Sometimes by Step

Today is a Potting Shed Day and I am thinking about all the steps in our lives right now. We are carefully going through steps to avoid COVID-19:

  • Stay Home
  • Wash your hands
  • Don’t touch your face

I am also going through steps to see that my seedlings have the very best chance at making it into the garden to flourish.

All of these steps remind me of one of my all time favorite songs Sometimes by Step by Rich Mullins.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAhw1Fq1ZLo

Rich Mullins’ music is my go to music and has been since the release of SONGS in 1996. I have it blaring in the Potting Shed today. This is my go to music in good times, bad times and when I need an extra measure of closeness to our Creator. Every song speaks to me. Do you have music that speaks to you at a time like this – when a pandemic rages around us?

My job today is potting up my seedlings. Some have needed this for some time. 🤦‍♀️ 

Let me go back and tell you about my original plan as far as seeds were concerned back in January … Plant a few tomatoes, some zinnias and a few things for FUN!

Practically every day since the pandemic hit our daily life, I have pulled out more seeds. I am so thankful for my hoarding tendencies when it comes to plant containers and seeds. I bought a few things this winter but not what I would have bought if I had known. It is probably good to note that my last trip out before quarantine was not the grocery story – it was Lowes for a few extra seeds and pansies. I WISH I HAD BOUGHT TONS MORE! While on that Lowe’s run, I was caught by my daughter who called and asked where I was. I couldn’t lie. Her reaction was, I WANTED YOU ON QUARANTINE YESTERDAY – now go home! 🙄

Now that I’ve confessed all that, let’s get to the tasks for today. I’ll take you through my process since several have asked but know this – I have never done mass production before. Some of these STEPS are not tried and true because I am using what I have on  hand.  Thanks for going through this experiment with me. I’ll share reports later.

Click on an image to open the gallery…

There are still many steps to go and pitfalls to avoid before we are successful –  like damping-off and too much “outside” too soon. Damping-off is a real issue for me as I tend to over water – which I equate to over loving.

These are scary times friends, but we are learning so much from the experiences too. My son put on social media his thoughts on how we can emerge from this…

As I struggle with all of this – the virus, mandatory closings, the lock down.. I am trying to be hopeful. I am trying to see this as a precipice.

I want to think that we can emerge from this as…

  • people who slow down
  • people who are passionate about our local community
  • people who cook at home more often
  • people who support local restaurants and farmers
  • people who think about where our food and goods come from
  • people who garden
  • people who go on walks
  • people who communicate better with our friends and family
  • people who check in on our neighbors

Changing behaviors and routines is one of the hardest things, but they say it only takes 21 days – we happen to have been given a whole month.

Yes, we can turn the scary into blessings.

BLOOM THYME

There is a lot of Spring springing here. I’ll post pictures tomorrow on Bloom Thyme Friday.

Today I’ll close with another of my favorite Rich Mullins’ songs – While the Nations Rage …

 

Seeds: Tiny Miracles

And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:11-12

THINGS ARE GOOD AROUND HERE!

I just placed my first seed orders and already simply can’t wait to get them in the ground. But, wait I will — as rushing any type of gardening is most often futile.

Seeds heading my way:

RENEE’S GARDEN

I am always looking for more bokay makers and found a couple to add from Renee’s.

Mulberry Rose Nigella  (link)

I already have two other colors and love them even though you have to keep your eyes on them. #overcheivers

White Bishop Lace (link)

 

Flashback Caledula (link)

Loving the colors and will add these to the yellow ones I usually plant.

 

BURPEE

Steak Sandwich Tomato

I happened on plants of this tomato at Lowe’s last year from the Bonnie Plant collection. Since I had never heard of this variety, I immediately took to my phone to do some research (don’t you love on the spot research!). I found a YouTube video of someone who was testing this tomato and things were looking very good. I took 3 home.

Background: WE LOVE LOVE LOVE TOMATOES. Every year we plant many varieties (mostly in pots). While we get a few good tomatoes per plant, we find that most “slicers” are stingy with their fruit. Our goal is both taste and quantity. This year the goal was met. Tons of delicious tomatoes (medium sized). Not being sure we will find the plants again, buying seeds is our insurance policy.

If you are interested in knowing all things tomatoes, I would recommend Craig LeHoullier’s Epic Tomatoes.

Image courtesy of Bonnie Plants

Senora Zinnia (link)

Look at that color. I can already see this one making beautiful bokays with roses!

SEEDS ALREADY WAITING IN THE POTTING SHED:

Look at this plethora of “special” seed packets that my grandsons helped me pick out while I was in England. I love each one for the memories they evoke. Many will make it to the garden this year. Some of the packets will adorn the Potting Shed.

