Category Archives: Seeds

Love Zinnias…Mildew and All

One of the main goals

Of my garden

Is to have cutting flowers

All season long.

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And because the foundation

Of my garden

Is perennials

I rely on self seeding annuals

To fill in the gaps between

Perennial bloom cycles.

It starts in the spring

With Poppies and Larkspur

Then comes the heroes of summer

Cleome and Zinnias.

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Poppies, Larkspur and Cleome

All manage to return on their own.

They just show up and bloom their hearts out.

Zinnias return on their own

But to a lesser degree.

So I have to plant Zinnia seeds each year.

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The good thing about that

Is that I can time them…a bit.

I want zinnias blooming in the fall

Just as the Monarchs migrate to Mexico.

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Photo Credit “Devra” Mitchell

So I don’t plant the seeds

Until June.

I pull up the Poppies and Larkspur

After they go to seed

And plant Zinnias in their place.

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In my neck of the woods

I have until July 4th

To accomplish this.

Zinnias do have one bad characteristic.

They are prone to mildew.

Which is another reason

Not to plant them too early.

Spring rains will do a number on them for sure.

Since summer is the dry season around here

It’s perfect for growing zinnias.

We’ve had 7 1/2 ” of rain

In the last 3 weeks!

Mildew has arrived.

The plants are really ugly

But the flowers are the same

Sunny happy faces that I love.

They are perfect cutting flowers

Playing nice with all kinds of other blooms.

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It’s another life lesson of nature.

A crusty outside

Often accompanies

A loving heart.

Gail

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Filed under Bouquets, cleome, Fall, Garden Planning, Gardening, Gardening;Perennials, Larkspur, late summer garden, Poppy, Seed Catalogs, Seeds, self seeding annuals, Uncategorized, Zinnia

WHERE DO GARDENERS GO IN WINTER?

Usually by the time of the first killing freeze

I’m ready to hang up my pruners.

I’m fortunate to live in a place

With a long growing season.

But I do appreciate the break winter brings to me.

First freeze is normally followed by

A flurry of holiday activity.

So by the time we ring in the New Year

I’m ready to settle in with a good book

And the multitude skeins of yarn I plan to whip

Into something fun for H & H.

Along about now I begin to get itchy.

I’ll step into the garden on a sunny afternoon.

Looking for the first bud on the Hellebores.

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Or I’ll take a slow walk around the garden looking for

Daffodil and Tulip noses peeking out through the frozen earth.

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Last weekend I found both.

I instructed them to retreat

Knowing the “polar vortex” was coming.

Fortunately, I’m far enough south that they will survive.

So far during this colder than usual winter

I’ve been able to dump bagged leaves into a compost area.

Organize my endless supply of deadheads and saved seeds.

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And, of course, order more.

Seeds that is.

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I’m planning to try some new annuals to add to my standards.

China Aster is the one I’m most excited about.

We’ll see if those big fluffy blooms are in my future.

So where do gardeners go in the winter?

Mostly inside their heads

With the help of endless seed catalogs.

And flower farmers Instagram feeds.

It’s a busy season.

 

Happy garden dreams,

Gail

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Daffodils, Hellebores, Seed Catalogs, Seeds, Uncategorized, Winter Garden

THE GARDENERS

 

One of the thing that intrigued me

About Monet’s garden

Was how you keep it looking so good

For 500,000 visitors a season.

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A challenge to say the least.

So I was curious about the gardeners.

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Normally in this situation I would simply

Sic Debra on them.

After all she is a most curious person

And has a way of interrogation that is

Gentle and charming.

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But we had a couple of problems,

One, the gardeners were at work.

And we were there during their busy hours.

So we were asked not to bother them.

Then there was the fact

That they spoke French

And I don’t.

But you can learn a lot

By observing from afar.

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One question was about poppies.

They pulled them up

By the root

Just as the last bloom wilted

Before the seeds had matured.

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Yet they look like

They have self-seeded.

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So the unanswered questions was

How?

Do they dry the green pods

And save the seeds

To sprinkle in the snow?

My suspicion is that they return

To the garden

Via compost.

I never got the answer.

But sometimes mystery

And unanswered questions

Are just as much fun!

So since I wasn’t sure

Of the fate of these green pods

Packed with seeds of a color of poppy

I had never seen before.

A few seemed to find their way

Into my pocket.

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Couldn’t wait to get them home

And dried

And sprinkled

Into my own garden.

But….the last night

Someone commented about how fast customs moves

With the use of drug dogs.

And since these are the very variety

Of poppies that the USDA has banned in quantity.

We decided to leave them behind.

Kristina really wanted to see her children again.

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And not get caught up

In a gardening tour

Drug bust!

You would think that pulling all these poppies.

Would leave giant gaps in the color.

But as soon as one plant was pulled

Someone else came along

With a plant just as tall in hand

And planted them in the empty space.

While we were there

They replaced the poppies

 

With Cosmos.

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Three foot tall cosmos.

Which took me to

Wander through shall we say

The “guts” of the place.

The greenhouses.

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And cold frames

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Where they are grown.

They were filled with plants

Ready for the big show.

I found the  yellow wheelbarrows

I had noticed throughout the garden

Brimming with plants

Headed to the compost pile.

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They were stacked against the fence

Just like mine at home.

For me

Seeing the process

Was just as interesting

As the finished product.

I think it was there

That I found

My gardening Monet muse.

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Gail

“It’s on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way.  So we must dig and delve unceasingly.”

Claude Monet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Compost, Cosmos, Garden Photography, Gardening, Gardening Mentors, Monet's Garden, Garden Travel, Trip of a Lifetime, Elizabeth Murray, Nature, Poppy, Seeds, self seeding annuals, Uncategorized

BACK IN THE GARDEN

I’ve been gone the last two weekends

Which meant

No time in the garden.

It takes a lot to get me out of the garden

Two fall weekends in a row.

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But a visit with Harper & Henry

And the out-of-state wedding

Of a dear friend’s son.

Collided

Leaving me out of the garden.

While we were gone

We got a big rain

Six inches of rain

To be exact.

So the ground is just right

For fall rituals.

Moving things

Pulling up spent Cockscomb

And just generally puttering around.

This is the time of year

Where the present

And the future meet.

In the garden.

Spring flowering bulbs

Have started to arrive.

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Though the soil isn’t quite cool enough

To bury them yet.

My potting bench is covered with

Little containers of seeds.

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Glimpses of things to come.

And the Dahlias hit their stride.

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But the action isn’t all outside

Normally this time of the year I’m making pesto.

But our hot summer

Combined with my negligence in keeping the basil from bolting

Landed me with tons of bitter basil.

So there’s no pesto this year.

Instead I’m planning to freeze

Cubes of herb butter

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For winter cooking.

And the kitchen windowsill is filled with

Tomatoes in different stages of ripening.

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It’s a defensive move

Against whatever four-legged devil

Is dining on my almost ripe tomatoes

Every night.

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They get them just before they ripen on the vine.

So I’ve figured out just how long I can leave them

Then pick them before they are stolen.

Now I don’t mind sharing a few

But they are taking more than their fair share.

October

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You just can’t beat it

For perfect days in the garden

For relishing in a season well spent

And planning for the future

Gail

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Bees, cockscomb, Dahlias, Fall, Herbs, Seeds, Tomato, Uncategorized, Zinnia

LIVING ON THE EDGE

Planting home vegetable gardens

Is experiencing a resurgence in popularity.

I think it’s great.

Especially if home gardeners

Share their abundance with a local food pantry.

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But for some reason

I haven’t been able to convert even a section

Of my perennial border

Solely to vegetables.

I convince myself this is OK

Since my abundance of flowers

Supply the nectar

For hundreds of bees.

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I’m thinking they are pollinating

Vegetable plants all around town.

I also consider flowers

“Food for the soul.”

But the truth is I’m not that great at growing veggies.

This season alone

I’ve gotten a total of 5 tomatoes from 3 plants

One of which has now been eaten

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By a tomato hornworm

May he rest in peace.

