Monday, January 31, 2011

Best Garden Blogs and Fine Gardening Posts

This brief message is different than my usual blogs, but I wanted to make regular readers aware that I've been added to the Best Garden Blogs site with THIS POST and that I posted two pictures of my "Kon Tiki" head on Fine Gardening's winter picture contest HERE.  I'm pleased to be able to participate at both sites!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Social Marketing

I got quite a shock recently when a friend, who knows that I write a garden blog, asked me "how much money is your blog making?" Money?  It is to laugh. 

If you, yourself, blog, then you are well aware that almost all of the 1000's of gardening blogs out there on the web have no more reason or reward than whatever the inner motivations of that gardener are;  whether altruistic, educational, or egotistic in nature, or if the blog is purely a mode of relaxation for the individual gardener.  There are only a few gardening blogs in the Netosphere that I suspect provide any monetary gain at all;  those that have paid advertisers (few and far between) and those that have a blog that are associated with a business, for instance a nursery or a gardening magazine.  And the latter commercial group may only see a return on their investment in time and resources if they see an increase in sales coming via the blog, a very iffy proposition and hard to measure.

I, myself, have seen only one instance so far of a direct tangible benefit from garden blogging.  A few months after beginning this blog, I received a random email from a CobraHead representative, a marketing genius obviously well on top of the social media trends, asking me if I'd like to try a sample of their product. Lo and behold after my reply of "yes," I received one in the mail within a week or so.  Now, I've got to give this astute individual a lot of credit. There was no quid pro quo requested. They did not ask me to promote the product on my blog, they did not ask for the placement of an advertisement, they simply probably saw that my readership had gone over a few thousand individual views and likely thought that a subtle product placement might be worth sending me a free one.  In fact, it was a perfect hidden ego stroke; "hey buddy, we like your blog and think you might gain enough readers that you might help us promote our product."  There, my friends is confidence in your product.  The CobraHead folks don't know if I'm going to like it or what I might write about it, but they have faith.  It's been in my hands now for several months, unfortunately coming too late to try it out last year, but this spring I will give it a workout in good faith and report back here. 

CobraHead "head"

If you don't write a blog yourself, then you should know that the writers of your favorite blogs covet every little crumb of positive reinforcement over a well-written piece, and that many measure success or failure by readership comments.  Many of us, in fact, are sitting on the other end of an invisible Internet fiber, starving for feedback and friendship.  So please, visit your favorite garden blogs regularly and support them by occasionally commenting on a blog or passing the link on to a friend who might like it. And if, by chance, you can help me increase my readership and other manufacturers are listening (hint, hint), I'd love to report on how a nice portable garden debris shredder has improved my compost pile.     

Friday, January 28, 2011

Too Much Mulch

As I sit around on my hiney this winter, staring out at the bleak Flint Hills landscape covered by snow and thinking about changes that I need to make in the garden next year, one change the I know that I need to make is to use less mulch in certain parts of my garden.

"WHAT?" the avid mulchers and composters scream, "BLASPHEMY"!  The xeriscapers dryly ask "What are you going to do about conserving water during the arid, hot Kansas summers?"  And the weeping organic gardeners query "What will happen to the soil structure?" 

Calm down everyone.  I said "in certain parts of my garden."   You see, it finally occurred to me that, by keeping the entire plethora of my garden beds heavily mulched, I've eliminated the self-seeding of many annuals and short-lived perennials that I've enjoyed in the past.  They are slowly disappearing from my garden over the years, or they survive up close to large roses and shrubs where the mulch isn't quite so deep.  My pink-salmon Poppies, descendants of a strain given to me by a friend years ago, are popping up less often to delight me with their surprise locations. My beloved blue and purple Columbines, that I have carefully monitored to weed out any pastel or pale interlopers, are dwindling away. My self-spread, unknown-origin Brown-eyed Susan's are fewer and farther between.  Beds with six inches of cypress or prairie hay mulch are now barren of these lovely flowers. 
So, I'm going to reinstitute some haphazardness into my garden.  A few areas of ground left bare here and there, scuffed up to improve the germination of the Papaver somniferum and Rudbeckia hirta clans.  Some shady, lighter-mulched areas to encourage the Columbines.  Perhaps an entire garden bed lightly raked and thinly mulched in the Spring to encourage the self-sowers to proliferate with Darwinian abandon.  And overall, less of the expensive, imported cypress mulch and correspondingly more quicker-degrading home-grown grass clippings that will allow sprouting annuals to reach both soil and the sunlight.

