Category Archives: Sunflowers

SUMMER LOVE

There’s something about the flowers

Of late summer

That I love.

Maybe it’s because they are sturdy enough

To thrive in the normal August heat.

With the cool days

And unprecedented rain

We’ve been having

This year’s August garden

Is lush.

Out of control really.

The cockscomb is doing it’s usual thing.

Blooming EVERYWHERE

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Zinnias are beginning to bloom.

They didn’t get planted till around the 4th of July

So they are just now kicking in.

 

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Endless Summer hydrangea

Are putting on new blooms.

While their cousin Annabelle

Has never stopped.

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And Cleome is still going strong.

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The thing that I notice

Is how different each of these flowers is.

Their forms.

Their needs.

Their appearance.

Yet when you put them together

In a simple vase.

They not only

Play well together

They encourage one another.

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How can you not love a garden?

Gail

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Filed under cleome, cockscomb, Hydrangea, late summer garden, Perennials, Rain, self seeding annuals, Sunflowers, Uncategorized, Zinnia

FREE RANGE OR HOVER MOTHER

Recently I had the great joy

Of helping to care for my grandchildren.

In my case that’s twin 22 month-olds

Harper and Henry.

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Or as I sometimes call them H2W.

They are as you would expect

Perpetual motion

Times 2.

So their parents wisely

Planned a few activities in advance.

On Tuesday morning

We headed to the Denver Botanical Garden

For a class on Sunflowers

Designed for 18 – 24 month-olds.

The room was all set up for the class.

An oval rug for sunflower story-time.

Toddler sized table and chairs for the 2 dozen or so participants

Which included 3 sets of twins.

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And a row of adult sized chairs along the perimeter.

Henry and Harper found a chair and settled in

For whatever was to come

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Kristina and I found a chair in the adult section.

When the sunflower art session started

We realized we were the only adults

Not hovering above their child.

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Now, I’ve heard the phrase “hover-mother”

But I’d never seen it in action.

Folks, it’s real.

Where Henry and Harper created abstract masterpieces.

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Other’s somehow formed perfect rows

Of perfect sunflowers.

It made me think of my garden

Am I a “hover-mother” gardener?

I love to putter around my flowers.

Deadheading – staking things,

Moving plants to what I think is a better location.

When I got home I realized that I’m likely

More free-range.

What with that crazy hollyhock having returned

To the front of the garden.

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Not to mention Larkspur run a muck.

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Later in my visit

The weather warmed up enough

For us to play outside.

Elliott provided plenty of water.

For Harper and Henry to play in.

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They were generous.

A little on the plants

A little on their grandfather’s shoes.

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And eventually a little on each other.

Parenting styles seem to be like gardening styles.

Some of us need to be all hands on all the time

While others step back and let nature be

What nature can be.

I’m thankful we seem to be

A free-range family.

Gail

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Filed under Children in the Garden, Gardening, Grandchildren, Gratitude, hollyhocks, Larkspur, Sunflowers, Uncategorized

Arranging With A Purpose

You may not know but…

This is Rally Weekend

At least it is at my church.

That first weekend after Labor Day.

When people return to the pew.

It’s an unofficial new beginning

In many churches.

This year we also were re-dedicating

A room that has recently undergone a remodeling.

All of this required flowers

Lots and lots of flowers.

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So I spent Saturday morning

Arranging flowers

Something I love to do.

It all actually started on Friday night.

If you have the time

And remember

It’s best to cut flowers in the cool of the day.

Morning is the best

Evening will do.

Cut what you think you will need

And let them sit over night

In buckets of water.

Soaking up moisture from end to tip.

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If the stems are thick

Or woody

Make a slit in the bottom of the stem

To ensure they get a good drink.

Brunch was being served in the breezeway.

Which is basically a large open space.

That means a large arrangement is called for.

Luckily I have a big white vase

Just right for this space.

Big surprise!

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I also happen to have

Several other white vases

Two tall and narrow

And two low.

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All of which will do nicely.

Now I must confess that there is one flower

I have little to no luck growing.

Sunflowers

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Imagine that

I live on the prairie

Where they grow wild everywhere

But I can not get them to grow

In my own backyard.

So…because they are so wonderful

And absolutely say

Look at me

It’s fall.

I had to buy a few

To add to my own

Cockscomb

Dahlias

Phlox

Roses

Veronica

And Zinnias

Suddenly you have 8 fun fall arrangements.

