Mish Mash Monday-Late February Edition

We are feeling somewhat mooshy, mishy and mashy as the winter drags its feet in exiting out the doorway. It keeps forgetting things, slowing the process of leaving, saying the long goodbye. It starts to go, hand on the doorknob, then remembers that it forgot something and heads back inside rather than saying the fond farewell. One time it is the overcoat, another the snowboots, yet another the balaclava that has been left on the bench by the coat closet. How can we help this season figure out the time has come, the time is now, William Wadsworth Winter will you please go now!

A spell of sunshine and a whispering wind of warmth might drop the hint that he has worn out his welcome, overextended his stay, that after three days (or months), fish and guests begin to smell. He is stinking up the place. (Hamamelis ‘Diane’ shines like jewelry in the clear strong rays of the orb in the sky.)

There are projects to be started, projects to be continued and projects to be completed, waiting in the great outdoors. The most compelling of these is the sowing of the peas, sweet and sugar snap. The beds have been prepared. The rabbit fencing is up, the poles in place and frost cloth covers the cleverly conceived hoops of old reinforcing wire that formerly served as tomato cages. The bags of thoroughly composted manure, Black Kow have been spread as the weather allowed on a day of thawing. Frozen mulch of any kind is just plain unspreadable, like frozen butter on cold toast. The seed packets are spread out neatly on the table, waiting for their time in the sun.

Also in queue is the area behind the knot garden that has been designated as Fairegarden’s spot of Zen. Inspired by travels and magazine articles, construction for an Asian influenced spot for quiet contemplation was begun last year, click here-Rock My World-A Zen Garden to read about it.

The tree peony was planted in 2000 and the true name for the white beauty was discovered last year, click here_White Tree Peony Identity Discovered to read about it. (Paeonia ostii ‘Phoenix White’)

The unfurling of tightly budded leaves that contain the sublime beauty of white petals has begun. This will mark the entrance into enlightenment.

Some additional plantings were added, Heucheras, Black mondo grass, Ophiopogon planiscapus from other garden beds and a small purchased mugo pine. During the down time of winter’s overstay there have been many hours pondering the plantings in this special space. The art of cloud pruning has been infused into the cerebral folds as something we would like to attempt. The search for the proper evergreen to be cut and trained in such a way ensued and the object of our desire was found on a recent trip to northeast Tennessee.

A Japanese plum yew, Cephalotaxus harringtonia ‘Fastigiata’, , three gallon size came to live in the Fairegarden. Large enough to begin the process of bending and cutting and inexpensive enough to not cause fear of wasting good money, this shrub has been subjected to the clippers and some wire. (Story to follow about the pruning and planting at a future date). Purchased along with the plum yew were two types of grasses, Miscanthus sinensis ‘Adagio’ and M. ‘Little Kitten’. Adagio has been on the wish list for several years, a smaller and tidier version of M. ‘Morning Light’ that graces our mailbox area in front. The plan is for these grasses to be divided and spread on the steep slope over by the western property line’s hideous chain link fence. Several plantings have been done in the effort to obliterate the view of the silver monstrosity. There have been rhododendrons that died, Osmanthus fragrans of which half died and were replaced with fothergillas dug as suckers from a planting elsewhere on the slope. The problem besides lack of moisture and shade are the nearby black walnut trees injecting juglones into the soil from its roots and showering the surface with the poisonous leaves. It is a wearisome battle but victory is in sight, we hope, with these grasses added as filler and winter interest to a desolate winter scene.

Not at all desolate are the edges of the knot garden quadrants. Last month these four sections were liberally spread with a few inches of pea gravel in an effort to neaten up the thyme plantings and deter the devil squirrels from digging up the bulbs in their ritual burial and searching for the buried black walnuts mentioned above. There have only been a couple of digging efforts with the gravel icing on the cake, and the Iris reticulata ‘Harmony’ are emerging jauntily through the stones. Crocus chrysanthus are showing colorful buds at the brick edging. It is pleasing to the gardener.

Speaking of crokie pokies, offspring Semi’s name for them, a mass planting of 100 C. tommasinianus ‘Roseus’ mingled among the Geum triflorum in the Fairelurie are beginning to bloom. Even the Geums are showing some new growth, excitement abounds.

Public Service Announcement:

If you see something that looks like this, a tan blob of papery goo, do not remove or destroy it. This is the egg case of a Praying Mantis. When the time is right, many little tiny perfectly formed mantids will emerge from the bottom, ravenously hungry for the insects that are eating your plants. These are precious and dare it be said, magical. Consider yourself lucky if the mantids blessed your garden with their offspring bound in brown foam. Added: The photo below, taken by my friend Laurie, was featured in this post-Space Invaders, and has been added for those of you wanting to see baby mantids emerging. It is an incredible sight, and she took an amazing photo of it. I looked for this post earlier and could not find it. Several hours later I remembered the name. Sigh.

To wrap up this MMMonday post, the brainchild of the brilliant Monica the Garden Faerie, we present this sight, captured in pixels last Sunday on our way home from a weekend road trip. Wild turkeys, a passle of them were spotted along the highway. The Financier was persuaded to stop the car long enough for a quick zoom shot. There were twenty two of these large birds, at least two large males and the rest females. An addendum was added to our bird count to reflect these numbers. Click to read the post about the bird count here-One, Two, Three.

Now Mister Winter, don’t let the door hit ya on your way out!


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36 Responses to Mish Mash Monday-Late February Edition

  1. Sylvia (England) says:

    A lovely post Frances. I am in desperate need of time outside. The roses need pruning and I have a tree to plant! I could go on but these are the next two jobs to do. My son is getting married at the end of March and I am getting caught up in preparations, so I know the garden is going to suffer but Easter I will catch up – I have promise myself!

    Best wishes Sylvia

    Hi Sylvia, thanks for stopping by. I know how a wedding can take over your life, good luck with it and my best wishes to the happy couple! Your garden will wait for you. I am still waiting to get the roses pruned, something I enjoy. Soon, maybe, soon. πŸ™‚

  2. Edith Hope says:

    Dear Frances, What an engaging post for a drab Monday morning although not, as you appear still to be, under snow. You have so many projects in mind, and so much energy, I can easily imagine how impatient you must be to get started on the gardening year.

    How amazing to see the wild turkeys – something I have never seen. They look huge. With my myopic vision I thought at the start that they were elephants!! But perhaps not in America. I had just come from ‘Elephant’s Eye’ and was muddled over my continents.

    How funny, Edith, you had elephants on the brain! Thanks for those kind words. We have had so much more snow than normal for our area, but the weather relented this past weekend and several chores were accomplished. Flurries are in the forecast mid week, however. Winter just isn’t quite ready to leave yet. πŸ™‚

  3. gittan says:

    Lovely post Frances! I can hardly wait for spring to arrive. This weekend I spotted snowdrops in my garden, can you imagine that? With all the snow we still have they stood there close to the wall, great!
    I think I’m in love with ‘Diane’ she looks so beautiful and against that blue sky… It’s hard to believe that I’ve “known” you for a whole year already, but I remember the post about the Praying Mantis last spring, I didn’t get what it was then. Now I know better =) How lucky you are having them around your garden every year / kram gittan

    Thanks Gittan, I feel exactly the same as you. How wonderful about your snowdrops. We only have a few, some are showing buds but not open yet. I will have to think about placing them against a warm wall, thanks for the idea! Diane is having a banner year and there are several mantid egg cases that have been noticed. There are probably more of the cases hidden in the shrubberies. Glad you are acquainted with them now. πŸ™‚

  4. gardeningasylum says:

    What a wonderful mashup for this Marvin K. Mooney of a winter morning! Signs of spring are everywhere in the faire garden – love your crokie pokies!

    Thanks, glad to see you got the reference! Every February about this time, I always think, plant more crocus!!! πŸ™‚

  5. Liisa says:

    Your Praying Mantis egg case is fascinating, and sent me on a mission to learn more about them. Each case holds 100-400 babies, and it takes the entire summer for them to mature to adulthood. The Chinese write of the mantis as curing anything from impotence to goiter. They believed that roasting the egg cases and feeding them to your children will stop bed wetting, but suggested not eating the egg cases on an empty stomach for it will surely make a person sick. I did not realize that gardeners purchase egg cases, placing them in their gardens for insect control.
    Your Zen garden looks as though it will be a wonderful addition to your garden, and I so look forward to seeing more throughout the changing seasons. πŸ™‚

