Thurs. June 23, 2022: Steady Greening

image courtesy of Manfred Richter via pixabay.com

Thursday, June 23, 2022

4th Quarter Waning Moon in Aries

Pluto & Saturn Retrograde

Partly cloudy and mild

It’s been rather on the cool side lately, and for that I am grateful. The heat is off for the summer, so we’ve piled comforters back on the bed, and are wearing socks again. Last year at this time, during the move, we had to be careful not to collapse in the heat. I much prefer this.

However, the squirrels are already burying the barely grown nuts. Spiro Squirrel dug up the tansy on the back balcony to bury tiny little bits of nuts in the pot. The cats are shedding their summer fur and growing in thick winter coats, which means, once the heat and humidity do hit in a few days or weeks, they will be miserable.

It also indicates the likelihood of early winter.

Plants are doing pretty well on both the front porch and the back balcony. The brown-eyed Susan gave up the ghost completely, which annoys me, since it was so expensive. I have to figure out what to put in the pot. The columbine died, too.

Some of the plants that struggled early on are doing well, such as the Marine Heliotrope, the Echinacea, and the Lemon Balm.

I planted some of the borage seeds, some pepper seeds (saved, from bought vegetables), and nectarine pits. It’s late for borage, and I’ll probably save the rest for next spring.

I’m saving some seeds from the cherry tomatoes bought at the Farmers’ Market, and will plant them next spring.

The bulb catalogs have arrived. I think I might buy some tulip bulbs and plant them in pots this October, then keep them out on the front porch over the winter, to see if they come up in spring. Trying to decide which ones to buy are a lot of fun. It means getting more pots, too.

I’ll also have to repot several things by the end of the summer, because they’re growing so well.

I hope the dahlias bloom soon. They keep growing taller, but no blooms as of yet.

We’re using the chives, basil, and parsley regularly. We need to eat the lettuce, before we lose it, and start using the cilantro. I’m wondering if I can grow the cilantro all year.

How’s your garden doing?

Thurs. June 16, 2022: Garden Visit

Fountain at Berkshire Botanical Garden. Phobo by Devon Ellington

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Waning Moon Third Quarter in Capricorn

Pluto & Saturn Retrograde

Cloudy and humid

There’s quite a bit to write about this week.

The hanging geranium basket slipped from my hands when I tried to put it back on its hanger last week, after a storm. It crashed the two stories below and broke on the asphalt. Fortunately, no one was out there (I make sure no one is under the balcony when I go out to work on plants).

I went down, rescued what was left of the plant, and cleaned up the mess. I repotted the geranium in the pot I was going to use for the night-blooming jasmine, so I will have to get another pot for that. It seems to be recovering, and it’s on a mosaic tiled plant stand out on the balcony. A couple of stems broke off. I have them in a vase. If they grow roots, I will pot them.

The Farmers’ Market on Saturday was lots of fun. I’ve set a budget for every weekend, and I’m sticking to it, seeing what’s fresh and wonderful, and then, going to the grocery store nearby to build the rest of the week’s meals around what’s fresh from the Farmers’ Market. It’s healthy and it forces variety. It’s too easy to get into the rut of one’s go-to dishes.

The Farmers’ Market isn’t cheap, but with the grocery prices going up in the stores (especially the chain stores), the prices are competitive with the grocery stores and the food co-op. The quality is always high, and I get to support individuals instead of corporate entities.

We replanted the cutting of the last Cape Cod Geranium (so now we have two Cape Cod Geraniums). I planted the nectarine pits and some saved pepper seeds, and more cat grass.

The columbine got overwatered, and is not doing well. The nasturtiums are unhappy. Next year, I think I will buy a small plant instead of starting it from seed and seeing if there’s a difference. The pumpkin is growing like crazy. The brown-eyed Susan is dead and gone. That’s frustrating, because it was one of the most expensive plants I bought this year.

The heliotrope, echinacea, and lemon balm are starting to do well. The spearmint is growing so fast, I think I might harvest some stems and start them drying.

Spiro Squirrel is a little brat. When we have sandwiches for lunch in the kitchen, he dashes up on the back balcony, climbs up on the bistro table and knocks on the kitchen window with his little paw, as though he thinks we’re going to hand him the sandwich through the window.

Tessa, our big black cat who is part Maine Coon, has a serious conversation with the scout crow every morning. He stops on the lamp post outside the living room window. She puts her front paws up on the back of the sofa, and they chat through the window. It’s completely different than when she’s contemplating trying to take down a bird. It’s a real conversation. It’s very funny.

