Thursday, November 29, 2007

My Muscari Bulbs Are in the Ground!

I really thought this seemed an ingenious idea, but it didn't work as well as my shovel. Oh, well. Perhaps I'll give it a little more thought... any helpful hints? :-)
I just received a bit of static about using the drill bit for that purpose. I may have dulled it. I only drilled about 6 holes before I gave up, though. Every time I lifted the bit out of the hole, the dirt fell back in.

FYI: It was 20 degrees this morning at 7:30 a.m. I waited until about 9:00 a.m. to head outdoors. It was actually very nice. I wish I'd had more bulbs! I'm already envisioning how beautiful that little easterly bed will be in the Spring. Perhaps I'll find a few more bulbs, yet!

I'm headed "to town" with a friend tomorrow (in other words, to a larger metropolitan area) where I actually might find a few last-minute things I need. ;-)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Can You Test Sanity With a Thermometer?

I was going to suggest taking my temperature, but I'm not sure it would be a proper test of my current state of sanity.

FYI: Today is Wednesday, November 28. It was 40 degrees (Real Feel about 30 degrees) with a good breeze.

I bought 16 large concrete block "caps" today and hauled them to the south side of our house. For two hours I reworked one little "grass bed" back there. This small bed is supposed to help prevent soil erosion and grow grass. It is doing a pretty fair job with both, actually.
The new caps are beneath the blocks. Another view... it does have a small problem with grass on the east side...The second bed, east of the first, is not so fortunate. It's holding its own with regard to erosion, but it doesn't receive enough sunlight to grow grass. I was hopeful when I created it.
Notice the nice pile of clay soil?
Reworking the first bed means that I lifted the colored blocks the bed was edged with, dug a little deeper, laid a row of the "caps," and topped them with the colored concrete blocks. (I like their looks better.) Due to a 2:00 P.M. appointment, I ran out of time to do the same work on the second bed. So, I just laid the "caps" on top of those blocks and will wait until Spring to reverse them.
These are some of the trees (foreground) that shade the SE part of the house and yard.
Before coming home, at 4:00, I located a place that still had bagged dirt for sale, so I purchased three bags of peat. I sprinkled 1/2 of one bag on the reworked bed and mixed the other 2 1/2 bags with the good old clay soil that we have in the remaining easterly bed.

Now all I have to do is to quickly plant 45 muscari (grape hyacinths). I guess I'll have to wait until tomorrow. It is now dark. Not due to shade... ;-)

Then I can anticipate Spring! (and revamping the remaining little "grass bed.") Anyone want to help?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Okay! It's Cold and I'm Being Wimpy!

Family left around 9:00 a.m. Hubby blew leaves off the front yard. He said it is "Nice" outdoors. I decided, "Okay. I'm going to mix birdfood." Into an empty tub, I poured a mixture of sunflower hearts, safflower seeds, a mix of little tiny seeds, and cracked corn. I filled our nice 3-story feeder in the front yard. Then I made another mix for future use. My hands were feeling quite cold by then, so I went in and grabbed my camera...
The yet unidentified bush, brandishing buds for Spring!
This is the backyard birdbath. At one time, the rabbit (on the left) had ears and a tail. The bird, center figure, used to have a round head and a bill. Are there critters out there needing a daily dose of resin?

Could be "Plantimus Knownotimus" or "Plantimus Plasticus." ;-)

There's still a bit of snow residing here and there.
These are the remainder of the late anemone blossoms.

On the back porch steps...
I didn't hear the doorbell, did you?

Three Thanksgiving Recipes

I know none of these Thanksgiving posts have a thing to do with my garden... but (stretching a bit), they have to do with Someone's garden! ;-) Now, I'll get back to the yard. It's about time.

In the meantime, these are recipes for the Cranberry/Pumpkin Bread, Cranberry/Pumpkin Muffins and Cran-Yogurt Muffins we've enjoyed these past few days. Click Here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

We have such bounty, and we are thankful.
I've been having a lot of fun in the kitchen these past few days!

I baked two apple pies (can you tell I ran out of standard pie pans?),four pumpkin pies and three mini cranberry pies.

Three pumpkin pies and one apple pie went to church for
tomorrow's community Thanksgiving meal.

At our home, there will be 4 adults and 2 young children.
Surely the rest of the pies and other goodies and trimmings will be enough!

