Posts Tagged: penstemon

We Need Some Plants There

11_Sep_2014From age 10 through age 18, I lived in a modular home in the small town of Mountain View, Wyoming. Although my parents owned the plot of land where our home was, they never did anything with it. The yard was full of rocks and the only plants that grew were hard stubbly grass and of course dandelions. I remember that some of our neighbors actually grew things in their yards. Some even had proper gardens with snow peas and flowers and I knew then how important it was to beautify the outside of your home just as you would the inside.

I did not try to persuade my parents to grow plants or flowers. Instead I went about growing my own. Please bear in mind I was only ten and my resources were limited of how and what I could grow. I knew that when the dandelions were no longer yellow and instead little puffs of white, that the things that blew off were in fact seeds. I went around and gathered up as many seeds as I could fit in my little hands. I then went about digging a hole with an old shovel and at the same time clearing out rocks near the side of the house. I couldn’t dig very far because the ground was extremely hard. I put all the seeds I gathered into a neat row in the hole I dug. I then buried them. I went into the house, got a glass of water and watered them and continued to water them daily after that.

I can not recall how long it took the seeds to sprout but I would like to say two weeks. I do remember how excited I was when I saw green poking through the dirt. For me, there are not many life experiences that compare to the excitement of helping something grow from a seed to a plant. It is magical. You start out with little fluffy seeds, you bury them, water them and before long you have brand new plants emerging from the ground. I loved my little row of dandelions. Yes, I realized this was only a “weed” but I helped these particular “weeds” grow.

Every day I would rest on my elbows and take a mental note of how much they were growing. I always made sure they were watered and they thanked me by getting bigger. After some time had gone by, I was blessed with flowers. I remember taking one of the flowers and putting it in a book so I could have it forever. I of course don’t have the book any longer but it would sure be great if I did.

As the weeks turned into months, I was quite pleased with myself. What started out as a rocky barren piece of ground in front of the house now had several dandelions growing and thriving. When winter came, they would die back but would return again in spring in larger numbers.

And now some photos from the garden. I hope you do not mind but I got a bit artistic with some of these. I thank you for reading and until next time, happy gardening!

Dandelion seed head isolated on artistic background.

The humble dandelion in seed.

Violas in bloom. Post processing includes scratching and lavender overlay

Viola with lavender effect

Hummingbird enjoying the penstemon blooms

Heavenly Hummingbird

sunflower seedling with cloud effects

Heavenly sunflower seedling

Poppy flower with artistic post processing

Artistic Poppy

Red Yarrow

Bright Red Yarrow

Will It Rain Today?

gj_16JulyYes, actually, it will and has done so off and on for the last week. This in itself is a blessing. I have once again the unintended miniature pond I spoke about in my last blog post all the way back in September. Funny that the last blog post I managed to create was when we were having so much rain and here I am again writing when the rain is plentiful.

Prior to last week, it was not so plentiful and the idea for this blog post has been one that was formulated as I sat staring at my garden — thirsty, begging for water. Grass, non-native perennials, vegetables, etc. It does not help that my garden is sloped which makes watering a tricky task to say the least. That aside, I began to contemplate the very life force that made my garden….. a garden. WATER. I think constantly and by that I mean, several times a day every day about water. It is the life giving force on our planet and I become so exasperated when it is taken for granted. It seems some of our fellow travelers on this planet do not give a second thought when it comes to littering or what it means to have pure, clean water. So long as a faucet can be turned on and this precious liquid flows freely, there is not much more to think about or so it may seem.

As I was saying, I sat staring at my garden and I thought of the moral aspects of tending a flower garden. I do grow a few vegetables and herbs, it is true but nothing substantial and if I am being honest, these plants are not nearly as cared for as my non-edible plants. As such, my contemplative self realized I am using up precious water for mostly aesthetics. This plagues my conscience and it is something I must reconcile in some way. This growing season is just about half over so there is not much sense in changing everything now though it is tempting. Gears are grinding though and already I am formulating a plan to ease my conscience and my dependency on supplemental water.

