Wednesday, June 10, 2009

ABC Wednesday: Unfinished Business

For this week's ABC posting for the letter U, I am uninspired. I have had trouble coming up with anything unique or even one of my utterly ordinary posts. Frankly, I have been so busy working in the garden that I can't think of much else. Here it is the second week of June already, and despite the hours I've spent outside, my garden remains Unfinished.

My wise friend Cheryl once wrote "Is a Garden Ever Finished?" I would agree with her, and I have to remember that the fabulous Lurie Garden in Chicago pictured above did not look this way overnight. It took years for the enchanting "river of salvia" to get to this "finished" stage. My garden is on a much, much humbler scale, but I've resigned myself to the fact that there will always be something else that needs to be done in it.

One of the chores that was left unfinished this year was to transplant some of the many new coneflower seedlings. In early spring I did dig out a few, but more kept popping up, and I fully intended to thin them out. But time got away from me, and now it looks as though purple coneflowers will be ubiquitous in my garden this summer.

Two jobs that will continue all season are watering and weeding. This hydrangea bud looks pretty promising right now, but unless I water it soon, it won't look so good by the time it's ready to bloom. Wasn't I the one complaining about so much rain just a few weeks ago? That just proves that a gardener is never satisified. We've had either too much rain or not enough. Yesterday the skies--and the weather forecast--threatened storms all day, but they never materialized. Today I gave up on rain and started the process of dragging hoses around the garden. Depending on how our summer goes, this may be a daily chore all season. And then of course, there's the weeding. While I was away at Spring Fling, the weeds grew twice as much as the flowers. (You didn't expect me to show a picture of my weeds, did you? Of course, if you look closely enough at some of these photos, you'll no doubt spot a few.)

But the biggest chunk of my time this spring has been spent on planting. I have made a good dent in the "pot ghetto" in front of my garage door, but there are still a few homeless plants waiting to be put into the ground. One reason for my lateness is that I lost a few perennials over the winter and kept waiting and waiting for them to appear. When I realized my favorite gaillardias "Oranges and Lemons" didn't make it through the winter, I had trouble finding them in any nursery until this past week.

While I did lose several perennials this past winter, there have been a few unexpected surprises like this dianthus that has bloomed in the same pot now for three years. This is one reason I don't clean out my pots in the fall as I probably should; every once in awhile I have an annual that decides to come back for another year.

I've also spent a lot of time plant shopping this spring. I had no trouble finding the usual geraniums I use in a few containers. But Beckie and I commented on one of our plant expeditions this spring, that we found fewer unusual plants this year. We wondered if that might be due to the economy; perhaps nursery growers decided to stick more to the traditional plants this year rather than risk growing something that might not sell.

But garden centers and nurseries needn't worry about me. I have a serious case of plant-envy, and I find it hard to visit a garden center without buying something. Seeing a display of hostas on sale like this one at Rich's during Spring Fling usually makes me salivate and forget that there really isn't much more room in the shade garden for another hosta right now.

And while I was on a search for a few more Victoria Blue Salvia to fill in a space, I found something else, this Solenia Begonia "Dusty Rose," which I couldn't resist.

And this new-to-me flower, Lisanthus "Forever Blue." I still don't know where I'm going to plant this.

I never did find the needed salvia, but on the same shopping trip I found a new nursery that also had many garden accent pieces. This cast iron pot caught my eye, the price was right, and it already had a hole pre-drilled in the bottom. It quickly found its way into my car and is now filled with soil and seeds.

Not everything I buy, though, is an impulsive purchase. While hunting down my replacement gaillardia, I found this plant that I have wanted so badly since seeing it during Spring Fling. Do you recognize it? I'm sure you would if I showed it to you in full bloom . . .

. . . Yes, I am now the proud possessor of my very own Baptisia, "Purple Smoke," also known as False Indigo. I was thrilled to find it and hope that it is happy in its new home in my garden and one day looks as good as this one seen in the Lurie Garden.

