Wednesday, February 27, 2008


I recently ordered caladiums from the DPMSO (doctor of plant medicine student organization). It's their annual fundraiser. My mom and I love caladiums, so we usually order every year. Last year, I think I ordered 50. My mom ordered 300. I think she went a little overboard, but they looked great in the yard and we get a great price. This year, I ordered mostly sunny varieties since my yard is in a conversion stage. My mom ordered another 80. They remembered us, of course. I pick up the bulbs this afternoon and will be putting them in the ground in March.

Here's what I got...

20 Rosebud - Full Sun variety

10 Aaron - Full Sun variety

30 Red Ruffles - Full Sun variety

10 Fannie Munson - Shade variety

10 White Christmas - Shade variety

Book Review: A Child's Garden

a child's garden by Molly Dannenmaier

I just got this book in the mail and have finished perusing it. It's published by Timber Press and I think it's done very well.

I started looking for children's gardening books last fall when I started my 4-H club and started retrofitting the cow pasture into a yard. I wanted something that would approach this subject with the child in mind and A Child's Garden does a great job of this.

She begins with why children need to play outside and how they need to play outside. She relates it back to her childhood of playing in the bushes and streams and with frogs and spiders. It brought me back to my childhood. We had a playhouse, but most of the time we spent outside was in the garden next to playhouse.

She then breaks out how children really play with great chapters: water, creatures, refuges, dirt, heights, movement, make-believe, nurture, and learning. Each chapter has wonderful photos and examples and sometimes landscape plans.

I loved this book and am constantly referring to it as I work to do this in my yard. The only negative I saw was that the example children's gardens were very expensive and usually done by a landscape designer. I'd like to have seen more examples of what people have done on a limited budget.

Next book I'd like to read on this subject - Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-deficit Disorder by Richard Louv. I'm really excited about this one, but it's currently on my wish list.

Rain, rain and more rain

So, we're desperate for rain in Florida, right? Well, I agree with that except when we get 2.5 inches in one night!

Saturday night, it poured and poured and poured. We got up Saturday morning and Will says "mommy, there's a river in our backyard!" Sure enough, he was right. I let Will and Kaity spend an hour or so playing in the puddles.

Because our yard is old pasture, it's pretty compacted and has a lot of clay in the soil. Plus we live on Payne's Prairie, so it's already fairly wet. When we get that much rain at one time, it has nowhere to go. So my yard was a soggy, soggy mess.

Poor John has been trying to finish the fence for Tebow, the garden destroyer, all week. He got up early Saturday morning to finish digging post holes. He couldn't even dig one without it filling in with water immediately. We usually have a water problem with these holes because of the high water table, but this was extreme. He soon gave up digging. We're going to finish the fence tonight.

You can see in the background of this picture that my raised beds are doing okay. I totally recommend these if you leave in a fairly wet area like I do.

So, about 2 days later, it finally dried out some. But, then it rained again last night and we have standing water once again. Yeah for rain, boo for soggy mess. It's also supposed to get to 28 degrees tonight. I guess I should cover my plants.

Garden Party

Kaity turned three February 8 and we had a "garden party" for her. It was a lot of fun and a great idea for the little kids. It was also one of the hottest days of February. We lucked out and the sun was shining maybe a little too brightly.

Kaity got a sandbox for her birthday which is a great addition to a children's garden. (Look for other children's garden ideas here.) This gives them a chance to play in the dirt without messing up mom's flower beds. Kim would be so proud of us - our sandbox is recycled from an old tractor tire. It fits with the look in our yard, but it definitely wouldn't fit in most people's yards.

We had about 15 kids (and additional parents and family and friends) over. To keep with the garden theme, they played in the sandbox and blew bubbles. We also decorated with pinwheels. Instead of the normal goody bag, I sent each child home with an annual flower. I know most of the flowers probably didn't even survive the weekend, but the kids loved getting a flower and the parents loved not getting candy.

The biggest hit of the party was the cake. I baked 6 8-inch circle yellow cakes. Each cake was cut in half and filled with strawberry jam. I put them altogether as a big flower, frosted with cream cheese frosting and decorated with strawberries, blueberries, and sprinkles. We'd gotten the strawberries from a fruit stand and they were wonderful. Kaity had probably eaten her weight in strawberries by the end of the day.

Here is the finished product. It was a lot of fun to make, but (talking from my own experience) make sure you have something large enough and sturdy enough to put the cake on. I forgot about this part and it made it difficult to take outside to the birthday girl.

And, here's the birthday girl blowing out her candles!

Monday, February 18, 2008

What Punctuation Mark Are You?

Since we're all editors in my office (me not as much), we got really excited that March 4 is National Grammar Day. Then we saw the punctuation mark quiz. We all, of course, had to take it. Here's my response.

You Are a Dash

Your life is fast paced and varied. You are realistic, down to earth, and very honest.

You're often busy doing something interesting, and what you do changes quickly.

You have many facets to your personality, and you connect them together well.

You have a ton of interests. While some of them are a bit offbeat, they all tie together well.

You friends rely on you to bring novelty and excitement to their lives.

(And while you're the most interesting person they know, they can't help feeling like they don't know you well.)

You excel in: Anything to do with money

You get along best with: the Exclamation Point

Tebow - the garden destroyer

Emily's Front Yard
Originally uploaded by Gardening in a Minute

Here is the newest addition to our family - Tebow, the yellow lab puppy. We got him Christmas, so he's now about 4 months old and 35 pounds. So far, he's eaten most of my container plants on my porch (including the hanging ones), rolled in my brand new salvia, and dug holes in the flower bed. He's getting a new fence for the backyard - primarily so that he stays out of my flowers!

Finished Product

Emily's Front Yard
Originally uploaded by Gardening in a Minute

Here is the almost finished pathway. I still need to get some mulch. I think it turned out pretty nicely. We've had a problem since we moved in of people using our mudroom door to come in instead of our front door (that's what you get for living in the country). I'm hoping that providing a nice attractive pathway, visitors will start using the front door.

More Free Plants

Emily's Front Yard

It's so nice working in a horticulture department. We often get free plants. A couple weeks ago, I was walking through the main office building and someone asked me to help move a box. It was full of Easter lilies! A distributor had sent them to the department chair and no one had taken any of the free bulbs. I, of course, took the whole box and shared it with my office mates - Tom, Kim, Sarah, Jen, and Georgia. I still had a bunch left over, so I decided to line a path leading to my front door with them. These are some of the bulbs. They were nice big ones. Apparently, Easter lilies, Lilium longiflorum, like to have their "heads hot and feet cool" meaning that they like to be in the sun but the bulbs like to be covered with mulch or annuals. After calling my mom from the store (she's great with that kind of stuff), I decided on red salvia and Iberis sempervirens 'Purity' or common name, purity candytuft. This is a perennial with small white flowers. I really like it. I also learned that pieces of the easter lily bulbs can be planted and should form new plants. I'm very excited about my new pathway and free plants!