Thursday, May 15, 2008

A little bit green, but mostly brown.

Well, I think it's official. I do believe Spring has finally settled upon Minnesota. The yard is green, yet even though it was in the high sixties today, the air was still chilly. I've been staring out the window like a kid on a rainy day who just got a new bike. I want to start playing with my plants!
I jumped the gun last week. Put out a few plants that I took in last fall. Bad idea. Two didn't make it. I only plant succulents, and those are some touchy plants. Why do I plant them when I live in the chilly North? I know, it's kinda silly. These kinds of plants belong in Arizona or California. But they are so unique and varied and just plain interesting to look at. Oh, how I envy those who live in the desert states and can have yards filled with succulents.
Anyway, I started digging around in the garden today. Did I mention my garden is a foot and a half in diameter? I do miniature gardening. I do have a strip along the south side of the house too, about five feet wide by fifteen feet long.That's as green as my thumb gets. You can see I tugged out all the old dead stuff and it's looking pretty bleak. I even took out the gate (guarded by gargoyles) and think I may have to redirect the shell path (just for something new). Last summer I had a tree in the front yard and a nice little shrub by the house. Not sure what I'll do this year. But certainly I want to please the (faery) residents. :-)  Okay, here's the after pic; but it was really from last year, which makes it before, but—well, you get the idea.

I took in about two dozen plants last fall. Most succulents don't survive in below forty degree weather, though the hardier sempervivum (hens and chicks; cats and kittens) like the cold and come back like crazy every year after a nice blanket of snow. I lost about a third of the rescued plants. Hey, did I mention I'm no green thumb? I don't know how much to water these things, and I think they usually die of overwatering because winter is their dormant time (for most; some tricky ones grow in the winter). But seriously, if they got watered a half dozen times through the winter, that was good.

This little fellow survived, I'm pleased to say. It's some kind of aloe. He stretched out his arms over winter; he'll snap them up tighter during the summer. Don't ask why. I don't know why, but it's cool to watch.

And here's my latest find. Some kind of swirly, curly, twirly thing. It's a kind of grass, and I'm hoping it stays twisty.

So what about you? Got a green thumb? Or slightly brown, like mine? Do you garden a very specific kind of plant (succulents, roses, all greens)? Let's talk plants!



Jane said...

My thumb is definitely not green, but I do my best. I have a bunch of aloe plants. Bamboo is very easy to take care of so I've got that, too. All they need is water. They're also supposed to bring good luck. I also have one little African violet plant.

lois greiman said...

I love the bucket with the little cottage. Very cute. When my kids were born I began giving away a lot of my plants cuz I felt that with the horses and dogs etc. I just didn't
have any more nurturing in me. But recently I read that house plants are an extremely effective way to prevent cancer, so I'm slowly easing them back into my life. My sister has hundreds of SPECIES of plants in her house and she's always excited to share.

So good for you, Hauf, for caring for the faeries. Keep up the good work.

Betina Krahn said...

Adorable garden, Michele! I really like the little cottage-chapel thingie. Interesting that living in Minnesota, you'd become such a fan of succulents. Do the fairies travel to accompany certain kind of plants? Like do you get Arizona transplant fairies when you plant succulents? :)

anyway-- I'm a big fan of roses, but was always SO disappointed with them in Minnesota. So I moved to Florida and they don't do much better here-- too hot and tons of worms and pests. In Minnesota, I discovered I had a green thumb for lilies. All kinds of exotic, Asiatic lilies. . . they grow and propagate themselves and I found just the right kind and timing of fertilizer. I had a huge lily garden at one time. They make such beautiful cut flowers, too. So I gave up on the roses. Here in Florida, I have a pot or two inside the cage with annuals and that's about all. Turns out, I don't care for the summer heat either!

Liza said...

I can keep plants alive, I'm just not good about remembering to water. I have 2 house plants and both seem to survive pretty well with only being watered 2-3 times a month. I've had one of them 9 years, so I guess I have a little bit of a green thumb.

Keri Ford said...

Michele, that is the cutest little garden I have ever seen! How adorable is that?

I have a decent green thumb when I put my mind to it, but this year, I'm putting my growing skills to planting grass. I've got several bare patches in the back yard I'm trying to cover. I found an $8 bag of seeds at wal-mart and so far it has been the best garden investment I've ever made.

Cindy Gerard said...

Michelle - I LOVE your fairy garden. I want one!! Tell me what all that green and interesting stuff is. Is it like moss or is it actually growing?

I Love plants. And for some reason, I seem to have a green thumb. Outside right now, our red bud is blooming, the crab trees are just amazing and the lilacs are gorgeous. Inside, I have 7 african violet plants that I actually started from leaves from my mother and my aunt's plants so they are very special to me. I also have various other potted plants - many of which have now made their way out onto the screen porch and deck.
Thanks for bring this lovely bit of spring to the topdown.

Playground Monitor said...

Oooh! I love the succulents. I don't have many houseplants (an aloe plant and 2 peace lilies - the peace lilies go on the front porch in spring and summer) and my attempts at tomatoes the past two summers were failures. But I planted an herb garden last year and it thrived. Everything was perennial except basil and I planted it in a different location this year only to have a damn rabbit eat it off flush with the ground. It's now under an old milk crate but next week I'm going to have to fence in a little area around it to keep Peter and Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail away. I'm at my wit's end with these rabbits. They're eating my flowers, my shrubbery, my rose bushes, the bird seed that drops from the feeders. I'd get a cat but that would mess up my bird situation. I have several birds that nest in my yard, including kildeer who nest on the ground. I'm getting better at growing birds than flowers. LOL!


Michele Hauf said...

Jane, I've always wanted to try bamboo, but have never seen it around here in anything other than a 'decorative' pot. I think those are for inside, and just for looks. Do you find your bamboo at nurseries?

Lois, I just got myself a HUGE fern because I read they were one of the best houseplants for sucking up toxins. My daughter took one look at it and said "I give it a month." She knows me so well!

Betina, I never thought about the transplant faeries! Maybe! You'll have to post a pic of your lilies some time. Would love to see it!

Michele Hauf said...

Liza, I'm right there with you on the 'not-much-care' thing. My theory for plants is the same for kids: If they can't take care of themselves, well then.

:-) My kids will confer.

Keri, the grass is the hubby's forte. He was out last night spraying the crab grass. For hours! I just don't understand it. I think a lawn should just be...a lawn. Long and green and made for walking barefoot in.

Cindy, I've tried to grow moss, and I can't. In the garden I've got a lot of thyme as the 'grass'. I usually shop the 'low growing' stuff at the greenhouses. And yep, it's all growing. I use real small cats and kittens for the borders. I'm not sure what that shrub was, some kind of clover. And there are some kinds of succulent that do ground cover I also use. You see? The names of the plants aren't even important to me, it's just what they look like and if they are small. ;-)

Marilyn, I love that you grow birds! I have a Peter in my yard, too. The only plants he'd ruin though, are in pots, so he stays away. This year I'm going to try attract more cardinals to the yard because they're so bright and fun to listen to.

Helen Brenna said...

Michele - so cute - love the little cottage pot and the swirly, twirly last one. I kill succulents. They are touchy plants.

Other than that, I used to have a very green thumb. Lately, though, I've been too darned busy. Notice yesterday my big Hibiscus has spider mites. Dang it. Sprayed those suckers, now we'll see.

I've always found gardens, even potted plants, to be therapeutic. Anyone else?

Michele Hauf said...

Very therapeutic, Helen. Gardening is like my church. Though I don't think I can call myself a gardener if I flee when I see a worm. :-) (Oh man, does my garden have the worms!)

Kathleen Eagle said...

I usually jump the gun, too, Michele, but I haven't gotten much done this spring. I have a rock garden with succulents and a medicine wheel garden with native plants--very low maintenence. I took in some of my herbs and hens and chicks in pots plus two shamrocks and a jasmine that I've kept going through four winters now. Everything survived in my big west window. Love your aloe. I like to keep at least one aloe around for insect bites and scraped knees. Nothing better.

Christie Ridgway said...

Also love the little garden!

I used to garden a lot more. That was when I had time...or found the time. I loved my cutting garden. I planted flowers exclusively to cut and bring inside. The first garden I bought from Better Homes & Gardens magazine. They had a selection you could purchase and plant. They were beautiful. But it hurt me to cut them!

Surfer Guy has a raised vegetable bed. He's now the family gardener. We have a variety of things, include my favorite plumeria plant (the ones they use to make Hawaiian leis) that sits on the ledge of the pool. In its blossoming time, it drops its pretty flowers into the pool where they float about. Lovely!

WK said...

I have no green thumb at all. I once killed a fake tree. Yes I killed a fake tree, it turned brown and the leaves fell off. My mom took it back. I have been doing my best to keep mil's plants alive. But...... My idea of gardening? I throw it outside, if it's lucky I actually plant it in a hole, if not maybe my mom takes pity on the plant or hubby does and plants it. Otherwise it's between it and God if it lives. I don't water or weed or in general do anything else. I'm one of those who finds dirty iky. It's not restful, it's not relaxing, it just means I'm dirty and needy a bad.LOL And I'm not even a girly girl. Sad huh? My mom loves to grow things and have the greenest thumb in the world. She can make anything grow or come back to life, me. I look at it and it's most likely to die.LOL


Susan Kay Law said...

OH, that's very cute!

I have a horrible black thumb. I kill everything. My parents, on the other hand, are excellent gardeners.

My children like to fancy they inherited from their grandparents. So we have a few plants around the house that I am not allowed to touch.

Come to think of it, there are a lot of things around the house I'm not allowed to touch, since I'm not allowed anywhere near any of their electronic gear, either.


Michele Hauf said...

The medicine wheel garden sounds cool, Kathy!

Christie, the plumeria sounds lovely. I bet you can grow succulents in your neck of the woods?

Wendy, I'm with you on hating on the dirty. I don't garden to the extent where I get dirt under my fingernails. And if I do? I have to stop and go in and wash my hands. I know. Pitiful.

Your children are wise, Susie. My kids usually won't let me touch their laundry. Hey, what's wrong with pink athletic socks and boxer shorts?

Megan Hart said...

I love the fairy house!

I live in the woods, smack dab in the middle and my house has sunshine but very little direct sun, so it's...dim inside. Which isn't good for plants. Outside, it's a wild, crazy mess because I don't have a yard, just a bunch of stuff that will come back every year because I don't do annuals. Haha. I love living in the woods, though, it's all green and pretty in the summer and nobody can see our house.

And my lilacs, after 8 years, FINALLY bloomed!!!


Michele Hauf said...

Wow, it took 8 years for the lilacs? You're a very patient woman! I'd love to live in the woods. I'd even take the woodticks for the privacy you'd have.

The other M

Michele Hauf said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Megan Hart said...

Yeah, we've been in this house for 8 years. Our other house (only one street away) had a gorgeous lilac bush. When we moved in here, I planted three, thinking they'd do well. This was the first year all of them got flowers and more than one flower. But I love the smell of lilacs -- I have lavender, too, all over the place. And huge butterfly bushes. But everything is overgrown and wild. I like it that way.

And ticks....yeah,'s a problem. I got Lyme Disease from one. Very traumatic. I'm constantly checking the kids for ticks.

The other other M

Fiona said...

I have few talents, but I do have a greenish thumb. I am a MN transplant and could not get through the LONG winters without my houseplants. Many of them are herbs. I have a sage plant that is a bush in the dining room, and the kitchen has basil, oregano, parsley, thyme and rosemary. The guest room has lavender and the main bathroom is full of orchids.

I grow rye grass for the cats. I start it in the tiny window in the laundry room and move it to the living room when it's big enough to munch on.

I love your fairy garden. That would be the perfect thing for the table on the deck. I will have to visit the farmer's market this weekend.