Allium love, a new holiday and introducing “Question of the Day”

Here is the latest and greatest in my garden on this, dare I say, warm and beautiful May afternoon.

It’s all about the Allium right now, as the fruits of my fall labor are being realized this spring. I’ve got at least 25 Allium bulbs in bloom right now and they are kicking ass and taking names.

They look good up close.

allium 2

And as we pan back …

allium

… and back even further.

full 2

 

Baptisia blooms have arrived this week and I’m thinking this day should be declared a holiday each year. That is how festive it makes me feel. At a minimum, I’m going to push for #NationalBaptisiaDay on Twitter leading up to this day in 2017.

baptisia

baptisia yellow

Baptisia ‘Carolina Moon’

 

Siberian iris ‘Snow Queen’ is blooming but I’m only giving you a macros shot because they actually look kind of lousy because this lazy gardener has refused to divide them for four years running now.

iris

 

Amsonia tabernaemontana is blooming and that’s all I will say here because I’ve raved about this plant enough already.

amsonia

 

All of my peonies will be blooming within the next week or so and until then, I’ll enjoy the ridiculously delicious scent of the lilac in the background.

peony lilac

 

Another day, another sigh from me regarding the awesomeness of Ninebark ‘Amber Jubilee’.

ninebark

 

And finally, it’s time to sit back and enjoy watching the garden fill in while all empty spaces disappear.

full

full 3

Thank you again for stopping by.

I am going to try something new today. A “Question of The Day”. Here it is:

What perennial do you find to be the most underrated?

Leave your answer in the comments so we can all discuss and get educated.

Grats

Divide and conquer

Once I have a garden idea in my head, I can’t let go of it. Even if it is a half-ass thought, I need to take action so I’m able to move on with my day. Now if I could only find a way to have that same issue with a money making scheme, I’d be in good shape.

Last fall I found myself consistently analyzing one section of a garden bed, wanting to extend it so it would dramatically impact the views from both the driveway and my back deck. The funny thing is, I had just extended that same section of the garden the year before.

bed

And by autumn of last year, I had filled that newly found empty garden space with a number of plants.

The intelligent planner would have completed the one giant extension at one time, determining then that there was plenty of room for expansion and why not maximize that within one project. But not this guy, he had to break it out into two long and grueling sessions over the course of two years.

And here’s the rub – by extending the same section further, the plants that were used and filled the original extension now would look silly and out of place since what was the front now would become the middle. Everything would have to be relocated to account for proper heights.

So dummy pushed on and started to map out the extended bed by using cardboard to kill the grass and rocks to keep the cardboard in place.

new bed

new bed 2

I then added mulch before winter set in to keep it all in place and to ideally aid in the breakdown of the cardboard at the same time the grass died.

new bed 3

Fast forward to spring and the number one goal this season is to get that open section filled by the start of summer. The pictures don’t really do it justice, it is a huge open spot and it will be a hell of a job to fill it. Not to mention expensive buying the necessary plants.

Or maybe, if John was smart, he could pull it off without paying a dime. Maybe he could divide existing perennials and turn 3 into like 9 or 10. Maybe he could relocate some reseeded perennials that were hidden under large shrubs and in crevices. Maybe he could divide a grass that has been begging to be cleaned up and divided for years now. And maybe, just maybe, he could finally take some of those small shrubs that have been wasting away in the “bullpen” (my term for the embarrassing always under construction bed I never reveal to you all) and put them to good use.

And yes you guessed it, John did do all of that. He’s good.

new bed

 

Four years ago I planted three Obedient plants (‘Vivid’) and now, thanks to their underground runners, 3 has become close to 50.

What they look like in August:

pink obedient 3

And how the small divisions look today:

divided obedient

 

I had at least 15 small Yarrow plants popping up all over the garden through reseeding over the years and now they are all reunited in one section of the garden to achieve the greatest visual impact in summer.

reseeded achillea

 

The aforementioned grass was Pennisetum ‘Karley Rose’ which looks like this in summer:

karley

And like this, after 1 became three (actually 4, the other section went back to the original location).

divided pennisetum

 

Allium ‘Mt Sinai’ was being overtaken by weeds and not reaching its fullest potential.

allium21

So it too was divided and doubled and used to fill in various open spaces in the newly extended bed and elsewhere.

allium divisions

allium divisions 2

 

And finally, a Weigela of some sort that I took home from a conference in 2014 and hid in a remote locale, was saved and put in a prominent spot in my new bed where she can feel free to spread her wings and grow to her heart’s content.

weigela red

Total cost (if you ignore my labor) is $0.00. And there is more where that came from. I’ve still got irises to divide and grasses to divide and plenty of coneflower volunteers that need a new home.

Not only am I saving money, but by increasing the count of my perennials, I am adding repetition to my garden design and creating greater visual impact by using larger numbers of the same plant.

A win-win-win.

The day it all changed

I am fascinated by the mundane. I want to know what each and everyone of you eats for lunch each day and how you came to that decision. I want to know what you are doing at 7:30 on a Tuesday evening. I want to know why you don’t chew gum or drink beer. I want to know the specific order you follow each morning when showering, making coffee, eating and taking the dog out. I want to know if you sleep on your side or on your stomach. I want to understand why you don’t like cheese.

On a personal level, I manage a mental log of all of the days that have had a profound impact on my future life. Without fail, each of those days appeared no different from any other at the time. Upon waking up, there was no big intro announcing this was the day I was going to cross paths with my future wife. There was no pump-me-up music as I crawled out of bed. No higher being sent me a sign that the day was going to be like no other.

Because of that, I find myself walking though each day curious if this is going to be one of “those” days. Not that I’m anticipating tragedy or winning the lottery or anything like that. It is way more subtle. Will tonight be the last night I carry my ten year old daughter on my back up to bed? Not because anything specific occurred, but maybe tomorrow night she just walks upstairs on her own and that becomes the new normal. Will I remember that last night ten years from now? Or will the memory fade and get mixed in with one of the other 10,168 days?

With that in mind, I am going to leaf through the archives of my mind and dedicate a few posts to “those”days. The day I knew that my wife was different from the others and I just wanted to hang with her. The day I rediscovered writing while watching “Lost” after a way too long hiatus. And for today’s purposes (because it is warming up and the garden is starting to kick into gear)I wanted to write about the day that I discovered the perennial that completely changed my outlook on what a garden should and can be.

I started gardening back in 1997. I started out like your prototypical spring gardener we all see at Home Depot on a Saturday morning in April. Buy a bunch of flowers that look pretty, stick them in the ground in some bloody awful symmetrical pattern, fertilize the shit out of them and then be done with it. I am a gardener.

I slowly evolved from that gardener to one who was stealing plant labels at the nursery and bringing them home as part of plant recon. Then I was buying books or checking them out of the library on a weekly basis. That led to the discovery of “The Well Tended Perennial Garden” which elevated my gardening game to a whole new level. I was buying perennials and pinching them and experimenting with different combos and becoming obsessed.

But my plant palette was still limited. The only plants in my purview were those that I could find at my local nursery or that I easily recognized when shopping online. The concept of native plants was still foreign to me.

But then in 2004 we moved out to rural New Jersey, in the “country”. We were owners of a 2+ acre lot that was completely devoid of plant life, let alone a garden. I worked my ass off for 3-4 years trying to create a garden and bombed with the best of them. I still regret that I didn’t capture any photos of my ridiculous efforts and even worse results.

By spring of 2008, I was determined to attack the outdoors in a somewhat intelligent and well thought out way. I ordered plants in bulk but small in size. I had a better feel for my new digs, specifically how my new digs fit into the larger landscape of my town and my county. That thinking led to the recognition and understanding of the native plant. I did my research and I observed those landscapes that seemed to “fit in” and look natural. That then led to the discovery of the “native plant sale”.

