Monday, December 31, 2007


Well, as the year winds up, I find that I haven't blogged nearly enough, there are hundreds of unedited pictures in my computer, and leaves still in my front yard. Peonies didn't recover and bloom, but I still bought more. I finally got around to purchasing bulbs to stick in the ground, but 8 are still unplanted and I don't know where I want to stick them. I have plans of a red clematis to let grow over my stairs, so they won't be an eye sore when I sit in my swing and its a lot of my yard without flowers.

The canoe eats up my weekends, but that's what its for. I wasn't really getting that much more mowing and garden preparation anyway, and there's always the time for that in spring when it's too cold to be on the water. Or fall. Speaking of which, I need to rotate my compost pile more often.

May 2008 be better.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Danger Will Robinson

Well, it's been a couple of weeks and still nothing has set off the traps aside from a shoe discarded into the wrong corner. I'm guessing the mouse moved on, if it was even in the house to begin with. Especially since the bird seed doesn't seem to be targeted.

I knew not getting a tree this year was a bad thing. I found myself cruising the bargin ornament displays and came home with a few. Not much, but a few balls and a set of bells for an uncluttered tree. Too bad the "green" for the year is a lousy lime green. Not at all what I associate with Christmas.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Merry Un-Christmas!

Christmas has passed. I got a semi-white Christmas by going to visit family. But even then, a big warm rain event washed away most of their ice and snow on the Sunday before. I did the whole spiel from making Christmas cookies to wrapping presents and writing Christmas cards. I got the card in the mail before Christmas, but only just. The others were hand delivered as it were. I don't do many cards.

My Christmas tree for this year was theirs. My December was too jumbled between the cruise and going up there on Saturday. And then New Year's celebrations are stretched out as well. But I got to decorate theirs, since my dad procrastinated until Saturday to buy one. Pretty good tree for a clearance tree.

On Sunday, with a little bit of prodding, my mom finished the top for the quilt she is making me. Big deal since she started hand piecing it in February of 1993. Let's just say it wasn't the most consistant sewing project. Especially since it took me about 10 years to get her to do the marking on her own.

Monday morning saw me crawling around on my hands and knees in the dining room pin basting it. Between her hip and the arthritis in her back, I couldn't let her do it. It was placed in my old Grace hoop yesterday. Go Mom! My brother requests that it take less than 15 years to quilt it... But he's just being pushy.

Friday, December 21, 2007

No Results

Well, last weekend's big ice storm missed us. All rain. Then wind. Then frigid temperatures. And I seemed to have lost my knit hat. Oh, well, bought a new one. That's how these things go.

No results from the snap traps. Which is good. It could have just been a dream reminent and I'm okay with that. I wasn't really awake that morning. Although, it did get me to fix the entry into the attic/crawlspace. Didn't realize that the one bit was only held in by the other blocks holding to the wall. Well, some nails fixed that. Closing that closet door helped with the rest.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Sweet Relief

In one of those nanny firewall incidents, it had looked like I was going lose posting on my blog and commenting on all blogger hosted sites. Yesterday, nanny blocked the log-in since it was flagged "web chat" in the documentation. I don't pretend to understand how websites do that to be seen in search engines and how nanny firewalls see that to block them, but it happens. Thankfully, someone protested to IT and Blogger is back on the approved list!

Unfortunately, this is tempered by the fact that I saw a mouse-like scuttle out of the corner of my eye this morning. This is really disturbing, despite the fact that it probably only just moved in with the cold snap and the week of no one in residence. The disturbing part is that it was on the second floor with the bedrooms. And it was going into the junk storage room. No food in there, but lots of boxes and mementos strewn about the floor. Precious papers and fabrics that could be used as nests. Eek!

Now I could understand a mouse being sighted in the pantry, or the kitchen or where I keep the bird seed and turtle food. Those are logical places. But upstairs where I sleep! No way! So, today after work, or rather after the Office Christmas party/dinner, I need to pick up snap traps and peanut butter. Yuck.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

First Snowfall

Well, we had the first snowfall of the season here. Right at about the same time as everyone else, I guess. I wouldn't know. See, the snow happened while I was off on a cruise. Ha-ha! What timing! Granted, there was that low pressure weather maker in San Diego that gave us a few worries on landing. Which lead to a surprise landing in LA, before finally touching down in San Diego. But it was sunny and warm in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Beautiful too. Spent a lot of time in the pool on the ship, because it was open and I didn't feel like a shore exursion. I did set foot in Mexico to buy Chrismas presents/souveiners, though.

A rough front moved through and gave the boat a lot of chop. The sea was so rough, they closed the port of Enscanada, Mexico. Oops. And because it was so rough, they kept a cover on the pool. Now of course the funny part is that back on land in San Diego, we went to see the famous San Diego Zoo. Beautiful tropical plants all over the place. But it was so cool there, that they put the tortoises inside under their heat lamps. Booo! I missed Zeppe's relations. But still, it was rather impressive that they looked after their animals like that.

So, I'm back home to melting snow. The leaves need cleaned up, but it's too wet to go out with my mower. Fortunately, there are supposed to be some high fifty degree days this coming week, so I won't freeze too much getting that done.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


So, I bought a new winter jacket last Friday. Today it is going up to seventy degrees. I actually am wearing a t-shirt and am still warm. And of course, it is supposed to change midday tomorrow back to cold and blustery. *sigh* People are going to catch colds due to this.

My bulbs still appear to be undisturbed and in the ground. Whew. It does seem that planting before a good soaking rain (that repeats itself every couple of days) is a good strategy to avoid the squirrels finding them right after you plant them.

On that note, I'm not really going to engage in an arms race with the squirrels forcing them to involve and become our intellectual equals. I don't try and keep them off the bird feeder. I mean really, it's a plate on the deck. And I don't try and keep them away from my bulbs. Tulips are a toss up anyway, since they do not naturalize here. And I know they don't eat daffodils. But I still prefer for what I plant to stay planted, instead of tucking it in five times because the squirrels needed to see what might be under the pansies. Meh.

It's just enough that they haven't disturbed the tulip bulbs yet.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Muddy Bulbs

Tuesday, while the weather was still warm and the ground was soaked, I planted all 65 of my daffodil bulbs and about 16 of my tulip bulbs. I left the rest of the tulips to serve as replacements, since they are tasty to squirrels.

The main problem is that I had to remain hunched over and squatting while digging all those holes. It was too wet and muddy to kneel. Not to mention planting in the back of the garden bed.

When I checked again last night, I didn't see any squirrel damage. Maybe planting between the rain drops helped. It certainly washed away that fresh dirt smell, and one muddy spot looked like the other.

It is still raining. Instead of wiping out the drought in Autumn, we seem to be doing it November. That would be good, except of course for the waterlogged ground.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Frosted Nyger

Well, even if I hadn't called first frost earlier, Thursday morning, Saturday morning and today definitely counted. I'm going to have to do a garden clean up later. This will have finished off the last of the summertime plants, so it's time for a proper clean up. I'll also have to take my yard vacuum, better known as my bagging mower, and pick up some leaves off of my front yard for mulching.

I also picked up 20 pounds of nyger seeds for the feeder. The supermarket sells tiny bags, so it's just easier to go to my local Wild Birds Unlimited store and pick up a big bag. The container I had to put it in was a little too small for the 20 pound bag. So, I ended up putting the extras into some gallon jugs I have around the house. Turns out to be a pretty convient way to pour the seed into the finch socks.

My little junco buddies have also shown up.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Anything But Mellow Yellow

A week or so ago, I had taken down the hummingbird feeder for the last cleaning of the year and replaced it with a goldfinch sock. The idea to apologize for not managing to grow sunflowers this year. I had known that something had found it, but given that I am not home much during the day, I had to wait till a day off to explore the identy of the feeders.

Today, I found that it was at least six goldfinches in winter plummage. There were at least four at any one time. And since the sock is two thirds emptied, there was a lot of jockeying for position where there was still seed. It was an adorable and amusing display of yellowed wings.

And now I'm left contemplating getting a second hanger so I can put up a second sock. Not that any goldfinch goes hungry, but they are just so adorable to watch.

In less adorable news, the light rain that is falling today has a chance to change over to snowflakes tonight. Not the type that would actually lay, but still. It is much, much too early for such a thing. Despite snowstorms of past years.

Edit: Make that at least a dozen goldfinches and at least two regular brown type finches that refuse to be bullied by the small yellow one. I'm definitely picking up another sock and ordering another pole.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Halloween Wrap Up

A day late, but so it goes. My treat this year was to get out early and enjoy planting peonies and petunias in 70 degree temperatures. Two peonies in their raised bed and 18 petunias, six in with the peonies. I also cut down the old peony leaves and some spent milkweed. No nibblers this year except for the milkweed beetles.

My trick was heading off my laughter yoga class at 7 pm, in the middle of the Trick or Treat time period. Normally, the kids would be tapering off at that point, but they started a lot later this year because of extended sunlight. The first kids were at 6 and they really didn't start coming until 6:30. Ah, well, I had bought less candy this year anyway.

