OLG Old Lady Gardener #52 Switching Gears

It is the end of May and summer has arrived in Minnesota. The day began in the wee hours of the morning with thunderstorms and badly needed rain. At 7:00 a.m. the clouds began to part for the blue skies, sun and humidity. Now at 4:30 p.m. we are at 86 degrees, humidity at 40 percent with a light wind.

My body has not adjusted from the deep winter chills to this temperature so I am hot and sweaty as I sit writing. It is really very pleasant. I am not complaining one bit. This is lovely after deep snow and 40 below wind chills in winter. I am looking for the cool breezes of June to help me adjust to the warm climate of summer.

I am also sitting and not in the garden. This is an odd thing for me. I have my computer on my lap and am sitting with my new friend, a Tens machine. If you have not had muscle injuries where you work with a physical therapist you might not know about these little guys. I used a big fancy one when I was at the PT office the other day and another one long ago when I had a severe ankle sprain that did not want to heal.

Now they make little ones you can use at home while doing other things. It is a small machine with batteries and two sticky pad that you attach to you body wherever you muscles are pulled or sore. It runs a low level electrical charge through the muscle to relax and heal nerve endings that are irritated. (They are weird and great at the same time.)

Well, if you thought through my sitting with this new friend you might have guessed that I over did it in the garden. This is why these posted are titled Old Lady Gardener. This old lady thought she was pacing herself. I was taking breaks. I was drinking water. I was switching from heavier tasks to lighter tasks to keep things going smoothly.

Yesterday was not so smooth. I repotted some tiny shallot seedling (a light task) then dug up a few Balloon Flowers for my daughter (a heavier task) and then on to planting a few things in the raised beds ( medium to light task). While getting up from the raised bed I noticed my right low back or hip was really hurting. Yep, I hobbled to put tools away and in I went to sit down. Resting was good but any time I wanted to walk was not so good.

Today the PT was very nice and was working to lightly let me know that I was way over doing it. My left shoulder that we were working on is moving great and moving in the ways it is suppose to. Yeah, I thought but she said you have to realize you don’t have any muscle strength in the shoulder yet. Oh, not good! I am thinking I know what I have done. She continued to let me know my back right hip, left upper back and shoulder into my neck was one big muscle spasm. Over do was putting it lightly.

I left her office in not a very good mood. It seems that each gardening season I have run into a wall that slows me down or sometimes stops me completely. How do I get past this wall? I do not want to take this as a sign that I need to stop gardening. It does mean I need to listen to my body more and find ways around the big tasks. I want to say I should be able to do this. The should and can are two different things. Yep, there are 71 year olds in better physical shape than me but there are also those in worst shape. I am once again discovering that walking down the comparison road does me no good. What others can do does not matter. I have to look at what I can realistically do.

The rest of today I did very little physical work, used ice on my back and the Tens machine. Tomorrow will be much the same. Hopefully this will settle things down. (I did make a rhubarb pie. I am not sure if that is heavy or light work.)

While I sitting – I need to rethink my summer gardens. I am wondering how I switch gears. If this physical therapy had started some 8 to 9 months ago I could be doing what I am doing in the garden but that is not where my muscles are at. I have another good 6 months or more of building up muscle that can handle the work of a gardener.

  • the pulling and dragging of hoses around,
  • the digging and pulling of plants and weeds
  • the cutting and trimming of bushes
  • planting new plants

Now what do I do!

I am looking into who I could hire to do the grunt and heavy work of the perennial bed redo that I had planned. I may need to engage my daughter in helping me finish planting the raised beds. The tomatoes, peppers and some flowers still need to go into the ground.

Wondering if I can get planting done will I be able to handle the daily or weekly watering if I cut out all the other lifting and digging. I guess I will have to wait to see.

I did want to do more work on botanical drawing and watercoloring so that may be what I am switching to. It is not lifting, digging and hauling.

This is not going to be easy! I can write about it in an easy fashion but as I sit here I was thinking oh yeah there is that large Hibiscus plant but the deck door. I should take that out on the deck. Well, no that is a heavy task and it is off my list for awhile. It may just need to sit there gathering sun through the screen door.


Could not resist adding this photo of the tiny birds nest I found while trimming the spice bush this past weekend! A great find while doing a task I should not have been doing. (Trimming with hands and arms up high using muscle that are not there. So my body nicely used other muscles that are not meant for that kind of work. There in lies the start of the deep muscle spasms I am now dealing with.)

