Posts Tagged: natural gardening

Pause, Reflect, Breathe

Benny's Garden 28 May 2018

A Day to Pause and Reflect

As each year passes, Memorial Day is fast becoming one of my favorite days for pause, reflection, deep breathing and spiritual fulfillment. Just like last year, I am sitting in the garden writing this entry with my feet up enjoying the sites and sounds enveloping me. I have so much to do — beds need clearing, several plants are begging to be released from their small plastic cells so they may stretch their legs within the garden soil and the never ending list goes on. All these things weigh on my mind but I absolutely must sit, get this article done and really take time to be quiet. To accentuate the moment, I am listening to the beautiful music of Kristin Rule. Please click on the link and have a listen. It will add to your reading pleasure. I promise.

A day to reflect

So Blessed

The dry winter, aphids, rabbits, hail, sudden heat spells but mostly lack of water. All have taken its toll on my garden paradise. What must be sheer spite, the garden is rebounding. Rather than wallow in all the things that aren’t as they should be, I shall celebrate instead.

In a large pot under the pergola, a lone columbine has thrived. Typically it is competing with the desert bluebells but this year none came up and this allowed the columbine to take over the pot.

Columbine Flower

Columbine Foliage

The Pallida Dalmatica Irises

Preface: I ordered these vintage (circa 1597) Irises from Old House Gardens in March of 2015. I tracked down these irises as they bring back some very special memories. It was very important that these bloom so I thought moving them would help — it did!

At the end of last season, I moved two large clumps of irises away from the house and planted them along the edge of the steps leading up to the top half of the garden. This is their third year in the garden and when the weather warmed this spring, the foliage took off just as it did last year — (but foliage was all I had last year hence one of the reasons for the relocation). Weeks went by, I saw no stalks forming. I feared that once again I would have no blooms.

One morning, during an atypical saunter, I nearly cried out with delight when I noticed those ever familiar little stalks forming off the sides of the leaves! Now, they are blooming and that aroma! If heaven had a fragrance, the scent of an iris would definitely be it. Just like Francis said in “Under the Tuscan Sun” — they smell of purple — a very delicate, delicious purply heaven!

Irises Flanking Stairs

The Dedicated Poppy Bed

I could keep going on and on about all the beauty that surrounds me now but I don’t want to take up too much of your time. 🙂 Before I close, I would like to share with you a little something I created about a month ago. I wanted to have a dedicated rose bed and I have been successful with that endeavor. When I was finished positioning my roses, I had a rather large patch that I ended up designating “to be determined”.

A month ago, I was staring at this space and weighing my options: A selection of miniature roses (they don’t really do too well in our climate), herbs or perhaps a selection of prairie flowers? I then realized what I absolutely must do. I tilled the soil so to disturb it to the point where it was very loose. I then gathered all my special poppy seed and scattered them all throughout the blank canvas. What an amazing blessing it is now to see them coming up. Soon, I will have a miniature field of them!

I have written about the Flanders poppy many times and I will reiterate that this is the one plant I will always grow. When those papery red flowers sway in the breeze, I am reminded of all I am thankful for and my countless blessings.

Poppy Seedlings

Spreading the Love

The poppies I grow year after year originated from a grave site in Flanders. It has been my goal to share the seeds I gather every year with all who want them. The ultimate goal being that this little red flower proudly sways in every garden around the world. Last year I sent some to my friend Gloria. She planted her seeds last autumn and has kindly shared her thoughts on why planting these flowers were important to her. I shall close with her words that beautifully encapsulate this day and the magic a bit of sentimentality can bring to the garden. Until next time, thank you so kindly for reading. Thank you to all those in our military who give so much every day selflessly so I may have a day like today.

My garden is many things to me but mainly a sacred place filled with plants shared from neighbor and friend, some specifically chosen plants which remind me daily to be grateful for those who touched my life with love and lessons. When I discovered my friend Ben had Flanders Poppies I knew they needed to be a part of my garden, and in asking, he generously harvested his seeds and mailed them to me. I sprinkled, covered, watered and wait with anticipation, while remembering those who paid with every breath, those young hearts, new to war. It is always the staring down of fear that brings freedom. Is that not reason enough to plant the little Flanders seeds, watch as they take the ground, stand honorably and remind me daily to be grateful, so very grateful.

Here is a photo of Gloria’s poppies emerging:

Poppy Seedling

And finally, images from my garden. Blessings to you all!

