December 24, 2020

Christmas Flowers

I bought myself some flowers from the grocery store--carnations and tulips.
My husband bought me a pretty Christmas arrangement from Costco the next week.
Ever since he brought it home I was kind of dying to pull it apart and redo it.
So I finally did. 
It was a good thing, too! 
They hadn't even stripped the stems, so the water was pretty gross and several of the flowers were moldy underneath.
It felt good to pull them all out and create something new with what was useable.
Flowers make me so happy! 
Merry Christmas everyone!

December 8, 2020

The Riddle of the Labyrinth, by Margalit Fox

I just re-read a book, that was on my kindle. I don't remember reading the first time at all! It was 5 years ago, which I only know because I wrote a review of it on Goodreads (below)! I'm laughing at myself here, because the big reveal at the end--which language was it on the tablets?--came as a complete and satisfying surprise the second time around, too. Hoo boy! 

The Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code, by Maraglit Fox

3 stars

 The story of American linguist Alice Kober's work to crack the code found on ancient Cretan tablets. As it was an unknown script in an unknown language, it was the hardest type to even attempt. Kober's efforts became the stepping stones used by Michael Ventris to solve the puzzle later. She has been largely left out of the narrative, thus this book.

I enjoyed learning about cryptography, and about the Linear B script in particular. The lives of the principal characters were also very interesting.

Just the kind of narrative nonfiction I like.

This time around, I would up that rating to at least 4 stars, if not 5. It was fascinating (again--ha!) to read about how linguists can figure out what ancient scripts say. Even more so, I would say, because in our homeschooling history lessons right now we have talked a lot about the hieroglyphs of Ancient Egypt. We read a whole book together on the Rosetta Stone and Champollion, the French man who figured out the language of the hieroglyphics. 

With that new background fresh in mind, I was particularly interested in Fox's discussions on the different types of written languages. Some use alphabets, where one character stands for one sound. Some are syllabary (may have spelled that wrong), where one character stands for the sound of a syllable; some are iconographic, where each word is written with a different symbol or picture; and some are mixed. Looking at a ancient tablet with what has to be writing of some kind on it, though, how in the world do you figure out which it is? 

As in the case of Linear B, you may not only need to figure out which type of language you have, and what all the sounds mean, you may have to figure out which language is actually written on the tablet. That is, if it's even a known language on there. Along with that, there are so many other things that we take for granted with our known languages written in known scripts: do you read it left to right, or some other way? What are the rules of the language--grammar or otherwise?  So you start to look for clues. 

The linguists who work on these ancient languages have to have immense amounts of patience and attention to detail. Kober's work was truly incredible, and it was work! She wrote every character down on homemade file cards (paper was scarce due to the recent war), and then noted where it was in relation to other characters in every word. She had boxes and boxes of little cards by the time of her untimely death. Armed with all of that information she had gathered, she was able to draw up tables of the characters in relation to each other. Her tables are what Ventris based his work on, which finally deciphered the code.

Anyway, we had some great discussions about ancient languages, and what clues are left behind in the language itself for the linguists to track down, like following a rabbit trail in the dark woods on a snowy night. The lives of the principle characters also gave us some good fodder for discussion. 

Next, I think we may try our hand at writing messages in an ancient language. There are several books that have examples of hieroglyphics, for example, that would give us a good start.

November 16, 2020

Rain in the Forecast


[This less-than-spectacular picture is of the resident elk herd--our first sighting.]

So, we made it! Here we are in Oregon!
It is really good to be here.
Also, it is very wet.
Every single day.
That's what coastal living is all about, right? 
That's what brings all the amazing wildflowers, ferns, and gigantic trees!
It's just a huge change.
I mean, I knew it would be, going into this move, but there's knowing and then there's experiencing.

So here's an abbreviated version of the forecast for this week:
RAIN--every single day. Some days more than others, maybe.
If you're lucky.
Oh yeah, and WIND. Also every day.
That about sums it up.
In addition, right now there are 5, count them, 5 separate weather warnings for our area.
Let's see if I can get them all straight:
there's the storm warning for tomorrow--very very windy and rainy, stay indoors, and away from trees and/or windows; okay, add to that a high wind warning (see advice above); let's not forget the gale warning--I think it's basically the same as high wind, but for the ocean/rivers--they discuss wind speed in knots in that one; what am I up to now? only 3. Hmm... oh yeah, two separate coastal storm or wind watches, in which you are strongly warned to stay the heck off the beaches and out of the water already! Basically a coastal jet is forming, which I think means really strong winds, going up the coast. 
So in other words, batten down the hatches, kids, we're in for a blow!

