Wednesday, November 30, 2005


From the want list:

Last night, I ordered some of my seeds. The petunias I wanted were in stock. I also got some snapdragon seeds. Snapdragons are fun flowers. I actually used to play with them when I was a child. Snap, snap, snap. The jaws are quite fun.

In addition to their amusement factor, snapdragons are one of the plants that the Common Buckeyes lay their eggs on. Now, I think I'm a bit too far north for Common Buckeyes. On the East Coast, they tend to only come as far north as North Carolina. But that won't keep me from planting snapdragons. I'll just have to keep an eye out for caterpillars when snapping the flowers.


Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Settling Back In

I had a very pleasant holiday weekend, and I hope everyone else did too. I also missed the little bit of snow that hit the region Wednesday night/Thursday morning. The frigid temperatures that followed were not a good thing, either. But we've got balmy temperatures in the 60s, which is enough cause for celebration right now.

While on my trip home, I picked up a few garden supplies. Or was gifted with ones my dad didn't want. One cement bird bath and a cement planter. I forgot to pick one of the shovels he found at the thrift store. I'll have to grab that at Christmas. Boy, cement is heavy. The bird bath managed to get deposited on the back deck, but the cement planter didn't make it past the front stoop. In fact, it took the newly gifted hand-truck to get it to the front stoop. I'm just happy they are out of the car.

And a lantana update. The potted lantana is not happy with the dryness of the house. I need to remember to water it twice a week. It was very not happy with the Thanksgiving drought. There is also new growth on the cuttings. Yippee! I was worried there for awhile.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

A Quick Thought on Turkeys

Well, before I head off North, I should mention that there are real turkeys by my parents' house. One of the roads out to their house, runs through a little dell. The turkeys are wild turkeys, that like to cross from the woods on one side, to the cornfields on the other. Wild turkeys are smart, huge and black. Let's just say you don't get a run up the hill without checking for the flock of turkeys. These suckers like to stand in the road. And since they are of a size that you can see them over the hood of your car, you don't want to hit them. That is a lot of bird to ornament your hood. And unlike deer, they aren't particularly anxious to cross the road quickly. They know they're big enough. So, sometimes you just have to wait for the birds.

Although, it is pretty neat to watch them.

Enjoy the holiday! And safe driving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Little Surprises

Last night as I was walking out to my car, I discovered that at some point during the day, the landscaping crew had put in fresh faced pansies. Those adorable little faces turned up to greet the cold rain, but it cheered me. Despite their inevitable doom. They aren't predicting hard freezes this week, but it's going to be pretty miserable with an Alberta clipper visiting for Thanksgiving. I however, am heading off to where snow is guaranteed, instead of threatened. Nice Thanksgiving break. I need to make sure all the plants are well watered.

When I was driving into my development last night, after a long trying commute, I got my second surprise. Green lawns in the common areas. They stole my leaves! I went to work, looking at all the brown leaves and contmeplating picking them up on the next Monday, and when I get home, they are all gone! They vacuumed them up off the road and the sidewalks! The only leaves to be seen, were a few that got knocked down by the rain. I knew I should have filched more last weekend. More will fall, but not that many more. Curses....

Monday, November 21, 2005

The Nose Knows

I happen to think that a garden should be a five senses experience. Of course there are the pretty things to see, birds and rustling leaves to hear, soft petals and lush leaves to touch, vegetables and herbs to taste, and most of all, fragrant flowers to smell.

In fact, that is my favorite part of the garden, smelling the flowers. In fact, that is my favorite part of visiting rose gardens, smelling the roses. People who go with me, think that it is cute, until I get to the fifth bed, then they start to think it is a bit repetative. *chuckle* This is what made me fall in love with peonies, the way my entire house smelled of them, from just three cut flowers bought in the supermarket.

Which seriously makes me question this. This being six thousand curiosity seekers going to see a flower that smells like carrion. The titan arum, or corpse flower is considered a very gross flower. It is a carnivorous flower, and the whole purpose behind the scent is to attract carrion eating beetles to dine on, as they seek the rotting corpse to dine on.

I think this is one flower, I can live without smelling.

Edit to add non-registration required link.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Spiders and Things

It is not that I hate spiders, or am afraid of them. I just don't like when they invade my personal space. Like crawling on me or my bed or my quilts. I am quite happy about the one that took up residence on my yellow lantana and is getting rid of the white fly problem I had.

