Little things matter. Along the way you discover they weren't so little after all.

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Yellowy Peach Enlongated Impatiens

Our yard has a lot of shade. We are lucky to have a lot of trees, which gives us a sense of privacy even though we don’t live on a secluded estate. There are three areas we have flowers, and all three have more shade than sun. I’m not used to this – up to now I’ve been gathering information about plants for hot, dry areas, plants that can handle life without a lot of babying from me. But I’m building up my shade repertoire and finding a whole new family of flowers.

Impatiens are a group of plants that work in the shade without any babying. Before you roll your eyes and click over to a site with sunflowers and prairie blazing star, you must know that Impatiens are not all the flat, uninteresting flowers you might be picturing. Impatiens come in a variety of colors and their shapes and shadings widely vary.

Also, don’t be a dork like me and go through life thinking they are called “impatients” because when you find out your mistake, you’ll feel a little silly.

These colorful flowers will bloom all season, aren’t picky about soil conditions, and as long as you keep them out of direct burning afternoon sun, they’ll remain agreeable. They are not hardy here in Minnesota, but they make a fantastic annual. Here are some of the other ones I picked up this year:

Pink Double Impatiens

Pinky Enlongated Impatiens

White Double Impatiens

(Just a side note if you are interested, I took these photos with Instagram. If you use it too, I’d love to connect there. On Instagram I go by: writermama1999.)

I’d love to hear any other shade loving plants you’ve found. I have a few more to share but they aren’t blooming yet, due to our cool spring and delayed summer. I hope to feature them in the future. Do you have favorite flowers you are drawn to year after year?


This has been a busy week! Amongst a lot of other things, I potted up the flowers and veggies I got at the Friends School Plant Sale and I brought home four chickens from my sons kindergarten class. Wow. I need to sit down.

As I was putting the plants into various pots, I was struck by one fact: it took me years to realize there are petunias and then there are TRAILING petunias. Not all petunias are automatically trailers, something I didn’t pay attention to and which caused me a lot of confusion. I finally learned this and yet last week I almost forgot it again! You can’t train petunias to trail gracefully down the side of your pot no matter how nicely you ask them. They won’t do it. And in spite of all this, the non-trailing petunias were actually in my cart! I almost spit on the asphalt floor of the temporary garden center when I realized it, I was so disgusted.

Whew!

I’m glad we got through that together.

But because we’re friends I just couldn’t let you make the same mistake I made (for years). I wanted to save you the frustration and angst I went through.

You can thank me later.

The other thing I felt you should know, us being such close friends and all, is that even though we brought home baby chickens, I don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve never had chicks and I’m still waiting for my requested library books to get in. In the meantime, if you, Dear Reader, have any words of advice or warning — wait! Don’t warn me. I already have them in a tupperware tub in my garage. But I’ll take advice, tips and encouragement. How’s that?

Hope you are enjoying your spring and that you are trying out something new that keeps you just a little off kilter. We can’t let ourselves get too comfy, now can we?

Here are the chicks:


As promised, here is a review of my first experience at the epic Friends School Plant Sale held at the Minnesota State Fair Grandstand.

The entire first level of the Grandstand was filled with plants

It was great.

When we got there, we got a wristband. The wristband (at no charge) had a number on it and was our entry ticket into the sale. The MC (yes, she was on the mic) told people when it was their turn to go through the gate and all those with that number on their wrist band could enter. We had to wait a bit, but I was with a wonderful longtime friend and it was a gorgeous morning, so it was no chore. Plus there were vendors sprinkled around the waiting area, so it made for interesting people watching.

Lots of gardeners brought their own wagons or carts, some rigged up with various devices to fit as many plants as possible into their cart without them getting squashed (think shelving systems). These guys were the hard-core plant salers. Even if you didn’t bring your own, there were plenty of carts available to use.

Now the fun started. We got inside and I was amazed by the organization and variety. All the plants were sorted by category and were then in alphabetical order. It was a type-A’s dream come true. There was room between the aisles and plenty of clearly marked “employees” to ask for help (all the people working the sale were volunteers, parents, teachers and lots of students of the Friends School).

