Cultivate Simple Podcast in iTunes Chiot's Run on Facebook Chiot's Run on Twitter Chiot's Run on Pinterest Chiot's Run on Flickr RSS Feed StumbleUpon

Quote of the Day: Joy Larkcom

June 18th, 2017

“There will be disappointments (when gardening). The glorious visions that are conjured up when sowing or planting don’t always materialize and the painful memories of failures lurk in my written records: ‘chamomile path engulfed by chickweed; cat scratched up lettuce seedlings; first cabbage lost to pigeons; drought causing slow pumpkin growth; ‘Treviso’ chicory disappeared. There are bound to be highs and lows: no garden can be beautiful all the time.”

Joy Larkcom in Creative Vegetable Gardening

For two years I have had a vision of what I wanted to create in the garden area below the living room windows. A mass planting of ‘Walkers Low’ catmint with lovely purple allium globes towering above it. I had seen a photo at one time of this and found it stunning.

Clearly my alliums are not towering above the catmint, in fact one is being smothered by it. The flowers are also the same color, which wasn’t the plan either. Perhaps the photo I saw used a lower catmint, the version that grows only a foot tall or so. Or perhaps the alliums grew to their normal height. My ‘Globemaster’ alliums are definitely not as tall as others I have seen, in fast they’re a full 8-12 inches shorter than the others I have seen. All-in-all, this ended up being a gardening disappointment.

The one on the edge is pretty tall, this is more what I was going for, but the other two aren’t even close to being tall enough. The one closer in is being swallowed up by the catmint (as you can see in the first photo of the post). In my opinion this is a waste of alliums. Alliums should be showstoppers in the garden, they’re so graphic and bold.

I’m certainly glad I didn’t buy a lot of alliums, I purchased only 3 bulbs to give it a try first. I may try a different type of allium in, one that has smaller flowers and one that is a different color of purple. These alliums won’t be lost, I love them, just not here. The bulbs will be fed, dug up, and then moved to a new spot in the garden where they can shine and be the showstopper they should be.

What gardening fails have you had this year? 

Plant Spotlight: English Bluebells

May 1st, 2012

Last fall I planted some Hyacinthoides non-scripta back in the maple grove. I planted them along the pathway interspersed with some daffodils. I’ve been patiently waiting for them bloom and late last week they finally started blooming. I read about these lovely in A Year at North Hill : Four Seasons in a Vermont Garden and added them to my list of must have plants. Since we have a lot of shade due to the many large trees, I’m always looking for beautiful things to plant among the woodlands.

English Bluebells. Circa 1500s, this fragrant, woodland naturalizer features dark violet-blue, pendant flowers on strong spikes. Commercially grown in the Netherlands as Scilla nutans (synonymous with Scilla non-scripta), this is most closely related to the indigenous English Bluebell, also known as the Wild Hyacinth. (from Van Engelen)

These little beauties should spread and eventually carpet this area of the garden, which I’m especially happy about because nothing grows in this area. Another great benefit is that these are deer resistant, since we have a big problem with deer eating everything in site that makes bluebells all the more attractive.

What’s your biggest issue that you have to keep in mind when choosing garden plants?

Daffodils for Charlotte

March 29th, 2012

I promised my friend Charlotte a parade of daffodils. She works at Peaceful Valley Farm Supply (aka Grow Organic) and she has a blog called Daffodil Planter (now you can see why she was asking to see my daffodils). Here’s a parade of daffodils that have been blooming in my garden over the past month.

The daffodils in my garden range in color from the brightest yellow you can get to the palest yellow that almost looks white. I have big ones and small ones, tall ones and squat ones. I never was much a fan of the bright yellow ones, but then I discovered that they came in all shapes, sizes and colors that weren’t quite so obnoxious.

I don’t know the varieties of the daffodils pictured below, a few were here when we arrived, others were purchased in a bag labeled “daffodils” at the store. This small buttery yellow double narcissus I purchased the first fall we lived here, but I have long since lost the information on what variety they were. I think they’re ‘White Lion’ but I’m not positive.

This past fall I added ‘Small Talk’ and ‘Little Gem’ to the front lawn. They only grow 4-6 inches tall and are so perfect blooming just above the grass. They’re so tiny and intriguing and perfect mixed with crocuses and muscari.

Last fall I also added bluebells and tiny narcissus along the pathway through the maple grove in the back of the garden. These beautiful ‘Minnow’ narcissus are really love. They have multiple tiny multi colored blossoms that float above each stem. They’re so dainty and beautiful, it’s hard to believe their so rugged.

I wish I had planted more daffodils in my garden over the years, they’re such hardy bulbs, multiplying with ease and never bothered by burrowing pests or foraging deer like tulips are. Once you bury a bulb in the garden you’re pretty much guaranteed that it will come back year after year in increasing numbers.

Do you like daffodils? Any blooming in your garden?

If you’re looking for a good prices and a great selection of daffodils and narcissus bulbs head on over to Van Engelen.


March 19th, 2012

Yesterday was a beautiful day, so of course I was working outside. I wan’t working in the garden, scrubbing the house was the task of the day. Into the garage I went to grab something I needed and OOOOOPS there were 2 big pots that were filled with tulips that I potted up to force.

The poor things were all pale from the lack of sunlight and kind of sad looking. I quickly carried them outside and gave them a dose of water. They should green up within a day or two.

The funny thing is that they’re not any farther ahead of the tulips that are planted in the ground. So I guess forcing them to bloom early didn’t happen. At least nothing will be lost, they’ll still bloom, just not as early as I had planned!

Have you had any OOOOPS moments in the garden lately?

You Asked for It

March 17th, 2012

I’ve been watching and trying to figure out when the flowering bulbs in the front lawn would be a peak. It started a week and a half ago with the early blooms in lavender, light blue and even some soft pink crocuses. About a week later the late ones started to emerge in their shades of dark purple. The same day, I noticed a mini daffodils as well.  I decided yesterday was peak, the early blooms are starting to fade and a good number of daffodils were in bloom.  I found myself taking photos to share with you since you all asked to see it at peak. Here’s what my front lawn looked like yesterday.

You may think I planted these because I love crocuses. They do look lovely, but my main reason for planting them was for the bees. Crocuses are one of the earliest sources of pollen and my lawn is abuzz with honeybees madly collecting pollen as an early spring meal. I’m happy knowing that I’m giving them a better chance of survival with an early source of food.

Have you spotted any honeybees in your garden yet?

Reading & Watching

Shop through these links and I get a few cents each time. It's not much, but it allows me to buy a new cookbook or new gardening book every couple months. I appreciate your support!


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.