Garden

Crocus

(photo by Deborah Blowers)

And all the woods are alive with the murmur and sound of Spring,

And the rose-bud breaks into pink on the climbing briar,

And the crocus bed is a quivering fire,

Girdled round with the belt of an amethyst ring.

Oscar Wilde

One of the first flowers to bloom in the new year is the crocus. The blooming crocus signals the ending of winter and the ushering in of Spring.  What a welcome sight these cheery blossoms are!

The cheery, determined crocus will even bloom through the late winter snows, bringing much needed color to the departing winter.

Crocus symbolizes cheerfulness.

Growing Crocus

  • Crocus, from the ‘Iridaceae’ family, are perennial, growing from corms or bulblets.
  • Crocus, being perennial, will come back year after year, much to our enjoyment
  • Crocus grow from zone 3-8.  They need cold to bloom
  • Crocus bloom in late winter to early spring, in February through March
  • Crocus like well-drained, loose soil.  The corms will rot if grown in water logged areas
  • There are the early, or snow crocus and the later, giant crocus.  Both can be planted for a longer bloom period
  • There is also an ‘autumn crocus’, that is actually in the lily family, blooming in the fall.  They are quite stunning to see
  • There are the Saffron crocus where we get the saffron spice from
  • Crocus grow best in partial to full sun, liking 6 + hours of sunlight a day to do best.  Since they bloom so early, they can be planted under trees; they will bloom before the trees leaf out
  • Crocus are low growing, from 2-4 inches and are great at the front of a flower border
  • Crocus are perfect in the perennial bed, rock garden or mixed borders.
  • Crocus colors are blue, purple, lavender, pink, orange, yellow, and white
  • Crocus are fragrant and a wonderful early food source for honeybees
  • Crocus require minimal care and will naturalize wherever they are planted
  • Crocus are rarely bothered by deer, rabbits and squirrels
  • To plant crocus, first work some compost into the soil, then plant the corms 3-4 inches deep with the pointy end up.  They should be planted in the fall while the ground still can be worked, any time from 6-8 weeks before the first hard frost right up to frost.  Water in well. This usually is September to November in my zone 6
  • Since crocus are such dainty flowers, it works best to plant them in groups or clusters of at least 10, with the corms a few inches apart.
  • Crocus can be planted right into the lawn area for a wonderful spring display.  The first mowing is usually after the bloom time.
  • Crocus do appreciate water when needed and regular fertilizer and mulch
  • Once crocus are done blooming, let the grass like foliage die back naturally.  The leaves will send food to the corms for next years blooms. Then the crocus will disappear for the year to greet you again in the early spring
  • Crocus can be dug and divided after blooming.  A great way to increase your plantings or to share with others
  • Crocus can also be successfully grown in containers

The Story of My Crocus

This narrow bed along our carport is where I had my crocus planted, along with other summer blooming perennials and annuals . I wanted to see the blossoms every time I walked by in the spring.  They really did cheer my heart after the winter, and I looked so forward to them. 

Last summer was a big project of making a cement parking area on the area to the left of the bed.  There originally was a sidewalk here, but the whole yard area was put into cement.  I dug as many of the perennials as possible before the big equipment arrived and began digging the dirt up.  Since the crocus were dormant at the time, I forgot about them and didn’t dig them.  The mess you see in the photo below is the weeding that I did last fall.  After the cement was poured, and the bed was backfilled, all these weeds came up.  I thought I had lost all the crocus as the dirt was all moved around.  

The dirt that was excavated out for the cement pad was all piled into the yard.  This is the dirt that will be used to fill the new raised vegetable garden beds that will be built this spring.  We have lived with this unsightly pile of dirt all year, but the soil here is too nice and I couldn’t bear to have it hauled off, since I would be needing it this year.  (My poor husband-what he has to endure with a wife that loves to garden!  I make him walk around regularly with me to see what is coming up-he could care less!)

Just a few crocus came back up in the flowerbed and I felt sad that most were gone.

This is not a good photo, but the yellow in the photo below is my crocus!  Apparently, most of the crocus corms were dug and dumped on the dirt pile together.  I was surprised to see them blooming this spring.  They will be dug and re-planted back in the same bed soon.  Shows you how hardy these little dainty plants are!  What a nice spring surprise!


Praying for Ukraine

 

Cooking · Garden

Growing Chives

There are a number of herbs and vegetables that are perennial, meaning that they will return year after year to give you a harvest.  One of my favorite perennial herbs, or one of my favorite herbs in general, is chives.

