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Dear Friend and Gardener

Greenfield Garden Club Tour TODAY!

 

Elise Schlaijker

Elise Schlaijker

Elise Schlaijker’s extensive gardens will be a part of the Greenfield Garden Club’s annual garden tour which will be held on Saturday, June 25 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Schlaijker is one of those gardeners who loves food gardens and flower gardens equally, although she admits that the big 30 x 30 foot vegetable and fruit garden was her first priority when she moved to Greenfield eight years ago. I wrote about Schlaijker when her gardens were new in 2010. Now that she is 82 and has come through a back surgery, she has made some adjustments in her routines. The chicken house is empty. Handling water and feed during the winter became too difficult so the hens were given away.

While she showed me around the side garden which she can view from her large deck, two young men were buzzing around the lawns and the labyrinth. “I no longer mow the lawns myself,” she said with a smile.

The deck itself is decorated with houseplants brought out for the summer, and is ringed with Gold Heart bleeding heart and a variety of hostas. The side garden’s large lawn is ornamented with shrub and perennial beds. These contain familiar and beloved plants like rugosa roses in red and white, other shrub roses, lilacs, herbaceous peonies and an exuberant climbing hydrangea in one corner.

Bartzella, I toh peony

Bartzella, Itoh peony

However, a gardener is always finding new enthusiasms. In addition to the beautiful and familiar herbaceous peonies, Schlaijker has added Itoh, or intersectional, peonies, to her plantings. Itoh peonies are a hybrid created by crossing herbaceous peonies with tree peonies. Like herbaceous peonies Itoh’s are cut back in the fall, but the advantage is that they hold their blossoms high, even in the rain, and have a longer bloom period because they have primary and secondary buds. When Itoh peonies were first made available they were very expensive, but they are now more reasonable in price. In any event, Schlaikjer says, “I indulge myself in the plants I love.”

On the other side of the house is a wild looking bog garden, which includes a buttonbush, a dappled willow and a handsome crane. There is also a sweeping quarter moon bed that includes two dappled willows, a redbud and two more Itoh peonies. I was particularly looking at all the graceful curves in her garden which are so elegant and pleasing.

A gently curving path edged with wide flower borders leads to the stone labyrinth. When she built labyrinth I was one of the people who brought a stone to help build it. Schlaijker meditatively walks the labyrinth almost every day, but the building of the labyrinth included the connections to, and love of, a whole community. In the center of the labyrinth is a tiny gazebo. Inside the tiny gazebo is an extraordinary, throne-like chair. This was carved from a maple tree trunk by a friend in Michigan where she had lived for so many years. This throne, with its carvings of a bear, turtle, squirrel and other creatures, is comfortable and magical. If you hum or sing while sitting on the throne you can feel and hear the reverberations of sound.

Elise Schlaijkers gazebo

Elise Schlaijker’s gazebo in the center of her labyrinth

The flower borders leading to the labyrinth are filled with more Itoh and herbaceous peonies, nepeta, foxgloves, irises, and sedums. The borders include flowers as exotic as the Itoh peonies, but also as humble as the local native yellow foxgloves.

Of course, the fenced and netted vegetable garden is a very important part of Schlaijker’s garden. There are raised beds for vegetables, but it turns out that nets do not deter burrowing creatures like voles, moles – and rats. “Nowadays I can’t grow root crops, carrots, potatoes, beets . . . critters eat every one,” she said. Still she is able to grow lots of greens: collards, kale, broccoli, chard as well as garlic, tomatoes, lettuce, squash, and cucumbers as well as parsley and basil.

One section of the fenced vegetable garden is given over to highbush blueberries and a black currant bush. That section is netted over the top when the berries begin to ripen.

Beauty is to be found even when she walks towards the vegetable garden provided by a bed including  Japanese primroses, goatsbeard, clematis, and European ginger which she insists spreads itself generously. Here and there are bowls of water on the ground to satisfy the thirst of birds, or perhaps even a toad or two.

