The tree is tilting badly because Silver keeps getting in it and he's NOT a small cat. A few ornaments have been broken. I've moved most of the vintage ones away from where he can reach them. This is the first year he's had a Christmas tree, even though we've had him a couple of years now.
Well, one petri dish filled with mold, but one is still clean and on 11/1/2010 I saw signs of growth. The baby plantlets should be at least an inch tall by now, but it's a time of year with short days so I think (hope) that is what's slowing them down. They stay in the petri dish until they are an inch tall.
Actually finished a non-Steamcon related garment. This was a black and white rayon skirt I found at a yard sale. It was a pull on skirt, but too small for me. I took the band off, threw it in some purple dye when I mixed up way too much for the little piece of lace I wad dying, put in a zipper, and finally put the snap and hook & eye on today.
And check out the product card the snaps are on. This is something that was in my mom's stuff, no telling how old it is.
Well, for some reason Blogger is not letting me upload another image. I have no idea why. I guess I'll try putting that picture in another post... first bringing images from Picasa went away; now this?
Review: Encyclopedia of Northwest Native Plants for Gardens and Landscapes, by Kathleen A. Robson, Alice Richter& Marianne Filbert. Timber Press, 2008
At over 500 pages and a color photograph of each plant, this is book gives a wealth of information on each plant- a detailed description right down to the number of sepals and stamens, what it’s soil, sun/shade, altitude and drainage preferences are, where it’s native range is, propagation, and any special notes. Divided into sections of ferns, conifers, annuals, perennials and trees & shrubs, the plants are then arranged alphabetically. At the end of the book are lists of plants for special situations- drought tolerant, for bogs, to attract birds, butterflies and hummingbirds, for erosion control.
Because it’s not arranged by flower color like the Taylor’s guide is (and also because of its size) it’s not a handy field guide, but a book to sit down with at home and read. It has an extensive range- from the California redwood area on up into Alaska- so a lot of the plants won’t be found in our area. But if you are interested in using native plants, this is an excellent book. It will help you to not just find and grow the plants, but to grow them well. And because of the sheer number of plants in it, it’s a fun guide once you have some idea what you’re looking for. For instance, that clematis I’ve seen along the Clark Fork River? Clematis ligusticfolia. Timber Press books always prints quality books, and this one is well worth the price.
Peacock 'corset' vest. The pattern claims it's a corset, but it's not boned and ties with ribbon, so I'd say it doesn't quite qualify. Cotton fashion fabric (I can't remember for sure, it may well be a quilter's cotton), muslin interlining and quilter's cotton lining. Bias trim made from metallic gold fabric that seems to be mostly cotton.
Banshee, Sideshow and Silver share warmth on the bed. Also, I don't get the bed made and the laundry put away. I have a theory that if I leave the laundry piled tightly in a warm pile it'll reproduce and I'll have more clothing!
550 Home Landscaping Ideas: The Most Practical and Comprehensive Visual Sourcebook of Landscaping Ideas, by Catriona T. Erler and Derek Fell. Roundtable Press, 1991
This is a book of pictures of lovely gardens. But not just lovely gardens in general; the authors have taken the very best bits from gardens all over the world and shown them to us and *explained* why they were showing them to us. How different gates fit into different garden styles. How the different elements of a Japanese garden work to create mood. How different garden styles fit different environments. Each picture has a terse bit of text telling us why this garden element is effective, so that the home gardener can make use of it.
I like this approach. We may not be able to recreate Great Dixter or Hidcote, but we can certainly arrange plants in a way that creates a nice tableau or make it look nicer under the trees wth appropriate shade plants. It’s a book that will have you marking pages so you can try out the ideas presented.
Spent the day getting 'stuff' put up on the walls, after letting it sit about for some time. It's migrated into my life over the course of at least a year. Time to make floor space!
This is a crappy resin thing. I found it at a yard sale; it had a wood grain finish that was truly dreadful. I painted it low sheen off white, antiqued it, filled a hole with JB Weld, and here we go. I do need to move the flower thing down.