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And something ate my three brussel sprouts plants

I am good at leafy greens.

Leaf lettuce and arugula are my favorites.

I can also grow radishes galore.

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So I’m doing my bit for the local food movement

Planting the edges of my garden.

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And a pot here and there.

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I have a hard time remembering

When it’s time to plant things.

So last winter I took the local Extension Service calendar

And input it into my personal google calendar.

Which means when it’s time to plant something.

It pops up on my calendar.

Now I remember it’s OK to plant my fall garden

In August.

Last weekend I cleaned out the spaces

Where there were weeds

And sprinkled seeds for

Carrots, radishes, arugula and lettuce.

They I planted peas around the dahlia cages.

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It’s not the vegetable garden of my parents

With neat rows and room for towering corn plants.

But it works for me.

Fitting in things along the edges.

Finding the time and place to grow the things

I really want.

And not trying to force myself

To fit it into a standard mold.

Life changes with time

Finding the time and place

For those changes

Can be challenging.

When we figure out how to do it.

It’s wonderful.

Gail

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Filed under Arugula, Bees, Brussels Sprouts, Bugs, Carrots, Fall Vegetables, Gardening, Gardening;Perennials, late summer garden, Lettuce, Radishes, Seeds, sugar snap peas, Tomato, Uncategorized, Vegetables

SEPTEMBER’S SONG

I have long loved fall.

You would think as a passionate gardener

That would not be the case

With the season winding down and all.

Certainly I know what is coming

An end will come with its inevitable freeze.

But here in the middle of September

Winter is still a bit out of reach.

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And what a September it is.

Endless days of crisp air and sunshine.

This is the time of the year

That the garden slows

And so do I.

My weekend gardening days

Move at a more reasonable pace.

Which gives me time to observe.

Bumble bees in flight.

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Baby praying mantis

Blending in with zinnia leaves.

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Even a large praying mantis

Outside the kitchen window.

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Orb spider spin their amazing webs.

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Butterflies bask in the soft fall sun.

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And peppers finally have their day.

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This is also the time of year

That pots come into their own.

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They begin to ooze over the side

With the fullness of the season.

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I’m not great with annuals

But September makes me look like I know what I’m doing!

Plants that were cut back in mid summer

Are coming into full bloom again.

 

Smaller…more contained than their spring version

But just as lovely.

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The last few years

I’ve taken a new look at fall

As a time to plant.

As I pull up things that are spent

Cockscomb mostly

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I plant seeds in their place.

So mixed leaf lettuce, arugula and carrot seeds

All were planted today.

Not in tidy little rows

Like most vegetable gardens.

But in the empty spaces.

I know I’ve said it many times

But fall seems like the time to repeat

The value of taking time

To observe nature

It’s seasons

It’s changes

It’s lessons.

Enjoy the week,

Gail

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Filed under Arugula, Bugs, Bumble Bee, Butterflies, Carrots, cockscomb, container gardening, Fall, Fall Vegetables, Gloriosa Daisy, Orb Spider, Peppers, Seeds, Uncategorized, Vegetables, Zinnia

MIRACLES

This morning’s sermon was about miracles.

A reminder of those familiar Bible stories

And a challenge to think about miracles

In life today.

For gardeners this is not really a challenge.

We spend our time observing nature

Digging in the dirt

(Sorry Daddy – soil)

And watching what are for me

Miracles everyday.

Who among us can turn this

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into this?

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Plant a seed or plant

and you end up with this…

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or this…

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or this…

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It can’t possibly be what we do.

I for one, can’t even imagine how this happens

Yet it does.

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Year after year.

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Now there are weeds along the way.

This particular season it seems to be

Crab grass in my garden

And there are years when

Things don’t go as we hope and plan.

For instance it’s another year of limited hydrangea blooms.

But all in all

The miracles are there

Every day.

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We just have to stop

And look

And open ourselves to see them

Everywhere.

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Gail

 

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Filed under Clematis, Gloriosa Daisy, Larkspur, Lilies, Miracles, Perennials, Poppy, roses, Seeds, self seeding annuals, Stella d Ora Daylily, Uncategorized