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Category Archives: Spring

When Words Fail

    Probably almost all of us have had those situations where mere words alone seem to fail us.   Occasionally it is in the happy times, such as an upcoming marriage or a new home, when there are too many well-wishes that one wants to say.  However it is often in the sad, gut-wrenching times when one feels at loss for words.  At these times for gardeners, the language of symbolic herbs and flowers may be of help.

Tussie-mussies (a.k.a. tussie mussy) are symbolic bouquets of flowers and herbs.  Though often associated with the Victorian era during which the language of flowers and herbs were codified and instructions for making tussie-mussies were found in books such as Godey’s Ladies Book, the actual history of the tussie-mussie goes back much further than Queen Victoria’s era.  In fact, due to the lack of hygiene and sanitation, the use of nosegays to mask odors has been traced to medieval times and can be found in several cultures such as Greece, Turkey, and the Aztecs of Central and South America.  Because the meanings of herbs and flowers were derived from various cultures, some herbs and flowers took on widely divergent meanings, sometimes even opposite meanings.  For example, according to an article in Mother Earth Living, the inclusion of basil in a tussie-mussie meant “best wishes” in Greece, “hatred” in Italy, and “sacred” in India.  However a few herbs and flowers have retained their same meaning throughout the world.  Rosemary is an herb that commonly means “remembrance.”

In compiling a vocabulary of symbolic herbs and flowers, most people start with lists of herbs and flowers and their meanings found in books such as Tussie-Mussies: The Victorian Art of Expressing Yourself in the Language of Flowers by Geraldine A. Laufer and The Illuminated Language of Flowers by Jean Marsh.  Though it helps to have a wide variety of herbs and flowers available, even a very small bouquet of mixed flowers can say “love.”  As opposed to a typical large bouquet, a tussie-mussie is normally just the size of a nosegay.  Tussie-mussies can be presented in a small vase or, if you really want to get fancy and be historically-correct, antique tussie-mussie holders can be found on Ebay. Just be sure to include a card that explains the meaning behind each herb or flower.

Flowers and herbs gathered for a tussie-mussie

Over the years I have made tussie-mussies for friends who have new jobs, weddings, and babies.  I have also found the language of flowers to be especially appropriate in those sad times, such as a bouquet that was given to a friend who was placed on hospice.  That tussie-mussie  (composed of geranium for friendship, Lamb’s Ear for kindness, thyme for courage, rosemary for remembrance, sage for wisdom, bay for peace, peppermint for warmth of feeling, honeysuckle for gentleness,  oak for strength, and, of course, flowers for love seemed to say it all.

Carolyn Bush

Picture by Starla Willis

Tussie- mussies by some of our school children here.

Worker Bees

 The garden is buzzing with volunteers; the people variety and the bug variety. The bees are pollinating, the ladybugs are keeping our aphid population at bay, and the butterflies dazzle. 

Ladybug on Clasping Coneflower

Ladybug on Clasping Coneflower

Thanks to all who do their part to make our garden beautiful  and  provide educational opportunities to our community.

Tig Mowing and Catching Grass for Compost

Tig Mowing and Catching Grass for Compost

Jim and Lisa Taking a Break from Planting Zinnias and Milkweed

Jim and Sue Taking a Break from Planting Zinnias and Milkweed

 

Gail Working in the Butterfly Garden Camouflaged Behind the Orange Poppy.

Gail Working in the Butterfly Garden  Behind the Orange Poppy.

Maves, Elizabeth, Cynthia, Linda, Annette Planting the Color Wheel

Maves, Elizabeth, Cynthia, Linda, Annette Planting the Color Wheel

Cindy and Lisa with Tools!

Cindy and Lisa with Tools!

As Rudyard Kipling said: “Gardens are not made by sitting in the shade.” 

Starla

Poppies

The poppies have been beautiful this year at The Raincatcher’s Garden.  Each plant has a story. The plant starts life as a seed, which germinates and grows into a plant. The mature plant produces flowers, which are fertilised and produce seeds in a fruit or seedpod. When it dies, seeds are left behind which germinate to produce new plants.

