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December 2012

November 2012

Come, Walk With Me

DSC_0014I am working at making a commitment to walking five days per week. Cooper, the 2 year old lab, needs more exercise than he is getting. He is not alone. Tucker, the Job Supervisor, is 14 and after a short romp around the yard, he is ready for a nap. DSC_0082Well, so am I but I need to get walking. I am very lucky. I have rural and scenic roads on which to walk. Currently, Cooper and I are walking two miles but we do hope to double that distance as we get a bit fitter and faster. There is much to see along the mile stretch and back and if one looks closely, there is always something new along the way. There is also a lot of old. The road is bounded by stone walls which once enclosed the open rocky fields. The fields may have held cows or sheep or been used as hay fields to supply necessary fodder for the animals in winter. Now the fields are filled with oak and white pine but the walls remain. We pass old houses on our walk. DSC_0016The first was built in 1797. The road takes us past two ponds. DSC_0019The first sits right across from this old house. I call it Charlie's house but Charlie is gone after having lived here over 40 years. DSC_0021The next pond is one in which I swam as a child. Those days are long gone but the pond remains and now I enjoy just walking past. We turn off the gravel road and pass the rather large, right on the road, Tyler House which was a general store and post office in the 1800's.DSC_0022It is hard to imagine there may have been a bustling business here at one time. A lovely woman named Lila lived and grew up here. Years ago, she told me that, on hot summer nights, she would sleep outside on the upper porch. Lila is also gone and several other owners have enjoyed this house. DSC_0024Further along the route the road rises and turns and on the right is this beautiful barn. DSC_0026The barn has three levels which all can be accessed from a ground level since it is built into the side of the hill. My nephew had his wedding in this barn. It was beautiful. DSC_0029The house in the front is traditional and, again, old. DSC_0032I don't know the original building date but it has this field opposite with a quarried stone retaining wall. DSC_0037The return trip reveals a red barn keeping an eye on the swimming pond. I do remember it contained a sleigh many years ago. We walk, literally, over the river/stream and through the woods returning home via the back path which has escaped the heavy load of snow. It wraps up to the back of the house where Cooper can have free reign.  DSC_0040The ground is still warm although cooling quickly with sudden cold temperatures. The shorter, colder days are difficult motivators for walking. I do find that I always feel better after though. Thank you for taking this mornings walk with me. Not everyone has such lucky views. I am grateful for them.        

Lacinato Kale

ToreniaThe above terra cotta container has been put away for the winter and the beautiful torenia is now a plant of the past. I took this picture on August 6th which was the day I planted a few late crops in the vegetable garden. Planted on August 6thA rabbit feasted on the swiss chard and the beets but the lacinato kale and the wasabi lettuce were left alone and I have been harvesting them for the past month. August is a tired month. If it has been a dry season, the garden can look tired and the gardener is certainly tired but it does pay to sow seeds and keep them watered and weeded so that the bleak month of November has a few more charms. KaleI have not grown lacinato kale before but in addition to being quite nutritious it is a beautiful plant. The foliage is crenelated and such a dark green it almost looks blue. Lacinato KaleIt shrugs off a heavy frost and stands sturdily through hurricanes and snow storms. Well, light snow anyway.  Frost on the kaleI have been adding it to soups and stews as well as shirred eggs. Kale has experienced a rise in popularity of late. It is easy to grow and extends the harvesting season well into late fall. I may even put a row cover over it so I can pick greens in December.  It is available at many farmer's markets due to its resilient nature but supermarkets are also carrying this Italian favorite. I will plant it again and would even consider adding it to a container for texture and color. Have you grown this leafy vegetable? If not, you might consider giving it a place in your garden.

