Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sunday Snapshot ... Random Sunday Stuff

Sunday Stuff #1 
Spend the morning at an auction. 

Auction online gallery showed a couple of items that I really wanted to have ... one for myself, and one for a gift.  I was outbid on a couple of things, but I did bring home this awesome box of random, mixed silverplate.  (not going to show you the gift I bought ... don't want to spoil the surprise for the lucky recipient.)

36 pieces of flatware, 3 small dishes, and 8 napkin rings.

Sunday Stuff #2
How are the baby Wrens doing?

So far, so good.  All five of Mr. and Mrs. Wren's babies are fine ... totally fuzzy and adorable.  You can see from the photo above that they are beginning to open their eyes.  I'm amazed at how fast these little critters grow!

I kept trying to get a photo with all of the beaks open at once, but this was the best I could do.

Sunday Stuff #3
Hummingbird maintenance.

We have had a LOT more hummingbirds this year than usual.  The little guys are sucking down the quart of nectar in my feeder every two days.  Sometimes, it feels like a full time job to make sugar water and keep the feeder filled.  We have had as many as three hummers at a time sitting and drinking at the feeder, and up to three more buzzing in and around trying to get a turn at the buffet.  (In theory, all six of them could drink at once, but they're WAY too territorial to every do that.)

Tonight, we are having dinner with our daughter and her family.  It's been a very nice, very relaxing day.

I hope all of you have had a good Sunday, too!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Happy Birthday, Baby Wrens!

Over the course of the day yesterday,  the eggs in the pot in my greenhouse all hatched, and Mr. and Mrs. Wren are now the proud parents of five babies!

As she spent the past couple of weeks sitting on her nest, Mrs. Wren has become accustomed to having me around, while I make trips into the greenhouse during the day.  I always say, "Hello, Mrs. Wren." to announce my presence.  Her nest is WAY back inside the pot, beside a large bag of perlite.  (Photographing the eggs, and now the babies, requires coordinated simultaneous use of both my camera AND a flashlight.)

The babies are so tiny, mostly naked with fuzzy down feathers on their heads and backs.  They grow so fast ... it seems like a miracle.  I hope to get out there multiple times per day to do the best I can to document the process.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Pink or Blue

About three years ago, I rustled cuttings of an old-fashioned blue hydrangea in a cemetery in Fauquier County.  It was a typical mop-head hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla), the kind where the flowers are blue in acid soil (low pH) and pink in more alkaline soil (higher pH).  When I took the cuttings, the mother plant was blue, blue, blue ... like this:

(public domain stock photo)

In my yard, the plant looks like this:

Not so much as a hint of blue to be found anywhere.

Soil in our part of Virginia is generally acidic heavy clay that requires profuse amounts of organic soil amendments and annual application of lime to get it to a point where plants will thrive.  The soil on our property, though, is a gardener's dream.  Our pH here ranges from 6.2 in my new rose bed to 7.0 underneath this hydrangea beside the pavilion.  (Compare this to the gardens at my last house where unimproved soil pH was a miserable 5.5 or lower.)

Stick the pH meter into the ground ... wait a couple of minutes ...

Ta dahhh!  7.0  (Kelway pH meter)

Is this because our place has been a working farm since the 1830s?  I tend to think so, because I can dig a hole just about anywhere and I have to go down about a foot or more before I hit clay.  Decades and decades of plowing and manure have done their work, and I don't usually have to amend the soil one bit when I plant. 

I've never had pink hydrangeas before, and I really love having these!  (Now that I think of it, maybe the pH is higher in this spot because of the abandoned brick-lined septic tank that we covered up with we built the pavilion ... decades of families and lots of you-know-what.)

Anyway .... it's a good thing that my plan in the shade garden doesn't depend on these hydrangeas being one certain color ... in fact, they are the ONLY color in this garden.  All of the other flowers are white, and the foliage plants provide varying shades of green and different sizes and textures of leaves.  Hostas, Hellebores, three more varieties of Hydrangea (Annabelle, Tardiva, and Lace Cap), Solomon's Seal, etc ... very lush, cool, and peaceful.

This cool feeling is a good thing, since summer heat has arrived.  That's okay ... it is almost July, after all.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Door Score at the ReStore

When I went to Richmond on Wednesday to work at Hollywood Cemetery, one of my other stops was the Habitat ReStore.  I saw two doors while I was there a few days earlier on my junking trip with Deborah, but I couldn't get them that day because I was driving my Jeep.  Wednesday, I drove my truck, and now the doors are mine!

The other door is behind this one, and they are exactly alike.

I am going to need a couple of doors for inside my studio/guesthouse outbuilding (when I get around to remodeling it, which is no time soon.)  These doors are perfect for the project ... solid wood, 19th century mortise-and-tenon construction, carefully removed from whatever house they used to be in and still mounted in their original jambs!  The knobs and mortise locks are gone, but the hinges and strike plates are still there.

The price of these beauties is the best part of the story.  Marked $45 each ... June sale, all doors are 30% off this month.  I'm over-the-moon excited about these!  They are now tucked safely away inside my garage, with all of the other stuff that I have hoarded for this project. 

Our weather is still beautiful, and I am headed outside to plant some more roses in my new bed behind the greenhouse. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Flowers on Friday ... Hollywood Cemetery This Week

Wednesday was a beautiful day!  The weather was cool and cloudy ... a perfect day to make a trip to Hollywood Cemetery to continue my photographing and assessment of the rose collection there.
We have had a very wet spring.  It has rained twice a week or more, everything at Hollywood shows the effects.  Earlier, spring flush of flowers was glorious.  Now, the damp conditions are taking a toll on some of the roses that are susceptible to it ... at least that's what I THINK is happening to some of them.
Let's take 'Archduke Charles' as an example.

There are two bushes of this rose that I know of in the cemetery.  One of them has lots of lush spring growth, and its taller outer branches are on the ground ... laid flat by hard rainstorms.

Look carefully and you can see that it is already putting out new canes in response to the increased sunlight in the center of the plant.  Those flattened canes can be pruned off and the bush will be as good as new.
The other 'Archduke Charles' looked like this in October 2011 ... it was nice and leafy in May of this year, too, but I don't have a photo of it from that day to show you.

October, 2011

Now, for some reason, it is almost completely leafless.  Dampness and saturated soil in its shady location perhaps?  Other than its lack of leaves, the plant itself looks great.  We will keep an eye on it to see how well it refoliates itself.

June, 2013

Other China Roses were leafless, too.  This is the one I call "Coulbourne China", since we don't yet know the real name of it.  There was one fairly nice cluster of flowers left on it, toward the bottom of the plant. .. but almost no leaves.

The "Gemmell Rose" is a pink China ... you guessed it, almost leafless.  It was putting out new growth and lots of buds, though.  This is another one that will have those flattened outer branches pruned off.


The cemetery has two very large 'Spray Cecile Brunner' bushes.  Storms flattened some of their branches, too.  The bushes themselves, though, look fantastic.  The first flush of flowers has finished, and both of them are covered in buds as they prepare to do it all over again.


I found a rose that we missed putting on our rose map earlier in the year.  I have no idea how this one got overlooked.  It is a lovely example of 'Alba Odorata', a plant that I have visited and photographed a number of times in the past.  Right now, it is just beginning to flower.  It would be good to get the invasive vines and the volunteer maple tree out of it.

