All posts by leadort

Just Root It!

Well it’s officially Fall but forever Summer in my mind 😊 I do enjoy this weather for longer cooler hikes, annual Fall social events/traditions and gathering all sorts of pumpkins and squashes to decorate and eat!  It’s also a great time to bring out the crockpot to use for a plethora of recipes and a perfect time to make soup for the soul.

In addition, Fall is a great time to plant in the garden and collect those favorite plants from summer you hope to overwinter with success.  Which made me think how do we get these plants to overwinter and bring us more joy next Spring and Summer?

First I had to acquire the right soil and it has been a challenge lately finding soil without the famous fertilizer we all know that begins with the letter “M” my experience with these new soils is they hold A LOT of water and thus rots the plants especially tender cuttings, I did however end up finding an organic potting soil that might work; we shall see.  The next thing that is needed in helping our plants form good and strong roots is a rooting hormone. In order to save some money and practice sustainability, I thought it would be great to use a natural rooting hormone and better yet maybe use something we had in our cupboards and storage bins as a source.

What exactly is a rooting hormone and what is it used for?

Rooting hormones act as catalysts for the promotion of new roots, they also protect the cuttings from fungus and disease that could have occurred when you initially cut the plant of interest.

A rooting medium is the mixture you would use to grow your new plants.  It is not a garden soil, but is usually much lighter; it actually is not a soil at all.  You can purchase pre-made rooting medium mixtures or you can use a combination of various commercially organized components as a rooting medium.

The trick is to get something that will retain water but not bogged down the newly forming roots.

I will share some homemade natural root hormone mixtures to try, just remember to make sure to separate your stock from your working mixture, just place what you think you might need in a small container or paper cup and dip your plant cutting into that mixture vs. the stock mixture to avoid contamination.

So the first idea was to just spit on the cutting, yup you heard it right “spit on it”  Hmm, that is a bit crass so I am going suggest you use your saliva sounds a little better right?. With all the new DNA tests out now to help us find out who we really are and which ancestors we came from you may have recently had to “spit in a cup” so this might not be so hard to do. The idea is to use your saliva and dip your cutting in it.  I’ll try if you will, LOL!  Just make sure you do not lick the cutting as some instructions suggest since your cutting could be poisonous or toxic so do not lick it!

Second idea is a honey root hormone mixture.  Just boil 2 cups of water add 1 TBSP of honey, let it cool place a small amount in a separate container and then dip your cutting.  The honey is antibacterial and antifungal so it will keep your cutting healthy and also promote new roots. This can be stored in a dark place for two weeks.

Third idea is using 3 tsp of apple cider vinegar in 1 gallon of water.  This is a large volume of root hormone mixture but if it works you will have an abundant supply of it.

Fourth idea is crushing an aspirin tablet and dissolving it in water, just use enough water to dissolve the tablet and it should produce a weak paste or loose slurry after it goes into solution.

Fifth idea is making a stinging nettle or comfrey tea let the leaves of these plants soak in water for a few days. I would say a cup of water would make a strong enough tea to create a good root hormone mixture. First picture stinging nettle, second picture comfrey.


Sixth and last idea is a classic old school natural hormone and that is using the new stems of a willow tree, best time to retrieve this is in the early Spring when the Willow is filling out and new shoots are emerging in abundance. Once the stem is retrieved cut into pieces and allow it to sit in water for three days, producing a willow stem tea. Maybe try a stem now and see if it works and let us know.

Keep in mind you can also root your plants by using the water method but not all plants will root this way successfully or may take longer but it is the “go to” option for sure.


Hopefully these homemade ideas will allow you to save some of your favorite summer plantings by creating some really strong roots.  Once the cuttings have rooted plant in a good potting soil mix free of fertilizer and keep in an area that gets good lighting and warmth during the winter while inside, then after the first frost move outside so your plants can begin to get established.

Till next time; clean up your garden but leave some seed heads for birds migrating thru they make a nice flight snack and try gathering those seeds you want to share with the club in November, remember collect in a paper envelope or bag never anything plastic because seeds are living organisms in a dormant state and lastly enjoy saving your summer favorites and maybe try one or two of the ideas above and let us know which ones worked the best for you.

