May flowers & a wild turkey

Oh, May, we’re so ready for your warm sunshine. More rain today? Feel free to bypass us. April was overly generous this year with rainfall. The grass is verdant, mid-spring flowers are emerging and the birds are in abundance — Robins nesting, Goldfinch, Baltimore Oriole, Rose-Breasted Grosbeak and a solo wild turkey. (Where’s your flock, Patricia*?) I’m quite ready for some warmer days to work the soil and soak up Vitamin D, au naturel.

Speaking of soil, I’m excited to hear back from MSU Extension on their recommendations for enhancing my hillside soil. The new cutting flower beds will be dug this mom’s day — my favorite thing to do on my day. More beds mean more flowers! I’m excited to experiment with annuals and plant a few anchor perennials to set off the new beds. (*So named by my teen.)

Growing a cutting garden

Flowers bloom from late April through mid-October at my house on about an 1/8th of a collective area. This sounds teeny, yet, it’s a fun smattering of color in various gardens on my 4.75 acres. The first to flower are the Grape Hyacinths and soon to follow are the Alliums, Bleeding Hearts and Irises – rich, burgundy flowering transplants from my mom. The tulips sometimes make it. The bunnies with the edible win again this spring.

My homegrown flowers make me happy — in the garden, at home in eclectic vases and in recycled jars for friends and family. This joy inspired me to launch Cheerful Nature Bouquets — officially today! — and a new hillside cutting garden is underway.

A soil test has been ordered. A Sunday afternoon trek to a favorite grower, Hilltop Greenhouse and Farms, resulted in a carload of perennials and annuals. Another favorite, Salvia, was picked up at Lowes and more Starlight Coreopsis and a fun new-to-me flower set has been ordered online. Planning is underway with the aid of a borrowed book from my lovely neighbor, Michele: Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden. (After much note taking, I had to order the book for my own library.)

Cheerful Nature Bouquets is launched!

Spring gardening

March 23: first day of garden clean-up (dug up clumps of weeds), followed by garden planning by the warm fire glow. Definitely need more flowers and favorite edibles, and time to repaint the garden fencing. March 24: sown kale, leafy greens (frost tolerant), spinach and sugar snap peas. April 5: spotted garlic peeking that I planted in the fall, as well as early spring risers (irises, tulips, alliums, hyacinths). Started indoor garden with a lot of hope: San Marzano and Chadwick Cherry tomatoes, zucchini, English cucumber, pickling cucumber, rosemary, morning glory, zinnias, cosmos and foxgloves. April 7: sweet pea plantings in 10 spots in my front and back gardens. April 10: researched deer and wind resistant perennials for my new “Lavender Hill.” (Just two lavenders on my hill thus far.) Created a list of flowers to look for at one of my favorite flower hoop houses: Hilltop Greenhouse & Farms of west-side Ann Arbor.

How does your garden grow?

Each year, I find there is always a *star* in my garden. Last year was the year of the poblano pepper. Its bounty continued through late fall. My garden grows thanks to planning — and many whims. Hey, I think I’ll plant corn for popping. Why, yes, let’s grow Cinderella pumpkins and moon flowers. It is always a joy when the whims work and a tad sad when the purposeful sowing results in delicious meals for our ever-present chipmunks.

Truthfully, the critters and I have made peace since the early years when I’d chase bunnies out of my FENCED garden. Now, each spring, I poke around carefully for the anticipated nest of baby bunnies. I do not want to scare the furry babies. I decided to share what I grow and try to outsmart the chipmunks and birds with netting over my in-ground sown seeds.

My best advice? Get a garden journal, do a little planning and make room for impromptu seeds or Farmers Market seedlings. Whatever makes you happy, you should plant. My garden journal features rough sketchings of “planned” plantings and “actual” plantings. I like to reflect on gardening throughout the year and jot down notes about what is going on around the days of sowing and harvests (e.g., heading to Tigers game, trying new tea, just returned from vacation, etc.). Your journal should be a messy, creative outlet and your garden a sanctuary of food, flowers and cheer.

Pretty skunk cabbage

I have developed the habit of hiking along the Lowland trail in Waterloo State Park in early spring. So convenient to my home, the trail always delivers on the first distinct signs of spring with the rising of hardy gold-speckled burgundy claws in the wetlands. Oftentimes, I see this skunk cabbage peaking through early-spring snow. A big thanks to the skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) for the reassurance that spring has truly arrived. Soon, the forest bed will be sprinkled with dainty Trilliums and the outstretched green foliage of the skunk cabbage will be overlooked. Not its smell, though! It is a stinker once its leaves unfurl. Even so, I’m a fan because its a harbinger of spring in the woods and the stinky fragrance attracts certain insect pollinators. Learn more here.

Hello, Spring!

signs of spring: allium

No signs of snow here. It’s spring  and International Day of Happiness. It’s easy to be happy on the first official day of spring. (Big cozy hugs to those still in the snow.) For me, with the official spring calendar day, I cheerfully say, “Adios, winter!”

The streams are bubbling — bubbles sighted! — along the trail. The brave spring flora are emerging.

A harbinger of spring, my garden alliums have been a longtime favorite; their statuesque beauty always ignites joy. I was so worried their relocation last fall to another garden bed would disrupt their cycle. Worries, begone.  Bring on the happy!

Zany for Zinnias

After settling into our new home 16 years ago, I planned my garden of flowers and veggies. My kitchen window gave me a perfect view of happy, brightly colored flowers. At the first opportunity, I asked my neighbor what she was growing. Beautiful zinnias! My affection for zinnias and annual sowing of the cheerful flowers in prime viewing placement in my garden began. Now zany for zinnias, I buy the seed packets as soon as they pop up in the stores. The Garden Mill was stocked last weekend and I stumbled upon a 10% off seed sale. Sweet. Once any frost concerns are gone, zinnias will be sown.