BLOOM THYME FRIDAY: Hope, Faith and Bulbs

HOPE & FAITH ABOUND

Planting bulbs in the fall shows we have faith in the unseen and hope for the future. Add to that a good splash of hope in advertising!

Regardless of their size or shape, bulbs are not attractive or very impressive. But they are small mighty miracles!!! From such humble beginnings, we are promised immense spring beauty just at the time we will need it most. We read the catalog descriptions and labels on the bags and dream of what will come — making getting out in the cold and often damp weather to dig holes and get them in their new home worth it – as an investment in our late winter mental health! We will start looking out the window for their beautiful metamorphosis and, the beginning of the gardening season! 🌷

FERTILIZERS & PESTS

I never fertilize my bulbs at planting time. The main reason is that most of the critters who are overly fond of my garden love organic fertilizer. I do not need to encourage them.

Even without any fertilizer around they still are attracted to the site where the bulbs reside. Squirrels were a big problem last year with the bulbs. In one area they dug and tossed out the daffodil bulbs 3 times before I decided to top-dress the area with some diatomaceous earth. Party over! This year I’m using cayenne pepper and some fencing to ward off unwanted visitors.

We have had a bumper crop of acorns this year in our neighborhood, maybe the cute little acorns will keep the cute little squirrels busy.

TOOLS OF CHOICE

AUGER

Around here we love power tools and this one is fabulous. The best tool for planting larger bulbs with little disturbance to the surrounding area. I purchased mine through Amazon. Link. We also have a long auger that we purchased at Lowes.

DIBBLER

Just received this as a surprise from Mr. G and already I am questioning how I have lived without this tool! It was perfect for planting the garlic and other small bulbs! Gets in tight places without disturbing other plants. Link.

SHOVEL

Many of my daffodils are planted in big groups and if there is plenty of space, the shovel works great!

WHAT I’M PLANTING THIS YEAR

THALIA  NARCISSUS

Monty Don’s (Gardener’s World UK) ‘Thalia’ daffodils had me drooling through episode after episode this spring. Luckily I was able to find them at Brent and Becky’s Bulbs. Take a look here.

Here’s a screenshot from his social media post this spring… Drooling yet?
ICE KING DAFFODILS (Bag from Lowes)
One of my favorites!
PINK MIX (Bag from Lowes)

I love pink and it is always fun to see what we get!

SNOW DROPS (GALANTHUS):  Mount Everest

Our local woods are filled with snowdrops that we were able to enjoy more than ever this spring because of the lockdown. Add to that the pictures my daughter sent from England of fields of these beauties — both convincing me I needed some just outside my window. These came from Brent and Becky’s too… Info here.

ALLIUM

I planted alliums for the first time last year and just loved them! So of course I need more. This year I am adding Perian Blue (Lowes} and more Purple Sensation (American Meadows).

GARLIC

Just like last year, I am planting only one variety of garlic – Brown Rose (From the Garlic Store). Yes, the first year it was for the name and now that we have enjoyed it, I am planting it for the flavor! The garlic is in the ground with a good layer of cayenne pepper to make it less attractive to varmints…

FAMILY STORY

Each year we plant daffodils in memory of our beloved Uncle Tony — Mr. G’s brother who passed from us much too soon from a long, gallantly fought battle with cancer. He was an artist and a gardener and he loved daffodils. In one of my last conversations with him, he talked about his daffodils and was excited to see them bloom. He did not get to see them bloom in his garden on earth that year, but I know he was greeted with daffodils and so much more that spring. After he passed, I bundled daffodil bulbs in burlap and passed out for people to plant in his honor. I was grateful that so many were excited to do just that. I hope they remember this special man when they bloom.

FALL FOOD

With being home more and cooking so much more, we are constantly adapting recipes to better suit two people. We love acorn squash and usually just eat it plain. However, I have been seeing all kinds of recipes for stuffed acorn squash and they look so delicious. This week we had our own version. It turned out so well I thought you might like to try it.

