Musings from An Impatient Gardener While She Waits for Spring

I’m sharing this first photo of these bright ranunculus for no particular reason, but because I NEED COLOR.  We were spoiled in December with wonderful weather and we are paying now with more cold and snow. So this photo from last year was a must!  


~ So, what is new in the gardening home front? Well, I am trying to stay motivated by planning ahead to my little garden in 2019. If you followed me last year, you know that I consider 2018 my best year yet. So this year I am bringing back some old beauties and some new ones too! There will still be dahlias (of course!) but also some new flowers I have never grown. After much thought I decided not to give sweet peas a try. The debacle of 2018 when the high winds blew away the seed trays that had germinated, just broke my heart, so I am skipping them this year. 

One of the things I have been doing is going back on my journals from when I first started gardening and it has been interesting to read and realize how I have grown as a rookie gardener the past 5 years. From my first freak out moment when the corn rootworm beetle destroyed my flowers to this past year when I found a solution to it, that is not harmful to the environment. And my stubborness in thinking that some plants may just surprise me and grown in this (at the time) new hardiness zone when they were clearly labeled against it. Oh, the good ol’ days. But that is the beauty of gardening— always teaching you, is it not?


~ Spring/summer will show if my David Austin roses, which I planted in pots and are residing indoors in my garage, will survive. Fingers crossed!  The roses were labeled as good for this hardiness zone but something about the sub-arctic polar vortex type winters in the Midwest did not give me a warm and fuzzy feeling, so I planted in pots. We will see how that works out.

~ In other news— the 300 bulbs I planted in the fall behind our house may or may not grow (Read more HERE). Two weeks after I planted them, our city had some construction and the dirt from there was unceremoniously dumped behind our yard. Not inside our property, but about three feet from where our land ends. What this did was create a dike behind our property because the dirt is blocking the drainage line from our land.  So last week when the snow started melting, this was the situation. 


Below is one of the beds with the bulbs. There’s water hanging around the bed (you can see them in the background). This is so frustrating. The soil is frozen so the water has nowhere to go right now. And of course, the city is of no help until Spring. So, I am praying that these babies will bloom YET something tells me they will not.


~ As you know I started my Master Gardener’s internship and it is so much information! But it is great getting to use my mind for studying again! And being in this program has really opened the doors to meeting other people and getting involved in other events. We have a few local garden shows as well as in Minneapolis and St. Paul, that while not organized by the Master Gardeners, it allows us to come together and enjoy other gardening and landscaping activities. So, it should be fun and a great way to shed the winter blues! :)

What are you going to stay sane this winter?

How My Little Garden Started


It all started with her.  The dahlia.  And not just any dahlia-- the Cafe au Lait.  It was three and a half years ago when I moved to Minnesota and, after a life of moving around the globe courtesy of the U.S. Army, I married my handsome farmer, and started my garden.  I was finally stable in one place that I could establish some roots and grow. I use the word “garden” but it was more of an experiment.  A few veggies here, a few flowers there... and lots of weeding because I did not prepare the soil.  I refused to let my husband give me advise (even though he was a an Agriculture major in college) because while he was a farmer, I loved the flowers.  Oh, what a fool I was! 

But I learned my lessons and improved upon them.  Yet even that was not enough to fuel a dream.  You see, I did not know I had this dream-- to have a flower farm, until I did some introspection.  I actually thought I wanted to be a flower shop owner, but after meeting with a few florists who were selling their business or simply giving advise, I realized what I loved was the growing process-- taking a seed, tuber or bulb, and seeing grow until it blooms. That miracle of nature—parts nourishment, part gambler’s hope, is what I love.


As I went through the process of growing a little garden, I was still wondering if this was for me.  After all it is hard work and my husband called me "black thumb" jokingly because a few tropical plants in the home died (hello, this is Minnesota and I was not used to this weather!).  But the moment that filled with the fire of growing— my aha moment— came when I decided to grow Cafe au Lait dahlias.  If you have seen bridal magazines, you have seen one of these delicate dahlias at one point. Now, looking back this was the most foolish decision ever; not the growing dahlias but rather picking one of the most unreliable and unstable dahlias in the world. This is a diva flower.

In my blissful ignorance, I took the plunge and in the tubers went.  I patiently waited and they started growing.  For some reason I planted two tubers on pots and they grew beautifully.  Then disaster.  One of the adjacent dahlias (a different variety) started getting a pest.  It looked like tiny beetles (read here for more on my nemesis).  I tried everything, and they destroyed my dahlias especially the Cafe.  When the blooms finally opened, all the petals were eaten.  I was heartbroken.  But momma raised one stubborn girl and so I took matters into my own hands, and moved the two potted dahlias.  I cleaned them well, got all the bugs off, and into my garage they went sitting by a window where they could get sun.  And there I patiently waited for them to open, hoping the petals would be intact.  And after a long wait, they bloomed and it was almost perfection!  They were smaller than a dinnerplate size, but I think it is because it did not have enough light.  Still they were saved for the most part. 


And this determination to grow and save it from the pest, felt like a true labor of love.  I cared for them like babies, and the reward once they bloomed was indescribable.  That feeling surprised me.  After the season was over, I started planning for next year, and I knew that the Cafe au Lait will have a special place in my heart.  In 2018, I did not grow Café au Lait because after 2016, I needed a break from how unreliable it is. But it is coming back this year— I missed it too much! In the winter, while I was going winter crazy I spoke with my husband about sectioning a small area of the farm to grow flowers and told him about my dream.  And he did not laugh-- which I thought he would do.  I explained my plan, concept and timeline.  And his answer was: let's do this.  And I love him for that. 

And thus, here we are... starting a diary of this mermaid's dream to be earthbound and grow flowers.  So I hope you will follow along here on the blog and on Instagram (@blooms_at_no_45).