Bloom Chronicles

Garden Party

Thanks to Sargent's in Rochester, MN,, for hosting their annual Garden Party this summer, and for inviting me to be there with my book, All the World in a Blade of Quack:  Reclaiming a Garden, Growing a Gardener.  I enjoyed meeting so many wonderful people and seeing lots of old friends--even helped a few people pick out annuals and succulents--what fun!  There are no strangers among people who love plants.  Sargent's have copies of Quack for sale, too, for anyone who needs a little inspiration--or who is already starting to shop for Christmas (and you know who you are--go for it!)

Return of the Long-Awaited

And so, at last, spring comes to the garden.  The fact that it's June 25 notwithstanding, the arrival of the sculptural, elegant Siberian irises brings me delight.  Overshadowing the purple is a white cedar branch still hanging low from the May 1 snowstorm.  The cedar will be cut down, soon, I hope, bringing sun once again to a section of the garden that really craves light.  Why did I let the cedar get so big?  Well, for a few years it grew slowly and looked just lovely.  Then it got way too wide:  I pruned the lower branches.  This made it sculptural and elegant, but also top heavy, so that when the 18" of heavy snow came on May 1, the tree tipped sideways and its branches sagged (many broke) under the weight.  Its fellow cedars suffered a similar fate, but remained upright.  These have been sheared and will have a second chance.  This one--not so much.  Does it make the Siberians nervous, all this talk of my cutting down something sculptural and elegant?  If so, they're not showing it.  They are the delight of the day, the perennial that requires so little and gives so much,the harbinger of summer.  Worth waiting for.

Last Roses of Summer?

Here at Hidden Hill, frost has nipped a few things, but roses soldier on, especially these David Austen Heritage Roses.  Soft color, super scent, healthy leaves--this is a rose I just never want to see go dormant.  The day however, is coming--gardening joys like these will end, except for pictures.  The Somerset (WI) Buds Garden Club has invited me to come and show them some of those pictures (and to talk about All the World in a Blade of Quack) on Monday, October 8, at 7 p.m.  You're invited, too.  For more details, leave a comment and I'll get back to you. 


I used to wonder why there was so much crane garden art.  I always thought it was because cranes are tall and so a crane made of metal or resin or concrete would stand out among the flowers where something like, say, a diminutive sparrow wouldn't.  Of course, cranes are also beautiful--I mean, who wouldn't like to have such long, thin legs?--and people want to add beautiful things to their gardens, so voila, they buy cranes.

Seeing this sandhill grazing in a meadow near Herbster, Wisconsin, made me wish a crane would visit my garden.  I've had everything from hummingbirds to wild turkeys there, but so far never a crane.  What a delight it would be to see that lithe, elegant body slipping through the lilies.  Cranes are migrating now.  And I'm wishing I could see that particular piece of garden art waiting some morning when I go out to water. 

Encore, Please

Summer slips away, unnoticed by morning glories who are busy lighting the way to October's bright blue weather.  It took them a while to come on stage this year, but they must have known that once all the other flowers had bloomed their last there would be a spotlight--or maybe it's a backlight--for them.  I have just one word:  Bravo!

From Coleen

Coleen L. Johnston

Welcome! Whether growing flowers or growing the chapters of a book, I find inspiration in the natural world. My new book, All the World in a Blade of Quack: Reclaiming a Garden/Growing a Gardener, will make you laugh, tell you a story, and maybe give you some inspiration, too. Here's how it begins:

On hands and knees, I finished weeding a three-foot clump of peonies orbited by a galaxy of shiny, pink buds, and stretched to straighten out my back. I looked up to see how many clumps were left to go. Twenty-one. Oh dear. At the same moment, on the other side of the clump, a wild turkey straightened his neck up to see what had interrupted his lunch. Our eyes met. His bulged and didn't have any lashes. He froze.

I screamed…

Life here in the garden is never dull. My Bloom Chronicles blog will keep you up to date on the land of quack. Beyond the garden, there are books for fiber fanciers and history buffs (The Founders, The Guardians and The Inheritors), books for children, and even a few poems. I hope you will enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them for you.

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