 

There are 2 types of chives, the common chive (Allium schoenoprasum) and garlic chives (Allium tuberosum).  The common chives have a mild onion flavor and the garlic chives have a garlic flavor.

Pictured above is the common chive, the one that I have grown for years.  This clump has moved with me to our current location and it has been divided and shared many times.

Both the leaves and flowers of chives are edible.

The most commonly used part of the chive plant is the leaves.  The leaves are hollow and grass like and are best used fresh.

The flowers are also edible and can be cut and used fresh while they are in season.  They are usually used in salads and as a garnish.

How to Grow Chives

  • Chives grow from small bulblets
  • Chives are one of the first of the herbs that are ready in the spring
  • Chives are milder than onions, and are members of the onion family
  • Chives grow well in any zone from 3-9. They are very cold hardy
  • Chives grow best in full sun
  • Chives like well-drained rich soil that has been amended with compost
  • Plant clumps of chives 6 inches apart
  • Chives can be divided every three years and re-planted out after the last spring frost
  • Water regularly, keep weeded and mulch
  • Can be grown in containers and can be moved indoors for all year use
  • Require minimal care, and I consider them well behaved.  Some of my reading says that the flowers heads, if left, can cause them to spread but I have not found it so.  If you have a problem with too much self seeding, just make sure the flower heads are cut off before they go to seed.
  • Will flower from late May till June.  Flowers can be used fresh or dried in cooking, or as an ornamental or cut flower
  • To harvest, just grab a handful or how ever much you need, and cut them off at the base.  If using the flower heads, just cut off as needed
  • Chives can be used in salads, dips, egg dishes, in potato salad, on pizza or as a topping.

My favorite way to use chives-freshly chopped over a baked potato with butter and sour cream.

What a lovely, delicious welcome to Spring!

Do you grow chives?

Praying for Ukraine

 

Garden

Reasons to Garden

The garden gate is opening….

March is here, Spring has arrived

and it is time to begin gardening in earnest.

Before we begin, let us consider some reason to grow a garden.

  • Beauty.  There is nothing as beautiful as a well-tended garden.  It can lift your mood just seeing the beautiful garden you have created.  Flower gardens are a thing of beauty, and vegetable gardens can be too.

  • Taste. There really is nothing compared to the taste of a just picked tomato, warm from the sun. Just the freshness issue makes homegrown vegetables taste better.
  • Grow safe healthy food.  You will know how the vegetables were grown and how they were handled.
  • More variety.  If you grow some of your own food, you can have more variety than what can be purchased in the grocery store.  The different varieties seem endless when looking through the seed catalogs.
  • Exercise.  Gardening gets you outside and moving around.  You will work your muscles with bending, squatting, tugging, pulling, lifting, and digging.  The exercise will lead to better sleep.  You get Vitamin D from being out in the sunshine.
  • Mental Health.  Working in the garden can lift your spirits, relieve stress and can be like a therapy for the soul.
  • Save money.  The price of a package of seeds will yield much more than the actual cost of the packet.  Granted, there are expenses in getting started in gardening, but you soon will recoup the cost if you garden year after year and are careful in your expenses.
  • Make money. If you are able to grow a good amount of produce or flowers, more than you can use, it is fun to see what you can sell with your excess.
  • Sense of accomplishment.   How rewarding it is to see what you can accomplish in the garden. Wether it is beautiful bouquets of cut flowers for the house or great tasting vegetables for the table, or just wandering through the garden you have created is a joy.
  • Sharing.  How nice to be able to share your excess produce with others, those that are not able to garden, or are no longer able to.  There are usually food pantries in town that would appreciate any donations.  Sharing with neighbors is a great way to make friends.

  • Prepare for winter food.  It is a wonderful feeling to know that your pantry  or freezer is stocked with delicious produce from your garden.  How nice to enjoy the garden produce in the middle of winter.  It will help beat the winter blues.
  • Training children.  Get the children involved in gardening.  Make it a fun time.  It will give children a sense of accomplishment, teach them things and make memories that they will carry with them.
  • Creative.  Gardening can be a great creative time.  Try new things and new methods of growing. Learn something new yourself.
  • Learning.  Gardening can teach us many things-Patience, perseverance, hard work, self reliance, how to deal with successes and failures and it can be very rewarding.

I am always amazed at this wonderful world God has given to us, and it is so beautifully displayed in how generous He is in the bounty of the garden.

Are you planning to grow a garden this year?

Praying for Ukraine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faith · Garden · My Town

In Praise of Snow

Beautiful snow, so pure and white,

Dancing through the air you go.

Falling so gently, softly and light

From th’ clouds above to the earth below.

