My Gardening Nightmare

Happy Monday from Flowerkeepers Garden and not that we’re counting but there are only 51 days until spring!! I don’t know about any of you but the countdown sure is helping me get through this winter and the “polar vortex” sitting over Pennsylvania. I can’t help but sit and daydream about warm weather, gardening and to spend hours poring over my stack of this years seed catalogs. There are so many new varieties and colors to choose from that it makes it almost difficult to decide what I want to try this year.

I haven’t posted on my blog for a bit for a combination of reasons. This weather has a grueling effect on me mentally every year and it zaps my get up and go out from under me. I am completely intolerant of the cold so hibernation is my only option. That may have been part of the reason I haven’t sat down to write but I may have had a period of blog fog too. Aside from all of that I am a perpetual procrastinator, which if I let go unchecked wreaks havoc on my never ending to do list! So this morning I made a conscious decision to sit down and tell you about the project ahead of me this spring that has my brain spinning every time I contemplate it. I’m actually hoping I get some input and ideas from you to help me with it’s successful completion. I honestly don’t know where to start?!

This is one of the many banks that surround my home and this particular bank is behind my garage. It’s very steep, a dangerous undertaking to keep trimmed and filled with a rocky, part sand, part clay soil. Without going into a long dissertation, I came upon a large number of a variety of hostas this past summer during the hottest days of the year. I have been wanting to do something with this eyesore of a bank since I moved into my home. I decided that the hostas would give me a good start on some kind of, perhaps rock garden type, flower bed. When I brought the hostas home I found them the shadiest spot close to the water hose, made every effort to keep them protected from the sun and to keep them watered until I could put them in their permanent location in the garden. I did my best but the hot summer was wearing on them and they needed to go into the ground. So that is what I did! But, and here comes the gardeners nightmare, the only prep I did to the bank was use the weed trimmer and take all the foot high grass and weeds down to the soil. I didn’t want to spray anything so as not to further risk losing these beautiful plants that I had been given. I planted them all on this bank, basically on my hands and knees, fortifying the soil directly encountering each of them. Any idea what a mess I had going into the fall?

After

I guess it doesn’t look too awful in the photo but let me tell you what a mess. The good news is that all of the hostas seemed to have survived the torture I put them through. The bad news is their beauty is surrounded by every unwanted weed and grass known to man. In my bit of amateur backyard gardening experience I have tried several homemade weed killers that did nothing to forward my gardening progress. I know I can go to the garden center and purchase a spray that they will claim is safe for humans and animals, of which I have five that roam the property at their leisure. The problem with all of that is I am still going to have to go out there and again literally crawl on my hands and knees to accomplish any of my goals for this bed this year. In my mind the only course of action is to start at one end and hand weed my way to the other which is the gardeners nightmare of nightmares in my mind. But because I can envision how pretty this bank will be when I am finished I will muster up and do what I have to do. I was hoping that if I shared my gardening horror story with all of you that you could give me your objective opinions and advice. Any and all suggestions would be welcomed and appreciated.

So I think for this chance encounter with you I will leave it at that and hope that you will share with me some of your ideas to inspire me and help me see this beautiful bed come to fruition. I know it will be realized but in my mind the journey from point A to point B is overwhelming. I’m not afraid of hard work because it does a body good but any steps to make life a little simpler would be welcomed! And as for today stay positive, think Spring, and take a walk through your garden!

Flowerkeeper

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Survival of the Fittest

Happy 2019! It’s the first day of the new year and I’m looking forward to each and every day. I’m especially excited about sharing my passion of indoor and outdoor gardening. I’m an amateur at best but I love being surrounded by the beauty that flowers and luscious greenery bring into my own little corner of the world. My lack of knowledge doesn’t seem to deter me and I’ve convinced myself that my passion alone will sustain my growing beauties until my knowing catches up.

Sometimes I think I’ve situated myself in the wrong corner of the world because the outdoor growing season is so short here in Pennsylvania. I drag my houseplants inside as soon as the temperatures start dropping and I’ve said my goodbyes to my beautiful perennials in my flour gardens until spring. My houseplants are nothing more than toddlers who immediately demonstrate tantrums and bad behavior in the weeks following their captivity and confinement in the dark spaces in my house. With over one hundred plants it is difficult to offer all of them ideal lighting. The cold temperature outdoors means the furnace comes on indoors and surrounds them in dry, arid conditions. Soon they start shedding their leaves and depositing enough of them for me to start a nice little compost pile if I so desired. And invariably the two dogs and three cats distribute the droppings in plant free zones in the house such as my bed or the bathtub. Its a full time job just trying to keep them alive until spring (the plants not the animals). Despite all of my ardent attempts I inevitably lose a handful throughout the winter season. And finally those that did survive or thrive in their winter home will go back outside and reward me with another summer full of the colors of the rainbow. Of course I suppose if it weren’t for those few months when they do bring so much joy to my life I might give up on them completely and find something else to fill my time. But honestly those few months full of beauty fuel my passion enough for me not to give up on them through these long winter months.

So here we are the first of January and my struggle is real to sustain my beauties in a real life survival of the fittest. I’ll water and prune and move them from one room to another for the next four months until the temperatures are warm enough that we can begin to renew our relationship and I the love that I truly have for them.

Stay positive today and everyday in the new year. Enjoy a walk through your garden peeps!

Flowerkeeper

Chasing away premature winter blues… Indoor gardening fun!

