Bloomin’ Update 31: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly


Before I get into this post, I wanted to send out a special thanks to those of you who took the time to add a caption to the previous post.  Your creativity and humor were  wonderful treats after I arrived home and logged in to catch up on blog duty.  I’m still smiling and LOL-ing!

I’m not a fan of the Western.  I have always found the film genre too gritty, too violent, and too filled with underhanded, unsavory characters.  I like comedy, drama, melodrama, a soundtrack, and always a happy ending.

But when Joe and I arrived home at 3:00 a.m. after a marathon drive from Fort Lauderdale, we entered the house as if we were a couple of sun-baked cattle rustlers in our own Western.  Unshaven.  Sweaty.  Delirious.  Exhausted.  Even our mouths were tired as we spoke to on another with jaws that were just shy of clenched.  Ironically, our newly repaired covered wagon — I mean the car — was in better shape than we were!  Any thoughts or worries about my garden would have to wait until daylight — or at least until I was prepared to see daylight.

The forecasters, however, had other ideas about daylight.  It seems that the next few days would be filled with heavy thunderstorms, strong winds, and possible hail.  What’s a gardener in search of a happy ending to do? 

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Re-Post: Do You Suffer From G-SAD?


This post first appeared nearly a year ago, and since I am somewhere on a highway on my way to a vacation and faraway from any Internet service , I thought it was quite appropriate to revisit the anxiety that I feel when I have to leave my garden in someone else’s hands.  For longtime readers, I apologize for this repeat broadcast; for new readers, I hope you enjoy.

I have done what every therapist and doctor advises people not to do. I have self-diagnosed, but let me first explain.

It’s summertime, and Joe and I are going on vacation for a few days. It’s a chance to relax, to get away from everything, to reconnect, to breathe. In actuality, though, the days leading up to departure mean a growing sense of unease and worry. I become consumed with obsessive thoughts, anxiety, and stress — and none of it comes from the what-to-pack, what-not-to-pack scenario, nor from the airport pat-down, nor from who will mind the dog and the cat, nor from the last-second question, “Did I remember to take my trusted Swiss army knife out of my carry-on?” No. For me, the physical-emotional symptoms stem from leaving my garden and entrusting its care to someone other than myself. I am now calling these symptoms Garden Separation Anxiety Disorder, also known as G-SAD, as in, “Gee, That’s sad.”

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Bloomin’ Update 28: I Went To A Garden Party . . .


It seems that quite suddenly, summer has brought the entire world into bloom — and that means hosting a whole bunch of guests to a bloomin’ banquet.  There’s plenty to eat and drink — so, bring a chair, sit back, and relax.

First up: butterflies.  I’m not sure what type of butterfly this is, but the garden is full of them.  They really don’t socialize with the other guests, and can often be found in pairs, fluttering about in mid-air and playing among the lavender.

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Bloomin’ Update 27: Let’s Go For A Walk


I read somewhere – and I apologize to whoever said it because I cannot credit you – it’s a shame that so many gardeners keep their gardens locked up in their backyards. How nice it would be if the garden could be in the front yard for everyone and anyone to enjoy as they walk by. 

That was my thought as Joe and I walked around the neighborhood on this first day of summer, strolling by our neighbors’ homes to get a peek and to be inspired by what was blooming.  This is what we found.

To start the walk, we had to pass our Lace Cap Hydrangea. The flowers remind me of speckled Easter eggs.

This would be a close-up of the “lace” in the Lace Cap.

Across the street, we spotted a small bouquet of Dianthus.

Just up the street, another neighbor had Daylilies blooming everywhere.

Another neighbor had cluster upon cluster of Roses spilling over a rock retaining wall.

I couldn’t resist a closer look at the ruffled petals.

This Daylily seemed to scream, “Look into my eye.” So I did.

Around the corner, there were beds of Astilbe in full bloom.

Up close, the pink clouds reminded me of cotton candy.

Around another corner, we discovered a bed of Yarrow growing around a curbside mailbox.

