I'm often glad I live out in the country, because I'd be the first to admit that I can get very distracted while outside gardening. I sometimes find myself just sitting still with my eyes closed so I can hear the birds, feel the wind in my hair, or enjoy the warm sun on my face. If I had close neighbors they'd probably wonder what I was doing.
Weeding, after all, is not the most rewarding garden activity. I can easily be distracted from weeding -- fill that bunny hole, stomp down that mole tunnel, remove the Japanese beetles from my plants, or run to get my camera or phone to capture that perfect photo I can visualize. Some days (or should I say most days) weeding can take way longer than expected.
But I don't think that's a bad thing; it's all part of what we enjoy about the garden experience. And on a positive note...it's great for your well-being.
Pictured: Daylily 'Grey Witch'
If you talk, sing, or play music to your plants, will they respond? Does it help them grow?
I read an interesting article "The Intelligent Plant" written by Michael Pollan and published in The New Yorker. According to the article, plants have the ability to sense and react to the world. For instance, when plants were played a recording of a caterpillar chewing on a leaf, they reacted by secreting a defensive chemical, just as though they were threatened. Pollan also states that plants can sense gravity, the presence of water, and can adjust/shift the direction of growing roots when it senses there is an obstruction (a rock, perhaps).
The Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters explored the possibility that plants respond to sound and/or speech. They set up seven greenhouses, four of which were equipped with stereos playing looped recordings. Two were of negative speech, while two were of positive speech. The fifth greenhouse had classical music playing, while the sixth had heavy death metal. A seventh greenhouse, set up as the control, had no music. The team found that the plants in the four greenhouses with recordings grew faster than the control plants with no music, but the plants in the greenhouses with music grew even faster than the negative and positive speech. Surprisingly, the plants in the greenhouse exposed to heavy death metal music grew the best of all!
Bottom line: Talk and sing to your plants; complain, yell, and scream...just don't give them the silent treatment.
New Yorker article "The Intelligent Plant"
Discovery Mythbusters (Episode #23 aired November 15, 2004)
Pictured: Daylily 'Black Falcon Ritual'
Recently I passed by a home that had a ginormous resin cow in the front yard. The homeowner had tied a chain around the cow and wrapped the chain around a tree trunk with a padlock. Cows are big here in Wisconsin! This is yard art at its best!
You've all seen yard whimsy gone wild, yes? It's that yard that has one too many flamingos and somehow crosses the invisible line between tasteful and tacky. It stops you in your tracks to gape at in disbelief. Thoughts I ponder when I see yard whimsy gone wild:
Garden slip-ups are, without a doubt, one of the easiest topics for me to write about since I have single-handedly made just about every blunder that a gardener possibly could. As I've mentioned in earlier blogs, I did not grow up in a gardening family; my love of perennials came unexpectedly out of left field. Without a mentor I learned to garden by the trial-and-error method. Some of my gardening ideas worked (luck), but many others were an epic fail. It was then that I borrowed books from the library. The gardening books helped me achieve a much better outcome. And why is it that we never read instructions until we screw up or can't figure something out? Human nature, I guess.
Here are a few of the things I've learned (the hard way):
Grateful living is happy living. Every year at this time I like to take time to reflect on things that made me smile or feel grateful over the past year. Here's my list:
Pictured above: Minneapolis sophisti-cat 'Sophie,' a shelter rescue who now lives the life of a princess
The human eye can distinguish between millions of different colors. Regardless of whether you are familiar with color theory or color wheels, most gardeners just know or feel when certain color combinations work together and other combinations don't. And much of that 'know-or-feel' has to do with personal preference. Some gardeners love the monochromatic look (all white flowers, for instance), while others may just plant pastels, or perhaps vibrant oranges, yellows and reds. Any of these looks can be very appealing. Your garden visitors may think it was pure luck that the colors, sizes and shapes all go together and look great. I'll admit there are moments of serendipity when perfectness just happens, but most of us gardeners work very hard to have our plants play nicely together.
Every summer I run around the garden picking blooms and comparing them with other blooms, trying to determine which color combos go together best. This is why I juggle plants around every fall; I keep trying to make what I think looks good, better. For this reason I keep detailed information about every plant that I grow, including each plant's size, bloom time (start-to-finish), bloom size, and color. So in addition to my personal preferences, I use data to help me make decisions. And herein lies the challenge...even when you have all of this information at your disposal, Mother Nature provides variances. You can make an educated guess about what you think should happen, but ultimately she holds the reins! That being said, Mother Nature never stops me from continually trying to get it right.
