Floral Friday: Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day, friends! How did you celebrate? We spent last night creating a float for Mikey's 5th grade Earth Day parade--a project I found a tad counterintuitive to the premise of Earth Day. After all, plastering a Radio Flyer wagon with paper grass and cut-out leaves, as well as creating a science-fair type tri-fold board about the benefits of planting trees just seemed a bit...absurd. Shouldn't Earth Day projects involve planting seeds or trees instead of wasting resources for a 15 minute parade?

I think it's time for summer vacation.

Still, I love Earth Day, and his float did include two Longleaf Pine tree saplings that we'll plant in our forest once they've grown a bit. He's quite proud of those trees.

I'm so glad our kids love nature--and don't need a school project to show them the benefits of trees.

Once again, spring's busy-ness creeps up on me, like it does every year. Growing kids and growing seedlings keep me hopping, and if that's not enough...it's always fun to add a puppy into the mix, too.

Meet Gracie. Our newest family member arrived two weeks ago, during the kids' spring break. Mikey, the child who never asks for anything, lobbied long and hard for a Golden Retriever puppy for his birthday. (His efforts included writing an essay to us about why we needed a Golden Retriever puppy, as well as emotionally charged puppy photos left on my pillow.) Somehow, during a weak moment, we decided a puppy would be a great idea. However, we're big believers in rescuing our furry family members. After all, both kids attend Humane Society Camp each summer, and both volunteer with shelter animals--Kristen as a camp counselor, and Mikey planting a garden for their small rescued animals, like guinea pigs and rabbits. Like the Earth Day float, buying a Golden Retriever from a breeder seemed counterintuitive to our family's beliefs.

Gracie and Mikey

And then, I found Gracie.

Gracie and her three brothers were rescued from the pound by the Robeson County Humane Society. Full of parasites and battling mange, the Golden Retriever puppies became instant celebrities at the shelter. Twenty-seven families applied to adopt the puppies. Thanks to friends and our vet, who provided great references, we got the call--Gracie could join our family as soon as her quarantine ended. The timing worked perfectly--on the Tuesday of spring break, we drove 3-1/2 hours to Lumberton, NC to pick up our sweet new baby.


Basically, I've gotten no work done since she arrived. But that's OK. Kids and puppies are only little once, right?


Actually, I've been sneaking in greenhouse work when the kids come home from school and on the weekends. While I'm a bit behind on potting up some of the flower seedlings, most of the vegetable starts will be planted this weekend. I'm excited--my goal to grow all of the plants for our garden from seeds, tubers, or cuttings is progressing well. I'm a bit baffled with the nasturtium--many of the seeds didn't germinate, so I'm trying again with a new batch. Fingers crossed that these grow--I planned to grow an enormous variety of the edible flowers this year to use decoratively in the garden, and I'm not sure what went wrong. I soaked the seeds overnight as recommended. Perhaps they didn't like the heat mat?

Anyway, to celebrate Earth Day, I thought I'd share what's blooming in the garden this week. Obviously, I missed Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day on the 15th, due to puppy duties. Now that she's sleeping through the night, I'm hoping I'll catch up on writing and gardening. In fact, I plan to power plant all day tomorrow before hosting a dual birthday party/bonfire for Kristen and Mikey and their friends. Here's hoping my plan works!

One of the things I'm grateful for this year is that I chose not to grow for market. While I love meeting people at the market and teaching them about growing food, I always spend my favorite season of the year in a state of panic, constantly working and potting up plants. This year, even with the puppy, I've really enjoyed spring. I walk the garden and forest each day, looking to see what's blooming or what needs attention. I've noticed that I'm actually enjoying the process. Instead of focusing on the weeds and the work that needs to be done, I'm appreciating the things that are right about our garden more and more. It's finally maturing--the hellebores blanket the beds, the irises now produce a thick stand of blooms, the blueberries bloomed beautifully and are heavy with baby fruit...it's a pleasure to explore each day.









Tulip season, while short-lived, is my favorite time of year.

Many of the tulips I planted in the fall look more like peonies. I love their form, but I can't wait for the fragrance of peonies to fill the garden--and house.

Peony buds

Any day now...

The irises took over almost immediately as the tulips began to fade. Somehow, this year, the Gods of Succession Planting smiled on me, and the garden is a non-stop bloom fest.





Blue columbine

Columbine is one of my favorite spring flowers. My friend Janet, AKA The Queen of Seaford, shared seeds for this gorgeous purple columbine.

Purple columbine

Purple columbine

It's also a favorite of Gracie's to deadhead.

Chinese Snowball Viburnum

Chinese Snowball Viburnum

One of my happiest accidents is the enormous Chinese Snowball Viburnum. Although it appears ready to swallow the house due to my lack of proper pruning, I somehow love its obnoxiously fabulous height and blooms. The garden glows at night with the hundreds of snowballs that reach the height of our balcony. I think I'll train the two shrubs into an archway between the areas of our backyard.


The clematis surprised me--it seemed to appear early this year. It's finally putting on a flashy show after several years of single blooms.

I often forget about Pieris japonica--and then this happens:

pieris japonica

What a lovely cluster of petite flowers! The pollinators adore these delicate blooms.

The native plants in the garden and forest refuse to be ignored, showing off their lovely blooms.

My Mary azalea

Peter gave me two 'My Mary' native azaleas for Valentine's Day--and they've been amazing. The color, the profusion of blooms, the fragrance...we need more!


Crossvine is always a favorite for bees and hummingbirds. I just received my first hummingbird buzzing yesterday, as I stood by a feeder, waiting for Gracie to sniff the garden.


Baptisa provides a bright burst of color and texture in the front beds, beckoning to pollinators.

Two of my favorite native plants made an appearance this week:

Fringed bleeding heart

Fringed bleeding heart...

Solomon's Seal

...and Solomon's Seal. I added the variegated variety throughout the garden, but we find hundreds of the native flower decorating the forest.


Each year, the violets spread more, forming a lovely purple carpet throughout the forest. While many homeowners wage war against them, these pretty edible flowers can seek refuge in our yard.

Speaking of edibles...the beautiful edible garden project is well underway. Many of the seedlings are beginning to bloom:









The garden and forest don't need anyone to remind them that it's Earth Day. With the explosion of blooms, it seems the earth is throwing its own party, and we're invited to celebrate and share the Earth Day joy.

Forgo the floats and pass on the posters...what did you do to celebrate Earth Day?

Wishing you a lovely weekend in the garden!