Category Archives: Peonies

RAIN, BLESSED RAIN

Most of the country has experienced

What seems to be the longest winter

In recent memory.

Our winter has been

In and out.

Bitter cold days

Sprinkled into sunny winter glory.

But it simply has not rained.

Fires 100 miles to our west

Attest to our dry fall and winter.

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Thankfully it starting raining on a recent Friday night

And continued through Saturday.

Bringing hope to my garden

With each drop.

The Japanese Maple trees

Are sighing with relief.

They leafed out on schedule

Only to be frozen a couple of times.

Creating the saddest looking tree

I’ve seen in a long time.

Now, with this moisture

They have begun the process of

Putting on new leaves.

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And things are budding out.

Iris

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Allium

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Peonies

With their attending ants.

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And those stunning Japanese Tree Peonies.

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They don’t last long

A few days of bloom and they are gone.

Yet, they are so worth growing.

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With these buds

Comes hope

And so it is with gardeners.

Whose spirits have frozen

And thawed

And frozen

And thawed

More times than we can count.

But with the rain comes

Hope.

And gardeners thrive on

Hope.

 

Gail

 

 

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Filed under Allium, Bugs, Gardening, Gardening;Perennials, Iris, Japanese Tree Peony, Peonies, Perennials, spring, Spring Flowering Bulbs, Uncategorized

THE LUSTY MONTH OF MAY

 

Every time I looked at my garden this week.

Alan Lerner’s words from Camelot

Kept going through my head.

“It’s May, It’s May

The LUSTY month of May.”

And lusty it is.

Roses

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Peonies

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Iris

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Columbine

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Allium

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I don’t know how Mother Nature pulls it off

But every year on Mother’s Day

My garden hits its spring stride.

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There is still much to come

But this week

It’s glorious.

With lots of blousy blooms.

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Perhaps it’s Mother Nature’s way

Of honoring mothers.

Those who nurture

And prod

And encourage things to grow.

Happy Mother’s Day

Gail

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Four generations of the women of my family circa early 1950’s

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Allium, Columbine, Iris, Peonies, roses, spring

PERENNIAL PLACES

At some point early in my gardening days

I decided on a perennial garden.

My memory is it grew out of my desire to have flowers to cut.

My friend Sally passed along some Gloriosa Daisies

The morning the backhoe showed up in her garden.

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I was off to a good start.

Over the ensuing decades I’ve bought,

Been given, planted, nurtured and killed

More plants that I care, or would want to count.

I’ve had two big perennial gardens

With a borrowed temporary garden in between.

Yet, every year this time I’m amazed with what I see

In my own backyard.

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It’s the rhythm of life

Played out in a growing season.

It is life

With all of its surprises and disappointments

Joys and sadness.

This has been a week

That has reminded me

Of my life chosen to live

In this “perennial place”.

In the span of a few days

I’ve watched my garden

Go from dying back tulips

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To the first blooms of Iris

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And Peonies.

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With lots of buds coming soon.

Life beyond the garden

Brought this delightful note

From the lady who delivers our morning paper.

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A few curves thrown my way

And friends who have decided the time has come to retire

Yet struggle with that decision.

I was blessed with surprise May Day flowers

Delivered by charming little girls

And their caring mothers.

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The week ended appropriately

With the hope of the next generation.

A garden baby shower for Megan & JP

And their baby boy to come this fall.

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The new week began this morning

With communion

In a place where I have worshipped

For over 40 years

With people I’ve known a few months

And others many decades.

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Perennial places.

They give us roots

To grow and blossom.

Deep roots to keep us upright

When the winds blow and bend us.

Deep roots to strengthen us.

Deep roots to grow branches

That encircles our lives

Individually and together.

Gail

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Filed under Baby Showers, Gardening, Gardening;Perennials, Gloriosa Daisy - Rudbeckia, Peonies, tulips

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

GYPSY GARDENER

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I’ve been reading a great gardening book

“Grass Roots Gardening”

By Donna Schaper

It’s a quick read

Packed with thought provoking words of wisdom

She is described as:

“Senior Minister of Judson Memorial Church

Mother of three children

Author of 28 books

And happiest when she is in her garden.”

She has introduced me to the idea of being

A “Gypsy Gardener”

You see she has found herself gardening

All over the country.

From Arizona to New England

To Florida to Minnesota.

She has covered the country with her gardens.

This is a great read.

I found my copy on the close out table.

Find it and buy it.

I finished her book this week while vacationing

In Colorado

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And as it happens

I got to garden there.

I’ve learned a lot in these few short days

Of high desert gardening.

One – don’t get gardening advice from the Big Box Stores.

Me:  “What is the USDA zone for this area?”

Big Box Employee:  “Western”

Me:  “No it’s a number.”

BBE:  ” Oh 7.”

Me:  “I don’t thinks so Oklahoma is a 7.”