Pictured: Daylily 'Spacecoast Cherries and Cream' with its companion 'Echinacea Double Delight'
After a long winter, which continued through the month of April, gardening in Wisconsin proves to be an exercise in delayed gratification. And there's nothing whatsoever I can do -- Mother Nature has the reins. My job is to move the plants around, get rid of the weeds, add mulch, and wait. Looking around the garden, I see lots and lots of scapes, but hardly any flowers yet. Is it really the end of June? The *wait* part is getting harder and harder by the day. So it looks like delayed gratification isn't my only issue; add whining to the list!
Pictured is my old faithful 'Moonlit Masquerade,' one of only four daylilies blooming in my yard on June 24.
The great thing about growing daylilies is that no matter what your income level is, you can find one to fit your budget. There are so many exceptional daylilies available that you can purchase for $10 and under. And on the other end of the spectrum, there are trend-setting daylilies you can buy for up to $300. After a daylily has been out on the open market for a while, the purchase price gradually decreases over time as new cultivars are introduced each year.
When I was first bitten by the daylily bug my kiddos were in elementary school. At that time I remember feeling guilty that I spent more money than I should have on a daylily. Should I have bought school clothes instead? I ultimately decided that the new daylily made me a happier Mom. How's that for rationalization?
Although I'm still not in a place to afford triple-digit daylily prices, that doesn't dampen my enthusiasm by any means. I just have to wait a little longer to get what's on my wish list. As it stands right now, I am perfectly happy getting the seven and eight-year-old daylilies. As each year passes, hybridizers come up with more and more innovative, cutting-edge daylilies. Consequently, there is always yet another daylily that I must have -- it's a never-ending cycle.
Pictured: Daylily 'Signs and Wonders.' At the time I bought this pretty, it was my biggest splurge to date. Sorry? Not really.
It's one thing to have a flower garden, and quite another to keep it weed-free. Simplifying my garden over the last two years has saved me so much time and effort. Since I don't like clutter, I'm not sentimental about what I keep and what I don't keep. I made the decision to focus on my daylilies, because they are what I truly love. I only have a finite amount of time available to keep things looking nice so I made some changes. Here's what I did:
Removed the 40 foot long split-rail fence. Fences are weed magnets. What a back-breaker crawling under and around a fence trying to remove weeds. This never bothered me 20 years ago, but that was then and this is now. Ange helped me pull the fence posts out, fill up the holes with dirt, and haul the fence posts and rails away with our John Deere lawn tractor. Best decision ever! In addition, there is much more air flow for my daylilies which they have really responded to.
Goodbye Garden Phlox. Garden phlox are fragrant and pretty from a distance, but up close they were -- I'll just say 'not pretty.' Every year they got powdery mold and mildew. I was not willing to put in the time to get rid of the mold and mildew year-after-year. As they grew and spread they would get entangled with Creeping Charlie and crabgrass; then the ticks moved in.
Ditto to Bee Balm. I know hummingbirds and butterflies love them, but unfortunately I don't. They have tender shallow little roots that constantly got tangled up with weeds. I got tired of re-planting them each time I weeded and accidentally pulled them out. They got powdery mold and mildew too , even in full sun.
The flowers in the above two photos are long gone. Last summer was the first time that weeding was easily doable. And I thought my garden was still beautiful, even without the fence, the phlox and the bee balm.
Persistence is a trait that those of us who garden are very well-versed in. There's not much about a garden that doesn't involve hard core persistence. You may love flowers. You may imagine having flowers. You may have motivation. But in the end, it's persistence that does all the hard work.
Since I learned to garden by the trial and error method, I've had countless failures along the way. My thumb doesn't always glow green. Far from it! But I do find that with continued effort I can eventually achieve the end product I imagined, or pretty darn close to it.
“Success is not the absence of failure; it's the persistence through failure.” ~ Aisha Tyler
Persistence will be rewarded. My flowers thank me every year. And it is beyond exciting when the blooms arrive!
Pictured: Daylily 'Andy Candy'
I've learned that it's the small things that are important in life, as is living gratefully. Since the year is winding down, I took a look back and came up with ten moments of 2017 that made me feel grateful. Here they are:
Pictured: My fashionista-granddaughter's feet/shoes. She can 'up-style' absolutely anything!
Now that the cold weather has arrived in Wisconsin, my ability to imagine is the only garden activity that is going on. And I can do 'imagine.' I'm well into my favorite activity of list-making to keep track of what needs to happen in my garden during 2018. After all, you've got to have a plan before you can make things happen. I'm sure many, if not all of you gardeners have a similar mindset.
Here's what I've come up with so far:
Pictured: A close-up of the double daylily 'Buckeye Barnstormer'
if it's about
my backyard and garden, I LOVE to talk about it!