Entries organized under Summer

Plant Now for Flowers Next Year!

November 9, 2016

Contributed by HarryHarry closeup glasses

As the weather cools down, you may find yourself dreaming of NEXT year’s flower bouquets.

bouquet_june_486Now is the time to prepare for at least some of your future garden, because many plants, usually biennials (plants that have a two year life cycle), need a period of cold before they will bloom.

larkspur-row-farmagrostemma-farmPlants like Agrostemma (corn cockles), Bupleurum, bachelor buttons, larkspur, Nigella, Saponaria (soapwort), Scabiosa (pincushion flower) that bloom in early spring can be planted now by direct seed. (Though it may be too late in some areas –check with your local cooperative extension office.) Follow the directions provided on the seed packet or catalog for soil depth and exact timing (larkspur, for example won’t germinate if the soil is too warm).

snap-dark-pink-farm

Other biennials/perennials, like foxglove, Echinacea, snapdragons, lupine and Rudbeckia (black-eyed Susan), Dianthus (sweet William) and others should have been started as seed back in mid- to late summer, but if you can find starts (young plants) at your local nursery, now is the time to get them in.foxglove-farm-perennial-bed

 

Yet other flowers like cosmos, zinnia, sunflowers and many more are annuals and are planted in spring.  So dream on and make your plans for them in patience.

 

 

august-flower-fieldOr, if you would rather have Nature do your gardening for you in a ‘wilder’ setting, there are some native wildflowers with which you can assist.

cardinal-flowerI am having a hard time thinking of a brighter red naturally occurring in wild Nature than a Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) other than its namesake, a mature male Cardinal himself. The North American native Cardinal Flower grows in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 through 9 in wet, poorly drained places, though they also grow in drier conditions. (Cornell University claims they may survive even in Zone 2!)

Cardinal Flower prefers full sun in cooler climates but needs part shade in the warmer part of its range. (They are very happy in the middle of our wet Zone 6 mountain meadow.)

To have your own intensely red insect attractant, collect the seed when the seed heads have matured (or purchase from a reputable seed source) and scatter the tiny seeds where you want them to establish. (Where you can easily see them, of course!) Scatter these seeds in late fall soon after they ripen or through early Spring since they also need to be “stratified” by cold to germinate. Do not cover them because, as with most tiny seeds, they need light to germinate.

Since Cardinal Flower is a short-lived perennial, let the plants reseed (which they should do naturally) to maintain the population.

joe-pye-yellow-swallowtailThe tall pink-lavender topped Joe-Pye Weed (there are several Eutrochium species) with its whorled leaves is native to Zones 4 through 9. Growing and germinating conditions for Joe-Pye Weed are similar to Cardinal Flower. You might want to plant these as more of a ‘backdrop’ since these plants can get quite tall.

 

great-blue-lobelia-fieldAnd Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica) is also native to Zones 2 through 9, from the Atlantic coast to the Rocky Mountains and blooms in late summer with the other two flowers above. Growing and germinating conditions are the same as above for this beautiful, though somewhat shorter, plant.

These three plants bloom in late summer (late July to  early September around here) when the bees need to be collecting nectar for winter honey stores and before the later Asters and Goldenrod begin blooming.

 

Get out there and beautify the future!

Deb, Harry, bee balmNature enthusiasts Harry LeBlanc and Deb Vail are at home in the forest hiking to reach beautiful vistas and searching for native plants in the southern Appalachians. They are co-founders of Grandparents of the Forest, an intimate business offering simple yet meaningful ways for children and their parents to connect to Nature for well-being and healing. They also make Sacred Forest® Flower Essences from the plants they encounter. They are former organic farmers and parents of 5 grown children.

Grow or Pick Your Own

June 27, 2016

Contributed by HarryHarry closeup glasses

Do you need something to do that is both fun and educational (and delicious)?

There is nothing better to teach an appreciation of the source of the food we eat, and the effort it takes to get that food to our table than a visit to a pick-your-own farm, berry patch or orchard.

P1110803We greatly miss the fresh blueberries we used to grow on our farm and have wanted to visit a blueberry farm down the road from us ever since we found out about it. We finally had the time and memory to go during blueberry season.

The berries were big and juicy and tasty. There were also plum, pear, peach and apple trees and currants – though only the currants were ready to harvest.P1110800

There were several varieties growing there. Some varieties ripen early, some later. This allows for a longer harvest and less fruit is likely to go un-harvested if it all ripens at once.

During your picking, ask the farmer how he or she takes care of the crop. Are the crops grown organically? How are the crops fertilized? How are they watered? Does she prune the plants? When and how? What varieties does she grow? Why? What special soil conditions do the crops need? What pests eat his crops and what does he do about it? (Our blueberry grower plays a loud series of bird alarm calls to keep several species of hungry birds away so people can eat them first! It seemed to be working since there were a lot of berries to pick.)P1110808

 

We also visited a local nursery. Not the kind with human babies; the kind with lots of plant babies. They had lots of tiny seedlings just starting and bigger plants ready to plant in a garden or put on a table.