It was great fun though and just for the record the tiny eggs were all gone and the nest was abandoned for the summer.

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OLG Old Lady Gardener #51 – old school lists

The last two blog posts have been about lists. Making garden lists. I am here sitting with Little Man, who is finally taking his afternoon nap ( I have a feeling this will be one of his last since it was a real struggle to get him to settle down.). The first thing I thought about writing was a list of what I have gotten done in the garden or a list of what I will do next. I just keep thinking about lists.

It appears my summer gardening is surrounded by lists. I think it may be that there are just so many projects to do that repeatedly make new lists help me focus. It helps me keep track of what needs to be picked up at the garden store so I can do the things on the list. My simple lists seem to be getting more complicated over time.

There is the list of things to get done. weeding, planting, racking, planning out a new garden space, watering, fertilizing

But that leads to the list of supplies and tools that are needed.

Then the list of things that need to be bought because we are out if them – potting soil seems to come up often this spring.

I find as an old gardener that I need to write these things down even if the list will change. I use to carry it all in my head but age does something to the brain. Don’t ask me what but I lose track more easily. I will alway remember things but not always when it is most helpful.

Like today, my run to the garden shop without the list – yep got everything potting soil, exchange the garden gloves for a size smaller, picked up three ‘Sun King’ shrubs and a couple other plants not on the list in my head and headed home. OH, but got home to realize one item of importance was grass seed! Did I pick that up? Nope and it is the third time I have been in a garden center recently and come home with no grass seed.

Yes, a written list would be a good idea. I am also thinking I may need to stay old school. Write the list on paper and put it in my pocket. I had a list on my phone in my notes app. Did I look at it? No, I did not! Was grass seed on the list? Yes, it was!

Geez – Those big dirt spots in the back yard are just going to have to wait a few more days!

Do you think I keep forgetting grass seed because it is a task I hate? I don’t mind putting down grass seed. It is the cover cloth to protect it and to help hold in moisture. It is also the daily watering to be sure the seed does not dry out once it has been watered. Grass is picky and hard to grow. It is also hard when I am sure there are grubs in the yard that have not been treated but who wants to put chemicals down when a three year old is running around and digging up “wormies”. (No worries on the worms have they are always placed back in the soil after careful examination and a few conversations.)

Maybe lists are not always the answer – in this case I may just need to face up to the task at hand and put on my garden gloves and do it!

On that note I am off to check my list and see what tasks I can do without the grass seed.

(Did you notice none of the pictures relate to grass! Flowers are just more Fun! and sleeping grandchildren! )

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OLG Old Lady Gardener #50 Lists – again

The sun is setting on a beautiful spring day. We reached 82 degrees and now the temp is sliding back down to a cool 50 degrees overnight. The birds are still singing as the sky darkens and the neighbor is pounding in his tall poles for his peas, and climbing beans. All is right with this tiny corner of the city.

I have run through my list of things to get done today and am running out of steam with more to do. It seems I just don’t have enough energy to do all I thing that need to be done each day. Once Little Man goes home for the day and we have dinner the evening goes fast and when it is dark I am ready to read with my feet up.

So tonights writing is really just a list the things done and the things to do:

Done today for the garden:

  1. some weeding
  2. photos taken of the native garden to turn in for the grant I received
  3. watering the new Native plant garden
  4. sort and counting the young seedlings
  5. created a spreadsheet to share with my daughter so me know how many plants we will each have to plant.
  6. watered the front pots and a few wilted looking plants
  7. put up a string trellis for the Clematis plants in the back garden

Things yet to do that will not get done today:

  1. complete the grant form to turn in with all the data and photos
  2. transplant the Nicotiana plants
  3. Continue weeding the the back perennial bed
  4. clean out under the deck
  5. purchase the hanging pots
  6. purchase and plant the front door pots

Ok – this list of things yet to do could go on for pages. I decided it is both good and bad to make this list. It clarifies what I need to do but also feels a bit overwhelming.

This is gardening in the spring! There is so much to do. You wait and wait for the weather to warm and the ground to thaw and then suddenly everything feels like it should happen today.

It is funny how we are just feeling spring and a hint of summer but I feel a rush for my tiny seedling to grow and for me to get them in the garden because in Minnesota the fall and cold weather comes all to early.

