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November 2007
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January 2008

December 2007

Can you resist a sale?

High 40 F
Low  28.7F

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The week after Christmas is big sale week at stores and garden centers.  In the northeast, many of the garden centers close for a couple of months right after Christmas and the 'Fire Sale' can be irresistible! At the garden centers I visited this week, all Christmas items were 50% off and that included shrubs.  The  Christmas $$$ received came in very handy as I have been wanting to addDsc_0055 Ilex verticillata, this cultivar is 'Red Sprite', to my winter border and also some red twig dogwood such as thisDsc_0057 Cornus stolonifera 'Arctic Fire'!  Half Price!!!  I also added a couple of bird ornaments to the collection for next year's tree. Dsc_0039 This one has a lovely feather tail! And this one Dsc_0041 is glittering under the lights. There were also some interesting Dsc_0043 nests which jumped into myDsc_0044 basket. I should have bought some LED lights for the tree for next year as they are a bit pricey and although they were 50% off  I couldn't help but think that the price will come down as they become more popular.  They take a lot less energy and are not hot which means they are safer to use than regular lights. The amaryllis bulbsDsc_0034 are on sale right now and they were impossible for me to resist.  The pocketbook is not bottomless however and certain items remained in the store such as theseDsc_0019 beautiful pots which were quite priceyDsc_0021 and this intricately carvedDsc_0026_2 wooden panel.  So, have any of you succumbed to the lure of a sale? 


Front door decor!

High 35.3 F
Low 32.9  F

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A week or so ago on the 13th of December Heather posted about her front door decor and asked others to do the same.  With the flurry of holiday obligations and activities it has taken this long to put up a couple of pictures.  We have simple decorations here.  Just the one tree with the colored lightsDsc_0014 and a trellis with little white lights on it.  I think I will leave them on  so I have some summer night lights and  they can shine through the honeysuckle and clematis next season.   I don't usually put a wreath on this door because it is glass and the hanger has always banged against it when it is opened and closed.  I added a little felt chair pad to the back of the hanger which solved the problem.Dsc_0025   The other reason I put this wreath on the door this year is that it is made from laurel or Kalmia latifolia which my Mom picked at my sister's.  Then she, my Mom, made the wreath.  So, made with love and with indigenous plant material, what is better than that!  One more picture of the wreath without that reflection (at least the red sweater is seasonal). Dsc_0026What do you think of  my garden creature hanging by the door?    


Christmas ornaments are for the birds!

High 40.9 F
Low  31.1 F

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If you celebrate Christmas with the traditional Christmas tree, do you find that your ornament collection grows every year and that there is a 'theme' to your new ornaments? Carol over at May Dreams recently posted about her garden themed Christmas ornaments.  At my house, this years'  fraser fir is not too big (I did have some complaints on this) but it is well suited to the SMALL living room (I'm yelling at the complainers who don't live here) as it nestles in the corner by the wood stove and the side table.  Curiously, I have no ornaments with a strict garden theme.  I have a few ornaments from days of yore.  Dsc_0010 This one is very old but is still singing the message of peace on earth in spite of her ragged dress. Dsc_0011 This one was made by my daughter (one of the above complainers) when she was just a little girl and she made this one also with the help of her grandmother. Dsc_0009 It is a duck egg which has been blown and painted.   In case you cannot tell, it is the nativity scene.  I probably should give my daughter this ornament for her tree which is much bigger than mine!   I love sparkle and crystal is always welcome on my tree such as these ornaments. Dsc_0023

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They reflect and shimmer in the light of the tree.   Every year for my birthday one of my sisters gives me a tree ornament.  Dsc_0015_2 Here is last year's ornament and this Dsc_0020 is the current year's ornament.  Who doesn't like peacocks and dragonflies!  I have purchased some ornaments in recent years and find that I gravitate toward the birds.  For some reason, I like the look of the clip on birds perched on the tree.  Not the real looking ones, but the show girls of the group such as thisDsc_0013 pink sparkler and this Dsc_0019 wren sitting on a gilded nest. There are the glitter birds, Dsc_0011_2 some just getting ready to fly
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and the cardinalsDsc_0016 in different shades of red. Dsc_0017 Some look a bit more realistic than others. In addition to the birds, there are a couple of odd additions to the mix such as this seahorse Dsc_0021 and theseDsc_0022 'bubble' balls.  The ornaments on my tree are as varied, if not as coordinated, as the plants in my garden but ultimately, it is an expression of the decorator and most trees are still, usually, Tree_star_2 topped by a star.  What does your tree say about you?   


Weather watch!

