Thursday, July 19, 2012

Vermont backyard flowers - Looking for the four leaf clover. Gardening Essay

Gardening, be it with flowers, vegetables, fruit, native plants, wild plants, or any other plant I can coerce into growing within a sandy medium, is fulfilling to me.  The product is not a photo op for Garden Design or Better Homes and Gardens magazines. I grow plants as they grow in the wild, dispersing seed and transplants as though they were scattered in the wind. There is no catalog description of my garden design. If I like the plant, and often more importantly if I think wildlife, especially birds will like the plant, I bring it home and then find a place for its roots to taste, test, and explore hopefully to its liking.  Obtaining young plants, seeding, and transplanting are only a portion of the gardening exercise I so much enjoy.


Though some folks spend the winter designing the upcoming season planting array on paper or in their head, I lay dormant, like spring bulbs waiting for that first plant catalog from the Winooski Natural Resources Conservation District-WNRCD ( My fiscal conservative nature relishes the reasonable lower cost bare root trees, shrubs and berries, and occasionally dormant flowers. Each winter I promise myself; I will control my impulsiveness and begin diminishing my yearly plant-spending spree or at least buy only that which I have a chosen spots for each purchased plant. However, my appetite for more plants is about as satiated as my hunger for sweets after eating ice cream or a chocolate bar.  For the record snickers bars are not only satisfying, they are addictive and only supplement the craving for more. Such it is, for me with new plants. The catalog is like filling out my Christmas wish list as a very young child as legions of sugarplums dance in my head. A catalog describing plum, cherry, apple, currants, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, hazelnuts, butternuts, walnuts, serviceberries, cranberries, winterberries, as well as hemlocks, birch, black cherry, and so many more trees and shrubs, is like a Macy’s toy catalog to a child counting the days till Christmas imagining the wonderful gifts under the tree.

All winter I have faithfully salvaged every eggshell, every mornings used coffee grounds, every compostable food scrap. Now I can go to the bank of compost and make a withdrawal. If Maple Syrup is liquid gold, compost is a nutrient filled snickers bar for plants. Building soil is honorable and rewarding, read how under gardening on my web site. Amending sand by adding compost, straw, and mulch and using a no till approach to gardening increases water holding capacity and nutrient richness. Tilling disturbs the microorganisms that contribute to a healthy soil, and may increase compaction, erosion and the spread of weeds. Growing and caring for soil is a sustainable way to grow food and plants.
                     The Other Paper of South Burlington provides mulch and a weed barrier to help prepare this bed for future wildflower planting. The variety of stories will help foster a good diversity of flowers.

Here is a current wildflower bed. Seeds were planted a few weeks ago.

My planting begins in late April, early May, and continues through the fall. As does pruning, mulching, watering, transplanting, and weeding-all therapeutic, relaxing, and calming. Nature shows me changes nearly every day. Gardening and nature in general teaches me to Stop, Look, and Listen. I remember summer days when our children were young, sitting on the ground patiently looking at each cloverleaf seeking the illusive four-leaf clover. Eventually we might find one, however we would more likely find a before unseen flower, or insect or other interesting and captivating hidden treasure of nature.

77-yr.-old Edward Martin of Alaska holds the record of 160,000 4-leaf clovers found.

Manage and care for our environment keeping it green and clean and nature will reward you with healthy food and rewarding eye candy.

        Look UP Mrs. Flycatcher!

Gardening cows were at the Vermont Wildflower Farm in Charlotte Vermont . The rest of the pictures on this posting were taken in our backyard in South Burlington, Vermont in June.

Every piece of litter left behind diminishes nature's colorful landscape. Pick up a piece every day.

Other Vermont flower, critter, and birds, postings: