Category Archives: patience



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.


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.


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.




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.


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.


So, exactly how am I to restore “order”

To the front of this border.


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.







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


The Dahlias didn’t put on their usual show last fall.

Perhaps it was the hot summer.

More likely it’s the shade created by the neighbor’s mulberry tree.

I don’t want the mulberry tree to go away.

It takes me back to my childhood.

On our way to church in late spring

Daddy would stop along a county road

We’d all jump out and start picking and eating mulberries.

For those of you who don’t know mulberries, they stain.

Big time.

So there we would be in our Sunday best.

Standing in a ditch

Eating mulberries.

Mother was fairly laid back about it all.

Thanks for that example, Mom.

Back to Dahlias.

So if I want Dahlias, I’m going to have to move them.

I knew this last fall

When Elliott was home he suggested moving them to the NE corner of the garden house.

Good idea.

But that space was full of plants.

So first I moved the Digitalis – Foxglove to the other side of the garden house.

Then I dumped lots of compost to settle in for the winter.

Earlier this spring I moved the Aloha roses to their new home across the path.

So, yesterday was moving day.

I decided to round the corner, too.

That meant digging up the Butterfly Bush.

I think it’s moving to Megan’s – if she’ll have it.

New Dahlia Bed

New Dahlia Bed

Next came digging up the dozen or so Dahlias that survived.

I’ve ordered more – lots more.

Emory Paul – that big glorious dinner plate Dahlia.

Along with Kevin Floodlight – a yellow favorite

Fleurel which is white.

Lilac Time, and the bi-colors of Avignon and Mom’s Special.

Since the ones I dug are of unknown lineage

And the new ones are all complimentary in color.

I just mixed them together.

Except for Emory Paul which creates a backdrop against the garden house.

There is no great trick to planting them.

Bury them about 6 – 8 ” deep like a Daffodil.

You can usually tell which end is up by the blunt end of the old stem.

It will take them a bit to come up

So place a marker by each one you plant.

Dahlias have a growth habit that is well…wild.

To say they need staking is an understatement.

They need staking and caging and anything else you can dream up.

Several years ago I came up with a system that works pretty well.

I use the triangular wire tomato cages you can find at garden centers.

I place them side by side

Alternating them to form a box.

Cover the entire area with cages.

Then stabilize them by connecting them with cable ties.

Now because these are tall heavy blooms

I go one step further.

Lace a 4′ piece of rebar through one side of each cage.

Are you beginning to get the picture!

Now we wait.

Gardening does teach you patience.

Fall will bring amazing results.

Enjoy the week.


P.S. Here’s what’s showing off this week.

Oakleaf Hydrangea

Oakleaf Hydrangea

Amaryllis planted in the garden

Amaryllis planted in the garden




Filed under Amaryllis, Compost, Dahlias, Digitalis, Fall, Garden House, Garden Planning, Gardening, Oakleaf Hydrangea, patience, Perennials

Winter Garden



February 2011

There’s a stillness about the winter garden.

A slower pace.


I love that

I need that

So on a recent sunny January day I spent some time strolling

It’s a hopeful journey.

Daffodils sticking their noses up.

Larkspur running amuck

Greening up everywhere.

My mystery perennial fern bigger and greener

than it ever was last summer.

But the brightest sign of hope…

The first bud on Helleborus

An amazing plant that is always the first to show new life in my garden.

It’s still time for the garden to rest.

For this gardener to rest. 

To stroll quietly through the garden

To putter in the garden house

To contemplate the season to come

Time to study OK drool over the catalogs clogging my mailbox

For now…

Quiet time

Hopeful time of things to come.




Filed under Daffodils, Ferns, Hellebores, Larkspur, patience, Uncategorized, Winter Garden



Gardening is a teacher – a kind of life coach – before we knew they existed.

If you listen to the pace of nature you will learn.

Not just about gardening but about life.

It will teach you to be more observant of details.

To appreciate small miracles and big surprises.

But most of all it will teach you patience.

Garden View Year 1


There is a saying about perennials.

 The first year they sleep.

The second they creep.

And the third they leap.

It’s true.

There is really very little you can do to move them along.

So we must simply learn to be patient.

In time you will realize that the years have gone by and your garden is full if not overflowing with growth that you have nurtured.

A few patient years later.

There are however things that you can do to help the process along.

Take the time in the beginning to prepare the soil well.

We’ve talked about this before.

Add compost, chopped leaves, manure and a little peat moss to make sure that you create a place where plants truly can grow.

I continue to add these things to keep the soil rich but the beginning of life of a garden is when you can really do the best job of building a good home. 

Next comes your chosen method of watering.

Now, I know this is not nearly as much fun as buying and planting but it is important for many reasons.

