Friday, May 27, 2016


I'm hoping that we had our last, our final frost last weekend. Of course hardier plants can survive cold but it's high time to set out tender annuals and vegetables, ain't it? Many but not all of my plant orders have arrived over the past few weeks and I've been very busy planting, moving, dividing, and using TLC to a few plants that had a hard winter.

Last spring I bought several violas, which most people know as the ancestors of pansies - from the French "penser" to think because they often look like little thoughtful faces. Some of them survived the winter and there were many volunteers - you know how much I LOVE volunteers. To get your own volunteers you simply have to let the flowers wither, allow the seed pods to mature, and then to open in order to spread the seeds. Be careful NOT to do any weeding until you are sure which seedlings are "good" and which ones are not. The volunteers are healthier than any violas I have ever bought. Here are a few volunteer violas from last summer. (Clicking on photos enlarges them.)

Grandma Harding had Forget Me Nots in her yard and through the decades they have followed me to the various places I have put down my own roots. I LOVE plants that remind me of loved relatives and friends.

I don't know where this white Forget Me Not came from!
These Lilies of the Valley were here when I first scouted out the property. Some foolish people don't like them because they are "aliens" and take over. I love them because deer hate them; they leave them alone. If you plant something in the middle of them that deer love, they may leave that plant alone? The smell reminds most people of my generation of their Grandmothers. The Parlangelis took some home two weeks ago. A legacy.

Years ago scientists told us that black currant bushes were the alternate hosts for a fungus that also attacked and killed white pine trees. They were wrong but over the years there was an effort to eradicate black currants. They were almost successful. I found one growing east of the Royal Oak Farmers Market many years ago and took a cutting from it and rooted it. This very small bush is from another cutting from the bush that eventually grew in my Royal Oak yard. The smell is amazing - kind of sweet and cinnamony. When mature it rivals the beauty of forsythia but it also smells!

This pure white violet is descended from a plant from Aretha Franklin's yard. A beautiful plant that reminds me of a fantastic singer.

Two years ago I found a scraggily "weed" growing between chunks of broken concrete in Port Sanilac; I rescued a small piece and this is the result - ranunculus, an old fashioned, double, yellow flowered garden plant. I suspect it will be invasive. That's perfectly fine with me.

My first Pulmonaria, lungwort, came from Grandma Harding's yard and these plants are descended from that one. Some have more white spots and/or larger white spots. I prefer the simpler versions. They volunteer nicely. You can purchase expensive ones, Mine are great and free. For some reason, the dogs love eating the leaves - which they almost always throw back up. I watch them carefully to protect the plants. Note the Forget Me Nots behind the fence. Also invasive but who cares.

During house construction I noticed some interesting "grasses" and moved a few to spots around my pond. They turned out to be quite lovely, almost fountain like. The first one below is a rush. The next two photos show sedges. You can buy rushes and sedges from nurseries but I like these better. I learned years ago: "Rushes are round, sedges have edges, grass is flat". At first glance, they all look like grass but the devil is in the details.

A volunteer with yellow flowers from our waterfall.

The horse chestnut seedling was from a seed from a tree in front of the old building next to Mary's Diner. The pig is Clementina.

This time my garden was planted "IN" the forest along with native plants. I'm testing an hypothesis. Plants seem to do better when they are 'with' other plants. They shade each other's roots keeping the soil moister, they provide one another some protection from herbivores like rabbits, they grow and flower at different times and therefore, maybe, don't compete for water, minerals, etc. The nutrients in their leaves provide mulch and 'food' for other plants. They don't all use exactly the same things to grow and thrive. It's also a whole lot easier to maintain. Minimal weeding, minimal watering. I do NOT ever remove any vegetation from the land, It all recycles always. You'll see lots of twigs, sticks even logs scattered around. There are many, many kinds of insects and, I believe, they keep one another in check. Ta da - the circle of life.


There must be a Norway Maple nearby but I haven't located it. Some (most) of the seedlings have green leaves. Some open reddish but turn green as they mature. There is one plant below that looks like it will keep its red (burgundy?) color. Finding spots for these seedling will be fun! I know. I know. They are aliens. So are dandelions. And Lythrum. Et cetera.

I do keep fresh water in bowls Honest!
Pila and Totty drink where the fish, frogs, toads, snakes, tadpoles, dragonflies "live".
It just tastes better Dad.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Hanging Around

All winter I've been feeding the seed and suet eating birds and they, in turn, have been feeding a hawk. Yesterday I found this immature hawk on my porch. I suspect and hope that it was an intruder that my resident hawk was chasing before its accident happened.

Anyone who knows me knows how deeply I'm affected by the death of any animal, any bird.

Bowen and Jon came up yesterday and hung new paintings and re-hung 'old' ones in the sitting room and beyond.



North and East