Is this normal for this area? 
I have no idea! We just moved here 2 weeks ago!
It is definitely not normal for anyplace I've ever lived!

In the middle of all of the rain and high winds, the sun will come out and it gets oddly warm for November. This evening it was positively balmy out there--60 degrees or some crazy thing--while lightly sprinkling, of course. 

I'm not complaining, really. 
I'm just...adjusting.
My decade of desert living has left me unprepared to be encompassed by water every day.
There's an old saying that goes something like this:
"In the West, whiskey is for drinking, and water is for fighting!"
It's so true! 
Well, I can't vouch for the whiskey, but water is a big deal!
People get so worked up about water rights and there's water ditch companies who divvy up the shares of ditch water. (Half a share may get you a 40 minute turn every 10 days, at random times of day and night.) Secondary water is a thing that you have to know about.
Water is a constant worry.
In the winter, you watch the news to see if this year's snowpack is big enough to make a difference in the ongoing drought. Every summer, you watch the reservoirs dip lower and lower with dread. 
Will this be the year the water runs out? 

And now we're here. 
1 mile from the Pacific Ocean.
1 river across the street and another between us and the ocean.
Countless streams and creeks every which way.
One of the biggest rivers in the U.S. just 30 miles north of us.
A puddle at the end of our driveway that has its own tides, based on the way it ebbs and flows on a daily basis.

So we are trying to adapt. We purchased rain coats for all who did not have them. We fixed the broken wiper on my windshield. We are learning that if you wait for the rain to stop to do something outside, you'll never go outside. 
Meanwhile, the lawns are green here. Still, in November! Flowers bloom in many yards, unaware that just 2 states away, they would be covered with snow right now.
We go on hikes in woods so green and verdant that we can hardly believe it.

We are rich with water!
Now if we can just figure out to live in it.
Maybe we need to grow some gills. 

October 4, 2020

A Bit of Last-Minute Canning


We decided about a month ago that we weren't going to do any canning this fall. 
Nope, none. No time--especially not with trying to sell our house and pack. 
Just no.
Then we harvested 4 buckets of apples from our apple tree. 
Wormy apples, most of them, but good tasting despite that.
Then before frost hit, we harvested tomatoes galore--bins and bowls and strainers full. Also, 4 buckets of green tomatoes. Plus onions, peppers (sweet and hot), cucumbers.
I just couldn't stand to see all that produce go to waste!
I made some comments about giving it away, but deep down, I didn't want to! My kids had worked so hard on their gardens this year and we were blessed with this abundant harvest. 
I just had to do something with it.

So. We had already packed all of our empty bottles, and some of the canning equipment, like the Vittorio strainer for applesauce. 
Moms to the rescue! I knew my mom still had her Vittorio strainer, and bless her heart, she also had bottles that she just gave to me! 
I had stocked up on lids last year, which was a good thing, since they are very scarce this fall.
So last week we did our homeschool Monday through Wednesday, then we were off to Grandma's Wednesday afternoon.
Thursday was applesauce day! 
It was so fun to can with my mom! It was actually the first time I've been able to do that.
She has a pretty slick setup for canning in her new house, let me tell you.
25 quarts of applesauce, done!

Then Friday we went down to my mother-in-law's to take care of the rest.
She had offered to just do it for us, but we couldn't let her do that.
We came bearing all of our tomatoes, onions, and peppers, several spices, and various other assorted canning things we could round up.
I think we all underestimated the sheer amount of tomatoes we had to process.
She kept pulling bottles out of her garage--by the time all was said and done, we had used up every last bottle on her shelf, except for the extra small half-pint sizes.
We did 28 quarts of regular red salsa on Friday.
Saturday we did 14 quarts + 7 pints of green tomato pickles.
Since we can't even open those for 3 weeks, we won't know how we like them until after the move.
We finished up the day Saturday with 21 pints of salsa verde, also using the green tomatoes.
In addition, I have a big batch of barbecue sauce that I need to finish up here at home tomorrow, and get it canned. It was way to vinegary for my taste, but we ran out of bottles, so I didn't finish working on it. We will have to pull a box of pint jars out of storage to put the BBQ sauce into!

It's ironic that we made so much salsa this year, since I haven't made it for several years.
I hadn't found a recipe I liked, so it seemed a waste of time.
I am happy to report we all tried the salsa--both varieties--and liked them.
That's a relief!