Also, some research shows that I can plant my bulbs between now and Thanksgiving. Probably Veteren's day weekend if it is warm enough.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Drought Buster

Well, not much happened last week, except nearly six inches of rain in my rain bucket. That's pretty cool, in and of itself. And it was slow and steady stretched out over several days, so it soaked in. The airports got a lot less, but then they always seem to get less.

With the rain came cooler temperatures. Much cooler temperatures. It seemed to go right past lightweight jackets to winter jackets. Brrr. Today has been declared the first official frost in my yard. The grass wasn't exactly white, but everything else was. Plus, the temperatures were bound to dip further after I left. That's good enough for me.

Now, I just need the sun to help dry up the compost so I can plant my peonies!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Compost Sifting

Last night our boss had us out to an all you can eat meat buffet as a gesture of how much he appreciates the hard work we've been doing. The up shot of all of that, is that I found myself in the garden this morning trying to work off the meal from last night.

Since I need to create a home for my new peonies, Julia Rose and Big Ben, I began by digging out the fense bed. It was never more than leaves smothering grass, with a few flowers poked in this summer. I sifted all the dirt and removed some rocks. I was surprised with how few rocks there were to pick out.

Then I shifted the compost pile. It's sat for three years. I needed at the bottom, plus it needed mixed up good. So, relocating it was a good thing to do. I managed to find some nice compost at the bottom, but it is a little too mud-like to use my screen sifter for more than the bare minimum to put back in the garden. Right now I'm letting it settle. Maybe it'll be ready to work on the raised bed part tomorrow.

Friday, October 19, 2007

34 Days Later

It's been 34 days without appreciable rain at the local airports. I'd gotten a few passing showers that just wetted the pavement at my place in that time. We're hoping the storms coming this afternoon have a lot of moisture in them, but it won't be enough to put a dent in our nearly a foot deficit.

After dipping into the thirties last weekend, we've had a gorgeous week with highs in the 80s. It is decidedly annoying. I have two new peonies to plant, and I want it cool enough to actually prepare the bed. To say nothing of giving the rhisomes a good dormancy period.

One of the peonies arrived the other night. I recieved a daylily as a free gift. Gold City Sue. Now I have to figure out where to plant that too...

Saturday, October 13, 2007


There was a very confused bird in my yard while I was mowing this morning. It kept being surprised by the fact that I would walk under my deck to empty the bagger on my lawnmower into the compost pile. Once it even flew into my shed. I thought it was finally gone after I finished mowing. I brought out my new swing hammock and rocked for awhile, listening to a woodpecker searching for bugs.

Boy, was I surprised when I went into the house to get something to drink, the bird had flown into the basement! I think it was a catbird, based on the size and color. It was a little small and didn't have the white patches under the wings to be a mockingbird. I managed to manuever around it to chase it back outside. It just sat on my compost pile and called a little bit. I wonder what is wrong with it. I'll put some seed out later.

Meanwhile, earlier in the week, while I was in Home Depot to get some more hardware for my swing hammock, I picked up a pack of double yellow daffodils and a pack of peony-type tulips. I might go back for another pack of daffodils, but I don't really expect the tulips to survive the squirrels. Now, I just have to wait till proper planting time.....

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Dragging On

Where as the region has not had appriciable rainfall in twenty some odd days, I was undergoing a flood at work. Which is not good, since I blog on my morning breaks.

However, there isn't necessarily that much to blog about. We're getting our "Indian Summer" slash heat wave. We've been setting record highs in the 90s. And although the back yard is going gangbusters, the front yard has brown patches underneath. Which is why I'm not going to mow that until after we get some real rain. Better long then dead.

About the only thing I accomplished was buying a hammock chair and mounting it under the deck. It is a cozy cocoon. I just have to buy some more S-hooks, so I can actually climb into it without a step ladder.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Summer Weather Lingers On

It was a beautiful last weekend of summer. The warm temperatures are going to stick around for most of this week too, although the nights are the typical autumn coolness. In fact, when I was out canoeing on Saturday, the early trees were starting to turn at the lake.

The garden is stuck between a sense of urgency to get it all accomplished before winter sets in, and not wanting to get it done too early so that everything sprouts and is killed. Still some of the clean up can get done.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Jacket Weather

Autumn seems to have arrived a weekend early this year. I had to pull in all of my tropicals that were on the deck Saturday. It's been dipping down into the 40s at night. Monday morning I broke out the light weight jacket. No frost advisories yet, so that is good.

I've been slowly working on the weeds in my gardens. Granted, I wouldn't have had this problem if I had a better ground cover in the one bed. I need to plant earlier next year, so they can establish better, before the heat and slugs do them in.

Oh, another thing that I like and wouldn't do in my garden -- daliahs. I just don't want to dig up bulbs ever fall to replant the next summer.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Not In My Garden

Blackswamp Girl introduced a challenge to write about plants we like when we see them elsewhere, but never really want to put in our personal gardens. Normally, I don't do memes, but it is an interesting theme, and no tagging of other people!

1) Roses. I like roses. My mom has always had roses. But honestly, the care and upkeep required for most roses is beyond me. Especially pest control. I know there are easier roses out there, but I certainly don't want to play the game of finding which ones these are for my location.

2) Wisteria. Now, this is a plant I love and adore. I'd love to have it in my garden, except that it is a demolitions expert. It gets big and heavy and will pull down flimsy support, like your house. I certainly don't have the will to build something robust enough, especially when I rent.

3) Honeysuckle. I love the smell and it hearkens back to childhood, but I don't want to navigate the field of invasives and non-natives. If I'm going to have thugs, they're going to be native thugs. That and I don't have room for bushes.

4) Lantana. This is actually a plant I've had in the garden, but I lost patience with it. It has to be overwintered in my region and it is a pain in the house. It lived in a perpetual state of dying, and that smell when I went to deadhead it was terrible. Petunias and million bells fill the niche on the deck better and just need regular watering.

Honorary Mention (since it was here when I moved in)

5) Hosta. Sure, they look nice and cover lots of space, but I'd rather plant coral bells if I have the shade. They just look too big in my garden. And removing all those spent flower stalks is a pain. Besides, the big ones under my deck get plenty of sun and are hogging the space that a butterfly bush could be using....

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Busted Rain Days

So, Gabrielle passed the DC metro by, preferring to concentrate all her fire on the Carolina coast, and then ride off into the sunrise. (Well, she turned East, at least.) And that is totally my fault. See, I planned on Gabby watering my plants this weekend while I was out of town. *sigh* They all bounced back, but it was a browning experience. :(

While I was away, I finished my 9/11 Memorial Quilt, titled "Blood, Smoke and Dust". I like it. The folks in at work liked it.

And the back so you can see the quilting.

Not the best pictures. The red is a little more uniform. I'll try again tomorrow for better. I've lost the light tonight and interior lights don't cut it. (As you can see.)

Thursday, September 06, 2007


Yesterday while I was walking to the car, my eyes fell upon the dead pine trees lining the walk. It isn't really their fault, since the added walkway involved massive clearing with heavy construction equipment. But I was eyeing them with trepidation all the same. Not because I mind dead trees creating environment for the wildlife, but rather because there's a system that will turn tropical and pelt the coast with some rain this weekend. Trees like that tend to come down in storms, that have a tropical pedigree around here.

And yet, while I was worrying about the weather, I heard a bird calling insistantly. I scanned the dead trees and finally spotted a flicker feeding. And I suddenly felt better about the trees.

There is also a golden (chrysanthe)mum now gracing my deck. I am weak at the grocery store, especially when they are fragrant.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Always When I'm Late

Aside from last week's big push to clean up, I've been distracted from the garden by another big push. A quilt to finish. Specifically my 9/11 memorial quilt. Now, admittedly, it has taken a bit long, but I did complete another quilt and have worked on two other tops in the years since 2001. But I am so close to finishing it this year for the anniversary. So, I've been racing ahead. Although, I think this is the last time I quilt with a quarter of an inch separation between the lines of stitches.

Now, with that in mind, we come to Saturday. As I'm finishing up my drink before heading out the door for Labor Day weekend fun times. Running late as it so happens as well. When by chance, I look out the screen door and see a hummingbird fly past. And land on the feeder. And take a drink. From the empty feeder that needs cleaned. She flew off seeking nectar that was actually there. But what is there to do when the first hummingbird of the year is spotted on an empty feeder, but to take time out to clean and refill the feeder?

I wouldn't feel too bad, there are two other feeders on the neighbor's deck, but my first sighting of the year. *sigh*

Friday, August 31, 2007

Weeds I Want

So, after mowing Wednesday in a move that more in line with self preservation, than aesthetics, I tackled the weeds in the gardens. Zeppe and I were amazed to find that the milkweed was being attacked by another nebulous wildflower. The bird bath garden is now relatively safe for flowers everywhere, but I'll need to keep after the grass.

