The Garden Center Stalker

Facebook kindly informed me that one of my favorite garden centers was having a sale on mums and asters.

The ad looked like this.

The garden center is on my way home from work (well, sort of), so I stopped in today. Wow, Fitchburg Farms has an amazing array of healthy, colorful mums, and gorgeous asters in shades of purple! As I mentioned in a recent post, I’m noticing that my flowerbeds are in dire need of some more color. Well, “dire need” might be a slight exaggeration, but they are looking a bit drab.

I drove slowly down the gravel drive into the garden center, admiring the nicely shaped trees along one side and could see that the front of the store was awash in autumn colors. I pulled into one of just a few paved parking spots, then donned a face mask and made my way over to the area where the carts and flatbed wagons were corralled. Three mums and three asters was the “buy limit” I had in mind, so I chose one of those flatbed wagons and set off in search of just the right colors to complement the mums Wayne bought me earlier in the week. There were just two customers shopping in the outdoor section of the garden center, so I picked an area other than where they were shopping so that I kept adequate social distancing in mind.

Since I was in my own spot, I could play with colors. I’d find two or three that I liked and then play with the combinations on my little flatbed. I couldn’t help but notice that there was this lady staring at me as I played. I wondered if she thought she perhaps knew me from somewhere, but couldn’t quite recall. Before I knew it, she was in the same garden aisle as me, so I moved to the next one over to give her (and me) some space to shop.

She followed me.

I couldn’t help but notice that she kept an eye on me the whole time I was there. Wherever I moved, she moved.

Strange. It wasn’t creepy. Just weird. It reminded me of those detective shows where a private eye detective is tailing a suspect and trying to stay incognito (and doing a bad job of it).

I moved to another aisle where I spied more amazing colors that I could play with. She tailed me again. This time the lady finally spoke up and said, “Please, don’t mind me. I am watching you as you’re arranging and rearranging the colors.”

I chuckled, “Oh! I was hoping I wasn’t getting in your way.” She grinned as she shared that she had been there for awhile before me and just couldn’t make up her mind. When she saw me breeze in and start playing with the color combinations she knew what she would do. My garden center stalker-friend shared, “I like the color palettes you are creating and decided, whatever you buy, I’m buying.”

Sure enough, weird turned into a compliment when I looked at her cart and she had duplicated every flower I had chosen.

Rescued from my Easychair

No photo description available.

It’s a glorious September morning here in Wisconsin, with just a hint of autumn in the air. Entirely too gorgeous to be spending it indoors.

It would be a great day to take a walk in the park or perhaps get a little gardening done in the cool of the morning. I definitely have a mile-long to-do list of gardening tasks I could be doing outside on this day off of work. Alas, my all too often used excuse of I will do it later pushed the thought of outdoor activities out of my mind, so I nestled into my comfy chair and opened my laptop to begin working on a PowerPoint presentation for this week’s Sunday School lesson. Just as I got started, my phone rang.

“Hi, Cindie! This is Rita. I’m over at McKee park. What are you doing right now? Would you like to join me for a walk?”

To which I countered, “I’m just sitting on my duff in my comfy chair. I’ll put on my shoes and meet you there in a few minutes.”

Rita (a friend I met through our Fitchburg Garden Club) and I enjoyed talking about what has been going on in our respective worlds (and gardening, of course) and did a little meandering through and around the park. A walk in what I call “my happy place” turned out to be just the thing my heart and body needed today.

Our homes practically bookend the park – mine to the northwest and hers to the southeast, so we ended our walk by wandering through her garden together. September gardens are definitely fading in their summer glory, but we gardeners have the eyes to see the beauty that was and that which will be in the ebbing vestige of floral splendor. Even in its autumnal decline, I can see how my friend designed her garden spaces by layering trees, bushes, perennials and annuals to create a truly magnificent piece of paradise on earth.

Thanks, Rita! I’m so thankful you rescued me from my sedentary morning with just a phone call and an invitation to take an impromptu walk in the park.


Today I am joining the encouraging writing community over at Five Minute Friday for their weekly link-up. This week our common theme is Rescue.

Year of the Sunflower Update

One walk past my yard this time of year and you would definitely know that

I love daylilies!

To this gardener, a daylily just says “summer is here!”

When the heat of August arrives and most daylilies have finished strutting their summer beauty in Midwest gardens, another flower is poised to shout the news heralding “Summer’s not over just yet!”

The sunflower!

Sunflowers are charming – they make me smile. So, why do I rarely plant them in my gardens? Squirrels will occasionally steal some seed absconded from the birdfeeders and bury them willy-nilly in the yard, so I do get the occasional volunteer.

I am thankful my hubby surprised me earlier this summer with several packages of sunflower seeds, paving the way for 2021 to be the Year of the Sunflower at my house. At the end of that post I wrote:

We have a HUGE bunny population this year, so I won’t be surprised if my smattering of sunflower seedlings become their next snack. However, I hope they will save me at least a few to provide late summer splendor and autumnal color. I’ll keep you posted. 

Cindie Winquist, in the “Year of the Sunflower”

So, here I am again, keeping you posted.

I planted those gifted seeds a little later than I should have, but faithfully watered. Heavy spring rains threatened to drown them, and the heat and drought conditions that followed seemed to bring them to their demise. After nearly three weeks, they finally poked their little green heads above the earth! Then, seemingly overnight, those little seedlings made their way skyward. Even the forgetful gardener’s failure to keep them consistently watered didn’t seem to deter their growth.

One fateful night last week, as predicted, the resident bunnies decided they would make a smorgasbord out of the young sunflowers. Even though we had surrounded the raised beds with a plastic grid of garden fencing, they managed to find their way into the midnight buffet line in one of two raised beds of sunflowers.

They filled their bunny bellies and left one solitary sunflower and a few stalks standing.

The garden crashers came back the following night and polished off the remaining bits for dessert. You might notice in the photo below how the bunny leaned in on the fencing to finish it off.

They came back for dessert the next night

Thankfully, you can also see in the background of the photo above one raised bed of sunflowers they have not yet marauded.

Stay tuned…there’s still hope!

Year of the Sunflower

One day I came home from work to find a surprise of four packets of sunflower seeds on the kitchen table – two packets of dwarf variety (‘Sunspot’ and ‘Teddy Bear’) in sunny yellows, and two of the taller-than-me sort in the autumn colors I enjoy (‘Autumn Beauty’ and a “Fun Sunny Hybrid Mix”). My thoughtful husband had picked them out for me knowing I love the charm of sunflowers.

Sorry, forgot to take a photo BEFORE I carried the seed packets around in my garden apron.

You may find it hard to believe, but I don’t have much in the way of garden space to plant sunflowers. They are heavy-drinkers, so like to be watered a lot. I get rather negligent in that department once mosquitoes begin chasing me around the garden. Consequently, other than the squirrels who steal or scatter seed from our birdfeeders, I rarely plant sunflowers in my garden.

I did grow them in 2017 to add to a wedding bouquet for my friend Wendy.

Wendy’s bridal bouquet

One other year (2009, according to Facebook) we had a fabulous, show-stopping sunflower display in what I call my “driveway garden” – the plot of land where our driveway ends.

That over-crowded flowerbed now hosts many perennials, weeds. and rabbits, but I snuck in a few sunflower seeds here and there this year. I planted a few of the taller variety in the center of that bed and a few of the shorter variety on that garden’s edge, hoping that the bunnies won’t snack on them. I am also planting some of the dwarf varieties betwixt and between my bushes in the front yard in places where tulips and daffodils have finished their spring performance. A few more have been added to the now sunny (due to tree loss) bed of languishing hostas on the SE corner of the house – maybe the sunflowers will provide at least a little shade for the poor sun-burnt hostas. Last year I grew zinnias in two of our raised beds – this year, I hope those beds will be gracious hosts to sunflowers.

We have a HUGE bunny population this year, so I won’t be surprised if my smattering of sunflower seedlings become their next snack. However, I hope they will save me at least a few to provide late summer splendor and autumnal color. I’ll keep you posted. In the meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about sunflowers, I think you’ll find this post to be amazing.

Every year, the National Garden Bureau, a non-profit organization promoting the pleasures of home gardening, selects one annual, one perennial, one …
2021: Year of the Sunflower

Sunset Gardening

I am not by nature an early morning riser, but am told that the glow of morning’s first light is the best time to photograph a garden. The dew is still kissing petals unfurling and the light is soft enough to let each flower’s beautiful color speak for itself. A night-owl by nature, I rarely see my flower gardens in that light. My favorite time of day for barefoot gardening is in the hours after supper when the sun sets low in the sky, the heat of the day is over, and the setting sun casts it warm glow over the splendor of God’s handiwork.

From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised!

Psalm 113:3 ESV

Hand a (Grand)Kid a Camera

Having grown up a few states away from my own grandparents, I vividly recall those long “summer vacation” trips from Wisconsin to Ohio and West Virginia…and back. Three sweaty siblings elbowing each other in the backseat of our sedan in the years before our family car had air-conditioning. I loved seeing my grandparents, but the trip, not so much. Memories of that once a year trip make me feel particularly blessed to have our daughter Beth and her family living about ten minutes away from us and able to stop by often.

Continue reading “Hand a (Grand)Kid a Camera”

Once and Done

Linking up with Kate and friends at Five Minute Friday. Come check out other thoughts on the word once!


There is an obnoxious weed in my garden. Well, as you can see from the photo below, it’s very pretty, so some would call it a flower; however, anything that spreads everywhere whether I want it to or not, well, I call that a weed. In fact, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in my state of Wisconsin has put it on its “invasive plants” list.

