And the books were opened

The end of winter is the time when many gardeners turn to their books. We may have been perusing seed catalogs for the last few months, and even ordered a few new varieties of tomatoes or beans to try. 

When the robins appear and the ground starts thawing, we turn our attention to the gardening books. We search for the best way to plant that new Santa Rosa Plum that came in the mail; bare rooted, bare twigged, and sad looking.  Continue reading “And the books were opened”

Recombobulation

“It is an ill wind that blows no good.” But there do exist some ill winds! One has blown down our garden shed and others are now destroying a favorite trellis.

Garden structures are not the only maintenance in a garden, of course. Our fragrant and beautiful Carolina Jessamine has been taken over by a stray Virginia Creeper that crept in among the vines growing up and over the delicate white trellis by the patio.

And now that poor trellis is leaning precariously from the weight of both of the heavy vines and the prevailing west winds. It will have to be completely removed, along with the plants. Continue reading “Recombobulation”

How hard has aging hit you?

“It looks like an ‘old lady’ garden!” This is one of the worst complaints I can make about any spot in the garden that has not been tended well over the years. 

Oddly enough, a crowded garden is actually my goal. As one type of perennial fades away, it gives place to the next month’s glorious growth of another. But once in a while, some of the ubiquitous “volunteers” take over and ruin the aesthetics of a well-tended bed. The bed has “aged,” so to speak, and not gracefully! Continue reading “How hard has aging hit you?”

The prominent ones

All that hard work, and the garden was a failure…or so it seemed. The beautiful Kwanzan cherry tree was dying out, and the eagerly awaited billows of pink fluffy blooms did not materialize in the splendor of years gone by. 

The tree was the highlight of the patio garden; the central hub for the whole yard, really. Without its expected glory, everything else was lackluster in comparison.

It didn’t matter that the violas under the disappointing tree were particularly robust and colorful this year. The graceful nodding of the Hawera daffodils went largely unnoticed as well. Continue reading “The prominent ones”

A Garden Carol

 

The garden was dead, to begin with. No doubt whatever about that. The bent black stalks of the Mexican Petunia stood up like crooked doornails, or like so many legs of a dozen giant spiders fallen on their backs. The icy shrouds of dead crinum leaves were draped gloomily across the ground.

Every chance to do something better in the garden was now dead, along with summer’s delicate  blooms.

This month I was visited in a real way by the ghost of gardens past. My ancient laptop’s operating system had to be updated, but there was not enough storage. That meant deleting the hundreds of garden photos. Continue reading “A Garden Carol”

Baby, it’s cold outside!

The chilly breath of the coming winter whispers into the gardener’s frostbitten ears about numerous garden chores yet to be done. Planting daffodils and crocuses, clearing away the scraggly remains of the perennials, and weeding around the newly sprouted Nigella. 

But it’s cold outside!

Even with an extra set of cotton gloves underneath my garden gloves, I might mistake my fingers for tasteless popsicles after a few minutes of work.

It’s cold outside! Good enough reason to stay indoors and go into semi-hibernation among the seed catalogs with a hot cup of echinacea tea.   Continue reading “Baby, it’s cold outside!”

Good for you?

Tomatoes….poison or panacea? The Solanum family includes deadly nightshade, along with peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes. I once had a neighbor in Iowa who told me to use deadly nightshade in my cooking. She did it all the time! She pointed to the plant growing under our deck — the one the USDA was warning about sickening the local livestock — and urged me not to “waste it.”

Her native China may have a plant that looked similar, or maybe she built up an immunity to it, along with her Caucasian husband and their lovely, healthy son. Or maybe deadly nightshade (Belladonna) is not as poisonous as we once thought. I really didn’t have the inclination to try it! Continue reading “Good for you?”

Trendscoffer (Part 2)

You might say that this is the “flip side” to the last column published here. I hope my traditional scoffing at new and trendy things hasn’t sunk in so deeply that I reject anything new without considering its value, especially given my failure with the new Echibeckia I outlined in my last column.

As with almost anything, moderation and middle ground is the answer, as well as careful consideration with an open mind and open Bible.

While we don’t run to embrace the newest things, we don’t run the other way, either. Continue reading “Trendscoffer (Part 2)”

Pro-choice

The nice, soaking rains that came to our middle Tennessee gardens this month were more than welcome after the heat and drought of this brutally long summer. Along with the rains came the return of all kinds of fungus, including those pretty yard mushrooms arranged in a darling little fairy ring on the lawn.

One of my friends wondered if they were good to eat. They certainly looked it! They even smelled nice. I warned her in no uncertain terms about eating mushrooms without proper identification. Another friend chimed in that some of them are delicious…for one time only! Continue reading “Pro-choice”