Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sometimes Plants get so Confused

This Orange Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea munroana)
 is putting out new leaves close to the ground.

This has been a very confusing year for plants in our area.  The calendar says it's almost December, but herbs and perennials in my gardens are still sporting green leaves and in some cases, even new growth.  So what's going on?  Has my yard suddenly been transported to a warmer state?  Or maybe just has a warmer state of mind?  Or maybe Mother Nature is just making up for how early winter came here last year. Whatever the reason, this year Fall has lasted a very wonderfully long time. We haven't even had a "real snow" yet, which is unheard of at our elevation, usually by now we've have more than a foot or more.

Although the Blue Mist Spirea (Caryopteris) has gone dormant for the year,
 the Red Rocks Penstemon next to it is still green and growing.

If you've read any of my posts in the past about how I "clean up" the gardens in the fall, you know I leave most of my plants standing till spring, the leaves stay on the gardens, and many of the pine needles stay where they land.  I also tend to wait till things are really going dormant before adding organic slow release fertilizer or compost to work its way down into the soil.  So, I've been waiting, and waiting to get these few chores done, but with temps in the 50s and 60s for most of October and November it just hasn't seemed like the right time.  Yesterday I decided I should get out there and do it anyway.  The veggie garden hoops and netting came down and the quick connect ends of the soaker hoses were removed.  Wagons and carts got put away, and the last of the ceramic pots moved to safer places.

Garlic, Chives, and Parsley are all still growing but in much need of moisture.  
The hoops and nets come down for the winter. 

My garden "helper" Yukon would rather be playing fetch.

The messy leftovers will get to be eaten by the wildlife, 
then pulled out in the spring

What does it mean for the plants if they grow longer than usual, ignoring the human calendar?  Does it weaken them the next spring, or do they just go with the flow?  For perennials and herbs it just means you get to enjoy them longer and benefit next spring from additional root growth and stronger plants.  By allowing plants to set their own schedule, instead of being put to bed on yours, the plants use nature as their guide to tell them when it's time to "go to sleep".  Perennials, shrubs, trees, ornamental grasses (native or not), and herbs all put extra energy into growing root systems in the fall.  They don't have to worry about putting on a show of flowers or pretty leaves, they just want to grow their feet.  The nice cool days and even cooler evenings put far less stress on their systems and the insects that may have been bothering them in the summertime are long gone.

Dormant plants can still paint a beautiful picture 
if you leave them untouched until spring.

So if your weather is still warm, and you haven't gotten out to the garden yet to do all of your "chores", maybe you should just wait a little, put up your feet, and watch your garden keep growing.  Spend the day reading some great gardening blogs, or come visit us at Wildlife Gardening to join in more discussions about fall cleanup and plants that provide winter interest.  The snow will be flying soon enough, so until then enjoy what's still growing!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sowing the Seeds of a New Business

Getting ready to plant new seeds while still nurturing 
completed gardens is always scary but satisfying.

Starting a new business is so much like creating a new garden.  Every choice you make can be a plus or a minus in how successful your creation turns out.  When creating a new business from the ground level up, there are so many things to think about.  Things like what to name it, what the business structure should be, what it's mandate or mission is, how to finance, and even the really big question of "should I really be doing this or not?"

Some seeds sprout more quickly than the others, 
but often times are overshadowed at the end of the growing
season by the slow starters.

Planning a new business, like planting a new garden, takes faith, courage, and usually a bit of self-doubt.  "What if the seeds don't grow?"  "What if the garden gets hailed out or eaten by animals?" "What if all of my hard work gets stomped on, shrivels up, or washes away?"  These are all very valid, but negative thoughts, yet all gardeners that I know, myself included, think about them.  It's the same with starting a new business or learning a new skill.  The questions become: "What if I'm not good enough?" "What if people don't like my products?" "What if no one comes?",  "What if I run out of money?" or the ultimate "What if I Fail?"

These lettuce starts are ready to go into the garden, 
but garden's not quite ready for them yet.

For the past several months I've been working on starting a new micro-business that's very different than the service type businesses I've had in the past.  While I absolutely love designing gardens and teaching people about gardening, nature and the environment, I realized that I also needed something more.  I wanted to take this love of plants, nature and our planet and create something that would help people by giving them better choices for their skin.  Just as I firmly believe that everything we do in our gardens makes a difference to our planet, I believe that what we use and how we take care of our skin also affects the world of nature.  My solution to this desire has been to create a new line of body products, under the name "Dragonfly Dew". These botanicals and blends are made with only natural plant oils & butters, herbs, clays, waxes and essential oils.  Mother Nature gives us many things and has wonderful ways to help us with our skin, just like she helps us with our gardens.  So please join me on this new journey and I'll try my best to teach you as much about botanicals as I do about gardening for nature. - the start of a beautiful new "garden"

As the "seeds" of my new business start sprouting and the "garden" is planted with new and exciting additions it will be exciting to see how it matures and changes.  For as in any garden or business, nurturing, evaluation, and faith are all needed to create beautiful results. 

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