The scout brought by a younger crow the other morning to say hello.

On Tuesday, we went down to Stockbridge to visit the Berkshire Botanical Garden. It was  a lovely day, and the garden is absolutely beautiful. There are various designs in different areas: an herb garden, a rose garden, a garden designed by Martha Stewart, a garden with joyful topiaries called Lucy’s Garden, a daylily walk. It’s just lovely. The photo at the top of this post is of the fountain. There’s a children’s garden and an educational center. There’s an exhibition gallery and research library. The garden is 24 acres, and was first opened in 1934. The New York Botanical garden donated some of the original daylilies when this garden formed, and other botanical gardens also sent gifts, which I think is kind of wonderful. But then, gardeners tend to be generous about sharing plants.

The current art exhibit is called “Symbiosis” and consists of various types of art in different mediums both in the gallery and installed in parts of the garden. It’s really wonderful. My favorite piece was a mosaic done on stone of two owls by Peter D. Gerakaris.

I want to return in other seasons and see how the garden changes over them. I’d also like to spend a full day there one day, with a notebook, and write a series of flash fiction pieces in the different areas of the garden. Some day when it’s not too hot! I’d also like to use the library, maybe spend time with their herbals.

I bought borage seeds in the store, and I will plant them today. It’s late in the season to start borage. I will plant about half the packet, and save the rest for next year. I wanted borage this year, and hadn’t gotten the seeds yet, so it was a delight to buy it at the garden.

The weather is much pleasanter than it was at this time last year, and I have every intention of enjoying it!

Thurs. June 9, 2022: Farmers’ Market Season Begins

image courtesy of Martin Winkler via pixabay.com

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto and Saturn Retrograde

Rainy and cool

We took a quick trip to the Cape to pick up a few things on Tuesday. They are in a different part of their growing season. The lilacs haven’t yet started fading there, and the azaleas are fully in bloom. The pollen, however, was much thicker there. They aren’t getting as much rain as we’ve had.

When we came back, the blue car had a blanket of yellow over it. And we had to scrape pollen off our skin in the shower.

Here, things are green and luscious. Peonies are in bloom, and are gorgeous. The trees are in full leaf. The mountains are all green again.

As far as our little garden goes, things are growing. The dahlia on the back balcony was unhappy, so I brought it forward to the front. The black-eyed Susan vine is twining around the railing out back, and the lettuce and herbs are all doing well. It looks like the tansy has decided to stick around and grow, both front and back, which is great.

The pumpkin vine is growing like crazy. The cucumbers are steady, but haven’t yet bloomed. The tomatoes look small, but I bought a small variety for containers, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

The impatiens and the geraniums are blooming steadily. So are the Christmas and Thanksgiving cacti – at least one of them is blooming at all times.

We have some replanting to do this weekend – a stalk of geranium fell off our last Cape Cod geranium, and it’s grown roots, so we will pot it. The night-blooming jasmine already outgrew its pot, so I will put it in the big pot (I even bought a new plant stand just for it). A small seedling from Tamed Wild has outgrown its pot, and needs a bigger one. And, of course, I have to plant more cat grass.

We had supposedly organic nectarines this week, so I will plant the pits and see if anything happens.

The other day, driving through Adams/Cheshire, we passed a house with the most magnificent bed of poppies! Just gorgeous. I’ve never successfully grown poppies, so I appreciate it when other people have success.

The Farmers’ Market is now weekly, outside, on Saturday mornings. I go there first thing and see what looks good (it all does), and then build the week’s meals around what I buy at the market. I may have to start making stock every week and a half or so, instead of every 2-3 weeks, with all these vegetables!

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching this area come to life after the winter. It’s so relaxing to sit and watch the plants at work.

How is your garden growing?

Thurs. June 2, 2022: Deep in Growth Season

image courtesy of Ulrike Leon via pixabay.com

Thursday, June 2, 2022

1st Quarter Waxing Moon in Gemini

Pluto & Mercury Retrograde

Cloudy and mild

We’re definitely in growing season now. Even some of the plants that initially hung back: lemon balm, marine heliotrope, columbine – are doing better. The dahlias are growing like crazy, as are the hollyhocks. Only one pumpkin vine is still alive, but it’s growing well.

The nasturtiums are still very unhappy, and the moonflowers aren’t doing well, either. The new batch of morning glories are better, but still nowhere near as strong as they were down on Cape.

