New Year. New Plan. 

While I’m not into resolutions, I do like a good plan. A place to start with an end in mind. In 2020 we are not simply ushering in a new year, but a new decade. We want to get this one started off right!

The current trend to choose a word or phrase for the year has worked well for me the last few years. So whether you work best with resolutions or words, I think we have a better chance to achieve if we start intentionally.

My word this year is actually two words. Every. Day.

  • I want to be open to God’s plan for my life — Every. Day.
  • I want to find the beauty around me — Every. Day.
  • I want to count my blessings and be a blessing to others — Every. Day.

The older you get, the more you realize that life is fragile and temporary… I want to make every day count.

Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Psalm 25:4

Things I want MORE of in 2020

  • Holding Mr. G’s hand.
  • Time with family & friends.
  • People around my table.
  • Mentoring new gardeners.
  • Bokays to share.
  • Home cooked food.
  • Home grown tomatoes.
  • Dining in the garden.
  • Walking in the garden.
  • Working in the garden.
  • Birdsong.
  • Flowers.
  • Roses.

Things I want LESS of in 2020

  • Rushing about.
  • Under-performing plants. (They gotta go.)
  • Japanese Beetles.
  • Raccoons.
  • Moles.

Without those last three, the garden would be almost paradise — almost. 😆

2019, you threw us a curve ball or two, but you also had some incredible moments!

— Like spending an afternoon in the Sultan’s rose garden in Istanbul – even though the roses were not yet blooming. (read more)

–Hosting Sr. Editor of Garden Gate Magazine, James Baggett, Photographer, Jack Coyier and garden friend to us all, Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp. (read more)

–Traveling to England to spend time with my daughter and grand boys. Oh the gardens and castles we visited. More on that here.

TAKING NOTE:

Last year my words of the year were “taking note”. It was a desire to see more of what’s around me. This year I will adopt “taking note” to encourage me to write down more garden notes. The last few years my garden notes have been taken on the Evernote app and I will continue to use Evernote — as it is not paper that can be lost or destroyed, but also add in a hand-written garden journal too. Do you have a system of garden note taking that works for you?

I think, in part, this desire to write notes comes from some of the incredible garden journals I have been given or bought and finding hand written recipes from my mother and others who are now gone. I love having their hand written words and want to leave some of my own.

2020, I think I’m ready for you!

LET’S ROLL!

Gardening Season

My gardening season begins today… December 26 when for the last 26 or so years, I start my annual countdown to spring. With the count down comes getting serious about my garden planning. I love every minute of it!

This year December 26 finds me once again in England where it seems everyone is a gardener and at the Toad Hall Garden Center in Henley on Thames things are booming and blooming. Toad Hall has been around for more than 60 years and they are good at what they do. They have everything this gardener could want — Wellies, row covers, trugs in all sizes, seeds, houseplants, tools and ROSES. Have you ever seen a yellow poinsettia? Well, they had those too. I am a “purist” when it come to plant color, but I liked this one better than I thought I would. I’m not even in the “wanting a blue rose” club. Just doesn’t seem right. Anyway, this garden center is truly Mecca for gardeners.

There is a whole line of these Fleece Jackets.

This Cymbidium Orchid in the middle was knocking my eyes out!

If you have been following me on social media, you know that my family is having a wonderful holiday together in England. We love time together anywhere, but England has been especially nice!

Beautiful decorations and wonderful music filled the air in London.
Mr. G found a special friend.
Westminister Abbey … Amazing.
Christmas highlights #1, #2 and #3. JOY JOY JOY
The English do charm – very well.
Time with my son to tour Grey Court garden and plot and plan what we will do in our own gardens. I saw this garden in full bloom this summer and I loved getting to see the “bones” that winter shows off.
Our beautiful hostess! xoxo
Teamwork!

I love the holidays with gusto. Celebrating Jesus’ birth is a highlight of our year. Mr. G and I start listening to Christmas music in late October if the truth be told, but once Christmas is over, it is over. I quickly move to dreams of spring. Seriously, I am very glad for these months of winter at a slower pace giving us time to reflect, rewind and get ready for spring. There is so much “gardening” that needs to start now to prepare for greater success later. Plus, it is just FUN!

  • Read gardening books.
  • Organize tools and supplies.
  • Pour through catalogs.
  • Put plans on paper.
  • Place orders. (We don’t want to find the perfect plant, only to find it is SOLD OUT.)

Up next I will focus on setting some goals for me and the garden.

A New Decade!

