BLOOM THYME FRIDAY: Warp Speed

Spring is full-on around here and things are moving at warp speed. We went from winter to having some very warm days … so there’s been rapid growth on many of the roses and most of the perennials. It’s not just the weather that has me moving so fast, it’s the grandbaby coming and an upcoming trip. As I write those words…. upcoming trip … I can’t believe it’s true. Like so many of you, the separation from our family and all the uncertainty has been one of life’s most painful curveballs. But the flight is booked and soon we will be covered up in grands! 💙💙💙

GARDEN CENTERS

We have visited a few garden centers and I cannot believe how well-stocked they are and how early! They have surely heard all the statistics and trends that gardening is on the rise. I keep hearing that in 2020 there were anywhere from 16,000  – 20,000 people saying they are first-time gardeners. So 2020 was NOT just the year of the pandemic, it was also the YEAR OF THE GARDENER. A silver lining for sure!

I read another article on garden trends from the Farmers’ Almanac:

  1. Balcony Gardens Will Be Big
  2. Houseplants, Indoor Gardens and Windowsill Gardens
  3. Bringing the Inside Outside (I love this one!)
  4. Tiny Gardens Galore
  5. Permaculture Practices
  6. The “Cottage Core” Aesthetic (Curious and want to know more… read on here.) 
  7. Online Gardening
  8. Gardening by the Moon

Read more here on the Farmer’ Almanac website. They have so many great articles! 

Cottage Core

BROOD X 

Have you heard about Brood X …. I recently read a headline that BILLIONS OF BROOD X CICADAS ARE SET TO EMERGE IN SPRING 2021. Guess what? Indiana is a hot spot for them. Oh Joy! 😳 When I hear this my mind immediately goes to Biblical Plagues but I guess they aren’t THAT bad. BUT, they are kinda creepy looking (especially in mass) and loud. I think we are to start seeing them in mid May… so much for quiet happy hours in the garden. Groups can be up to 100 decibels. 📢 Seriously, I can do without those. If they had come in 2020, they would have fit right in. 

NEED TO KNOW MORE? There’s actually a website called Cicadamania. Everything you could ever want to know and more, including where they are expected to be and when!  Link here.  

NEW SHRUBS FOR THE GARDEN

ICEBERG ALLEY SAGELEAF WILLOW

When I saw a picture of this shrub, I thought it would be so so so good in my garden with the silver foliage!


Once I saw this VIDEO (link) from First Editions, I knew I had to have it. So I now have two.

SPICE BABY VIBURNUM


This Proven Winners plant tag caught my eye with the pretty blooms and the words petite and fragrant. We have many many viburnums of all types and we love them (so do the birds), however, they are NOT petite! This one is said to reach 3.5 – 5′ high and 3.5 – 6′ wide. Not tiny but will work very nicely. Looking forward to watching them grow! More info here.

UPDATE ON MILK JUG WINTER SOWING

Three of the five containers did VERY well. Ammi (I’ll have to keep my eye on her), Sweet William, and French Alouette Larkspur. So far nothing from Magic Fountain Delphinium and Munstead Lavender.

I will totally do more of this next year. For a simple, inexpensive pack of seeds, SO MANY PLANTS and it was so easy. (See the beginning of the project here.)  

POTTING SHED PUTTERINGS

My baby Peggy Martins are recovering from an attack from spider mites. TIme will tell how they continue to do.😞


I potted up the baby Formosa lilies from seeds given to me from my good friend David. This was the first time to use my new transplant tools (Amazon). All I’ve had in the past were my handy dandy 20 something-year-old tiny trowels from Smith and Hawkins. They are great for most small work, but I was going for something even smaller and sharper. I found this set and compared to the heavy-duty S&H tool, they seemed very flimsy to me at first. But they were perfect for this delicate work. 

Munstead Lavender is doing great! Munstead is the only lavender I have tried (and I’ve tried sooooooo many) that comes back reliably. (I’m in 5b.)

