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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Houston, We have a problem...

Last night I was taking advantage of quiet time and computer access time (those of you with teenagers in the house will understand that part). I was going through my photos, making sure I had backed up all the files to our external hard drive. It was just a year ago we learned the hard way to make sure everything is backed up.

One file I really hadn't looked at in a long time was labeled "Plant Sale". Once a year I hold a plant sale with the extra plants in my garden. I have a thing for propagation, especially when it comes to perennials. I might not have even realized this was my "niche" until I read Dave's post at The Home Garden Apparently Dave too is a propagation nut although he's more into cuttings and I'm into division and seeds.

Anyway, back to the topic here. I was looking at these photos and noticed an alarming similarity with many of them. It looks like some of the plants have gotten a bit too pushy in the perennial beds. Right now the worst culprit is the deliciously purple Lysimachia ciliata 'Firecracker'.

My gardening buddy Chris had given me a piece of this plant and I loved the foliage so much that I begged for more pieces. I should have been worried when she looked at me with furrowed forehead and asked me if I was sure I wanted to put it in more places. Silly me, I now have purple foliage coming up in almost every garden here.

Do you ever have those moments where you think "what the heck was I doing"? It was bad enough that I had Sedum 'acre' in one location so "what the heck was I doing" when I actually put it in other places too? Now I have to admit that this one spot along the driveway is almost perfect for it. I say almost perfect because every year just before it blooms our lawn guys hit it with the weed-wacker.

As a confessed propagation nut, I love to let my perennials seed around. I laugh when I read something that tells you to deadhead your plants because the seedlings differ from the parent. Hello, that's how they find new cultivars!

Up until two years ago we were blessed to have a top notch mail order nursery just a few miles away from here. Roslyn Nursery had all kinds of unusual and hard to find plants. Since my other obsession is collectoritis I would find a plant I loved and keep buying every new one that came available. One of those plants was Tradescantia (spiderwort). Ok, I heard somebody out there groan. These hybrid Tradescantias are wondeful, many are well behaved and stay in a clump, I never had one of them seed around either. That was until 'Sweet Kate' came to my garden.

Tradescantia 'Sweet Kate' has the most shocking chartreuse foliage. It's like a beacon and although it's 200 feet from my house it's one of the first things my eye travels to in early spring. After a year or two I noticed that 'Sweet Kate' liked to have babies, and those babies were popping up all over the place. Propagation me said "ooh, lets wait for those babies to bloom and see if something cool shows up". Well, nothing cool has shown up but I suddenly find myself with lots and lots of thug-like Tradescantia's all over the place and not one of them has chartreuse foliage.

Corydalis lutea is a perennial I adore. First of all, it was a pass-along-plant here. A gardening friend Judy Rocco gave it to me when I had first moved to this house. Actually, I had to twist Judy's arm a bit to get a piece, she told me I'd be sorry if this plant began to seed around. Since I planted my Corydalis in a dry rock wall, it took a few years before I had enough for myself. By then Judy had died of cancer and I thought of her every time my daughter and I waited for the school bus. You see, Emily loved the little yellow blooms of Corydalis and she'd tickle them because she thought she thought they looked like they were laughing.

Every year we potted up Corydalis for our sale and it always sold out early in the morning. Two years ago my mom went crazy potting it up and I was afraid there'd be none left. Sure enough last year the week before the sale I could hardly find any and I had none for sale. Several customers were specifically looking for it and I had to disappoint them. It turned out that there was actually as much Corydalis as ever, it just was a late spring and two weeks after the sale I had carpets of Corydalis in my shade gardens.

The biggest problem with perennials that spread by seed is that you can't always control where that seed will germinate. Who am I kidding, you have no control at all. The combination of Iris cristata 'Alba' and Corydalis lutea is one of my utmost favorites so I try to grow them close together. Aren't they pretty in this picture? Now scroll upwards to the photo above this one. See that Corydalis foliage? It's seeded itself right in the middle of my best clump of Iris cristata 'Alba' and guess who's winning the battle.

