Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Hurry up ... but be ready to Stop!

Years ago, I had my gallbladder removed.

It was an easy-peasy surgery for me in a surgery center.  You know .... those out-patient surgery places.  You go ...... they take out/put in/fix whatever part is necessary .... and you go home a few hours later.

Well -- I was the last surgery on a Friday morning.  I came out of anesthesia just fine ... but I was still a little nauseated and a little groggy. 

But it was Friday afternoon and everyone wanted to go home ........ so I went home.

Honey was driving  home ... on the bumpy gravel roads .... and the only thing I wanted to do was GET HOME NOW!!!!

I was still nauseated .... with a bucket....... when I said the immortal lines ..... Hurry up but be ready to stop!!

Yea .... that made no sense!

And now ........ that describes spring on the farm.

Hurry up and till!  Hurry up and plant! Hurry up and clean up!  Hurry up and weed!

But now ............... it is time to be ready to STOP!!!

Cuz .... all of our hard work is coming to a head. 

The flowers are blooming!

There are lilies E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E!!!!!!!


We have pink lilies and  red lilies and white lilies and orange lilies and coral lilies and yellow lilies. 

If you can't find a lily you like .................. you just don't like lilies!!!!

But then ... we have Black-eyed Susans .................

And daisies.  ;)

And so much more with sooooo much more to come!

So hurry up ................ come on and see me. 

But be ready to stop .............. cuz hangin' at Miss Eff's is all about slowing down!!

You can do it ............. I know you can!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Monday Morning Mugginess .......

Oh my.

It is June 22nd ....... the first full day of Summer and it feels every minute of that! 

The forecast is for 90 degrees and I am certain we have 90% humidity! 

If I had naturally curly hair ... it would be curly-curly-curly!    Instead ... my thick, heavy hair is plastered to my head and weights on my forehead.

The humidity hangs in the house .... and although there is a lovely west breeze .... I get a steam bath just walking to the kitchen for my third cup of coffee.   A pore-opening facial is possible while strolling through the gardens.

It is this heat and humidity that makes my favorite flowers grow.  And, according to my customer Dawn,  gardens aren't made from sitting in the shade!

But sweating is in my job description, not yours.

And it is why .... we are doing what we can to make your visit more relaxing.

Honey had been listening to the Summer Kitchen when it whined and complained about wanting a larger porch.  It had a small stoop ... and it was always in the plans to do something different ... but now was the time.

Now it has a nice large porch with two Leopold benches.  Perfect for sitting or setting down that bucket of freshly picked flowers.

I've been trying to work on the corn-zebo.  It is not where I want it to be yet.

I need to re-cover the cushions on the sofa .... and I need two Westport chairs. 

This Mandevilla is slowly climbing up the trellis and the walls of the corn-zebo.  There is a fabulous gardenia that scents the entire area when it blooms.

Honey and I have been talking ............ and talking ........... and talking.

We are trying to come up with more and more ways to make your visit to Miss Eff's comfortable and inviting.

More gardens.

More flowers.

More park-like.

In a farm-y kind of way. 

After all ..... we want to give you something to crow about.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015


The blooms on the farm are slowly coming along.

Today ... I thought I would show you a few things that are open and happy and waiting to end up in your bucket.

They are the flowers that open my season every year.  The lilies.

They are scattered throughout the farm ... this row is loaded with buds.

This week .... we will have lots of orange, red and yellow.  In the future, the colors range from coral to pink to white.

The Shasta and Becky daisies are beginning to bloom.  I have been steadily adding more and more plants every year.  Their long bloom time and their sturdy stems are great for your bouquet. 

And really .... what is more pure and perfect than a daisy?

This is Perfume Mix Nicotiana ....or flowering tobacco.  Still a little short but it is beginning to get some height.  Lots of different colors so I am excited about this one.  It is suppose to be a good cut ...... we will see.  It does smell great ... particularly in the evening.

The snapdragons are budding nicely but not yet in bloom.

This is Trumpet Tangerine.  I have never grown this variety before so I am anxious for it to bloom.
It doesn't look like it will be long.

There are other things in bloom .... Ageratum, Black-eyed Susans, False Sunflowers and a very few zinnias.

I'm not dancing and shouting from the roof tops yet ............. but we do have flowers to make a few bouquets.  Every day gets better and better. 

Now if it will only stop raining!!!!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Happiness is the number 8

Yep!  I am counting! 

Well, we are counting. 

Yes ..... Honey has kind of ... sort of ... maybe ... made the decision to retire next spring.

No more engineering meetings ... no more fixing manufacturing snaffoos .... no more trying to make things other people made fit!

Yep .... he's going to make his own stuff ..... fit!

And I get Prozac-in-a-Hug.

Cuz it is this very time of year .... that the annual Floral Meltdown occurs.