All of us should be continually aware of our water consumption – no matter how high the water table and how easy it is to get your own well.

Water is in short supply on this planet. 

Using it wisely is simply the only responsible choice.

That is the moral reason why I love drip irrigation systems.

But the truth is it’s really great for the plants as well.

Not to mention how easy it is to use.

You may have noticed black hoses in some of my previous pictures.

Emitter hoses in front bed.

That is my wonderful drip system. 

It runs throughout my garden and makes it unbelievably simple to water then entire garden.

I simply lift the handle on two faucets and walk away.

Here’s how it works.

The black hoses are ½” tubing with emitters inside the hose.

You can order them with 9”, 12” or 18” spacing. 

Your other choice is ½ gallon per hour or 1 GPH.

As I recall mine have 12” spacing with 1GPH.

The entire system comes from a company called Dripworks.

Unfortunately, it is not sold at retail in this part of the country, but can be ordered online at

The kindly people there will even help you design your system and figure out how much emitter tubing you need and additional fittings, etc.

After laying more feet of this than I care to admit, John completed the project.

A four-way splitter was attached to the faucet. 

Then he put female fittings at the end of each section of emitter tubing.

The ends were then capped.

There you have it.

A big backyard perennial garden watered deeply – completely by turning on two faucets. 

What geniuses these people are.

And the best part.

The water goes into the ground – not evaporated into the air.

Or on the leaves of the plants where it would only encourage nasty fungal diseases.

Everyone wins – you gotta love that!

But remember – this is a slow drip.

You want it to water over a period of time.

Overnight in the case of my large beds.

So you have to be patient.

Just barely turn it on – a slow drip that waters deeply drawing the roots deeper into the ground where they will more readily survive the drama of today’s unpredictable weather.

Remember the week in early February where we went from -4 to 80 degrees!

Deeply rooted plants will take that kind of torture and the extreme heat that is sure to come this summer.

The other important thing to remember about drip irrigation is you don’t water as often. 

In an average year I only water my big perennial bed about once a week during the growing season.

After all the water is going where it is needed so you don’t have stand there and spritz it a little every day.

Patience…a quality that comes naturally to some and is a lifetime struggle for others.

With gardens it’s worth – shall we say – “cultivating” this quality!!!

So…this week stroll through nature.

Take it all in, patiently.


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Filed under drip irrigation, Gardening;Perennials, patience

False Starts and Tiny Pleasures


I have come to think of spring as a parade. 

From the time the first crocus pops out of the ground it’s as if color is marching into town.

Hellebores, Daffodils, Forsythia, Quince, Hyacinths, Bradford Pear trees, Redbud trees, Flowering Crabapples, Tulips and on and on…….

Then there are days like Saturday.

It’s cold, it’s cloudy… IT’S MARCH ….I keep forgetting that!

And so the weekday evenings I spent picking up leaves and dreaming of the things I would do this weekend were well just that – dreams.

False starts – they can really mess with your head if you let them.

So, I’m writing this from inside my garden house looking out onto all that potential.

Reveling in the tiny pleasures. 

Grape hyacinths

                                                                                                          with pansies

                                                                                                                                                        and violas keeping them company along the path to the garden house.

The Red Bud and Crabapple trees in glorious bloom on Cleveland just north of the railroad tracks.
What I’m most concerned about this week are my Belinda’s Dream roses. 

I have over a dozen of them strung throughout my backyard garden and along the fence on the east side of my yard.

With the exception of the three I planted new last year ALL are 90% dead to the ground I think. 

I’ve not pulled the manure back – waiting for this last cold spell to pass – but it looks like the green is from the bottom of the plant. 

So…I did what every good gardener does….call a fellow gardener.

Kelly – my neighbor and friend – lives just down the block. 

Kelly knows roses.  She’s taught me much of what I know on the subject.

She’s always a comfort at times like this….until today.

When I called and told my sad tale she said that she has one rose that has done the same thing.

Her question is…well…frightening. 

If they come back from the root will they be my beloved Belinda’s Dream or the unknown rootstalk!

That thought had never occurred to me.  I could have a garden of perish the thought RED roses!

Daddy must be laughing right now.

He always told me that RED was the only color of roses that God created.

The rest are an unfortunate intervention of human kind. 

So now the great waiting game begins.

When the weather warms up I’ll cut off the dead – pull back the manure and give them that drink of epsom salts that I mentioned last week. 

Then I’ll wait.

There’s a lesson in this somewhere.

I’m guessing it goes something like…..

You can fiddle with nature. 

You can likely get away with it for sometime.

But in the end we are not in control. 

It’s nature….God is not only in the details….he’s in control.

Much better hands than mine.

Be patient…Spring really is just around the corner.


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Filed under patience, roses, spring