Let's face it, as long as I keep visiting other gardens, whether in person or through blogging, my garden will never be "finished." There are always new ideas to try and more plants to be added. Last weekend I celebrated my un-birthday. (I coined this term last year--my theory is that if you don't acknowledge your birthday, it doesn't really count and you can subtract a year from your age rather than add one:) Doesn't that make sense?) Anyway, one of the gifts I received was a gift card to my favorite garden center, so I know there will more additions to the garden, if not this year, then next.

I already have another idea for next year's garden--I am definitely going to plant some alliums. I saw them everywhere in Chicago and realized they're a perfect in-between season perennial, not to mention their striking blooms. Thanks to Mr. McGregor's Daughter for sending me this photo. She and another blogger thought I must have purposely worn this purple top to color coordinate with the blooms of the allium:)

Finally, if I am spending all this time in the garden and it's still unfinished, you can imagine what my house looks like. Suffice it to say that during gardening season, the housework remains Undone!

Check out other ABC posts by clicking here.


  1. What a lovely creative post - your flower pictures are beautiful, and so much interesting and Unusual information...

  2. I got some alliums last year and they did flower this year but only briefly.
    Liked you U entry! You are definitely creative when you do this meme.

  3. Fantastic post! Although I must say none of your posts are ever 'utterly ordinary'! I always enjoy my visit.

    That is a very fine picture of you too, you match the aliums so well! (surely your children are not grown up already?!)

    I like your idea of an unbirthday. I will be 45 next week. I think I will start unremembering them now too!

    Off to work now. Have a nice day
    S x

  4. U managed to make U unusually lovely.

  5. Now I have pot envy!

    Hope you had a great birthday - fancy not telling us! Enjoy spending your token.

  6. I'm the same as you - I go to the garden centre and come back with more plants than I have space for! I usually manage to fit them in somewhere ..

    I love the baptisia!

  7. You gave that "U" a good workout for not being able to come up with something. Ha... Love the photo of you with your purple blouse and the alliums. You definitely need some alliums for next year. A very merry Unbirthday to you.

  8. Hi Rose, I love this post. You did a great job with all the U words, most of which I can totally relate to, especially uninspired and unfinished! :)

  9. I have to just stay out of plant centers, just as I have to stay out of bookstores. There must be a name for this addiction!
    I saw the alliums on someone else's blog- they are really stunning. I have a new flower bed I'm installing this fall; I may have to get some of those.
    Glad to know someone else is leaving housework "unfinished"!

  10. Good morning Rose, I purchased Goblin this year but wish I'd gotten Oranges and Lemons instead. Maybe I'll run across it still this spring.

    I agree, the gardens will never be 'finished'. Something dies or something looks bad. Then there will always be new 'must have' plants so the garden will have to be enlarged again and again.

  11. I definitely think that is one of the fun things about gardening, it's never finished and truthfully, do we want it to be?!?!?

    Water and weeding? I hear ya girl!

  12. Rose, that is a great picture of you! I'm still chuckling over the term 'pot ghetto' ... I call it the holding area but your term is much more descriptive of the reality! Happy Un-Birthday: here's to a wonderful year. I look forward to spending more time visiting with you next year in Buffalo!

  13. I'm glad you like the photo I took. So often I see photos of myself and cringe. You will love Baptisia 'Purple Smoke.' Be patient, as it takes a couple of years to settle in, then it performs wonderfully.
    Would you really want your garden to be finished? I wouldn't, as there'd be nothing for me to do.
    Happy UnBirthday!

  14. Hildred and Charles, Thank you for visiting, and I enjoyed finding your lovely blogs.

    Maggie May, I've never planted alliums before, but the ones we saw in Chicago were gorgeous. Creative? Hmmm, I had to think awhile for this one:)

    Suburbia, Ah, you are too nice! 45 sounds very young to me--enjoy!

    Roger, Thank you, and thanks for visiting!