It’s Mother’s Day 2008 and the plan is to make mom breakfast in bed and then head out for the day so mom could also enjoy some peace and quiet. The kids are 5 and 2 so you get it. That weekend also happened to be the opening of the native plant sale at Bowman’s Hill in Bucks County, PA. We’ll go out to breakfast, hit up the plant sale and then hit the playground before heading back home.

In preparation for the trip, I studied what was available for purchase at the plant sale and for the first time, understood the important details as to what plant made sense for my garden. It had to be deer resistant, it had to handle full sun and it had to be wet tolerant with our high water table. I compiled my list and had it in the back pocket of my shorts.

Upon arriving at the plant sale, the plants were all laid out in alphabetical order. Admittedly, 85% of the plants on my list I had never heard of before. I made it a point to talk to no one for fear of having to say the names out loud. I kept my head down and tried to hide my list under my sleeve.

I’ll skip the drama and let you know that the first name on my list – Amsonia – was the first plant I found and I threw three of them in my box without even evaluating its looks. And to make a long story short, that perennial is still to this day my personal favorite in my always expanding collection. I had no idea at the time as I just shoved plants in my box and tried to escape without being noticed, but that day changed everything. I discovered native plants, went on to read all I could about the benefit of native plants and haven’t looked back since.

I’ve written quite a bit in the past about Amsonia, which you can read through the following links:

Amsonia tabernaemontana

The Many Faces of Amsonia

Amsonia ‘Blue Ice’ 

So let me add just one more thing.

I’ve realized over time that I want four things out of my plants, specifically my perennials, and they are as follows.

Anticipation – after a long and cold winter, I want the jolt from a newly emerging plant and it should look cool and exciting and give me a sense of great anticipation. Exhibit A:

amsonia flower

 

Explosion – that plant should have its moment where it shines and becomes the focal point in the garden, even if it is short lived. Exhibit B:

amsonia2

 

Sustained presence – the plant should hold up well through the various seasons, even if it fades a bit into the background. Summer destruction can ruin the entire garden. Exhibit C:

amsonia obedient

 

Go out with a bang – autumn color should be phenomenal and breath taking and make one last statement. Exhibit D:

amsonia fall 2

 

amsonia

I continue to add Amsonia to my garden each and every spring and will not stop any time soon. It is literally indestructible. And I still think back to that Mother’s Day trek and my quick in and out at the plant sale and realize how much that day changed my entire perception of the garden and gardening.

That is the day when my hobby transformed into an obsession.

An update on my garden

Some quick thoughts on some of the plants in my garden:

Loving the deep red color of Penstemon ‘Husker’s Red’ right now but can do without the blooms. I usually cut them off early in hopes of preserving the foliage color into summer. Will do so again this year.

salix penstemon

 

It may be time to give up on Ligularia ‘Britt Marie Crawford’ as it declines rapidly by summer and as you can see here, never displays that dark foliage color as promised. It gets the necessary afternoon shade and moisture is never an issue.

Ligularia britt marie crawford

 

I cannot get enough of Juniper ‘Gold Cone’, especially when the new growth emerges and really brightens up the shrub/tree in spring. No deer issues, doesn’t seem to be bothered by the poor draining soil and has retained it’s great color through two full years now.

juniper gold cone

 

For some reason I get more pumped for the return of Joe Pye Weed than I do for any other perennial. I have so many different cultivars and have lost track of what I have planted where. Such a reliable performer and stand-out in all ways possible.

joe pye

 

I wish peonies remained forever in bud. The anticipation blows away the actual blooms which say goodbye way too soon each year.

peony

 

I finally added a trellis to the garden so my one Clematis can climb aboard. The only blooms so far are along the ground so hopefully I’ll get a shot of the vine actually climbing the trellis with blooms aplenty. Then I’ll be awesome.

clematis

 

The Allium are coming. And I added a lot this year. Sigh …

allium

Mixed bag

A bunch of different items for today:

1)Last year I talked about my battle with Canada Thistle and it is even worse so far this year. Like close to pushing me over the edge worse.

canada thistle

That ornamental grass above is in danger of being fully enveloped by these bully weeds. Just yanking them out of the ground hoping to get the entire root system has not worked.