I’ll have to repot a few plants who are outgrowing their original small pots. Even the night-blooming jasmine, who’s only been around for a few weeks, will need a bigger pot soon. But I have a special pot saved, just for her!

The basil, chives, parsley, cilantro, and lettuce are doing well, and I’m using them as often as possible.

The trip to Hancock Shaker Village on Tuesday included wandering around their medicinal garden. Seeing that comfrey, coltsfoot, horehound, and calendula do well in this region means I can try growing them next spring. I always kept them in my stillroom, because I use them for various cough blends and/or poultices or salves.

The Farmer’s Market starts up weekly this coming Saturday, and I am so excited. I can’t wait to create menus each week based on what’s fresh at the market.

Everyone in the neighborhood is fixing up their little patch of porch and/or green, and it’s a delight to walk around and see how creative people are.

How are things going in your neck of the woods, sea, or meadows?

Thurs. May 26, 2022: We Have Lettuce!

image courtesy of 422737 via pixabayc.om

Thursday, May 26, 2022

4th Quarter Waning Moon in Aries

Pluto and Mercury Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Hawthorn

Partly sunny/cloudy and pleasant

Things are growing! It’s lovely to see the plants doing well. The tomatoes are still growing slowly, but that’s okay.

The dahlias, in particular, are nearly three feet tall. I got a book out of the library about dahlias, and it thoroughly intimidated me, but I am doing the best I can with them. My dahlia coach tells me they are actually pretty tough plants, so, fingers crossed they actually bloom.

We’re using the rosemary, parsley, lettuce, and basil. I will probably use some of the spearmint and peppermint over the holiday weekend. I plan to use the lettuce for the tacos I’m making.

The impatiens on the front porch, and the impatiens, geranium, and brown-eyed Susan on the back porch are all blooming with giddy joy. I hope to add a basket of petunias soon.

The lilacs have been gorgeous the past week and change. I’m so happy so many yards around here have lilacs. I can literally stop and smell the lilacs when I run errands. I might, just might, purchase a lilac slip next spring and put it in a pot, like I did on Cape. Having lilacs out back would be lovely.

The good thing about all these blooming bushes around us is that there are plenty of bees, so when the tomatoes and cucumbers and pumpkin need pollinating, I can put them out on the back balcony for a few days and leave the bees to it. Imagine! I live in a city, and there are more bees than we had on Cape. But then, here, people aren’t putting pesticides on their lawns, and cutting down all the trees, either.

We’re spending lots of time out on the front porch. I’m trying to spend more time on the back balcony, too, since we have it set up so nicely. We took Willa out there in her playpen yesterday. She loved it. There was so much to see and smell, and it was so different from the deck in Cape Cod.

Charlotte sat on the kitchen chair inside and watched us, very sad, so it will be her turn today. I might try Tessa out there, too, if I can get her into her playpen over the weekend. She hates being in the playpen. Willa and Charlotte don’t mind.

This weekend, passes go on sale for Windsor Lake, which is only a half a mile up the mountain. The season pass is very reasonable, and I’m looking forward to spending lots of time at the lake this summer. We’re also planning a trip to the Berkshire Botanical Garden.

In the meanwhile, we tend our plants every day. I probably fuss at them too much, but they seem to like it. I mean, the peace lily is a constant drama queen, but that’s a peace lily for you.

It’s time to give the Rose of Jericho a few days’ rest, so I will do that, and then, on Monday, the new moon, put it back in water.

There’s definitely a learning curve, and things grow very differently here than on Cape, but it’s a lot of fun to learn. And can I just say I don’t mind not having to mow, rake, and do all the rest of the yard work, at all?

How’s your garden doing?

Thurs. May 19, 2022: Things Are Growing!

image courtesy of RitaE via pixabay.com

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Third Quarter Moon Waning in Capricorn

Pluto and Mercury Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Hawthorn

Rainy and cool

Things are growing! It’s absolutely lovely to be in the Berkshires right now, and watching the trees go into leaf, and the sides of the mountains turn from brown to green. The air smells wonderful.

The weather is all over the place, with bands of thunderstorms and heavy rains passing through Further east, they had hail.

We bought two hanging baskets. One is definitely impatiens (or, as my grandmother used to call them, “patient Lucy”). The other is marked as a “flowering annual”, but the leaves look and smell like a geranium. The baskets are hanging in the back balcony, but I keep having to take them down when it rains, because otherwise they’d get battered.

The lettuce is doing well, and pretty soon we can actually use it. I’m already using the parsley, the rosemary, and the mint. The chives did well all winter, and continue to provide chives.

