Monthly Archives: August 2014

A Little Romance in the Garden

Let’s face it, I have a love – hate relationship with Botanical  Latin. As someone who people turn to for help identifying or finding plants, common names can be the bane of my existence. For instance, right now in late summer many non-plant people will refer to every blooming yellow daisy shaped flower as a black-eyed Susan. They may be , they may not. When I teach, I make it clear as day that we need the established system of binomial nomenclature written in  scientific Latin so  everyone understands  the exact plant we are referring  and I actually use two rudbeckia ( ahem, black eyed-Susan) species as  examples  of what can happen when we don’t.

I get it,…. I so get , that’s why I teach Botanical Latin , use Botanical Latin,   and encourage others to do the same. But it  doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Right now blooming outside are two wonderful examples of why I adore using  the common names of garden plants over the Latin.

Love lies Bleeding

Love lies Bleeding

Love-lies -bleeding: amaranthus caudatus is an annual plant I grow to use in flower arrangements. In the Victorian language of flowers it is used to represent hopelessness in love ( or otherwise) and it’s long blood red tassels are certainly a very  dramatic representation of  that  emotional state. Weeping out of a container planting it will catch any eye that walks past.  Although there are cultivars that look like dreadlocks or ponytails, I stick with the common one because it  makes my heart feel weepy too.  In  many situations in my eccentric little life, I sing a little tune appropriate  to the circumstances ( a trait I inherited from my Dad and wickedly passed along to my children). When I am in the garden and walk by it ,this plant always gets a few words  of Funeral for  a Friend by Elton John. The whole song is 11 minutes long , but it is the chorus that will stick in your head for days.( You are welcome ;) )

 

Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate

Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate

Kiss me over the garden gate:  persecaria orientalis I may not seem the romantic, but trust me, I am to the core , and any plant with the words “Kiss Me” in it’s name gets a place in the gardens here.The lipstick pink flowers of this knotweed  arch atop long stems that if planted near a garden gate will flirtaciously  drape over , hence the common name.  How nostalgically delightful to think of two young sweethearts parting for the evening sneaking one last kiss over the garden gate . In a time when sex and sexual innuendo permeate absolutely everything I pine for the simple romance of the past , and this conjures it by the bucket-load. How about a little Sixpence None the Richer to help set the secene?  Perfectly old fashioned , lemonade on the porch drinkin- kissin over the garden gate music.

Latin can’t even compete.

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What’s the story Morning Glory, What’s the Word , Hummingbird?

003I know some people have difficulties with morning glories. Some of their relatives can be very pesky indeed( think bindweed) , and some Morning Glories  if sown in the right  location they can re-seed vigorously and be a super pain-in-the neck. But I adore them and plant them every year  (no re-seeding ever happens here) and by late summer they are a happy little addition to the gardens.This year I planted my usual ‘Heavenly Blue’ and ‘Grandpa Ott’ ‘ and then added ‘Crimson Rambler ‘ and an unusual variety called ‘Sun Serenade’ which is not blooming yet. The Crimson rambler is happily rambling into a Little Leaf Linden tree, Grandpa Ott is doing me a favor by flowering into a Knockout Rose that died down to the roots this winter and is barely hanging on,  and Heavenly Blue is where it always is, right outside my kitchen window.

As I am out walking around looking at them , of course I am singing “What’s the Story , Morning Glory” ( the telephone song) from “Bye -Bye Birdie” in my head. I would sing it out loud, but the neighbors already think I am weird enough ;)

Grandpa Ott

Grandpa Ott

Crimson Rambler in the tree

Crimson Rambler in the tree

 

Grandpa Ott in a rose

Grandpa Ott in a rose

 

017Crimson RamblerCrimson Rambler

Heavenly Blue

Heavenly Blue

 

 

 

 

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Throw Back Thursday

For those of you who use Facebook, you may be aware of a trend on Thursdays to post photos from “back in the day” of your kids, your pets, house , friends, or events you were attending .It is called Throw Back Thursday , or TBT ,and it is kind of fun to see the  old photos and have a fond memory brought to mind. Also, if the pictures are of me, I like to see how young and/or skinny I appear compared to now even if my hair was big enough to deserve it’s own zip code.I have posted a few TBTs , but  I especially like the ones of the garden.

