December 23, 2020

Vignettes for Happy Holidays


It's winter, and currently, we're warm--warm for this part of the world in December, anyway. The snow is melting after two days with temperatures in the 40sF. But by the time you read this, things will be different: There won't be much snow left for Christmas, and our HIGH temps will plummet into the 10sF. It truly will be a good time to stay inside--warm and cozy.

Tuesday, I ventured out to the garden to take stock, and I found a few fun scenes.


In October, I'd plopped some ornamental kale into my front porch pots, and they're still alive. They really perk up on warm days. I didn't have the heart to clear them out for traditional December decor, so I simply stuck some gold filament curlicue stems in the pots with them.


The Hydrangeas have plump buds that, most likely, will perish in the deep freeze ahead. I guess I should wrap them in burlap, but I never do. Oh well; some years they flower, some years they don't.


This time of year, it's fun to investigate the various red berries in the garden. I saw very few remaining on the Cranberrybush Viburnum (V. trilobum). I don't know what that means?


The Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina) always holds some berries into the spring, when the robins come back to nibble on them. 

yew berries

The Yew berries (Taxus baccata) never fail to offer a cheery holiday vibe.

wren house

I need to find a safer spot for the wren house in the spring, but it's cute resting on the rock wall for now.

bird house

This new bird house fits well in the crook of the Redbud tree (Cercis canadensis).


One of my favorite vignettes this time of year: the yin and yang of warm green moss and cold, white crystalline snow.


These Juniper (Juniperus squamata) branches appear to be clawing their way out from under a snow blanket.


This English Ivy (Hedera helix) is still thriving and evergreen. Usually, I bring it inside for the winter, but I have other pots full of it, and this one is heavy and difficult to move. It's placed adjacent to a warm, heated pond. Will it survive our subzero days?

mum foliage

Finally, the Mums (Chrysanthemum spp.) illustrate the dramatic transition from autumn to winter so well.

To all my plant- and nature-loving friends, may your holidays be bright and your travels into the New Year safe and healthy!


Check out Anna's Wednesday Vignettes at Flutter & Hum.

November 23, 2020

Secret Places and Simple Pleasures

trail 1

Recently the dog and I hiked at one of our favorite places. Several things about this location are special, starting with the fact that I wouldn't have known this beautiful place existed if I didn't have a dog. It's a designated dog trail at a Wisconsin state park near my house. When the park's other trails are closed during the cross-country skiing season, this trail remains open to dogs and hikers. While I've hiked at the state park many, many times over the years, I didn't discover this particular path until last winter!

Every time I've visited this trail since January, it has revealed new gems of beauty.


During our recent mid-November hike here, I found myself awed by the mature trees that line the trail.


Ferns, mosses, lichens, and sedges are still evergreen among the carpet of Oak leaves.

trail 2

A particularly magical patch of the trail is hard to describe in photos and words, but I'll try: It's a little opening, about 3/4 of the way through the path, where the woodland opens into a meadow. My impression is that this section illustrates the movement of the glacier that formed the nearby lake.

woodland hill

On one side of the trail, there's a hill that appears to be a glacial drumlin.

meadow and lake

On the other side of the trail, at the woodland opening, there's a beautiful meadow with a view of the lake. One senses how the retreating glacier formed this area.

seedheads and trees

The light is magical in this meadow--in all seasons, but particularly in spring and autumn and late afternoon, as the oblique light hits the grasses, sedges, wildflowers, and seedheads.


On this recent day at the park, the sky was beautiful, too. Seedheads of asters, goldenrods, and other autumn-blooming plants were sparkling--backlit by the low-hanging sun.

seedheads 2

seedheads 1


meadow view

I love this place. I'm thankful I discovered it, and I'm thankful that Nicky and I can walk here just about any day we wish. Simple pleasures are so important during a global pandemic. I hope you all are finding simple pleasures, and I wish for those who celebrate it, a very Happy Thanksgiving!