After that, I tackled the deadheading of the beebalm. Normally, I'm not big on deadheading. The birds can make better use of the seeds than I can. And free flowers next year. But beebalm is enough of a thug that I don't need to give it any mercy. One thing I did find odd about the experience was that it smelled more like oregano than mint.

I did have an oregano plant a long time ago, and I did harvest it for use as spices. But its path to garden supremecy was blunted by the chocolate mint that was planted beside it. I think I had vague leanings towards chewing on the leaves as a breath freshener. Now, it's the groundcover of choice in my dad's yard, simply because it is easier than removing it. And it does smell nice when he mows it.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Year 3

Wow, entering year three here at The Little Blue House. I've passed my (near history) record. I have to go back over ten years to have been at a place longer than two years, and the last place was just shy of the two year mark. Granted, I'm spending it fear of what happens to a lawn that receives 3 inches of rain in as many days after suffering from drought.

In other news, I'm about to launch into a fall buying spectacular. Queued up for purchase; 1) daffodil bulbs, 2) peonies, 3) materials to construct a raised garden for the new peonies, 4) a swing hammock for one, 5) some sort of edging brick/paver, and a possible 6) tulip bulbs. I'm still not decided on tulips. We shall see....

Monday, August 20, 2007

Drought Hazzard

The biggest problems with droughts, is when you get rain in the middle of the night. Last night I was soundly sleeping with the window open, since the heat had broke last night and the night air was cooler than where I set my AC. While the periods of waking up and shifting and going back to sleep are quite normal in the middle of the night, it is a different kind of thing to wake up and realize that you have to move. Like to close the window against rain. While, most nights that I would do this task I'd just go back to sleep right away, last night was different. After being so long without a good soaking rain, I actually stayed awake to listen to the lovely sound.

But oh, I could have used that extra sleep. ;)

Friday, August 10, 2007

Blithering Idiot

Today, I was a complete blithering idiot. Oh, I had an okay day. Did some shopping. Got the groceries I've been putting off. But because of taking a fishing class that ran way too late two days this week, I'm run down. So, while practicing my casting outside, I was faced with the reality that I haven't mowed my back lawn in weeks. And it needed it before the stretch of hot weather that kept me from doing any yardwork.

And, let me tell you, there's nothing worse than staring at the jungle that your edging has become. Unless. Unless after a long day on a day that is only cool by comparison to the 102 degree record set early this week, you decide enough is enough and go after it with your mower. Your mower that has a tiny bagger that fills up three times when you were keeping up with the mowing. ARGH!

I am tired. I am sweating. And I don't even have a completely mowed lawn. I'm going to have to go back another day this weekend. And that's not counting the tall stalks of grass that are using my flowers as cover. I pulled one of those yellow clover weeds out of my beebalm, that was as tall AS the beebalm. Ugh. Bad gardener.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Code Goldenrod

I wonder if all those air quality alerts take into account the fact that the goldenrod is blooming? Not that goldenrod is the culprit, mind you. I actually like goldenrod as a flower. But I dread its appearance. Mother Nature, in all her wisdom, decided to make it the warning signal of hay fever season. Now, it is nice to have a highly visible and distinctive flower to see that lets people know why they are sniffling. But it does seem a bit unfair to the poor goldenrod.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Sunbaked Showers

We had some nice steady rain Monday morning. Not near enough, but still, I can't say it was entirely welcome. The humidity outside is off the chart in my opinion. And the rain only seemed to make it more steamy.

My sunflowers seem to have bit the dust. I'm probably going to throw some of the remaining seeds into the garden after the heat breaks on Wednesday. In addition to the promise of cooler temperatures, there is a promise of at least a little rain.

I also need to get out and see if deadheading the beebalm gets them to rebloom. Those flowers take a long time to finish, and I don't feel like robbing the bees of any pollen in a rush to rebloom.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Dog Days

The ancient Greeks in their attempt at science, looked up at the heavens and figured out why the days of late July and early August were so hot. Given their clumsy (to us) view of the universe, they saw that the brightest star in the sky was Sirius in the constellation Canis Major. As the seasons change the constellations rise and set in different places. The hotest part of the summer, Sirius rises and sets in daylight. The Greeks assumed that the heat of the Dog Star added to the heat of the Sun and thus, the days were particularly oppressive.

Meanwhile, the modern weatherman describes the situation as a batch of particularly warm air is sitting on top of the region, and the strong rays of the sun keep heating the air but not enough to cause widespread instabilities (thunderstorms). And this slug of high pressure is just going to hang out until a very strong front can knock it out of position.

Either way, it's hot, it's humid, it's oppressive. I love my AC.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Steamy Outdoors

Well, after a couple days of feeling like the bathroom after you just got out of the shower, we finally received some rain. Not much rain, not near enough rain, but nothing to snear at either. Showers are still working their way through the area, there is hope for a little more at least.

At this point, I need a little bit more, before I feel comfortable mowing my back yard. There's something disturbing when you can see where you walked a couple days ago. I would like to keep the grass/clover ecosystem healthy back there. Good for the bees. Otherwise, I'd probably risk killing it by stress.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Hydrangea Blues

My hydranea is doing beautifully. Even with the late frost that burned some of the tips. The only problem is that I don't know if I can repeat this feat next year. Why?

Because it is a lovely mix of pink, purple and blue flowers. Now, I prefer the blue ones, they coordinate better with my house. I just adore the purpleness of the flowers. And the pink are pretty too.

But because the colors are dependent on soil pH, this kind of transitional state is hard to accomplish, let alone maintain. The soil tends towards base. And I prefer acidic colors. I got around this by putting my Christmas tree needles around the base of the hydrangea last winter. But who knows what it will look like next year.

Oh, and a brief rant, work seems to have decided that the photo sharing sites take too much bandwidth now. :/ I can't look at picture gallaries online anymore. *cries* How am I supposed to get through the work day?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Washed Out

No, not the garden. I wish there had been some rain this weekend, though. Earth is starting to crack where the mulch isn't covering it. No, all my light colored flowers get washed out. I finally had a good mix of clouds and sun, but they are still a little faded.

First, the lone purplish beebalm.

It happens to be in a light pink clump that looks like this.

Hostas are so faintly purple, they're practically white.

The shed might be washed out, but the black-eyed susans are going strong.

However, no washed out colors over by the orange butterfly weed.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Peony Progress

First, the black eyed susans are bursting into bloom. The leaves are a little ragged from all the munching bugs, but not too bad. More butterfly weed is popping up. The Monarch butterflies still haven't discovered this small stand.

My peonies are putting up new leaf stalks. Since this isn't normal peony behavior, I'm going to assume that is where the energy normally used to bloom went. The two main culprits are the ones that were looking the worst for wear. So, it is good to see them with more leaves. And since I am going to be renting this Little Blue House for at least another year, I'll get to see them bloom next year! And add more!

Monday, July 16, 2007


I caught sight of the black and white cat this morning. On my deck of all places. I'm pretty sure it is somebody's outdoor cat, becaus it has been around for at least two years. It is fleshy enough that someone is feeding it. But this is the first time I've spotted it in my yard. I can't say I'm happy to see it checking out the bird feeder.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Fluorescent Pain

So, a couple weeks ago the fluorescent bulb in my aquarium burned out. Pain in the butt getting for a full spectrum bulb that size, much less how much they cost. But safely gotten and changed, and now I read the fine print on the box "Do not dispose of in trash". Huh?

While it has been sitting there waiting for me to figure out what to do with it, I heard a snippet on the radio. Fluorescent bulbs contain mercury, which we all know is pretty bad for the environment, especially my buddy the Chesapeake Bay. Even those "environmentally friendly" compact fluorescents. Yikes!

So, what does good ol' Mont Co have to help us safely dispose of such things? They recommend,
"Fluorescent bulbs and tubes -- including compact fluorescent bulbs -- from your home should be taken to one of our Household Hazardous Waste collection sites. However, if this is not practical, you may dispose of these bulbs and tubes in your normal household trash."
??? The trash? Throw mercury into the landfill. Wow. Burn electricity or bury mercury. Oh, wait, they do recommend wrapping the bulb in paper so it will be contained if the bulb breaks. Silly me, what was I concerned about? :(

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Hose

Well, I watered my garden. Not because of any need of water. Despite it being dry, it hasn't been that dry. Besides which, I grow hardy flowers that just need a little protection from an overly abundant slug popluation. A little drought won't affect them.

No, I watered them because I had the hose out. Why did I have the hose out? Because I needed to wash the salt water off of my canoe. :) Whoo-hoo! I had my little Pack out on the Bay! That was really fun while I was out there. I've been in pain ever since from the extreme workout. There was so much chop to compensate for. But I loved it.

However, between the sore muscles and the heat index around 100 degrees, I've been enjoying my flowers from inside this week. At least the hydrangea is right by the door...