Speaking of vines, there is a wild grape vine clambering over the rose on the Larus plot.  The rose itself looks great ... with one spray of flowers left on this once-bloomer.  Based on the way it grows, I'm wondering if this is a rambler.  There are a number of ramblers in the cemetery (Tausendschoen and Crimson Rambler and others) that grow as large, lax, free-standing plants.
I will finish up with one of my favorite plants in the cemetery, the Brandt rose.  I think this is a Noisette, but I'm not positive.  It grows as a huge, fat, gorgeous shrub ... planted outside the plot's granite curb, very close to the road.  You can see how gorgeous it is in this photo that I took a few weeks ago in early May.
May, 2013
This week, though, it looked quite different.  Someone has pruned off  many of the lower limbs, leaving the plant about one-quarter of its former size.  They did a good job of it, but it was still quite a shock to see it in this state.
June, 2013
I asked Donald, the grounds supervisor, and he told me that his crew did not do this.  Perhaps it was the contract lawn service, or maybe a member of the Brandt family (who are the actual owners of the rose, so they would have a right to do what they want to it).  I hope we can find out who did it.  It's okay, though, in this case.  This rose is healthy and vigorous, and you can see that it is already putting up new canes at the bottom of the plant, to replace those that were removed.
This is a fairly graphic example of the challenges of working with Hollywood Cemetery.  If I give instructions to the cemetery's crew, they are very good at following what I ask them to do.  The lawn crew are contract workers, though, and the ones manning the string trimmers can a lot of damage if they get too close to the roses ... I had some polite words with two of these young men this week, asking them to please leave a larger margin around the roses while they were trimming.  (They apologized and agreed ... we will see how long it lasts.)
Happy Friday, Everyone!!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The View From Where I Sit

Yesterday evening, my view from the corner of the sofa in the family room was a fine one.  In front of me, on the ottoman, is Maggie ... in her usual Mom's-working-on-her-laptop spot next to my feet.  She wants to be in my lap, but the computer is there.  The rose books I have been reading are close by, in a stack on the ottoman's tray.

Glancing to my left, I see Ruby ... oh so sacked out in the chair beside me.  She fits so well into our family, and I feel blessed that she found us.

This morning, the sky is cloudy and rain is on its way ... making it a perfect morning to get some planting done ... so I'm off to change into work clothes and we'll see how many roses I can get into the ground.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Week's Worth of Posts, All At Once

How can it be Saturday already?  Where did the week go?

I spent part of each day in my basement workshop.  Some of the rose cuttings in the north window are starting to show roots!  This is the roadside rose that I rustled last month ... I showed it to you in THIS post.

Most of my workshop time was spent painting the cabinet doors and drawer fronts from my brother's kitchen.  There are a lot of them, and the finish I want requires that each of them be painted multiple coats of two colors, both front and back, so it's going to take a while.  The top color is a custom mix of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, that I showed you in THIS post.  This kitchen is going to be so retro and happy!
Mrs. Wren is now sitting on five eggs in her nest in the pot in my greenhouse.   See her tucked WAY down inside there?  It's hard to get a decent photo because the white perlite bag is in the way in every angle but this one.
The new Romantic Homes magazine came out this week, and my friend Janet's shop is featured in a fantastic article, with photos taken by her son!  See that little greenhouse in the corner of her display window?  Yep, I built that.  No mention of this in the article, but that's okay ... I am thrilled that all of the hard work that Janet has put into her shop is being recognized on a national level.  Love you, Janet!
A strong line of storms passed through our area on Thursday.  Whenever things like this are predicted, I always worry about my trees.  Last time we had a big storm, we lost two of the large Oak trees in our front yard.  (See the damage in THIS post)  Fortunately, this storm passed just to our south.  We had rain, but little wind and no damage.
Thursday's sunset, after the storm was gone, was a beautiful one ... as seen from our deck, looking toward Hartwood Winery next door.
Friday dawned with a beautiful blue sky, puffy clouds, and cool, comfortable temperatures.  It was a great day to do something outside.
Normally, this means working in the garden.  This day, though, I decided that it was long past time to clean up my Mustang and get it ready for convertible season.  It was so dirty and dusty after sitting in the garage all winter.
With the car all washed and waxed and polished (and myself and The Husband cleaned up, too), we spent part of yesterday evening at the local Friday night classic car cruise in.  There was a fantastic selection of cars last night ... with the Mustangs making a respectable showing.  That's a 1970 427 Cobra Jet parked beside mine.
To end on a garden and rose related note ... yesterday morning, I saw my first Japanese Beetle of the year.  This seems to be a little bit later than usual ... beetles arrived on June 4 in 2011, and I didn't note the day of their appearance in 2012.  We have had very few beetles for the past three years ... I wonder what this year will be like?
There you have it, a whole week's worth of blog posts in one shot!  The weather today is almost a gorgeous as yesterday.  Am I going to work out in the garden like I should?  Nope ... I'm spending today with Deborah, and we are going to hang out and hunt junk all day.
Have a great weekend!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Sextuplets, and More on the Way

Mr. and Mrs. Mockingbird have been tirelessly making trip after trip to their nest in 'Schoener's Nutkana' in my front rose garden, feeding their six babies ... who have grown so large that they now barely fit into the nest.