That said, I am afraid of spider bites. And not just of the deadly kinds, like black widows. Nor just the painful ones, like brown recluses. I am afraid of common ordinary bites. Why? Because the one spider bite I got was horribly itchy. Worse than any mosquito bite I'd ever had. And persistantly itchy for days. I got it because a spider decided to hide in a slipper, and the spider was upset that I decided to use said slipper. It's a shame really, I liked those slippers and now I have to wear socks when putting them on.

But I like having spiders in my garden. I like that they eat bugs I'd rather not have in my garden. And it appears that I have a healthy population of them in my garden. But, that does make me all nervy about reaching my hands into plants that have a lot of spiders protecting them. Which is the main reason I bought gardening gloves. That way if I disturbed a spider, it couldn't bite me.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

A Real Cold Front

I am glad I enjoyed the weather Tuesday night. That cold front roared through town, dropping temperatures 15 degrees over one hour! That's right, on one side, it was a balmy 73 degrees, on the back side, a chilly wet 56 degrees. And it continued to drop! In the 30s this morning and only going up to 47 today! Eek! At least the threat of snow on Sunday keeps being downgraded.

All this cold has me thinking about gloves. My leather driving gloves specifically. They are pretty thin when the weather really drops. But after reading all the posts about gardening gloves and support, I'm considering looking into getting a nice lined pair of high end gloves. That walk from the parking lot into work at 6am is brutal.

Not to mention scraping ice off of my car or shoveling snow. I need a good work glove for those chores. My only reservation is the shape of my hands. I've got long fat fingers, especially for a woman. Nine, nine and half ring size depending on the finger. My thumbs are skinnier than my fingers. I certainly don't want to order expensive gloves, then have to return them repeatedly to find a size that fits. I'll have to think on that.

In the meantime, a picture of my gardening gloves. They are goatskin leather from Home Depot. I don't like the cuffs, but what fits, fits. And they fit well. Emptying out the mower bag is the cause of the stain on the fingers. Good honest grass. I prefer to dig with bare hands. It's fun to wriggle my fingers in the soil.

Yesterday's precipitation: periods of heavy rain -- 1"

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Leafy Frolic

Yesterday was a gift day. A beautiful partial sunny warm day, before an awful mess. That storm system that produced multiple tornadoes in the Mid-West is arriving today bearing artic air.

So, last night, I got out and enjoyed my yard. I cut down one of the hostas, and discovered two iris that were hiding in it. I moved them and spread mulch. I ran short of mulch, so I didn't chop down the other one. Then, I raked the front yard. I got two yard bin's worth of leaves, that went into the composting bin. It's still not full! Which is good, the wind overnight knocked down even more leaves! But I'm not discouraged, I wanted to tuck those leaves into the compost bin before the rain started and made it a sloppy mess.

And for my final trick, I joined the ranks of the leaf filchers. That pretty maple tree that I had photographed earlier has a pile of leaves underneath it. The neighborhood kids piled it up to jump in, but it's been pretty flat looking for over a week. Last night I walked over and filled my yard bin. Two bins' worth thickly covered a 3' x 6' area that will become my birdbath garden. Hopefully the leaves won't blow around too much. I'll probably get more later to add to the pile.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Chemical Free

Most gardening experts push organic or chemical-free gardening. And it really is healthier for the garden, even if the grass is lackluster or the bugs are a bit pervasive.

I stay chemical free because of what I want my garden to be, not from any dislike of science. I want to have my little gardening buddy out with me, even if he doesn't appreciate "aggressive double fisting of weeds". I'm talking about my little Zeppe. Captive bred, too. Not that my dad intends to breed turtles, they just do that on their own. ;)

But pesticides and herbicides and chemical fertilizers are not healthy for little turtles.

I am also planting my garden to attrack butterflies to my yard. I certainly wouldn't get too many butterflies if I coated my yard with insecticides. And that would also chase off my natural insect fighting squad, Aggie the toad out front, the praying mantis by the shed, and the multitude of lady bugs I've spotted this fall. I spotted the Chinese ones swarming my place over Halloween weekend. But none got in.

If I used chemicals, I'd place all that in jeopardy. Besides, if I'm going to spend money, the natural solutions are equivalent in cost. Although, I'd rather not have fussy primadonas in my garden. :)

Monday, November 14, 2005

Slip-Sliding Away

Ugh. I have been hit with a dearth of energy, just when I need to get moving. Winter is on the forecast this week, as well as a big thunderstorm midweek. Threats of the first snowflakes are being issued for next Sunday, as even more leaves fall. If I want them, I'd better grab them.

I have pictures from my excursion to see foliage. I put them up in my Flickr account. Photobucket is great for dumping pictures and posting to blogs, because it pre-generates the code for you. All you have to do is cut and paste while looking at the thumbnails. But Flickr is better for sharing. I get lost in the peony slide shows, any slide shows for that matter. I was obsessed on the cherry blossom pictures last April.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Yard Cleaning

Last night, I was a good girl and swept the back porch. The willow-type tree in the neighbors' front yard deposited a lot of leaves. Some of them wedged into the deck itself, but most were willing to be placed in my yard waste bin. Then, I swept up the porch under the deck. All of the leaves then got run over by the lawnmower. I need to remember to wear my safety glasses when I do stupid stuff like that. More to keep the dust out of my eyes. But you never know when a twig or an undiscovered rock is going to go flying when you lift up the lawnmower to get at the top of the pile again.

This morning, I tackled the front yard. A lot of leaves there. Mostly the affore mentioned willow-types, but some from the dogwood on the other side. And a few adventurous maple leaves that were blown around the neighborhood. I only got three columns (curb to garden passes) before I had to empty the bagger. That is a lot of leaves. I actually filled the yard bin three times. Fortunately, the leaves are light and fluffy at this point, so it was easy to lug them to the compost pile. The last load I actually scooped up some leaves from the "gutter". I think I managed to keep the cigarette butts out. (The neighbors on both sides smoke.)

There are still plenty of leaves on the trees, so any more leaves in the front yard will have to be raked up. But that's good, my compost pile is only half full.

This morning was the first frost, that I witnessed. The grass in the yard wasn't white, but the areas beyond were. Brrr.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Harsh Wind

It feels like March this morning. Wind speeds in the 20s, gusting into the 30s. And the temperature is just slightly crisp in the mid-60s. The leaves are swirling all around. This is a good thing. Why would all the leaves falling off of the trees today be a good thing? Because my plan for celebrating Veteran's Day was to rake up leaves in my yard and dump them into the compost bin, after running them through the lawnmower for chopping.

However, if most of the little willowy-type leaves fall off of my neighbors' big tree, I can just run the lawnmower for one last time this season and chop them up while picking them up. Bagging mowers are the best! Even if the bag on mine is tiny. It will still do the job.

I will have to have one of my yard bins to empty the bagger into. I'm certain all those leaves will fill it up quite a few times. It will also fill up my compost bin nicely. Leaves are the perfect composting material. You don't have to mix it with anything. And it is nice crunchy "brown" material for composting with "green" material as well. Like the hostas. Which is something else I was planning to do. I still need to chop down the other hosta bed and mulch it.

But that will also require another trip to get mulch. Fortunately, the yard is apparently open on Veteren's Day. And if it isn't, I just get it on Saturday. That is if I have enough energy to get it after cleaning up my leaves. I'll probably have to rake what the lawnmower misses, but that is okay. I'll have to gather up the leaves from my deck too.

What a fall treat! And it will be cool enough tomorrow not to be all sweaty!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


From the want list:

Aside from the unfortunate circumstances of sharing a name with a pig, petunias are perfect. Something about the bell shapes is charming. And the butterflies find them likewise. The petunias on the cafeteria patio at work always attract them. And they bloom through out the summer.

I always intended to plant a lot of petunias next year. Raising them up from seeds, then splurging at the store when I saw lovely plants. However, Park's is weakening my knees with their Petunia Dolcissima Flambe. For some reason I just get giddy over the color combination on those petals. It drives me mad that they are already sold out! That is so unfair! I didn't get to order any yet! Whaaah!

But there are other petunia varieties out there. I will find some to plant.

(And the internet is finally working at work again! Hallelujah!)

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Long-Legged Varmin

When I was young, one of my favorite Disney movies was Bambi. (Of course, nothing beat Mary Poppins.) I cried when Bambi's mother was shot. Although, I cry in a lot of movies, so that does not mean much.

But over the years, there has been more and more reasons to not like deer. Like deer ticks and Lyme Disease. Like hopping across the road after staring at my little Neon. Like eating wonderful flowers and plants. Yes, they are a majestic, noble animal. However, like racoons and bears, I'd rather not have them near me. Or my garden.

