June 29, 2019

Looking Back at June

 Here we are at the end of June. June has been a great month with my family. We’ve taken a couple of short trips (just got back from one this afternoon, in fact), the kids participated in a really fun Track Camp put on by the High School track team, we’ve seen lots of cousins and both sets of grandparents. One the business end of things? I have been maintaining this month.

May was a fantastic month for flowers: Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, graduations, teacher appreciation—I mean, pick an event and I probably made at least one arrangement for it. Plus there were the veggie starts I sold and my regular business subscriptions. It was awesome!

Then along came June. Full stop. Kids out of school. Father’s Day, but most women don’t really buy flowers for their husbands for Father’s Day, veggie start sales done (thanks to a very late frost), maybe 1 or 2 of my “regulars” who needed a small arrangement for something or other, but that’s about it. Oh, plus my business subscriptions.

The cool start to summer has meant a slow start for my seed-grown flowers, so not much has been happening on that front either. I have found myself cutting from my perennial flowerbeds out front more so than from my field-grown flowers, which is not ideal.

I have been feeling a bit discouraged about the downturn. That late frost, in particular, really took the wind out of my sails a bit. Not only did it kill off all my tomatoes and peppers that I had left to sell, but it stunted my warm weather annuals that were up and doing well until that point. I am striving to take these failures and learn from them, but it was still quite discouraging.

We hiked through a burned area yesterday. There were wildflowers everywhere, but what really stood out to me were these beautiful pure white aspen trees, that had the outer layer of bark burned off.

I am finding that this business has a lot of highs and lows, and what I have experienced is a peak immediately followed by a valley. That’s all. No more, no less. I haven’t had the time to do as much marketing as I would like this month—I’m sure that has been part of the problem.

Overall, though, things are still going very well. Despite the slow month, I am still on track to double my earnings from last year. That sounds impressive, except I didn’t make a whole lot last year. :) More importantly, though, I feel like my business is mostly paying its own way this year. I have supplemented some from the family budget, but nothing like last year. I am still purchasing flowers as needed, but I do feel like I’m getting closer to my goal of not doing that either.

I also have some things to look forward to in July: a shop in town is setting up a monthly Famer’s Market, which I plan to participate in; I just got an order for 9 mini centerpieces for a wedding open house in July; and my favorite business client confirmed that she’s back from vacation and ready for more flowers this coming month. So, things are progressing.

Poppy—not really sure which variety, as I ended up mixing them all during reseeding efforts. My poppy plan this year is to let them bloom and reseed themselves all along this same row.

It really was a great month with my kids, and that’s the most important thing. In the meantime, the roses, poppies, and lilies have started blooming and they are gorgeous!

What do you do to move forward through discouragement?

June 25, 2019

A Cool Start to Summer

So, we've had some ups and downs this month, particularly in relation to the weather.
Join the club, right? 
While we certainly haven't had the severe weather that many in our country have experienced, we did get 2 nights of frost very late--June 8 and 9. 
I regret to say that I was not prepared.
All of my tomatoes and peppers died--the ones I had in the ground, the ones I had given my kids, and the ones still waiting to be sold. 
That was discouraging.
Going down to the nursery at the bottom of the canyon and spending money to buy more tomatoes and peppers was even more so.

These pansies are loving the cool weather!

Of course, my cool flowers aren't minding this weather--thankfully, that was most of what was really growing. However, the warm weather lovers that were up either died back or just gave up completely.
Cosmos and zinnias, especially.
The volunteer sunflowers that withstood April snowstorms were not ready for such a drastic change in temperature, I guess, because most of them died back as well. They have rallied somewhat now, but it was looking pretty sad come Sunday morning.
Sigh. No-one ever said farming was easy.

Last night, temperatures were supposed to go back down to 37 degrees. Again.
I didn't take any chances this time, and got all the tomatoes and peppers covered.
Just hoped for the best for the surviving warm-weather flowers.