Friday, July 06, 2007


So, I totally intended to post some photos of my yard. I really did. I took the photos, I even managed to download them to my computer (after a couple hours had passed). Except, I took them when the sun was clearly from the wrong direction and completely washed them out. That is when they were in focus. D'oh! Now, normally, I'd just go back out and take some more, except by then it had started to rain. And by the time I'd notice it was not raining, it would start by the time I got down the stairs. *sigh*

But other than that, we've been getting little storm cells drifting through on a regular basis the past two evenings. Not really enough rain to do anything, than make it steamy.

Monday, July 02, 2007


My next round of flowers has finally started. It turns out that I have the pink variety of beebalm. Which is odd, since I dug red and purple clumps out of my parents yard. Still, a very pretty color set against the hosta blooms. And the bees aren't complaining.

Unfortunately, my butterfly weed is bright orange. Normally, I wouldn't care (although I prefer the yellow variety that I collected seeds from) but I have bright fushia million bells right in front of it! Yikes! But I guess I can live with it. After all, I was worried that the million bells were doomed after the snails got them. I should be happy for a come back.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Steamy Windows

You know it is a bad sign when the windows fog up from the steamy conditions outside. When it is before dawn.

My petunias are actually thriving in semi-neglect on the deck. I really need to get them in the ground this weekend.

Hydrangea definitely needs more acid fertilizer this year. I need to make sure to do that. The Christmas tree needles was not enough on its own.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

June Buds

I think people who report a lack of bees in their yards should plant more clover in their lawns. That's where I see all the bees. And then I went and cut it all down last night. Ah, well.

Milkweed is in bud. So, is the beebalm. Evening primrose is just about done, but the black-eyed susans that are intersperced with the primrose is about to bloom. The hostas have their shoots up. Buds have not yet put in an appearance, but it is only a matter of time with the flower stalks up.

Sluggo seems to be working. The petunias that were eaten down to the nubs are showing signs of leaf growth.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Wasteland

I am finding myself doing a lot of watering this summer. Not that it is overly dry outside. I tend to let the garden fare for itself. Everything is hardy enough to weather a little drought. Not to mention the fact that it is wetlands makes it a little moister than most areas, even if it is sunbaked.

No, I'm referring to the sunbaked wasteland which is my deck. More specifically, my container plants on said deck. After all, several of them are cursed with original potting soil from the store. Eww. And they get full sun. I baked my sunflower seedlings out there and now only the strongest are left.

I need to put out something to catch the rain, so I don't have to water from the spigot. Every week for the indoor plants is fine, but every day for the deck containers is too much. And if I use it regularly, there won't be the mosquito larva issue. Maybe another cheap bucket so I can poor it into my watering can...

Monday, June 18, 2007

Seasonably Unusual

Our unseasonably cool temperatures have given way to unseasonably warm temperatures. Which really only means that I go from saving electricity to running the AC, including the ever popular forgetting to set it to day time temperatures when I leave for work in the morning.

The hydrangea is budding out. There should be some blue there this afternoon. And the milkweed is following in suit. Still no nibble holes in it though. The one plant in the garden that I'm disappointed that it isn't being eaten.

Speaking of being eaten, I really hope the Sluggo produces results.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Stay of Sluggo

So, the slugs have earned a reprieve. The Sluggo has arrived, but the past two evenings have been the definition of bad weather. While the hail and tornado watches haven't hit the slice of DC Metro I call home, the ferocious thunderstorms have. Not the sort of weather that one goes out to kill slugs in. No need to tempt the lightning gods. There have been enough house fires caused by lightning strikes in the past two days.

In other news, the lightning bugs are out. The weird thing is that I don't see them at twilight. Okay, so not much is out at twilight with these storms. But I'm seeing them when I get up for work at 4:30 in the morning. That is odd.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Trundling Along

I've come down with a cold, so I've been taking it easy. No reason to come down with mucus-fest in this beautiful weather.

Zeppe helped out in the yard Saturday morning while I was weeding. He ate a slug. Too bad it was one out in the grass, but still one less slug. I wish he had been more inclined to eat slugs, but I had to squish the others I found myself.

I've gotten fed up with the mollusks and ordered some Sluggo. It should arrive later this week. The only things they don't eat are the evening primroses and the peonies. Small blessings. But my poor petunias. Enough is enough.

I also did a little bit of pruning out front. I removed some of the frost kill on the hydrangea. And I tried to tame the holly bush. I'd really rather let it take over, but it keeps trying to block the mailbox. I can't have that happen.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Lawn Again

So, I mowed the lawn again last night. I probably would have gotten away without doing it, but some of the grass was sending up seedheads. It might have been the wonderful weather (dry mid-70s) or the fact that I've been getting more exercise (canoeing), but I managed to get all of the front and all but a tiny sliver of the back mowed before I had to call it quits. Yea me!

Some of my milkweed sprouted. Law of the perverse dictated that it the seeds planted closest to the peonies. No sign of Monarch caterpillers yet...

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Lawn Delay

Last night I got a "Get out of mowing free card with bonus gift" in the form of pop up showers that drenched my area. Always good. Even if the weedy grass sent up seed stalks last week that needs cut down. We need the rain. I could stand to put up with it again tonight. And Wednesday it will actually be cool enough to mow!

Also on the to do list is pruning the rhodadendrons. I want flowers next year, not new growth.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Bye Bye Barry

The remnants of Tropical Storm Barry moved through the area yesterday, dropping less than an inch of rain. Much needed rain. It was the fourth driest May on record.

I bought my own canoe Friday night and spent the weekend learning that I have lost any and all upper body muscles. At the lake we also spotted beavers, a bald eagle, and a tiny fawn. It was so young it didn't move when we approached it.

I would have mowed my lawn, but between the heat and Barry, I didn't get around to it. We'll see if it is try enough tonight, when it is actually cool.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Code Orange

Well, it's been awhile since the DC region got its last serious rainfall. A couple of hit or miss storms over Memorial Day weekend didn't cut it. There are a lot of regions, outside of my little area of wetlands, that have dusty dirt. We seriously need rain, and it doesn't appear to be coming until next week, if then.

In addition, today is hitting hazy, hot, and humid. Not even June and we're in a summer patter with highs in the 90s predicted. Which is a Code Orange air day. Not good for the breathing. :(

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Stiff Neck

I hope everyone had a glorious Memorial Day weekend, celebrating the freedoms that our veterans fought valiantly to protect. I got back out to City Hall to look at more peonies. However, I still haven't downloaded the pictures from my camera.

After that, I discovered that the local parks mean Memorial Day, not the Friday of that weekend when renting boats. Boo. So, after making alternate plans, a friend and I went canoeing on Sunday morning. It was barely two hours, but I am very stiff after the work out I got. I haven't been canoeing in ages, and I certainly haven't worked those muscles like that since then.

Then in complete foolishness, when I was out shopping, I walked around the pond at the one shopping complex. I say foolishness, because I wore my summer sandals that I haven't accustomed my feet to yet. Ouch. Blisters on the bottoms of both feet, on top of the rest of the aches and pains. What a glorious weekend.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

30s Free

Well, it seems the last date for lows in the 30s for the DC metro is May 22nd. And then we're good until September 22nd. What a delightful growing season.

I don't think much of beer as slug bait. Only a handful of slugs have flung themselves to their doom since Sunday. Granted, that's more than my usual ignore them campaign, but less than my squishing session. If they stuck to the hostas or the beebalm, I wouldn't care at all, but they are going gaga in the iris.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Last Petunia

Okay, I managed to grab a red petunia at the grocery store last night. So, after that is in the ground, my garden will be complete. Well, aside from the fifty million peonies I can't afford yet.

I did manage to get a couple shots of the plants I currently have in the garden. Starting with my new planter with three million bells and a mixed petunia.

Most of my yellow iris in bloom.

My fancy marigolds. I need to write down what the tag said for these.

And my two hanging baskets of million bells. The purple ones didn't have a tag, while the yellow ones are Calie Yellow.

Oh, I also finished editing the peony pictures. The rest are all uploaded to my album.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Schwartz Peony Gardens

Last Saturday, and most likely this upcoming Friday, I visited the Schwartz Peony Gardens. Or what is more commonly known as Gaithersburg City Hall grounds. There is a selection of peonies in a couple of different spots around the grounds, but they are unlabeled. Which stands to figure since they are the remnants of someone's garden. There were primarily three different varieties blooming, with two other one offs, and several more varieties in bud.

Most of the pictures can be found in my album, where the rest will be added later. Sadly the sun was gorgeous and washed out most of the pictures of the pale pink and white varieties.

And I'm now less paranoid about the size of my peony bushes. Of the peonies I saw, there were several bushes that were the same size as mine. And they were blooming away.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Busy Weekend

I had a fun weekend. Friday after work and Saturday afternoon, I bought more plants. More million bells and another petunia. So, I have a yellow and a purple million bells in hanging baskets, and three that I put into a round planter with a petunia. I also got the rest of the plants into the ground. I think I need one or two more petunias for the side garden, then I'll be finished planting.

I'm also hardening off my sunflower seedlings. I'll get them out later this week.

