BLOOM THYME FRIDAY: PLANS & PROJECTS

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The deep snow is melting and there are signs of spring everywhere. One of my favorite things to watch for are violas I planted in years past that pop up and show color even in winter! Took this picture yesterday … icy but still showing color! #lovethespirit 

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We have survived the long, lonely winter with home projects, cleaning out drawers and closets, going through “collections” and doing a bit of sprucing up. This week a simple reorganizing of the guest room closet (which is very small) turned into a full blown project of painting and moving shelving. 

Now it is time to get “full blown” into garden readiness. So more time in the potting shed it is. Time in the potting shed is good for the plants but it is OH SO good for the gardener. That tiny space and those projects bring immense joy.  I think most, if not all of that joyful feeling comes from dirt… touching it and smelling it. Yes, dirt is quite magical! Are you with me? 

First thing was to “pot up” the scented geranium cuttings I took last July. They have gotten huge. Last year I had several different varieties but decided to only winter over two since I have winter space issues — Attar of Rose and Rober’s Lemon Rose.

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WINTER SOWING

Next was to try my hand at winter sowing in milk jugs that we talked about a few weeks ago. Read about that here. 
In the cartons are ….. 

  • Larkspur
  • Sweet Willian
  • Ammi: Dara
  • Lavender
  • Delphinium

Starting slow… if this works for me, I can see doing a ton of them next year!

Mr. G is more than ready to start his outdoor projects which include removing a sick crabapple tree and “pruning” two 25+ year old honey locust trees. We still can’t believe how small they were when we planted them – they are huge now. So while he waits, he is being a rock star on “honey do” projects, building birdhouses, and coming up with ways we can discourage the deer who are becoming way tooooooo comfortable in our garden. We are using DEER NO NO from Gardener’s Supply and spraying with Liquid Fence. We are hoping that now that the snow is clearing maybe our repellents will be more effective! If you have ideas on “discouraging” deer, please let us know. They really MUST move on if we are to have a garden this year! These pictures are taken right out our back door and they are here most every night. 😩

GREAT READ… 

An article from New York Times column, In the Garden with Margaret Roach – The Smart Way to Grow Roses.

In this article Margaret shares many tips on rose selection and quotes from noted rosarian, former curator of the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden in NYC, and gifted author Peter Kukeilski. Peter is a lovely person and the author of one of my favorite books to recommend, Roses Without Chemicals. He has a new book out, Rosa, that is on my list.

LATEST PODCAST…

I had the pleasure of chatting with Rebecca Koraytum of David Austin Roses last week. On the show, Rebecca brings us up to date on how things are going at David Austin Roses since the pandemic and talks about their new roses. She also shares her insights on emerging rose trends and gives us a verbal peek inside her personal rose garden! Listen Here.

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More and more people are getting their vaccines giving us more and more hope of a world that will begin to open! First on our list of course will be getting to England! 

I hope signs of spring are all around you and that you are knee deep in plans and projects! 🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱

BLOOM THYME FRIDAY: SAY IT WITH FLOWERS

Valentine’s Day brings back so many wonderful memories…. remember as kids getting your Valentines ready to take to your school friends – weighing each word carefully.  And of course, how exciting (and sometimes a bit scary) it was to anticipate what valentines would be given to you.  Even the container used for transporting your valentines was important! 


My  Valentine’s Day memories as a florist are filled with beautiful flowers, blurry eyes, and fatigue from working long, long, very long days helping others express their love. It was beautiful work highlighted by coolers filled to the brim with roses and other gorgeous flowers often on bitter cold midwest February days – much like today!! Working side-by-side with my florist friends was such great fun too. Things got quite giggly after midnight during holidays!

VALENTINE’S DAY TRIVIA

  • Passing out Valentines is a 600-year-old tradition.
  • Candy hearts were originally medical lozenges.
  • In 2019 Americans spent 20.7 billion for Valentine’s Day
  • The Chocolate Box has been around for more than 140 years.
  • Teachers are the number one recipient of valentines.

Read more from the original article by Woman’s Day Here.

I also read that approximately 250 million roses are grown for Valentine’s Day — about 45% of those roses are red.

Yes, like no other flower, the red rose says LOVE.

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THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS

I am so very fascinated by the Victorian practice of conveying your feelings with flowers and herbs.

The Victorians were serious about their flowers and even developed a “love language of flowers” that included herbs, shrubs, roses and more. Don’t you just love that! These arrangements were often given in a small nosegay called a Tussie Mussie. 

FLORIOGRAPHY

From The Language of Flowers by Kathleen M. Gips … a fascinating pamphlet I have had for years. Kathleen has another book, Flora’s Dictionary,  that is available on Amazon here.

The language of flowers was universally understood in the East and the herbal symbolisms recognized and practiced in Europe for centuries, but it was not until the 1800’s that floral dictionaries were written to help the public communicate in the language of flowers. This romantic ‘floriography’ became especially popular in the Victorian era starting with the reign of Queen Victoria in England (1840). Dozens of floral dictionaries were available in England, America and Europe. 