Getting them to the church

Required the help of my friend Mary

Sitting in the back seat holding on.

And a second trip where

The flowered filled brass vases from the sanctuary

Were buckled into the backseat.

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Transportation is always interesting

And often truly comical.

I love doing this.

You never really know when you start

What you are creating.

It seems that each time I make arrangements

They turn out differently.

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But isn’t that what gardening is all about.

Enjoying the journey

Trusting the process

Having faith that it will be OK

That there is enough.

An abundance mentality.

Gail

 

 

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Filed under Bouquets, cockscomb, Fall, Flower Arrangements, Gardening, Gardening;Perennials, late summer garden, Perennials, roses, Sunflowers, Tall Garden Phlox, Veronica Spicata, Zinnia

VISION

Three years ago Elliott & Kristina bought their first home.

To say they had “vision” is an understatement.

Their timing was incredible.

The house had been on the market for sometime.

The front had a mammoth awning.

I’m thinking it distracted couples with lesser vision.

Then there was the backyard.

It was….well…frightening!

But this is no prima donna couple.

They are after all, both descended from gardeners, farmers & ranchers.

They could see what it could become.

Vision.

Not everyone has it.

But they possess it.

And they weren’t afraid of work.

So they began.

I guess you would call the first stage demolition.

Thankfully, I’m a state or so away so I missed this stage.

There was not  a lot to save.

The decision was made to take out even the Aspen trees.

Since, though they are lovely

They actually are a bit of a nuisance.

A single wispy tree will turn into a grove of Aspen

Right before your eyes.

Great for mountainsides.

Not so much for backyards.

The giant deck

Was replaced with a lovely flagstone patio.

Carefully layed by Elliott with help from friends.

My parents used Colorado Red flagstone

Inside and outside the “new house” at the farm.

So there was symmetry here.

Meanwhile in my garden.

I was potting up babies from all over my garden

And buying a few.

By June my friend Vivi and I loaded it all up

And drove this garden to its new home.

The humidity in my car was stifling.

Kristina and I spent a long weekend planting away.

Adding roses and hydrangea from a local nursery.

There’s a saying about perennial gardens

The first year they sleep

The second they creep

And the third they leap!

Welcome to year three

We visited again a few weeks ago

What a transformation.

Perennials are oozing onto the grass.

Morning glories dance along the fence

Greeting each new day

Thyme suns itself on the flagstone.

Cleome spills over the edge of the narrow bed

And little juicy golden tomatoes grow practically wild.

Elliott seems to enjoy puttering around the yard.

Growing not only flowers,

But vegetables as well.

Kristina never misses a chance to make a flower arrangement.

Taking them to friends, her office

And sending guests home with a freshly cut bouquet.

They both enjoy foraging dinner from the garden

And entertaining as well.

This year the Kentucky Derby fell on Cinco de Mayo

Calling, of course, for a Cinco de Derby party.

It’s reported that a good time was had by all.

And…the creeping thyme can handle a lot of foot traffic.

Vision.

It brings sunshine to the world.

Enjoy this glorious week

Gail

Peg at the Morning Glory Gate

Peg at the Morning Glory Gate

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Filed under cleome, Flower Arrangements, Garden Planning, Gardening, Gardening Friends, Gardening Mentors, Gardening;Perennials, Herbs, Hydrangea, late summer garden, Lupine, Morning Glories, Perennials, roses, Sunflowers, Tomato, Uncategorized, Vegetables

TO EVERYTHING THERE IS A SEASON

To everything there is a season

And a time to every purpose under heaven

Familiar words.

And true.

I’ve come to realize over the years that some people seem to time their deaths.

I first realized this when a man named Bill Frass died.

Bill was a kind, gentle and happy soul.

He was also an Iris fanatic.

A plant your backyard full of Iris kind of fanatic.

I first encountered Bill when my neighbor Geraldine shared some of his iris.

After that he was my guide during the annual iris rhizome sale each July.

But the thing is Iris only bloom for a few short weeks each spring.

Somehow Bill managed to die while they were blooming.

His fellow Iris fanatics cut their precious children for his funeral.

The room was filled with Iris.

Full of the scent and aura that was Bill.

What a send off.

I’ve also read about Henry Mitchell.

For years he was the garden writer for the Washington Post.

He died after an afternoon of plating Daffodils with a friend.

Imagine.