So after I can BBQ sauce tomorrow, then I'll really be done. For real, this time.
No, I mean it.
Second wave of packing up starts this week! 
We are a little more than 2 weeks out from moving truck.

September 20, 2020

Utah Home, Then and Now

 As we're getting ready to move to Oregon (by the way, we're moving to Oregon!), I thought it would be fun to do the same Before and After series that I did for our Pullman home. 

When we moved in, everything was brown, dead, and dry. There were very few flowers, and a lot more fruit trees. Our outbuildings have changed quite a bit. Are you ready? Here we go!

Front of House



Not a huge difference, except the lawn and the little maple tree are both alive and green.
For those with very sharp eyes, you may notice that the swamp cooler is also no longer on the roof--we switched to central air!

Front Flowerbeds


Admittedly, this bed is chock full of bindweed.
I should have taken a picture after the last time we weeded it!
It has a couple of rose bushes, a peony, some irises, and lots of spring bulbs.

I do enjoy this front corner bed. It's got all kinds of things in it these days: sedum, daylilies, asters, roses, peonies, irises, scabiosa. It makes me happy all summer long.

We also added these front flowerbeds all the way down the fence on either side.
I still feel like I was just getting started with those, but what's in there is pretty.

Front Shade Beds



A little more greenery in there. 
I meant to put matching hydrangeas on each side, but ended up only getting the left side planted with those. I also added lady's mantle, feverfew, heuchera, and hostas.

Back Yard


Garden spot, orchard, and the woodshed there on the right.

Woodshed, fire pit, garden shed

Looking back towards the house.

Far back corner


Garden with greenhouse

A much more sparse orchard, unfortunately.
Chicken Palace in the background.
Our fruit trees have died off like crazy!

Our new fire pit area, and the shed we put in.

Woodshed and garden tool storage add-ons to the shed.
The inside essentially became my husband's workshop.

Garden area, from the back deck.

Looking back at the house. New deck.

Toward the far corner.

Back Flowerbeds



This bed doesn't look all that different than before, but the surroundings are much nicer! :) 

We did finally get this corner flowerbed put in.

This is another flowerbed full of good stuff, and also full of bindweed.
It has been a losing fight on my end with the bindweed here.
This bed also holds 5 peonies, coreopsis, yarrow, daisies, a couple of sickly rosebushes, and several spring bulbs.

Oval Flowerbed



Well, this is not the glamour shot by any means!
Also, I had this bed completely weeded a month ago and now it's full of grass and bindweed again.
So from 6 lonely rose bushes, it now has a pie cherry tree, several roses, a peony, lots of spring bulbs, 2 ninebark bushes, bachelor's buttons, asters, phlox, and coreopsis.

Here was this bed back in May:

A little better representation of the goodness!

I am proud of what we accomplished in the 3 years we've been here. 
Now we're headed off to a rental home, with a tiny little yard, and no landscaping duties at all.
I wonder what we're going to do with our time? 

September 10, 2020

Saying Goodbye is Hard to Do


This has been a big summer. Along with the rest of the world, COVID has changed my business and my personal life in big and small ways, across the board. However, before coronavirus ever reared its ugly head, my husband and I had been discussing the possibility of a move. He has been looking for a new job for some time now, and none of the options here in Utah were quite right.

So we decided to look further afield. We have always loved the Oregon Coast, so that’s where we began applying for jobs. After an interview trip in June, we decided to accept an offer in Astoria, Oregon. We are excited to move there! I think this will be a great move for our family.

However, I am sad about closing up my business here and all that I’ve built and grown over the past 2.5 years. In fact, I have put off writing this post for longer than I should have, probably. We are in the thick of packing up, and getting our house sold, and it really is time to say goodbye. I just hate to let this go!

I am thankful for all I have learned. It has been an intense season of learning for me, in all aspects of the business, from growing flowers for profit, to designing, to marketing and business-related things. I have loved every bit of it! It has brought me so much joy to share my love of flowers with you and your loved ones!

Thank you for all of your support. For your orders, yes, but also for your encouragement! Running a farm and a business are both endeavors with big ups and downs. I so appreciate all those who have helped me get up and dust myself off after the myriad of disappointments, and keep going. Also, for those who have cheered me on through the successes—thank you!

I don’t know what the future holds for my little flower farm and business, at this point. We have not found a home yet in Oregon, so we may be renting for awhile—which could make it hard to grow things. We are homeschooling our kiddos, and I already know that will take up a significant amount of my time moving forward. So, I don’t know any specifics yet.

