Fall Gnome Garden

It was so nice today; almost balmy for a fall day. And the little gnome garden that I planted back in July has dried up and was looking like it needed a little makeover. So, I stopped at the local nursery to get a few plants, all under ten dollars to transition into the season. Dusty millers are one of my favorite plants, as they are not only beautiful but easily last into the cooler autumn months. I remember them sticking around past Thanksgiving one year. And I was lucky that the “Dark Star” Coleus still looked good and worked great with the Dusties. Add in colorful mums, pumpkins and enjoy! Have fun planting!

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Wire planters spray painted in a bright orange color transition through spring, summer and well into autumn.

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Check out local plant nurseries for fairy accessories to make that gnome garden complete.

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Onion pots are a favorite addition to my front steps, the color works great with cabbages, Dusty millers, mums and white pumpkins.

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Gnome Garden

I’ve been warned of many things happening when you are expecting a baby but the one thing that no one warned me of, is the loss of creativity. Is it just me? I’ve heard of books being written while women were pregnant. I waited for my novel to come, begging to be typed up and it never came. What about my masterpiece? I was going to name it, “Expecting.” The inspiration never came to pick up a paintbrush. I saw a plaque once that read, “Make art or make babies” I thought to myself, “Why not both? Why was there an or in between the two? And then I understood, making a baby for nine months is pretty creative in itself and sometimes there is not enough creativity left over for anything else. And then it hit me, a day or two past my due date, I got the urge to be a little creative and made a little gnome garden. (I’m hoping it’s a sign that the baby is coming soon.) It’s a quick project that’s easy and brightens up any deck or front door. It’s a great project for everyone that missed out that planting window. Have fun gardening!

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Start of with a fun container, I got a vintage wire container and spray painted it. If needed, line it with coco fiber. I measured the container and got it at a local garden center for a great price, it’s worth shopping around for. Add in your dirt, almost to the top. It’s a good idea to map out your plants so you have an idea of what kind of little world you want to create, go with annuals that will work with the amount of sun you have along with any color theme you want to go with. I went with “Dark Star” Coleus, “Ice Cream Mango” Celosia and a fiery red Impatiens. Next top with moss. If you have a bit of shade in your yard, you probably have some growing and you can gently remove it with a hand shovel and add it around your plants. I have a nice amount of shade so I went with shade loving plants and the moss but if you have sun, you can find great soil toppers for your gnome world, such as “Creeping Jenny” and you will have so much fun picking out those sun loving annuals.

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Next add in your gnome accessories, a really cute idea are these mini pots that you can add in a little greenery. I planted some mini plants last year that came up and just used a little bit of them in the mini pots.

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Add in accessories that contrast in color so they really stand out, these slate chunks make a pathway leading the gnomes to a resting spot complete with mushrooms. With it being the beginning of July. lots of garden centers are having sales and with fairy/gnome gardens being so popular, it’s a great time to shop around for some fun gnome accessories. My local garden center had a 40% off sale where I found the mini pot, mushrooms, bench and even the slate chunks.

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Lastly, add in your gnomes and don’t forget to water your plants. Enjoy!

Midsummer Gardening

In about the middle of July, I get a little panicky, as I see the gardening section dwindling down to make room for school supplies. Rows upon rows of pencils, pens and shiny notebooks will put me in a tailspin for an iced coffee, drinkable evidence that summer is still here. Right after that cool, refreshing, first sip, I go to the gardening center, where I am at first dismayed with the half price signage, another sign that summer is slowly slipping away. But as I walked further in between all the flowers, I felt comforted to see such tropical looking plants, that will stick around until the first frost. I reassured myself that summer is still here to stay and if not, it sure will look like it is.

This is my first year growing caladiums and I’m very excited to see how they will do. These are an annual which require full sun to partial shade. Happy gardening!

Red Flash                                                     Red Flash Caladium

Fun Salad Greens

It’s almost summertime and that means it’s salad time! And if you are a little weary of the spring salad mix sitting in your fridge, you can always make your salad a little more interesting and fun by adding in some fun salad greens, which are not typical and add so much more personality to a salad. These are nice grown right in the garden, as some of these are perennials or in pots. With fun salad greens, you want to experiment but in most cases, less is more and mix with mild lettuces such as a butter lettuce for the best flavor. In some salads, just a single leaf, minced, adds a nice flavor. And you may want to use some as just a pretty garnish, either way, they will make your salads more exciting! Enjoy and happy salad making!

A few fun salad greens to consider…

Lemon Gem Marigold: The word lemon is in the name but the lemon is not so prominent in flavor. They taste like a mix of bitter grapefruit pith along with a slight citrus freshness-along with that taste of greens. You can separate the flower and just use the petals but I think the most interesting flavor is in the whole flower. And the leaves may be the best part, very nice mixed into a salad. Garnish with a few flowers for a nice touch.

Lemon Balm: As the name states, it’s lemony and fresh at first with a strong ending of bitterness. This would be nice used sparingly along with a roasted piece of fish on the side.