    Liz, don't you just love that pot? I prefer not to remember my birthdays anymore:)

    Jay, My daughter thinks I have a serious plant problem:)

    Lisa, Thank you for the unbirthday wishes! Yes, a note has been made to order alliums for next year--should I plant them in the fall or early spring?

    Monica, Thanks; this post was also Unintentionally longer than planned. I just can't seem to stop talking...

    Joyce, I agree--books and plants, two things I can't seem to stop buying. The great thing about the alliums I think is that they are blooming when the other spring flowers are done and the summer ones haven't really started.

    Marnie, I really loved my "oranges and Lemons" last year and don't understand what happened to them. I've run out of planting room already:)

    Susie, No, if the garden was "finished", what would I shop for??

    Cindy, I have to give credit to Marnie (Roses and Lilacs) for the term "pot ghetto." It seems to fit my collection. Thanks for the birthday wishes, and I'm already putting back my pennies for Buffalo:)

    MMD, I really liked the picture, although a second look at it reminded me that celebrities always pose standing up so everything doesn't settle in the middle:) Thanks for the tips on the baptisia, and no, I'd have nothing to dream about or work for if I didn't keep tweaking the garden.

  15. Very creative used lots of U's...beautiful the last picture...

  16. My sentiments exactly. Most everything has to take a backseat to the garden. it has been rough this year for some reason. I am almost done though. Glad you are making headway on the pot ghetto. Soon you'll be done and able to reap the fruits of your labor.

  17. UNFAIR to be so creative with the U's! I loved this post. It is one we gardeners can all relate to. Especially the 'unfinished' house work. I will just have to take off work early some day so we can go to the nursey where you found the pot. I supsect that's where the Baptisia came from as well. Maybe next week we can find the time to celebrate your un birthday. :)

  18. Dear Rose,
    Lots of well...uns....all are so understandable. I too have an unfinished garden after 37 years...
    I am undoing and so often undecided on what to do...always love seeing your flowers.
    Fun U!

  19. Your "U" post was quite entertaining this week Rose. Congrats on the Purple Smoke Baptisia. I added a white one to my garden this year & it's much smaller than yours. Hopefully we'll both have blooms next spring at least. :) I'm still planting things in my garden too, if I find something I love it comes home with me.

  20. What fun - love the way you think and the lovely photos!

  21. Well I understand that you are always busy in your garden and the work will never be finished, but the result will always be lovely and colourful! Thanks for this lovely post.

  22. Hi Rose...I will not mention my house.....

    I have so much to do in the garden at the moment. As soon as the grass is cut, the edges done, borders weeded, flowering shrubs cut is time to do it all again....

    I love alliums and have them dotted all around the garden. I love them as much as verbena bonariensis. They are easy and attract wildlife. They also never block the view can see beyond them so easily.....great.

    Must go Rose, it is 9.00p.m. and I still have the greenhouse to sort out.....

    Sleep well, I will......

  23. I love the alliteration! (I cannot help but be a grammar geek.) And of course the garden can never be finished...where's the fun in that? I'm glad you found a good baptisia! 'Purple Smoke' is a classic; please post future pictures!

  24. Rose, I read this post on Wednesday and was sure I left a comment, but apparently I didn' about unfinished.

    I loved this post, it's chock full of goodness...Congrats on your baptisia...They are magnificent...Give it a lot of room! Mine is about 4 to 5 foot wide after 5 years! I think that SF has probably had an enormous effect upon the sale of a few key plants! Alliums, salvia, baptisia, prairie smoke....who knows if the bulb dealers will have alliums left!

    I hope you have had the best un-birthday week.


  25. rose,

    if a garden was done what would we lost. that's how i feel in the winter with so many non-gardening months. thanks for showing us your lovely face. i always like to see the face behind the name. looks like you had a great time in chicago.

  26. Carol, U is not exactly an easy letter...thanks for dropping by.

    Tina, This year I feel as though I'm always behind, not sure why.

    Beckie, Is time going faster, or am I just getting slower? Either way, there never seems to be enough time to get everything done.

    Sherry, Thanks for the encouragement--I don't think any gardener's garden is ever truly finished.