 

Beautiful snow, so pure and white,

Th’ crowning beauty of winter cold;

Falling both by day and by night,

Falling on mountain-top and wold.

 

Beautiful snow, so pure and white,

Falling gently on vale and dell;

Cov’ring the cottage of the poor,

And the mansion of the rich as well.

 

Beautiful snow, so pure and white,

Falling on things both high and low,

Hiding the fallen leaves out of sight,

While o’er the brown tree you thickly blow.

 

Beautiful snow, so pure and white,

Oh, how I love to see you fall.

Oh, I am certain, yes, I am sure,

Nothing’s as pretty as snow at all.

 

Lord! make my heart as pure and white

As the snow when it falls from above.

Fill me with Thy truth and light

And sweet beautiful faith and love. 

Effie Waller Smith

 

A poor photo, I know, due to the angle of the sun, but icicles on the roof of the house.  My roses are just below and they are entombed in ice also.  Hopefully, they make it through this winter.

There are benefits of snow for the garden.

  • Snow acts as an excellent insulator.  Shovel the snow onto your growing bed to give them a nice blanket of protection.
  • Snow protects from harsh, drying winds that can damage plants.
  • Snow can protect from the heaving up of plants due to the freezing and thawing cycle.  It is best to have the ground stay frozen until spring.
  • Snow provides moisture to perennial plants and bulbs as they are waking up for the spring.
  • Snow, as it melts, provides nitrogen that is essential to plant growth.
  • If you have designed a garden for winter interest, snow provides beauty as it covers everything.

As we are ending the month of January, we are leaving the season of Deep Winter.  As we enter the month of February, we are entering the season of Late Winter, and the seasonal temperatures should be steadily rising all across the nation, which they will continue to do till mid July.  There will still be snow and ice and cold to contend with, but-

Winter brings the

the cold of February,

But remember,

It is only temporary.

I do love a good snow fall!

Following are some photos of my town after the last storm.

 

And a photo of the Redbank Creek with the resident geese and ducks.

And lastly, a big shout out to the state and local snow crews that work so hard to keep our roads clear.

They had quite the big clean-up job after this last snow storm.  And another one is on the way….

Thanks guys!

You Lord, are forgiving and good,

abounding in love to all

who call to you.  

Psalm 86:5

Garden

The Winter Garden


Yes, January is the time for dreaming about this years garden.  With the cold and snow of my mid-Atlantic growing area, there is not much that can be done outside.  But there are things you can be doing to get ready for the dream garden in your head.

 

raised beds in snow
My garden in winter

Now is the time to begin planning for this years garden.  

If you have kept a garden journal or took photos of your last years garden, you can refer to them when planning for this year.  Now is the time to evaluate what worked and what didn’t; things you would like to do different, or something to change, or to try new.  You can evaluate the design and structure of the garden.  The location of the garden, the walkways and structures, anything that needs worked on or changed.  

This is a wonderful time of slowness when you can peruse magazines, garden books, and the internet for garden ideas for this year.  It is still a little early to begin starting seeds for our area, but that time will be here soon enough.

 

(A job waiting for me as soon as workable, that didn’t get completed last fall!)

Some photos of the big snow storm of recent…..one of the biggest snowfalls that I can remember in a number of years.

It has snowed most every day for over a week now.

Temperature have been below 0 many nights.  Too cold for me!

It took us a couple of days to dig out and clear the walkways and drive.

Things to do in January

  • Plan this years garden
  • Peruse seed catalogs
  • Start this years garden journal, noting things that you would like to try new or change
  • Inventory your old seeds
  • Decide what and how much you would like to plant this year
  • Gather items needed for seed starting and get things set up
  • Prune as needed
  • Learn new things
  • Start seeds of slow germinating plants and some cool season plants
  • Shovel snow on to your growing beds
  • Get ideas from books and the computer
  • Keep up with houseplant care and overwintered plants
  • Keep wildlife animal feeding and watering stations filled
  • Clean and organize your garden shed or storage area
  • Clean and sharpen your garden tools

Are you getting anxious to get back to gardening again?

Here’s to a wonderful, bountiful garden of your dreams!

 

 

 

 


Garden

March Garden Chores-The First Week of March

raised beds in snow
My garden in winter

It was one of those March days

when the sun shines hot

and the wind blows cold:

When it is summer in the light,

and winter in the shade.

Charles Dickens

Ahhh, March…such a mercurial month, but in reality, it is the true beginning of the gardening year.