Salad Burnet: A little reminiscent of cucumber skin…You want to just use the actual leaves with this one, as the stems are a little tough and you want to use the mature leaves as the little clusters of new growth are bitter. (Not enjoyably so.)

Nasturtium Leaves: These are nice while you are waiting patiently for the flowers to bloom and are craving a little peppery and bitter bite to your salad. They are beautiful and striking in a salad.

Corsican Mint: If you are a mint lover, you will love these ever so tiny leaves, as they are so concentrated in mint flavor. They are so pretty and delicate and would be just gorgeous strewn around the outside of a plate as a garnish.

Lemon Verbena: A great lemon-lime flavored leaf, that’s not overwhelming and would be pleasant in a salad with more of it, if you are a fan of lemons and limes.

When experimenting with atypical salad greens such as these, make sure you look at the tags and talk to some knowledgeable people at the plant nursery to be sure that they are edible and start with very small amounts, as they can upset sensitive stomachs.

In Love with Sea Holly

Was I so excited about Fridays’ post that never happened…as my computer screen went blank. Completely blank. It wasn’t until my miracle-making genius brother-in-law fixed it. I still don’t know how it was up and running over the weekend but it was amazing, as I thought I would have to be bringing this little guy down to the recycling center tomorrow. But alas, it’s been saved along with Fridays’ post. I hope everyone had a nice weekend and has an even better upcoming week!

Last year, I fell in love with lupine, so deeply in love that I ended up getting another plant. This year out of the two, only one returned, which I’m so grateful for the one. She feels happy and right at home. This year, the looker that made me turn my head a few times is “Sea Holly.” I am not only in love but obsessed with her look, spiky and in-your-face beautiful, a true off-beat beauty that will add lots of personality to the garden. I’m so excited to be planting her. She is still in the pot, as I’m nervous where to plant her, as she does not not like to be moved once planted, as I’m learning from her tag and some of the garden forums. And I’m a little bit of a mover, moving some of my flowers from place to place, until I feel it’s the right spot. So, I’m having a little performance anxiety here, lol. Isn’t gardening suppose to be relaxing? ;)

Eryngium ‘Sapphire Blue’ Sea Holly likes full sun but I’m planning to give her a home in my part-shade garden and crossing my fingers, hoping for the best. (I think I get enough sun to keep her happy, I’m hoping.) Sea Holly grows about 28″ and spreads out about a foot and a half. She likes soil with good drainage. Happy planting, (maybe not today on the east coast, as it’s drizzly and a little chilly out. It’s perfect weather for chicken and leek soup.)  I can’t wait till some planting weather comes along!

                         Aren’t the sea holly babies so cute? I’m so in love/obsessed

Spilled Milk, Lemonade and the Broken Iris

I saw a pair of beautiful cloud ballet bearded irises at a local flower nursery. I had to have them. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as they were a little bruised, a little battered and needed a little love, patience and good soil. But the towering two bloomed buds were voluptuous, proud, heavenly blue and they were what I call singing. But a little battered they were, as the wind must have gotten to them as the soil was at an angle in the pot, most of the rhizome visible, the greens and the heavy unbloomed buds were fighting to stand upright. I got home and placed them in the backyard to later find them on their sides, I underestimated the wind that day and they had fallen over. I rushed over to them and picked them up. I mistakenly attempted to straighten one of the leaning stems out as I firmly grasped above the rhizome and it snapped in my hand. A sadness completely overwhelmed me. What do you do when milk spills? What do you do when in your own life you have been snapped at the core but make the best of it. After my irrational sadness, I felt it thoroughly and made peace with it. The bruised greens looked even worse without their powder blue prizes but I let go of the regret and took the bud, along with the other one and placed them in bud vases. And what surprising joy did they bring to me for the beauty that was brought inside. When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, as in life what initially gives you sadness you can turn into pure joy.

Plant A Tree

With Earth Day, just a few days ago, it seems we should naturally talk about planting trees. I won’t be of much help with what tree to plant or where but just a story to share that has given me much joy that is connected to a few trees that were once brought to being, with the simple yet profound thought of planting a tree. Was it to my surprise, as I walked out the door last spring, that I would meet the original owners of this house that I live in now. They were looking for my neighbor and asked if I knew when she would be back. I don’t remember the details of that part of the conversation but then it progressed to a complete surprise, the son said, “We used to own that house that you live in” and gestured towards his mom. I was so shocked. I invited them in, thinking it would be fun for them to see the house that was once theirs. As they walked in, the son exclaimed, “Those were our end tables and our lamps!” As we walked into the sun room, “That’s our dining room table and chairs!” I think they were in as much disbelief as I was. I was in such a wonderful shock, if I can describe it that way. And the biggest shock was that my three favorite pine trees were once about a foot tall and planted by the same family that was standing right in front of me. I couldn’t stop thanking them. I love these trees. Somethings feel like they were always a certain way and as silly it may sound, the pine trees felt like they were always this strong and had such a presence here. The appreciation that I feel towards this family for the trees that were planted many years ago, I can’t even express. As weird as it sounds, I don’t think I would love this house as much as I do, if there were no pine trees hugging it at almost every corner. So, plant a tree for you but also for the joy that it will give to one person one day. I am forever grateful.

