Sunday, April 25, 2010


We lock our souls in cages
We hide inside our shells

There ain't no drug
The sickness is myself

I've made a mess of me
I want to get back the rest of me
I want to spend the rest of my life alive

I want to reverse this tragedy
I want to spend the rest of my life alive

For many reasons, that song has really resonated with me lately. And, yes, despite my lack of posting, I am still alive. And so is my garden. Walk with me now and we'll have a little look-see at what's blooming.

It's been raining and everything is sprouting by leaps and bounds. Last fall I dug up a bunch of bleeding hearts from my mom's garden, and was surprised that some of them are white. Aren't they cute?

Starting at the front of the house, here are some cute primroses.

The purple sand cherry outside my front door was blooming when I got home from Chicago. The pale petals are very bright at night.


Look how tall the peony is already--they normally bloom in mid June!

Aw, my little Geum triflorum finally has buds (waves to Xan and Kylee).

PPPP (thanks, Gail!) is doing really well in the foreground, and there's the giant Euphorbia in the background, plus Jimi, Sandy (my car), and Pinky (flamingo).

In a long bed that parallels my house and the street, this native ninebark has really taken off. I got it a few years ago looking literally like one small twig.

Nearby the ninebark, my little $3.33 Pieris is kicking out blooms and taking names.

Isn't she the sweetest? (Just smile and nod.)

In the same bed, my darling fothergilla is starting to bloom.

In the xeric bed along my driveway, these little rock garden sedum seem to be doing well.

Farther up in the xeric bed, is rattlesnake master, one of my favorite Michigan natives. I just love the leaf margins!

Got the creeping phlox on sale past-bloom last season so I'm happy to see it flower!

The candytuft was another sale find last year, and I also welcome its first-time blooms for me.

A few Trillium at the north side of my house, which is my shadiest area. There were some Jack in the Pulpits here as well, but...

Moving along the north side of the house, and the only boundary with a neighbor, this viburnum smells wonderful!

And looks nice, too.

I was shocked to see hops growing near my privacy partition. It was given to me last year but I thought it had died, because no foliage ever came up. Sweet!

On my deck are winter-sown containers, plus some larger things that have been planted into larger containers while waiting to be planted out. These radishes will go into a container with the baby carrots (thanks, Lisa!) as soon as the carrots are large enough.

Turnips are looking good.

The marrowfat (or maro) peas are coming along nicely--I can't wait to make mushy peas. (Thanks so much, Anna, for mailing me the seeds from England!)

I got the Bintje potatoes, which were sprouting, planted in a container last week. As the foliage comes up, I'll add more soil to the tub.

These irises (possibly from Randy) along the east side of my house are blooming very early this year.

The cat garden has the most color I have in any one place in spring.

In case you missed it above, tulips! So far this year, no groundhog damage (knock wood)! The Valerian in the background is taking over the cat garden (be warned, Sweetbay).

Along the north side of my garden, I've had this funky viburnum for at least five years and this is the first year it's flowered. It also seems to keep its leaves all through the winter, unlike any other viburnum I know.

Some bleeding hearts in bloom, plus hosta and lilies coming up, in the east wild bed.

Now that so much buckthorn is gone, I have a better view into the park. I'd never realized there was some spring color hiding back there!

Farther west along the south property line is this little lilac with just one bloom.

Also really early this year, usually early June!

Farther west still along the same south bed is the area mostly cleared earlier this season by the city. There's still a lot of clearing out for me to do, too.

With Jimi in the background of so many photos, I asked Bizi to come out and pose in the cat garden. Even though I normally can't keep this cat inside, of course she refused to come out just because I wanted her to. Yep, that's Fiona. (Fiona = Fi = Fizi = Bizi.)

Moving inside, I indoor-sowed a tray of mixed cactus seedlings. By and large they haven't come up yet because my house isn't warm enough. I didn't think this normal-looking cotyledon leaf was a cactus, but now that it's growing spikes, well, maybe it is.

This more nub-like shape is more what I expected (sorry about photo quality).

The amaryllis I bought on sale the day after Christmas is finally blooming.

Hope you enjoyed your little tour.

I'm going to try to post this coming week about other recent fun stuff but... we'll see!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Compost Lessons

I'm teaching a class on composting at WCC next week. It's always a lot of fun. Chocolate and a breakout session are involved.

I wonder, if you had only one tip, piece of advice, lesson learned, or other wisdom to share with people new to composting, what would it be?

This is the third year I'm teaching this course and my syllabus is all set... but I'm always eager to learn from others and am happy to share anything new I may learn from you, oh so knowledgeable blogging friends!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Hippity Hoppity, Nasties on the Way

Happy Easter, everyone! This is my second post for the Seed GROW Project, organized by Mr. Brown Thumb, with nasturtium seeds (Tropaeolum majus 'Spitfire') donated by Renee's Garden.