Leaving this world with dirt under your fingernails

Having planted the hope of spring.

I like this plan.

But for me the most poignant is the story of when my father died.

It was two years ago this week.

My father was many things.

Most of all he was a farmer. 

His life would take him to meet world leaders

Their conversation would more often than not be about farming.

But there came a time in his late 80’s to stop his active involvement in farming.

It’s a gut wrenching decision echoed by families all through the farm belt.

His decision was made in typical Henry style.

Get the facts – make the decision – don’t look back.

So it was that spring that he came to his last harvest.

Elliott came home to be a part of his own history.

The wheat was cut.

It was a record crop.

All through that summer Daddy came three times a week to my home for lunch.

That had been his pattern for several years.

He could no longer stroll through my garden.

Instead we would sit in the breakfast room and watch the garden grow and change.

We would talk gardening, farming and politics.

I had a sense something was changing but didn’t know what.

He was winding down.

I think I’ve mentioned his theory on color in the garden.

Red.

Only Red!!!

Then there is my theory.

Everything but red.

Except in late summer

When the cockscomb takes over.

It’s the only red flower I grow.

It blooms wildly

Actually out of control this time of year.

There is one non red flower that Daddy liked.

Maxmillian Sunflower.

A late summer blanket on the prairie.

And so it was to be.

His last days came when his beloved country side was covered in Maximillian Sunflowers.

And cockscomb filled my garden.

The Wednesday before his Saturday services

Elliott and I drove through the countryside and cut sunflowers, cattails and maize.

Actually we stole the maize from the field of an old friend.

Along the way we laughed and cried a little and remembered.

We basked in the glory of the sunshine and a life well lived.

We took it all to the florist who filled two urns with fabulous arrangements.

They flanked Daddy as friends came from across the state

To say goodbye.

To tell stories to his grandsons.

To celebrate his life.

At the same time I asked my local florist Ryan to go to my garden

Cut everything he needed to make the casket flowers.

Make it red.

He did.

It is true.

To everything there is a season.

Even for giant spiders.  Sloan and Cassidy just came by on their nightly spider check.  It’s gone….till next season.

Gail

Thanks Elliott & Debra letting me use some of your pictures.

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Filed under Cattails, cockscomb, Daffodils, Gardening, HELIANTHUS, Iris, late summer garden, Maximillian Sunflower, Orb Spider, Sunflowers, Uncategorized

TIMING

To everything there is a season

And a time to every purpose under heaven

Familiar words.

And true.

I’ve come to realize over the years that some people seem to time their deaths.

I first realized this when a man named Bill Frass died.

Bill was a kind, gentle and happy soul.

He was also an Iris fanatic.

A plant your entire backyard to Iris kind of fanatic.

I first encountered Bill when my neighbor Geraldine shared some of his Iris with me.

After that he was my guide at the annual Iris Society rhizome sale each July.

But the thing is Iris only bloom for a few short glorious weeks each spring.

Somehow Bill managed to die while they were blooming.

His fellow Iris fanatics cut their precious children for his funeral.

The room was filled with Iris.

Full of the scent and aura that was Bill.

What a send off.

I’ve also read about Henry Mitchell.

For years he was the garden writer for the Washington Post.

He died after an afternoon of plating Daffodils with a friend.

Imagine.

Leaving this world with dirt under your fingernails

Having planted the hope of spring.

I like this plan.

But for me the most poignant is the story of when my father died.

It was two years ago this week.

My father was many things.

Most of all he was a farmer. 

His life would take him to meet world leaders

Their conversation would more often than not be about farming.

But there came a time in his late 80’s to stop his active involvement in farming.

It’s a gut wrenching decision echoed by families all through the farm belt.

His decision was made in typical Henry style.

Get the facts – make the decision – don’t look back.

So it was that spring that he came to his last harvest.

Elliott came home to be a part of his own history.

The wheat was cut.

It was a record crop.

Daddy had selected a young local man to rent his land.

J. Russell began that process.

All through that summer Daddy came three times a week to my home for lunch.

That had been his pattern for several years.

He could no longer stroll through my garden.

Instead we would sit in the breakfast room and watch the garden grow and change.

We would talk gardening, farming and politics.

I had a sense something was changing but didn’t know what.

He was winding down.

I think I’ve mentioned his theory on color in the garden.

Red.

Only Red!!!

Then there is my theory.

Everything but red.

