Twilight in the Garden

After rain almost every day last week, and more thunderstorms moving in tomorrow, a window of opportunity presented itself today to do much needed work in the garden. I put in necessary time weeding and trimming and tidying up, while Greg mowed the yard and helped out where he was needed.

I motivated myself to keep going with the promise that I would enjoy the fruits of my labor by lighting a fire in the fire pit and scattering a few candles around the garden.

Twilight in the Garden

As the sun set behind a bank of gray clouds, I stretched my weary back and called it good. I have more to do, however I accomplished so much today. My backyard paradise resembles a garden again, a wild one after a week of rain, but a garden nonetheless. Tired, I almost passed on building a fire. A job well done brought me great satisfaction and for a moment I considered heading indoors and taking a much needed shower.

The beauty of the garden in summer, the peace and invitation to rest, won out.

Here are pics, from an evening in the garden.

Twilight in the Garden

The fairy garden is all filled in and makes me smile every time I look at it.

Twilight in the Garden

I continue to monitor the mystery plant, which is looking more and more like a cantaloupe after all.

Twilight in the Garden

I love candlelight in the garden! It’s important to use safe containers and keep flames away from grasses and plants or anything combustible. The metal lantern was a gift from my son and daughter-in-law. I have no idea what the metal cylinders are usually used for but they make interesting candle holders. I purchased these at a 2 Friends & Junk show. The rusty table was in Bob Moore’s backyard. I was happy to transfer it to mine, after he passed away.

Twilight in the Garden

More candles, with a backdrop of ornamental grasses that are beginning to tassel. The bistro table and chairs were another 2 Friends & Junk find several years ago.

Twilight in the Garden

This…this was the beauty that called to me. I’m so glad I listened. Greg and I carried out bowls of madras curried lentils that had been simmering all day in the slow cooker. (Recipe HERE) Night fell as we ate and candles flickered in the garden, their flames tiny echoes of the fire dancing in the fire pit.

And that small fire was perfect. I watched the leaping and twisting flames, mesmerized. John Geddes said “Light a campfire and everyone’s a storyteller.” We told stories tonight, primarily around work we’ve both been doing on our family trees at Ancestry.com. It was the fire though that was the main storyteller. It spoke of ancient quests and ever changing mysteries and the power of Light to illuminate the darkness.

I listened, with gratitude.

Twilight in the Garden

Growing Clematis Babies

I only lost one perennial in the garden this spring, due to freezing temperatures. I had six clematis vines that were trailing up their trellises when the cold pinched them. Five came back. One did not. Losing one plant out of hundreds isn’t bad. And yet, there’s a gap where that clematis should be. I considered purchasing a new plant, but the perfectionist in me was concerned I couldn’t match the color of the other blooming vines in that area. And besides, I could use four or five new clematis plants.

I decided to try propagating clematis plants for the first time.

Growing Clematis Babies

There are several methods for creating new plants from existing ones. I decided to go with the easiest…growing new plants from cuttings in water. And I had the perfect container for rooting the vines in.

Growing Clematis Babies

My daughter Elissa passed on these unique bud vases to me, several years ago. I confess, I have a difficult time cutting flowers to use for display. I’d rather have them growing in my garden than dying in a vase, so I rarely gather flowers. However, these little vases would make perfect incubators.

Growing Clematis Babies

These are the four beauties that I took cuttings from. Here are the easy steps I followed.

1) Prepare containers for rootings. They need to be tall enough to hold the cuttings. Dissolve aspirin in water and fill containers. The aspirin helps the cuttings to root. I used one low dosage aspirin in about 6 cups of water.

2) Cut a 6-8 inch section of vine from the top of the plant. Remove any leaves that would be below the water line, as they will rot. Clip off any blooms or buds so that energy is directed to rooting and not producing flowers.

3) Place cuttings, in water, in a bright window without direct sunlight. A north facing window is ideal. Use a grow light if a suitable window isn’t available. Change water daily, to prevent stagnation, and add a low dosage aspirin with each water change.

4) Once roots are 1/4-1 inch long, begin adding a tablespoon of potting soil a day to the container, so roots adapt to soil. When the container has mostly soil in it, transplant vine to a pot. Acclimate the vine to the outdoors by increasing the amount of sunshine it receives each day. When plant tolerates being outdoors for 24 hours, it’s ready to transplant into the ground.

Growing Clematis Babies

I love creating, whether it’s a drawing or a recipe or a new plant. And I enjoy using what I already have on hand. It’s also important to be adaptable. Cleaning the containers with a bottle brush, I accidentally broke the bottom of one of the tubes. Greg used a silicone sealer to attempt fixing it. I’m letting it cure for 24 hours. If it seals and holds water, great. I don’t mind the wabi sabi look…beauty in imperfection. And if it doesn’t hold water, that’s okay too. I still have five tubes.

It was as I was washing the containers that I recognized the irony of their shape, and laughed. These are large glass test tubes. I’m growing baby clematis vines…in test tubes. I have test tube babies. I couldn’t have a more appropriate container!

Growing Clematis Babies

The Glory of Gardening

I experienced the incredible joy of being in gardening mode all day. My mom and I visited Sutherland’s Saturday morning, for their final half price sale. We arrived at the store’s garden center at 6:43…and there was already a long line of customers, eager for the gate to open at 7:00. We joined the crowd…and found all we were looking for!

I got very little done over the weekend, with those colorful flowers. However, I was up early this morning, ready to get everything planted before thunderstorms roll into the area tonight. What a full and beautiful day in the garden.

The Glory of Gardening

My garden lagged behind this year, hampered by a cold early spring. I learned much about patience and accepting what was this spring, as day after day I inspected the garden for signs of life. Just as plants began to emerge, and a few buds appeared, another cold weekend with below freezing temperatures shut the garden down. I was afraid I had lost plants. I had to be okay with that.

The Glory of Gardening

Today I couldn’t tell that the garden overslept. Colorful blooms are appearing at last, the empty patches of ground are filling in and although I was delayed in planting in the many containers scattered about, I remedied that today.

Here’s a peek into my personal paradise.

The Glory of Gardening

This ancient azalea bush, transplanted from Greg’s parents’ house in Arkansas, was budding when the cold touched it. Those early buds shriveled up. I am so grateful it survived. It’s putting on a spectacular show now.

The Glory of Gardening

The beauty of using annuals in the containers is that I can totally change the look of the garden each year. I opted for lots of color this season, focusing primarily on yellows, oranges and pinks. It feels very celebratory, an acknowledgment of perseverance.

The Glory of Gardening

All the containers were filled. I used zinnias, snapdragons, portulaca, and vinca. The potted plants on the metal shelf beneath the workshop window were moved to the rusty wire basket across the yard, where they will receive less sunlight. Potted vincas took their place.

The Glory of Gardening

The hostas are huge this year and filling in nicely. I used colorful flowers in the meditation area for the first time, instead of white blooms. And the southern border looks amazing. It will be a sea of purples, pinks and yellows soon.

The Glory of Gardening

For five years, I’ve used an old picnic table, made by Grandpa Moore in the early 60s, as a potting table. It has served me well, although the height was a bit low for me. To ease my back, I’d end up sitting on one of the attached benches as I worked.

Today, Greg finished a special project for me. He made me a potting bench, cleverly repurposing wooden pallets that he’s saved. I love it! Although Greg kept apologizing that the potting bench wasn’t fancy, I think it is absolutely perfect for my needs. And I appreciate that he recycled materials that he had, rather than purchasing new boards.

The Glory of Gardening

The potting bench looks adorable, with my hand tools hanging conveniently across the top. I now have a place to display two vintage water sprinklers that are so cool looking. I’ve yet to try them out in the garden, but I will!

I am grateful for Greg’s generosity. He has contributed greatly to the backyard garden. In doing so, he has been a supporter of my dreams and vision for this sanctuary.

The Glory of Gardening

I completed all that I set out to do today. I have a whole flat of flowers left over, that will go into various containers that are currently tucked away. In the meantime, those bright blooms have the perfect resting place on my new bench.

English poet Alfred Austin wrote, “The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.”

I experienced all of those nurturing things today, and by the end of the afternoon I was a sweaty, dirty, happy mess. It was glorious, indeed.

The Glory of Gardening

Surrender 115: Playing with Colors

This spring day was gorgeous…warm, but with a cooling breeze, sunny, but with occasional cloudiness. It was the perfect weather for spending the day outdoors, working in the garden. I say working, because I accomplished so much. However, playing would be the more appropriate word, playing with colors and containers. 


Three gardening projects drew my focus. 

I planted most of my containers today, 27 of them. I have seven more to plant tomorrow, but I’m very happy with today’s results. My Aunt Annie’s old red box received its summer update, with flower pots filled with begonias and coleas. More begonias fill containers next to the box. The shallow bowl was another treasure from my aunt’s house, pressed into service holding flowers. 


The yellow baker’s rack was filled with a variety of colorful containers and equally colorful flowers and plants. I saw a quote once that said that gardening is an art that uses flowers and plants as paint, and that’s my experience. I focus on creating pleasing arrangements that balance color, look whimsical and have touches of surprise. 


Pleased with the finished front porch, I filled containers in the backyard garden…


…and turned my attention to the second project, planting perennials that my friend Beth gave me from her garden. I love how gardeners are so willing to share, both knowledge and plants. I visited Beth and viewed her charming garden, and left with native phlox and Becky shasta daisies. I hope to return the favor by giving my friend plants from my garden that she doesn’t have. These new plants were tucked into the ground, successfully filling a couple of bare spots in my southern border. 


Before completing project three, I considered how I could use several objects in my garden. Every container has possibilities, and my imagination fired with ideas for two vintage cone colanders that once belonged to my aunt…


…and a minnow bucket that Greg brought to me from a friend’s yard sale. Plants will go into the colanders and the solid bucket. The interior of the minnow bucket will make a whimsical candle holder. More on these projects later!



Finally, I completely redid a section of the garden. I had a great idea for the space just inside the Peace Gate, as shown in the picture above from 2014. I still like the way it looked. However, in reality the idea wasn’t practical and didn’t work. When it rains, water comes under the fence and floods the area, creating a little river that follows the path. I can’t keep mulch in the area, as the water carries it away and deposits it around the corner. 


Janet Kilburn Phillips says, “There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments.”  I acknowledged that this experiment failed. Time for a fresh idea. With Greg’s help, five slabs of concrete, left over from a demolished sidewalk, were repurposed to create stepping stones. Forgoing mulch, I am filling in the area with ground cover. 


I’m very pleased that I’m partially accomplishing this task by using creeping phlox from the garden of Greg’s mother. Leta had a beautiful phlox garden. Although it’s been at least 20 years since that garden has been tended, the phlox returns every spring. This weekend I dug up the creeping phlox and brought it home. This  re-created space is currently muddy and raw looking, and I’m going to love it. 

What an incredibly lovely day, engaging in one of my favorite activities. I’m tired, and wind blown, and extremely thrilled with today’s creative playtime. Oscar de la Renta is the person who said, “Gardening is how I relax. It’s another form of creating and playing with colors.” I totally agree!