January 20, 2011

Ready For Spring Emergence...

.... now I just need Spring.

Last post June 2010!? Wow, I've been neglectful. Not only to my blog, but to my GARDEN! I think that's the last time I was out there! (Though I did work in other peoples' gardens.) Last summer was entirely dedicated to my wedding. I had no idea that even if you start planning and are "on top of things" as early as I was, that it would still take SO much of your time even up to the weeks, days, before the wedding. Haha... in fact, I don't know if "on top of things" can even really be applied to weddings. Lol.

In the end it was absolutely wonderful and worth every moment of missed garden time, but I'll be making up for it this year! Can't wait to get out there! :D

June 03, 2010

Ok, now THESE are my FAVORITE!!!....

....until my next trip to the greenhouse.

Stopped by Bogie Lake Greenhouse last night to pick up a couple more Liatris and came across these stunning flowers. I have never seen them before, but then, I always find something at Bogie Lake that I've never seen before!

They were simply labeled 'Double Poppy' and had some basic care info listed. Unfortunately, the usual perennial lady wasn't working, and the girl working didn't know much about them. Didn't matter - I HAD to have them, three of them. My wonderful fiance liked them as well and bought them for me (love him).

Lol.. the funniest part is thinking back on our conversation as we drove to the greenhouse:

Me: "No, really. I just need two more Liatris, one more Salvia, and maybe one Beardtongue to replace that one that's not doing well. Then that's it, I'm DONE."
Ten minutes later, at the greenhouse: "OOOOhhh! What are THOSE! I think I would need THREE of them to make it look right!! Don't ya think!!??"

My fiance: "I think you really have a problem."

So does the fact that he bought them for me make him an enabler? ;)

Anyway, back to these amazing flowers. Peony Poppies (Papaver somniferum Paeoniflorum). I couldn't find much on them online, but from what I can gather they are not in fact perennials, but do reseed themselves prolifically. The seeds can be collected and sewn in spring or fall, or they can be left to scatter themselves in the garden. They need a well-drained soil and full sun. They grow 2 to 3 feet tall -though mine seem closer to 4 feet. The blooms are about 4" to 5" across and the foliage is a lovely dusky blue.

June 01, 2010

The Latest Bloomers and Recent Additions

So much color. I could just stand there staring at my garden for hours. Aren't flowers amazing?

I am in awe of these irises given to me by a friend last year. I didn't know what color any of them would be. Many of the blooms were the traditional purple with hints of yellow. One was a very pretty antique peach with orange accents. But my absolute favorite were these gorgeous, nearly black bloom.

It does pick up quite a bit of color when the sun hits it, otherwise it looks quite dark, and dramatic. I love it. Even the inside is gorgeous!
Alright, I'll stop gushing about my iris now... I have more things to gush about. :)

My 'Arctic Fire' Dianthus came around in full force this year. So many blooms on each plant - even after I moved them around. The blooms are so small and delicate, yet they still add a bit of "pop" in the garden.

I'm also loving my Coral Bell I got at the farmer's market last year. Coral Bells are always great - such pretty and delicate flowers and so many foliage variations. I could have a garden full of these.

My painted daisies from my mom are blooming too. The foliage looks a bit scraggly, moreso than mom's, but it's seemingly doing okay and it's still blooming.

Okay, I'll start wrapping this up. A couple new additions:

A cute little Dahlia I got over the weekend
And a couple of Iceland Poppies; the brightest happiest little flowers.
I think this year I have become a "poppy" person. I haven't grown poppies before, and I don't know why I never cared for them in the past. I'm realizing now just how pretty they are. :)

May 22, 2010

Mouse Ears!

Found the most adorable little guy to put in my garden - a 'Blue Mouse Ears' Hosta. It is so small and cute, and just makes me smile. Typical hosta as far as care goes - mostly sunny to mostly shady. It's a dwarf and gets 8" tall (12" with flower), and blooms in mid summer. The buds on mine should be opening before long. One site I found says it's supposed to be slug resistant. Time will tell.
These were voted Hosta of the Year in 2008 by the American Hosta Growers Society. I purchased three of them at a local greenhouse, but they can also be found online at places like Bluestone Perennials: 'Blue Mouse Ears' Hosta

I knew exactly where in my garden I wanted to put them. Now I'm just waiting to see if it may be too much sun. So far they seem perfectly happy. :)

May 10, 2010

Incredible Luck

We had an incredibly lucky find at our house this year.... or rather, my fiance had an incredibly lucky find. Morels! LOTS of morels, all over our yard!

