Friday, March 23

Early Spring Blooms (that Fill Me with Dread)

Why do these pretty flowers fill me with dread? They're full-blown blooms from my peach tree... in March!  These babies--and the pretty white clusters on my cherry tree--are at least a full 3 weeks ahead of schedule. They've all been lulled into a false sense of security by the incredibly warm weather we've had this past week.

Steve thinks that I'm a bit too pessimistic at times, always looking for the other shoe to drop... but this time, my fears are well founded. It is supposed to dip back down below 32 degrees for at least one night next week, as the temperatures fall to more normal March levels.

And who knows what to expect beyond that--there's no reason to think that this year of crazy weather will become any more predictable than it has been thus far. I guess that, as always, we just wait, watch... and deal with whatever hand Mother Nature decides to deal us.

(Psst... hey, Ma. I'm probably only going to be here in this house for this one last harvest. Throw a gardener a bone, will ya?!)

Sunday, March 18

Foliage Follow Up: New & Old

I have some old foliage to confess... and some new foliage to show off.  I wasn't sure which to feature in this post, so you're getting both!  First, let's get the confession out of the way:

Veggie gardeners--and greens eaters--might think that these pretty leaves belong to a lovely bunch of collards. And that's because... they do! There are three of these babies out in my backyard right now, looking delicious and harvestable. (Just like they did this fall. OOPS.)

I think that I might try to harvest one and cook it in the next week or two. And leave at least one of the others to go to seed. Not really sure what to do about the third one, though--I guess that depends on how the cooking experiment goes? Anyway, now that my conscience feels a little bit lighter, lets move on to the pretty new foliage:

This is emerging foliage on the 'Chojuraku' tree peony that I salvaged at the garden center a couple of years ago. I'm going to try to transplant this over to my future mother-in-law's house this year. (Partly because I think that she would enjoy its big pink blooms... and partly because I suspect that whoever buys my house next year won't appreciate a tree peony nearly as much as they deserve to be appreciated! :-)

Want to look at even more pretty foliage?  Head over to Digging, and check out the links in the comments on Pam's March Foliage Follow-up Post!

Saturday, March 17

An Upright(eous) March Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

In March, the garden invites you to get up close and check things out.  Whether that means the snowdrops that are (usually, but not this year) blooming, or the hellebores whose nodding flowers all seem to need a good tilt if you want to see inside.

Well, not ALL of them--not this year, anyway! I'm wondering if the cold temps encourage them to keep their heads down, because I don't remember ever seeing so many face-up hellebore flowers in my garden. But there are quite a few uprights, especially on 'Ivory Prince':

And to make things even better, these guys are literally covered with blooms and buds:

The other usual March blooming suspects here (mainly snowdrops, and my jewel orchid indoors) have already come and gone. But I do have one stray bloom in the house, too. 'Vancouver Centennial' scented geranium has thrown out two very early--and very hot orange--blooms in my kitchen window.

To see what other gardeners have blooming around the world, head over to Carol's May Dreams Garden to check out her March Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day post!

Wednesday, March 14

Wedding Flower Plans

I must preface this post by stating that I have been invited to, and participated in, many lovely weddings over the years. However, my friends Meagan and Matt really set the bar a few years back with all of the awesome handmade touches they included. I so loved how their wedding felt so warm, and personal and...well, them. 

As Steve & I started planning our wedding this winter, I resolved to strive for a similar feeling of intimacy and involvement. Having a church wedding means that Steve and I won't have many options for the ceremony itself, but there are a lot of things we can personalize throughout the day. 

Inspired by gorgeous examples like this one, I am wiring up a bunch of vintage brooches for my own version of an heirloom brooch bouquet. The "flowers" above are my first four, made from "destash lot" brooches that were purchased cheaply on Etsy. I love that my bouquet will have a typewriter (to represent my day job) and a black dog (to represent my gardening assistant) alongside brooches with other symbolism (snakes, like the pearl-covered one above, are said to symbolize a new direction in life) and sparkle.

Even better, there will be sentimental value to this bouquet as well. I have a LOT of vintage pins and sparkly earrings for this project that are on loan from "Grandma Dorothy's" jewelry box. I know that she meant a lot to Steve, and I love that we can represent her in the wedding in some way.  My grandmothers will be included as well.  I already have some of my maternal grandmother's jewelry to use, and I'm sure that my dad's mother will let me borrow a piece of her "sparklies" also.

And of course, I will be mixing in some flowers from my own garden along with the brooches in my bouquet!  I have plans--and help, don't worry--to make my own bouquet, along with bouquets for my three bridesmaids and a few informal vases to place around the reception site.  In fact, I already started stocking up for this major endeavor:*

The planned "showcase" flowers include the dahlias you see in those bulb packages above. ('Karma Corona' semi-cactus, and "Purple Flame' and the deep red 'Arabian Night'.) I plan to use 'Hopi Red Dye' amaranth from my garden, plus 3 different kinds of snapdragons ('Red Spice', which has great color and a lovely scent, along with the large, open-flower "butterfly" types 'Twinny Bronze Shades' and 'Chantilly Bronze') that I'm growing from seed.

My blue globe thistle (echinops ritro) are often blooming at that time, too, so those are definite contenders for bouquet inclusion, along with seedheads from the 'Cramer's Plum' nigella that Nan so generously shared with me this fall. Other possibilities include the 'Bright Lights' cosmos, 'Kiwi Blue' cerinthe major, Nan's lovely 'Ondra's Brown Mix' or my 'Perfume Antique Lime' nicotiana, black leaf cotton, and 'Touch of Red Buff' calendula.

