Zigs and zags and tomatoes

Straight rows of plants are never going to be the norm in my “cottage garden” style yard. For one thing, it’s hard to make all the plants uniform and march in formation as if they were soldiers on parade. I certainly don’t have that much control of the plant life under my command. For another thing, I don’t usually like the look of plants in rows.

The real reason I stopped planting in rows is the lack of efficiency and conservation it entails. Does a row of radishes really need two wide paths on either side of it to access a single line of the spicy root vegetable? No! Not even large tomato plants need a walkway on both sides. Last time I measured it, my harvesting “tool” was exactly one cubit long. The extension of that tool (my upper arm) is another cubit, for the really hard-to-reach tomatoes.  Continue reading “Zigs and zags and tomatoes”


Pumpkins, gourds, and squash are seldom grown by the home gardener if space is an issue. Why? Because they are space hogs, that’s why! One zucchini plant can easily take up a full-sized four-foot by eight-foot raised bed, and may even have to be coaxed to stay within those generous borders. 

The popular televised gardening show, “Gardener’s World” offered a solution; one which I have been practicing for some years. Monty Don demonstrated how he installed vertical supports in the form of heavy stakes formed into a tall cone shape. We use cattle panels, posed diagonally against metal stakes, for an even larger canvas for our artistry of squashes.  Continue reading “Stereotypes”

Opportunities lost, opportunities found

“Make hay while the sun shines,” says the old farming adage. Farmers cannot cut and bale hay when it’s raining, for sure. 

While my little slice of heaven that I call “garden” is no farm by any means, the rule still applies. That yard sale I wanted to go to will have to be forfeited in favor of getting those tomato plants in before the rain comes, and the housework has often (too often) been put on hold until one or another time-sensitive garden task is done. 

Last spring I came across some forgotten daffodil bulbs under my potting table, trying with their last ounce of rootless strength to bloom in spite of my neglect. It is true that the neglect was caused by my attending to a human emergency, and for that I am not sorry. Continue reading “Opportunities lost, opportunities found”

The “rest” of the story

The frozen wasteland of the garden is punctuated heavily by the sorry stems of dead flowers, offering up the remaining seed pods to the hungry birds. It is decidedly NOT a pretty scene, however much our feathered friends approve of it. 

Oh, there are a few bits of color already in the muddy back area; the early hellebores are blooming and showing their bright red color. Only I haven’t been able to enjoy them; I have been resting and recuperating since November, just as my garden has.  Continue reading “The “rest” of the story”

The shape of the hand

Ah, winter! The perfect time to curl up and watch some gardening shows, and dream of better gardens to come. While watching one of my favorites, I learned something new this week. Oh, I’m not good with horticultural terminology….yet. I may be vaguely familiar with the terms “Ovate,” “Palmate,” or “Lanceolate.” 

In this particular episode of “Gardener’s World,” Carol explained that the “Palmate” type of leaf has lobes similar to the fingers of a hand, or “palm.” It was a light bulb moment. Of course! 

Not all palmate leaves have five lobes, though. But I’ll never look at a lobed leaf without thinking of a hand.  Continue reading “The shape of the hand”

Special delivery!

The corydalis bulbs came a lot later than expected; too late to plant before our holiday guests were set to arrive. I was able to plant the Ruby Giant Crocus and managed to put some lovely violas on top of them to keep them company for their short slumber this winter in the frigid earth. 

The new daffodils, tricolor crocus, and corydalis will just have to wait … and wait … and wait. Our precautions of having our Thanksgiving dinner outdoors and keeping all doors and windows open was not enough to prevent some of us from getting “whatever’s going around.” Continue reading “Special delivery!”

Make some space!

Our new habit of social distancing has made everyone even more aware of giving space to one another. In the garden, we have no such methodology, but even in a crowded garden bed, proper spacing must be maintained. 

The surprising gift of two Veilchenblau roses last year was reason enough to rearrange the patio bed. These fragrant purple roses were perfect to go on my backyard trellis. There was one problem; we had a beautiful “Jude the Obscure” rose bush too close to one side of it already.  Continue reading “Make some space!”

Self worth

Are you a narcissist or a doormat? A person whose self-worth is off the charts, or does your view of yourself depend on what others think of you or tell you? Chances are you are somewhere in between, as most of us are.

In a landscape setting, some plants are worth more than others. Late in my gardening “path” I discovered that a few really good anchor trees and shrubs are worth spending a little money on, rather than filling the beds with random bargains. Continue reading “Self worth”

The main focus

What do you see in this picture? An overwhelming majority will see Homestead Purple Verbena, or simply “purple flowers.” Gardeners might see a few Cypress Vines starting to grow, and are twitching at the urge to come and pull them out or train them up a trellis before they overtake the verbena.

Earlier today, i sent the photo to a very dear friend, because she had offered to come and dig out a very large rosebush that I no longer want or need. In the photo, you can see a branch of the rose bush that was shoved into the ground earlier in the summer, and it is growing tiny new leaves. This is a good sign that the rose has made roots. I wanted to entice her to take something easier to move!  Continue reading “The main focus”

A little strength

“You won’t need that many, this is enough.” This is not something you usually hear from a salesperson, but my customers often hear it from me regarding plants that they are about to purchase. Sometimes, all you need is a little bit and it grows into a lot more!

The strawberry plants that have spread out to cover much of our yard are a prime example. Five little plants from a sweet lady at a local church have turned into a never-ending supply of strawberry plants for dozens of my friends and relatives. We even get a few strawberries when we are diligent about picking them before the birds do! 

Several times, I have decided that the trouble of picking them wasn’t worth it, so I’ve given them “all” away. Of course, there were always one or two baby plants that didn’t get dug out, and now (again) we have hundreds.  Continue reading “A little strength”