We thought you might want to see a few poppy pictures, as a part of their story.

Poppy Bud Ready to Open

 

Poppy close up 2016 008

Pink Peony Poppy

When the petals fall away, it’s time to collect the seeds.  The foliage turns grey and the seed pod becomes brownish. Wait for the seed pod to become ripe. The top of the pod opens and the seeds readily fall-1,00’s of them. The life cycle of the poppy begins again.

Ann

Pictures by Starla and Ann

Poppy Culture: Next October be sure to plant  poppy seeds in a sunny, well drained spot. Water them to keep the seed bed slightly moist if the weather is dry. You will be rewarded for many years to come with poppies in your garden.

We are collecting seeds to share from our pink peony poppies. We hope you will visit our garden.

 

 

Spring at Raincatcher’s Garden 2016

“A little Madness in the Spring is wholesome even for the King.”
― Emily Dickinson

Take a walk with us through our garden to see some of our spring madness!

'Annelinde' peony-type tulip

‘Annelinde’ peony-type tulip

Iris 'Frothingslosh'

Iris ‘Frothingslosh’

Peach Tree Bloom

Peach Tree Bloom

Pear Tree Bloom

Pear Tree Bloom

Plum Tree Bloom

Plum Tree Bloom

Ground Orchid, Bletilla striata Blooming in our Courtyard

Ground Orchid, Bletilla striata Blooming in our Courtyard

Cultivate Garden Thoughts by reviewing:

Our Orchard Varieties listed on the right, front page under Raincatcher’s Resources

Blooming Bulbs 

Daffodils, Jonquils, Narcissus

If you are like me, you have fallen in love with the Pink Tulip and Ground Orchid shown above.  Order them for your garden and help ours. The Raincatcher’s Garden receives a portion of your order at Brent And Becky’s fundraising site Bloomin’ Buck$ (www.bloominbucks.com).

Ann

Pictures by Starla

 

 

Orchid Heaven

Friday, June 5th, More than a dozen Master Gardeners from The Raincatcher’s Garden visited the Tarrant County Demonstration Garden for helpful ideas and then traveled to D&B Orchids, the Orchid Greenhouse run by Dr. Dotty Woodson and her husband, Berry Woodson.

We were overcome by the sight of approximately 8,000 orchids and the botany lessons taught by Dotty that day.

Meet some of the stars of our visit to D&B Orchids.

 Phalaenopsis

Phalaenopsis

It was intoxicating. Orchids everywhere!  This purple orchid was growing out of a pot, one of many, hanging from the rafters of the greenhouse.

Vanda

Vanda

And just when you thought you had found your favorite, another would steal the show.

 Angracum from Madagascar

Angracum from Madagascar

Dotty’s husband was the recipient of the  Herb Hager Award for Hybridizer of the Year from the American Orchid Society for his hybrid, Phalaenopsis Jose Carreres. Hopefully, Starla snapped a picture of it that we can share.

If not, looks like we will have to make another trip to D&B Orchids.

Ann

Video by Starla

Pictures by Ann

Thank you Ana and Michele for arranging the trip!

 

 

 

 

Dallas County Gardener’s May Meeting

Did you know that anyone can attend a Dallas County Master Gardener meeting? Tomorrow we are hosting the May meeting at our new garden with the purpose of talking to our membership and friends about the progress of The Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills.

Come so you can hear from our exciting array of speakers: Elizabeth, Eric, Lisa, and Susan. Learn from them, education is the purpose of our garden. We will be sharing detailed plant information tomorrow and on this blog through hand outs created by Elizabeth.   Take a look at our garden plans and tour The Raincatcher’s Garden to understand the height and depth of what we are trying to do on about an acre of land in North Dallas.

Dallas County Master Gardener May Meeting

11:30 a.m. Thursday, May 28

11001 Midway Rd., Dallas 75229

 Program

An Introduction to the New  Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills

Tours will be offered before and after the general meeting.