2020 is going to be special, I can just feel it. Can’t you?

Let’s get this spring planning party started!

Bloom Thyme Friday Flashback

We are having a very dark week and I’m going back to sunny days in May (when it wasn’t raining… and it rained a lot!) ☔️

Let’s start with Niobe Clematis: Gorgeous blooms for months! She cared little about the torrential rainfall — just did her beautiful thing!

Reine des Violette: This almost thornless, one-time blooming OGR gives so much in beauty and fragrance that you forgive her for leaving so quickly!! Hybrid Perpetuals usually rebloom but she hasn’t in 5 years. She is in a bit of a shady area so that could be the issue.
Sweet William (Dianthus): Makes spring so special with it’s dependable mass of bloom! Great in a vase!

Rosa Mundi (Gallica Rose) and friends…
Rosa Mundi is a beautiful and fragrant one-time blooming machine! I dream of her blooms in winter! She is fantastic!
Easy on the Eyes Rose: This disease resistant, fragrant beauty blooms all summer long and is indeed easy on the eyes and gets a lot of attention in the garden. I don’t think I ever saw a spec of disease on this one. Thanks Tom Carruth! 2018 release from Weeks.
Peonies: The rain beat them down too quickly, but I had plenty to bring inside! Their season is always short and sweet but I couldn’t do without it! Even after my blooms were gone, I bought bundles from the grocery store to bring home.

IN OTHER NEWS:

BULB UPDATE:

As of today, all bulbs are planted. Daffodils, Alliums, Crocus. I was so surprised how soft the soil still is. It was a pleasure to be digging!I have a lot more garden clean up to do and am hoping that will happen this weekend as the weather looks to be just perfect for some outside work — once the rain moves on!

ROCKY:

We have a raccoon that is making our bird watching fun most unpleasant. One evening while sitting in our chairs we heard a loud thud from outside. A few minutes later, we heard another thud. I said, “I am sure it’s just a raccoon on the bird feeder.” Not really sure that was it at all. Mr. G goes to investigate and the fattest raccoon you have ever seen, was climbing up our window (how do they do that) to try to get to the feeder and he did! Got right in the middle. Raccoons are a year round problem here. We are spreading around more cayenne pepper. But, if you ask me he kind of likes it — or at least sees it as a challenge. Any tips??

AMARYLLIS:
It’s time to plant amaryllis… I’m waiting a bit later than usual to plant them this year so that I have blooms in January when I return from England. I’ll really need them then!
Look at these amazing bulbs I found! You probably can’t really tell the size but they are huge! The last time I grew a Mount Blanc – it had 14 blooms – at one time. A record for me! Seriously, I have a picture somewhere! Apple Blossom is always pretty. I wanted red this year but didn’t find any large bulbs. #sizematters

I also had to buy this Smith and Hawkins pot for old times sake. I miss the Smith and Hawkins store so much. Trips to that store made my winters so much more pleasant! It is where I did so much spring dreaming! Anyone else remember those amazing places for gardeners. Glad Target keeps the memories alive with their S & H garden collection.

POTTING SHED PUTTERINGS:

Repotted a very leggy Swedish Ivy that was in a tiny pot. Swedish Ivy is not a picky plant. I don’t ever remember buying this plant but I sure like it. If you are new to houseplants, this would be a great one to buy!
Took some cuttings from the Ivy and potted up a broken stem of the Thanksgiving/Christmas cactus. We’ll see what happens with them. Hope they take. I love having new babies. (Like I need more. 🤦‍♀️)
Window garden still looking good. The sun found us a bit today!

GIVING THANKS:

I hope you enjoy this very special week. A time to stop and think about all the people and all the things we have been blessed with. And cook all our favorite foods! Yummmmm.
Til next time… know that I am thankful for you and the Giver of all good things…

Thyme to be Festive    

I sure enjoy the bounty of beautiful foliage, evergreen boughs and dried flowers when it’s thyme to decorate for the coming holidays.

This week I started outside to dress up the Potting Shed…

Someone left us a treasure.

Then I came indoors…

Since I have so many boys in my family, it is always popular to use trucks. The current truck trend is helping me out so much. Last year the whole house had a truck theme. This year I have “warned” Mr. G that we are going to incorporate some other things! Not sure what yet, but I can tell you it will have a good bit of red and loads of twinkle lights.