Elderberries and different raspberry varieties that give her a long season grow beyond the fenced garden. Schlaijker also has several apple trees, but her peach tree is no more.

Elise Schlaijker’s garden is just one of the nine unique gardens on the tour, each with its own special attractions.

Tickets to the Greenfield Garden Club Garden Tour can be purchased ahead of time at the World Eye Bookstore for $15. Or call Jean Wall at 773-9069. On the day of the tour tickets will be $18 and can be purchased at 40 High Street. Those who have bought tickets at the World Eye must also go to 40 High Street to pick up a map for this self-guided tour. There will be curb-side service.

Between the Rows  June 18, 2016

New Roses for a New Garden

Passionate Nymph's Thigh rose

Passionate Nymph’s Thigh rose

Thirty-five years have passed since I planted my first rose bush in Heath. In the months before our move from New York City I read and re-read Onward and Upward in the Garden by Katharine White. It was her experience and thoughts about roses that particularly touched my dreams of a romantic garden in the country. I had never grown roses, and never even really paid much attention to roses. My dreams and limited experiences had been with herbs and vegetables.

That book inspired me to plant my first rose, Passionate Nymph’s Thigh, from Roses of Yesterday and Today. Who could resist that name? Over time I bought more roses from that nursery, focusing on roses of yesterday like the Queen of Denmark, Fantin-Latour, Celsiana and the Rose of Ispahan. These were hardy antique roses that were fragrant and disease free.

Applejack, Buck rose

Applejack, Buck rose

I did add modern roses over time, including Buck roses hybridized by Griffith Buck for cold hardiness. Applejack, one of my favorite roses, was a hardy Buck rose. These were not noted for their fragrance, however. I also added more and more rugosas that were hardy, disease free and fragrant. MountBlanc is my favorite white rugosa, and Dart’s Dash an energetic deep pink was also a favorite.

I also collected roses from friends like Rachel’s Rose, Purington Pink and the Buckland Rose. There is only one drawback to all these roses. Most of them are fragrant, but none of them bloom all summer.

Purington Pink rose

Purington Pink closeup

Of all those roses, it is only the hardy and energetic Purington Pink that I brought with me to the new Greenfield garden. But it is not the only rose I planted.

Over the years I learned more about efforts by hybridizers to create hardy roses that do bloom for a long season. These new hybridizing efforts were brought about by environmental concerns about poisons used on roses, and new attitudes toward proper garden management. Several years ago, after meeting Peter Kukielski who was then curator of the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden at the New York Botanical Garden, a new world of long blooming, disease resistant, and often fragrant roses opened up for me.

Kukielski is currently working with the American Rose Trials for Sustainability which has been running rose trials in different locations for the past few years. In 2017 they will announce their first round of sustainable roses. The A.R.T.S. website (www.americanrosetrialsforsustainability.org) declares “ . . . strict trialing protocol ensures that every A.R.T.S.® trial garden is ‘no spray.’ Remember, the goal is to identify the rose varieties which need little to no input.  Ensuring that no pest control products or fertilizers are applied to the plants within the experiment ensures that we get accurate real world results which are both reliable and repeatable.”

Lion's Fairy Tale rose

Lion’s Fairy Tale – Kordes rose

I cannot wait for the first trial results, because I want more roses in my new garden which is much smaller and has particular problems. What does a rose bush need? Roses must have at least 6 hours of sun to thrive and produce good bloom. Roses need good air circulation. Roses need good soil that is rich in humus, has a pH between 6 and 6.5, and drains well.

Roses need water, but they do not like to have their feet wet. Sections of my new garden are very sunny, and I can build good soil, but most of my soil is heavy clay that does not drain well. I have to find areas that will not leave the roses in standing water during the spring thaw or after long, heavy rains.

Thomas Affleck rose

Thomas Affleck rose in Heath

Although I knew I was taking a gamble I could not let a whole garden year go by without planting some roses. The south side of our lot gets plenty of sun, and the soil is better there than in the backyard. Last spring and early summer we started planting our shrub border which includes hydrangeas, lilacs, and a viburnam.

When choosing roses for this garden I tried to use all I have learned over the years. I again planted the pink centifolia Fantin-Latour for its history and romance even though it will bloom for a short season. I also planted the low and dependable pink polyantha The Fairy and Knockout Red. Knockout Red is an EarthKind rose, and you can count on any EarthKind rose to be beautiful and dependable, even though it is not fragrant.

Some of the roses I chose are new varieties that are considered groundcover roses, not as tall as other rose bushes, very full and bushy with a long bloom season. These include Oso Easy Paprika, and Peach Drift.         Purple Rain, Polar Express, the pink Zaide and creamy Lion’s Fairy Tale are all hybrids from Kordes with good disease resistance. Kukielski told me I could count on all Kordes roses to be among the best long blooming, disease resistant roses I could have. Many are fragrant.  NewFlora (www.newflora.com) is the U.S. distributor for Kordes.

Oso Easy Paprika

Oso Easy Paprika

I also had to have two of the other roses I had in Heath. Folksinger is a peachy hardy Buck rose, and Thomas Affleck is the amazing deep pink rose I grew near my entry. It had big blossoms that began in mid June and continued into November.

With all these new sustainable coming on the market there will be no excuse for any gardener to avoid roses because they are too fussy.

Sources: Antique Rose Emporium www.antiqueroseemporium.com; Chamblee’s Roses www.chambleeroses.com;  Roses of Yesterday and Today www.rosesofyesterday.com

Between the Rows   June 11, 2016

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day – June 15, 2016

Peach Drift Rose

Peach Drift rose

With my first Peach Drift roses I am celebrating my first real Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day in the Greenfield, Massachusetts garden. Peach Drift is a fairly low growing, long blooming, disease resistant rose.

Oso Easy Paprika

Oso Easy Paprika\

Oso Easy  Paprika shares a small bed with Peach Drift. Paprika is a little outside my usual color palette, but when I saw it blooming at the nursery I could not resist.

Zaide, Kordes rose

Zaide, Kordes rose

I am so excited to be able to add Kordes roses like Zaide to my garden.

White Kordes rose

White Kordes rose

This white Kordes rose is either Lion’s Fairy Tale or Polar Express.  I hope I can figure out which when the other white Kordes rose begins to bloom

Purple Rain Kordes rose

Purple Rain Kordes rose

Purple Rain has many small blossoms on a sprawly bush.

Folksinger rose

Folksinger, Buck rose

I love the apricot shade of Folksinger, a Griffith Buck rose. Thomas Affleck put out one flush of bloom but I expect more as the season progresses.

Stella d'Oro daylily

Stella d”Oro daylily

Stella d’Oro, a daylily left by the previous owners of our house is the only perennial on the Hellstrip.  But the Hellstrip will be blooming soon. Wait til July.

Mountain laurel

Mountain laurel

I’m so pleased with the way this mountain laurel has come through the year. It is such a modest and unassuming shade-loving shrub.

Irises are still bloom, as are the supermarket yellow primroses I planted. There are even a few blooms on the Japanese primroses, and the new elderberry shrubs.  I have a couple of  arrangements of annuals in large pots and bright red geraniums in pots on our front steps. Very welcoming, I hope. More plants will be bought this summer and I think we will have many more blooms.

Thank you Carol of May Dreams Gardens for hosting Bloom Day.  To see what else is in bloom across our great land click here.

The South Border One Year Later.

South Lawn May 22, 2015

South Lawn May 22, 2015

The South Border did not exist on the day we closed on the house. But we had ideas.

