We’re jumping the gun a little

English: Rosa 'Julia Child' at the Inez Grant ...
Julia Child

Spent a part of the day visiting garden centers.  We really wanted to go to Gethsemane, but this weekend is their open house and we knew it would be jammed.  I nearly lost my mind there at Christmas; I didn’t feel like repeating the process.  So after breakfast at a new place down in Cragin (very nice, too: Nick’s Hi-Ho Cafe) we headed on up to Meinke’s in Niles.  To our joy they had what seemed like an acre of roses, though they were all hybrids and we tend to prefer the old roses which have more scent.  We found the Julia Child rose trained into a tree and thought seriously about having a tree on the patio.  After hiding in the greenhouses for a bit to get out of the wind — it actually snowed here today!  A year ago we’d had plants in the ground for a month already — and ogling the ranunculus which are gorgeous this year and just made everything look like spring, we were on our way out when Meester Jim found the David Austin roses.  Austin roses are the exception to our we-don’t-like-hybrids prejudice because not only are they gorgeous and really hardy, they’re deliciously fragrant.  And Meinke’s had two we’d discussed as possibilities: Lady of Shallot and Abraham Darby.  We also fell for the Gertrude Jeckyll, the 
Eugene de Beauharnais

Heritage and Young Lycidas, but common sense prevailed and we bought nothing.  We did ask how hard it would be to order something like the Eugene de Beauharnais (one of my new faves) or Cecile Brunner, but were told that it was next to impossible for them, and would have to be done a year in advance.  With those odds, I’d rather take the chance with mail order if we decide we really want one of the heirloom roses.

After doing some grocery shopping, we headed down to Farmer’s Market where we’d seen some promising looking ferns last year, and where I’d bought a gorgeous hydrangea tree when I was doing the small garden at my old place.  The roses looked really sad, with no signs of life, which was disheartening, but we did find an Hinoki cypress, a tree we’d discussed putting in the raised bed in front.  We’d actually come out looking for another lilac, but the cypress was so beautiful, so unique and graceful that both Glinda an I just fell in love with it and are talking about getting one of those instead of a lilac.  It means we’ll be on a very tight budget for the rest of the plants since we’ve agreed on $200 tops this year.  The thing is we can’t really go another year with the present configuration, and we won’t have a lot more money in years to come, so I think we have to lay it out now.

Hinoki cypress

I’m thinking that this is the year we plant kitchen items, scraps or legumes.  I tucked two tomato seeds into some dirt last night.  If they don’t sprout I won’t have lost anything.  If they do, we’ll have two free tomato plants.  I’ve been reading about how beautiful chickpea plants are in a hanging basket, and I have a bag of dried chickpeas in my pantry.  Beets apparently are gorgeous with pale purple flowers and the reddish-purple tinged leaves.  I think it’s time for us to rediscover the beauties of the mundane, and to garden with the things that are often overlooked.  I’m not sure I’ve quite convinced Glinda but I think the budget cramp will win in the end.

Of course now there’s really not much we can do in the garden tomorrow, so we’ll probably spend much of the day doing chores indoors.  We’ve started keeping a garden journal and with luck we’ll get more of a handle on what we’re doing this year than we’ve had in the past.

Little by little we learn.

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