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Each evening, as the sun is lighting my garden at it’s prettiest, I wander around my garden to see what’s blooming. And I talk to my flowers.

Some of you are thinking, “you do that too?  I thought I was the only one.”

The rest of you probably just think that’s crazy. It is.

For those of you that talk to your plants, I thought you might like to see what’s growing in my garden this week.

Let me introduce you to my friends:

Burgundy Penstemon

burgundy Penstemon or Beard Tongue

Burgundy Penstemon a.k.a. beard tongue: These bloom for quite a while. Penstemon are native to Indiana, but these are a cultivar. I like the foliage, and each year I’ll have a couple of baby plants from them. I deadhead very little because I like free plants.

Hot Pink Penstemon

Hot Pink Penstemon or Beard Tongue

Pink Penstemon: This is a short cultivar of penstemon. I love the hot pink blooms.  Anyone notice the dandelion?

Dianthus

Pinks or Dianthus

Dianthus: This is some sort of dianthus or pinks, although, I don’t know which one. It sort of looks like Sweet William, but it’s short. To the left is a coral bell with unusual leaves.  Growing through the plant is grass.  I guess I have some weeding to do.

Campanula

Harebells or Campanula Rotundiflora

Campanula rotundiflora a.k.a. Harebells: Native to North America.  Last year I split them so I have them in several places in my front bed. They are light and airy.  The background blurry flowers are stock, an old-fashioned annual.

Clustered Bell Flower, Dane's Blood, or Campanula Glomerata
Campanula glomerata a.k.a clustered bell flowers, or Dane’s blood: These are native to Europe prairies and forest edges, but have naturalized themselves in North America. The deep purple is fantastic. It’s a perennial and it usually has lots of babies

Canterbuty Bells

Another campanula, this time, Canterbury Bells. They come in a variety of colors, but I have a thing for purple.

Larkspur

Purple Larkspur

Larkspur: a reseeding annual related to the perennial delphinium (they’re in the same genus). Mine have gone crazy in the garden, but I love them! This year, they are about 3 feet tall and are just starting to bloom. I’ve decided to stop trying to buy delphiniums, and just let the larkspur take off. There’s only one thing not to love –they are poisonous, so don’t plant them in a field with grazing animals or if you have curious toddlers.  In the back are sherbet colored tall snapdragons.

Jackamani Clematis

Jackamani Clematis: huge, purple, and prolific, this thing has climbed all the way up the front post on my porch. I love it, but make sure it has room. Apparently the trick for clematis is shaded roots and sun on their leaves.

Purple Columbine

Purple Columbine: I posted this flower last month too. It just won’t quit! It’s about 3 feet tall. A section of it that I moved this spring is only about 18 inches high. The flowers are about 2 inches across. It’s very large for a columbine.

David Austin English Rose

David Austin Rose -Carding Mill

This rose is an early birthday present from my folks. It’s a beautiful David Austin Rose called Carding Mill. The deep peach with blue love-in-a mist (nigella) are just spectacular.

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April Flowers

All of my flowers are blooming early this year.  I have a blossom on my clematis, and buds on my roses and peonies.  It’s just crazy.

I went out and took some photos of what’s in bloom this evening.  Enjoy!

The daffodils are almost finished.

 

I like the combination of the bright orange geum and the Montana blues in the background.

 

This is the first full-size iris of the year. My dwarf iris are already done blooming.

 

These Montana blues were originally given to me by my favorite former neighbor, Jeanette.

 

 

 

The teeny tiny lilacs we planted two years ago are finally starting to bloom.

 

Don't be raniculus! I used to have these planted with forget-me-nots, and they looked grand. For whatever reason, I can't get forget-me-nots to grow at this house.

 

We have plenty of dandelions that are creeping over from the neighbor's bright yellow yard.

 

Sage with tulips.

 

 

 

 

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My mom is planning a memory garden for her new house.

Which got me thinking about the flowers in my garden that remind me of special people.

Montana Blues from Jeanette

Two people feed my flower obsession, my mom and Jeanette. Jeanette is my former neighbor.  I haven’t seen her for several years, but I still consider her to be my flower mentor.

There are oodles of flowers that remind me of Jeanette: cleome, sweet peas, Christmas cacti, giant pink rose bushes, coreopsis, flowering quince…

One time, she came home from church with Easter lillies that she pulled from the trash. She gave me some and told me to plant them. For many years the lilies returned. I moved them from house to house, but they disappeared along the way.

My whole garden style reminds me of Jeanette. Her philosophy is to let flowers reseed themselves and let them come up where ever they may to create a grand surprise for us. I’ve expanded on her love of mixing and matching, by tucking away annuals into nooks and crannies.

