Garden Update and Native Plant Rescue

Lots to update, as things have finally begun to turn green and bloom! Our daffodils in the same shady area, less than a mile from David’s parents’ house, took over three weeks longer to bloom. His mom observed, “Well, you are north of us!” Worth the wait, though:


We’ve got random patches of red tulips and white daffodils sprouting all over the yard, courtesy of squirrels or previous owners — maybe both. Out front, we’ve got red tulips from before, as well as some I planted last Fall. The squirrels have certainly done some rearranging and nibbling, but we did get some lovely blooms a few days ago. Some are still getting ready to pop. Below you can see the old tulips, along with new plant starts waiting for an all clear of frost planting date:

Plant starts and tulips

The brown area that has sat under Mount Mulchmore all Fall and Winter will eventually be getting some snowdrops courtesy of my friend Kimber’s excess. That area never did too well with grass, so I hope it will fill in and not go crazy with the snowdrops. I’ve tried transplanting clover, too, in order to replace the bucket of dandelions I recently dug up. No worries, there’s more where that came from! This is our yard out back:

Our yard

It’s quite pretty with the violets and dandelions, and the occasional puff of crabgrass sometimes looks like we did it on purpose. I’ve tried putting lime on the yard to increase calcium and decrease dandelion blooms. I’m not sure if that’s worked. The areas I did it the most appear to have ever so slightly fewer yellow tops to harvest or weedwhack. I’ve already got dandelion vinegar steeping, along with a gallon of dandelion flowers in the freezer for other projects like dandelion salve and dandelion wine. They’ve gotten so smart that they don’t grow very high, so hand harvesting has become necessary if I don’t want a field of white puffy seeds. I figure if I’m hand harvesting, I might as well have something to show for it!

Meanwhile, I slightly regret throwing away a five gallon bucket of dandelion roots a couple weeks ago, but I just didn’t feel like cleaning, chopping and roasting them then. We served home grown dandelion root tea to some guests this weekend, though, and I remembered how good it is. Again, there’s plenty more where that came from. I’m sure I can dig up a lifetime supply without even making a dent in the “wild” part of our yard. The areas encroaching on the gardens will certainly suffice for all the dandelion roots, flowers and leaves I could desire. Yes, I’m making the best of it, and yes, it’s still overwhelming.

At least all the work I’ve done since last year has begun to pay off. About a third of the formerly garlic mustard, dandelion, thistle and wild violet yard is now under mulch — much of that over 10-year landscape cloth. The dandelions have already penetrated parts over double layers of cardboard. One intended trellis bed just laughs at me, as the dandelions appear to thank me for the extra moisture. Ah, well, there’s now enough order and intentional planting that when people see the dandelions, violets and newly invasive wild mint, they comment on how pretty it all looks instead of how insane I am to work this yard. πŸ™‚ Almost everybody loves the concrete edging. I still believe my garden faery landscaper has cast a Glamour on that reclaimed concrete, because people seem even more excited about the winding paths and raised beds than about the flowering plants in them!

front path

Dwarf lilac with a lily pushing through the mulch

Dwarf lilac with a lily pushing through the mulch

The cold frame plants have taken off, even though I’ve not bothered to close the cold frame in several weeks. We’ve got happy garlic, spinach, kale, carrots, thyme, garlic chives, parsnips, and rutabaga that overwintered, plus young peas, spinach, mixed greens, radishes and beets I planted earlier this Spring:

cold frame in May

In the “Bed Bed,” perennial sea kale and Egyptian walking onions came back, while my attempt at fava beans continues to grow. Fava’s don’t like heat, so I don’t know if the weather will cooperate for a crop. Even without a crop, this vetch will fix nitrogen in preparation for Summer’s Fairy Tale Pumpkins. You can see the little fava plants poking through near the Slug Saloon that I finally broke down and bought. I lost way too many plants to slugs last year, and I’m not in the mood for that particular battle again this year. Until I know I have a garden toad, those slugs and earwigs are getting drunk and not leaving the bar:

Fava, sea kale and Egyptian Walking Onions

Garden prep continues. as I long ago ran out of compost and potting soil, despite running through our entire compost bin last year and carefully composting scraps all winter. Things haven’t really heated up yet, and my desire for many more beds, plus the Garden Tower, has required buying various potting soil and compost mixes. One of my friends took me by truck to get more concrete blocks for our rain barrel as well as to house marigolds while holding down “red mulch” near our trellised tomatoes and squash. You can see that already diminishing stash right here, along with the pelletized lime and a messy array of garden supplies in the garage:

More compost and concrete

Out back, some of the fruit trees have finally recovered from their initial planting. The quince has tiny buds on it, and this elderberry made a comeback:

Elderberry bush

The companion pollinator/ornamental elderberry bush continues to grow, too. It’s still difficult to pick out the smoky purple colored leaves pretty much lying on the leaf mulch, but Raintree Nursery assures me that this tree will eventually look like a Japanese maple:

Ornamental Elderberry

Yesterday marked a fun gardening adventure, too. Three friends, two dogs, and I journeyed to a recently sold woods to gather native shade plants before the new owner clear cut and RoundUp’ed the entire site. The designer of the famous Calendar Garden had invited a friend to help save native Indiana shade plants. We don’t have much shade at our place, but hey, free plants, I’m in! I helped “call” trillium and “Jack in the Pulpit” for all of us. As a result, I found the Mother Lode of Trillium, and received “word” from Jack in the Pulpit, “That’s Parson Jack to you!” Well, then. When I tried to summon Parson Jack, we did discover enough for each of us to take some home. I let all the plants and faeries know, “We are not the destroyers. We are the rescuers. Face certain destruction, or come live with four women who will love you and celebrate your presence.” They came.

Despite the sadness of losing another (formerly) beautiful woodland area to yet another (presumably GMO) corn field, we had a magical day in the mangled woods. We met the new farmer and an Amishman in charge of clearing the woods for farmland, and they happily took our photos. How often does one get one’s photo taken by an Amishman?! You can see part of our stash in the truck, along with a metal roof for our friend Heather’s chicken coop. I love this series, because it captures the shiny, happy energy of our time together. Watch the dogs:

Tango love

Smiling Tango

happy friends and plants

Trillium and Parson Jack

Above you can see my proportionately small stash of trillium (tri-leaves with the maroon flowers), “Parson Jack” to the left, and some kind of wild iris to the right, all apparently happy enough near our returning ferns on the north side of the house. Below, you can see some transplanted trout lily:

Trout Lily

I trust they’ll enjoy themselves in this safe haven, among the foxgloves I’ll be planting soon from Bealtaine Cottage. Our yard has some new faery immigrants, now, too. This wild place once lost hundreds of trees, too, but the land is gradually recovering with daily attention, communion and love. I offered our yard as sanctuary and hope for the beautiful beings that BigAg and redevelopment continue to displace. May they thrive amidst the herbs, perennials, flowers and edible ornamentals here at humble Faery-Hof. (My dad, of all people, came up with that name after touring the nearby Menno-Hof on my parents’ visit here last Summer.)

Blessings and blissings ….

10 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mitch Mattraw on May 7, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    Looks great Laura!



  2. Posted by James G on May 7, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    Awesome garden! Great work Laura!



  3. Posted by Mavis on May 8, 2014 at 3:22 am

    Lovely post, Laura, thanks so much. Great to share your garden and the fairy folk, and dogs and friends with you. Blessings to you too.



  4. Posted by Raven on May 8, 2014 at 3:28 am

    I love watching your faery garden come alive… and you look so happy. Many blessings to you and David.



  5. Posted by Dina on May 8, 2014 at 7:38 am

    Love your garden/fairy stories, Laura! Great work indeed!



  6. […] Goshen, so what better day for a Spring Garden Update?! I’m most excited to report that the trillium some friends and I rescued from a woodland turned GMO corn/soy farm are doing well in their new home. They returned, along with the beginnings of some rescued trout […]



  7. […] delight. Yes, some hungry pollinators have already found our yard. In addition to the wild trillium I saved from a destroyed woods a few years ago, we’ve also got trout lilies from the same woods, along with still massive amounts of […]



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