It was about an hour before sundown when I realized how cold it was. I was working out in the greenhouse and my hands started to feel numb. Not a good sign in the middle of summer!
So I checked the weather and sure enough--temps in the 30's forecasted for overnight.
I knew I had to get tomatoes and peppers covered--my kids could not take the disappointment a 2nd time if they froze--and by the time I got them done it was past dark.
Thankfully, the flowers seem to have come through okay without covering.

All of this begs the question, though: when will it truly be summer?
It also reinforces to me that I need to put my time and money towards cool weather flowers, perennials, and shrubs. Basically, everything that won't mind an extended patch of cool weather. 

My cool flowers growing right now:
anemones, poppies, pansies, Bells of Ireland, bachelor's buttons, Queen Anne's lace (ammi majus), snapdragons, dill, feverfew

Peony 'Do Tell'
I've got one of these on each side of the front walkway. I left one bloom per plant to just see what I have in store, but starting next year, I'm going to let them all bloom and start to cut from them!

Perennials in bloom:
catmint, perennial bachelor's button, pincushion flower, peonies
+ yarrow, lilies (almost in bloom)

Shrubs in bloom:
roses, ninebark

I am also getting some perennial seeds started in the greenhouse, in hopes that they'll be ready to plant out this fall and overwinter for me.

In the meantime, the kiddos and I have been doing some work and playing too.
So that has been good.
So far I feel like I have kept a better balance between mothering and working this summer.

Here's to some actual WARM weather now! 
We're ready for it!

June 24, 2019

Girl Overboard, by Justina Chen Headley

Perhaps wealth is not everything it's cracked up to be...

Girl Overboard, by Justina Chen Headley

3.5 stars: This one won me over.

Syrah Cheng has a life to envy: ever since her father's company went public, they have joined the ranks of the uber-wealthy, with all the trappings: enormous mansion to live in and enough money to buy whatever they want, as soon as they want it. What no-one can seem to see is that she is miserable in the midst of all the luxury. Her parents never have time for her, her mother is always pushing her to lose weight, and worst of all--ever since her snowboarding accident several months ago, she can no longer do the one thing she loves the most. Well, technically she could still snowboard, IF her parents would let her (they won't) and IF her knee could handle it (highly doubtful.)

Syrah has also found it very difficult to make friends, as everyone seems to just want to befriend her to get to her dad, or simply because of their money. She does have one good friend, Age, who has been her friend since before the big money came along. They used to snowboard together, but things have gotten awkward with him lately as well. She has never been able to bring herself to tell him why she went off alone in the backcountry, when she knew full well it was a bad idea, but a certain summer camp counselor had everything to do with it.

Syrah is constantly expected to live up to the "Ethan Cheng Way" (she hasn't read the book yet), and constantly feeling like she is falling short. As some major changes come her way, she will have to figure out the Syrah Cheng Way to surviving life--the sooner the better.

* * * * * *

Syrah was a strong character, but one who doesn't discover her strength until later on--the best type to write a story about! I had my reservations about this book from the beginning. I mean, another book about the poor little rich girl? That's been done before! I was pleasantly surprised to find it had some depth.

As Syrah figures things out, she starts to look outside herself and realizes she can use this incredible legacy she now has at her fingertips to help others. That is the beginning of her inward shift.

I especially liked the way Syrah went from taking risks on the mountain, to taking risks in her relationships, with a much better payoff. She chooses to be vulnerable, to accept friendship in unlikely places, and to put herself in uncertain and awkward situations in order to get to know extended family better. In the process, she comes to realize how much she is loved (and always has been), as well as the first inkling of what her place might be within the family business.

Content: Some language. Some of the characters mention sex. Syrah tells an abbreviated version of the story of her first sexual experience, which was traumatizing to her, but doesn't go into detail. This is written for Young Adults--I wouldn't go younger than 16 with it. If your teenager has encountered some of these things at school already, this could bring up some good talking points.    


June 21, 2019

Featured Author: Melanie Benjamin

I was really happy when I realized that there were more books I haven't read by Melanie Benjamin. All 3 of hers that I have read so far have been hits for me: historical fiction about real people. Then, always at the end, she talks some about what are the "facts" and what she extrapolated from that--which I am always so curious to know.

Overall, they are clean. They don't have language issues. She handles marital intimacy with care and isn't graphic in her descriptions.

In each book, I have been fascinated by the life of the woman I'm learning about, and feel as though I know them by the end of the book.

If you need a summer read with a bit more substance to it than the usual fluff, give one of these a try!

* * * * * *

The Aviator's Wife, by Melanie Benjamin

4 stars: Warm and understanding look at an iconic lady.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh was never one to seek out the spotlight, as a child. She much preferred to blend into the background and let her pretty, vivacious older sister Elizabeth be the center of attention. Then she met Charles Lindbergh, a young aviator who had just become famous for his solo crossing of the Atlantic Ocean.

Much to her surprise, he sought her out, and eventually even asked her to marry him. She could hardly believe it--that he would prefer HER above anyone else. Granted, his proposal seemed more practical than lovey-dovey, but that was just details, really. Wasn't it? She said yes, and overnight, the shy girl who sought the shadows was thrust into the blinding light of fame and publicity.

Though the country was going through the Great Depression, the Lindberghs never really felt the pinch. They were arguably the most famous couple in the world, given special attention by kings, presidents, famous actors and actresses, and hordes of hyper-interested fans.

This is the story of their life together and their marriage, told from Anne's perspective. The ways their marriage changed as little Charles Jr. was born, and again when his horrific kidnapping and murder happened. How they went on from there, and raised several more kids, amidst World War 2 and everything else.

* * * * * *
I happened upon this one at the library last week. As soon as I realized who the author was, I immediately snatched this one up!

This is one of my favorite types of historical fiction. I enjoyed learning more about the Lindbergh's, while getting some insight into what Anne may have been feeling and thinking throughout all that went on.

Content: A couple of intimate scenes--not graphic. For adults.


Alice I Have Been, by Melanie Benjamin

4 stars

Based on the life of Alice Pleasance Liddell Hargreaves, the little girl who was the inspiration for Charles Dodgson's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland."

Benjamin brings life to Alice's story, far beyond a sunny afternoon on the river with her sisters and some grownup friends. Her personality as a child was a delight, even as I feared for where it would lead her. Her personal triumphs and tragedies felt very real. Side characters were also well-developed: Dodgson and her mother, in particular.

I appreciated her notes at the end about her research, including what was fact as far as we know it, and what she interpreted. I want to read more by Melanie Benjamin!

* Originally reviewed Sept. 2013

The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb, by Melanie Benjamin

4 stars

Based on the life of Mercy Lavinia Bump Stratton.

"Vinnie" was born normal-sized, but after reaching toddler-hood, simply stopped growing physically. Her parents tried to protect her from life--wheels, horses, other children--but Vinnie would have none of it. She had big dreams; she wanted to make a difference; she wanted to see more of life than there was available in her bucolic home town.

As a teenager, when the chance came to join a showboat, she jumped at it and never looked back...much. From there on to P. T. Barnum's American Museum, to meeting and eventually marrying the world-famous small man, General Tom Thumb (Charles Stratton), her life was much bigger than her family had ever dreamed it could be. But at what cost to those she loved?

Benjamin does an excellent job portraying the inner life of this intelligent, ambitious woman, who just happened to be 32" tall. This could be a fun one for book club.

Originally reviewed Sept. 2013.

* * * * * *
Looking on Goodreads, I've got more of hers to catch up on, as well. I'm happy about that! The ones I haven't read yet are The Swans of Fifth Avenue, Mistress of the Ritz, The Girls in the Picture, plus a couple more.

Have you read any by her? What did you think?

June 15, 2019

June Bloom Day: Catmint, Mostly

 Hey, what do you know? I actually got my act together this month and took pictures for Bloom Day! Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day is run by Carol over at May Dreams Gardens, and it’s a way to document what we have blooming in our gardens. It was fun and interesting doing it as a gardener, but it is quite helpful for me now, as a flower farmer, to see what gaps I need to fill. Let me tell you a secret—right now, it’s all gap!