I still have a flower that she gave me.   As freely as I give away starts, I don’t share my Montana Blues, a fancy bachelor’s button. I’ll be glad to share some once I’m sure they’ve spread enough and are here to stay.

Lantana reminds me of my artist friend, Jan

This year I bought a yellow and pink lantana and put it in a pot with some petunias.

I can’t see lantana anywhere without thinking about Jan.

My friend Jan and I were both part-time traveling teachers at the same schools. She taught art, and I taught science.  At one of the schools we shared a room and exchanged moral support.  In the window, Jan kept giant lantana plants with sandpapery leaves. Guara always reminds me of her too, and how she calls the baby plants, “pups”.

Hollyhocks are part of the childhood memories of my Grandma Frech.

She didn’t bake me cookies or read stories aloud when I was a little lassie, but I recall two fun moments. The first is completely unrelated to flowers.  She babysat us and we played Land of the Lost underneath the dining room table that now resides in my dining room.

This hollyhock is a little bit fancier than the ones Grandma grew

The second is a sweet and simple memory.  Outside of the farmhouse was a patch of dark pink Hollyhocks. When they were in bloom, she would make dolls for me using a bud as the head and an open blossom as the skirt. I wish I knew how to make them like she did.

Bleeding hearts and daylillies remind me of my Aunt Nina who also has a flower obsession. Nina has jam-packed flower beds, which always have something in bloom.  She loves Hostas too, which rubbed off on my mom.

Lots of flowers make me think of Mom.

She has a special fondness for violets because they remind her of her grandmother. Once we visited the wooded lot where her grandmother’s house used to be. We took a few starts home.

My daughter is starting to enjoy flowers.  She claims to not like gardening much, but she spends hours playing in the dirt.  That is the makings of a gardener if you ask me.

She is starting to ask to plant particular flowers, and is claiming favorites.  This summer she declared poppies as her favorite.  How can I argue with that?  We planted several from seed.  When I’m missing her I visit her crab apple tree and the poppies underneath. The memories and joy that flowers carry with them is one of the reasons I love to garden.

When I spend time meditating by pulling weeds and planting seeds, I’m spending time with the people I love.

When I stroll through the aisles at a greenhouse, I’m looking for connections. What flowers are near and dear to your heart?  I bet there’s a link between our favorite flowers and someone we love and admire.

Violets, my mom's favorite

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The bag of potatoes artfully dumped on the front lawn. You can tell it's June because the grass is green.

I grow a lot of my own produce.  But for whatever reason, I don’t grow lettuce anymore.  That seems really weird to me because back when I took my own produce to the farmer’s market, I sold a lot of salad mixes.

So, most Saturdays I try to make it to the Goshen Farmer’s Market.  I stop by the Sustainable Greens booth and get either baby spinach, tatsoi, or spicy salad mix.  All of them are fantastic, but I could eat a whole bag of spinach or tatsoi by myself.

Last fall, while making our farmer’s market rounds, we noticed a box of free fingerling potatoes.  The sign said that they weren’t really good for eating, but that they would be good seed potatoes for next spring.

I do raise potatoes.  Last year, we didn’t raise nearly enough.

So we took home a small bag of our better than bargain potatoes, and put them in the bottom of the pantry, and didn’t give them another thought until spring.

When we took them out, we had a crazy sculpture of growths.

I can’t believe that I forgot to share these photos of the potatoes before we planted them.  We got about an hours worth of chuckles out of artfully posing potatoes with mad eyes.

This is better than any sculpture I've seen lately.

Jeremy either pretending to smoke a pipe, or actually trying to clear his sinus cavities.

This dramatic image is brought to you by Bullwinkle.

This one is so long it goes out of focus. Could I crank up the drama anymore?

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This weekend is the start of the Elkhart County Fair in Goshen, Indiana.  I’ve always loved county fairs.  Elkhart County has one of the biggest county fairs in the nation.

Last year, I took lots of photos to the fair and earned third place for this photo of horses nipping at one another.  Last year we got a lot of enjoyment out of watching these horses.  Hot sun or heavy rain, these three horses stood in the corner by the road watching the world go by.  On this visit, the one that was nipping wanted to be the center of attention.  If you look really closely, you can see the third horse in the background rolling its eyes.

For third place I won $2!

The fair hasn’t opened yet, but this morning I got a voice mail from someone at the fair.  I was afraid she was going to tell me that the hot and humidity melted my photos, or that I was disqualified.  Instead the news was good.

I won Best of Show!

Woot.  Woot.  Woo.

I felt like I was in fourth grade again earning a champion ribbon in 4-H.

This is the photo that won.

