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.

 

 

HAPPY THANKSGIVING 2020

Like most of you, Thanksgiving for us looks very different this year — Mr. G and I will prepare a feast for two as we stay close to our phones to see faces from far away. Though less than ideal, we have learned that love can be conveyed and community built through our mobile devices while we wait for this scary time to pass.

ABOUT THE FOOD…

There is so much about this holiday we can’t control but I CAN control the food! Sooooo, to add additional comfort to the day, we are going full-on family traditional. Our menu:

TURKEY

For the first time, I bought a bone-in turkey breast. We love turkey and as I look at the size, I’m thinking we might not have the leftovers we want.


DRESSING THE MOM WAY

Most everyone in our family says “Dressing the Mom Way” is their favorite. My recipe is a combination of what I learned from my mom and my mother in law. Actually, my daughter and son have now surpassed me in their cooking abilities!! They are both fantastic and creative cooks! I’m wondering do you call it dressing or stuffing?

I especially love this picture of hands – me and my son stirring up the dressing a couple of years ago! 🥰

CHRISTMAS CRAN

A combination of cranberries, apples, and nuts. Trust me it is yummy. (Recipe here.)

NOODLES

Yes, noodles. (An Indiana thing – to put noodles on your mashed potatoes.)

OVERNIGHT SALAD

My most requested side when we have Thanksgiving with friends. It is a very simple overnight salad: Iceberg lettuce, Cauliflower, Red onion in layers. The next layer is a dressing of mayo (Hellman’s always), Parmesan cheese, sugar, salt and pepper. The very top layer is crispy bacon pieces.

MASHED POTATOES

We will be using Bob Evans mashed potatoes. They are really almost as good as homemade.

GRAVY

(Homemade with broth, butter, flour & spices.)

GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE

I did a survey on Instagram asking who was a fan of the much-debated Green Bean Casserole.

Love it or hate it, the green bean casserole has quite the history…

This mixture of canned soup, green beans and fried onions has graced holiday tables since the 1950s.

Campbell’s estimates 40% of the Cream of Mushroom soup sold in the US goes into making green bean casserole.

For more history on green bean casserole, read on here.

HILLIGOSS ROLLS

For those not local  —  Hilligoss is our favorite small family-owned, local bakery. They make thousands of Parker House rolls for the holidays. The best!!!! We call every November 1 to place our order. They bake a limited supply – so pre-order is necessary!

Mr. G with the score! (Yes, he wore a mask but took it off briefly for a quick pic.) Some for now and some for the freezer!

PUMPKIN PIE

Because it is Mr. G’s favorite. Me … I prefer Apple Pie.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO YOU!

Yes, it’s 2020 and even though we won’t have a full table this year and our hearts are tender…  our hearts are also full of love for family and friends. We are grateful for you!

We pray for the day we can gather together again! It will take many, many gatherings before this hole in my heart is filled up and I vow to NEVER EVER take gathering with my loves for granted!!! 🙏🏻🙏🏻

This Thanksgiving and every Thanksgiving we give thanks and put our trust in the One that sustains us in all times – good and bad. He never changes.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
1 Chronicles 16:34

Wishing you love, good health, and all your yummy favorites!

🦃 🥘🍲🥧🥗  😘

BLOOM THYME FRIDAY: NEW FOR 2021

A busy week pushed Bloom Thyme Friday to Saturday! Even during a pandemic, there are many wonderful opportunities!

This week temps were up – near 80 (Daffodils popped up!) and temps were down – 27.
Rain came (thankfully) and so did frosty mornings!

GO BACK TO SLEEP!

NEW ROSES FOR 2021

One of the fun things I did this week was to attend the Indianapolis Rose Society meeting. During the meeting, I gave a program on 2021 rose introductions.

Wow! Next year we have a great selection of new roses to look forward to. Truly something for everyone from gorgeous high centered Hybrid Teas to colorful, blooming machine shrub roses. Many of them are fragrant too! Whether you are just getting started or have been growing roses for years, take a look at what’s coming our way!

Here is a link to the NEW ROSE PRESENTATION.  Let me know if you have trouble opening the link. 

To whet your appetite, here are a  few of my favorites. I gotta say it was very hard to choose just one for each category.

WEEKS ROSES:

FUN IN THE SUN GRANDIFLORA

  • Medium Size Shrub
  • Flower 3-4″
  • Very Good Disease Resistance
  • Strong Fruity/Spice Fragrance

Find additional information here.

STAR ROSES & PLANTS

SITTING PRETTY GRANDIFLORA

  • Damask Fragrance
  • Disease Resistant
  • Ideal for Containers
  • Zones 4-11

Find additional information here.

JACKSON & PERKINS

Jackson and Perkins have some exclusive releases this year!

CUP OF GOLD CLIMBING ROSE

  • English Rose Look
  • Quick to Establish & Fast Growing
  • Reaches 10-12′
  • Repeats Bloom All Summer

I liked this one so much that I ordered it on the spot while working on the presentation. If you have been following me for a while, you have heard me say repeatedly that I do NOT need any more climbing roses. And I don’t, BUT, do you see how beautiful this one is.
(Here is a list of my other climbers.)

Find additional J & P information here.

PROVEN WINNERS

This is PW new release and it looks like an impact maker!

RINGO ALL-STAR

  • 2-3′ Tall
  • Extremely Low Maintenance
  • No Need to deadhead
  • Continuous Bloomer

Find additional information here.