My topiaries and geraniums are coming in and out as they get used to living outdoors!

BLOOM THYME THIS WEEK

BACK TO WORK

Time to get back to work. That mountain of mulch won’t move itself. Yes, time to get back to WARP SPEED SPRING GARDENING. Babies don’t wait. 🇬🇧 Halleluia! 💙 💙 💙 💙 ✈️

Thanks for stopping by. Enjoy your time in the garden — and if you are on the BroodX map, enjoy the peace and quiet while you can! 

BLOOM THYME FRIDAY: Dirty Work, Surprises and My Real Garden

Garden cleanup is dirty work. Snatching leaves and debris from the base of roses has its price! That is one of the reasons why rose growers always push regular tetanus shots! I have unearthed so much… leaves from trees we don’t grow and trash from items we don’t use. Oh, those windy days! I also found damage from the marauding deer.  Some things I can fix with an easy prune – and all will be forgiven — if they don’t return! We keep spraying with Liquid Fence and it seems to be working. But, I did see hoof prints in the veriest back where many of the old roses are. Please don’t munch there!!! I want blooms! 

Loving these cleanup bags!

Yes, the work is dirty but I love it. As I weave in and out of the “needy” garden beds, like every spring, I am overcome with gratitude that I have the pleasure to tend this garden… a garden that started as a blank slate more than 30 years ago.

Spring cleanup gives me the opportunity to be up close and personal with each plant, checking them out and getting them ready for their 2021 debut. I also had a couple of big surprises…

BIG SURPRISE #1:

Sweet Peas that wintered over! That is a first for me! I believe these are the Midnight Blues sweet peas from Sarah Ravens that I bought in England! Those were the sweet peas that bloomed right up to frost last year! They are conveniently growing right where I decided to put my teepee this year. These were seeds I bought when shopping with my grandson, making them even more precious!

BIG SURPRISE #2:

It is March and some of my roses have leaves. Very early. This time of year we usually spray a dormant oil — we better hurry! Praying Mother Nature is kind. Remember the horrible freeze we had on May 7, 2020, and we were out covering everything we could! My lilies and peonies never recovered! And the Sargent Crab’s blooms were stopped in their tracks. Most of the roses were covered and did fine.

SPRING PRETTIES

SWEET PEAS

Sweet peas are soaking today and will be planted tomorrow when the rain stops. So many pretty varieties! EXCITING. And should the Midnight Blues really do their thing, it will be a very special sweet pea year. I hope to be in England when sweet peas are blooming this year. Fingers crossed!

MY REAL GARDEN

Just when I was pining for my family in England and the world’s connection was slipping through our fingers, up pops Ann-Marie Powell, a spunky, people-loving, UK garden designer and author into my garden world. 

On March 28, 2020 at 12:30 pm UK (7:30 am for me 😳). Ann-Marie made the decision to do something new – start lunchtime daily IG live feeds from her REAL GARDEN. A garden that her busy lifestyle before COVID lockdown left little time for and had become somewhat of a construction site due to a recent home reno. So, as she plotted and planned to refresh her REAL GARDEN, she invited others on the journey to a real garden experience. She even invited others to share their REAL GARDENS and go live with her and they did! The MY REAL GARDEN account grew to nearly 20K in 2020.

On April 1, I started going on the journey too. I tuned in enough to feel like I know Ann-Marie’s garden almost as well as I know my own! I have been on REAL GARDEN garden tours via IG live all over the world. Going behind the gate and seeing the good, the bad, and the “I need help areas.” As we all know, there is nothing like REAL moments to connect people! And for gardeners … sharing those experiences with other gardeners is mecca! It was a wonderful way to connect during COVID.

Midway through the year, Ann-Marie had the idea to do a book about the MY REAL GARDEN PROJECT and asked us to submit pictures, tips, stories, and info about our garden – all of us! 

