Goodbye 2015, but before you go….

Two thousand fifteen, you were an exceptional year, and a lot happened around the Red Dirt ranch. It’s nearly time to move on to the babe of 2016, but first, let’s reflect over our journey together before you go.

Like Tap, our chocolate Lab, I've been thinking deep thoughts. Doesn't he look like king of all he surveys.
Like Tap, our chocolate Lab, I was thinking deep thoughts last January. Doesn’t he look like king of all he surveys?

After the holidays, January felt like the cold, dark days of winter. It was good to watch Downton Abbey and dream of spring. I tended my indoor bulbs, played in the greenhouse and bought seeds, even though I already have plenty stored away like the little squirrel I am. It’s hard to resist the seed catalogs arriving everyday in the mailbox. I also resolved in 2015 to garden more, and I certainly did that.

The back garden's main path and two of the arbors in the snow.
The back garden’s main path and two of the arbors in February’s snow.

February saw snow, and Oklahoma, along with the rest of the country gained several inches. I’m not a huge snow fan, but it does make for pretty pictures, and we can always use the moisture. My dogs and my youngest daughter love the snow.

Cardinals staging themselves on the arbor as they wait for the feeder. Snow Play
Cardinals staging themselves on the arbor as they wait for the feeder.

The Cardinals were just happy we kept the bird feeders full. February is my least favorite month because it’s still winter, and gray days are the norm. Still, you can almost smell spring. With that thought in mind, I posted some ideas about what to do before you start a vegetable garden. Now is a good time to review that post and think about what we want to plant before we put those seeds in the soil.

Yellow narcissus with St. Francis in the garden bed that faces the street. Dee Nash--Red Dirt Ramblings
Yellow narcissus with St. Francis in the garden bed that faces the street.

March was just beautiful. The crocus came up in the lawn, but the weather stayed pretty chilly. It gave me more planning time, and it stalled the garden.

The tag next to these pansies says Suncatcher, but I can't find a mix online with that name. Maybe there is a Suncatcher tulip? Shrug?
The tag next to these pansies says Suncatcher, but I can’t find a mix online with that name. Maybe there is a Suncatcher tulip? Shrug?

I’d rather have a slow spring than one ruined by a late spring freeze. I planted fresh pansies and violas to replace those killed in the variable winter weather, and I enjoyed my hellebores.

Helleborus x hybridus 'Berry Swirl' part of the Winter Jewels™ seed strain.
Helleborus x hybridus ‘Berry Swirl’ part of the Winter Jewels™ seed strain.

If I could convince you to plant one thing in early spring, it would be hellebores. So many varieties from which to choose anymore, and they lift our spirits after long winter days.

The garage border always looks good this time of year I think.
The garage border always looks good by mid-March. It’s even prettier later.

Later, in March, we got rain, and we were so glad. Reading over that post, I noticed I need to cut my grasses down now. I think as soon as the weather warms, I’ll do it. I also still have a few bulbs to plant. They came when I hurt my hand, and I couldn’t garden. I’m also reminded that I get discouraged by the garden in late winter/early spring. There is so much to do, and it overwhelms me a little. Good to remember this, and that very quickly things get much, much better. And, then, just like that, garden season began. Spring sprung, and all worries were quickly forgotten.

Beautiful Phlox divaricata, woodland phlox in the spring garden.
Beautiful Phlox divaricata, woodland phlox in the spring garden.

This is a good metaphor for life. When our worries get us down, we only need to look to the seasons. A little prayer helps too.

In April, I gave several garden talks. I also worked hard to find native shrubs to replace my roses. That post was one of my top rated ones this year which tells you how roses are faring in Oklahoma and Texas. I hope, one day, we’ll find a cure for Rose Rosette. In the meantime, I’m just continuing on. One thing I’ve learned through gardening is that plants more conditioned to your climate make your job easier. They adapt better and grow with less help.

Something to ponder, I think. April is such a great month, it feels like there is magic in the garden, and there is.

The Scheepers hybrid tulip mix
The Scheepers hybrid tulip mix has performed beautifully next to the garage. It looks better than my hand-mixed version in front. I think I’ll just buy tulip mixtures in the future.

Bulbs bloomed and faded away. We rebuilt the deck, and it was gorgeous. I planted more shrubs in the wider bed next to the deck. Here’s a tip. Plant flowering shrubs and Phlox divaricata for a more beautiful garden. You can find plants and seeds online if you have no one to share this woodland perennial with you. I dig up plants and move them around the space to spread it here. I also spread seeds at the end of its season. These come up the following year.

In April, I also went to the California Spring Trials courtesy of the National Garden Bureau and other sponsors. I paid for my flight to L.A. We then traveled up the coast from L.A. to San Francisco visiting hybridizers and plant companies. It was a whirlwind experience I’ll always treasure. I learned so much I’m nearly buried by information about our industry. I’m also forever bonded with the women who traveled with me, Diane Blazek, Susan Tomlinson, Nan Sterman, Barbara Wise and Helen Battersby. Y’all rock.

Rosa 'Heritage' one of the first David Austin roses offered in the U.S. way back when.
Rosa ‘Heritage’ one of the first David Austin roses offered in the U.S. way back when.

Beautiful May brought irises, peonies and roses, and other classic English cottage style favorites. On Mother’s Day, I highlighted the roses I have left and my mother, Rose.

Rosa' Abraham Darby.' He's also in the feature photo, above.
Rosa’ Abraham Darby.’

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day was filled with blooming shrubs, and several garden clubs came to tour. We had fabulous weather for their visit. If one word could sum up the gardening experience in May and June, it was rain. So much rain fell that I spent most of spring weeding and moving gravel back up the hill from where it washed out of the paths. I’m not complaining. Just stating facts.

Cimarron River on May 17, 2015--Red Dirt Ramblings
So much rain in the Cimarron River on May 17, 2015. Normally, it’s dry as a bone.

At the end of May and beginning of June, we went on two vacations. The garden and the weeds took over while I was gone, but then, it was back to our regularly scheduled program, and with help, I soon sorted things out. Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day in June was all about daylilies of course. The end of June was a hot forecast with sunny days. True lilies were the stars then.

Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle' from the side. You can see her in many other poses on this blog.
Hemerocallis ‘Venetian Ruffles’ (Pierce-G. 2014) was new to my garden in 2015 year.
'Conca d' Or' - Orienpet Hybrid Lilies are much more beautiful in person than online.
‘Conca d’ Or’ – Orienpet Hybrid Lilies are much more beautiful in person than online.

July was about garden chores because we had a large tour coming in October. October sounded far away, but getting a garden up to tour level takes a lot of time. I did lose my new Hydrangea angustipetala ‘MonLongShou’ Golden Crane® which made me sad, but I will try, try again this year. Maybe. Tropical plants and summer flowers were the stars in my hot garden that month. Thank goodness for sunflowers and zinnias.

Sunflower with bumblebee. Just look at her pockets of pollen. Sorry she wasn't in focus.
Sunflower with bumblebee. Just look at her pockets of pollen. Sorry she wasn’t in focus.

Summer gardening sighed into August. I think, in the future, when my children are all grown, I’ll leave in August and go to Colorado or somewhere cooler. Summer blooms were a pollinator buffet because, unlike me, these little creatures like it hot. Because of spring rains, plants grew like crazy, and I did some garden editing in August.

Echinacea 'Powwow Wild Berry' has very erect stems and bright color.
Echinacea ‘Powwow Wild Berry’ has very erect stems and bright color.

In September, I wrote about the glories of my cutting garden which was my favorite space last year. Kari and I also prepped for the October garden tour. It involved a lot of leaf mulch and fluffing.

