Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Gardening Is Not Easily Relinquished!

Monday morning mist.

Clematis Candida made a brave showing in spite of the buds lost to successive April frosts.
I saved seeds from last season's crop, sowed them indoors in late winter.  None germinated. 
There are some new vines climbing up the trellis; I wonder if seeds dropped and germinated there or if the new growth came from the roots. 
The blossoms have peaked, but I find this plant appealing at all stages.

Clematis Duchess of Edinburgh has opened her first blossoms today.

Roserie de L'Hay, a favorite old rugosa.  I planted one of this variety at our first Kentucky property.  By the third season it was sending runners into the lawn [as rugosas will!]  I potted up several and brought them here to the Amish farm;  This one is thriving robustly.  The scent is delightful.

Irises in bud remind me of beautiful batik fabrics.  Fortunately, iris seem to thrive in spite of heavy soil and persistent weeds. [Mugwort!  Bah!]

These iris are in the rough strip near the bend in the lane.  I used it as a holding area for plants carried here in the fall of our move.  The soil is shallow and gravely--it didn't prove to be a workable plot.

Miniature iris from Gina's home.  I moved a clump of these to the perennial strip, tucking them against the retaining timber at the edge nearest the driveway.  I intend to relocate more of them when blooming has finished.

The yellow ones are lovely--although my photo isn't well defined.

Looking toward the lower farm buildings on my way back to our house.

I am calling this scene a creative mess--obviously I need a greenhouse for potting up seedlings and dealing with container plantings.

I was slower than usual leaving my bed this morning.  By way of excuse, Teasel-cat was curled comfortably on my feet and I was loath to disturb her.
Jim and neighbor/renter Fred, planned to help a friend with an on-going building project at the other end of the county. 
I decided this was a good time for me to drive to Russell Springs for shopping.

I've been feeling displeased with some micro-fiber sheets I recently put on the bed, and remembering that K-Mart in Wyoming carried a good selection of bedding, I hoped that the local K-Mart would have what I wanted.
The local store is apparently fazing out bedding--the only offerings were quite dreadful.
[Whatever has  happened to smooth, crisp, cotton percale sheets?]

Kroger supermarket is located in the same plaza, so I quickly bought fresh salad makings, stowed them in the car, and headed a few miles down the highway to a garden center I have visited 
in the past.

I've convinced myself that I need more shrub roses--a row of them along the brick path, well mulched, should provide non labor-intensive bloom.
I was disheartened to find that the garden center no longer stocked perennials or roses!
I did find a thriving prostrate rosemary [I've been looking for one since my lovely big plant froze on a cold night several years ago.]

I bought a 3-pack of bronze-leaved begonias, a mini sunflower in a pot, and a lemon verbena.
At home I quickly put away groceries, dished out the cats' tea, put potatoes in the oven to bake.

The afternoon was spent contentedly potting on heirloom tomato seedlings, giving separate pots to the small foxglove plants, mixing soil [perlite to loosen a baggged potting mix] arranging basil and parsley in planters, watering.

I intended clearing away my mess before Jim arrived home, but was still happily pottering when I heard the roar of the Dodge diesel turning up the lane. 
The truck paused to let Fred out at the lower house, then ground slowly along the gravel lane.
The cats who had been 'helping' me--Willis, Charlie, Sally--scattered as Jim brought the truck along-side the porch.

Jim handed me a carrier bag with flowers visible at the top.  I snatched off the bag and exclaimed, 
" A hydrangea!  I've been coveting one!"
"I don't know what it is," replied Jim.  "I just thought it looked pretty."

I left my 'mess' on the porch to follow him into the house, set out food, hear about his day.
I placed the hydrangea on the table, gloating over it, shooing away the cats who wanted to investigate.  Information on the tag indicates that this is a dwarf shrub that would appreciate wintering indoors near a cool window.  I shall have to read more on its care.

After supper I took apples to the goats; Gina sent some that had withered, sliced into eighths they are a treat for the goats. 
The two youngest of the milk goats were in the milking parlor and happy to have sliced apples added to their ration of grain. 
The goats munched,  the barn cats gathered in anticipation of those first squirts of milk aimed into their dish.

It was growing dark as I walked slowly home; Willis met me at the bend of the lane. [I seldom notice that he is escorting me, but he is always waiting when I return.]

Reluctant to stay indoors, I carried out the angel wing begonias and the Swedish ivy which have over-wintered in the east-facing basement room. They will spend the summer on the lower porch.

Working in the glow of the front porch light I swept away scattered potting soil, lined up trays of seedlings, poked plastic picnic knives into pots of herbs and flowers to protect the small plants  from the pawings of curious cats.

Inside at last--and realizing, not for the first time, that when I garden, housework suffers; only the most basic necessities have been done today: bed-making, bathrooms cleaned, dishes washed and put away.
Common sense [and aging knees!] dictate that the scale of my gardening endeavors needs to be modified--and I'm working that out. 
Still, a summer without flowering plants, without a veg plot, however limited, would be no kind of summer.  With Jim tilling and hoeing, with me fussing over transplants, weather obliging--there will be gardens!


  1. I am thinking a slightly raised garden for vegetables now, though it will take lots of bending and hacking to reclaim the plot I have picked, which is very overgrown with brambles. So you will have to get Jim busy building you some raised beds for your plants!!

    You have been very busy. I need to try and do as much as I can before June, when the pollen gets bad and I try not to be out in it too much. I loved your photos - whenever I see Irises I think of you. I just have a couple here - the variegated leaf one seems to grow anywhere and is now conquering the ponds!

    What a pretty Hydrangea. I have a couple here - one has grown quite big - and I have just planted a wee Lacecap (climbing) Hydrangea. I assume you will have to keep yours well pruned so that you are able to over-winter it under shelter in a tub.

    Sorry that your shopping mission failed on both counts. I can't imagine a garden centre NOT stocking either roses or perennials. The Wyevale one in town is hideously expensive, ridiculous prices. I just buy the occasional pack of seeds from there. They want £2 for ONE tiny 2" high Tomato seedling!!!

    1. Jennie; Most years I have grown a great variety of tomato seedlings. We have found tomatoes to be a difficult crop in Kentucky, apt to succumb to 'blight.' This year i purchased only a dozen plants [3 varieties] but have seedlings from Fred's heirloom 'pink' tomatoes to set out later as a second crop. Nurseries here feature very pricey large tomatoes plants in gallon pots, already blossomed and needing to be staked. They are quite expensive. Jim has been lured into buying one or two in years past--decided they aren't worth the investment.
      Raised beds! I have mentioned them so often that Jim thinks it is a litany best tuned out! He has a list of objections including that we would need to haul in soil to fill them.
      Bending and hacking is detrimental to health [back, shoulders, etc] to that I can testify!
      The season of iris is brief--their petals are so silky and subtly shaded--I love them for that. Mine are all divisions from our former KY home or from Gina's. Some of the newer hybrids are a bit too frilly for my taste.

    2. So far I just have 4 tomato plants but will get a couple more. They keep getting blighted, which is no encouragement! Jim's right about hauling soil for the raised beds, but he would only need to do it ONCE tell him!!

    3. Jennie; I think my pleas are falling on deliberately deaf ears! I do believe raised beds would make for easier weeding and harvesting.
      I'm sorry to hear that tomato blight strikes in your country as well as in the southern USA. Gardening is not for the faint of heart [or feeble of knees!]

  2. I have a 'kneeler' which I have never used but something like that might suit you. Everything is growing so beautifully now, the plants are covering the bare earth and I shall put my runner beans in when I come back from gardening club this afternoon.

    1. Thelma; I recently purchased a 'kneeler'--it sits in a corner of the kitchen and I can't think why I haven't taken it to porch or garden instead of crouching on an old chair cushion.
      Both the desirable plants and the invasive nearly evergreen weeds are spreading in the warmer weather of the past 10 days. Ample rain encourages all plants--I wish the ones I prefer would grow rampantly!

  3. I miss gardening so much. Can't wait to get stronger.

    1. Janet;I missed gardening during our years in Wyoming--a most discouraging climate for growing.
      Watching plants grow, coaxing them along is so rewarding--that sense of anticipation as we go to the garden each morning.
      Could you perhaps have hanging baskets and porch containers this year as an easier way to enjoy gardening?
      I hope that you see daily increases in wellness!

  4. It seems once I get out in the yard, garden and flower beds, the house is neglected. I try to keep up, but I just want to be outside. I have that old shrub rose "Madame de Bugnet" and it's really doing well, even after the long winter. Thanks for helping me justify somewhat the benign neglect of the house for a little while anyway.

    1. Phil; I often think how lovely it would be to have a house keeper--to come in from exhausting labors in the garden to discover that the house is tidy and there is a tempting lunch prepared. Or, conversely, that a 'gardener' was available to do the heavy digging for me!
      I have Therese Bugnet [aka Mdm Bugnet?] who has opened her first soft blooms today. 'She' has also sent a runner under the retaining wall timber and the resulting little plantlet must be dealt with.

  5. Another interesting post filled this time with lovely spring blooms. What a sweet surprise from Jim!

    Being able to garden 365 days a year, I'm afraid my house suffers year long. :-) It is something I am working on. I live in a very small place so you'd think I could keep up with it.

    Happy Gardening ~ FlowerLady

  6. Rainey; As long as things are 'decent'I can find many more interesting things than housework. That said, I know folks for whom having the home tidy is a must. My own bits of clutter and unfinished projects sometimes trouble me, but not for very long!

  7. What a lovely post, I really enjoyed your day with you. The flowers are sooo pretty but the irises are my favourites. Everything suffers when I garden, I'm all into one job and nothing else gets a look in. At least my man cooks, so I don't have to do that often :D

  8. Kimberly; I so relate to being 'all into one job'--often my downfall. I can't seem to do things in 'moderation.'
    My flower photos are taken selectively, trying to keep the weeds from dominating the scene.
    Jim often cooks breakfast. He eats that meal at slightly erratic hours, so I tell myself I'm not being neglectful when he starts rattling skillets and pulling food from the fridge.

  9. A beautiful hydrangea! Your husband has excellent taste! And, so do you! I am loving your clematis photos! Crisp, smooth cotton percale sheets seem to be a thing of the past. I recently went searching for new sheets when our Chris Madden 600 thread count sheets from JC Penny (purchased in 2005) developed a fair-sized hole, but came home empty-handed. The next day, I patched the sheet.

  10. Chip; I wish I could have a clematis for every fence post along the lane, although they would would have to battle the ever-present honeysuckle vines.
    I purchased through ebay a set of Ralph Lauren cotton sheets--pricey even there, but heavy, smooth and with that satisfying cotton 'crackle' as they are brought in from the clothesline.
    I have patched a few sheets in my day--usually to have them split around the patch after a few washings.

  11. As always, I am so very impressed with all you do. I love all the photos. Good thought about the iris and batik! I buy my sheets from Garnet Hill. Very expensive, but they last a very long time. All cotton. And in winter, their flannel ones are divine. I love your porch potting shed!

    1. Nan; My garden photos are carefully staged to avoid the weeds.

      The iris have burst into bloom with the sudden heat wave--such a brief season for them, but they are all so lovely.
      I bought Lands End sheets for years--rather pricey but fine quality. Their prices have become a bit steep for my retirement budget. I found new in original package Ralph Lauren sheets on ebay--not cheap, but better than retail price and I have the smooth, all cotton percale that I prefer--the kind that 'snap' in the wind on the clothesline.
      I tidied the 'potting porch'--but transplanting continues, so the mess reappears!