Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Before & After Part 3:

The other side of the house. The one I wasn't going to touch this year - but then realized if I didn't tame this, it would make me crazy. First two are last summer, rest from 2010.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Passalong Plants

One of the many garden books on my shelf is 'Passalong Plants' by Steve Bender and Felder Rushing. The book focuses on old plants that are not commercially propagated, but instead move from garden to garden by way of generosity between fellow gardeners. The sharing of plants among gardeners not only provides a cheap source of plants for the garden, it also provides an outlet for the pieces and divisions we cull from the garden. Many plants benefit from being divided, or need to be kept in check because they've spread out of their intended spot. It's hard for the gardener to just toss these divisions into the compost pile - and goodness knows we can't just keep creating new beds to place the spare plants (been there, done that, trying not to do it again).

Whether old garden favorites or divisions of new cultivars, passalong plants add an extra bit of depth to our gardens, along with a connection to our fellow gardeners.

My Mother's Day post mentioned the plants I was taking from my Mom's garden. The ferns that I first used in an early apartment garden over twenty years. Corydalis lutea that was originally sent to me by an on-line friend 15 years ago. Daylilies I've used in two previous gardens. Divisions of several variety of lamium, perhaps a hosta or two. Shortly after posting that entry one of my cousins commented on facebook, "Many of us have parts from your mom's garden." Received an email from another cousin, "Our yard looks amazing because she allowed us to dig in her yard last year." I thought about those comment and realized they're right. Countless people have pieces of my Mom's garden growing in their own.

I am fortunate to be part of a small group of women who met in the mid-90's on the CompuServe Garden Forum, and have remained in contact since. We've traveled together on informal garden touring trips, shared plant and garden tips both publicly in forums and privately via email. Shared struggles in our gardens and in our lives. One of my favorite memories was a plant swap in a hotel hallway in Charleston, SC. We'd each driven or flown in with plants, seeds and cuttings from our own gardens. An enjoyable couple of hours was spent discussing, swapping, and indulging our obsession with plants. In our case we don't stick to just the old varieties of plants, and admit to being just a tad excited by hot new cultivars. I loved having those plants in my garden, but in the move to this house left them all behind.

Because of this, I was thrilled to receive a box from one of these friends stuffed with plants. Nancy gave me a great start to a shade garden. Several hostas, pulmonaria, a variegated Brunnera, Chelone 'Hot Lips, more and more. So much fun going through the box and determining where I would put what.

To add to the excitement were the plants she'd included from other members of the group's gardens.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of the plants passed from one gardener to another is the connection to each other these plants provide. And the smile they bring on the morning or evening walks through the garden by jolting the memory of friends far and wide.

Monday, May 10, 2010

What better place to spend Mother's Day than Mom's garden

One of my first blog posts was called Where it all begin. In it I talked about *my* first garden. But honestly, where my love of gardening and gardening experiences began were in the gardens of my Mom and my Grandma.

So it seems fitting that as I am re-connecting with my passion for gardening I spend Mother's Day with my Mom - in her garden and visiting garden centers with her.

So much of this garden feels like home.

At the same time there's bits and pieces of my influence- the corydalis lutea given to me by an on-line friend and shared with mom; the daylilies from an order I placed one winter as my life was about to change. I'd used Mom's garden as a nursery bed during that time of upheaval in my life. Splits of these daylilies are spread around her yard, found homes in my subsequent garden but still have a home in this "temporary bed" by Mom's vegetable garden 12 years later. Unfortunately, over time the plant tags for the daylilies have disappeared- hoping later this season I will recognize them - or at least be able to make notes of bloom time, height, and color, so I can divide and move pieces into my new garden.

On this trip I did dig up a few clumps of corydalis, and several of Mom's ferns (including this one which had made it's way out of the border), and was fascinated by the fiddleheads in the process.

I'll take lessons from the side of the house where Mom says she doesn't mess with - letting the plants spread as they may. Lesson one - I found the green white color scheme soothing, calming. It is one I will use in my own garden. Lesson two - skip the Snow in the Mountain, which is probably the influence behind the let the plants go attitude.

Left Mom's with the car loaded to the brim with the spoils of our Mother's Day adventures, two garden centers (Gurnee Garden Center and Jamaican Gardens), a stop by Wadsworth Feed and Saddlery for alfalfa pellets and cocoa hulls, a bucket of ferns in the back seat and Mom's Corydalis tucked in the right corner.

When I arrived home, planted the ferns and potted up the smaller divisions. Made me smile this morning as I left for work to see these pieces of "home" waiting for their new spot in my current home.