South Border on June 3, 2015

South Border on June 3, 2015

On June 3 we planted three hydrangeas, Limelight, Angel’s Blush and Firelight, as well as two lilacs, deep purple Yankee Doodle and double white Beauty of Moscow. Shrubs were planted in the ground with the the addition of Martin’s compost.

Lasagna planting

Lasagna planting

Once shrubs were in the ground we built the lasagna beds around them with cardboard and compost so  that we could plant perennials – and an annual or two.

Now, one year later,  with additional plantings of roses, virburnams and various groundcovers like lady’s mantle, and sedums the view from Office Window 2 is quite different.

Eastern end of the South Border

Eastern end of the South Border

The eastern end of the South Border includes the hydrangeas and lilac in the rear with roses in  the front. Low growing Purple Rain begins on  the left, then you can see the tiny white buds of a white rose (Lion’s Fairy Tale I thinks. Thomas Affleck pink follows then the apricot Folksinger and another white which is either Lion’s Fairy Tale or Polar Express, both of  which are Kordes roses.

South Border 2

South Border 2

You can see the white rose from the previous photo, then The Fairy which is not yet blooming but loaded with  buds and doing splendidly. To the far right is the wonderful Zaide,  a lush Kordes pink.

South Border 3

South Border 3

This photo gives you a better view of Zaide,  and Kockout Red ends this section of the South Border. There is only one other very small rose beyond the Knockout and we’ll have to wait for next year for her blooms. I hope you notice the tall mullein that Mother Nature planted for us at the very edge of the driveway. So far so good! The Main Garden behind the house is also doing well. Keep Watching.

Forbes Library Garden Tour in Northampton

 

Paul Redstone's water gardens

Paul Redstone’s water gardens

The Forbes Library Garden Tour is this Saturday, an opportunity to see unique private gardens.

If you are lucky retirement from the everyday world of work is an opportunity to make happy changes, and possibly even make a dream come true. This opportunity has been beautifully and artfully used by Paul Redstone, and Jesse and Jack Martin. They both gave up country homes and properties and moved to ‘the city,’ Northampton, where they now live next to each other. They all love to garden, treasure their friendship, and have very different approaches to making a garden.

Paul Redstone

I spoke to Redstone while sitting on his deck listening to the falling water in his water garden. I could see cattails and water lilies, but he said the water garden was really all about the music of the moving water falling over the stone. His wife passed away ten years ago and when he moved to town about six years ago he thought it was time to make his dream of a musical water feature come true. With the encouragement of a friend he did some renovations on his new house so he could have room for a printmaking studio, and finally built the water garden he had longed for.

Paul Redstone

Paul Redstone

I asked if this was a house where he could age in place. He laughed. “I didn’t think of it at the time, but I guess it is. The kitchen is now more efficient and I have a bedroom on the ground floor. The water garden is sited where I can see it from the bedroom.”

He designed the stone water garden on a rise, with various sections that provide music, a home for three koi and occasional frogs and bogs for breathtaking lotuses. It is surrounded by irises and a delightful carpet of ground covers. While he needed help to build the stone infrastructure, he is completely responsible for all the plantings.

His main goal in the garden is to eliminate lawn. The sunny front yard has a variety of groundcovers including bearberry and cotoneaster. Gorgeous irises were beginning to bloom the day I visited. One of the stunning shrubs is a calycanthus with its wine-red blossoms.

The garden around the water garden holds a broad range of plants, raspberries and  thornless blackberries from Nourse Farm, and plum trees, arborvitae, hollyhocks and wonderful native plants from Tripple Brook Nursery. He said he doesn’t make elaborate plans but “gardens according to my whims. If something doesn’t work out it is easy to send it off.”

Paul Redstone's Calycanthus, or Carolina allspice

Paul Redstone’s Calycanthus, or Carolina allspice

Jesse and Jack Martin

Jesse and Jack Martin live right next door. While they have very different styles, they spend a lot of time strolling through each others’ gardens and swapping notes.

