When we came to America from Sydney in November of 1978, our poor subtropical bodies were battered by one of the harshest winters in recent memory. So imagine our joy when the weather began to wane, when we were greeted by a stunning shrub like one we had never seen before.

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But fast forward 35 years, as first noted in Chaucer’s Tale of Merribee in 1386, familiarity breeds contempt. I now perceive it as too harsh for one’s eyes and I wouldn’t think of wasting valuable space on a 10 day display . But I think I’ve found a way to breath life into it by pairing it with some unique daffodils to enhance the quality of both. Our chaplain Brother Leroy is a patient soul whose arms I borrow and whose patience I test in creating these displays. His calm voice and persona adds to the creative juices flowing.

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The daffodils are from Colorblends Daffodil 100 mix where, trust the Dutch, 80 of which are guaranteed to be unifromque. These beauties come that mix and this is only year two and I just witnessed one bulb produce eight flower stems, so I’d conservatively guessimate the yield will be at least 300/400 stems. I plan to add another 200 this year. We’re suppose to move to a new building in four years, so I plan to visit and pilfer for many years to come.

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You may remember these bulbs are planted within eye catching varieties of daylillies. The bloody brilliant concept of combining both works so well because as the daffodils are dying down, the daylily new growth carpets the decay. My daylily fantastic freakazoid former master gardener pal, Jock Mitchell, has graciously agreed to provide plants that will probably double our collection. You da man, Jock.

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Well, I hope you’re enjoying your daffodils in this country and my European friends but it will be a long wait for my Aussie mate, Rose. Happy spring to all.

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The Aneurysm Update

by Patrick Muir on March 22, 2015

Hey friends,

I finally had my appointment with the neurosurgeon and while things are very complicated, Mum and I agreed I’m in the very able hands of a superior doctor. Now the rundown:

My aneurysm is located at the back of the brain where, I’m overachieving here, only 1% of them are found.
The average size is 3mm, overachieving again, mine is classified as moderate coming in at 5mm,
The Dr. estimates there is a 3% chance of rupturing and that number slowly increases as I age but I’ll still look at least ten years younger than I actually am.
Because of it’s location, if it was to rupture, there would be very significant damage.
Due to the precarious location, surgery would be very difficult with its own risks.
I would need to be on blood thinners for 3-6 months which would have a negative effect on my current wound healing.

While there is the option of dwelling on all the fraught details, we were impressed that after talking things through with the Dr., we all agreed the best cause of action is to wait for a year and see the growth rate to determine our actions going further.
When I first heard this news I was devastated but after a spell of crying with my brother Andy one night, the next day I knew I was up to this challenge, whatever the outcome. While waiting for two months to see the neurosurgeon, I have been at ease and actually seldom dwelled on it. I have that same ease and will not be tearing pages of the calendar, so to speak, to mark the passage of time until the next MRI. I’ll continue to live my very fulfilled life and spend plenty of time with my two finest creations who will be turning 18 and 15 this year. It’s remarkable that I look 20 years younger than I really am.

Thanks for all your prayers and notes of encouragement and please keep them coming.

Please savor your time with your family and close friends. You may have a 3% chance of a major calamity and you don’t even know it.

Best,

Patrick

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My Friends, I Have an Aneurysm

by Patrick Muir on January 21, 2015

Hey my friends,

As some of you know, my world was rocked again yesterday after a MRI of the brain uncovered an 8mm aneurysm in the back of the brain. They believe there’s only a 1 % chance it may rupture but they probably would have said the same thing about the AVM in my spinal chord as well before it ruptured. The initial results of the MRI were clear according to the doc but he came by an hour later to share the shattering news that a more extensive analysis had uncovered the growth.

One option with such an incredibly low downside risk is to leave it alone but as the father of two sons who are the pride of my life, I will proceed with any means possible to spend as much of my life with them as long as possible. I had a good cry last night with one of my personal heroes in my life, my brother Andy, and now am ready to take on the latest challenge in my life with all my might. So for one more incredible time, I ask for your prayers and your encouragement in this latest challenge of my life.

One of my three best friends (I hope you know who you are) told me that although he’s a dog person. he believes he is more like a cat with nine lives. But he said in his self-effacing manner “Hey buddy, I don’t know what kin of Australian animal you are but it must have more than nine lives.” And my reflective bi-polar mind instantly quipped “I’m a red kangaroo, the largest species, and I jump to avoid the effects of one crisis after another.”

May God, through his third person of the Holy Spirit, be with me as always in his most earnest manner and may I continue to live the most fulfilled of lives.

AMEN, my friends.

 

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Greetings from ICU (Kinda Sort of)

by Patrick Muir on January 2, 2015

Hey my gardening friends,

Well actually, greetings from PCU (Progressive Care Unit). I glad to report it’s one step down from ICU. Was sent from my nursing home because I could a barely talk and couldn’t tell my nurse her name. Been though this before, according to hospital records, in November 2012. It’s a tell-tale sign of an urinary tract infection (UTI). While I was in the ER, although my nursing home nurse sent instructions I had wounds and need to be turned from one side with two pillows above and below my derriere and then every two switch sides. But I spent four hours in the ER in a hard stretcher-type bed without pillows. I’m afraid there will be lasting damage.

Unfortunately my boys were down to see me (12/30-1/3) as well as my brother Andrew and his family. His wife Kelly thought she might have something so she stayed at home while Andrew and my nieces Sarah, Annie & Emily and my brother Tim’s step-daughter Kelsie and daughter Adele, all came to visit today.

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The Muirs know never to visit someone empty handed, so all five of my nieces decided on the above arrangement in a cup that will keep on giving on a shelf in my room.

I’m hoping to be out tomorrow as we now know the bug in my urine which cannormally the urine analysis (UA) takes 48 hours. Say a little prayer for me, my friends, for a quick recovery.

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A Pink Christmas for a Friend in Need & Indeed!

by Patrick Muir on December 25, 2014

Well it maybe hard to believe, but as I’m turning 50 next year, I’ve never been touched by breast cancer. But unfortunately, a very good friend I’ve known since high school, is in the middle of that fight. There’s not a lot of things I can do or say to her, but in honor of her journey, I wanted to show my support for her in the medium I know best: horticulturally. So to mostly cheers (with a few loud exceptions), Trinity is bathed in pink for my friend and to provide more support to the perception that I’m a contrarian (just for the fun of being contrary to most things).

If you were to visit Trinity during the year, you’d probably notice a 9′ stone cross across from the front entrance. It was made from  limestone fence posts that formerly tried to  civilize the open range of Western Kansas (Also known as Bob Dole’s territory). Look for an upcoming post on the history of the 18-year old and the details of the sculptor who I’ve met and who was a relative of one of our former residents.

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As you can see here I asked our Director of Plant Maintenance, aka: the maintenance dude, to wrap the cross in white lights and place a 9′ tree next to it. If there ever was a better snapshot to represent — Jesus Is the Reason for the Season — I can’t imagine what it might be? By design, the bigger glow is on the cross. The tree is decked in pink and silver balls. And the whole this was blessed with 4″ of snow last week. Read more →

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Stunning Season Ending Arrangement

by Patrick Muir on December 8, 2014

As over 100 guests entered our front door to attend our annual Friends & Family Thanksgiving Dinner, they were greeted by the best and most dramatic flower arrangement of the season. I’d been waiting for things to slow down for our beloved Chaplain Leroy to help gather and arrange this beauty of a beast. My go-to vase is the Square Vase from Pottery Barn measuring 6″ X 6″ X 12″ that would make a great monogrammed gift for any gardener on your list for $69. Remember giving can always begin at home. The vase is lined with purple-stemmed ornamental kale leaves on all four sides under the water. The crabapples were harvested from the rootstock of an old apple tree on our grounds that had run amok because the suckers of the crabapple rootstock appearing below the bud union were never trimmed back. The whole affair is crowned by miscanthus stems. (Please click on the image to see this beauty full size)

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After I finished it and stepped back, it occurred to me the whole designed followed a very familiar. Recognize the Thriller/Filler/Spiller formula for containers? The Square Vase is perfectly designed to successfully repeat this formula for yourself. Give it a try and please share the results with all of us.

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Patrick's Garden

Well the last daylily actually was a single freak of nature and bloomed here at Trinity Nursing & Rehab just about three weeks ago. Crazy, huh? I was given some great new hybrids but can’t get them in the ground with all the rain. So they are growing quite nicely in a 2′ X 5′ planter and am praying it will dry out soon or I’ll have to heavily mulch them in the planter and pray for a mild winter. But now is a good a time as any to reflect on this season and my plans for the future.

After spending over thirty five years in Kansas, I’ve come to rely on daylillies for high impact in the heat of summer. But it wasn’t until I visited the garden of Jock and Sandy Mitchell, who were fellow Johnson County Master Gardeners, that I saw their potential in design. They had a very unassuming front yard, but when you entered through the side gate, you were greeted by a mass of vivid color and invited to stroll through a path of charming flagstones surrounded by pebbles. And in the center was a multi-tiered water garden with lotus appearing as crowns above the water.

When I came to Trinity there was a weed-strewn iris bed, a very tired daylily bed and a large bed with exuberant ornamental grasses that were overwhelming some inter-planted daylillies. So in need of such help, who you gonna call? Well it wasn’t Bill Murray but rather… Jock and Sandy Mitchell!

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As you can see, the bed on the right has ye good olde orange ditch lilies ((the common name for the native wildflower) being swallowed by the grasses. But the bed to the left is covered in gorgeous blooms from from some great hybrids and some varieties Jock hybridizers for himself. What a multi-talented, Renaissance man.

But isn’t it time for some pretty pictures? Duh?

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Oh, you were expecting the pretty pictures were going to focus on be the pretty flowers, not pretty boys like myself? But don’t the flowers in the background live up to the smile in the foreground? Well let’s talk a closer look at… Read more →

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