Archive for the 'flowers and gardens' Category

On A Winter’s Day

IMG_0273I’m not dreaming of California. I’m dreaming of a warm tropical beach, the sound of waves lapping at the shore, a pile of books by my chaise lounge, the cabana attendant within easy calling distance, no electronic devices, no news feeds and time, time, time to savor the sun, sand, water, sky and books.

The sky is gray, the news is dispiriting, I’m busybusybusy with work, and still not 100% recovered from illness (probably because I pushed too soon and then relapsed. Oops).

Yesterday was Valentine’s day and I offered to cook my valentine one of his favorite casseroles for dinner. Alas, when I went to open the necessary soup cans, I noticed that we were just about 2 years past the expiration date. Even for me that seemed excessive. *grin* Not to fear, I substituted whipping cream and cheese and dried soup and the casserole was yummy.

The days are getting longer, the little bit of snow/slush we got this week is nearly gone, and soon it will be spring.
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Office Reflections

winter skyline

distant mountains.

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Although I still miss the lake and the trees at my previous location, this office can enchant. Whether it’s when I walk in on Monday morning and am greeted by the distant mountains at the end of the hall, or when the sun breaks through after a rainy day, casting late-day shadows on cubicle walls, I’m grateful to have glimpses of nature.

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schflera shadowI do prefer lots of long days of sunshine, but there is pleasure to be had walking out of the office at sunset on a winter’s day. The sky is filled with color, and the windows capture the flames.

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office windows at sunset

This Might Have Been A Mistake

I’ve been concerned about the palm tree I brought inside a few weeks ago. IMG_9899It does not look healthy. I’m not sure if it is getting too much light (from the grow lamp) or not enough light, not enough water, too much water, too cold near the window. It doesn’t look healthy and I’m not really sure what to do about it.

My first guess is not enough water because I water the plants inside maybe once a week, if that. The succulents seem fine with that schedule but maybe the palm needs more. They all got MUCH more water outside over the summer. I decided to take the pot and water it thoroughly and see if that was the issue. To do that I had to move the pot from where it is and put it into the sink or outside, because otherwise I’d flood the room. I managed to get it across the room and up and into the sink. Once there I watered it until the water ran out the bottom. It is sitting there now, draining.

IMG_9900I’m not sure I’m going to be able to get it OUT of the sink. 😦 Getting it up and over the counter and down into the sink was not simple – the pot weighs so much. I’m looking at it sitting there, and trying to figure out how I’m going to hoist it UP and back over the counter. It’s not looking promising.

This may be a job for Husbandman. 🙂

Why We Compost

I do the majority of the grocery shopping for our household. I use a shopping list, I check the shelves and stocks before I go.IMG_9861 While I shop I have a general idea of the week ahead – what I think we’ll be doing, what meals will be needed. Yet somehow I always seem to be led astray in the produce department. The fresh fruits and vegetables are so appealing that I’m SURE we will be running short before the next grocery trip. I’m often wrong in that assumption. A few years ago I began composting. This has alleviated a lot of my guilt about ‘wasting’ the produce we don’t eat. I don’t consider composting “wasting”. I love to garden, I need fresh soil every spring. It’s my own little circle of life – produce to dirt to produce.
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My Winter Garden

As I’ve mentioned in prior posts, I love my garden. I love flowers, I love growing herbs for cooking, I love the smell of greenery. I know that I have many bulbs I could dig up and winter-over, but it’s all too much effort at this point. rosemary and bay At the same time I’m very happy come the fall and I can stop taking care of all of the plants. 🙂 Maybe some day (that oft-referenced, never-actioned retirement) I’ll be the kind of person to dig up bulbs and store them in the basement. That day is not today. I do, however, attempt to winter over the succulents. They are interesting and comparatively tidy. Even more relevant, however, is the fact that the cats appear to be uninterested in them. This year I also brought in one of the palm trees from the front porch. I’m not sure which species it is exactly, but I checked all of the ones that look like what I have and they were all okay for cats. I bought it at Home Depot so if anyone can put a better identification on it, that would be helpful.

