sunday morning in the garden

This morning I planted out my Hatch green and red chiles into trays. They are showing some real leaves, so it was time. They are still inside under a grow light. Hopefully just after Mother’s Day I will be able to set them out.

Mother’s Day seems to be the magic expiration date of frosty overnights here in Chester County. I am itching to plant, but I know I pretty much have to wait.

I also found the pink swamp milkweed seeds my friend Meredith gave me. I am starting those in trays under grow lights. I will eventually plant out as many plants of those as I can get. Pollinators and butterflies love them.

I gave my David Austin Generous Gardener climbing rose a good prune recently. I took out diseased, dying, and dead canes. I also took out crossing ones to open up the rose and it has rewarded me by sending out loads of leaf buds. The clematis which grows in this climbing rose also got cleaned up and is sending out new growth as well.

Both of my tree peonies are also showing wonderful new growth. They were presents from my friend Dr. Foo who grows the most amazing array of tree peonies in his gardens. Some of my other peonies are starting to stick their heads out as well. I planted a lot of peonies in the fall bare root. I am anxiously awaiting their emergence from the ground. I do not expect them to necessarily bloom because I have learned that peonies planted bare root need a couple of years to mature before they really start to bloom.

I have had casualties in the garden, however. RIP to one of my David Austin Abraham Darby roses. I had two but the wet summer last year bought borers and other things to my roses, making it a very difficult rose season last year.

I was going to throw both Abraham Darby’s away but one in spite of the borer damage sent out a couple of new shoots so I cut it back and moved it. I have this one little corner of the garden that is like a rose infirmary. There are no positions of prominence, so I just plunked it in the ground and perhaps it’s a little Darwin survival of the fittest, but it will either live or die. Much like my John F. Kennedy hybrid tea. Borers are a problem in this garden, and I will be more dedicated with insecticide drenches this year. As a cancer survivor I don’t like to use chemicals but sometimes I just have to. I have a lot of time, money, and sweat equity invested.

I will be planting two new bare root roses soon when they arrive, so I will just try again. I haven’t quite decided where they will go, but I will by the time they arrive.

Soon my other plant orders will be arriving. I am adding more native species. I am also adding a couple of more witch hazels. Red ones!

I also am happy to note that my camellia made it thorough the winter and the flower buds are growing nicely. The one I have was started at Morris Arboretum and is called “Balustrade“. It was grown to be winter hardy and so far so good!

Other things blooming now include hellebores. I never planted them much before this garden, but my friends at Applied Climatoloy (they sell at the West Chester Growers Market) convinced me to go outside of my comfort zone and plant a bunch and well…they were right! The last photo in this post is one that is such a deep purple it is almost black.

Yesterday I went and looked at a friend’s garden to help her kick around ideas of how she can plant it and make her ideal garden come to life. She has a bunch of terrific foundation plantings already and basically, it’s softening the edges one bed at a time to give her what she desires.

Sometimes it is hard to envision HOW to get to where you want to be. That is why I think things like Pinterest are a great resource. Pinterest is loaded with photos of gardens and even ideas. I have a great collection of gardening books, but not everyone does, so Pinterest should not be overlooked.

The other thing is simple- when you bring plants home, place them out in your beds before planting and don’t be afraid to move the pots around. I don’t like even numbers, I arrange and plant things in groupings of odd numbers. I use my imagination to see how I want things to look eventually. But because gardens evolve and grow, I move plenty of stuff around when I realize I have a better spot for whatever it is.

I will close with a great source for garden inspiration is Monty Don’s Gardener’s World on BBC. If you stream BritBox on Amazon Prime you will find the current season.

It’s a beautiful day today. Put on some sunscreen and putter around in the garden!

r.i.p. geoff partridge

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Geoff Partridge in 2017 with his beloved fiancée Jill Turanski. Family photo.

Rest in peace, Geoff Partridge.  May your memory always be a blessing.  You are at peace.

This is the post I hoped I would not have to write. It’s a story that is so hard to write. Last night came the news that a fisherman had found a male body in the Schuylkill River. I think if I am honest with myself, I had a sinking suspicion officials would say it was him because of where he was found compared to the proximity of where he disappeared.

When I first learned of Geoff Partridge being missing in December I did not at first realize that I knew his mother, Holly Morrison.  She and I share some very dear friends.  When you meet people as adults at a certain stage of your life you often do not realize who the kids are because they are grown-up and on their own.  Our mutual friends include those wonderful men who tirelessly searched the river by boat for Geoff.