What I do know is that I still love flowers! I will continue growing them and sharing them. There are many different farmer-florist business models out there. I’ve given some thought to changing directions with this business when I open back up again—possibly running it as a U-Pick, or a non-profit (deliver to seniors or hospitals, or….?) At the same time, I truly love the everyday flowers—seeing the spark of happiness on someone’s face when they open the door and realize that someone they love has remembered them and cares about what they’re experiencing—happy or sad. When the time is right to open back up, I will see what would be the best fit and go from there.

I am truly grateful to have had this experience. I will be leaving all my flowers behind, but I will bring with me all that I have learned—along with lots of seeds! :)

Let’s stay in touch!

I will keep my bluebirdflowerfarm Instagram account open and would love to see you over there!

May 22, 2020

The In-Betweens

Apple blossoms

Just delivered week 3 of my Spring Subscriptions. One more week to go! This has been such a fantastic experience—I am loving it! It makes me so happy to share my flowers with people who appreciate them and are excited to receive them every week. It makes me very tuned in to what is blooming each and every week, as well, and where I have gaps to fill. Just for my own note-taking, it’s time I make a list of what I have had blooming each week so far, along with ideas for filling in more of those gaps.

I’m going to list the date from each Thursday, as that’s when I have been and will be cutting blooms for subscriptions. I put in all caps what I had the most of in a given week.

Week of:

April 9: Earliest daffodils (too small to harvest for subs)

April 16: Frittilaria meleagris—still pretty short, 8-10” (kept growing taller each week, until eventually 2+ feet!)

April 23: DAFFODILS (most in gooseneck stage probably 4-5 days earlier.)

April 30: Early tulips, fully open. (Would need to harvest earlier if to be used for subs/cuts—so maybe 4-23?). Still daffodils, hyacinths, and also grape hyacinths. Camassia? (Picked some week of 5-14, but most were done by then.)

** May 7: TULIPS—mid singles (all my orange, red, and yellows,) and early doubles (my purples). Lilac buds—just swelling and turning a pretty purple color. Last of the daffodils.

May 14: LILACS. A few late tulips, including parrots. First of the perennial bachelor’s buttons and early alliums. ORNAMENTAL PLUM, apple blossoms, pie cherry.

May 21: PERENNIAL BACHELOR’S BUTTONS. (Harvested 1 bucket, could have cut 5 or 6 more buckets full.) ALLIUMS (these were the big purples, most of the smaller haven’t quite bloomed yet but have buds.) Ornamental plum foliage (blossoms all dropping,) ninebark foliage. 1 early iris blooming (not enough for subs.) Catmint—too short for subs. (I planted ‘Junior Walker’ to fit into the allotted space better, but if I plant the regular ‘Walker’s Low’ next time, I’ll bet they would be long enough to cut.)

Speculation for next week: (May 28): Bearded irises—they all have buds. More perennial bachelor’s buttons. Hoping for wintered-over annual BB’s to start up production. Right now have 2 blooms open on those. Possibly the smaller white alliums, although their stems are still so short! Will try pulling them, like tulips, and see if that gives me long enough for subs.

Spring subscription leftovers: lilacs, ornamental plum, and a couple of short camassias!

A couple of thoughts:

Maybe next year I should offer a 4-week Spring Flower Subscription from the last Friday in April to the week after Mother’s Day, then give myself a break during this gap. I’m really hoping my irises will come through for me next week, but I’m going to be combing through the rest to find stuff to put with them. I may have to purchase from a fellow farmer to fill out the bouquets.

All of my peonies have many buds on them (!) but the only ones that even stand a chance of being ready for next week’s subscriptions are the Coral Charm out front.

Other flowers with buds right now: columbine (out front), salvia (still very short), clematis

Flowers I need to plant more of to fill in this gap are: bearded irises, alliums, and flowering shrubs. I have leaned pretty heavily on my flowering trees and shrubs for filler during these early times. I haven’t cut any of the fruit tree branches to put in, although I would consider it if we had several trees.

I also want to try again at growing anemones and ranunculus next year, in hopes of them filling in this mid-May gap.

My cool flowers have pretty much just sat in their rows and done nothing for the past 6 weeks. I need to figure out what’s going on with them, because I think they should be blooming right now to help fill in as well. At least some of them should be. That’s the point of planting them in April, isn’t it? So I’ll be very interested to see when they actually start blooming. They are getting bigger and finally look like they’re growing, but no flowers yet. I think those really hard freezes mid-April may have set them back quite a bit.