Looks like this year I'll be digging that clump up and replanting all the Iris cristata (hopefully it's still there). The Corydalis probably won't survive that process. I find them finicky to re-pot and when we pot them up for sale we take nice big chunks of soil so the roots aren't even disturbed.

Violets were only in one corner of my garden. I have these basic purple ones and some lovely pink ones. This year I'm also going to try to get a piece of 'Freckles' from my friend Gianna. The first year we had a sale here I was amazed at the customers who pointed to the violets in the garden and asked why I didn't have any for sale. At that time I dug willingly from the beds during the sale so I was popping violets out like crazy.

Still, I find it hard to believe that people want to buy many pots of violets and I always pot up too few. This year I'll try hard to pot up 15-20 pots. It's not like there won't still be violets in my garden next year.

This last photo is a picture of one of my sales beds as I was preparing for the sale. This was our "shade bed". This year I'm trying to get as much done in advance as possible. We try to have a few handouts to give away and every year I print up a few more color photos and laminate them. If you have a stunning color photo of a plant you are guaranteed to sell out of it. Better yet, have a stunning photo of a plant combination and all those plants will sell out.

That reminds me, we're out of colored ink. Since everything is covered with snow outside, maybe I'll head to Staples to get some ink and spend some time with my printer.

One question for all of you. If you have your blog listed with Blotanical, could you tell me how to find out what my feed URL is so I can have them include my posts in their "picks" area?


Friday, February 22, 2008

The Fence Post

There are many reasons for wanting to install a fence on your property. One common reason is security. You could be telling the world "Stay out, this is mine" or you could be telling your children or pets "Stay in, this is where you belong".

We installed fencing the first summer we moved here. One side of our property backed a home that was facing a busy road. At the time our girls were 6 and 2 years old and we feared that they might wander off and quickly be in the middle of traffic.

We didn't know much about landscaping back then but our house and the property seemed rustic and countrified so we went with a wooden stockade fence. At that time, vinyl fences were not available around here so they weren't even a consideration. We had three estimates and actually chose the highest one because it was for the best quality cedar fence. This fence has been here 11 years now and shows no sign of nearing the end of it's life.

Our home is almost 50 years old but was built to resemble a 200 year old Williamsburg colonial style house. The front is covered in stone, so is our inside wall in the living room. There is a breezeway between the house and the garage although the foundation is one piece for the whole structure.

We loved the breezeway and I was especially in love with the little wild cottage garden I grew in front of it. Over the years though we noticed a major flaw with having an open breezeway. Strangers would come down our driveway to go to the front door, but if they saw us in the backyard they felt quite comfortable just walking through the breezeway and coming to speak with us. That doesn't sound so bad, except when you find you are in your swimming pool with two little children and a strange man walks up to you to try to sell you steaks off the back of his truck. Get out!!!

Early last year we had a fence installed to close off our breezeway. Instead of something disappearing from view, I wanted something that visually said "stop here". White stops your eye, dark colors fade from view so a white fence was what was needed to form a visual barrier. A month later we had masons come in and replace the old patio and front walkway. It was an amazing transformation. You can click on my label "hard-scape" to see last year's post showing our new masonry.

In our town there is a law that states you must fence in a swimming pool. You can fence just the pool or the whole property. Every year there are tragic drownings because children have access to those swimming pools. We absolutely hated this white fence the previous owners put around our pool when we moved here but it was a necessity with small children around. What a relief when the girls grew up and we could remove this fence. Our yard still meets code because it is entirely enclosed in fencing but at least we could get rid of this big white zit (blemish) in our yard.

We had friends who moved to a house a year after we moved here. They too had a pool in the yard but it wasn't fenced in separately. I urged them to reconsider a white fence and instead suggested that they put a black fence around the pool. If I had a photo I'd share it with you, the black fence just totally disappears from your view when you look out at their yard.

If you haven't been able to tell yet from my previous posts, I really hate white vinyl fence. Ok, maybe hate is a strong word. I don't mind the white vinyl picket fencing but when it comes to white vinyl stockade, yes, I hate it!

Today it's snowing outside and other than a day like today, there's no time in nature that one sees a huge expanse of white. In the winter those white vinyl fences look so cold and stark to me. In the summer they're even worse, totally not a part of nature. The huge expanse of white grabs your eye and takes away from anything else in that area.