November 15, 2020

Surprise November Blooms

Dog Park View Landscape
The November view at my favorite dog park.

It's mid-November and most views in the surrounding landscapes are brown and gray, with spots of green grass red barns here and there. Just imagine the color in this field of native plants during summer and fall. Now most of the grasses and forbs have gone to seed.


But there are a few blooms hanging on here and there in area gardens and in nature. In my garden, the blooms of note include this surprise potted Mum (Chrysanthemum morifolium) from a mixed planter we received earlier in the year. I plopped it into the ground with low expectations, so I was thrilled to see the pretty blooms in early fall. They've lasted through several frosts and freezes now.


Most of the Blue Mistflowers (Conoclinium coelestinum) are gone to seed, but these blooms in a vase on the screened porch still sport that lovely shade of lavender blue. I have to admit the soft, fluffy, "warm" seedheads slay me even more than the flowers.


The 'Autumn Joy' Sedums (Hylotelephium telephium) are transitioning, too. I found this one chewed off by a rabbit, so I plugged it back in among the autumn leaves.


This tiny fighter is Calamintha (C. nepeta). Again, most have gone to seed, but a few stems near the warm house still bloom! Actually, this pollinator favorite blooms from late spring until the very end of the growing season.

What's blooming in your garden? Check out those highlighted for this November Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

October 17, 2020

A Vibrant End to the Growing Season

asters and goldenrod

It's been a colorful October...

prairie plants at dog park

...starting with the bright pastels of the New World asters and the goldenrods, brightening up the prairies with colors that seemed unreal in their vibrance, like a child's watercolor painting.

zinnias 1



zinnias 2

The annuals in the cutting garden seemed to glow, too, including cultivars of Zinnias, Cosmos, and Angelonias.

monarch 1

monarch 3

monarch 6

About a week ago, when I thought the monarchs were long gone, I saw one floating on the breeze and then landing on the Mexican sunflowers (Tithonia rotundifolia 'Goldfinger'). The light was pleasant as the butterfly seemed at home on the bright orange blooms.

maple leaves

maple leaf




wild parsnip

A hike this past week at the nearby state park shared its beauty of the warm maple foliage, rainbow-colored grasses, and a few remaining blooming forbs, including the lovely, but toxic-to-humans Wild Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa).

maple trees

Now, mid-month we've hit peak fall color and the maples are aflame.

This is one of the most beautiful months of the year in my part of the world. The autumn season is too short, but it pops with color just before the freezing temperatures and winds take out what's left before winter sets in. I'm trying to live in the moment.

October 09, 2020

Happy 10th Anniversary, PlantPostings!

Ten years ago, I started this blog. I'm reminiscing lately: So much has happened in our world in that time, and so many plants have come and gone from my garden. I've learned so much in the garden and beyond. And as long as I garden, I'll learn something new every day and every year, which is a pleasure.

It's fun to look back and compare. One of my first posts describes the setting here, and that hasn't changed much. We've lost a few trees and so have our neighbors, while other trees have grown taller.

This all has changed the garden frame a bit, but the basic setting is about the same.

2010: More grass, fewer groundcovers, same and different trees

2020: More plants, less grass, a pond, same and different trees

In another early post, I decried the rabbits and mentioned my future dog ... which we did adopt eight years later (in December 2019). As described in that post, I'm still sticking with daffodils instead of tulips (except in pots).

Reminiscing is fun, especially with 10 years of posts to glance through. I'd say I'm looking forward to 10 more (and I am!), but who knows what blogging will look like 10 years from now. Will people still visit? Does it matter?

Which brings me to the most important part: Developing friendships with other plant-loving bloggers and communicators. These are among the most fulfilling friendships of my life because we share the same hobby/passion/pastime. As long as blogging (or something like it) is still alive and people are continuing to share ideas and updates about their plants and gardens, I want to be part of it.