This week the MY REAL GARDEN book launched and yes I am in there. I haven’t received my copy but am so excited to see it. The book is a representation of everyone in some way. The proceeds from the book are going to Greenfingers, a charity close to Ann-Marie’s heart — an amazing UK charity dedicated to supporting children who spend time in hospices around the UK, along with their families, by creating inspiring gardens for them to relax in and benefit from. Don’t you absolutely love that!!! More here

This experience was unique and special in so many ways. Often I got on the maps app to see where people sharing their gardens were located in conjunction to where my family lives and I felt the world shrink. 

You can join too on Instagram. I think the book will be for sale on the website …  visit here.  

BIG CHEERS AND THANK YOUS to Ann-Marie for her ingenuity, creativity, and being the architect for this community where we encouraged each other to bloom right where we were planted – during a most difficult year.
🥂🎉🥂🎉🥂🎉🥂

FIRST DAY OF SPRING

On the first day of spring, we shopped for shrubs and a few spring flowers and headed home with a full SUV! Happy days are here again! Robin Williams is quoted as having said, Spring is nature’s way of saying let’s party!  I couldn’t agree more!!   🌷🥂🌷


Friends, party on! 🌱🎉🌱🎉🌱

Bloom Thyme Friday: Hellebores, Bangs and Saying Goodbye

Hellebores . . .

The garden centers and even Trader Joe’s have the most beautiful Hellebores right now! While I have several, I was very tempted to buy a deep red one I saw this week. 

Hellebores —  also called Christmas rose or Lenten rose  aren’t in the rose family. Actually they are closely related to buttercups and anemones! These shade loving, low-maintenance and deer-resistant elegant beauties add so much to the spring garden.  

This week my hellebores were a mess. Last year’s scraggly foliage was everywhere, hiding all the beautiful buds.

While grooming the hellebores I kept thinking of conversations with my mom…. back in the day when I thought long bangs were very fashionable. Many times I heard, “Your bangs are too long, I can’t see your face.” 😂 I rarely liked the trim my bangs would then get!!  I hope the hellebores like their new “do”. 💇🏼‍♀️ It was severe but I think they look very fashionable and the blooms will soon steal the show! They are on course to bloom right on time for Easter.  For more on Hellebores, hop over to the Missouri Botanical Garden site here. NOTE: All parts of Hellebores are poisonous so be careful in handling! I wear gloves.

SAYING GOODBYE . . .

Big stuff in the garden this week…. saying goodbye to 25 year old sickly crabapple. 🥺 This day has been coming for some time as it became more sickly with apple scab the last few years. The last few springs we had a couple of weeks of pretty blooms and when the blooms came down, the leaves starting peppering down with them and continued to fall. For 90% of the season it looked sickly. We have friends who treated their crab apple tree for scab several times but saw no improvement so we decided to just remove the tree. We have other crab apple trees that are doing well. 


It was impressive the way Mr. G wrangled that tree! He was on his own for the cutting but I jumped in for the cleanup. Needless to say, we both slept well that night!

I know the roses planted in that area are celebrating as they will now get more light and water — and some pretty new neighbors. I had a moment of sadness but quickly said my goodbye and was lost in the possibilities!! More space! More sun! More plants! Today I’m out with pencil, paper and measuring tape. #newplan  

Happy News . . .

Snowdrops are blooming making me very happy. Until recently I was happy to watch for the snowdrops to bloom in the woods near us and enjoy them there. However, you can’t visit England, watch Monty Don on Gardener’s World for two years,  and not fall completely in love with snow drops. So sweet and simple and beautiful. A perfect spring flower. The Victorian flower dictionaries list the Snow Drop meaning as “hope”. I can see why. It blooms so early — sometimes pushing the snow out of the way to make it’s entrance at the end of winter giving us just what we need the most — Hope!

I bought my snow drops at Brent and Becky’s. The variety is Galanthus elwesii Mount Everest. They are sooooo cute. 

My first little babies
Snowdrops in the woods this week.