Above you are looking at a bed we built along the back of our pool (once the white fence was removed) and behind it you can see our cute shed. Did your mind even look at that wooden stockade fence? Probably not.

Here's a picture taken from the same exact spot just a year later. What grabs your eye? Could it be that unnatural expanse of white? Does that white fence do anything at all for the rustic country garden? Scroll down to my last post and take a good look at how "white" that fence is just two years later. The whole selling point on those vinyl fences is that they are maintenance free. It sure doesn't look maintenance free to me unless you want to look at long expanses of moldy plastic.

Sometimes a fence is installed for decorative purposes. White picket fences in front of cottages are perfect examples of that reason. I adore white picket fences but they just wouldn't suit my home. Here you can see a perfect white picket fence outside the little cottage at Westbury Gardens. Be still my beating heart, I just love this sight.

Here at our old country home, the decorative fence along the front property line was a split rail fence. This fence was already old when we moved here 11 years ago and has finally begun to fall apart. Still, I would like to replace it with something very similar. Maybe a slightly more formal post and rail style with three cross bars but still in natural wood finish.

Up the street my friend Gianna also has split rail along her property line. It's just enough to mark the boundaries of her front yard and not so strong a viewpoint that it pulls your eye away from her delightful sea of blooms.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't think fencing should be the main focal point in a landscape. The house, garden, shed, or something else should be what draws your eye.

Yesterday as I drove through town I really looked hard at all the types of fences people have. Whether the house was an old victorian, a typical 1950's high ranch or even a modern angular house, I never saw a place where a white vinyl fence added to the beauty of the home.

Googling fences brought me countless beautiful images. If you know of a photo that would add to this thread, please post the link to it in the comments section. I'll be on the look out for more photos too.

It's still snowing outside, time for a walk.


Teaser 2

This first photo is for Marie at in Norway. I know she likes dogs so I thought I'd share a shot of my labradoodle (yellow lab crossed with standard poodle) that I took about an hour ago. Calie the wonder-doodle was overjoyed this morning when we woke up and found something new outside.

Ah ha, this is what happens when you brag on, GardenJoy4Me sends you snow for daring to brag about your crocus blooms. I have a sneaking suspicion that flowergardengirl (Anna) had a hand in it too because she wanted me to get off that beach and back to posting. Well Anna, the beach was freezing cold, silly me, it is still February! We barely stood there for a minute and then went back inside.

So this morning I woke up to find the weather guesserologists were at it again. The prediction was 3-6 inches of snow in New York city and areas north and west. 1-3 inches were forecast for areas south and east of the city and last I checked Long Island is east of New York City. Right now there are 4-5 inches on my picnic tables out back and it's still falling.

The good news? I'll be inside much of the day and can get to work on my post about fences. Now to forewarn all of you, part of that post will be a rant on how I feel about these new white vinyl fences. Hopefully I don't hurt too many feelings, I too was intrigued when they first came on the market but oh my, I just can't stand them anymore.

The photo above shows my own garden shed. It's just darling, the only problem is it's got mice in it. I wouldn't mind so much if they wore a bell around their neck and I could hear them before they darted in front of me. Instead, I bang on the door for a minute before opening it in hopes they all run and hide (I even yell out loud for them to do exactly that).

Look at that hideous white vinyl fence behind my lovely country shed. Come on, we live in an area with 1 acre minimum zoning, most of the properties are heavily treed. Yes, we are a suburb of New York City but it looks pretty countrified around here. What could be more unnatural than a huge expanse of white plastic? This fence runs for 400', turns for 100' and runs 400' more. To make matters worse, these people put the fence up along with the house next to them who put the exact same fence up. I look out of my bedroom window and see two yards fenced in with this incredibly fake looking product.

Take one more look, see that green mold growing on the fence? The big selling point here is that these fences are maintenance free. Ah ha, instead of painting them you have to spray them with something to remove the mold.

This last photo shows an uninspiring shot of my compost area. I wasted an hour looking for a good photo of this area taken during summer months. It's quite lovely then so I don't know why I can't find a photo.

