Upcycled Firewood Ring in the Garden

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”

~Margaret Atwood

Encore Tulip and Daffodil Performance

Last fall I planted some “late” season tulips and daffodils. While not all of them seem to have bloomed, many have, so I am blessed with an encore performance of mostly white or pale yellow flowers (not planned). The delicate beauty of the various shades of white and yellow stands in lovely contrast to the riot of color I had going on over the past few weeks – almost like a different garden. To add to the beauty, I have some of the flowerbeds edged in various succulents, which are looking pretty impressive filling in the front row and edges.

Continue reading “Upcycled Firewood Ring in the Garden”

Just Mimicking Nature

The calendar reads May 1st today, but our temps are in the high 80’s and winds are blustery with gusts up to 50 mph. It feels more like summer than spring. I gardened a bit today, but it’s a little too windy to enjoy it. My hubby suggested we go visit the Allen Centennial Garden. This beautiful public garden is really an outdoor classroom nestled within the heart of the UW-Madison campus.

We smiled as university seniors donned their cap and gown and posed for friends taking informal iPhone portraits along the paths of this picturesque place. On other occasions, we have seen professional photographers taking engagement or family portraits, and we have even stumbled upon a wedding taking place in a reserved area of the garden.

This garden often mirrors my own in its stages, so I was not surprised to find that we were catching just the tail end of this garden’s tulip and daffodil show. A few weeks from now, the “show” will change once again as iris and peonies put on their own performance.

It was so windy, it was hard to take photos, but here are a few tulips which were still looking pretty fabulous. I especially loved their collection of potted tulips.

Once in awhile I am able to observe the student interns and volunteers hard at work planting and maintaining this beautiful place. I sometimes wish I could borrow them for a weekend or so to help spruce up my own place. As I’m growing older, I will admit that I am having more trouble keeping up with the tasks of gardening. But as we walked the garden’s paths today, I couldn’t help but notice that some areas seemed a bit unkempt. One sign pointed to the reason this garden seemed less than tidy. I had to laugh when I read it and told my hubby that I needed this sign for my own garden.

Weeds or not, no matter what’s happening at any particular time in this lovely place, I know I will leave having been glad I had been there. That’s just how I want people to feel when they visit my little plot of God’s creation.

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”

Raindrops on Roses

We’ve been in rainy Louisiana this week enjoying more than “raindrops on roses,” but also enjoying whiskers on kittens (four cats) and the playful antics of three dogs (sometimes five) in the home of our friends and gracious hosts, Don and Melinda. Our little vacation started out sunny and beautiful, but most of the week has been more than a little wet…

yet still beautiful, as these photos of Melinda’s garden will prove.

A beautiful ‘Porch Begonia’ (aka: Angel Wing begonia)
Raindrops on roses
A gorgeous orchid bloomed on the last day of our vacation

The rain hasn’t dampened our quiet fellowship. Together we have enjoyed Melinda’s amazing cooking (she truly loves to cook), a never-ending tea-time, the challenge of putting together two 1,000-piece puzzles, or our time spent binge-watching episodes of British tv’s “Pie in the Sky” and “Rosemary and Thyme” trying to see who can figure out whodunit before the detectives. Oh, and I must not forget the menagerie of critters!

As wonderful as every single minute of our vacation was, it was nice to pull up into our driveway tonight and be welcomed by lovely daffodils and tulips.

Our lovely “welcome home”

Thank you to Jon the Propagator for hosting this fun, around-the-world garden tour each week.

Promising Signs of Spring

I love to see the tips of my spring-blooming flowers poking their weary of winter heads above the earth. First to emerge and then open in my garden is the lovely crocus. At the very first sight of the flower buds forming I begin listening for robins. Just about the time the earliest crocus flowers open, the robins return from their winter migration and begin announcing spring’s arrival with their song.

Crocus – my garden’s herald of spring

Another sure sign that spring has sprung is when I begin seeing a lot more activity in and around the various birdhouses and nestboxes in our yard. The one pictured below was painted by my grandson Charlie. I cleaned this nestbox out a few weeks ago so the new tenants would have a fresh start. As you can see in the photo collage below, the side of the box hinges open, revealing the fact that new tenants are making good use of our neighbor’s pine needles in their cozy abode.

The old-fashioned bleeding heart is another harbinger of spring’s arrival in my garden. As Dicentra Spectabilis’ leaves push their way out of the earth to begin their yearly show, their fuschia colored leaves remind me of old-fashioned feather dusters and are always a welcome sight. They’re one of those plants which you plant one year and then they take up residence wherever they want in your garden.

Tulips like the sun, so I’m always surprised (and extra thankful) to see the tips of tulips pushing their way up into sight on the shady north side of my house. Here are a few which have emerged right next to my only remaining swath of snow.

