Thursday, June 28, 2012

Crepuscule, with the Barn in the Background

Cre·pus·cule;  noun  (kre-pus-kyool)  Twilight. [Middle English, from Old French, from Latin crepusculum, from creper, dark.]

What an awkward-sounding name for such a lovely rose!

Even the billowing clouds of daisy-like weeds in the Rose Field add charm to the scene!  (Let's think of them as filler for the arrangement.)

Click HERE to see a Friday Flowers post I did on Crepuscule a couple of years ago, with lots of glamour shot photos.  Trust me, it's worth it.

(Now I'm off to go visit some of the other folks who are sharing a view of their world on Rural Thursday.)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Every Other Monday ...

... is Spray Day.  I live in an area of the country (central Virginia) where blackspot and other fungal diseases are a real problem for many of the roses that I grow.  It's pretty easy to keep it at bay, with an application of a good systemic fungicide twice a month.

Here is my sprayer ... a 12-gallon Mantis Spraymate that makes applying fungicide to 800+ roses as effortless as it can be.  One full batch in this baby will do about 3/4 of the garden, coating the leaves of susceptible roses with a fine mist of fungicide.  (I don't spray the ramblers or other large roses that aren't bothered by blackspot.)

My fungicide of choice right now is Honor Guard (the generic form of Banner Maxx, available from Rosemania.)  It is highly concentrated, and this one-quart bottle will last about two years.  For smaller gardens, I recommend Bayer Advanced Disease Control, which is available at Lowes and local specialty nurseries.

I believe in the use of fungicide to keep blackspot and other fungal diseases under control.  The use of a systemic, which is labeled for application every 14 - 21 days, means that I am exposing the environment (and myself) less frequently.  Though I use fungicide, I do NOT use insecticides of any type in my garden ... nothing at ALL ... no organics, no insecticidal soap ... they all kill and I'm not getting into a cycle of playing Mother Nature.  I let the good bugs eat the bad bugs, and the garden stays mostly in balance.

I also believe in using a product that treats problems directly.  For this reason, I do not use (nor do I recommend) soil drenches for control of blackspot or insects.  If I have something wrong with the leaves of my roses (blackspot), I apply a product to the leaves to treat the problem.  I also don't recommend combination products (some products have insecticide and fungicide combined ... some drenches even have insecticide, fungicide, and fertilizer.)  In my garden, fungicide gets sprayed on leaves, fertilizer is applied to the soil, and insecticides are not allowed.

Decked out in long pants, long sleeves, rubber gardening shoes, with my safety glasses and mask, it only took 2 hours this morning to walk the garden with my sprayer and use up all 12 gallons ... which was enough to do everything but the back half of the Rose Field.  Normally I would have mixed up another couple of gallons of spray to finish the job, but I was hot and tired, and the breeze picked up, and I decided to do the rest of the roses tomorrow.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Enjoying the View

Yesterday afternoon, I took some much needed time to rest.  I sat in my favorite chair in the family room, worked on a sweater that I am knitting, watched a program about Titanic on the History Channel, and enjoyed the view.

I played with this photo using PicMonkey ... I like the Museum Frame effect.

The windows in this old house of ours are huge (I can stand in them, and I'm 5' 7"), and they are placed high on the walls (which captures wonderful tree and sky views).  The windowsills are favorite places for the cats to sit and watch birds or to nap in the sunshine ... as demonstrated by Alice.

Have a happy Sunday!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Snapshot ... Lap Time

This is my version of a lovely way to spend the evening.

Here I was, trapped between Dorothy and Alice on the left and Ruby on the right ... all sleeping peacefully.  I didn't dare get up, or I would have disturbed them.  So I continued to sit with my laptop in what little remained of my lap, checking in on whatever was happening in the Cyber World.

Storms came through last night, and the heat wave here has passed for now.  Today is a beautiful day to continue the battle with the weeds.  Wish me luck.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

June is for Roses

Lots going on here, but little of it is interesting enough to warrant mentioning here.  Over on the Hartwood Roses Facebook page, I have been posting a rose photo every day or so ... because June is National Rose Month.  Many of you may not follow on FB, so I'll give you a taste of what's been happening over there.  (If you want to follow Hartwood Roses on Facebook, the link is to your right on the sidebar.)

The name under each photo is a link which will take you to that rose's description page on Help Me Find.

Our first real taste of summer heat and humidity arrived a couple of days ago, following a cool day of rain and a line of storms.  The rain loosened the soil enough for me to get out for the past two mornings and make progress in the war on weeds in the rose field.  I go outside at about 7am, work for a couple of hours or so, then come inside to the air conditioning to get things done inside the house.  I imagine this will be my consistent summer routine.

While I'm outside working, I'm surrounded by the summer roses ... and it makes me happy.  Freeing the roses from the grips of their weedy captivity makes me even happier.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Aunt Vicki's Rose

I'm home now ... flew in late last night from my whirlwind trip to Florida for my uncle's funeral.  (Thank you SO much for all the kind comments and messages.)

On Thursday, after Uncle Jack's funeral, we all went back to the house he shared with my Aunt Vicki, to eat and spend time with family and friends.  As I was walking up to the house, I saw a rose growing beside the garage.  It was a tall, red China rose with spotless foliage.

I asked Aunt Vicki about it, and she said, "That was my mother's rose.  I dug it up and moved it here after she passed away."

"Do you know the name of it?" I asked.

"No, I don't."

"Would you like me to tell you?"

"You know what it is??" she asked, excitedly.

"I do.  I'm pretty sure that it's 'Louis Philippe'."

You will not be surprised to when I tell you that I brought three cuttings of Aunt Vicki's rose home with me in my carry-on bag.  They are now planted in a milk jug, covered with the top of a soda bottle, and are sitting in the north-facing window of my basement workshop ... where I hope at least one of them will root and grow into a new plant for MY garden.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Away From Home

I am in Florida.  Flew here on Tuesday to attend the funeral for my uncle (my dad's brother).  Even though the reason for the trip sucks, the visit has been filled with family and stories and laughter and love.

Rest in peace, Uncle Jack.  Your work here is done.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Monday Morning Giggle

Sometimes it's obvious that warning labels are in place to prevent a reoccurance of some sort of stupid past behavior.  Here's one I photographed the other day, stencilled in big letters on the side of a tanker truck beside me at the traffic light.

I wonder ... why would someone have to beat on the tank in the first place? 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sunday Snapshot ... As Seen Through the Kitchen Window

I don't think I've shown you this view before.  Usually when I show views toward the backyard, I focus on the left side ... where the pavilion and rambler fence are.  (like the view in THIS post)  I was standing at the kitchen window earlier this morning, realizing that this area needs some TLC.

This is my messy work area ... the place we all have where gettings things done takes precedence over esthetics.  Judging by how it looks right now, I think I have to do something to strike a better balance.

Here's what I see in this photo:

1.  The inside of the greenhouse is an ever-lovin' mess.  I already took out most of the roses, but supplies and tools and pots are all over the place. 

2.  There are more pots piled behind the greenhouse.  I have pots other places, too.  I doubt I need this many pots, but I'm hesitant to get rid of them ... just in case.  It's thinking like this that is contributing to the chaos.

3.  I have to do something with this stack of pallets.  They used to be lined up beside the fence with pots on them.  I don't need them there anymore (more on this in a minute).  If I use them for something else, I have to clean them up.  If not, do I just get rid of them?  I'm still deciding.

4.  This small stack of siding needs to go back to the barn.  I was going to use it on the greenhouse, but I changed my mind and will use something else instead. 

5.  This spot on the fence was once my tomato patch.  Now, it's a dumping ground full of cobblestones, fence posts, bricks, landscape edging, and other hardscape supplies.  I need all this stuff, and I have to have a place to put it until I use it, but this is definitely NOT the place.

6.  The area beside the fence will be soon be another rose border.  I moved the pallets from this spot, measured off a 6-foot deep swath, and sprayed it with herbicide.  As soon as the grass and weeds in this spot are dead, I will install edging (from the pile in Item #5) and plant some roses from my pot village.  Eventually, I will continue down the fence preparing the ground, finding new homes for items stashed there and enlarging the border till it reaches all the way down the fence behind garage ... 160 feet in all!

This is going to take a while.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Worker Bee

I got dressed in work clothes and was out early this morning, to spray some Round Up on the gravel paths of the Rose Field while the air was still.  I wasn't alone.

This little bumblebee was hard at work, gathering pollen from a flower on 'Mutabilis'. 

It's going to be a hot, sunny day ... a good day to chase the shade while working outside ... pulling weeds, deadheading roses, and enjoying the garden I have worked so hard to create.

What are your plans?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Evening Storm

Last night, as I was making a late dinner, the sky grew ominously dark toward the northwest ... a storm was coming.

See the rain falling in the distance?

As long as I am safe inside my house, I really enjoy a good thunderstorm ... the ones that rain and flash and pass quickly, not the ones that bring destruction and power outages.

We had wind and thunder and lightning for a short time, then the storm moved past and the sun returned. 

There's another storm on the horizon, but that one went to our north.

Today is a beautiful day.  The gardens are watered and the ground is soft, and I can hope to make some progress clearing weeds. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Vegetable Hash

Our vegetable gardens (and those of friends) are poised to yield profuse numbers of zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, etc.  Here is a recipe that I invented last summer, in a desperate attempt to deal with an odd bounty of vegetables that had been given to us by a friend. 

I call it "Vegetable Hash", and I just finished making a batch. 

The eggplant, pepper, and tomatoes are from the store (not in season here yet)  The assortment of squash is from the farmer's market.

