Jan. 26, 2023: It’s All So Quiet

image courtesy of Ka via pixabay.com

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Waxing Moon 1st Quarter in Aries

No Retrogrades

Celtic Tree Month of Rowan

There’s really not much to say, on the garden front. We have a new snowstorm coming in about every other day. Over the weekend into Monday, we got about a foot of snow. Last night, we got a little more. It’s going up into the 40s today, and then another snowstorm Sunday into Monday.

The peace lily is slowly recovering. The indoor plants are thriving. The tulips, hyacinths, and narcissus out on the front porch are slowly coming up.

While the dreary days get a little tedious, I enjoy watching the snow fall during the storms, and watching the weather change over the mountains.

How are things where you are?

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Jan. 19, 2023: Primroses!

image courtesy of Petra  from pixabay.com

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Dark Moon, 4th Quarter in Sagittarius

Uranus Retrograde

(Mercury went direct yesterday)

Incoming storm

When I went to the grocery store earlier in the week, I came home with two small pots of primroses. One is all yellow. The other is red with yellow centers.

I love primroses. They were one of the first plants I bought when we moved to the Cape back in 2010. They’re such cheerful plants, and I love having them inside, blooming during the winter. They are a reminder that one day, it will be spring again, and things will bloom.

I repotted them almost immediately (and boy, were they pot-bound). I tucked them in the sunniest living room window, amongst the Christmas cacti. Hopefully, they will settle in and thrive.

This morning, when I opened my AMERICAN GARDENER magazine, I saw an ad for a primrose society! Who knew? Then I turned the page and saw an ad for a Hosta society! That doesn’t surprise me as much. When we lived on Cape, people were obsessive about Hostas. I got tired of them after a bit, and I was surprised how much I miss them here.

No, I’m not joining either one.

I did, however, a few months back, join the AMERICAN HORTICULTURE SOCIETY (which is why I’m getting the above-mentioned magazine). I thought it would be interesting to learn more about plants all over the country (and good research for my writing – the right plant in the right place and all that, textural detail). I also like that the membership card gives us access to gardens all over the country, including many in the Berkshires, Vermont, and NY. We’ll do day trips in nice weather, this spring and summer, and enjoy the botanical gardens in the area.

I see friends on social media already starting their seeds, under grow lights. I may try to do a setup like that in a year or two. This year, I haven’t even bought my seeds yet.

The bulbs on the porch are sticking their little heads up, especially the hyacinths. I think the hyacinths will be lovely this year. I’ve never grown hyacinths from bulbs before (I always bought some), so I’m excited. The lilac is getting new buds; I’m even more excited about that!

We’re supposed to get 3-6 inches of snow. Originally, the storm was supposed to start tonight, but the new alert says 11 AM. I can feel it coming in. Winter in New England!

Thurs. Jan. 12, 2023: Snowy Quiet

image courtesy of 🌼Christel🌼via pixabay.com

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Third Quarter Waning Moon in Virgo

Uranus and Mercury Retrograde

Mars turns Direct today

Celtic Tree Month of Birch

Snowy and cold

Not much to say on the garden front. The weather’s been wildly fluctuating. The bulbs on the porch can’t decide if they want to come up or wait a little longer (I hope they do the latter).

I’m daydreaming with seed catalogues and taking care of the plants we have indoors. And I enjoy watching the mountains from the front and back windows, and being up so close to the clouds. The evergreen wreath from the front door is still fresh, so, once again, we stripped the ornaments and hung it on the livingroom door.

That’s about it.

What’s going on in your neck of the woods?

Thurs. Jan. 5, 2023: Planning and Pruning

image courtesy of Geoffrey Hyland via pixabay.com

Thursday, January 5, 2023

First Day of the Full Moon

Uranus, Mars, Mercury Retrograde

Rainy and getting colder; expected to switch over to snow

Celtic Tree Month of Birch

Happy New Year! May all your various gardens, physical and emotional, thrive this year.

The weather has been wacky, with temperatures fluctuating up and down. Hard on the body, not to mention the psyche.

I cut back a lot of the plants that died back or needed attention. The maidenhair fern needed a lot of work; it usually does, and I always forget. I also repotted it, as it had grown out of its previous pot, and it’s now much happier.

I’m slowly nursing the peace lily back to life. I’m cutting away dead sections, and letting the new green shoots grow, then cutting away more.

Out on the porch, more and more bulbs are poking little green shoots up. Although they didn’t come up fully by Christmas (thank goodness), they will probably be in good shape for Valentine’s Day.

The lilac dropped all its old leaves and has new shoots. I’m so excited for this plant, and might get another slip or two of lilac this year. It’s my favorite. It broke my heart to give away the lilacs I had nurtured for years on the Cape.

The peppermint and spearmint are still growing, and I will nurture them along as long as possible.

I made my seed chart for the year, comparing/contrasting the seed prices for the same or similar seeds across companies. Johnny’s Seeds in Maine (who I really like) are nearly double the price in some cases than some of the others, such as Botanical Interests. Since I have a limited seed budget, price has to factor in to my purchases.

I will start putting in orders this month, and maybe do a couple of orders in February. I’m not starting any vegetables this year; with the Farmers’ Market and lack of space I have, there’s no need. I’ll focus on flowers and herbs.

I still have to update the plant journal in the binder and move the pages from the annuals to the multi-year binder.

How are your plans coming for the next growing season?