BBE:  “We have a lot of varying weather here”

Seriously!

Time to move on.

So I just started digging.

Here’s the problem

Mulch

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Inches and inches of cedar mulch.

Now, I usually try to not get too opinionated in our weekly visits

But, I’m about to go off the deep end on the subject of cedar mulch

So if you are a big fan of the stuff

I’d suggest you just stop reading now

And tune back in next week

When I’ve put my high horse

Back in the barn.

So let’s talk mulch.

I have long held the theory that cedar mulch is part of

A “great cosmic commercial gardening conspiracy.”

Think about it.

Convincing homeowners all over this country

That each year they should buy bags and bags and bags

Of commercially produced mulch

Now forget that they never tell you that

As the mulch decomposes it will zap every bit of nitrogen from your precious soil.

And all kinds of ants and other not so great insects love this stuff.

My theory has always been

That if I – a living thing – don’t want to live under it

Why would any living thing.

Like a prized perennial.

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The thing is this new garden that I was digging in this week

Is covered with no less than 4 – 5 inches of cedar mulch.

I’m told a heavy layer has been added each spring for years.

“Keeps the weeds out and the moisture in.”

They say.

Except that as I began to work I discovered that the mulch is so heavy

That the rain and irrigation water only go as deep as THE MULCH.

The soil is as dry as can be.

And there were weeds

Mostly grass and not overwhelming,

But weeds.

And forget worms.

In three days of digging I only found 5 worms.

Not good.

Though I did meet a fox

Up close

And Peg met a deer.

So I set about removing years of bad gardening decisions.

Mulch is gone

Mushroom compost added

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Probably not enough

But it’s a start.

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I bought a few perennials that I can’t grow at home

Delphinium, Iceland Poppies and Lupine.

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And planted Arugula and Mixed Salad Greens

Which will probably  be eaten by the deer

Before I have a chance to return and make a yummy salad.

And with much of the mulch now history

Perhaps seeds from the existing perennials

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Or those I bring from my first love

My home garden

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Will have a chance of filling in the blank spaces

And making this mountain garden

Look more like an actual garden

And less like a Mad Men ad for mulch.

So my advice for this week is

Buy the book

Forget the cedar mulch.

Pretty simple.

It will be safe for all to return next week.

Till then

Happy digging.

Gail

P.S.  Next week if I remember we’ll talk about what I do in place of mulch.

Wouldn’t want to leave you hanging.

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Filed under Delphinium, Gloriosa Daisy - Rudbeckia, Lettuce, Peonies, Perennials, Poppy, Uncategorized

50 SHADES OF……PURPLE!

It is amazing to me

How each spring

The same plants emerge from their winter’s sleep

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To create my garden

And yet

Each spring

I am surprised by what happens

In my own backyard.

This year

This “I can’t believe how late spring is” year

I am struck by the seemingly endless shades

Of purple.

I know that I have 2 new shades

Of purple Iris.

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Plus the standard deep purple

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And it seems the Columbine

Has a trifecta of purple.

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Then there is my mystery wild Orchid

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And the last of the Violas

Before the heat of summer knocks them out

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There’s a rich purple in this year’s

Mixed Lettuce greens.

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And a new purple in the Alliums

Planted last fall

After seeing Kristina’s great Allium seed pods.

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I also have a new lilac bush

Small…but covered with blooms.

Add to them the purple Rose I planted last year

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Could it be

That purple is the “new pink”

Of  my early spring garden?

Not for long

Peonies and Roses can’t be far behind!

Enjoy the week,

Gail

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Filed under Allium, Columbine, Gardening, Gardening;Perennials, Iris, Lettuce, Peonies, Perennials, roses, Spring Flowering Bulbs, Uncategorized, Viola, Violets

VIBURNUM

My current garden is my 2nd perennial garden.

We moved into this house shortly after

I quit designing garden for other people

So I brought with me all of that experience

Mistakes and good ideas

Successes and failures.

This garden is bigger than any other I’ve had

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So I made the conscious decision

To use more flowering shrubs.

And as is typical in spring

Every week something new would bloom

And I’d go out and buy 3 of them!

There was method to my madness

Flowering shrubs take up space

Lots of it

They also give literal armloads of flowers

Which are fun

To cut and share

So the bones of my garden are

Hydrangea & Roses

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Lots of these

Because they give you so many blooms

Off and on during the season

There are fewer Peonies

Because they just bloom once.

But who can live without them!

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Then there are those early spring-flowering bushes

That take on a life of their own

Forsythia, Quince, Spirea, Lilac

And Viburnum

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You may know it as Snowball bush.

That first spring I bought 3

I don’t actually remember where I first planted them

Somewhere in the middle I think

In a sort of triangle.

By the next spring

I realized I had made a mistake

They were going to get too big for their present home.

