Monday, February 28, 2005

My Brother-in-law's House in Lawrence (count the critters). Posted by Hello

Bilingual in Lawrence

This last summer we drove down to Lawrence, Kansas, to visit my brother-in-law. They have a beautiful log cabin home in the woods, with a nice creek running through their property, and tons of birds. While visiting, Liz and I stayed in a motel in town. When we checked in to the motel, it was a little rustic, shall we say, and was obviously run by a family of Patels from India, with the patriarch manning the front desk (and I think doing about everything else, too).He must have been just a recent immigrant, as his command of English was not keen, so getting checked in took quite a while, with much back and forth gesturing, but he was a very pleasant fellow. The next day was spent visiting at my in-laws, but my wife and I decided to go back to our room to change clothes before supper. When we got up to our room, the same Mr. Patel was cleaning our room. We asked if he would go clean elsewhere for just 30 minutes, but he was just as adamant that WE go elsewhere for 30 minutes and he'd be finished with the least I think this is what we were saying back and forth, because again it involved a lot of gesturing. We finally gave in, and decided to go enjoy the breeze in the parking lot while sharing a cold beer. Now Liz is the sweetest, friendliest person, always wanting to make people she meets feel at ease, so as we left, she said "Gracias, amigo!" Well, I about fell off the balcony. Mr. Patel looked at us kind of wide-eyed, but smiled warily. I laughed all the way down the stairs.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Helleborus niger in February. Posted by Hello

Four Season Gardening.

In weather like today's ( a swirling north wind with big, fat snowflakes) if I was reading a garden magazine, and suddenly let out a loud "FOOF", you could guess I was reading an article on four season gardening.Unless you consider shoveling snow to be a gardening task, there really isn't a real fourth (winter) gardening season here.We had 9 inches of snow that gradually turned into 4 inches of uneven ice on all the garden paths, so that my ankles hurt after just taking a walk around the garden.There wasn't much to look at out there anyway, as there aren't a whole lot of evergreen perennials in this climate; a shining exception, though, is Helleborus niger, the Christmas rose. In relatively mild(it never got below -10) winters like this last one, it's shiny, dark green foliage stays almost perfect, without any protection at all. The pure white flowers are a bonus, blooming usually in early March here, sometimes so early as to be spotted and frazzled a little by the weather. Above is H. niger, Potter's Wheel, showing its foliage today.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Last Year's Elm. Posted by Hello

I'm here to help. Posted by Hello

End of an Era

I spent this morning cutting up a huge old elm tree, the largest, and last in our woods, dead of Dutch elm disease. I had told everyone that it had to be at least 75 years old, but when I counted the tree rings, it was only 37, which makes more sense, as Dutch elm first went through here about 35 years ago, and only young saplings survived. It was a double-trunked tree, though, which made it much larger for its age, and 37 X 2=.... well, so I was wrong about the age. The only good thing is that we'll have bushels of morels where the elm was, for a year or two. A large limb had to be taken off a black cherry right next to the elm, in order to drop the dead elm tree, so this morning I started off chopping up the cherry branches, and at that the doe and her two offspring ambled out of the woods, at first nonchalantly making like they were going to head to the north ravine, but when I turned back to my work, they circled in behind me and were soon right next to me, peacefully munching the cherry branches I had piled up. As the elm trees have died out here, black cherry (Prunus serotina) has become the predominant tall tree in the woods, and while having attractive bark, I can't imagine a more frustrating tree to garden under, with tens of thousands of little cherry seedlings springing up in the flower beds every year. I used to pull them all every spring, a laborious job, but then I realized that 95% of them die out on their own; apparently fungi in the soil inhibit the growth of most of them. I read that the American black cherry has become an invasive pest in Europe ( including the Netherlands... here's for the Dutch elm) and apparently the reason for it's invasiveness in Europe is the absence of the inhibiting soil fungi that we have here. It was a good day to be laboring hard outdoors as it was quite chilly, being one of those days where the sky was milky white, like ground glass, sapping the pale sun of its warmth, and the landscape of its color. Even the birds were muted, with only a crow cawing across the pond in the high trees on the bluff. This afternoon, though, patches of blue began to show through, the high clouds being the front edge of cold air dropping down from the Alberta prairies, and so the day turned brighter, though colder. I wandered the garden paths, and was surprised with the cold to find a few tiny Cyclamen coum flowers pushing up through the mulch, their bright mauve color seeming out of season in this weather. As I continued walking the paths I noticed many more cyclamens in shades of palest lilac to hot pink also pushing up their flowers like little brightly coloured stars against the drab ground.The sun was now out, the cyclamens had lifted my spirits, and Snickers the kitten was racing up and down the pathways, showing off by jumping in the air and flattening old flower stalks, and then she found a little melted spot in the ice on the goldfish pond to have a drink.We both headed back to the house in good spirits after a satisfying day's work.

cyclamen coum Posted by Hello

Monday, February 21, 2005

Chipper, at the end

Chipper Posted by Hello

Chipper, the Cat

I saw a bee sunning on the snowdrops today,
While overhead sang a titmouse, dressed in gray.
But as flowers bloom, and birds begin to sing,
Something is missing from the garden this Spring.
Last year we put to sleep our sweet, old cat,
For she got internal lymphoma, and that was that.
But while she won't be following us around,
she's still here, buried in the soft, cool ground.
As a young kitten she lost her voice, but now,
she's under a plaque saying "Here lies Chipper... MEOW!"

It's just about a year since we had to put Chipper, our 15 year old cat to sleep. Her sister, Toaster, is now 16, and REALLY creaky, but still hobbles around, and on sunny days now, shuffles up the hill, to sleep on the soft pine needles under her favorite tree, in the sun of what is surely her last spring, perhaps dreaming of when she was a young kitty and could climb trees and chase blowing leaves across the lawn. Not too long ago Toaster stopped eating, with no fixable reason that the vet could discern, and we actually made an appointment to have her put to sleep too, but then I gave her a little nibble of the rotisserie chicken we had bought for supper, and she ate it. For weeks I had to go buy a rotisserie chicken for her twice a week, but now she's back eating cat food again. I actually dug a grave for Toaster in the Garden, not too far from where Chipper is buried, and I'm not going to fill it back in just yet.When Chipper was a young cat she disappeared for a couple of days, and finally showed up at the back door without her collar, and when she opened her mouth to meow, no sound would come out; she must have caught her collar on something, and damaged her larynx getting free. Many years later she finally got back a little, croaky meow, but rarely used it. When she died this last year, we got two new kittens from the animal shelter, Sadie and Snickers, and I was happy to find they now make break-away collars. The kittens are getting to know their way around, and a blur of energy. Still, every once in a while, though, when I'm out in the garden, I look for Chipper, then realize she's here, and I walk up the hill by the azalea bed, and pat the large, gray boulder under which she lays.

Sadie & Snickers: guess which one is trouble? Posted by Hello

Friday, February 18, 2005

Liz, still sweet and trusting. Posted by Hello

Turtle laying its eggs in the lawn. Posted by Hello

Oh No, Mr. Bill!

The valley where we live is full of critters, from bald eagles down to an interesting selection of mice and voles, and we like to think of our land as being a sanctuary for both us and the critters, so I always try to do the right thing for them, but good intentions don't always lead to good results. The four acre pond at the bottom of our valley is full of painted turtles, which in early summer climb up the hill to bury their eggs in the garden and yard, a remarkable procedure to see, as they dig out a hole, lay their eggs, then fill back in the dirt, mixing it with some secretion which when it dries, leaves no trace of where the hole was dug. Last year I was mowing and spied a baby turtle heading uphill, away from the pond, so I picked him up and took him inside to show my wife. Now there is no sweeter, more loving person than Liz; she loves all of God's creatures, but especially loves turtles, so she was delighted at this tiny hatchling, and oohed and awed over it, as I knew she would. I put the little guy in the sink while I ate lunch, then took it down to the pond, where it would happily live out its life, sunning on the logs with all the other turtles. When I got to the pond there were a few bluegills lolling about, and I thought about it, but they were small, so I set the little turtle down on the shore. He immediately waded in and started swimming straight out into the middle. The bluegills started making passes at him, and I frantically started throwing sticks to scare them off, when a large bass rose up, and SLURP! I stood looking at the now empty pond, then slinked away. I never told Liz; I let her continue to be sweet and hopeful and trusting, loving little kitties and birdies, and especially little turtles.

