then know that I’ve all ready seen the hope of spring.

Larkspur is sprouting everywhere!

Take care,

Gail

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Filed under Compost, Garden House, Garden Planning, Gardening, Gardening Mentors, Hardy Hibiscus, Hosta, Hydrangea, Larkspur, roses, spring, Uncategorized

BLOOM WHERE YOU’RE PLANTED

For years I’ve drooled over pictures of homes in the south.

All those gloriously tall trees

Dripping with Spanish Moss.

It all seems so romantic

So splendid.

John & I have talked about a trip to Charleston for a long time.

So when this summer failed to produce a vacation.

We decided to do something completely out of character for us.

A September trip.

John did his usual research and before we knew it we were off to Charleston.

And since we had met a man from Beaufort, S. C. on our “urban sailing vacation” a few years back.

We decided to visit his beloved hometown.

The fact that John’s favorite author Pat Conroy resides there only sweetened the deal.

And then as if that wasn’t enough we learned that the Charleston Preservation Society was having their fall home and garden tour.

It was meant to be.

So off we flew to Charleston.

Now…I ‘m sure you are thinking that the pictures of Charleston will begin here.

And they should.

But I didn’t take any.

Weird, but somehow after all that dreaming we just didn’t click.

So…we decided to move on  to Savannah.

Savannah is built on a grid

The planner a Mr. Oglethorpe (I think) wisely included 24 “squares” in the plan

22 survive today.

They would now be known as “green spaces”

What a forward thinker.

Most have a statue

All have enormous old live oak trees.

Dripping with moss.

Now I expected some sort of Southern Living gardening extravaganza of color.

Wrong.

I kept looking for banks of glorious Hydrangea

Color filled cutting gardens.

OK

What’s going on here.

A few pots here and there but really…no color.

Then it hit me.

The thing about all those glorious old trees is

Shade.

They create shade

Lots and lots of shade.

The kind of shade that only allows green to grow.

Moss, ferns, hostas, boxwood.

And oh how green it is.

The humidity hovered around 95% our entire trip

Afternoon showers came almost daily.

So what was needed here was a paradigm shift.

What I came to see simply doesn’t exist here.

Time to start admiring green

And foliage.

And small “secret gardens”

And the seashells poured into the roads centuries ago.

It’s that “seeing thing” again.

If we look we will see.

And appreciate.

And then there were the houses of Beaufort.

We saw them all.

Courtesy of a charming young guide named Carly.

She’s passionate about history.

We walked the town with her for 2 1/2 hours listening to her slow southern drawl.

She told us how Beaufort was founded in 1711 so that makes it 300 years old this year.

The town decided to identify all the trees that have been there from the beginning.

300 year old trees – imagine.

As you can see they are beyond description

They call them Birthday Trees.

I like that.

Then there were the homes.

Old gracious homes.

As it turns out one of these homes we have known for some time.

It’s the house where my favorite movie “The Big Chill” was filmed.

But before that it was also the home in “The Great Santini”. 

The book that got John hooked on  Pat Conroy’s writing.

So what is the lesson in all of this for me.

It is that simple saying

“Bloom where you’re planted.”

I’ve admired these old homes and their charms for years.

As it turns out they are gorgeous.

But they are really old.

Which means lots of work.

And the giant trees that surround them

Equally amazing

But giant trees create endless shade.

So though I consider myself contented.

I am even more so

After all

My garden has sun and shade.

We have a 9 month growing season here.

Which gives me days and days in the garden.

Then just when I wear completely out.

The freeze comes.

And with it needed rest.

So perhaps we are where we are supposed to be.

Or…maybe we adjust to where we land.

It’s really up to each of us

To choose to bloom.

Gail

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Filed under Ferns, Gardening, Hosta, Live Oak Trees, Moss, Spring Flowering Bulbs, Uncategorized, Zinnia

OLD SOLES

My original red garden clogs

Twenty plus years ago my friend Debra gave me a pair of garden clogs.

They have red soles.

Not the red soles that a certain designer now temps us with.