Last year’s mantel…

POTTING SHED PUTTERINGS…


The Thanksgiving/Christmas Cactus is blooming right on time! And it is bright and beautiful. Fabulous on a gray day.
The Attar of Rose scented geranium cuttings have roots!
The African Violet baby leaf has babies! Even after years and years and countless African Violets, I’m always thrilled to see this! My Aunt Myrtle is somewhere celebrating with me.

Can you help?

Every year I start a bowl of dried roses. I don’t plan it — it just happens. I look at a bokay getting past it’s prime and pick off a few blooms, find a bowl and it begins. I am now looking  at 4 years/4 bowls of blooms and I love them!!! But, one has to go. I will move it to a jar or something, but 4 bowls is tooooo many. To keep them from fading, I keep them in my dining room cabinets and things are getting a bit crowded. This is hard for me —  it is as though I gave birth to them. #goodgrief #girlhasaprob
Here are the choices. I won’t tell you which year they are… just pick one to send to the jar. ….Sounds sinister.

ONE…

TWO…

THREE…

FOUR…

ONE?  TWO? THREE? FOUR?
Tis the season to organize — especially cupboards! Or at least I find myself organizing before I get ready for the big feast.
Til next time… grow and bloom where you are planted!
Hey, if you are on Instagram, join me there. If you aren’t … think about it. There’s a great deal of gardening going on there!

ASSESSING THE 2019 GARDEN SEASON

As I look out my kitchen window today, things are so different. We had a hard frost and that is a game changer. We moved from a fall look to winter vibes very quickly.
Pssst: I prefer this view to the current one…
Most of the leaves are down and the morning glories that were glorious last week have a melted look.
This is the time I start pouring through the pictures from the growing season and decide what is next.

Some of my first 2019 observations…

…that most of my plants can tolerate more water than I ever dreamed possible, as we experienced record-breaking rain in April and May and early June.

…that the roses actually LOVED all the rain — convincing me that I should water them more!

Even though the weather was weird and the Japanese Beetles were plentiful, there were still plenty of blooms to share!
…that the Enchantress Zinnia really is enchanting and has earned a place in the 2020 garden.
—that I have taken my love of oriental lilies to the next level.

THE HAVES AND THE HAVE NOTS…

I HAVE now planted the last 3 roses (that were “still” in their containers from spring.  Ispahan (Damask) was planted next to Kazanlik (Damask) and a second Madam Hardy. Also planted a second Lady of Shallot next to the first one. I will mulch them with shredded leaves and pray the moles who have been digging tunnels everywhere, leave them alone. But there is a good chance they won’t. Seriously, why can’t they just take a break and hibernate!!!!
I HAVE NOT gotten the garlic planted. SOON!
I am planting this new garlic picked totally for it’s name! I hope it doesn’t disappear this winter as last year’s crop did. Not sure what happened… There are a lot of “varmints” around here and perhaps they found my garlic babies irresistible.  I planted some in the raised bed and some in the herb garden, but not one plant came up. A situation I hope not to repeat. Growing your own garlic is not only delicious, it is fun!

I HAVE tied up the arching canes of New Dawn and Peggy Martin. And, had a wonderful view from the ladder.

I HAVE NOT cut back the roses and many of them NEED it badly as they have grown so tall. I will take them down to waist high and do another pruning in the spring. SOON!
I HAVE NOT yet planted any bulbs, but have drooled over bulb catalogs and have bought a few. SOON!
Can you tell that this fall has been a season that has been short on garden thyme? Well, that is true.
I did HAVE the pleasure of making a special bokay for a special friend’s event! No flowers from my garden, but I did find some beauties at Trader Joes and Kroger!

POTTING SHED PUTTERINGS…

The Christmas (Thanksgiving) cactus is starting to bloom. The blooms are welcome anytime!
I have been going through seed packets and I am so excited to plant these next year. (Purchased in England)
In prep for winter, Mr. G has now turned off all my water supplies! 😩 You have to do that kind of thing here.  Now getting water for the inside plants is more of a challenge. He does fill this container up for me as I need it and it works well.

SOMETHING NEW…

I’m beginning to notice the air plants you see everywhere these days. Do you grow them? Thoughts?

Bloom Thyme Friday: Heavenly

Well friends I have turned the corner and have said a proper goodbye to summer with the last rose bokay I picked this week. I am embracing the fall beauty around me!

