FRIDAY FINDS (and a giveaway announcement)

A quick note before I get into Friday Finds:
Next week I'm going to be doing a giveaway EVERY DAY. I've assembled some of my very favorite gardening items (most of which you'll find I've written about before) and I'm giving them away to you. Although I didn't plan it this way, it happens to coincide with the 6th anniversary of this blog, so maybe we can say it's a mini celebration of that too. You're not going to want to miss this (one of the items is my absolute favorite Sneeboer Ladies' Spade from Garden Tool Co.)!

Erin (a different, more photogenic one) is sharing her favorite flowers for small spaces.

The last dinner party I hosted for non-family was a disaster. I mean, it was really, really bad. Next time I shall follow Ina's advice.
New House New Home photo
Heather has a great list of excellent spring perennials. Why are there no primroses in my garden?

We're fortunate to not be facing the water situation that the western U.S. is, but every garden has some dry soil somewhere. Lynne has a great list of perennials that tolerate and even thrive in dry soil.

Native plants are so darn charming.

The gardening agenda for the weekend is packed. Last weekend I bought some trees that need to be picked up at the nursery before they leaf out and get them planted. I'm excited about the trees but not looking forward to planting them. Trees are heavy! I also need to get some lily bulbs planted, do a little weed torching while the weeds are small and dig out the entire small bed by the patio. The plants that are there will be moved and I'm replacing all of the soil there in preparation for a whole new look.

I feel like I need to get ahead on a few gardening chores because I have a few other spring projects planned that will take some time. The trim on the deck needs restaining this year and touchups need to be done on the garage pergola. I also want to get the cellar door repainted and that may even happen this weekend.

What's your weekend plan?


Friday Finds is coming later but first I wanted to share an update with you.

Remember the bulb container I planted in fall? I kept it in the (unheated) garage all winter and brought it out maybe six weeks ago or so, putting it in a warm and sunny spot on the patio. And for a time there was a lot of progress. Plants were popping up (interestingly I think some tulips were coming up which were supposed to late-blooming tulips and the last thing to emerge) and I was looking forward to a big, colorful show.

Poor little bulb leaves nibbled by critters.

And then I came out one morning and the whole thing had been nibbled down. I guess even things in pots on the patio are no longer safe. One of these days I'm going to learn and just protect everything from the deer herd, but for some reason that's a lesson I need to learn every year.

Other bulbs should emerge from the container (although I wish they would hurry up, I was expecting blooms by now) and I'm going to move it up onto the deck, where presumably the deer won't go, although at this point I guess I wouldn't be surprised to see them standing in my kitchen looking in the fridge.

There is lots of spring to come. The first daffodils in the yard just bloomed this week, a welcome sight that is a harbinger of the color in the making.


I started more things from seed this year than I ever have and I'm so happy I did. More than just the satisfaction of growing from seeds and the fact that I'll have a well-stocked garden for pennies, it kept me busy during those hardest months for gardeners. It was lovely to tend to something green.

In fact, I'm still tending. Our last frost date is somewhere around May 10 so I won't be planting anything that is sensitive to cold until after that (by at least a week). Some things, like basil and nasturtiums have just recently been sown. With the exception of a few larger things or things that don't like root disturbance, everything was sown in soil blocks and then potted up into either 4-inch or 3.5-inch pots.

Plants in my hardening-off house.
But the back room, where I set up some grow lights, was turning into a scene from "Little Shop of Horrors" and something had to get out of there. I ended up buying a large temporary greenhouse that I use mostly for hardening things off. That has created room in the house for the dozens of dahlias I'm starting in pots. Dahlias just need warmth to sprout, but not light, so they are mostly stacked up. As they sprout, I'll move them into the greenhouse to grow on.

Redbor kale
As far as growing from seeds goes, I think I can qualify most of my efforts as successes. The redbor kale, which I will grow as an ornamental (although there's no reason I can't snitch a couple leaves here and there) in the circle garden is ready to transplant any time. I'll be growing other kinds of kale for eating, but I plan on direct sowing these in the garden: I can't start everything inside!

Nicotiana alata
The nicotiana alata is the big success story of my seed starting. The plants are lovely and healthy. Just last week they all tried to start flowering and I had to nip out the buds. In fact the only problem with these is that they grew much more quickly than I anticipated and they are going to get a little tight in their pots until I can get them planted (especially since a few are destined for containers that don't usually get planted until the end of May).

Signet marigolds

I fell in love with signet marigolds last year when I picked up a few at our master gardener plant sale. They have charming little edible flowers and citrus-scented foliage that is pleasant to me, but not to critters. I found the "Tangerine Gem" seeds to be easier to grow than "Lemon Gem" but I have enough of each to spread around the garden.

I'm also growing "Geisha Girl" calendula which I like for its flowers but I'm also hoping to learn how to use it in tinctures and creams (it's great for cuts and burns).

Sweet peas

Gomphrey (aka globe amarinth) didn't germinate as well as I had hoped, but I have enough of them. And the sweet peas, at least those that escaped the wrath of a cat hellbent on eating them every time she sneaked in the back room, are doing pretty well. All have been nipped back to create bushier growth.

Bronze fennel is gorgeous and I'm hoping I can get these plants to a decent size before putting them in the garden. I love the airiness of fennel. It's also a host plant for swallowtail butterflies so if it all gets eaten, I'll at least feel good about it.

Just sprouted basil.

The basil has just germinated but looks to be in good shape.

As is often the case with gardening, sometimes the things you want to succeed the most, end up struggling for no apparent reason. That is the story of my verbena bonariensis seeds. After sowing them the first time after chilling them in the fridge and having no germination, I consulted other sources that said nothing of doing that and did a second sowing. My information says that they can take 14 to 28 days to germinate and that they need darkness but warmth to germinate. For three weeks, my verbena seeds have stayed in the darkness of the basement on a heating mat, first covered with newspaper, then with the plastic cover of the flat covered by a towel. I would say that maybe a third or fewer have germinated and while I've not brought it into the light, I think it's time to start thinking about doing that. I haven't seen anything new germinate in recent days to make me think that any more are going to.

It's funny that the verbena is being so picky. For many people, it's almost considered a weed as it reseeds so freely. I've never found a self-sown seedling in my garden, either because it's too cold or maybe because I'm too quick with weeding (although that seems unlikely with my less-than-stellar weeding habits). Still, my dreams of a tray of verbena seem to be fading.

What did you grow from seed this year and how's it going?


Next week I'll touch base on the progress on all the seeds I've been starting this year, but thanks to this new mini greenhouse, I'll be able to get most of the plants out of the back room this weekend. For about $130 this was gardening money very well spent.

Great. First I wanted pygmy goats, now I want this cool pygmy goat house.  (Sidenote: I found a chicken in the woods the other night and it followed me home but Mr. Much More Patient told me I couldn't keep it and had to take it back to its house, which happens to be down the road a bit.)
Home-ology Modern Vintage photo

I don't have kids, but I think these woodland creature face masks are just the sweetest. I bet kids would LOVE them.

How many of Martha Stewart's favorite clematis (clematises?) do you grow?

Speaking of Martha, blogger extraodinaire and man of all things related to great taste Loi Tone is going to be featured in MS Living. I can't wait!

I've been putting up each new episode of the fabulous Gardeners' World on the Youtube channel every Friday, usually by 10 p.m. or so (depending on how well the Internet is working). You can watch them all here.

Patti's sharing some suggestions on her favorite annuals for containers.

Have a great weekend! What's on your agenda?