March 31, 2009

Garden Bloggers' Muse Day - April 1

I have found, through years of practice,

that people garden in order to make something grow;

to interact with nature;

to share, to find sanctuary, to heal,

to honor the earth, to leave a mark.

Through gardening, we feel whole as we make

our personal work of art upon our land.

Julie Moir Messervy, The Inward Garden, 1995, p. 19

If you want to know more about Julie Moir Messervy, click here.

Happy Spring to Carolyn at Sweet Home and Garden Chicago and thank you for starting Garden Bloggers' Muse Day. If you would like to join in, post a poem, a quote, a riddle or anything fun relating to flowers, gardening or nature on the first of the month. Then, leave a comment on Carolyn's blog saying you've posted a muse and the rest of us will visit you. Try it, you'll like it.

NOTE: The viola photo was taken in my yard in June, 2008.

Where Is This Thing Called Spring?

Spring is painfully slow making its way to the upper Midwest. I searched the yard for color and new growth to share with you. Not much out there.

Some people seem to like these Red Twig Dogwoods because the red branches add some color to our winter landscapes. In the summer the leaves are green and if you're lucky, there are white blooms in late spring/early summer. We have four of these and none of them give us blooms and no matter how far we cut them down in the fall they grow to be almost seven feet tall if left alone. I don't like them at all and had nothing to do with them being planted in our yard. The credit for the savage pruning goes to my husband.

My lovely, lovely Raspberry Splash Pulmonaria aka Lungwort is making herself visible. The leaves will be a silvery green and the numerous raspberry-pink flowers will sit atop the leaves. Grows well in light shade and brightens dark areas. I planted one in 2007 and another one last year.

Even the birds around here are drab looking this time of year. But I do love the Mourning Dove and its soft mournful voice. I like the peaceful way they behave when visiting our yard. Here are come cool facts about Mourning Doves that I found on

During nest-building, the female stays at the nest and the male collects sticks. He stands on her back to give her the nest material. She takes it and weaves it into the nest.

The Mourning Dove almost invariably lays two eggs. Clutches of three or four are the result of more than one female laying in the nest. A dove may have up to five or six clutches in a single year.

A Mourning Dove pair rarely leaves its eggs unattended. The male usually incubates from midmorning until late afternoon, and the female sits the rest of the day and night.

The Mourning Dove is the most widespread and abundant game bird in North American. Despite being hunted throughout most of its range, it remains among the 10 most abundant birds in the United States.

March 29, 2009


We woke up this morning to fresh snow covering the grass and all the flower beds. When P3 looked outside, he said, "Oh, Grandma, it looks just like Christmas morning." Since he seemed to be happy about the snow, I decided to change my attitude and look at it through his eyes. This brown-eyed boy never fails to make me see the good things in life. So, I'm not going to whine about the weather.

Here's a photo of P3 and Theo meeting for the first time on Saturday morning. This isn't the hamster cage, but a plastic container that worked well for getting to know each other. They took an immediate liking to one another. We went to the library in the afternoon and brought home a few books about taking care of a hamster....along with 14 other books. They have a new system at our library where you can check out the books yourself by scanning your card and all the bar codes on the books. P3 was able to do all this and it made him feel important.

By the time he went home this afternoon, he and Theo had become best of friends.

He named him Theo because his friend, Caitlyn, has a hamster named Leo, and he's pretty sure that Theo and Leo are cousins. Leo's in the photo below along with Caitlyn, Joe and P3.

March 27, 2009

Today's Yard Action

The weather forecast for the weekend is rain and snow with daytime temperatures only in the 30's. Not much to look forward to in the garden/growing department.

Today I found these crocus trying their hardest to reach for the sun. They were planted last fall and are the first I've had in many years. I like how the squirrels move the corns around and come spring there are colorful surprises to be found in unexpected places.

The daylilies are showing a little bit of green. With the big oak tree gone, they'll get more sunshine and should give us more color than years past.

There are still patches of snow to be found in the yard but that hasn't stopped the Muscari armeniacum from pushing up out of the ground. They are small grape-colored hyacinths, about 4-8 inches tall.

HH up on our roof top with his blower. Should a 61-year old man really be doing such a thing?

This is the cute dwarf hamster we bought for our grandson's birthday. They'll be meeting each other for the first time tomorrow.

March 25, 2009

Little Bits of Spring

The columbine (aquilegia ruby port) that was planted in 2008 showed her face yesterday. The flowers will be a wine red color.

This is the first hyacinth (delta blue) to push its way out of the earth in '09. They are a particular favorite of mine in the spring. Wish I'd remember in the fall to plant many, many more.

