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September 11, 2005

Back in the Saddle

Our vacation days were filled with walks in the woods, trips to the park, a visit to the State Fair, more Cold Stone ice cream than anyone cares to admit, as much reading as possible, nights by the fire and lots and lots of movies.

It was a good time to regroup as a family before Graham embarked on his next adventure.

The First Day of School

We made it through the first day. There were fewer tears (mine) than I reckoned. My biggest concern was getting him on the bus and having him find his friend Wyatt who lives up the street. Once I could see through the windows that Graham was seated with Wyatt, then the tears could come, if only briefly. Graham marched up onto the bus as though his life wasn't changing at all but I could feel every step as he walked away from us.

When he returned, he was full of smiles and chatter on the day, which he shared over a Bomb Pop. He said he wanted to go back the next day. We’re taking that as a good sign.

Noerenberg Gardens

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During our vacation, Graham and I visited Noerenberg Gardens, a gorgeous public garden on the shore of Lake Minnetonka. It is part of the Hennepin County Parks system.

I have volunteered at the gardens every spring for the past six years (I got rained out this year) to help get the new plants in. I like to visit it a few times during the summer to check on the progress of the little plugs I helped put in.

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Graham likes to visit the gardens so he can sit on the gazebo and watch the boats as they go by. This year, since we visited in the fall, we were surprised to find conkers, or horse chestnuts. Graham knows conkers from a British children’s video.

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The gardens contain an interesting mix of perennials, annuals, vines and edibles. Head Gardener Arla Carmichiel is nationally-known for her innovative designs. Plus she is probably one of the sweetest, most soft-spoken persons alive.

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We ran into her following our trip to the garden when we stopped at Kelley and Kelley Nursery, which is owned by her husband Steve. The nursery is worth the trip to Long Lake. I highly recommend both the gardens and the nursery for a grand day out.

The World is a Little Less Bright Today

Yesterday, my sister’s father-in-law, Dr. Clare Hocking, passed away. “Doc” was a dignified man who always had a smile and a gruff word to share. He will be missed.

What’s Happening in the Garden Now

The autumn garden is about ready to explode. The “Sweet Autumn” clematis has gone from just a few little blooms to a fragrant ribbon of sweet-smelling stars that goes on for nearly 30 feet.

The asters that I cut back to produce thicker, sturdier plants are poised to bloom next. They haven’t needed staking so far so maybe this technique was successful.

The prairie garden is dotted with purple asters and yellow goldenrod
, just perfect for the beginning of the Vikings season. Go Vikes!

I think I’ve identified by my brown mystery butterfly: a great spangled fritillary.

Seed Starting Revisited

Check out these lovely bronze-colored sunflowers! I’m glad something I started from seed last spring turned out.

The Mystery Plant

The previous plant was Tithonia or Mexican sunflower. I started it from seed this spring and I’ll start more next year. It’s between four and five feet tall – like a zinnia on steroids – and a great addition for the back of the border. Can you guess the plant this week?


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I also got some canning done over vacation. Our kitchen was filled with the aroma of cukes, brine, dill, and other smells that bring back memories for Brian of his grandmother's canning efforts when he was growing up.

He and I have canning down to a fine science, utilizing a turkey burner outside. I prepare the cannings and Brian boils them outside. The turkey burner was a great idea that Brian thought of last year....no more burned out stove tops!

Here’s What’s Blooming Now

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“Sweet Autumn” clematis
“My Favorite” mum – lavender
Campanula “Blue Clips”
Ligularia “Othello”
Morning glories
Nicotiana – all shapes, colors and sizes
Verbena bonariensis
Native monarda
A lobelia that is blue but was labeled “Cardinal Lobelia” when I bought it. Surprise!
Nasturtium “Peach Melba” and others
Rudbeckia “Goldsturm”
Phlox “David”
Russian sage
Hydrangea “Annabelle”
Coreopsis “Moonbeam”
Joe Pye Weed
Purple coneflower
Butterfly weed
Alpine strawberry – and fruiting, too
Indian blanket
Nepeta “Walker’s Low”

Garden Chores for the Week

Keep up with the wisteria vines, slug traps and pot watering.

Vegetable Garden

The tomatoes are continuing to produce madly.

The Concorde grape vine had a few clusters of fruit a few weeks ago but the raccoons and birds must have gotten them.

Today’s Grahamisms

"Mom, why didn’t you hear me when I was calling for you? I think it’s because your curly hair covers your ears."

"Mama, when is your birthday? It’s in March, dear. Oh, yeah, and at your next birthday, you’ll be 21, right?" (Look out, ladies. He’s going to be a charmer!)

Posted by maasx003 at September 11, 2005 7:29 PM | Gardens


the mystery plant is scabiosa I think :)

Posted by: Girl Gone Gardening at September 12, 2005 8:27 AM

Pincushion flower?
Keep us posted on the results of cutting back your asters. I did not cut mine back and they look TERRIBLE. Next year, I will try cutting back by 1/2, plus some additional shaping, in June.

Posted by: Kasmira at September 13, 2005 12:22 PM

Scabiosa or pincushion flower, it is!

One group of asters, Purple Dome, I think, are just about ready to bloom. They still got really tall and I wish I would have whacked them back even more. They are very full - both in blooms and in shape.


Posted by: Jackie at September 13, 2005 1:28 PM

Your clematis is gorgeous! I've always wanted one of those. Is Graham still enjoying school? I'm sure he is.

Posted by: Sandy at September 16, 2005 11:33 PM

Jacki: Brandon took Josh to 1st day of kindergarden,hung around to see if he would be okay--Josh walked up to the 1st girl he saw, "hi, I'm Josh Cink, want to be my girlfriend?" She said yes, and they walked off together--so much for adjusting to "school"-you & Brian had one busy vacation, but it sounded like it was fun--

Posted by: Karen M at September 21, 2005 3:38 PM

I had just put my name in google and was looking though and i came across your web site. I also have a son named joshua cink. He also started kindergarden this year. And the exact same thing happened. He walked up to the first little blonde girl and asked her to be his girlfriend and they are still smitten after 4 months. Not sure if we are related or not.

Posted by: brandon cink at December 8, 2005 3:11 PM