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May has been a very busy month for me and the weather this May has been very rainy and on the cool side, but with no deep cold this spring the show of flowers has been fantastic. Everything is lush and full and the gray sky’s makes for more intense colors.

As I have chosen Memorial Day to sit and blog, I feel it only right to pay homage to the men and woman who have given the ultimate sacrifice and to remember the gardeners in my past that labored with love to create special places of their own and for others to enjoy.

The gardener wakes in the early morning knowing that the days work ahead is a labor of means and knowing, that each moment within the garden has purpose that ultimately leads to the spirit of the garden and to the rhythm and story it will tell. As the gardener weeds, to which is the most honorable of jobs, as the job it self clears the way for clear thought and good growth. Then there is the watering,the most noble of jobs as this is the substance of life it self.

The day is often filled with pruning and trimming keeping the garden in control and orderly. Like a doctor the gardener examines and assess damage and disease and finds the best way to heal. The gardener will some days walk up to 10 miles as he tends to the gardens needs and at any given moment the weather can turn, and the duties change.

The best part of the day is gathering the fruits of those labors, the flowers that get cut to grace the house and the fruit and vegetables to be harvested for the table.

As evening comes and the shadows grow long, many times the gardener will take one last walk, to see how the garden feels before night fall, In a prayerful way this walk is slower and the importance now is to understand the feelings of the garden for you see it is a living story, that grows and changes every moment and the gardener knows of it’s importance.

Like most, the gardener understands life and know nothing last for ever as a young person the gardener planted a tree with knowing of the shade it will bring, as a middle age gardener to plant a tree for look and purpose and as a older gardener a tree is planted with the knowing of the shade it will bring to the next gardener, that’s life.

To the gardeners that have gone before me I wish to thank you for your noble deeds of tending to the garden and for the thought you gave to me and to my future friends, a most beautiful spiritual story to behold, that continues to grow and change and gives back in so many way. Memories are seen on ever corner and turn in the garden and the stories are retold as to who and how the garden came to be and of the special touch you gave to it.

A thought; To yourself remain true, be passionate in what you do, with integrity care to the future.

 

Life is full of new challenges all the time, just as there are always challenges in the garden. Today while walking through the border gardens I noticed how quickly life returns to the garden with just a few warm days and a little warm rain.

The crocus and early snow drops are in full bloom along with clusters of small blue Dutch iris, I planted these bulbs a number of years ago and they have multiplied into quite a nice display of color when I need it the most. Although it is momentary in the garden I treasure these moments as they heighten my spirit in early spring after a long winter.

There is a slight breeze to the air and the sound of the birds and distant wind chimes sing out a combined song that somehow I can remember but can’t put a word to and it heightens my thought.

The sudden move of a cotton tail rabbit,startles me and heighten my attention to look to the whole of the garden and I notice that the flowering ornamental shrubs and trees buds are swollen in size, ready in moments to bring a glorious show to the garden and this heightens my excitement for more of spring to come.

Spring cleanup or the wakening of the garden is a daunting job with winter weed removal and leaves to grind for mulch. There are garden borders to be edged and winter damage pruned away. The forsythia will be in bloom any day now and this is a sign that the roses will need my attention with feeding and pruning, the first for their season and all of this heightens my anxiety to get things done.

While walking through Oak Grove the highest spot of the Shire Garden I noticed that the Arbutus was in bloom and that the green of the mosses was quite eye catching for plants so close to the ground to reach such visual heights and thought how wonderful nature can be.

I sat for a moment next to the oldest oak in the grove to reflex upon the Shire Garden and I remember the work and magical moments I’ve had in this garden and the joy it gives to me, the gardener. Within that moment an idea came to me, that I should set my sights higher for the garden and for my life it self, that I can achieve great things if I believe strongly enough to hold on to what I believe in, and in who I am, that life can have great heights of highs and lows and to remember, we are never given that, that we couldn’t handle and over come. So I am setting new goals for myself and the garden and that heightens new thoughts of how my future will be for not only the garden but how I see my life going forward and I hope that my fears don’t stop the greatness this will bring. I leave with you now my reader >
A thought; Do we allow fear to stop us from reaching the true heights that are meant to be ours?