No one celebrates the arrival of snow drops like those in the UK. It is easy to be drawn into the excitement with all the  “snow drop sighting reports” from UK friends and family.  

That smile … he’s enjoying the snowdrops too.

Crocus are popping up all over the place and the bees are thrilled.

NEW BOOK I’M LOVING . . .

A Year at Brandywine Cottage by David L. Culp

I was first introduced to Brandywine Cottage in David Culp’s book The Layered Garden so I couldn’t wait to have A Year in Brandywine Cottage.


Whether you have read the first book or not, this book is one to sink into. Every page takes you on a walk through David’s amazing garden and gives you something beautiful to take away … a tip, an idea, a plant or a recipe. Seriously a dandelion salad never looked so good as the one featured on Page 54. Each step of the way you are encouraged to “look closer.” Every page celebrates the garden and the gardener and as you go on a journey through all seasons, you not only feel privileged to have this inside look at David’s garden life but you are also inspired to “look closer” at the world around you and live your best gardening life too. 

LOOKING BACK TO GO FORWARD…

Our phone holds so much information and one of the best parts of that is the photographs we take. Part of my plans for the current spring are based on looking back at pictures of seasons past. When did it bloom? How did it look? What do I want to change?


I also go through the blog and read articles I’ve written as well as the journal I’ve kept of bloom times, varieties, etc.


With the dawn of a new decade – 2020 – I decided to keep a running list of daily happenings that included life and garden highlights and “lowlights” too. Little did I know just what I would be writing about.

I am now reading what I wrote in March and as I read, I can’t help but be stunned by the use of words that before 2020 were practically foreign to me. Words like….

  • Pandemic
  • Covid19
  • Self Quarantine
  • Cabin Fever
  • Travel Ban
  • Mask Mandates
  • 6′ apart
  • Uncertain Times / Unprecedented Times
  • 15 Days to Flatten the Curve
  • Toilet Paper Shortage

I don’t want to forget where we have been, but am so glad that now we are hearing much more positive and hopeful words… 

  • Vaccines
  • Herd immunity
  • And, a favorite new trend – more people gardening than ever before!

Yes, so many had more time to work in their gardens than ever before and many, many people found their way to making a garden for the first time! 


Now we are ALL gonna be heading to the garden centers — together! It’s a first come/first serve world — but no pushing or shoving  please. 😁  I’ve already heard from more than one source that we should expect shortages and no special orders! 

Friends, our wait is over … spring is officially upon us. Garden Centers and big box stores are gearing up for what looks to be a big gardening year!! Stay safe and have fun getting out there to find your prizes! And, love your neighbor as yourself even if they get the best tomato plants before you get there! 😂

BLOOM THYME FRIDAY: Springing Forward

It’s that time! Time to spring forward. I know Daylight Saving Time is not loved by all but it was especially loved by me when I was working full time and wanted more time in the garden after work. (Yes, it’s ‘saving’ not ‘savings’.😉 )

ABOUT DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME

Warning… Rabbit Hole! 😳🐰

  • Benjamin Franklin was the first to speak of this idea when he observed people using candles long into the night but sleeping past dawn. (I must say I am a BIG proponent of getting up before dawn and starting the day with candles and watching the sunrise! Watching the day’s light arrive is transforming to my mood and spirit in ways nothing else can do.)
  • In 1907 Englishman William Willett led the first campaign to implement moving clocks forward 80 minutes between April and October for people to enjoy more sunlight. However, he did not live to see DST implemented.
  • Germany was the first country to take the plunge and introduced DST in 1916.  The idea was to conserve fuel for war effort. The ideas quickly caught on in many other countries. 
  • All European countries, except Belarus and Iceland use DST.
  • During WW2, President Franklin Roosevelt introduced year-round DST.  Again, to conserve fuel. It was referred to as War Time.
  • The Uniform Time Act of 1966 standardized time zones and daylight saving practices in the US. However, allowing individual states to pass laws exempting themselves.
  • Hawaii and Arizona do not “spring forward.” 
  • In many states legislation has been introduced to LOCK THE CLOCK and permanently choose Standard Time or DST. 
  • 2021: Spring Forward: March 14 / Fall Back: November 7

FORSYTHIAS & PRUNING

I’ve started the official 2021 watch for blooming forsythia. Around here when forsythia starts blooming we start pruning – roses will get their spring clip! Last year the forsythia bloomed on March 24.