The yellow loosestrife looks pink when it shows up in the spring and is the ONLY color to be found right now. I'm aware that many people around the country would never have it in their yard because of its invasive nature. Not sure if its because I'm in zone 4 or because it's growing in clay soil, but in 5 years it's only spread a little and when it does move beyond the space allowed, it's easily removed. It's very reliable and gives us a beautiful yellow show in early summer. PURPLE LOOSESTRIFE......considered a nuisance species in Wisconsin and it's illegal to sell, distribute or cultivate the plants or seeds. Very undesirable, takes over the wetlands and destroys the habitat.

When we first moved to this house in 1993, we were lucky to have a few bloodroot growing in the yard. New landscaping covered them up and they never reappeared. I've missed them and think about them every spring. The name comes from the plant having a root system that looks blood red and contains a bright red-orange juice. If you want to learn more, you can take a Spring Wildflower Walk with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources by going here. Bloodroot pictured below....thanks to the WI DNR. Later in the spring, I'll have photos of the wildflowers that do grow in my yard, but sadly not the bloodroot.

March 24, 2009

National Record Holder for Milk and Fat

I'm at Pannache Salon getting my hair cut and colored (not that my hair NEEDS color) when Kristi tells me the good news about her boyfriend's cow, Pixy.

Lost Elm Prelude Pixy ET 911151 has set a new national production record for milk and fat. Calving at 4 years 10 months and in her third lactation, she produced in 365 days 58,826 lbs of milk, 3,286 lbs of fat and 1,889 lbs of protein. This corresponds to an incredible 75,389 lbs of Energy Corrected Milk (ECM). Pixy is owned by Jason Luttropp and was bred by Jerry and Phyllis Luttrop. Pixy and the Luttropps all reside in Berlin, WI.

I obtained the photo and record information from a Wisconsin Purebred Dairy Cattle Association publication.

In spite of what you may have heard/seen in a certain commercial, happy cows do NOT come from California. We're the ones with America's Dairyland on our license plates. Happy gardens in California, yes, but with all due respect, the really happy cows are here in Wisconsin. I told Kristi I'd post this news about Pixy and I'm sure cows all over America are happy about it.

March 23, 2009

Daffodil or Narcissus or Jonquil or Buttercup?

Decided to take the time to find the names of all the daffodils that are beginning to appear in my yard and found the following: Daffodils Golden Ducat, Daffodils Dutch Master, Narcissus Carlton, Narcissus Tete-a-Tete, Narcissus Hollywood, Daffodils Split Corona, Narcissus Yellow/Orange Passion Blend. Then I got to wondering what the difference was between a daffodil, narcissus, jonquil and buttercup.

According to Rett Davis whose Gardening Q&A appears in The Burlington Times-News, "All of the above mentioned spring flowering bulbs are in the genus Narcissus. They are all classified and separated into 12 divisions. The division that each one is placed in is determined on the length of the corolla. The corolla is the flower tube. The corolla can be white, yellow, peach and bi-colors. The name daffodil and narcissus can be used interchangeably. Jonquils on the other hand have yellow flowers, a strong scent and the leaves are hollow. Daffodils and narcissus have flat leaves. The term jonquil should be applied to daffodils that are in Division 7 and 10. Buttercups are just another common name for daffodils. There are literally thousands of daffodil cultivars and they are our most dependable long lasting spring flowering bulb. Voles won't eat them because the bulbs are poisonous."

The Hen and Chicks (Sempervivum hybrid) also came out from under the snow over the weekend.

The Autumn Joy Stonecrop Sedum are barely visible, but a very welcome sight.

Remind me next fall to cut down the ornamental grasses and not be fooled into thinking they will provide winter interest to the landscape. We get too much snow for them to be interesting and I don't like cleaning them up in the spring.

Do any of you use the water-retaining crystals called Soil Moist? I have numerous hosta and astilbe growing near many of the big trees in our yard and think they'd do better if the tree roots didn't soak up all the water.

It's true what they say in this part of the country that March is the cruelest month, as evidenced by the mostly drab brown photos posted above. To make up for the lack of color, I'm including a picture of my son's birthday cake. P3 put the candles on it....all 41 of them. Also adding a photo of the b-day card. It took him a long time with the glue stick to make that border and I didn't have the heart to tell him birthday was spelled wrong. It's the thought that counts, right?

March 21, 2009

Getting Dirty In The Kitchen

No! Not THAT kind of dirty. P3 will be here today and one of the things we'll do is plant some seeds in the little Jiffy greenhouse. The sowing of seeds will take place on my kitchen counter. No particular reason for using cilantro and lavender seeds other than he likes to eat cilantro and enjoys having lavender oil rubbed on his feet before going to bed. He's also collected a few apple and orange seeds to plant. One year we planted grass seed only and he was amazed by it. If I remember correctly, the "Don't Throw It, Grow It" book was recommended by Kathy at Cold Climate Gardening.