I'm just lucky in that he doesn't eat mushrooms. They're mine! All mine!! Hehehe....

Actually, there were so many (28 of them) that I was able to share with just about everyone who wanted some. Parents, coworkers, friends... all got a taste of the delicious delicate flavor. Mmmmm.
And they were so big that just a couple could be considered a whole meal! This was only my second time ever eating morels. They are so delicious, just a little butter and viola!! Even got my anti-mushroom fiance to try them and he said they were "okay". That's saying a lot for him to think a mushroom tastes okay!! Of course my parents and I just moaned with contentment as we sat around devouring the tasty morsels.

We did collect most of them, but we were sure to leave a few to spread spores. Hopefully we'll be this lucky again next year! :)

May 09, 2010

Getting Things Started.... Finally

A little bit of a late start this year. Work and school have been keeping me busy - just finished up the semester with Hardscape Construction and Landscape Planning. Now I can get into my garden!

Things are really waking up! Already so many beautiful blooms out there. This is the first season my garden has woken in it's own bed! I can't wait to see what the plants all do with a full season in the ground.

Some of my first additions for the year are...

Black Snakeroot
(Cimicifuga racemosa)
I love these unique plants and have wanted one for some time. Can't wait for it to do its thing!! It should do very well in my shady woodland garden.

Beardtongue (Penstomen)
I love my 'Red Riding Hood' Beardtongue that I got last year - so much so that I bought two more this year for a grouping of three. I saw this Beardtongue at the greenhouse near my house and, though the color is quite similar to my 'Red Riding Hood', I had to get it as well.

Perhaps the most exciting buy for me so far, is my Alstroemeria. I LOVE these - I have for quite some time. They are one of my absolute favorite cut flowers - looking like somewhat of a cross between a lily and an orchid (my other FAV). I had tried to read about growing them in my area, but hadn't found much info. I came across these at the local greenhouse with my mom and we each had to buy two - one of each color. They drooped a little in the beginning, but I have repotted them and they have since flourished. I hope I overwinter the tubers correctly and can keep them for a while! This will be my first attempt at overwintering any tubers.

March 01, 2010

Know and Grow 2010

I went to the annual Know and Grow seminar this year and had such a wonderful time. It's held at Dow Gardens in Midland, Michigan. It was fantastic! Such wonderful speakers and great topics, and lots of vendors with goodies!

The highlight though, was speaker Michael Dirr. He is an icon in the industry and it was such a pleasure to hear him speak. He spoke twice - once on Hydrangeas and Viburnums, and again on the newest and best of shade and flowering trees. It was so inspiring to listen to someone with such endless passion for what they do.

(Me with Michael Dirr and his wife Bonnie)

The other speaker was Jeff Epping from Olbrich Gardens in Madison, Wisconsin. He covered the topic of container gardening and showed some incredible pictures of different techinques and ideas.

Both speakers were incredibly knowledgable, friendly and entertaining, as was the staff of Dow Gardens. Everyone had a smile on their face the whole day. Can't wait for next year!!

August 25, 2009


My boss had a hitchhiker on his back when he returned to the office from lunch yesterday. I decided to bring the little guy home and release him in my garden (the mantis, not my boss).
He sat right on top of my passenger seat all the way home, tilting his head and looking around, cleaning his antennae. When we arrived home I scooped him into my hand and let him go in my flowers. He posed for several pics before he flew off somewhere to the other side of the yard.

He may not stick around in our yard, but at least he's in a much more rural area than where I work. Plus, I'm sure there are more pesky bugs here to eat. I mean, I sure as heck wouldn't mind living in my garden if I were a bug!

August 24, 2009

An Updated View of My Garden

The mornings have been cold lately, and one can feel fall just around the corner. It's been a busy summer and I haven't had as much time in the garden as I'd planned, but it has certainly been a season of learning! I love watching the changes in the garden as the season progresses.

I have encountered minor problems here and there that have each been opportunities to do some research and experiment with trial and error. Here is what is nearly the final result of my summer, though one of the greatest lessons I've learned is that a garden is never complete. :)I think the beautiful birdbath I got for my birthday is a perfect finishing touch. I look forward to seeing all the changes between this year and next!

