Thursday, April 30, 2009

Six Word Stories Volume 1 by Donna Duffy


Here are some of the six word garden stories I've gotten so far. Try it! Email me your stories at donnakduffy@gmail.com or put some stories in the comments!

Diggin' Donna

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Naked Gardening Day? by Carol King


I don’t know about you, dear gardener, but I am still recovering from all the partying we have been doing this month. It started with April being both National Garden Month and National Lawn Care Month. My sister is a Floridian so of course I had to celebrate National Florida Tomato Month with her; as she insisted. And with my penchant for straw cowboy hats, I HAD to celebrate National Straw Hat Month. On top of all these, Earth Day was April 22 followed by Arbor Day on the 25th. I was considering resting for the next couple of weeks, that coupled with some of the hangover cures I have read about, I should be fine.
Then I discovered that May 2 is World Naked Gardening Day. Their promo reads “Get ready for the Fifth Annual World Naked Gardening Day (WNGD)! People across the globe are encouraged, on Saturday, May 2, 2009 to tend their portion of the world's garden clothed as nature intended.” Now I don’t know about you, but while I love partying as much as the next person, I may just pass this one up even though it is a World event not just a National event.
As I seriously considered participating in this day, I believe that it cannot be created by gardeners. Real gardeners know how dangerous our hobby is. We are like Indiana Joneses: adventurers who look death in the face every day.


Imagine celebrating World Naked Gardening Day with some of the scary things we encounter. Insects with proboscis, stingers, cutting jaws, fangs, mandibles, pinching claws, sucking and scissors-like mouth parts and have you looked closely at the pinchers on the earwig? Yikes. Think of the dangers of the plants themselves: plants with thorns, burrs, thistles, stickers, not to mention the limbs and twigs that stick out every which way ready to poke you. They don’t call it Crown of Thorns or Prickly Pear cactus for nothing.
What about the plants that causes all kinds of itchy rashes like poison ivy, and its cousins oak and sumac, ragweed and stinging nettle? And the sun, my goodness, the high altitude sun: the ultraviolet rays from the sun are more intense and therefore more damaging. Even when it is cloudy the risk of sunburn is extreme.
Then there are our tools: sharp, pinchie, pokie tools like pruners, rakes, knives, axes, weeders, hoes and loppers, dear gardener, think of loppers.
Don’t forget those pesky county, city, and state ordinances that say something gloomy about public indecency; always taking the fun out of everything.
Now granted it is kind of amusing to think of all your neighbors outside planting and mowing, watering and weeding. Imagine visiting the garden center for pansies and the clerk helps load your car with mulch and bags of compost; no no let’s don’t go there……… Nope. I’m hiding indoors all day May 2 after that thought!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tell Us A Story by Donna Duffy

Can you tell a gardening story in six words?

Maybeyou've heard of the literary craze sweeping the internet-it's called "Six Word Memoirs. " Check out the website at http://www.smithmag.net/sixwords/


It's quite fun and entertaining. As I was reading some of the six word memoirs this morning, I thought...why can't we have six word gardening stories?

Here are some examples I came up with:


Pampas grass now snoring soon soaring.
Peace loving gardener gleefully tortures dandelions.
Digger poised...wait! Weed or flower?
Who knew it would spread everywhere?
Sowed one seed grew a life.

Try it! Write your own six word gardening story and send it to me at donnakduffy@gmail.com. I'll compile them and put them on the blog. Send more than one! Include a photo! let me know if you want your name included.

Send story soon just can't wait.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Anticipation by Gardener Cumax

I have 3 major projects happening at the same time:
- Prepping my veggie garden and getting ready for seeding
- Installing xeric and winter hardy succulents in the front yard
- Building 4 compost areas in the corner of the backyard.




The veggie garden prepping is basically finished. The area you see in the foreground can wait a few more weeks when I take possession of several tomato seedlings. A few weeks after that I have 6 more seedlings arriving and then I have black plastic mulch to install as well as drip irrigation.



The seed screen is that chickenwire frame you see here. The purpose of this screen is to help me plant veggie seeds. If you haven't planted lettuce and carrot seeds, then it can be rather stressful if you don't know where to look.

What I do is use the screen as a guide to poke my holes in the dirt and then drops the seed(s) in. I then pinch the hole closed.

Before I could even make this screen I had to completely dismantle a riveted patio umbrella than got knocked silly by a rogue wind storm last mid-July. Trimming trees is dangerous. I was 20' up in the huge 45 year old apple trees we have when the wind picked up. My intuition said to get down immediately; so I did. Immediately the wind blew from the south with such force that is took the umbrella and its 65 pound weighted anchor and slammed it up into the picnic table and hurled all 3 items about 25'.