Goodyerea pubescens, leaves evergreen through winter Posted by Hello

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Orchis spectabilis in the garden in May Posted by Hello

The Tough Side of Orchids

Today was clear but cold and windy, a good day to wander about the garden cutting off some of last year's dead stems, leaving the ground litter for protection . To my delight I see the leaves (shown below) of two native wild orchids: Tipularia and Aplectrum. These two terrestrial orchids are similar in that they both produce hibernal (winter) leaves. Their leaves appear in fall and persist through the winter, then die back in late spring, the plants producing their flower spikes leafless in late summer. Tipularia discolor is the crane fly orchid, its dainty, greenish flowers with red overtones, surrounding a fairly tall spike, indeed appearing like small crane flies , each having a very long spur.The leaves of this orchid are purplish on the back, as shown in the photo. Aplectrum hyemale (Aplectrum meaning spurless, and hyemale referring to winter), has a large, single leaf, corrugated with silvery lines.This is the Adam & Eve orchid (referring to the fact that this year's leaf arises from a new pseudobulb, which remains attached to last year's pseudobulb), or it is also called the putty root orchid, since the American Indians crushed the pseudobulbs to obtain a fluid which they used to mend pottery. This orchid is said to be easy to grow from seed (which is very unusual), but mine hasn't bloomed yet to try it out. I've tried to be careful to obtain my native, terrestrial orchids from sources that propagate them in the lab (I do have two orchids growing naturally here in our woods: the showy Orchis, and Loessel's twayblade). However, I do have two obtained orchids that were probably not propagated; the first is Cypripedium calceolus, the yellow ladyslipper (I actually did see a single plant of this orchid growing in the woods near here many years ago, but there is a housing development there now). The yellow ladyslipper in my garden was given to me 20 years ago by a doctor friend of mine, who had a wonderful garden, growing delphiniums taller than a man. He developed prostate cancer, and as it became terminal, he offered me my pick of a plant from his garden, to remember him by, and I took the ladyslipper, knowing it would likely perish otherwise. To my surprise and delight, it has since survived moves through three gardens , and has multiplied nicely. I don't know where my friend got it; it could well have been growing in his garden naturally, as he had lived in a wooded area for many years. The second orchid I have that may not have come from a lab is Goodyerea pubescens, the rattle-snake or jewel orchid (so named for its leaves patterned with intersecting silver lines). I bought this orchid before I realized there is a difference between nursery grown and nursery propagated native plants; the former may have been dug from the woods and grown on for a year in the nursery, then sold. I excuse myself on this plant, since it has multiplied nicely since I got it, and I've come to realize that collecting, while definitely contributing to the decline of native orchids, probably isn't the biggest threat; loss of habitat, and decline of existing habitat are bigger threats. There was a huge colony of Goodyerea growing on a bluff in an isolated and seldom visited preserve in Iowa, called White Pine Hollow.I had visited it several times about twenty-five years ago, seeing literally thousands of jewel orchids. Last summer my wife and I visited the preserve, and not one Goodyerea was seen.It's possible that they were collected, but I doubt it; there are no trails, and it is rarely visited (we actually temporarily got lost coming out, and lying right on top of the ground on the deer trail we were aimlessly following, I found a shiny 1946 dime). I think it far more likely the decimation of the orchids was caused by the countless deer which now inhabit our woodlands; since Goodyerea is also evergreen, it is being cleaned out by starving deer in the Winter. The poor Goodyerea also is disappearing because of the invasion of garlic mustard, that has exploded in shady woodlands; since the new mustard plants are also evergreen, they shade out the orchids trying to gather energy during the cold months. I give every year to the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, which does more than any other organization to preserve natural environments here in Iowa, but I fear it is a losing cause. So, I tend my orchid babies, and take pleasure in their steady increase, even finding showy Orchis colonies springing up as volunteers in the azalea beds.

Cypripedium calceolus in May Posted by Hello

Aplectrum hyemale (Winter leaf)Posted by Hello

Tipularia discolor (Winter Leaf, Showing Backside)Posted by Hello

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Ice and More Snow (drops)

This is that time of year, not winter, but not yet spring, that tries a gardener's faith. Some afternoons are pleasant, but it still freezes up solid at night, with many grey, chilly days, and always the threat of the return of snow and ice. In the afternoon if the sun is out, the top inch or so of the south-facing pathways thaws, but with dark ice underneath, walking on it is like stepping on a muddy banana peel. This is snowdrop season, so I am reading up on them, and getting down on all fours to look at them very closely. The genus Galanthus (snowdrops) I read is in the amaryllis family, and contains perhaps ten to twenty species (apparently no unanimity on just how many), with many varieties and sub-varieties. The flowers are quite unique yet remarkably similar within their genus. The name Galanthus means "milk-flower", and in Europe they used to also be called Candlemas bells or Fair Maids of February, Candlemas Day being our Groundhog Day, signifying the end of the winter season, and the beginning of the spring season, Candlemas being a day to bless the candles and burn the Christmas greens. Elizabeth Lawrence records in her book "The Little Bulbs": The snowdrop in purest array,
First rears her head on Candlemas Day.