Happy Fall, ENJOY!






Rudbeckia Hirta

This year my garden exploded literally with Rudbeckia hirta aka Black-eyed Susan (terrible name by the way when you think about it) RRGH!  But legend has it, the name did not refer to violence upon Susan but rather it referred to an Old English poem describing a dark eyed woman Susan, looking for the love of her life on a ship going into battle. Pretty interesting huh 😊

So I would say the excessive masses of this particular plant in our gardens, probably had something to do with all of that rain earlier in the season.  My Mom and I attend an annual garden tour and this year one of the gardens featured unique and familiar herbs and yes some were in the form of what we would consider typical garden flowers or wildflowers, and guess what? The Black-eyed Susan was featured as a herb in this garden and labelled for its medicinal benefits.  I must say out all the herbs we were exposed to in this beautiful garden I did not expect this plant to be on the list, but it is actually an herb!


This plant is in the Asteraceae Family (Aster family) and is to say the least a cheerful and widespread wildflower, for some it is considered an annual for others a short lived perennial. It’s characteristics are bright-yellow, 2-3 inch wide daisy like flowers with dark centers which is it’s claim to fame. They are indigenous to many areas of the United States and were introduced into Europe after Columbus’ visits. They were named by Linnaeus in 1753 , he gave them the Latin name Rudbeckia Hirta after his mentor Olaf Rudbeck and hirta means rough and hairy. The leaves are alternate and mostly basal covered by coarse hairs, so hirta makes sense.


Native Americans used the plant to wash sores and soak swellings, it was a poultice for snake bites, treating worms and for children with colds.  A poultice is just a soft, moist mass of material usually made out of plant material or flour. They also used it as a diuretic to increase the flow of urine and extracted juice from the root to treat earaches.


Recent studies state that the extract from the root of this plant can help benefit the immune system and can stimulate higher effects than Echinacea.

Rudbeckia Hirta is the floral emblem of the State of Maryland


and each year this flower shines in full glory for the world to see as a drape made of hundreds of black eyed susans placed on the back of the horse that wins the Preakness; one of the second jewels of the triple crown of horse racing. This year’s winner was War of Will in May of 2019 won at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, MD. Notice the flowers on the horse, had you ever paid attention to which flower it was before?


In our area it is a annual that self seeds prolifically (therefore we THINK its an perennial but that’s another lesson to be learned 😊) It grows in full sun or partial shade.  It is drought, heat and soil tolerant.  My kind of plant, LOL!!!  Seeds can be planted in the spring after the threat of frost has long gone, seeds can be planted about ¼ inch deep and the seeds germinate in about 2 weeks.  Separate plants by at least 8 inches apart.  These plants will produce flowers by mid-summer and will continue to bloom until the first hard frost. Now is a great time to harvest seed heads and you could share them at our seed exchange in November.  What a great way to share a plant with so many hidden benefits, it definitely makes me look at this plant differently now, it is not only beautiful visually in its massive wonder but beneficial to us as well internally in promoting a healthier immune system. It is for sure listed in my book as a whole body plant to enjoy both in mind, body and soul.  Till next time, get out there and get dirty in the garden!

Photo credits: NBC, Chestnutherb, Eden Brothers, Google pics. 

Seeds, seeds and more seeds!

I recently went to visit a dear friend who is doing their very best to deal with some difficult life challenges, as I pulled into the driveway I immediately noticed a really sweet little garden and of course as any gardener would do I cheesed a big grin and might have said out loud “So cute, I love it!” It was quaint and had some mature plantings along with unique garden artifacts such as an old cement horse post, really cool!  After our awesome visit and my escort back to the car following numerous hugs and kisses, we proceeded to check out this side garden by the driveway. I was happy to see some very unusual coneflower seed heads that were then gifted to me to take home to my garden; I received them with gratitude and pleasure. To be honest it was more about having a part of my friend in my garden, for when this coneflower blooms it would be a warm and fuzzy reminder of our friendship. I’m quite sentimental about these types of exchanges they mean the world to me!

So once we said our final good byes I drove off but did think more about seed exchange and how it’s an amazing trade, both sentimental and economical. It cost nothing; my price tag was BIG HUGS and KISSES can’t beat that!

Thought it might be fun to share how a seed becomes a seed and to invite us to start collecting when things in our gardens’ start going to seed at the end of the season (always leave enough for our feather friends for winter snacks of course) but let’s harvest some seeds and then do a seed exchange maybe in November when we are in the giving and thankful mode and reflecting on those we are grateful for and our love of gardens when they are being put to sleep for winter. We can plant them indoors starting in February or wait and plant them outside in pots or directly into our gardens after the first frost.

Here’s a picture of my seed heads and then the next picture is one in which the seeds have been separated notice the long brown part is NOT the seed, it’s the prickly portion of the seed head and just protects the seed which is actually the tan portion attached.


See the lone seed separated from the prickly portion. Always store your seed heads or separated seeds in a paper bag or paper envelope and NEVER in plastic. Remember it is a living thing and it needs to breathe in its dormancy until you plant it. Yup that’s right unplanted seeds are in dormancy, so when you are eating trail mix with pumpkin seeds, almonds etc.. you are actually eating dormant seeds 😊. Popcorn kernels, peas, rice and acorns are seeds too! Just in their dormancy stage, all of these can be sprouted! (That’s another story for another time)

So what is a seed? A small part of a flowering plant that grows into a new plant.

A seed has three parts:

  1. Seed coat – protects the entire seed
  2. Embryo- this is where the baby plant lives
  3. Endosperm – food storage of the plant

Note: If you eat whole grains you are eating all three parts. The seed coat is called bran and the embryo is called germ; if you are eating refined grains you are eating just the endosperm which is mainly carbohydrates. That’s why it’s encouraged to eat the whole grain which has more nutrients and more benefits to our bodies.

Back to the fabulous seed, the seed is formed when pollen fuses with the ovules this fusion creates a fertilized seed. The pollen comes from the anther which sits on top of the filament these are the male parts collectively called the stamen. If you have ever touched a flower and a powdery residue gets on you that’s the pollen or sperm to be exact. The female parts are the stigma, style, ovary and ovules (eggs to be exact) this collectively is called the pistil. The pollen from the anther adheres to the sticky stigma then travels down into the ovary and fuses with the ovules and voila’ a fertilized seed is created. See anatomy of a flower below. Oh yeah the flower is the reproductive unit and the petals are the pretty part of the flower which we all enjoy and the sepals are at the base of the flower they are green and protect the bud of the flower.

Parts of the flower infographics. Lily flower anatomy. Science for kids.

(Thanks Adobe for the pic)

Common pollinators are honey bees, bats, birds, butterflies and moths.

Seeds need water (moisture), temperature (warmth), sunlight, nutrient rich soil and to be a good quality seed. Once it has all of these conditions in place, roots are the first to form within the soil and then the seed pushes up thru the soil towards sunlight and then loses its seed coat and the baby plant emerges (a sprout) and is equipped with two new leaves, the roots push down deeper and get stronger to prepare to support the new plant.

So are you ready to produce new plants from seeds? If so, get out there and start collecting and lets see what we come up with, it should be a wonderful seedy event!

Till next time, visit a friend, garden with joy and prepare to share the blessings from your garden.


Beat the Heat

Hello Gardening Friends!!!

So it is pretty hot out there and I thought it would be nice to share some tips on how we can best serve our gardens in the extreme heat.  I found a great source of information and instead of me summarizing it all I figured I would just allow you to hit the link and enjoy this informative article.

I will say the article link above is about helping your garden stay viable during extreme heat; but I would like to give some suggestions for you the gardener in these high temperatures and humidity.

Please please be careful while gardening whether you like it or not it is important to take good care of yourself while working outdoors.

Here are some tips:

  • Do your heaviest work early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Think “siesta time”and take a break between 11 to 2; sit in the shade, relax and enjoy your garden, do some birdwatching and let the weeding go till after the sun goes down when it could be much cooler.
  • Go slow and take quite a few breaks.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Drink plenty of cool water before, during and after working outdoors. And once you realize you are thirsty it is too late you are already dehydrated.  No cocktails until the work is done LOL, alcohol dehydrates you even more.
  • Use sunscreen! Remember to reapply after sweating.
  • Use a hat that covers and shades your face, ears and neck and wear light colored clothing it helps to reflect the sun.
  • Purchase a cooling tie if you are into gardening gadgets or just wet a bandana or old towel and wrap that around your neck to keep cool.

I don’t know about you but I am like the energize bunny and I tend to just keep pushing myself until I’m done what I set out to do in the garden for that day, but be careful doing this in extreme heat and humidity.

If the temperature plus the humidity added together equals over 160 you need to stop and definitely go inside to recover.  Also if your pet is gardening with you remember they have fur and do not sweat to cool themselves like we do, so their number is when the two values equal over 150.  For example if it is 80 degrees outside and the humidity is 90% add the two together and the result is 170 both you and your pooch need to run for cover! Heat induced deaths are more prevalent than natural disaster tragedies so take this seriously and avoid heat stroke or a fatality. Yes it would be nice to die in your beautiful garden but not like that!

If you experience muscle cramps, fatigue, headache, nausea, dizziness, heavy sweating or pale and flushed skin you are heading towards a serious issue so pay attention to your body it will definitely tell you when enough is enough. The symptoms above are for heat stress and heat exhaustion. When you stop sweating and are vomiting, your temperature is over 104, heart is racing and beating rapid, your breathing is shallow your are approaching a heat stroke and therefore seek medical attention immediately! Heat strokes can cause permenant and serious damage to your body so listen to it and be smart when you garden in the heat.

Ok now that you have been scared have to death; just remember your garden can not be taken care of if you dont take care of YOU in order to do so.  So garden when it is cool and garden with caution on these truly blazing summer days now and throughout the season.

Till next time, get out there and get dirty in the garden but stay cool and smart about it!


The making of a mushroom.

Well, we have had a great deal of liquid sunshine and with that being said; things grow, things we want and things we think we don’t want.  Rain is the precursor for mushrooms.  After our many torrential down pours at night we all are mostly likely to awaken to mushrooms and toadstools.

Hmm, what’s the difference between mushrooms and toadstools.  I have to be honest every time I hear or see the word toadstool I picture a toad atop a red mushroom speckled with white polka dots perched to perfection.  See the toadstool found in my garden in the featured picture of this blog above, I was bummed there was not a tiny toad sitting upon it like the photo below. LOL!

Image result for pic toad on toadstool

But the simple difference is mushrooms are edible and toadstools are not.  And yes I know not all mushrooms are edible therefore those mushrooms are toadstools.  Get it???

I will focus on mushrooms, so let’s get to what a mushroom is.  Mushrooms are fungi more specifically the reproduction part of the fungi that live under the surface of the soil.  They spread by spores into the air then go away when the sun appears or when the soil dries up.  What you see above the soil is the fruiting body after all the major production is done underground.  A fruiting body is the same as a flower on a plant, once that flower dies it spreads it’s seeds to continue procreating, thus the mushroom’s fruiting body is doing the same thing when it releases it’s spores.

The perfect making of a mushroom requires moisture, shade, cloudy weather, and rich organic soil; mix these up in any combination or all of the above and a mushroom is born!

Things to do in your garden to keep the mushrooms from appearing more frequently:

  • Decrease shade – trim back or thin out branches on trees and shrubs
  • Avoid compacted soil- if you notice standing water or damp areas after long periods of rain your soil is compacted. Therefore aerate the soil to improve drainage and decrease thatched areas that are over an inch. What is thatch? Thatch is little bits and pieces of grass that have died and have gathered above the soil.

See photo below.

Image result for pic of thatch in garden

  • Lastly, be attentive to old trees and pets – remove stumps completely to prevent organic matter for mushrooms to grow in and pick up pet waste and do not let it sit on your lawn or soil for this to brings about mushrooms.

Keep in mind mushrooms are not all “bad” they are an indicator of rich organic matter in your soil.  Mushrooms break down the organic matter and make the soil more productive.  Mushrooms found at the base of trees near their roots is a good thing, as pictured in my garden.



But, those found on the tree such as the shelf mushroom pictured below is a warning for concern since the tree could be dying from the inside out, remember mushrooms start their growth out of sight in areas that are breaking down into organic matter. By the way, shelf mushrooms are edible at certain times in the season and are called “chicken of the woods” (Laetiporous sulphureus a bracket fungus)

Image result for shelf mushrooms on trees

A fairy ring is a natural occurring ring or arc of mushrooms that can grow up to 10 yards in diameter. The cute folk lore regarding this phenomenon suggests that fairies dance in the ring at night and rest when they are tired on the toadstools.  I know you have a visual don’t you (giggling) does it look like this?

Related image

But this is what it would look like in nature for real.

Image result for fairies in fairy ring dancing pic

Hopefully this information has given you a closer look at how a mushroom is made and also what you can do to minimize their appearance in your garden if you choose to do so; or you could just go with the flow and maybe experience a true fairy ring and actually spy on those fairies dancing in the night when they aren’t looking, smiling. Anyhoooo, enjoy mushrooms both in the garden and in your kitchen but beware of toadstools, now that you know the difference:)

Till next time enjoy the season of summer gardening and Happy Early Summer Solstice, it officially arrives this Friday June 21, 2019. ENJOY!



Spring Clean Up Find

I don’t know about you but it’s been a challenge doing Spring Clean Up with all of this liquid sunshine.  The good news is I managed to get in about 8 hours of clean up recently and to my surprise found some new friends in the garden. One in particular made me shout out for joy, the unwonted(for my garden that is) Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) hidden behind a nice pile of winter decorative foliage aka, a disassembled winter wreath or swag of some sort under a pretty dense shrub. Once that was all cleared out; there in an eye’s view was this little beauty, quite tall and proud indeed!  I was quite surprise it had not been damaged in my not so careful removal of the winter debris since I did not think anything was there to be cautious about. I’m still trying to figure out how it got there, but we will get to that later 🙂


So Jack-in-the-pulpit is a pretty cool looking plant for sure, it’s botanical name is Arisaema triphyllum as I mentioned earlier, it is phonetically pronounced air-iss-EE-muh  try-FY-lum. We need to practice our Latin pronunciation of the true botanical names when we can, so count this as today’s lesson, LOL.  

Anyway, this herbaceous perennial plant grows from a corm, which could have three parted leaves and a flower contained in a spathe.  Ok let’s break it down a bit; a corm is a rounded underground storage organ that some plants use to survive winter or other extreme conditions such as a summer drought and high heated temperatures sometimes experienced in nature; it has a swollen stem base covered with scale leaves. You will also find corms in crocuses, gladioli and cyclamen. Corms are also called bulbo-tuber or bulbotuber it is short, vertical and a swollen modified stem, other types of modified stems are rhizomes, tuber, stolons, and bulbs.

Illustation of an elephant's ear corm, with the following associated parts identified: remnants of tunic, lateral bud, fleshy roots, node, new developing corm, and flower stem.

Photo of a gladiolus plant, with the old and new corms, and cormel identified.

The bloom consist of a very deep cylindrical pouch called a spathe- the “pulpit” it will have alternating strips of lighter and darker green sometimes purple.  When you lift up the flap at the top of the spathe you will see a round headed slender spike this is our friend “Jack” this spike is called a spadix.


If the plant has three parted leaves it is usually a male and at the base of the spadix will be thread like male flowers that yield yellow pollen, if it is large and has only two parted leaves it is a female and at the base of it’s spadix will be tiny green berry like structures. In the female once the flowers have faded a cluster of bright red berries will appear and last till the end of summer. These seeds will seed themselves or you can remove them and plant elsewhere. The female is called Jill-in-the-pulpit.


My guy is definitely a boy.