COOKING SQUASH:

Cut and remove seeds from squash. Brush with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on roasting pan. I baked my cut side down but you can do either.

Bake at 425 for 20 -25 minutes or until fork-tender.

FILLLING:

1 cup of cooked Trader Joes Harvest Grains Mix
1 teaspoon dried Thyme (a bit more if it is fresh)
1 teaspoon dried Sage
1/3 cup chopped and toasted pistachio nuts
1 T oil or melted butter
Salt and pepper to taste (we used a lot of pepper)
We also sprinkled on some red chili flakes
Mix all ingredients and add the warm filling to baked squash as soon as it comes out of the oven. So simple and delicious. Very filling and good for you too.

If you try it let me know what you think and if you have another simple fall recipe, share that too in the comments below so we can all enjoy!

Whether you’re planting or cooking today… all the very best. 

BLOOM THYME FRIDAY: Climbing Roses and Fall Treats


We’ve had some beautiful weather — just perfect to work on the climbing roses and I have several! If you are interested, here they are….

  • Peggy Martin (3)
  • New Dawn (3)
  • Jasmina 
  • Francis E. Lester (more rambler than climber)
  • Ghislaine de Feligonde 
  • Bathsheba
  • The Generous Gardener (2)
  • Veilchenblau 
  • Papi Delbard
  • Honeymoon Arborose
  • Lady Ashe

Mercy, I sort of forgot I had so many until I wrote the list! I told Mr. G this week I really do not need any more climbers. 🙄  I hope he forgets I said that. 

I love them! Nothing adds charm and beauty to a cottage garden like climbing roses (or clematis for that matter but that’s a story for another day). 

DO CLIMBING ROSES REALLY CLIMB?

So, do climbing roses actually climb? NO, they send out long arching canes that we shape and secure. 
In the last few weeks, my climbers have been sending long, long canes. Some are 10’ – 15’.


So, I am doing “ladder time.” Even though I am not the most comfortable on a ladder and even though I do get the occasional prick. (Ever tried to tie up New Dawn??? OUCH.) .. I consider it a wonderful job. While up there I am looking over the garden – making plans as I gaze. And while I am shaping up the climbers, I almost get giddy as I visualize how gorgeous they will be in the spring as a result of my love touch. 

MOST COMMON QUESTION ON CLIMBING ROSES  

A question I hear often is “why do my climbing roses only bloom on the tips?” The answer to that question is they bloom on laterals. So to produce more lateral canes, you need to secure the long main canes horizontally – this forces lateral growth all down the cane and those laterals will bear flowers.  Note: Work with your canes to gently shape – not a harsh angle that might damage the cane. Ask me how I know this…. Yes, experience. 🤦‍♀️ 

This is my 1st year Peggy Martin secured this way…
Fifth-year Peggy Martin – secure and happy…

Another common question is what do I use to tie my roses. 

As you can imagine through the years I have used just about everything — including pantyhose – and they work. #truth  However, my tie of choice is the green stretchy tape. Check it out on Amazon here


PRUNING CLIMBING ROSES

My rule of thumb is don’t do an overall prune of climbers — especially for the first three years while they are getting established. Pruning climbing roses is very different from pruning shrub roses or hybrid teas. Your task from the start and ongoing will be to trim out dead, diseased, or any cane that does not contribute to the overall health and beauty of the rose. As you watch your climbing rose grow you will begin to see what I mean. #trustme 

ROSE TERROR 😱

Just in time for Halloween, I have a scary video for you to watch. Be sure you watch all the way to the end! In this video, Ben Hanna, owner of Heirloom Roses, is pruning his very established climbing roses. Even I panic when I watch this video. In 15 minutes he will terrorize and teach you!

REMEMBER, STAY UNTIL THE END and see the rewards!