Here’s my plan (which was really the original plan last year) going forward.

 

2)My latest Social Media obsession is Snapchat. I’m still trying to grasp how to utilize it for gardening and plant purposes but I will get there. Take a deep breath and give it a whirl won’t you? And if you do, add this wanna-be-15-year-old-who-looks-more-and-more-like-a-43-year-old-every-day.

snapchat

 

3)Within the next week or so, I will be fortunate enough to trial an “automower” from Husqvarna. Much more to come on this one and yes, it is a robotic lawn mower. How cool is that?

4)Have I mentioned just how over the top pumped I am for my three Andropogon ‘Red October’? And they all just emerged within the past few days.

andropogon

 

5)Mia is still kind of awesome …

mia

… and spoiled

mia

 

 

 

Foliage over flowers

It was Portland outside here today or at least how I imagine Portland to be most of the year. I’ve only visited the city twice in my life and both times it bucked the trend of typical northwest weather. It was sunny and dry but still an incredible city and one I’m anxious to revisit. While I may prefer the sun and the extreme warmth of summer here in the northeast, there is no comparison when it comes to the perfect garden conditions of the northwest.

Today was overcast with a relentless mist and a layer of fog that slowly looked to envelope the entire town. But hot damn if it didn’t perfectly highlight and saturate the colors of the garden and aid in it looking healthier than it’s ever been. I’m no professional photographer but I have to assume this was close to the ideal day for capturing the great outdoors in all her glory.

So this amateur shutterbug made it a point to not miss this golden opportunity before the bright sun returns and washes out all of the color. As soon as I walked through the front door and into Seattle, my eye was immediately drawn towards the soon to be blooming mass of Trollius (Globeflowers). The orange buds were radiant and glistening after being misted for like 51 hours straight.

As I settled into my plant-photo-taking-stance, I surveyed this little section of the garden and realized how much it was being taken over by the bee balm I had planted there only last year.

orange flower bee balm

The best part of the quick takeover? The crowding out of any weeds. Not one could be found and that is all sorts of awesome. But not my point, at least for today.

I snapped a ton of pics of this section of the garden and after reviewing them and trying to determine which were blog worthy, I noticed something that only affirms what I’ve always known.

Here is one of the soon to be blooming Trollius flowers captured as the dominant element with the bee balm stems more faded in the background.

orange flower

Nice shot, right? But I prefer this next one, where the bee balm takes the lead.

orange flower bee balm 2

Give me foliage over flowers any day of the week. In this case, I love the reddish/purple outlining of each bee balm leaf, the texture of the leaves covered in moisture and even the shape of the square stems. Flowers are great and special and all because of their usually short stay, but it is the foliage that makes the statement. It is the foliage that works hard to look good all year round. It is the foliage that defines your garden and your style.

As exciting as it is to witness the first Geranium bloom (‘Espresso’) of the spring.

espresso

Nothing compares to the statement made by Lady’s Mantle on a cool and wet spring morning.

lady's mantle

 

One flower, one foliage and one fail

THE FLOWER – nothing carries a more powerful scent in the garden right now than the flowers of Viburnum carlesii ‘Aurora’ (Koreanspice viburnum). When people knock at my door, I take my time answering just so I can watch their nose twitch a bit, see them turn around and try to locate the origin of the smell and then eventually ask “What smells so good out here?” 

viburnum aurora

 