I'm already looking forward to the chaos.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Prairie Camouflage

I believe that some of the most fascinating aspects of Flint Hills gardening have been the examples of local fauna adaptation that are everywhere around me, hiding alongside the prairie grasses.  I could wax long and hard on the invisibility of the various prairie snakes that tend to announce their presence at the best possible moment to give me heart palpitations.  But I'm not going to because I have deeply suppressed those memories of brief panics that make me a serious contender for the Olympic high jump. No, I'd like to present a couple of unique and more cuddly creatures of the prairie ecosystem.

One delight of gardening in Kansas is the stealthy appearance of the stately Praying Mantis.  From my childhood in Indiana, I was sure that the Praying Mantis was always light green, a green that made it invisible among the plants in my father's garden.  I would have bet that the Praying "Manti" of Kansas would be green as well, perhaps the exact green of big bluestem or Indian grass, but obviously I didn't know better.  In reality, the Mantis in Kansas has evolved to be present in greatest numbers in the Fall, when insect populations here have reached their peak, and they are not green, but are simply brown.  The brown of drying Fall prairie grass.  A brown tone mixed with the brown  color and the pattern of the dust that fills the air during the heat and droughts of summer.  I actually transferred the Mantis (I don't know the exact species) pictured at the right from the tall grass to the brick wall of my house simply so that it could photographed.  I'd never even have found it in the grass if it hadn't moved as I reached forward to fondle a Miscanthus seedhead.

If there were an award for camouflage, however, I'd give it to the Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor).  Below, you can see a female Nighthawk who chose to nest a few summers back in the mulch surrounding a walnut tree in my yard.  Nowhere in my yard was there a better background for it to choose to hide against during mid-summer than that mulch and the flint rock surrounding it.  And it was obviously planning well, for behind it, if you look closely one of the things that looks like a rock is a Nighthawk chick, invisible against the mulch except for the beady little black eyes.  That chick and two other siblings survived an entire month after hatching, flat out in the open front yard, surrounded by predators both on the ground (my bird-loving Brittany Spaniel and a pair of cats, as well as hungry coyotes and sneaking snakes) and in the air (owls at night and Red-tail hawks during the day).  In reality, the biggest danger to this cute little ball of fluff was likely my lawn-mower, because during mowing, the chicks would run out into the grass, moving back and forth as I mowed next to the mulch.  I spent an entire month waiting for a horrendous little "pffft" and a tuft of feathers from the lawn mower deck, but somehow these little creatures survived all the hideous noise and the machinery that helps me keep the snake population down in the immediacy of my surroundings. 

Nature is sometimes incredibly brilliant in its designs and methods, is it not?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Ballerina Dances

It perhaps will come as a surprise to serious rosarians that the Hybrid Musk rose 'Ballerina' grows and flowers well here in the Flint Hills. Or to a really serious rosarian, perhaps it is not a surprise.  It is rated as a Zone 6 rose in many sources, so trying it out in my garden was one of those occasional (okay, frequent then) stretches that many gardeners seem to take in a fit of zone-envy.  The upshot of this experiment is that I've got several own-root specimens of 'Ballerina' growing in my garden and in all respects, 'Ballerina' is a trouble-free, hardy rose here in the Zone 5B Plains region.

'Ballerina', released in 1937, is a cloud of pink flower trusses during the main rose season, and it reblooms sporadically over the summer and fall.  Blossoms are single with bright yellow stamens and the blush pink tones often fade quickly as the hot sun burns the petals in the Kansas sun.  It is a fragrant rose, as advertised, but I find the fragrance fades with the pink color here in the wilting Kansas heat. I leave the blooms alone without deadheading because I enjoy the small orange hips that form a spectacular display as Autumn and Winter come along.  As an own-root rose, 'Ballerina' stays about 4 foot tall wherever it grows in my garden and I have not detected any winter dieback in the past decade.  I've seen a wondrous five foot specimen in the Denver Botanical Garden as well, so I know it will take the winter in other Zone 5 areas as well.  I never spray the rose and it does not become denuded by blackspot in the worst of summers.  It also tolerates shade exceptionally well for a rose, blooming profusely in my back landscape bed close to the house and overshadowed by a  7 foot tall NannyberryViburnum  (Viburnum lentago).  'Ballerina' makes an excellent hedge and its thick foliage can be pruned to shape or the thin canes allowed to spill over a wall or other structure.

I originally purchased Ballerina because I recalled it was listed as a "dancing" rose in a 1993 American Rose Society article where the author, Anya-Malka Halevi, described four of her favorite roses that have flexible canes that dance in the wind.  I've got plenty of wind available and my biggest problem with wind is that it breaks off new rose canes.  I hoped Ballerina would thus be strong in the wind and in fact, the flexible canes stand the wind well.  Unfortunately, checking the original article again, I see that I had a bit of a senior moment and probably confused the Ballerina name with the desired activity, for the four roses described by Ms.Halevi were 'Therese Bugnet', 'Madame Plantier', 'Honorine de Brabant', and 'Sir Thomas Lipton'.  Ballerina, it seems, dances only in my mind.  But as long as she thrives in my climate, she's welcome to stand in as a dancer in my garden anytime.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Gardening Eternity

I have always known that gardeners, as a general lot, comprise some of the most optimistic and even-natured humans on the planet.  The very nature of planting and growing something in defiance of the vagaries of wind and weather systematically weeds out the pessimists and those individuals who combine angry outbursts with a weak cardiovascular system.  Planting tomatoes well past the expected last frost date and having them wiped out in a freak spring freeze is brutally Darwinistic.  So is watching an ice storm take down the paper-bark maple you coveted for a decade before planting and have been nursing along for the past five years.

Recently however, I was simultaneously humbled, and almost driven to tears, by the words of a friend's father, a life-long gardener, who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and told he has mere months left to live, with many of those precious weeks likely spent in decline.  According to my friend, her father has taken the news with a calm acceptance that has eased the minds of his family, saying only that "he is looking forward to planting his garden this spring as always, even though he knows he'll never see the harvest."

Dear God, what depths of faith are relayed by that simple sentence. Just as all religions state the concept in one way or another, Christian scripture cautions that  "we know not what shall be on the morrow" (James 4:14). Few of us garden or live, however, as if the end WERE going to be tomorrow.  It is one thing for me to know logically that, at 51 years of age, I will likely not live to see the second semicentury of the scarlet oak I planted a few years back. It is another thing entirely to recognize and accept that I might not live to see ripe tomatoes from the seeds I am preparing to start indoors in a few weeks.  I do not know my friend's gardening father, but I have known two of his children personally and professionally and if his garden matches his family, I am sure I would be awed by the vigor and beauty of his plants. He leaves behind a legacy that will not just be this Spring's peas and this Fall's potatoes.  His legacy is bequeathing the wisdom, to all those he touches, that living well is about doing every day exactly those same things we would choose knowingly to do in our last months.

I know not what life's end will bring.  I cannot know for certain if there is an Eden above for gardeners to spend eternity dabbling in the soil, or whether I will return in the next life as a squash bug, or whether my soul and chemicals will simply merge with Mother Gaia.  Like many in this Age, I feel sometimes that I lack the faith that I was raised on and should have, for I have seen far too many bad things happen to keep an unquestioning faith blindly intact. But I do know, looking out my window now at the snow and ice blanketing the ground in mid-Winter, that I can follow one brave gardener's path and plant again this Spring, even though I may not ever see the harvest.    

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Closet Occupations

I'm wondering this morning how many other MidWest closets and basements have become, in this season of our gardening discontent, a place for accumulating spring additions and surprises to our gardens.

Take me, for instance.  In my basement storeroom last week, the iron obelisk-like thing pictured at right suddenly apparated, begging me for a spot in my garden this spring.  I entertained the thought for a few moments and decided to concede that perhaps I could give it a good home as the centerpiece of a daylily and iris bed, but I admonished the rusty creature that it was going to have to spruce itself up a little before being placed into the garden.  And lo and behold, two coats of rust-preventing light blue paint have appeared this week, brightening up the obelisk in just the right shade (I hope) to make a nice background for a flimsy annual vine or smaller clematis that wants to help me provide an interest point in that particular bed.  Just for your enjoyment, it consented to have its picture taken in the snow if I did it quickly, but it has asked to be brought back inside for the remainder of winter so that it doesn't have to experience the weather extremes of the Flint Hills until spring.  The iron scrollwork and details are such that I might not be able to keep my promise very long, as the pictured obelisk and its shadows on the snow are stirring something in my soul.  