I inspected my yellow peony for buds and was overjoyed to see lots of signs of spring growth (see the photo on the left below). If the blog space I’ve used to write about any given flower in my garden is any indicator, it’s definitely a favorite in my garden, I wrote about this charming peony here, here, and here, and am very much looking forward to seeing its enthralling beauty again (see the photo on the right below).

Paeonia Itoh ‘Bartzella’ – What is now and the promise of what is to come

I look forward to having you join me in the weeks to come for more little walks through the little plot I tend in my little corner of God’s beautiful earth.


The Propagator provides a virtual garden plot each Saturday where gardeners and all those who like to write about playing in the dirt can gather and plant their respective garden-related missives. Known as “Six on Saturday,” it’s a virtual show n’ tell where each tiller of the earth shows off six photos of that week’s garden happenings (or anything garden-related). You’re invited to click on The Propagator link and begin your own personal tour of gardens around the world. Such fun!

The Crocus: spring’s herald of beautiful possibilities

I have about a foot of snow left in my Wisconsin garden. Not a foot deep, mind you, but a little swath of white stuff on the north side of the house that’s about a foot wide and an inch or two deep. Another warm spring day and all the snow will be gone–and I am glad of it.

Continue reading “The Crocus: spring’s herald of beautiful possibilities”

The Winter Wait

“I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure in the landscape – the loneliness of it – the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it – the whole story doesn’t show.”

Andrew Wyeth

It’s cold here in frozen Wisconsin — not sub-zero yet, but cold. I much prefer the warmer seasons in my beautiful state, but there’s something about the snow-covered ground that I like. Maybe it’s the reprieve of winter’s long nap–a quiet rest which requires little work from the gardener. Maybe it’s the thought about what lies beneath that crisp blanket of sparkly snow. As I view our gardens from the vantage of my second story windows, the snow looks like a pristine white quilt with meandering quilting stitches in the shape of the tiny paw prints of critters. I love to imagine the floral joy that will awaken from winter’s slumber when that blanket melts away and the ground warms to the longer hours of sunshine in a few short months.

First will come the demure crocuses with their grass-like leaves and dainty flowers of purple and white.

Before we know it, the daffodils and tulips will begin their colorful show. Snow will likely throw a light blanket over it all a few times, but the flowers will survive and stand resilient over the brief and momentary trial of life.

For now, I’ll take a little walk through the new fallen snow, breathe in some fresh air, and pop a letter into our mailbox in hopes of bringing a warm greeting on a chilly winter’s day to someone I love.


So that’s my Six on Saturday for this week (well, I did get a little carried away in my tulip and daff slideshow). If you’re experiencing the chill of winter like me, you can tour the gardens of others in warmer parts of the earth from the comfort of your favorite comfy chair by visiting the host of Six on Saturday, The Propagator, where you’ll find 6-photo garden tours, planting tips, and inspiration from gardeners worldwide.

Tiptoe through my tulips

Another week of Spring. Daffodils are waning and tulips are still in various stages of loveliness.

Photo credit: Wayne L. Winquist
Tulipa ‘Merry Go Round’ was planted in 2014, but disappeared after blooming the first year or two. I’m happy to see this little survivor making a return. Bonus: there are multiple flowers on each plant.
I love these double, late-flowering tulips. There was supposed to be a mixture of purple, pink and white – but only these two purple ones thus far.
A newer tulip in my garden – ‘Spring Green’. It is a Viridiflora tulip with lily-like petals with a pretty green central vein. You can see I’m also losing a battle with the nemesis of my garden – an invasive creeping bellflower, Campanula rapunculoides.

If I ever need to plant a tree – I would most definitely consider planting another beautiful Star Magnolia. The flowers don’t last nearly long enough, but the tree is gorgeous and trouble-free. We have lost nearly all of the trees planted by the original landscapers back in the 1980’s (spruce, ash, birch, honey locust, flowering crab, etc.), but the magnolias continue to faithfully strut their stuff every year. I love the double skirt of petals on this one.

Magnolia ‘Royal Star’ (I think)
Photo credit: Wayne L. Winquist

Well that’s my “Six on Saturday” – thanks for joining me on a little photographic jaunt around my yard. And a special thanks to “The Propagator” for hosting “Six on Saturday” each week. If you check out his “comments” section, you can visit a whole bunch of lovely gardens, gather ideas and suggestions for your own, or have a go at posting your own six.

Playing in the Dirt Again

It feels good to be outdoors playing in the dirt again. In a day when COVID-19 has us squirreled away indefinitely in the relative safety of our own homes, spending time in my garden this week has been a welcome repose and heartsome encouragement.

