Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Glasses, Glasses

I almost always have a pair of glasses on top of my head (sunglasses for outdoors, reading glasses indoors), unless they're in use on my face.  I am so accustomed to it that I don't think about it, and yesterday, I realized that this had happened ...



There I was in the kitchen, needing to see something up close, and I grabbed a pair of readers from in front of me on the counter ... not realizing that there was already a pair on my head.  Not the first time that this has happened, I'm sorry to say.

On a side note, in addition to keeping my glasses nearby for whenever they're needed, wearing them on my head is useful for holding my hair out of my face.  I'm growing the pixie haircut out a bit ... and, yes, six months into this, I'm still LOVING the purple!  (Who knew that purple hair would make me so happy.)

Sunday, April 17, 2016

In the Garden

The weather for the past few days has been amazing, and most of my time has been spent outside.  Working in the garden puts me in my happy place ... hands in the soil is the best therapy EVER.

Here are some iPhone photos that I took yesterday evening as I finished up for the day.  

The Dogwood tree in our front yard is in full bloom.  I eagerly look forward to this every year.







This is a new Japanese Maple that I planted in front of our pavilion.  It replaces one that was killed by the cold winter two years ago.  Took me this long to find something that I like enough to put into this prominent spot.  (notice that there are no weeds, and fresh mulch, in the bed with the tree.)



This Bleeding Heart is called 'Valentine'.  I got it as a dormant pot last fall, and I'm thrilled to see its first flowers.



The Hellebores have been flowering since mid-winter, and they are still looking good.  This one is a seedling that I planted in this spot in my back yard border two years ago.  



I struggled for years to establish a colony of Lily of the Valley.  A few years ago, I must have hit the magic combination of conditions to make them happy, because now these little spring beauties are multiplying with abandon. 








Finally, let's check in on the Carolina Wrens that are nesting in a flowerpot in the greenhouse.  The eggs hatched late last week.  I still can't tell if there are four or five babies in there ... I need to remember to take a flashlight to get a good look into the shadows in the nest to count them.



The rest of the week is expected to be glorious ... temperatures in the high 70s or low 80s with bright sunshine.  Definitely sunblock-mandatory weather, and perfect for being outside.  Don't worry, this girl isn't all work and no play.  As you can see from the photos, I definitely take time to stay in touch the beauty that's around me. 

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Planting a Rose

There are all sorts of complicated methods that some folks will tell you must be followed in order to correctly plant a rose.  Complicated is not what I do around here ... but you already know that.  Most of the roses I plant are small, usually one-year-old own-root plants growing in half-gallon or one-gallon pots.  

The subject of today's demonstration is a plant that I rooted from cuttings of a rose in the Historic Sacramento City Cemetery, thought to have been brought to California from Virginia.  I call it "Unknown China from Virginia".  Whatever it is, with its Virginia connection, I asked and was given permission to take cuttings, in order to take this rose back 'home'.





I planted this rose in the expanded section of my Rambler Garden, along with nine other roses that had lived in their little pots for WAY too long.  This is what I did:

1.  Marked the location, and swept back the existing mulch to expose the landscape fabric liner on this garden.



2.  Cut a good-sized hole in the liner.  For this rose, the diameter of the hole is three-times the width of the pot.



3.  Dig a hole the same depth as the pot and twice as wide, carefully tip the rose out of its pot, place it in the hole and put the soil back into the hole around it.



4.  Weeds are such an awful problem for me.  To help suppress them, I cover the opening in the landscape fabric with a good layer of newspaper, tucked underneath the landscape fabric.



5.  Carefully put the mulch back around the new plant, covering the newspaper without piling it around the stem.



6.  For little guys like this, I add a cage of hardware cloth or chicken wire so the rabbits can't get to it.  I will remove the cage once the rose is a little bigger and no longer in danger of being eaten to the ground.



That's it!  A ten-minute job, at the most.  It takes a little bit longer if I have to dig a bigger hole to accommodate a larger plant, but it's still not a huge ordeal.  All that's left to do for this rose is to make sure that I keep it adequately watered.

(I can't wait to show you this little guy later this spring, as he gets bigger and fills in the space!  As soon as he produces a flower, you will be the first ones to know.)

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Want to learn how to root your own roses from cuttings?  This is the method that I use.
Hartwood Roses:  How to Root Roses from Cuttings

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A Good Laugh

A friend posted this "Hagar the Horrible" cartoon to Facebook yesterday.  I laughed, and I figured that you would, too.



I like to think that the wealth of a kingdom is worth more than some rose bushes ... then again, maybe not.  Depends on which roses we're talking about.  :)

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Weekend Snapshots

1.  Spring has truly arrived, and more and more flowers appear in the garden every day.  I am thankful to have my iPhone in my pocket most of the time to capture the images as I see them.


'Pink Perfection' is the only spring-flowering camellia that I have.  I prefer the fall/winter flowering sasanqua varieties ... they're a bit more predictable and less susceptible to unpredictable spring weather.  


Pink Perfection looked to be poised for a spectacular number of flowers, till Friday's gale-force winds knocked off most of the big, fat buds.  There they are, on the ground.  :(


 The Dogwood tree at the center of my Hybrid Tea Garden in the front yard is just beginning to open its flowers.  It's going to be spectacular by the middle of next week. 