You can learn how to start your own seeds, how to attract butterflies and more by talking to the people that own or work at a nursery.

There is SO much to learn from people who grow our food and help us grow our own food and make our home pretty.

 

Deb, Harry, bee balmNature enthusiasts Harry LeBlanc and Deb Vail are at home in the forest hiking to reach beautiful vistas and searching for native plants in the southern Appalachians. They are co-founders of Grandparents of the Forest, an intimate business offering simple yet meaningful ways for children and their parents to connect to Nature for well-being and healing. They also make Sacred Forest® Flower Essences from the plants they encounter. They are former organic farmers and parents of 5 grown children.

Summertime!

June 6, 2016

Contributed by Deb

It’s June!

Schools are finishing and it will soon be officially Summer.  Graduations and weddings may be filling your calendar like they are ours.  Our youngest daughter is graduating from college next week!  We are thrilled to celebrate with her and to have reached our own milestone ~ all our children have safely made it to adulthood and are thriving and bursting with life.  We can’t say this has been an easy journey but it certainly has been fulfilling.

And… we remember summer vacation very well.  The children are excited, happy and full of energy.  Butterflies and lightening bugs seem to gather around them, don’t they?  How do you keep them busy and yet give them space to rest and to grow? How do you yourself have space to rest when you are now busier?

We’d like to share a few simple ideas with you ~

path by pastureAllow them access to the forests, fields and streams without any toys, instructions or classes.  Just let them explore, play and use their abundant imaginations.  Are you familiar with Jon Young, prominent outdoor leader and guide?  What’s the secret of his success with summer programs?  As soon as the children are dropped off, he and his fellow guides let the children run to the woods to play independently.  Of course, they are near by to watch out for the children’s safety and to answer questions but mostly, the children are encouraged to roam and play together ~ with sticks, in the mud, on tree roots… whatever they want.  They do games, rituals and storytelling at certain times but Jon says the bulk of the day is spent in independent play.

We wanted to take this chance to remind you that you don’t have to entertain or schedule your children every moment of every day.  They will thrive with space to go adventuring and exploring and they will learn more than you can even begin to imagine.

Look to Walt Whitman’s Poem, “There Was a Child Went Forth”, to show the transfer of wisdom and connection as children freely go about the world ~

THERE was a child went forth every day;
And the first object he look’d upon, that object he became;
And that object became part of him for the day, or a certain part of the day, or for many years, or stretching cycles of years.

The early lilacs became part of this child,
And grass, and white and red morning-glories, and white and red clover, and the song of the phoebe-bird,
And the Third-month lambs, and the sow’s pink-faint litter, and the mare’s foal, and the cow’s calf,
And the noisy brood of the barn-yard, or by the mire of the pond-side,
And the fish suspending themselves so curiously below there—and the beautiful curious liquid,
And the water-plants with their graceful flat heads—all became part of him.

The field-sprouts of Fourth-month and Fifth-month became part of him;
Winter-grain sprouts, and those of the light-yellow corn, and the esculent roots of the garden,
And the apple-trees cover’d with blossoms, and the fruit afterward, and wood-berries, and the commonest weeds by the road….

hayfield & mountainsAnd you, dear parent or grandparent, what of you?  Can you too go to the woods, lean your back against a tree and listen to the birds?  Can you take moments to just feel the breeze against your skin or to watch a sunset with your child?

If you need some assistance in slowing down, we’d like to introduce you to two green helpmates; oat straw and the flower essence of trout lily.

~ Oat straw can be made into a delicious infusion for whole family.  Buy it in bulk at your favorite health-food store and put one cup in a quart jar.  Pour boiling water to the top of the jar, cap it and let it sit for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.  Of course, you can let it sit for a shorter time and it becomes a pleasing tea.  Drain off the infusion and drink it throughout the day or under the tulip poplar tree.  Oat straw is calming and as you drink her, you are changed.

Trout Lily SF 900x900~ Trout lily flower essence offers total peace.  She invites us to witness her harmonious state through the way she moves in the breeze, bows her head in humility while also being vibrant and bright. She is continually grounded in the earth with her strong spotted leaves.  When we take this essence, we are able to access this same balance and harmony.

Of course, we need not look to Jon Young, Walt Whitman, scientists or Grandparents of the Forest to ascribe to a certain way of being in Nature because deep inside of us there is a place that remembers the need and desire to surrender to the beautiful tactile experience of being in Nature.

We are here to remind you to open the door a little wider to this yearning in your heart ~

May the starlit skies guide your path ~
Deb and Harry
Your Grandparents of the Forest

Go here to purchase trout lily flower essence ~

Go here for a one time mentorship with Deb, Harry or both of them ~

Deb, Harry, bee balmNature enthusiasts Harry LeBlanc and Deb Vail are at home in the forest hiking to reach beautiful vistas and searching for native plants in the southern Appalachians. They are co-founders of Grandparents of the Forest, an intimate business offering simple yet meaningful ways for children and their parents to connect to Nature for well-being and healing. They also make Sacred Forest® Flower Essences from the plants they encounter. They are former organic farmers and parents of 5 grown children.