Another pruning video that is very helpful and not quite so scary is this video by Paul Zimmerman. Paul will entertain you and educate you on the many facets of training roses! 


Favorite line from this video… “sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind to the rose.” #truth 


As with all plant care, visit your plants regularly and they will help guide you to what they need. 


BLOOM THYME

We started the week with one night dipping down to 32 and some of the roses didn’t like it. Some of them didn’t mind at all. 

 

If you are like me and your garden season is ending, start following Michele Endersby on Facebook or Instagram. Her season is just getting started. Her artist’s eye and love of roses might just get us through the winter. 

FALL TREAT

One of our family’s favorite fall treats is CARAMEL DIP for apples. (You can dip anything you want but yummy fall apples are ooh la la!)

I have been making this simple recipe for more than 30 years. I first put it on my blog in 2012 and it continues to be one of the most downloaded pages. If you want to see the original post, read on here.


RECIPE

1 Package of Kraft Caramels  Note: I buy Kraft Caramels in 11oz packages (40 caramels)
1 Stick of Butter
1 Can of Sweetened Condensed Milk

That’s it! Stir over low heat until everything is melted and blended. This takes about 20 minutes.

Do stir constantly … this mixture BURNS VERY EASILY!! 

I love packaging the dip in little jelly jars … 15 – 30 seconds in the microwave and it is perfect. If they last long enough, store in the refrigerator!

What are your favorite fall treats?

NEXT TIME

Next time we might have to talk about bulbs. Little boxes keep being delivered. Kinda like Christmas!


Until then, be happy and safe my friends. 😘

BLOOM THYME FRIDAY: Has your weatherman been cussing?

This week a friend told me that she actually heard the weatherman say, “today I’m going to use the “F” word.” All gardeners in my zone know exactly what that means. 🥶FROST🥶. The beginning of the end. 😩 

So far we have hovered over the frost line but not by much. Our typical “frost date” is October 10 but we’ve had snow in early October so best to be ready. Around here we have launched into winter prep at warp speed. Finalizing projects, getting plants planted, gathering and cleaning up containers for storage, finish tying up climbers, and my biggest job – taking down THYME OUT. It’s been a spring and summer of incredible fun setting up and working in this space! If you are new here, you may not know the background, so here is where we started and where we are now.

Once there was a potting bench in a cultivated area… but slowly over time the horrible, invasive Japanese Honeysuckle (link) took over and choked out all the pretty stuff. Well to be honest Japanese Honeysuckle is pretty with the fragrant blooms and pretty berries. But, it takes over and chokes out everything in its path.

Last fall I took my handy recip saw and got started clearing Japanese Honeysuckle. Little did I know that we would have so much extra time in the spring ! Our first COVID project was what became THYME OUT – my outdoor workspace. There was plenty to do, cut down trees, remove debris, stumps, bring in extra soil, put up some fencing and Mr. G added to his list — building my work tables. Let it be known… I only wanted one small table. 😳 He had extra time and as he watched me work in the space, he said you need more! Yay!!! What a gift! I practically emptied the potting shed with pots and tools! Now it’s “Thyme” to take everything back inside for the winter.

 

While we are on the subject of COVID projects…

One evening I dreamed out loud about having some small countertop size drying boxes. 

The next day Mr. G said, “What size do you want the boxes? I have some extra wood!” 😳 WOW. Having so much time at home sure changed production time! In a few days, I had these! They are 9″ x 13″ and fit in so many places!

Up in the attic, there are large drying racks that I used back in the day when I made herbal arrangements, wreaths, and Christmas Tree Decor as a little “cottage industry.” But these boxes are just the perfect size for drying herbs for cooking and for tea! ☕️

Tea is almost ready. (Rose Petals, Lavender, Lemon Verbena, Spearmint, Peppermint, and Sweet Mint)

 

MORE DOING / LESS THINKING

This year we’ve needed less thinking time and more doing time! And, our answer to that was PROJECTS. We have always been a project family (Just ask our kids – they are project people too!) and this works for us. Were there projects that you were able to accomplish with your extra time?