Jack and Jesse Marti

Jack and Jesse Marti

Jesse and Jack left Beckett to look for a gentler climate that would make life a bit easier, but also provide more scope for their garden plans. In Northampton they have found a community rich in cultural opportunities, and a warmer climate.

Unlike Redstone, they like lawn and have a lush greensward in front of the house leading to a handsome shrub border that continues around the side of the house. Lilacs are pruned every three years or so, removing trunks that are more than a thumb width, keeping them vital and strongly blooming. A turn into the back garden is around a wisteria covered arbor they built themselves to provide a seating area in the shade.

A flowery border in front of the conifer privacy screen

A flowery border in front of the conifer privacy screen

They removed the 50 foot tall hemlocks that separated them from their backyard neighbor. “Those trees were so wide they took up half the yard,” Jesse said. Now there are slimmer Emerald Green and American arborvitae providing privacy and a background for the perennial border which also holds several birdhouses and a bird bath. The Martins welcome the birds and provide for their needs. “The cardinals and robins love the straw mulch. It is so much fun to watch them tossing the straw and searching for seeds.”

“We like the idea of textures – The upright blooms of the irises, and the fluffiness of the poppies.” Jesse said. The peonies were heavily budded. “We aim for a progression of bloom, but actually early summer has the most flowers.”

I was amazed by the large Harry Lauder Walking Stick. I have only seen this as a small shrub but it was beautiful as a small tree. Another particularly important small tree in the garden is the intensely fragrant witch hazel that blooms in February, right next to the hot tub. “

Redstone and the Martins make good use of a variety of irises.

Redstone and the Martins make good use of a variety of irises.

As we strolled through the garden Jack and Jesse couldn’t help pulling a weed or two. They said they wandered through the garden every day, admiring and weeding. After the tour we sat in the shade of the screened porch. “The whole purpose of the garden is to have something beautiful to look at during that first cup of coffee, or in the afternoon. We often invite Paul over,” Jack said.

The Redstone and Martin Gardens are two of the eight unique and inspiring gardens on this 23rd self guided Forbes Library Garden Tour, on Saturday, June 11 from 10 am to 3 pm, rain or shine. Advance $15 tickets are available at Forbes Library, Baystate Perennial Center, Cooper’s Corner, Hadley Garden Center, North Country Landscaping and Garden Center and State Street Market. On the day of the Tour tickets are only available at the Forbes Library for $20. There will also be a raffle that for compost, a landscape consultation and garden supplies. All proceeds benefit the Friends of the Forbes Library, funding programs, events and projects.

Between the Rows   June 4, 2016

Tovah Martin – Terrarium Expert Comes to Town

Tovah Martin

Tovah Martin, Author of The New Terrarium

The Greenfield Garden Club brought Tovah Martin, author of The New Terrarium, and many other books, to town to not only talk about terrariums, but to hold a workshop. The site was the elegant Brandt House B&B, the weather was rainy, but the spirit was one of excitement and creativity.

audience for terrarium talk at The Brandt House B&B

Audience for terrarium talk at The Brandt House B&B

Many members of the Greenfield Garden Club, and other gardeners in the community filled all the Brandt House space to get  some preliminary instruction  about terrariums, and jolts of inspiration.

Terrarium supplies

Terrarium supplies

The Kestrel Shop in Northampton was on hand with some of the needed plants and supplies, but attendees brought a variety of glass containers for their creations.

Terrarium workshop attendees

Terrarium workshop attendees

It didn’t take long for workshop attendees to get to work.

Unique terrarium tools

Unique terrarium tools

One of the tricks of the trade is a cork on a skewer to make a soil tamper. Less awkward to fit in  the container than fingers.

While we are still working on our house I can’t imagine a space for a terrarium, but after seeing all these inspiring terrariums, I did think of some friends who might like a terrarium  even if they don’t like weeding and pruning outside.