    Thanks so much for doing the research that I should have done, Liisa! I don’t care what the claims are about the cases, they will not be on the menu here! Blechhhh! Glad you are not bored with the zen garden, it is the object of my labors at the moment. πŸ™‚

  6. lotusleaf says:

    Wonderful post as always. I loved the tree peony. The wild turkeys are fabulous! I am looking forward to see your Zen garden pictures:D

    Thanks so much, Lotus, you are always so kind. The swelling and opening of the tree peony buds is cause for great excitement here after such a cold winter. They should begin to open in another month. The zen garden is getting my attention at the moment, even though I know very little about what it should look like according to the Japanese method. I have been studying photos and text online. πŸ™‚

  7. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I think we are all getting tired of winter. Even those of us that profess to like winter. I must say your crocus are a welcome sight. They would be drooled over and lovingly exclaimed over each day if they were in my garden showing themselves. Not yet. Sigh~~ I can’t wait to see your pruning project. That poor fellow trying to get out of the water in the first photo is barely able to keep his head out of water. I know the feeling. It is so wet here I couldn’t work the soil for peas yet. The ground is still half frozen too. Hmmmm this seemed to turn into a whine. Not really feeling that way despite the rain this morning. Did I say whine?? naw…

    Hi Lisa, whine all you want, it’s been a tough winter for us all. I ended up sowing a few peas in half frozen soil, poking, make that jabbing the holes with the dibber. It was a battle of wills, me and the soil. The veggie bed is very sunny in the summer with the higher angle of the sun, shady in winter, no thawing even on 60 degree days. The crocus are much admired here too. Hang on, Lisa, hang on! πŸ™‚

  8. Rose says:

    Mr. Winter has definitely overstayed his welcome here, too, Frances! (So that is the smell I noticed the other day:)) Looking forward to seeing more of your Zen garden this spring–looks like someone has been practicing her raking skills in the snow:) And I’m curious about cloud pruning; I hope you’ll share your efforts on this with us this sping. Those “crokie-pokies” surely mean that spring is on its way!

    Hi Rose, thanks. Sorry to hear Mr. Winter is hanging around so long as to cause a stink at your place as well. About that snowy zen, I used an old broom on the gravel for the design, and the markings were deep enough to show the design when the snow fell. I didn’t do it in the snow. I was glad the camera could show it. I have not yet found a step by step to the cloud pruning technique, only examples that have been studied with a magnifying glass. Another learning by trial and error it seems. πŸ™‚

  9. I am very, very tired of waiting for winter to leave me. He is such a tease, a beautiful weekend, +4 and sunny, today it is going down to -1, +5 tomorrow and SNOW!!!!!
    I am looking forward to your pruning post,I am sure that it will be beautifully detailed as all your posts are.

    Thanks Deborah. We are having the same ups and downs here, it is nerve wracking. I always wonder how it can be 65F and the ground still frozen rock solid where it is shady. I will be learning the pruning technique as we go, I have not yet found good step by step instructions on how to begin with a young small plant. Trial and error. πŸ™‚

  10. Gail says:

    Good morning Frances, I am so glad we had a nice weekend to lift the spirits…although as I raked the leaves from the beds…I heard a small clear voice, that so reminded me of you, say, “Winter will return later this week.” I rushed inside noted that it will indeed return and covered those exposed plants up again! Winter just doesn’t want to leave us…Love the crokie pokies and wonder if they could whisper to winter to take a hike. Gail

    Dear Gail, I hope that voice was lilting and sweet instead of Nurse Rachit! HA I have uncovered many things, but do not remove the leaves, just sort of push them aside. Yes, on hands and knees, that is why we don’t rake, I want to get down and personal with the plants. The crokies, along with Diane are trying to give winter the heave ho, but he is like a bad penny and keeps returning! πŸ™‚

  11. Sweet Bay says:

    I agree that Old Man Winter has worn out his welcome. Just leave already. Lovely shots of the birdbath, Diane, and the plum yew.