A number of years ago I was on one of my walks when I saw a landscaping company ripping these pier pilings out of a beautiful landscaped home. It was the same company who mowed our lawn at the time so I asked what they were doing. A new home owner had moved in and the wanted all those pier pilings removed and replaced with stone. I asked what was going to happen to the pier pilings and was told that a number of truck loads had already been hauled off to the dump. WHAT!!! The last truck load was dumped at my house instead, I wish I had gotten the others too.

We rolled those pilings to the back corner, dug a shallow trench with our handy Mantis tiller and popped those babies in. My daughters and their friends played countless hours back there in their pirate fort/hogwarts castle/alien outpost and what ever else. It turned out to be a great "fence" for decorative purposes by hiding my compost heap.

By the way, you can see the 6' stockade wooden fence we installed 11 years ago, it's still in great condition and has never needed a single minute of maintenance. All the way in the right corner you'll see a tiny section of that white vinyl fence. Well, to call it "white" isn't fair, it's pretty dingy if you ask me.

Back in a bit, time for breakfast and then I'll be working on the fence post.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


This photo of this darling shed was taken in Michigan in LaVere's garden.

Now imagine you had to add a fence for some reason or other. A fence in front of this shed and a fence in back of this shed. Think hard, think about what you want to accent and how the final result is going to look. Think feeling, heavy or light.

I'm off to have lunch with a friend and a possible walk on the beach (her house is on the beach) but temps are still below freezing. When I come back I'll begin my thread on fences for your house and garden.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Heavenly Hosta 2

Yesterday I promised I'd show some of the Hosta I have in sunny places. Keep in mind that my gardens are on Long Island (just east of New York City) so this might not work for the deep southern locations. Also, even though we have 1.3 acres, we are surrounded by tall trees so there is no such thing as direct sun from sun-up to sun-down.

On the left is Hosta 'Spritzer' which I bought at a daylily auction (yes, I know...) it turned out to be one of the best auction buys I've ever made! The plant to the right is Pulmonaria 'Raspberry Splash'. This location gets full sun from early in the morning until at least 2:00pm and then quite a bit of filtered light after that. The Pulmonaria wilts a little in the summer on a hot day but quickly recouperates in the late afternoon.

Here you can see the same spot from another angle, what this photo doesn't show is that there are lots of daylilies planted in this area too. You can see how the chartreuse color in Hosta 'Spritzer' shines like a beacon in the garden. Also in the back drop (still getting 5 hours of morning sun) is Hosta 'Blue Angel' which is now so massive that I need to divide it this spring.

One last shot of this area, this is in July and while full sun is shining here (I hate how full sun washes out the colors in photos). Hosta 'Spritzer' now has a few holes, either slug damage or broken twigs from the dying Cedar tree just north of this bed (my neighbors tree of course). But it's still hanging strong and adding lots of foliage interest to this garden.

Hosta are also great perennials for planters that you plan on leaving outside for years. Clay pots will shatter here but cement planterss or the new fake ones make it through the winter just fine. This spot also only had morning light but last year we increased the front stoop by quite a bit and even further out with more direct sun, the Hosta did fine.

My all time favorite Hosta so far is this cultivar 'Sea Fire'. I've been back to Schmidt's farm dozens of times and never saw it for sale again. This year I'm going to bite the bullet and split my clump but I don't think I'll offer any for sale. I'll plant all those pieces in nice rich sunny soil with lots of yummy composted manure. Maybe in a few years somebody will be able to talk me into sharing a piece :-)

This last shot is out along our back property line. As I mentioned yesterday, right after this was planted the neighbors took out most of their trees (they live south of us so those trees cast shade into our yard). This garden is 5 years old now and this photo is 2 years old. I really have to get in there and divide like crazy this year!

Take a careful look at that white fence in the back drop. My next post will be about choosing the right kind of fence for your garden. I wish somebody would have explained that to me in the past as we've made mistakes here too.

Oh yes, I saw my first crocus bloom today! What a surprise!!! Photos to come soon :-)


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Heavenly Hosta

As I've become familiar with different plant societies and plant collections, I've come to realize that my various collections are not considered large by people who specialize in one plant. Yet, for the average gardener, I think my collections would actually be considered quite varied, even bordering on the brink of obsessiveness.

A few days ago I mentioned that my Hemerocallis collection (Daylilies) topped out at 450 different varieties. Today I'd estimate it to be somewhere in the upper 300 range. My Hosta collection is quite smaller with about 140 - 150 Hosta varieties. Gee, that sounds like hardly anything.

Shade gardening was something I had little interest in until 5 or 6 years ago. Shady spots were spots I couldn't grow my beloved perennials and I bemoaned those areas. Little did I know how much I would come to love to work in those delicious gardens. Nor did I realize just how many beautiful plants would thrive in those cool, shady areas.

Collecting Hosta was easy at first, only four yards away from me was a perennial plant farm that specialized in Daylilies and Hosta. Their Daylilies were older varieties and I didn't shop for any of those but the Hosta, well, when you have no Hosta, any Hosta is desirable.

(I'll take a guess and say that this is Hosta 'Pineapple upside down cake' in the foreground. In the back drop on the right is Hosta 'Thunderbolt' which in time will become a true show stopper.)

As populated as Long Island is, it still amazes me that there isn't a Hosta club that meets here locally. Hosta lovers in our area travel to New Jersey and belong to the Tri-State Hosta club. It's a large, very active club and local folks love belonging to that group. The only problem for me and most likely for other "younger" gardeners is that you need to set aside a full day for a Hosta meeting. When one has to travel the length of Long Island, through New York City and into New Jersey, it requires a number of bridges/tunnels and tolls. It's just something that's difficult to fit in to a family's busy lifestyle.

(Hosta 'On Stage' is stunning but it has somewhat fragile foliage that suffers damage easily)

I guess I should be thankful that I don't participate in a Hosta club. It allows me to be much more relaxed in growing Hosta. Believe it or not, I've forgotten the names of many of my cultivars! Others have name tags but they've been chewed beyond recognition by my wonder-doodle Calie. Does that lessen my enjoyment in this beautiful plant? Not one iota.

When it comes to growing Hosta, I find them very easy plants, forgiving of many conditions other than full baking sun. Since I don't have full baking sun anywhere here, that's not a problem for me.

While many people think of Hosta as shade plants, I consider them "shade tolerant" plants. In my book, that also means they are "sun tolerant" plants and I find that the Hosta that get 5 hours of full sun increase much faster than the Hosta that are shaded all day. Water is a key ingredient, while they will survive through drought conditions, Hosta thrive with lots and lots of water. Ideally, if you have a wet boggy area, plant some Hosta.

(Hosta 'Queen Josaphine' has leaves that look as if they've been polished with wax)

Less than one year after I planted a new shade border along my back fence, the neighbors behind us removed 30 trees from that property lines. Plants that I thought were going to be growing in full shade were suddenly subjected to mid day sunshine. Instead of looking awful, they thrived! The plants there have grown so large that I need to get in there this spring and do some serious dividing. The only downfall in my opinion was that the tree workers ruined our old wooden fence. The neighbors assured me that they planned on replacing the fence with a much improved model. Unfortunately their idea of "improved" was a 6' high white vinyl fence which is such an awful eyesore now with green mold growing along its surface.

Hosta come in an amazing variety of sizes, leaf shapes and colors. Yes, there's also a difference in blooms but I rarely consider a Hosta because of it's blooms, it's the stunning foliage that gets me every time.

One recommendation I would make to anybody who wanted to add many Hosta to their garden would be don't always buy the variegated varieties. In the above photo you can see the heavily variegated variety 'On Stage'. It would not show up as well if I had another variegated Hosta next to it. Instead, the simple, blue foliage of this lost named Hosta is the perfect foil.

The general rule of thumb is to plant the lighter colored Hosta with more sun while the darker and especially the blue Hosta prefer more shade. I definitely agree that the chartreuse Hosta need more light to keep their bright colors but they don't always hold up well to that light.