So we dug them up and moved them.

Now remember that these were all 3 about the same size.

Two were moved to the west gate.

Where they reside today.

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What’s wrong with this picture?

Why the left side is not as healthy as the right

Is likely a conversation for another day.

Then there is the third one.

We couldn’t really come up with a logical place for it.

So we just put it in a hole on the far east side of the yard.

Along side of few other “homeless” plants.

We never did find it a real home.

Over the years it has driven me crazy.

I’ve actually wished it would die.

It’s under one of our big old cedar trees

And keeps growing into it.

I’ve whacked away on it

Year after year

Just to keep it kind of under control

Or so I thought

I guess I must have missed its annual haircut last spring.

Because this year

It’s well … GIGANTIC

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And loaded with blooms

Which is wonderful

Because with the late spring

My yard has been pretty void of blooms.

So I’ve been cutting and cutting.

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Armloads of flowers are such fun

To cut

And share

The stems are woody

So when you cut them

Be sure you either slice or smash them

And feel free to cut away

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Because a happy Viburnum

Is a big Viburnum

So why is it that sometimes

The things that annoy us the most

Turn out to be our best friends

When nothing else is blooming!

Enjoy this wonderful weather.

Gail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Bouquets, Forsythia, Garden Planning, Gardening, Gardening;Perennials, Hydrangea, Peonies, Perennials, roses, Snow Ball Bush, Uncategorized, Viburnum

FAITH

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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.

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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.

Faith

It’s as important to gardening as fertilizer, healthy soil and water.

It’s the belief that a tiny green frond

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Will unfurl into a gorgeous fern.

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That the precious buds on my Japanese Tree Peony

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Will soon take my breath away.

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That come June

These few leaves at the bottom of what looks like a stick plant

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Will give astonishing blooms.

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The robins have returned.

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Lady bugs and honey bees abound

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Peg is on her never-ending bunny search

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And the Hellebores are blooming their hearts out.

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It must be spring.

Faith

All we need to do is trust

And believe.

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.

Gail

 

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Filed under Bugs, Ferns, Gardening, Gardening Friends, Grape Hyacinths, Hellebores, Hydrangea, Iris, Japanese Tree Peony, Lady Bugs, Larkspur, Peonies, Perennials, Redbud Trees, Violets

THY NEIGHBORS GARDEN

Gardening is for me

a solitary pastime.

I love having people drop in

to see what’s blooming.

But I spend hours alone in my garden

Singing to myself

Admiring my work

And plotting my next adventure.

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Roses & Iris

Perhaps that’s why I love having gardening neighbors.

Someone close by to share with

and borrow from.

Kelly and I have been that kind of gardening neighbors

Even before we were actual neighbors.

Now that we are only a block apart we are

Dangerous together.

Between the two of us we are constantly changing things.

Sharing things

Learning things

Our gardens complement each other. 

Where mine is good-sized.

Kelly’s is mammoth.

Where I have endless varieties of perennials

Kelly wisely has focused on flowering bushes.

She has much more space to fill

And filling it with annuals or 4″ perennials is

Well….unimaginable.

She moved back to this part of the country from Seattle.

There she had learned a great deal about Roses and Peonies.

She brought that knowledge with her.

And has over the years adapted it to our “slightly” different climate.

She helped me overcome my fear of growing Roses.

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Rosa Aloha

I in turn introduced her to Hellebore.

Hellebores

Hellebores

Over the years she has planted a “river” of them.

That’s the thing I love about gardeners.

They are so willing to share.

Actually, I can be a little annoying that way.

I’ve been known to give TMI  too much information!

This  week is a good example of that sharing.

I did a flower arrangement for a bridal shower.

I needed hot pink and oranges roses.

Since my Katy Road Pink is blooming out of it’s mind right now.

Rosa Katy Road Pink

Rosa Katy Road Pink

I’ve got the pink part covered.

Orange on the other hand is a problem

Especially since it’s one of the few colors I don’t do.

Lucky for me Kelly has a whole row of the most glorious orange roses.

It’s a Weeks Rose called Colorific.

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Kelly's Row of Rosa Colorific

And it is terrific.

So I took my favorite pruners and a bucket of water down the street

And cut a few.

Roses ready to arrange

Roses ready to arrange

Now it won’t be long till I can return the favor

Because next week Kelly needs 14 table decorations. 

I have lots of spring bloom

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Wild Orchid

And an endless amount of Euonymus for filler.

So you’ll find her cutting in my garden.

And because those Colorific Roses are so terrific.

I’m thinking of adding a few to my garden.

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Shower Arrangement

Gardening neighbors.

Good friends.

If you don’t have one.

I hope you find one soon.

It doesn’t get much better than this.

Gail

And speaking of gardening friends,

my friend Debra sent this marvelous quote.

