Free Garden Labor

My kids are now 10, 12 and 14 and I’m just starting to reap the benefits of having kids…..FREE LABOR!!!! On Thanksgiving weekend I still had a shit-ton of tulip bulbs to get in the ground. If anyone needs to know the quantity of shit-ton, I think it falls somewhere between 500 and I lost count.

Here I was with a lot of clean up and planting to do, a Christmas tree in the house and I was running out of time when a light bulb went off! Well, it was more like a tulip bulb. I said in my most excited voice “Let’s all go out and do it as a family!” (insert moans and groans here) Let’s revise the question: “You are going to help me plant the bulbs so we can decorate the Christmas tree. If you don’t help with the bulbs, no Christmas tree for you!” So we all bundled up, grabbed some rakes, shovels and started opening boxes of flower bulbs.

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A few things occurred to me as I was half listening to the 14 year old complain about having to do this “horrible” job. 1) When I was his age, I had already been mowing the lawn for 5 years and knew how to change the oil in the 76 Monte Carlo  and 2) complaining is an effective way to annoy someone so much that they just need you to go away. He’s either really shitty, or really clever (likely a combination of both). I still made him do it – I just walked away with my headphones on and ignored him….like a teenager. Boom!

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My kids have been helping me garden for years. My 10 year old daughter is the most interested and asks me a bunch of questions and is always offering to help (her attention span is about 10 minutes into helping before she’s done). My 12 year old son will do whatever job I ask, and he will do it really well. My 14 year old….well, we already covered that one. My dogs kept grabbing the bulbs and running away with them which made all three kids laugh and chase them around the yard. I love every one of my little weirdos. They make my heart happy and now they make my landscape pretty.

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Regardless of the complaining, dog thievery and a couple of situations with dog poop on a shoe, we had a really good time outside planting bulbs. The kids planted while I decorated the porch with evergreen pots, garland and the ‘big balls’ (as my husband likes to call them). Because we did it together, it only took 2 hours and we are ready for spring and Christmas!

porch

ready-for-christmas

 

 

RIP Dahlias

I know it’s only 15 sleeps until Christmas, but I have dahlias on my mind because I did this really cool thing and I never wrote about it! So, take a break from your regularly scheduled holiday garbage online and let’s rewind to the time to when it was only Halloween…..

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Dahlias are awesome. If you’ve never grown them before, I highly suggest it! I plant mine in very early summer when I pull my tulip bulbs. They take a while to come in and bloom, but when they do, I get flowers well past Halloween! I’ve never saved my dahlia bulbs, but I was inspired to do so this year in the spirit of conservation, nurturing what I have and out of a genuine sense of curiosity…..yeah, I wanted to see if I could do it. In past years I’ve tried and failed miserably so I really had nothing to lose! So I put the Halloween decorations away and got my garden shears and shovel out to dig up some dahlias. I found a new method and hopefully it will work!

dahlia

This is Gallery Bellini. I love this dahlia. I love the depth of colors and I love that she’s named after a cocktail you drink with brunch. I love this dahlia so much I want to grow her again next year! So I’m going to store my Bellini tubers using this really simple method.

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  1. Trim stem down to about there (I’m pointing to photo on the left).
  2. Dig around and lift the tuber, careful not to damage the bulb (I’m pointing to the photo on the right).
  3. Place tuber with whatever dirt comes out around it in a plastic garbage bag and store in a cool place (I’m pointing to the bottom photo). You don’t have to clean the dirt off the tuber. Close the garbage back and store in a cool place that’s not too warm and not freezing cold (now I sound like the garden version of Goldilocks). I’m storing mine in my attached garage.

Pretty simple, right?!

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I’m going to check on them occasionally to make sure they aren’t getting too moist or freezing (who am I am kidding….I don’t have time to babysit tubers). Next June one of two things will happen….. 1) RIP Dahlias for real, or 2) the dahlias will go back in the ground and bloom beautifully for me. I’m hoping for the latter.

Before I go into planting tulip bulbs, here’s your complimentary cute dog photo. He’s glad Halloween is over because the whole holiday scared the shit out of him (as if he could possibly shit anymore than he already does). I caught him trying to kill Halloween before it killed him. I think he won.

miles

Bloom on!

