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Friday, March 02, 2007

The Gift that keeps on giving

There's nothing like the gift of a plant from one gardener to another. I've had my own garden for 21 years now but can clearly remember those plants that were first given to me.

There was definitely a lesson to be learned. Some gardeners shared plants that were terribly invasive. Other gardeners gave the tiniest slips of plants that grew to be bed hogs. But for the most part, I found that gardeners are incredibly generous with the bounty of their garden and were glad to share not just plants but their knowledge too.

Although my parents enjoyed being outdoors and took us on many "nature" trips, they were not avid gardeners. As immigrants to this country they were quite busy working long hours trying to live the American dream. The first photo above shows one of the few plants I have from my Mom. She had a small town house garden just a few miles from me and gave me a piece of this yellow coreopsis 'Zagreb'.

Of course I left that piece in a plastic bag from the supermarket for a whole winter, along the shady side of my garage. Come spring I noticed growth coming out of that plastic bag and quickly (guiltily?) popped it into the garden. That might have been 7 or 8 years ago but since then I have potted up close to 100 pots of this wonderful perennial plus I have at least 5 or 6 mass plantings of it here. It truly was the gift that kept on giving.

As the years go by, and life grants us changes, our gardening friends change too. One friend of mine, Mary Kay, has a garden that's just chock-a-block full of delicious, hard to find plants. A few years ago Mary Kay invited me and my friend Kim to come get some Camassias. We didn't know what a camassia was and to be honest we eyed those scraggly leaves with some distaste. Still, I've rarely known Mary Kay to recommend something that didn't turn out to be fantastic so we took our baggies home and planted them in the garden.

The next May when our Camassias bloomed, Kim and I were in heaven. Our Camassias turned out to be these heavenly blue flowers that just knocked our socks off. This year will be the first that I have enough to take my gift and keep on giving.

Some plants come in a strange way. This sweet hardy Geranium was a tiny slip growing out of the crack of ground cloth at Fox Hollow Farm. One of the owners was walking by and I pointed out this teeny baby and recommended that it be dug up and potted. Guido told me that anything that was growing out of a crack was a weed and if I wanted it, I could dig it up myself.

You should see that massive weed when it's in bloom at the front of my driveway. It's awesome!

When I first joined the Long Island Daylily Society I made a whole bunch of new gardening friends. Most gifted me with lovely daylilies right from the start, but one woman, Judy Rocco, gifted me with many other plants. Judy also belonged to the Hosta Society and she made sure I had some Hosta to put in my new garden.

I had never seen Corydalis before my visit to Judy's and shamelessly asked for a piece. Judy was reluctant to give me one. Oh, she had plenty to share, she was just afraid that I'd end up with so much Corydalis all over that I'd be mad at her. Well, there's lots of Corydalis here but every extra piece I'm willing to part with sells out almost instantly at my spring plant sale.

Judy also gave me a piece of this yellow Sedum aizoon 'Lemon Snowflakes'. I wish I could let her know how well the plants she shared with me have done. Judy died of breast cancer just a few years after gifting these plants (and many others) to me.

In the front here you can see the pink evening primrose (Oenothera speciosa). A friend from many years ago, Mary, gifted me with this wonderful beauty. I have to admit I'm glad I was wary about the fact that she brought me several trays loaded with this plant. Only a few pieces were actually planted and at first I was quite annoyed that they wouldn't stay put. But they traveled south as far as they could go until they hit the block border along my driveway. There they stay and raise their darling faces to the sun and I just adore them.

I'm not one to grow something that only looks good for a short time period but these double bloodroot (sanguinaria canadensis) are so awesome that I don't care if I only get to see them for a few days. They were a gift from George Rasmussen, the famous daylily and hosta hybridizer.

Lately there's been a new kind of sharing going on here. My good friends Gianna and Richard are both plants-people extraordinare! Richard is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to trees and shrubs and he's been bringing me some amazing things to grow in my garden.

This stunning moon maple was a gift after my father passed away. My dad and I spent many hours wandering around the garden and talking about plants so I know he'd be pleased by this beauty.

This theme could go on and on, that's how many wonderful gardeners have shared plants with me. I thought I'd wrap it up with a close-up of the bloom on this breath taking Kousa 'Gold Star'. Being that it's a tree, it too was a gift from Richard.

In a few weeks I should be able to take a photo of the witch hazel bloom on my latest gift so stay tuned and stay green.

Green Thumb Sunday

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Calie the wonder dog

Woof! This is Calie the wonderdog. She's 3/4's standard poodle and 1/4 yellow lab which makes her a 100% lovable Labradoodle.

