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Tuesday in Mooseville – How Does Your Garden Grow? 7/9/19

Hemerocallis fulva. Or as most folks around here call it, the ditch lily. It’s so commonplace alongside the drainage ditches along dirt roads, it’s hard to believe it’s not a native.

Every time RonK posts something that includes PNW plant life, I find myself scouring the photos, because 9 times out of 10, I’m seeing plants I’ve never seen before. Or I’m learning something about a known plant that is surprising to me. (Lamiastrum is considered invasive? How can that be?!) I very much have a midwesterner’s sensibility in the garden, so I thought I’d do a simple post with plants that define that sensibility for me. In other words, while opinions may vary about specific cultivars, the genus x species I’m listing are practically universal to the midwestern garden. I’d love to hear more about the plants that are practically universal in the gardens in your neck of the woods! (Note: These are not photos from my own gardens, which are still so overwhelmed with weeds that I’d be embarrassed to share photos at the moment. Maybe someday…)!–more–>

SPEAKING OF WEEDS…
It makes me ill when I think of all of the plantains I’ve weeded and pitched. It has a fibrous root system, which makes it so much easier to pull out than a dandelion (which is taprooted), but like the dandelion, it’s only a weed if you’re seeking the Scotts-approved “perfect” lawn. I spent years not knowing a thing about this lovely beneficial herb; now when I stumble across it, I leave it be or dig it up and move it to a place where it won’t be unwelcome or mowed. I don’t cook it or eat it, but I have been known to make a poultice from plantain leaves for spider bites.

GARDENING BLUES
I have a thing about blues in the garden; I can’t get enough. From a garden design standpoint, that would be a very, very limiting choice. Blue is a receding color, which is great if you are wanting to create depth or make a garden look larger. But it also makes the individual flowers difficult to discern and as a cool color, there’s very little pop. As a result, most designers use blue as a foil to help emphasize other colors or to cool down an overly-warm palette. Me? I just want blue, blue and more blue. My favorite spring blues:
Geranium pretense ‘Mrs. Kendall Clark’: She’s prolific; she’s a reseeder (which I view as a plus); and she’s beloved by the bees. What more could I ask for?


Brunnera macrophylla: Big, coarse leaves and tiny forget-me-not flowers; when the hosta are just starting to unfurl; this guy is doing his thing.


Mertensia virginica: Easy enough to find in cultivated gardens, but considered endangered as a wildflower in Michigan. It disappears altogether by late May, which is fine with me, because the foliage is scraggly and unrefined. But, oh, those flowers!

[S]HE LOVES ME, [S]HE LOVES ME NOT I was never one to pluck the petals off daisies; I’m pretty sure if I had tried that with flowers from my mother’s or grandmothers’ gardens, I would have been buying trouble for myself. But the opportunity was always there, because their gardens all included daisies. I have continued the practice, and my personal favorite for the past 15-20 years has been Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Becky’.

THIS IS THE ONE AND ONLY RED WINE I LIKE First introduced in 1992 by White Flower Farms; when I ordered my plants from them, I was told I was one of the first 10 to order the variety. The color just took my breath away (and still does). Monarda are not “neat” plants, but since I am not a “neat” gardener (no formal gardens for me…the more natural, the better), its loose habit works just fine. And did I mention the color?
Monarda ‘Raspberry Wine’:

MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE RUDBECKIA (AND NO, IT’S NOT ‘GOLDSTURM’) Don’t get me wrong…I love ‘Goldsturm’ and have it several of my gardens. But the black-eyed Susan that I look up to (literally!) is ‘Herbstsonne’ (Autumn Sun). She’s a stately 6′ tall in my gardens, and she flowers from late July/early August well into September. The bees and the butterflies adore her almost as much as I do.
Rudbeckia ‘Herbstsonne’:

IF I WERE QUEEN OF THE MIDWEST, I WOULD DECREE THAT MORE GARDEN CENTERS FEATURED THESE PLANTS, BECAUSE I CAN’T POSSIBLY BE THE ONLY ONE WHO COVETS THEM I have no idea why these plants aren’t more widely used. They’re late(r) season plants, so they add color to the garden when the mid-summer, prolific bloomers are a mere memory. They’re both natives, which is an important consideration for biodiversity and as the climate crisis deepens. And they are stunning in the gardens and a perfect complement to the fall leaves as they are starting to change. Yet they’re still harder to find in the local garden centers than a Hibiscus untouched by Japanese beetles…
Helenium autumnale:

Vernonia novaborecensis:

What plants do you think of as quintessentially “your region” of the country?

Summer Sunning!

Today marks the Summer Solstice. Astronomically, it looks like this:

The Summer Solstice occurs exactly when the Earth’s axial tilt is most inclined towards the sun at its maximum of 23° 26′. The seasonal significance of the Summer Solstice is in the reversal of the gradual shortening of nights and lengthening of days. That will occur later today – June 21st at 15:54 UTC (10:54pm Central Daylight Time).

Today the sunrise (where I live) will be 5:18am and sunset will be 8:40pm – 15 hours and 22 minutes of sunlight. On Winter Solstice, six loooong months ago, sunrise was at 7:25am and sunset was at 4:25pm, 9 hours of sunlight. Tomorrow we actually pick up one more minute of sunlight with a sunset of 8:41pm!

On Sunday, though, the sunrise will be one minute later, signalling the waning of the year. But that’s Sunday and today we have 922 minutes of sunlight to enjoy!!

(Don’t forget to hover on the images!*)

Tuesday in Mooseville – Falling Down the Rabbit Hole Again 6/11/19

Michigan state flower.

I spent the weekend in the garden, and the repetitive, simple acts of digging up unwanted re-seeders and spreaders (are they “weeds” if their only crime is being in the wrong place?) leaves one time to think. Did I ponder the meaning of life? Did I discover the cure for the common cold? Did I figure out the key to achieving world peace? Of course not. Instead, I found myself wondering why the Ohio state flower is the carnation, when it is far from a common or native plant grown in Ohio gardens. And then I wondered what the Michigan state flower was. (I grew up in Ohio, so I learned these basics in 8th grade Ohio history. I have far less knowledge of Michigan trivia.) This simple train of thought led to a rabbit hole of discovery which was more interesting than I would have anticipated.

Tuesday in Mooseville – Ode to the Paper Bag and Other Items of a Bygone Era 5/21/19

Grocery bag, book cover, part of herstory, and culture-changer.

Sometimes a peripheral observation in a book sets off a series of musings and memories. The paragraph that started this train of thought:

The development of the first practical mass-produced paper bags was spurred, like so many other things, by the Civil War, as northern mill operators sought a replacement for cotton sacks. In 1870 the mechanical process to stamp out today’s familiar bag was patented, and the relationship between consumers and products began to change forever. Purchasers had been taking their own containers to grocers in in order to carry products home and thus were constrained from buying more of an item then they had planned, on impulse; the arrival of cheap, mass-produced paper bags allowed buyers to carry home as much as they wanted of what they saw in the store. (Manring, M.M., Slave in a Box: The Strange Career of Aunt Jemima, University Press of Virginia, 1998, pp. 62-63)

This post is 50% nostalgia (and perhaps confirmation that I am an Official Old), but the other 50% is presenting the question (with no answers provided), “Would reclaiming some of the past be better for our future?” for your consideration.

Tuesday in Mooseville – Book Break! Bargain Bin Brain Candy 5/7/19

Between work hours that are almost identical to my library’s open hours (making library visits next-to-impossible) and my habit of reading in bed at night (with a dog sleeping against my shoulder, effectively limiting me to one arm/hand), my reading is mostly done on my Nook these days. The only downside to that is that sometimes it’s too easy to buy books, and I end up with more month than budget. This past month I was left with plenty to read, but it was all brain-main-course, when I needed some dessert. It was time to peruse the $2.99 and under offerings, and I lucked out in a big way.

April Showers are Bringing May Flowers!

At Winter Solstice, the light begins to return – gradually, the memory of the long nights fades until the light and dark are equal on Spring Equinox. From that point on,  the light returns more rapidly and on May 1st we arrive at the midpoint between equinox and Summer Solstice.

Today, my sunrise was at 5:52am CDT and my sunset will be at 7:57pm … more than 14 hours of daylight, adding 2 hours since the equinox. By the end of May, we will have added 49 more minutes of daylight!

May your May days be filled with sunlight, flowers … and kissable snouts!

(Place your cursor over the photos to read the hovers!*)

Tuesday in Mooseville – Remembering One Year On (James Cone) 4/23/19

Dr. James Cone at the 174th Convocation of Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York (9 September 2009)

On April 28, 2018, James Hal Cone, considered a father of black liberation theology, died at the age of 79. I never knew Dr. Cone, but I spent most of my adult years knowing of him. He taught at my college for several years; by the time I started, he had moved on and been at Union Theological Seminary for a number of years as a rising star of black theology. His departure for Union made it possible for my alma mater to hire a new religion professor, a friend of Cone’s, who became my mentor as a pre-seminary student. It was because of this friendship between a white early church theologian and a black liberation theologian that I first learned of and started reading Dr. Cone’s works, and his second book (published in 1970 and revised in 1986), A Black Theology of Liberation is one that I keep close on my headboard bookshelf. But why is Dr. Cone someone to be remembered? These are my reasons.

Tuesday in Mooseville – Finding Hope Again 4/16/19

Great Hall, Jefferson Building, Library of Congress

When AG Barr released his four-page summary of the Mueller report, I slammed head- and heart-first into an emotional brick wall. I’ve been reeling ever since with frequent and massive anxiety attacks and enough acid reflux to keep Tums, Zantac, Nexium, and Mylanta in business for a decade or more. The anger, the disgust, the despair, the hopelessness were enough to turn me away from my usual historical reading and buried instead in cozy mysteries and fluffy fiction. But that’s the path of privilege; the path which isn’t immediately and wholly threatened by the choking weeds of corruption and authoritarianism…and so can be used for escape. While my raging gut may have begged for retreat from the realities of tRumpism, I knew it could only be a temporary reprieve while I looked for ways to regroup. I found a path; a path with the most unexpected starting point: the writings of Gloria Jean Watkins, the American author; professor; feminist; and social activist, better known as bell hooks. This won’t be a comprehensive overview of bell hooks’ writing, but a glimpse of the stepping stones made by her that led me to other stones by writers, thinkers, and activists. Stand with me on each stone and feel the power of hope rediscovered.