Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Gardener's Christmas for a non-Gardener

It seems friends and family consider me a gardener. At certain times I consider myself one, too. Winter is not one of those times. I have not dutifully put the garden to bed. I'm not drooling over the latest seed catalog. No, I'm pretty much ignoring the world outside my door, and focusing on indoor pursuits.

Holiday decorating. Cooking and baking. Making scarves, mittens, and blankets. These are the flowers and produce of my December. I haven't even been reading many garden blogs. I'm drooling over crochet patterns instead. It's ok: the first sign of spring will lead me back out to the garden, and my house and its contents will be ignored for the following many months.

But back to gardening for a moment, as that's why I'm writing this. It seems friends and family consider me a gardener. This was evident when I opened my Christmas gifts yesterday. Sis and BIL gave me a heat mat for seed starting! And seeds! And Wicked Plants, Amy Stewart's book that I've been wanting to get my hands on!

They are wonderful gifts. And in about 3 months I'll be very happy to have them.

*While the post date is 12/26/2010, I'm actually posting this well into January 2011. Back-posting for continuity.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Snow today! Not enough to bother shoveling, but it did cover the ground.

It gave my artificial decorations an air of reality:

And decorated my shrubs in a way I could not have done:

The ivy fence looks much better when it is partially hidden:

Do you think I should post a "thin ice" sign for the critters?

*While the post date is 12/16/2010, I'm actually posting this well into January 2011. Back-posting for continuity.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

December Blooms?

It's tough to participate in Bloom Day in Winter. Everything outside is crispy, and I don't do houseplants. Rather, houseplants don't do my house. I try (sort of) to have some greenery inside. Sometimes I remember to water them, sometimes I don't. Some plants limp along, others give up the ghost.

I've had a couple of plants survive for many years. I don't know how. Sometimes they even bloom. These two were a bit early for Bloom Day, so I'm catching the very tail end, and they don't look so hot. But they are blooms!

First, a Christmas Cactus:

And an African Violet, hiding behind the leaves:

That's all, folks!

*While the post date is 12/15/2010, I'm actually posting this well into January 2011. Took this pics on time (well, almost), but never made the post.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


For the last few years I've been decorating for Christmas by hanging wreaths in the windows and putting a giant wreath on the chimney. Today was cool and windy, but I knew I had few daylight opportunities to do the outdoor decorating, and the temperatures were predicted to plummet, so I braved the weather. I hauled the Great Big Ladder (also known as the Insanely Heavy Ladder) over to the chimney, and wrangled it into position. I climbed, shakily, up the ladder, toting the wreath over one arm. I positioned the wreath on the brackets, but didn't get it quite right. In trying to free the now-stuck wreath, I managed to knock the top bracket down to the ground.

Replacing the bracket, and the wreath, would mean two extra round trips up the GBL, which I REALLY did not want to do. So I returned to ground level, got the GBL(IHL) back to the ground, and stowed it away. Then I had another idea. I got out the shorter ladder, grabbed my kayak tie-down straps and the wreath, and headed up onto the roof. (It was even windier up there - glad my roof is shallow-pitched.) I slung the straps, and the wreath, around the chimney. With no spotter on the ground, I had to do the positioning blind. It is off-center and about two feet lower than it should be, but at least the wreath is up!

I really with I had brick-colored straps!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy December!

December First. The first day of meteorological winter. And my kousa dogwood is celebrating ... by blooming?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanks, Dad

Every year on the day after Thanksgiving, my Dad brings me my first Christmas decoration of the season:

Thanks, Dad!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fall Foliage

November is the month of LEAVES! And I finally have them. I had originally designated last weekend for leaf clean-up, but most hadn't fallen yet. Guess what's now on my agenda for tomorrow?

Pam at Digging hosts Foliage Follow-up on the day following Bloom Day. Since my Bloom Day post was two days late, so is my foliage post. It's my first, too. What a way to start....

And since I'm so late, I can't show off what I'd intended: my glorious maple in the front yard. Well, I can still show it off, you'll just have to look on the ground to see the pretty leaves. Monday it was beautiful. Then we got a huge storm Tuesday night. So now I'm left with:

Work for the weekend! There are actually a lot fewer leaves, since I lost about 1/3 of the tree in the August storm.

In the back, the weeping maple is in full color, with all its leaves. You can see it was damaged in the same summer storm. This is the first year the area under the tree has been visible. That area was covered in ivy until last weekend. Now I'll need something new to plant there....

In the side yard, the flowering pear is providing another dose of red:

In a yard full of red, the balloon flower plants on the other side are making a shocking display of yellow:

Stay tuned for a future post (if I get around to it) on what happens to all these leaves.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mid-November Blooms

Once again, I've missed Bloom Day. I forgot to take pictures on Sunday (the 14th), then was working until after dark (silly time change!) on Monday. Rain yesterday, so I finally got the photos today.

That means I don't get to show off my pretty nasturtium that bloomed over the weekend. Trust me, it was a nice summer surprise in mid-Autumn.

As for the rest, it's almost a repeat of October. Let's see, what did I show off last month?

Mums: my mother's white mums are done now, with just one bright flower hanging on. The Pink mums in the garage garden are still going strong, though:

Gaillardia: last month I showed off the burgundy ones in the garage garden. Those are still blooming, along with some yellow ones in the terrace garden:

Summer phlox: Yes, surprisingly, there are still some flowers hanging on. Two more repeat-bloomers are lavender in the front and rosemary on the side. What mixed-up blooms I've had this fall!

Dahlia: This thing shines in the fall. I really wish I had more than one. I'm just so bad at overwintering them. I had five in storage over winter. Two were still viable in spring, one of those made a tasty feast for some critter, and this yellow one has done all the work:

Goldenrod: nearing the end of its bloom period, but still a pretty yellow in the back corner.

Rudbeckia: I've been showing off the ones in the upper garden, and they are still going strong. But this months surprise is the one along the front walk. These called it quits a few months ago, but one enjoyed the cooler weather enough to give me one more flower:

Edibles: The blackberries are still coming, a few at a time. A special treat for when I take a break from fall clean-up:

Sedum: are just a bunch of seed-heads now, but they are almost as pretty dried as in flower. Now the Nandina berries are adding color to that side of the yard:

I have a love-hate relationship with Nandina berries. I love the bright color that persists all winter. They look especially great with a dusting of snow. But in early spring I have to go cut them all down, otherwise I'll have hundreds (thousands? it seems) of Nandina babies by summer. I always miss some berries, and some fall before I cut them down, so I still usually have several dozen babies to pull. I keep looking to replace these shrubs with something less vigorously reproductive, but I haven't found winter color to compare with what I have. Suggestions are always welcome.

Visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens to see who else has shown off their blooms this month.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Garlic Surprise

Uh-oh. I planted my garlic a few weeks ago, and it's already sprouted. And about 5 inches high.

Is this going to be a problem?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Scanning, take two

My second attempt at scanning the garden bounty. A slight improvement over the first, but I'm still not happy. Have I mentioned I don't do flower arranging?

Here we go. A single dahlia.

Ok, I can do this. Time to add more flowers.

Oops, I left the lights on and got a "ghost scan". Maybe more appropriate for Halloween next week. Let's try again, lights off.

Ok, but my black-eyed susans didn't like sitting out for 2 hours and got wilty.

Let's cluster all the flowers I picked, really fill up the space.

Much better. This will be my 'Picture This' contest entry on Gardening Gone Wild.

Still playing around, I found some grasses. Does that help?

I'm not sure; now it looks a bit frantic on the edges. Let's try this one with the lid down, pressing flowers to the glass and using a white background.

Well, that really squished the dahlia. I don't like it. For comparison: a red background, courtesy of my placemat.

The dahlias are looking tired, but I do like the burgundy background matching the burgundy gaillardia. Maybe next time I'll try the red-on-red earlier in the process. If there is a next time. I'm not sure this scanning thing is for me, and I don't seem to have a good scanner for the job - it still blurs out anything not setting directly on the glass. Makes it tough to have a multi-dimensional image.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

What's Up, Doc?

I dug up my carrots yesterday. I didn't have to dig far to find them, because they didn't grow very far. They just grew wide. Very wide.

The largest measured just under three inches in diameter. And not much longer.

I haven't tried eating them yet - I think they may require cooking.

Friday, October 15, 2010

October Blooms

I haven't spent any time in the garden in nearly two weeks. So much else going on in my life of late. If it weren't for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day I probably wouldn't have made it out there today, either. Tomorrow, dear garden, I promise we'll spend some time together. Meanwhile, thanks, Carol of May Dreams Gardens, for the inspiration to get out there today.

