Life is hard, but there is hope

So much for the storms in the south settling down.  I will not complain about the weather again.  A tornado hit my good friends home last Wednesday in Cleveland, TN.  She is in the hospital, their youngest child is dead and his sister, who was visiting,  is dead.  My heart is so heavy for them and for the families of the other 300 who died that day.  Even though I finally got the sunshine those next few days, it was difficult to enjoy the long awaited break in the weather.

It is taking a little longer to smile and enjoy the sun and all my newly appearing flowers.

Eventually I did work in my yard and was able to numb the pain a bit.  But I would much rather carry some of their pain for them.  Too bad it does not work that way.  I have been praying for them everyday and I will have to trust that Jesus will comfort them.  I plan on going to visit and help in any way I can- when they are ready for that next step.  They do have some support from friends in TN.

I don’t mean to be a downer.  Spring usually is refreshing, like a new beginning- I think it will just be a bit later for many in the South to start that new beginnings.  We do have hope… Things will get better, pain will soften, memories will last.  Be thankful always.

Im adding some of my favorite photos to add some cheer to my downer of a post.

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the skinny on flower bulbs

Bulbs are easy to grow, provided that you stick to some essentials. Probably no other plant group gives as much variety and pleasure to the gardener with so little effort. The unique thing about bulbs is that they need little but water. Bulbs have a self-contained, highly developed food-storage mechanism that has adapted itself to life underground. Bulbs can spring back to life continuing their species even after lying dormant for months, enduring drought, frost or searing heat. Most bulbs are perennializing and some even naturalizing. Perennializing bulbs will return several years in a row. Naturalizing bulbs will reproduce and come back every year.

Almost throughout the year bulbs can be used in the garden: in spring, summer and in autumn, as late as November when the tiny Cyclamen corm starts to flower. So explore the possibilities of bulbs and turn your garden into a year-round bulb paradise.

Bulbs can be divided into three groups:
Spring flowering bulbs should be planted late autumn before the first frost and can be ordered until mid-December. Well-known bulbs are Tulips, Daffodils, Crocuses, Hyacinths and Alliums. Spring flowering bulbs have in common that they need to be planted some 3-4 weeks before the frost is in the ground. They need the cold season to start their biological clock. Hence in general spring flowering bulbs will grow in climate zones 4-8.

Summer flowering bulbs should be planted in late spring and can be ordered until the early June. Well-known bulbs are Dahlias, Begonias, Lilies, Gladiolas and Callas. Summer flowering bulbs are planted late spring. A couple of months later they will bloom. Summer flowering bulbs will bloom in most climates but most of them are not winter hardy. Hence in cold climates most summer flowering bulbs should be lifted and stored to be used the next season.

Fall flowering bulbs should be planted early summer and can be ordered until mid August. Well-known bulbs are Fall Crocuses and Colchicums, Muscari. Autumn flowering bulbs are Autumn Crocuses and Colchicums. Autumn flowering bulbs are planted in summer. They will add some colour to your garden when it is most needed.

Most bulbs return several years in a row
Most bulbs are perennializing and some even naturalizing. Perennializing bulbs will return several years in a row. The large sized quality bulbs TulipWorld delivers will return for at least 3 years. Naturalizing bulbs will reproduce and come back every year. Bulbous plants will not flower again unless their leaves, which manufacture starch and sugars through photosynthesis, have time to replenish the depleted food supply of the bulb for the coming year. To replenish they create embryos for the next year’s flowers and, in the case of corms, produce new corms to replace the old ones. This process continues for weeks after the flowers die. That’s why the foliage must never be cut until it has yellowed. And even after the foliage has completely withered, the bulbs are at work below ground. Whether they are lifted and stored for winter in warm climates or left to winter in the cold, they continue to undergo chemical change to prepare for the next cycle.

Biological clock
Bulbs have biological clocks that tell them when to sprout roots, when to stem, when to sprout leaves and when to flower and then finally when to die down and go into dormancy. Spring blooming bulbs have to be planted in fall when they are fully dormant. In fact they are longing for moisture and soil – and as soon as you plant them, they start to develop their embryonic leaves and flowers. They quickly push out roots from their bottoms and, a little later, stems from their tops. The stems grow until they are just beneath the soil’s surface and then they halt! They are stopped when the soil temperature drops due to freezing. But even when it is not freezing their biological clock tells them to protect themselves against the winter cold. Generally speaking spring blooming bulbs start to grow when temperatures rise, usually in early spring. When it gets warmer they flower for a relatively short period and then die down to go into dormancy. Some bulbs accumulate enough nutrients to nourish not only the plant, but the blossom and leaves throughout the flowering period. That’s why for example, the autumn crocus will flower on a shelf if you have neglected to plant it in time. And that’s why some narcissus will bloom if simply set in a bowl of moist pebbles. In fact, pretty much anyone can get bulbs to bloom once!

