Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


Magic is Back

I get so excited when springtime happens. It’s almost magical when the new leaves bud out and the early flowers bloom . . . even though I’m the one who planted most of what’s budding and blooming, and shouldn’t be surprised by what’s happening at all.

You know?

So it’s that time again.

Sweet lilac is blooming, so is jasmine and a couple of ground covers. But the one that smacks me in the face each year, knocks me right off my pins with its beauty is the peony.


 Can it get any prettier than that?

Well, that depends on what you like best. I’ll show you what I mean.

See? It’s really hard to choose what you like best . . . unless you have a bias to start with.

Anyway, look quick. ‘Cause they’ll be gone soon.

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Hot World

Our big summer holiday has already come and gone. That means Hot World is half gone, doesn’t it? (I hope!)

This star is on our front door. I don’t know how long it’ll stay there. It clanks each time the door closes.

 I usually put this on the door, but this year I added the ribbon and put it on the antique cabinet thingy just inside my front door. I get tired of the same thing all the time, so I like to change it up. 🙂

These flags andthese are sprouting out of a wooden box that lived in my FIL’s garage for years. I believe something came in it that was delivered by train. I don’t know what it was, but I love that old box. I also have a couple of old scales sitting up there, next to my straw cowboy hat. (I wear the hat when I work in the garden to keep my hair out of my face.)

A couple of years ago, my dad said all he wanted for Father’s Day was a straw hat for working in the garden. NOTHING ELSE! So as a joke, all six of his kids bought him straw hats.

I found and bought the straw cowboy hat, then found the one above (I thought it looked like an Amish hat) bought that one to give Dad and kept the cowboy one.

He gave back the Amish hat because it was too big. And for some reason he didn’t want six straw hats, no matter how funny we thought we were.

The hats he kept must work well though, because the man grows a fantastic garden!


Can You Guess . . . ?

Matt, Nikki and I took a roadtrip the other evening to a very special place.

 No, we weren’t there to pick grapes. Too early in the season.

This fountain played its magic tune all night long.

 Tables that would soon be filled with laughing, joyous people.

This creekbed was dry. I’m guessing that was just in case someone fell in. Or not. 🙂

Can you guess why we were there? Here’s a hint–


Have to love a sister who can still crack you up.

 The sisters, less one. (Missed you, #4)

Sweet nephew.

Another adorable nephew.And bowers of flowers. (Fantastic job, Celebrations.)

Mama’s rose.

Final hint.

So, can you guess why we were there? (Bet you can!) I have more pictures for you . . . later!


Gotta Get Out

Have you got it? That itch to get out and get your hands dirty? It hits me every year.

Of course, it doesn’t hit me like it does my dad. He gets the urge early on. Plants potatoes on March 17th. And when one of his brothers is around, they discuss how tall this is, and how’re you doing your tomatoes this year. (Answer: Cattle panel on each side, all the way down the row.)

When I hear that talk, it starts.

I have a feeling my yen to garden is not unlike what a serial killer feels when he starts wanting to get back to his hobby. “Gotta plant it. Gotta fertilize it. Gotta grow it. I just can’t feel right until I do.”

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Guess What’s Here

WWG (World’s Worst Gardener) here. Know what this is?How about this?

If you guessed Grape Hyacinth, you’re right. If you guessed Muscari–you’re right, too.

And guess what. They’re here!

Aren’t they pretty with dead leaves nearby? I try to save a few leaves in my yard, just to give these babies some contrast. 🙂 (You bought that. Right?)

When we bought our house, we had grape hyacinth growing very neatly along the driveway. They’ve been mowed, sprayed with weed killer, frozen by ice storms and left without much water, but they just keep coming back.

They’re my kind of plant! I call them a traveling plant, because they don’t stay in neat little rows. (I never was good at that, either.)

I find them popping up all over the place. I still have the ones near the driveway, but also in several places around my front yard as if they’re having too much fun to just stay in one place.

I’ve even seen a patch in the area below my wall near the road. That soil has never been amended, fertilized or watered, but they do great down there..

I can tell you three things about them–they’re poison, deer won’t eat them (apparently, deer aren’t stupid) and they originated in the Mediterranean basin.

A few nicknames for them–Starch Hyacinth, Feather Hyacinth, Purse Tassel. I’ve never heard them called anything but grape hyacinth, but don’t you love the name Purse Tassel?

I read they do really well in pots, and will fill up the pot after a few years. I’ve got to try that!

They make really pretty bouquets if you have tiny vases. I’ve used insulin vials for them in the past and sample perfume vials.

They can be propagated by separating the bulbs or by seed. I can’t imagine how tiny their seeds are, so if I ever get around to propagating them, I’ll do the bulb thing.

Of the early plants growing in my yard, I like these best! I think. I like jonquils, but I love the Tassels. 🙂 No, wait. Tulips! I adore tulips!!!

Oh, well. I like them all.

What’s you’re favorite early blooming plants?