First, I believe I should reverse my habits and focus on growing more vegetables and fruits. This way any water I use is for something substantial and life supporting. I know I can convert many of my planting areas for this purpose and with proper mulching, etc., I could use very little water that does not fall from the sky. I have a 70 gallon water barrel and when there is a good amount of rain, I ensure I am out there filling up five gallon buckets so I can almost double the amount of water I am saving. As I type, my barrel is full as are ten five gallon buckets along with eight three gallon watering cans. I have not had to run the sprinkler system for the week it has been raining and that is a blessing.

The cool temperatures that have brought this bounty of moisture will soon end and with it, my supplies of water will also run out. To top it off, in a week I will have to run the sprinklers again to keep that grass green. Oh yes, I am making strides there by trying to replace grass with varieties of clover. Interesting note here — once, in the not so distant past, lawns were PRIMARILY clover in arid areas (of which Colorado is definitely one of those areas). Then, folks started moving around and upon arrival to new destinations — that may or may not receive the same amount of moisture — they brought along their desire for grass lawns and so it began. I digress but will write more on that subject later.

I am sitting near the window as I create this entry and gazing out at the garden I am condemning. Thunder is rolling, small drops of water are falling from the sky and that beautiful cloudy diffused light is gently illuminating my creation. I do see some plants that would suffer in my quest to wean myself from supplemental irrigation but I am now realizing that I do have a lot of water smart plants. Let’s consider this entry a preface of a new evolutionary step in my garden. As days pass, I will monitor what does and does not do well with supplemental irrigation. Plants may have to be replaced but if I am half the gardener I think I am, I should be able to come up with ways to mulch and cultivate the earth so I can enjoy the beauty I so long for. The grass is a different animal altogether however and should my clover experiment not pan out, well, it has to go.

What are your thoughts on this? I would love to hear from you.

Until next time, blessings to you all and happy gardening!

And now some photos:

Cyanotype Pansies

Cyanotype Pansies

Penstemon Leaves in Sepia

Penstemon Leaves in Sepia

Spotlight on Geranium Flower

Spotlight on Geranium Flower

Elderberry Flowers

Elderberry Flowers

Sweet Cicely

18_Jun_201326 May 2013
06:35 a.m.

The title of this post immortalizes the feeling I had the day I planted four of these seeds. They were unusual looking seeds and I am looking forward to them sprouting.

Here is an excerpt from my written journal I created that day:

I sit now in relative peace and quiet and it is very relaxing. I was up with the sun and I feel blessed to have seen it rise. As I write these words I am reminded of Diane Lane in Under the Tuscan Sun as she writes a postcard for someone else. I am reciting what I write in my head just as she did in the movie.

There is a slight breeze which makes the aspen sing; this combined with the bird chatter creates a peaceful melody.

There should have been more to write in my journal that day but as it turns out, three hours later, I was rushed to the hospital due to a nosebleed that just would not stop. When all was said and done, the suspected cause was stage two hypertension and the severe nosebleed was a symptom to alert me to this. What an alert it was! After that, I could not do any work in the garden for over a week which was very frustrating considering all there is to do.

Mass of seedlings competing for space.

Mass of seedlings competing for space.

Fast forward three weeks and my blood pressure is more under control and it is business as usual in the garden and there is much to share. First, there are seedlings abound in the large pot where I planted the Kiss Me over the Garden Gate (Polygonum orientale). One item of note is I really should have taken the time to spread the seeds out more as there is a large mass of seedlings competing for space and I fear this may not work out too well. A few of the Polygonum seeds have sprouted but I am hoping there will be more. I may purchase some more seeds as I would love to have a grove of these growing along the entire fence. I paused from writing for a bit to order a few hundred seeds from Seed Savers Exchange. Though I of course do not need this many, this will ensure I am able to create that grove I want. From what I have read, there is a long germination time so I will be sure to soak the seeds first to speed up growing times.

Beyond the sprouts in this pot, there has been a prolific amount of growth everywhere in the garden and each day’s new discoveries are so humbling. There is a beautiful sort of magic that only tending a garden can provide and I am so blessed to have such a tremendous amount of beauty surrounding me.