Apart from being the harbingers of rose pruning, they are a sentimental favorite of mine. They were a favorite of my mom and dad and were plentiful in our yard when I was growing up. I brought cuttings from my Dad’s forsythia the year he passed but they did not take – it was in January so not much surprise but I was hopeful. While I don’t have those plants, I sure have the memories and they are sweet. 💛

To go down my family forsythia rabbit hole 🐰, read an article I wrote after my dad passed away … HERE

GHISLAINE de FELIGONDE

This winter Ghislanie de Feligonde was busy … she threw out several extra-long canes! She is now not only going up the side of the potting shed but across the front too! This week’s wonderful weather was the perfect time to get her all tied up again. I simply CAN NOT WAIT until she blooms.

MY ORCHIDS

I have bought orchids many, many times and always hoped they would rebloom. I only remember one time that happening and the blooms were tiny and unimpressive! So, I am pleased to announce that the beautiful orchid friends gave me 15 months ago has rebloomed – and it is amazing! I give the credit to the excellent plant given me and being home to care for it regularly! I water it once a week with 2T of a water-soluble orchid fertilizer and keep it in my window (that faces west – certainly not ideal). Mr. G gave me an orchid about the same time and it is shooting up some buds too! So there’s more to come! 🎉

POTTING SHED PUTTERINGS

LITTLE MIRACLES

Formosa Lily seeds a friend gave me have germinated. Aren’t they just the cutest!! ThatThanks David!

Loving the Peggy Martin branches that are framing the lily babies!

Action in the milk jugs! Sweet William has germinated and looking oh so cute and making me very happy. (Read more about the milk jug project HERE.)  🌱🌱🌱🌱

Just when you think the garden is so dead that it will never EVER come back, beauty starts popping up all over the place!

LATEST PODCAST

Last week on the podcast I chatted with Kristen Smith, Rose Evaluation Manager for Star Roses and Plants, about their beautiful new roses (like the damask scented new beauty from Will Radler of Knockout fame!) and other amazing garden plants that are well suited for today’s gardens and today’s gardeners! 

I have so many on my list… the new Lilac, dwarf boxwoods, and the clematis! Oh my! Check them out for yourself HERE.

TO DOS

We wait and we wait and then all of a sudden it is TIME to get busy! First up, I will cut back all the old yucky foliage from my hellebores. They are on the brink of blooming! 🎉

Cleaning up beds and pruning roses will be in full force the next two weeks. With 175 or so roses, it will take me a “minute” or two. 😁

Putting down sulfur in my beds to begin to lower the pH. Last year’s soil tests revealed the pH was on the rise. Roses and most of the plants I grow appreciate a pH of 6.0-6.5. My readings were 7.0 – 7.4.

Plant sweet peas! Traditionally you hear to plant your sweet peas on St. Patrick’s day but know this… when it’s cold they will just sit there until just the right temp for their sweet selves. And, in Indiana, you just might have to wait a bit before you see them. Still, it is a good benchmark and works for me! Read your seed packet for the best time for you!

I’ll be growing my sweet peas in the herb garden on teepees made of bamboo stakes as I did my pole beans last year. I also love to put them on the herb garden fence to drape around! I just love them and most anything else I can drape over a fence! I have to say that the sweet peas I saw growing in England, barely resembled the ones grown here. Their sweet peas are perfection – huge, long-stemmed, and luscious! #climatechallenges #butworthit

Friends, whatever is on your to-do list, have fun springing into spring! 📝

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!