Shopping for Seeds

Even though Punxsutawney Phil, the famous groundhog predicted an early spring, I hate to say, I’m a little doubtful and think it’s going to be a long winter. But I’m hopeful at the same time that the little guy is right. We have a little guy ourselves, that usually makes a home for himself under the shed. I love seeing his chubby behind jiggle as he runs from under the deck to the safety of the shed, as we pull into the driveway. If the timing is right, he sits up on his plump back legs and gives us a deep, hard (if I’m not mistaken, dirty) look before ducking into his home. I think he thinks we are the intruders. But no sign of him and his shadow and I’m not surprised, as it’s frigid out. The walkway is iced over and my head feels like it could use another hat. My scarf can’t be long enough. It’s a cold one today. And when it’s this cold, the kind that feels like it will last forever, it’s nice to think warm thoughts of spring and planting a little garden. I picked up some vegetable seeds today and I’m so excited! I don’t have the greenest thumb but I’m going to give it a good, hard effort this year, if our furry little chubster friend lets me…

Persian Shield Plant

Ahhh…the end of summer in the garden, a little sad, a little sweet. Autumn is such a nice reflective time of year. The lawn will be full of fallen leaves soon, deep golds and reds, laying on the lawn like jewels when the sun hits them just right. The perennials will recoil back into the depths of the earth to hibernate, as people do the same in some way, as the weather cools. As I looked over the little garden and the all weeding that I have to do, (and have been avoiding, lol) the one plant that was a victorious success was the “Persian Shield”. Out of a small four inch pot, she grew into a majestic feast for the eyes, quadrupling in size. And she looks like she isn’t going anywhere and will stick around into the early fall. Lush violet purple leaves with depths of hunter green that turn silver in different light. She is beautiful on her own but stands out even more when combined with “Creeping Jenny”, (you can check out June 6ths’ post for more about her) and “Dusty Millers”, the contrast is stunning. As the mums come out and the leaves fall, I’m making a list on what to bring into the garden, come next spring and this beauty is on the list!




Persian Shield also known as ‘Strobilanthes Dyerianus’

 
“Persian Shield” is an annual and she requires part sun, about 4-6 hours. She doesn’t grow any flowers but she does not disappoint, as her leaves are so stunning and get prettier as they grow larger. She needs a spacing of 36-48″ and I see that she truly does not disappoint. Give your “Persian Shield” good amended soil and she will be a happy girl. I didn’t have to do anything to this beauty except watch her grow.

Creeping Jenny Isn’t So Creepy

The first summer planting my little garden I was so giddy with excitement. I bought all types of seeds, flowers and plants. Growing up in a city, I had a concrete front yard that I would roller skate in. I found roller skates with wooden wheels at a garage sale for $5. That’s right, you guessed it. I skated my hearts’ content until there was no wood left on those wheels to glide on. Next to the concrete, there were lily of the valley growing in a long dirt patch along side of the house. I would pluck them and inhale their intense aroma, hoping I would have a little garden of my own one day. I don’t remember who gave me this wise advice but it’s so very true, “Never do anything in the garden the first year you move in”. I didn’t know that this is more of a shade loving garden, maybe it was common sense because of all the tall trees and the moss on the roof. But I fell in love with daisies, cone flowers and all sorts of gorgeous sun loving plants that unfortunately never made it. The daisies turned ashy as if they were cremating themselves. And so it’s been a slow learning process in the garden and I’m still learning. But here are some tips that I can pass along. To save time, money and hope, figure out how much sun you get and then go from there. Ask lots of questions at the garden center that are based on your hopes for your garden and the amount of time you want to spend. The beauty of the garden is the rhythm of it, there is a time for everything and then it passes. I personally like it to be a long growing season. See if your needs match with their needs. I love my flowers to bloom for a long time and for them to almost take care of themselves and that’s why Lupine (May 30th’s post) makes me a little nervous, I’m not sure how she will behave. My salvia comes back every year bigger and bigger and more beautiful. I love her boldness, taking over, I had to move some plants over this year to make room for her. The hostas never disappoint. I like trusty annuals, dusty millers are one of them. They are great, lasting till the fall, their silvery leaves almost promising the iciness of winter to come. And at last creeping Jenny, how I love thee. And she isn’t creepy at all. Her almost chartreuse leaves winding and reaching into the crevices of the rocks, making an intrigue design in itself. She is a beauty to add to your garden!




Creeping Jenny, Lysimachia nummularia also known as Goldilocks and Moneywort



 Creeping Jenny is a perennial in zones 3-10. She is a fast grower, tolerating sun to part-shade. (If you have sun she grows little yellow flowers for you). I have her growing around some plants and I do have to tend to them, making sure she doesn’t suffocate them, she has a very short root system, very easy to pull up if you need to. And in my experience you don’t have to worry about bugs or slugs getting to her. I planted her last year from a 4 inch pot! And she has spread out over about 3 feet and I’m sure she will spread further. Creeping Jenny can creep down tall containers and be used as a ground cover, which I am finding out first hand, lol