I'm sure that, as I browse garden stores in a desperate search for green coloration over the next 2 months, there will be other garden items that decide to inhabit my closets, garage or basement, biding their time until spring.  Already, out in the garage, a new pole for the purple martin gourd houses has moved in, and it will soon be joined by bags of cement needed to pace it firmly in the ground against my Kansas wind.  I'm thinking it may not be long before it is joined by a sack or two of summer bulbs, some seed packets, and maybe a new birdhouse or two.    

What, perhaps, is stirring in your closets or garage this winter, begging to join the garden?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Cloche Encounters of the Fourth Kind

If I were Catholic and this was a confessional, I'd have to admit here that I've long had a hankering to obtain and use a real cloche in my garden.  Hankering?  Okay, call it a barely controllable lust. Pictures of beautiful classic bell-shaped glass cloches placed over perfect green tender foliage always light my soul on fire.  I've never, however, been able to physical and financially acquire the real thing, substituting instead plastic milk jugs or recycled bottles of large size when I needed protection for baby plants. I've always viewed the latter as poor tradeoffs, about as rewarding as eating dinner with your sister instead of dancing the night away with Marilyn Monroe.  Real, heavy, gorgeous glass cloches, though, have always been just too expensive for my budget.
Up until now, that is.  This weekend I wandered into the local Hobby Lobby to find that their large clear glassware, including two large heavy glass cloches, were all on sale for 50% off.  If I borrow J. Allen Hynek's classification for UFO encounters, I therefore just had a cloche encounter "of the fourth kind," or one that involved abduction (me) into the world of the Cloche.  Many gardeners have had a cloche encounter of the first kind (where they might have glimpsed one at a distance) or of the second kind (actually up close and warming the earth beneath it) or even the third kind (with a  tender plant actually covered and being protected by a cloche), but few are lucky enough to be proud glass cloche owners.  I joined that group with a quick local purchase and then added three more cloches from a weekend trip that included a visit to two more regional Hobby Lobby stores. so I now have a thriving set of cloche quintuplets inhabiting my garden.

And just in time.  The first snow of the season hit Kansas on Monday, as the pictures of these 16 inch tall cloches illustrate (the second with a little snow knocked-off so you can see it better).  Somewhere beneath the drifts, my glass sanctuaries already protect some fall-planted Gallica bands hybridized by Paul Barden and a rooted 'Prairie Harvest' start from last spring.  And my winter landscape looks a little less like a milk-jug garden and more like somebody is gardening with a little class.

Cloche is the French word for "bell," referring to the classic shape.  For those uninitiated, a cloche acts like a miniature cold frame, controls temperature and humidity around young plants, and protects them against insects, wind, frost, hail, turkeys, and wayward dogs. The Internet describes the real cloche as being either of vague French origin or as having been invented in Italy in 1623, but my bet is on the French because of the name and because a plant in the French climate is more likely to need the protection than one in Tuscany.  Many gardeners, like myself, have rationalized for years that plastic milk jugs and jars are adequate and perhaps even preferable, but all of us know, deep down, that a good, heavy glass cloche is what we have always really craved.  There are commercial bell-shaped plastic garden cloches available at reasonable prices, and one can make a decent home-made garden cloche that looks nice, but in my Kansas winds, I need something heavy enough to stay put instead of tumbling along to the Atlantic.  Besides, I'm tired of picking up pieces of weathered, shattered milk jugs from my mulch.  

So, if you're also seeking a cloche encounter of the fourth kind, watch for the next Hobby Lobby sale cause this one ended last weekend. If you're in Kansas, you are just out of luck anyway since I bought all the cloches currently available in the state.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Pale Ivory Pink Rose

One of my readers commented recently that I should write about a rose bearing her favorite color, that being a "pale ivory pink color" like "Spice' or 'Souvenir St. Anne's."  I immediately thought of one particular Griffith Buck rose to bring to her attention, but I was initially afraid it might be a little too pink to meet her desires.  After looking at web pictures of 'Spice' and 'Souvenir St. Anne's', however, which are pinker than I anticipated, I think I've got just the rose for her, with the right color and with a moderate nice green-apple fragrance from this rose to sweeten the pot.

That rose, of course, is 'Prairie Star', one of my favorite of the Griffith Buck roses.  Introduced in 1975, this classically-formed, fully double (45-60 petals) rose is best described as a light yellow shrub rose with a pink tint.  I personally find this rose to be somewhat of a chameleon because in the heat of the summer I would call it ivory-yellow with only a bare hint of pink, as shown in the photo above left, but the blooms formed in the colder spring and fall months tend to have more pink tones as shown in the picture to the right.  'Prairie Star' also has a tendency to ball up for me a bit in colder weather, but this is certainly a non-stop bloomer over a long period of spring through fall.  Blooms come from the neatest ball-shaped buds and grow both singly or in clusters. It grows as a somewhat smaller (about 3 foot round) bush in Zone 5B, with dark glossy leaves and brown prickles, and it is fully cane hardy in the coldest of winters here.  I wouldn't say that the bush is blackspot-free, but I see only an occasional lesion despite my complete lack of fungicide application, and the bush has never gone into September with any denudation (if I can coin a word) at its legs. A cross of  the hybrid tea 'Tickled Pink' and 'Prairie Princess', 'Prairie Star' is a rose that should grow well over most of the continental United States up through Zone 4.

I am not an impartial observer though, because, as I've mentioned elsewhere, the road I live on bears the name "Prairie Star Drive" and was named by myself and my neighbors, so this is a rose I had to obtain and grow if I was to have any credibility as a gardener.  Elizabeth, if 'Prairie Star' didn't hit that color point you wanted, I won't give up.  'Comte de Chambord', 'Coquettes des Blanches', 'Great Maiden's Blush', and Canadian rose 'Morden Blush' are waiting in the wings for a feature of their own.

'Morden Blush'

Friday, January 7, 2011

Waiting for the Garden

I'm trying diligently to follow some sage garden advice of my own, but there will soon come a time, I'm sure, when my desires intersect with the greater flow of Time through the Universe, and I'll step in, prematurely as usual. That advice, for gardeners of all ilks and manners, is to WAIT, just wait, for the Garden to tell you what to do.  It is a simple enough concept, but there are some depths to the wisdom, and in fact, the advice applies to our garden activities in two vastly different ways:

First, it is a way to tell myself that when the Kansas winds are howling, and the garden is changing rapidly from 55F highs (as yesterday) to 12F highs (predicted for 3 days from now), it is certainly not the time to get ahead on spring garden chores.  I have a number of things I'd like to be doing in the garden, of which a partial list might be:

1.  Dormant spray on the fruit trees.
2.  Replace the corner post of the electric fence around the vegetable garden.
3.  Prune the Ramblers and tie up the new canes.
4.  Trim off the ornamental grasses and move some of them.
5.  Set the foundation pole for the new Purple Martin house.
6.  Prune the grape vines and remove dead Blackberry canes.

I know that I could bundle up in 16 layers of clothes and do these chores now at 23F in a brisk north wind, risking that the cement around the post freezes before it cures.  Or, I could hold off and do them all in a single glorious late-February day when the thermometer touches 70F and the sun is shining. And they still won't be late. In reality, I'm sure my winter-starved soul will break down sometime in early February and I'll hustle out and scurry around with numbed fingers and chapped lips for a few afternoons.

The other, deeper, way to look at the advice of "waiting on the Garden to tell us what to do" is related to finding the best designs for our gardens.  Instead of feeling the need to do something grand this year and arbitrarily imposing your will upon the garden, maybe it would be best to wait and listen for your garden to tell you what it needs.  Does your garden need a new frame for a distant scene?  Do you hear it whispering that  there should be a water feature in the corner, there, by the tree?  Is the path from the door screaming for brick pavers because the old concrete walk is decaying looks out of place?  Gardens will tell you all this, and more, if you just listen to the whispers that come from the earth and the trees and the flowers. 

Of course, alternatively, you could just plant some hidden microphones around and then arrange for other gardeners to tour your garden.  The opinions of others might be harsher but may be clearer than the ramblings of a viburnum hedge.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Did you ever have a love-hate relationship with a rose?   I have one with a spectacular rose that should be on the top of everyone's list, but it just can't ever seem to make it to the top of mine. 'Earthsong', a 1975 introduction by Dr. Griffith Buck, has so many positive attributes that I almost feel guilty telling you that it is not one of my top ten roses, but it just isn't okay?  Please don't think less of me for it.

