Posts Tagged ‘Forest Garden’

Garden Update: Perennials in Containers and Mid-May Blooms and Growth

Tomorrow marks the supposed last frost for Kalamazoo, MI. I’ll need to find a new motivation to do squats now that I (hopefully) won’t need to haul these lilies and ranunculus into the garage a couple nights per week! The almost blooming chives in front love the cool spring nights, but I bought the more tender flowers on the first warm day we had. Six frost warnings later, I admit, I got a bit ahead of the weather. 🙂


Our backyard redbud knows the right time to blossom. I love this tree, and the photos never do it justice:


Hostas, rhubarb, vinca, and strawberries know it’s time to go green: Continue reading

Four Eccentric Ways Trees Can Heal You

More tree love, and, um, yeah … guess I am pretty eccentric. 😉 I have regularly engaged in all of these ways since childhood, and I can honestly say, they work!


Via RMN:

Fauns, elves, pixies, ghouls, trolls – the image of forests and woodlands arouse many feelings of mystery and intrigue.  Not only do forests bring to mind mythical creatures, but they’re also the home of countless folklore tales and superstitions.  Did you know that the Druids and the Germanic Pagans used to worship trees?  No wonder the forest, in all its ethereal splendor, is the perfect place for us to take solitary strolls.

Interestingly, forests also provide the perfect place to holistically heal ourselves.  All our daily tensions, struggles and woes can perish through some simple forest therapy.  We all have forests, bush-lands, and woodlands near us.  But how can we make the best out of these erudite ecosystems?  You’ll find some suggestions below.

Read more here.

Before and After Garden Pics from Last Time We Saw Ann Kreilkamp

My recent post detailing this past weekend’s trip to visit Ann Kreilkamp at her ecopod in Bloomington triggered WordPress to link to my post about the first time we saw Ann — at our place in May 2014. During that visit, David took a photo of Ann and me standing in the recently created front yard bed, then full of wood mulch and urbanite:

Laura and Ann

At that time, Ann also encouraged me to photograph as much of our yard as I could fit into one shot:

yard at Ann's visit

Holy, moly! I can’t even take that shot now, because there are “too many” plants and fruit trees “in the way.” Here are some after photos taken this evening, winding my way through a similar perspective of the above “before” image. Keep in mind that the before shot from 2014 was already the after from over a year of massive work. Even so, I almost cannot believe how much our yard has grown and flourished from late May 2014 to August 3, 2015:


Front bed

Walking back

Goumi and pear tree

more yard

side and backyard

Ann had a good laugh at David accommodating me with photos that don’t emphasize “my now too buff arms” such that I don’t even recognize my little waif self from two years ago, but LOL, now you see how I got those arms! As much as the yard, my biceps and triceps have grown, I feel like I’ve grown even more inside. Ann and I picked right up where we left off, but that’s because we’ve both been fast tracking our realizations, inner shifts, yard and home projects, and community building. I guess I needed to see it to believe it, but whoa … some growth. Creation on all levels!

Trillium and Other Garden Updates

It’s snowing in 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 lily, Jack in the pulpit and what looks to be Dutchmen’s breeches. The trillium came up first:

Rescued trillium

Rescued trillium

I need to apologize for the blurriness of some of these photos. It has been insanely windy here for days! My poor peach tree needs to find a more sheltered home, because these Indiana winds are just crazy. They seriously seem to be coming from any and all directions, and like me, my little peach sapling does not like wind!

In other news, preparation for an intentional “Battle of the Invasives” has begun in the easement area, front street-side. With all the trucks that drive by and a brown field not too far away catty corner from us, across the street, I don’t really want to eat anything from this front area, nor do I want to continue weed whacking it once or twice per week. The faeries hate that weedwhacker, and I’d much rather create beauty than become Laura the Destroyer. Actually, I suspect all the deep wood mulch with its mycelium layers will remediate any toxins, but I’m still dedicating this area to beauty, butterflies, birds, bees and a “Battle of the Invasives.”

In addition to a tough as nails and gorgeous Robinhood Rose hedge set to arrive soon, I’ve got groundcover juniper on order, serviceberry trees from the city, and three Rose of Sharon bushes from my friend Patricia’s yard. The vast expanse of mulch will (hopefully) fill quickly with various floral groundcovers, including an Asian day lily promisingly named, “Little Invader.” I’ve got perennial (and spreading) daisies, yarrow from unwanted locations around the yard and other beds, creeping Elfin thyme, poppy seeds scattered, a hummingbird and butterfly seed mixture for naturalization, hyacinths, and some non-invasive perennials like Gerber daisies, dianthus, and soon to be planted hardy gladiolas.



