Tag Archives: Plants

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.

Yellow Things Blooming In The Garden and Inner Peace

Lilies

Lilies

Dahlia

Mandevilla

These are the yellow flowers currently blooming in our garden. I am not generally a big fan of the color yellow but I must admit, these flowers are spectacular.

I spent several hours working on various things and then the rest of the afternoon relaxing on the patio. Everyone needs a place of refuge to recharge. Even if it’s sitting on your bed with a good book or listening to music.

All the more so in these trying times. It’s important to take time for yourself. Be kind to yourself, regain your calm and inner peace. This will help you be kind to others. And the world needs all the kindness it can get.

Vegetable Garden Planting

Icicle Radishes

We spent most of the day yesterday putting in our vegetable garden. We tilled one row and planted it with seeds for icicle radishes, turnips, and beets, less than a week ago. All of them are up already.

Yesterday morning hubby gave the rest of the garden it’s final tilling. I made hills and planted the cucumber, yellow crookneck squash, and zucchini seeds, while hubby planted green bean and Romano bean seeds.

We worked together planting four types of tomatoes that we purchased as plants. We chose lemon boy, Romas, pineapple, and Mr. Stripey varieties. Mr. Stripey is my all time favorite tomato. I search it out every year. It has the perfect, slightly sweet tomato flavor. Since it is a combination yellow and red tomato, it is lower in acid, but still has great flavor.

At this point, hubby had to go mow the yard before the rain set in. So, I finished up planting sugar snap pea, a mixture of lettuce, and spinach seeds. I watered all the vegetable plants after that. Hubby watered them again before dark.

I watered all again this morning, and mulched the tomatoes with grass clippings. Garden 2020 is off to a good start.

And then before coming in for the evening, the smell of the lilacs and lily-of-the-valley was so sweet, I had to bring a few sprigs inside so I could continue to enjoy them!

Lilac and Lily-of-the-Valley

Spring Planting

Super bells

This was a busy day. This morning I baked bread since we were nearly out. Then I made an oatmeal cake with chocolate frosting.

The afternoon was devoted to planting many of the flowers we purchased yesterday on our trip out into public for the first time in over two months. I planted the usual six hanging baskets for our porch.

Black Cherry Petunias

From there I planted some urns and pots for the patio garden.

Mandevilla

Dahlias and mounding vinca

Dahlia and Petunia

Dianthus

I bought a new dianthus to add to one of the flowerbeds. We already have some, but they have been coming back for many years and I thought we could use some new stock. This one is a nice, bright pink.

Bleeding hearts, Dicentra

I didn’t plant these bleeding hearts. They are a perennial that was here long before I bought this property. The blooms are peaking right now, so I wanted to share them with you.

Gardening season has begun in earnest. We will plant the rest of the vegetable garden this week. Our radishes and turnips are up already in less than a week!

Flowers and Social Distance

We bought flowers for the gardens today. It is the first time we have been inside a store of any kind in over two months. We, of course, wore masks.

Most folks were wearing masks and polite, keeping their social distance. Some were not wearing masks, but kept their social distance. I saw a few wearing masks beneath their noses, but covering their mouths. I guess even if they weren’t protecting themselves, at least they were protecting others and making an effort.

And then, there were those few who wore no mask and did not keep their distance. One lady was shopping while yapping on her phone. She seemed intent on following us up and down the aisles and looking at flowers where we were standing. We did not seem to be able to get away from her. We finally went to another area of the garden section.

During checkout, there were not enough markers 6 feet apart for the amount of customers. A man without a mask apparently did not have a concept of 6 feet. He kept inching closer and closer.

I am not an “in your face” person, but I was just shy of telling these shoppers to back off. This is not a game to us. Our family has high risk concerns. Please consider how your behavior affects others. If you are not going to wear a mask, at the least, give others space.

Once we returned home, it was time for planting! We got just a handful of flowers tucked in before it started to rain. So, we know what tomorrow holds. More planting! The beautiful blooms made me feel like I had trays of jewels awaiting me. I guess I do.

A Satisfying Weekend

It was nice enough to sit on the patio this weekend. It was enjoyable to sit and appreciate all the hostas and other plants that we moved into last year’s new raised beds. In fact, after a long winter and disappointing spring, we are enjoying many plants.

New growth is everywhere at this time of year. On a walk through our little township park, we saw many May apples. They remind me of little parasols.

The last of the viburnum blossoms overlapped with the first lilacs of spring.

And the large scarlet azalea is once again a showstopper.

The last couple days have been filled with gardening.

Yesterday we split enough hostas to fill the back of last year’s new raised bed. We also started lining the English ivy bed behind it with hosta.

Hubby used the tractor to haul decomposed wood chips to the vegetable garden. I split one of our smaller groups of daffodils and ended up planting 51 bulbs. I also split my comfrey plant in two. I like the comfrey because it draws hummingbird moths like nothing I’ve ever seen.

Today we tilled a smaller, new flower bed to prepare it for planting. I also transplanted a columbine, and planted a lily that I overwintered on the side porch. Hubby transplanted a volunteer cedar seedling.

Then, I sat on the patio with the dogs and read. To be honest, I am kind of hoping for rain tomorrow so I can have a break.

Preparing the Gardens

A Bright Spot

My husband and I like to have plants around in the winter time to enjoy, and to give us hope that spring is on the way.

This parlor palm is a plant that I brought home from work when I retired at the end of November. It was gifted to me by a former coworker when he retired. I am particularly proud of this tree because it was spindly and only had a few branches when I got it. This was through no fault of my desk mate. Our office had no windows and he would keep the poor thing going by putting it on a filing cabinet in the hallway every weekend.

I was moved to my own office eventually and it had a window. The window was shaded by a large pine tree but the palm liked it better than having no window. The palm grew a few more branches even if they did have brown tips.

When I retired, I brought the palm home and it now has a large window with good light. The palm has grown a number of new branches in the past couple of months and is as healthy as I’ve ever seen it.

It sits on one of our mantels along with a lantana and a mandevilla that I dug up before frost and am wintering over to put back in the raised garden beds again next year. The wreath is made with bittersweet berries that my husband harvested from our property for just this purpose. The orangey red of the berries is cheerful in the darker months.

I even dressed the parlor palm up for Christmas so it fit in with the festivities.

It is important to create bright spots in our world that make us feel good and remind us of good times. It is a healthy thing to do. This palm fits the bill because I think of growth, greenery, and new life, as well as my thoughtful coworker when I see it.

How can you make a bright spot in your world?