Tag: gardening

Wordless Wednesday: Our next generation of gardener

Wordless Wednesday: Before & After Part 3:

The other side of the house. The one I wasn’t going to touch this year – but then realized if I didn’t tame this, it would make me crazy. First two are last summer, rest from 2010.

Passalong Plants

One of the many garden books on my shelf is ‘Passalong Plants’ by Steve Bender and Felder Rushing. The book focuses on old plants that are not commercially propagated, but instead move from garden to garden by way of generosity between fellow gardeners. The sharing of plants among gardeners not only provides a cheap source of plants for the garden, it also provides an outlet for the pieces and divisions we cull from the garden. Many plants benefit from being divided, or need to be kept in check because they’ve spread out of their intended spot. It’s hard for the gardener to just toss these divisions into the compost pile – and goodness knows we can’t just keep creating new beds to place the spare plants (been there, done that, trying not to do it again).

Whether old garden favorites or divisions of new cultivars, passalong plants add an extra bit of depth to our gardens, along with a connection to our fellow gardeners.

My Mother’s Day post mentioned the plants I was taking from my Mom’s garden. The ferns that I first used in an early apartment garden over twenty years. Corydalis lutea that was originally sent to me by an on-line friend 15 years ago. Daylilies I’ve used in two previous gardens. Divisions of several variety of lamium, perhaps a hosta or two. Shortly after posting that entry one of my cousins commented on facebook, “Many of us have parts from your mom’s garden.” Received an email from another cousin, “Our yard looks amazing because she allowed us to dig in her yard last year.” I thought about those comment and realized they’re right. Countless people have pieces of my Mom’s garden growing in their own.

I am fortunate to be part of a small group of women who met in the mid-90’s on the CompuServe Garden Forum, and have remained in contact since. We’ve traveled together on informal garden touring trips, shared plant and garden tips both publicly in forums and privately via email. Shared struggles in our gardens and in our lives. One of my favorite memories was a plant swap in a hotel hallway in Charleston, SC. We’d each driven or flown in with plants, seeds and cuttings from our own gardens. An enjoyable couple of hours was spent discussing, swapping, and indulging our obsession with plants. In our case we don’t stick to just the old varieties of plants, and admit to being just a tad excited by hot new cultivars. I loved having those plants in my garden, but in the move to this house left them all behind.

Because of this, I was thrilled to receive a box from one of these friends stuffed with plants. Nancy gave me a great start to a shade garden. Several hostas, pulmonaria, a variegated Brunnera, Chelone ‘Hot Lips, more and more. So much fun going through the box and determining where I would put what.

To add to the excitement were the plants she’d included from other members of the group’s gardens.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of the plants passed from one gardener to another is the connection to each other these plants provide. And the smile they bring on the morning or evening walks through the garden by jolting the memory of friends far and wide.

Tis the season….

Great week here in southeastern Wisconsin. The first hints of spring. I’d left for Mexico with the yard covered in snow. In fact, don’t think we’d seen the ground since around the 1st of December. I’d hoped the snow would melt while we were gone – and that prayer was answered. Even better was the bonus week of sunny days, temps in the 50’s. Gave me an opportunity for my first outdoor ride of 2010. Well, not exactly the first, I had a fun ride down in Mexico through the jungles, er, nature park at Tres Rios.

But this week, the bike came out of the basement. It felt great to take off on a ride. I did one of my favorite routes which takes me through two local parks. Fox Brook which has a nice mile long loop around a pond. Did two spins, enjoying the laughter of a little girl on a bike with training wheels riding the opposite direction. She seemed to find me passing by and saying hello quite funny. From there I head over through Mitchell Park and its boardwalk over the Fox River. First lesson of the trip – in the spring be mindful of the water level of the river. At first I considered turning around, but then decided to go for it, and ride on. (thanks to the mom and daughters, I knew the depth. I’m not sure I’d have been brave- or stupid- enough to ride through if I hadn’t)

The second lesson of the ride. Sporadic rides on the trainer over the winter are no substitute for actual riding. Esp. when those trainer rides were few and far between the last few weeks, and not exactly at maximum effort. The hills around here killed me. It will take a few more rides before I tackle my first goal hill (the section of Brookfield Rd driving north from Bluemound to Gephardt).

And as a bonus I got to rock my colorful, spring-y, new Terry bike jersey.

Meanwhile, back at home, it’s also the start of the gardening season. This will be the year I start to tackle this garden. I’m starting to get a vision. Feeling more settled in this house thanks to some changes at work. Ready to move forward, start the heavy and not so fun work of clearing some of the overgrown mess and making my own stamp on the place. There’s signs of spring here too. Daffodils foliage growing through the leaves I’d piled on the beds. Teeny little hosta noses just peeking out of the earth.

On my walk Thursday, I’d taken this picture of the still ice and snow covered pond at Rolling Meadows park to remind me that we weren’t quite at spring yet.

This morning, on the 1st official day of spring, awoke to a reminder from Spring herself, that we still have a way to go before the real outdoor season. But it sure feels good to know we are marching towards just that!

Secrets to my success…..

A question I often received from my neighbors was how did my hanging baskets, container plantings, pots, etc. always look so good. While I’m sure the use of good potting soil, supplemented with additional organic material such as fine compost, along with ample doses of a semi-organic fertilizer like Epsoma’s Flower-Tone helped, the real secret was water….and plenty of it. I learned quickly that in the heat of summer, particularly as the pots filled out and the plants became lush that the pots needed water at least once a day. Maybe twice.

And in our two-career busy family that presented a problem…..which was easily resolved by the use of a battery operated watering timer and plenty of drip irrigation and tubing. In fact if you look at my last post, that Louisville deck was during the time my son was an infant…to two careers plus an infant = must have automatic watering system. Some of the supplies I’d find locally, but a great on-line source is DripWorks. I was even able to find some white supply tubing to use around the inside of the front porch. Here’s early spring with the lines still mostly in their winter rolled up spot, and then snaked down with the chains to the hanging baskets..

I used the 1/2 supply lines in most places with the lines to the pots using 1/4 tubes and emitters. I also discovered 1/4 soaker hose that worked very well…almost better (and cheaper) than the emitters. When we put in the patio, I ran a supply line with the 1/2 tubing along the edge, just under the mulch. New sidewalks always had a 3″ or so piece of PVC pipe laid under to allow supply line/hoses under the sidewalk. In this set of photos you can see first an early spring shot of an empty pot with a 1/4″ soaker hose circle, then a late summer shot where it is hard to even notice the supply line.

I even ran supply lines out to some of the garden beds for containers placed within beds. Each of the posts in the photo below had a 1/4″ supply line with a drip emitter in each pot.

At the last house, I had two systems set up, one on each side of the house, each with a two outlet timer – this allowed four unique plant groupings (some with 15-20 pots) each on their own schedule. My only real worry was that the battery would go dead, or an emitter would clog or blow off. However, I took enough walks through to enjoy the garden that problems were easily nipped in the bud so to speak.

%d bloggers like this: