September 22, 2012

So, what have we learned?


Summer is definitely done here in the northern Midwest. Not just the season as marked by a date on the calendar, but also by the shifting temperatures and the changes in plant life. Patchy frost, stress from the drought, and high winds have combined to send many perennials into dormancy and some annuals to rest for good.

But this post is about "Lessons Learned" by gardeners in all locales. So let's celebrate this past growing season and reflect on what we've learned. (Note: The photos aren't intended to match the text.)

1. Karin at Southern Meadows shares how adding rocks of various sizes to her bird bath provides a perching spot for pollinators, and prevents their accidental drowning. She also shares lessons about Eggplant pollination that she plans to put into practice next year. In addition, she also learned that toad tadpoles that hatch in springtime take months to mature. Check out the cute little toad photo on her blog.



2. Sheila at Green Place has 15 Crepe Myrtles on her new property! She also has Hibiscus plants, which she says are excellent in pots. But beware, she warns: Squirrels apparently find Hibiscus leaves and buds a tasty treat! Sheila is feeling grateful for the plentiful rain North Carolina had this summer, while much of the rest of the country struggled with drought conditions.



3. Jen of Muddy Boot Dreams has learned to live with a brown lawn, as a water-wise gardener during a drought. She admits sometimes inexpensive sources for garden supplies are the best ones. A dollar-store Dahlia she purchased for $2, for example, outperformed her other Dahlias this summer. Jen is thinking she's not a "Rose whisperer"--at least not this growing season. But she has had luck with Marigold seeds, and plans to plant them, along with other seeds, next spring.



4. For Holley at Roses & Other Gardening Joys, many of her lessons came from planting raised garden beds. Sometimes, she says, the best way to do something in the garden (for example, installing edging) is the right way--because it truly is the easiest way. Holley planted Roses, companion plants, shrubs, and even a fig around the perimeter of her raised bed, and it looks pretty impressive!



5. Karen, The Hortiholic, effectively describes the pure joy of a good soaking rain after a long stretch of drought. "You can water and water until the nozzle of your hose seems like it has become a permanent part of your hand, but there's nothing like a really good rain to revive your garden," she says. I second that! Just the smell of rain lately, followed by thunderstorms or dripping showers, is a similar high for me.



6. Donna at Gardens Eye View went all out with the veggies this year--wow! She learned about  pollinator friends, planting in the right place under the right conditions, and reusing grow bags for a late-season harvest. Experiments can be fun, she says. But heat without rain is not. She used plenty of fresh organic soil, Epsom salts, and fertilizer--yet she still had to water the vegetable garden every day to keep it going. Donna's words of garden wisdom: "You can plan for anything and everything, and it still won't be enough."



7. Michelle of The Sage Butterfly sings the praises of Yarrow, which she learned firsthand thrives "with the fluctuations of weather and conditions as if they were only something happening outside of its needs." When her Tomatoes were suffering from a fungal disease, treatment with sulphur powder brought them back in full force. And Michelle also shares some incredible shots of black swallowtail larvae and butterflies in her post.



8. Rose at Prairie Rose's Garden had to put heavy garden lifting on hold during the height of the summer like many of us did, because of record heat and drought. She learned to: Recognize her limitations; mulch early and plentifully; add more heat-loving, drought-tolerant plants; enjoy the Zinnias, Coleus, and volunteers; and remember that nothing lasts forever--even drought. She also recognizes that as tiresome and frustrating as the lack of rainfall was for gardeners, it didn't compare to the effects on farmers "whose livelihoods depend on a good growing season."



9. Claudia of Gardening Naturally With Claudia offers tips on planting trees and native shrubs, and how to renovate a lawn--helpful advice to many of us whose lawns suffered terribly this hot, dry summer.



Thanks to everyone who participated in this Lessons Learned meme! These little tidbits of knowledge we share with each other are priceless, and help us all to become better gardeners. Please let me know if I missed your Lessons Learned link and I'll add it in.






(All photos included with this post were captured in New Orleans--in the Garden District, the botanical garden, and in various neighborhoods. The diversity of the plant life seemed like a fitting backdrop for a post about Lessons Learned from around the world.)

