Tag Archives: Gardens

Appreciating Spring Time Flowers

Spring Still Life

It’s that time of year. Spring has sprung. The weather has changed to pleasantly warm days that are excellent for being outside and working. And also, for appreciating the new life erupting forth from the earth. This statue has seen better days. She was left here by a former owner of this property, but her work is not done. She still elicits a smile as she ushers in each season.

I love the way this euonymus (above, behind the statue) has chosen to grab hold of the fence post and climb. This plant is usually a ground cover. I don’t know what got into this one, but I love it. We have two euonymus, one green and yellow, the other, green and white. Both were given to me by friends and I think of them often when I walk by this bed.

Daffodils

This is a close up of the daffodils in the statue bed above. I love their pastel color and their fancy, ruffled “skirts”. I don’t know their provenance. They pre-date my coming to live here and will probably still be there when I have gone.

More daffodils!

This is another type of daffodil we have. I think of them as the standard daffodil. We have them all over the place. There are giant clumps in the perennial bed beside the house and in many other flower beds as well as throughout our woods and growing across the street along the roadside. I have begun splitting them in the fall of the year, so we continue to have even more! Last year I split a clump that I moved there about ten years ago and dug up over 50 bulbs! If you know me, you know that I do not like the color yellow. Truth be told, I have thrown things away because they are yellow. Daffodils are my exception. They are one of the earliest flowers to bloom and bring so much joy. I can’t help but like them.

Daffodils in the woods.

This shows just a few of the clumps of daffodils blooming in our wood right now. There are many. Taking yard debris back to the far end of the property where we dump it is a pleasant trip.

View coming out of our woods.

This is the view coming out of our woods which covers the back half of our property. You can see more clumps of daffodils, and the garage and workshop on the left. On the right hand side of the path is a portion of next year’s wood, split, stacked, and seasoning for next winter.

Primrose.

I include this shot of a primrose that I planted last year. I bought it at a big box store and it sat on our bathroom window sill all spring and into the summer. It was beginning to die, so I stuck it in one of the patio flower beds to see what it would do. This year, I was encouraged when it sprouted up out of the soil. You can’t tell from the photograph but it is the biggest primrose I have ever seen in my life. I had no idea they grew this big. Might this be a metaphor for life? Don’t give up, you still have the ability to flourish? I choose to believe this is so.

As we move farther into spring, followed by summer, you can expect more gardening posts from me once again. But never fear, there will still be lots about dogs. Follow my blog if you want to keep up to date!

Remembering Summer, On a Winter’s Day

Patio fountain in summer
Our patio in the summer time

It is mid-January now, the heart of winter. Each year around this time I like to write one post that features some pictures from my gardens during the previous summer. Something to bring back memories of flowers, gardens, swimming, and summer warmth. I love winter, but even I am ready for a bit summer by now. The lush green plants and vibrant colors of the flowers bring me flashbacks to fun time spent on the patio last year.

Having the break of winter makes time spent on the patio, and gardening, that much sweeter. I would not enjoy either season as much without the break of the other. By autumn, I am tired from planting, splitting, weeding, fertilizing, deadheading, pruning, watering, and all the other work that accompanies keeping up multiple flowerbeds.

Garden aerial view
An aerial view of the west end of our enclosed garden. Hydrangeas in bloom.

Now that we have had cold and snow for a bit, I am starting to think about planning for this summer’s gardens. What flowers to plant, where to put each and when. This month would be a good time to order any seeds that we need. Last year I made the mistake of ordering seeds when I wanted them. Everyone else decided to order seeds last spring too and garden while they were sheltering at home. I did not get most of my seeds until it was nearly too late to plant them. This year, I will order early. I would advise you to do the same.

It is always a gamble in this climate (northeast Ohio) on when to start seeds indoors. The start of warmer weather is never guaranteed by any certain date. Some years it is safe to plant in April, and other years not until late in May. Sometimes I get away with planting early by covering my seedlings with sheets if frost is forecast. Other years it is too cold even for that.

If I plant seeds in trays early and plan to keep them inside as long as necessary, many of my plants get too tall and leggy, and lack good support. If I start them in trays later, they are small when I put them in the ground or containers and more susceptible to bug and bird damage. I guess if I could plant the same way, at the same time every year, it would not be as much fun.

I do start my seeds on our enclosed porch so the temperature must stay above freezing there for me to get started. We have a vegetable garden as well so our porch can get quite crowded with the various pots, trays, and containers. It is always a mish-mash of saved containers, supplemented with assorted cans and bottles that I have pulled out of the recycling bin to augment my collection.