Floral language was thought to be created to symbolize the most delicate sentiments in a ‘silent eloquence’ that would be a language better than writing.

Mothers of the Victorian era were directed to teach their daughters religion and the art of making a well-made bokay. Talk about your priorities for home schooling! 🙂 Yes floral dictionaries would be a must! Many finishing schools offered instruction in botany and ‘floriograpy.’

We didn’t call it ‘floriography’ but my children were collecting flowers and making bokays to deliver in their wagon from a very young age. Such great fun!

RESOURCES

Tussie Mussie — The Victorian Art of Expressing Yourself in the Language of Flowers by Geraldine Adamich Laufer. (HERE) It is an excellent resource.

 ON MY WISH LIST…

Floriography: An Illustrated Guide to the Victorian Language of Flowers by Jessica Roux (HERE)   


BOKAY DAYS…

One of my greatest joys is sharing bokays from my garden – all the flowers I share come from my heart and say I care about you and want you to have a special day.  But, the fascinating list the Victorians gave us could sure add a special touch to our bokay sharing. More about Bokay Days here.  Let’s all hope and pray that this summer we can get back to having people in our gardens. If not we will do what we did in 2020 … masked and socially distanced deliveries.

HOT CHOCOLATE BOMBS

Yes, I am still on the Hot Chocolate kick. Hot Chocolate Bombs have been the rage lately. I have seen so many social media videos of people pouring steaming hot water or milk over a HC Bomb to have it explode with chocolate, marshmallows and all sorts of yumminess. Mr. G loves chocolate so for his Valentine’s present, I ordered “bombs” from a friend who makes the most wonderful sweet treats. If you are local, contact SWEET TREATS BY JANESE here

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SOME OF MY FAVORITE HERBS & FLOWERS WITH THEIR MEANINGS….

  • Basil: Best Wishes
  • Black Eyed Susan: Encouragement
  • Daisy: Beauty, Innocence
  • Parsley: Joy
  • Pink Carnation: Gratitude
  • Rosemary: Remembrance
  • Lavender: Devotion
  • Lily of the Valley: Sweetness
  • Lemon Verbena: Enchantment
  • Red Rose: I love you, desire
  • Pink Rose: Appreciation
  • Yellow Rose: Friendship (Can also mean jealousy 😳)
  • Lavender Roses: Love at first sight and enchantment
  • Zinnia: Thoughts of absent friends

FROM ME TO YOU…

I am virtually putting together a Tussie Mussie for you. It includes pink roses, pink carnations with a touch of rosemary, basil and lemon verbena. 😘

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY FRIENDS!

Until next time …  

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BLOOM THYME FRIDAY: POTTING SHED PUTTERINGS

It is cold! Icy cold. But the potting shed is cozy. I’ve had fun puttering! The weather for the next week is not even up to 25F and the lows dip into the minus category!

I have always wanted to have more time for seed starting and propagation. Last year time was something I had plenty of! How about you! 😱 #becarefulwhatyouwishfor

In March and April 2020 I started more seeds than ever before! I am happy to report that I had more success than ever before.  It was wonderful in the spring to have enough seedlings to share!

In July  2020 I started more cuttings than ever before. Cuttings of lavender, boxwood, geraniums and roses. I am happy to report that I had more success than ever before. 

TIME AND LIGHT

Yes, the big differences this year were that I had more time to take care of them and nurse them along, and, I gave them more light than ever before. I replaced my 20+ year old grow lights for new Ferry-Morse Grow Lights and I think it helped. I chose Ferry-Morse because that is what Lowes had and convenience was everything last spring!

POTTING UP!

Last week I started potting up the summer cuttings. I was so excited to see what was going on underneath!

Process: 4 boxwood cuttings in 1 pot outside to 3 individual plants ready to go. Same For the lavender … from 3 in one pot outside to 2 strong starts looking great.

NEXT UP … WINTER SOWING

Winter sowing in milk jugs is something I am going to give a try this year.

Two years ago, Hendricks Co Master Gardener President, Steve Pearl, did a program on starting seeds in the winter using milk jugs. Steve has used this method for years with great success in our area (5b). He usually starts the process in mid-February. Sometimes he’s had up to 50 milk jugs filled with seeds. 50! Most of the seeds he uses are seeds he has saved – taking the process to a whole other level. Here are Steve’s “how-to” notes.

While he has started so many types of plants through the years and had a great deal of success, the plants that have done the best for him are:

  • Coral Bells
  • Coreopsis
  • Glorisa Daisy
  • Great Blue Lobelia
  • Royal Catchfly
  • Liatris
  • Butterfly Milkweed
  • Common Milkweed

Laura from GARDEN ANSWER has several great videos on this process too. Watch here. 

I am gathering all my supplies to plant these in a couple of weeks — milk jugs, potting soil, all-weather tape (here), markers, vermiculite, seeds, AND some short green fencing to “disguise” the jugs a bit. 
The hardest part of this process for me may prove to be finding a place where the plants can get what they need, is convenient for me to watch over them, and help them “fit in” with the garden design. 😆Yes, introducing milk jugs to the garden design requires a bit of “strategic planning.” 😉  

THIS WEATHER CALLS FOR HOT CHOCOLATE

With weather this icy, it’s time to turn up our thermostats and our “hot chocolate” game!