THE FOLIAGE – This is my first year with Sambucus racemosa ‘Lemony Lace’ (Elderberry) planted in the garden (was in a container last year) and it was the quickest of all the deciduous shrubs to emerge this spring. I’m in love with it even at only a foot in height right now.

elderberrry

 

THE FAIL – The Eastern Tent Caterpillars are back on the Crabapple tree for a second consecutive year. Last year I simply slashed open the “nests” and let the birds have their way with the caterpillars and the tree seemed unaffected by it all. Will do more of the same this year.

bag of bugs

Embrace the dandelions

An open letter to my obsessive lawn loving friends and family:

I love you all, I really do. But you have to chill the hell out. There is nothing you can do about it and in fact, I’m writing this letter today with the goal of not only talking you off the ledge, but to also tell you why you in fact need to embrace them. “Them” being those delightful little pops of yellow spring flowers known as the dandelion. Please take notice that I used the term “flower” and not “weed”, because that is your first step in coming to terms with your unnecessary lawn stress.

Listen, I’m not here to patronize you, that is not the intention at all. I was once like you, wickedly concerned with the perfect looking lawn. I too shared the weekly dream of a pristine sheet of green with nothing else present but those lawnmower lines. I subscribed to the Scott’s 137 step plan and cheered on the idea of killing everything in the lawn’s path. I cut my lawn diligently each week scooping up all of the clippings along the way because any visible clump represented laziness. I’d too then trim the shit out of the lawn for like and hour or so and then grab my painfully loud blower and blow the loose clippings on the driveway into my neighbor’s lawn. I may have even grunted a bit when it was all done.

I don’t remember specifically when it all changed, but it started when we moved into our new home 12 years ago. I went from a tiny suburban lot to a 2+ acre country lot. At first, I tried to keep up with the lawn in the same manner as at the old homestead, but it became evident early on that it wasn’t going to work, I could never sustain it. From that realization forward, I slowly evolved to who I am today. I educated myself through exhaustive online research. I read all of the opinion pieces on safe and organic “turf management”. And honestly more than anything else, I came to the realization that I cared a hell of a lot more about my garden and my plants than I did about the lawn. I wanted to spend as little time tending to the grass so as not to take away from my garden time.    

Having said all that, here are some key tenets I’ve come to live by when it comes to the almighty lawn:

  • Stop all fertilization – it is expensive, requires too much effort and if you dig around a bit, you’ll see that it wreaks havoc on our environment.
  • Stop with the watering – yes I know things can look bleak in the dead of summer, but just deal with it. You’re probably not watering the right way any way. Water is a precious resource and your lawn will recover in time when it finally rains again.
  • Keep the lawn clippings on the lawn – they will break down over time and that is your lawn’s only feeding which replaces the aforementioned fertilization. 
  • Cut the lawn at its highest setting – this lessens the stress of cutting back those blades so severely each week and helps shield those weeds and weed seeds from seeing the light of day.

And now one last one – Don’t fight the dandelions.

I know it kills your lawn aesthetics dream, but maybe if you knew that it can literally save the bees, you can come to terms with it. Seriously, the dandelion flower is their first source of nectar in spring. For those bees that managed to survive the winter, it is their best chance to make it so don’t you want to be part of rewarding those feisty creatures? You do know if there were no bees, well, we’d be in big trouble?

So learn to embrace the yellow flowers as a rite of spring. Sell yourself on the color they bring to the spring landscape. If that doesn’t work for you, know that the long taproot of the dandelion actually aids in bringing more nutrients to the lawn’s soil by breaking up that soil and making it easier for absorption.

Once you come to terms with the presence of dandelions, imagine all of the newly found time you’ll have now that you’re not trying to pull them one by one or god forbid if you were spraying them (we’ll discuss that a later date).

You can’t tell me that the quick-to-emerge-again dandelion flowers don’t look cool after a recent lawn cut.

lawn

It has such a natural spring time look doesn’t it?   

And when the dandelions are blooming at their peak, well it looks a hell of a lot better than just that boring green grid so many of you love.

dandelions

You are most welcome.