Filler and spiller flower options include the scented 'Lord Nelson' sweet pea, 'Green Tails' amaranth,and 'Ruby Moon' hyacinth bean vine. 'Silver Falls' dichondra, 'Giant Exhibition Palisandra' coleus, 'Jester' ornamental millet, purple fennel, dusty miller, salvia argentea, culinary sage and the deep, dark leaves of 'Black Night' canna are among the plants that could provide some pretty foliage effects in the bouquets, too.

This whole plan is obviously a work in progress, but it will also be a labor of love--and it will require both effort and testing throughout the summer, to make sure that I get things right for the big day.  Any advice is welcome... unless you're going to advise me to give up the idea and just hire a florist!  ;-)

* The bulb packages and some of the seeds in the photo above were purchased at Gales Westlake, a local garden center here in the Cleveland area. The white seed packets you see were ordered from Swallowtail Garden Seeds this month. The rest of the plants mentioned in this post are either already growing in my garden, or were passed along from Nan Ondra in seed form via this wonderful post.

Sunday, March 11

The Wearing of the Green (and a Surprising Bloom!)

The Wearing of the Green is an Irish street ballad that dates back to the late 1700s, when wearing a shamrock in your hat was a symbol of supporting the rebellion. While the garden isn't exactly rebelling--its green is more a sign of the extremely mild winter we've had this year--it was still a little bit shocking to see so much green in my yard before St. Paddy's Day, even!

Some of the garden green was a little hidden at first glance. Check out the 'Frosted Curls' sedge in the photo above (upper right) and then look at how much of its frosty color is actually green:

'Frosted Curls' had a green-to-dead-leaves ratio of almost 40:60! Some years, I find just a few hints of green--enough to give me at least a smidgeon of hope that this sedge has enough life left to sprout again after its spring haircut. 

I don't really ever worry about the hardy miscanthus family coming back year after year, but miscanthus is a warm season grass. So I was even more surprised by all of the green I discovered during this "haircut":

Most of the time, my Japenese anemone worry me with their late emergence in the garden. No worries this year:

'Red Rocks' penstemon has a reputation for being NOT hardy here, but don't tell that to the one that has been growing in my (admittedly very well draining) front garden for the last 3 years! It has never looked quite this good before, though:

Last but not least, I even found a surprising bloom today! The hellebores and snowdrops are already blooming like crazy, but I got a real surprise while I was cleaning up this area, beneath my Japanese maple:

This area is always colorful in the spring, with the mingling of green tulip leaves and winter purple on the silver lamium leaves. This year, though, the 'Purple Dragon' lamium decided to take things to the next level with a handful of tiny blooms:

I only counted 4 blooms, and none of them were close enough together for me to get them in the same photo. But still, it was a nice reward for a good four hours of yard work today! Did anyone else get a chance to go out and enjoy some lovely weather in the garden this weekend?

Saturday, March 3

Enough Pouting: On to Planning!

A few of you (hi, Mom and Dad!) might have noticed my absence from the blogosphere for the past few months.  I hate to admit this, but I was actually pouting a bit... wait, on second thought, let's say that I was "in mourning" instead. That sounds a little less pathetic.

Before I get to the reason for the pouting, though, I'm going to post a few photos to catch everyone up on the horticultural highlights of my little sabbatical:

I counted FOUR blooms on my rescued Bird of Paradise this winter!

This 3ft tall tower of 'Brasil' philodendron looked pretty through the winter next to the BOP, in spite of having almost no soil in its container.
Mexican heather bloomed through part of the fall and early winter, mingling nicely with a nearby succulent.

Okay, I feel better now, after seeing a little bit of plant prettiness.  So, here goes:  I haven't been posting anything here, and I've kind of been in mourning because... I'm going to be leaving my garden. And I didn't know quite what to say about it.

The reason for leaving is a very good one--even a happy one. I'm getting married in August, and my fiance simply does not fit in my house. (Frankly, he's not all that fond of old houses, anyway. He would like to have something a little bigger, and more open.) At 6'4", he has to bend his head on the lower landing of both staircases, and when taking a shower upstairs. His size 14 feet do not fit on the steps... in fact, he has to walk sideways on his way down.

I love my house, but the thought of leaving my garden is really what sent me into a bout of melancholy. The garden is really where I healed after my divorce. It has witnessed countless thoughts, hopes and dreams... and, worse, the cherry trees I planted years ago are just now starting to bear fruit!

But... there was never any question of whether or not I would eventually move once we got married. A man should be comfortable in his own house, after all! I did request for us to put off the whole moving-and-house-hunting process until next spring, however. The thought of planning a wedding in just 10 months PLUS trying to keep my house in show-worthy condition sounded pretty much like an impossible task. And since he's a very reasonable guy, he readily agreed to suck it up and deal with my sweet little house temporarily.

And so I have this one last year with my garden. One last growing season to watch things mature. One last summer to eat blackberries, strawberries, raspberries and cherries. One last chance to finish painting the darn fence and simplify the borders to make the house more sellable. One season in which to propagate my hypericums, dig up and containerize my blueberries, and move countless divisions and seedlings to the yard of my (thankfully amenable) future mother-in-law.

Just one more year. So I guess it's time to stop pouting, and start the planning!