By next week, these babies should be big enough to fledge ... and Mama and Papa won't have to worry about guarding their nest and will let me work in my front yard in peace. 

In other news, there will soon be more baby birds here to coo and squeal about ... Carolina Wrens have made a nest in a pot in the greenhouse, and there are three eggs in it so far! 


I love wrens!!

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Week That Was

This was a really good week!  I'm getting back into my normal groove, and it feels great.

1.  Ruby is becoming more comfortable as the only dog in the house.  She and I are doing a lot more off-leash work in the yard, and she is actually beginning to develop an appreciable attention span!  Of course, she never has any difficulty concentrating on bunnies or groundhogs in the yard, as she watches from her perch on the church pew at the dining room window.

2.  The roses are still blooming their little heads off.  The hot weather last week accelerated some of them, and it still a glorious show in the garden.  This is one I eagerly anticipate every year, "Arcata Pink Globe".  This rose grows in the right angle where two parts of the fence connect, and it spans 16+ feet in each direction ... and it's about ten feet high ... totally COVERED in light pink, fragrant flowers.  (Hey, Karen, how is yours doing?)

3.  Here is another photo from the park the other day.  Each of these holes on the path into the nature trail were made by a cicada nymph as it dug its way out of the ground after its 17-year nap.  Gives you an idea of just how many cicadas there can be in a particular area.  Fortunately, they don't eat roses (or much of anything else, I understand) or do much damage to anything besides the tips of tree limbs where the females lay their eggs (they like oaks, especially). 

Cicada holes, and goose poop.
4.  Dorothy had a follow-up visit to the veterinarian yesterday afternoon.  She's been having urinary issues.  Yesterday's appointment was to check her urine to make sure that the special food and medicine is making a difference.  I'm happy to report that all is well ... her pH came down from 8.5 to 6.5, no more crystals, and no infection!  (This is her safe place in the exam room, on the corner of the counter behind the computer monitor.)

5.  While Ruby was playing the other day, throwing and shaking the crap out of her toy chicken, one of its legs fell off.  This reminded me that I have completely forgotten to tell you that my friend Kim's dog TJ is nominated again in the Therapy Dog category of the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards. 

It reminds me of TJ because he and the toy chicken only have three legs.
This portion of the process is more of a popularity contest endurance event.  The dog in each category with the most votes at the end of the voting on July 31 moves on to the finals.  Please click HERE to vote for TJ.  One vote per day per email address. 
TJ was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in July 2010, and he had his left front leg amputated the next day.  Osteosarcoma is an aggressive disease, and the average survival time for a dog in his situation is less than 12 months ... TJ has just celebrated 35 months cancer free!  I love this dog as if he were my own ... since I just lost my Daniel to a different type of cancer, this is a cause that's very close to my heart.
Spread the word, share the link on FB, put it your blog, pin it on Pinterest, tweet it to the world.  Let's do what we can to put TJ into the finals so he can meet Betty White at the awards ceremony in October.
6.  The Mockingbird eggs in the rose in our front yard hatched this week.  I had a perfect opportunity to take a gorgeous photo of the little darlings, but I couldn't do it without someone to watch my back.  Mama and Papa Mockingbird were showing no mercy, as dive-bombed my head whenever I went near the nest.  As soon as the rain stops, I will ask The Husband to give me a hand.
Speaking of rain ... it is supposed to rain here all day.  Sounds like a perfect day to spend some quality time with my sewing machine.  I have martingale collars to make for our Greyhounds Rock booth at the Ashland Strawberry Festival tomorrow.  (This is typical for me ... leaving things to the last minute.  I'll get it done, though.)
Happy Friday, Everyone!

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