We saw a survey recently about instant hot chocolate mixes that revealed most people preferred Swiss Miss. I have to say, when I can get it, Tim Horton is our favorite but we always have some Swiss Miss on hand.

However, if you have time and aren’t counting calories for a day or two, here is a recipe that I have given as gifts, served to guests, and at events when I’ve done a hot chocolate bar. It is so good …. RECIPE.

So what is your favorite instant hot chocolate and what is your favorite addition to a steaming mug. Mr. G loves peppermint! I bought a bag of crushed peppermint candy and it does the trick!

Friends, stay warm and safe and enjoy a steaming mug of whatever makes you feel warm and cozy! Until next time…

Champagne Wishes

BLOOM THYME FRIDAY: FAVORITES AND TRENDS

On social media, I have seen so many surveys and questions about “favorites”. As gardeners, people want to know your favorite plant, tool, fertilizer, pest control, and on and on.

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The answer to the question most often is, “Well, that depends on ______? That blank can be filled with … your location, your color preference, your garden style, your thoughts on disease control, and so much more.


I’ll be honest, my favorite things in the garden change all the time!! I love innovation. I love trying new things. I am typically an early adopter. I get excited when I see NEW or IMPROVED – although I’ve learned those words often need further examination!! 😉


Let’s start with roses. (Of course.) Let me just confess that in my day I have grown a ton of different roses. I can’t even tell you how many. And, if I tell Mr. G – he’ll roll his eyes and say … “I know. … It’s okay.” 


Some roses the winter took away. Some I removed to make way for others. Some just didn’t “get” our climate and struggled. Some didn’t live up to their hype. A few succumbed to Rose Rosette Disease. I do expect the plants in my garden to be good at their job … and not be tooooo needy, so I have developed the fine art of “Shovel Pruning.” Not a time to think too much except about the overall health and well being of the garden and the gardener. Besides, there are sooooo many options!


FAVORITE ROSES

These are roses I have had for several years and they have proven themselves over and over in a variety of conditions in my garden. And, I think they would perform well for most. Success to me is a rose that is beautiful, that plays nice with its companions, gives me a ton of blooms, is on the easy-care side and fragrance is a nice bonus too.

Music Box (Easy Elegance)

Beautiful form (like a small Hybrid Tea) and fragrant. This blooming machine starts out with yellow buds and finishes as a full dusty rose bloom. Around here it has been consistently available at Lowes and some of our garden centers. Just look for the Easy Elegance collection. There are many wonderful roses in this collection … Like Champagne Wishes, All the Rage, and Head over Heels.

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This picture shows all of the color variations from bud to finish!
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All Music Box roses.


Quietness (Buck Shrub)

Absolutely gorgeous in bud and bloom. Fragrant too! This beauty is very hardy and almost thornless. Plus there is the sweet backstory of its naming. Several years ago I did a reveiw of this rose for the American Rose Society. If you would like to see the video, read on here. It is sometimes hard to find but is currently being sold at Antique Rose Emporium and Heirloom Roses. Links provided.

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The Generous Gardener (DA Climber) 

One of the most easy-care David Austin roses I have! It is stunning and fragrant! And the spring bloom is not to be missed. It will repeat later in the summer too. Available through David Austin Website here.

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The Generous Gardener is on the left and Music Box on the right. That is Quietness in the very back middle section. This picture was taken 3 years ago before the evergreen next to them encroached so much! The space is getting so tight that I believe Music Box will have to be moved and maybe Quietness too.

Mother of Pearl

This grandiflora is about 3-4” tall and 2′ wide and just blooms and blooms. There is a nice soft fragrance and the blooms stay on the bush for a very long time. The color is one of the best and blends well with so many companions. This rose has few thorns and I think would be great in a container (7 gal or greater sized pot).

Available at Heirloom Roses here, Antique Rose Emporium here, and Roses Unlimited. Roses Unlimited has a website but not online ordering. To order you must call. Website here.

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PRUNERS

Through the years I have had Corona, Felcos, Fiskers, Craftsman, and Barnel pruners – with a few generic ones thrown in too. Most were wonderful products! 

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For the past 8 or so years, Barnel pruners have been my go-to for regular pruning! It fits my hand so well. These pruners are ergomonic (After 3 hand surgeries- this is paramount!) and they are hard to destroy. Two features I value!  I am not easy on my tools or my hands. I get “lost” in the garden as I dive into my work and sometimes that means the tools get “lost” too.

Mr. G has always been able to “revive” and sharpen these and get me back in business.  They are easy to find for purchase too… check out my friend Wendy – The Rose Gardener’s product line HERE

Well, there was that time when my pruners were lost and I didn’t find them for years. They were Craftsman with a lifetime guarantee. HA! But, I didn’t try to cash in on that!😂

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When I need to do some snipping… and I do a lot of snipping, these snips are just perfect. I have so many of these and I often give them as gifts. Very inexpensive, lightweight, super sharp and they last and last! More info here

Friends, if you have “favorites” that you recommend, leave them in the comments below. I’d love to know! Who knows I may start itching to try something new!