Jack-in-the-pulpit is pollinated by tiny fungus flies that are attracted to the flowers by a faint odor that smells like mushrooms. The flies enter at the top of the spathe are trapped and then covered with pollen, once they relax they realize they can exit at the base of the spathe by leaving thru a small slit.

Fungus Gnat

So I’m not sure how my flower ended up in my front garden, I could have planted it there maybe two years ago cause that’s when I remember a friend sharing it but this was the first time I’ve ever seen one survive the transplant.

There are two other reasons it may have emerged this season one could be all of this consistent liquid sunshine, the end of the winter heavy rains apparently has a lot to do with mature plants (which take about two years to grow) sprouting into big healthy blossoms. That particular area of the garden gets soaked due to a never ending clogged gutter and poor landscape grading; at least this flower brought joy amidst the trials of this soggy area.

Secondly, it could have ended up in this area due to a local native creature; a box turtle.  Yup, that’s right our native eastern box turtle is known to transplant these flowers via seed disbursement passing thru their digestive tracts. They love muck gardens, that are wet,with lots of leaf litter, trees and shrubs to hide in, with a little area to sunbathe too, which is totally the description of this front area. They also transplant may apples which might explain my explosion of may apples on the other side of the house. So yeah Mr. Turtle might be the culprit.  How cool is that! I’m leaning towards the latter reason, since I don’t remember putting it there (cause I sort of keep a semi-good log of where I plant stuff) plus it sounds better saying the turtle put it there, LOL what gardener wouldn’t want to tell that story (giggling) thanks Mr. Turtle 🙂

Eastern Box Turtle ( Terrapene carolina carolina ) -  I've been hoping to photograph a Box Turtle pretty much since I bought my camera... so it's kinda funny that it's taken me almost four years to happen upon one.  This was a pretty large specimen and I've read they can live for anywhere from 50 to 100 years.  So in reality, this turtle could be much older than even me...

Either way, it is now there, it’s been documented as such and shared with the world so let’s see what happens next year.

Lastly, not sure why its called Jack-in-the-pulpit, some say maybe it was named after a clergyman named Jack.  The finger like spadix that sticks up standing in the spathe  resembles a man of the cloth standing in a church pulpit, preaching to the garden, LOL. It has other names such as bog onion (since onions are corms), wild turnip, brown dragon and Indian turnip.  I think we all agree Jack-in-the-pulpit sounds more intriguing and just plain fun!

Well, if you don’t get to church regularly and you want to find some peace in your life for just a moment and you are fortunate enough to have this unique flower in your garden, just go sit next to it, observe it, and let it teach you a spiritual lesson from nature’s pulpit of taking the time to slow down, chill and enjoy the amazing and wonderful creations from God above, because no human in all their abilities to create things on earth could ever copy this wonderful specimen!

Till we meet again, get out there, get dirty and enjoy gardening.


Spectacular Spring Driveby


Hello! Hope this Spring season is bringing you joy.  Last week when I left the farm, I exited towards a very windy road and to my surprise I came upon an embankment full of Spring Ephemerals.  Ephemerals are plants that come to the spring party for a short visit, enter with a WOW appearance and then vanish!  They do not die but they do go dormant till the next year, so when they are present they deserve your attention. Let’s just say I gave my attention and risked danger to myself on this windy and steep road, making a quick turn around and then having the nerve to get out, and get up and close to take in the beauty before me.  As they say ” Don’t try this at home” shaking my head.  After I got back in the car I quickly came back to my senses and could not believe I did what I did in the moment of horticulture intoxication and how quick I did it all. The turn around, the pull over and then the exit to photograph and then jump back into the car. Total madness but check out the details below:


See it was worth it.  And who might this be.  Well, let me introduce you (BIG GRIN) this is Sanguinaria canadensis aka Bloodroot. Now just picture this all over a steep woodland hillside it was spectacular, especially in the darkness of this ecosystem the road was under a canopy of very mature trees so it was like driving in a woodland tunnel spotlighted with these little beauties. Bloodroot gets its name for the dark red sap in the  stems and roots of the plant which resembles blood. The colored juice from these areas of the plant can be used to make red, pink and orange dyes.  It is also use medicinally as a salve to treat skin cancers and is quickly becoming hard to find and reaching the point of extinction in certain areas of the United States because of this medicinal purpose. Since it is a fighter of bacteria and inflammation it helps with many ailments such as toothaches, breathing problems, fever, skin problems, headaches, muscle and joint pain. In the Fall the root and rhizome are collected for use in medicines.