No, I shouldn’t say that—my catmint is blooming quite beautifully out front, and I do have a handful of other things starting to bloom. Just not enough to make very much with yet. The field-grown flowers haven’t started up blooming yet at all.

So I will start out front, with the catmint I was telling you about. If I remember right, it is ‘Junior Walker,’ a variety related to ‘Walker’s Low,’ which as the name suggests, is supposed to be smaller.

This should be beautiful by this time next year, as I will allow the peonies to bloom—in shades of blush and pink.

My blue alliums have also started blooming, though they are a little harder to get in a picture.

Speaking of peonies, check out the color-changing properties of this one that just finished blooming in the front corner bed:

I’m pretty sure this one is Coral Sunset. It started out that vibrant pink, then kept fading until just before the petals dropped, it was the pale yellow of the picture on the right. Unexpected, but I love it!

Other than that, the pincushion flowers have just started up blooming for me, the first of the roses, and a handful of irises.

What’s in bloom at your house right now? Any flowers that change their colors to tell me about?

You can see what’s in bloom in other gardens around the world by going here: May Dreams Gardens.

Happy Bloom Day!

June 13, 2019

Series Spotlight: Half Upon a Time, by James Riley

This is a trilogy that has taken me many moons to finish. The first book was given to us long ago--I have forgotten how or by whom. I read it way back then and enjoyed it very much, but somehow my frugal  (i.e. CHEAP) side kicked in and I never bought books 2 and 3 to finish it out. The libraries where we lived didn't have it. So it goes.

Then I received book 2 as a Mother's Day gift, and serendipitously happened to find book 3 at the library. Maybe they purchased it since I last checked?! So after 5 years, it's done in a couple of days. Nice!

Half Upon a Time (Half Upon a Time #1), by James Riley
4 stars: Delightful, with a side of sarcastic wit.
Jack has problems, like his grandfather's insistence that he rescue a princess when there are none to be found, for instance. Then a princess literally falls from the sky, and whether she likes it or not, she definitely needs rescuing. Figuring out who she is (could her grandma really be Snow White, or what?) and getting to the bottom of the whole situation is going to be an adventure for all involved.
A mashup of all sorts of fairy tales, Riley's quick wit and deft turn of phrase had me laughing in several parts of this book. The "modern girl dropped into a fairy tale world" theme worked very well here, because we got it all from Jack's point of view, with plenty of sarcastic exchanges between the characters. Along the way there were close shaves with giants, witches (and their children), and a wolf.
It did leave several loose ends to tie up, but it is the first book of a trilogy, so I suppose that's to be expected.
Content: clean
(Originally reviewed September 2014)

** 2019 update: While I did not find it as laugh-out-loud funny as the first time around, I still enjoyed it very much. I would stick with the 4 star rating.

Twice Upon a Time (Half Upon a Time, #2), by James Riley

3 stars: It's the middle book--what did you expect?

Jack, May and Prince Phillip are back to save the world--again. Well, sort of. In attempt to find out who May really is, they happen upon several legendary characters in need of some assistance; if by "assistance" you mean "demand favors at the risk of their lives." The Pied Piper, Bluebeard, the Little Mermaid, and several more. The problems keep coming and these 3 friends keep finding themselves in deeper and deeper water...um, literally and figuratively.

Meanwhile, Jack's dreams are constantly disturbed by an Eye (Wicked Queen's extraordinary guards/henchmen) named Lian who hassles him, predicts his every move, and smacks him around quite often just for the fun of it. It doesn't help that the Mirror's prophecy hangs over all their heads: one of the boys will betray May and one will die. Nothing like a good old prophecy to keep things chipper.

It will take everything they've got simply to survive, but rest assured they'll do it with plenty of sarcastic comments and foolishly bold feats of daring.

