Posts Tagged ‘Roses’

On the Receiving End of a Bouquet

I think the FedEx guy who delivered these beauties was as excited as I was: “You’ve got FLOWERS! Someone sent you FLOWERS! Oh, look at that smile, someone sent you FLOWERS!”

Too funny, as he has no idea how many bouquets I’ve made for others and given away in person, as well as virtually via texts to loved ones or shared on this blog. It’s nice to be on the receiving end — a housewarming gift to David and me from our sweet Madison friends, Brian and Ingrid.

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And yes, they do smell heavenly. Crazy Plant Lady may have (slightly) restrained herself at the garden store within walking distance, but she is getting her rose fix after all. 🙂

Garden Update ~ June Blooms and CPL

Well, the roses got the memo: “It’s June!”

Robinhood:

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Earth Day Gardening Update

Happy Earth Day! In honor of our mutual Mama, I thought I’d share some recent photos from the next season of Mad Scientist Gardening. Actually, I just clicked that link to May 26, 2013, and I’m feeling a whole lot better about my progress! We’ve come a long way, baby … but still have miles before we sleep …

On April 1, 2014, I started 72 little seed pots in a Burpee Seed Starter Kit, along with about 25 others, which I let germinate under another set of fluorescent lights in our basement, as well as upstairs in the office. It has been seed central here for all of April.

April 1

April 1

Seedlings today: I need to repot some of the larger ones so that the little guys get enough light.

Seedlings today: I need to repot some of the larger ones so that the little guys get enough light.

Office seeds 4/1/14

Office seeds 4/1/14

Office seedlings today

Office seedlings today

Yesterday, I began another round of seeds:

I decided to plant the warmer crops in at least two rounds, in case I get hit with leafhoppers and squash vine beetles again this year. This is round one of the squash family, and I'll be scattering some sunflower seeds soon. We already have some sprouting from last year, which I'll need to cover from tonight's frost.

I decided to plant the warmer crops in at least two rounds, in case I get hit with leafhoppers and squash vine beetles again this year. This is round one of the squash family, and I’ll be scattering some sunflower seeds soon. We already have some sprouting from last year, which I’ll need to cover from tonight’s frost.

Newly planted seeds warming on our sunny porch and mini-greenhouse, which just gets used as a rack. Holy off-gas of the plastic! Maybe next year...

Newly planted seeds warming on our sunny porch and mini-greenhouse, which just gets used as a rack. Holy off-gas of the plastic! Maybe next year…

Last week marked the arrival of some long-anticipated fruit trees, a dwarf lilac, Alpine strawberries, lingonberry bushes, other fruit bushes and a scabrosa rose, which supposedly makes 5 inch flowers and huge hips. I had offered a Reiki class in Goshen back in February and wisely allowed some people to trade yard work hour for hour. It was so wonderful having knowledgeable help and extra hands planting all the trees and other plants:

Here's a still dormant "sweet" quince tree.

Here’s a still dormant “sweet” quince tree.

Our rose is the happiest so far, because, why, yes! We do have extremely acidic soil, which roses love. Fruit trees, not so much. I've started foliar sprays of Sea Magic, and they seem to be recovering from their shock. This rose has been happy from the start.

Our rose is the happiest so far, because, why, yes! We do have extremely acidic soil, which roses love. Fruit trees, not so much. I’ve started foliar sprays of Sea Magic, and they seem to be recovering from their shock. This rose has been happy from the start.

Looking at this original photo makes me feel better about the one Alpine strawberry plant that I may have killed by accidentally saturating its leaves with the essential oil based Squirrel Stopper. Oops! "Do not spray on plants." That one guy didn't look to happy to begin with, though. Maybe Sea Magic will work its magic.

Looking at this original photo makes me feel better about the one Alpine strawberry plant that I may have killed by accidentally saturating its leaves with the essential oil based Squirrel Stopper. Oops! “Do not spray on plants.” That one guy didn’t look to happy to begin with, though. Maybe Sea Magic will work its magic.

The structure of the yard continues to change, as well. Some day when I feel the yard has really begun to reflect my full vision for it, I will post a true before and after photo. The before photo is so desolate, weedy and embarrassing, but I’ve saved it for when the front yard has started blooming into what I see in my head. Until then, last year’s massive wood mulching project has transformed into this year’s coffee and leaf mulching project to build new raised beds for beneficial bug-friendly flower mixes.