TRENDS!

I love reading about trends – don’t you? Here are two great articles of what we might see in 2021…

2021 GARDEN TRENDS (GARDEN DESIGN)

  1. Gardening. Period. (LOVE IT!)
  2. Gardening Sustainably
  3. Creating Your Own Garden Getaway
  4. Growing Food in All Kinds of Spaces
  5. Getting Creative with Containers
  6. Choosing One Color and Going For It
  7. Learning and Buying Online
  8. Adding More Houseplants
  9. Getting Kids Involved

Images and article here.

2021 GARDEN TRENDS (COUNTRY LIVING)

  1. Balcony Gardening.
  2. Wild Gardens
  3. Inside Outside
  4. Tiny Gardens
  5. Raised Bed Gardens
  6. Permaculture Gardening
  7. White Gardens
  8. Windowsill Gardens
  9. Grey Gardens
  10. Cottage Gardens (YES!)

Images and full article here.


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Hallelujah! It’s just 49 days until spring. 🌷🌼💐 We can do this! Seriously, the potting shed is saving me. More about that next week! 😘

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BLOOM THYME FRIDAY: GETTING ORGANIZED

With the reduced schedule that came with COVID and retirement (which came within a few days of each other), I have had a year to go through drawers, cabinets, and closets. I have unearthed treasures and a great deal of no longer needed items and a few items that I wonder if I ever needed. And, don’t even know where they came from! 🙄 So, in a few places in our home, we now have space to grow. It may not last but I have enjoyed the process. Our home is small and I like opening a drawer that is NOT full. 

THIS WEEK IT’S TIME FOR SEED STARTING PREP….

  • What do I have? 
  • What do I need? 
  • What do I want?

WHAT DO I HAVE?

I have plenty of seed starting trays and pots for “potting up”. I saved almost every pot that came from the garden centers last year – well the black ones anyway. Even in the garden and potting shed, I like for things to match. 🤦‍♀️  It was sort of like the stories you hear from World War times, I was saving everything as we didn’t (and still don’t really) know where things are going as far as the pandemic is concerned. Remember those empty shelves in the grocery store? We still rarely see well-stocked shelves of toilet paper and paper towels!!

There are even things I have, that I never had before …. Carry out containers! Before COVID we either went out to eat or cooked. Now carry out is a common option. So, I’ve been saving carry out containers. There are so nice. I think they will make fabulous mini seed starting greenhouses! Mr. G drilled holes in them for drainage!
I’m wondering what you saved last year that you had never saved before?

WHAT DO I NEED? 

Seeds. I have some leftovers from last year but not very many. They were hard to find last year! I was very glad that I had been somewhat of a hoarder where seeds were concerned.

While “hoarding” is not my nature, having the “extra” seeds on hand was a big help. I also learned that seeds last longer than we think. Some of these had been around a long time! With limited access, my son and I were trading back and forth to get the seeds we needed and could share!

To date, I have seed orders coming in, have purchased seeds from Lowes and have one more seed order ready to go. I thought I was “done” ordering but the Select Seed catalog came and I have sticky tabs on about every page. 😉 We are quickly moving beyond the “need” stage.

WHAT DO I WANT?

The past two years I have tuned in to English garden shows and podcasts and follow a ton of UK gardeners online. I love them! This has led to a few purchases. First was my beloved Hori Hori knife. I don’t know how I lived without that one.  Thanks Rosie!

Now I am obsessed with “ROOT TRAINERS.” I have been gardening for 35+ years and I had never heard of root trainers until I had so many UK friends!! So, I bought some to try. I will use for sweet peas as they recommend. Now I have grown sweet peas without root trainers for most of those 35 years but still, the root trainers beckoned me and this could be the best sweet pea year ever!! I’m up for that!

ORGANIZING BOOKS

We are not going to talk specifically about how many garden books I have. Remember when I said I did not have hoarding tendencies – I guess I am a “selective hoarder”. Don’t ask Mr. G about my garden book “habit”. Friends, they are everywhere – I use them as a primary decorating tool. They are in most every room except the bathroom and laundry room! Mercy. Mercy. I tried to “reduce” books and maybe 2 – 3 found their way to the box. I’ll try again later. 😅

As  you know the potting shed is tiny, but there are books — lots and lots of books. Shelves of books. Last night I climbed on a very sturdy chair and started rearranging books! Getting some I want at my finger tips during the spring! And, some that I love dearly as old friends and don’t want them far from me. 

My desk is getting a bit crowded…

Several books that are now at my finger tips are old “friends” as we have been through many garden seasons together like Smith & Hawkins Book of Outdoor Gardening (1996). The first 16 pages are of beautiful gardens providing all the inspiration you will need to take their advice and create your own masterpiece! 