When I had the kitchen updated a bit approximately 12 years ago, I added grow lights to the bay window. I had visions of starting plants from seeds, and growing herbs in the winter. kitchen succulentsI did some of that but not very much. Instead I’ve been using that area to winter-over the succulents. I started with succulents a few years ago after seeing the beautiful arrangements my sister made. I had one pot, and it was small enough that I could bring it in and out. Last year I expanded to another pot, a big one that was on a roller out front. It weighs a ton. My husband brought it in for me and we had it on the floor by the door to the deck. This year that location is no longer available so we had to lift it up to the window seat in the breakfast room bay window. Oh my, that thing is HEAVY. Two of the three palms had already died by the time we were moving the plants inside, but one of them still appeared to be salvageable. I pruned off all of the obviously brown and broken fronds and we brought that in as well.

The major problem with bringing the plants inside is the water. First I need to remember to water them. Second I need to remember not to over-water them and flood the shelf underneath. The pot in the kitchen is easy – not too big, not too heavy.breakfast room plants The other 2 pots are extremely heavy and I thought they might crack anything that wasn’t metal or soft plastic. They are sitting on platters that function but are not aesthetically pleasing. My new kitchen and breakfast room are definitely about aesthetically pleasing. I’m on the hunt for some platter that is attractive, of the correct depth, and waterproof. And THAT’S why there is no picture of the base of the pots! I also moved a grow light into the breakfast room – you can see the pinkish light in the photo. I’m not sure that will be sufficient light for the succulents, but I hope it works. My memory tells me that the palm does NOT need direct sunlight (it was on the porch, after all), so I am hoping that it will have sufficient light from the window and what it gets from the grow light.

Many of my herbs winter-over with no assistance from me. The mint has been coming back for a few years as do the chives. Last year the thyme also managed to save a bit of itself. winterized porchI take all of the big pots, take the flowers out and put them in the compost (or in the leaf bags) and put the now plant-less pots on the porch. Then I take whichever herbs have survived the frost and cold and place those pots as the second row. They line the railing so they can get whatever sun and rain comes their way. The chives seem to manage on this benign neglect so I put them in the corner where I hope they will get the most sun and rain. We’ll see how the others do. The pot with the rosemary and bay leaves is way too heavy to move. I’ve considered digging up those 2 plants and bringing them inside simply for the lovely smell. Maybe if I get super ambitious this weekend I’ll do that. But if past performance is any indicator of future earnings – probably not that likely. 🙂

And now for the obligatory cat photo. GC was all curled up on the couch. She meowed a few times but obliged me by staying in that spot. She’s such a sweet girl.

GC on couch

GC being adorable

Back to the Garden

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IMG_9209 It’s really hot out there today. “Real feels” between 105-110. That means that I need to be running the a/c, and I am staying inside. I always feel so imprisoned with the windows closed. Even though I am in my (beach-y) sun room, looking out at plants, including potted palms, I feel locked-up. To combat my cabin-fever I went out at lunch to visit the plants. It was a short visit, because while they seem to be doing fine, I could feel the heat burning through my clothes. It’s REALLY hot.

The dahlias seem to be thriving on our burning-hot now pouring-rain now burning-hot weather. Also the mandevilla and the succulents. According to the internet several of the succulents are supposed to flower, but only the Tiny Tangerine Bulbine Frutescens seems to have gotten the notice. I had no idea that the Rick-Rack Orchid cactus could grow to be a hanging plant. I wonder if it feels cramped in my pot between the ever-encroaching sedum and the octopus aloe? I may try to take a cutting and plant it somewhere else. IMG_9206There will be a lot of light in the breakfast room now. And a huge, high beam that could hold hanging planters. I think in the past I may have had lampranthus deltoides and had them flower, but I could be remembering some other succulent with little pink flowers.