Except in late summer

When the cockscomb takes over.

It’s the only red flower I grow.

It blooms wildly

Actually out of control this time of year.

There is one non red flower Daddy liked.

Maxmillian Sunflower.

A late summer blanket on the prairie.

And so it was to be.

His last days came when his beloved country side was covered in Maximillian Sunflowers.

And cockscomb filled my garden.

The Wednesday before his Saturday services

Elliott and I drove through the countryside and cut sunflowers, cattails and maize.

Actually we stole the maize from the field of an old friend.

Along the way we laughed and cried a little and remembered.

We basked in the glory of the sunshine and a life well lived.

We took it all to the florist who filled two urns with fabulous arrangements.

They flanked Daddy as friends came from across the state

To say goodbye.

To tell stories to his grandsons.

To celebrate his life.

At the same time I asked my local florist Ryan to go to my garden

Cut everything he needed to make the casket flowers.

Make it red.

He did.

It is true.

To everything there is a season.

Even for giant spiders.  Sloan and Cassidy just came by on their nightly spider check.  It’s gone….till next season.

Gail

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Filed under cockscomb, Daffodils, Fall, Iris, Orb Spider, Sunflowers, Timing, Uncategorized

AAAAAAHHHH!!!

There is something about fall

Cool

Crisp

Refreshing

It’s an almost indescribable feeling

The end of summer

The beginning of fall

Here on the plains I’ve known fall to arrive anytime from mid-August until October.

This year it came right on schedule.

Sunday morning of Labor Day Weekend.

Put away white clothes – check !

Turn on the cool – check !

It was as if someone finally found the switch on that blast furnace known as the Summer of 2011.

And they mercifully turned it off.

Every day since has been pure delight.

Cool crisp mornings

Sunny delightful afternoons.

So….what do we do in the garden now.

Prepare

Observe

Re-think

Enjoy

First I discovered that the sugar snap peas I planted a few weeks ago weren’t doing so good.

Some had sprouted

But not many

Something was eating on some.

Likely grasshoppers.

So I re-planted.

Remember to soak the seed a few hours or overnight.

Then since I was filling in I used a dandelion digger.

Stab it into the ground where there is a blank space

And drop the seed in the hole.

Water well and keep moist till they sprout

Which shouldn’t take long this time of year.

Hopefully there is still time for them to grow and produce Peg’s favorite veggie.

Then I began to think lettuce.

 

I seem to plant things in the same place.

I know with vegetables you need to rotate.

But since mine are inter-planted with my flowers that’s a little tricky.

So I’m doing the next best thing.

Keep enriching the soil.

The edge of the hydrangea bed by the gate is one of my favorite spots.

The impatiens mostly just fried there this summer.

So I pulled what was left up – way ahead of the usual time.

Next I worked up the soil

Pitchforks are great for this job

Added compost – lots of compost.

Compost from summer leaf pile

Work it all up and

Invite Cassidy and Sloan to help plant.

The theory is if they grow it they will eat it!

Once we’ve sprinkled lots of Encore Mix from Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

We pat them in and give them a drink.

I’m working on a couple of other lettuce beds.

Won’t plant them for a week or two.

Hopefully this will spread out the season and we’ll have tons of lettuce

To eat and to share.

For the re-thinking I engaged Elliott

He’s here for a working vacation.

It’s amazing how you can ponder your garden for weeks trying to solve a problem

And solve it in a 10 minute conversation with a kindred soul fellow gardener.

The problem is that my wonderful Dahlia area is losing it’s sun.

It’s going to shade.

All ready the ends are not producing

The middle can’t be far behind.

Yet a solo Dahlia in the sunny part of the garden is blooming its head off.

Elliott’s idea.

Add a Dahlia area on the northeast corner of the garden house.

Great idea.

This area looks like it will always be sunny.

It’s will require some fall and spring transplanting

Before I can plant the area to Dahlias next spring.

I’ll keep you posted along the way.

As for observing

We’ve spent lots of time watching and feeding orb spiders this week.

An orb spider "preparing" lunch

But….that’s a story all its own

I’ll share it next time.

Till then

Glory in these days

Walk your neighborhood

Look at it through the eyes of a child

Take it all in.

Gail

Cassidy in front of the sunflower she planted last spring.

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Filed under Compost, Fall, Garden Planning, Lettuce, Orb Spider, sugar snap peas, Sunflowers, Uncategorized