As shown in a previous post, I winter sowed some of the seeds in a milk jug on March 5 and some in a seed flat on March 6.

By March 30, the nasturtiums sowed in the seed flat had sprouted and their seed leaves were just starting to unfurl. Aren't they the cutest things ever? The ones sown in the milk jug had not yet come up. I think it's probably a bit warmer in the seed flats than in the milk jugs.

Only a few days later, on April 3, five of the six nasties sowed in the flat had their full, unfurled seed leaves. (I don't know what's up with the sixth seed, but I'm sure it will sprout soon.) I love nasties because their seed leaves are so similar to their true leaves, unlike most plants whose seed leaves look like rabbit ears.

On April 3, the first of the nasturtiums sown in the milk jug had popped up, too. The rest can't be far behind.

I plan to grow some of the nasties up a chain link fence and others in my veggie garden.

Speaking of Seeds...
Back in January, I started two snail mail seed swaps, and both recently returned to me. After picking out a few seeds for myself (you guys sent some interesting stuff to pick from!), I packed up the remainder and donated it to Growing Hope. Their director was excited to use the seeds for the Growing Gardens program. Thanks to all for participating, and hope you all found something you liked. Special thanks go to Frances, who had a lot of extra seeds to share.

asked what seeds I took for myself, and in case anyone else is wondering, I got quite a haul:
  • Bean, white half-runner
  • Blue shrimp plant ‘Pride of Gibraltar’
  • Collard greens
  • Columbine
  • Coreopsis ‘Sunfire’
  • Cosmos 'Cosmic Orange'
  • Dill
  • Golden Alexander
  • Grass ‘Little Bluestem’
  • Hollyhock, yellow
  • Lion’s tail
  • Mustard greens
  • Poppy ‘Black Peony’
  • Poppy 'Shirley'
  • Radish ‘Sparkler’
  • Rudbeckia ‘Cherry Brandy’
  • Sage, scarlet
  • Salvia ‘Victoria Blue’
  • Sea holly
  • Squash ‘Uchiki Kuri’
  • Sunflower
  • Sunflower 'Cinnamon Sun Red'
  • Sunflower 'Giant Headed'
  • Tomato ‘Black Russian’
  • Tomato ‘Moneymaker’
  • Tomato ‘Red Short Vine’
  • Tomato ‘San Marzano’
  • Toothache plant
I've winter-sown most of them, though I'll direct sow a few in my newly cleared areas!

Now you'll please excuse while I go nom nom nom eat my Lindt Easter rabbit which I've successfully saved for about 6 weeks now!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Oh Happy Day!

City foresters came on Wednesday to cut down three ramshackle, dying boxelder trees (Acer negundo) on city park property near the south side of my house. In order to be able to get at the trees, they had to remove a bit of over- and undergrowth in the area. And that growth, my friends, was none other than my sworn garden enemy, buckthorn. Yippee!!

Now, you know how much I hate buckthorn. I know you do. You read about my removal efforts here. You cheered about my clearing progress here. You patiently listened to my Scorn of Buckthorn song here.

So I don't have to tell you how gratifying it was to see some of it coming down, but I'll say it anyway. It was marvelous! An area equivalent to what took me weeks and weeks, over years, to clear was gone in about an hour.

If I would have been sure I could have gotten right back up, I would have dropped to my knees, that's how thankful I was. And if I hadn't been so happy, I probably would have cried.

The first boxelder (first photo) was fairly straightforward to fell. The second (above) had multiple trunks.

Timber! The third boxelder goes down. (The white pine branches are left over from holiday decorations and I'm saving them for pine straw.)

They had a winch rope that helped pull the felled trees to the shredder. A lot easier than pulling them yourself, I can assure you.

I wish I had a shredder like this. I had to cut up dozens of 15-ft trees to get them to fit into twenties of yard waste bags. Die buckthorn die! Buhahaha!

Here's what the cleared area looks like. I've still got a lot to pull out and clean up, but it's huge progress. The pink line is where my previously cleared section starts.

Positive side effects are that my veggie bed will now get more sun, and I can expand the bed as well because more sun reaches what used to be a shadier corner of the bed. Plus, much of my front garden will get more sun too and that's a plus because most of my plants need more sun than they've been getting. And, in the cleared area, all of a sudden I have room to plant certain things I had no idea where they were going to go, like an awesome hummingbird seed mix from Botanical Interests. (Um, it doesn't grow hummingbirds but plants hummers like.)

That's a win-win-win. Hooray!