Side Note: One garden friend on seeing my recent bokay asked if I should be still cutting my roses. She has heard me say on more than one occasion that we should stop deadheading our roses several weeks before the first frost to encourage them to begin to make hips (seeds) and go to sleep in protection of the cold to come. That is true. However, once a week I do scour the garden of nearly 200 roses to find the best of the best. My Cherry Parfait rose had about 25 blooms and 15 or so buds and I just picked one.  So I do limit my cutting during this time! (But, it’s super hard to do so.)  I’m so glad she asked!
WHAT I’M LOVING…
The most beautiful thing right now is the Heavenly Blue Morning Glory vine… that has completely invaded the Potting Shed’s personal space.
Morning Glories (Ipomoea) are natives albeit “very happy overachieving natives” who can spread their beauty around in ways that look like an invasive! 😳 Their ability to self seed gets them into trouble!
Yes, it is heavenly!
Bees love, birds love, butterflies love and even my camera lens loves these amazing blooms. A fall highlight!

NOT SO HEAVENLY

A morning glory family member, Bind Weed, is a much more aggressive plant and drives our farmers crazy. Do do check your variety and your local cooperative extension for information on growing any of these vines in your area.
Birds do contribute to the problem! As I mentioned in a previous post. I have a very healthy vine of Grandpa Ott blooming this year and I have not planted that variety for many, many years! I suspect some little bird left me a present.

POTTING SHED PUTTERINGS…

Hudson’s African Violet is still going strong and has been blooming for several weeks. Cooper’s African Violet is smaller but it’s on the verge of another bloom cycle too. (Both started from a single leaf.)
While we are on the subject of the boys… guess who turned 6…  my, my, where does the time go. 😢
Still haven’t potted my roses. Maybe tomorrow! 🤦‍♀️ But we have new tiny leaves.
And, I bought one new plant ….. a cute little peperomia.
And lastly, this beauty is bringing me all kinds of happy —  but alas I can’t remember her name. Do you know it???

If it is cold where you are, I hope you are safe and warm and enjoying a mug of something delish.

If it’s spring where you are, enjoy it enough for me too and share pictures. 😊

BLOOM THYME FRIDAY: Change of Pace

This week brought out the coldest temps to date and the garden is showing the signs. While it was not cold enough to give that enchanting  dusting of frost on the blooms, it was enough to cause the not so enchanting beginning of the end  — they sort of look like they are melting. Yikes.

I have work to do! Mercy, some of the roses, zinnias and cosmos have grown so tall. #jungle Many of the David Austin roses have grown to 10′ or more. Tomorrow will be a “put on your boots, coat and gloves and get busy cleaning up the garden” kind of day. They weather is going to be in the high 60s. PERFECT.

BLOOM THYME THIS WEEK



POTTING SHED PUTTERINGS

“Bloom Thyme This Week” will become “Potting Shed Putterings” for the winter.

Today I brought into the Potting Shed the last of the plants that need winter shelter. Took some time to move them around to places where they can catch the most light. Eventually we will install lights but for now there will be a bit of stretching.

Here are the two roses we started from 3″ cuttings at ROSEFEST in June. My good friend, Connie Hilker, was here to show us her method of starting rose cuttings and while these guys got off to a “proper” start, I assure you they should not still be in their “planting pot.” But they are. Forgive me Connie, I plan to repot them soon! Pray I don’t lose them, I have become quite fond of my baby Peggy Martin and Therese Bugnet. Take a look at Connie’s method of starting cuttings HERE. It might work for you too. I plan to do several more next year!


Other things brought in today were my boxwood topiaries and  my boxwood cuttings.

Many years ago I did topiaries but it has been so long. I started these this spring and have truly loved the shaping process. It is so relaxing!

Look at this cute cactus that called my name in Lowes… This time of year I spend a lot of time in the houseplant section of Lowes. Houseplants are really trendy right now and you can tell it in the selection we have! I have never seen so many different houseplants! Mr. G is beginning to get worried. Seems like I’m getting at least one new one each week. How many weeks does winter have?🌿 😱🌿

INSIDE JOBS: First up will be bigger pots for the baby roses – fingers crossed they do ok. You know roses love sun and sun is not something that Indiana has a surplus of in the winter.

There will be a lot of “puttering” in the Potting Shed this winter. Yes, puttering, planning, reading and dreaming of spring – and taking care of these baby plants.

I hope you will join me.

For those who have asked… here is the front of the potting shed. It is a tiny space (about  6′ X 12) that is attached to the back of our house. It is attached to our house because 25 years ago when Mr. G built it, the covenants on our street did not allow out buildings. I think they do now, but I am so happy that my potting shed is right in the middle of all the garden action! Out the door is a small pond and beautiful roses.