Tree Peonies on the Bridge of Flowers

Kamata Nishiki tree peony

Kamata Nishiki tree peony

It is tree peony season on the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls. There are a number of tree peonies, but not all of them have retained their names. No matter. They are all still stunning. We have been promised a few days of hot weather. I hope the tree peonies don’t mind too much.

Shimanishiki tree peony

Shimanishiki tree peony

This tree peony took a beating in the rain – and now here we are fearing the hot sun.

 

tree peony

Nameless tree peony

Of course other flowers and blooming trees are blooming on the Bridge, but the Tree Peonies are particularly ephemeral and I wait for them every year.

Bridge of Flowers – Sale and Stroll

Bridge of Flowers set up for annuals

Bridge of Flowers set up for annuals

Yesterday the Bridge of Flowers held its annual Plant Sale and it was a great success! The sale included perennials from the Bridge itself as well as from area gardeners. Shrubs and trees as well: pussy willows, thornless raspberries, Japanese maples. Lots of special peonies! Japanese jack in the pulpits. Amazing. Hillside Nursery sent a few of its rare wildflowers down. In addition the master Gardeners were there to do soil tests, there were garden books from the Shelburne Booksellers, cards from the Friends of Robert Strong Woodward, and lots of cookies, muffins, cakes and coffee! To keep up our strength.

Checking over the plant choices

Checking over the plant choices

So many choices! Let’s look again. Let’s confer. It takes the whole family to make the final decisions about what to buy.

Bridge of Flowers  Plant Sale line

Bridge of Flowers Plant Sale line

Once decisions are made it’s time to get in line.  There are always old friends, and maybe a new friend to talk to about plants and gardens and the weather – and everything.

Bridge of Flowers frolic

Bridge of Flowers frolic

Of course, some people would rather race and frolic than look at the plants.  There is no getting around the fact that the Bridge of Flowers Plant Sale is an important social community event. Joy!

Pink dogwood

Pink dogwood

I was  almost ready for my nap after the Plant Sale site was cleaned up but I had to take a few minutes for a revitalizing stroll over the Bridge. The pink dogwood on the Shelburne entry is in full bloom.

Carolina silverbell

Carolina silverbell

The Carolina silverbell is one of my favorite blooming trees, just one of the many blooming trees and shrubs on the Bridge of Flowers.

Pearl Bush

Pearl Bush

The Pearl Bush  (Exochorda) is in full heavy bloom. An absolute glory.  Very satisfying to know  that the Plant Sale supports the purchase of all the gorgeous flowers, trees and shrubs on the Bridge of Flowers. Now – time for a nap.

Children, Seeds and New Worlds Opening

 

Seeing Seeds by Llewellyn and Chace

Seeing Seeds by LLewellyn and Chace

It has been my privilege and joy to spend a few Thursday afternoons with Kate Bailey’s first grade at Four CornersSchool reading about, and learning about seeds. They were already quite learned. They not only knew that apples held a star in their centers, that fruit pits were seeds; they also knew that strawberry seeds were on the outside of the fruit, not inside. They are all so eager to share information about their own gardens and their favorite plants. They have a lot of favorite plants!

One afternoon I brought the squash seeds from my dinner the night before. Everyone got two or three seeds and Ms. Bailey lept up to get out the microscopes and magnifying glasses. It was just about the same moment that the children at one table and I cried out, “The seed has a shell, and the real seed is inside!”  I had nothing on those kids with their quick minds and clever fingers.

When we looked closely, very closely, at the true seed we could actually see the tiny shoot and the beginnings of a root in the seed. Ms. Bailey was even able to hook up a microscope to a projector to show the enlarged image on the white board so the whole class could look with wonder and excitement at the very beginnings of this plant’s life. Hooray for a school that brings this technology to the classroom!

I also brought Seeing Seeds: A Journey into the World of Seedheads, Pods, and Fruit written by Teri Dunn Chace with extraordinary macro photography by Robert Llewellyn. This beautiful book with its clear descriptions of seed science, and its brilliant photographs was not intended for first graders, but it is ideal for parent and child to peruse together.

In class we had discussed the different ways that seeds spread. The children knew about planting seeds from a packet but they also knew that dandelion seeds moved on the wind, and that some seeds were moved in the gut of animals who ate the plant. A few giggles there.  Seeing Seeds gave them a chance to see very close up the mechanisms that some seeds make use of, as well as the whole variety of seed cases, pods, husks and shells.

With the excitement over our own “experiment”, opening the seed case to see what we could see, the book took a back seat that afternoon. Even so, in quieter moments Seeing Seeds is the kind of book that can educate our eyes (adult and child) and help us to see details of the different types and forms of seeds. This book opens our eyes to the beauty and extravagance of Mother Nature who has found so many ways to help plants reproduce and proliferate.

Seeing Seeds (Timber Press $29.95) is one coffee table book that would get a lot of use because it is so beautiful and the text is clear, colorful and informative. It is not only the variety of mechanisms that a seed might use, but the reasons for those mechanisms that I found so fascinating. Chace writes about the way seeds, fruits, pods and nuts are  enhanced with structures such as hairs, hooks, tufts, feathers, spikes, spines, etc., all  meant to help the seeds. A spiky ball will protect them from being eaten by predators, and a layer of insulation stabilizes internal temperature and physically protects them. These are things we adults might never consider, but the protections would certainly be understood by children when they are pointed out. This is a book for the whole family.

Gardening on a Shoestring by Alex Mitchell

Gardening on a Shoestring by Alex Mitchell

Of course, having discussed seeds at some length, children will want to plant seeds. Indeed, the adults in the family may also be more than ready to prepare a garden and watch the magic of seeds and growth with their children. Gardening on A Shoestring: 100 Fun Upcycled Garden Projects by Alex Mitchell (Cool Springs Press$19.99) provides plenty of basic gardening advice about planning and planting a garden with the promised 100 inexpensive projects which include using tin cans, polystyrene and plastic throwaways for plant containers to making liquid fertilizers with plants, and setting up a worm farm to make rich compost.

I was particularly taken by the worm farm directions. When we made our worm farm a number of years ago, the small plastic bins that I could find were all clear, translucent. However worms don’t like the sunlight so I bought a very large plastic bin because it was the only opaque bin I could find. Mitchell suggests lining a clear plastic bin with cardboard. Why didn’t I think of that? I am on my way to having a new and smaller worm farm.

Children might be very interested in making a worm farm, but there are other projects suitable for the young set. Instead of buying plastic seedling trays you can make seedling pots out of newspaper, or toilet paper or paper towel rolls. This is a quick and useful project.

Mitchell also gives clear directions, aided by photographs, for multiplying the number of plants you already have by taking root cuttings, and layering. There is more to propagating plants than seeds.

Whether you are an adult or a child, you will find any number of inspiring projects that will feed the longing we all have to be creative, to have fun, to learn and to laugh and say – “Look what I made!”

Between the Rows   April 30, 2016

Water Loving Japanese Primroses

Japanese primroses

Japanese primroses

These newly planted Japanese primroses are one of the reasons I am so excited this spring. A friend invited me to dig the primroses where they were invading her lawn. We did not make much of a dent in the patch that is thriving in front of her house and I am imagining that it will not be very long before they cover the ground in  this bed where it is very wet. Although you can barely tell from the photo the Japanese primroses are planted between the buttonbush and a golden berried winterberry whose tiny new buds are almost invisible.

As you can see we dug up the primroses before they had begun to think “Flowers!”  We got them in the ground less than two hours after digging them out of the ground and ever since the damp, rainy and cool weather has given them just what they need to settle in. Japanese primroses prefer partially shady sites and humusy damp soil.  I am dreaming that before too long they might look like this

Japanese primroses

Japanese primroses

My friend sent me this photo so I would know what to expect. Beauty and Joy!