I need to slow down and enjoy the sounds of spring and know that tomorrow is another day to chip away at the to do list!

For now I will find my book to read – I am currently reading Virginia Woolf’s Garden: The Story of the garden at Monk’s House. Mainly wonderful pictures of an old English garden. My garden will never look like that but it is fun to dream.

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OLG Old Lady Gardener #49 To do list and the Good Life

The birds are singing and the front gardens are awash in yellow with a touch of red and purple dotting the gardens. The tulips and daffodils are blooming together and it is a great show. I have needed to chase the squirrels and throw cinnamon over all the plants in hopes the squirrels would stop bitting off the tops of all of them. Darn squirrels!

Spring arrived in full glory which means there are a thousand things to do in the garden. The list grows longer each day as I walk the yard in the early morning with my tea in hand. The front beds are doing well but the perennial weeds are now popping up and need to be pulled out roots and all. At least one raised bed has been planted. The salad garden has seeds in it. The lettuce, spinach, radishes and peas are in the ground. The squirrels think the soft soil is perfect for digging in so I expect the neat rows I planted are now mixed like a salad. I think I need to put a topper on the bed but hate the look of it so I guess I will live with mixed greens this spring.

As I round the corner and head to the back there is a cute little garden I created once our sun room was finished last year. The Daffodils are up with Hostas coming up between them. The ferns that were transplanted and look sickly all last year are beautifully unrolling along the back wall. Then just as you enter the gate into the back the wild Geraniums are growing in a thick mass. They will have pink flowers in another week or so just as the yellow daffs fade away. Later in the season with garden will have a few other perennials if they make it after the rough winter. Those plants are just peaking their head out of the ground.

The back yard and gardens are another story. The grass is almost gone due to drought and grubs so this is a big item to deal with this year. The four raised beds here sit waiting for plantings. One has raspberry canes that are struggling to emerge from the cold soil and heavy leave mulch I put on it hoping to save them from the snow and cold. There are tiny green spots on them so I think at least half of them have made it. I will fence this soon so the rabbits don’t think this is another meal for them.

In the middle of the yard is a large pile of branches. We thinned out the bushes all around the yard. There was so much dead wood both from these plants being very old and from winter damage. Both rabbits and squirrels stripped the bark on so many trees and bushes leaving the branch with no way to get food from the roots. This kind of damage is seen all over the city this year. Critters were hungry and snow piles were high making it easy for them to reach tender branches higher up.

All the garden beds back here need heavy weeding and some replanting this year. This will be a summers worth of work. It is in bad shape.

I did however plant a new Native plant garden last Sunday. There are about 60 or so new small plants in a circle garden. They are all native to Minnesota and should flower through the three seasons, I hope. It does not look like much right now but I am hoping by mid summer to be able to share great progress. The plants have made it so far. All of three days!

I have already over done the working with a torn shoulder so was grateful not to have had my PT appointment this week and admit I have been a bad girl. I am trying to slow down and not always use my left shoulder and arm but man, that is hard when you are left handed.

All in all, life is good. The garden is growing. The world here has finally turned green with joyous spots of color. The temperatures are staying above 50 and the sun comes out quite often now. So although the to-do list is long and my shoulder hurts I am not complaining.

Life is wondering when spring hits the upper mid west!

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OLG – Old Lady Gardener #48 Growing as a Gardener

We headed south to find real spring this last weekend. I was hunting for sun, warmth, green leaves and tulips. Being a weather watcher, I knew the chances were going to be few but I was sure we would find that lovely spring feel if we looked.

We left Minneapolis, Mn and headed south to Iowa. Ok, we were also going to check in with family members in Iowa but that is a whole can of worms I don’t want to open here so back to looking for spring. It was cold and rainy on the drive, but we could see signs of the sky opening up to blue. With each passing mile the hardwood trees took on a green hue and the willows were blowing yellow. Spring was arriving.

It is about a three-to-four-hour drive to reach our destination, Des Moines, Iowa. In that time the world went from brown to green. The grass was green, the trees had small green starts to leaves and the bushes were working on flowering. It was still partly cloudy and cool, but it felt like spring. You could smell the moist soil and find daffodils and tulips around the houses.