There are only two species grown with any frequency in northern U.S. gardens; many of the lesser known species hail from, and grow better in, Mediterranean climates. The two species we can easily grow are nivalis (meaning growing near snow), which hails from alpine areas of Europe into southern Russia, and elwesii (named after it's first collector, Henry John Elwes), which hails more from the Caucasus and Turkey. I grow both of these species, with additionally two special varieties of nivalis: Sam Arnott (a more robust, larger flowered variety) and flore-pleno, the double form of nivalis. With any luck elwesii blooms here very close to Groundhog Day, but severe winters may see it delay blooming until the last week of February. Every spring I think that I should try to find just the right spot in the garden to see if I can get it to bloom in January, but in fall's rush I always forget; spots that get early spring sun and warmth but yet don't bake dry in the summer (which snowdrops don't like), are rare anyway. As mentioned, the flowers of the different species of Galanthus are much alike, but elwesii has leaves more grey-green, and one leaf at the base wraps around the other slightly (convolute), and the inner petals have two prominent green blotches (as opposed to one smaller blotch on nivalis, which has more strap-like leaves). The picture above shows the two green blotches of elwesii, one heart-like. Also one can see from the picture that the tips of the leaves have a small white spot. This hard tip is used by the plant to thrust up through the partially frozen soil. Snowdrops have a charming trait of lowering their flowers down almost to the ground when weather turns very cold or especially if snowy, thus hugging the ground, as if bowing to the return of winter. They then raise up again when the sun returns, but after repeating this performance several times, they remain a little stoop-shouldered. Nivalis blooms somewhat later than elwesii, its leaves smaller and opposite. Mrs. Graff, in her book "Flowers in the Winter Garden", disparages nivalis as "an inferior sort with narrow leaves and sepals hardly better than slivers, and with a meager crescent of green on the inner, tubelike petals. Its only merit, in my admittedly prejudiced opinion, is that it grows and seeds freely in shady spaces where nothing better will grow. Since it is smaller and as much as two months later than G. elwesii, there seems little reason to waste garden room on a second-rate species". She does, however, heap praise on nivalis variety Sam Arnott. Well, I like ALL snowdrops, and can't imagine a Spring in the garden without them.They have a sweet-honey fragrance, and I always have muddy knees on my trousers this time of year from getting down to smell their perfume, faint in the cool air.

Galanthus elwesii Posted by Hello

Monday, February 14, 2005

Oh deer, more ferns!

I was reading the other day that people in the South feel like they can say anything they want about somebody, as long as they end it with "bless his heart!" Now I can distinctly remember laying on the couch when I was a young boy, nursing my tongue that I had just about bitten in two by riding my bike off the back steps, and hearing my Mom talking to my Aunt Floy on the phone, saying "Well, he did it again, bless his heart!" I remember thinking it was odd she didn't even have to say who HE was. I may have had a mite more than my share of dumbness over the years, but I did survive childhood (no sure thing according to my brother, who over Thanksgiving told for about the thousandth time the story about how as a boy, I and my best friend, Mike, set up our fishing poles below the hydroelectric plant in what proved to be the overflow chute, right before they opened it up). Now in adulthood I like to think I'm past all of that, though my wife, Liz, does have what I call "The Look", that I get to see rather often. How she can get puzzlement, sympathy, disbelief, and resignation all in one glance is a complete mystery to me. I still do a few little things that surprise even me, and some of those things are in the garden. I'm always on the lookout for new plants for my woodland garden, and ferns are always welcome, so when I opened my Wayside catalogue and saw the deer fern, Blechnum spicant, stated to be evergreen even in zone 5, I had to have it; there are darn few evergreen plants in this climate. It was $7.95 (now I see, $10.95), but an evergreen fern has to be worth it. Well, when it arrived, it was pretty small, but I figured it would grow, so planted it in a shady spot and promptly forgot about it (I once lost a 5 foot tall viburnum for two years, so this shouldn't be surprising). Maybe a year later I ran across it while weeding, and I must say it wasn't much bigger, nor any more impressive, but it DID look oddly familiar, and I realized then that the woods were FULL of these little native ferns... so small, and frankly weedlike, that I had nevcr really noticed them before. Sigh! I don't suppose, of course, that YOU'VE ever done anything like this, bless your heart!