* * * * *
Well, talk about a sidetracked adventure! One or two questions about a person's identity become a tidal wave of things gone wrong. The verbal sparring of three main characters was still my favorite part of the book. There were some plot lines that didn't make sense for most of the book, which got old, but I was willing to stick it out based on my general enjoyment of it. It was fun to see how many stories and fairy tales I could spot.

Content: Clean.

Once Upon the End (Half Upon a Time, #3), by James Riley

4 stars: The plot twists in this one were great!

The 3 friends are at the beginning of this final tale, with Phillip and his rescued Sleeping Beauty (Penelope) back in his kingdom doing boring royal stuff; May sleeping in an attic and cooking and cleaning for her surly stepmom and stepsisters; and Jack on the side of the Wicked Queen as one of her Eyes. Nothing is going right for any of them, it seems. And yet...

* * * * *
I'm not going to go any further with my description, because I don't want to give anything away. Never fear, though, there are adventures aplenty still ahead for our Fearsome Threesome--oh, Foursome, I guess now, with Penelope. There were some fun and very clever plot twists that kept everything hopping and incidentally, made certain parts of Books 1 & 2 make more sense.

I was satisfied by the ending--of the book itself and of the trilogy.

Content: Clean.

* * * * * * * * * *

This is a fun series. It's Young Adult/Teen, but I would say probably young teen. Actually, my 11 year old and my 9 year old have read the first book and liked it, so it could go down to elementary-aged kiddos as well.

I appreciated that Riley kept it squeaky clean throughout the series. Even with the boy/girl dynamics, there were a couple of kisses to awaken sleeping...people, but other than that, it was all just fun and innocent. Even the kisses were innocent--everyone was pretty embarrassed by the whole thing, to be  honest!

The characters are all very witty and full of ready one-liners for every perilous situation they encounter. While everything did come together by the end, I liked that it didn't just fall into place from the get-go, particularly with certain relationships. Jack's relationship with his Dad and sister was an interesting story arc.

I guess now I may actually have to purchase book 3, so we have the whole set at home!

June 11, 2019

Linnae's Home for Unwanted Plants

Do you want to know how to really make my day?
Tell me you're clearing out your flowerbeds and have a bunch of plants free for the taking!

This bleeding heart bush was a rescue.

Or even just bring me some of your extras!
I had a friend do just that last week and it was awesome!

She brought over several clumps of daisies (I love daises!), one big clump of tulips just dripping with bulbs, and another one of daffodils, plus some irises.

So I have been busy planting this week. 
I have almost got them all in the ground, finally.
I just put in the tulips, daffodils, and the last of the daisies today.
I still have to find a place for the irises.

I really just love it when that happens!
There was a lady last summer who posted something on Facebook that was similar to that--just come dig out whatever you want. You had better believe I jumped right on that!
I was the only one there when I went and I made a haul!
Several buckets of alliums, a couple of hostas, raspberry starts galore, irises, what else...I don't even remember everything. I am very well aware of what all those would have cost to purchase at the nursery. I brought home a couple hundred dollars worth of plants from that one morning.
It's like Christmas--but in the summer...and involving lots of digging!

Anyway, I love it.

I am even thinking about adding a service to my business along those lines.
Sort of as a consultant, I guess.
So if you need someone to come over and tell you what certain plants are, or what may be worth saving in an overgrown flowerbed, call me up! 
I might charge a fee, or I may just ask to take home any extras. :) 

Plant Rescues R Us!

June 8, 2019

Gardening with Kids, Part 2: The 5 Senses

 Welcome back to my Gardening With Kids Series!

In Part 1, I talked about some very basic ideas for encouraging your kids to enjoy gardening. This time I want to dive into some specifics. Let’s start with that preschool favorite: the 5 senses. We all take things in through our senses, but kids are especially aware of these sensations—maybe because they are experiencing some of them for the first time. The more you can make your garden exciting to look at, smell, touch, taste, and hear, the more engaged your kiddos will be with it, especially your younger ones. As they get older, encourage them to seek out their own colors, tastes, smells, etc. that they want in their gardens.