Creeping bellflower (Campanula rapunculoides)
Photo credit: Elizabeth J. Czarapata

I’m trying to get rid of it. Really, I am, but am finding it impossible to rid my gardens of it entirely. You can see it in the photo below in its early stages getting a foothold beneath the tulips in one of my flowerbeds.

Though its flower is lovely, it really is a rather sinister bully, crowding the life out the other flowers in its path. Try as I might to pull it out, poison it, dig it up, lop it off, and all of the other methods I have tried to eradicate it, I’m afraid there is no “once and done” cure for this garden malady. I will just have to deal with this deceptive beauty for as long as I’m tending this garden. When I try to pull it, leaving behind just a tiny bit of the hairy root will ensure more to come. Cutting off the flowers before they go to seed helps keep the seeds from being carried off to other flowerbeds in the wind, but does nothing to keep the flower from sending out its underground rhizomatous feelers everywhere around the base of the plant. There are no herbicides known to be effective in eradicating it.

It truly reminds me of the curse of sin and the futility of trying to eradicate sin in my life. I can try to cull out my bad habits, curb my tongue, keep my eyes from evil, but it’s of no use to try to fix myself. Just a little bit of sin results in the curse of death, and I am a natural born sinner from head to toe.

Thankfully, there is a ‘once and done’ cure for sin. His name is Jesus. He took those sins to the cross.

STOP

My Apple Cleaner

We’ve heard it said that, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” I’m not sure if it’s true, but an apple is definitely at the top of my list of favorite healthy snacks. However, I am not a fan of the food grade wax which covers apples to keep them fresh longer by protecting the apple’s moisture content. [You can read about it here.]

I can appreciate the purpose of the wax and know it’s “food grade,” thus, edible. But, still…yuck.

So, here’s my simple solution for cleaning that wax off my apple.

Baking soda

I wet the apple I plan to eat, sprinkle it with a little baking soda, add a bit more water, then gently rub with my wet hands, and rinse.

Squeaky-clean and ready to eat.

Before I forget: Sharing Memories

This little story came up in my “memories” feed on my Barefoot Lily Lady Facebook page, so I thought I’d re-share it. I wrote this three years ago, so it might be time for another baked custard too.

Barefoot Lily Lady

One of the things that I am learning along this road I travel with my sweet mom is that the older memories are the last ones to leave; but, the ability to recount and express these stored up stories does slowly slip away. I find myself wishing I had written down more of the stories that my parents and grandparents told through the years.

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A Fresh Look for an Old Memory

Today’s post was written to the word prompt “Fresh” as part of the Five Minute Friday community of writers.  Let me invite you to read the inspirational writing of other writers on the same topic at http://www.fiveminutefriday.com 

I was blessed with a mother-in-law extraordinaire. Shirley loved me fiercely, prayed for me often (even before I met her son), and lived an exemplary life as a devoted follower of Christ. She gave me, her “daughter-in-love,” as she called me, a few of her earthly belongings which serve to remind me of her love. Over the years she’d hand us a bag or a box full of surprises as we headed out the door after a little visit. One item bestowed upon me was a blouse she enjoyed wearing–a denim blouse with colorful hot air balloons embroidered on the front of it.

One day, our eldest granddaughter Violet was using her gift of organization by tidying and reorganizing my perpetually messy craft room.

My craft room

As Violet carefully sorted fabrics into color families and folded them into neat little stacks, she came across that colorful blouse of her great-grandma’s and asked me what I was going to do with it. I told her its story and that I was thinking I might reuse the fabric to make a book bag or something someday. Violet remembered her great-grandma wearing it. Her eyes lit up with an idea!

“Can you make a jacket for me?”

I hesitated a tiny bit because refashioning clothing was outside of my realm of sewing skills, but told her I would try. With all the faith in the world that grandma could do it, she folded the blouse and put it on my project pile (on top of the pile, of course, with a sticky note that indicated it would be my NEXT project).

After more than a few searches on Pinterest for some inspiration and ideas on “upcycling” and “remaking” clothing, a design idea began to form. Violet really wanted a jacket, but there wasn’t enough fabric to make the sleeves, so I decided I’d create a little vest with an inset of pretty lace on the back. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find lace that I liked in my stash or at the fabric store, so checked the local resale shop. I was about to walk out of the store when I spied a lacy sleeve peeking out of an over-crowded clothing rack. There it was! A beautiful lace blouse made entirely of the kind of lace I had in mind AND it had long sleeves that I thought I could use to create the jacket Violet desired.

I thanked the Lord for helping me find the needle in a haystack and hurried home to start my special sewing project. Here it is!

A fresh look for an old garment, made with love and a prayer that Violet will follow in the faithful footsteps of her God-loving great-grandmother.