Sedum

Sedum growing through the crack in the paving stones

Hens and Chicks

I absolutely love the gorgeous purple hues on this hens and chicks specimen

Apples

Apples forming! I am so excited to get fruit this year! Last year, I didn’t

Irises

Soft, subtle purple of the irises

Sedum

Sedum

Globe Mallow — Out of five specimens, I only have two left. This particular plant is thriving.

Lichen

Lichen

Pansies in pot

Pansies in pot

Hummingbird vine

Hummingbird vine

Verbascum

Verbascum — I grow this intentionally as it reminds me of ‘Old Herbaceous’

Clematis Flower

Clematis Flower

Vinca

Vinca — a plant I have been babying. This was originally in a friend’s garden.

Flax flower

Flax flower

Irises with droplets of rain

Irises with droplets of rain

Wind Chime

Custom Made Wind Chime

Columbine

Columbine in artistic black and white

Snow-In-Summer

Snow-In-Summer — Some call it a menace. I call it beautiful!

Blue Flax

The beautiful blue flax

Anticipation

Benny's Garden 28 April 2018Dear Friends:

Well now, it seems I have once again been remiss in keeping this blog up to date. Take this post for example. It was actually completed back in February. I really need to step it up and update this blog in a more timely fashion. With that said, thank you for reading and thank you for your patience!

Originally written February 7th 2018

Snowdrops — One of the first flowers to poke through in late winter.

It always happens around this time every year – right around the time of my birthday. The winds are shifting, the days are staying awake longer and the sun is warming the earth. As in all previous years, I see signs of life. Already, daffodils are beginning to poke through, the flax is greening up, irises are poking through and insects are darting about. Yet, it is still only February and just the beginning of February at that.

Spring officially returns March 21st but here, in my little Rocky Mountain garden we will be flirting with winter well into the third week of May – typically. I mean, this could be an off year but I won’t be planting anything that doesn’t like the cold until after Mother’s Day. Just like The Who once lamented … I won’t be fooled again.

The Beauty

On this glorious day of days, I am afforded the opportunity to just sit outside. I wish you – you being any kind soul who happens upon these words and reads them – could be here sitting with me now, outside under my pergola, on my dusty, dirty chair and enjoying this quiet… this solitude.. this moment with me. Perhaps I would make us some iced tea. That does sound good and I was halfway tempted to stop writing this post and go inside and make some but this white tea I have is so strong, I find the effects of the caffeine to be too long lasting. So, perhaps, if you were here, I would make an iced tea but some sort of herbal blend. Hibiscus perhaps.

Oh, the GLORY! The sun is warming my aching bones and I can feel the healing transformation. There is a breeze and it is cool but not cold. It is blowing my wind chime about. Don’t you just love the sound of wind chimes? I would love to have them all over my garden. This one above me is a soprano chime so I quite fancy a bass or alto chime to accompany it.

Already, There Is Anticipation

As each day lengthens and warms, already I am feeling it. If you are here, reading this post, you must be a gardener of some sort or at least someone mildly interested in making something of a bit of earth, or container or something along those lines. I say this because if you have any appreciation for the natural world and how it invigorates the gardener, you know what the ‘it’ is.

“It” is abstract in form and changes with each passing day. “It” is a desire, a passion, a longing and a purest form of love. “It” is what is inside me, you and well, everyone really. “It” is what makes me feel alive. “It” is the perfection of a connection that is discovered – and not by accident. In my life, there are only a few core desires that equate to need. Beyond the tangible, the “it” for me is to sink my hands inside the warming earth, letting it slip through my fingers – but not before inhaling its aroma and mold it into something beautiful. It is this love I breathe into it that produces a garden.

My friends, I thank you so kindly for reading. Please accept my apologies as always for any and all delays in between posts.

Until next time, I wish you all the very best of all things. May this day and all days be blessed. Happy Gardening!

Please enjoy these photos of my Rocky Mountain garden in February:

Daffodil shoots poking through

In two large pots under the pergola, I planted some daffodils. It seems the only plants to emerge are those planted in the left pot. I will have to fix that next year.

Evergreen snapdragons

My evergreen snapdragons. These are planted near the hose spout and stay green all year. Looking forward to the blooms!

Emerging flax in spring

Not too far away from the hollyhocks is my good old, reliable flax. It continues to spread and I could not be happier.

Emerging Hollyhocks

Hollyhock leaves near the kitchen window emerging. I should get blooms this year.

Sunflower seed head

Dried Sunflower Head — I keep all the dried seed heads around until spring.

It’s the Hard That Makes It Great

Transcending Spring

garden journal 17 August 2017As the snows finally subside for the season and the chances of evening frost have finally passed, it is easy to get lulled into a sense of complacency when it comes to gardening. All that snow has melted deep into the ground and there is no need to worry about watering. Each day of spring presents a brand-new miracle to behold as the earth comes alive. Nature’s magic is in full swing.