So, when I went to a party my boss threw several years ago, I was not dismayed to learn that the delicious bar-b-que was made with deer meat. Right now, I actually assist several hunters I work with, by taking meat off of their hands. Leaving them free to go after more deer. It is good meat, too. The one hunter gets nuisance licences. Meaning when the deer are snacking on apples and corn, the local farmers ask him to take care of it. Tasty. The deer around here eat better than the cows.

So, when I saw Bambi and his mother out front yesterday, my first reaction was wanting to know where my hunting friends were. Second was to regret that they didn't use compound bows. After weeks of deer collision caused delays on the highways, and deer crashing into grocery stores, I welcome hunters. Because the local alternative seems to be giving the does a contraceptive that prevents them from going into heat. And that means more randy bucks who begin to think that cars smell in season.

I don't like the thought of over hunting a species. But there are too many deer in this metropolitian area. So, kill with rifle and bow, or kill with car, what kind of choice is that?

Monday, November 07, 2005


As it so happens, down by the county yard, there are plantings in the median strip. I noticed that they were red and white lantana. Now, these poor plants are doomed. They don't like snow. They don't like when the ground freezes. And they certainly aren't going to like snow plows and salt spray. That is if the city workers don't rip them out of the ground before all that happens.

So, where's the scandal? I think that would be me running out into an extremely busy intersection around 10 am on a Saturday morning with my trusty scissors to get some cuttings. We are talking high embarrassment factor here. I snipped two white cuttings and three red cuttings, before attempting to cross traffic again.

Safely at home, I further divided the cuttings while removing leave, so I had three white and four red. I dipped at least one node into Shultz's rooting compound, and sunk the stem into the dirt. I planted them into an African Violet planter. That's one of those pots that you put water in the bottom and it wicks into the dirt. I figured it would keep the cuttings nice and moist. I can move them later after the roots start.

I know that the white lantana is not the sterile variety. I got 3-5 berries off of the cuttings I brought home. I'm pretty sure there were berries on the red plants too, but I didn't grab any of those.

The two red cuttings that had the thickest stems, were wilting as of yesterday evening. I probably didn't remove enough leaves and flowers. I had only left them on for the picture. But I probably need to remove more leaves, so the plant can concentrate on putting down roots.

And this morning, there were two deer outside my house. A doe and a yearling were grazing in the grassy area across the way. I foolishly tried to snap some pictures. They probably won't turn out. I'll have to check this evening.

Of course, the real scandal here is the lousy internet connection at work. It's been wobbly for awhile, now, today, it's just down. :( I m

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Hostas Corralled

I set out Thursday night in the dark to build my compost bin. I forgot that you need to unroll plastic and let it sit with weights on, before you can do anything with it. So, I left it out with my two yard bins on either end till Friday.

It went together remarkably easy. Just 4 screws and wing nuts to hold it together. And viola!

I left it a little oblong just for aesthetics. I didn't put up the other compost bin, because I've got a lot to fill in this one, before I can even think about switching off. Now, in that picture you can see what the near frost did to my hostas. So, I decided that the first thing to go in the compost bin would be hosta leaves. I also needed to take down the hostas to see what was underneath them. I found that the patch by the fence was mostly bare earth, but there were some brown rocks by the fence. I should see about removing them next year.

I got another load of mulch this morning to finish covering the cleared hosta bed. I didn't hit the other hosta bed yet. There is a lot of weeding to be done under those hostas. And some back filling where I took the iris out. Heck, there might still be some iris in there.

That will be some afternoon next week. Not only is it a gorgeous Indian summer with highs in the 70s for another week, but today is an outage to see the foliage with my friends!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Growing the Wish List

Years ago, I used to dig through my mom's plant catalogs and plan out what I would put in my yard. This was very one sided, because she didn't get that big a selection of catalogs. And I was planning a shade garden for under all the trees I wanted.

The first thing I did once I finished moving in to my Little Blue House was to sign up to every plant catalog I could find. I took a couple weeks for them to start trickling in. They didn't come fast enough!

It is rough. Paging through catalogs and seeing all the spectacular plants and flowers and having a tiny little back yard. There isn't enough room to plant it all! And that's neglecting all the peonies I want to plant!

Mail order catalogs and internet shopping are great for promoting variety in the garden. You aren't limited to the few mass "produced" plants found in every box store's garden section. And if you have a theme, it is easier to find plants that fit.