 

WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE SEEDS.

Seed packet reading will be high on my list especially with so many new seeds from the UK.

Then, I will begin to jump start with indoor planting…

I take a small and simple approach to indoor seed starting based on my limited time, space and light. I use basic seed starting grow pots or starter kits filled with seed starting mix. When: For the seeds I am starting, I need about 5 – 7 weeks before our last frost date (see your seed packet for specific info) to get the seedlings where they need to be at planting time. Planting time is the last frost date and around here (Zone 5) that is Mother’s Day. The potting shed does not receive enough light and few spaces do this time of year, so I will have a grow light over my plants.

For additional details about seed starting, here is a quick but excellent video by Epic Gardening. Take a look

I find the whole seed process fascinating and fun! This is truly a special, miracle filled part of gardening! What a glorious day it will be when I see green! 🌱🌱🌱

LITTLE MIRACLES INDEED:

While not all seeds are tiny, many of our flower seeds are. Hard to believe something so small has everything needed to grow! Size certainly does not determine their effectiveness. Of course for many of them we do have a role to play in providing light and water. However, as I pull over achievers, whether cultivated or wild, out of my garden … I know all too well that seeds do their job very well — often without my help. They are quite proficient at recruiting wind, birds and such. I don’t know about you, but I am blessed with many over achieving seeds. 😉

2 Corinthians 9:6 says… The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

YESSSS! LET’S GO AND SOW BOUNTIFULLY IN LIFE AND IN THE GARDEN!

PS: I’ve been ordering a few roses too.😱 We’ll talk about that later.

Bloom Thyme Friday: Taking Note

While most of the world braces for the onslaught of “PUMPKIN SPICE EVERTHING,” I am thinking spring – and taking note of all the things in the garden that need “adjustment.” Lists are being made on things that will be moved, removed or added and a few new designs are being put to paper.  SIDE NOTE: I have used Evernote App (glorified note taker/document maker/to do list) for 7 years now for garden world work. It is a mobile ready app so no matter what device I have, the information has been synced and I pick up where I left off! Another great Evernote feature is it is sharable and works well for group collaboration.

My heart races at the thoughts of spring! I am armed with graph paper, Evernote notes, plant tags and ideas!

On my lists….

Perennials that need moving and maybe even dividing – peonies, phlox, iris, daylilles and ground cover. And then there’s the over achievers: daisies and black-eyed susans… of course they are way out of their bounds and need a bit of thinning.

Things on the list that will wait until early spring: Moving roses and hydrangeas. I have done this in the fall and sometimes it works, but sometimes winter comes early and they don’t have time to get established. This year I am waiting.

Things I need to make room for: 2020 rose releases!

My “taking note” includes going over HITS and MISSES this year. Here is a sampling…

HITS:

Tomatoes: Our luck with slicing tomatoes has been dismal the last couple of years. Whether in the ground or in a pot. We have tried it all. The yield was one or two, here and there.

NOT THIS YEAR… While at Lowes this spring I was slowly going through every tomato plant thinking “nah” on most of them. Then I came across one we had never grown before and I pulled out my handy dandy iPhone and did some research. Found a youtube video from someone who was trying this variety too and the vines looked great and there was plenty of tomatoes so I thought SOLD! Even though he had never gotten to the taste part, I was willing to give it a chance. Fast forward do today and we have had a zillion beautiful and oh so yummy tomatoes. No bugs. No disease. Just yum.

And the tomatoes we grew were Steak Sandwich from Bonnie Plants. Have you grown this plant?

I planted two 5” plants in large pots on the driveway and Mr. G painstakingly watered them and carefully tied them as they grew bigger and bigger and bigger. The storms blew them over a time or two, but they never stopped. Remember this picture from Instagram. This was taken on June 15. They are a wall now!

 

This pic was taken July 5! WO!! Wall of tomatoes. Remember this is 2 tomato plants!

We are still getting the most delicious tomatoes. I can’t tell you how many I’ve eaten! And have savored every one!

We now have a wall of tomatoes. It has been so fun. And so delicious. We’ll definitely plant these again. To be sure we get them, I will order seeds. I saw that Burpee has the seeds. WOO HOO WINNER!

Peggy Martin Rose: The winter of 2017-2018 was very hard on Peggy Martin. She had completely covered a large pergola …until winter hit. During the winter she died all the way back to the ground.

The summer of 2018 she grew and grew. To protect her I made the decision to provide extra winter protection by mounding  bark mulch and leaves to a little over 3 ft. Whether it was the extra mulch love or the winter, we will never know but she greeted 2019 with much enthusiasm – covering a good bit of the pergola again and bloomed like crazy.