As you can see, she really enjoys the snow. We always though she was part polar bear too and now we can see the truth.

We got Calie one year ago, February 2006. Our intention was to get a Wheaton terrier but when the breeder brought out this fluff ball, our hearts melted.

Don has allergies so we needed a non-allergenic type dog. Labradoodles aren't always non-allergenic but Calie has been no problem.

We don't know what it was about her that sold us but the minute they carried her in the room we just knew she was meant to be ours.

Emily is the one in the pink shirt, Lauren is in the red and white striped shirt, Calie has the brown nose :-)

Unfortunately, we hadn't had a dog before and should have started training her from the moment we brought her home.

Little dogs do things that are cute, big dogs do things that hurt. We had no idea and neither did Calie. Letting her jump on people seemed cute at first but a 70 lb dog jumping in your lap is not cute!

So join me in a photo adventure of Calie the wonder dog and I'll try to pass on some of the do's and don'ts of dog-ship.

Warning, don't click on these photos, they will be gigundo. Firefox is giving me a problem with downloading photos to this site so I'll need some help before I can get small photos here again.

Don't: Aw, how cute. Calie is trying to get her liver treats off the table, let's take a picture!

Do: Teach your dog that silence is golden and no nipping allowed.

Don't encourage your dog to hang out over the baby fence. Calie still respects the fence but knocks it down when she tries this.

Do ask for help and bring a professional in to work with your dog. Thanks Mare!

Don't let them sleep on the couch or they will ruin it.

Don't let their hair get this long or it will get knotted (matted). Even if they look cute.

If you do let their hair get matted (I was brushing her almost an hour a day at that point) DON'T let the groomer get carried away! Poor Calie needed therapy after this hair cut.

Do take your dog for lots of walks. It's not only good for the dog but good for you too! Calie and I love to hike the Walt Whitman trails in West Hills (South Huntington) New York.

Don't expect your dog to consider any available trash can as anything but a candy shop.

But most of all, Do love your dog with all your heart that's how they love you.

P.S. Note, new couch but who's still on it?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The spring garden

Ah spring, a gardeners time for rejuvination.

Right now we've got a few more weeks, maybe a month to go before we can really start doing anything outside. As a gardener, my dreams of spring are as exciting as my dreams of winning the lottery. There's just so much that could be done, the possibilities are astounding.

Some people consider bulbs the first harbinger of spring. For me, it's the shade gardens. So many of the earliest perennials are blooming in the shade garden before the trees leaf out.
Yes, there are bulbs here too but because of squirrels and rabbits, I don't have as many as I should. Plants like Hellebores, Pulmonaria, Primula, Dicentra (bleeding hearts), and Epemedium just make me melt.

This will be the first spring in 5 years that I'm not putting together a children's garden for the Hofstra Flower show. While on one hand I'm looking forward to the time off, on the other hand I will miss seeing all my friends there.

Oh and the vendors!

There's nothing like the excitement of shopping for plants and garden products in
the spring.
Maybe this year I will find more fantastic Brunera or even some hot new Sempervivum.

Main Street nursery in Huntington always has some of Jim Glover's
newest things, I think his plants are just awesome.
Tomorrow I'm having lunch with Mary Kay. It's sure to be a plant-a-holic kind of conversation!

This beautiful yellow Azalea has been in a pot for a year. I hope it's still alive. If so, I promise to get it in the ground this spring!

I've been so frustrated this week with these photos that I'm just going to get this message off even if it's rough. Hopefully there'll be something to see!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Lost Plants

My dear friend Gianna gave me this amazing Edelweiss. Never in a million years did I think I could grow it in my garden here on Long Island. Amazingly, it grew well and bloomed for three years before dying. Now I know that I planted it in the wrong location. Hopefully I'll find it for sale around here this spring and get another chance.

What is it about perennial collectoritis? If a plant dies on us the first year, we seem to be determined to grow that thing and we buy it over and over again. Yet, if we buy a short lived perennial we enjoy it for 3 or 4 years and then that's it. Maybe you don't have this problem but it seems to be one that I have here.

This Lamium was stunning in a pot. Why oh why didn't I plant it in the garden? Other Lamiums do well here so it would have been smart of me to try to grow this one on. I think the name is 'Anne Greenway'.

Over the past 20 years of gardening I've had wonderful Campanulas, Heucheras, Monardas, Baptisias, and so many more plants that thrived for a few years and then died out. Now I want them all back!

(I'm having problems attaching photos and getting the layout I want this morning so my apologies on the rough layout. These photos are coming from some scanned slides and I think that's part of my problem)