The other day on my drive home I was thinking how long the winter months can be and how I long for the summer’s green and warmth. Where there is so much work ahead of me in the spring months to come, yet really none of it can be done at this moment, with all of the snow on the ground, thus I feel helpless. O, I can think about the gardens and imagine all kinds of things to be done, making list after list, but this to over loads my senses. I spend some time looking over catalogs and web sites of growers looking for new plants and colors and read everything I can get my hands on gardening, probably a little obsessive, but that’s me. People tell me I’m so passionate about what I do and so driven as well. Like that’s a bad thing. I feel that it’s good to try to be the best at what you love to do and that to set higher standards for ones self is a good and noble thing for self esteem, that brings about strong character.

Being a better person is always my goal and mantra, I try to remind myself of who I am and how thankful I should be for all that I have that is beautiful and good in my life, that we are never given more than we can handle and that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. My glass is always half full and is never empty for me that is fact. Where one door closes another opens with new hopes and dreams and that at the end of the day the knowledge of another days promise to start all over again, how great is that.

When I started to think about what I was thinking about on my drive home I started to laugh and said out load ” why am I thinking about all this. ” Guess I was just checking in on myself to make sure I was still there and that I hadn’t lost my way by not being in the garden for awhile. I have always had a sense of who I am and what I wanted to be and  do. Has it always been easy? No, like many there are a lot of trials and tribulations and bumps in the road, no pun intended. It just might be the effects of a Full Snow Leo Moon that has triggered all of this thought today.

As I pull in to the drive way and glad to be home, I sit there for a moment and look out to the snow covered garden and house and say ” There’s no place like Home “.

A thought; Every now and then it’s good to check in at  home  to see if all is well.

 

Well it 2017, its not really a new year for the garden just a new season. This is the time to take a review of the previous seasons. This begins with things that went well and now need to be improved on, the flowers that worked and preformed well and the colors that made the best show.

I like to call this time a Garden New Year because it gives me a start point for reevaluating my gardening thoughts, besides there is usually snow on the ground and my gardening duties are lighter these days. I also use this time to catch up on my reading, education and lecturing.

While looking out the windows into the garden I mentally plan new colors and plant combinations for curtain areas in the garden and spend countless hours on growers web sites and garden catalogs looking for new additions for the Shire Garden. With so much to choose from it can be quite overwhelming.

I will spend time reading through the Shire Garden’s journal of last year and will relive some special moments spent there and make my list of amendments and sub-jested thought at those time, so that with the first signs of spring my work will have purpose with results.

I also take this time to clean and sharpen and repair the garden tools sanding any wood hands to make them smooth to the hand with a little oil to keep the handles in good condition, I also take steel wool to the metal of the tools to remove soils and rust and wipe oil on them as well. The shovels often need to be hammered smooth due to our stony soils and I often have to grind a point back to them for braking ground next season, these also get a oil rub.

This is the best time to plan for a new garden for the new year. Planning begins with what kind of garden you might like annuals or perennial or both, cottage style or borders and how much time you will be able to give to its care. Watch where the tree shadows fall on the ground in the area of the garden and see how long they stay in these areas. This gives you the know, to how much shade  or sun that will be in these areas of the garden and for how long. Although the sun is low in the sky it still gives the tree’s presence to that area when it is in full foliage and the sun is high in the sky of summer. This will also determine the plants that will go into these sections of the garden. This slower paced time gives you time to make lists of the things needed to manifest this garden, saving time and money when the busy spring season begins.

New Years come every year and we use this to mark new beginnings. In the garden this happens with the change of every season and there are always new beginnings everywhere you look. Things come and go all the time and it is a gift of understanding this as a gift of knowing, that every day of the year is a new day and a new start.

A thought; Quote; Dr. David Viscott ” The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The meaning of life is to give your gift away.”

 

 

 

I choose this topic for several reasons, one was its something I do almost everyday with out a lot of thought of doing it, and I’ve never walked with another true gardener who wasn’t bending while talking to pull a weed. I thought that the word itself has a great effect for all of us. Sometimes while in the garden these thoughts come to me and they leave me with a new awareness of knowing.

Weeding, meaning to remove a plant that is not valued where it is growing and is usually of strong growth. One that weeds out obnoxious growth, things or persons. Interesting in it definition right. So with that now in mind I thought that I would like to talk a little about weeds and the act of weeding.