This one-time blooming machine started the first of June and still had plenty of blooms the first of July. The rose that survived hurricane Katrina – survived one of the wettest springs on record as well as plenty of wind and storms. She was a crowd pleaser at Open Garden Day. Peggy Martin– WINNER! I saw on Chamblee’s Facebook page that they had a limited number of Peggy Martins for sale. It is such a popular rose, they sell out fast.

This was the first of June.

 

This was early July.

MISSES:

Zinnias: The seeds never had the chance to be spectacular …. too much early rain. My late attempt at starting seeds in pots was better, but still not what I had hoped. Will work on a new plan and maybe a new place for next year. While I was a bit disappointed, the butterflies found them heavenly!

The plan was that they would fill the back row of the Herb Garden…. Note – most of them “moved” to one side. It was probably more like “flowed” in the current of water that was out there!

 

Sweet Peas: First problem, I planted them late (busy schedule and flooding rains got in the way) and by the time they were huge and ready, it was too hot to bloom. Seriously, the vines still look spectacular — best ever. Wouldn’t it be nice if they bloomed when things cool down. It’s never happened before but I would love it. SIDE NOTE: I have never and I mean never seen sweet peas like the sweat peas in England. A feast for the eyes and nose. Couldn’t even capture in a photograph.

Here are a few cut ones at the Bosley Patch farmer’s market in Henley. Can you tell how big and luscious they are?

I bought these seeds in England. Hoping they will be my secret weapon next year! Stay tuned.

I’ll share more hits and misses next time.

FALL / WINTER ROSE CARE TIPS

If you re looking for my fall / winter care tips, read on here. Don’t treat them as gospel — I don’t because things change from year to year. Just as with your children or fur babies, you will know your roses best and will figure out what they need. But, I am happy to share the basics of what has worked for me.

PUMPKIN SPICE EVERYTHING

Everyone I know loves fall and for me it is a tenuous relationship at best. I LOVE SPRING. It is true that each year I am getting better and better at fall. It’s Mr. G’s favorite.

SO, let’s all go out and have some PUMPKIN SPICE fun. God sure does beautiful work in the fall and we don’t want to miss it.

Ecclesiastes 3:1: There is a time for everything … a time to plant and a time to uproot..

Seriously, I have a ton of things to “uproot”! I best get busy.

Here’s to Pumpkin Spice Lattes (and Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice cereal)!

Bloom Thyme Friday: Rain or Shine, I’m Not Gonna Whine

It’s true, rain or shine, I’m not gonna whine. It’s all good. Because of the rain, we have areas that are more beautiful than ever before at this time of year and areas that have been stunted.

The area hardest hit by the “wet” was the herb garden. I plant a lot of seeds in the herb garden and it was very late when I got them out and they are quite small. I believe that all of them, with the exception of the sweet peas will be fine. It might be too hot for the sweet peas before they get to be their best selves. Last year the zinnias were twice as tall or maybe 3 times as tall as they are this year but no worries there. They will be monsters soon enough.

Speaking of zinnias, I planted several varieties that I had not planted before — Enchantress (they don’t look like double giants yet ), Apricot Blush, and Blue Point. So excited to see how they do. Last year my California Giants did so well that they blocked more than one path through the garden — beautifully, I might add.  🙂 And, the pink ones (I don’t remember the variety.) were so “healthy” that they smashed out several of their neighbors before I got them staked.🙄

STORMY WEATHER

Last night as we were preparing the garden for events this weekend – another storm came, taking many blooms with it. This morning I see that it also brought many fresh new blooms – so “rain or shine, I’m not gonna wine.” Now if it rains on Saturday and our guests can’t tour the garden. I might whine a bit.

BIGGEST UPSIDE OF RAINY WEATHER

Very little, if any, hand watering. While I love the process of hand watering and getting up close and personal with my plants, my garden has grown to the size that it certainly takes some time to get that job accomplished.

BLOOM THYME THIS WEEK

There were so many things blooming this week that I told myself no more than 10 pictures. So, of course I’ll give you 13 plus a video. Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

New Dawn going up and over! Just as she should!
Peggy Martin doing what she does so beautifully. Shout to my beautiful friend Peggy too! xo
Peggy Martin reaching for the sky – beautifully
New Dawn and Etiole des Violette … good companions year after year
Mother of Pearl – I counted 25 blooms on one of the shrubs this morning. I have 3 shrubs of this gorgeous rose.
Freida Kahlo — so much prettier in person

 

Imogen (DA) my, my she’s pretty. She was in the garden last year but I don’t remember her being a standout. But this year that is a different story. LOVE HER.
Sweet Drift and Darcey Bussell (DA)
Most of the garden action around here happens in the back yard, but Mr. G was busy in the front yard so it wasn’t an embarrassment. I tend to forget we have a front yard. 🙂

 

First year for Queen of Sweden (DA) and she is stealing my heart!!

