Let's Get Dirty

A gardening blog for adults who still love to play in the dirt.

Send stories and pictures of your horticultural adventures to letsgetdirty@gjsentinel.com.

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On poetry and peonies

By Laurena Mayne Davis
Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The gloriously reclusive poet rarely ventured from her family’s Amherst, Mass., home, but when Emily Dickinson wasn’t peering out her bedroom window, she was reveling in the garden.

"I was always attached to mud," she wrote.

The New York Botanical Garden re-created a 19th century New England garden in honor of Dickinson: Emily Dickinson’s Garden: The Poetry of Flowers.

National Public Radio reported on it last spring. Go here  for the story in audio and print and for a photo gallery from the garden.

Think statuesque dianthus, speckled foxglove and spicy dianthus. And just as Dickinson tucked poems into nosegays as gifts, some 30 of her poems are sprinkled on plaques among the garden's trees and flowers.

To discern Dickinson’s preferred plantings, representatives with the botanical garden pored over her letters and poems for botanical mentions. Dandelions were included, too, because Dickinson said she thought of herself more as a dandelion.

Maybe so, but with her pen, even the humblest subjects bloom.

NATURE rarer uses yellow
Than another hue;
Saves she all of that for sunsets,—
Prodigal of blue,

Spending scarlet like a woman,
Yellow she affords
Only scantly and selectly,
Like a lover’s words.

— Emily Dickinson


I said I wouldn’t do it, but I might just change my mind

By Penny Stine
Monday, January 31, 2011

I did yard work on Saturday. Yard work… in January! In Colorado. It was awesome.
While I was cleaning all the leaves and cutting back the dead stuff in my front flowerbed, I discovered that my parsley hasn’t died.


Then I checked out my west garden, which has been covered in snow until the end of last week, and discovered that my snapdragons are still hanging in there, too. I’m sure when I bought the snapdragon seeds last spring, the description on the package said they were annuals. So I googled it to find out.
Turns out, snapdragons might be a perennial in the right zone, under the right conditions. The funny thing is that I was expecting them to die when it froze hard last November. And it didn’t bother me at all. I lost no sleep over my struggling snaps.
But now that I know they’ve survived through the last day of January, I really want them to make it all the way through February.
I’m thinking I ought to go spread some composting leaves around these valiant snapdragons tonight when I get home from work.  I checked the weather forecast and it's supposed to be below zero tomorrow and Wednesday night. Those poor little snapdragons... they've done such a great job without any help from me, but now I know I won't sleep tonight if I let them freeze tomorrow.

So dinner will just have to wait tonight while I wheelbarrow around a load of dead leaves and try to cover up the snapdragons. And even though I said if the spinach was foolish enough to sprout, it would have to survive on its own,  I’ll probably toss a little mulch on top of the that, too. 

But the parsley’s gonna have to fend for itself.  


Frosted spinach

By Penny Stine
Friday, January 28, 2011

I know I already blogged about it, but I took a close-up of a couple of the spinach sprouts and wanted to post it. I like it because it shows the frost all around the seedlings. I guess those little buggers are determined to grow, regardless of the cold and inhospitable surroundings around them.

I sense a life lesson in here somewhere...  Perhaps we should all strive to be more like spinach seedlings. I'm sure Popeye would agree. 


Really? Dandelions in January?

By Carol Clark
Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I may have a difficult time growing seeds indoors in the winter but I can grow dandelions outside in January!!

This one showed up next to my front door this weekend. I have others in the driveway.

Dandelions, like rats and tamarisk, were brought to America by immigrants who were as tough as dandelions. Many pioneers who came west in covered wagons owed their survival to dandelions growing in the winter. They provided loads of vitamins and minerals to weary travelers.

As every lawn care worker can testify, one plant can make as many as 200 new plants.

 You fight dandelions all weekend,
 and late Monday afternoon there they are,
 pert as all get out,
 in full and gorgeous bloom,
 pretty as can be,
 thriving as only dandelions can in the face of adversity.

                                                              - Hal Borland

As a child I thought they were beautiful and would pick a bouquet often for my mom. I still think they are kinda cute, but I don't want them by my front door....

and I don't care to eat them either.

“The miracles of nature do not seem miracles because they are so common. If no one had ever seen a flower, even a dandelion would be the most startling event in the world."  - author unknown 




Something’s sprouting out there

By Penny Stine
Monday, January 24, 2011

We pulled into the driveway on Sunday, Jan. 23, and I glanced over at the garden closest to the driveway. There was something new,  green and growing. I got out to investigate and after careful study, I concluded that I had no idea what it was, but it was definitely green and growing, just like in springtime.

If you recognize this plant, tell me what it is. I planted tulips about two feet from where this is coming up, but I know this is not a tulip. I know I planted lettuce somewhere, but didn’t think it was in this particular spot. Maybe the cat moved it.


After concluding that I was clueless, I turned to the bed where I had planted spinach last November.    

It’s hard to tell from this picture, but there are little tiny spinach plants poking their first two leaves up all over the place.

Really, they are... but they're so tiny you can hardly see 'em. Trust me... would I lie about something as significant as the first sprout sighting of the season???


Next, I went to check out my garlic.

Wow! I’m not too worried about the garlic; I figure it can fend for itself even if it gets fairly cold. But the spinach? I’ve never had it come up this early before – besides wondering if it’ll freeze if we get a real cold snap, I can’t help but wonder if it’s going to get enough water.
I’ll be happy to drag hoses around the yard if it means my spinach survives the month of February. But I don’t think I’ll be eating spinach salad until at least the end of April.

Page 92 of 114


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