What, you might ask, is my complaint against a 4-5 foot tall continually-blooming rose with perfect hybrid-tea-like bud form?  A grandiflora that is unfailingly completely hardy in my zone 5b climate without any winter protection?  A rose that I haven't had to trim at all for 3 years but which maintains a perfect vase shape all on its own?  A rose that self-cleans its fully double blooms and leaves a few nice orange hips behind for winter interest?  One that never, ever requires me to take up defensive positions with a fungicide- or insecticide-filled sprayer?

My sole problem with this rose is the color.  Variously described as "deep pink," "fuchsia pink," and "Tyrian red" (which is the same as Tyrian Purple and I've never actually seen that color), 'EarthSong' is just a little too much on the "hot" pink side for me.  A little too showy and vivid for either a Iowa State horticulture professor to have introduced, or for a Kansas State veterinary professor to feel comfortable inviting to a mixer with just any other group of plants.  I find the color just a little garish, a little bold, a little too vibrant.  Against a nice bright yellow (I have it next to floribunda 'Sunsprite'), it'll even make your eyes bleed. But alone in the garden, it will certainly stand out from surrounding green plants.  And my own-root 'EarthSong' cloned itself with a runner this year in an attempt to endear me to it.  I moved the runner over between bright red 'Illusion' and 'Red Moss', where it hopefully won't be quite so grating.

'EarthSong' is a cross of 'Music Maker' and 'Prairie Star', the latter another disease free and perfect rose that is a much more acceptable cream in my garden.  A candidate under evaluation at present for the EarthKind designation, 'EarthSong' should perform well in just about anyone's garden.  Just as long as you don't mind the color.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Catalogue Gardening

Like many of you, I am now deep into that annual January effort affectionately known as "catalogue gardening."  My mailbox is brimming over with so many collections of brightly-colored, bountiful images of perennials and produce that my mailperson may have to file suit against my homeowner's insurance to pay for their hernia.  Just a single day recently brought me the pictured catalogues below, some of which I've ordered from before, and some that I've never heard of.

I know that some of the companies behind these and other catalogues are likely run by evil capitalists who are preying on my current deficiency of green scenery in order to increase their sales.  I don't care.  I'm an addict in a poppy field.  Indeed, as I open the mailbox and leaf through the daily minutiae, I can feel myself begin to salivate and shake.  A mere glimpse of the perfect magnified beauties within the pages and my mind's-eye view of my garden begins to shimmer and change.  There are those plants that, upon a single glance, we know exactly where to place within our garden beds and budget.  There are others that make up our wish lists, contingent for their purchase upon pennies from heaven or other unexpected funds.  The choices are narrowed down or expanded again and again, as we examine lineage and breeding, learn about environmental preferences and zonal requirements, and simply choose by our heart's desire.  And then there are the shining iron tools, the irrigation controllers, the cloches, and the plant stimulants to be mulled over.  Will it never end?

It is particularly cruel that many of the catalogues have arrived within the last week, just as if their makers knew that I would have a few days off over the holidays to spend some quality time with them, but I am braced by the knowledge that Christmas bills were high and the sky is not the limit for anything but a trumpet vine. 

I'll look through them all, and some new enterprises will probably receive some of my coin along with my tithes to old stalwarts.  I've already submitted my order to Stark Bros., planning for renewing the strawberries and adding new blackberry varieties.  In fact, Stark Bros. got in line first because I was sampling the less common fruits of the local market and came across an Asian pear labeled as a "pear-apple."  Somewhere out there in a field or a storage cooler is my new Asian pear tree, scheduled to arrive in late March.  In my current state of rose-fever, I'll likely succumb to a few new roses from  Heirloom Roses and Rogue Valley Roses, and nary a year goes by when I don't order a bit from High Country Gardens  and Song Sparrow Farms.  And, of course, the local nurseries shouldn't fret because I always trust my senses of touch and smell to add some final purchases, introduced during the spring trips to the growing greenhouses as my winter discontents fade to April's optimism.

Happy Catalogue Gardening, One and All!


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