The serviceberry trees are in bloom but difficult to capture with my camera, so I’ll show you this little guy, an experiment literally just stuck in the ground six feet from a dwarf apple tree. I bought two serviceberry bushes that never took last year, so we’ll see if this “impossible” (according to the city arborist) attempt will do better. I cut off a hard wood sucker from one of the front trees and stuck it in a strawberry hole. We’ll see what it does. If you can imagine this on a much larger scale, you’ll get a sense for how pretty the two trees look out front. You can see it here with hyssop, the ever present dandelions, strawberries and numerous other parts of a large backyard polyculture:



Also out back, we’ve got Quince and Elder with a bright floral crop of milk jug planted medicinal herbs holding down cardboard that desperately needs more wood mulch:

Quince and Elder

The front yard looks more presentable, with both the cherry and 3-way Asian pear tree in bloom, along with a few remaining daffodils and some chives that should take off this year:

April 2015 cherry tree

Tulips are just starting to bulge — a little crossover bloom with the later daffodils:

Tulips and Daffodils

Out back, a crate full of stinging nettles finally found a new home in an enormous tree-sized pot filled with compost, potting soil, rotting leaves and –on the bottom for drainage– broken chards of the terra cotta pots I lazily left outside for the winter. Yep, they really do crack as they freeze and thaw! At least they’re serving a new purpose. I love nettles, but I felt bad planting them into a yard we don’t own. I also didn’t want them to escape to neighbors who might treat them with toxic RoundUp. Meanwhile, they were busting out of the landscape cloth lined crate from two years ago. If I didn’t act soon, we’d have nettles regardless of whether or not I planted them. Enter: the tree pot, a generous, deep, sturdy container to let them grow lush and tall. I’ll just need to make sure they don’t go to seed.

stinging nettles

stinging nettles

Inside, I’ve started lots of annual seeds, which needed to go back to the warmer basement under fluorescent lights today since the porch is now too cold again for peppers, tomatoes, and other tender seedlings. Outside, though, the perennial veggies and cover crops are starting to show:

sea kale, Egyptian walking onions, garlic and an edible legume cool weather cover crop to fix nitrogen into the soil.

sea kale, Egyptian walking onions, garlic and an edible legume cool weather cover crop to fix nitrogen into the soil.

happy chives leading the beneficial bugs bed

happy chives leading the beneficial bugs bed

So there you have it! Potato seeds arrived yesterday, which means tomorrow will involve learning another new task. I’ve never grown taters before. In fact, I almost missed the deadline to order the little seed potatoes. On Saturday, something reminded me that a Master Gardener in this area always plants his on Good Friday, and I thought, “Doh! I guess I better order the seeds.” I have potato grow bags and various amendments. We’ll see how it goes. Clearly, the Mad Scientist Gardening continues, and the crazed plant lady here just ordered even more fruit trees, fruit bushes and mushrooms on a Spring Sale from Raintree Nursery. If all goes well, I should finally have the medlar tree that has obsessively haunted me for years. LOL, sometimes you just need to plant a weird tree to stop it from whispering in your ear all year!

And now I need to put on another layer. Despite all that garden talk, it’s still windy and cold in Goshen.

My Faery Garden Landscaper Is Back!

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned having sent my Faery Garden Landscaper (pseudonym: “Heather”) on her very first ever vacation until I got caught up on all the earlier garden projects. Well, as of yesterday afternoon, I’m all caught up, and now she’s back. I just realized it this morning when some telltale magickal signatures showed themselves outside; however, I’m quite sure she actually returned last night. Because last night … oh, my … last night ….

Let’s just say, out of nowhere, someone inspired me to buy a lot more fruit trees and berry bushes for planting this summer, which means much more work on my part. The ground is harder; they’ll need more water and extra care; they’ll need lots of cardboard and hauling of wood mulch … and have I mentioned it’s July in the absurdly humid Midwest?

Everything lined up, though, including our landlord dropping by yesterday and expressing his heartfelt exuberance about me planting more fruit trees in the backyard, along with ornamental medicinal herbs along the south and west sides of his extra garage behind our house. He’s always given me freedom in the yard, but yesterday, he got visibly and verbally excited about my (distant) prospect of more fruit trees and “plants that no one will know to pick.” He actually got a mischievous glint in his eye as he imagined all these beautiful flowers that have “secret” medicinal uses.