I saw the single-flowered form of Kerria japonica at a garden on tour last spring.  Mentioned it to a friend, who happened to have a plant that she wasn't going to use.  It is now growing on the shady west end of one of my front yard rose borders.  (This flower is about the size of a quarter.)


As I was weeding and pruning last week, I noticed this tiny, perfect bud on 'Dr. E. M. Mills".  This bud, and many others that have also formed already throughout the garden, hold the promise of a spectacular rose season to come ... in about eight weeks!


2.  Mrs. Wren is now sitting on her eggs in the flowerpot nest in my greenhouse.  I think she has five eggs.  I noticed her camped on the nest, when I carefully peeked at it on Friday afternoon.  A quick Google search told me that wrens incubate their eggs for 12-16 days.  In two weeks, give or take a day or two, the babies should hatch.



3.  Winnie likes to think of herself as a guard dog.  She watches for 'intruders' and then she barks and growls to sound as fierce as she can.  In this case, it was our daughter coming home this morning from working an overnight shift.  As you can see, Ruby trusts that Winnie has the situation handled.



4.  Today is chilly and windy ... a stark contrast to the warm weather that we had here for the past few days.  My husband had planned to work outside today, and that's exactly what he did ... cutting and securing timbers between the fence posts to form the back border of the Rambler Fence.  He deals better with cold and wind than I do.

Ruby is in her window, watching the progress.


5.  I have been keeping myself occupied inside today, where it's warm, making big pots of soup for dinner tonight and to restock the freezer with quick, healthy weeknight dinners for the next few weeks.  

Cauliflower Potato soup, as seen before I whirled it smooth with the hand blender.
Recipe is HERE.


Black Bean and Pumpkin soup is ugly but incredibly yummy and LOADED with fiber and other good-for-you stuff!


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Black Bean Pumpkin Soup

32 ounces chicken broth
3 cans 15-1/2 ounce cans of black beans (rinsed and roughly pureed in blender with some of the chicken broth)
1 16-ounce can of pumpkin puree
1 can tomatoes w/ chilis (like Rotel original)
1-1/2 cup finely chopped onion
4 finely chopped cloves of garlic (or 1/2 tsp garlic powder)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 rounded tablespoon ground Cumin
6-8 strips cooked bacon, finely chopped.

I dump all the ingredients into my favorite soup pot, and simmer gently for about half an hour.  Serve as is, or add a sprinkling of grated cheese and/or a blob of sour cream.

Friday, April 1, 2016

... and on Friday, She Rests.

Those of you who are familiar with my gardens will be in shock over the changes on the Rambler Fence.  It doesn't look like this anymore, at least for now.



Like some of my other gardens, the Rambler Fence was overlooked for a while (years, in fact) and it became like this:



In my imagination, I could see that it could be beautiful this again, but it was going to take some drastic measures.

Old photo, when 'Leontine Gervais' was nearly perfect.


How's this for drastic?



For the past few months, I have been clearing the fence by cutting the ramblers back to only a few canes.  Duplicate roses, like 'Albertine' and 'Paul Transon', were removed ... replaced by 'Queen of the Prairies' and 'Shower of Gold' from the Pot Ghetto.  Dead Tea roses have been dug out.  (The winter of 2013 was much colder than average, and my tall, mature Tea Roses were cut almost to the ground by freeze damage.  2014's winter froze them again and few of them recovered.)  I replaced some of these right away (more roses out of the Pot Ghetto) and other empty places will be filled with roses from last year's propagation ... which aren't ready to be outside on their own quite yet.

Last fall, I realigned and expanded the east end of this garden.  It used to follow the fence in an eight-foot-wide strip.  Now, the fence makes a corner and the bed continues straight ... which gave me room for ten new roses in that space!  I planted the roses last fall.  They're really small, but they're already putting on some new growth.

The part of the bed to the right of the red line is the new section.


Yesterday (Thursday), I faced a situation where I had no choice.  My truck was full of a new load of two yards of mulch, rain was predicted for Friday, and I need my truck to be empty for a nursery run on Saturday.  It will be no surprise to you that I challenged myself spread all that mulch to empty the truck by the end of the day ... by myself, because there was no help available.



First, I freshened up the old mulch from last fall in the expanded part of the garden by adding a scant one-inch of fresh mulch over the old.



I wanted this LONG garden to have a unified look when I was finished, instead of the patchwork mulch that was there when I started.

Last year's faded mulch, last month's not-quite-so faded mulch, and last week's load of new mulch.


You can see the new roses a little bit better in this photo ... they're so tiny.



Four-and-a-half hours after I started, the truck was empty.  I allowed time for water breaks and lunch, but I was still completely spent by the time I finished.



What I have now is a large expanse of what looks like bare mulch.  I don't like it like this.   I hold onto the promise that it will soon be filled with roses, and that this emptiness will be a thing of the past.

Panoramic photo of the finished bed.  My new iPhone totally rocks!


As I said in the title of this post, today I will rest.  Moving so much mulch by myself probably wasn't a wise thing to do.   It wore me out, and my shoulders are protesting. It is raining today, which forces me to do things other than yard work.  I welcome the break ... as I look out the window and see the results of my effort ... and I am raring to get back out there and do more ... as soon as I can.  It's spring, and this is how I roll.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Wednesday Wisdom

Most of the time, this is how I feel ... 




You probably do, too.

Now go out there today, embrace your sparkly side, and be AWESOME!
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