I have been sitting with this news for a few hours at this point.  When Holly’s and my mutual friend Karen and I spoke I was speechless on the phone.  Then when I got off the phone I cried. Again, I did not know him personally but I cried. For his family, for his friends, for his life light burnt out too soon.  And for some reason bits of the Coldplay song Fix You wouldn’t leave my head.  I don’t know why that song.  I do not even know what kind of music Geoff liked.

One of the last lines of the song… Lights will guide you home.   I guess it was time for Geoff to come home for his loved ones to have closure.

Vinny Vella from the Philadelphia Inquirer was the kind reporter who wrote an article in December when Geoff was first missing.  We turned to him then because it was hard to get coverage of Geoff going missing when it happened, and he was amenable to telling Geoff’s story.  So we turned to him today again as soon as Holly and our friends knew for certain the man found in the river was indeed her son.  Here is what he wrote a little while ago:

Villanova man, missing since December, found dead in Schuylkill, police say
by Vinny Vella Philadelphia Inquirer

Vinny Vella | @Vellastrations | vvella@phillynews.com

Geoffrey Partridge, 36, was found dead in the Schuylkill late Thursday, almost exactly four months after his SUV was found, abandoned, on one of the river’s banks.

A fisherman discovered Partridge’s body about 6:30 p.m. in the water along River Road near Hollow Road in Gladwyne…Partridge’s cause of death was ruled to be drowning, and its manner was ruled to be a suicide, according to a spokesperson for the coroner’s office.

Holly Morrison, Partridge’s mother, said in a brief interview Friday that her “heart is broken” and she and her family were struggling to process the news.

We’re not supposed to bury our children.  My heart is so heavy for her, Geoff’s fiancée Jill, and their family and friends.  Geoff and Jill shared 15 years together. When Holly and I swapped text messages a little while ago she told me she is at such a loss for words and is devastated.

I see that Jill has posted on the Geoff Partridge page on Facebook.  I will share her words:

gp

 

In January of this year, Jill also said:

gp2

I totally teared up the first time I read what she wrote in January, and again today.  There are people who are brilliant and too brief lights in our lives.  Geoff Partridge meant so much to so many.

I am not going to speculate on what happened that fateful evening he disappeared.  As it has been reported, Geoff had bipolar depression and Lyme disease.  Ok that right there is a toxic and exhausting scenario.  And people do not take seriously enough the neurological impacts of Lyme as well as the more obvious symptoms, including pain.

And if you have ever had friends who suffered from any form of depression, it’s a complicated thing to live with.  And I think it’s harder on men because in our society the traditional roles of men being stoic and strong and not expressing how they feel as readily as women makes it harder. It’s the whole boys don’t cry.

My friends tell me how lovely a person Geoff Partridge was. He loved and was loved in return.  I don’t know what else to write.  I am at a loss here as I feel the sadness of this news today quite profoundly. Part of this is just me as a cancer survivor – death hits me differently now. Also as a parent, this hits me hard.

Ar dheas Dé go raibh a anam. (May his soul be on God’s right hand.)

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family photo

 

 

bloombox: garden plants hand delivered straight from the source to you.

I love my plants. I love to garden. So now is the time when I start accumulating what I am going to plant.

Recently I became acquainted with two gentlemen from Lancaster, PA. David and Chase have this business called BloomBox.

This is an independent small business and the model is simple: great plants, reasonably priced delivered to your door. And by delivered, I mean hand-delivered. Not packed in the shipping box and sent FedEx or USPS or UPS. Delivered as in the grower comes to you.

This morning I decided to place a small order. I need to get my herbs, perennials and some of my bedding plants sorted. Herbs especially are something I buy a great deal of because my garden is in part a cottage garden. So I mix a lot of herbs in with my perennials and shrubs and trees and bulbs.

Much to my delight, after placing my order around eight something this morning, there was a knock at my door. And there was David co-owner of BloomBox with my plants!

My plants were in beautiful condition and exactly what I ordered and exactly what I expected. They also gave me a beautiful little Primrose to plant as a gift. They do that with all their customers.

David and I spoke for a brief time and I will be ordering from him again. To me this is an extension of shop local. And right now orders over $45 are delivered for free. Their delivery area is fairly wide but you still have to check your ZIP Code to make sure they serve you before you place an order.

They are not certified organic, but they are clean growers so in my opinion they don’t have to be certified organic. I know how they’re growing and what they’re doing.

Give BloomBox a try! I will also note that I am not a compensated blogger, and I have not been compensated for my opinion here in anyway. I am a new customer of the business and I am impressed so I am sharing this with all of you.

BloomBox checks all of the boxes: quality, value, customer service.

I will note that I am not going to directly put all of these into the ground just yet because it is still a little early. I will be bringing my plants into the garage and covering them outside with landscape fabric until it is warm enough.

Spring is here, so go dig in the dirt!