“You Are Amazing”

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It’s been about a million years since I blogged here. Back in September I got a notice saying that my domain will expire on October 31 and needs to be renewed if I want to keep it. I’ve been playing mental ping pong in my head for the past 2 months, bouncing around the pros and the cons of renewing. Since I’m trying to get control over my budget, I’ve been cancelling all the weird things I’m subscribed to (stereotypical stuff like the gym, health drinks, web servers, etc). I couldn’t decide if this was a waste of a budget line item or worth it. I decided today it’s worth it….and it’s the last day before I lose the domain. I’m a fan of making decisions in the 13th hour – I postpone making decisions until I absolutely HAVE to. Everything is SO important and timely at work when I get ‘home’ (I work at home) I just let it all hang out and ignore anything pressing until the last minute. Because of this, my personal life can get a lot out of control.

In the past few months I’ve lost control over a lot of things. I’ve lost my faith, I’ve lost connections, I’ve lost the battle for a clean office, I’ve lost inspiration for creativity and I’ve lost some sleep. Too bad I can’t lose about 20lbs….it sure would make running a lot easier. Ha! So today I’m flexing my control muscles over this domain and I’m owning it! Bloomadore.com domain – you are MINE. It’s the little things, right?

Little things are the good things because they pile up into great big things. Fall is a great big thing because it’s full of little things. Kids go back to school (I get my house back), the leaves change (gawgous!), I stop sweating just sitting on the porch, the garden gets cleaned up and it’s time to plant my bulbs! I love bulbs….little seeds of hope to a brighter spring. This blog is my little seed of hope to a more inspired life.

I’m writing today because I feel like I need to use what I paid for. I’m taking a late lunch at work (truthfully I lost track of time and my stomach growled) and a few minutes while I eat to write a welcome back note to myself. This week I’m going to remember it’s these little things that can make great things happen.

Bloom on!

you-are-amazing

Worst Blogger Ever

Hi, my name is Marlene and I’m the world’s worst blogger. I think there should be an award for Worst Blogger Ever and it should come in the form of fermented grapes. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about my blog. I think about topics all the time and say to the other voices in my head “I should totally write about that!” to which I respond “YES! You should!” to which I respond again, “I’ll do that tomorrow.”

Tomorrow’s list very rarely ever gets done and I cannot believe I let my blog’s one year birthday go by without so much as a smash cake to celebrate. I thought about it though. I know…shocking to think about the blog and do nothing about it. I realize this is a theme in my life….There never seems to be enough time to do the things I love to do for ME. There’s always another volunteer obligation, another load of laundry, another errand to run, another activity to drive my kids to. I know I need to be more aware of the things that are important to me and only me. I am going to thin out my excess baggage so that I can more fully enjoy the things I love. I know this will take time because I didn’t get this busy overnight. I’ve done it over years and I’m prepared to face what my life is if I’m not filling it with busyness.

This morning I stumbled across Brian Gardner’s blog post, Packing Light and Unloading the Excess baggage in Your Life. Sometimes someone can write something so fresh that it gives your soul the boost of oxygen it needs. That happened to me this morning and I thought about my kids, my unfinished fall garden projects and my blog. I started this blog with the intention of writing about all things I love that grow. I intend to keep it blooming.

Here’s a visual recap of the moments that made my heart bloom over the past couple of months. I’m moving on from from feeling guilty about not updating my blog and I’m going to make more room for writing, gardening and growing my children.

Summer was GREAT. Hot days by the pool, gardens in full bloom, warm nights, sun-kissed skin and bright skies.

Summer

Summer birthday, summer beauty!

Dahlia Pablo

Summer color in full bloom

Fall was fun! Cooler days, fall bloomers, Halloween, practicing for orchestra concerts and of course planting my bulbs in anticipation for spring.

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I have no idea where the sunflowers in my garden came from, but this rogue bloom brightened up this busy bees day and mine!

halloween decor

Cornstalks, mums and dried liatris from my garden are a great way to make Halloween decorations a little stylish.

cute witch

Cutest. Witch. Ever.

Pierce

He doesn’t sound like a dying cat! I’m truly impressed with my little violinist.

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One landscape bed and 500 bulbs later. Multiply that by 5 and that’s how much bulb planting I did this fall.