Categories of bulbs
A true bulb such as a tulip or daffodil is almost a complete embryo of the plant to come, packed inside a covering of fleshy scales or layers that store the plant’s food.

A corm, such as crocus or gladiolus, is a solid mass of storage tissue with a basal plate below and buds, sometimes called eyes, on top.

A tuber, such as a fancy leafed calladium or calla lily, is also a solid mass of storage tissue with buds but no basal plate. A tuberous rooted plant such as the dahlia, has swollen, food-storing roots; the bud eyes are not on the roots but on the base of the plant’s stem.

A rhizome, such as canna, is a thickened underground stem that grows horizontally, with bud eyes on top and roots below.

Tulipmania FYI
The most famous of all bulbs are the tulip bulbs, has been the cause of a major financial crisis in the Netherlands only a few decades after it was introduced in our regions at the end of the 16th century. It originally came from eastern Mediterranean regions, which at that time — a very prosperous time in The Netherlands — were the source of many exotic products. For the rich and the famous the tulip was a status symbol. The popularity of the tulip soared and soon the demand skyrocketed. In 1636, people started using the tulip to speculate with, indebting themselves to buy the bulbs at very high prices and selling them for even higher ones. Prices went as high as the prices of big houses along the canals in Amsterdam. Nowadays one floor in such a house already costs more than one million guilders. The reversal of their fortune was reached on February 3rd 1637, when for the first time, a collection of very exclusive tulips remained unsold. Other cases followed and the speculative bubble was quickly pierced.

Enjoy your weekend!

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New growth, new blooms!


Everyday- when its not raining- I take walks around to see what new flower bulbs are sprouting and now blooming!  Even though its often gloomy and dark because of all the clouds and so many days of rain (what is this Seattle?), when I get to walk around and see new growth & new blooms I get so refreshed and exited!








You might notice that I have major reconstruction that was started last November.  I decided to remove the small patio brick next to my deck.  (it was put in before my pond and deck and I want a better look- like NY Blue irregular flagstone!)  I also ripped up our front walk when I made some changes to our sump-pump piping & downspout connection out the front of our house.  (I have begun redesign of front flower bed and walk.)  I also built a rabbit hut in our back yard with retaining wall block (which the leftover block is still in my back yard!)  So, excuse my mess in my yard for now.  My husband will be putting in the pavers to our front walk and back patio ASAP- now that spring is here.  With 3 acres and always getting new plants and NEW IDEAS- we are always making changes!

I have taken pictures last week and this week and so many changes already! Yipee!!!!

I got two cute photos here of my frogs in their favorite places.  The close one is right next to my deck the other photo that you just see his eyes under the rock is directly across the pond, where we often see 2 of them together.  My daughter loves to catch them and line them up to have leaping contests!  We enjoy their ‘singing’ and ‘talking’ at night.

This was the best photo I could get of my fish because of the light reflecting on top of pond!

I am worried I may not get to enjoy my glorious magnolia.  It is opening today and we are supposed to have more rain and storms on through the weekend.  Its not just the nice flowers, its really the wonderful fragrance I enjoy the most!

I did just plant my seeds of Hyacinth bean &  Lupine, Oaxlis bulbs, Elephant ears yesterday in between the rain showers!  I am thankful that we are not looking at flooding (yet), like many in the South.  I hope the rain has stopped there!

Well, thanks for visiting again!  Have a wonderful day!!

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Beautiful Bulbs & Perennials!

Guest post from my friend/flower freak/garden designer/fellow blogger!







Muscari & daffodils

Muscari & Daffodils







Between shaking off the winter blooms and gearing up for summer activities, it’s going to be a busy and exciting spring!  A little bit of pre-planning can go a long way with garden maintenance!  When I design with bulbs and perennials, I think about the different stages that spring growth brings.  Its always nice to see the earliest bulbs closest to the walkway, or front door….  you won’t have to venture out far, and sometimes you can see them from the front windows!  It’s easy in the fall to poke the crocus, snowdrops, & chionodoxa bulbs under a ground cover, they always surprise you at just the right time!  In late spring the dying foliage can be tucked under the higher foliage.  That is the trick to remember!