Others books are fairly new like Monty Don’s  Down to Earth, which I bought in England while with my daughter last year – makes me feel closer to her to see it. The book is written just as Monty talks. If you watch Gardeners’ World you can hear him as you read. Chocked full of inspiration and gardening information based on his 50 years of gardening. Of course, US gardeners need to tweak some of the information dependent on their growing zone and taking note of plants that do well in England but might be invasive in their neck of the woods. 

There’s Tasha Tudor’s Garden and another Smith & Hawkins book, The Potting Shed. I get almost giddy touching the books and rearranging them. What’s your favorite garden book? 

ORGANIZING PHOTOS

The organizing process even extends to my iPhone. I am going through apps I no longer need and photos.

Oh my word, how many pictures do you have on your iPhone??? After spending nearly an hour going through pictures and deleting what I didn’t want or need, I looked at the total 16, 483. WHAT??? How did that happen? So, now I am getting them into albums. It will probably take me until spring to accomplish this. But the upside is going through all the pictures!!

Ran across one of my very favorite images of the ‘Queen of Bourbon’ as she looked in 2013 – she’s at the top of this post. ⬆️ I don’t think she has been that spectacular since then!

And, photos from a day my daughter and I made flower crowns.

I am very grateful for the convenience and quality of iPhone photos but seem to spend a lot of time looking for images. I think having albums will help. If you have any tips, I’d love to hear them!

Hope you have a great weekend. Til next time … bloom wherever you are planted!

BLOOM THYME FRIDAY: It’s Not Too Early

It is definitely not too early to be thinking about what you will grow this spring and buying seeds. For me, now more than ever, keeping busy in the positive pursuit of spring is healing.

I keep remembering last year when it was so hard to get seeds and even plants due to the lockdown and also due to the number of people planting a garden – many for the very first time. Plants and seeds flew off the shelves and from the online stores.

Aren’t seeds just the most fascinating things. They do the miraculous. Most are very small yet they are packed with everything a plant needs! I doubt I will ever loose my fascination with the process. When you start plants from seeds, you have a front row seat to the miracle.

My front row seat last year …

I placed my first seed order in December to Renee’s Garden. I highly recommend Renee’s Garden as they have a great selection of seeds – many old fashion varieties and the seed packets are so pretty. Their website is full of how-to videos and fact sheets as well as recipes. My recent order was for sweet peas: Blue Celeste, Zinfandel, April in Paris and French Alouette Larkspur.

I had the best sweet peas ever last year. The seeds I planted were ones I bought in the UK … Sarah Ravens Midnight Blues. So pretty and they bloomed up until frost.

Larkspur is one of my very favorites However, it has not done well for me in recent years. Last year I did have one area where a few self seeded! That seems to be the key — if they self seed and make it through the winter they are strong and gorgeous. Yesterday when I was walking in the garden I noticed that last year’s larkspur has self seeded and the area is thick with baby larkspur. Let’s hope the winter is kind to them.

Our local Lowe’s already has their seeds in stock – the earliest I ever remember. I hope there is as much excitement about planting this year as there was last.

Another thing that does my heart good are these sweet boys. Here they are learning about seeds last year. As you can see, their momma is a very creative teacher. She has been inspiring me her entire life. (Click images to enlarge)

If you want to know more about seeds, I have a book to recommend. My friend, Julie Thompson-Adolf’s beautiful book….

STARTING & SAVING SEEDS … grow the perfect vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers for your garden.

This book makes you want to grow all your plants from seeds and with Julie’s help we just might be able to do so! Each page is filled with beautiful images and helpful information … practical information … real gardener information. I particularly like the Trouble Shooting section and info on saving seeds. I always save a few but it is an area I want to do more of.

Whether you are a newbie at growing from seed or have been doing it for years, I think you will find this book inspirational and helpful. More book info here.

 

THE YEAR OF …

The National Garden Bureau is celebrating 100 years. Congratulations!

Each year the NGB selects one annual, one perennial, one bulb crop, one edible and one shrub as our “Year of the” crops. Plants are chosen because they are popular, easy-to-grow, widely adaptable, genetically diverse, and versatile.

2021 NGB YEAR OF PLANTS…

Year of the Hibiscus
Year of the Garden Bean
Year of the Hyacinth
Year of the Monarda (Very excited about these!)
Year of the Sunflower

This year I am declaring the Bloom Thyme Cottage Garden Year Of…

BASIL

Yes, this year I am taking a new look at all varieties of basil due to a random purchase of a “new to me” basil. I bought it because it was available when others were sold out last spring. I don’t even remember it’s name. Oddly I don’t have the tag and I keep almost every tag. I believe it was a Thai basil. Needless to say, I will enjoy several varieties.

We used more basil last summer than ever before. We fell in love with a tomato salad and the “unnamed” basil was perfect in the salad.

I am preparing my Burpee order and have several basils on the list.

Proven Winners has new basil out that I hope to find … Amazel Basil. It is said to be resistant to powdery mildew (which would be so nice) and it’s sterile – meaning that the plant will continue to produce shoots and leaves and is less likely to lose its flavor when the flowers come.  More about Amazel Basil here.