    Hi Sweet Bay, thanks for the agreement. We have had enough, thank you, the tulips were nicely chilled and the lilacs got the required cold, now leave! πŸ™‚

  12. Willow says:

    We finally got some warm weather over the weekend that I went out to the garage to get some seed trays so in a couple of weeks I will be able to start my seeds indoors. Can’t wait for that. We were talking about gardening plans.


    That is wonderful, Willow. You must be so excited, nothing is more wonderful than planning gardens, except maybe making them! πŸ™‚

  13. Darla says:

    We had great weather this past weekend, only to usher in thunderstorms today followed by another cool down…….sigh

    Good deal on the weekend, bad deal on the thunderstorms. I guess we have to take the good and suffer through the bad. Sigh is right. πŸ™‚

  14. Catherine says:

    You described your winter’s hanging on perfectly. That is just how we felt last year. Hopefully it’ll take the hint and be on it’s way now. It’s good to see signs of Spring in your garden, at least it’s starting to make it’s way in there.
    I’ve never see a Praying Mantis, let alone an egg case. I hope you see lots of babies in Faire Garden this year.

    Thanks Catherine. You too had a little too much winter last year, it sounds like. This time it’s our turn. The mantids are very hard to see, they are very small until fall, and even then blend in so well with the foliage of plants that they are easily missed. We have only ever seen a hatching one time, at our first Tennessee house. We were sitting under the arbor and they fell down on us from above! Hundreds of them. Unforgettable moment of nature. πŸ™‚

  15. GloriaBonde says:

    Frances, one year, I was at the right spot at the right time and was able to see a praying mantis egg hatch. The tiny, tiny little mantises let themselves down by a tiny thread. That year they stayed in the garden and were voracious. I’d watch them and one day to my surprize one took off and flew.

    Lucky you, Gloria! We have seen a hatching only once, as explained in my reply to Catherine’s comment, they rained down on us while we were sitting on a bench under the arbor. I wonder if they only fly when large? That is the only time we have ever seen them fly. We really don’t see them much, but know they are there when we stumble upon an egg case.

  16. easygardener says:

    A really interesting post. I too was confused by the Turkeys at first – I saw a herd of Armadillos (I blamed the aberration on winter blues!)

    HA, thanks EG. We don’t have elephants or armadillos here, but wild turkeys are quite common, as are buzzards. πŸ™‚

  17. I hope you take pics of when the praying mantis hatch! They are so cool…

    I will try, DG. We might be able to shoot one in the fall, when the females are so large. The rest of the time we don’t really see them, although last year one was on the garage door for some reason. Hard to miss! πŸ™‚

  18. Hello Frances,

    Your first photo is absolutely stunning! You must submit to a photo contest of some sort :^) I can only imagine how hard it is to wait for spring so you can plant. Here in the desert, we get impatient for fall to arrive with cooler temperatures :^)

    Hi Noelle, thanks. I do participate in the Gardening Gone Wild’s contests. Maybe they will have a theme where that photo could apply. It is hard to wait for the soil to thaw, especially since that is not our normal condition, frozen soil. It seems this has been a much colder winter than ever before here in TN. I do remember the heat from our time in Houston, and understand how you wait for fall to garden. Hope you are getting lots of quality gardening time there. πŸ™‚

  19. So much to see, Frances. Love the ice formations on the branch, Diane, and the sweet crocuses (awwww…). The stone bust looks like someone drowning and reminds me, in an artsy sense, of a Sherlock Holmes episode I’ve seen recently.

    Hi Monica, thanks. I think the ice you are referring to is on the black mondo grass. I should have captioned it. Funny how the birdbath photo is interpreted differently by each reader. Some see great beauty, some see a person in crises! Thanks for this meme, my friend, it is a great one! Lots of freedom to do with it what one wishes. Always a good thing. πŸ™‚

  20. mattisalomaki says:

    The garden is waking up. I love that garden trellis made from wire and vines. I am sucker for anything with rust on it (ahh, patina I mean). Also, your Japanese Plum Yew looks like a great shrub/tree. I will have to check one out. Matti

    Hi Matti, thanks for visiting. I am with you on the rust, patina thing. That piece of fencing is my favorite, it has honeysuckle vines leftover that really make it special. From what I have read, the plum yew will be a great addition to the zen garden. The post about it will be published Friday morning. πŸ™‚

  21. Janet says:

    I feel like I haven’t been here for a few days. Loved the turkeys at the end! They are such super birds. I can’t wait to see what my dogs will do when they encounter a turkey! When they charged a Canada Goose and the goose opened its wings and came toward the dogs…they ran off.
    Sorry to hear of the Osmanthus loss, though I think the Fothergilla is a great substitute. Love the bright red foliage in the fall.
    Had one Praying Mantis sack on my Japanese maple this weekend. I remember one spring we saw a baby one– about the size of a blade of grass.