For roughly 15 minutes .... every year ..... I crash and burn and throw things across the garden!

It happened on Saturday.

I was looking around the garden and .............. burst into tears!

The weeds are knee high.

The flowers are green.

There is so much mud, I sink up to my ankles.

People are calling to pick flowers and then accuse me of sabotaging my own garden because they want flowers NOW!    And why don't you have flowers???

And I swear that I am never ever ever going to plant flowers again ... cuz the vision in my head is not the vision I am seeing!  And no one will drive down this gravel road again ....wanting flowers.

Then .... the incredibly sensible part of this marriage ... drops what he what is doing, gives me a hug, kisses me on top of my head, asks me what can he do and immediately starts to make my life better.

As he talks me down off the roof of the pink porta-potty.

You don't think I am going to climb up on that swoooopy roof, do you?????

And that is why .... I am counting the months until Honey retires.

I am sure he just can't wait!  (Wink! Wink!)

Friday, June 12, 2015

It's going to be a LONG war!

I mentioned yesterday about my battle with this guy!

Yep ... he looks innocent.

But behind that cheery red breast beats a heart full of garden destruction.

I plant.

He un-plants.

I re-plant.

He challenges me again to the duel.

I hear it in that happy little chirp........... taunting me to plant again!

Now -- I allow and expect some of that ... and I am fine with it.  I hold back some extras to fill the holes in later.  But this year, he is pissing me off!!!!!

He destroyed the lavender I planted around the patio.

He pulled out numerous snapdragons and dianthus.

And knowing that .... I walk the beds, searching for signs of his warring ways.

This small area was STUFFED with marigolds.  I should have replanted last week but it has been dry, and I was hoping for some rain to soak this bed before I planted it ...... again.

Usually, after the plants have been in the ground a couple of weeks, the root systems are strong enough to resist Cock Robin's tugs.

But look what I found today!

And more!!!!

If he would only do this on the weeds!!!!

I'll teach him!!!

It is time to pull out the big guns!!!

Chicken wire to the rescue!!!!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

My Morning Walk-About

I walk around the property every morning .... coffee cup in hand.

I try .... to see.  Not merely look.  But to see what is happening on this little plot of land that we call our own.

And that is hard for me.

Cuz I want to write a list about all the stuff that has to be done!  And unfortunately, that is what I do ..... I write the list. 

The Great American To-Do Novel.

What I need to be writing is the joy list.  Things that are done ... things that surprise me.... things that just make me happy!

So today, you get the pictorial guide to what has made me smile today.

Our one David Austin rose (Golden Celebration) is loaded with buds.  I gave up roses several years ago with the influx of Japanese beetles but I am going to give them another try.  They remind me of my grandmother and her refrigerator that was stuffed with little jars and vases full of roses.  And she would pull out another jar or vase every day and put another one full of buds and blooms into its place.

The ducks are out buggin' now.  All of my plants have gotten large enough that they will be just fine. 

But the chickens are quite jealous of the free-ranging ducks.  There was a lot of dissension in the coop this morning. ;)

Just like kids .....  Why do they get out of the run and we don't?


 The robins and I are slowly making up.  Every spring we have a running battle on whether I can plant plugs as fast as they can pull them out.  And every morning, I have to try to see what is laying on the ground, drying up and dieing.

But he looked so pretty and fat just sitting on the tip of the gnarly old hedge post.

The rows of flowers are growing tall and strong and fairly weed free!  

OK -- don't look over there!!!!

And finally, a customer just proved how beautiful a bouquet of yarrow can be!

It's a good day.

NOW ... it is time to get on that to-do list!!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

My frustration .......... the growing cycle of plants.

Green, green,
It's green they say,
On the far side of the hill.
Green, green,
I'm going away to where
The grass is greener still.

Yep!  That's what I've got ......... green.

Beautiful rich shades of green.  But you don't want green .... except for green flowers .....that I don't have.

It is June 9th.  And I am seeing signs of beautiful, wonderful color to come. 

Ageratum is showing some color.
But mostly, I see green.

And then, you drive out.  Or you call and ask about hours or certain colors of flowers. 

And I have to say .... Not yet.

And you say ....... Why not?

Yarrow is sending out some nice blooms this week.  We want the blossoms to be in full bloom before cutting.

That moment ... at that very moment.... I take it personally.  After all, I may never see you again.  And seeing you on my farm .... is how I make my living.

I feel like a failure!!  Loser ... with a capital L!!!  Why don't I have flowers???

I planted them as fast as I could.  We were tilling as early as the wet cold ground would let us.  I watered.  I fertilized.  I stressed over late frosts and cool nights. 

I weeded in LONG underwear, sweatshirts, wool socks and stocking caps!!!

And YOU want to know why I don't have flowers!  And I have nothing to say.

I have struggled with how to explain the growing cycle of flowers to my customers.

