By Sharon Parker
Happy May Day!
It's a time to dance around the May pole, deliver May baskets to neighbors and Grandma, and honor workers and the fight for the eight-hour workday.
|Flower garden zipper pull by Relaine|
I've been a gardener for more than 40 years now, which has given me lots of opportunities to learn from my mistakes, and to develop an appreciation for both the practical and aesthetic aspects of gardening.
Here follow a few tips from the lessons I've learned, along with some Minnesota handmade items that complement them.
Hey! These would also make terrific Mother's Day gifts, wouldn't you know.
When perusing my garden journal this spring, I was reminded that I was a little slow to start picking Japanese beetles off my roses last year, which led to an increasingly difficult problem to manage. Reading about that reminds me to be watchful so I can address the problem as soon as it begins, and to take preventative measures, such as applying beneficial nematodes once the ground is warm enough.
That's just one reason why a garden journal can be one of your most useful tools, and this unique handmade journal/scrapbook made by TC Witchcraft Factory may be just what you need to get started.
|Garden Journal from TC Witchcraft Factory|
|Glass honeybee from Western Art Glass|
Seeds and sometimes plants of a few Minnesota native and butterfly friendly flowers are available from The Owl Shop, which also sells vintage items for home and garden. This is rose milkweed, also known as swamp white milkweed, which is a more attractive and less weedy variety than the common milkweed, but just as appealing to monarchs. The seeds can be planted now, or check with the shop to see if they expect to have some plants ready soon.
|Rose milkweed seeds are available from the Owl Shop|
|Apron from Anna Terre Designs|
After a session of digging and weeding, be sure to wash hands and arms throughly with soap and cold water to remove not just dirt, but also plant oils that can irritate skin or even cause a rash. Why cold water? To avoid opening pores and allowing those oils to penetrate the skin. That's what's recommended for treating exposure to poison ivy, but other plants can also cause dermatitis, depending on your particular skin sensitivities and the plants in your garden.
|Unscented soap from Faith, Soaps and Love|
For extra good measure, you could follow that with some soothing Gardener's Balm from Bath-N-Beads.
|Gardener's Balm from Bath & Beads|
One of the joys of gardening is bringing in a bouquet of lovelies to enjoy indoors. Picking flowers also promotes more blooms, and in the case of spring bulbs, it directs the plant's efforts into nourishing its roots for next year instead of trying to turn blossoms into seeds. Also, picking large-blossomed flowers like peonies before a rain can save them from becoming too heavy for their stems to support (just be sure to hold peonies upside down and shake out the ants before bringing them inside).
|Flowers in a Vase original watercolor by Kelly Newcomer|
After you've gathered a nice bouquet from your garden, show off your homegrown beauties in a handmade vase, such as this lovely oval ceramic one from Diane Gamm.
|Vase by Dianne Gamm|
Display individual stems and small bouquets in a unique bud vase made with Lake Superior stones from Naturally Unique Rock.
|Assorted bud vases from Naturally Unique Rock|
Smaller bud vases, like this one by Nicole Baxter, are great for sweet little posies, as well as the daisies and dandelions that kids like to pick and give to Mom or Grandma.
|Ceramic bud vase from N. Baxter Pottery|
And here's one more gardening tip especially for Minnesotans: No matter how warm and tempting the weather may be in early April, don't be fooled into jumping the season. And never ever plant tomatoes before Memorial Day weekend!
|Trowel Tomato art print by Cindy Lindgren|