Next come the Hyacinths, Daffodils, Tulips and Allium!  They are all so wonderful and you can never have too many!  I always plant them behind later emerging plants, that will once again cover up the yellowing foliage once they are in bloom.  Not only does it look neater, it is better for the bulbs to finish their cycle at rejuvenating the bulb for next year!

tulips mixed in

grape hyacinth


Two of my favorite perennials to pair with spring blooming bulbs are Hostas and perennial Geraniums.  There are hundreds of varieties of both!  Plant the bulbs 4-5 inches away from the base of the perennial.  Remember to always plant grape hyacinth (Muscari) in the same hole or right next to any bulbs you plant because they send up ‘reminder’ shoots of “grass tufts” in the fall-  besides there blooms and tufts in the spring! Then you don’t disturb what treasures already lie below!

Plan on planting some bulbs every fall!  It is a message to yourself that winter will pass and you have hope that your spring will bring that wonderful/ joyful feeling!  There is nothing like catching that first glimpse of COLOR!

Keep in touch!  Vanessa Johanning V Gardens LLC

If you are looking to add some Fall planting bulbs to your garden this year- check out for a great pre-sale!

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My Begonia update and losing spring

My first sign of life for my Apricot/Scarlet Begonia- after 1 week!

Do you remember when I said we had unseasonably warm weather on April 10, when it was 80°.  How wonderful that day was!  Well, 1 week after on April 17, it was snowing, sleeting and hailing 1-5″ in 1/2 of Wisconsin!  I drove home on ice on main freeway!  Its “normal” NOT to have any snow after after 15th.  How depressing!  Feeling a little trapped again. 🙁

BUT I am so excited that my begonias are beginning to take off!  I cant wait for the flowers!  Begonia #1 is growing in my cool kitchen and Begonia #2 is growing in my warm office.

Begonia #1

Begonia #2

Today- I get to at least see the sun again.  We have had good frost the last few nights- Here are some pictures from my yard this morning-

Frosted morningFrosted tulips-ugh!

My sad squill ( puschkinia) and sedum. My sleeping Chionodoxa- until the sun hits them, along with my wonderful Allium!


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a mother and a gardener


I have read many tidbits and quotes about how mothering is like gardening.  Gentle, tender loving care and nurturing…..  blah, blah, blah.

I am not a “hard core” gardener.  I love plants, bushes, etc.  I love to plant, design, create and enjoy my yard.  I do NOT like finiky or difficult plants. I actually do not know of many difficult ones except indoor plants.  I know I am going to lose a lot of you serious, ‘hard core’ gardeners now… I NEED the sun and the rain to take care of my plants. I do not baby or fertilize anything in my garden. I plant appropriately and let it grow.  (hence why I do not do well with indoor plants)

I just returned from a mini vacation with my kids.  I had been looking forward to getting away to do nothing and enjoy my kids.  I have a 7th grader who wasn’t able to bring either of his 2 best friends, but wouldn’t invite anyone else.  I also have a 4th grader who did bring her best friend.  It was odd and a new experience for me as a mother.  (I remember my parents complaining about my moodiness in junior high and now I have been on the receiving end.) He insisted sitting and doing nothing instead of joining in the fun, multiple times.  He stated he wanted to go home a few times.  Other times he would join in and actually enjoy himself.  We (husband & I) did well at not harassing him and let him sit and “pout”.  His attitude was a downer for us and even affected my daughter and her friend.  I am trying to remember the foolish thoughts I had at that age and am trying to teach and lead my son- to wisdom.  We’ll see!

Gardening requires some physical work- but basically I hate to sit still or not get something accomplished.  So I enjoy this ‘work’.  Parenting is work, but stressful work.  Gardening is easy for me and I can be quite laid back about it.  This is obviously not a good choice of action for parenting.  I have read and talked with other mothers about parenting.  But since each child has their own mix of personality and a mother with her own personality –  leads to more of the learn as you go.

How I look forward to doing some gardening… a wonderful stress reliever!


PS I hope to post something a bit more interesting for you tomorrow – like about my Begonias that I haven’t killed!   ( I need to–to make up for this downer!)

Thanks for visiting!


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My Spring has come!