Imagine our surprise when we spotted a bed of Cactus — in flower — a few houses away. The owner, Helen, came running out and offered us a clipping, and then showed us the rest of her front yard garden. We made a promise to return again for a tour of the backyard — a new neighborly friend.

When we returned home, there was time to stop and smell the Lavender.

Happy Summer!

Who’s Your Daddy? I Am!


It’s Father’s Day weekend here in the States, and I have daddy issues.  You see,  I do not have children of my own, so fatherhood and this holiday are like an exclusive country club from which I have been barred.  This doesn’t go to say that I don’t know what it’s like to care for and nurture something, because I do.  It’s just that my children aren’t – well, they’re not human.

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Celebrating Mother’s Day — The Hydrangea Way


It’s Mother’s Day, and in my part of the world, it’s the day when every homeowner is given the nod to go ahead and start planting.  In honor of the day, I thought I would make some Hydrangea babies that would make any mother — including the mother plant — proud.

 

1. In addition to a mother plant, you’ll need the following items (left to right): a dish with rooting powder, clippers, water, sandy soil, and a stick of some sort.

 

2. You’ll next have to select what parts of the mother plant you’d like to root.  Tender green stems, preferably ones that are not ending in a bloom, work best.

 

3.  Once cut, immediately place the stem in water.  You can continue collecting stems for rooting — but always place them in water right away.

 

4. At this point, get the root starting cells ready.  Sandy soil tends to work best because it’s not heavy, which is easier for developing roots.  Use a stick (a chopstick or a pencil works great) to make a hole where the stem will be inserted.

 

5.  Remove a stem from the water and trim off the larger leaves. 

 

6.  You will be left with something that looks like this. 

 

7.  Dredge the cutting, which is still damp with water, in the rooting hormone. 

 

8.  The rooting hormone should stick nicely because of the water.  Make sure that the stem is as covered as possible.

 

9.  Place the stem into the prepared soil, being very careful not to brush off the rooting hormone as you insert the stem into the hole.  Once placed, gently tamp down the soil.

 

10.  When all of your stems are planted, water them in and leave them in a sheltered location.  I usually keep them along the back of the house, sheltered by the eave.  Hydrangeas are fine with shade, but it’s important to protect these babies as best as you can — you know, like a good mother.

 

In a few weeks, you should be able to see which of your transplants has survived.  When roots have developed, the baby Hydrangeas can be potted up.  They may even be ready for planting, in a somewhat sheltered area, by fall so they can overwinter.  In the spring, you’ll be able to transplant them to a permanent location or re-pot them to giveaway as, well, Mother’s Day gifts.

And on that note, I’d like to wish you a Happy Mother’s Day!

Book Review: 1493


When children recite, “Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?” perhaps a more appropriate question would be, “From where does your garden grow?”  That’s the question I ‘m asking myself this Columbus Day weekend after reading the best-selling new book 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, by Charles C. Mann.  This meticulously researched book examines the world after Columbus set foot in North America. 

While Columbus certainly has his critics, there can be no mistaking that his arrival in the New World placed the entire world on the globalization frontier.  The author’s position is that much of what we enjoy today can be traced back to what he calls the Columbian Exchange, a means of moving plants and seeds and animals from one part of the world to another part.  It is why, for example, that tomatoes arrived in Italy and citrus arrived in Florida.  So much of what we take for granted wasn’t always so; and much of it would not be if Columbus had not set the process in motion. 

I myself am a bit of a mutt: English, Scottish, German, French, and Italian.  My paternal ancestors arrived in North America in 1675; my maternal great-grandfather entered through Ellis Island.  While this is my gene pool, I wonder just how diverse and worldly is my garden? 

Thanks to the Internet and Google, I learned that what I plant has traveled a long way to be planted.  In fact, my garden could be a lesson for world leaders seeking peace.   Although it heavily favors Asia and Central and South Americas, there is little conflict in plants from many lands successfully sharing common ground.   (Note to self: bring Australia into the mix, but wait until full-out global warming for Antarctica to come into bloom.) 

And to think my melting pot only took 518 years — and still counting — to plant. 

