In a Fern’s Dream


Pampered Fern

This post could have been titled so many different things such as “All Over the Place in the Garden” or “I’ve been a Naughty Girl” or “Assailed by Sales” or “Who’ll Stop the Rain?”

It’s been raining for four days now.  I told someone it was five, but it actually was four.  After so m-a-n-y days, it’s hard to remember.  The amount of rain we’ve received, however, is what is significant…somewhere around 6-1/2” with the possibility of more…


Photo taken two days ago.  Stock tank is now filled to the brim.

From KLTV First Alert Weather:

Good Tuesday morning, East Texas!

We’re tracking a few showers and storms to our west that could move into East Texas by late morning if they hold together. Heavy rainfall is expected with a few of these storms, but nothing severe. Otherwise, we’re cloudy and cool this morning with a few places dropping into the upper 50s.

Another cold front moves through this afternoon. This will bring in another wave of showers and thunderstorms late afternoon and evening. Once again, a few storms are possible, but no severe weather is expected.

Drier air moves in behind the front with gradually clearing skies overnight. Finally back to some sunshine for midweek! Becoming mostly sunny and nice for your Wednesday with high temperatures staying below average in the mid 70s.

A quick warm up for the end of the week with more sunshine and afternoon highs reaching the upper 80s to near 90 degrees by Friday. The holiday weekend looks mostly cloudy, warm and breezy at times.

Expect chances for showers and storms by Sunday afternoon. A few showers could last into early Monday morning, with clearing clouds by Memorial Day afternoon.

Generally, I like rain, but this has been a bit much.

Pick any of the following songs…They all fit.  And in fact, I’d love to hear what your favorite rain song is.

This was yesterday’s song, Rainy Days and Mondays

And then there’s:

Have You Ever Seen the Rain

Who’ll Stop the Rain

Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head

And what I’m hoping for, Mr. Blue Sky

So, about ferns…I bought a bedraggled half-dead scraggly little fern a few days ago.  It’s the one in the photo above.  This fern was the last of its kind at Lowe’s.  It hadn’t been watered in quite a while, and this showed in the multitude of dead fronds it sported.  (I cut those off.) Paid $1 for it.

In short order, I soaked the fern for three hours in a mix of rainwater (abundantly available), Superthrive, and some diluted organic fertilizer.  Then, between raindrops, I re-potted it in rich potting soil topped with homemade compost.  After that, I placed it under one of the house eaves where it was misted with rain for two days.

In my opinion, this fern got the “royalty” treatment, and I think it’s looking much better for it.  Wish I’d taken a “before’ photo.


Ultimately, I plan to put the fern in the birdcage you see.  I’ll take another photo when I do this, once the fern “fronds” out as I hope it will.

What kind of fern?  I’ve no idea because it didn’t have a tag. Maidenhair perhaps?

When I stopped at our local Ace Hardware yesterday, I found this six pack below on sale for a dollar. Who could resist?


Red Salvias

I asked if these were perennial (the tag didn’t give any indication).  The sales clerk said they were, but now that I’ve done research online, I think she was wrong.  No matter, they’re pretty.  I know where I want to plant them, and if they re-seed, so much the better.

And then things got bad.  There is only so much house cleaning you can do in a day before you get into mischief.

I ordered the following plants from Santa Rosa Gardens.  After all, they sent me a *special* VIP coupon because I’m such a terrific customer & gardener.  (Uh-huh.)

Also, in my defense, I can’t find some of these plants locally.

Order Details:

Code Item Qty Price Grand Total
AMS-HUB Amsonia hubrichtii 3 $6.95 $20.85
ACH-DER Achillea Desert Eve Red Improved 3 $5.00 $15.00
AQU-PAY Aquilegia Swan Pink, Yellow 1 $5.95 $5.95
HED-DIS Hedychium coccineum Disney 1 $5.95 $5.95
PEN-DPR Penstemon MissionBells Deep Rose 3 $5.95 $17.85
PHL-SSQ Phlox paniculata Sweet Summer Queen 2 $5.95 $11.90
SAL-BLS Salvia Heatwave Blast 1 $5.00 $5.00
PAN-HEA Panicum Heavy Metal 1 $8.95 $8.95
DSC-550 Exclusive VIP 20% Coupon 1 -$18.29 -$18.29
  Subtotal: $73.16
  Tax: $0.00
  Shipping Cost: $15.35
  Grand Total: $88.51

Immediately after placing this order, Park Seed sent me their “deeply discounted” sales list.–I’m not to look at it… I don’t think I’ll look at it…  Okay, I might peek.

Finally, I am trying without success to get someone to build the arbor I’d like using the gate I purchased below at auction.


Photo by Ye Olde Auction House in Palestine, TX.

I want my arbor to look a bit like this:


Page 63 in Flea Market Outdoors 2017 magazine, Country Decorating Ideas, #191.  Original photo taken by Mark Lohman.  Styled by Fifi O’Neill.  This arbor is in the garden of Karla Ritchey.

Hope your day is a dry one!


We shall Overcome (Lawn Mowing)

It was supposed to rain today starting at noon.  Yesterday, I looked at my backyard and realized it was time for a mow, but I didn’t have the time.  I thought I‘d have to wait awhile as the forecast called for rain not only today but over the next 2 days. When noon appeared and my neighbor’s mow & blow crew were whizzing and mowing away in her yard, I decided I’d mow after all.


Above:  Neighbor’s pristine lawn after the mow & blow folks were gone.

My mower, housed in the shed, hasn’t seen grass or weeds since last September.  That’s an entire 6 months of inactivity. I’ve learned that when a mower sits, it can get cranky and may not feel like doing much work. The gas in my gas can had also been sitting just as long.  Never-the-less, I decided to give it a go.

I assume you probably mow. How did you learn?  Did your daddy or your brother welcome you into the lawn mowing fold?  Or were you one of the lucky ones who was just born mowing?—If so, kudos!  Or maybe you don’t mow?  That’s okay too.

My father left when I was two, and my mother always hired her mowing out.  Thus, I learned to mow by necessity, the hard way.


Above:  Side yard of the Kolstad Inn Bed & Breakfast (across the street from me) where they do their own mowing, raking, mulching, & edging.  Looks good to me!

My very first mow happened using my uncle’s reel mower.  I was 14, and had just begun to live with my aunt and uncle in Holland when my uncle asked me to mow.  I was willing, and the yard was not large.

I did what I thought was a good job, but apparently, my uncle watched me from an upstairs window, and when the task was complete told me I was slow and did not mow with much enthusiasm.  My feelings were hurt, but I didn’t say anything.  Maybe he didn’t know this was my first mow, unlike his children who had been mowing since they were toddlers.

If someone said what my uncle said to me now as an adult, I’d ask them, “Just exactly who do you know that mows with a lot of enthusiasm?”

My big-time experience mowing occurred as a single parent when I rented a small house and needed to mow the lawn.

For this, I located a secondhand lawnmower business and purchased a mower.  The patient shop owner showed me the various parts of my push mower, how to start the mower, where to put in the gas and the oil and so forth. I was on my way.  I was proud.  Too bad my uncle couldn’t see me mow now!  Later, even big-bellied with my second child, I still mowed.  Woo-hoo!

When my husband was living, most of the time he mowed.  He had less experience mowing than I did, but lawn-mowing for whatever reason, is usually delegated to the male of the house.  (I know one of my female neighbors in Austin wouldn’t know one end of a lawnmower from the other as her husband is the Big Cheese Grand Pooba Mower in their family.)


Above: Bags of grass given to me by the owners of the Kolstad Inn for my compost pile.  Life is sweet!

After my husband became terminal, he still tried to mow, but couldn’t.  He was left panting for air from the excursion.  He told me then I should hire someone to mow and that there was ample money available for this.  He never knew the true cost of hiring someone to mow since we’d always done it ourselves.

I didn’t try to hire a lawn mowing service until after my husband passed.  We lived on 2/3rds acres and mowing the yard with a push mower sometimes took me all of a weekend in spring and summer.  Eventually, I wore out and called a mowing company for a bid.  Their proposal came in at $200 for the front yard and $200 for the back. They wanted me to sign a contract to pay $400 a visit to mow every two weeks for the spring and summer.