Either you love this photo or you hate it.  I don’t think there is really any in between.  I took this photo to school and hung it behind my desk, and two of my students told me to take it down because it was spooky.  I believe it was my mother that said that it has a “Children of the Corn” look to it.

Of course, I am in the loving it camp.

This is a photo of my daughter.  She wasn’t sad in the photo, just waiting for me to adjust lights and get her posed.  I caught her off guard and took the photo.  There is no fake smile, just a window into her soul through the eyes.  I think she looks beautiful in this photo as just herself.

I really debated a lot about which photo to take.  This was my other choice, shot on the same day.  Both of them are nicely composed, and have good lighting, but I kept coming back to the winner.

This time I went with my gut.  Photographers were judging, not a bunch of grandmas that want fake smiles, and nicely posed photographs.  I love this photo and I wanted to share it, and see how it did.

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One of my favorite flowers to share, Love-in-a-Mist

Looking for inspiration

I’m reading a book called, “The Happiness Project”.  In one of the chapters, the author, Gretchen Rubin, suggests that we should look to the things that we do in our spare time as inspiration.

One of my favorite things to do is, garden.  But even more fun than that is sharing flowers from my garden.

In past neighborhoods, I’ve arranged flower exchanges to swap flowers with friends and neighbors.  They are super easy to plan, and I usually end up with some pretty great new finds.  This year, I tried to plan one, and only one of my friends showed up.

Hey, that’s okay.  More great plants for me!

My friend Julie brought over bronze fennel, a rose, oregano, and walking onions.

I then took Julie around my house and we dug up anything that I had enough to share, and that struck her fancy.

When you love to garden, most everything strikes your fancy.

A couple of days ago, my friend Rachel came over, and again we strolled around the flowers, digging up flowers to spice up her beds.

Since I can’t possibly share all of my flowers with my readers, I thought I might share the what, why, and where to plant of some of my favorites.

First up…

Love-in-a-Mist

a.k.a. Nigella damascena, Devil-in-the-bush

Love-in-a-Mist flowers, these are a cross between Persian Jewels and Miss Jekyl

I got my first start of this plant about eight years ago from a neighbor with a wild backyard full of cottage garden flowers.  She was moving, and wanted to make sure that starts of her plants got to those of us in the neighborhood that would treasure them.

I planted the start in a partially shaded area underneath a rose bush by a shed.

The plants grew well, and each year reseeded themselves.  The variety that I got was all periwinkle blue.

I love the blue and magenta. Most of the flowers this year were white though.

Last summer, I purchased a couple of starts from Prairie Trail farm in Goshen.  I believe I got a Miss Jekyl and a Persian Jewels.  The starts were tiny at the beginning of the summer, but by mid-summer, the starts were about a foot in diameter (the whole plant, not the stem!).  They flowered beautifully, and reseeded themselves in my flowerbed.  I did save seeds too, to share and plant in other places.

I love self-sowing annuals.  It’s what cottage gardens rely on.

My former neighbor, and flower mentor Jeanette, taught me to delight in the gift of flowers coming up in unexpected places.  Because of her, I dead-head (cut off the old flowers) much less than I used to, so the seeds can feed the birds and the flowers can decide where they would like to grow next year.

This year, the love-in-a-mist was a little too close to the front of the border.  They are a bit taller than the perennials, that the year before were in front of the nigella.

The flowers are completely unique.  They have a ferny green backdrop behind delicate petals, and green curls coming from the center of the flower.  When the flower is spent, an alien looking pod forms.  The pods are full of loose little black seeds.  I recommend just leaving the pods on the plant.  In the winter, it will create a lot of interest when the other flowers have gone away.

But, the pods can be just as fun brought inside and dried.

What if you don’t have friends that have a start of Love-in-a-Mist for you?

A pack of seeds will do. (The sample seed shop has them, and I love their seeds.  Or, if you have some seeds that you would like to trade, I could save some for you this year.)

Just scatter the seeds in spring or summer where you would like them to grow, an violá, you have some plants.  They will grow in the sun and partial shade.

Now get cracking, and go outside and plant something!

Love-in-a-Mist in all its podded glory

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Photo and bag from Meatbagz on etsy

Recently, I discovered an etsy shop because of something nice they did for me.

The name of the shop, Meatbagz.

Ha! That name makes me laugh.

A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from the Meatbagz crew saying that they used one of my photos in their Thursday Shout Out on their blog. It was pretty neat. It’s not the first time my photos have made someone else’s gallery or blog, but it still shocks me each time.

I was going to post this back when when I found out, but I wanted to include a link to their etsy shop, which was on vacation mode.

Check out http://www.etsy.com/shop/meatbagz

Or their blog http://meatbagz.wordpress.com/

And in case you missed it, here is the link to my photo on the blog. My heifer photo is the first one.

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