Happy Columbus Day — and enjoy the weekend in the garden.

Bloomin’ Update 10: Autumn Joy


My plan was to have a post featuring the blooms of the waning days of summer.  With camera in hand, I captured bees tending to their chores on a day that felt more like July than September.  If you could see their bee faces, I’m sure they were aglow with autumn joy.

 Then, in a matter of hours, a cold front roared through.  The clouds thickened and darkened, the wind grew stronger, and fat drops of rain splattered everything.  And all the while, the temperature plummeted — so much so, that by sunset, it felt like late October.  When I looked out of a window, I saw the last canna bloom (was that a shiver?) glowing.  I again grabbed the camera, this time to capture the canna’s last stand — and I was blown away by the vividness of color.

 
I wondered what other flowers and plants would look like surrounded by chilled darkness and then the glare of a flash.  I was limited in my selection because of the time of year, but I did (surprisingly) capture a noisy cricket in the ivy that climbs up the maple tree.  He’s resting on the large leaf at the bottom of the photo.
 
   
Now the Zinnias, a little battered and chewed up, but still holding on to their color.
 
 
 
This Blanket Flower is probably wishing that it had a blanket.
 

A few of the old standbys:  a faded Hydrangea (take that Madonna!), Liriope spikes, Coleus “Tartan,” and a Caladium close-up.

 

The Sunflower Sisters, one streaked with orange, the second like a faded version of the first, and the third looking more like celestial eclipse.

Finally, another glimpse of “Autumn Joy” Sedum.  The bees were probably in a state of suspended animation at this hour and temperature.

My late-night expedition into the garden was a wonderful way to close-out summer.  (Note to self: Next year, don’t wait until the end of summer for a nighttime photo shoot.)  Looking back on this growing season, it was exciting to enter the blogging world and to share my life and garden with you.  I appreciate greatly all of the comments and encouragement.  Now, it’s time for cleaning up, digging and storing tender bulbs, protecting terracotta pots, and the never-ending raking — in other words, the joys of autumn.

Hydrangea Hating Madonna Crosses The Line


Photo courtesy of popdust.com.

What’s with Madonna?  I never really asked myself that question because I’ve always been a bit of fan, enjoying her music, relishing the controversy, and admiring her skill at always reinventing herself.  She was my generation’s Lady Gaga.

But now?  Now, she has gone entirely too far – much further than writhing on the floor in a wedding gown at one of the earliest MTV Video Music Awards, much further than the “Sex” book fiasco, much further than her

The presentation is made and . . .

mediocre acting career.  Wait, that last one probably wasn’t much of a stretch.

In case you haven’t seen the video, here is a brief summary.  Madonna was holding court at the Venice Film Festival, sitting behind a table and a live microphone.  A man approached the table and presented her with a giant purple Hydrangea bloom and said, “You are my princess.”  She politely accepted the flower.  As the

. . . the eyes roll.

man walked away, however, she turned to her left (at a person off-camera), and made big, exasperated eyes.  Then she turned right and said, “I absolutely loathe Hydrangeas.”

Really?  Loathe?  I mean who can loathe a plant?  You can certainly loathe, I don’t know, a serial killer, a dictator, maybe even Brussells Sprouts if you had to choose a plant (although, personally, I love them).  I might be tempted to say that I loathe weeds and weeding.  The truth is I enjoy weeding.  And as for the weeds, they can be annoying and tiresome – but I would never say that I loathe them.  In fact, I actually like some of them – but that’s a whole other post.

Beware of empty apologies.

To add insult to injury, she then released a video, “Madonna’s Love Letter to Hydrangeas,” in which she appears to be apologizing to a Hydrangea bouquet.  “You have no idea how many nights I have lost thinking how I hurt you. Words cannot express how sorry I am. To think I may have caused you pain.”  But faster than a ray of light, she throws the bouquet onto the ground, and says, “I’m left with the fact that I still hate Hydrangeas! And I will always hate them!”  Then there is an expletive and a statement that she likes roses.

Huh? 

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