Also, when are my hundreds of Dutch irises going to bloom? Seriously! I was counting on them to help a sister out right about now, but I don’t even see buds on them yet. Maybe they’re waiting for an invitation.

p.s. We are heading out of town in a week. If my peonies and Dutch irises all bloom while we’re gone I will be fit to be tied!

** Spring Subscriptions started. Also, Mother’s Day weekend (5-10).

May 13, 2020

First and Last

Last of the daffodils for this year.

This was a great week for us here at Bluebird Flower Farm! Our Spring Subscription started last Friday. YAY! I’m always watching for what’s blooming, but last week I was watching everything like a hawk, I tell you! Particularly the tulips—as I mentioned, tulips blow open very quickly in the heat, and I knew we were going to have some warm days mid-week. I needed every tulip I could get my hands on for the subscriptions (x 3) plus 7 Mother’s Day arrangements.

So I was going out a couple of times per day to pull up any tulips that were ready and get them in the cool garage. “Ready” meaning “still closed but showing a hint of color.” I also cut lilac buds and harvested the last of the daffodils, and the first of the perennial bachelor’s buttons. Fun times. I did end up purchasing some flowers from a flower farm in Ogden that sells wholesale, which was great too! Tom grows such beautiful flowers and I was happy to be supporting a fellow flower farmer. I purchased a little bit of greenery from the regular wholesaler as well. I had a good mix that was mostly locally grown blooms. Just a note: as my subscriptions are a harvest share, I used all my own flowers and filler for those!

I had a lot of fun putting together arrangements again. I missed that in April! I put together a few for myself last month, but there’s nothing like making them for someone else and then seeing the joy they bring to that person when you deliver them.

This is the exact stage my alliums are at right now—just breaking open. This was taken last year, on May 19. We are a full week ahead of last year!

This week I’m looking forward to subscriptions again. It’s going to be a purple week! I’ve got 2 different types of alliums in bloom, both purple, plus blue violet camassias, baby blue camassias, and purple perennial bachelor’s buttons. I may even find a few grape hyacinths (purple and blue as well!) to add in there. My daughter and I experimented last week, tugging the grape hyacinths down at the base, so that they come off the bulb itself underground. That gave us another good 6” of stem, so I think they would be long enough for the subscriptions. For foliage, I will probably cut the ‘Dart’s Gold’ ninebark that’s so pretty right now, as well as some of my ornamental plum branches which are flowering.

I want to add in lilac blooms, but I need to experiment first and make sure I know how to keep them hydrated. So maybe this week I’ll cut some and try some new tricks I’ve learned along those lines, and see how long they hold up. Then I can add them in next week if they don’t wilt in 2 days. The lilac buds were awesome in last weeks’ bouquets.

We are working on getting permanent irrigation installed in the garden (pvc pipes underground that connect to removable drip tape in the beds). That will be amazing, once we get it going. Then we can leave on vacation and not worry about everything dying off while we’re gone!

All the starts I planted out the first week of April are growing, but very slowly. I’m going to give them some fishy fertilizer this week and see if that won’t give them a bit of a boost. I need those flowers! C’mon ladies—get a move on! I’ve got dahlias hardening off, and phlox and statice still inside, that I need to bump up to 2” blocks this week as well, so I can start hardening them off.

I have found, in our dry and windy climate, that the 3/4” blocks just don’t do well at all in hardening off stage. If I want anything to survive past that, they have to be in bigger blocks, or in a plastic cell that will retain the moisture. I have a bunch of starts in peat pots, as well, but I’m not a fan. They dry out so quickly, and I think they are wicking moisture away from the roots of the starts, since the peat pot doesn’t stay moist. Again, wind. So I have decided from here on out, I will just collect the plastic 4” pots to reuse in that instance.

Lastly, I need to purchase some Wall O’ Waters for my kiddos’ tomato plants. They are hardened off and need to go in the ground soon, but we are still having cold nights. Again, I don’t want one night of frost to ruin weeks of work keeping those beauties alive!

Always more to do, right?

What do you have growing right now?

May 2, 2020

Spring Blooms Update

Do you love fancy daffodils? Do tulips make your whole day brighter? If so, we could be friends!

Spring flowers are some of my most favorite blooms ever! Maybe it’s the long winter of nothingness, but when I see those bright colors and frilly edges, it just makes me so happy!

This year has been an interesting one for spring bulbs here at the farm. First of all, with COVID-19, I closed my floristry business for most of the month of April. April is daffodil and hyacinth season here. I had Daffodil Alley all to myself. I much rather would have shared the bounty with all of you! 
Such is life.