John

 

 

 

Phlox subulata and Geranium ‘Espresso’

There is one plant combination in my garden that is shining brighter than any other right now and that is Emerald Blue Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata) and Geranium ‘Espresso’.

phlox and espresso 2

While the phlox is in full bloom with carpets of lavender flowers, the foliage of the geranium has emerged enough to form neat mounds of dark chocolate leaves.

phlox and espresso

The color contrast between the two is eye popping and at the same time, the shape of the phlox blooms mirror the shape of the geranium leaves. And while the blooms of the phlox are due to fade in the very near future, there will soon be another wave of color contrast once these geraniums bloom themselves and reveal their soft pink flowers.

phlox and espresso 3

Once the Geranium ‘Espresso’ blooms bid farewell, both plants (after a light shearing from yours truly) will maintain solid foliage color all the way into the fall.

For those who have followed this blog in the past, you know that I suffer from poor draining clay soil. Typically, creeping phlox/moss phlox doesn’t survive well under these conditions. And I’ve tinkered with this groundcover for years and witnessed first hand how it despises the waterlogged soil. However, there is a spot along the sidewalk in front of my home that is extremely sandy/gritty due to the original construction of the sidewalk and the phlox just love it there. The deer and rabbits have never touched them so I won’t be moving these at any point in the future as they also look great spilling on to the sidewalk.

All indications are that Geranium ‘Espresso’ requires full sun in order to thrive, but I can attest to the fact that mine have performed well with only 4 hours or so of direct sun each day. I’m considering dividing these after they bloom this spring to see if they in fact thrive even more in a true “full sun” site. Once this geranium stops putting out new blooms, I shear them down quite a bit so they maintain a fuller look throughout the summer and fall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discovering Gary Vaynerchuk

I’m feeling all sorts of salty and fired up today so enjoy the ride because even I don’t know where it’s going.

I despise so called “gurus” and “life coaches” and the like. I see right through their bullshit and know it is all about them cashing in on your weakness and their “special empowerment package now on sale for only $99.99”. While I’m entertained by their ability to sell their spiel passionately, I can’t buy in. You can tell me again and again that I need to believe in myself but it is only me who can do a damn thing about it. I already know that and don’t require the reminder thank you.

But then I discovered Gary Vaynerchuk. Dude … wow.

Check that, I didn’t discover him, my wife pushed me to give him a listen. That woman is ahead of the curve like no one else I know. She was on to Pinterest before all of you, she knew that The Weekend was going to hit it big before I even knew who they were and of course she married this prize before all the other ladies even had a shot. Big ups to her.

Like everything else on my to-do list in life, I procrastinated and put off giving him a shot for another day and then another day. Rinse and repeat. But on my way home from work last week, I was in a shitty mood and desperate for someone to smack me upside the head so I could wake up and get my head on straight. I never speak of my “day job” here and don’t plan to now, but just know I’m in a bit of a work midlife crisis. It’s no one’s fault but my own, but some times I need to be reminded of that.

I kid you not, within 1 minute of listening to this podcast …

Gary Vaynerchuk works harder than you do

… I was completely smitten with this guy. It was immediate and it was really f’n powerful. It’s as if he was talking directly to me through Bluetooth and had some serious intel on my backstory. There was no BS and he was as direct as humanly possible. It also doesn’t hurt that he is a Jersey guy, right around my age and curses like a sailor. I could relate to all he was spewing and he had me. I was like a red-bulled 13 year old when I got home from work that night.

“Gary said this and then he said this and I’m totally like, amen brother and then he described this kind of person who is me to a tee and I’m like I can do that and I’m ready to change and work harder and be awesome and I need to go on Instagram more and never sleep too.”

Since last Friday, I’ve consumed endless YouTube videos of his daily show, talks at conferences,etc. I listen to him on my headphones while weeding. And you know what, I’ve never weeded with more passion. The energy is palpable as is his way of looking at the world. I feel inspired and angry at the same time. Angry in a good way. Angry at myself for not pushing harder in life. Angry for not being more passionate in what I believe in and not taking more chances.

While he may be an entrepreneur and smart as a whip businessman, his themes extend to all parts of life. Self evaluation and awareness trump all else. Empathy is the key to life. Run with your strengths and don’t worry about your weaknesses. Bet on yourself. And my personal favorite, work harder than everyone else and once you get to where you want to go, exhibit endless amounts of patience. Others may have shared these same tenets, but some how his delivery makes it seem more authentic. He’s done it and can back it up. No BS pictures of yachts and Dom on Instagram. I implore you to try him out if you haven’t already.

Can I sustain this? Who knows. Maybe it is just a temporary jolt. Either way, I’m enjoying the ride and desperate for it to manifest itself into my life in all sorts of ways. I don’t even know if I used the word “manifest” right in that last sentence but guess what, I don’t friggin care, I went for it and I’m proud of even attempting to use the word “manifest”. Thanks Gary Vee.

Where is this going today? Am I angling to suddenly become an entrepreneur? Am I quitting my day job to join the hustle? Do I have a killer business idea? I don’t have the answer to any of these questions yet but I feel inspired, inspired in a way I’ve never felt before. I want to push my limits. I want to try things and fail and learn from them. I want to set ridiculous goals. I want to be more angry as a means to be more real.

But more than anything else, I want to push this blog/venture further than it has gone before. Do I know what that means yet? A bit. I’ve been doing this for over six years. Other than with my marriage, I’ve never been this committed and able to sustain anything this long in my life. That tells me something. I love writing, taking photos, playing in the dirt, making you laugh, being all high brow and low brow at the same time. Now we see if we can push it even further. Again, exploit the strengths and ignore the weaknesses.

With all that in mind, allow me to tell you why this photo sparked something as I was uploading it to my laptop today.

daffodil 4

A pretty flower, right? Surely. But you know what, I have given this and its brethren very little notice since they bloomed a few days ago. Because this is what I really see when I walk out my front door right now.

daffodil 5

All of the blooms face away from view and truthfully, the ten or so blooms don’t really make that much of an impact. Give it another few days and their inevitable decline will commence. And guess what? I’ll leave the foliage up all spring since it feeds the bulbs for what I hope will be an even bigger flower show next spring. But I won’t show you that foliage because it isn’t pretty. Amazing how the camera will avoid that area and keep it out of view. I can’t help but feel like I’m not keeping it real.

The point here? Gardening is f’n hard. It really is and I’m finding it harder and harder to sell others on how to make it easy. I can enjoy these daffodils for their brief show but ultimately, I envision them multiplying in years to come and me coming up with a combo that makes them truly pop. But that will take time and tinkering and you know what, I will love every second of it. That is where the fun comes in, that is where the payoff comes from. Then I can take a killer photo of that combo and really feel proud of what I’ve accomplished. Full effort and patience.

You will never see me push “5 low maintenance plants” or “ten steps for the perfect garden” because they don’t exist. That is horseshit marketing of the finest degree. More than ever, I want to stress the necessary work and time and effort that is required. I want to tell you to ignore those fleeting blooms on a plant that only last one week (contrary to what you are sold) and enjoy the texture that same plant has to offer for 20+ weeks following. I want to show you what failed and do my best to determine why. I’m in the planning stage (yes, planning) of how to utilize my Go Pro camera for near daily (a bit of a hedge) videos of the grind. I think you will like it.

One last one …

Sure the blooms on my Serviceberry are a welcome sign right now.

serviceberry

serviceberry 3

But if I ‘m keeping it real, the more important and honest question here is where did I go wrong or how do I determine why the shrub/tree truly looks like this.

serviceberry 2

Those bare branches are hard to hide each year.

More of that to come …