Viola rescued from grass

Viola rescued from grass

Volunteer viola via plant purchase

Volunteer viola via plant purchase

When we first moved into this house, I noticed some viola tri-color volunteers emerging from the grass. At that time I employed a lawn mowing service and thankfully I noticed these volunteers before they came in with the machines and removed them. I rescued them and placed them in the half whisky barrel where eventually a group of day lilies went (note I need to get a few more clumps to create a mass planting). Within the last couple of days I noticed the small flowers of what is my favorite species of flower poking out which reaffirms my opinion of these being among the friendliest flowers. Speaking of volunteers, I intentionally purchased a plant from Holly Acres Nursery that had a viola tri-color contained within. At the moment, it is outperforming the original plant. I suppose that cannot be helped though considering it was a victim of the hail we had a couple weeks ago. Though not a devastating storm by any account, it did its fair deal of damage. My new Virginia Creeper was mangled and shredded along with scores of tree foliage, extensive damage to the bee balm and a fair amount of damage to other low growing plants including the Corsican violet. I am pleased to say that most everything is recovering nicely now and I have left a fair bit of the leaves etc. on the lawn in the hopes of providing organic material for it to possibly grow better.

transplanting_aspens.fw

Aspen stems with dead leaves

Aspen stems with dead leaves

My handyman came over to do a few jobs and considering he could dig a hole more efficiently and proficiently than I could, I asked him to create a nice size hole between the two apple trees. This hole would be the new home for some volunteer aspen saplings growing on the side of the house where the white dahlias and columbines grow. Removing them while trying to retain a decent root ball would be the primary challenge. Sadly, we broke several main roots in our quest and immediately I worried about the future health of these little trees. It did not help that we did this in the middle of the day and when we moved them their new location was saturated in strong sunlight. Immediately the leaves wilted which I expected but they never recovered and eventually turned black. I thought of removing them and put the whole exercise down to gardening experience but I saw some leaves on the smaller stems making a comeback. The main larger twigs of the trees are still bendy so there may be hope yet. I removed the black leaves and scattered them about the lawn as food for the worms. This is one project I would like to be successful. Stay tuned.

patience_rewarded.fw

Back in February I wrote an article about how I was waiting for some Impatien seeds to sprout within containers inside the house. Well, to date, none have but a few weeks ago I nonchalantly threw a few into the whisky barrel at the front of the house and today I am pleased to announce I have sprouts! As I added all the varieties I purchased from Plant World Seeds, I do not know which will come up but the fact that any are growing at all is very exciting. I will provide updates over the coming weeks.

Before closing, I wanted to journal some plants I purchased from Wilmore Nurseries over last weekend (15-16 June 2013). The main reason for going there was to replace a St. John’s Wort, Mother of Thyme and trumpet flower that did not break dormancy. While there, I purchased some new plants to help fill in some blank spots. Here is what I purchased:

Two Delphinium grandiflorum ‘Blue Butterfly’
Two Penstemon “Scarlet Bugler”
One Lemon Balm
One Mystery Grape Vine
Two ‘SunPatiens’ Compact Deep Rose (Note, I really should have looked at the labels of these plants. I do not like engineered plants really. Despite being for the sun, these were placed in the shade)

One more thing for the journal is to note that the Strike It Rich rose did not make it sadly. I was able to exchange it and I chose this as a replacement:

Olympiad Rose Bloom

Olympiad Rose Bloom

Olympiad Hybrid Tea

Description: Each large bright true-red bloom is held on long stout stems and holds their color to the very end. Distinctive grey-green foliage on a very vigorous upright plant.

Color: Bright true-red

Height/Habit: Medium-tall/Upright

Bloom/Size: Medium-large, double

Petal Count: 30 to 35

Fragrance: Light fruity

Parentage: Red Planet x Pharaoh

The world of gardening is probably best summed up as ordinary miracles happening every day. Being a gardener is a sheer joy and to make something out of a little bit of earth is a blessing. I hope you are having an amazing start to the growing season and until next time, Happy Gardening and Blessings to you all!

Grass gone to seed

Grass gone to seed

Delphinium

Delphinium

Cranesbill Geranium

Cranesbill Geranium

Morning Glory Seedlings

Morning Glory Seedlings

Snapdragon Bloom

Snapdragon Bloom

Hollyhock Seedling

Hollyhock Seedling

Mystery seedlings in pot

Mystery seedlings in pot

Artistic photo of Day Lily Leaf

Artistic photo of Day Lily Leaf

Purslane Growing

Purslane Growing

Container tomato flowers

Container tomato flowers

Red Yarrow

Red Yarrow

Artistic photo of white dutch clover bloom

Artistic photo of white dutch clover bloom