Last year I brought in that huge red planter with the succulents. The pot weighs a ton, and only 1 of the plants survived the winter and the cats (the sedum, of course). I wasn’t planning to bring the pot in again this year because of the weight, the cats and changed floor plan. I may have to rethink that or I may need to transplant all of the succulents into smaller pots and bring them in. I really like this batch. I would love to see the octopus aloe flower. Of course the question is always – are these poisonous/fatal if ingested by cats? Trying to protect plants from BC is not a simple task.

IMG_9203I was thinking of bringing one or more of the potted palms inside for the winter. I have 3 of them, and I’d like to try to have at least one winter over. I’d need to find a place with a lot of light (the breakfast room) and minimal cat access. Not many places like that in my house. I did a search just now and it appears that the palms are safe for the cats, so I guess if I don’t mind dirt hitting the floor, or some chewed up leaves (and residual cat ‘deposits’), this may be a plan. 🙂 I’d need to figure out a good water-containing base, however, as I have a tendency to over-water.
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End of Season Browns

IMG_9055This happens every year. I cannot WAIT to get into my garden in the spring. Cleaning, pruning, preparing, digging in the dirt – it’s a siren song. Then comes buying the plants, arranging, planting, potting, admiring, dead-heading – the joy of seeing the blooms and produce. Then comes summer and it’s hot, hot, hot and the rain doesn’t fall on the hanging baskets. It either is a drought and all the plants need water daily or it’s constant rain (like this year) and the weeds emerge and conquer. IMG_9053The spring flowers are past their time, the fall flowers are battling the weeds, the summer flowers are fading and being punished by the incessant deluge from the heavens. That’s the time when I say “I’m really done with gardening for the year.” That time is now.

Most of my wonderful 3 ft tall daisies are brown. The spider worts are done. The rain has beat down the rudbeckia and the giant cosmos. Some careless weed-whacker (ahem) took down some of the dahlias. The dill is done, the cilantro is cooked, the tomatoes never took, and the weeds wander at will. 🙂 Couldn’t resist that last sentence. The hanging baskets still show a pretty face to the passersby, but all WE get to see is dying brownness.

IMG_9062I did finally weed-whack the driveway and the back yard. I probably whacked some of my ivy too, by mistake (just like the dahlia), because the day I was whacking, it must have been the most humid day ever without actually raining. I know it was real-feel over 100F. And of course the weeds are flaunting their wretched little heads again. My husband razed the lawn because we are both so tired of it and our young helper abandoned our neighborhood for a better paying job. I have not yet coerced my new teenage next-door neighbor into being responsible for our lawn and walks.

IMG_9054I want to take my shears and clip all of the herbs down, down, down. The willow needs major pruning as it appears to be staking a claim on the driveway. The contractors’ trucks do battle with the willow weekly but that is one determined bush. I need to get someone to help me wrestle the rhododendron down and back a few feet. Ditto the forsythia. I have no idea what is happening in the far corner back by the water spigot and the deck. There is some weed that is about 6 feet tall now. I could reach it through the dining room window if I were not afraid it might turn me into a pod person. I’m hoping it dies in the winter because otherwise we may need a flame-thrower to battle it. That might be awkward as it IS against both the (wood) house and the (wood) deck.

IMG_9058There are still a few blooms of joy in the garden. Nothing can diminish my joy in my tropicanna canna lilies, the remaining rudbeckia laciniata hortensia (best flower ever) and the mandevilla. There are dahlias fighting the brave fight as well, and a few remaining daisies. The hibiscus has been disappointing all year – even the deer were so uninterested in it that they have done less damage than expected. But it has put out a few more blooms this week as well, encouraging me to garden on. I propped up the cosmos (as well as broke off a major stalk) so they are feeling a bit more up. *grin* The goldenrod is well over 4 ft now, which means it should have a wonderful fall bloom. Of course, most of us are allergic to the goldenrod pollen, but what price beauty, right?
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