 Buds, Bricks & Baskets

African Free Trade Baskets, Leather Handles! Reasonable Prices! We have Fallen in Love with These!

African Free Trade Baskets, Leather Handles! Reasonable Prices! We have Fallen in Love with These!

The Baskets are ideal for gifts or gathering produce from your garden.

Oregano, Phlox, Tomato Starts, Fig Trees, Cast Iron, Coneflower, Great Prices!

Oregano, Phlox, Tomato Starts, Fig Trees, Cast Iron, Coneflower, Turk’s Cap- Great Prices!

Fill up your card with homegrown plants from our member’s own gardens. We have tables of little starts you’ve just got to take home at Sarah’s “cheap” prices.  Plants will be priced from $1 to $5, with a few special items priced a tiny bit more.  Plan on filling up your cart!  Yesterday it was hard for me to pass by the phlox I saw from Susan’s garden!

Bricks make the perfect contribution to the new garden.

Honor a loved one, recognize the special person that introduced them to gardening, or remember a friend or family member with a personalized brick.  The bricks will serve as part of the entry to the Raincatcher’s Garden under the newly reassembled arbor.  Bricks are priced at $50 for a 4”x 8” size or $125 for an 8” x 8” brick.  Orders will be taken at the May 28 meeting with installation later this year. If you would like to participate and can’t come to the meeting, leave a comment and we will contact you.

Cash, checks or credit cards accepted.

A note about our lunch sales: Thank you to the 98 who purchased box lunches to enjoy during the meeting.

To accommodate feeding almost 100 people we had to stay firm with our reservation deadline. Oh, the planning that goes into an assembly of cooks like we have had the last few days! Hope any who missed the deadline for lunches will understand. We will have more events this summer. Subscribe to Dallas Garden Buzz, to get the details first!

Confession: I didn’t sign up for lunch in time, but you can be sure I will be first in line for a fig tree!!

Ann

 

 

BUTTERFLY PLANTS: I LOVE YOU, BUT IT’S TIME TO LEAVE

 

Variegated Fritillary on Salvia

Variegated Fritillary on Salvia

My side yard has a new unwanted hedge of plants in pots.  These are plants that should be planted in the new butterfly plot at the Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills.  They are not. They sit in pots.  At my house.

The plants have been living in my side yard for two weeks.  They remind me of adult children who move back in for “just a few months, Mom,” and a year later you’re still sharing the washer with their yoga pants.

Using the butterfly garden plan, I made a list of plants required for that garden.   We needed almost 200 plants.

Plant sales are a little cheaper, but you have to know what you’re doing:

Get there early.  I am convinced most shoppers get up at 4:30 a.m. to line up two hours before the doors open.  If you’re pulling in the parking lot with your coffee in a to-go cup about 10:30, it’s not worth the drive.  The shelves are bare at that point.

Plant sales are the closest thing Dallas has to a crowded New York subway.  You’ve got to elbow your way to native-this and hard-to-find that  (saying ‘excuse me’ after each grab—this is, after all, The South).  My genteel mother would have been appalled.

Don’t kid yourself. A tiny old Prius will not be big enough for the drive back with your new acquisitions. You’ll have to beg your patient friend Judy-with-a-truck to pick up all the leftover purchases the next day.

Which brings us to why I have about 200 Plants In A Pot in my side yard, and why I know each of them intimately.

North Texas has been in a severe drought for six years.

I purchased the plants two weeks ago.  Six hours after I unloaded them to my side yard, I hauled them back into the garage because of impending “damaging 60 mph winds, hail, and possible tornadoes.” Out into the sun. Thirty minutes later, back into the garage. This has gone on for days. The plants are confused.  I am exhausted.

Last week I emptied 5 inches of rain from the rain gauge. It is too muddy to till the site for the new butterfly garden.  It is too wet to even think of planting.

The forecast is for 85 degrees and sunny today.  Severe thunderstorms are predicted for tomorrow.

Elizabeth

To read more about our Butterfly Garden Plans click here.

Picture by Starla

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