Hydrangea quercifolia - Purpleicious

Oakleaf hydrangeaI know, purpleicious is a made up word but violaceous just does not work for the description of the color of Oakleaf hydrangea leaves at this time of year. And while the leaves do look oak like they really remind me of grape leaves but perhaps that is just because of the infusion of grape color which is so welcome as dormancy descends on the garden. The landscape has turned brown with a few exceptions. Those include the late hanging leaves, the shock of blue green kale in the vegetable garden and the green grass. For a gardener intent on perfect combinations, late fall has to rely on evergreens and shrubs with stubborn leaves. DSC_0041I am enjoying the thick, aubergine colored leaves on this hydrangea. Planted in combination with the Euonymous fortunei 'Variegatus' in the foreground, this shrub only looks better. This combination is a backbone planting in the back shrub border and since it is in a bit more shade than is suitable for a flowering shrub, there are only a few blossoms on the hydrangea during the summer. IMG_0008No matter, this shrub which is native to Georgia, Florida and Missouri, comes into its own in the fall and I would plant it just for the unique fall foliage. An easy plant to grow. it has yet to endure any pest problems. This oakleaf hydrangea has been in the garden a good five years and is now four feet tall and a bit wider. Plant it where it has room to spread although there are new cultivars on the market which are smaller and narrower if your garden space is at a premium. This hydrangea forms flower buds on the previous year's growth so prune only right after flowering and well before bud set in late summer. The walk through the garden is a bit more hurried these days as temperatures drop and the first snow is already behind us. I must remember to put on an extra layer and slow down a bit to make sure I don't miss these last colorful leaves of the season. What plant in your garden has gotten your attention recently?

Bloom Day - November 15, 2012 - One Day Late

Christmas cactusI know I will be forgiven for not posting exactly on Bloom Day. I have the best excuse. It was Mom's Birthday which many of you many know since I did mention it on Facebook. Mom is 89 this year. She still golfs and she golfs well but that is only one of her talents. IMG_0584I will not embarrass her by listing them all here but she is one of the best blooms in my life and my five siblings and her eleven grandchildren and four great grandchildren will most certainly agree with that. PhloxAs for the garden, indoors the Christmas cactus is blooming. Outdoors, the pickings are slim. I found one lone, leftover phlox bloom which is not impressive but for the 18 F temperature it survived. DandelionI also found a dandelion in the lawn. Lucky me. I could have greens for dinner. HA! Thanks to Carol of May Dreams for hosting Bloom Day. At least I can visit some gardens which do have blooms this time of year.   


The Trouble with Dibbles

Tools at Heligan
No, these are not mine. Pretty though.
I love garden tools. I really do and I have many. Trowels, rakes, hoes, lawn edgers, shovels, spades and the list goes on. Every gardener needs a good cache of tools. Some of the better made tools are really works of art.
45 Waterhouse Lane, England
Nope, not mine either.
I don't have many of those, just basic tools. The prettiest tools, in my mind, are those that are weathered and worn with a patina from use. Therein lies a big problem. They get lost in the garden.
DSC_0068
Oh, yes, these are mine.
From the compost heap to one garden then another and another and finally back to the shed where they sit in the wheelbarrow unless I actually hang them. The large tools do hang but the hand tools are in a bucket and it was only upon returning to the bucket to plant the rest of the little bulbs that I noticed my dibble was missing. A dibble does make short work of planting the little bulbs. It plunges somewhat easily into the soil and the bulb gets popped in. I then top it off with compost. The big bulbs are different. They often require a pickax given the amount of rocks here in this garden. Pickaxes are much harder to lose since they have heft and size. It was about two weeks ago that I noticed the dibble was missing. There are many more small bulbs to plant. Small bulbs are very gratifying but there needs to be an abundance of them to make an impact. One hundred don't go very far. I did plant some with the red handled trowel but it took more time and energy than that required by the dibble. I had to find that dibble or buy a new one. I retraced steps several times and after many days it came to me...look in the garden by the fish pond where you planted the muscari. It was a bit covered with leaves when I finally found it. I brushed them off for the picture. It is still a bit hard to see.
Dibble in the garden
It blends.
The dibble weathered a week or so outside plus the rain of the recent hurricane.  I am a pragmatic person. The organic look of this tool almost led to its demise. It certainly slowed down the bulb planting here.
DSC_0015
A bit of neon solves the problem.
I have solved that problem with a can of neon spray paint. The artistic wall of garden tools will have to wait. There is life left in this tool and there are bulbs to be planted. Sacrifices must be made. I need sunglasses to use my tools now. Have you ever lost one of your favorite garden tools?