You might like to have a close-up of those little cranberry pies (click here).
I will post the recipe, with others, after Thanksgiving.

May you and I, each of us, celebrate the
many ways we have been blessed.
And may tomorrow's Thanksgiving Day be the beginning of a year-long recognition.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Getting Ready for Thanksgiving

Subtitle: Warming the Kitchen and Whetting the Appetite
(Perhaps this has nothing to do with gardening,
but it has everything to do with the gardener!) ;-)

I know I have a lot of cleaning to do. I made a rather dull attempt today... cleaned 3 toilets, made a bed, and vacuumed a bedroom.
But, this evening... I was in a baking mood!
The photo below shows the aftermath.
Here's "the rest of the story!"

Saturday, November 17, 2007

For What Are You Most Thankful?

I wonder if you would help me make a list?

For what are you most thankful?

Leave a comment and list three items.
I'll add mine on the comment page, as well. I want to give the matter a bit more thought.
Although, I'll probably include family and tender moments.
This is my daughter and her daughter (my granddaughter!).

Doing Justice

I was premature in posting the photo of the red Thanksgiving cactus. This picture was take about a minute ago. And it's still not completely open. But it's looking so much better, isn't it?

Friday, November 16, 2007

I've Been Memed!

I received word that Mr. McGregor's Daughter tagged me for the "8 Random Things meme."
The rules are:
When tagged, you must link to the person who tagged you, then post the rules before your list, and list eight random things about yourself. At the end of the post, you must tag and link to eight other people.

First of all,
can anyone identify this bush?

So, now. Eight random (that also means, not in order of importance) pieces of information about me:

1. I don't ever remember not drawing. My first art class was Basic Design as a college freshman, and I Loved it. However, I enjoy doing almost anything that has any semblance of artistic value. So, I pursued more art classes: pottery ("ceramics"), sculpture, printmaking, weaving, etc. And I haven't stopped drawing!

2. I also enjoy sewing, knitting, and (more recently) quilting. I consider these hobbies to be indoor-in-the-Winter engagements! You might check out a new blog I share with a friend entitled One Quilt and a Pillow. It's located on the right sidebar of this blog, under the heading "family and friends." This should be a lot of fun.

3. I took early retirement from teaching second grade, 1 1/2 years ago. (That means I've enjoyed one Spring and two Autumns outdoors in our yard without having to leave things on their own! How wonderful!) I really enjoyed teaching. The occupation was a gift To me and it was a gift From me. I've always known I was going to teach. Ever since I was in kindergarten and collected the photos of my classmates. I'd lay them on the floor at home, and "teach." :-)

4. I like to cook and bake. Now, I must qualify that statement with the explanation that I really Don't enjoy everyday type of cooking. I really enjoy looking for fun, new recipes. Mostly that means waiting until there's company. ;-) Baking is also something I wait to do during Winter. Nothing is better than warming the kitchen with the smell of something wonderful in the oven! Warms you all over more than once!

5. I so enjoy being outdoors and gardening that it's hard to explain! (Hiking and camping fall under this category, I think.) I love digging in the dirt and "landscaping." I've never minded dirt under the fingernails. I pore over seed and garden catalogs all Winter; making my lists. I get very emotional when the "new green" begins to emerge on tree branches, over the ground, etc. I am so excited to be able to notice those first blossoms... (I know you know what I mean, so I'll quit with all that!) However, I must tell you that my life-long gardening heroine has been my Aunt MEA. She has Always gardened. Vegetables and flowers. But it was the flowers that took my fancy. She continues to garden, by the way. And turned a very young 91 years old this year. She also enjoys her computer and reads my blog! :-)

6. I enjoy having friends and making friends! And, I love getting together with them. Sometimes I wish I could take the time to do more "getting together."

7. I get a kick out of using the computer. I liked creating web pages at school. Now, I enjoy this!
Taking photographs probably falls under this category. I will not aspire to be professional, but I really have fun with my little digital camera. I purchased it about a year ago. My only disappointment is that it only has 3x magnification. Especially because of #8.