Here he is on "seed sowing day" in 2007. I'm doing my best to spark his interest in growing things. He has a small collection of house plants here at our house that he's responsible for watering every week. He's learned the names and a couple weeks ago he had the idea to use his ruler to measure how tall they were and record that information on piece of paper. So many lessons learned on that day.

One day last spring he came out of kindergarten carrying a paper bag that contained a peat pot with a couple of sunflower sprouts.

He tended to the sprouts at my house and when they were big enough to be transplanted we put them in a pot with some petunias where they did quite well and he was able to observe their progress. Later in the summer, we saw goldfinches eating the sunflowers seeds from the flower heads. Another lesson learned.

March 20, 2009

Hot Milk Cakes w/Strawberries and Cream

If this dessert doesn't appeal to you, nothing will. Unless you're allergic to strawberries. Ariela has the Hot Milk Cakes recipe posted at Baking and Books. Once you get there, scroll down just a little to see the recipe. This description pulled me in......light fluffy interior, thin sugary crust. Pretty, aren't they?

March 18, 2009

Mom and Dad

Helped my mother work in her yard this morning. She didn't ask for help, but it was my pleasure to do so and we had fun together. She's 80 years old and amazing.

Together we raked up all the pine cones, put them in the wheelbarrow and hauled them off to the wooded area at the back of their yard. I also cleaned up her flower beds where she had left all the autumn joy sedum and various hostas over the winter.

We went inside to take a break and watch Muffy take a nap. There are times that I'd like to be a cat....curl up in a ball and sleep all day.

A new birth bath was needed, so we headed off to a garden center...lots of good stuff there. Here's my cute mom trying to decide which one to buy. When we got home, we set the bb up and filled it with water. Mother and the birds are all happy.

And here she is looking even cuter trying to decide which colorful bobble head lawn ornament to buy. She does love her lawn ornaments. I bought for myself some summer-flowering bulbs; miniature white dahlias (I'm liking white flowers these days), and some mixed-color freesia.

This is my 85 year old dad. He's funny and makes me laugh. You'll notice that he's wearing two different color shoes. It seems that one foot is thicker than the other, not longer or wider, just thicker and all his shoes are uncomfortable. He wanted me to know that he has another pair of shoes just like the ones he's wearing in the photo in his closet. That's a Green Bay Packer Superbowl sweatshirt he's wearing. They last won the SB in 1997. He doesn't plan to buy any new clothes until all the ones he has are worn out completely.

It was a good day and I love them both. Not sure why I have so much trouble with spacing between photos and amount of editing seems to help.

March 17, 2009

Happy St. Paddy's Day To You


March 15, 2009

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

This is my second month participating in GBBD and still there's not much to report in the way of blooms. Most everything is still covered in snow, but I did find this prickly pear cactus warming itself in the sunshine we enjoyed today. It looks like this in March.......

but looks like this in July.

The picture below might not look like much to most of you, but seeing some grass appear between the snowbanks and the asphalt is a welcome sight for us. Pathetic, I know.

A big oak tree in our yard had to be cut down yesterday. It's been doing poorly for a couple of years now and it was time for it go.

P3 sitting on the stump. Not sure what he was thinking about. He was sad about the loss of the tree, but happy to be outside without a jacket.

We could hear the robins singing in the tree tops and finally P3 spotted the one below. It was our first of the year. He was excited about seeing it and was immediately transformed into a bird watcher.

When he asked if I'd bring the bird identification book outside so he could read it, it made me fall in love with him all over again.

A good way to end the afternoon. A boy having fun playing in the snow with his shadow.

Thanks again to Carol for introducing me to Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. Can't wait until my posts are filled with colorful blooms. Off to see/read what everyone else posted today.

March 9, 2009

OOOH!! - AAAH!! - WHAT??

OOOH!! - Our First Lady's Arms - Beautiful

AAAH!! - Walking Barefoot In The Grass

WHAT?? - Breakfast of Champion by Hank Willis & Ryan Alexiev. This 40"x30" print is a "mosaic made of thousands of sugary cereal bits" and can be yours for only $950.00. Interesting read, check it out.... Cereal Art

March 8, 2009

Looking Out My Windows

Late Winter

Oh winter is raw
& out of control
it doesn't know when to stop
"March!" I say, & it doesn't move
Jennifer Jones

Eventually the views from my windows looked liked this and that was the end of picture taking for the day.