Bloodroot adores damp soil but it can be naturalized in the drier areas under trees; allow these woodland plants to be planted in rich soil receiving spring moisture and summer shade.  It grows in the eastern parts of the United States and Canada.

This wildflower ephemeral will definitely be the star of your early spring garden, make you stop in the midst of whatever you are doing to enjoy it up close and heal you both physically and spiritually.  So put it on your invitee list for the Spring dance, it will appear early, dressed to impress and then quickly exit leaving you longing to be in its presence till you meet again.



Thanks Sanguinaria for the dance and the magnificent dip while we embraced, till next time sleep well.


Spring!!! Finally.

Hello Garden Friends,

Hope this message finds you well, ready to get outside more often and to get digging in the dirt!

Countryside GC hopes 2019 has been pleasant and healthy for you thus far.  We ended 2018 with a holiday social focusing on gathering and giving, see captured highlights below:


Now that we have made it thru another winter, let’s get down to business and reflect on what this Spring will bring to you and your garden.  I’m excited about some poppies that I planted last year which seemed happy at the end of last season by dropping a ton of seeds, I’m praying they sprout and proliferate in that designated area this year let’s see if that will be the case!

I also need to create new beds and do some landscape design projects all with good intentions; hmm wonder if that will happen this year (giggling). In the meantime, I am once again in awe of how things begin to emerge and push thru the earth silently screaming “Look at me, Look at me” I must say I believe those first signs of life in the garden are secretly happy they have survived the winter and are back again to bring us joy.

There truly is something divinely supernatural as to how the whole process works, its just glorious and I give thanks for being here another year to see it all take place again.

So without further ado, I’m happy to show you a glimpse of what is popping up in my garden spaces and hopefully you are also enjoying your old and new garden friends arriving for their season’s visit, they will no doubt be some of the best company you will host this time of year.



A tad more…..


Enjoy, dig, play and rejoice in the power of Spring!

PS. Don’t forget Rita’s Water Ice is free on the First day of Spring, so go treat your self and then if it makes it back to your home, take it with you as you walk around your garden (or a public garden or nursery) checking out what’s new or what plans you may have in store for this garden season.


Farewell for now.

Dazzling Dahlias!

Dahlia or Dahlia hortensis is an amazing spiky flower grown in some areas as a perennial bush.  It belongs to the Compositae family.


It has approximately 50,000 cultivations, the flower was named after the  18thcentury Swedish botanist Ander Dahl.

These amazing flowers were on display the first weekend of Fall at Longwood Gardens along with The Greater Philadelphia Dahlia Society. They hosted the American Dahlia Society’s 2018 National Show.  Over 2,000 blooms filled the Conservatory during this competitive show with the major dahlia species featured in the Exhibition Hall. These flowers range in size from 10 inch (dinner plate) across to 2 inches (pompon or some are labeled pompom)!  The trail garden at Longwood featured Dahlias specifically because of the show this year.

In this garden region Dahlia’s need to be removed and stored over the winter. This can be done after the first frost and when the foliage has blackened. Then carefully dig up your dahlia tubers and cut the stalk 2 inches away from the tuber.  Let the tuber dry out in a frost free area for a couple of days. Once the tubers are dry brush off excess soil and store in ventilated box, basket or heavy brown paper bag. Cover the tubers with slightly damp sand, peat moss or vermiculite and place in a cool dry place where temperatures are between 45 and 55 degrees.  Check on them periodically to make sure they are not rotting, have become a winter snack for a critter or have shriveled up.  If they do not look plump in appearance just mist them lightly with water.  The tubers are quite fragile at this stage so be careful handling them.  They can be replanted in the garden when temperatures warm up consistently later in the Spring.