Back in December 2010, I wrote about these special people:

"As I look ahead to 2011, I do so with hopeful anticipation. And a good portion of it is due to the new plant-loving, pleasant, lovely friends I’ve made through garden blogging. I’ve always known that gardeners are generous people. But I had no idea how many great people I’d meet through ... reading and commenting on fellow bloggers’ posts.

It’s interesting, actually, how most of our blogs are not about people at all, but about our garden successes, failures, and tips and tricks. But it’s the sharing of these that makes the gardening and the blogging so very rewarding."

Yes, this is what it's all about. Thanks, friends, for all these years of fun and garden-sharing conversations!

September 23, 2020

Surrendering to Seeds

Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica), one of several plants I'll try to grow from seed for next year's garden.

In this season of senescence, I've made a decision about one of the garden plots on our property. It's an area where the wild woods meet the cultivated garden beds. It's an island and focal point in the middle of the backyard. It's filled with an evergreen ground cover of Pachysandra (P. terminalis). It offers dappled sun/shade to plants throughout the day.

And it's infested with rabbits.

I say this because I've spent too much time and money trying to get plants started in this part of the garden. The list of consumed/destroyed plants, gallons of rabbit repellent, and rabbit stories is too long to include here. So, let's just say it's time to surrender.

First of all, I'm not unhappy with the basic framework of this garden area.


The ferns are lush and lovely in the late spring and early summer.


Especially when joined by the giant Alliums in late May through early July.

swamp milkweed

In mid-summer, Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) has shown promise here, too, although the past couple of years have been marginal for this plant in this particular spot.


This graceful, towering native plant, Bugbane (Actaea racemosa), will always have a summer place here. Rabbits don't touch it.

hyacinth bean

Hyacinth Bean vine (Lablab purpureus) is happy here, too, growing in a pot protected from rabbits with caging at the bottom, and growing up an obelisk.


Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) is a new addition to this part of the garden. It grows fine here, but the rabbits ate most of it. I scattered seeds from the few flowers that survived. Stay tuned.

surprise lilies

When summer starts to wind down, the Surprise Lilies (Lycoris squamigera) pop up through skirts of hosta foliage. Rabbits never seem to eat Lycoris.


And as summer turns to autumn, Blue Mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum) adds pops of violet to the area. Of course, the rabbits eat this plant voraciously, so it, too, must be caged. The fortunate thing about this plant is that it propagates easily from seed.


ZigZag Goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis), another rabbit favorite, has somehow found a way to survive by a thread.

My point? From now on, I will only plant species in this part of the garden that I know repel rabbits, already exist in my garden and can be transplanted, or can be grown in pots. No more investments in plants. Even the ones that rabbits supposedly don't eat often get munched to the ground. I want more color in the middle of summer, and I'm pleased with a few things that happened this year--things I'll repeat and expand on next year. 

green pots

For example, I added two pots of Impatiens and Coleus. You can barely see the green pots amid the Pachysandra. I'm planning to use more pots (and hopefully fewer rabbit-repelling caging devices) in the garden next summer.


A few new decorative items are adding color midseason, too. I really like this new glass birdbath, and I added a solar-powered fountain to it for more visual interest. Next year, the potted annual plant colors will complement it better.

I'm taking a chance with one new plant--several plugs of Golden Groundsel (Packera aurea). Everything I read about this plant says it forms dense colonies and is mammal-resistant. We'll see.

In late fall, I'll also be scattering seeds of several native plants for partial sun or shade--plants that rabbits generally don't eat, including:

Flowering spurge (Euphorbia corollata)
Dutchmen's Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria)
Downy Wood Mint (Blephilia ciliata)
Midland Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia)
Great Blue Lobelia (L. siphilitica)
Hoary Skullcap (Scutellaria incana)

Seeds are less expensive than plants and can cover a wider area. The investment in time, effort, and expectations won't be as great.

I've surrendered to seeds.