This is not an exact recipe.  Vegetable Hash is designed to use whatever vegetables you want to use.  For me, the eggplant and tomato and some sort of squash is a staple ... everything else is variable. 

All of the vegetables are chopped and simmered in a pot.  I start with whichever one needs the most cooking time, and I work my way down to the ones that cook quickest.  In today's batch, after adding a good splash of olive oil to the pot, the first ingredient was the green pepper

This simmered while I peeled and chopped the eggplant.

Then, the tomatoes.

I peeled and chopped all the zucchini, and stirred them to the pot.

Simmer, covered, for a few minutes ... till the veggies begin to get tender and it's bubbly and juicy.

Final ingredient, brown rice.  To keep this recipe easy and fast, I usually stir in a bit of Minute Rice brown rice straight from the box.  There's no measurement to give you for this ... just eyeball it.  The idea is for the rice to simmer and soak up most of the liquid from the vegetables.  Add some water, if you need to. 

Put the lid back on and simmer until the rice is cooked.  Season to taste. Most of the time I simply add sea salt. For a bit of a different taste, I have been known to add half an envelope (or so) of McCormick's spaghetti sauce mix.

I portion this into containers and keep it in the fridge.  It is a perfect summer side dish.  My favorite is a bowl of 'hash', topped with sliced steak or a slab of grilled salmon ... yum!!)

We have a friend who is totally vegetable-phobic ... and she eats this eagerly every time we serve it when she's here ... but she picks out the peppers.  I'm okay with that.

(sharing this with Wow Us Wednesday)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Bye bye, Ponytail.

One day in April, a stranger asked me if I was growing my hair out so I could donate it.  This got me thinking, and I realized I had to confront the fact that the Rapunzel look probably wasn't working for me anymore.  I don't like to fuss with my hair  (or much of anything else, for that matter), so long hair has been easier for me.  Get up in the morning, run a brush through it, put it up into a ponytail, and call it a day.  No bedhead, no fuss, no muss.

Last week, I had one of those mornings when I looked in the mirror and I almost didn't recognize the person I saw there.  She had frizzy long hair, greying in streaks (which is okay with me, BTW), and I didn't really notice her lovely brown eyes.  THAT was my 'ah ha' moment ... and I made an appointment to take care of the problem.

Donate my hair?  Of course I did!  I had more than enough to spare.

I tried to convince my hairdresser (who has seen me through long and short and everything in between in the many years we have known each other) to razor cut it pixie short, but she protested.  We compromised on a chin-length layer cut with short bangs ... which makes my grey streaks look pretty cool, if I do say so myself.

We didn't take any dramatic 'After' photos at the salon.  Here's one I just snapped just now ... not the best, but you get the idea.

Notice Ruby snoozing in her usual spot.

This new cut is super easy to take care of.  All of that curl and wave is my own, free to be fun and fluffy since it's been released from the weight of an extra foot of length.  All it takes is a tiny bit of gel and a couple of minutes with the hairdryer, and I'm good to go. 

I still think I may want to go shorter, but I'll live with this for a month or so to see if I change my mind.

When I got up this morning, I had a technicolor case of bed head ... and I didn't mind at all.

Friday, June 1, 2012


Last night at bedtime, The Husband let the dogs out into the backyard for their final potty break of the day.  He gave a quick look around when he turned on the floodlights before he let the dogs out, like he always does, to make sure there wasn't anything in the yard.  He opened the kitchen door, the dogs ran across the deck and down the stairs, and almost immediately came charging back up the stairs.  He let the dogs back into the house, like always ... then he smelled it.  Skunk.

(Photo I took of a sad-looking Daniel a few weeks ago.  It seems like an appropriate expression, considering the subject of this post.)

It was Daniel who got sprayed .... in the face, of course, and down his right side.  Ruby was fine.  Thank goodness I read THIS post last year on my friend Kat's blog, so I knew what to do.

I mixed up a batch of solution and I sponged it onto Daniel, rubbing it into his fur and letting it sit for a few minutes.  Then I rinsed him thoroughly with warm water to get the soap off  ... ran a hose outside to the deck from the kitchen faucet.

This morning, we still have a residual smell of skunk in the house, from when Daniel ran in before we knew that he'd been sprayed.  It could have been much worse ... note to self, buy more peroxide next time I'm at the store.

Here's the recipe:
For every 16 ounces of regular 3% peroxide, add two tablespoons of baking soda and one teaspoon of dish detergent.  This was enough to do Daniel ... even though greyhounds are large dogs, they have short, fairly sparce fur.  I applied it to Daniel with a sponge (less dripping and waste that way)  I'm sure it stung his eyes when I sponged his face, having dish soap in it and all, and I rinsed his face REALLY well with the hose ... he hated that part, but he put up with it because he is a good, good boy.

(Edited to add:  you CANNOT mix up this solution ahead of time and DO NOT keep it in a closed container.  Keep the ingredients on hand and mix it as needed.)

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