Winter doesn’t even begin for well over two weeks and I’m already wishing for Spring. We had a beautiful spring like day on Sunday here in Pennsylvania with temperatures near 60 degrees and plentiful sunshine. My daughter and I worked in the yard cleaning and tidying up because winter like temperatures hit the area abruptly this year. I still had things scattered all over the breezeway from hurriedly bringing in all of my houseplants, which is unbelievably time consuming in itself. The beautiful day though left me wanting more and yearning for spring. Temperatures today are more seasonable at a chilly 32 degrees and the clouds are back. The Christmas tree and decorations are up inside and out. A person would think that would be enough to keep a person in good spirits but it doesn’t seem to be working too well for for the gardener in me.

In order to maintain some level of sanity I’m already dreaming up outdoor lawn and garden projects for next season and I’m dabbling in some experimental seed starting projects. My daughters boyfriend brought us a dragon fruit, or pitaya, to try recently and although I didn’t care for the taste nor texture I thought it might be fun to try and see if I could grow my own. After searching on google the process seemed easy enough so I saved some seeds, rinsed them free of the fruit pulp and placed them in a pot with a slightly sandy soil. I moistened them well, covered them with plastic and put them in a south facing window. I was super excited to see a bit of green popping up here and there and on todays count I actually have about ten little babies that I think may make it. Several actually are showing signs that they are indeed a type of cactus so I will have to transplant them soon before I end up with a handful of cactus “prickly” things, or at least that’s what I call them.

Dragon fruit is not something I’d ever even heard of but I am very excited to see if I can actually grow these to maturity just for the fun of it. The fruit itself isn’t to my liking but the plant itself is rather unique looking when it reaches maturity and is bearing fruit. It will look beautiful somewhere in my home adding a splash of pink and certainly add a little pizzazz to my patio.  

Dragon Fruit

When I was sorting through all of my seeds to store them for the winter I came across a packet of cactus seeds that I had picked up at Walmart. I decided I might as well put them in soil and see if I could get them to germinate. The packet said that it took 60 to 180 days for germination and I figured I had plenty of time to waste if they didn’t. After all, winter in Pennsylvania never seems to end and all I’ve got is time. I covered them also with plastic and put them in my south facing window. Sure enough I noticed green poking up through the soil in a couple of weeks. I was super excited although since I threw the packet away I’m not even sure what variety of cacti I’m growing. I may not know for another 6 months. Of course I can always use the plant identification app on my phone or my go to plant identification group on Facebook. 180 days will take us right in to summer and perfect outdoor weather here for succulents and cacti. I do recall the packet contained prickly pear seeds. This will be fun for me as I brought a couple of prickly pear cactus’s home when I moved back from Corpus Christi. They eventually died which I wasn’t all that sad about honestly because they are quite ” prickly” and difficult to have in the house for the winter. I just recently learned however that they will grow outdoors in zone 5 which is right where I am and I’m positive I can find a perfect spot for them in my garden.

Cactus seeds

I think when I’m done writing for the day I am going to plant some hibiscus seeds. I discovered that one of my hibiscus went to seed when I was cleaning up plant debris after bringing all of my plants in for the winter. I’ve never tried to grow one from seed because I’ve always purchased them at a garden center. I’m not sure my south facing window will be ideal for germination but I can’t set up my indoor greenhouse until Santa is gone and I don’t want to wait that long to get them started. This will be a learning experience because I believe I’ve read that if you can successfully grow them the new plant may not flower the same color as the original plant. I’d like to see this for myself. I’ll keep you posted on that adventure too. I’d love to hear about your experiences growing plants from seed. It’s always fun to hear what other gardeners are trying. Drop me a comment or send me an email.

Until next time garden peeps….Stay positive and enjoy a walk through your garden!

Flowerkeeper

Planting a Seed

All it takes is a single seed to grow a beautiful flower and with the proper nurturing and all the right conditions anyone so inclined can grow a beautiful garden.

The seed was planted and my journey here would begin about a year ago when my youngest son of twenty two sat down across from me at my usual spot at our messy kitchen table. It was soon evident that he was deeply troubled that particular day and having a difficult moment in his life. This would be one of those meaningful conversations, I knew, that would require me to muster up some motherly wisdom and bring him to a better place in his young life. I will admit that it’s in those times that I can’t always come up with the right words. He was struggling with where he was in life and where he wanted to be. He’d opted out of college and was working a very physically challenging job at a local sawmill and he was realizing that he wanted to be doing something more fulfilling. I suggested he look into using the power of the internet, as so many seem to be doing, to move his life in a more satisfying direction. I suggested he consider starting a blog to share some of his very deep and powerful thoughts that he’d shared with me on so many occasions and perhaps doing some research on ways that he could make money.

A longer story short, he did both of those things since that day in our kitchen. He actually started his own blog and posted three very well written posts and then stopped. He also set up an online drop shipping store with some terrific marketing ideas but he hasn’t launched it to date. To anyone other than his mother it might seem that he quit before he realized any success or reward, but I have watched him mature into quite an extraordinary young man in this last year, in part, because he followed my advice. The time he’d spent on the computer trying to learn how to do those things actually lead him to follow some very motivational people online. As he has followed those people and listened to their seeds of wisdom he has matured into an amazing young man with his own ideas and plans to start posting to his blog again soon.

And so just recently my son planted another seed and suggested that I take my own advice. He encouraged me to use my passion for indoor and outdoor gardening and all things related, start a blog and launch an online business, neither of which I know anything about. But here it is….good or bad….my first blog post about the birth of my blog. This may have been a long winded introduction but it’s the beginning of my new adventure and I’m looking forward to having fun with it and making new friends.

Stay positive today and enjoy a walk through your garden!

Flowerkeeper