    Hi Janet, you are welcome here whenever you visit! I don’t know if the turkeys are shy or aggressive like the geese. I think the sheer numbers of this group would be intimidating, or it might be the opposite and invite a charge to scatter them by your dogs. The Osmanthus was planted the year of the horrible drought. I thought it was getting enough extra water, but apparently not. At least some lived, but they really took a hit. Last year’s rainfall was so much better, but this winter’s cold has them looking straggly. The fothergillas are wonderful, but deciduous, not hiding the fence in winter. Good deal with the egg case. They do start out so small, taking all season to grow large in the fall when we really notice them.

  22. Joanne says:

    Here here good bye Mr Winter. I think this has been the coldest most prolonged winter I can remember and wet with it when it hasn’t been snowing.
    However you have some intersting things happening in your garden Frances.

    Hi Joanne, thanks for your support. Our winter has been awful, with snow predicted again tomorrow. We work outside whenever there is a moment of warmth though. One of these days it will be warm enough to be out every day. Won’t it?

  23. Frances, the first photo of the head in a frozen pool — that’s a bit spooky! πŸ™‚ There are so many ideas from blog posts that I’ll never in my lifetime make it through the list of possibilities. Stay warm. Only 26 days til Spring. Right? πŸ™‚

    Hi Freda, thanks. It seems the first photo is either a love it or scared by it sort of thing. So many ideas is a good thing. Wouldn’t it be sad to run out of ideas? You too stay warm, and we are counting the days as well. It can’t come soon enough. Snow tomorrow. πŸ™‚

  24. I just love that face in the ice!

    Thanks and welcome. Glad you like it. πŸ™‚

  25. Wishing that you get rid of your winter guest soon, and open the door to spring. Snow, and ice or not, your photos and post are always gorgeous.


    Thanks Jen. I appreciate your efforts in getting Mr. Winter out the door. He just isn’t ready to leave it seems. Glad you liked the mish mash. πŸ™‚

  26. Cindy, MCOK says:

    I agree that winter, like Marvin K. Mooney, has indeed worn out its welcome. I don’t care where and I don’t care how but I wish that winter would please go now. I’ll wish it even more tomorrow when the temperatures drop back down below freezing. We might even get snow. Whoopee.

    Hi Cindy, thanks. You might be getting that snow right now! It is coming our way too. No whoops about that here, we have had more than our share this winter and will be glad to see it exit, lion or lamb or whatever, just go!!! πŸ™‚

  27. Lola says:

    Poor guy lying in the bath waiting for Spring I know has to be extremely tired of ole’ man winter.
    Never saw a tan bag like that before. Will have to keep a keen eye out for it. Mercy knows I need all the help I can get.
    A couple nights ago I saw the cutest thing–a little bee walking as if half asleep across my kitchen floor. With spoon in hand he was gently taken outside. Hopefully he will still be around when the moisture lets up for planting so he can do his job.

    Hi Lola, thanks for stopping by. Do look for the mantid egg case, they are way cool and considered beneficial, although they will eat any bug that comes within their grasp, good along with the bad. Your little bee does sound so cute, hope he appreciates your kind rescue. πŸ™‚

  28. So, I must have stumbled over your blog before, since my info is already here, wating to be put in use…
    I adore that first photo in this post, I’ve looked at it a couple of times now. Last year when I visited gardens in the UK I came across several of those old heads and busts for garden use.
    The ones with a litte overgrowth really caught my eye and soul… like yours laying in the frozen pond, very poetic. Thank you!

    Cheers from Sweden, Europe,

    Hi Hillevi, thanks and welcome. I am glad you enjoyed your visit and the first photo. Do come again! We also love to see age on things, including people. πŸ™‚

  29. Wow, your crocuses are coming up! Mine are still tucked under the soil. I planted the sugar snap peas, spinach, and rainbow Kale (from the seed swap and you, thanks by the way!) on Friday.