8. Not only do I enjoy the flora, but I enjoy the fauna! Enticing and watching butterflies and birds, especially. But toads are also endearing. And little things like this Walking Stick! :-)

Now I'm ready to Meme eight people! Have fun with this! :-) Here we go: Connie at Notes from a Cottage Garden; Don at An Iowa Garden; Philip at Mears Garden; Bob at Bob's Garden; Cathy at 2GreenThumbsUp!; Rurality; Iowa Gardening Woman at My Iowa Garden; Christa at Calendula & Concrete.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Nice Indoors Surprises

My two Thanksgiving Cacti (thanking Mr. Brownthumb for the i.d.) are both blooming! Already! They are seemingly very healthy. They endured some accidental pruning this summer. I surmise by a striped gopher or a squirrel looking for a hiding place... for a piece of chocolate saved to enjoy later with a good book and a cup of chai, perhaps? Anyway, I wonder if that pruning might have turned into kindly deed.
The plant with the pink blossoms is Loaded with buds. The other has only one flower and a couple of buds. (Both plants, however, bloomed twice last winter!)

I'm wintering my hibiscus in the guest bedroom. It sits in front of a window with a southern exposure. The other window faces westerly. Lots of nice light. It looks as though I could clean the pot a bit.Yes, there's a trellis on the wall. There's another one on the other side of the window, too. They're acting as headboards for twin beds. (The sheet of posterboard protects my grandchildren and other young guests from rubbing against the bumpy walls at night.)

And, I know. The above close-up photo is blurry. I'm sorry. I could take another, but I think we'll just have to deal with it.

I'm loving the sunshine. Winter is not my favorite season, overall. I LOVE watching gently falling snow. And standing in it. I do have fun making snowmen, etc., but most of the time I desire the return of the progression of the other three seasons. So, that being said, having additional sunshine due to most of our trees having shed their leaves is a very GOOD thing!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Just a Little More Fall Raking

Using My Favorite "Machinery!"

When I got up this morning, I found a nice-sized pile of leaves next to the driveway. So, I laid out a tarp, carried my shredder from the garage and proceeded to work them over! They were wet, so I adjusted the shredder to "coarse, wet leaves." Coarsely ground leaves is what you get. The pile on the right is the aftermath.To give you an idea of what the pile of leaves may have looked like prior the its shredding, I filled my green leaf-holder and made another pile of shredded leaves (below, on the left).
It may be hard to see, but the second pile is much smaller than the first... perhaps 1/3 the size.

It was inevitable (actually, it was my intent) that I de-leaf the front yard. It didn't take long.
I hoisted my leaf-gatherer, for lack of a better name, from the hooks on the garage wall and proceeded to harvest leaves. As each load was brought to the tarp, I turned on the shredder, picked up some leaves and dumped them in.

Here's the finished yard and its shredded leaves on the right!
Wet leaves are heavier, of course, than leaves "fresh off the tree," but shredding means about 3 to 4 fewer trips to the ravine. I'm waiting until this afternoon before I drag the tarp through the backyard. I want to allow opportunity for the leaves to dry a bit, perhaps lightening the load!

There's very little, if any, breeze this morning... in this shady, but getting sunnier, yard. By the time I return around 2:00 p.m., from a trip downtown, you can envision this nice tarpload of shredded leaves beginning to compost!

Monday, November 12, 2007


Pulmonaria are not large plants. Mine stand from 4 - 10" tall.

I really like these little fellows. There are many varieties. I have only five, but I plan to obtain a few more. This website offers a few for sale (I've never ordered from this supplier), and they include pretty thorough information about the plant and its needs.
Pulmonaria are very early Spring bloomers. They may bloom for a couple of months. Most of the flowers are pinks and blues (varied shades and hues). The leaves are hairy. I met my first pulmonaria in the garden of one of my sisters. The leaves of her plant had become quite dry and stickery! Ouch! But, as long as they're happy and receive enough moisture, they won't "bite."A good winter project would be to create a set of index cards listing the different varieties of each species of plant I have and would like more of. Then I'd be ready for more "serious shopping" this coming Spring!Haven't we had a wonderfully long "Summer?" The temperatures forecast for this coming week are a continuation of nice warm weather. I almost stopped at a garden center on the way home from Omaha today! But, I steeled myself and remained pointed towards home.

Pretty cute, though, aren't they? Just one of the reasons to better appreciate the shady garden.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

It's November and I Think I'm in Denial!

This morning's walk was a brisk one. It was a beautifully sunny morning, however I hadn't realized it was so chilly. Susie had. She had dressed warmly enough, but I needed a warmer pair of gloves and earmuffs! Oh, well. Perhaps I should begin checking the weather forecasts.