    Racquel, Being a plant-aholic like you, it's no wonder I'm not finished:) We'll have to compare our baptisia next spring.

    Tumblewords, I think your poem fits my garden right now:)

    Reader Wil, Thank you; I'm hoping the results will be worth it.

    Cheryl, So true; once a project is finished, it starts all over again. Housework wouldn't be so bad, but having Sophie is like having a toddler in the house again:)

    Rambleonrose, Being a grammar geek is good! I'll definitely show the baptisia again as it grows.

    Gail, I can relate to that:) I agree we're going to see a lot of similar plants in our gardens over the course of the next year.

    Marmee, it's probably a good thing that I live in an area with cold winters. Winter gives me a chance to dream of the next year and renew my gardening energies.

  27. Utterly delightful post, Rose, and my, you look perfect posed with the alliums! I'm also trying not to get Uptight about Unending chores in my Unfinished garden. Happy Unique Un-birthday!

  28. Rose, I could TOTALLY relate to your thoughts in this post! Housework left undone, impulsive plant shopping, wanting alliums and other 'new' plants ('new' to me from other bloggers!)...wanting a baptisia, too;-) I also nearly jumped out of my seat (without my 'boot' on--glad I restrained myself!) when I saw your new cast iron pot! I have wanted one for ages...years, in fact. I've been to antique shops and still haven't seen one that was either a) light enough that I could pick up myself; b) small enough to fit in the car! c) the right price! I just MUST find one this summer. Thanks for reminding me Rose! That'll be one of my new 'quests'. As if I needed just one more 'quest'! How;s you unbirthday week going? Hope it's been good, being able to remain the same age;-) What is it, 37? I wish!

  29. Hi Rose, I could so relate to this post, even down to your pretty new begonia - I ended up with the exact same one a couple of weeks ago.

    We're still having lots of rain around here - about 2" yesterday.

    I couldn't agree more that a garden is never finished. And I know exactly what you mean about being busy in the garden after SF! My garden has gotten very little attention all spring. Now that SF is over, I'm trying to catch up.

    And I was googling allium bulbs this morning! I think we'll be seeing a lot of alliums on blogs next spring!

    I loved this fun 'U' post - you have a way with words. Reading this post, I felt we were living in parallel universes - I could relate to so much of it.

  30. Joey, Thank you for the un-birthday wishes. I finally had to clean house yesterday, because two of the grandchildren were coming over. Of course, after several hours of their playing, I wondered why I bothered:)

    Jan, No, I'm actually 49:) The cast iron pot isn't as big as the photo may make it appear. It's probably about the size of a 3-qt. saucepan, but it's just right for me.

    Linda, I wish you'd send some of that rain down here! The clouds are all around us, but all we're getting are sprinkles. I'm sure you have lots of catching up to do in the garden; I don't know how you managed to get much done with all the work you did for Spring Fling. But we definitely appreciated that!

  31. Happy unbirthday to you, Rose!! Didn't Winnie the pooh say something like that in one of those Pooh bear books??

    I'm with you Rose, my garden is not remotely finished. I think Cheryl was right. And I don't have anything to post about either. Much rather put my hands in the earth. Inspiration will come some other time. I did enjoy this post, however. Your pics are beautiful. Your flowers so colourful and bright.
    Happy gardening!

  32. Oh gosh, Rose, you said it all in one blog post... and you were UNaware how intriguing it was to read along with every bit of it.

    I always think I should be finished with my garden but it is true ... it will never be the case. And what if it were? Then we wouldn't have any fun in our lives and we might have to clean our houses. Oh dear.

    A very happy UNbirthday to you, sweet Rose.

  33. A most enjoyable take on the letter U Rose. I recall that Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Caroll's 'Through the Looking Glass' also celebrated unbirthdays too but with a slightly different interpretation. Your version seems a most civilised idea :)

  34. phew i wondered when the post would finish but unlike your garden it wasn't unfinished but wouldn't it be boring if evrything got finished.


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