High 25 F
Low 15.9 F

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Sunday morning's wake up call was the clatter of freezing rain/snow hitting the windows.  It was persistent and loud but it was such a gray, dismal morning that getting up out of the warm bed  proved almost impossible.  Adding to the  grayness of the day was the list of 'to dos' which seem to get ever longer at this time of year.  At least the smell of coffee was incentive to finally make the leap from covers to kitchen. The above picture greeted me at the door.  I think we have had a difficult transition to winter this season.  One minute it was warm and gardening was still a reality and the next, the ground was freezing and the snow was flying.  After a good eight inches of snow on Thursday, Sunday brought another four and my thoughts turn to the plants which are lucky to have a foot or so of winter protection. Dsc_0007 The broad leaf evergreens are curling their leaves in desperation as the winter solstice approaches.  When it snows in December in Southern New England the winter seems very long indeed.  I  am thankful we didn't have the heavy icing which occurred in the Midwest.   I can anticipate cross country skiing on the golf course which may prove more satisfying than the golf game which has come to a halt.Dsc_0008 A bit of snow is much easier to take although these short days are way too long. Dsc_0029 I didn't have time to address 'Bloom Day'  organized by Carol over at May Dreams but I am going to enjoy others inside blooms while revisiting some of my summer pictures and enjoy the past blooms! I'll do better next month! Dsc_0004
Clematis on the tuteur!

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Starved for Green!

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Daylily Days!


I don't know about you but I feel better.


The late fall view from the windows

High  48 F
Low   20.9 F

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Way back in June I posted about the various views from the windows of the house. The view has changed considerably.  There was not enough snow to shovel, just enough to coat the walkway with a top coating of ice.  The ice has its' own glacial beauty doesn't it?

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The June post also included few shots from the deck overlooking the left handed mitten garden. Funny how the mitten has disappeared just when it is needed!

Dsc_0010 It is difficult to remember how lush the garden looked at that time of year when my view is now black and white!  Dsc_0003The birds are a bit more active now and they are interesting to watch. Dsc_0008 I have black oil sunflower seeds and thistle for the goldfinches.  I need to add a few other feeders for those ground feeding birds.  Hmmm, that is a  good idea for a Christmas present isn't it?  I don't have a telephoto lens, just a macro so the detail is less than spectacular. Dsc_0007 Here is the view from the sliding door in the den. One of the interesting things about looking at the garden pictures this time of year is that you can easily assess whether or not there are enough plants of winter interest to make the garden worth looking at in the frozen months of winter. Dsc_0011 I have planted some 'Arctic Fire' cornus in this bed but they are still too small to make a statement.  The Alberta spruce with the lights on it is over seven feet tall now.  They grow so slowly but it seems like yesterday that I planted this one.  It was about two feet tall and has been in the garden for seventeen or eighteen years.  I know that I will lose it if we ever have a serious drought. Dsc_0012 Here is an aerial view of the new GFSD border which I did plant for winter interest.  It will be much more interesting in five or six years but I am enjoying the boulders.  They seem rather timeless already don't you think?   


Picking out the tree!

High 31.9 F
Low  28.2 F

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This past weekend was ideal for going to the tree farm to pick out the Christmas Tree.  It snowed lightly on Friday evening so the frosting was still on the buildings and branches when my sister and  I got in the truck to go to the tree farm.  In past years we would take the kids but the kids all have their own trees to find so now we go together.  I have to say it is easier and enjoyable to share with someone so dear as a sister but, maybe a tad less fun simply because the joy of children now must be imagined. My sister is pickier about her tree than I.  I just want a real tree with easy branching for ornaments. One that doesn't look perfect.  We got to the farm about ten a.m. which is not early but early enough so we were pretty much alone and the animal tracksDsc_0016 could still be observed in the snow. This jolly man, with a good sense of humor,Dsc_0012 I think his name is Dave, was waiting to give us our map Dsc_0013 and point us in the right direction. What kind of tree to choose is always a challenge.  No spruce for me as their sharp needles hurt too much and while I like Balsam and they smell the best, they always drop needles fairly rapidly!  I like the fraser firs for their white striped(on the back), shorter  needles.   They still smell pretty good and they don't drop as fast!  Also, I don't love it when a tree is sheared so late and tight that the ornaments don't hang properly and you can see where the cut has been made on the end of the branch.  Growers have a short amount of time to shear all of the trees they are growing.  Late shearing shows!  So, the tractor Dsc_0017 is waiting to pick up the chosen trees and the trees are ready and waiting Dsc_0015 all hoping for their moment of glory!  What to choose?  I know that there is some controversy on real tree vs. fake tree but I can't imagine why.  Picking a tree at a local tree farm where the trees are grown as a crop supports your local grower.  I always cut the branches off after the holiday to use as cover for the perennials most likely to heave themselves out of the soil.  Another option is to set your tree outside and cover it with food for the birds!  Anyway,  I love a fresh tree! Dsc_0025 Here is Sister #3 ( #1 today) checking out the offerings.  I picked out this one, Dsc_0018 and then this oneDsc_0020 but she said it had to have needles at least so we settled on these two.  Dsc_0030 As important as the shape of the tree is, the size and shape of the trunk is  more important.   I did the required 'worm's view' to make sure all was well on the trunk level. Dsc_0028 I have learned that it should be straight and not too big for the stand.  You only have to have the one huge,  crooked trunk to teach you a lesson!Dsc_0027 These pass! Dsc_0032   The trees were cut and dragged to the trailer for transport to the parking lot.  They wouldn't let us ride with our feet dangling, heaven forbid, but it was a  lovely day for a walk back and not so far.  Normally, the tree farm would run the tree through the baler to tie up the branches but since we were not going far and had a pickup bed to throw them in we decided to forego the plastic wrapping.  Mine is sitting on the front step waiting for decoration.  I will have to re-cut the bottom so it will take up water.  As we were leaving the farm many people were arriving with their kids. Dsc_0038 What better tradition is there than picking out the Christmas tree on a bright, wintery day with a bit of snow to make everything look just right!  So, where do you get your tree and what genus/species did you choose? 


