Wednesday, April 11, 2007

This blog was moved several years ago to The Good Earth. Sorry for taking so long to post the new link, but I just found my ID and password!

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Thoughts to post:
Turkey Run trip
family shoot-out
cleaning the garden and other fall chores
$175 school gift order, 100 cans of food
Samson and the first snow

MG tips: quick release high nitrogen now
bulbs, corms and rhizomes are underground stems!
75% of disease is from fungus
volcano mulching

Monday, November 04, 2002

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.
Marcus Tullius Cicero (106BC - 3BC) Roman statesman, scholar, orator

I love to read and am slightly obsessed with gardening. I suppose the right garden could meet the basic needs of food, shelter and clothing (fig leaves?). The right books stimulate mental processes and provide a fantasy life. Both garden and library can aid spiritual growth. What about human touch though? It's needed to thrive. Remember the post-WW2 orphanage where the infants on the aisles thrived and those not on the aisle died because the nurses touched those on the aisle as they walked by?

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Hi Martha, thanks for resending the Blog link. It sounds like you are ordering some fabulous bulbs! Keep us updated as to what you learn in the master gardener classes so we can live vicariously through your experiences.

Sunday, September 08, 2002

I do this every fall, although I showed some restraint this year. Instead of 700-1000 bulbs to plant in late October, I only ordered 400 bulbs and I am sharing some with Ginny and my mother-in-law. The 50 Tulip Humilis Persian Pearl bulbs are small early blooming species tulips of yellow and magenta. Last year, I planted 25 of these tulips in clumps along the front walk and enjoyed them immensely. My mother-in-law requested Tulip Beau Monde bulbs, tall early-blooming tulips with simple cups of cream and pink. She only wanted 25 and the minimum order was 100, so I have 75 to go into my garden. Ginny wanted crocus so I ordered two mixtures – 100 species and 100 large. The species are smaller and bloom about two weeks earlier than the large showier crocus. Finally, purely an impulse purchase because of the fragrance, I ordered 50 Hyacinth L’Innocence (white). These bulbs will be shipped mid-October, so I will have some late season planting to do.

Master Gardener Candidate
I started my training last week with over four hours of lecture on soils. We were warned that this is one of the most boring sessions, but I found it very interesting. We started with the glaciers and ended up with the current building practice of scrapping off and selling the top soil to the nurseries so the new homeowner can buy it back. In between we learned about soil texture, soil structure, pH levels, fertilizers, amendments, earthworms, horizons and cation exchange reaction. I can now tell a loamy sandy clay from a sandy clay loam just by feeling it. Well, almost; I identified 6 out of 10 soils by feel.

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

Martha, I'm not sure if anyone else saw the bulb order posting or is interested. I do know I want some orange foxtail, a variety of crocus for broadcasting, and tulips if I can decide on the colors. The next 2 days will be very intense for me - practicum lasts until 10 tonight and class until 8 tomorrow night with Zach needing help with French when I get home! Would Friday or this weekend be too late to let you know?

Your shade garden sounds soothing. Your description created a lovely picture. And a crowded one! My beds always seem to end up in that condition also (I'm glad I'm not the only one). I divided & transplanted several plants this weekend to ease conditions. Hopefully those that were struggling will now be able to thrive.

Saturday, August 31, 2002

Thanks for the reminder to place the order. Let me know what you want. I'm not sure what happened with the entry. Did anyone else see it?

I can't believe it has been almost a month since I posted anything. August has been a busy month. We went to the UP camping, second time this summer. Lake Superior has become our favorite spot. We celebrated the twins' 13th birthday with the traditional Cedar Point trip, though this may be the last year they are satisfied going with their parents. The boys were confirmed in August. Of course, we were busy with back to school stuff. I signed up for the Master Gardener program. Finally, we are seriously considering fostering my 5 and 8 year old (great) nephews.

The garden went through its usual August doldrums, but now the fall flowers are starting to take hold. I have yet to find a solution for the big gap the lilums leave. I have long lost the name of these clear yellow lilies that bloom in June. They are so thick that it is hard to underplant them and then they die off in August and leave bare earth. I'm tempted to just stick some of my pots there.

Our remodeling resulted in a small shade garden which I love and have dreadfully overplanted. There is one view of the shade garden that is breathtaking. In the foreground are brick-colored stepping stones that brother Bill made me. Next to it are caladiums in dark reds. As you look up the small incline, there is a tapestry of greens and dark reds. The color is provided by coleus, polka dot plants (don't know the botanical name of this annual), bergenia, two light pink volunteer impatiens, dark red heuchera, and the red-rimmed leaves and gently waving pink flowers of another heuchera. The green mass is from several types of hosta and Autumn Joy sedum. This is complemented by ferns, astilbe, Jacob's ladder, and toad lilies. The view is edged in the back by the white flowers from the hostas in front of the brick house; on the right by sedum, a Japanese maple and the blues of a wildflower; and on the left by the clematis climbing up the porch column.

Thursday, August 22, 2002

Martha, did you already send in your bulb order? For some reason your 8/1 entry popped up this morning for the first time. Or perhaps I'm not signing on properly???? Ginny

Thursday, August 01, 2002


I'm getting ready to place a bulb order with Van Engelen. They sell in large quantities, so if anyone wants to split an order, let me know. Here is their website:

I'm ordering Beau Monde tulips for my mother-in-law. Does anyone want some?

I'm also thinking about ordering some more Angelique tulips.

And I love the species tulips. Here's the one I ordered last year:

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

I'm starting to think about education as I get my family ready for school within the month. Here's a quote I'd like to share:

Education is not filling a pail, but lighting a fire.
~William Butler Yeats

Monday, July 29, 2002

Perennial Plant Party
Ten years ago, when I just started my perennial bed, I was aghast at the cost and quality of plants available. Then I decided to invite gardening friends to a party to share their starts with me! My garden grew, my circle of gardening friends grew and now I can walk through my garden remembering my friends. The Siberian Iris is Mary L. The double daylily, tansy and comfrey are Beth. The double white columbine is Carol. The garden phlox along the creek is Mary S. The toadlilies are from Terry. The pulmonaria, foxglove and hollyhock are from Jennie. The sundrops, rudbeckia, grasses are from Peggy. My fine patch of ferns in the woodland garden is from Susan. The creeping phlox is from Barb. And I could keep going. Here is a note from a first time attendee at this year's party:

I just wanted to take a moment and let you know what wonderful pleasure I have derived from the plants received at your annual perennial party.

The Japanese Irises transplanted well, sending up some beautiful, delicate, deep purple blooms. The lady's mantle, while it hasn't spread, has sent up some sweet chartreuse flowers. The black-eyed susan, well, surprisingly has struggled a little bit, but they are now blooming. The plant I don't ever remember it's name has bloomed almost from the week I put it in, sweet yellow blooms. The hosta has survived and sent up shoots of purple flowers; I think I have found the perfect place for it, once it spreads a little.

The showstoppers have been the glad bulbs I got from you. Such delicate colors of magenta, lemon yellow and light lilac, are awesome. I have gazed upon those stems several time in complete harmony with their gracious beauty.

Thank you for spreading such happiness with your party....

As an amateur gardener, I have a keen interest in science. Thank you, Mary, for sending me these important new scientific theories.

New Scientific Theories: Winning entries from a contest sponsored by Omni Magazine.

4th Runner-Up
The earth may spin faster on its axis due to deforestation. Just as a figure skater's rate of spin increases when the arms are brought in close to the body, the cutting of tall trees may cause our planet to spin dangerously fast.

3rd Runner-Up
Communist China is technologically underdeveloped because they have no alphabet. The lack of an alphabet means the Chinese cannot use acronyms; thus, they cannot communicate their ideas at a faster rate.

2nd Runner-Up
The Why Yawning Is Contagious Theory: You yawn to equalize the pressure on your eardrums. This pressure change outside your eardrums unbalances other people's ear pressures, so they must yawn to even it all out.

1st Runner-Up
If an infinite number of rednecks riding in an infinite number of pickup trucks fire an infinite number of shotgun rounds at an infinite number of highway signs, they will eventually produce all the world's great literary works in Braille.

The quantity of consonants in the English language is absolutely constant. If consonants are omitted in one geographic area, they turn up in another. When a Bostonian pahks his cah, the lost r's migrate southwest, causing a Texan to warsh his car and invest in erl wells. and...

When a cat is dropped, it ALWAYS lands on its feet; and when toast is dropped, it ALWAYS lands with the buttered side down. Therefore, I propose to strap buttered toast to the back of a cat. When dropped, the two will hover, spinning inches above the ground, probably into eternity. A buttered-cat array could replace pneumatic tires on cars and trucks, and giant buttered-cat arrays could easily allow a high-speed monorail to link between New York with Chicago.

Sunday, July 28, 2002

Rain, glorious rain, today. The pond rose four inches! Maybe we will have to mow the lawn after all this summer.

Monday, July 22, 2002

We have a new puppy, a five month old yellow Labrador. The vet asked us if we wanted the puppy since its owner decided to put him to sleep rather than fix his broken paw. We got visitation rights on Sunday and today Samson is back at the vets for surgery. He is a delightful dog and we are well pleased. I did notice, though, that whenever we walked him, he pulled straight for the same flower bed. I guess I need to name that bed Delilah.

Do I let the double white columbines go to seed? Is it worth deadheading all the daylilies for a few extra blossoms? When do I cut back the salvia and veronica that's starting to sprawl? Do I cut back all of the lady's mantle at one time and endure an ugly walkway for the few weeks it takes to resprout or do I stagger it so there is always something pretty and something ugly in the bed? I will spare you the philosophy about pruning plants so they grow better. We all have had experiences that were "ugly" which resulted in personal growth.

Last week the neighbor took the boys blueberry picking. They came home with lots of berries - in their bellies and in the grocery bags. We have had blueberry pancakes every morning and still have three gallons in the freezer. They want to go back again.

Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Steve and I tried solarization on our tree farm. For a significant amount of labor, the result was more vigorous weeds and grasses competing with the baby trees. Perhaps it would work better on a small scale after thoroughly preparing the beds. Then why not use newspaper and mulch?

Tyrone couldn't let my July 13 post go
"While we have no water shortage, it seems responsible not to waste it when so many people in the world do not have water. " What the hell? You need to go back to school and take some earth science classes if you think your watering of plants is going to make any difference to those poor kids eating sand in Sudan. Come on... you are smarter than that! He's right. I am smarter than that. However, it is closer to home than Sudan. Huntertown was put on water restrictions last night.

"I try to avoid pesticides, so I plunk the beetles into a jar filled with dishsoap and water." Don't worry about it. I'm also doing battle with Japanese beetles, but I'm using enough pesticide for the both of us. I hit them once and they hung on. So, I hit them again this weekend with an extra strong batch of pesticide. It that doesn't take care of them... I'm pulling out the tactical nukes. I can't concede on the pesticide issue. You are on the St. Joseph watershed so go ahead and use the toxins. You will be drinking it later...or paying the taxes to get it out of your water supply!

"Deer, rabbits, raccoons: I don't know who the enemy is in this battle. They attack my tomatoes at night and I have no effective battle plan except to plant enough tomatoes for both of us. Co-existence." Get yourself some traps, a dog, or a shotgun. Better yet... a 3 tier approach might work best. Poor old Beauregard never came back from the vets last winter, and I sorely miss a dog. We are looking for a puppy this summer but haven't found the right one yet. What do I do with the critters once they are trapped? Suburbanites release them in the rural areas. Perhaps I should live trap the racoons and release them in Arlington Park?!

"Chiggers: I have terribly itch spots all around my middle." Go to the doctor and get yourself a perscription for Kwell solution. It does the trick. If you just have a few bites and don't want to mess with a trip to the doctor and to the drug store, just put a coat of clear nail polish (that stuff you used to use to prevent your pantyhose from running when you were forced to wear them) over the bites. It will suffocate them. Please don't ever remind me about the daily pantyhose torture. I put a pair on this summer and had to stop the car to strip them off before I got home!

Sunday, July 14, 2002

My son Rick, who is not inclined to notice the garden, breezed past it today and said, "This is really beautiful. It is so tall and full." This remark gave me a disproportionate amount of pleasure, partly because of his sweet spontaneity and partly because I had been looking at the garden through critical gardener's eyes. I saw that the lady's mantle needed cut back, the lilies needed deadheaded, the larkspur needed pulled up and the veronica was flopping. Rick saw an abundance of foliage and color. His remark permitted me to look at the garden without thinking about all the "shoulds."

We spent yesterday at Steve's parents. His father is in the last phase of chemotherapy. (Please God, may the results be good next month.) Steve and Rick helped him put windows in the sunroom while Ron, my mother-in-law and I worked on their garden beds. Several times yesterday, she looked at me and said, "You really enjoy this." I do!