This past Sunday it was 80 degrees in WI.  That has happened here in late May, but I never remember it ever happening in April.  I was just recovering from some horrible infection attacking my sinuses and lymph nodes- but I had to do something outside!  We were also supposed to have 2-3 days of rain storms coming.  So we decided to clean out our pond:empty out water, clean up the leaves and dead foliage on water plants.  I did not have much energy but I did help and enjoyed being outside so very much!  It was wonderful!

There were over 7 frogs in my pond (there were about 5 dead puffy ones)- we usually don’t see them until later because our pond is not mucky enough for them to hibernate in.  We even found multiple tadpoles too!  My daughter was so excited.  She loves to catch them and play with them (she is 10).

I took some pictures of my crocus, early daffodils and Chinodoxa.  And inspected all the sprouts of Hyacinths, Tulips, Fritillaria, Black- eyed Susans, Allium, Shasta Daisies.  I am so excited to watch them all begin to grow.  I was nice to walk around in the yard. We even cooked out on the grill and ate outside!  How cool is that – in April!!Daffodils


More pictures to come of my gardens progress!  I hope you are beginning to enjoy your spring too.  So much relief… peace- refreshment of my soul.  Is that corny? I’m struggling to know how to describe the emotions that I feel.  I feel GOOD!Chinodoxa

(I love to plant some of the Chinodoxa, Squill, and Reticulata Iris (mini iris) scattered or spread out under trees to try to give a more natural/woodland look.)

Spring has finally arrived for me!  Whoo Hoo!



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Unique Summer Flowering Bulbs

A flower that is not as popular- or not seen in everyone’s yard- almost makes it more attractive to me!  I’m not sure that is saying much- since I have said before that I really want every flower!

I just wanted to share some of these ‘not as well known’ flowers with you too.

FESTALIS ISMENE (Peruvian Daffodil): tropical, elegant and whimsical comes to mind



BOWDENII NERINE : More flowers than festalis but not as elegant or whimsical- but blooms before any foliage is there!


LILY BiColor EUCOMIS (Pineapple lily): tropical and exotic. Not the prettiest ‘bloom’ but makes some cool interest.



TORCH LILY (Red Hot Poker): Tropical, grows 3-4 feet tall!




Gladiolus Murielae: elegant white flower with purple heart!  blooms one flower at a time! Another one to keep blooming into fall.  love, love



TUBEROSE : great sweet smell is what makes this so special, lingering long after its been cut.



ITALICUM ARUM (orange candleflower): speckled arrow shaped leaves make nice interest as well as the orange ‘seed pod’ flower.



OXALIS (Iron Cross):  (the good luck plant) delicate with the cutest little pink flowers.  I love this as a ground cover and the base plant in my large pots.



Maybe these are more attractive to me because so many have that ‘tropical’ feel and in Wisconsin there is not much tropical!

I was able to get out and work in my yard this Saturday and it felt so GOOD!  I planted my new bulbs that I spoke about in an earlier post.  I also cleaned up some leaves, moved some strawberry plants into rows into my new fruit garden, and cleaned up my river beds for my pond.  I also felt it in my body that night.  I am so looking forward to doing more outside.  March was getting really rough here.

Every week seems to be more hopeful in anticipation of my freedom outdoors!


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Ooh… the smell of Hyacinths

Hyacinth orientalis is the species from which all our garden hyacinths have been derived – the dutch hybrids. All hyacinths are very fragrant and excellent plants for containers and pots.

With enough sweet fragrance of planted hyacinths to fill an entire yard, the Hyacinth bulb is a must for those with a nose for good smelling flowers. The tightly packed heads of the flowers give the plant somewhat of a formal look its first year in bloom. Reliably perennial, Hyacinth flowers tend to open with age, giving them an elegant but more relaxed look in years to follow. This makes them great for plant near entrances and walkways, as well wonderful additions to pots for indoor forcing. Not only does the fragrance of this flower make them wonderful for planting, it also makes them extremely repulsive to rodents and deer! So you can enjoy the beauty and scent of these flowers without serving them to the backyard critters for dessert!

One thing that I DONT like about Hyacinths: the bulbs contain oxalic acid  which can cause mild irritation to people with sensitive skin. I always end up taking off my gloves, then I end up touching my face… THEN I start to itch!  It drives me crazy, for a while.