During that same conversation, our next door neighbor (who also rents from the same landlord) came out and offered to assemble the compost bin I bought for his family. I had tried, but I’m much better at growing things than assembling things. That felt like a big check mark, and now I don’t need to ask David.

Anyway, back to the fruit trees. I have been reading “How to Make a Forest Garden,” which is an excellent book for anyone wanting to permaculture their yard. I guess the fruit tree purchases didn’t exactly come out of nowhere, but I really hadn’t planned to order anything until at least fall, but most likely spring. Somehow, last night, I hit upon a one night sale with free shipping and 25% off, and everything just came together so fluidly that David convinced me to go ahead with things. Mind you, I had forgotten all about Heather, so I leapt into this project assuming I’d need to do all the work myself.

The only thing I didn’t order was an Altissimo climbing rose to replace the rose bush that never came to life. I suspect the former owners did not remove it in the right way and let the root ball dry out, but in any case, it has acted as a placeholder for a spot that really deserves a climbing rose. None of the fruit tree or herb places had this particular kind of rose, though, so I thought I’d leave that order until next spring. My main hesitation? I dreaded having to dig out the rose bush, since it had been such a huge production to get it in the ground. We’re talking a five gallon bucket of dandelion roots, hard soil, and just generally rough digging.

Before going to bed, I asked for a sign supporting me in all these “crazy” purchases. Requests for new sessions came through in almost the same amount as I spent, but the real magick revealed itself this morning. I walked outside to find this:

rose dug up

The rose bush in question, neatly dug up! Apparently, the price for that labor was one head of a sunflower that was too shaded anyway by the trellised grape vine. I was so stunned, I immediately came into the house and told David, “I’ve seen a lot of things, and I’ve experienced a lot of synchronicities, but for some reason, this one just floors me!” Then I went back outside and found more evidence of a faery gardener in this polyculture that includes cantaloupe and basil:

basil polyculture

The cantaloupe leaves had been shading the basil, but someone or something either ate or completely removed half of the largest leaf in the way. Now the cantaloupe shades the soil, but the basil gets to reach for the sun. This was the only “damaged” leaf in that bed. The aluminum foil is a trick I learned to keep squash vine borers from boring into the vines of curcubits. So far, so good, but I’m more impressed with the spontaneous pruning of just the right leaf!

The rest of the garden continues to grow well. I learned a valuable tip this week about comfrey. It’s even more amazing than I suspected. I know that people use it as mulch and as a compost starter, as well as a nitrogen fixer in the soil. I’ve done that before, too. What I hadn’t done was use it as a repeat mulch on ailing plants. I’ve spent a ton of money and time trying to get our very poor, sandy soil into richer organic matter that can hold moisture and nutrients. If you’re not lucky enough to begin with loamy soil, then it can take years before anything good will grow well without fertilizers and soil amendments, including organic ones like I use. Anyway, rock dust, volcanic ash, various types of prepared compost, sea minerals … I’m sure it’s all helped … but guess what finally turned around the most ailing of my plants?


For several days in a row, I’ve harvested huge leaves from my largest (of five) comfrey plants, placed them around “failure to thrive” plants and watered over the comfrey leaves. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I would not believe the turnaround. Now I know! Next year, the other four comfrey plants should be hardy enough to handle much more harvesting, and I’ll take root cuttings of the big one next spring. Free and on site sure beats hauling in from all over the place. I’m very happy to have all of this in process already, though.

The rest of this post includes a few selected photos of some areas of the garden:

grape vines, sunflowers, Fairy Tale Pumpkins, geraniums, calendula, cantaloupe, sea kale, cucumbers, zinnias, marigolds, onions and more ...

grape vines, sunflowers, Fairy Tale Pumpkins, geraniums, calendula, cantaloupe, sea kale, cucumbers, zinnias, marigolds, onions and more …

borage getting ready to bloom its starry blue flowers

borage getting ready to bloom its starry blue flowers

our front yard looking northeast from our driveway ... sunflowers about to bloom!

our front yard looking northeast from our driveway … sunflowers about to bloom!

I’m still shaking my head about that rose bush! Maybe I’ll wake up to pre-dug fruit tree holes, too. Thanks, Heather, and welcome back! 😉