When I first started gardening , my grandmother ,who was undoubtedly my #1 fan, would always walk around the yard when she visited with her little insta-matic camera snapping shots. She would promptly develop the film  ( unlike me who still has undeveloped rolls in my desk from the 90′s) and carefully label the backs of the photos with the location and date. I did not appreciate it at the time  but it has given me a wealth of memories from my first efforts to get The Garden in the Burrow growing, and some pretty great memories of my gram as well.Just seeing her perfect cursive handwriting on the back can send  me back in time daydreaming of busy times here when the kids were little and the the hustle and bustle of life with them and the garden was my entire existence.Scan0018 Things sure have changed, my gram is gone, the kids are older, and the garden unbelievably on the verge of being overgrown in spots which still amazes me considering where we started.

(Just an FYI for those of you who may be unfamiliar with the beginnings of the garden here, our house was built on a lot that had zero vegetation, not so much as a blade of grass, and no soil, just sand. that is certainly not the case any more.)

Here are a few photos , some hers some mine , that show some of the gardens along the way ……..

(the only human is wee little  Erin standing next to the payhouse..she is  headed to college next week )

The Red Shed Garden

The Red Shed Garden

shde2

The Dog’s Garden

shed 3

Pathway to the Pink Garden

 

The kids playhouse after and before

The kids playhouse after and before

 

Part of the rock garden

Part of the rock garden

 

The back 40

The back 40

 

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Some Days

Some days doesn’t it seem that almost nothing could possibly go your way?

And some days it  feels like every one who could get in your way, undermine you, disappoint you, piss you off or otherwise offend, did just that?

And some days it feels like the ick will never end, you will never each your safe place ,put on your slippers , grab a  beer and just forget it all went down like it did.

On those  days you actually know better than to utter “What else could possibly go wrong?” because you know full well something will

And on  those days I am never more grateful for the garden ( and to be honest for the beer too) and the fact that a quick walk through, even if it is nightfall, will change my attitude, settle my soul and calm my spirit.

I give you white and gray at dusk…..004007033035001002011016014012019028024032031029036

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Wearin’ My Big Girl Panties

Fans of this blog may be aware that I have a completely irrational, overwhelming ,and life-pervasive fear of snakes. I hate the way they move and hate their little reptilian faces. I scream like a mad woman  when I find them outside. I have on occasion been known to pulverize them with bats, spear them with spades and smash them with rocks when they startle me in the garden.

You can read about what happened when one entered my house here….it was not pretty.

I even imagine them when I see hoses, the striped backs of chipmunks, curvy branches on the ground, and god forbid the stray piece of twine falls on the pathway.

What makes it all the worse is that

a. I am afraid of almost nothing else. Bumps in the night, strangers in the woods, spiders, Friday the 13th, heights, all scare me not one whit. I even overcame my fear of flying ( albeit with valium and alcohol) so I could travel with Wil.

b.I spend almost all of my time where snakes like to be ..the beautiful garden I personally made with rock walls , shady hideouts, warm sunny composting piles and plenty of bugs, mice etc for snacking.

So , therefore I find it most surprising that a pretty good sized garter snake has made himself a home  right next to the chicken wire structure where the grass clippings are sent to decompose  and I am A_OK with it.

I think, first of all ,that knowing full well that a  hot pile of grass clippings at the edge of a wooded area was going to be a snake nirvana kept me aware and always thinking one may be there at any time. When I am caught off guard is when the mayhem ensues. Secondly, even though I discovered said snake while weeding out pokeweed 3 inches from his face and not only jumped 6 feet away but screamed like a crazed lunatic, said snake never moved , not even a tongue flick. His calm cool demeanor may have saved his life.