Losses caused by weeds exceed losses caused by any other class of agricultural pest, according to the Weed Science Society of America, yes that’s right the WSSA. There seems to be a society for everything these days.

There is no uniform life duration of weeds, some are annuals, biennial while other are perennial and make for over 50% of our plants that are considered undesirable by some segment of our society.

One of our most notorious weeds is Crabgrass – ( Digitaria sanguinalis ) an annual, reproducing by seed. Our lawn companies use a pre emergent to control this weed in the early spring and gets its name for its crab like growth. If left to grow, its low flat spread can be large and can destroy a lawn. Another weed of the garden is Sorrel – ( Rumex acetosella ) this one is a perennial and can be reproduced by seed it has a creeping rhizome root system which can be hard to get rid of if you don’t pull all of it out. Then there is the deep rooted known as a taproot, Dock – ( Rumex crispus ) this is also a perennial and is also reproduced by seed. If even a small piece of root is left in the ground it will grow back, so all of it must go.

This is just three of the friendly foe that I pull and dig at most of my days and thought what are some of the other kinds of weeding I should be doing in myself and the world around me. How can I make my world cleaner, neater and running smoothly. How and what do I need to weed out and weed through to lessen the weights in my life. What and who in my life is helping or hindering my life’s story, and just like weeding the garden I will decide what is a weed and what isn’t and pull those weeds for a more neat and orderly life that will allow the more beautiful  strength of me to grow and flourish.

A thought; Try weeding, even a small amount of weeding helps.

 

Finally some well needed rain arrived today, thus giving me a little time to write. We have been in drought conditions for months here and I feel like a horticultural fireman with a garden hose always in my hands.

I always wanted a cutting garden, fresh flowers in the house is a wonderful thing and is very important to Jan and I as we are always cutting flowers from the gardens for Acorn Cottage.  All the while saying don’t cut all the color or show from the garden, we’ve worked so hard to get it that way. So with the thought of fuller arrangements and bouquets of greater interest I have decided a cutting garden it is.

To start with I needed to find the right spot for the garden, one that got plenty of sun and protection from the wind yet close to the house for quick access. I also knew I needed enough space or in this case length to provide room for a large variety of flowering plants. September is a good time to start a new or redo garden project because fall cleanup hasn’t come on in full tilt and the perennials and bulbs are on sale for clearance at the nurseries. The Shire Garden still had a few unclaimed spaces and one was on the north fence which was all shade up to about four years ago when we had three tall trees removed to open the garden more for our daughters wedding.

The North Side Cutting Garden as it is now so named is strange, because when you think of north side you think cool and shade. But after the trees were felled it became one of the warmest and sunniest spot in the entire Shire. With the south side of the fence in full sun all day. This spot would also protect the taller flowers from the wind and will also promise an early start to the spring. I began removing the odd perennials from the front of the  fence and measured about 75 ft. along the fence and about 4 ft. out for depth, any thing deeper and I would have to step into the garden to cut the flowers, something I didn’t want because of flower breakage.

I added some landscape timbers to frame the garden and filled it with about 3 yds. of horticultural compost to a depth of around 10 in. Then I put in drip irrigation so that no overhead water would get on the flowers, only the rain when ever that comes. This would assure years of good flower conditions with strong root growth.

Now comes the fun part the flowers what would they be, with so many to decide from, I know I wanted Oriental lilies, Dahlia’s and Gladiolus and Snapdragon’s there would have to be iris and Campanula of many types plus Sweet peas and a large stand of Delphinium’s with the many shades of blues and white. Dianthus is important as well, with the many new colors of Echinacea ( cone flower ) Gypsophila ( babies breath ) Liatris ( gay feather ) and of cause Peony’s and tall Phlox to name just a few. All make for great cut flowers. When choosing your flowers for the cutting garden keep in mind the combinations that bloom at the same time so to ensure beautiful bouquets. Plant also for seasons of bloom to stretch it as long as you can.

Always deadhead your plants and cut flowers often to ensure constant flowers if you let them go to seed your plants will slow down or stop blooming altogether.

Cut your flowers in the morning while the air is cool and cut them on the slant for more water intake and place the stems in warm water for quick up take. A small note, the more complex the flower is, the warmer water helps to keep them hydrated, wilting may happen sometimes but the flowers will spring back in an hour or so. When they have hardened off, ( about an hour ) they will be ready for your vases.