We repotted the rest of the plants we’d bought at Whitney’s Farm last week. I put some marigold seeds in with the ruby cherry tomato, and they’ve started sprouting. The nasturtium was unhappy up on the shelf on the porch, so I moved it where it gets more sun. Hopefully, it will like it better. I reseeded the morning glories and put the pot out back. Fingers crossed.

The brown-eyed Susan is blooming well in the back, and Norway spruce seedling is growing. The peace lily is being its normal, drama queen self.

We’re keeping the cat grass growing, although they’re not eating much in the current batch.

The missing night-blooming jasmine was replaced. It’s much smaller than expected but I put it in a smaller pot than planned, and it seems perfectly happy so far.

There are lilacs here, so I might get a small lilac slip next spring and start it in a big pot. I miss my lilacs so much. I loved the old-fashioned lilac tree in our previous yard, and I’d nurtured the other potted lilacs for nearly ten years. It was a wrench to give them up, especially the white Edith Cavell lilac, which is not easy to find.

But our garden spaces are coming together, and we enjoy using them. The neighbors are setting up their porches and balconies, too, so it’s fun to see how everyone decorates and enjoys their various spaces. It adds so much to the quality of life.

The Celtic Tree month of Hawthorn began last Friday, so what does that mean?

Hawthorn has a lot of masculine energy. On a medicinal front, Hawthorn is used for circulatory issues and to lower blood pressure (always check with an accredited herbalist first, and discuss any medical conditions before trying an herbal remedy, especially if you’re on ANY kind of medication). On spiritual levels, it’s about clearing negativity and stimulating forgiveness.

It’s been cool enough the past few days to close the windows and for the heat to kick on overnight, but it’s supposed to get up into the 90’s this weekend, which I am not looking forward to.

However, I am looking forward to buying my season pass for Windsor Lake and spending time up there all summer!

How’s your garden growing?

Thurs. May 12, 2022: Creating Our Garden Spaces

back balcony, photo by Devon Ellington

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Waxing Moon Second Quarter in Virgo

Pluto and Mercury Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Willow

Sunny and pleasant

The focus, the past few days, has been on our version of garden. On Tuesday afternoon, we headed over to Whitney’s Farm and bought all kinds of plants: a red geranium, a brown-eyed Susan, rosemary, basil, a small tomato, spearmint, peppermint, impatiens, parsley. I saw what the black-eyed Susan vine will grow into, and it’s very exciting.

Yesterday, while the computer ran a 14-hour update, we used the time to start setting up the back balcony and the front porch as our Enchanted Garden spaces. It’s not finished, but they are both shaping up to be lovely.

We repotted the pumpkin to a larger pot, and moved the aloe into the former pumpkin pot. We repotted the brown-eyed Susan, the geranium, the basil, spearmint and peppermint, and then we ran out of potting soil. So that is on the agenda for today. More potting soil. We’d bought more pots, but we didn’t get all the proper sizes, so we might grab another pot or two.

We took out some of the big plants that overwintered inside and put them out back. That includes the peace lily. I have so much extra room in my office now! I oiled the bench and the two bistro chairs; we brought out the bistro table, and the small red table. I hung the stained-glass hummingbird and the stained-glass lighthouse. We put the green shelf unit that we use to define the space at the door (the length of the balcony is shared by the two apartments on this floor, but the other tenant uses his half as extra storage). We put out some of our decorations, and put down the red patio rug we bought. It looks good, but I think we need another one to run down the whole space,

We had to take all the furniture out of the front porch in order to put down the green rug I’d bought for that space. By a stroke of luck, it was exactly the right size. I mean, I’d done a rough measurement, but I’d bought the rug because it was the last one in the color I liked, and hoped for the best. It’s kind of a sage green, and it really brightens up the space. We then rearranged the furniture on it. Because the plant stands/shelf units are all on the back deck, we have to figure out what else we need for the plants still on the floor. But it’s a nice, inviting space.

I was tired and achy by the end of it, and I’m sore today, but it was worth it. Still more to do, but we have two lovely gardenesque spaces to enjoy this season!

How’s your garden doing?

Front porch with Willa, photo by Devon Ellington

Aug. 26, 2021: Blooms and Bugs

photo by Devon Ellington

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Third Quarter Waning Moon in Aries

Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Hazel

Sunny, hot, humid

I thought I had nothing to post today, but it turns out that I do!

