Rich people may have money, but that usually doesn’t keep their gardens from being stuffy snooze fests of unearthly green grass bordered by close-clipped hedges and dotted with a weird topiary or two.
This being the case, I just had to stop the car and take pictures the other day when I spotted some amazing, over-the-top container gardens flanking the gates of an otherwise bland-looking mansion on Minneapolis’ swanky Lake of the Isles.
And I wasn’t alone. Several other people had stopped to stare or take pictures, too. As you might imagine, we don’t see too many tropical displays of this magnitude in these parts. So what did we do? We all behaved as if we were in a library and didn’t make a sound as we blinked in the morning sun.
There were clearly other containers to be gawked at in the front yard too. But nobody ventured up the steps to peek inside the gates. It seemed kind of rude.I was really hoping someone would see us and just come on out and invite us inside in that grand way that Willy Wonka invites Charlie, his grandpa and all of those dreadful other people into the chocolate factory.
Perhaps it’s all for the best that it didn’t go that way, really.
Minnesota is known for extreme weather. We think nothing of a few 90-degree days followed by a 50-degree week, the drastic temperature changes producing everything from thunderstorms and hail to eerie green skies teaming with funnel clouds. “Meh,” we yawn. “We have basements.”
This year, though, things are really weird. After a winter that wasn’t, spring came early and between the already excessive rain, heat and humidity our gardens have gone wild.
Some of you might remember a column I wrote a few weeks ago about how we made a raised bed out of a livestock trough. Well, the tomato in that trough is huge now and the chard, kale and peppers are well on their way too.
I’ve never grown so many edibles in pots and raised beds, so every day when I go outside to check on them I’ll thrilled to find that everybody is still alive, even thriving—this despite the ravenous squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks and racoons that call our yard home. (We even saw a possum scuttle under our neighbor’s porch once.)
Here are a few pictures I took of the garden yesterday that I thought I would share. If you notice I’m doing something that you think could be a problem, please tell me! Like I said, I’ve never tried growing some of these things and I’ve certainly never tried putting so many edibles together in containers to maximize space.
Potatoes are new to the garden this year. I’m growing them in a fabric bag from Gardener’s Supply that I’m product testing. You fill the bag with soil as the potatoes grow. So far so good.
I admit it. I have never understood the allure of garden gnomes. Ugly, dumpy and slightly creepy in a pervy kind of way, gnomes always make me wonder about the sort of person who chooses to use them as garden accents.
Why do they like these creatures? Are the gnomes perceived as funny, cute, hip, what? Did somebody this poor homeowner loves foist gnomes upon them as a gift so now they feel like they have to set them out in the garden—at least for a few weeks until they can claim that some neighborhood kids took ‘em?
What is the story?
The situation is completely different with zombie gnomes, however. Created by Los Angeles-based couple Chris Stever and Jane DeRosa, these gruesome gnomes make no attempt to hide their creepiness behind props like whimsical pointy hats. Happily noshing on pink flamingos and other hapless garden dwellers, they broadcast what many of us have suspected all along. “Yes, gnomes are creepy,” they would say if their mouths weren’t full of tasty flamingo meat. ” In fact we are the blood-thirsty undead come unbidden into your yard.”
Buoyed by their forthrightness, and my longtime love of all things zombie, I ordered some up right away. If you’d like some zombie gnomes for your garden, go to Chris and Jane’s Place, the couple’s shop on Etsy. Be aware that it says on their website that due to increased demand it may take up to five weeks for your zombie gnomes to arrive.
I figure that’s fine. I need a little time to let the cute turtle and rabbit statues out in the backyard know that they’d best get their affairs in order.
I’m long overdue with a post. Sorry about that. In between work and the heat and the rain and more rain, it’s been hard to get everything done in the garden and post to my blog too. I’ll make this one short so as not to wear out my welcome with worm talk.
But I just have to say that the worms really love the new condo they moved into a few weeks ago. As I explained in my May 7 post, I wasn’t that keen on my one-bin system so I moved everyone into a new bin with four stackable trays.
The other bin was working just fine. But its design made it hard to actually see the worms eating or just wriggling around doing worm stuff. I figured the trays would make it easier to interact with the worms at feeding time, or if I just want to take a peek to see how they’re doing. And it is easier, and much more enjoyable.Read More»
If you love flowering bulbs, but recoil at the thought of having to look at their withering foliage long after the blooms are gone, Cornell University has good news for you.
Knowing that the right plant combinations could successfully hide fading leaves, researchers at Cornell spent four seasons putting bulb/perennial pairings to the test at the university’s trial gardens in Ithaca, New York.
Their results, including some helpful photos of the two plants progressing together over several weeks, are available on the university’s website: http://www.hort.cornell.edu/combos.
As someone who has mostly tried in vain to effectively pair up plants in ways that really do hide ugly, yellowing foliage, I’m grateful to Cornell for putting real energy into actually testing plant combos to see what works and what doesn’t. When deciding which pairings looked good and worked well together, the researchers considered the same types of things gardeners think about: color, foliage type and texture, bloom times and the rate at which the perennials they planted mature.Read More»