Blechnum spicant Posted by Hello

Friday, February 11, 2005

The Dynamite Salesman's Girlfriend

This is a true story that I promise you ends up in the garden, but it takes a while to get there: you're going to have to walk with this one for a while. The last house we lived in was a small, converted summer cottage on a nearby lake. The neighbors were close and therefore rather close-knit, so my wife and I went to some length to try and fit in, but our nearest neighbors remained a little stand-offish, and I later learned that the neighbor gal thought that we were sort of noisy troublemakers.Now this was admittedly true, but I still thought it was a little unfair, as it was our FRIENDS who caused most of the noise, and besides it was well known in the neighborhood that this gal had formerly lived in that same house with a different guy, a boyfriend who was renting the place, and was a dynamite salesman , who later went on the lam from the law (for what reason, nobody knew), leaving this gal imminently houseless, as the owner had then put the house on the market. Another guy came along, and bought it, and the next thing anybody knew, she was living there with the new guy, and later married him. Either she really liked that house, or it was a case of love on first sight, or there was a piece of the story that was missing, but this was all that my other neighbor could tell me about it. At any rate, she was very pretty and well-spoken, but I always had the feeling she had a hidden tattoo, if you know what I mean. Still, I tried to be on my best behavior around her, but it was very slow going. Then one snowy March, a squirrel got into our house and became trapped in the dead space above the ceiling panels, where he would run back and forth as we lay in bed at night. Now this didn't bother me much, but my wife wasn't keen on it, so I came up with several clever schemes to trap him, including running over to wherever I heard him, climbing up on the stepladder and popping up that ceiling panel, and sticking my head up in the dead space, with a flashlight in one hand and a long handled fish net in the other. Nothing worked, and then one morning when we got up he was sitting in the middle of the carpet, looking rather the worse for wear; sort of like a big dust bunny with eyes. Being the quick-witted guy that I am, I ran and got my long, leather fireplace gloves, and because of his weakened condition I was able to grab him. It was then that I realized it was 6 A.M., there was a foot of snow on the ground outside, and I was standing in the middle of the living room holding a now-struggling squirrel with my fireplace gloves and I was otherwise stark naked. There was nothing for it but to have my wife hold open the back door, and I ran out into the snow, holding the squirrel at arm's length. (You can just get any jokes you were trying to make up about squirrels gathering nuts, out of your mind right now!) Anyway, being a kind soul, I didn't want to just drop him in the snow, as in his state I thought he'd just flounder about, attracting a hawk or owl, so I ran him over to the Sycamore tree, where the squirrels hung out, eating our birdseed and figuring out how to get into the house. Just as I got there I looked up to see the neighbor gal coming up her walk on her way to work. I couldn't even wave, having my hands full. They moved to Seattle soon after, forgetting to leave us their new address so we could keep in touch. Well, neighbors (especially ours) come and go, but the squirrel was o.k., and I still have the gloves. We soon moved to our present house, and to garden, I had to first clean out the poison ivy in the woods, which I've done by putting on my old fireplace gloves and with a long garden fork I go out and pull it up by the roots, and that's when my sister-in-law, who's a master gardener from California , took my picture (which appears below) when she came to visit us and to see our garden. There, I told you this was a gardening story! Gardening can be a solitary hobby at times but one of the things I love about it is the connection it gives me to other people; it connects me to those who have given or traded me plants over the years, and to those who visit to see our garden, like my S.I.L., and even to my former neighbor, wherever she may be.