When placing flowers in the home think of the spots or rooms you find yourself in most of the time, the kitchen, TV room, bedroom or bath. Flowers are meant to be seen and enjoyed, so bring some beauty into your world, even a little goes a long way.

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A thought; When life delivers a quite moment, don’t forget to smell the flowers, unless you have allergies than pictures will do.

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DSC_0016For many years I have tried to raise caladiums with very little to no success, the conundrum was those funny looking tubers always confused me as to which side up was. Then what planting medium should I start them in and at what time of the spring to get them grown enough so that I would have some kind of show in my shade gardens. I read everything I could find on them and you tubed till I couldn’t stand it any more, always with the same results empty pots of soil and me at the nurseries buying grown plants for a lot of money.

Now caladiums – Araceae, are a genus of seven species of tuberous – rooted perennials from the woodland of tropical South America. Loved for there broadly arrow and or lance-shaped leaves that can come in a verity of colors like the popular green and white to shades of pinks to reds to me all are a real shade garden or planter winner.

This spring I decided once again to raise caladiums, a local discount store was selling the tubers for a dollar a bag which held six tubers, I thought at this price I had nothing to lose, so I bought three bags. I then bought a bag of plain house plant soil to start them in. Opening the bag I found six odd shaped tubers rather ugly and once again guessing what side was up. I took the time to call some gardening friends to confess to my shame, that I didn’t know what end was up, and they got, in many ways a good laugh about that. They told me to set the tubers out on the table and to roll them a little see what side sets flat, that’s the top and some times the tops are dimpled like a bowl. Finally, the top is found!

So with a new enthusiasm I filled my six and ten inch pots with soil and planted my tubers about one to two inches down and about one inch apart from each other around the end of April. I decided I would leave the pots in the full sun on the terrace stone surface and if they started by any chance I would move them to the shade then, it was my thought that the warmth of the sun heated stone under their feet might be the trick to start growth. Three weeks and nothing, I was going to give up and plan for my trip to the nursery. When while on my morning walk I saw the first leaf spire coming through the soil. I ran into Acorn Cottage looking for Jan to tell her of my incredible news, that finely I can say I started my caladiums myself.

So here I am the end of August in the shade garden enjoying my home grown caladiums that I left in their pots  and inserted pot and all in to the ground for easy fall removal and planning on next years new colors for a larger plantings of them. The conundrum solved with my sights set to the next one.

A thought; Always try – try and try again……

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As a child growing up in the country our summers were filled with activities from summer plays in the barn to picnics in the meadows and fun games with friends like kick the can and hide and seek. There was always something happening and all of this would fill our summer days.

One of my favorite thing was blue berry time, the wild blue berries come into season around the middle of July. This was one of grandma’s favorite adventures, she would arrive early in the morning in the old Buick with her garden hat and blue berry buckets and picnic basket in hand, she would line us up and ready her belt to hold her buckets so she could use both hands to pick, thus getting maximum picking coverage, in my mind she was a pro.

The wild blue berries grew in an old woodland meadow on the top of a hill and took a while to get to. The blue berry buckets that I spoke of where old tin lard cans about a gallon in size with handles and a tin lid to keep a full bucket from spilling. Gramma would remind us that the horse flies would be out so a hat or some kind of head cover was important.

As with most of our adventures with gramma there were things to learn and she would often point out the many wild flowers and mushrooms along the way to blue berry hill as we called it. We finally reach the clearing of the wood line and the view of free stand of cedars and wild junipers stood like soldiers watching over the treasures of blue. Here every where you looked the birds where flying about taking their share of the booty. Gramma would say this must be a good year for blue berries and she would begin picking. Like a well trained picker she would comb through the bushes leaving hardly a blue berry to the sight. After about two hours she would have us find the big stone grouping on the side of the hill in the shade, known as love rock, as some of the stories told to us, that this was one of mom and dads dating spots! Gramma always had lemon aid and sandwiches and we would listen to her tell us what she would bake with the harvest of the day. After another hour of picking she would check our buckets for fullness as most time we would eat more than we carried and as we denied the fact that we didn’t our blue tongue would always give us away.