    Good deal, Dave, about getting your seeds going. I had to think a minute about your crokies, it may be that yours are the later, larger types. These tommies and chrysanthas are smaller but super early. I did get some peas planted, where the soil had thawed. Snow predicted for tomorrow though! πŸ™‚

  30. Rosie says:

    Frances – your garden is lovely even at this time of year. Look how far on your miscanthus is – mine’s no where to be seen yet. I had never seen a Praying Mantis cocoon (not sure if thats what its called) till I came here – could you do me a favour? See when it comes to time for those little ones to nibble their way through that could you take a photo to let me see as I am fascinated by those insects. Thanks Rosie πŸ™‚

    Thanks Rosie. I had to go back and check out what miscanthus you were referring to. It might be the iris retics that are emerging? My captions are always under the photo, I didn’t have a shot of the grasses I was talking about. They don’t look like much right now, but will. I will try my best to catch the babies emerging, but nearly always miss that and don’t really see them until they are large in the fall. I thought there was a photo that my friend sent me of babies on one of my old posts. The search did not show it, but I will keep trying and if I find it will send it your way. Found it! Here is the link to the post:

  31. Anna says:

    Oh would that winter would depart Frances – here it seems to be getting colder each day and snow again tonight. How exciting though to see all those signs of growth. Such magic .

    Thanks so much Anna. I am a bit bummed out today because the weather turned cold again and snow is forecast for us as well. But the bulbs are coming up and the daffs will be blooming soon, along with the hellebores. There is just no stopping them now, cold or not. πŸ™‚

  32. Tatyana says:

    Don’t hate me, Frances, but we had a lovely week here – warm and sunny. I was able to do a lot of pleasant garden chores. Today, the rain and cool temparatures are back. I hope that warmth went your way!

    Oh Tatyana, I would never hate anyone who was enjoying nice weather! Or for any other reason, to be honest. I am happy you had a lovely week, in fact, we had a couple of very nice days over the weekend as well. But now winter has returned, and not for the last time. Still playing the waiting game, and won’t be fooled into planting things too early this time. I hope! πŸ™‚

  33. chuck b. says:

    Anxious for spring are we? πŸ™‚ Soon, soon…

    I think of you, Chuck, as I gaze upon the Dierama, wondering if your climate is more what it craves. But we have green long strappy leaves, will there ever be flowers? There is green on the PCH iris too, and the fuchsia lives in the greenhouse. I didn’t have the heart to compost it and will try to find the magic formula for bloom this year. In the meantime, winter just won’t leave no matter how much I cajole him.

  34. I remember that tree peony, how can I forget? stunning.

    Roll on spring, roll on….

    Thanks for remembering, Rob. It was a surprise to see the buds unfolding with the extreme cold we have been having and continue to have. Spring cannot be stopped it seems, thank goodness. πŸ™‚

  35. Teresa says:

    Winter will not leave us either. At least you have something to look at when the snow melts. It is dumping about a foot on us tonight wiht high winds. The drifts are amazing. As I write I can hear the sound of the plow thudding and scraping along the road. Bleeeeh. So tired of it. Pretty as it is it can go away now. Your photos are great and I never saw a preying mantis nest. They are such interesting insects.

    Hi Teresa, thanks. I am so sorry about your snow. We had flurries yesterday and I about started to cry, it was so disheartening. I know it’s not spring yet, but this has not been our normally warmer winter at all. It barely gets above freezing most days, if that, and we have that same howling wind. Glad you liked the mantid nest. Thanks to my friend Laurie for sending me that photo. πŸ™‚

  36. Oh Frances your description of winter reminds me so of my flu… these unwelcome guests! Wonderful photography here … I love your white cloud of tree peony and crocus shots but they are all treasures. I hope winter will leave your world soon and allow you to get on with your projects.

    I am so sorry you have been ill, Carol, and hope that nasty flu has gone forever! Winter is hard enough to bear without being sick to boot. I am appreciate those kind words. The crocus are giving joy on sunny days and the promise that the tree peony brings is unquestionable. Early April will see the buds burst on those. πŸ™‚

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