Let’s talk about each one individually.

First up: Sight

This should be an easy one! There are so many colors of flowers to choose from, and even vegetables come in different colors. Choose bright colors in varying hues, or ask your child what their favorite color is and do your best to put in plants that are that color. You could even make a list together of all the vegetables that are red, for example, then find some of them to plant. Another way to do it is to take them with you to the nursery or garden center and just walk around looking at all the blooms. I’m sure you’ll find some in almost every color!

Lots of bright colors from one harvest!

I know that my kids are always drawn to the varieties of vegetables that come in different colors, like ‘Rainbow Carrots’ (a mix of white, orange, purple, and red), ‘Royal Burgundy’ (purple) and yellow wax beans, and tomatoes with a variety of colors. The one exception to that was the purple potatoes that were purple on the inside too. Purple outsides? Awesome. Purple insides? Highly suspect and probably gross. They wouldn’t eat them! Ha! Lesson learned. The next year we planted purple potatoes that were still white on the inside! By the way, did you know that purple beans are magical? That’s right. They change colors from purple to green when you cook them. Fun times!

Beyond just colors, there are other ways to make your garden visually interesting for children. Put in a whirligig for them to watch, or paint some rocks together and let them decide where to put them outside. You can also add playful or whimsical touches for them to find—fairy doors at the base of trees or sheds, a fun little statue hidden amongst the flowers—that kind of thing. My in-laws have an assortment of different little statues placed around their flowerbeds, and the kids enjoy seeing them and finding them all.

Here’s an idea from Pinterest that I just loved: Glass Marbles in Your Fence. The idea is that you drill holes in your wooden fence, just slightly smaller than a marble, then push the marbles into the holes. The wood should hold them there. As the sun hits them, they catch the light and glow! Alas, I found the idea many years ago, and we have yet to have the right type of wooden fence to try it out on! Maybe I need to do it to something else around here…


My first thought with this one is wind chimes. As it turns out, I am quite picky when it comes to wind chimes, and I have yet to find a set that makes that type of sound I would enjoy on a regular basis. (Not that I’ve made a concerted effort to find one, you understand, just a casual perusal of the selection in various stores.) If you’re the DIY type, I would again direct you to Pinterest. There are many, many DIY wind chime ideas, with everything from old utensils, to metal washers, to actual instruments (think tamborines) hung up on a string. Let your kiddo pick one that suits their fancy and make it together!

If you’re not so much into wind chimes, you may also consider putting up a rain chain from your downspout. The water trickling down the chain will make a music all its own. Along those same lines, any type of fountain or water feature will provide some soothing sounds. Of course, with little ones you have to be careful putting in a water feature, but I’m sure you already thought of that!

If you’re really getting into it—and maybe have neighbors that are gone during the day!—you could even add a musical wall outside. Turn one section of your fence into the music room, and include things to bang on or plink, bells to ring, and so on. On the other end of the spectrum, you could do a Sound Scavenger Hunt, with specific sounds from the natural world to check off: a bee buzzing, a bird chirping, water trickling, and so on.

If there are unpleasant sounds that come into your garden often—like traffic—consider adding some of these just as a barrier to help everyone tune out those less enjoyable noises.


This is a category that some intentional effort can really make a difference in your child’s enjoyment of the garden. Let’s face it, a “hands-off” garden won’t be very appealing to kids. Not that you can’t have your flowerbeds or other places that are off-limits, but create a special flowerbed or even a flowerpot full of things that they CAN touch. They will love it!

There are many plants that are soft and silky, and practically beg to be touched and petted. Some of our favorite plants that are soft on the hands (or feet!): lamb’s ears, bunny tails grass, regular lawn grass, and individual flower petals. There are some slightly prickly plants that make for an interesting variation as well, like the cones of the purple coneflower.

