Of Love and Loss in a Nursing Home Garden

by Patrick on October 19, 2013

 IV. Thou Shall Not Steal

Maybe it was nurtured by the Sisters of St. Joseph, but I totally abhor stealing of any kind. But I wonder what Sister Ethelreda, particularly, would have thought about the hapless souls who choose to steal items from a nursing home garden nurtured for the enjoyment of its residents? Thank good dear Sister Ethelreda, far above by now, didn’t have to hear of five things I have had stolen of late. Below you can see the patron saint of ugly names herself, Saint Ethelreda. Can you imagine how many swats of the cane Sister Ethelreda would have doled out for that? Poor girl would have had to take some breaks before she was through with the task. I’m sure she would think the punishment was more than deserved and, of course, a directive from the Almighty above. While humor can be a thankful mask of mine, I’m completely distraught at this recent course of events.

Before I had to enter Trinity Nursing & Rehab five years ago, I collected vintage watering cans and they were a great remembrance of my dear grandparents. I stored mine at Mum’s house and moved three of them over here last summer to the courtyard garden outside the main dining room. I’m not stupid and after I had an empty 24″ Kinsman hanging basket stolen from the front patio, I had a custom-designed stand built for a replacement and secured the basket to the stand and another lock and chain to a metal post under the front canopy. I think dear old, departed, cranky, short-tempted and mind you bitter, Sister Ethelreda would be impressed by my due diligence (doesn’t that word diligence sound like a word of beauty to a dear old, departed, cranky, short-tempted and mind you bitter nun?)

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Double Your Pleasure with Reblooming Iris

by Patrick on August 25, 2013

It was the morning before a hot September day and her freshness screamed for attention in the midst of a tired perennial bed. We were visiting the jewel in Kansas City known as Kauffman Gardens and here, standing before us, was the glorious yellow tall bearded iris, ‘Summer Olympics’. I wasn’t aware some irises have the genetic ability to rebloom and I had to learn more.

You may have seen national magazine ads offering reblooming bearded iris collections. But the ability to rebloom is very regional and some experts believe the key to success is selecting hybrids with proven performance in your USDA zone. The majority of iris hybridizing takes place in California (Zone 9), so most hybrid reblooming catalog claims are based solely on performance in that region. So I’ve contacted some local experts to find varieties that have been proven to rebloom in our Zone 6 area. Read more →


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Why doesn’t anyone grow balsam?

by Patrick on August 20, 2013

Why doesn’t anyone grow balsam? Yes they’e old fashioned Victorian heirlooms. And yes, they’ve been upstaged by hybrid impatiens when it comes to color impact but we don’t need color carpeting in all our shade garden applications. Do we?  They are classified as Impatiens balsamina but my experience has been they perform better in part sun areas than walleriana. While the old fashioned mixed color selections can look quite pedestrian, the same can’t be said for ‘Blackberry Trifle’ which I sourced from Baker’s Creek (rareseeds.com). Read more →


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A Warm Tribute to John Muir

by Patrick on August 13, 2013

                                 The mountains are calling and I must go – John Muir

We don’t use last names much on the blogosphere but my given name is Patrick James Muir and I’d like to share more about John Muir (1838-1914). At age 11 in 1849, his family emigrated from Scotland to Wisconsin where his family started a farm which is now a National Historic Landmark. My grandfather emigrated from Scotland to Australia to avoid the effects of the Great Depression. The Muir clan name is derived from the moors of Scotland. With my keen love of nature since I was a toddler, I’d be a happy man if there was any relationship. But when I became aware of his remarkable life, I have chosen to pursue a role in life as if was an heir.

At age 18, he moved to California and soon took up living inYosemite for three years making a living as a saw mill worker. He was a  naturalist who studied nature by wandering hundreds of miles on foot during excursions through the United States and Canada.

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Wildflowers of My Native Australia

by Patrick on August 4, 2013

Margaret Preston, Native Flowers

People often ask me if I miss Australia and my guttural response is almost always, “Horribly”. Even though I was only 13 in 1978, I was literally grounded to the Australian soil. I visited my grandparents on the edge of the Outback at least once a year and sometimes twice. I was gardening by age four but was always exploring in the bush where I was fascinated by the plants who could handle the heat. Being the oldest continent (Yes, we were first), the most iconic plants have a prehistoric feel relying on bold displays of thousands of stamens  to  generate color and attract pollinators. They did not evolved enough to develop petals but the petals would loose to much moisture via evaporation and shrivel up quickly in the hot blazing sun

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Lost Photo of My Little Boys in the Garden

by Patrick on July 22, 2013

Hey all,

Recently found this image in an old box of junk.This was shot twelve years ago during the summer before I was paralyzed the following spring. Jackson was four and Colin was 18 months when it happened.

Like the raised beds built by my baby brother,Tim? That is love in action my friends. Don’t you think? And this pictures only shows two of my six raised beds. All that hard work was painful for this gardener to give up.

I love seeing pictures when my legs worked especially with the two who are my proudest growing achievements.



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Reflections On Aussie Birds and Birdcages

by Patrick on July 22, 2013

In Australia, we are blessed to have in the wild most of the caged birds you see in pet shops including cockatiels, cockatoos, parakeets and many finches including the ever popular zebra finches.

Our Huge Bird Cage Back Home

In the mild climate of most of Australia, large aviaries (cages) in the backyard are commonplace. In fact ours was an outdoor room about 8′ X 10′ where we bred plenty of parakeets, but we call them budgerigars or more commonly budgies. The building had three covered sides, corrugated iron roof and a chicken wire front with small door for us. Something similar but ours was very simple and rustic:

sympatico.ca w/ permission

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