Saturday, July 13, 2002

Gardening gives me so much pleasure, that I have tended to focus on the joys of gardening and neglected the joy of perseverance in the face of adversity. (I worked hard to put a positive spin on that statement!)

Or lack thereof. The ground is cracked and dry. The potted plants droop daily. I bought sprinklers for the first time, but try to be judicious in their use. While we have no water shortage, it seems responsible not to waste it when so many people in the world do not have water. When we mowed at the Highlands, our little tree farm in the neighboring county, the dead leaves crunched under our feet as we fought clover, a deep rooted prairie plant, two feet high.

Japanese Beetles
Every year at this time, when the roses, hollyhocks and hibiscus bloom, we battle - the beetles against me as the hired gun for the plants. I bought a new rose, renown for its fragrance, and not one bud has blossomed. I try to avoid pesticides, so I plunk the beetles into a jar filled with dishsoap and water.

Deer, rabbits, raccoons
I don't know who the enemy is in this battle. They attack my tomatoes at night and I have no effective battle plan except to plant enough tomatoes for both of us. Co-existence.

I have terribly itch spots all around my middle. This is the price I pay for picking raspberries and blackberries. Hydrocortisone cream does not work. Colloidal oatmeal, left over from the boys' chicken pox, gives me some relieve. My triumph is a freezer full of berries for delicious pies and cobblers to be eaten in the winter when all memory of the bites are gone.

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

I'm falling in love with pale pink flowers with yellow centers and perhaps a bit of white. My pink daylily with a buttery center has just started to bloom. I have a David Austin rose with this coloring (Mary something or other). The Angelique tulips I planted last fall has the same coloring. Does anyone know of any other flowers with this coloring. It looks like a gentle sunrise with the yellow sun in the center and the pink rays around it.

Tuesday, July 09, 2002

I've invited some other gardeners to join this blog, so I hope to see their thoughts about gardening and nature. I had little time today to enjoy it though, between running boys to baseball, doctor, martial arts and basketball. So I think I need to go out and soak up the night sky...maybe I'll float in the pool and enjoy the night.

Monday, July 08, 2002

I haven't forgotten about the good earth. I've just been busy enjoying it. The Botanical Conservatory Garden Walk was several weeks ago and two of the gardens were created by friends of mine. The walk inspired me to scheme about my own garden; specifically, I want to better define my garden rooms. This would involve more hardscaping, including fences, gates, bridges and arbors, as well as planting more shrubs, tall grasses and trees to define the rooms.

We have been enjoying the pontoon on the river. Picture this. Pontoon is tied off on the shady side of the river. Boys are fishing. Mom is bouncing big bubbles down the current using her own soap bubble recipe. Dad is playing his dulcimer. Great blue herons, green herons, belted kingfishers, red-tailed hawks, and swallows fly overhead. A muskrat swims across the river, leaving a long wake. Turtles sun on a log with no worry about skin cancer. We pull up anchor and drift toward the sunset reflected in the river. Back at the property, we build a small fire, cook supper, tell stories, make up songs, watch the stars and laugh and love each other.

Thursday, June 20, 2002

Ophidiophobia. Only my good friend Renee would know the word for snake phobia. I need a mnemonic to remember this word. When I see a snake, I'll think: ooph. I die. Oh!

I saw a painted turtle laying eggs. She did not choose a very isolated spot. The eggs are about six inches off the driveway. I'll keep you posted on the progress. Last year, we saw a snapping turtle lay eggs in my flower garden, but a snake ate the eggs before they hatched. We did not see the dastardly deed but the eggs were gone and a snake hole was nearby.

The twelve tree frogs are still using the pool as habitat despite the chemicals. When we swim, they hide under the lip of the pool.

The garden is transitioning from its early June lushness (peonies, iris, forget-me-nots, foxglove, columbine, ladies mantle, dianthus) to its late June glory (lilums, sage, roses, clematis, larkspur, penstemon, astilbe, baptisia). The meadow is blooming with daisies, coreopsis, coneflower and bearded goats tongue. The woods is abounding in poison ivy. I hate to use Round-Up, but I need to clear at least a path through the woods. My father-in-law gave me more tomato plants and peppers. He thinks I plant too many flowers and I think he plants too many vegetables.

Sunday, June 16, 2002

Father's Day. I've been thinking a lot about my father this week. It's been over eight years since he died and I miss him.