A couple weeks ago, I received an email from a neighbor asking if anyone had need of coffee grounds for compost. I jumped at the chance, forgetting that this neighbor happens to own the local coffee shop. Imagine my surprise when he dropped off 5 huge kitchen bags full of grounds! Worms love coffee grounds, and brewing coffee takes out most of the acidity. I added a bunch of the nitrogen rich grounds to our compost pile, but also mixed some in with the leaf mulch that’s rotting down and killing grass before I plant.

Coffee grounds near Mount Mulchmore

Coffee grounds near Mount Mulchmore

That same neighborly email thread allowed me to get rid of share six huge garbage bags of leaf mulch with another neighbor, which means Mount Mulchmore is more of an East Coast than a West Coast sized mountain.

The concrete hauling project remains my one-woman clean up the neighborhood attempt. I’ve gradually hauled over about half the smashed up concrete that had been looking ugly in front of the apartments next door. Fortunately, the buildings are on a corner and the ugly piles face away from our house, so it’s not completely obvious where their ugliness ends and my intended beauty begins. Of course, that means I’ve got much longer walks with the wheelbarrow, so this project has stretched over at least a month, probably more, and it’s not done yet.

I wasn’t sure about the concrete slabs, but I think my garden faery landscaper must have cast a Glamour on that concrete. We’ve now had many, many guests and yard workers over in the past couple weeks and people keep asking (sincerely), “Where did you get the beautiful stone?!” LOL … but, hey, enough of those comments inspired me to haul more slabs and build more beds. The “stones” have now begun to unify the front and back yard, and they’ll allow me to make raised beds in an otherwise dead zone of a foot of wood mulch over landscape cloth — my desperate attempt to make a dent in the thousands of dandelions going to seed each hour last year. No, I do not exaggerate!

The bed on the left already holds chocolate mint that had taken over a different raised bed. The one on the right will house marigolds and other beneficial flowers, and the one directly behind it already has yarrow and wild violets. I will plant more in there as I have time and weather permits.

The bed on the left already holds chocolate mint that had taken over a different raised bed. The one on the right will house marigolds and other beneficial flowers, and the one directly behind it already has yarrow and wild violets. I will plant more in there as I have time and weather permits.

This long bed will hold the beneficial bugs mix of various clovers, dill, carrots and other pretty, nectar-y things.

This long bed will hold the beneficial bugs mix of various clovers, dill, carrots and other pretty, nectar-y things.

The above photo also shows the beginnings of another concrete raised bed to the left, which already holds a poorly selected site for asparagus and (hopefully) cardoon, if the seeds sprout. Everyone steps on my asparagus, so I realized I needed to create some visual deterrent. Perhaps a bunny deterrent, as well. It will also let me add a lot more compost and some marigolds. Unfortunately, completing that bed involves uprooting about 50 more dandelions. Note: I already have nearly a five gallon bucket full just from this weekend:

These will be cleaned and separated -- roots from shoots, with the shoots put in smoothies and the roots roasted for dandelion tea/"coffee". Uprooting dandelions is vigorous work! I've earned that tea, LOL, and really ... it has hardly made a dent in our volunteer cash crop.

These will be cleaned and separated — roots from shoots, with the shoots put in smoothies and the roots roasted for dandelion tea/”coffee”. Uprooting dandelions is vigorous work! I’ve earned that tea, LOL, and really … it has hardly made a dent in our volunteer cash crop.

Back to the previous photo, though, I am so thrilled with how great the triple-tiered raised beds filled up! A four-person family helped me on Saturday afternoon, and I see from last year’s post that those raised beds never looked so good. I thought they had flopped after a season of growth, but it turns out that two people really weren’t adequate to fill them the right way. They stand much higher and firmer now, awaiting bush beans, calendula, borage and cantaloupe later this year. The half gallon milk jugs in that same photo are protecting fava bean sprouts from the squirrels and bunnies, who devoured my first planting of fava’s. Ohhh, they want those sprouts! Every day, I find evidence of them attempting to burrow under the milk jugs. Thank you, hidden gopher wire! Nobody’s climbing up from underneath my garden!

Sooo, that’s the update. Today, my friend Suzanna’s taking me to pick up a rose bush root ball that someone on Freecycle dug out in order to put in a new driveway. I have no idea where it will go, but it supposedly looks and smells wonderful in bloom. Plus, it’s free. Also free and coming soon: two serviceberry trees from the City of Goshen, which will go on our front easement on the side of the house with the herb garden.