Winters' decor!

High 44.1F
Low  28  F (???)

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Cornus sericea 'Cardinal'
I have been busy with work obligations this week but in stopping in at the local garden centers I found this one which is decked inside and out for the holiday season.  This particular garden center had a variety of interesting plants for sale including hollies and winterberries right out front in addition to the balled and burlapped fraser and balsam Christmas trees.  I have seen quite a few posts concerning shrubs with winter interest but I haven't seen the  Redosier dogwood mentioned.  This shrub is available in multiple cultivars, some with bright red stems, some with bright yellow stems and some with variegated leaves. There is another species, Cornus alba, Tatarian Dogwood, which has multiple available cultivars one being 'Elegantissima' also with red stems. Both Cornus alba and Cornus sericea are fairly non-descript in the shrub border in the summer if it is a variety or cultivar which doesn't have the variegated leaves.  Both species are susceptible to leaf spot but they shine in the winter garden.  I have a Cornus sericea 'Midwinter Fire' which is still fairly small but it has bright, glowing orange branches.  Here it is with a bit of ice cover. The 'fire' is melting the ice! Dsc_0021 I am determined to plant a garden of assorted cultivars for winter decoration.  Three red, three yellow and three orange should do it don't you think?  This shrub is easy to grow in  zones 2 to 8 although it doesn't thrive in the warmer zones.  Both species grow up to ten feet tall but some of the available cultivars are of shorter stature and spread and they should be kept pruned and thinned as the newer stems have stronger coloration.  The older stems tend to darken.  This is a shrub which is tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions but prefers moist conditions.  It will take sun to  partial shade.  Dsc_0002

Dsc_0004   Don't they look pretty out here in front of the garden center?  Inside there are also treasures to be found. Dsc_0005 Here is an inviting arbor welcoming you into a small display areaDsc_0129 of  treasures.  I have not seenDsc_0007 a wreath used this way but I did find it appealing (I, not so secretly, love sparkle)!  The greenhouse has been decorated Dsc_0008 and there are window boxes which are traditional and not so traditional. Dsc_0130 Whichever you prefer, you will find it here at Clark Farms in Wakefield, RI.   


Monday morning blues on Tuesday!

High 35.1
Low  22.1
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The GFSD  Garden
Monday morning was a morning to pull the covers over your head and snuggle down for another hour or two of sleep.  That is, if you don't have a job to get to!  I have a flexible work schedule so I managed to grab an extra fifteen minutes in the warmth of the nest but inevitably one must rise and face the day no matter what the weather.  Freezing rain with just a smidgen of snow covered the ground and it was a gray and misty morning with an angry sky.  There were some beautiful sights to be seen though. Dsc_0024 The soft touch pine was anything but this morning and the seed headsDsc_0019 on the Queen Anne's Lace were covered in a crystal robe.  The ornamental grasses near the fish pond looked like thisDsc_0017 a few days ago and this morning they were dragging their plumes Dsc_0040 on the ground weighted down by the freezing rain.   Dsc_0044 The garden seems just a yard at this time of year!  The Hydrangea petiolaris is still hanging tight on the tree. I've been trying to get an

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effective shot of this from a distance as the flower panicle is on a stem which sticks out at a ninety degree angle to the tree with a very interesting effect but there is not enough contrast for the stems to show up. It is seen on the oak tree on this last picture but the stems are hard to detect.  The close up will have to do!  The whole yard was bathed in a cool, misty morning light on Monday. Dsc_0042 If every day were sunny it would be difficult to appreciate the differences.  Everything and everyone needs a bit of grayness now and then to help us value the clear brightness of the days to come!   There is beauty in the details!


Reflections of summer!

High: 26.3 F
Low:  17.2 F

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Hydrangea paniculata 'Tardiva' continues to provide interest in the garden.  This is a shrub or small tree which blooms in late summer with a mixed panicle of sterile and open blooms.  In looking through my summer photos, I have a couple of pictures of this flower panicle just as it is opening but I took the picture trying to capture the dragonfly perched on the promising flower head. Dsc_0015 Why didn't I take a picture of the plant in full flower?  I guess one of the reasons is that there is so much to look at in the garden in early August that a cream colored, frothy panicle is just a nice backdrop to the carnival of colors elsewhere.  This shrub is not too particular as to soil type and has the standard recommendation of well drained soil in full sun to partial shade.  Mine is in a fairly dry location in partial shade and it blooms profusely.  Love it!  Do any of you have one of these?