Mr. Cool Pants Snake, just stayed still watching me, and chilling in his warm grass pile, so I decided to put my big girl panties on and continue to weed  and see what he did.  well, Mr. Cool Pants Snake did what he was doing before…nothing.

It took every fiber of courage I could muster, but I left him there to do whatever snakey things he does and went back to life as usual. I have had to go out to the back several times since for a minute or two here, and he has been in the same general spot, sometimes all coiled up, sometimes a little lankier and spread over the  grass. Each time I have looked and confirmed his location and that he was still being Mr. Cool Pants and not trying to come anywhere near me, and I have let him be. Granted I was supposed to water all of the area out back this week and may have put that off a smidge as I was feeling a little too over-exposed to all things reptile, but when I did go out yesterday  he was there, all chill and realxin’ , watching me like always , still as can be.

Today I introduced Mr. Cool Pants Snake to Wil  as he has to mow this morning and I did not want him to get startled when he dumped grass clippings on Mr.CPS. It took us a while to see him as he was all spread out and blends so well into the woody/ grassy location he now calls home . We had almost given up  looking  but when Wil  reached in to grab a weed I saw MR. CPS clear as day inches from his  hand.  I backed up a little but did not scream, I am pretty proud of that.

It is a small victory , I will grant you that. If Mr. CPS starts to get more comfortable and starts thinking we are friends or approaches me in any manner , things may change rapidly ( and by that I mean he may die a very very violent death). But for now at least I am able to be in his presence and not pee my pants or go hog wild smashing him with a shovel.

Here he is, all chillaxing …just in case you give me more credit than is due, no, I did not take the photo. That would really be asking too much of me . I stood next to him ( well, about 10 feet away) while Wil did.002

 

 

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Morning Glory Madness Starts Now

Those of you who have heard me speak on “Design With Vines” know I am crazy about Morning Glories. Well let’s be honest all Ipomea species really have my heart.001 (4)

I love Ipomoea quamoclit, commonly called cypress vine for it’s featherly foliage and sweet star shaped flowers.

I love Ipomoea sloteri ( or x multifida) foe it’s vry cool palm shaped foliage and the hummingbirds love the flowers.006

But it is the old fashioned morning glory, or Ipomoea purpurea that ranks # 1 for me. So easy to grow, covered in sweet little flowers  in colors I adore, and don’t even get me started about all the new varieties I have yet to try.

But this post isn’t meant to do homage to my old -timey fav, it is meant as a reminder to get some Morning Glory seeds started in the house for winter bloom.  I may have admonished you not to been stingy in using all the seeds in your annual seed packets, but that came with a caveat to save just a few  Morning \Glories for the first week of August. Well, it is just that, so go find them.004

Soak the seeds in warm water overnight to soften the outer coating, then stick them in a pretty pot the next morning that has some sort of trellis or small obelisk in it. You can even use three pretty twigs arranged tee-pee style from a white birch tree if you prefer. Place it in a sunny spot near a window and you will be so very happy in December when you awaken on a dreary morning to find your first flower opening with the sun.

I like the foliage of the variety ‘Picotee’. It is a little fuzzy and thicker than the others, the flowers are very attractive too having that cute little frilly white edge. I have startted Picotee  indoors several times, and even combined it with a second variety for even more color.023 (3)

One year I placed two in one pot and that worked well .005 (7)023 (2)

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.This year I plan to try Grandpa Ott 001 (7)and a new one for me called Sunrise Serenade which has a very unique flower form in smashing ruby red. Fingers crossed for this one to bloom like mad.

If you have other annual vines seeds hanging around and have the space , give them a go as well. Last winter I grew Love-in-a- puff  Halicacabum cardiospermum in the window as well and it climbed and flowered well until late spring.054

 

 

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