I love how these plants will please my grandmothers, who both passed last year. I have Grandma Van’s little houses on our front porch, and these will look out on the serviceberry trees that birds love. Grandma Van had such a magical relationship with birds! Gramma Irene loved roses and tended so many rose bushes in her lifetime. I’ll now have two, and a friend/student and I planted dozens and dozens of white lilies to edge the back of the concrete lined front bed. Irene Lilly will be pleased. 🙂

Remembering Gramma Irene

My mom’s mom passed away in the wee hours of Thursday morning in my Aunt Gail’s home, where Gramma Irene spent the past two years living with my cousins and Uncle Bret. I was initially a bit surprised to hear the news, because I usually receive some sort of visitation or warning just prior, during or immediately after someone passes. This happens consistently, even with people I don’t know very well, so yesterday felt a little surreal until later in the evening when I mentioned to my sister that it seemed so weird not to have known.

My sister replied that she had felt her — feeling compelled to tell Gramma Irene stories last Friday. I then realized that I, too, had felt Gramma’s presence this past Tuesday while attending the Christmas concert at Goshen College. I even blogged about the audience exquisitely singing the Hallelujah Chorus. What I didn’t say in my blog, but did mention to David and think about for days was how much that experience reminded me of my maternal grandmother. I was seated next to a dear 82-year-old friend of mine, and her surprising soprano voice belting out the Hallelujah Chorus sounded so much like Gramma Irene that I teared up. All week long, I’ve heard a blend of my friend and my grandmother singing through my head.

In 2009, while renting a home in Sonoma County, CA with my then-husband, now ex-husband, Stephen, I wrote a post with a little tribute to Gramma Irene inside of it, and it seems appropriate to share her part here:

I have always wanted a rose garden. My maternal grandmother lived in Irvine, CA for most of my youth, and she had the most beautiful roses in full bloom on her patio. A long-time soloist, she would sing her arias while pruning away, offering me, her sixteen-year-old granddaughter, mimosas and chocolate for breakfast. In retrospect, Gramma Irene was a pretty cool grandma!

My grandmother has since moved somewhere that maintains the rose gardens for her, but she still has lovely rose pillows and garden paintings in her apartment. When Stephen and I moved to our new home in Sonoma County, one of the first things I noticed was a woman singing arias while she gardened. It totally reminded me of my grandma! As things turned out, we have our own rose bushes, too, many of which needed pruning. I finally went outside today with some pruning sheers — my first ever — and had a go at them. I think I did pretty well, but we’ll see how many new blooms we get. 🙂

While trimming off the old blooms, I remembered some old thoughts I’d had regarding the whole concept of pruning: the idea that in order to grow, sometimes we need to cut back more than we think is necessary. Some of those leaves looked just fine to me, but I needed to prune them back to the first 5-patch if I wanted the bush to continue blooming. During life coaching sessions, sometimes that same principle holds true. Parts of someone’s life may look just fine, but in order to invite the big blossoming, they still need some cutting out and reshaping. I love how nature reminds us of the abundance of life — that we can remove parts that sap energy in preparation for the tremendous blooms in store for us. We need not fear some discipline or change. Giant, fragrant petals are on the way!

While pruning roses, I started thinking about a Garden Paradise, and quickly those thoughts turned to humanity’s attempts to return to that original Garden Paradise — our personal Eden.

Fast forward 4.5 years, and I now have my own, quite large, garden, a new home and a completely new love life. I had intended to plant rose bushes this Fall, but I ran out of time. Now I know why. Gramma Irene, I’ll be planting those rose bushes in memory of you.

I’ve lost two grandmothers this year — 101 year old Grandma Van in April and 91-year-old Gramma Irene yesterday. I shouldn’t really say “lost,” since I carry pieces of each of them with me, and I know I can speak with the dead whenever we both want those lines of communication open. My dad brought me little houses from Grandma Van, and they now house the faeries on our front porch. (For real — you could feel the energy shift when I put them on the window sills.) When I see our front porch, I think of Grandma Van, and whenever I see or smell those rose bushes, I will remember Gramma Irene.

Blessings and love to both of you. Thanks for bringing so much magic, beauty and love to my life!

me, Gramma Irene, Grandma Van, my brother Craig and my sister, Erica

me, Gramma Irene, Grandma Van, my brother Craig and my sister, Erica