Meanwhile, here's what's blooming, without any help from me:

Along the driveway are the mums my mother accidentally gave me. They were so much bigger last year. I have no idea what happened this year, but at least they are still alive and flowering. These are my favorite mums, white with a yellow center:

My only other mums are ones that came with the house, in the garage garden. When they bloom in late summer, they are pale and washed out. Not pretty at all. But the fall version is surprisingly striking, with varying degrees of color:

Also in the garage garden, my burgundy gaillardia have put out a new flush of blooms:

And behind the mums, some garden phlox think it is still summer:

Heading to the terraces, my lone dahlia has survived all sorts of abuse this year, including hungry critters and fallen limbs, but it keeps on blooming:

In the upper garden, Solidago 'fireworks' fills the back corner:

And my wintersown black eyed susans brighten the shady middle:

The ones I planted in the full-sun front are long done.

Along the side garden, Sedum 'Autumn Joy' has gone through it's full range of color, now a deep brownish pink:

Also of note, two edibles:

I picked and ate my second blackberry today:

Yum! There are more coming along, but I don't know if they will have time to ripen:

And in the upper garden, I let some passionvine do its thing this year. One fruit is ripening. I've never actually eaten one. Usually I rip out the vines because they are so weedy. I wonder what I can do with a single passionfruit.

I hope it's good. I know next year I'll regret having let this vine spread its roots this year.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Cobbler, Anyone?

I harvested and ate my very first homegrown blackberry today. There's one more coming along, too. Maybe someday I'll have enough for a cobbler.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Many organizations follow a fiscal year that begins today, October 1. In some ways I feel like this is the start of a new year for my garden, too. After a very hot summer with very little rain, my yard was parched and in need of renewal.

Yesterday brought five (yes, FIVE!) inches of rain, washing away the last of summer and allowing the "new year" to start with a clean slate.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Scanning, Take One

I've entered a few GGW photo contests, and they're fun. I enjoy the critiques from the monthly judges. But next month's theme has had me worried: Bloom Scans. Until I started following GGW, I'd never heard of, or thought of, putting flowers through a scanner. But people apparently do it. I'm worried because this concept involves more than framing a picture. Now we're getting into floral arranging, something I've let Nature take care of until now.

Second problem: I don't have a scanner. I'm picturing snipping a bunch of flowers early in the morning, carting them to the office, and tying to look nonchalant while monopolizing the office scanner. Nope, that's not going to work.

I used to have a scanner. It still technically works, I suppose, but it is so old it is not compatible with my current computer operating system (which is itself several generations old). I also used to have a printer, a hand-me-down from my little sister. That one, too, still technically works, or would if I spent $70+ on new ink. I can buy a whole new printer for that price! One that uses cheaper ink.

So I did. I'm now the proud owner of an all-in-one device. I can print, copy, and scan. Wirelessly, too. Oooh, I'm caught up with the times now! First I made a print of one of my favorite pictures, the spring peas I posted back in January. Then I scanned a calendar photo I've had hanging on my fridge for years.

Then I went out in the rain to pick flowers.

That's when I realized the other problem with the Bloom Scan project: I need blooms to scan. My garden is looking a bit sparse right now. Should have bought that printer/scanner thingy months ago when I had lots of flowers. But I found some wilty morning glories and some boltonia. Here are my first two scans:

Yes, they need some work. And I need to learn something about display arranging. One thing I don't know how to fix: the parts pressed against the glass are in focus, but the rest is blurry. Any ideas?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Harvest Time

Gardening Gone Wild challenged us to submit harvest photos for this month's Picture This contest.

Harvest photos? I don't have anything to harvest!

I am very proud of my few Sungold tomatoes - this is the most I've had ripe at one time, nearly enough for a snack for one person:

Unfortunately, my sparse tomatoes are hard to pick out in that busy background. A closer look didn't improve things much:

Next, I trotted of to the Sunday market. There's a place for harvests!

I came home with a bag full of apples, but not many pictures. I did see a warty pumpkin that made me smile:

and a basket full of hot peppers:

But I'm guessing the entries will be full of pumpkins and peppers, and my photos aren't good enough to stand out.

I had lunch at the Nature Conservancy. The park was full of winterberry holly waiting to fed the birds in the coming months. What makes foraging different from harvesting, I wondered? It didn't matter, the light wasn't right.

Home again, still with no usable photo.

Then I saw all the critters: bees, moths, and butterflies feasting on my Autumn Joy sedum. Now they were busy harvesting! But they wouldn't stay still long enough for documentation.

This bee on a purple coneflower did. I think he was having such a good time bathing in pollen he didn't care that I was so close. I hope he got some in his sacs so he could go home and share his harvest.

So this bee is my entry.

(I did have a somewhat-brilliant inspiration strike me this evening, but it was already too dark to execute. I may go out in the morning to try it anyway, just for fun.)