I mean, I enjoyed seeing those pretty little flowers every day, don’t get me wrong. I cut a few to bring inside, but for the most part, I just let them bloom on their own. Most spring bulbs do better—as far as coming back the next year—if you don’t cut them.

Daffodil Alley was a mix I planted 2 years ago. 
Also, yes, I need to weed and mulch this area very badly!

Of all my hyacinths out back, I had 1 small bloom this year, and for some reason—no doubt relating to the weather—it bloomed on such a short stalk that the florets were basically still in the ground. That seems fitting for life right now, in a way. Blooming in the ground. Anyway, I have found that a lot of what I do during the growing season is hedge my bets against the unpredictability of the weather (as the frost cloth post attests.) I need to learn more about why that happened so that I can prevent it next year, if possible.

So this week has been the week of tulips! During cooler springs, my tulips have lasted for more than a month. I’m thinking I’ll be lucky to get 2 weeks out of them this year. We’ve had several days in the 70’s already. Tulips come and go so fast in the heat. In fact, I’ll show you.

These pink tulips in the picture above are a variety called ‘Sweet 16.’ They are usually my first tulips to bloom. Even so, they aren’t generally in bloom at the same time as those big yellow daffodils—that’s a first this year. This picture was taken about a week ago. Now the pinks probably have only a couple of days left—if that—before the petals drop. The next wave, which are dark pink tulips planted nearby, have also already started blooming. If we get several more hot days, these gals will probably all be done and gone before Mother’s Day.

About the only way I know of to stop that situation from happening is to have a cooler. If you harvest the entire tulip bulb, while the flower is closed but showing color, you can keep it in a cooler for a long time—weeks—and then as soon as you’re ready for it, you cut off the bulb and put it into water at room temperature, and you get the same vase life as freshly cut. Alas, no cooler here yet. Also, I just barely re-opened for business yesterday. (YAY!) So, I may be purchasing my tulips from a fellow flower farmer in Ogden this year for Mother’s Day orders.

I have loved the Snakeshead fritillaries under my plum tree out front. Their flowers are little nodding purple checkered (!) bells. Or white. They come in snazzy purple-checkered or pure white, because they are the flapper girls of the spring bulb lineup. These were underwhelming last year, first spring after they had been planted. Now in year 2, they were fantastic! I wish I had been open and could have shared some with you in arrangements. I had 10 clumps out there, and some of those stems got to be 15-20” tall! It was amazing! In comparison, last year, my tallest stem was maybe 6”. They seem happy there, so I’m hoping they just keep multiplying and dividing. You know, all the math. Flapper math. 
(Is it past my bedtime? Probably. Ha!)

Anyway, what else? Oh yeah—alliums are sending up shoots and my big purples have buds on them again. Excited for those. All the new ones I planted out in the perennial beds in my cutting garden are still just green shoots.

Snowdrops were no-shows this year. I wonder if they got eaten by something.

Grape hyacinths are so cute! Also, way too short this year to use in any kind of arrangement, even the minis. It’s okay, though. My 2 year old keeps picking them and bringing them to me to put in a tiny 3” vase that we have. I’m thinking that once again, the heat wave is the culprit. I want to experiment with planting a whole bunch of them in the shade and see how they do.

My lilac bush is loaded with buds. I have yet to keep those blooms hydrated once cut, even with every trick in the book. Guess what, though? I recently cut some of the budding branches and put them in an arrangement. The buds stayed hydrated! I don’t expect them to open up or anything, but they made for some great texture in my arrangement.

Oh! One more note about tulips. The pale yellow and white tulips I had out front—I think they are ‘Jaap Groot’—finally have some decent blooms this year! Quick recap of their life story: Year 1—eaten by deer all the way down to the ground. Year 2: recovery year, with maybe 2 very short blooms. Year 3: (right now!) Probably 10-15 tulips blooming at a normal height! YAY!!

I know you’re going to ask—what did I do to keep the deer away? I will tell you my secret: plastic forks stuck around the tulip foliage, tines up. I’m not even kidding! The deer haven’t bothered my tulip flowers—they just love to eat that foliage as it first comes up. The forks give them a smart poke in the nose when they try that. So yes, I have forks in all my flowerbeds now, protecting my precious tulips!

**Bonus: find the fork in the tulip photo above! :)

All right friends, I’ve got to sign off before I say something really goofy. Good night! I mean, see ya.