The warm days tease me to take a walk-about around the gardens to see what is happening, if anything.  And, yes! things are happening already in the garden-tulips and hyacinths popping their heads up, the sedums showing green, unfurling from amongst the leaf mulch, and the fall planted garlic showing in their row.  Others, such as the asparagus and rhubarb, are still asleep, though I look hard for some visible life.  Soon, soon….

We are ,(in my 5-6 gardening zone) 11 to 12 weeks before the average last frost.  

There are things to be done in preparation for the new gardening year, soon to begin in earnest.  While it is still too early to do much outside in the garden, there is much to be done indoors to be well prepared for the soon coming Spring.

The cold winter months are wonderful for perusing the seed catalogs that arrive just after Christmas.  Oh, the dreams of beautiful, weed free gardens….

 

Things to do This Week in the Garden

  • Plan the garden.  Sketch out what will be planted where.  Refer to last years garden journal.
  • Start this years garden journal.
  • Survey your yard-are there any areas that need an update or to be changed?  Make plans now to do this. 
  • Visit a local Spring flower and garden show…..you will be inspired!
  • Check for any garden structures that need attention or replacing.  It is so much easier to replace a trellis now, rather than when it is full of vines!
  • Inventory your past years seeds.
  • Peruse the seed catalogs, and place your seed orders.
  • Plan out your planting schedule for your climate zone.  
  • Purchase and/or prepare the seed starting supplies.
  • Set up a seed starting area.
  • Test your soil if you choose.  (I do not.)
  • Clean out bird nest boxes.  Do it sooner rather than later, as birds do not like to be disturbed once they start nesting.  The birds are already chirping!
  • Clear away the mulch in the beds of early blooming flowers.
  • Do not rush the removal of mulch and cleaning up just yet.
  • Cut back grasses.
  • Finish up the late winter pruning of roses, grapevines, fruit trees, brambles and late summer flowering shrubs.
  • Many pruned branches can be brought indoors and forced for early indoor bloom.
  • As the daylight is getting longer, houseplants will begin putting out new growth.  Give them a ‘shower’, trim back foliage as needed and begin fertilizing.
  • Check on winter stored plants and vegetables.  Care for as needed.
  • Clean the garden tools.
  • Seeds of cool season crops can be started indoors now-celery, leeks, lettuce, onions.
  • If you have a cold frame, you can plant cold hardy seeds, such as radish and spinach and peas.

March-the month of Promise.

Happy gardening!

A joyful heart is good medicine.

Proverbs 17:22

Garden

Fridays Flower-Primrose

Primrose

 

Primrose Stirs, Lifts Up Her Head
Stands Up Tall, On Softened Bed
Resurrected, As Winter Dreams
Primrose Smiles, Or So It Seems

 

Blooming primroses are such a bright, cheery sight in the spring.  They do make my heart smile when I look at them!


Primroses are a perennial plant, coming back every year, making an ever bigger clump.  They grow from fibrous roots.
Primroses bloom in the early spring, sometimes blooming sporadically through the summer.
Do you grow primroses?
*
Matthew 6:20,21
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven….
for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
*
I will be digging and dividing my primroses this late spring/early summer.  The colors that I have are the ones in the photos above-true yellow, and a dark pink with a yellow eye. If anyone would be liking a start of them, just let me know in the comments and I will get it to you!

 

Garden

Fridays Flower-Hyacinth

Spring Hyacinths

spring hyacinths

Hyacinth-one of the early spring blooming flowers.

What a welcome the blooming hyacinths are, for their rich color and wonderful fragrance!

Hyacinths are very easy to grow, requiring very little care, but so rewarding after a long, cold winter.  They are the essence of the fragrance of spring, blooming about the same time as daffodils and tulips, March to April.

Hyacinths grow from large bulbs that should be planted in the fall, usually in September to October, any time after the first light frost but before the ground freezes they can be planted.

Bulbs can be purchased at your favorite big box store or ordered from seed or nursery catalogs.

Hyacinths are hardy from zones 4-8.

They do best in full sun but will still flower in partial shade.

Hyacinths come in a wide range of colors from white, peach, apricot, salmon, blue shades, yellow, pink, red to purple and lavender.

Hyacinths grow to 6-12 inches tall, with a dense flower spike surrounded by strap like leaves.

The bulbs should be planted 4-6 inches deep with the pointed end up and 4-6 inches apart.

They like rich loose soil that is well drained, and only need water when dry.

Hyacinths do not multiply and spread like daffodils.  One bulb per flower-the bigger the bulb the better.