This bulb definitely follows the rule of ‘bigger the bulb, bigger the bloom’!  They vary in height from 8″- 12″.  The blooms resemble lilac blossoms, with there many mini blooms called ‘florets’.  You want to be sure you plant them in well drained soil because they are susceptible to fungus rot.  Color choices range from white, yellow, orange, pink, hot pink, lilac, purple, and blue and they bloom mid spring.  (Wild hyacinths are found around  Greece and Turkey.)

If your very particular about your flowers, you may want to dig up your bulb after the foliage has died back.  They are hardy in zones 4-8, but they may split in the ground giving a smaller flower the following year.

I would love to plant some later, so that I would also get more to bloom a little later.  I would love to enjoy their scent longer.  …(Early summer my Korean Spice Dogwood blooms right next to my front door.. so at least I have that.)

Look for extra deals in late fall/early winter for cheap bulbs to buy for forcing indoors throughout the LONG winter (like here in Wisconsin)!  They are so easy & reliable!

It is almost April 15 here- which means I am almost sure of no more snow falls until November! Yeah for SPRING!   My Hyacinths have begun to grow too.  🙂


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Weddings, showers, garden party, birthday, Easter…

I have gotten calls for flower bulbs for a baby shower,  funeral, garden party, Easter and of course weddings in the last 3 months. My brother in-law and his bride recently gave yellow candies in a cute package to everyone at their wedding.  My friends gave chocolate pumpkins to each of their guests at their wedding.  It got me thinking more about party favors and other reasons for giving particular flowers on certain occasions.

I did some research to find out what flowers often symbolize or represent.  Even down to the different meanings of even a particular color.  I found there are certain flowers to give on particular anniversaries and for your specific birth month (like gemstones).

Flower Symbolism/specific uses

Lily Bulbs (Oriental Lily and Calla Lily): A symbol of purity, refined beauty and fertility and nurturing.  May birth month flower.  Callas for 6th Wedding Anniversary.  Orientals for 30th Wedding Anniversary


Gladiolus Bulbs: symbolizing beauty, moral integrity, strength of character, faithfulness.   40yr Wedding Anniversary flower.  August birth month flower.


Tulip Bulbs: represent eternal happiness, and perfect love.  11yr Wedding Anniversary flower.



Iris Bulbs: symbolize eloquence, deep sentiment, faith, hope & wisdom.  February birth month flower.  25th Wedding Anniversary flower.


Daffodil Bulbs: symbolize new beginnings and ensure happiness.  10yr Wedding Anniversary flower.  March or December birth month flower.





Amaryllis Bulbs: symbolize splendid beauty and sparkling and pride.



Crocus bulbs: symbolize cheerfulness and happiness.



Allium bulbs: symbolize Unity, humility and patience.




Hyacinth bulbs: symbolizes playfulness, constancy and sincerity.



Freesia bulbs: symbolizes innocence and thoughtfulness.  7yr Wedding Anniversary flower.





Anemones bulbs: symbolizes unfading love and protection against evil.



Begonia bulbs: symbolizes cautiousness and a fanciful mind.



Oxalis bulbs: symbolizes good luck.



Ranunculus bulbs: symbolizes radiant charm.






Dahlia bulbs: No clear symbol its wild card.  14yr Wedding Anniversary flower.





Galathus bulbs: symbolizes hope, purity and peace.   January Birth month flower.


Symbolism of flower colors.

BLUE hues represent peace, openness and serenity.

PINK represents grace, gentleness and happiness.

PURPLE represents dignity, pride, accomplishment and success.

RED represents the essence of desire, strength, courage, and passionate love.

WHITE represents innocence, humility, reverence and simple beauty.

YELLOW represents joy, lightheartedness and happiness.

ORANGE represents energy, enthusiasm, warmth and conveys confidence and a passion for life.

GREEN represents health, resilience, good fortune and youth.

LAVENDER represents refinement, grace and elegance.

I also found some nice comments to put on the card with the flower bulb favor:

The Earth Laughs in Flowers.”  –  Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Flowers are love’s truest language.”  –  Park Benjamin

Thank you for sharing this special day. Please plant these bulbs to create a garden of lasting memories.

Thank you for making today not just a memory, but a dream come true…

Plant this bulb and watch it bloom, And so will the love of the bride and groom!

A new birth, a new life… Celebrate with us by planting this bulb and watching it bloom.

Great ideas to keep in mind or share with someone!  Ive wanted to have a garden party with hors d’ourves and now I want to add bulb favors as well!  I cant wait to plan my special “show off” day! 🙂

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