By the time I slip those little plants into the soil, it is reminiscent of sending a child off to school. I have fed, watered, and sheltered them for so long that I am invested in their well being and survival. When one is attacked by slugs or picked out by birds, I take it personally. Hopefully I will have more sprouts as back up replacements. Those I may cover at night with upturned soda bottle or little screen cages in an attempt to help them reach maturity.

Perennial flowers beside the house
Phlox in full bloom scattered with hostas and bee balm.

We also buy new plants each year. Some are annuals and others are perennials to add to our collection. Even the perennials take work. Most of my perennials, I split or relocate in the spring. They also need pruning and shaping. Any dead sections that didn’t survive the cold must be removed. The roses need fertilizing when the time is right so they will produce blooms. I fertilize my roses monthly with a solution that also contains chemicals for fungus and Japanese beetles.

Trees may need to be trimmed if they have grown over plants that require full sun. Specifically, for the peonies and roses. They will grow but not flower if they do not have enough sun. Growing a garden involves a lot of doing your best to control nature. The growth of other plants and insects. Adding nutrients. Watering. It is an attempt to find a balance that allows your plants to thrive.

You can see why I am relieved when that first frost comes. Gardening is tiring work. But it is also rewarding and life giving. That is why so many people garden, and it is something that has lasted across the landscape of time. And that is why I plant.

Harvesting and Processing Herbs

Mortar and Pestle with Thyme

Autumn is a flurry of chores to wind up the growing season. There was putting the vegetable garden to bed and now I am processing herbs that I recently harvested. I cut and dried thyme, oregano, and chives. These are perennials. Once they are dried, I strip the leaves off the stems and grind them up with my mortar and pestle. I store them for use throughout the winter.

Basil is an annual plant. I grow several of them. Just before frost I pull the entire plant up by the roots and hang them on the porch to dry. Then I follow the same procedure as above.

This year I think I will give some as gifts. It is easy to grow them yourself and reassuring to know they are all organic.

The Fall Garden

Datura and Mandevilla

These cooler temperatures are a gift. Most of the flowers are still in bloom. And I can sit outside to enjoy them anytime. It is not so hot that I have to carefully plan time to be out in the cool of the morning or wait for evening’s shade.

Climbing Rose

I passed time this afternoon by reading a book and hanging out with dogs on the patio.

Cleome

I did take time for watering, but even that doesn’t have to be done as often now. Fall has become my favorite time of year.

Sedum with a burgundy dahlia

Beauty Born

When your gardening goes awry and there is an accident, you make flower arrangements.

I was tying up gladioli blooms and inadvertently snapped one off. It immediately when in my rose gold vase from the Stan Hywet gift shop. I love this vase, everything looks good in it. And it’s my little bit of the glamorous life, after all it was purchased at a mansion’s gift shop.

The hydrangea blooms had to be trimmed off after heavy rains caused them to hang to the ground. And the orange trumpet vine cutting was sacrificed so the electronic eye on our outdoor light would function. They are displayed in a milk glass vase which suits them well.

Out of garden detritus, beauty is born.

On Not Lounging

Well, today I was NOT sitting in a lounge chair enjoying the patio. And not just because it was so hot.

First I helped tie up some loose ends from a construction project. Then I picked up nails from said project. After that it was time to pick green beans. Picking beans seems to be my new hobby. Either that or cleaning and snapping them.

This afternoon consisted of making rice pudding for this evening’s dessert and then working on cleaning up the office. I never did get around to writing which was the whole point of cleaning up the office.

Oh well, as a line from a great movie says (in a wispy southern accent), “Tomorrow is another day. “

Planning

The key to great things is planning ahead. See that lily pad shaped plant in front of the back stone wall? It is a hollyhock. Hollyhocks are biennials and don’t bloom until their second year.

I grew the one pictured above from seed and it is in its first year. The blooms won’t come until next summer.

Pictured here is the hollyhock I planted last year. It is about six and a half feet tall. I have fertilized it, kept it weeded, treated it for Japanese beetles, and staked it.

A garden can be a metaphor for our lives. If you want good results, you have to put in the work.

Abundance

Vegetables in the garden are ripening at an increasing rate.

Each meal now we must make the choice between turnips, beets, Romano beans, Slenderette green beans, sugar snap peas, cucumbers, zucchini, or yellow crook neck squash. Sometimes we have multiple vegetables.

This evening it was green beans pan fried with minced garlic and a dash of sea salt.

And none of our six kinds of tomatoes are even ripe yet. Summer can be glorious.

Pink!

Earlier this season, I shared that hollyhocks are biennials. Flowers that don’t bloom until the second year. And that I didn’t know what color this one was. It was the lone survivor from a pack of seeds that were for multiple colors.

Well, it turns out that it is pink! Pastel pink with darker centers. The blooms are opening up on the stalks more each day. I have planted three more this year that I raised from seed. And I have no idea what color any of them will be either!