The above photo shows Hosta 'Whiskey Sour' (I'm pretty sure on that), a fern, a second blue Hosta and my amazing Acer shirasawanum 'Aureum' tree. While H. 'Whiskey Sour' has a light colored foliage, it's very soft, flimsy would be another good word and it shows damage (sun scald and slug bites) easily.

Some Hosta will get enormous while dwarf varieties might never get larger than the palm of your hand. This photo shows Hosta 'Thunderbolt' which I think is going to some day be a giant. Right now it's been suffering from our 70 lb. doodle who runs along this pathway to chase the many squirrels that frequent this corner of our garden. I expect in another two or three years it will have doubled or tripled in size, just in time for when Calie finally stops those darn puppy rips (she's two years old now).

Tomorrow I'll post some photos of Hosta that I have growing out in my front sun perennial borders. Many varieties are doing quite well there and if you are living as far north as we are here in New York, you too should be able to incorporate Hosta in sunny borders.

See ya! The sun is shining and although it's cold, I'm going outside!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Happy Birthday Don!

Today is my husband Don's birthday. In celebration, I thought I'd post some photos of Don and the garden...wait, Don's not a gardener.

My husband is one of those people who can never sit still, he's always doing something, fixing something, cleaning something and so on. Right now he's playing with the dog :-)

The top photo was a landscape shot of two of my perennial borders, they flank our long driveway. People laugh when I say I have no room left for another plant, as you can see, we have more than 1/2 acre in just lawn out front. My comment on that was to take Don's old golf clubs and use them as a planter. I move them around on the lawn depending on how I feel. It's my little way of saying that this place still looks more like a golf course than a botanical garden.

While Don would never point out a specific plant and say "let's plant that in our garden" he does come up with good ideas on hardscape and placement of my beloved garden "junque". This old wooden ladder came with our house and we finally replaced it with a new fiberglass one. Rather than put the ladder out at the curb Don suggested propping it against one of our largest Oak trees. It was the perfect place to showcase some of my lovely rustic birdhouses I had brought home from Nova Scotia.

The climber planted at the base of the ladder is a Shizophragma hydrangeoides. This spring will be it's third year there and I expect a huge growth spurt. I've also pulled down a branch or two and put a rock on them in hopes of propagating a few more.

I know, only a true gardener would appreciate this shot of the back of my compost heap. When we moved here we didn't know enough to make the previous owner clear all his junk (his is junk, mine is "junque") from the yard. There was a big stack of these concrete retaining blocks.

Don spent a whole weekend clearing the back corner and made me a great compost area. You can see that over the years I outgrew that space and now we have a second holding bin behind the original one where I like to dump huge piles of leaves.

Here you can see my rock garden. It was a quick solution to hide some broken steps but has become a favorite spot of mine. I can't say that Don truly appreciates this artistic attempt as I've caught him stepping over the plants. Still, I chose this photo because behind it you can see our pool and out door eating area and those totally belong to Don.

I barely vacuum the house and the day we moved here I announced I would never vacuum the pool. Luckily that has never been an issue as Don comes home from work every day in the summer and immediately checks out the pool.

And finally, a photo of Don at rest. LOL not really, anybody who knows Don knows that this is obviously posed and I'll also add that Calie the wonder-doodle was quite posed too as she has no desire to be on that wiggly moving thing.

Tomorrow I'll be back to posting plant photos, I'm feeling like I need to share some Hosta photos but for today, Happy Birthday Don!


Sunday, February 17, 2008

The wait is over

Yesterday's post was a short one, I was filled with anticipation. You see, I was headed off to a garden club meeting. To be exact, yesterday I attended a meeting of the Long Island Daylily Society which meets every third Saturday, usually at Planting Fields Arboretum on Long Island (well Duh!)

If you've been gardening for many years then you probably have belonged to a gardening club at some time. Before the wonderful world of the internet, a garden club was one of the only ways to share gardening information with others who share the same obsession.

In my own case, the gardening craze came upon me fairly early in life. I had a day job chartering vessels for a German steel company that had an office here in New York. In my early 20's, I was surrounded by German immigrants, mostly older than me. One favorite past time at lunch time was to sit in the company cafeteria and talk about gardening. Many of the women would bring blooms in from their garden to decorate their desk.

