Moving through May

Between plant sales, cold and rainy weather, a new garden sculpture, and preparations for some friends’ annual visit to my garden, I’ve not had time to post in my blog. I figured I’d better post something before too many good photos built up on my computer!

I hope to have a grand reveal of my new sculpture sometime soon, but there’s still lots of work for me to do on it. Here’s a teaser:

The honeysuckles have been blooming and blooming and blooming. It’s a treat to work outside because I get to smell them. And they were spectacular in the cold rain a few weekends ago. Plus, I was working on my sculpture and I caught a glimpse of a hummingbird drinking from them. That’s so much better than the feeder I tried last year and never could quite keep fresh enough!

And there are other blooms in the back garden and in the garden on the east side of the house. It’s not blooming yet, but this year I added plants on the west side of the house as well. All came from the Master Gardener’s plant sale at the beginning of May. Actually, some had come from last year’s plant sale and then waited in pots because of all our roof troubles last summer.

At this point, I’m pretty well out of spaces for plants, so maybe I need not to go to the sale next year. But it’s so much fun to admire and choose from so many plants!

I had oodles of rose breasted grosbeaks when everyone else in Evansville was inundated with them, the hawks are still around somewhere, I spotted a prothonotary warbler in my neighbor’s trees, a family of wrens is trilling about the back yard as are a cardinal couple and a family of downy woodpeckers, and every morning for at least a week I’ve heard a Swainson’s thrush trilling in the background. I think I’ve even seen it a time or two.

And finally, The Ladies continue to delight. Ygraine is sweet and floofy and she will sit at the back door all day if I give her the opportunity. She loves watching the outdoors but seems pleased with her life of luxury indoors. Meanwhile, Morgaine is sassy and dreams of taking over the world. One day John caught her studying my cordless drills and a mini butane torch as if she was plotting something. She likes to sit on the front table to watch the outdoors through glass, and when she sees us approach, she stands up and inadvertently sticks her head inside the lamp sitting there with her. It’s funny. She looks like a party girl with a lamp shade on her head.

Beautiful Winter Browns

lots of goldfinches

The cold winds are blowing ever onward. We had another blast of very cold air last week and I noticed a particularly large flock of birds eating at my feeders. In this photo, I think I can see about 50 goldfinches plus a couple juncos eating seeds off our side porch and from the thistle feeder in the background (click the image for a larger photo and you can try to count them yourself). I resorted to spilling seeds on the porch just to have enough area to feed them all.

While it’s been cold, we’ve only had periodic dustings of snow–just enough to show the critters’ comings and goings around our house. I’ve been on the lookout for raccoon tracks, but (thankfully) haven’t seen any. There have been plenty of tracks from a couple marauding cats and, of course, all the birds.


cat dance

There is  beauty in my brown garden.

brown garden

This year I left the dry astrilbe seed heads and I like their addition to my winter garden along with the dried hydrangea flowers and assorted leaves still clinging to plants.


hydrangea 1

blackberry leaf

lace cap


All the wind in the bare trees has kept my wind chimes in motion. It’s even been enough to activate the little bells that are part of the tree jewelry I made last summer. I got a new chime for Christmas and I’m experimenting to find out where to put it so it will ring. So far I haven’t heard it, so I’ll have to keep working on it. It sure looks nice, though.


bell close-up

Life isn’t only shades of brown, though. Inside my house I’ve got four orchids in bloom and one working its way toward a bloom.

points of color


The Official Master Gardener Garden Walk

Two years ago, I went on the Southwestern Indiana Master Gardener’s Garden Walk. Like a giant garden scavenger hunt, you get a list of addresses, drive to them, and check out the gardens that you find at each one. It was lots of fun.

I came home and decided to start this blog because I saw how much fun it is to show your garden to people and, I thought, I’ve got a pretty nice garden, too.

The Master Gardeners held their Garden Walk again last weekend and I managed to make it to all 13 gardens. Again I enjoyed seeing the variety of gardens and things growing in them.

There were the picturesque and perfect landscapes:

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One garden’s special attractions included a straight line worn into the grass by raccoons on their nightly trip from underneath a neighbor’s barn. Ah, raccoons.

One garden that was a little different was set on a hillside in the forest that sloped down to a lake. The gardeners had created wonderful paths lined with ferns from the property itself and hostas. The trails led to various places like a gazebo and a table set for two and a dock for kayak launches. It was the one place that I toured the garden with the owner and it was fun to hear her excitement about her garden.

forest path

There were also many fun plants–both those I might possibly grow in my own garden and others (like some cacti whose blooms the bees were gleefully throwing themselves into) that I’m happy to appreciate in someone else’s garden:

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There was also lots of garden art to provide me with some inspiration.