A fabric banner, probably from Nepal, that Colin got rid of. Natasha has already been up there, playing with it. *sigh*
Added to the collection of plates over the wood stove, which ranges from Middle Eastern brass, Japanese (fake) Imari, resin knockoffs, and the Simpsons.
Two Brazilian embroidery pieces by my former SIL, which dont' fit the scheme of the room, but it's the only room with blue in it. And I'm not sure what that wood thing is- it's lovely, carved and inlaid and pierced, but it's useless as a plate or bowl. So it's a wall ornament that makes pretty shadows.
And there are still more things to put up. Maybe tomorrow, if I get the giant pile of laundry put away. It was finally dry out, and I could hang laundry to dry.
Went to class on tissue culture today. No, I'm not brewing up my own stem cells, it's about plants. Fascinating class; really makes me want to go back to college. I mean, I always want to go back to college, but now I want to go back and take hort classes, not just the usual English and history classes I dream about.
We got to take some cuttings (each about 1/4" square, which will yield several plants each if all goes well), put them in petri dishes and hopefully watch them grow. We were allowed to use forceps that we sterilized by dipping in alcohol and then putting in a candle flame, and no one started a fire or turned over the alcohol even though the instructor said he knew it could happen because he set a fire once doing it. Nor did anyone cut themselves on the scalpels. I assume this has also happened before, since the instructor said "Don't push down on the wrong edge of it!!!" like he was really worried about it.
While it was very interesting, sadly it's not something I'll be able to do on a home basis. Even if I could manage to create the sterile conditions needed (he gave us torenia plants, which are not only easy to root but can grow in agar that is saturated with antifungal) but each plant species needs a different growing media formula, and the formulas can take like 25 different ingredients each. I assume at least some of those ingredients are expensive.
Of course I forgot my camera; I meant to take step by step pictures. Oh, well.
I wrote an article on painting with dark or bright colors over at Associated Content:
I'll probably be writing about faux finishing techniques in the fairly near future; I'll try and post those here in their entirety. I need to reread the rules at Associated Content before I post them here, though.
I don't know what the name of this hollyhock is. The only thing I can think of that might be close is the double scarlet from Germania, but I think of 'scarlet' as being a lot lighter and brighter than this. It's beautiful, and I hope it has time to set and ripen seeds before winter hits, because I really want to keep this one around. I don't know how much cross pollination has taken place, but there aren't any other hollyhocks on this side of the house.
Rudbeckia 'Cherry Brandy'. It's been around a few years now, but the seeds have always been too expensive for me. I sprang for a few this spring, and they are just as gorgeous as the catalogs make them out to be - so often not the case! Hopefully they'll make seeds I can capture before the birds get them, and hopefully they haven't crossed with the other kinds of rudbeckia I've got going around the house.
It is not quite September and I am about to put the winter blankets on the bed, because I’ve spent the last two nights shivering despite having the electric blanket on high all night. It’s almost gotten down the freezing on those nights, but so far no damage to the tender plants. I’d be quite upset if, after the late, late spring we had, we had an early frost, effectively making our summer less than two months long this year. No, ‘quite upset’ doesn’t cover it. ‘Seething ball of anger and frustration’ would be more accurate.
We never got the hanging baskets made, so I am finally putting those petunias into the garden. Seems silly, but they’re pretty tough. I’ve had petunias blooming on Thanksgiving before, so I could conceivably have three months of bloom from them. I’m assuming we won’t have three feet of snow in October, but after the earlier part of the year, nothing would surprise me.
I didn’t get anything entered in the fair this year because I didn’t read the premium book and they moved the entry day from Tuesday to Sunday. The fair people *never* do anything on Sunday, because the churches complained about it the one year they did. I discovered this little fact about ½ hour before entries closed. Bah. I have some consolation in knowing that I wasn’t the only one who got surprised by this and missed the boat. No one had any jewelry entered. There was a lot less needlework entered, and there was only about ½ the amount of art there usually is. Disappointing.
This is the clearest picture I was able to get of this Guinea hen. Her head just never stopped moving.