It was fun to learn and experience the joy dahlias bring; the show made you want to plant a special area in your garden and share in the same delight of all the proud owners of these wonderful plants put on display.

See photos of the show below, enjoy and maybe you will be inspired to plant a dahlia next season or better yet visit a friend’s garden who already has them and help them dig up the tubers and prepare them for winter and maybe you will be sent home with a few tubers of your own!

Till next time, delve and delight in nature!


A Flower Show: Triumph and Transparency

For the first time in the history of the Delaware Federation of Garden Clubs; three clubs created, participated in and presented a flower show to one of its local communities in Northern Wilmington.  The Canterbury, Garden Gate, and Moonflower Garden Clubs gathered with grace to put on a small but mighty flower show that opened all of our hearts up to wonder of Beyond The Garden Gate.



I had the pleasure of being the Photography Chair, submitted photos as a participant along with entering horticulture and was arm twisted into a creating my first design.  So since I am a woman of my word I did everything I was asked to do even the design which I knew was purely on the effort of “just try it”, I said to myself, you can’t back out, you can but that’s not you and I could hear Bill Baur in my ear saying just do it, just try.


Bill is such an advocate of all of us entering into any flower show presented to us including the Philadelphia Flower Show which yup gave me my first serious blue ribbon, so no matter what I now always give these sometimes torturous flower shows a try.

So let me share and be transparent with you all and maybe you will learn something from my experience; the photography chair job was great and easy you just have to be super organized and have a lot patience to label the photos and stage them just right when you have extremely enthusiastic entries that are in large volumes, LOL yup Ms. Kathe Worrell got a tad excited about this section of the show, God bless her heart and she did submit some beauties and won some awards as did myself. I even had our youngest son submit for the first time he learned a great deal and had fun. (He’s a classic teenager and is caught texting about the experience, so that confirms it was big deal indeed)


So photography was good: I also submitted horticulture and placed an award with my Limelight Hydrangea submission cut early that morning the day of the show.  I used to be hesitant in doing that but over came that fear when I won in our last show a blue ribbon for a Dogwood Tree on our property.

But now we come to speak on the design I was “arm twisted” into it was to be a creative mass or traditional design and I picked the Community Forestry titled section.  I figured we practically live in the woods this will be easy to do and yup I did something alright only to be boldly told that my creation was NOT a design but a planter.

I had to chuckle I might have even laughed when I saw the comments from the judges because when I was done creating my little masterpiece at home I said to myself hmm that’s a nice planter. Duh Tracy the universe confirmed that, when you were sooo satisfied with it, dusted my hands off and said “I’m done”, “It is what it is” and guess what; it clearly wasn’t what was expected of me.

However, I am so open to learning that I’m ok and plus I have thick skin due to a proper upbringing so those bold words from the judges would never bring me to my knees in defeat. This sassy lady just said ok if there is a next time and a BIG “IF” I’ll do a bit better.

And apparently if you add dirt to a design it’s not a design too funny and I wonder if that’s printed in that fancy flower design handbook if so; someone please show me the page number PLEASE.  Anyhoo, I know some of the master designers and novice ones there were probably appalled at my creation but we all know their opinions and definitely the opinions of those judges are always “Subjective” that was obvious when DCH (Delaware Center of Horticulture) our host came behind the judges and conducted their own judging and gave stellar awards to non-blue ribbon winners already judged.  Go figure THAT!

Well enough about my lessons learned in flower show entering; just see photos of the highlights of a quite lovely show and some happy winners. I tell you I was most proud of Suzanne Smith who placed second, up against some well known and talented exhibitors “Go Suzanne you Rock Girl” I was sooo happy for her it was fun to see her take that win!

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So please enter in the next flower show that you are invited to do so and please have fun, be open to learning and be ok with yourself if you don’t win a ribbon and very importantly if you do create a design don’t use dirt it will be considered a planter!

Just sayin… LOL

Enjoy the captured flower show photos and the smile of Barbara Boyce another exhibitor embracing the joy of winning!







Please just go beyond your garden gate and get out there and just try, it’s always worth the experience!