The photo at the top is one of our, well, I’m not sure if it’s a Christmas Cactus or a Thanksgiving Cactus. Blooming in August. The years we were on Cape, they’d bloom several times a year, which is fun.

This other photo is of the red geranium. Any idea what that weird bug is? I’m not sure if it’s a good one, or one I should be worried about. It kind of looks like a goth moth or butterfly, with the lacy wings, but also reminds me of the black hornets who come in on the front porch.

It’s hot and humid, which means I’m grumpy. I’m looking forward to autumn.

How’s your last week of August?

Aug. 19, 2021: Hurricane Season

Photo by Devon Ellington

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Second Quarter Waxing Moon in Capricorn

Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Hazel

Rainy and humid

We’re in hurricane season, and it will be a very different experience here in the mountains than it was at the coast. I worry about the river flooding, because of so many years of the brook flooding in Rye, but no one else around here seems too worried.

The photo above is from The Spruces, a local community park just over the town line into Williamstown. The Spruces was a planned senior community of trailers, begun in the 1950’s, that was destroyed in floods in either 2011 or 2012. The town bought the property and turned it into a community park.

It’s overrun with wildflowers and is just beautiful. We took a bit of a walk in it over last weekend, in the good weather. Hopefully, I can spend more time there before winter sets in.

I think today’s rain is from Hurricane (Tropical Storm?) Fred. The weather people are more worried about how Hurricane Henri will hit the coast at the other end of the state this weekend (although we’ll get some rain and wind).

Batten down the hatches, get out the candles, get in more wine, I guess?

Aug. 12, 2021: Making Friends With My New Area’s Nature

photo by Devon Ellington

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Waxing Moon First Quarter in Libra

Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Hazel

Heat wave: hot, humid, hazy

It’s been a few months since I posted. The photo above is the enchanted garden we’ve set up on the back balcony at the new home in the Berkshires.

We also have a screened in front porch, where we have our Adirondack chairs, the blue wicker chair, more plants (especially herbs, because of the Southern exposure), and more of our outdoor décor.

It was painful to say goodbye to Che Guevara Chipmunk, the murder of crows, the Gemini Oaks in the front lawn, the lovely Maple in the back. The covered back deck.

We couldn’t take many of our large potted plants with us, such as the Roses of Sharon, various lilacs, forsythia, etc. We gave them to neighbors who love to garden, and will either plant them in their own garden, or find them good homes. We gave away a lot of pots, and a lot of garden tools, including rakes, hoes, spades, the lot.

For a decade, we’ve loved that third of an acre, even when things like the mowing were difficult. We had a close relationship with the plants and wildlife. I’d done a lot of rooting work, psychologically, and it was difficult to disengage.

We’ve moved from the ocean – where, due to the increased tourism and the local attitude that ONLY tourists matter, not residents, so the pollution increases as habitat is destroyed – to the mountains.

Technically, we live in a city. Yet there are so many trees all around us. And grass. And plants. We are tucked into the Berkshire mountains, with mountain views out the front and the back. The buildings here have porches or balconies, up and down. Most residents create their little patches of garden enchantment.

It’s very different than on Cape, and each region is beautiful in its own way.

The air is quite different, lacking the salt from the ocean. Also, even though we’re in a city rather than a village, there’s less pollution. The oily residue that’s taken over the air, the dirt, and even the fog on Cape isn’t in everything here.

The soil quality is different. While Cape Cod is known for mounds of gorgeous blue hydrangeas, the hydrangeas here tend to be white or pink and white. Black-eyed Susans (one of my favorite flowers) are popular here, as are sunflowers, and mounds and mounds of petunias, spilling out of baskets on porches and along public streets.

I have to learn the native plants, and figure out what we can grow next year. This year was too late to start much; we bought some pots of herbs, and some flowers, but next year, I will try to start more from seed.

I’ve visited the nearby lake, and I’m looking forward to visiting the Botanical Garden, and some private gardens, and the community gardens that are so popular here, and learning about the gardens and plants that thrive here in the mountains.

While I miss the space and the variety in my Cape garden, even though so much was in containers, I don’t miss the mowing, or the constant pressure for the property to look more landscaped and not be a habitat for the local wildlife.

Our back balcony is habitat – we have two birdhouses and a nest that were already occupied when we moved in (the landlord takes delight in them, too). They are bratty little birds, but an awful lot of fun to watch.

A pair of crows has found me, and visit every morning, when I write on the front porch. They’ve started to stop by and tell me the news. I enjoy my time with them.

I’m excited to see the beauties of autumn, winter, and spring here.

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