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: 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: It’s Not Too Early

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

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

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

My front row seat last year …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

THE YEAR OF …

The National Garden Bureau is celebrating 100 years. Congratulations!

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

2021 NGB YEAR OF PLANTS…

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

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

BASIL

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

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

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

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

Do you have a basil that you particularly like?

Here is the yummy Tomato Salad Recipe

GARDEN JOURNALS

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

A YEAR IN THE GARDEN … A GUIDED JOURNAL

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

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

 

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

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

Until next time…  be well and be safe. xo

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

BLOOM THYME FRIDAY: 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: 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: SUMMER VIBES

Wow. July has been so summery!☀️🔥☀️The sun is so bright and hot. The humidity is so high making it even hotter but I am not complaining. Really I’m not. I remember winter – those long, dark days that last forever and then some! 🥶 Yes, I want all the summer vibes summer has to give.
🌺☀️🍅🥤🌱🌹🍦🌼🍉🌻

BREAK IN THE WEATHER

We are getting a break in the weather. The weather app tells us that we are going from nearly 100 each day to mid-70s each day for a week or so. I can’t wait.

TREATING THE GARDENER

Recently, I made myself a “pretty” lunch to have in the garden. I know that sounds like really – you don’t do that regularly. Typically,  “pretty” lunches are reserved for when I have guests in the garden while I regularly eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on the run until it is time for my afternoon coffee at 3 pm. These days that coffee is ICED! The whole “pretty” lunch thing was made easier when I decided that I was making lunch for the “gardener.” And, I was. 😉😉

What a treat this very simple “pretty” meal that I prepared for “the gardener” was and it fueled my body and my senses for more creative work that afternoon. I know as gardeners we usually push through and “get more done.” I can tell you there will be more “pretty” lunches around here.

A few weeks ago I took a small bistro table from the deck to my new area THYME OUT in hopes of special dinners with Mr. G there. Since we aren’t going out to restaurants right now, I wanted to create a new “restaurant” space. I even bought a new table cloth! So far, it has been too hot outside to actually enjoy dinner there.  I’m hoping our break in the weather this week will give us that time. We still have other outdoor spaces to use but isn’t it nice to have someplace new to go! Especially since we are home so much! Now I am looking through the cabinets for just the right candles for the table!

BLOOM THYME

If you have been following along with me for a while you know I am growing dahlias for the first time and we have been waiting and watching to see what that “bag of mixed dahlias” would do.

While they are not in full bloom, they are coming along nicely. Making me know I want to grow them again and I want to be more selective in what tubers I buy for next year! Having a daughter in England makes you long for such flowers that seem to grow effortlessly there. In my zone dahlias are often NOT spectacular and have the added chore of being lifted and stored for the winter or you can grow them as annuals. If you want to see some spectacular dahlias for sale, hop over to Eden Brothers website here.

The JBs are still eating a few flowers but we have turned the corner and I am getting much more from the garden than they are! Leaving me plenty of bokay makers.

Dahlia

Dahlias

Dahlias

TOMATOES

We have so many tomatoes – but they are all still green! It’s even too hot for tomatoes! They will respond much better when the temps drop.

I am dreaming of our first BLT. I have pre-cooked bacon ready in the freezer and fresh mayo just waiting on fresh bread and ripe tomatoes. I have jars washed and am going through recipes for what I will do with the “more than we can eat” — if that happens.
(13 plants for 2 people😳🍅😱)

Thankfully, we had rain this week but as I look at the garden this morning, you wouldn’t know it. It literally seems to vanish into “thin air” …  most likely accounting for the extremely high humidity. Yes, we are looking forward to a “break” in that this weekend too.

TIME GOES BY SO FAST – even during a pandemic.

Hot or not with only 55 or so days until fall, I am going to squeeze out all the summer I can every day! While we are on the subject of time — it’s only 147 days until Christmas and then the start of a new year. We could have never predicted what 2020 would hold for us. 2021, what will you bring? Well, that’s a subject of much prayer.

Thanks for stopping by. Hope you have great weather this weekend as we head into August – and garden harvest time. Did someone say Zucchini Bread!?!

Summer vibes.