I also got out to the Gaithersburg City Hall, that has the remnants of a huge historic peony garden. Bright sunny day, so a lot of the pictures got washed out, but it was a wonderful outing. I'm still editing the pictures. I hope to finish that tonight.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Observations While Clipping

I mowed the front lawn last night. While I was out there, I noticed my rhodadendron has buds. Sadly, all but one are leaf buds. *sigh* I'll give it till next week, and then trim all of it. Maybe then it will set some flower buds for next year.

The good news is that the lanium is budding to. That is really leaping this year. Maybe I won't have to plant some petunias out there to spruce up that garden.

The holly, on the other hand, is going to disappoint the birds this year. Most of its flower buds are blackened and burned from the late snow. What a shame.

The million bells stopped blooming. I can only hope that the plants are putting their energy into growing roots. At least the foliage didn't melt like the pansies did in the full sun. It's just too warm for them in that much sun, I guess. Although, the fancy evening primrose is flowering away. It just needs to bloom closer to evening....

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Slug Patrol

It was incredibly rainy last night. But it let up enough for me to go check out the iris blooms. As I was admiring the new yellow iris, I noticed all of the slugs on my iris. I know they love hostas, but they seemed to prefer making swiss cheese out of my iris.

So, what was supposed to be a quick stroll between raindrops, turned into a grab and smoosh mission. Let's just say the bottom of my shoes were not pretty by the time I was done.

I guess I'll have to open that bottle of ancient beer my brother never touched this weekend for a trap.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

More Petunias

As the radio weatherman observed this morning, Monday morning, the lows were in the 30s. Tuesday morning, the lows were in the 50s. This morning the lows were in the 70s. We'd be in real trouble with a trend like that, if it weren't for this line of severe weather working our way today.

The after storms will probably prevent me from planting the three pots that I picked up at the grocery store. Two double marigolds and a purple petunia. I read somewhere that marigolds are good to plant next to peonies. I have to admit that I am a bit worried about my peonies. Still no buds and they are fairly short. Ah well. I'll just have to pick up a potted one.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Iris Explosion

Hope all the mothers had a restful and enjoyable day. Mine did. All her rose bushes made it through the winter. My dad took her out Saturday to pick up lots of plants for Mother's Day and planted them for her. And she has a silly hummingbird that tries to get nectar out of roses and pine trees. Good thing she got those petunias on Saturday.

My iris are going gangbusters this year. I currently have four of the bluish-lavender ones, and a few of my Tennessee iris are also blooming. They are growing so much, that I can't get in between the leaves to weed effectively. Not that the weeds seem to be effecting the iris much.

I also poked in some of my butterfly weed seeds. All of the remainder of the packet I had bought last year, and half of the seed pod I had picked up last year.

While I was out, I also mowed the last of the back yard that needed mowing. The grass was threatening the iris. I guess I need to establish a perimeter

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Picture Show

Late afternoon once the sun behind your house also works for taking pictures. Except of almost white petunias. So, first up, the iris. I've got three other colors in bud, aside from the two of these. First up is the repeat bloomer from last year.

The bluish lavender iris. I have at least two of these, but the slugs got the other stem. I killed it's brother who was on my beebalm.

The evening primrose isn't anything great to look at. It was really suffering and flattened in its pot. They all were. And they certainly don't look like my other evening primroses. But it is already blooming its thanks with new flowers this morning.

And last, but not least, my million bells. It's more of a fushia color than the picture shows. In the lighting I had, I just couldn't capture it. I'll try again later.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Millions of Bells

I bought a few plants for my garden today. Didn't quite find what I was looking for, but stumbled across one color of million bells, 'Superbells Plum'. I picked up two plants, since I use that handle all over the place. Hopefully, I'll find a few other colors if I check out others stores. I also picked up a nice little lavendar petunia and an evening primrose called 'Lemon Sunset'. They are already out in the garden.

Three of my iris are blooming. One is the color from last year, and the other two are a nice bluish purple. Too bad it is a beautiful day out. I could use a little bit of overcast weather to take pictures.

I also bought a bunch of silk flowers. I changed my front door display around, and made up a vase for work. We're not supposed to have food or drink at our desks, and I figure that extends to water for flowers. But that's not going to stop me. :)

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

May Dandelions

I mowed most of my lawn last night. I always start on the back yard after doing the front, but I only get three quarters of it done before my energy is gone. It isn't that it is big, it is that the grass is just that thick and lush. It seems weird to be cursing my luck at a wonderful lawn.

I did locate a deep dip by the one fence. I think I'll probably locate a large pot there this year, maybe even a wiskey barrel, and plant annuals. I'm already devoting a lot of soil to filling in the low spot by the downspout.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Cool Nights

The last few nights have been cool, reinforcing the wisdom of hardening off plants before putting them outside for good. There have actually been frost warnings in the Shenandoah Valley.

Nine of my ten sunflower seedlings have popped up. Not bad for a seed packet from last year. They still have yet to shed the shell from their leaves, but they'll probably be ready to plant by the weekend. Sunflowers have to grow fast to get that tall. Not to mention, the root system they need to put down to stablize them.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Lack of Planning

Temperatures have taken a slight downturn. It's dropping into the low 40s at night. But that is not discouraging the iris, which are sending up flower stalks.

Over the weekend, I was struck with the desire to make plans for next year's spring bulb display. This would have been easier, if I could have found more than a handful of specialty bulb catalogs on the web. Where are all the tulip offerings? I realize that predicting what stock you are going to have in 5 months is next to impossible in the plant arena, but that doesn't stop them all winter from advertising bare root plants for spring. And now is the time when garderners know what they need to fill in the blank spots. Grumble. Well, we'll see if I actually remember this fall. I bet I don't.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Seedlings and Saplings

I managed a little weeding last night. Mainly pulling little trees out of the gardens. A few dandelions got dug out too, along with some wayward grass. I also put down some more clippings and leaves to smother some of the encroaching grass. I prefer the smother/mulch method of enlarging gardens. Especially, since I'm going with store bought annuals in that particular garden. Although, I do think I'll let the evening primrose take over the grass as much as they want.

I also started 10 sunflower seedlings this morning. It took the entire night for the peat inserts from last year to get moist enough. Ten is probably too many for the spot, but they are last year's seeds. The rest of the pack will probably get mailed to my parents. Their birds haven't been keeping up with reseeding their sunflowers.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Lazy Days

I have been monumentally lazy and just enjoyed the beautiful weather. I know poor Zeppe would prefer if I were out planting or weeding, or at least took him with me, but I don't feel like keeping an eye on him. I have just been enjoying the wonderful weather and being lazy.

Rain knocked down most of the oak catkins last night, so the end of allergies is in sight. Weather man said the tree pollen is on the down turn and grass is beginning to rise. I'm not allergic to grass, so I am close to relief.

I saw my first tiger swallowtail of the season at lunch yesterday. I'd have preferred for it to be in my yard, rather than at work, but so it goes. I also spied a female five-lined in one of the plantings at work. She was fairly old and her lines had faded.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Beautiful May

The days are warm and the nights are cool. It is just stunningly beautiful weather. I've had to start wearing suntan lotion, because it is so nice out. I don't mind tanning, but you have to take it slow.

I put out some of my pansies this weekend. Those were the ones that went out front. The ones for out back still need to be planted. We'll see if any snapdragons, petunias, marigolds and other plants at the grocery store need to be added to that arrangement.

Friday, April 27, 2007

First Hair Cut

Well, I actually got out and mowed last night. The front yard is a fairly lopsided affair, with the huge oak tree in the neighbor's yard. One side has sun, and the other has tree roots. The side with the tree roots is mostly moss, so it only needs stray grass and weeds trimmed.

I did about two thirds of the backyard, which is far more than I planned to do. I did the bit by the gate, since it was thick enough to get in the way of opening the gate. And I only meant to do the bits threatening my gardens. The grass was taller than most of my plants, and was beginning to shade itself. But I ended up mowing the entire clover patch. That's a lot of clippings that needed emptied. I still haven't decided what to do about the evening primroses sneaking out into the grass.

Lots of rain today, and some thunderstorms predicted later, so the rest of the yard won't get trimmed today. The one "problem" with electric mowers is that I can't use the extension cord when the ground is soggy. Oh, darn, prevented from mowing. What a giant shame. *wink*

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Spring Clean Up

I have tulips flowering! Not the ones under the hydrangea that I've been watching forever, no, they aren't going to bloom. But rather some that are under the rhodadendrons that I didn't even know where there. A pretty purple color, too.

I got out last night and picked up all of the tree limbs from the front yard. This is so I can mow tonight. It is past due, in that the little pockets of actual grass are different heights than the crab grass and dandelion greens. Then, since my bag of yard waste wasn't full, I trimmed down the dead branches on the hydrangea. It is better to get in there before it leafs out fully. We won't talk about how tired that made me.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Horrid Weekend

Wow, last weekend was really bad. I visited my parents and the rain and wind on Sunday and Monday was really something. Plus snow on Monday. Saturday was actually a pretty nice day. My dad worked in the yard right up to sunset. I didn't get to enjoy it at all because I was flat on my back with a nasty stomach virus that popped up out of nowhere.

