Dahlias and Tomatoes

If you gather sunshine, the smell of dirt and the essence of summer into a mixing bowl and tap it with a magic wand, I am positive a tomato would be the outcome. A fresh grown tomato cannot be imitated and proof of that is found in grocery stores in the dead of winter. Forget sub-zero temperatures, blizzards and ice storms..tasteless strawberries and tomatoes are the worst thing about winter.

I often imagine the reaction of the first person in history who discovered the tomato.  A big high five to them for picking a red ball off a plant and daring to take a bite!  I think tomatoes are especially tasty when  they are still warm, fresh from the vine in the sun and summer air. If you can’t tell, I love tomatoes almost as much as I love red wine….although I’m not sure I’ve ever mentioned on my blog that I love red wine.

This year I planted Dahlia Boom Boom Red and tomatoes in my raised beds with the intention of the reds playing off each other visually. I know which one tastes better, but I’m not sure which is more delicious looking! Dahlias look great in the garden and they make pretty cut flowers in vases. I’ve never grown dahlias from tubers, so when I first planted them I thought to myself “This is never going to work.” But it did, and I’m pleased with the results!

Tomatoes and Dahlias

I will be enjoying my dahlias inside soon enough, unfortunately, I have not been able to enjoy my tomatoes much this year. Last year I planted too many tomatoes and in order to make room for my dahlias, I opted to only grow 2 plants. It was not enough.

I am always on the look out for critters eating my tomatoes because I think a skunk or raccoon took off with a few last year. This year I have another tomato stealer in my garden….. this super cute little sprite!

Ayla and tomato

I’ve seen her get out of bed on these lazy summer mornings, walk out in the back yard in her pajamas and help herself to breakfast. She is on constant tomato watch….looking for that red siren announcing ripeness from her bedroom window. She pulls them off the plant and eats them like an apple before I can harvest them! Next  year she will plant her own tomato plant(s) so that mommy can have some too! I’m awfully smitten with her and with a face like that (she told me this is her ‘sneaky tomato stealing face)….she can have them all. 🙂  I will miss summer and the tomato plants because then I will have to go back to cooking for her. Motherhood is a sacrifice!

Garden Projects Take Root – Part 1

Peony in the garden
My peonies are in their 3rd year and my patience has paid off. I had beautiful, huge peony flowers grown from tubers.

I love gardening, but unfortunately my projects this year have taken a long time to take root. Between work, end of the school year, baseball, soccer and altogether not so great weather here in West Michigan, my garden is on the slow track to blooming. I’m happy to say that over last weekend I was able to get hundreds of spring planted bulbs in my landscape. Better late than never!

Garden bed project
Front landscape beds will bloom with dahlias and caladium. All those little plastic bags are full of potential! This bed curves up to the porch and all the way around the house.

I don’t know if I ever mentioned it before, but I have the best job in the whole world. It feeds my need for creativity and gardening. I’m the Creative Director for a flower bulb company and every spring, fall and winter they send me flowers! In turn, I get to work with a fabulous, energetic group of people who are passionate about the business and have a really great sense of style. I may be bias because I have had the privilege to help shape their corporate identity, packaging, messages and website and they have great taste in design. Anyway, back to feeding my gardening habit….

Front Porch
Front porch pots are filled with caladium & begonias.

Last week, two very heavy boxes filled with potential arrived on my doorstep. When I opened them up I was like a kid on Christmas morning! If you’ve never smelled a box of flower bulbs and perennials, I recommend ordering just so that you can experience it. It’s like  a big box of dirt-scented optimism and excitement. It wasn’t until this past weekend that I was able to get inside and sort, organize, plan and get dirty!

Begonia tubers in the hanging basket before covering with soil.

I have never planted spring bulbs and tubers in such masses before but if I’m going to contribute to the photography and experience of the company I work for, I need to plant my part! I have a base of my favorite perennials in my landscape and I usually buy pink and purple annuals with companion plants for the beds and front pots. This year I planted pink begonias in my hanging basket and caladium with begonias in pots. Caladium and dahlias I planted in masses along the front landscape bed. In my shade bed to the left of the garage, I planted liatris to fill the space where a failed hydrangea and rose bush used to be (I transplanted in an actual full sun location….like I should have planted them in the beginning).

I write about this gardening stuff all the time…so why am I worried that I didn’t do it right? I kept thinking to myself “If this works, it’s going to be a miracle.” I think that has to be the way our customers feel sometimes too. To say the least, it was a humbling new experience. I just look at those little tubers and bulbs and I can’t help but wonder how in the world that’s ever going to turn into what they show on the website. BUT…it will!

If all goes well, these pots will be brimming with shade loving flowers and foliage in the next few weeks.

In the back yard I planted callas, cannas, elephant ear, dahlias and lilies….but that will be Part 2 I will share with you later. I have a friend who says her favorite outdoor activity is going back inside. After 5 hours, hundreds of bulbs, lots of dirt and a sunburn later, I felt the same way and headed inside to my air conditioned house, a shower and a cocktail. If it all works the way it’s supposed to, I will be enjoying the blooms that came in those boxes of hope and optimism.  If it doesn’t, I can find out what I did wrong and not do that again next year. At least I got a tan.

I hope you are all enjoying the wonderful weather and doing what you love to do!

Bloom on!

“Go Random Stranger, Go!”


Last Thursday morning one of my besties called me at around 7:30am. I answered right away thinking it had to be an emergency and it was….she had an idea. The conversation went something like this:

BF: You wanna run the River Bank on Saturday?

Me: 10k?

BF: No

Me: Not the 5k.

BF: Nope.

Me: Are you crazy?

BF: Yep.

Me: Ok, I’m in.

I hung up and realized I’d just said yes to running a 25k that neither her nor I had ‘formally’ trained for. We showed up on Friday afternoon for late registration, laughing along the way. Turns out, we had a great time and made the 15.5 miles in under our anticipated pace. It also helped that we are both too stubborn NOT to finish.

If you’ve ever run a major event like this, you know that the crowd is one of the highlights. People line the streets cheering with their hand made signs, music and high fives. My personal favorites were “Go Random Stranger, Go!” “Smile if you aren’t wearing underwear” and “Worst Parade Ever.” There were others that elicited a good chuckle and one that was just so completely unpolitically correct that I think I only laughed because I was delusional at mile 13. Ok, I admit I laugh at inappropriate things all the time and will probably go to hell for the things I find funny. Overall it was a lot of fun and I’m glad I said yes. 🙂

When I got home I was greeted by my daughter who gave me the recap of their 4th loss and my son who forgave me for missing his baseball game and his 5th big win. He handed me a rose and wished me a happy mother’s day. I felt like a rockstar! Not because I finished a 25k (although that was pretty cool)…but because I am mom to some awesome little peeps.

To all the mom’s who think everyday is mother’s day and for all you do…..“GO RANDOM STRANGER, GO!”

Life in the Landscape Beds

lilac bloom

I love hard work, but I have to admit I loathe edging the landscape beds. However, behind every dreaded chore there is the opportunity to see things up close and personal that you normally wouldn’t see while sipping cocktails in comfort on the patio. While edging one of my many landscape beds, I was leaning over mumbling obscenities to the shovel and grass that has overgrown. In the midst of my quiet complaining, I looked up and noticed pretty green buds all over my lilac bush. I stopped grumbling and smiled.

I love working in the garden because it really does reflect real life. Life is full of hard work and painful truths (the equivalent of edging landscape beds), but once you get up close and personal with those realities, you can see little buds of new hope and life. Even after a hard winter, nature and life can still bloom beautifully.

There are many things to look forward to, as long as we keep looking up while edging the landscape beds.