August 10, 2009

Volunteer Days - Invasive Shrubs

I spent some time Saturday and Sunday doing more volunteer time with the DNR. ON Saturday we gathered burn piles of invasive shrubs that had already been cut by the DNR. They do this to maintain the prairie and the native plant life in that environment. It poured on us the whole time, but we kept at it for a couple of hours until the lightning began to strike. There were about 30 volunteers and we accomplished quite a bit in a short time, despite the weather.

On Sunday the rain was gone - just 90 degree weather, sunny skies, and heavy steamy air. We hiked through the woods cutting down invasive Common Buckthorn, Glossy Buckthorn, and Autumn Olive. Each shrub we could find was cut and herbacide was applied to the stump to prevent it from growing again. We also found and removed a few small patches of an invasive species of Parsley.

(Photo by Bill Brandon)

The day was also a great opportunity to learn MANY of the native plants!

Maindenhair Fern
(Adiantum pedatum)
I think this is
(Bidens coronatus),
but it is possibly
Western Sunflower
(Helianthus occidentalis)

White Baneberry
(Actaea pachypoda),
also called Doll's Eyes

Red Baneberry
(Actaea rubra)

I'm going to be tagging along on some individual projects for the DNR as well. I'm going to be learning Photo Monitoring, Insect Monitoring, and hopefully Seed Collecting. I get together with one of the current Photo Monitoring volunteers at the end of the month to see how it's done. I'm very much looking forward to it!

August 07, 2009

"Picture This" Photo Contest: Down on Your Knees

The subject for this month's Picture This Photo Contest at Gardening Gone Wild is "Down on Your Knees". The purpose is to encourage everyone to view the world from a new vantage point. Get down on your knees, or even your belly, and see the world from a whole new angle!!

Here's my submission:

Best of luck to everyone participating!

August 06, 2009

A Special Treat: Hummingbird Moths

It was such a delight last night to see a special visitor hovering around the Butterfly Bush. I have only ever seen one before, years ago, and had been amazed by this fascinating creature. On your first encounter it can be a bit confusing! Many people have the same response I had: Is that a hummingbird? But it has antennae! Is it a bug!? What IS that thing!?

Hummingbird Moths are actually a type of Sphinx Moth of the genus Hemaris. The one pictured here in my garden is a Hummingbird Clearwing Moth (Hemaris thysbe). They have a wingspan of roughly 1.5 to 4 inches and display the rapid wingbeats of a hummingbird as they zip to and fro, usually in the evening, sipping nectar from the flowers. I do hope you have an opportunity to encounter one of these enchanting creatures!

July 16, 2009

"One-of-Each-itis" - That's it!

I have identified my affliction: "One-of-Each-itis".
(as defined by Billy Goodnick here)

The purpose of me creating a garden, even though we are only temporarily renting our home and money is not exactly pouring from our pockets right now, is to gain first-hand experience and "personal history" in the gardening world. I am a student in a field that I have no experience in thus far and am trying to gain said experience.

In this new venture I am becoming increasingly aware that my new garden - filled with lovely plants of many colors and shapes - doesn't have any order to it. I went into the project knowing in my head the general direction in which I wanted to go, but had no plan of execution. This is mainly because it's had to be a work in progress that began as "I'll just put a few plants in so I can at least have a garden", but developed into "I'll just add one of these - last plant! Except for this one.. and this one too." Now I have this odd conglomeration that just doesn't make much sense.

I'm not entirely disappointed though. The purpose of this project was to learn, and that is being accomplished. A lot of these plants are still small and I think will have more effect next year when they actually begin the season in the garden and will fill out the space more. However, I think I would still like to attempt some rearranging this year to create a bit more flow to the area. I really liked the article by Billy Goodnick referenced above, and will look to it for inspiration. I want to balance my "collector" tendencies with some "arranger" tendencies!

July 15, 2009

Volunteer Day - Mustard Pull

The volunteer day I participated in with the DNR at the end of June went great! We pulled seven garbage bags worth of invasive garlic mustard. I hadn't known what garlic mustard was before the volunteer day. Now that I am able to identify it, I see it ALL OVER!

Here's a video on garlic mustard from the Stewardship Network:

July 06, 2009

A Weekend of Woods and Wildflowers

I went for a hike this weekend at a nearby state park.
So many flowers in bloom!
I haven't identified these two yet:
I have found one of my new favorite wildflowers!
It's a Deptford Pink (Dianthus armeria). It's not native, but is naturalized. So delicate and vibrant! (See below)Mother nature is the best gardener! :)