No these were red plastic from their turned up toes to their elevated heels.

Molded plastic.

Not very stylish.

But oh so practical.

They were platforms before we knew platforms.

Keeping my feet high and dry.

Transporting me through the wet grass on my early morning walks to see what’s new in the garden.

They are among the first “garden tools” I owned and have graced the back door at both homes where I have gardened.

Various dogs have chewed on them along the way.

Their cork and burlap insoles were molded to fit the shoe.

Over time they have simply disintegrated.

I’ve looked for replacement soles to no avail.

So now it is time for them to retire.

They have been replaced with a sunny pair of lime green clogs.

Old "sole" friends and new.

Softer

Not as tall

But comfy

On to the next quarter century!

This week has been hot.

Unusually so for the first week of June.

This is when a healthy perennial garden really shines.

First of all it’s June.

And like the old song says “June is bustin out all over”.

Stella d' Ora Daylillies, Larkspur and the Garden House

The larkspur is the color backdrop in my garden these days.

With its self-seeding nature it lays curtains for small vignettes of color play.

Gloriosa Daisies and Larkspur

My before mentioned friend Debra visited this week and brought along her trusty camera.

You’ll notice an improved quality to many of the pictures this week.

They are hers.

Poppy pods and Asiatic Lilies

The truth is my garden is a little out of control.

For some reason I’m behind where I usually am.

No real reason.

No excuse.

Just behind.

My normal ritual once all the planting is complete is to begin at one end of the garden and weed and thin my way to the other.

Not this year.

No focus.

I go into the garden and just flit about.

A little staking here

A little pruning there.

Then there were all those evening spent picking strawberries and snap peas.

So…I must get back to my routine.

To begin this sweep of the garden I usually take along my wheelbarrow, pruners, wicked EZ digger, and a bucket of some sort for weeds.

Pruners and EZ Digger

Then I start at the west end and

Deadhead

Pull weeds

Thin volunteer plants

Clean out around the rose bushes

And generally whack away at anything that is too big or having problems.

This week it was two Aloha rose bushes.

They have had some bug on them every year for the past several years.

This nasty little guy eats the center of each and every bud.

From my reading I think it’s thrip.

I’ve tried organic control.

And I must confess some not so organic controls

Nothing works for very long.

So I just decided I’d cut it back to a foot or two from the ground and see what happens.

I’m not getting any roses from it now so how can it hurt.

I did this earlier in the spring with the rose on the arbor to the garden house.

It’s coming back nicely.

Arbor rose revived.

So far disease free.

As long as I’m confessing to using a few chemicals I might as well come completely clean.

There are two problems that I have read simply cannot be fixed organically.

Bind weed grows roots so deep that it cannot be dug out.

Bind weed growing through the deck!!!

It comes back from the center of the earth every time.

I’ve tried spraying it with vinegar .

No luck.

Nut grass is the other.

No such thing as a pretty picture of nutgrass.

If you pull it out – even in very loose soil – there is a little bulb underground that explodes with the force of being pulled up.

When it explodes it makes babies.

More nut grass appears within what seems like seconds.

Sometimes nature really tries my patience.

So in these two instances I am now confessing to using Round Up.

I’m not proud of it.

It’s the only control I’ve found.

Even then it can take more than one round to kill it out.

And…chances are both of these little demons will appear again.

Let’s end on a positive note.

Three years ago I planted Bressingham Blue hosta in my front bed.

Bressingham Blue Hosta and Impatiens

They have loved it there.

This year they have gotten so big that they are shading out the Impatiens planted along the edge of the bed.

So…a little pruning was required.

I cut off the front leaves to let in a little sunlight.

They were simply too gorgeous to compost.

So I brought them inside and put them in a vase that had belonged to my mother in law.

We’ve been enjoying this unusual and breathtaking arrangement all week.

Hosta leaves in Geraldine's vase.

It will likely last another.

Remember to drop by your local farmers market this weekend.

Enjoy the week in your garden.

Gail

 

 

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