I'm still getting back to eating a solid three meals, even if I'm not eating my normal foods. I'll probably spend most of this beautiful weekend sleeping.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Problem with Dandelions

The main problem with dandelions is that they have not allowed the breeder or gardner or farmer to beat them into submission. While that sort of behavior is tolerated in herbs, it is frowned upon in the vegetable garden. If dandelions were well-behaved, they might still be a popular food, as they were in the colonial days.

Dandelions are actually a vitamin rich, nutritious food. I've actually eaten dandelion greens. It was at a fairly fancy sandwich and bread shop when I was visiting my aunt and uncle in Florida. Anyway, along with the sandwich came a side of salad greens. The fancy types that don't come in the supermarket packs except for spinach. And you can't miss dandelion leaves. They were pretty good. And that's coming from someone who turns their nose up at lettuce.

The leaves can be served up as salad greens or sauteed. Although, they are best collected while there are still frosts. The leaves get bitter during the summer months. Although boiling them with the flower bud smooths the flavor out. The yellow flower bits can be eaten raw or made into wine. While the root can either be eaten akin to a carrot, or brewed into a coffee like beverage.

Most of us would not bring a weed into our kitchens, but harvesting dandelions would certainly reward the avid gardener for their efforts to remove it from their bed. And maybe, just maybe, its return would not be treated with such dread....

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Catalog Dreaming

Well, I logged in to get rid of some spam, so I might as well write something up. Air temperature and sun angle are behaving oddly. It's been cold, right. A real return to winter weather. Hat, gloves, heavy coat and scarf. All perfectly normal. Until I get out to my car that has been sitting in the sun all day. Inside, it is a veritable oven, and off comes everything. Ack! Then I have to shrug it all back on when I get somewhere. *sigh*

Also, this down turn in temperature has me flipping through planting catalogs again, as well as all those garden magazines in the stores. I'm making lists again. I can hear my wallet crying. I'll probably be good. But that's because I have peonies to replace and they aren't sold in catalogs until Fall......

Monday, April 09, 2007

Seventh Inning Stretch

Obviously Mother Nature thought Spring was moving along too quickly and needed a break. Five days of freeze warnings (including tomorrow) is a bit much. And we're not expected to see normal temperatures until Saturday, if then. Argh! But then some procrastinators need to be spending this week doing taxes, instead of gardening... *whistles nonchalantly*

Baseball and the Cherry Blossom Festival went on this weekend as planned, despite the return of snow on Saturday. It wasn't more than a quarter inch, if that, and it was gone by 9 am, even in the shade. But it still wasn't a happy thing to see. Nor were the snow flurries that persisted until noon.

The daffodils in the back yard are finishing up. Although, that's just due to the passage of time, rather than the temperatures. Everything else seems to be faring well, except for my holly. That's going to need some pruning when the weather actually warms up.

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Horror

Today on the way to work, I watched in horror. Today is the day when we are expecting a hard frost. The warning is until 10 in the morning. There are even lake effect snow flurries in the region. Think on that. It was cold enough that snow from the Great Lakes stayed aloft and landed in the DC metro region. No accumulation, but still.

Today is also the day where it was only hitting the freezing mark on my way to work. The freeze is occuring after 6 AM. Can't protect those tender perennials when you aren't home to keep them from steam roasting. Even though all the radio commentators and weather guys were talking about it.

The true horror I saw this morning? The gas station had its sprinklers running

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Rough Day

Yesterday was a rough day at work. The kind of day that makes you want to go out and buy plants to make it all better. Yeah, er, well, if the weather wasn't crap out. There isn't always room for house plants, I just don't have enough windows with good exposure. And I just added a new one on Saturday when I was getting the pansies.

I've wanted a little kalanchoe for awhile now. But the ones in the grocery store were either too big, or the wrong color. I seem to be partial to a nice golden yellow color, and the buyers were partial to pinks and reds. Or larger plants. But finally, they had some little golden yellow ones in stock. And wow, what a wonder the one that came home with me is! It's a double! Whee! (I will try and get pictures up soonish, but I've found my evenings unexpectedly filled. :( )

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Icicle Pansies

Well, I was good about not buying plants early until I got the grocery store. They had pansies on special. I figured why not, pansies can handle a little frost. They actually prefer cooler weather. So, three pots came home with me. I didn't plant them right away. Something about the way the weathermen were avoiding talking about the weather past Wednesday.

It turns out that there is going to be a hard freeze later this week. And there is an Alberta Clipper heading this way too. Winter just has to hang on doesn't it? *sigh*

Well, I did get a few more weeds dug up last night while it was nice.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Frosted Elm Flowers

First, blame must be properly shared with Elm trees for the nasty pollen plaguing the area. They cannot get off the hook for the tiny spores they are spreading around town.

Secondly, there is a reason why they warn you not to jump the gun while planting tender perennials in Spring. A very good reason. The reminder came this morning. We had frost this morning. And it was pretty persistent too. The whiteness hung out for several hours before the sun could burn it off. The recent batch of warm weather nearly fooled me too. Fortunately, I was going to give in today and buy some plants to set out, so the plants were never actually in my pocession.

Thirdly, my backyard is doing its darnedest to make me mow in March. I'd say some of the tufts of grass are over five inches. But I will hold off until April! I will!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Cedars and Junipers and Maples, Oh my!

Pollen is getting high in the region. The culprits are cedar, juniper and maples. Just what I don't need recovering from this cold. Of course, I didn't need it while I had the cold either.

There are nicer plants that are in bloom at the moment. In the neighborhoods to and from work, I've spotted cherry blossoms, pear blossoms, forsythia and saucer magnolias in bloom. In my neighborhood, they are just starting to open up. My holly bush also has big buds swelled up. It should be in bloom next week.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Unfair Tactics

Yesterday was a fine day, but not beautiful. The 80 degree temperatures crossed over into a preview of summer complete with haze and humidity. But still it was a nice change from all the snow cover, so I can't complain too much.

However, by the time I got home from errands, ate dinner and had a little decompression, the weather was changing. I only got ten minutes of weeding in before the downpour started. A downpour accompanied by thunder and lightning. I simply had to go back in.

But I did discover a third peony shoot just poking out of the ground. I have three peonies! It doesn't look as robust as the others, but I'm hoping that will change once it is up longer.

And the weeds in the iris bed just don't play fair. Every other one are right next to the iris rhizomes. You can't dig them out at that point. You can just pull gently and hope that the roots don't pull the iris out as they come. The runners are worse. They go under the rhizome but above the iris rootes. Argh.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Well, I checked out the backyard last night to see what was blooming there. To be honest, the soggy ground is quite off putting. But it had dried out slightly last night, so I wasn't squelching around. Of course, that also meant it was harder to pull weeds. Ah, the trade off.

At any rate, there are a few wildflowers blooming, including the periwinkle. It is allowed to stay in the difficult spot under the stairs, but the battle is joined when it ventures into the iris bed. The iris are doing well. I didn't spy any flower stalks, but it is still pretty early for that sort of thing. I did have to remove a couple weeds and adventurous grass plants from the iris bed. One more gardening chore that I am vastly out of shape for.

The hosta leaf buds are just waiting at the moment. They are above ground, but not really popping yet. They've been in a holding pattern for a few weeks, I guess a few more wouldn't hurt.

We have peony sightings! Two peonies survived my bungling! They also survived a heavily waterlogged winter! Yippee! I'll have to go clear the thin leaf cover tonight to see if there are any more that survived. But I have peonies!

I also still have a beebalm plant. But then it is related to mint, so that shouldn't be surprising. *wink*

Monday, March 26, 2007


The tiny crocus have been joined by their larger cousins under the hydrangea. The purple ones are just so vividly purple, I couldn't help but notice yesterday. The gold ones blend in a little more with the leaf litter at a distance. Distance being the end of the front walk without my glasses.

Tulip leaves have made an appearance for the second year in a row. I'm resigned about them flowering this year. I would have loved it last year, but I doubt I'll see blooms this year either. This really isn't the right zone for tulips to naturalize. But I leave them as a distraction to the squirrels, but my squirrels don't seem to unearth bulbs. I am sincerely lucky.

The daffodils are going gangbusters by the shed. If I'm still here in autumn, I'll have to see about extending the plantings down the rest of that garden, as well as poking some in the birdbath garden. The ones out front are a week behind their bretheren in the sunnier spot. But the crocus are keeping that spot cheery in the meantime.

The peepers are still singing their little hearts out. Although, they aren't as prevalent during the day any more. I guess those guys found mates already. Way to go!

Thursday, March 22, 2007


My daffodils should be opening today. They got delayed by a shot of cold air yesterday. But it supposed to be more springlike today.

The hummers have been spotted in North Carolina, so it is time to put out the feeder. (Especially since there was no chance of frost today.) There might be some swift flyers, and the weather is supposed to be gorgeous today.