“I think gardening is nearer to godliness than theology. True gardeners are both iconographers and theologians insofar as these activities are the fruit of prayer ‘without ceasing.’ Likewise, true gardeners never cease to garden, not even in their sleep, because gardening is not just something they do. It is how they live.”

Vigen Guroian, from The Fragrance of God

 

 

 

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Filed under Bouquets, Garden Planning, Gardening, Gardening Friends, Hellebores, Peonies, roses, Wedding Flowers

CATCHING UP

CATCHING UP

Perhaps it’s time for a little catching up.

A review of where I am this spring.

Remember the roses that froze to the ground last winter?

Well, they are doing quite well and….

They are still pink!

The roses and peonies were in full glorious bloom last week when we had an unfortunate few days of mid to high 90 degree weather – with wind.

As it happens some years, the bloom life of these glorious spring standards was shortened.

I hate it when that happens.

But it’s a fact of gardening life.

So…I’ll begin dead-heading a bit earlier than usual.

Dead-heading?

Sounds like a rock band doesn’t it!

It’s actually one of the most important things I do to keep my garden blooming all season.

Dead-heading is simple.

It’s removing the spent blooms of plants so that they can begin the bloom cycle again.

Now…not every plant will re-bloom.

Peonies for instance do not.  So you just remove the stems of the spent blooms to tidy them up a bit and leave them be for the rest of the season.

I don’t usually cut mine back to the ground until the next spring when new growth appears.

Iris both German Bearded and Dutch also should also have their bloom stems cut back as far as possible once the last buds have bloomed.

Spent bloom stems of German Bearded Iris waiting to be dead headed.

But…leave the greenery to die back on it’s own.

We’ll fiddle with them a bit more later on in the season.

 

Many roses on the other hand will repeat bloom if you deadhead.

Hybrid tea roses and any old-fashioned rose that is remonant or repeat bloomers will give you more flowers.

To dead head them cut off the spent bloom to at least the first set of 5 leaves.

If the rose-bush needs shaping you can cut them even further down the cane.

Pink Belinda's Dream rejuvenated and ready for dead heading.

 

That’s it – no big mystery here.

For me it’s kind of a zen experience.

Doesn’t require loads of concentration so you can lose yourself in this bit of gardening.

And…you’ll be rewarded with new buds and blooms within a few weeks.

Now, the spring flush is by far the most breathtaking but the scattered blooms throughout the season bring me great joy.

 

Then there are things that I don’t dead head.

I want them to go to seed.

Digitalis or Foxglove are among them. 

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I’ve worked hard to get them going in my garden and I want them to spread so I’m restraining myself from cutting any for a few more years.

Hopefully someday I’ll have patches of their amazing towers of bell-shaped blooms all over the place.

A closer look.

Columbine is a mix of these methods.

The more you cut it the more it blooms.

But at some point usually when it starts to warm up I quit cutting and let it go to seed.

Once the seed heads have dried up – late June or so – I’ll pick them and scatter them in shady areas.

It’s worked pretty well in my loamy soil and I have new columbine babies each year.

Self seeded Columbine by the garden bench.

I’ll give more deadheading instructions as the season goes along.

 

Other activity includes finally planting my Caladium and Elephant Ear bulbs.

I’m a little behind on those but better a little late than too early with bulbs.

Remember – both of these like to be planted in the shade though their faces can extend into the sunshine.

The basic rule with any bulb is to plant them as deep as the bulb itself.

Not a big deal for Caladiums,

But…you’ll have to dig a BIG hole for the Elephant Ears!

Both will have to be dug in the fall here in zone 7.

Since we are expecting a week of glorious low 70’s weather I think I’m going to finally transplant a Blushing Bride Hydrangea to a new roomier home – got a little carried away with my purchasing a few springs ago – no big surprise.

This morning Pam cut flowers and made them into bunches to sell at the Farmer’s Market tomorrow.

I’ve added some herbs – Rosemary, Sage and Mojito Mint along with bags of mixed lettuce.

So drop by the coop table at Grand & Garriott between 8 & 11.

 Flowers, herbs and lettuce ready for Saturday's market.

Last weekend I spent time with Elliott and Kristina in their garden.

We planted new Dahlias – one of Kristina’s favorite, set out tomatoes and peppers and put out Lady Bugs.

Giving lady bugs a new home.

 

But mostly we simply enjoyed being in their garden, having meals in the garden, talking about gardening and visiting the nursery. 

As Elliott was growing up I sometimes wondered what part of that experience he would take with him into his adult life.

Although he didn’t really garden much then he was constantly exposed to this need to dig in the soil and grow things in our home and with both sets of grandparents.

It stuck.

He is drawn to the earth.

I am thankful.

Enjoy this glorious weather.

Gail

 

 

 

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Filed under Columbne, Dead Heading, Digitalis, Farmer's Market, Gardening;Perennials, Peonies, roses