Bloom Thyme Friday: Love Hate Garden Relationships

This morning I got up extra early just to grab my coffee and a blanket and head to the sun porch to greet the morning. It was so wonderful.

Before we get started know this… regardless of the title of this post, I don’t “hate” much of anything. I just like some things”more.” Spring is an exception in the other direction. I am completely over the moon crazy about spring and all that it means and all that it brings.

Fall.

How can anyone not like the cooler temps, vivid flower colors and God’s magic of the changing scenery. And, it’s hard to beat the cool mornings. I do love all those things… but I miss my outside time, flower picking, collecting fresh herbs for cooking, summer nights, hummingbirds and finches when they are so yellow.

Few things say ‘fall garden’ like cosmos and a blue sky. Cosmos: Purity. These Cosmos have now reached about 10′ and are simply amazing in the breeze!

Morning Glories.

Pretty blooms. Magical in the morning. So healthy. And, sometimes — SO INVASIVE! If you plant, be careful of variety! I didn’t plant any this year and they are everywhere. And, I forgive them.

I am very curious to know how “Grandpa Ott” made his way to the patch of sage. If I ever did plant “Grandpa Ott” … it was years and years and years ago. But isn’t this bloom amazing!!!

Yellow Trumpet Vine.

(Campsis radical f. flava) A beautiful native that the hummingbirds flock to.
That drapes beautifully over our pergola that holds our facing swings.

Garden devouring Yellow Trumpet vine… pretty and drapey. I love drapey.
Another shot of “drapiness” from last year.

I love the cozy feeling this vine gives our swing time. BUT, it has made us crazy. It is popping up everywhere and we may never get it under control. I still see it for sale but I wouldn’t recommend it in my area. Resist.

POTTING SHED OVER CROWDING…

I am beginning to bring ‘inside plants’ that have been outside this summer and ‘outside plants’ that I want to overwinter in my Potting Shed/Garden Office. I am only half way through the process and there is little room left for working!

But, I love how it looks full. I will be crying out for help this winter as the darkness and dryness threaten to take them from me.

But for now they are lush and beautiful…

Love these two sitting side by side.
Yep. There is a lot more plants to bring in. Where will they go? There’s not much room left — even on the potting bench. Do you have any growing “room” to rent?

 

BLOOM THYME THIS WEEK…

Fingers crossed that fall lasts a long, long, long time.🍂

MODERN WINNERS STEEPED IN OLD WORLD CHARM

I am just back from my annual trek to the Biltmore Estate to participate in the Biltmore International Rose Trials. Once again I found myself steeped in the old world charm of a walled sunken garden to take an in-depth look at the most modern of roses. Hybridizers from around the world continue to work hard to bring us the best of the best for our home gardens..

WINE & ROSES

Our time in the garden begins on Friday evening with a wine and roses party. It is so wonderful to renew long time friendships and make new friends as we bond around our mutual love for the rose.

TIME FOR BUSINESS!

In the spirit of the Vanderbilt legacy we don our fancy clothes and hats and make our way to the task at hand.

It is my pleasure to share with you the 2019 Rose Trial Winners. These roses have been judged each season (even winter) for two years.

Moonlight Romantica (MEILkaquinz)

Meilland / Star Roses
Pauline Merrell Award – Best Hybrid Tea Rose

Sweet Hips (KAPswehp)

Weeks Roses
Lord Burleigh Award – Best Disease Resistant Rose

William Cecil Award – Best General Impression

Bliss Parfuma (KORmarzau)

Kordes
Edith Wharton Award – Best Floribunda Rose

Cupid’s Kisses (WEKtriscala)

Weeks – Bedard

Gilded Age Award – Best Climbing Rose

Coral Knock Out Rose (RADral)

Star Roses – Radler
Chauncey Beadle Award – Best Shrub Rose
George and Edith Vanderbilt Award – Most Outstanding Rose

SPECIAL THANKS TO…

…Our coordinator of the Biltmore Rose Trials, Paul Zimmerman, for his leadership and vision to work with amateur and professional hybridizers to provide the very best for our gardens.
…Parker Andes, Biltmore Director of Horticulture, and his teams for the care of the gardens and their commitment to the Biltmore vision.
…David Pike, CEO of Witherspoon Rose Culture and John Beaty of Beaty Fertilizers for sponsoring our cocktail party and awards luncheon.

AROUND THE GARDEN…

I wish for you days when you are steeped in what you love…

… with those you love.