Gardening was always something that interested me and as soon as we had our first house I was out in that garden so I really enjoyed those lunch hours. They also became my first experience with "pass along" plants as co-workers passed along slips of this and that for me to try.

After the birth of my daughter Lauren, I found myself missing those lunch hours and began to search for a garden club that would give me the same sense of camaraderie. It took a few tries before I found a fit. It's not that the clubs topic didn't interest me, it was the people in the club.

Two clubs have managed to capture my love. The first was a local federated club that goes by the name Nathan Hale Garden Club. It's a group of women (approx. 45) who meet one afternoon a month. Half the meetings are about flower arranging which doesn't really interest me but the women themselves have become dear friends so I suffer through those meetings ;-)

The second club that stuck with me was the Long Island Daylily Society. When I joined I only had 4 or 5 daylilies and didn't think I needed many more. Who would have guessed... that club became a driving force for many years of my life. It wasn't just women drinking from tea cups. There were men there that wore their gardening clothes to the meeting and didn't mind if their nails weren't manicured. While daylilies were the main focus, it was easy to make friends who grew wide varieties of plant material.

This club changed my whole life. I joined a fledgling internet group and although I knew nothing about daylilies I liked to write so I began to post. It wasn't long before I was invited to speak to another daylily club, this one in Florida! I had never ever spoken in front of a group of people before, it sure was an eye opener. After that, more doors opened and I traveled all over the USA and Canada meeting up with other garden lovers I had met on the internet.

In the summer of 06 I Co-chaired the national convention for the American Hemerocallis society. At the same time I was one of the 7 tour gardens so I certainly had my hands full. In total it was five years of planning, the last year I think all I did was eat and breathe for the convention.

In 2007 I started strong, I had a beautiful garden left over from the year before but the drive was gone. For so long I was driven by that one event. I knew that I wanted to decrease the amount of daylilies in my garden (there were about 450 different varieties here during the tour). Mother's Day weekend I have a plant sale, the profits are donated to the students in our high school marching band to help defray the costs of band camp. I dug like crazy last year leaving crater like holes all over the garden. The week after the sale it happened, I deflated, all the air just left me, the desire to garden was gone and I was left with a garden that looked like a bulldozer had run amok.

My posts to the various internet groups stopped at that time, my posts to this blog stopped then too. The weeds began to grow and I started averting my eyes every time I drove down the driveway past my long perennial borders. I secretly wondered if I'd ever get it back, the desire to garden.

The itch started before the holidays, I found it hard to pay attention to all I was supposed to be doing. It got worse right after New Years, I needed to be outside, no matter what the weather conditions were. Suddenly I found myself at the library several times a week pulling those gardening books off the shelves in attempt to find the ones with the most glorious photos. The notes to myself began to pop up all over the house, slides, photos, books strewn on every surface.
It was back, the desire to work in the garden has once again infected me.

Yesterday was the final test, I had only attended 3 daylily meetings last year and often didn't even open the meeting notices. Last week though I opened my notice on the walk back from the mail box. My family was warned, I was not going to be home Saturday afternoon.

The anticipation yesterday morning was almost too much to bear. No, there really was no river to drive over although a long stretch of the road passes water. The woods I drove through were cultivated, but still restful. Yet it was with trepidation that I walked through that final door.

The meeting was perfect. February weather is tricky so our clubs tradition is to hand the program over to club members this month. Three members got up to give us tips and ideas on how they grow things from seed. It was simple, smooth, warm and simple. I hugged old friends and even met a few new ones. Afterwards I stole five more minutes of time and ran into the greenhouse to breathe in the warm moist air and shoot a few "press here dummy" photos. Five of them are included in this post. I didn't bother with the plant names or description, it was the feeling of being in a garden that I needed at that time.

Sometimes when I sit here at this computer it seems as if I've unscrewed the top of my head and all kinds of things burble out. Today was one of those days, it's the best therapy around.

And still, the anticipation is there, the need to garden is overwhelming.

It feels so good to be back.