Whoa!

I'm sure glad I got out of the tree because that was quite the powerful wind burst.

I retired the umbrella to the garage until I could figure out how to recycle its material; that's where the seed screen comes from. Turns out this umbrella is really, really old. The wood is teak. So I'm the proud owner of a teak seed screen that won't see much use but a few days a year.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ten Days in April by Donna Duffy

I love to travel, but it’s difficult leaving my garden in the springtime when so many things happen at once. So when I knew I’d be gone for 10 days after Easter, I decided to take a few photos of perennials and bulbs before I left, and then again when I returned. What I hadn’t planned on was a huge Spring storm that dumped over a foot of wet, heavy snow in my yard! Here’s what I discovered when I returned home from my road trip.




Peonies are like the driver who goes the speed limit…plus 10. Not content to grow along at a normal pace, they whiz by everything else in sight. Once those dark stems break the soil, there’s no stopping them. Even though mine were buried in snow for a couple of days, they still plowed through and gained several inches in height.

Pampas grass, on the other hand, is more like your blue-haired grandmother tooling down the interstate. It’s progressing, but the slow pace can drive you crazy. Where’s the green? Why is it just sitting there? I’ll chuckle at my impatience come September when the lovely plumes tower above my head.



Tulips! They are like a carefree traveler whose journey is cut short through no fault of their own. So many dangers abound: hungry critters, snowstorms, digging pets. Before I left, my tulips were in various stages of growth. When I returned home, some had been crushed by snow, others had been chewed, and a few were strutting their stuff…survivors.



One thing I didn’t bother to photograph made its presence known anyway. Can you guess? I spotted the yellow polka dots from the end of the street. Like potholes in the road, they always come back. Ahhhhhh…the many joys of April in Colorado!

Wild About Wildflowers by Gardener Cumax




I'm not content to just yarden veggies. I love creating landscapes, too. My third big project this Spring is converting our front lawn into a showcase xeriscape.

The seedlings here are 3 weeks old. They just started sprouting right when the huge April 17-18 snowstorm slammed into the West Denver Metro area. Because they didn't have necks to break, they survived intact.

As you can see from the pictures I have about one seedling per inch, which means I have some serious and tedious thinning to do in a few weeks. Gardening is work but it's the best kind of work I can imagine.

Their common names are below followed by their latin name if I have it. They are perennials unless noted as annual with (A).
Baby's Breath (Gypsophila elegans (A)), Blanketflower (Gaillardia aristata), California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica), Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus (A)), Dwarf Red Coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria), Lance-Leaved Coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata), Missouri Primrose (Oenothera missouriensis), Red Yarrow (Achillea millefolium, rubra), Drummond Phlox (Phlox drummondii (A)), Catchfly (Silene ameria (A)), Baby Blue Eyes (Nemophila menziesii (A)), Blackeyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), Blue Flax, Clarkia, Corn Poppy, Indian Blanket (Giallardia pulchella), Lemon Mint (Monarda citriodora), Scarlet Flax (Linum grandifloram rubra (A)), Shasta Daisy (Chrysanthemum maximum (A), Upright Prairiecone, Siberian Wallflower (Cheiranthus allioni), and Painted Daisy (Chrysanthemum carinatum (A)).

The annuals will probably provide most of the color and then the perennials will do that the following years. It's just a little different for me this year as I prefer perennials over annuals; so planting this kind of mix gets me out of my comfort zone.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Garden Serenity by Heirloom Fan




I was listening to a radio program a few days ago. The guest was a psychologist and the topic was fears and phobias and how they affected people. Listeners would call in about their problem and the psychologist would discuss it with them. The problems they mentioned included normal fears such as fear of heights, flying, roller coasters and so forth.
The psychologist then made a comment that caught my attention as a gardener. He said “there are some things that people just are not afraid of. For example, a flower”. He went on to say that it would take him a very long time, if ever, to make someone afraid of a flower. It did make me stop and realize that he was right. Flowers, and gardens in general, are places of comfort and enjoyment for people. You never hear someone say that they dislike gardens or landscapes but you do hear people talk about their gardens and say positive things such as that they are stress reducers, places just to sit and enjoy the surroundings or great places to gather and entertain friends. Even though gardeners have to weed and do other chores, most can’t wait to go to their gardens each day just for the simple enjoyment of being in the surroundings.
Given the economic challenges lately, we may be seeing more people start to garden as a way to help with their food budget. But I am sure that those who do it just for practical reasons will also soon find how enjoyable gardening can be. It’s not often we can pursue a hobby that beautifies the surrounds, creates a comforting environment for us to enjoy, and can also produce great tasting, vine-ripened produce.
Wishing all of you a happy growing season and a bountiful garden and landscape for you to enjoy all season!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Seventy Two Hours in the Life of a Jeffco Gardener by Carol King