This was my favorite quilt at the fair; I voted for it for people's choice. I love the Japanese crests appliqued on it!
I've been checking out 'white' marigolds (tagetes) for years- heck, I remember way back when I was a kid in the 60s and Burpee put little seed packs in potato chip bags, asking that if anyone grew a white marigold from them, they would buy it from the lucky grower- and haven't been impressed. They germinate poorly, take forever to grow, and when they finally bloom, I only get one or two flowers out of them. I don't know if our extremely long summer days have something to do with this- a lot of marigolds are day length sensitive. This year, I tried 'Snowdrift', and I'm quite pleased! It germinated quite well, grew quickly, started blooming at the same time as the little Lemon Drops, and is making lots of new buds. I'll be buying this one again!
Of course, no marigold is truly white. Snowdrift is a lemony-cream, like all the 'white' marigolds. But it's close enough to stand in for white in my landscape!
Most gardeners, even those who do a lot of propagation, don't create their own hybrids. I, however, seem to have had the dubious honor of involuntarily creating one.
I've grown the malva 'Mystic Merlin' a few times- the hollyhock like malva that's purple with darker purple stripes. Sadly,. it did not prove hardy here, and the relics were thrown onto the compost heap, where a couple came up a few years ago. We also have lots and lots of a common weed, malva neglecta. They grow all over the compost heap. Short, almost round leaved, ground cover-y, with tiny pink flowers.
The two engaged in illicit pollen swapping.
The next year, we had what appeared to be regular malva neglecta- short, almost round leaved, ground cover-y weeds. Then they bloomed- with large, purple with darker purple striped flowers. Huh, we thought.
The next year they returned, looking the same. And again this year. They are a stable hybrid.
I guess if you've got to have weeds, they might as well be pretty ones.
A few years ago, I bought some seeds for trumpet and aurelian lilies. While only two of them germinated, I'm thrilled with how they turned out:
It bloomed last year, but the bloom (yes, single) was much smaller. I don't know if this is full size yet or not, but it's fragrant and looks like something that shouldn't even be able to live in this climate!
As expected, the weather went from constant rain to over 90F with little in between. There has been a frantic scramble to pull weeds and plant things- a scramble that is still not completed. I'm not sure we'll ever catch up this year. It's overcast today and we have the day off, so I'm hoping I can get most of the remaining annuals in and a lot of the weeds out. The weeds are so bad this year that by the time I get around the house weeding, the spot where I started is overgrown again. And with this heat, they are all going to seed.
Most of the roses look shabby right now, although some are starting to rebloom. The delphiniums are ragged; not quite done with their first bloom so I can't cut them back yet. The daylilies are what look best right now.
This is "Double River Wye"- I think. I bought it as an orange double, and this was the only yellow double the vendor had at the time, so I made that assumption. I've gotten many, many misnamed plants from that person, and I never seem to find out until quite some time later.
We've been dividing iris like crazy; the other day we were at a job dividing iris when it started to thunder. We ignored it. Then the sky just opened up. It poured rain, it hailed huge nuggets, the dog ran, we ran under the garage lean to (with a pile of iris, so we could keep working) and waited it out, not that we could have gotten any wetter than we already were. It rained so hard on the metal roof that we couldn't hear each other talk, even yelling at each other. Even though it was still above 70F, I was shivering from being wet. Extra bonus: because we left the windows open when we left for work, everything by the windows on the west side of the house was soaked. Including a box of fabric. Yippee.
They cut the hay and got part of it baled today before it started raining- again. Now hopefully my allergies will back off!
It's been a long, rainy month, one where everyone had work for us to do and we were taking care of the neighbor's alpaca farm, too. So our garden got grown over with well-watered weeds and we had no time to pull them, and the plants in the greenhouse grew tall and didn't get transplanted into baskets, bigger pots or the yard. Things are in an embarrassing state. But I think we may finally be through with the rain for awhile -next you'll see me complaining about the heat- and we should be able to get things under control a bit. The sky gave us a promise with our last rainstorm, anyway...
