Friday, April 13, 2012

"G-Pa P's Geraniums"

That is what I reference them as in my garden journal or if I have a tray of cuttings, it's what I put on the tag before placing them in the greenhouse.  They are in actuality my Grandfather Dean Potter's Geraniums, my mothers father and one of my very early garden mentors.  My grandparents were devout, hardworking, salt of the earth folks that like many had lived through more than their share of hard times.   I was lucky enough to get to spend some good quality time with my grandfather working along side him in his huge garden.

One of the garden chores he took pride in was the geraniums that he planted around the large sign in front their church.  He would start in the spring planting out dozens of the geraniums that he cared for, all big healthy green foliage plants with tight little flower buds hiding from view.  Then he would water and fertilize until the plants had flowered and made such an amazing display of color.  As Deacon of the church he would stand in the greeting line when church let out and would blush with pride as members would comment on his lovely geraniums.
At the back of grandpa's property in what used to be part of the old chicken yard and vegetable garden, he filled the large piece of ground with row upon row of dahlias which also graced the alter at the church as well.  Until my parents moved us from England back to Oregon my grandfather would take on all this by himself, a big job for anyone but harder for him because of his painfully stiff leg that he quietly put up with for most of his adult life.  In the late 1930's he was in the reserves and during one of their annual parades a team of mules spooked and started stampeding blindly towards a crowd, my grandfather was nearly trampled to death when he bravely grabbed hold of the frightened mules thus avoiding the injury or deaths of innocent onlookers.  He spent a good deal of time in hospitals eventually coming home in a body cast.  That was many years ago, the stiff leg a constant reminder of those difficult years.  I remember walking out to the garden to find him with spade in hand carefully digging dahlia tubers to be washed, separated and tagged for storage through the winter.  He would give me his little half smile, hand me a spade and patiently pass on all his knowledge of the task at hand. 

That was many years ago and although grandpa is gone I have managed to keep his favorite geraniums thriving.  I planted them at the church the spring after his death but then when fall came I was told that the garden was to become part of the parking lot so I carefully dug them and brought them home to Menagerie Manor.  They look great in large terracotta pots and this year I have decided to make some changes in the rose garden so this summer I will have a large display of them just as in bi gone years around the sign at my grandparents church. So this years starts are showing some progress and will soon be planted in the ground to start the whole process over again.

2012 cuttings

This photo was taken after my grandfathers death. A second cousin sits in front of the sign were the geranium bed used to be. he was given permission to re-dig part of the bed and plant a few geraniums in his honor. The following year it was all concrete.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Bee's Bottoms?

A couple of years ago MeMa and I decided to take a drive, one of those weekend days when we just didn't want to stay at it spring fever, or maybe it was that new Volkswagen Beetle she bought. We took what ever road caught our fancy and found a little nursery to stop at in our travel. I don't recall the name of the establishment but it was a very small family run business. As we walked up and down the rows of plants MeMa spotted this annual and asked the owner about it. She said that it was "Cerinthe major purpurascens" or Honeywort. She said they refer to it as "Bee's Bottoms" because most of the time that is all they see when the bee's dive into the pendulous flowers, all that is visible is the rear end of the insect. So Bee's Bottoms it is and has become a regular in the gardens at Menagerie Manor. It lives true to its name as the bee's swarm to the beds were it grows. Virgil described using this plant as an offering to swarming bee's in order to entice them to a new hive. Not only do the bee's love this plant, hummingbird's find it irresistible as well.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter Weekend Plus One

This Easter weekend was to say the least a very productive weekend.  I spent the entire weekend either hauling loads of debris to the dump for our good friend Andrea or I was hauling furniture and household items for our eldest son who moved out of the Manor to an apartment.  We are going to miss having him living in his old room at the top of the stairs but he decided he really needs a place of his own.  Easter Sunday was the last of the items moved and then MeMa made a wonderful ham dinner while keeping "Little Terrorist" Brooklyn entertained.  My parents were to join us but my mother was ill and not up to coming.  My father did however so with him, our son and the "Little Terrorist" Brooklyn, MeMa and myself it was a pleasant evening.
Easter Sunday
Four Generations

Since I spent most of the weekend driving around in good weather,  I decided I needed a gardener's day off and spent Monday out in the garden.  I started my day digging a very large ornamental grass out of the front garden and divided it into four large clumps.  I replanted a clump back in the original spot and placed the other three in a wheel barrow for our daughter-in-law Jill to use in their yard.

I took a break and walked the dogs with MeMa and found this lovely old bird bath laying in a yard with a tag declaring it to be free.  It was laying in three pieces but on inspection I discovered it could be repaired.  So when we reached home I drove back over and picked it up.  I love old statuary so I did some repair to it and deposited it in the front rose garden.

It really is spring here in Oregon and the garden is starting to come alive after such a long wet winter.

Blood root

Magnolia stellata

Asian Pear is loaded with blossom

And a few orchids fresh from the greenhouse, yellow is my favorite color when it comes to orchids

I hope everyone had a happy Easter