22 comments:

  1. Beautiful photos, Beth! I thought these were from your own garden at first and was surprised by some of the plants, but New Orleans explains it all. Thanks for hosting this once again; I'll have to check out some of the other posts I missed.

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    1. Thanks, Rose! I guess I cheated, but the NOLA shots fit this post better than my current limited garden did. Yes, please do check out all the other amazing "Lessons Learned" posts!

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  2. Your blooms have captured my heart! What a delightful visit to New Orleans you must have had. I so enjoyed your post. I must come here more often... adding you to my blogroll. :)

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    1. Thanks, Carolyn! Yes, New Orleans was spectacular. I can almost say it was life-changing. It opened my eyes to a whole new way of gardening and plant-appreciation. Thanks for adding me to your blogroll--what an honor!

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  3. I spent almost a year in New Orleans long before the flood and agree. The plantings are gorgeous then and now. I really enjoyed the first paragraph in the post. You summed it up well.

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    1. Thanks, Donna. I had so many captures from New Orleans, and they just seemed right for this post. You were fortunate to spend so much time in New Orleans!

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    1. That would be great, Diana! I so enjoy your posts from South Africa! I'm planning to do a "plant of the month" post soon, too, and I'll link to your "Dozens for Diana" meme. Thanks!

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  5. So interesting to hear about nationwide lessons. Perhaps the unifying theme is to always expect the unexpected.

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    1. Yes, that seems to be the theme this time around! The drought--or should I say the severity, location, and extensiveness of the drought--was/were certainly unexpected by most of us. I do enjoy the participation from all locales, too. :)

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  6. Beth another spectacular post teaching us so much about the garden from fellow bloggers....I adore the pics from New Orleans...I have never been there but hope to visit someday. Now what will fall hold for us? Getting colder here with temps now topping ut in the low to mid 60s and 40s at night...not sure when the frost will come but the hot weather veg garden is almost gone...a few crops left, but the cold weather veggies are growing beautifully.

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    1. Thank you, Donna! Ah...so far, autumn is great--cold early, but great. Just praying for continued rain. And I'm hoping your harvest success continues!

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  7. Loved the photos. Such beautiful blooms. There were some posts I had missed, so it's nice to have them all in a list. I love reading what other gardeners have learned - I'm hoping that I can learn from them, and that I won't have to learn all my lessons the hard way!

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    1. I know I always learn so much from these posts. Thank you so much for participating! Your blog is always full of great tips and inspiration. Thanks, Holley!

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  8. This month passed by in a blur. I was going to do lessons learned from my veggie garden and I lost track of time. Oh well.

    Love the photos from my home town. The banana trees remind me of my Mom's yard and make me homesick. I hope you enjoyed the Garden District.

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    1. Ah yes, now I remember that New Orleans is your hometown. You are SO lucky! I can't believe people can grow Banana trees, Lemon trees, and other tropicals right in their backyards! Yes, I loved the whole place! And I hope you can join in next quarter. Even if you have a related post any time that season, feel free to link in. Thanks!

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  9. What great info from all over...thanks for taking the time to put it together for us.

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    1. Sure thing--this is a fun meme that doesn't require too much maintenance. I hope you can join in next time. Thanks!

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  10. Those photos are so beautiful and fitting, Beth. My, what lessons we gardeners can learn and share. That is one thing I enjoy about gardening--the learning never ends. Thank you for hosting this wonderful meme and for sharing our lessons. Have a good week!

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    1. It's my pleasure, Michelle. And thank you so much for your kind comments and support! I agree--lessons shared by gardeners are the best!

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  11. I love it when you do these posts. :o) I learned to go with my gut on a planting scheme and to quit over-analyzing everything. I also learned that sometimes ripping a plant out, even if you love it, is better than designing around something that just doesn't work any more.

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    1. Thanks, Tammy. I know what you mean about over-analyzing. I do that too much in some areas of my life. But with gardening, I tend to just go with it...well, after I analyze for a little bit. ;-) I still have trouble with ripping plants out, though.

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