There was mention of the temperature's being around 16 degrees F. I don't know how the wind factored in there, but it helped us walk a little more quickly! A great morning.

We were nearly back to Susie's house when we noticed this tree "in action". Listen to the wind... and be glad you're in a nice warm spot! ;-)

Tomorrow (Thursday) I leave for Omaha. I'm visiting our daughter, son-in-law, and their two perfect (huggably so) children. Of course I can say that - I'm the grandma! :-) So... I'll be off making memories. Back early next week.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A Fall Beauty

Japanese Blood Grass
(unfortunately I called it Japanese Bloodroot earlier, and I was wrong. Sorry!)
Actually, you get to enjoy this color all year... but it surely fits in with Autumn!
This plant is on the invasive side... but, if you like it like I do,
give it strict confines and it'll do very well.

I transplanted this little fellow two summers ago. It is in a very small bed with edging (and the driveway) on one side, a small pond on the other, and rocks all around it everywhere else.

If you notice plants with green stems (and no red tips) in the mix, those plants have reverted to the wild state. They are "dig-able."

Japanese Blood Grass is considered to be a very deep-rooted sedge that is difficult to control. It has also been placed on the noxious weeds list in many states. Like the purple loosestrife (lythrum salicaria) that has been unsaleable in so many states, the Mississippi Bureau of Plant Industry put a stop to the sale of Japanese Blood Grass four to five years ago.

Oh, well. (I also loved Purple Lythrum in my former garden. It never did spread outside its boundaries, even after 6 years!)

Perhaps it is I that deserves the name "Shady" instead of my garden... for not only enjoying, but propagating, those notorious plants on the "Wanted" Posters!

Friday, November 2, 2007

I'm Posting in the Middle of the Day!

(and I'm awarding myself a miniature rose for having met my goal!)
Wow! I needed a break! It feels good to sit down, but it feels better knowing that I've done what I set out to do this week. (Quite soon, I'll put away the remaining chairs, tables and pots.)

Yesterday, I had only 45 minutes to work outdoors, so I made one trip to the backyard with a barrow full of mulch and my pitchfork. Rather disappointing, but that's often the way it goes.

Today has been a different story! No meetings, appointments, duties (just a couple of errands to run later), no specific demands upon my time... what a wonderful feeling! So, after a breakfast smoothie, I stepped outdoors to see what I could see and do what I could do.

The air was chilly and crisp as I donned my jacket, hat and gloves. My first destination was a large hosta bed in the backyard.

Plan One
After making a quick assessment of the situation at hand, I decided to clear one section of the bed at a time. So, with that plan in mind, I headed back to the garage in search of a small plastic shrub rake and a larger leaf rake. I didn't get a "before" photo, but this is what this particular section looked like after nestling plants in a bed of mulch (and after making several trips with the wheelbarrow). They sure look cozy......but it didn't take long to remember that one pickup load of mulch doesn't go very far. And, there were WAY too many areas needing attention to be working so thoroughly.

Plan Two
"Selective Bedding Method"

Only the leaves that were surrounding the plants would be cleared and replaced with mulch. And that's how I finished the job.

The first photo "rounds the corner"and is part of the section I'd raked entirely. The rest of the photo shows the Selective Bedding Method. The center photo is part of a narrow flower bed on the east side of a little walkway that leads to the shed, and the photo on the right is taken from the center of the bed looking towards the south edge of the house. Still very cozy, a much more effective use of the mulch, and a much more conservative use of my time and energy(!).

This is a photo of one of my favorite little plants in the yard.
Her leaves are very "flowerful."
Little Heronswood Mist Tiarella

This bed has been (and continues to be) "in progress"
for quite some time. The hosta in back is "Sagae."
The one in the forefront is "On Stage."
The last of this post deals with whether I'm really in possession of all my marbles. In other words, am I SANE? As you gaze upon these final three photos, can you Really Tell anything was done out there at all? Especially after I "repositioned" all the leaves (used my rake to throw them in the air and land on everything in the beds again).

Maybe no one else knows, but WE know I did a good thing! You, the plants, and I. And now that I look outdoors, it's less shady and more overcast. Perhaps I'd better again make my way outdoors to put away everything that needs a winter home.