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I liked that this gardener used Mardi Gras beads for some sparkle and also used weeds as a nice ground cover. He’d edged the bed and had a nice grass walkway, so it took a second or third glance to realize I was looking at a weed called Creeping Charlie.

Beads and weeds

It was also a tour of bottle trees. I’ve contemplated making one and liked the variation in which the bottles went over pitchfork tines.

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There were also many really nice water features. They’re beautiful and I love the idea of a trickle of water in my garden, but they always look like a little too much work and expense and I hate that you have to have a power cord running to the pump. That’s why I liked this one that was just a little drip hose running into a birdbath:

Dripping water birdbath

There was also one garden that contained garden art reminiscent of my friend Jane’s. There were a lot of found objects that were re-purposed in fun and unexpected ways. It’s the only place other than Jane’s where I’ve seen bowling balls in place of gazing balls. Here were a couple of my favorite areas:

cool stuff

mossy boots

The Virtual Garden Tour

I would love to have you all over to show you my garden. Since I can’t do that, here is a tour in photos.

The month of May is generally so kind to my garden. The beginning of June is, as well. Then nature turns up the heat and things get tired and crispy.

In May, it’s bloom after bloom. When one kind of plant stops, another begins.

I’ve got irises of all sorts (enough different sorts to stretch the blooming for weeks)…


reticulated iris

happy iris


purple bearded iris

celebratory iris

And the wonderful baptisia…






And now, honeysuckle. The air in the back yard is heavy with the scent, even with part of the honeysuckle wall cut back. Too bad I’ve got a cold and can’t fully appreciate it.


With my new camera, I can get better panoramic views of the garden. It helps to (maybe) show how small the space is. Here is the back yard from the west:

view from the west

And now the same space but from the east:

view from the eastIn all my planting, I’ve also added more to the little rock garden I built last year. I added some begonias and other annuals and more sedums. It’s a real mix of things, so I guess I’ll just see what survives and add more of it next year. For now, I kind of like the way it looks:

rock garden

fern and begonia


Also around my garden:

little bug

What Lies Beneath

After endless gray-brownness, I can’t believe the transformation that’s taken place in my garden in the last three weeks. A few warm days, and suddenly there were little bits of plant poking up everywhere. I marveled. There was hope! The next day the plants progressed another four inches and then another.

varigated fragrant solomon's seal

A moment later, the little starts had turned into actual plants.

little hosta

Things started to fill out even more, and suddenly my garden had returned.

garden view April 2013

There is one section by the tree that I particularly like right now. It’s full of hostas and astribles with solomon’s seal, wild ginger, and sweet woodruff filling in between. The wild ginger is another one that I remember from childhood walks in the woods with my mom. If you knew their secret, you could find the flower.

wild ginger

I also have another favorite wildflower blooming: a wild geranium. I remember them being some of the rarer finds in the woods and such a wonderful, delicate purple.

wild geranium

Also blooming is the tiarella. I take its picture every year.


And my first azalea blooms.

pink azalea

white azalea

Odd fact: last year the Google Streetview truck drove through Evansville during Azalea Season. It caught the city at its absolute best. It also caught the repairs being done to Patchwork’s tower.

Meanwhile, this fern is looking elegant…


I love all the little hearts on the red bud tree…

red bud

And I have some odd things blooming in my garden including this euphorbia that I grabbed last year at the Master Gardener’s Plant Sale. It has looked really out of place ever since I planted it, but these blooms might redeem it a tiny bit–but not much.


And there is this epimedium that I picked up at an end-of-the-season sale last year so I had no idea what it was or what to expect. It’s much more delicate and small than I imagined, so it’s also a little out of place, though it’s pretty.


And finally, a couple weekends ago I did my annual bit of birding. Where I grew up in Northwest Ohio, we were close to a major migration route and the migratory birds were usually arriving just before the leaves started to come out. In Southern Indiana, the birding is not as good, but a saw a few warblers, a pileated woodpecker, scarlet tanagers, and an indigo bunting, among others. I also discovered that pawpaw trees have wonderful flowers. I’d never noticed them before. My loss.


Spring Already, Spring!

I’m sorry, Evansville, but your February and early March are really not flattering at all. What’s worse, this year it’s stayed cold for extra long, so the grey, brown days feel like they’re dragging on endlessly.

My crocuses have provided some small glimmers of hope, as have the hellebores and now some daffodils, but still, there’s only so much of this that I can take!

A couple weekends ago it was almost warm, so I tended my container garden and planted lettuces and peas. I also started a few more things in the greenhouse. Hopefully they will be ready to go out by the time weather is nice and not sooner.

I’m also getting ready for an art show in Jasper, Indiana, so while I’ve got a bunch of garden photos building up, I don’t have much time to write about them in an extended blog entry. Instead, I’ll leave you with a slide show of the recent happenings in my garden.

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