On Saturday we took the long-awaited trip from our current stay with families and headed to Pella, Iowa. This is the home of a Dutch community with perfectly clean streets, neat houses, and a tulip festival each spring. They plant 1,000’s of tulips each fall. They are up and down the main streets. There is a working windmill and some historic houses with heavily planted gardens, all tulips. The town square is also planted and there is an alphabet walk of tulips A to Z. A great place to think about what you might like to plant in your garden next fall. The forward thinking of gardening – planning several seasons ahead.

The trip to Pella was really for me the gardener. My husband, the writer, bless his soul loves the town and was sure he could find a coffee shop to hang out in and write. I had built this vision in my head of the day. We would arrive to take a walk around, have lunch and he would go off to write. I would continue to explore the tulips in the sunshine and warmth. I would take pictures, mark my favorite tulips and find a place to sit and draw and paint. I had bought a new travel watercolor set and found my water brushes so was excited for this quiet time with spring.

We arrive in Pella later than we thought due to family expectations so we decided lunch would come before anything. Yes, the tulips lined the streets and were in full bloom, but my idea of a quiet visit was so far off the mark. The crowds had already arrived even through the festival was a week away. I am guessing they were hoping to beat the crowds as well. The line out of the Dutch bakery was a block long. People waiting to buy Dutch Letters (an almond pastry) or windmill cookies were waiting a good hour or more. We knew that there was a new Market/cafe off the main drag so headed there for a light lunch.

There would be no quiet coffee shop for husband, so he joined me to view the tulips. We weaved through families, strollers, wheelchairs all fighting the cold wind that had been blowing since early morning. We made a round through the main square and I manage to take a few photos, but the day was getting darker and I could feel the storm coming. I pushed us over to the Scholte House Gardens just as the rain began. A few last pictures and we were off on a quick walk to the car five blocks away.

We sat for a moment, and I knew it was time to return to Des Moines. I also knew that my visits to Pella were most likely done. I know my idea of a warm sunny day with the tulips and a few people was not apt to happen the way I wanted but this was far from my thoughts when driving this distance. This is a year that winter does not want to let go even in Iowa.

But in reality, if I am honest with myself, I knew the moment we drove into Pella that this would most likely be my last trip here. I knew the place too well. It was not holding the fascination it once had. I have grown as a gardened and now need something more or maybe just different. I felt bad that I had dragged my husband this distance when I knew in a moments time that things had changed.

A garden for me needs to grow with the land it is on. I have come to feel the need to find the connection between the land and the plants that grow there. I guess I am moving toward native or more wild gardens. The routine and structure of this city and their tulips felt tight and too controlled. It was lovely don’t get me wrong. I think it is me. I have changed over the last few year.

My reading about gardens has changed. How I see my own garden and how I see myself has also matured or developed in new ways. I am no longer content to just take pretty pictures that sit on my phone or computer. I feel I need to act. I need to learn from what I see and experience. I missed the chance to draw or record this moment in time in some meaningful way for me.

Why take the pictures? What will I do with them? What will I learn when I visit this or any garden? What can I take away with me to help me connect to the land. Most importantly how does my gardening support my little world? Does what I plant provide nectar for insects, food for birds, shelter for the critters that we need to keep our world alive and well. (Feeding the bees that pollinate our food sources)
This city of tulips is wonderful but artificial. They are planted each fall, things bloom in the spring and are dug up sold and a new set of bulbs are planted the next fall. They are not native to America and not providing any support to the midwest ecosystem. I am sure the land needs to be heavily fertilized to support this growth year after year. Maybe they use compost, and they are recycling the bulbs to new owners so all that is helpful. It you have never seen a large tulip festival I would say it is worth finding one to see. It is just not for me. Now!

Will I buy tulips to replace my fading ones? Yes, I love the spring hope that tulips bring even though I they do not support the spring pollinators and are not native. I have and will plant native flowers to support the insects in their early spring search for nectar. My bulbs will just be a small part of a wider view of the garden.

I will need to seek out garden visits that feed my need for learning and maybe just spend more time here at home listening to what my little piece of land has to say. Looking to see what plants grow well in what places in the garden. I am listening to myself and the land just a little bit more these days.

It is a new way for me to garden. Instead of just planting whatever pretty plant I see I am thinking about the interaction before the land, the plants, the natural world of insect, bird, and animals. How we we all work together to create a world that supports all of us? Big thoughts for a little yard and garden.

So did I find spring? Sort of! It was cold, very windy, and rainy but I saw green grass, trees, and flowers. I could smell the rich earth as the growing world began its new growth. I did find spring even if it did not look and feel like I had envisioned in my head.