Do you have a basil that you particularly like?

Here is the yummy Tomato Salad Recipe

GARDEN JOURNALS

Several have asked me about garden journals. I have one that I can definitely recommend. I actually bought it last year but didn’t use it. The first quarter of 2020 I was super busy and traveling, then BOOM March came and lockdown came with it. I got busy in the garden but the journal somehow seemed too pretty to use with the current world vibe. BTW, I did keep an almost daily list of LIFE & GARDEN observations through all of 2020 and have started that again. Sort of a highlight and “lowlight” listing. When I look back, I can hardly believe some of the things I wrote. What a year.

A YEAR IN THE GARDEN … A GUIDED JOURNAL

This journal gives you practical spaces to create, plan and record but also encourages you to be a better observer of things around you and jot down your observations.

I am a self professed page layout snob. And I love the pages of the journal and the illustrations. It is soothing just to open. I love the prompts too. I am not waiting another year to use it. It is a go now. It’s on Amazon here.

 

Friends, thanks for joining me today. It has been a difficult week for us all. I find garden friends and garden work whether inside or out helps me better cope with the world around me and I am grateful.

I hope your garden world is comforting to you as you begin planning for what will come this spring. And for those of you in warmer places  – enjoy every minute in your garden. A special thanks to those who are sharing beautiful, colorful pictures on social media. You give us hope and bring us joy as we make our way through the grayness of winter and these tumultuous times.

Until next time…  be well and be safe. xo

Come to me, all who are weary and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

BLOOM THYME FRIDAY: Happy New Year!

2020 threw more curveballs than we could catch. We found our world on sand and we were shifting around trying to get our bearing! In the process, we missed so many things that we can’t get back.

Yes, 2020 changed us, but we learned and we grew and in many ways, we did get our “bearing”… we had new ideas, we found new ways. It’s what we do.

My prayer for 2021 is that God will take what we have experienced and learned and push us forward “to exceedingly more than we can ask or imagine.” It’s what He does.

THE 2020 GARDEN

Do you know what was the biggest surprise of my 2020 garden experience? I thought that with all the extra time in my garden …  the garden would be the best ever!

IT. WASN’T.

The worst late freeze in the history of Indiana happened on Mother’s Day weekend. And we had two of those freezes setting the tone for some big disappointments. I lost many of my established lilies and several of my peonies didn’t have a chance. To save as much as we could, we turned our garden into a  pot and tent village —- but in a garden this size, you just can’t cover everything.

Japanese Beetles came to visit in mid-June and I saw the last one on the first of September… a record for sure! Actually, we didn’t have as many as we do some years … but they just hung on! (More on the beetle attack and treatments here.)

More “varmints” than ever also came to visit. Raccoons, deer, huge groundhog, and squirrels (oh so so many squirrels digging things up and ruining every squash and pumpkin plant!)

In the good news/bad news department… we had two huge cats. These didn’t look like house cats or even barn cats. These were cats on their own if you know what I mean! While they tried to make homes in our raised beds and created havoc for the birds, we did notice that since their visits, we had NO moles or voles. Coincidence? Maybe. But, it was nice to be spared all the tunnels!

HIGHLIGHTS

Ghislaine de Feligonde (A Hybrid Multiflora rambler that dates back to 1916.)

I purchased mine from High Country Roses.

This was her third year and she covered the side of the potting shed beautifully. AND though she is primarily a one-time bloomer… She did repeat a few times with limited but very welcome blooms.

CLEMATIS

Blue Angel and Etoile Violette covered the arbors so beautifully and made the June garden extra special.

JASMINA AND PEGGY MARTIN

These two roses proved to be excellent companions!

EASY ELEGANCE ROSES

Except for a few blooms in the back, all of the roses in this picture are Easy Elegance roses. They are power bloomers!! Calypso, Music Box, Little Mischief

NEW CUTTING FLOWER BED

I turned my largest raised bed into a cutting garden and the previously mentioned large “wild” cats tried to make their home in this bed. The seeds and seedlings didn’t have a chance so I replanted with what I could find… (not easy to do when most everything was closed down during the early season). I went from Plan A to B and then no to C. But, the goal was achieved, I ended up with loads of flowers and it was fun.

JUNE…

AUGUST…

DAHLIAS

Since my daughter lives in England now, I became infatuated with Dahlias and planted several. I loved them. Most did very well… so well that they toppled as I did not provide enough structure for them. This one toppled elegantly over my potting table! I loved her there.

She grew in a pot beside the bench… but topped beautifully on the bench for the support I did not give her…

THYME OUT

One of the best additions to the garden was my new work area THYME OUT.

In 2019 we started transforming an area that had become overgrown with the horribly invasive Japanese honeysuckle into a large workspace for me. Originally, there was one potting bench there. But this spring Mr. G built me two work tables to add. I named it THYME OUT and used it all summer. I can’t wait to get back out there!

Occasionally at least one of the tables was tidy!

Great place to make a big mess!

And, a great place to store tools, pots and garden things!

A NEW YEAR…

Like many of you, for the last several years I have been intentional about choosing a word of the year. Last year it was actually 2 words: Every Day (Read more here.). Boy, I certainly did not know what “every day” would bring!

This year I am picking 3 words…

SLOW   STEADY   SAVOR

I’m not looking for fireworks. I am looking for something to build on that gets us to the ultimate destination. Praying the virus is conquered, our world begins to open, and people will be together.

I don’t want to miss a thing.

I can already predict my 2021 highlight… the day my family is together again. SAVOR I WILL!

Happy New Year my friends.

Traditions, Stories and Rabbit Holes

Christmas – a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus. There are few holidays more historical or steeped in more tradition than Christmas. … Nativity, Decorations, Santa, Advent, Caroling, Poinsettias, Gifts and so many more. I love tradition – I can almost break out in song at the mention of the word. Remember Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof!!!

When our children were small our life was filled to the brim with Christmas traditions – We wanted them to know who and why we celebrated. We wanted them to have a stong foundation. We wanted them to have all the wonderful memories that Christmas traditions can bring. Oh the joy Mr. G and I experienced in the wonder on their sweet faces.

We now have the pleasure of so much wonder and excitement coming from these little candy canes! We will sure miss them this year! 😢

This was from last year. They have grown so much since then!

This season I have been reading Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas by Ace Collins. It is a fascinating book that taps into my love of tradition and history!

SOME OF MY FAVORITE TRADITIONS…

Christmas Cards: I love receiving them and sending them. A time to share warm wishes and get an update from friends scattered about. Now more than ever. I hear that writing notes/letters, in general, has increased during the pandemic. I am so glad for that. I have sent more notes too but not enough – I plan to send more! In a world of “virtual” I have deeply enjoyed the written notes that I have received this year from others.

Christmas Cookies: Oh the joys of Christmas baking and sharing! My favorite cookie to bake is Grandma B’s Fruitcake Cookies. (recipe here) Even if you think you hate fruitcake, I suspect you will love these cookies too.

My favorite cookie to receive is my sister-in-law’s Pizzelles. A special memory from 2020 happened before the pandemic when our Ohio family came for a Christmas visit in February (so many schedules to work around). We had a traditional Christmas feast and Aunt Cindy treated us by making her family’s traditional cookie – Pizzelles! And, mentored her nephews through this fine art too! Aunt Cindy is from a big, beautiful Italian family where a multitude of wonderful recipes and traditions come from!

I don’t even want to admit how many of those I ate.

Christmas Music: We are definitely on the side of early Christmas music. Hearing Bing sing White Christmas is appropriate and encouraged after Halloween as needed. This season we decided to take advantage of Spotify and created wonderful playlists of all our favorites!

About Poinsettias:

Traditional or not, I will admit I have a love/hate relationship with Poinsettias. (My apologies to Mr. Poinsett) They just don’t fit with my Christmas “vibe,” especially this year. I like a soft, quiet, peaceful, twinkle light filled Christmas with fresh evergreens and pinecones. Then out of the blue comes the Poinsettia in every store! Screaming loudly and proudly that IT IS CHRISTMAS TIME! (In her best “Elf” impression) You gotta appreciate her enthusiasm! So most years I succumb to the loud lure of her call to have a real Christmas experience you must have a poinsettia. Then she comes home with me and sadly she just doesn’t fit in — demanding so much attention with those big beautiful bracts! Anyone else???

About Gifts:

Gift-giving can be a sweet part of Christmas. The wisemen certainly set the stage for gift giving. It can also be so “commercial” and can put undo strain on people. We each have to find our way with our own how and why of giving gifts.

While I do very much believe that it is more blessed to give than to receive … I just have to tell you about a special gift I received!

Look at this! While it was not a Christmas gift, recently a special friend sent me a book that I will treasure. It is a classic… “How to Grow Roses by J. Horace McFarland and Robert Pyle. Two men that are giants in the world of roses! Thank you Carrie!

This book sent me down a rabbit hole of wanting to know more and more about these two great men.

Want to go down the rabbit hole with me?

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

J. HORACE McFARLAND…

J. Horace McFarland was the son of nurseryman and publisher George McFarland, who settled in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania after coming home from the Civil War. Young Horace worked in his father’s nursery, but also gained experience setting type in his father’s publishing business, printing seed lists and later nursery catalogs. At age 30, in 1889, Horace McFarland purchased the vacant Mount Pleasant School where he opened his own publishing company, the J. Horace McFarland Company. He studied the newly invented color-photoengraving process, and subsequently gained contracts with major establishments to publish handsome nursery catalogs, numerous magazines, and significantly, L. Hyde Bailey’s monumental four-volume horticultural work, the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture.