Blue berries; Vaccinium, corymbosum, is the high bush blue berry and was the most abundant in the blue berry hill meadow. Blue berries grow in acidic peaty and or sandy soils, they enjoy moist but well drained conditions in full sun to partial shade. Tip; cover with bird netting just as they begin to ripen, for some reason the birds can tell when they are ripe for the picking and can clean a bush of berries in minutes. I would also suggest you plant several varieties together for good berry performance. So picking several kinds can make for great pies.

As the late day of blue berrying, came to and end, we would begin our long walk home, with our half filled buckets and gramma with her two very filled buckets proclaiming she will make the best blue berry muffins ever with this years berries. How I look back to those days in blue berry hill and the stories of love rock and the time spent with family and feel so blessed to have those moments to remember.

A thought; Making memories and moments to remember are special indeed.

 

Yeah! Its summer, long days, warm nights and ice tea and lemon aid, the summer garden is special because there is so much activity with the plants in full growth and bloom and bees and birds and butterflies everywhere. the work in the garden comes to a slower more manageable pace and we take more time to just enjoy its presence.

Most mornings are started with my morning walk through, with coffee in hand looking to see what’s in bloom as I plan the days activities, I am always enamored by the great show of morning glories on the Fairy Garden bird house post that are mixed in with a large white flowering clematis, just a magical moment it is, here I will sit in the fairy wait to think for a moment. ( A fairy wait is what I call a benched area covered by an arbor of fallen branches where one can sit to watch the fairies at play.)

As the sun raises high in the sky the garden begins to warm up more and the air is filled with the essence of the garden. The scent of the roses and phlox and mock orange mix and this is transcending everything in to a soul filled experience, one that will be remembered for life times to come. The hum of the bees busy at work is a song of its own and the movement of the butterflies make for a fancy sight. In the heat of the day the garden transforms and the colors are heightened by its intensity.

Now the day grows long and the garden work can go into the evening when the birds begin to harmonize the evening song. I sit for a moment to listen and as I do, I realize that the bird are singing good night to the day. The gift of song is special and here in the summer garden beauty and song abound.

As my day in the summer garden comes to an end, I noticed the first sign of the fireflies and the nighttime show begins. the moon flower vine is in bloom for its evening dance with the lunar moth, and the four o clocks are in their glory. A new fragrance comes to the garden air, one of moss and fern as the breeze shifts from the Oak Grove gardens, telling me the elves are at play. Before its to dark, I will walk through Oak Grove to see the jack in the pulpits and pick a hand full of ferns for the side table vase. This is the walk I look forward to the most, as it calms my thoughts for the day.

Thank you for taking the time to read about my day in the summer garden, it was a pleasure to share it with you.

A thought; Always remember to stop and to take the time to enjoy special moments.

     
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That’s right its May that lusty Month of May, as the song goes from Camelot. Every May first puts my thoughts and memories of May Day celebrations as a child, Mom would walk her flower garden with us children to gather early spring flowers like violets and daffodils and lilacs and sweet peas to make small tussie mussies that she would place in May baskets made of paper doilie cones with a ribbon handles to hang them on door knobs of our neighbors and friends, It was a great production as she would place the flowers out on the kitchen table along with bags of spring color wrapped chocolate hershey kisses to sweeten thoughts as Mom would put it. As we rolled the round paper doilies in to cones mom would go over the list of people that we where to surprise with these wonderful May Day gifts. Then she would tell us the game plan. We  park the car out of house sight and proceed on foot remembering to duck below windows and to quietly proceed to the front door, placing the May basket ribbon handle over the door knob and ringing the door bell, then she would say, ” run like hell” my favorite part, how I did like the thrill of the run, but she told us to stay out of sight far enough to see the look on the receivers face. Yes its May Day, I’m not up to the run these days, but I sure do remember the thrill of those morning runs. I remember being in the car driving home after an early May Day morning and hearing Mom and Dad talk about the look on their friends faces and thinking how much fun it was to have such parents that gave so much to a simple day, yes a simple first day in May. winpalace casino mac download

May starts the springs real first burst of bloom in the garden, it the time when the garden turns to full growth and we celebrate our Mothers this month as well as the time we memorialize those that have gone before us. May is truly a month for thought. May that lusty month of May, Happy May Day to all!

A thought; Memories are a wonderful thing, they help us to move in a better direction.

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