This was a sensory container I made for the kids one year. It includes mint, pineapple sage, and lamb’s ears. Proof that adding interest for your kids doesn’t have to be a big or overwhelming project!

For this one, I would also think about having some flowers in the garden that they are allowed to pick. I’ve always said dandelions are fair game for any child who wants to pick them! Most of the others they have to ask me first, unless it’s just one they found out in the back field. One of my favorite shrubs is the snowball bush—it’s a type of viburnum. I remember picking a “snowball” as a kid and shaking all the florets loose to “snow” in the summer. My kids did the same thing with our snowball bush in Washington! Something about those soft white flowers falling down is so delightful.

Be on the lookout for any plants that should definitely not be touched, like poison ivy, and get rid of it as soon as possible. I have some friends that don’t have any roses in their gardens, because they hate the thorns! I am not in that camp—I put at least 1 rose in every flowerbed!—but I do try to choose shrubs that are less sharp to put near sidewalks, pathways, and anywhere the kids play on a regular basis.


Gardens naturally come with some good smells, so this one shouldn’t be too hard to get going. For the vegetable garden, put in some herbs! We grew pineapple sage one year that smelled amazing. Mint of any kind should probably be grown in a pot to contain it, but most other herbs can grow right in the ground. It’s wonderful to have an assortment, so that the kids can pick a leaf of each one and smell the difference.

Of course, many flowers have a delightful fragrance. Have you ever noticed the scent of a bearded iris? It is one of my favorites. Honeysuckle, roses, mockorange, petunias, pansies, and many more. Good smelling flowers are one reason I am a flower farmer!

Not every scent has to be floral, however. Some plants just have a strong smell of their own. Have your kids see how many scented leaves they can find in your garden. They may come back with tomatoes, marigolds, or geraniums, in addition to the herbs.

Notice the good-smelling things yourself, and point them out to your kids. Even just the smell of the dirt after a rain, or an unusually scented weed (pineapple weed anyone?) can add to the gardening fun.

Finally, Taste

This is the main one I covered in part 1, so I won’t go over it too much again here. Just—grow things they can snack on! Fruits, vegetables. Let them taste some of the herbs you grow, or if they’re old enough, introduce them to edible flowers. Of course, you’ll want to make sure they know only certain flowers can be eaten safely! Nasturtiums, pansies & violas, and squash blossoms are all edible, for a start. Make a salad garnished with edible flowers, or freeze one per ice cube for a pretty addition to summer lemonade.

Wouldn’t these look pretty in an ice cube?

Speaking of lemonade, do you know what’s REALLY good? Make some blackberry mint lemonade sometime. It is amazing! To add in the mint, put a generous handful of leaves in a blender with a small amount of water and blend it up. Then pour it through a strainer to just let the liquid go into your pitcher. Make your lemonade as usual, but also add in a cup or so of blackberries. Use a spoon to partially smash the berries before adding them, to get more of their delicious flavor and pretty color in your drink. Yum. Now I’m craving blackberry mint lemonade!

These ideas are just to give you a start. I’m sure you’ll come up with more as you think about how to incorporate the 5 senses into your garden. I would love to hear what you come up with!

June 1, 2019

Planting, Planting, Planting

 I have got more planting to do than a….than a flower farmer in May! Yeah. That.

So you see, I went shopping at a plant nursery last week…and I came home with several treasures. Namely, lady’s mantle x 4 (or was it 5? the memory fades) for my front shade beds, white echinacea x 3 for the East side skinny bed, and oh yes, some Jupiter’s Beard (x 3 as well) that I found a place for in back. J & J Nursery helped me face up to reality, in their own way. You see, wandering those aisles of big healthy plants, I realized that my teeny-tiny echinacea seedlings are never going to bloom this year. It’s a fact, and I faced it right there on the gravel. Maybe, if I keep them alive long enough to get them in the ground, they could possibly bloom for me next year. However, that doesn’t help me at all THIS year, now does it? That’s when those 3 white ‘Fragrant Angel’ echinaceas went into my cart. Not that my purchases NEED justification, but let’s just say the other plants were also related to seed-starting failures, and move right along, shall we?