J. Horace McFarland was named the Father of the American Rose Society.

One Hundred years after J. Horace McFarland became affiliated with the American Rose Society, the organization’s Board of Directors unanimously voted to bestow the title of “Father of the American Rose Society” at a convention in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Though he was not instrumental in the founding of the American Rose Society (the ARS had been in existence for about 20+ years before nurseryman-publisher J. Horace McFarland joined the organization), he was instrumental in turning the commercial growers’ organization into one that welcomed — and served — ordinary home gardeners and lovers of roses. McFarland was and is the most significant contributor to the organization. To this day, he remains the most remarkable and most loved rosarian the American Rose Society has known.

Read more here.

ROBERT PILE…

Robert Pyle was an internationally known nurseryman as well as a noted authority on roses. Throughout his life, he served in many capacities of several horticulture organizations including the American Rose Society, the National Association of Plant Patent Owners, the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboretums, the American Horticultural Society.

FROM STAR ROSES & PLANTS WEBSITE...

Over 75 years ago, Robert Pyle laid the foundation that still exists at Star® Roses and Plants today: A beautiful garden begins with exceptional plants. By establishing friendships with nurseries and hybridizers all over the world, Pyle expanded our horticultural palette. These friendships have allowed us to work with some of the world’s most innovative nurseries to introduce plants that have passed the ultimate test — the rigorous and diverse American climate. For some amazing pictures and more history, read on here.

THE PEACE ROSE

Most likely the most famous rose of all time, the Peace Rose, was introduced by Robert Pyle in 1943.

THE ROSE OF THE CENTURY

The video below tells the beautiful historical story of the Peace Rose. As you watch, you will see how many of the great rose giants intersect during one of the most tumultuous times in our history to bring us this beautiful symbol.

Hope you enjoyed your trip down the rabbit hole! Welcome to my world! 🤦‍♀️

BACK TO CHRISTMAS

Our Christmas decor is slowly coming together. We are savoring every minute. As is the order of the day for us – it is peaceful and adorned with twinkle lights.

We have had wonderful weather – just perfect for gathering evergreens and plant material from the garden for swags, wreaths, and other decor for inside and out.

For the first time, I am using battery-powered candles in some areas. I do appreciate them however, they will never completely replace the enchantment that a real flickering candle gives. BUT what a bonus the timer is! 🕯

My Annual Boxwood Tree…

CHRISTMAS DINNER

Our original plan was to be in England for Christmas. While our hearts break for the cancellation, we have decided to embrace our reality and we will celebrate in traditional English style. And use modern technology for our visit with our loves!

ON THE MENU…

  • Standing Rib Roast
  • Yorkshire Pudding
  • Creamed Peas
  • Roasted Root Vegetables
  • Wassail
  • Mincemeat Pies – ALL THE WAY FROM ENGLAND!!! 🇬🇧 Thanks to our sweet daughter!

When I think of my own “Plan B” celebration, I think of Mary and I am sure that her son’s birth in a drafty cave with animals for company and a feeding trough for a baby bed was not her Plan A. Whether we are on Plan A, B or C, God uses it all for his glory. And, we are so grateful!

And she (Mary) brought forth her first-born Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7)

Merry Christmas my friends. Wishing you joy!

A Cup of Christmas Tea

This is an article I originally posted in 2012 but the recipe is still delish & the book is fantastic. . . . . . . . . . . 

For as long as I can remember, every year we had Christmas Tea. I’m not sure where my mom found the recipe originally but it was a popular addition to “community” and “church” cookbooks in the 80s. Two other names given this tea is Spice Tea or more often … Russian Tea – for reasons I do not know. But I do know It is warm and citrusy and so so so very good!

From Southern Living…

One of the earliest references for “Russian Tea” was in The New York Times in December 1882 in “an article containing advice from a doctor on how to stay hydrated while riding a tricycle recreationally.” The original recipes referred to a simple iced tea served with lemon and sometimes sugar. A 1907 edition of the San Antonio Gazette included a recipe that featured the now trademark combination of lemon, orange, sugar, and tea. Since no one can compete with a classic glass of sweet tea, though, in the South, Russian Tea became synonymous with a hot drink flavored with oranges or lemons and spiced with vanilla, rum, cinnamon, and sometimes preserved cherries.

 

OUR TRADITION

Making Christmas Tea is a tradition our family continues. Each year we make tons of tea to share. Last night was my 2nd round of tea making.

All packed up and ready to go…

Christmas Tea

THE BOOK

In the 80s Tom Hegg, an American author, teacher, and theatrical professional wrote a book called, A Cup of Christmas Tea.

This book tells the story of a young man’s “obligation” turned into a great blessing. It is a favorite tradition of our family to slow down for an evening, read the book, and enjoy a cup of tea together.

It is a short and sweet book and if you’d like to hear it beautifully read to you, check out the video below…

THE RECIPE

2 cups Tang or orange instant drink mix
1 1/2 cups sugar (white)
1/2 cup instant tea powder
1 cup instant lemonade mix
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix well and store in an airtight container.

Use 1 -3 T of mix in a mug. Stir in boiling water. Adjust to taste.

Christmas is just around the corner. Enjoy all the season has to offer. Sit down, relax and enjoy a cup of Christmas tea. And, do what we do each year, read A Cup of Christmas Tea.