I was shocked.

Someone suggested I find a local kid to mow and I did, but even his price of $150. (front & back) seemed high, plus it was obvious he didn’t have the maturity necessary to do the job.   Thus, I continued to mow myself.

Back to the here & now.


Above:  Meet Marilyn Push Mower.  She has a Briggs and Stratton engine and is willing to eat tall weeds.

Today, I pulled out my mower, shook the gas can, added gas, checked the oil, pressed the push button starter three times, and pulled the handle attached to the cord.  Silence. My lawnmower, indeed, was cranky.  I’d neglected her for six months, and she wasn’t talking to me.  Relationships require good communication, you know.

I pulled three more times.  Silence.  I pressed the push button starter again and decided to seduce “her” with a little love and a few incentives.

I waited a bit, then said, “Come on darling!” (Pulled the cord.)  “Come on baby!”  (Pulled the cord.) “Come on sweetheart, just this one time!” (Pulled the cord.)  “Come on cutie pie!” (Pulled the cord and vroooommmmmm, we were off!”

If your mower is female, try a little sweet talk, and she might respond.  (Of course, I also had to make all of these promises to her such as buying her a new spark plug, changing her oil, sharpening her blade, and washing her filter.  I thought buying her new wheels last year would be enough, but obviously not.  You know how women are.  Well, I do anyway since I am one.)

I could tell you more about my long and rocky relationship with mechanical garden and lawn tools, but you might not like it.

I once wrote three different weed-eater stories including one called “Weed-Eater Wet Dreams” and another about a weed-eater murder for submission to Stihl to win $200 worth of equipment.

While I thought my stories were funny, and yes, one was bit sexual (but then again I was newly widowed), Stihl was NOT amused.  Murder and weed-eater fantasies aren’t appropriate fare for Stihl’s public image.

I *think* the guy who won found a 40 year old Stihl product in the woods buried under the snow on top of a mountain and after some clean up, it still worked.  Show off!



Orphaned Garden Tuteurs & other Nonsense


ABOVE:  Open area where I want to place a large arbor like this one.

It’s Tuesday, but feels like a Sunday. I’m not sure why.

When I looked at the weather forecast last night, I noted we were slated for rain at 8 am this morning.  We’ve had rain on and off for the last three days. As often as not, the forecasters are wrong, but I posted a sticky note in my brain because my dogs don’t like rain. I determined I would get them outside to do their business before 8 o’clock.

The dog pack (3, including Elly-Belly-Munchy-Mouth) and I were outside by 7:50 am.  The dogs were sniffing while I casually looked at plants with winter burn that need pruning and tall grass that could use a shave, and then without warning the sky’s water hose turned on full-blast. We all ran inside.  Almost as soon as the dogs and I came in, the rain stopped, the sun emerged, and the birds renewed their song.  Lovely, I thought, this rain is temporary, and I will go out and prune today. But no, that isn’t in my personal forecast.

Somebody (God, karma, nature) knows that if the weather is nice, I will be outside.  I will turn a blind-eye to the dust and dog hair inside the house and go into the garden where I live most of the time. (Currently, two dog hair dust-bunnies sit like garden focal points to either side of my hallway.)

I do think gardening is a drug. I admit I’m an addict.

Anyway, important house duties such as re-stocking my finished bathroom can wait, right?   (Will post on the *new* bathroom soon.)

I ventured outside again about 20 minutes later and nature, like a stern parent, reprimanded me, “What did I tell you?  Get inside the house right this minute and do your chores!” For a second time it poured no sooner than my foot hit the deck outside the back door.  So here I am blogging.  Ha!  I’m still a kid at heart and know how to procrastinate like any good child.

Now to the heart of this post:

While walking the dogs yesterday, I ran across a metal shelving unit someone threw out.  As soon as I saw it, I thought it resembled a rose tuteur.  (Don’t get me started on the difference between a tuteur, obelisk, and a garden tower.)


ABOVE:  Shelving unit needs a good fairy godmother to transform it.

Do you see the similarity to a tuteur in this shelving unit or is it just me?  The tuteur stands a bit over 6 ft tall. When I lifted the tuteur (we’ll call it a tuteur, even if that’s not what you see in it), I noticed it was quite heavy.  Apparently, the glass shelves inside the unit had broken, and this was the reason it was hauled to the street.

Do I need a tuteur-obelisk-garden tower?  Well, uh, no.  Was I going to pick it up?  You bet.

I cut the walk short and hurried home.

When I saw my neighbor in his truck across the street, I inquired if he might help pick the sucker up.  He agreed and said he’d seen the piece himself and intended to go back to get it but forgot.  In his eyes, even though he gardens, it was still a shelving unit. He mentioned he could make new shelves from wood to replace the glass.  I offered the unit to him right then since he’d seen it first, but he declined.


Now it’s in my backyard.  It needs to be painted (black) to keep it from rusting and to minimize its former shelf identity.  It needs a place to live.  It needs a vine.

I’ve looked around to see where it might best fit.  Maybe in place of the green pot you see below?  I’ll need to move that pot about 12 feet over if that’s the case.


Note – There is a potted trailing verbena that fits inside the brown chimney pot you see at right. I’ve not put it back yet after over-wintering it in another part of the yard.

I have a vine; one that I’ve been saving to put on a big-butt arbor. (You won’t find the term “big-butt arbor” in any online sales descriptions for arbors, by the way.)  I shouldn’t buy a big-butt arbor right now because my money needs to pay taxes and hospitals.  I need to wait.  Maybe I’ll buy one after doing a few pet-sitting jobs….As the trite saying goes, gardens aren’t built in a day.

So perhaps my confederate jasmine vine can grow up this tuteur instead of a fancy arbor and then onto the wood fence.  What do you think?


ABOVE:   Confederate jasmine Trachelospermum jasminoides purchased half price at end of last year and overwintered in a pot.

Who was that American TV landscape painter who always talked about “happy little accidents”?  Oh ya, it was Bob Ross.  Well,  I guess you could say this shelving unit was a happy accident.

So I’m curious (this is a gardener’s Rorschach Test), do you see a tuteur-obelisk-garden tower or a shelving unit?  Only checking to see if I’m crazy!








Black Friday Rain


Two and a half inches of rain in the dog’s food bowl above.

Is it going to rain?  I rarely cared before I was a gardener.  Yeah, I guess it was important if I was driving, but I didn’t really CARE.  So it rained or it didn’t rain.  So what?

But these days: I check the forecast religiously.  Rain?  Any rain?  How much?  Lightning with that rain?  How about hail?

THEY are never right.  “THEY” are our holiest of holy weather forecasters-prognosticators-predictionists a.k.a. the schmoozers who rake in “as much as $136,120 per year, or $65.44 per hour, as of May 2011” just for GUESSING.  Source:

That salary is from 5 years ago.

Can we hold the water prophets’ feet to the fire? A bonfire for being WRONG?  No?  How about holding ‘em up to the sun?  No?

So anyway, when the summer is over, I feel it’s my right to no longer have to schlep water to each and every plant.  Everyone gets a vacation, so should I.  It should rain, preferably once a week, but if that’s not possible then at least every 10 days.  Is that asking too much?  I don’t thinks so.

But the weather forecasters, who hold the sky in the palm of their hand, won’t cooperate. (I must blame someone for the lack of predictable rain, and anyway on their salary paid for guessing, they’re probably out buying BMW’s and booking their cruises to Alaska. Clearly, they don’t care.)

I say if the prognosticators forecast it’s gonna’ rain, it should RAIN, Dam_ It!  I’m tired of being played as a fool.

Take yesterday’s forecast for today.  It was supposed to start raining at 1 pm.  There was a 50% chance.  Okay.  BUT this morning, the forecast showed it wouldn’t rain until 4 pm.  Fine.  Nothing at 4.  And then at 7 pm tonight, it showed it would rain at 1 am tomorrow (Is this a shell game?), but right now it’s FINALLY drizzling at 9:15 pm.

I don’t think we should pay these weather forecasters if they can’t even get close to being right.  Not a cent. Even better, every time THEY’re wrong, the public should be awarded 100% of their pay for the day.  That would fix them!!!

By the way, do they sell rain on Black Friday?