Here is to growth – both in nature and in who I am as a gardener in this crazy world we live in!

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OLG Old Lady Gardener: #47 The rest before the rush

It has been a few days since I have written and here in the garden we have gone through several seasons. I last let you with the signs of spring. Nice little flowers pushing through snow and last falls leaves. Since then we have had a couple winter storms with high winds, rain and finally the late night snow.

Shortly after that we found ourselves in bright sun with 85 degrees. The long underwear quickly exchanged for shorts, sandals and light t shirts. We were rushing to do a bit of garden clean up because flowers were pushing our of the ground faster that you would believe.

And we should not have believed it because the rains came with high winds and of course there was snow. Those poor flowers had no idea what to do and either did we.

It is not April 18th and things have settles to a more “normal” spring. For today at least the sun is out. The winds have died back and the temperature is mid 55’s. A perfect spring day.

The flowers that had bloomed are working on recovery, the birds are singing and have returned to the feeders. The front door is open to let some fresh air in and all seems right with the world here in Minnesota. (I know there is craziness out there in the bigger world but for today I will focus on just this little plot of land I am living on.)

I am sitting watching and waiting just before the big garden rush. There is not much to really do today but enjoy the sun and take a couple walks.

But within the week or so the list of tasks will send me rushing to keep up.

  • 50 new native plants will arrive and they will need to be planted, mulched and fenced from the rabbits
  • the back gardens will need to be cleaned up from the winter sticks and leaves
  • the bushes that were eaten by rabbits all winter need trimming or taken out if dead
  • the veggie seedling will need to be put in bigger pot and begin the harding off process so they know how to survive out in the real world
  • the deck needs sealing and the wooden lawn chairs need a new coat of stain

The list can go on but you get the idea – gardeners sit with a cup of tea and then suddenly there is not enough time to complete the spring tasks.

The fun and games of gardening! For now it is quiet although I can hear the dahlia tubers call that they need out of the starter tray and need to be put in pots. Maybe I can still do that tonight.

But for a few more minutes I will enjoy the sun as it goes down, finish my drink and share with you a few spring flowers!

Scilla – cute, native and invasive – it takes over and crowds other plants out but short lived in the spring

Hellebore – one of the first blooming plants this year!

Forsythia Bush – it was double fenced this year to prevent the rabbits from eating it!
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OLG Old Lady Gardener #46 Is it spring yet?

Ok, if you are really tired of hearing about the lack of spring or the coming of spring you might want to skip this post! I am just warning you.

I don’t have a lot to say but just could not help myself. We had our big April Fools Day Snow storm. This one left 9 inches of snow here and 18 or more further east of us. It was a wild ride night.

This how things started with rain, then sleet, a bit of hail and then heavy wet snow for hours with winds whipping everywhere.

So where is spring? Well, here are the signs:

(Look closely to see deep red leaves of tulips coming up!)

  1. Several days later the 9 inches of snow are almost gone. Spring snow does not last
  2. The streets and sidewalks are clear for walking and the massive amount of snow melt has soaked in for run off to the street drains.
  3. There is mud everywhere – so yes we have entered the mud season and my backyard is a prime example
  4. The Snowdrops (tiny little white flowers) are blooming right through the snow and wet mucky leaves
  5. It is currently raining and sleeting again
  6. They are predicting another snow storm in the next day or two

and last but not least it is Spring Break for our schools so we have plans to travel. Yes, we plan to travel north to Duluth just in time for another Blizzard. They currently have just gotten 10 more inches of snow today and more on the way. Hmm – should be interesting headed that way soon.

Then the weekend will bring up 60 degree days!

It is indeed spring in Minnesota!

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OLG Old Lady Gardened #45 Poppy Season and Thank You

We will keep it short since this is our last day of the March Challenge.

First it has once again be a wonderful month of writing. Even if I have not been here everyday. I am forever amazed at the writers who show up here -Young and old – teachers and those long retired. We write about moments that have held our attention for a few moments today or many about moments long ago that we just can’t let go of. Thank you for your writing, your attention to others writing and the care that was given over this month. It is always a joy and pleasure to connect with others in this space.

Thank you again!!!

Now to Poppy Season for I am a writer at times but always a gardener. Poppies are a flower that has held my attention since I was little. My Grandfather grew large bright orange poppies in his rock garden in southern Iowa. They are still growing there although he is long gone as most of the family is. The garden remains and the Poppies bloom in early summer.