We've had a wetter than normal spring, so much so that we have yet to get the vegetable garden planted. Two thirds of the garden has been- quite literally- underwater, a state which normally isn't true, at least after, say, mid-April. When Tim rototilled it two weeks ago, the tiller got stuck and couldn't be pulled out by hand or by ATV - it took the tractor. Not a lawnmower type garden tractor, either. A bulldozer type tractor, albeit a fairly small one, was necessary. I have this bad feeling that once it stops raining, the ruts from that will harden instantly into concrete and stay that way until next winter's freeze/thaw cycles loosens it up again.
We did get the peas in today (they are transplants, not seeds) and some of the brocolli and cabbage. It's very late to be planting those things. The normal mode here is to go from rainy and cold to 90 F within a few days, and the cool weather crops will start suffering. It's even been too muddy to get much weeding done in the flower garden, while the well-watered interlopers have grown like, well, weeds. I don't want to fertilize until the weeds are pulled.
As you can figure out, all these means that when the weather clears, we will be weeding, planting and fertilizing on fast forward, not just in our yard but in the yards of customers whose jobs keep getting put off because of rain. Stay tuned to see if we survive!
Bloom’s Best Perennials and Grasses: Expert Plant Choices and Dramatic Combinations for Year-Round Gardens, by Adrian Bloom. Timber Press, 2010
Adrian Bloom is the son of Alan Bloom, the plantsman who started Blooms of Bressingham, the noted plant breeders and nursery. Plants are in his blood.
The book is many things: it’s a basic manual on perennial care; it tells you how to choose plants that will do well in your area (hint: choose one’s that originated in a similar climate & soil); it gives you design ideas; it lists his 12 best plants; it’s a grass/perennial encyclopedia, and it lists plants for special conditions-wet, dry, shady, etc. If you’re just beginning with perennial gardening, this might be a good book to start with, right up there with Cox’s “Perennial Garden”. If you’ve been gardening with perennials for a number of years, you might not find any surprises- I only found one new plant that I must have. But that’s not surprising: he lists only plants that have been around long enough to prove their worth. The latest salvia might be beautiful, but it might be floppsy, spew seedlings everywhere, or be a weak grower. The plants that Bloom lists are proven winners, provided you give them the soil and exposure he recommends. And that’s another thing- all the plants he lists are low maintenance.
While I like most of his plant selections (I already have most of the ones that will grow in zone 4), I’m not overly fond of his designs. They are good designs, but he uses grasses with a heavier hand than I care for, and he uses much more yellow and orange than I would. On the other hand, his gardens are designed to give multi-season interest, rather than be gorgeous for one week in June and then be spent.
The in-laws are here, so yesterday I had a day of enforced inactivity indoors. That did give me the opportunity to trim a hat that I’ve had sitting around for awhile now.
The straw form came from a yard sale and had truly horrid flowers on it. I pulled them off, sewed this ribbon on, and then sewed a couple of old fabric roses on it. The roses came from some other project I’d taken apart, so the only thing new was the ribbon.
A remark was made that I’d gone overboard for a hat meant for working in the garden, but what the heck. At a total cost of under $3, I can have some thing that is nice to wear for work!
American Horticultural Society Encyclopedia of Perennials, ed. Graham Rice. Dorling Kindersley, 2006
This is a marvelous compendium of plants. Almost 500 pages of plant descriptions and beautiful color photographs make it a book that the curious gardener will dip into again and again. Plants are listed by genus and species, and a good number of cultivars are listed. Each genus is given a general description, followed by how it is best grown, how it’s propagated, and what pests it has. Then follows the various species within the genus, descriptions including origin, size, bloom time, color and size, scent and occasional tidbits about medicinal use or the like. One thing I love about this book as opposed to many other plant encyclopedias: it gives the American zone hardiness of the species.
But this is not just a straight encyclopedia; interspersed with the plants are sidebars and boxes with information on combining the plants to make beautiful vignettes that put plants with the same needs together, the structures of various types of flowers, plant history, diseases and pests of plants, and detailed propagation instructions for certain plants.
This book is great for looking up information, but it’s also wonderful for just leafing through it, stopping at reading at random spots- did you know that the Barlow type aquilegias make seed that’s true to type, while all other aquilegia’s promiscuously cross breed? And here I thought those Barlow girls were just as bad as their cousins! Drooling over this book has given me a lot of new ideas for the garden, and left me with serious zone envy.
We're working on a gardening job that's on the top of the Sunnyside peninsula right now. The view is amazing (and I keep forgetting to take pictures while we're there). On the way home yesterday, we caught this bald eagle in an old snag, viewing his domain.
The Jewel Box Garden, by Thomas Hobbs. Timber Press, 2004
‘The Jewel Box Garden’ is not your average gardening book. You’ll find no advice on composting or dealing with insects; this book is strictly about the aesthetics of gardening. Far more picture than text, it’s a book of inspiration, not instruction. The book is filled with vignettes of plants that are jewels on their own, and are supported by being used in combo with other plants and with planters, statues and other hardscaping. His theme is that you want to create beauty in the garden, and not copy what everyone else is doing. I can’t argue with that.
Hobbs lives, designs and gardens in Vancouver, B.C., so his palette of plants is much more extensive than what most of us have, and he’s pushed the it even further by using hot weather plants that he takes inside every winter. That’s more work than most of us want to do, but we can achieve the same effect with hardier plants. Hardy sedums and sempervivums can stand in for tender echevarias; there *are* hardy bamboos (and they are less apt to spread aggressively than the tropical varieties), hardy ferns, hardy variegated plants and hardy plants with dark, almost black foliage.
The photos are beautiful, but the text may be off-putting to some readers. Hobbs is snarky about the people whose gardens he doesn’t like, and if you have that sort of garden you’re apt to be insulted. Ignore those bits, though, and allow yourself to get caught up in his enthusiasm for what he’s doing.
The second round of chicks and the ducklings have been in the chicken house, rather than in our house, for several days now, and are acclimating nicely. Of course, the day after we put them out the temperatures plunged and we’ve had freezes for several nights in a row, but with the help of four light bulbs, they are doing well. The chicks do go out in the run much, but the ducklings love it outside, ran or shine.
I have just discovered that the violas that I got, years ago, from an old, old garden, are Bowle’s Black. These little darlings aren’t quite as black as the modern black pansies, but they are dark, rich purple except for a very small eye. I like them much, much better than the regular Johnny-Jump-Ups. They suit my dark sensibilities better. But they are every bit as prolific as the JJUs- the entire garden is a carpet of their cotyledons. I wish full size pansies would spread like this!
First up, the older chicks have been moved out to the hen house, where they have a light to go under when they get cold, which doesn't really seem to be that often, even though it's in the 30s at night:
You can see they are almost fully feathered. And, no, I didn't do any fancy photoshopping- I have no idea why it looks like a painting of birds instead of a photo.
Next, the 2 week old peeps:
And now, the gigantic ducklings, who eat, drink and shit continually, and have at least quadrupled in size in two weeks- they were the same size as the chick when they arrived and they now tower over them like Godzilla over Tokyo.
I honestly didn’t know it was possible to kill heucheras. They seem to survive cold, heat, not much water, too much water and cats laying on them. So I was quite surprised to find that it looks like two of mine aren’t coming back this year.
One, a Tiramisu I bought late last summer, was probably put into the ground too late for our early freezes. And then we had an open winter, with low temperatures and no snow to protect the plants. So that one isn’t a huge mystery. But the other, a Peach Melba that went into the ground in 2008, has me wondering. It was there last year. True, it didn’t grow a great deal and certainly didn’t seem as happy as the other varieties around it (Amber Waves, Lime Rickey, Plum Pudding), but it didn’t look like there was anything really wrong. I have no idea why this one died; it’s still firm in the ground so it wasn’t our usual culprits, the pocket gophers.