But I might just have it. 


Does this make sense????

Nice fat buds on the lilies.

Think of my flowers .......... as your child.  Let's call your little darling .... Sunflower.

Yea ... I know.  It's a far stretch but go with me on this one.

Today is the day that sweet little Sunflower is born.  I planted the seed in the ground.  Now Sunflower likes it warm out .... 70-75 degrees makes her little leaves pop out of the ground in joy!  If I pop her in the ground when it is cold .... most likely she will rot and die.  Not a good thing for little Sunflower.

So I waited for the perfect weather and then, I watered.  And made sure it had lots of good rich food.

And in roughly 65 days, Sunflower will mature with a beautiful bloom. 

But the conditions need to be ....... well, nurturing.  If it is suddenly too cool, or too wet ........ Sunflower is going to struggle.

Larkspur is showing the delicate blooms to come.

Most of all,  Sunflower needs time .......that 65 days to mature.

 I want those sunflowers to be soooo exceptional that they bloom in 50 days.  But most likely, it won't happen. They need those 65 days to grow and stretch and reach toward the sun.

We all hope our children will be so exceptional that they are attending Harvard at 15.  And graduating from med school at 20.

Reality is ..... you will be struggling to get them through high school physics so they will graduate at 18.

My flowers ... your kids.

Same stuff .... just got to get them through the rough spots so they will bloom.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Containing my exuberance .........

Exuberance ..... kind of a big word for me at 6:30 am.  But it is how I feel.

Normally, I plant very simple containers around the farm. 

A container full of begonias, a container full of impatiens, a container full of geraniums.
Easy-peasy stuff.

And I have reasons for that.

One is the expense .... I can order a couple of plug trays and plant up lots of containers for very little money.  Buying 200+ impatiens of one color range ... cost me less than 20 cents each.  At a greenhouse, they are 50 cents.

Secondly .... the care is easy.  Begonias can take it dry .... and dry they can get!!  So those containers will go in areas that the hose doesn't reach! 

Or the gardener is too lazy to get it there! (You can derive your own conclusion on that one!)

And there is something about containers of mass plantings that I like.

Except this year.

I have NO idea what this was in its previous life.  But stuffed with moss it makes an awesome container!

We have a couple of very cool things coming up on the farm.  And I want the farm to look super spiffy. 

Like perfect.

Like no weeds ... no messes .... absolute perfection.

And if I am totally honest with myself ..... There is no chance of any of that happening.  But I can dream.

So I am trying to do some super cool containers. 

I bought this bicycle years ago for $5 at a flea market.  I love that it has its Galesburg, IL bicycle stamp on it.

All of my containers are in shady areas .... first of all to lower watering needs and secondly to add some color to less colorful areas.  ;)

And if you notice ... they are NOT over planted and blooming.  And some look a little droopy.  But after they get established and get over the root shock I put them through .... they will be beautiful!

Instant gratification is wonderful ..... but I want these to look perfect in 3 weeks.  So many blooms get cut back ... I prune ... I trim ... I fertilize.  And in a couple of weeks, they will be thick and lush.

This container is a "foam" container ... moss is growing around its edge.

I totally love this container!  I used a caladium, coleus,  asparagus fern, lady fern, vinca vine and a variegated ivy along with a begonia and New Guinea impatiens.  We are painting the door of the corn-zebo white so it will look really nice there.  

The caladium has just a slight line of pink which goes nicely with the blush of pink on the begonia.

All of the specialty  plants came from Blossom Farms in Davenport.  They had an incredible selection of unusual plants ..... like the ferns above. 

And this Bossa Nova begonia.

Which I LOVE!!!!

It may have to go into a huge mass planting container! 

It's hard to teach this gardener new tricks!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Waving goodbye!

Twenty years ago .... Wave petunias were introduced.

And they were such a hit!  They take over large expanses .... up to 4 feet per plant.  They were easy to grow.  All they asked for was some sun, a little water and some scheduled fertilizing.  No deadheading ... no pruning.

Just plant and go.

Purple Wave petunias .... photo courtesy of Park Seed.

And they were pretty.

I guess.

Yes .... they are pretty!  But there was something ......... something missing.

Hello ...... Dream Mix petunia!

OK .... theses are going to take a tad more work.

Like ... I will have to walk by them and slip off the dead petunias.

Or maybe give them a haircut once this summer.

But I will probably have to get a haircut myself this summer!!!!

So what makes these petunias so wonderful?

Well .... other than the large blossoms.

Or the brilliant colors.

The scent!!  It has to be the scent!!!

Intoxicating ... wonderful ... perfumed scent!!!

To get the growth habit of Wave petunias, they bred the scent out.  :(

So .... I am waving goodbye to Wave petunias and setting my dreams of a beautiful, old-fashioned garden on Dream Mix.