A Split and a Stack, OH and Scotland

When purchasing cheap perennials from big box stores, I tend to make a large split down the side of the rootball before planting.

'Winky Purple-White' Columbine
'Winky Purple-White' Columbine
A reputable nursery will tend to sell plants before their roots become completely bound, but the less expensive your plant is, 
the more problems might be lurking in the rootball.  Case in point, this cheap (but beautiful!!) columbine plant.

'Winky Purple-White' Columbine
'Winky Purple-White' Columbine

I am adding columbine to the allium border to help cover up the naked legs and floppy leaves of said alliums. (Curious about the alliums? Read about the whole planting scheme HERE!) I also plan to add in the nicely foliaged nepeta and some sedum splits to help with the naked issue.  In later years, perhaps some David Austin roses and peonies will be added to this space.  One can dream, right?

 It is going to pretty....just give it time...this is the awkward teenager year of this little bed.

Back to the split though...

West County Gloves Columbine

When I get these root bound plants, I tend to split them straight down the sides.  I first cut gently into the root ball with a trowel or soil knife and then use my hands to gently pry the sections apart. This method breaks up the roots going in circles around the edges of the pot AND (bonus!) will sometimes result in two plants from one container, doubling your plant value.  Once planted, those roots can grow OUT into the soil instead of continuing in circles around the root ball.

If you are a gardener like me, this time of year is both exhilarating and slightly infuriating. Spring is basically here, and on some days it seems perhaps summer would like to make an appearance, while on others snow still seems to threaten.  This is NOT THE TIME FOR PLANTING TOMATOES.  ...and yet, I want to.

I should be moving more carts of chicken bedding to the compost pile, weeding while the weeds are young and starting to divide those clumps of daffodils that have gotten so dense they barely bloom anymore.  It seems those chores have become chores and ALL I WANT TO DO IS PLANT TOMATOES.  I resist however, and instead make plans and read books when I cannot stomach the thought of another load of manure.

Of course, when not IN the garden in spring, I am reading about it...

Good Soil by Tina Raman, Ewa-Marie Rundquist and Justine LagacheGood Soil by Tina Raman, Ewa-Marie Rundquist and Justine Lagache

Good Soil by Tina Raman, Ewa-Marie Rundquist and Justine LagacheGood Soil by Tina Raman, Ewa-Marie Rundquist and Justine Lagache

Good Soil by Tina Raman, Ewa-Marie Rundquist and Justine Lagache is a BEAUTIFUL new book that is full of information. Charts galore and easy to find, detailed reference pages are scattered throughout the book. The author is Swedish, so it is interesting to read a slightly difference viewpoint on soil - the "nutrients that can be found in offal, the sea, fire, rocks, rubbish and of course, dung heaps." It sounds so much nicer in her words, doesn't it? I also appreciate the dives into chemistry, biology, history and even philosophy whist discussing the basic foundation of ANY garden - GOOD SOIL.  

Another plus? Matte finish pages -- it might seem like a small details, but they feel so good while flipping through and I bet my buy vs. browse percentage of matte vs. glossy books is probably 50% higher.

Another good reference for both experienced AND brand new gardeners is Fresh From the Garden by John Whitman. The book is organized by plant and can be read straight through, but also used as a reference when deciding WHAT to plant (once it is time of course....NO TOMATOES YET!) 

Fresh From the Garden by John  WhitmanFresh From the Garden by John  Whitman

Fresh From the Garden by John  WhitmanFresh From the Garden by John  Whitman

 This is actually the fourth book in a series by Whitman on cold climate gardening.  The others have focused on roses, perennials and small shrubs and trees.  THIS book is focused on vegetables, berries and herbs (you know the stuff I WANT TO PLANT RIGHT NOW but probably shouldn't quuuuiiiite yet.)

On the stack is also a sweet children's book called The Children's Garden by Carole Lexa Schaefer and illustrated by Pierr Morgan. Illustrated with colorful paintings, this charming picture book features a diverse group of children connecting to food through hands-on outdoor activity.  This is a fantastic book to read to school children before planting a school garden or just to get them excited about good food!

 Rounding out my current stack includes the novel sitting at my bedside: "Lady of the Glen" (which is not nearly so raunchy as it sounds) and a little book called Meditation for Daily Stress by Michel Pascal. The concept is to focus on (or meditate on) a specific item for specific stresses.

For example -- The Horizon to calm, straighten, clear a racing brain or A Wave to deal with difficult people and interactions. Yes, it sounds hokey at first, but I am enjoying reading a bit more deeply into the practice of meditation and considering how yoga and meditation can coexist with a Christian worldview.  I have been practicing yoga for several years now, but have recently experimented with "hot" yoga (vinyasa), Iyengar and power yoga.  I just bought a Groupon for Bikram Yoga (SCARY!) and am super curious about aerial yoga as well. I like the challenge of a mind/body exercise that is accessible from childhood through old age and find the calming (and sweaty!) pratice of vinyasa invigorating.

Back to Lady of the Glen though....THIS is where the story takes place -- Glencoe, Scotland.

Glencoe, Scotland

More to come on our trip last year to Scotland, but let me just say Glencoe is the sort
of place you think exists only in movies, but THEN THERE YOU ARE and it is breathtaking.

Glencoe Scotland

It has been 6 months since we went to Scotland, and I still haven't quite found the words to do it justice.

Let me just say that like Claire, WE ARE GOING BACK.

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