Friday



Saturday





Sunday






Monday



Wednesday, April 15, 2009

We Are the Rock Stars! by Carol King


Here we are, dear gardeners, cruising along in our own little nerdy world, quietly gardening, getting dirty, sunburned, scabby, and muddy. Then our First Lady Michelle Obama puts a kitchen garden on the White House lawn, calling attention to our endeavors and EVERYONE wants a piece of us. Now don’t get me wrong; I am pleased that the First Lady is bringing a garden to the White House lawn. I love this project; it is a very appropriate, wonderful thing to do. But now we are ROCK STARS and the pressure is on. The expectation is that we have to look the part and that part has changed with this rock star status.

Reporters went to great lengths to photo her gardening attire and discuss her gardening outfits. “The first lady wore a blue t-shirt covered by a red windbreaker, black pants (with dirt!) and black velcro sneakers. Her hair was tied back in a loose bun” gushed the news report. They discussed the designer belt she wore around her waist and her low heeled boots. (High heels in the garden? Please.) She did have on cute clothes, looked very well put together and while she was dirty and actually working, I did not see a single piece of twine holding her pants up and I believe that she even had on make up!

My garden attire, on the other hand, is something like this: large, man’s, long sleeved white dress shirt from the thrift shop on 50% off day, paired with old shorts or pedal pushers that are held up with a safety pin or twine because the zipper is broken and the buttons are gone. I top off this outfit with one of a collection of straw cowboy hats that I got several years ago when some movie suddenly made them popular and I found them half priced at the overstock store. My look is complete with a pair of garden clogs often worn with socks. Mrs. Obama does not look like this.

So you see, dear gardener, it’s all over for us. As Rock Stars, we now have a responsibility to look the part. No more Oskosh overalls making our hips look too wide; no more lame baseball caps; throw out those rubber boots that used to be your son’s. Our First Lady has raised the bar! I don’t know about you, but I am headed to the Smith and Hawken Designer Garden Togs Outlet Store. I hear the paparazzi circling overhead, and I see a telephoto lens between the garden gates.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Why Write in a Gardening Blog


What is there about a gardening blog that motivates people to contribute their own thoughts and experiences?

I can’t tell you what might motivate other contributors, but for me I think it’s mostly the freedom to use my own style of writing, and to pass on some of my garden experiences (via my “trowel and error” method) to others who might find them useful. Also, I sometimes become curious about certain aspects of horticulture which pique my interest enough to make me dig out more information about them and share them with you.

Fortunately (for me), I don’t feel bound to present only “dry facts”. I like to color things up a bit and maybe add a little humor wherever possible. After all, gardening is all about being good humored, optimistic, and feeling rewarded when our efforts succeed, right? We need to give accurate information, but we can also personalize it. We can also feel free to tell an anecdote or two if we think it relevant, or if we think it might interest others.

Sharing experiences with fellow gardeners in our own area is also valuable. Colorado is a state where there are many micro-climates, even here along the Front Range and even just in Jefferson County. That makes for unique experiences. When we have success (or none) with something, it may be because of the special environment we have provided (intentionally or accidentally) for a particular species or cultivar of plant. Local weather conditions – and I do mean LOCAL – can also contribute to our success or lack of it. For instance, frequent high winds are a factor for those of us who are close to the foothills, more so than for gardeners living further east in more protected parts of the metro area. Precipitation amounts are sometimes highly localized as well. We need to share all of that information with others who might like to try something similar. “USDA zones 4, 5a, 5b, etc.” are only general guidelines, right?

By the way, for those of you that like to use references such as the “Sunset Western Garden Book”, note that our Jeffco area on their map zones ranges from “1A through 2B”, with corresponding hardiness ratings for the plants they describe in detail. Another interesting detail is that their zonal rating system for California spans all the way from 1A (higher mountains in the north) to 24 (southern coastal areas) – wow!

So – knowing the freedom that you have here – would more of you like to write for the “JeffcoGardener” blog? Contact carolleeking@msn.com if you would like to add your own comments and experiences here. She will fill you in on any details regarding your submissions to the blog.

Cheers,
Gardener Dave