The gloves in action Posted by Hello

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Oh, Dem Bones

One just cannot be taken really seriously as a gardener without thinking and talking frequently about garden "bones". Now I will confess sheepishly that I actually got drawn into an argument between two friends, debating about just what constitutes garden bones (some are "softscapers", who include trees and shrubs, some are "hardscapers", including only structural items like gates and statues). It's all a bit silly, but I do rather have a thing about statues and gates. The front gates to our garden, shown below, are called the Sun Gates. Our friend Dennis made them for us as a gift; the first gates he had made. One long, dark Winter, his beautiful wife, Jane, was found to have developed a small breast cancer, and had to undergo surgery, radiation therapy, then chemotherapy. Dennis stayed very closely by her side, so there were a lot of long evenings at home for him while she rested, and he needed something to do, and took up making garden gates and arbors. Jane is fine now, and every morning when we open the Sun Gates wide to enter the garden, we are reminded of the preciousness of life and friendship. Also taking up residence in the garden is the lovely angel, Hernia, so called because that's what I think I got moving her. She weighs 350 pounds, and once I found a nice concrete base (seen in the picture) for her and started to wiggle her up onto the base. Sitting on a slope, she started to tip over into my arms, and all I could picture is what the newspaper would say when my body was found,crushed under this angel... I knew my friends would say it was expected and probably long overdue. The third picture shows my prize: a life size gargoyle, with wings outstretched. It sits at the end of a path,under a thorny locust, making a really nice conjunction. I call him "Uboughtwhat" because that's what my wife said when she found out what I'd bought. Never go off with your buddies, all with beers in your hands, to wander about a Renaissance Fair where they are selling garden statues.I want a little verse to put under him, but may have to write my own; the best published verse I could come up with is by Emily Dickinson: "They'll judge us,How? You serve God, or seek to... I could not." That seems a little glum for a garden, especially as my wife is already a little spooked by the gargoyle.

Uboughtwhat Posted by Hello

The Angel, Hernia Posted by Hello

The Sun Gates Posted by Hello

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The pond at sunset Posted by Hello

The Yellow Book

Last September my wife Liz and I went to London, and of course visited Kew Gardens, and stuck our noses in as many other gardens as we could fit into our trip. I've always envied the Brits their climate, their gardens, and their penchant for garden tours. The National Gardens Scheme is a national organization that sponsors tours of 3,500 gardens, listed every year in "The Yellow Book", with the proceeds going to charity. The minimum requirement for gardens to be included in the book is that they provide at least 40 minutes of interest to a reasonably sophisticated gardener. Now, like most of us, I've always really wanted to have a garden in England, with a rushing stream and a view of a bucolic countryside with grazing sheep. That not being likely in this lifetime (especially with the current currency exchange rate for the pound, and with the current real estate bubble in Great Britain), I've done what I can in the middle of the corn fields of Iowa. I do think, at least, that my garden meets the 40 minute requirement to be included in "The Yellow Book", because, first of all, it takes 20 minutes just to walk all the trails in the garden (I garden in 3 acres of woods, with a couple of small creeks trickling at the bottom of the ravines, flowing to a 4 acre pond at the bottom of the valley), and secondly, the garden is best seen on hands and knees, as my main interest is small, woodland perennials, like primroses.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Early Spring

Each gardener points to one thing that really begins the gardening season for them; for me it's always the first snowdrops blooming; the little leaves rising rapidly out of the partially frozen ground at the first hint of warming sun, and within a few days opening their pristine white blooms. These first flowers always coincide with the tufted titmouse beginning his clear, sweet, "Peter, Peter" call from the top of the oak tree, singing so enthusiastically that I always marvel that he doesn't fall from his perch.If you take a seat cushion out into the garden so that you can kneel down on the partially frozen path, and get your nose right down to the elfin snowdrop blooms, they have a sweet scent whose memory lingers with you throughout the coming year.Many far more spectacular flowers follow in the coming months, but nothing ever really tops the joy and wonder of kneeling on the cold, wet ground and admiring these tiny jewels. Thus the gardening year begins, and this gardening blog, which is a visual and narrative documentation of what it's like to garden in a woods in eastern Iowa, started mainly because I have a new digital camera just waiting for the first flowers to show, but also because there is a puzzling dearth of true gardening blogs in Iowa; the few I've run across seem to show a few shots of the peonies by the driveway, then quickly cut to the host's real interest: showing snapshots of the grandkids and the pet rabbit dressed up unaccountably in an Uncle Sam suit. The content of this blog will be mainly visual; I am not a garden expert, and therefore any facts or advice I ever throw in should be taken for what they are: the observations of an amateur gardener in his woods.

The first Snowdrop Posted by Hello

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