Door closes – What Will Open?

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“A great accomplishment shouldn’t be the end of the road, just the starting point for the next leap forward.” Harvey Mackay

I know it has been a few weeks since I posted a blog, but I was very busy finishing up my final semester at Cincinnati State to get my Landscape Design certificate.  It is still kind of surreal that something I started in August 2017 has come to an end.  The majority of the time it was fun and exciting to learn all about the plants I love so much.  Sometimes the work load was frustrating.  And hearing about everyone’s foray into the industry makes me sad, as I can’t participate at this time.  But I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world, and I am grateful to the teachers I had, the friends I made, and the knowledge I gained that I can use, even if it is just for me right now.

What will I do with my new free time?  For sure I will be working on my own yard, and hitting some amazing plant sales!  First, some yard work.  I went to my local big nursery outlet to get some bamboo (Fargesia d. ‘Rufa’) and Miscanthus grass (Miscanthus s. ‘Gracillimus’).  Now, before everyone starts freaking out about the bamboo, I got the CLUMPING variety.  There is a big difference between it and the typical bamboo.  Typical bamboo will send runners EVERYWHERE and has the potential to take over.  Clumping bamboo is just that – it stays relatively clump like.  I chose bamboo because it grows fast, and I wanted the area by the fence to fill in.  And just because bamboo isn’t native, doesn’t mean it doesn’t provide any benefits.  The Miscanthus grass also should grow relatively quickly to hide the fence, and has nice colors and fall/winter interest.  The only bummer is you have to cut it back in early spring, so you lose privacy for a few months, but likely not months you’d be outside in Ohio anyway.

I have gone to two plant sales already, and have procured items for my new planting bed next to the driveway.  Local plants sales are a great way to find items that do well in your area, and usually support a cause.  I attended the Cincinnati Nature Center‘s plant sale and last weekend the Rowe Arboretum plant sale.  I got some interesting things, some of which I have not seen at the big box stores or even local nurseries.  Check them out below (roll over the pic to see the description):

Now I know Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘All Gold’) and Falseholly (Osmanthus heterophyllus ‘Goshiki’) are not native, and I usually tend to the native side for the pollinators, etc.  But sometimes you have to get what will grow in this area and for the specific area (I needed some shade plants) and IS NOT invasive (another bonus about local plants sales – local growers with tons of knowledge).  The grasses will not get wider than about 2 feet each, and the Falseholly is a shrub that will get about 4-5 feet tall.  Neither sends out runners that will take over.  I had done a bit of research on the Falseholly, as I considered it for a shady part of my yard, but decided to get some hum-drum arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Woodwardii’) instead.  Sometimes you have to go with the tried and true for the foundation of the house.

But since I got the arborvitae, I had to move the oak leaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Pee Wee’), so they got installed in the new bed too.  Here is the before and after of my new bed:

Back row:  Miscanthus, Bamboo

Middle row:  Falseholly, Oak leaf Hydrangea, Goldenrod (Solidago rigida), Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)

Front row:  Foam flower (I had these from a conference in Jan., Tiarella cordifolia), Japanese forest grass, purple coneflower (Echinacea)

I still have quite a bit to fill on the far end of the bed, but there are several plant sales over the next few weeks.  I have to say, the sheet mulching I did in this area worked out GREAT.  The grass is dying, the roots are feeding the worms along with the cardboard, and the soil is pretty nice (check out my blog about this HERE).

If you look way back in the right picture you can see where they removed the invasive honeysuckle.  It is just a big area of branches, with a bare area in front, which brings me to my next project.

Seeds.  I have no luck and very little experience with them.  But I was told by Indigenous Landscapes (who removed the honeysuckle), to get some annual sunflower and black-eyed Susan seeds for the bare area to fill in while we figure out what to do with the rest of it.  They recommended a seed place (American Meadows) to get the seeds from, and they arrived no problem.  I was told by Indigenous Landscapes to soak the seeds in room temp water for about 3 hours, then blend the seeds with potting mix, peat moss or sand to help spread them.  How hard could it be?

Well, the black-eyed Susan seeds were barely the size of a speck; the sunflower seeds were a little larger.  I figured soaking and then straining these would be a pain in the butt, and guess what?  It WAS.  There were seeds everywhere sticking to everything.  I wrangled as many as I could, and mixed with potting mix.  It didn’t look like much for the area I had to cover, but I forged on.

It barely covered the area (to my untrained eye), and I still had another area to seed.  I then had to hook up a third hose to attach the sprinkler to so I could get the area wet.  And of course I got soaked in the process by the sprinkler, because it tilted towards me instead of away.  I may have released a slew of swear words at this point, to add to the swear words I said after straining the seeds and realizing I didn’t have enough.  Planting is not all glamorous, friends!  But I got it going, and now we will wait and see.  I ordered more seeds, and will not be soaking or combining  with potting soil this time.  Straight from pouch to soil!  And then prayer.  (If anyone has some advice for me in this area, I will happily take it.)

People ask me what I am going to do now that I completed school and will receive my Landscape Design certificate.  When I first decided to do this a year and a half ago, my goal was to increase my knowledge about plants.  Goal achieved.  Along the way I realized how much I love plants, and switched jobs to pursue it (check out some of my blogs from February 2018).  That didn’t work out.  Mostly because the pay wasn’t enough, but while I learned a lot, plants became a JOB, not a lovable hobby.  Sometimes when we try to turn our hobbies into careers that happens.  So I had to return to corporate life to pay the bills, and spend my free time (sometimes to a fault) working on my yard.  And it’s hard because I want everything done NOW, and the land and wallet cannot oblige.

So what does this all mean for you?

  1. I hope it inspires you to support local and buy your plants at a local plant sale.  You can also get great advice by local growers.
  2. Learning can be just that – learning.  You can do it just for you, applying it where you see fit.  No major transitions necessary.
  3. Carve out time to spend on your hobbies.  I see gardening as a form of self-care, because I love doing it so much.  Time passes and I don’t even notice.  Even when I am struggling with the sprinkler and getting wet, LOL.
  4. Consider spreading the joy of your hobby.  Writing about it helps me to relay my passion, maybe teach you a new plant or two, and inspire you to reconnect with nature (SO MANY BENEFITS).  Post about it, share it, email it, talk about it.  You may even find people who share your passion.
  5. If you can’t name a hobby that brings you joy, you may have some work to do.  Having things to do that you WANT to do instead of HAVE to do allows us to relax, be creative, and thrive.  Even it is only 10 min. a day, schedule it in.  Notice how you feel after doing it for a week or two.  I’m guessing you will feel better.

My love for learning will never end, and I hope to keep pursuing knowledge for a long time.  Who’s with me?

“I suppose whenever you go through periods of transition, or in a way, it’s a very definite closing of a certain chapter of your life – I suppose those times are always going to be both very upsetting and also very exciting by the very nature because things are changing and you don’t know what’s going to happen.” Daniel Radcliffe


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