Flowers for Nana

The kids’ beloved Nana is coming to visit, and we will have a houseful. In commemoration, naturally, we’ll have copious cut flowers. 

First up, my six millionth attempt at cut elephant ears!

A sunny arrangement for Nana’s room (and an homage to her famous Zinnia painting.

Bathrooms shall have flowers, of course.

Casablanca lilies in the new Madeline Island vase.

Mixing up my hydrangea game with some hot pink Zinnias.

Crocosmia in the dining room- to remind us of Nana’s 80th in Asheville- in the vases that we got from her art shop in Rochester.

And then the indoor herbs, for a week’s worth of meals… along with Nika’s Rose… in a perfectly proportioned vase, thanks to ūüĆ≤.

Sadly, I need to think of a new solution for flowers in ūüĆ≤study… he keeps knocking them over. I think Oasis is the answer. For now, though it’s dried statice in my pewter baby cup.

Can’t wait for the crew to arrive!

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Flowers and Sweet Pomona 

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The Bathroom Garden

When Mr. Amazing and I first met, I would visit his beautiful home and daydream about his gardens. As if I didn’t have enough gardens of my own to worry about. After awhile, I moved in and have had the opportunity to do something I’ve never done before: create an all color garden, with all-season color, that only has to be seen in the mirror while I get ready. That cost nothing.

The idea was simple. The execution even simpler: go find plants in the yard and fill the space. 

It is truly a “nothing” area, and it can only be seen from our master bathroom. It is less than a dozen feet wide and bordered on one side by rock mulch, the other by the property line. But why neglect this tiny space? 

It has become one of our favorite gardens. Even Mr. Minimalist has fallen in love with the maximalist English cottage garden outside our window. And with no one else to see it- I felt unconstrained. Which is as unusual as it is delightful. So here you have it. The bathroom garden. Use every space you can- it makes summer even better!

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Bountiful Gardens

I was never a fan of vegetable gardening until Mr. Amazing’s Bestie’s garden (Mr. AB). That man knows how to garden!  Between the eight foot high fence, weed cloth, irrigation system, fish meal fertilizer jet pack; he grows some impressive vegetables.

And with our meager help, he generously gives us a share. This snap is just this afternoon’s drive-by harvest courtesy of Mr. Amazing.

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Bouquet of the week: I’m sorry

Even if it’s just because your bouquet for the week died already. Zinnias, nasturtium, rosebud, and crocosmia ‘lucifer’- a hot bouquet for a hot week!

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Bouquet of the week: Homage to ikebana

5 pink callas in a Tiffany Ice bud vase.

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Spring is Back

The Colorblends 100 mix. Happiness in a vase. 

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Go big or go home.


I don’t know what you are talking about. I don’t have a problem.

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African Violets


I have loved African Violets for years, and yet I have never mastered them. My former brother in law always grew beautiful Violets on his east-facing windowsill over his kitchen sink.  When I asked him his secret, he said he pruned off leaves like crazy. It clearly worked. But not for me.

My former sister in law (not BIL’s wife, a different one) said she was able to root African Violets in a glass of water. Alas, I don’t have that skill either.

HHB’s mother has given me three Violets (above) as part of her fantastic collection of uniquely beautiful Violets that she has… No kidding… sitting on the living room floor.

Of all the plants that have mystified me over the years, this is the one. With about a 10% success rate with growing them from cuttings and Violets that barely bloom, here’s hoping that all my failures are in the past.

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wpid-20130928_101548.jpgLiving in Wisconsin, I’m blessed to have fantastic public television channels (namely, the Wisconsin Channel).¬† I am sitting here watching a fantastic program on my least favorite garden item: lawns.

I’ve already learned a number of helpful things I thought I’d pass on.

First: Nitrogen is the best weed control.¬† So you should actually fertilize your lawn if you don’t want weeds.¬† Sorry about that Mr. Mayor.¬† Weirdly, fertilizing your lawn also helps reduce phosphorus runoff which will help our beautiful lakes.

Second: Fertilize in Wisconsin on the summer holidays for sunny lawns like mine; Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day.¬† Easy to remember and we both know you aren’t really going to parties then anyway.


Third: The soil under your lawn sucks. (unless you have my gorgeous soil here at New House– the top picture is the soil with no additives under the grass.¬† I haven’t yet dug a big pit, but it seems to be quite nice as deep as I’m willing to dig).¬† Professor John Stier showed a picture of his soil at his new-construction home, which looked even worse than mine at Old House¬†(if you can imagine it.)¬† Add a light layer of¬†compost on top or even better–actually till your soil.¬† My neighbor at Old House also got great results with core aeration.

Fourth: If you didn’t already know it, to get a very green lawn, water one inch per week.¬† If the grass goes dormant, it still needs moisture so the crown of the plant can survive.¬† Since we usually have an adequate amount of rain here in Wisconsin, he suggested watering when you see footprints that stay on the lawn.

The presentation also showed different kinds of grass and their ability to resist drought, and the unimproved Kentucky Bluegrass did a great job.  Sorry Southern Sister, I know how much you miss our pretty grass.

Fifth: You can’t grow grass under trees because the tree roots outcompete the lawn.¬† So go ahead and plant it every year, SC.¬† Unless you remove the tree roots (!!) it ain’t gonna grow.

As a person who hates grass and would rather have all gardens, I certainly learned a lot.  Between that and the presentation from a guy at Rotary Gardens (Janesville) about ornamental grasses, I might yet become a convert.


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