I have tried to get down there some years in time to see them but if just doesn’t happen. I have tried to dig some of they up and bring them home. Oh, just to have a few of them growing here would be such joy. But poppies don’t like moving from place to place. Their roots to not like to be disturbed. I know people like that. They prefer to stay in one place.

So last year I tried to grow poppies. They don’t like to be moved so starting them inside to plant once the weather is warm often does not work. I know I am sure you can find someone who has done it. It just is not me.

I followed the directions given to me. Go out just as the snow is melting and scatter your poppy seeds. They will settle into the garden finding the right home and grow. Magic!

Well, mine settled in and a couple grew long and spindly. There were a few weak flowers that grew but did not thrive. I have no idea if they will return this year or not. I will look for them.

But we are at that time again – poppy season!! The snow is melting the soil is wet and cold the way the poppy seeds like it. So out I went into the chilly raining day. (35 degrees) I have two varieties of poppies that I scattered in a new area that gets more sun. The seeds are tiny, tiny, tiny black things that are hard to see and once out of your hand they can not be found again. So I hope they landed in a place that makes them happy. I am hoping they will like this chilly rain and snow we are getting tonight. (Maybe 5 to 7 inches – an April fools if I ever saw one. Yep you think winter is over – nope!)

It will be June before I know if these little seeds liked their new home but I was happy in my bright orange rain coat and garden boots tromping over the half frozen mud to find a place for them.

Maybe some time I will have a poppy garden but tonight as the snow falls once again I will have to dream of poppies growing in the garden.

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OLG Old Lady Gardener #44 Finding the World Anew

We appear to be stuck in a late winter scene. The temperature moves up to 40 degrees and then a day later drops to 15 feeling like 2 below. The snow is leaving slowly. It is not a deep melt. The temperature is too cold to really melt but the spring sun is here. Under that sun the snow seems to be evaporating. The piles of snow have a lace work of ice crystals. There are tiny tunnels of air winding their way through the snow leaving that lacy look.

Today Little Man and I bundled up and head out to the back garden. We worked our way down the deck steps watching for ice and snow mounds that remain. The steps face north and the sun has not traveled far enough north yet to reach those north facing place. Once down in the yard we move between winter on the south side of the yard walking over snow pack and crunching the ice hidden in the piles. If we move over to the north side of the yard we move into mud season. The angle of the sun warms this side of the garden first so the snow is gone. The ground is still deeply frozen but a very thin layer of soil has been soften by the sun leaving mud for us to find.

The two of us are out in this area measuring for a new native plant garden that will go in hopefully this spring. This area was hit hard the last two year by the drought and I was unable to keep grass growing here. So what we find here is a few weeds, a little grass and a wonderful thin layer of mud.

Little Man is holding the measuring tape for me until he realized there are leaves that have thawed and he is off. He is marching through the mud with glee. I stumble around measuring trying hard not to walk in the mud and working fast so we can go in and warm up.

Little Man seems to not be aware of the cold. He mittens are off and he is gathering small piles of leaves to toss into the air or at me. There is pure joy on his face. When there are not enough leaves he finds the small rocks that are between the large flat patio stones. At one point we are both kneeling on the stone pathway that leads up into the frozen perennial bed when we see bits of red. I quickly realize this is the red leaves of the stonecrop plant growing along the steps. This is a small ground cover in the sedum family called ‘Dragons Blood.’ A perfectly named plant for Little Man to find. He is again delighted. The ground is hard and many of the maple tree leaves are still frozen to the soil but tucked along the rocks are the first leaves of spring happily growing. We take a few minutes to check them out and then Little Man is off to explore.

I try and direct him to places he can pull at plants or leaves that will not disturb some of the new growth that is hiding just below the surface. He is under bushes check out the rabbit damage. He is tromping over the snow to discover he is on top of the raise veggie beds that are still under snow. He is under the deck on ice.

He is not happy with me when I say we need to head inside. The ice under the deck has made a perfect skating rink and he is not going to follow me around the house and in. A bit of quick thinking and I let him know if he makes it up the deck steps we can take our boots off outside. He thinks this is great and he knows the sun is making the deck warm. Perfect! Up we go.

