Good morning. I have been awoken every day for the past two weeks by bird song. If you have to get up, at least that is one of the loveliest ways of doing it. The rosy grosbeaks have been warbling up a storm as have the goldfinches and the myriad other little dudes flying about.

I think sometimes we do not appreciate the gifts we have until someone points them out to us. We have a young AmeriCorps volunteer named Michelle staying with us who will be working at the Androscoggin Riverlands in Turner this summer. She gets up each and every morning and takes unfettered joy in the bird song, as well as seeing the trees and flowers and “all the green” as she describes it. Waking up in the back woods of Turner is a new experience for Michelle, who’s from a city in Florida; and it seems that a new perspective reminds each of us of the blessings we take for granted.

I still have a few tender blossoming plants in the greenhouse and each morning a hummingbird goes from window to window, hitting its head …ouch, trying to get to those blossoms behind the glass. Michelle and I have laughed over its continuing attempts.

While working at the Lilac Festival at McLaughlin Gardens in Paris over Memorial Day weekend, I realized that I need to do a better job of sharing insights into the wonderful variety of plants out there for your gardens. I guess, after a number of years, I just assume that everyone is familiar with plants, but I learned from many folks making purchases at the festival that that is not the case. So here goes with a few plant descriptions and suggestions. …

For those of you with really shady gardens that tend to be continually moist, plant an old-fashioned bleeding heart. This plant is wonderful for those conditions and although it dies back or goes underground when summer heats up, I am a big fan. I have a problem shade garden that gets, at the height of summer, about one hour of direct sun per day; and at a few days of 80-plus temperatures, it does dry out but seldom completely. My bleeding heart always remains green and lovely. I never cut it until after frost. It keeps its beautiful branches of pink heart-shaped blooms for well over a month and continues to provide a large green interesting presence after the blooms are past. I planted it behind and to the side of a witch hazel and its branches come up through and arch nicely to the sides of this small tree. It is a perfect backdrop for smaller and more colorful shade plants like foamflower, caladium and ladies mantle.

Don’t forget forget-me-nots

The lowly and grandma garden forget-me-not is another that you might consider. It is hardy in Maine and gives you a burst of bright blue spring color perfect with tulips and late daffodils. It complements many perennials in the yellow, pink and purple color range. The only warning with forget-me-nots is their propensity to seed out. Little forget-me-nots tend to pop up here and there around the original plant. However, a little pulling in the spring will give you patches of blue where they work and keep them from where they don’t.

I realized while working at McLaughlin and having numerous people ask what that yellow round flower was that globeflowers, or trollius, aren’t used nearly as much as they should be. These lovely mounding, long-lived, trouble-free perennials also adapt to many garden situations. They do well in a dappled shade garden with large old trees but also grow well and worry-free in my full-sun and part-sun gardens here on the hill. They don’t travel or spread, have a great mounding shape that stays green and nice even after the flowers have passed, and keep blooming for several weeks. Mine is called cheddar cheese and is the color its name suggests. They also come in more golden tones, in bright lemon yellow and one called “alabaster,” which is the color its name implies with some yellow highlights. So you might want to add globeflowers to your list of flowers to look for at the nursery.

The last flower on today’s list is the allium. It is actually a bulb that you plant just like tulips and daffodils. But unlike tulips, deer and moles don’t ever bother it. It is a member of the onion family and must put off a bad odor to the creatures. Alliums cover the range from little and airy to big and bold. They are easy, dependable and require little or nothing in terms of special care. They come in purple as in big, impressive globes on the top of 3-foot stalks or in pink bell-shaped loose heads on 30-inch stalks to diminutive little white balls on 12-inch stalks. They also come in yellow and most any garden can benefit from their color as big demonstrative specimens or front-of-the-border cute and colorful flowers. Always plant them in groups at a minimum of three because they look rather foolish and out of place when there is only one. I like the really big ones in groups of three to five and the smaller ones in groups of nine to 12.

So, until next time, maybe try a new plant in your garden, take joy in the bird song and the silly antics of the critters that inhabit the yard. Actually take a good look with a new attitude at the gifts you have and enjoy the sunshine, the smell of freshly cut grass and hamburgers on the grill. It’s summer and it’s short, so enjoy every minute.

Happy gardening!

Jody Goodwin has been gardening for more than 25 years. She lives in Turner with her husband, Ike, her two dogs and two cats. She can be reached by writing to her in care of the Sun Journal, 104 Park St., Lewiston, Maine, 04243-4400 or by e-mail at [email protected]

Country Garden Tea and Tour

You may want to mark your calendars for the first Country Garden Tea and Tour, an effort by six local gardens to get more people out and learning about plants and gardens. Now through June 29, you may purchase a $10 passport at any of the six participating nurseries and get it stamped at each location. This qualifies you for all kinds of door prizes, including a Mantis tiller. There are daily door prizes at each nursery, plus the tiller and a $25 gift certificate at each of the six gardens. Participating are Sunnyside Gardens and Hummingbird Farm in Turner, Roundabout Farm in Buckfield, Gingerbread Farm in Wayne, Donna’s Greenhouse in New Gloucester and Fieldstone Gardens in Vassalboro. For more information or maps to each garden, go to countrygardenteaandtour.com.

Want to help develop a public garden?

For anyone who has wanted to be in on the ground floor of building a public garden, you may now have a chance. A new public park and garden is being undertaken in Brunswick that will include an orchard, arboretum, flower gardens, a trail system, and community and demonstration gardens. It will be located at the former Brunswick Naval Air Station property abutted by Casco Bay and natural woodlands. The project will generate a number of full-time jobs and many seasonal opportunities. Organizers are looking for volunteers and/or donations for the project. Call 725-2888 or visit BrunswickParkAndGarden.org. for more information, videos and event listings. There can’t ever be too many gardens, from my perspective.

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