Dreaming of Clover

Without the Weeds

There’s a sunny patch of ground at the side of the driveway and old garage that we would like to turn into a butterfly garden. It’s been a weed patch for years, but the husband cleared out the weeds and grass this week, a first big step in creating that special garden. However, we’re not ready to start the butterfly garden yet, so we decided to put in a “cover crop” to help enrich that soil and get rid of the weedy wilderness look. We have a bag of Crimson Clover seeds and decided to toss them out there and see what happens. If they don’t grow, no problem. If they do…well, the patch will look a lot better over the winter and into the spring!

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I Love Nasturtiums

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I love nasturtiums!  Here are some early morning nasturiums in my garden box. Next year, I want to plant nasturiums the way Monet did at Giverny, so the east side yard can look like this photo from Elizabeth Murray’s book, Monet’s Passion.  Garden dreaming…

Photo from Monet’s Passion, by Elizabeth Murray.

Photo from Monet’s Passion, by Elizabeth Murray.

Honoring the Old Oak

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The old Oak trees along the east border of our yard are over 100 years old. They’re tall and majestic, providing wonderful summer shade. But they are also a bit scary. Oak trees “self-prune,” which means they drop bits and pieces of themselves all over the yard. Sometimes those pieces are large branches. These old Oak trees look pretty scraggly when bare of leaves, and some of those scraggly branches are a bit too close and hang over our house. Makes us nervous, especially after our neighbor came over as soon as we moved in and told us that the tree closest to our house was a very dangerous one…it had already dropped a very large heavy branch that landed right where children had been playing in the yard only ten minutes earlier. Yikes!

We had two tree experts come out and evaluate the tree. Both agreed it was dangerous and needed to be removed. The old tree had a large hollow space in it about half-way up, so we couldn’t trust that it would hold up the heavy branches above the hollow. That hollow trunk which made it a very dangerous tree, was also the reason we didn’t want to completely remove it because inside was a very active beehive. Those bees pollinate all the flowers and gardens in this neighborhood!

So we compromised by having the tree cutters take down the top part of the tree but leave the beehive intact. We now have a very tall “stump” in our yard, strange-looking indeed, but providing a wonderful home for the bees, and for birds since we installed three birdhouses.

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But I have visions of it being a beautiful tree, once again. Not with branches, but with flowering climbers up that fat old trunk. So our first gardening project in our new home is to honor that old Oak by planting Honeysuckle vines and creating a nice flower bed around the base of the tree. Husband has been working on a trellis to support the vines, and I’ve been putting bricks around the bottom of the tree to provide a nice flower bed. This week, we chose the plants and planted them. Mother Nature cooperated nicely by providing sunshine for our planting work and then lovely rain on the weekend to give them a great headstart.

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Garden Reading: Seedfolks

A Fondness For Reading

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My first read of 2014 was Seedfolks, by Paul Fleischman. It was a quick read, a short novel told from the viewpoint of 13 different residents of an inner city Cleveland, Ohio, neighborhood. The vacant lot had been a nuisance for years, a place for garbage to be thrown out of windows, for drug deals and rats. It is a thoroughly awful place. But one day in very early spring, a young Vietnamese girl, in memory of her father, plants six bean seeds in the lot, next to the abandoned refrigerator, out of sight. Neighbors notice her activity and wonder. And from that curiosity emerges a glimmer of hope, and a community garden is born.

A lovely novella, this story has sparked the creation of many community gardens and much discussion about diversity and community-building. It was a lovely way to start the new year! A story full…

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Sentimental Gardening

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In the dark of winter, I really enjoy sitting down with my garden notebook and thinking on paper about the different parts of my future garden! My lists and sketches are filled with sentimental choices. There are certain flowers, shrubs, and trees that have very special meaning in my life, and I’d love to fill my yard with them and design the different areas in the garden around them.  Here are some sentimental favorites from my garden dreams:

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Forsythia for my son. Click on the photo to read my story about why I love forsythia.

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Marigolds for my beautiful daughter.

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A Peace Rose in memory of my father. This was his favorite rose.

Cosmos

Cosmos in memory of my maternal grandmother. She loved them.

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Lily of the Valley in memory of my paternal grandmother. Photo by Kurt Stueber.

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Nasturtiums for remembering a very happy time in our lives.

Garden Reading: One Writer’s Garden

One Writer's Garden

A few years ago I read Eudora Welty’s memoir on her life and writing, One Writer’s Beginnings. At the library last week, I noticed a book in the gardening section (where I am spending more and more time!) called One Writer’s Garden, by Susan Haltom and Jane Roy Brown. It was an exciting discovery — a beautiful thick book full of history and photographs of the Welty garden. Eudora Welty’s works are full of flowers and gardens, and it is clear that this family garden was her inspiration. I was captured immediately!

I’m immersed in the book now, fascinated with the history of the family and garden, inspired by the beautiful photographs throughout, enthralled by the stories of Miss Eudora’s life as a writer and gardener, and intrigued by her relationship with her mother and her mother’s garden!

And this morning I came into the room to discover my husband looking through the book. He, too, is fascinated by it. He showed me one photograph that he said solved the question of what kind of fence he would like to put next to the sidewalk of our new home in the Grove. He’s been struggling with the design because, as he said, the fence must compliment the house, not detract from it. We’re inspired now by Miss Eudora! …he to build a fence (how sweet to perhaps be able to call it our “Welty fence!”) and me to be inspired with the flowers I plant along our fence.

On the Porch: Double Impatiens

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Being part-time residents of our new home in the Grove is frustrating. I can’t wait to become a full-time resident and gardener, but in the meantime, my gardening projects will have to be simple and require minimal care. So, I’m focusing more on container plants on the porch, and continuing to dream of the gardens and the flower beds that will be coming in the next few years.

Living a Double Life

First flowers planted...

First flowers planted…

My husband and I spent the Memorial Day weekend at our beautiful new old home in Forest Grove. We are living a “double life” right now…most of the time at our sweet condo in the Seattle area, and then at least one weekend a month [and every possible holiday time] at our home in the Grove. It’s getting harder and harder to leave the Grove to return to our working life! After planting Impatiens in the front flower bed, I want to be there full-time to water and weed them! It’s hard to wait to retire and complete our move into this lovely home of our future!

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Garden Reading: The White Garden

The White Garden

Any book with “garden” in the title catches my eye these days. And this one had both “garden” and “Virginia Woolf,” as well as a lovely cover, so it was a must. It’s an enjoyable read with a story that imagines a mysterious ending to Virginia Woolf‘s life, and with a little bit about the White Garden at Sissinghurst CastleClick here to read a nice review of the book by my blogging friend, Sam Sattler, at Book Chase.

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