You should have seen all the varieties they had. I mean, things you’d have to special order if you relied on most local nurseries. There were a few things missing due to crop failures sad little empty places on the wooden shelves, but these were sandwiched between such abundant replacements that I can’t imagine people could complain much. The whole Grandstand was filled with plants front the front to the back, all the way across the whole first level, and some of them had multiple tiers. Crazy amounts of plants. And there were trees, shrubs and roses outside. It just kept going!

There were roughly a gazillion plants

When it came time to check out, the process was simple. You were given a tally sheet at the beginning and it was up to you to write down what plant, how much and how many. You gave that sheet to a friendly lady at the tally table and she’d tippity-tap her big calculator and write up your total. Push your cart to a cashier further down and you’re done.

The whole thing took us about an hour and a half, and that was with a few backtracks and additions.

Overall there are a couple things I would mention to any person interested in going to the sale in the future:

#1. If you can avoid bringing your kids, you will have an easier time.

You can bring kids, of course, but it is a big place, concrete floors, I have no idea where the bathrooms were, and there are A LOT of people there. The whole experience will be more relaxing for you if your kids are playing with a nice friend or grandparent at home.

#2. You should go in with a plan.

Because of the magnitude and the crowd, it is not the place to plan out your planters. They have a great website where you can get organized ahead of time by creating a wishlist. When you print out the wishlist, it has the code for each plant, and that will help you find it’s location at the sale. And you’ll definitely want to have that list.

#3. You are among kin.

I was surprised at the patience and general good attitude of everyone in attendance. I watched people crush rosemary and smile as they inhaled the scent. I saw people oogle flowers in other people’s carts and comment on how pretty it was going to look. People were polite, patient, and nobody stole my purse even when I left my cart unattended multiple times. What nice folks. 🙂

Since you know you’re going to spend the money on your plants and flowers anyway, if you want to support a school in the process and have fun making an event of it, I think you’ll really enjoy the Friends School Plant Sale. And no, I don’t have kids at the school nor am I a paid spokeswoman for them. But it was a wonderful day with a great friends and beautiful weather. You’ll have to ask me in a few years when I’ve made it through the sale by myself and in the rain. It might just be worth it.

Plant Haul


Almost ready to plant spring veggies

This week we got the garden puffed up with dirt (soil, for you dirt snobs :), and because I know you’re dying to know, it was a tri-blend mix from a landscaping place in our area) and decided we needed some kind of fence to go around it, mostly to slow down the children, dog and deer who may tramp through it.

We went through quite a few fencing ideas before we stumbled onto deer netting. It is a tough plastic net with small holes and is designed to keep deer out of your plants. It comes on a roll that cost $18 and is 7ft wide x 100 ft long. They sell it at most big box home/garden stores and the 7 ft width is folded in half in the roll. I think they intended people to set it over the top of said plants, but we went a different route.

We kept it doubled up, bought 4ft tall plastic fence stakes at $2 each, and just unwound the roll of deer netting around the perimeter of the garden. It isn’t going to keep the deer from jumping the fence, but I’m hoping they’ll have better things to do. I have to hang some ribbons from the fence because it is virtually invisible and the dog already almost ran straight into it! In the photo you can see the stakes but just barely make out the fencing. I’ll try to get a better pic soon.

I may be crazy but I took at chance and my fellow veggie garden partner and I planted potatoes, onions, and two kinds of climbing peas. I may have to baby them along next week, since it is supposed to get a bit chilly, but everything is up for grabs this year with the early spring weather we’ve had in Minnesota. How are your garden plans coming along?

 


This is what my Winter Garden ambitions have come to:


I should have known that, when the ground inside the garden was hard in late October (if I remember correctly, it was October though I never really documented it. Maybe that’s an idea for next time?), we weren’t going to make it through the winter season. But it was an experiment, remember? So not all experiments are flying successes, as evidenced by this screaming failure of a winter garden.



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