Friday, June 14, 2002

Last night we stopped by the river on our way to clean out the barn at the Highlands. Eddie was there and decided to get his boat out of the barn. When we got the boat to the property, Eddie suggested we launch it. Our eyes lit up and off we went to the boat ramp in Leo. It was after nine when we finally got underway. There is nothing like the river at night. Eddie steered into the V, which is like a horizon line formed by the reflection of the riverbank trees. Steve (my husband) was in the bow looking for floaters (logs, not people) and Rick (my son) fell asleep with his head on my lap. It was so magical that we drove right past the property to the iron bridge on Van Zile Road. There we cut the motor and let the river have its way with the boat, our conversation drifting as slow and easy as the boat.

Monday, June 10, 2002

It was a day of tree frogs, black snakes and painted turtles.

Three tree frogs have made their home underneath the edge of our pool. Maybe we should call them vinyl-liner frogs and not tree frogs. I had to rescue a gazillion tadpoles and put them in the natural pond before the chemicals mutated them into who-knows-what. Two tree frogs were mating today on the filter hose. I don't know if the hose was fibrating from them or whether they tried out the fribrating hose like mating humans try out the quarter-fed fibrating beds in sleazy motels.

Walking out on the back deck, I was startled by a large black snake holding its head about 18 inches in the air, flicking its evil little tongue. I went back in the house rather quickly, but curiosity got the best of me. Its body was the size of my wrist and I couldn't tell how long it was. Now I don't have a snake phobia (I'm sure there is a word for that) because I see and appreciate garter snakes all the time in my garden. I just don't like unfamiliar snakes on my deck. I ignored it and the next time I went out, it was gone.

The painted turtle has taken two days to cross our driveway. It's about eight inches long with an algae-crusted back. The boys have been keeping track of its progress and it finally made it across today. Two hours later, I found it in our front yard, about 50 yards away. How did it move so fast? Was it the same turtle? It had the same algae-crust and was the same size. I thought for sure the boys moved it, thinking it needed to be near the pond. They denied it. Maybe I have twin turtles as well as twin boys.

Sunday, June 09, 2002

A good friend sent me this today:
Gardening Rule: When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed vs. a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.

Saturday, June 08, 2002

Once again I've started too many garden projects and the days are going too fast for me to complete them. I need to use those project management skills I honed when I was launching e-commerce sites! I have a new perennial border that needs planted and I'm tempted to stuff the plants in rather than design it. Ten shrubs in pots are waiting for me to decide their permanent home. The pool still needs to be opened. Being a sucker for season-end sales, I have plants waiting for the good earth. And I'm attempting to compost again. Yet, when I sit back, it is all so beautiful that I wonder why I'm trying to improve on what God gave me.

Friday, June 07, 2002

I'm new to this bloggin you can tell. I read the blogs late into the night, then they kept me awake. Thank you God for taking me past being young and tortured. I remember so well. I want to reach out to these souls. Tell them to quit the job that's eating them alive. Tell them it's OK not to drink/dope/sex if you don't want to. Tell them that nothing is as important as intimacy...and don't settle for anything less than your soul mate. Tell them that money does not solve problems (although sometimes it sure helps!!)

Maybe the memories the blogs jogged will help me as my twin sons turn thirteen this summer. All I can do is love them to pieces, keep them covered in their Mama's prayers, and gently guide/nudge/point. The hardest thing will be to let them fall. I still want to kiss their scraped knees, but that's not welcomed by a burgeoning football player.

Thursday, June 06, 2002

Haiku composed on the way home from our property on the river after catching a Gatorade bottle of lightning bugs:

Fireflies in the night
My boys and I catch in flight
Summer bugs of light.

Wednesday, June 05, 2002

I just returned from a stroll through my garden tonight. After a day of gentle rain, the air is heavy, pure and sweet. The garden is faintly illuminated by stars, fireflies (the first of the season!) and the white flowers - columbine, daisies, iris, peonies. The heavy spice scent is from the dianthus I planted just for the fragrance, although I enjoy the small fringed flowers of palest pink on the blue-green foliage during the day. But the night is not still. Oh the noise! Noise louder than any city sounds that kept me awake in a strange hotel room during my business traveling days. Frogs. The Spring Peepers and Bullfrogs I can identify, but what is making all those other odd sounds? Crazy Eddy once gave me a tape so I could identify frogs for DNR research. I had no problem when they played one sound at a time or even two, but I could never ID the frogs when they were in full chorus.