I know if we leave our boots outside all the mud we collected will remain outside and not on the living room floor. He just wants to walk around outside in his socks. (So much for those socks -wet and dirty by the time he makes it in the door)

A short task for me of measuring became a world of adventure, joy and delight. He was reminded of things he forgot about -leaves, rocks, sticks, hiding places under bushes and so much more.

This three year old found the world all over again and so did I!

(I was not good at taking pictures of our mud adventures but I can show you how Little Man felt after a morning of tumbling class, a back garden exploration and lunch. Our usual three stories turned into two at his request and two minutes later this is how he spent the next couple hours.

PS After Little Man had gone home for the day. I took at brisk walk using his open awareness of the new world and there close to the front bay window I found the tulips pushing their way up through the frozen ground. They seem to be ready for spring as much as we are!

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OLG Old Lady Gardener #43 What do we find?

Spring is slowly working its way into the upper Midwest. Here is Minneapolis, MN the snow is finally beginning to melt. There are patches of brown grass or edges of garden beds that are now visible. Walking along the streets there are snow drifts that are now isolated and look like floating ice bergs.

The winter brought us about 71 inches of snow. It seems small compared to out in Washington with near 700 inches of snow. But our snow is in the city with very few places to move it to. I don’t want to complain but I am glad to see it melting away each day.

The sidewalks have cleared enough to walk and the puddles are down to walkable as well, compared to the lakes they were last week. So now we are on to the season of hidden treasures. It is a short lived time before we enter the true mud season.

As we walk there are lots of things to find. There is of course the candy wrappers, some maybe lingering from Halloween last October. Tonight we found Starbucks glass coffee bottles, bottle tops, deflated soccer ball, individual mittens, and a few newspapers still in their green plastic bags that were lost under some snow storm.I expect all these messy treasures that will be cleaned up soon enough.

This year brings a different type of item to find. The snow pack came early and was deep so the critters that live in our fair city had a hard time finding both food and moisture. The critters who seem to be most busy are the rabbits and squirrels. They went after the bushes, trees or any plant they could find. I understand they need to eat, but they have devastated the landscape.

The small trees along the street have been chewed all the way around the trunk leaving the tree griddled. Which means that tree is most likely dead. There is no way for moisture to travel from the roots to the tree top where the leaves grow. The moisture in a tree or bush travels along the thin line just under the bark. If that bark is missing the passage way is gone.

This is the same for bushes. If the rabbits have only eaten part of the way around the trunk of the bush it may live but not always. There are bushes that will regrow from the root mass so with time they will return. I have Spirea bushes that the rabbits eat to the ground each year. They do return and I guess I can be glad I don’t have to trim those bushes the rabbits do it for me.

The tall Smoke bush by our deck may be a goner. The three main stems have been eaten all the way around. I am not sure if it will sprout from the roots or not. This one will be cut back in a week or so and we will see in June if new growth appears. The old Lilacs will be cut back as well. I am guessing this is the year to trim out the old and add new native bushes since the rabbits did a powerful job of eating everything.

People who have Arborvitae bushes are really hurting. Rabbits and squirrels made it through protective fences and covering or the snow was deep enough for them to climb over. The little guys had a feast eating little branch after branch. Those branches now lay around the ground under the bushes. These plants will not die but the lower branches are gone and will not return. It leaves these glorious bushes looking a bit naked on the bottom. I guess they can do some under planting with perennials but that is more work and cost people did not plan on.

There are the forgot tools or pots that show up as well. The flower pots are good if made of plastic or turned over but the pottery may have cracked and be gone. Today by the bird feeder I saw a shine sliver disk and wondered what the rabbits had dragged into that snow bank. On closer examination I found it was the top of my metal watering can. Just the spout has surfaced. The rest is still well buried under snow. I do recall in November using it to catch dripping water from the melting snow off the roof one day. It was filling so fast I was needing to dump it often and gave up putting the water can along the side of a garden to put away later. Well, I guess late April or May is later!

I can’t complain and be mad because it does not do me any good. So I have decided to take the approach of what does this make possible. If the bushes are gone what can I do now. The yard needs a new design I guess and the rabbits were just helping me along.

I do understand that some folks may have had new plantings from last year that they spent a lot of time and money on. They I am sure are finding it harder to take a positive attitude towards are furry friends.

The finds of winter can be delightful or now. It kind of depends on how you look at it.

No matter what I am glad we have reached the days of melting snow and hunting for what the snow has left behind. Here is hoping we have not more storms to bury us again.

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