This is the new feeder I got for Christmas. This should be bee proof. There is an internal tray that is far enough inside that it takes long tongues to reach. I'll still need to figure out an ant moat though.

Monday, March 19, 2007

T'pence a Bag

Well, Friday we had our Nor'easter. The frozen stuff started tinking off of windows fairly early in the day, but thankfully, the snow held off until I got safely home. I fed the birds two extra times Friday evening. Saturday morning, they got a lot of extra food, primarily since all the normal food sources were under half an inch of snow. Of course, seeing a red-wing blackbird feeding on my deck railing was awesome. Even got a nuthatch and three juncos, in addition to all the doves, cardinals and brown sparrows.

Daffodil buds are up, they'll be opening this week. The crocus are still holding on. The hydrangea is developing leaf buds. The rhodadendrons are perking up, although, I think a few of the leaves suffered frost burn. And the hostas look ready to start leafing up.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Spring Peepers

With warmer temperatures this week, the spring peepers have started singing their little hearts out. While most nature guides list them as nocturnal, you can't blame the little guys for singing all throughout the day during breeding season. Let's face it, some days, it is only warm enough for them to sing during the day. The poor cold-blooded froggies need the warmer temperatures that the day brings, since it still gets pretty chilly during the night. Not to mention, you never know when your amorous song is going to be rudely interruped by a wintery mix. Hopefully they'll find some nice leaf litter or loose bark to hide in tomorrow.

Some other fun facts, spring peepers like to sing in trios. The male with the deepest voice starts the song, and the other two follow in. And a few of these little guys keep singing away into autumn. It is a nice background. And it is amazing that those little breeders have lasted three years, before they get to mate.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Tweedle Tweet!

Beautiful 70 degree weather midweek, warnings of wintery mix and flurries for the weekend. *sigh* Daffodils are pushing up the buds now.

The birds aren't the only ones whistling this spring, I am too! Back in the nebulous days of grade school, I took violin. My poor suffering parents, who recently recieved belated thanks, fought with me to practice. I was just too lazy, and hated the sounds of missed notes. I stopped, because the public school system program stopped, and there was no way I was asking my parents for private lessons. I knew I wasn't dedicated enough. But I learned how to read music and am forever grateful for the experience.

Flash forward to modern times. I had seen these really gorgeous wooden recorders at a local festival and debated with myself about getting them. After working myself up, the vendor wasn't there the next year, so I recognized that I should probably learn on plastic before taking that kind of finacial plunge. Last week, I finally ordered a beginner's kit from Amazon. Tweedly-dee-dee! I'm doing pretty good, although, I still need to train my fingers. There is quite a bit of squeaking from popped fingers.

But, I'm also limited to practicing only 15 minutes a day. Again from my fingers not being used to being in these positions, nor for as long. Especially my poor abused thumb. The fact that that is the thumb that was overused with the nippers recently, bears no relation to anything. Right?

Monday, March 12, 2007


I have a few tiny yellow crocus popping up in my yard. I should see about planting out some more in the fall.

Despite the fact that my ice piles (from where I shoveled the snow) are still in my front yard, the season for opening windows in the afternoon has arrived. I'm glad to be able to air out my house again.

I trimmed my snake plant this morning. Most of the original leaves have been suffering and wilting. It is mostly because they had bent over. But some of it is because of the different light conditions. There is plenty of new, fresh growth, and I wanted to give the new leaves a healthier start.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Pictures of Lily

Well, another day, another snow storm, another icy artic blast. Yesterday's snow was probably about 1-2 inches, but it didn't lay very well at my place. Only got a dusting on the grass. Howevever, the Alberta Clipper was in front of an artic air mass, and the mercury in some points in the area was lower than the snow total this morning. Yikes! And double yikes to icy fog! Meaning you pass through a fog bank, and get covered in ice. However, temperatures should return to normal this weekend.

The Cherry Blossom forecast is coming out later this morning. And that's always good news.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Fruit Trees

I don't really have room in my garden for any kind of tree, let alone the ones I like, but I still get tempted by fruit trees. It would be nice to have my own apples, instead of hitting up the local orchard. But they are work and take a lot of planning. Pruining is a pain, and the idea of pollinators is rough. And I'm not talking about the bees here. I'm talking about apple-type trees that produce pollen to fertilize the apple tree that you want to bear fruit. Most apples are self-incompatible. Heck, some varieties are completely sterile. Meaning those pretty flowers you see are females that at best, produce fruit. I'm betting it is rough to find apple varieties that will produce pollen.

But luckily, that bane of lawn mowers everywhere, the crabapple can come to your rescue. It seems, that crabapples can pollinate apple trees. And do it for most apples you find in the store. Many orchards plant crabapple trees specifically to pollinate their produce. Or graft a few crabapple branches onto apple trees. Or bring in some crabapple branches.

Pear trees suffer a worse fate. It seems that bees actually prefer dandelions to pear flowers! It seems that pears don't have as much sugar in their pollen as many common weeds, so the bees aren't as attracted to them. Yikes!

Citris are a little easier, even if they can't stand the frost. Some varieties can actually pollinate themselves, with a little help. The popular houseplant varieties can make due with a little human intervention at the proper time. If you are actually up to messing with the flowers.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

March Winds

Well, the winds are back and so is the cold weather. Windchills in the single digits and talk of snow on Wednesday. This is a picture of my poor rhododendrons from February, but they look just the same this morning.

And I finally took a picture of my flowering maple. It is still blooming. However, the lighting in the afternoon has much to be desired.

I need to buy a nice pot for it and repot it. The companion stalks have all died, so a smaller pot is in order.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Early March Clean Up

Last Friday was the first time since, well, mid-January that I got to open up the windows and air out. It turned a bit chillier on Saturday, but I still got some spring cleaning done. The snow was gone enough to finish mulching the rhododendrons with Christmas tree needles.

And while I was playing with the nippers, I took down the rest of the hosta flower stalks and the dried black-eyed susan flower heads. I figure the birds have already cleaned them out. The daffodils are still green, although there does look to be some frost burn on the leaves. No sign of any other spring bulbs, though.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Art of Seedlings

Mike McGrath is issuing his seed starting tips, so it must be getting close to time to play with the seeds in the DC region. I'm only starting my Red Velvet sunflowers inside this year, because I'm not a good seed mommy. But sunflower seedlings are highly robust, and I don't trust the birds with them.

Other than that, I only need to prep my milkweed seeds for direct sowing. I probably should have put them directly in the garden last fall, but I didn't think of it then. Most internet sources agree, that they should be vernalized before planting. Which means a couple months in the refridgerator. Anywhere from 20 to 90 days. Yikes! Glad I'm aiming for a May 15th release date. They should go in soon. Then I'll probably do the scarification to help up the odds. I actually have some cleansed sand that I could use.

And, as I learned last year, it is good to plant seedlings as close to the dates as possible. You hit a sweet spot between nest building. I can only figure that birds ripped up last year's milkweed crop to line nests. Most of my seedlings went this route, unfortunately.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Piled On

Well, the icy snow banks were still around, when we got another three inches of snow. This time it was a wet packing snow. There are a couple of snow men in the neighborhood now, although, I don't know how well they survived the change over to rain last night. Roads are clear, so that's good. But I'm left wondering when the snow cover will finally go away. My poor daffodils.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Mid-Season Catch Up

Well, a few things aside from the weather... The red hibiscus is severely suffering from scale, I need to treat it again this weekend. The orange one is going strong.

My flowering maple is finally reflowering. I keep forgetting to take a picture of it. I bought it about three years ago at the grocery store, and this is its first rebloom. It is a high light requirement plant and is very leggy. I nearly missed the flowers, since the "top" portion of the plant hangs over the table. Mine has orange flowers. I must try to get a good picture of it. But lighting is hard this time of year.

Also, I went to buy another bag of birdseed and got stuck with the high sunflower mix. Usually I go for more of the little seeds for the sparrows. Neighbor puts out more than enough sunflower seeds and cracked corn. Still, there are at least two dozen cardinals in the flock behind my house, so it is good they have something to eat.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Well, it has been an interesting winter. One kids will be lusting after for years to come. Snow was on the ground for nearly a week. Meaningful snow. Great sledding snow. A firmly packed base, with a hard crust that is really fast. Good for getting out the sled and waxing up the runners. Oh, wait, the kids around here are used to catch as you can snow that disappears within a day or two, so they only have plastic saucers. Not good sleds with runners. But really, this is the kind of snow I remember from winters further north where my dad would get on the sled with us kids and stear down hill. And we'd put the straps on the dog so he could play sled dog and pull it back up the hill for us. Good times.

Of course, with all the ice up top, it has been trecherous to walk on and a huge pain to shovel. First you have to break the ice, then move it. Grr. And to add insult to injury, we got a dusting on Sunday which looks prettier, but just hides the ice.