Monarda didyma 'Jacob Cline'
Monarda didyma ‘Jacob Cline’

Suddenly, it was October, and I felt peaceful about the garden even if it was going to be on tour. We did a lot of media spots which were exciting, and got ready for our visitors. The tour was more fun than I even dreamed of. After the tour, life settled back into its normal rhythm.

Mexican bush sage up close and personal reveals its velvety texture. I find that the solid purple variety is more cold hardy than the one with the purple calyces and white flowers.
Mexican bush sage up close and personal reveals its velvety texture. I find that the solid purple variety is more cold hardy than the one with the purple calyces and white flowers.

In November, I began planning for spring bulbs and made my purchases. I also went out and truly enjoyed the garden before the end of the season. I took a break and told a story or two. I loaded up the greenhouse with cuttings and planted some seeds in there too. I chilled the hyacinths and later placed them on vase and planted paperwhites to force for winter. I prepared for the snow and ice by making things warm and cozy inside with Christmas flowers and plants. We also celebrated the season by baking nutmeg muffins and other good food.

Shiny Brite ornaments and bottlebrush trees in silver bowls.
Shiny Brite ornaments and bottlebrush trees in silver bowls.

I love these end-of-year recaps because I get to stroll through the year with you. I also get to review all the beauty that grows right outside my windows, and winter doesn’t seem to hold it icy grip so tightly anymore. Happy New Year my friends. I hope 2016 is kind to you and me.

32 Replies to “Goodbye 2015, but before you go….”

  1. Lovely blog Dee.
    A point of interest for you.
    Taunton has released all back issues of Kitchen Gardener on DVD.
    Hane a great year.

  2. What a lovely recap of your gardening year, Dee. Beautiful photos, but I absolutely love the photo of Tap! One thing I’m going to take away from this is to plant some phlox divaricata–I don’t have any, and what a beautiful spring bloomer. Wishing you all the best and another beautiful year in the garden in 2016!

  3. Why yes, there is a Suncatcher tulip. It’s yellow with red edges. I’m hoping it came up in your garden for you to enjoy. I’m quite excited about my garden year ahead, because I got myself a new knee in October, and I may actually be able to do more this year. 2015 was a very low gardening year for me, and that’s not how I’d like my life to go! I don’t generally do resolutions, but if I did, I’d make the same one you made last year. More gardening in 2016!

    1. Hi Robin, oh yes, Suncatcher was just beautiful. I enjoyed it so much. Now, we get to see how my current tulips will look this year. Isn’t that exciting? I’m glad to hear you’re better, and I hope you get to garden all you want this spring, summer and fall. You deserve it.

  4. I’m so excited that you found my blog so I could find your Dee! It is a beautiful place and it looks like you love to garden like I do. Thank you for taking the time to leave the comment so I could come over and see your post on your 2015. It does look like you had a wonderful year.
    Wishing you another great year!

  5. What a nice stroll through the year that was. Somehow the bugs and drought tend to overshadow how great the past year was and this brings back the fun…. makes me want to dream all new dreams for 2016!
    Happy new year and all the best

    1. Thank you very much. Yes, the weather can sure get us down in some years especially. I think looking through it all again helps me decide what I’m doing in 2016. Thanks again.~~Dee

  6. ‘Berry Swirl’ sure is beautiful, and St. Francis looks right at home with the Daffodils. I find your blog fascinating, Dee. For some reason, I find myself curious about gardening in the middle of the country–or should I say in the middle-ground gardening zones … areas between “cold climate gardening” and “mild climate gardening,” and between the two coasts. I also enjoy your pleasant messages and optimistic attitude. Best wishes for a wonderful 2016!

    1. Thank you Beth. In this weird Zone 7 belt, we get cold and warmth sometimes within a few days of each other. It’s complicated, but I guess everywhere people garden is complicated in its own way. The biggest problem in winter are the drying winds and the heaving from changeable temperatures. I have to run outside and stomp on the plants to get them back into the ground.

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