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Happy Monday: This and That!

The Loveliness of Gardens

My friend Jennifer will be hosting tomorrow's Loveliness of Gardens Fair, and naturally ILives_of_loveliness_logo_200612  hoped to take part - nature is so near and dear to my heart. But you see, I'm not really much of a gardener - not for lack of trying mind you, but perhaps for lack of time and experience? The lovely thing about gardening, though, is you get to try again every year. The warm damp soil beckons, the nursery doors open for business, and the seed catalogs sing their siren song. I buy myself a new pair of gardening gloves and dig in once again ...

My maternal grandfather was an amazing gardener and so I had the privelege of growing up knowing the joys of a home garden - the corn, rhubarb, strawberries, tomatoes, roses, dahlias and clematis ... and oh, the list could go on! One thing my grandpa taught me (one of the many) was that you could garden anywhere. My grandparents' home is on a lovely though small piece of land - certainly not country, and actually not far from a busy city.

That did not stop Grandpa - he gardened as if there were no tomorrow. And we all benefitted from his endeavor. I would like to adopt a similar spirit, and turn my own small suburban yard into a haven for flora, fauna and family alike.

Now, two things I'd like to do for Jennifer's fair - talk briefly about my gardening plans for this year and share with you all a post from last year's garden journal, Marigolds for Mama. I hope that's not cheating, but I don't have many garden photos to show just yet this year!

Do you know I have not been over to that blog in months? I made my last post on August 24th, when I talked about Late Summer Hues. According to the last line of that entry, I had hopes for posting more about the "turn of the seasons." Well, time got away from me, and I ended it there. It was fun to read back over the blog, remembering things that grew and things the children did.

The following group of pictures was posted on May 15, 2006; the post was entitled, A Peek in Mary's Garden. In a corner of our yard, nestled beside a small potting shed, beneath the bowers of the flowering cherry, we have a semi-shady flower garden. Last year we added an Our Lady of Grace birdfeeder, and I was inspired to find out more about Mary Gardens. I just love how many plant varieties are named for Our Lady, and I was even more pleased to discover we had several kinds in our yard!

Here's a little tour:


*Lilacs (Syringa vulgaris) ~ Ascension Flower*

I grew up with lilacs (they grow bountifully on my parents' property). They always bloomed magnificently right on Mother's Day when vases full of them would adorn our family brunch. We have them all over our yard too, but I must admire them on the outside nowadays, as I married a man who is severely allergic to these beautiful blooms!

According to legend, lilacs are known as the Ascension flower, and that would be of course because they bloom right around the date of this feast (which this year is May 17th).


*Our Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla mollis)*

I'm embarrassed to say I don't remember much about this plant, but I found some lovely information here.


*English Daisy (Bellis perennis) ~ Mary-Loves*

I absolutely loved these tiny pert flowers, and of course, I love that the plant's English. I will be buying some more this year.


*Spearmint (Mentha spicata) ~ Our Lady's Mint*

The spearmint grew well last year, and I will have to watch for its return, as it is a perennial. (Now where did we tuck it?) I would like to add more herbs to the garden this summer and do more with them too - perhaps learn how to dry them/preserve them and how to turn them into little gifts and things.


*Our Red Azalea ~ just pretty in its own right!*

This bush right now has just the tiniest red buds on it. It is out front by our walkway and blooms beautifully each year. I forgot just how beautifully!


*Ferns (Asplenium rutamer) ~ Our Lady's Hair*

I've never had much interest in ferns. I remember years ago Martha Stewart did a huge article on them, and still I couldn't see it. Then I discovered an expansive fern patch growing by our back fence, and realized just how lovely they are! Soft, woodsy, shady and kind of ethereal. I'm sure there must be fairies living here. :)


*Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabalis) ~ Mary's Heart*

My grandfather had an enormous bleeding heart growing behind his house. Ours is still pretty small, but it already has some blossoms this year. I think of this plant as old-fashioned and sweet, but I will always love it for how it reminds me of my grandpa. To me, its branches are reaching out, laden with love.

Well, now that I've shared some photos of last year's garden, if I may keep your attention a shade longer, I will list some of my garden hopes this year (I will call them hopes and not plans and I think they will have more likeliness of coming to pass):

  • First I am going to re-read some of my favorite gardening books. By far the best of the bunch are by Sharon Lovejoy, and later today, I'm going to pore over Sunflower Houses, Hollyhock Days and Roots, Shoots, Bucket and Boots - take lots of notes and imagine.
  • Next weekend we will stop at the nursery for plants. Up here in New England we are nearing our last frost dates. My grandpa always waited for Memorial Day to set out his tomatoes and other summer plants. I shall do the same. (Fortunately our local farm, and favorite plant resource, opens that holiday weekend.)
  • We will be tending to the garden plots until then. Adding some compost and airing out the soil.
  • We garden organically, so it is time to brush up on our natural remedies. Actually we've found the birds and toads that inhabit our yard help immensely with the insects. Not to mention, the atmosphere. :)

This year I envision:

  • Containers for the deck which gets full day sun.
  • Vegetables: tomatoes (plum for sauce, cherry for snacking), Kentucky Wonder beans (for Dad), and, of course, zucchini!
  • More herbs (basil for sure) and some edible flowers like nasturtiums.
  • A rose bush or two ~ a variety that will bear lots of rose hips in the fall.
  • A clematis for the lattice on the potting shed.
  • Our raspberry bed is doing wonderfully! The plants are all growing and sprouting gorgeous green foliage. Last year we enjoyed gold and red raspberries by the hand-fulls after supper each evening. This year I'd love to grow enough to make jam!
  • Our lavender bed is also doing well. It's part of a small knot garden out front. The bed needs to be pruned and cleaned up a bit. I hope to harvest lots from this patch.
  • Sunflowers (giants!) and morning glories along the front fence.
  • This fall, I hope to plant LOTS of bulbs including snowdrops, crocus and daffodils.

And ... well, I"d better stop there, because this list is getting pretty big! I guess I'd better get cracking. Well, just writing this post has got my juices flowing ... I can hardly wait to read Jenn's Fair tomorrow! I have not yet decided if I will revive my garden blog, or stick with posting here and at The Nature Corner (I know, how many blogs can one woman keep, right? Three might be pushing it!)

I wish you a joyous Sunday and a beautiful growing season ... may there be a garden in your heart all summer long!