Winter is on it’s way, I can feel it in the air (and duh, it is the end of November…I’m just saying it now FEELS like winter). The first frost was beautiful! My daughter calls it frosting and I’ve never had the heart to correct her because it’s incredibly cute. I hope when she’s 20 she still calls it frosting!

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‘Frosting’ looks so pretty on dahlias.

raspberry bushes frost

Frosty raspberry leaves.

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IMG_1888Any tips on balancing life with taking care of your own soul are welcome!

The End of Summer and a Contest!

The last weekend of summer is here. It’s bittersweet for me.

Summer is my absolute most favorite season of the year. My skin gets darker, my hair gets lighter, I feel warmer, my spirit feels sunnier and I get to relax and enjoy my coffee in peace while my kids sleep in until I decide I’m ready to make them breakfast. I have also had ENOUGH of summer and I’m pretty sure my 3 little ducks have too. They are fighting and picking at each other like cage fighters in a championship match over who wins the lifetime supply of fresh brownies. About two weeks ago I came up with a new household rule “Nobody is allowed to touch anyone until you no longer live under my roof.” It didn’t have the results I had hoped to achieve (I needed to add a clause about the car too). I threw up my hands, waved the white flag, grabbed my headphones and a glass of wine. My patience pockets full of ‘the good mom’ are completely empty.

In 4 sleeps (we count sleeps as we anxiously wait for an exciting day) I will be singing “The Wheels on the Bus” like a full-crazed person in my head, as I solemnly wave goodbye to my little darlings. The bus will pull away and their summer days of messy hair, baths at the pool and Minecraft are over. In 4 sleeps I will be trading a chronically messy house and sibling fights for packing lunches and pretending like I know 6th grade math (there’s an app for that, in case anyone else has discovered they maxed out at 5th grade math like me).  I. AM. THRILLED!!!!  I wish I could bottle this happiness up for next May when I’m tired of homework and packing healthy lunches that they don’t eat. I’m going to stay in the moment and chuckle at what how we are creatures of change always looking for the next shift. “Live in the moment” –  whatever…I’m counting down my 4 sleeps!

In addition to my count down, I am also thinking of TULIPS, DAFFODILS and ALLIUMS….OH MY! My favorite bulb company (ok, I’m bias) is hosting a Facebook Sweepstakes and you could win $100 to shop on their site. The kids are going back to school so treat yourself to a pedicure and a chance to win (the pedicure is on you, the chance to win is on them).

If you love bulbs (or just want to try them for the first time), this contest is for you! Just LIKE Longfield Gardens Facebook page, then register to win here.

Here’s a glimpse of my favorite varieties this fall. What are your favorite fall planted, spring blooming bulbs?

Ornamental Onion Allium Globemaster from Longfield Gardens

 Tulip Double Late Parade of Pink Mix from Longfield Gardens

Daffodil Narcissus Naturalizing Mix from Longfield Gardens

Tulip Tulip Darwin Hybrid Apricot Impression from Longfield Gardens*Photos courtesy of Longfield Gardens, LLC  •  All rights reserved

Autumn Renewal

A stunning showcase of fall color on the Thornapple River.

Most people consider spring the season of renewal, but I’ve always considered autumn the season that the red carpet is rolled out for better things to come. This is especially true in the garden. Fall is the time to prepare the dirt, put to rest last garden season’s blunders and build on past successes. The garden is one of the few places that you can start over or improve on what you have, to create something extraordinary in the years to come. Fall gives us an opportunity to lay the dirt (or what I consider the ‘red carpet’) and prepare to welcome spring in a grand, blooming fashion.

In West Michigan, the air is crisp, the leaves have turned pretty shades of red, gold and orange and many trees have lost their leaves to reveal beautiful twists of woody branches. My sweaters, jeans and boots have made their way out of the back of my closet and a fresh shipment of bulbs have arrived from Longfield Gardens! I still have some clean up to do in my garden & landscape, but opening up that box of bulbs is more exciting for me than Christmas morning is for my children.

I’ve been wondering what to do with those overgrown raspberry bushes since August, but I’ll worry about that in the spring when my tulip blooms motivate me to work on those summer shrubs. In the meantime, I have some happy digging to do.