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The irises are blooming

The irises are blooming

Oh my goodness gracious, all my gardening muscles are sore. Since Friday Bookman and I have been hours out in the garden cleaning and digging and planting. It’s been allergy-filled and sometimes hot, but always fun.

It all began with the plant sale Friday morning. We were up by 5:30 a.m., showered, fed the cats and out the door to arrive at the State Fairgrounds by about 6:20 to stand in line for a wristband, the equivalent of a ticket, to get in the door early when the sale opened at 9. There was already a long line. They began handing out wristbands at 7. By the time we got to the front of the line they had just begun handing out bands for group three. You see, your wristband determines when you get to go through the doors. They allow people in by groups of 100. That we were at the beginning of the third

You should see me pack a suitcase

You should see me pack a suitcase

group tells you how many people were in line before us. There were more than that in line behind us. With our wristbands we headed back to the car and off to breakfast.

After a filling and leisurely breakfast we got back to the fairgrounds and headed to the door with our cart. When we arrived they were corralling group three to prepare to let them in the doors. What great timing! In we went. We have done the sale so many years we have a routine down. I have our list printed out and a mental map of the sale, Bookman pushes the cart, darts into the crowds to pick up plants, and I navigate and keep track of our list. So in the doors and first stop was the herbs:

  • Borage
  • Roman chamomile
  • comfrey (2)
  • black cumin
  • lemon grass
  • oregano
  • rue
  • purple sage
  • lemon thyme

Then it was to the outdoor area where we took a right to the fruits:

  • red currant
  • elderberry
  • goji berry
  • red gooseberry (a sale volunteer told me to pick the fruit before it is ripe because it cooks up better that way — good to know!)
  • honeyberry, two for cross pollination, varieties honeybee and tundra
  • red raspberry
  • rhubarb
  • Saskatoon serviceberry

Then still outdoors we headed to the shrubs:

  • flowering quince
  • wild prairie rose

Next, still outdoors, it was native plants and grasses:

  • blue grama grass (3)
  • aromatic aster (4-pack)
  • wild bergamot
  • butterfly weed
  • wild ginger
  • giant purple hyssop (2)
  • white wild indigo
  • New Jersey tea
  • wild petunia (4-pack)
  • prairie smoke (4-pack)
  • pussytoes

That was enough damage outdoors, time to go back indoors to the perennials:

  • daylily, variety jubilee pink
  • hosta, variety Abiqua drinking gourd

From there we headed to the vegetables:

  • Brussels sprouts (6-pack)
  • Egyptian walking onion
  • Satan’s kiss hot pepper
  • sweet pepper, variety gypsy (yellow)
  • ramps
  • black salsify

Bookman digs it

Bookman digs it

Finally, our last stop was the annuals for a couple four-packs of French marigolds. Then it was to the check out area. I waited with the cart in the loading zone while Bookman walked to the car and drove around to get me and the plants. Looking at all we got you will understand why we are tired. Everything is planted except for a few things we bought for the not yet existing chicken garden because we still haven’t found anyone who will knock down our garage but we have a few leads. What remains for the chicken garden is the elderberry, serviceberry, gooseberry, quince and rose. If we have not gotten anything scheduled for the garage removal by the end of this week, we will plant the chicken garden plants in a “nursery” area of the garden and then dig them up and move them when their permanent home becomes available.

In order to plant some of our new plants we had to make new beds and clear out old ones. The blueberries went onto the compost heap. We removed the raised bed frames they were in and then planted the new honeyberries. We cleared out one of our oldest flower beds that had gotten weedy and feral. From it we removed a mostly dead rugosa rose, transplanted a bunch of Asiatic lilies to another bed, pulled out lots of creeping Charlie and grass and planted the goji berry in the sunny center of the bed and the hosta in the very shady corner. We also put the daylily in this bed which will only be temporary because it will eventually become part of the chicken garden. Then we liberally sprinkled zinnia seeds in the bed.

In the front yard we dug up more grass from the boulevard strip, the area between the street and the sidewalk. Here we

new bed with tiny plants

new bed with tiny plants

planted the grasses, the asters and the petunias. We also finally removed the forsythia except for the stump. That is going to take some work. We didn’t realize how much space this shrub was taking up until it was gone. Looking at the emptiness Bookman and I both got very excited imagining what sorts of wonderful native plants we could now grow there instead. To get it started, we planted one of the giant hyssops.

In addition to planting all of our sale plants, we planted more radishes, chard, arugula and corn. In planting the corn we shifted the “corn field” over about a foot from where it was last year and somehow it also got about two feet bigger. Funny how things like that happen. The corn we planted this year is not sweet corn but popcorn (variety Dakota black). After planting it we put row cover fabric down over the bed to keep the pesky squirrels from digging it up and eating it.

Chop, chop Bookman

Chop, chop Bookman

We have also filled in Amy Pond. And emptied one side of our two-room compost bin. We spread the marvelous compost out around Bee, our Honeycrisp apple tree and also topped up the hole that was Amy Pond.

While we were out in the garden I finally saw the hawk that is nesting in my neighbor’s tree. It is small as hawks go and I couldn’t get a good enough look at it to identify what kind of hawk it is. The pesky rabbits have not been around in the garden for a couple of weeks but just because I have not seen them doesn’t mean they aren’t still around. These being city rabbits, they are not terribly shy of people so my guess is they have gone elsewhere. Yay!

While I was talking to my mom on the phone this afternoon, wishing her a happy Mother’s Day, I looked out my front window to see a turkey walking down the street in the direction of the lake. Now that is not something I ever expected to look out my window and see walking down the street. We have quite a few turkeys in the Minneapolis but I have seen them mostly along the creek that runs through the city. This fellow was all alone, casually strolling along the sidewalk.

During this whirlwind of gardening I have been happy to see quite a lot of red admiral butterflies, several kinds of native

Bye bye forsythia

Bye bye forsythia

bees and lots of earthworms. I have also been pleased to note how much the soil in various parts of my garden has been improving. There are some places that, a few years ago, were terrible pale dry silty sand and are now dark and loamy and rich. Seeing the soil improve makes me happier more than anything else because the plants can’t thrive unless their roots are in good dirt. I still have areas that need work but it is nice to see past work paying off.

I’ve been going to bed sore and tired at night and sleeping deeply. So satisfying. Tonight we are expecting rain. Hopefully it really happens and gives all the new plants and seeds a good soaking. With all the gardening there were no bike rides this weekend. I missed it, but the gardening was great and I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect weekend.

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