This very planter, as a matter of fact.

Then later on, I went to Lowe’s—because I had to, you see, to get some things for a planter I was being paid to put together. Had to. That’s right. You can nod your head here knowingly, because did I ONLY get the plants for the planter? Well no! Of course not! I found a beautiful honeysuckle bush that I really needed, as well as some perennial bachelor’s buttons that were the color I’ve been looking for (‘Amethyst in Snow’—white with purple middles, if you must know), and 3 gorgeous geums (‘Mrs. Bradshaw’) in a brilliant reddish orange. The bachelor’s buttons were on the clearance shelf, and so they were only $3 each! Just between you and me, the ones I chose didn’t look all that bad. They’re going to be fine. Once I get them planted.

So you know, planting! It’s always bad for the image (and the wallet) when you buy plants and leave them to languish and die on the porch. I am quite happy to report that so far I have gotten everything planted that I bought, with the exception of the bachelor’s buttons.

THEN Thursday—oh, this was so awesome! Thursday, my friend from up the street called me and said she had a bunch of extra flowers she was pulling out of her flowerbeds, and wanted to know if I could use them. YAY! So she brought over large clumps of irises, tulips, daffodils, daisies, and I don’t even remember all what else. Linnae’s Home for Unwanted Plants—Now Accepting Donations!!

I have my work cut out for me this weekend, for sure! Especially since, before all this plant bonanza, my original plan for this weekend was to sow all my warm-weather seeds. I have got cantaloupe, sweetmeat squash, several types of pumpkins, beans, tomato plants, cucumbers, and peppers to find space for in my ever-dwindling garden. I may actually rent a garden box from my neighbor for the pumpkins. Oh, and I guess I’m going to try growing the peppers in the greenhouse, so they won’t take up any garden space. We may have to get creative and grow the cucumbers up a trellis or something.

Flowers I still need to sow include: celosia, sunflowers, and the ornamental grasses. Possibly others. It seems like I’m forgetting some.

The biggest obstacle to planting for me right now is the WEEDS. I have made good use of the hoe this spring, and have cardboard down in some of the aisles, grass clippings elsewhere, but there are still sections of the garden that the weeds are getting the best of me. I have to weed for 45 minutes to plant for 10! It’s frustrating. My goal has been to have every bit of bare ground covered, but I have fallen short of that. So that has to be part of my planting plan. Weeding—always and forever—weeding, then planting.

Also, we went to Lowe’s again this week for other stuff, and I did not even set foot in the garden area. Are you so proud of me? I was proud. I just know if I go over there, I’m going to find something to buy. It helped to have piles of plants at home waiting for me to get them in the ground! Erm… didn’t help enough though, I suppose, because our next stop was Costco, and their plants are right out in the middle of the store! Totally unavoidable! So….I purchased one their 6 packs of geraniums. Yep. I have already totally justified it and will plant them today. So let’s just be done here. Moving on!

Thinning Progress

You can see space between them! Not for long, though. They will grow to fill that in pretty fast. That whole blue bucket there is the Bells I pulled up.

Oh, as an update on the Bells of Ireland: I was very firm and Set Some Boundaries out there on those self-seeded Bells. I made an aisle on either side with the hoe, I chose one every 6-12” apart or so to be the Chosen One, and pulled out all the rest. I’m telling you, I even thinned some further that I had left to grow initially. I yanked with determination and filled up a whole weed bucket with them. (Poor things.) I have decided, though, that the first pass is the hardest. The ones that I had already thinned were doing so much better than the others! That made it easier to get down to business on the rest.

Next up for thinning: bachelor’s buttons and pennycress.

I wish my Queen Anne’s Lace would grow so I could thin it out. Alas, I may need to re-seed it. It likes cool weather, but I read recently that you can sow it anytime up until it’s 85 degrees outside. Well, with our cool rainy spring this year, we haven’t hit 85 yet! So there may still be time.