As spring matures into summer, the plight of the gardener becomes apparent. Clouds are rolling in. Will it hail? Or, as it was this year, there were no clouds, only baking hot sun. Then the question becomes will it rain? Our rains came late this year but I will talk more on that later. As the garden transcends spring, the true tribulations of the gardener begin.

Joe Pye Weed

Wilting Joe Pye Weed

Water

Quite simply and even more apparent, the typical garden will not survive without supplemental irrigation if you live in an arid climate – as we do in most of Colorado. I personally feel it is irresponsible to create a landscape that requires constant watering. Water is by far the most precious resource and conservation is of paramount importance. With this in mind, my garden primarily consists of plants native to this area or plants that are easily adaptable to our climate and (at times) extreme weather conditions.

Adaptability was certainly put to the test early this season. All around me plants were wilting, the earth was drying and cracking and I was losing plants. I started the habit — which continues to this day — of bringing a five-gallon Home Depot bucket with me into the shower. I position it in a way that manages to catch a lot of the water that would normally flow down the drain. Despite only turning on the water to get wet so I can lather and then again to rinse off, the bucket ends up nearly full. That is five gallons of water every day. I pour this water out on all the beds and if I am feeling generous, the grass. I gravely dislike grass. Beyond the recycled water, I will sometimes get the hose out in the mornings but I am very careful with the amount of water I apply and where.

Why Bother?

With so many things that can go wrong in a garden (weather conditions are just the tip of the iceberg), it is a wonder anyone gardens at all. I know I have personally sunk deep into my outdoor chair many times in exasperation. It is arduous work but you know something? Just as Tom Hanks said in ‘A League of Their Own’, “It is the hard that makes it great.” If it was easy and required no effort, there would possibly be gardens everywhere just like the old times — when folks didn’t mind a bit of hard, soul-enhancing, satisfying work.

Oh! The old times! There once was a time when most everyone HAD to garden. That’s right. There wasn’t always a fancy, lit up, refrigerated aisle full of ‘fresh’ produce. If you wanted vegetables – and of course you did as they are paramount to proper nutrition – you had to grow them. You had to not only grow them but harvest them and then prepare them for storage through the winter. Oh, the humanity! I speak facetiously of course but this is an honest reaction in an age when very few bother to make something out of a bit of earth.

The Rains Have Arrived

By the grace of God, the heat of June and early July dispersed and for the last several weeks we have been blessed with afternoon thunder showers. This coincides with our monsoon season but the cooler days and the plentiful moisture is so very welcome. The garden is responding in kind. The wilted plants have given way to robust, green stems and the struggling vegetables are flowering and will soon bear fruit. In some cases, they already have. For example, I have already harvested enough pickling cucumbers to create several jars of delicious pickles.

Oh, to garden! Just when you are about to throw your hands in the air and wash your hands of the whole affair, it rewards you with bountiful blessings.

The tomatoes are ripening, a small petunia formed from a seed of plantings past is flowering, ears of corn are forming on their stalks, perennial 4 o’clocks are blooming for the first time ever, ancho peppers are forming (those that were planted from seed), sunflowers are blooming everywhere, hummingbirds are flitting about the impatiens and penstemons, birds are darting from feeder to feeder and worms appear in every shovel of earth disrupted. Yes, gardening is hard work but it can be ever so rewarding!

Ancho Pepper

Ancho Pepper

As always, thank you very kindly for reading. I pray your day has been blessed.

And now, some photos from the garden. Enjoy!

thistle

A volunteer thistle growing out of an old fence post hole. Say what you will but I love the thistle

purslane

Rich in vitamin C, the versatile, tough purslane plant. Everyone should grow purslane

stemmed sunflower

Artistic shot of a sunflower

lily

I usually don’t get blooms for this lily but this year I did. Isn’t it gorgeous!

verbascum

One man’s weed — the subtle beauty of the verbascum.

sunflower in pot

Sunflower in pot near sliding glass door

sunflowers in pot

I will create a separate blog entry about this one day but seedlings appeared in this pot before winter was over. The mystery of what they were has been solved. Beautiful sunflowers!

marigold

Beautiful marigold growing in a large pot. They make for a beautiful display

African violet

We can’t forget the indoor plants! This beautiful African violet is blooming.

Ripening tomatoes

Ripening tomatoes on the vine. I am so pleased with these as I started these plants from seed indoors

Ear of Corn

Ear of Corn grown in a large black bucket. I should end up with four or five ears of corn