TRUE BLOOM ROSES

Ping Lim, who brought us the Easy Elegance collection, has a new line of roses — TRUE BLOOM. They had limited distribution last year but did not make it to my area – the midwest.

There are so many beautiful roses in this collection, so be on the lookout for them in your area in 2021.

SPEAKING OF PING…

Ping Lim is a very special person who is dedicated to bringing beauty to our lives! I had the pleasure of chatting with him on the Rose Chat Podcast a few months back. It was wonderful to hear his story of how he fell in love with roses and what he has coming soon!

You can listen here.

This gray, frosty day and all this talk about new roses has me very excited for next June …so let’s go back to June for just a couple of seconds…

Mother of Pearl

The Faun

 

NOW IT’S BACK TO REALITY AND JOY FOR TODAY…

To kick off the season, the Thanksgiving cacti are blooming right on cue!

The red beauty is perched on the rocking horse that Mr. G made for our children when they were wee ones. I love having it in our family room for every season!

Love this color…

Care tips from Good Housekeeping:

HOW TO CARE FOR CHRISTMAS CACTI…

A lack of water and dramatic temperature swings can cause flower buds to drop more rapidly. Maximize your specimen’s blooming period by paying attention to these six key factors:

– Soil: Use a quality soil rich in humus and other nutrients.

– Temperature: Maintain an optimal climate of 65 degrees.

– Watering: Keep the soil evenly moist while your plant is blooming, misting it frequently.

– Light: Place the cactus in an east-facing window for moderate light and some direct sun.

– Fertilization: Apply a high-potassium fertilizer every two weeks once buds form.

– Transplantation: Repot your cactus each year after flowering.

I was in Lowe’s yesterday and they were putting out tons of these cacti. You know where this is going… I bought another one. It is a tiny plant just covered in light pink buds. There is no picture of the open bloom, but I suspect it will be like my ivory colored one. The small plants at Lowes are $3.98 and very healthy!

The care tips above ARE an excellent goal, but I’ll admit I don’t provide all of that for my cacti and they are very forgiving! But, don’t overwater!

If you grow these, here is an illustration to identify the one you have.

MORE JOY FOR THE DAY…

Our very favorite Classic Beef Stew, Rhodes rolls fresh from the oven, and Mr. G’s handsome face.

 

UNTIL NEXT TIME … wishing you JOY!

BLOOM THYME FRIDAY: There’s Always the Garden

 

When the world wearies and ceases to satisfy, there’s always the garden.

While this is a quote that is common to most of us, these few words have spoken volumes to me during 2020. And, 2020 just keeps giving us more and more reasons to retreat to the garden … to work  … to think … to just be.

In my world, the weather is doing all it can for us with unseasonably warm temps, bright and beautiful sunny days, and a fall sky that is bluer than I ever remember.

GARDEN WORK…

While we have this window of opportunity, I am buying and planting more bulbs. Many of today’s bulbs will go outside our home office window under Mr. G’s bird feeder.

Today the morning shadows gave us a beautiful sight out that window. 

Mr. G and I love birds. We have a funny story in the family of our dedication to birds …. birdhouses and feeders were on the property long before the house.

Yesterday I noticed that one of our climbing roses that was previously all tied up for winter has sent out more extremely long canes and needs another love touch. That’s on the list for this week too.

I “buried” the two ‘Moonlight in Paris’ roses that were in pots on the deck. I will unearth them in March and see what we have. I have used this method before and my fingers are crossed that it works again. All I need to do is add the mulch!

‘Moonlight in Paris’ in June

TOOL TALK…

I have a new tool!

I showed Mr. G an Instagram video on garden tools from Michael Marriott @michaelrosarian and Rosie Irving @rosieposeyirving on their @growingcooking Instagram page. He loved the part about the Hori Hori knife. Believe it or not, I didn’t have one. Mr. G is all about tools so a week later, Amazon delivered a surprise. I haven’t used it yet but if it’s Rosie’s favorite, I know it is going to change my world. #itlookssharp #sayaprayer If you don’t follow this dynamic duo on Instagram, do so! They will be a very bright spot in your day.

DEALING WITH STRESSFUL TIMES…

I’m curious about what you do in times of stress.

I noticed that in the last few weeks I reverted to some old habits I picked up when Peyton Manning (my all time fav) was playing football. Whether in college or the Pro’s, I felt it my duty to see that he came out of the game alive and hopefully the winner. This is due in part (a big part) to my upbringing. I was raised in a home where the name Manning was often spoken as my dad was an Archie Manning fan. I heard these stories as my dad painstakingly taught me the game of football.

So, what did I do to survive the big games and other stressful times? I know you are excited to know!!!

IRON AND PRAY

Yes, I ironed and I prayed. I practically wore out our clothes with the iron. We never looked so “pressed.” Know this, I do not like to iron but it works for me!

Other ways I destress….

CLEAN GLASS

My glass is looking quite sparkly, don’t you think.

WORK IN THE GARDEN

Weather permitting … this is the best of all. There’s no place like the garden. I think God planned it that way.

There is another phrase that you see around a lot but it still rings true… You can bury a lot of problems digging in the dirt. From the time I was a little girl I knew — dirt is magical.

Friends, I am praying you are healthy, safe, and secure as we deal with all that life is throwing our way. And, that you are able to always find the beauty around you.

CERTAINTY

Here’s what I know for sure…

Nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Romans 8:38

Until next time, love to you…

 

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! 😘