But woe to the wallet. The amount of lust and planning that these catalogs stir up. But we all need that one special plant. And maybe that one too....

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Peony Plantings

Last night, I decided I want to stick my hands in some real dirt, so I planted peonies instead of playing with the compost bins.

I had picked up a bag of garden soil and some pots the other day. Good bag of soil, even if it did smell like a bog. Then again, that's the point. *smirk* Very nice consistancy. Although, I need to remember not to wear my tan work pants while gardening. Oh, well, it will wash out.

The pots had looked bigger before I started planting. Then again, the roots looked smaller before I removed the spagnum moss they were packed in. I need to keep reminding myself that they will not be living in the pots for more than this winter. And I am going to put them in the shed through the worst of the weather. I just wish I had the time, money and stamina to prepare that bed, but if wishes were horses, I'd have enough free fertilizer.

The grab bag included three double white peonies and three double pink peonies. The double white roots looked nicer than the double pink. But they were all great looking roots. The three whites had 5 eyes, 6 eyes and 7 eyes. While the three pinks had 3 eyes, 5 eyes and 6 eyes.

I tried to photograph my roots, but half of them didn't turn out well. I was losing the light as I was potting and didn't have time to mess with it.

I ended up planting them very close together, just because there wasn't room in the pots. But I'd probably have planted them that close anyway. I like tight groupings of flowers. The eyes are about an inch below the top of the soil, but I'm going to put mulch over top of that, so I didn't want them too deep.

I need to take it slow and steady. Gardening takes time. I don't need a yard full of peonies next year blooming in succession. But that doesn't stop me from wanting it. Humble beginnings.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Indian Summer Fun

Well, I might not have gotten frost yet, but the region has had frost. So, I feel perfectly justified in calling nice warm spell an Indian Summer. It has been beautiful. Just the kick in the pants to put the final touches on the garden before winter. If it didn't get dark so blasted early.

Anyway, Monday was gorgeous and I changed into a T-shirt and jeans after getting off work early and headed to the county yard for mulch. I remember why I was procrastinating. Somewhere along the line, I lost a ton of muscle tone. It is especially telling in my abs and hips. Oh, it hurt hauling mulch.

My yard bins are only half size, but you actually have to carry the things. (Not that wheeled bins actually roll.) And the easiest path to my back yard is through the house. But the mulch is damp and heavier than normal. And like I said, I'm so out of shape.

Two trips to the yard did me in. Although, to be fair, the yard is in a mess of traffic and I wasn't going to brave afternoon rush hour to get a third, even if I was in shape.

I did snag two free compost bins in my travels. I meant to set them up last night, but by the time I got done running errands I didn't run on Monday, it was too dark.

There's always tonight, if I don't do the peonies tonight.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Treats Galore!

First off, yes, the pep talk worked. I hauled two loads of mulch and picked up two free composting bins. Peonies also arrived. The one I peaked at had 6, possibly 7 eyes. :)

But today, we focus on the Halloween summary.

First thing, buy more candy next year. This was the first time in this neighborhood, so I wasn't sure of the amount I'd need. I guessed 3 bags with a reserve bag would see me through. WRONG! I was dipping into the reserve bag fairly early. And I actually had to tap my stash! Well, the stash I feed my friends. My stash is one pound bags of M&Ms. No sharing there! So, next year, 6-7 bags minimum.

Second, the trend was either to take orange and red colored candy wrappers, or take unusual candies. The Fast Breaks and Take 5s vanished, but two Butterfingers survived. I also need to remember to pick up non-chocolate, non-nut candies for variety.

Third, they started at 5:30, just after it got dark. Granted, I put the glow stick out and turned on the light at 5:15. But, I was answering the door, while trying to make dinner. So, I need to eat earlier next year, and not make an involved dinner, either. The last kid came right at 8:00. I didn't take down the glow stick until 8:15.

Fourth, I need to figure out something better with lighting. My porch light is either off, or motion sensative. There is no permanently on. I compensated by hanging a two year old glow stick from it. I'll need to come up with something flashier for next year. Possibly a string of glow lights hanging from the porch roof.

Halloween was a success. Especially since Mother Nature provided us with a treat of a gorgeous 70 degree afternoon, only sinking into the upper 50s by 8 pm. (This is also part of the reason why I managed to do all that mulch hauling.) Edit: It is also the wettest October on record with 9.41".

And in parting, my maize.