Peony Time!

Ahh, peonies. Easy-going, romantic, and full of variety. I love them in the garden. I love them as cut flowers. I just think their old-fashioned beauty is charming. They make me think of my grandmothers. Here’s a look at the peonies blooming in our garden this spring:

image

‘Pink Spritzer’ peony

 

image

‘Paree Fru Fru’ peony

image

Mystery fancy-single type bush peony: there were some distressed, unknown varieties of peonies for sale for very cheap at the Dawes sale a few years ago. I got 2. 1 made it, 1 didn’t. This is the surprise peony that survived, isn’t it striking?

z

image

‘Ann Cousins’ (I think!) peony with bonus false indigo

There are so many gorgeous varieties of peonies to choose from. (Around 3,000 is the estimate I keep finding.) It is both hard to choose because they are all so tempting—and easy because one can hardly go wrong! I love the sheer extravagance of the bomb-type flowers (like the Ann Cousins)- absolutely worth the effort of hooping/staking to deal with the drooping. I also love the exoticism of the fancy single type blooms (like the Pink Spritzer) and their relatively lighter blooms don’t tend to droop or need hoops/stakes.This year, we picked up a ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ peony plant at the Chadwick Arboretum sale- a pink bomb flower that has been available since 1906. Such a classic, I can hardly wait for it to bloom next year.:)

What’s your favorite peony variety?

 

Wild lupine

Including native plants in our garden that appeal to butterflies, bugs, and birds is important to me and to my husband. Sterile suburban yards, with neatly trimmed grass and maybe a bed or two of petunias are such missed opportunities, both to provide habitat for a host of creatures and to enjoy lovely floral displays!

One native we’ve had luck growing? Lupinus perennis, also known as wild lupine, native lupine, perennial lupine, or sundial lupine. This beauty attracts a variety of bees and butterflies. It is also the ONLY host plant for the endangered Karner Blue butterfly caterpillars. Read more about the Karner Blue butterfly here: https://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/insects/kbb/kbb_fact.html.

image

Aren’t they striking?!? They like kind of rough conditions: dry, slightly sandy, and very sunny spots are preferred. We started with a tiny seedling we picked up at the OSU Chadwick Arboretum plant sale years ago, from a booth run by the plant pathology grad students. Its seeds have spread a bit, which we love. Volunteer wild lupine plants? Yes, please!

If you’re in the right zone to grow them, I highly recommend walking on the wild side and making some room for wild lupine in your garden. Not only are they gorgeous, but they’ll help you attract beneficial bugs to your garden -and potentially provide crucial habitat to an endangered species of butterfly. Win win win.

 

What to do when Winter Comes…in May

Folk wisdom in our parts holds that you should be safe to plant annuals, vegetables, and what-not after May 15th. So of course there was a frost warning on for last night. And of course, my husband had actually managed to get all of our vegetables in the ground early this year, getting everything settled last week:

image

Wonderful, right? We were determined not to lose anything. But our sheet collection was already claimed by some tender Japanese Maples and baby trees we wanted to cover, so what to do? I hit upon the idea of buying some extra paper yard waste bags and popping them over the tomato cages for the tomato plants. We’ll use the bags soon enough in our battle against the weeds, and I figured they’d be quick to put in place and would provide ample protection against any frost. Take a look:

Easy as pie!

On the recommendation of a customer from my job, we also tried using a large empty plastic cat-litter bin over one larger tomato plant that we hadn’t caged yet, and an empty plastic coffee bin over a pepper plant. But we didn’t have enough empty stuff in our recycling bin to cover everything in our veggie patch, and I’m a bit leery of using plastic stuff for this purpose. Plants can get damaged if they’re touching the plastic and it freezes. So for the rest of our pepper and okra plants, we used paper sandwich bags.

Much like with the yard waste bags, we opened them first. Then we ripped about an inch up along each of the corner folds so we could make little flaps. We placed the bags over our little uncaged veggies and put dirt on the flaps to hold things in place as it was a bit windy. Here’s how everything looked covered up:

image

I am pleased to report that, although we did experience some frost, bagging our veggies did the trick. Everything looked wonderful once it was safe to uncover things. Will absolutely remember this option in the future!

Melancholy Tulips in a Haeger Vase

Fickle Spring! After a few truly glorious days of sunshine and warmth, things have taken a turn back towards winter. Complete with snow. My husband picked up some bunches of tulips to cheer me. I arranged them in this classical vintage  Haeger Pottery vase.

image.jpeg

Perhaps because my mother grew up making regular pilgrimages to the factory store with her mother as a girl and thus has some nice pieces of Haeger, I’ve always had a fondness for the brand. I’ve been working to assemble my own modest collection over the years. So I was saddened to learn that after 145 years in business, the Illinois-based company announced a few days ago that it is closing. What a shame.

http://m.sj-r.com/article/20160407/NEWS/160409702

Cherry Blossoms

imageimageWelcome back, cherry blossoms! The last 2 years, ill-timed freezes zapped our cherry trees right as they were preparing to bloom. My husband snapped these dreamy pictures of one of our cherry trees 2 days ago.

I’m a little afraid to investigate the garden today. Last night, freezing temperatures and wind with gusts of up to 50 mph moved into the area. I suspect the magnolia tree will be looking sad, who knows about the cherry trees.

The Best Bouquets…

 

image

aren’t found in a vase! Although I enjoy having flowers inside, I love to see them growing outside even more. I’m pretty tender-hearted and have a hard time cutting flowers from my yard to use indoors.

This summer, my husband and I are going to try something different with regards to growing flowers. Instead of growing even more vegetables in our community garden plot, this year we’re going to plant a cutting garden. We’ve already got a bunch of seeds. I can’t wait to see how it turns out. If the flowers are expressly grown to be harvested for bouquets and they aren’t part of my garden’s design, I’m hoping I’ll actually be able to cut some. 😊

Here are some more of the daffodils currently putting on a show in our garden:

Spring Tulips & a Bonus Cat!

imageimageMy floral resolution has continued even though I haven’t posted pictures in a while. I’ve enjoyed having spring flowers in season lately- how wonderful to enjoy tulips and daffodils inside!

Making his blog debut in the 2nd picture is Hansel. My husband and I found Hansel and his sister, Gretel, exactly a year ago at a park/boat launch we’d stopped by to check out water conditions. The water was high and the dock hadn’t been put back in yet, too early in the season.  As we were driving to the exit, my husband spotted two kittens sunning themselves near the outhouses. They were underweight and appeared to have been dumped there.

He slowed the car; I lowered my window and called softly to them. To my utter shock, they looked right at me and then started walking towards the car! I had rather assumed they would be feral and would immediately run away hissing. Since they didn’t, I tumbled out of the car while my husband groaned. The kittens came right to me, we cuddled, my husband said “No! What are you doing?”—and then a hawk flew low overhead and the kittens huddled closer to me, never taking their eyes off the hawk (for real! It was like something out of a fairytale. Couldn’t help but wonder if a larger litter had initially been dumped and they were the last survivors?) and BOOM, decision made: we had 2 new kittens! My husband is a sweet, kind, and patient man who quickly came to love our new kittens. Gretel sleeps right by his head every night.

I’m glad we all took a chance on each other. Hansel & Gretel are sweet, charming, silly, bold, playful, friendly and just plain delightful — plus they get along great with all of our dogs. WIN!!!