Hal's Hat

Hal's Hat

Friday, March 30, 2012

Miss Spring is throwing things at me!

In the past couple weeks, I have had a lot of "new" stuff coming at me. Is it just because it's spring? Is it that the pace of spring is so FAST this year? It feels like nearly May out there, not the end of March. I have herbs (herbal medicines, native healing weeds) growing from seed and just going nuts! I feel like I'm two-three weeks behind- rushing to plant them, find beds and perfect sites for them . But I'm not late- the mam Earth, Miss Spring herself is training this year. Probably because of some nasty planetary things- global warming, weather shifts- but regardless, the non-winter is gone. And Miss Spring is in the house, playing and prancing. Get on it, she yells with pom-poms waving!

This week I'm on Jeremy Taylor's 'About the House' radio show. We are doing a spring 'Outside' episode, devoted to the outdoors. It's got me thinking: what are the important parts of a garden? What should our outdoor environments offer us?
This is in the format of advice and also self-reflection. So....Here are the high points for me (so far)

Gardens should offer:

Individuality- even with my clients who are not gardeners, they want something that is their own, reflects their personal touch. Quirky, silly, cute, beautiful, dark, etc. I encourage you to think in terms of love and attraction: what attracts you? what do you love? Many people answer hydrangeas, containers, fountains, travelling. In each of those is a chance to make your garden uniquely your own. When you travel, pick up a figurine for a garden sculpture. For me, I always pick up intense rocks. I have them scattered around my garden and they came with me when I moved. I have the Lola Rock- from Petit Jean national forest, gotten me by my beau Josh!
If you love a specific plant or color for that matter, consult a good gardener or designer (like MOI) for help in siting and growing that specimen. Then commit to that plant. You are much more likely to care for a plant when you love it. Don't get three or five. Just get one and love it, learn about it and pay attention to it. You'll be glad you did!

Surprises- Great garden spaces offer surprises. Remember curves and mystery, great views and surprising plants. This can be a gorgeous container with a large agave in it, sitting amidst a rock garden. Ya don't have to be much of a gardener to keep that up- you do have to dare to surprise though. Stop fussing with all the individual plants and just give me one great, framed view. Please consult a garden professional or your neighbor who is a master gardener- these are the makings of a great neighborhood! Garden professionals LOVE to talk like this!! Really. We are nuts.


Comfort- This could also be called Respite. Your little space should be a respite from the crazy world of work, kids, technology, etc. One element of respite and comfort is a nice place to sit and enjoy your outside space. If colors are what put you in the mood, plant flowers directly next to your bench or patio. And take time, find a great seat. This is your throne- spend a fortune if you want or sit on a footstool. Just make it a personal invitation to YOURSELF. Enjoy your time outside. Don't worry and pick at the imperfections of your space, just take a breath, enjoy the neighbor's lilacs and feel that warm spring air on your face.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

visual aides...

Here is what I've seen and experienced this week in the green world.... very visual this week!

Hal's specialty: good luck clover
A four-leaf clover- happy St. Pat's!

Some of my favorite spring shrubs are in bloom. First the plum shrub. Sometimes I use a Cistena Plum- a purple leaf sandcherry. However, this is the alley version! I don't think it's as fancy as purple leaves!

The second group of two pics are the Royal Star Magnolia shrubs. They really can get the size of a small tree. They produce an entirely cold-hardy early spring white floppy flower. They are old fashioned, wild-seeming magnolia. Can't help but love this beauty!

Plum shrub
Star Magnolia Shrub

Early spring, late winter perennial flower. The foliage is almost evergreen, very waxy. Latin name is Hellebore.
Lenten Rose

And of course, the flowering quince! She is coral-red and an old fashioned favorite. She makes a good low ramblinghedge. She has a thorny look and even appeals to me in an Asian garden setting. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Weed walk...spring time in Kansas!

the girls picking henbit
To fully enjoy this crazy spring weather, I'm taking you on a weed walk this week. We will look close to the ground for blooming Stellaria or chickweed and blooming Henbit. This weed turns the fields and roadsides purple in early, early spring.... delicate little heads. Henbit (it has a proper Latin name... I'm looking: Lamium amplexicaule) is in the mint family, as you can tell by its square stem. Also, the smell and taste.

Another pervasive early spring ground cover is Gill or ground ivy.

 I also found, while on a quick walk, that we are too early for nettles. I found dandelion, curly dock being aggressive and all mint family relatives rockin it out. The tiny, tiny chickweed is in bloom- look very close to the ground. She doesn't even flinch when stepped on, she's so small! She is bright blue with a white eye... if you find some of the bigger foliage with the flower, pop it in your mouth. Apparently, chickweed is great for metabolizing fat. Susun Weed has a great chapter about it in her book "Healing Wise" (as always, a link to her publishing company and the bookshelves there!).

And also, on Sunday, we paid a visit to Grandpa Hals' grave... put some henbit on it!