 

Rosa Mundi. What a standout. One-time bloomer but what a bloom.

 

Rosa Mundi and neighbors

If you need me, I’m in the garden deadheading the roses, so they can be their best selves for our guests tomorrow.🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹

 

 

Yes, rain or shine, it’s gonna be fine, but

I AM PRAYING FOR SHINE!

🙏🏻 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻 🙏🏻🙏🏻

Rose Companions: Zinnias

I have always loved Zinnias–they are such  good companions for roses! However, this year I was given State Fair Zinnias from my friend, Ron Daniels, and the only word that comes to mind is WOW. The hotter and drier it gets, the more these beauties bloom and bloom and bloom.

These lovelies are wonderful in arrangements as they just last and last in a vase!

A big bang for your buck! See…

Zinnia_013 Zinnia_016 Zinnia_010 Zinnia_017 Zinnia_011

State Fair Zinnias ... THANKS RON!
State Fair Zinnias … THANKS RON!

Seed-A-Palooza 2013

It’s seed thyme!

I love getting seed catalogs and I love it when the garden centers have seeds! Yesterday we were at Lowes and yes the seeds were out! I found a few Burpee gems that I am very excited about…

PURITY ZINNIA: 5″ white dahlia-like flowers that are “wonderful for bouquets”!!! These are going to look so good with the roses!

MILKMAID NASTURTIUM: This delicate cream-colored climber is the closest thing to a white nasturtium that exists.

EXQUISITE ZINNIA: A spectacular Burpee-bred heirloom. Large 4-5″ blooms open red and age to soft pink. I bet these will be fabulous vased with my pink & red roses!

KALEIDOSCOPE MIX LARKSPUR: A blend of Larkspur species: D. ajacis, D. regatlis, D. ambigua and D. yunnanense. Larkspur is a wonderful companion to roses!

KALEIDOSCOPE MIX CARROT: Mix includes 20% each of Atomic Red, Bambino, Cosmic Purple, Solar Yellow and Lunar White. FUN!

LITTLE FINGER CARROT: Tiny gourmet carrots that grow only 3 1/2″ long, perfect for serving whole. YUM

I will add these packages to my very organized (thanks to my Seed Keeper) seeds left over from last year!

Seed Collage

Now back to the seed catalogs to search for more treasures. Another one I must have is Nigella!

What seeds are you excited about this year?

Bloom Thyme Friday: The Good. The Bad. The Ugly. Part 2.

The gorgeous Flamenco rose has required very little water / from the Biltmore Collection

Today we start 9 weeks of drought… as you know my garden is very large and I have had to limit watering to my roses and tomatoes and alternating trees and shrubs that are closest to our living area.

As I write this I am in the garden looking up at a simply gorgeous summer sky… not a cloud in site! Even in times of drought, God does amazing things… with people and with plants.

There is always an up side, I read that it looks like the US will set a record in the month of July for the fewest tornadoes on record. After the horrible storms of last summer (remember Joplin, MO), that is sure welcome.

And, as far as the roses are concerned, they are usually covered in Japanese Beetles at this time of year and so far we have seen very few. In their place are beautiful blooms without bug bites! That is sure welcome!

Zinnias can take the heat…
Roses get watered once a week and still keep going!
Tomatoes get water a couple times each week….
Hydrangeas in the side yard…
Sunny Knockouts and wave petunias can definitely take the heat!
Black-eyed Susans can take the heat.
More Zinnias with Phlox that is also beating the heat very well.
First bloom of Tropicana … rescued from sale table.
Gold Medal Grandiflora….
Picture worth a thousand words…

Bloom Thyme Friday: Beating the Heat

This is a week of record high temps (99 – 103), so I find myself extremely grateful for the plants that are “beating the heat.”

Just when I was about to panic about the lack of water and intense heat, David Strickland of Witherspoon Rose Culture, our guest on Blog Talk Radio today told the story of his roses going without water for 6 weeks last year and once the rains came–the roses came back too.

So presently we are beating the heat with iced tea, fighting the Japanese Beetles and waiting for rain … and watering as much as we can! As CWO (Chief Watering Officer) the garden hose is in my hand most days!)

These are the troopers beating the heat and taking the sunny center stage in our garden… Click on the first picture and the gallery feature will open so the pictures won’t look so tiny.