I’ve always heard that when God closes a door, he opens a window. These days I  that happening over and over. While we are so grateful for what we do have, we never stopped missing our family, friends, and freedoms. And pray for the days when we are together again. 

BLOOM THYME

Don’t tell ‘The Faun’ winter is coming soon, she is happily in denial!!  #metoo 

 

TACKLE THE CHILL WITH CHILI

With the chill in the air, we decided to make chili. We used a new recipe from John and Donna Hefner. This is the recipe that John likes to make for Colt’s tailgating and we had the opportunity to try this chili at a chili cookoff for the Indianapolis Rose society a couple of years ago. It is so good … so if you want to try a chili recipe that has a special ingredient… here you go.

Yes, cocoa!!

 

UNTIL NEXT TIME…

Friends, take care, and let’s keep getting creative with how we can safely fill our days and live out our purpose. I’d love to hear your ideas! 😘

Bloom Thyme Friday: 2020 Standouts: Part 2

In the spring I was gifted two ‘Lil Miss Sunshine’ Caryopteris shrubs to test in my garden. They have reached the status of 2020 Standout for sure

  • I love the color of the leaves.
  • I love the compact size.
  • I love the blooms. 
  • And, most of all I love how well it pairs with Music Box roses. 

I have several Music Box roses and they are standouts every year but adding ‘Lil Miss Sunshine’ as a companion turned out to be a great decision. Just look at how fabulous these two neighbors work together. 

Even though my garden is a cottage style garden and it is packed with many, many plants, I am careful about neighbors for the roses. Roses need good air circulation and are extremely grateful for plants that can help hide their “naked knees” that tend to happen by summer’s end. And, summer’s end is when ‘Lil Miss Sunshine’ goes from a pretty little shrub to a STANDOUT. Look at these soft, lovely, blue blooms…  What better colors to pair with Music Box. These two plants have been so good together all year. I will be adding more Lil Miss Sunshines in the future and if you are in Zones 5 – 9, you might want this little cutie too.

Music Box is more vibrant this time of year.
 
Don’t you just love these beautiful blooms! Pollinators sure find them yummy. More info Lil Miss Sunshine here

Hydrangeas are just wonderful right now and ripe for the picking. This week I made an arrangement for our dining room table.

If you would like to see the process for holding a large arrangement in a small container, here you go…

It is so fun to work on projects outside as the weather has been just about perfect. While we badly need rain, it’s hard to complain about 75 and sunny every day. The night temps are dipping closer and closer to frost and I am getting things ready to come inside. Which means reorganizing the Potting Shed! It will be my place to “garden” for the winter.

BLOOM THYME 

The garden still has some beautiful blooms…

Mr. G and Me

This week is the 43rd anniversary of me and Mr. G starting our lives together and we are happier every year. Yes, like all of you, life has thrown us curve balls out of nowhere but we stay anchored to God and to each other and are committed to being each other’s best friend, support system and very best cheerleader. Plus, he is just the cutest thing! Look what he served me on the start of our anniversary week. He knows me well – COFFEE!!!

This was last September at the Biltmore International Rose Trial…

As you look at this sweet cup of coffee (and it was outstanding), know this, Mr. G is not the most comfortable man in the kitchen. But he does believe in having the right tools. So, when he decided he wanted to make me a special drink he found the right tool – a frother! We are putting it to good use! In our life together we have learned that it is the little things we do that add up to the big things! Note: During lockdown, he is learning more and more about cooking and is proving to be a very apt student! 🥰  If you would like to make someone’s day … here’s a link to the frother!  I highly recommend it!   

I hope you and your friends and family are enjoying the beauty of fall and continue to be safe and healthy!🍂 What are the little things in your life that are meaning so much these days?