But fortunately, this morning, it is warmer than it was all last week. The melting/flooding is here! 40 degrees this morning going up to 50! Whee! Even if that means having to shovel slush.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

At What Point

So, I'm sitting at home, burning my vacation leave, because despite heavy icing and uncleared roads other than the interstates, the federal government continued its masichistic policy of not telling people to stay home and stay safe. I realize that the DC metro region is huge and generally weather is different at one end than the other. But given that a lot of feds come down out of West Virginia, you'd think they were a little more cautious. I'm not a fed, but our boss doesn't close the office and give us paid time off, unless the feds call it.

Anyway, on to the storm report. What was supposed to be a big snow event fizzled, since the temperatures aloft were too warm. So, we got about an inch of snow here, then some freezing drizzle with the first storm through the area. The second storm arrived with ice pellets pinging off my screens over night. I'd say about on inch of ice pellets out there. Still, that's not as bad as the sleet, so I'll take my blessings. Even if I do have to go out and shovel.

A snow plow with a landscape contractor just went past, the first snow plow through the development. Not that it helps people who went out yesterday and are now parked on ice. Neighbor with one of those big fancy trucks is out there spinning his tires right now. At least, I can push my little car past those spots if I had to. I can drive in snow. I even trust the idiots around here to manage well enough in snow. But ice is a time to stay in.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Cold and Powdery

Well, yesterday we got our inch of powder. And by the afternoon, it had evaporated in the sun because it is just that dry here. It certainly wasn't because 29 degrees is warm. Driving conditions yesterday were hazardous, not because of the snow, but because of the unusually cold temperatures froze a lot of people's windshield wiper fluid and they couldn't clean the salt spray off of their windows. (I'm still trying to figure out why the dealer or the person before me followed directions on the bottle and did this, because I didn't use enough to replace any.)

Still way below average temperatures. I guess Mother Nature is trying to prove that DC is not going to be zone 8 any time soon.

On the other hand, my orange hibiscus is thanking me for the repotting by putting out at least 5 buds. One bloomed on Sunday.

Monday, February 05, 2007


Late last week, we were supposed to get a ice and snow storm. It stayed south, so there wasn't any problems associated with it. Except, that it was supposed to block a cold front that was coming from the midwest. That dumped about an half an inch of sloppy precip during rush hour. Didn't stick to the pavement, and didn't really lay on the grass, but big flakes in rush hour is bad news.

Then the temperature dropped. The dusting of flakes that stuck around, really stuck around. Windchill advisories on top of temperatures that never did hit 30 aided that. Last night/this morning, lows in the teens, with windchills hovering around zero until around lunch. Only going to get up to the 20s. Tonight/tomorrow morning, they are talking single digits with windchills way below zero. And highs scraping into the 20s. And the talk is that the warmest day this week is going to hit 37.

There are just some weeks when you wish Global Climate Change really meant warming. Especially since 8 degrees is the coldest day since 2004.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Ice Box

Well, January turned into January this last weekend. It's cold and windy. This morning's windchill was 4 degrees Fahrenheit. Which makes it -15 for the Celsius people. Brrr. I don't know if we should change to a warmer growing zone just yet. The high is only going to make it up to freezing today. It didn't manage that on Friday.

The ground also finally froze this weekend. No real big shock, all things considered. But still, it was petty late in the season. Makes one wonder when the ground will actually thaw this year.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Random Observations

Do you think it is saying something about me, when my favorite mob to kill in a video game is named after kudzu?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

2006 in Review Part 2

Ugh, I always feel like joining my garden in hibernation when the weather turns cold. Why, oh why can't I sleep the winter away? Oh, right, earning money for plants and electric power tools.

One of the things I learned about the postage stamp I call my backyard is that it is recovered wetlands. Yes, you can see the creek and the wild growth area, but I really learned that it is swampy ground. After a rain, the ground squelches. This means I don't have to worry about watering when there's been rain. On the other hand, when there's been a lot of rain, I shouldn't plant anything, since there will be standing water in any hole I dig.

Despite this, there are tons of earthworms living in the dirt. And they love when I put down mulch for them to eat.

The soil is yellow clay. Basically like red clay, only finer and yellow. Whereas red clay colors everything it touches, yellow clay doesn't. But when it is wet, it like you stepped in doggie doo. It is not coming off of those shoes without a garden hose. So, I need to avoid obliterating those ant hills in the yard with my shoes.

The privacy fence shadows at least two feet out from it, instead of full sun, it is partial sun. Drats. Maybe I should drag the exposed hostas down to the foot of the garden and put peonies in their place. But new peonies. I've learned that peonies really do loathe to be moved. Do peonies have short memories? I hope they do, or that they choose to forgive me this year...

Monday, January 22, 2007

Snowy Weather

Well, snow finally made an appearance after two flurries and an out to sea. Yesterday a fine snow/wet powder fell from about 1 pm to 6 pm. I went out to shovel/sweep the snow around 6:45 before bed. It had switched over to ice pellets at that time, but they were already frozen when they landed, so no uberslick spots. The ice was crunchy underfoot and provided good traction. Even if it was a pain to scrape off the car. There was about an inch of snow with ice overtop.

Only problem driving in was the salt spray. Yuck.

Yesterday's precipitation: 1 inch snow, glazing of ice

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Cold Snap

So, after a nice long weekend, I forgot to set my alarm clock last night. I ended up waking up an hour late and doing the 15-minute drill this morning. It turns out to have been a good thing. It meant that I didn't wander outside without a coat to put birdseed out. (Poor birds.) But it meant that I peeked at the thermometer to know which gloves to wear. It was 20 degrees. BRRRRRRR!!!! And to think on Monday, I opened up the windows in the computer room at night to cool it down because of the heat from the computer! Yikes, what a change!

Luckily, it was very low humidity, so no ice scraping. But my poor car was sluggish and still needed the time to warm up. I'd better get up early tomorrow. They're talking snow.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

2006 in Review part 1

So, it's a little late, but I should reflect on last year's gardening efforts. And it seems somewhat appropriate, the theme last year comes down to is late. I procrastinated a lot. And I don't think that is going to change, so I'll adjust this year's "plan" to reflect that.

First up, seeds. I'm not a raise indoor seed person. So, that's not going to get repeated. I'll make a good faith effort to put out what seeds I currently have around the last frost and let them grow outside. I just lost too many seedlings to not actually planting them. Although, I will do the sunflowers inside. I don't trust the squirrels. And they need to be planted with appropriate separation.

This leads to weeding. Since, I'm not going to be able to tell much difference between weeds and seeds (well, aside from the obvious grass, mock strawberries, clover...), weeding will be a little thinner next year. I actually do weed, since it is an excuse to spend time outside and let Zeppe roam.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

And the Thaw Comes

Yesterday and today are more like a true Jaunuary thaw, warmer than average, but still downright chilly. Highs might brush the 40s and we're down in the 20s for lows. Brrr. Yesterday was a bit of rain and a bit of snow flying. The flakes didn't lay, but they swirled around all the same.

I'm still living in fear of that Colorado weather swinging eastward.

Monday, January 08, 2007

January Thaw?

Well, joining the chorus of 70 degree temperatures (we broke the record Saturday by one degree), I had an enjoyable weekend. It started by Zeppe waking me up. He can be particularly insistant when clunking around in his aquarium. I got up and was telling him how it wasn't that warm out yet, since I'm used to working up to warm temperatures in winter. But when I opened the sliding glass door, it was already in the 60s at 10 am!

So, I got off my duff and started doing fall cleaning chores. Yes, a bit late, I know. First was airing out the house. Then, I moved on to taking down the Christmas tree. Half of the branches got cut very small and put into the turtle aquarium. The other half were split between the hydrangea and the rhododendron. Gotta naturally mulch those acid loving plants. There's still some Christmas tree left in the stand, but I was already covered with sap by then.

Next up, was planting a few potted plants that I had neglected in fall. The chrysanthemum and a few last lilytufts went in the dirt. Lots of wriggly worms moving about too, so the turtles got a treat. Well, except for Zeppe who was roaming about and was more interested in the screen door than eating.

Then, I threw more mulch on the early daffodils, and moved inside. I repotted my newest hibiscus and a philodendron and an angelwing begonia. Aside from being potbound, they were in that horrible store soil that dries out immediately. Yuck.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Christmas Recap

Aside from my annual Christmas ailment going through several variations, it was a good holiday and good vacation. Even if I did spend it recuperating. There wasn't much on the list this year to do with the garden. But I still got a nice tiger swallowtail stained glass window, a new pair of nippers, a very swanky hummingbird feeder and a dremel.

The weather is still nice and warm. I like zonal flows of the jet stream. I also like nice warm southern air masses. Although, the British MetOffice is predicting that 2007 will be the hottest year on record, beating out 1998. That is not good news. Especially for the spring plants that are very confused at the moment. The longer it goes without a cold snap, the worse the results.

But the weather needs to holdout until Saturday. I need to go to the car wash and get a wax coating sprayed underneath for when they do break out the salt.