Hyacinths tend to decline over the years-some people treat them as annuals and replant new bulbs every fall, but if left alone they will bloom for many years, just not as pretty and lush as the first year. The faded flowers should be cut back as soon as they begins to turn brown, and the leaves left to grow.  The leaves will store energy for next years bloom.  When the leaves brown off they can be cut back or gently pulled off.  Some compost or fertilizer is appreciated at this time.

Hyacinths are best at the front of flower borders.  Emerging perennials will hide the dying foliage.  They are lovely lining a walkway where their fragrance can be enjoyed.

Hyacinths make good cut flowers and have a long vase life.  They can also be planted in containers, or forced for indoor winter/spring blooming.

One warning-the bulbs are poisonous-they contain oxalic acid, so use care while planting and around children and pets.

I am enjoying the beautiful colors and fragrance of my hyacinths this spring.  In the photo above is one of the beds that I made at our new house.  The stone wall on the right was already here-I made this flower bed, bordered by my signature stacked stone borders from stones that I have gathered over the years. Seems like every time I was digging I ran into stones-I decided to put them use as border stones.  Now I look for stones everywhere, and have been known to stop the car and grab stones from along the side of the road.  No stone is safe around me if it is the right shape and size!   Also the stepping stones were brought from our last house and reused as a walkway between the stone patio and stairs to the deck.

The garden here is a work in progress, and I am enjoying the progress of it!

 

Poem by Gerald Green


HYACINTHS PERFUME

I lingered to enjoy the moment,
ending the eleven-month intermission,
as the sweet aroma reached me
from the garden behind the house.

The hyacinth had returned
without fanfare or recognition
by bulbs not yet broken forth,
or buds pregnant with the glory of spring.

I followed the unforgettable scent
to its humble position beside the hellebore,
and admired my early spring friend
before me in perfect health.

With one whiff, everything changed.
Last year’s faded images of spring renewed,
and the value of life increased
in a moment. In a breath.




Garden

Reasons to Start Your Own Seeds

 

It is the time of year to start thinking about starting seeds

for this summer’s garden.

What are some of the reasons why you should start your own seeds?

  1. More choice of variety.  With the variety of seed choices, mainly through seed catalogs-see here– the choices are almost endless.  Nurseries, greenhouses and big stores mainly sell starter plants and seeds of the most common, familiar, and tried and true varieties. There is nothing wrong with the old tried and true varieties, that is why they are sold year after year, but there are so many more varieties to try.  By ordering your seeds, you are not stuck with the small choice of varieties.
  2. More plants for less money. Most seed packets contain 30 or more seeds, and it is much more economical than a 4 or 6 pack of bought starter plants. This point needs qualifying-the initial cost will be greater.  You will need certain supplies to begin with, but these are mostly 1 time expenses.  Once you have these items, the main yearly cost is mostly just the seeds and soil.
  3. Seeds can be started for the proper and extended planting times in your area.  You can start seeds earlier than usual if you want to plant out early if you have the proper season extending covers, or seeds can be started later for an extended fall and winter harvest.  It is nearly impossible to find starter plants to buy in mid to late summer for a fall and winter harvest.
  4. Seeds can be saved from year to year, and varieties can become custom to your locale. By saving seeds from plants that display certain traits that you desire, such a bigger size, different color or taste, or better disease or pest resistance, or just in general do well for you, you can eventually end up with a custom variety well suited to your specific growing area.  This is how many of the heirloom varieties have come about, they have been saved and passed down through the years.
  5. You can control how the seedlings are grown in regards to watering, fertilizing, and thinning.  Actually there is very little thinning needed if you start your own seeds as you control how they are planted.
  6. The crowds are avoided in the spring planting rush.  I am always amazed at the frantic folks buying their starter plants and rushing to get them planted in the short planting window.
  7. You won’t be disappointed when many of the starter plants are sold out  You won’t be left planting what you really didn’t want because what you wanted was sold out.
  8. You can experience the fun, excitement, and enjoyment of gardening while it is still winter outside.  What better way to spend part of your days stuck inside-watering, tending, and watching green, growing things.

Let the planting begin!

Do you start you own seeds?

*

Hebrew 12:15

See to it that no one misses the grace of God

and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

 

 

Garden

Winter Winds

Wild winds

come a-blustering,

Clearing a path

for the feet of Spring,

To dance her way

along the lane,

Bringing

daffodils

again.

Patience Strong

These last few days we have been battered with the worst winds that I can remember.

Trees down, power outages.

Winter is going out with a bang.

The first month of Spring will soon arrive, and none too soon!

I am so ready for Spring to dance it’s way in.

I am tired of being cold!

Are you ready for Winter to be over?

*

Psalm 40:3

And He put a new song in my mouth,

a song of praise to our God.