Given that I refuse to give up completely on a plant until it completely composts, I’ll be leaving these corpses in the ground, hoping that some spark of life remains. It’s happened before, having a dead looking plant come back to life midsummer, zombie-like. If these beauties do make it back, I’ll be happy to feed them braaaaiiinnnssss. (It’s Zombie Awareness Month, what can I say)
One of the fun things about running a plant nursery is that you get a chance to literally change the local landscape. If you sell the usual run of common plants, like the big box stores do, you don’t get to see this effect. But it you’re selling things that are more unusual, you get to see your influence around town. At least you do if you’re in a rural area/small town like I am.
A number of years ago I was given cuttings of “Mozart” rose. It’s an unusual looking rose; it has a mounding shape and has tiny, tiny five petaled flowers that are brilliant dark pink with white at the base. It stays covered with these blooms for much of summer. Many people do not recognize this plant as a rose when the first see it, but they find it attractive. This is a rose that is available some places online, but you don’t see it in garden centers. I grew out those cuttings, and took cuttings from those bushes, and started selling them at the farmer’s market.
You see them around the county now. In someone’s front yard, in a row of shrubs in a dirt road. This gives me a thrill, to see something that I grew and that the person probably wouldn’t have found and put in their yard if I hadn’t put it out there. There are other plants out there like that; things I’ve grown from seeds purchased out of some of the lower circulation catalogs. Things like polemoniums with flowers that start out peach and age to mauve. Lavenders with pale pink flowers.
It’s fun to be able to offer something different, and to see it making people happy.
I think our house has officially reached it's maximum number of lifeforms. Two humans, four cats, six fish, six ducklings, 21 chicks, hundreds of seedlings and the usual houseplants. And that's not counting the spiders that live everywhere.
We went to Home Despot yesterday, and so of course I came home with plants. How could it be otherwise? So of course I spent most of today planting them!
First was Phlox divaricata, the woodland phlox. I put it behind the Golden Curls willow, because it likes some shade. It's on the east side of the house anyway, so it should be happy. It's in the area with the bleeding heart and some ferns and hostas. It'll fit right in.
Next I put some Golden Scotch Moss between the slate pieces in the walk to the front door. Hopefully it will grow quickly so I can divide it and fill in; I only have four little plants now and they look like polkadots in the path.
Golden Scotch Moss
I bought an azalea, "Elsie Lee", not knowing at the time that it was an evergreen one. I hope it's hardy enough and makes it here, but it's iffy. The ones that drop their leaves in winter are much hardier than the evergreens. It's so pretty; light lavender-pink with a bit of a dark blotch!
Azalea 'Elsie Lee'
I also got an Endless Summer hydrangea. That was pricey, but I think it'll be worth it. The mopheads and lacecaps aren't reliable bloomers in our area because they usually die back to the ground, and they bloom only on old wood, which means- no blooms. I've had two plants of a beautiful lacecap variety for years now and have never had them bloom. The last couple of years I've found myself hoping they wouldn't survive the winter, but they continue to come up from the ground every year. 'Endless Summer' blooms on both old and new wood, so we should get nice blue blooms every year now.
The best place I could see for it was already occupied by a 'Bayse's Purple' rose, which has never liked the spot. A rose almost as tall as I am. And considerably wider. So I dug that up, cleared a new spot for it, replanted it and pruned it. Then I could plant the hydrangea. All (hopefully) without stepping on the hostas that haven't come up yet. And then I forgot to take a picture of the hydrangea.
We also got four inexpensive bagged roses, older varieties that are, of course, grafted. I don't like grafted roses, but these come cheaply and I can take cuttings later in summer and hopefully get some going on their own roots. We got 'Angel Face', 'Nearly Wild', 'Sunsprite' and 'Climbing Golden Showers'.
Since I didn't take pictures of the stick roses or the hydrangea, have a picture of the bergenia in full bloom:
I grew that one from a seed. It's many years old.
Also did the first of the seedling transplanting today. Some of the morning glories, sweet peas, hollyhocks, lupins and artichokes were ready to move up into four packs. Everything else is still too small.