Crocus are already showing off their comely petals in shades of purple, and a few white ones too. Blue muscari brings teeny-tiny punches of the deepest, bluest blue in patches scattered here and there. Brilliant, sunshine yellow clusters of daffodils dot my Schumann Drive landscape, with tulips promising to take their turn in the next few weeks.

As I pull back the winter blanket of leaves and mulch in one bed, then another, I’m seeing hints of more beauty yet to come. Peonies have poked their little red tips about an inch above the ground and I’m already dreaming of their beautiful petals in reds, pinks, white and a very special yellow one too. The foliage of my beautiful daylilies is already several inches high and seem to whisper their promise, “Summer is coming.”

Some flowers are spilling out of the bounds I had imposed on them, so I begin digging up a few of the plants nearest the garden’s edge. Some go in my compost bin, a few are transplanted elsewhere, but most are placed in a big plastic tub marked ‘Free Perennials’ and placed at the curb end of my driveway where they are offered to those passing by in the neighborhood. Each offering of future beauty is placed in its own plastic or paper bag, with any information I can offer about the plant scribbled on the bag. The bin is usually emptied in a day or two. I find it a lovely thought knowing that little bits of my garden’s loveliness will soon be springing up in other neighborhood gardens.

Today, as I plunged my garden trowel into the spring-softened dirt to scoop up one of the plants for my driveway offerings, I was delighted to find a sleepy toad still nestled in the dirt on my trowel. I breathed a sigh of relief that I didn’t injure him; it’s an honor to find toads, as I know they will do me countless favors in the months to come as they feast on slugs and snails and other garden pests. I pried my little plant offering from the dirt, then tucked the toad back in under a blanket of dirt where he could continue his slumber before awakening as my garden helper.

Today’s discoveries included unearthing a bunny nest and getting to see the cute little bunny butts within (I know I will regret thinking they are cute when I start seeing tops of my plants nibbled off as bunny fodder). Unlike toads, bunnies are not known for their propensity for helping in the garden.

While I will not refuse offers of human help in my garden, I rather like the solitude it offers. It’s a time to pray and to reflect on life’s blessings. Any frustrations I might be feeling seem to disappear into the soft earth as I work it. This solitary time in the garden is also a great time to sing (or hum) in praise to God. With the discovery of my little garden friends, it seemed fitting that my mind went to a song I learned when I was 11 or 12 years old, very early in my Christian walk. We don’t sing this hymn much anymore, but I recall learning the song in a club for kids called Awana. Not very long ago, I taught the song to the kids in our Sunday School so they would have it in their hearts too. It would be my pleasure to share the lyrics in the hopes that you would be blessed by them, and that your soul would find rest in the thought of all the wonders He has wrought.

This Is My Father’s World | Maltbie D. Babcock

This is my Father’s world,
And to my list’ning ears
All nature sings, and round me rings
The music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world:
I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas—
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world:
The birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white,
Declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world:
He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass,
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world:
Oh, let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world,
The battle is not done:
Jesus who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.

Six on Saturday: Fall’s White Blanket

We awoke to a light blanket of snow yesterday morning – our first (just barely) measurable snow of the season. The powdery dusting left my garden bench in the shade garden looking pretty, but not quite so inviting.

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Likewise, the arch to the backyard looks cold and forlorn as it awaits the return of Clematis ‘Princess Diana’ and her lovely deep pink flowers. The locust tree stands tall as a backdrop and you can see the seed pods I mentioned last week waiting for the next windy day to knock them out of the tree. Though said seed pods are a messy harbinger of fall, the dappled shade the tree provides in summer makes it worth the extra effort. The tree’s canopy allows just enough sunlight to filter through so that grass can grow and part-sun perennials can thrive.

Momma’s blue pot precariously perched atop a few stacked bricks still needs to be emptied and readied for next spring’s new floral pretties. Marigolds or zinnias? Moss roses perhaps? Wait! Maybe I should plant it up with some of those bulbs I haven’t planted yet!

I never quite get around to trimming off the spent hydrangea blossoms. The pretty snowy caps have me convinced that’s not such a bad thing.

Our bird feeders each received cute little snowy rooftops. It may be gloomy and overcast today, but the feeders have been very busy with diners – especially blue jays, a wood pecker and cardinals – and the pesky squirrels.

I was happy to discover a flowerpot within the shelter of the front porch still shows off a bit of fall’s snapdragon magic.

There are still a few must-do items on my fall cleanup list, but most of what’s left will probably have to wait until spring. Although, our local weather lady tells me I might have a very small window of good weather toward the end of the week. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll get those last few tulip and daffodil bulbs in the ground. Meanwhile, I think I’ll make myself a cup of tea and poke around on our ‘Six on Saturday’ host’s site. It’s always such fun virtually touring a few gardens. Won’t you join me?

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