Thurs. Dec. 29, 2022: Big Dreams for Small Spaces

image courtesy of Wow Phochiangrak via pixabay.com

Thursday, December 29, 2022

First Quarter Moon Waxing in Aries

Uranus, Mars, Mercury Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Birch

Partly Sunny and Mild

Sorry for the missed weeks. Without a working computer at home that could access the internet, I was limited in what I could do, and my time working on the library’s computers were also limited.

I hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend, and are looking forward to the new year.

Some people hate the “Betweenmas” week. I fluctuate – at times I love it, at times I get impatient.

I’m going through the seed catalogues as they come in, dreaming overly ambitious dreams for next year’s growing season. I make a chart (yes, I know I could use Excel, but I hate Excel) with the seed company, the seeds I want, the price. This way, I can compare/contrast prices and varieties.

Then, I have to winnow it down for space and budget. I have limited space in the enclosed front porch and on the back balcony, and I have zealous squirrels out on the balcony.

The tomato plant that was doing so well around Thanksgiving gave up. I couldn’t give it the light and warmth it needed to generate tomatoes by Christmas. Also, no bees around for pollination had something to do with it.

Some of the bulbs are poking tiny green heads up, so we might have early tulips, hyacinths, and miniature daffodils. If that’s the case, we will enjoy them while we have them.

But our other plants are doing well. The night-blooming jasmine is gigantic. The peace lily is slowly coming back to health. The other plants are fine, and we’re coaxing them along. The snapdragon is supposedly an annual, but no one told it, so it’s growing along, which is great. I would love it if it would be hearty enough to bloom this year.

At this point, I’m not planning to plant vegetables. I’m going to focus on flowers and herbs. I want to add some more medicinal herbs into the mix.

I have the big binder for the past year’s notes, and I will move a bunch of 2022 notes over, and then set up the smaller binder for this year’s planting and tracking.

This is one of my favorite times of the growing year: sitting with the catalogues, spinning big dreams. It also gives me a chance to plan gardens for my fiction. The catalogues give me ideas, and instead of throwing them out, I put them in a file and refer to them when I need to create gardens in fiction.

Planning fantasy gardens can be even more fun than planning real ones!

How are your various gardens, both internal and external, growing?

Happy New Year, my friends. Peace, rich soil, and abundant harvest to you.

Thurs. Dec. 8: The Seed Catalogues Arrive!

image courtesy of kryciak via pixabay.com

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Last Day of the Full Moon in Gemini

Chiron, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Elder

Cloudy and mild

The weather has been all over the place lately, especially temperature-wise. After a few cold days, it warmed up again. It’s supposed to be fairly mild through the weekend, then dip again early next week. Originally, the prediction was for a White Christmas; now that looks doubtful. We’ll see.

I thought life revolved around the weather on Cape Cod, but it’s even more so here. It’s rather fascinating.

I’m slowly nursing the peace lily back to health. I’d hate to lose it, after 11 years and so much growth. The jasmine is now gigantic, and needs water nearly every day. My lemon plant, grown from organic lemon seeds from a lemon from the market last year, will need a bigger pot in spring.

The seed catalogues are starting to arrive, which means dreaming of what we want to grow next year. We’ll skip vegetables, since we have access to the Farmer’s Market, and it’s hard to grow them on the balcony and porch. We’ll focus on herbs and flowers. I have to go through the binder with the sheets on this year’s seeds and make decisions on which to continue with and which didn’t work, before moving those sheets to the big, multi-year binder.

I know I want to grow zinnias next year. We didn’t grow them this year, and I missed them. I want to grow more Black-Eyed Susan Vine, because that did well. The morning glories worked, but the moonflowers did not. Cooking herbs (rosemary, sage, oregano, basil, etc.) I’ll buy at the garden center, rather than start from seed, but I might do some Medicinals from scratch.

Planning is one of my favorites.

And yes, before you ask, the tomato plants are still growing, although we don’t have enough sun to keep them happy. I’m considering getting a grow light.

The decorating is going slowly. Toward the end of next week, I will get in some more greens, and integrate them with the artificial greens we have. I didn’t want to get them too early, for fear they’d dry out.

How is your garden doing? What are your plans for next year?

Thurs. Dec. 1, 2022: The Season of Evergreens

Advent Table, photo by Devon Ellington

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Second Quarter Waxing Moon in Pisces

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Elder

Cloudy and cold

Phew! It feels like ages since we got together, even though we only skipped last Thursday for American Thanksgiving. I hope you had a good one. Ours was lovely and quiet, filled with good food and good books.

I started the decorating over the weekend, but haven’t gotten very far, and there are boxes scattered everywhere. I hope to get another big push done this weekend, especially when it comes to getting the big tree in the stand, and start that decorating. We are learning how things fit in the space. Last year, we just kind of slapped everything up, in our first year here, to get it up. This year, we are taking more time to figure out what we want, and so there’s more box chaos early.

Tessa, the big black cat does not like it. She likes things tidy. Charlotte and Willa think it’s fun.

We will get there. I have to stop berating myself for not getting it all done in a single day. After all, I’ve accumulated a lot more decorations since the single-day-decorating years, and I have to get the writing and other paid work done before I can decorate. On weekdays, I’m often too tired.

But I got the wreath from Whitney’s Farm, and it’s decorated and on the front door. It looks kind of pretty. Remember last year’s wreath? It was fresh until June, and after the holidays, we hung the green wreath on the living room door.

Door wreath. Photo by Devon Ellington

I’m hoping, once everything is decorated and just before Solstice, I can get some fresh greens and scatter them amongst the decorations here and there. I’m worried if I get them now, they’ll dry out too early.

The photo above is of the Advent Table. We’ve kept it simple this year. The wreath used is artificial, not real. The candleholders for the four Advent candles have been in our family ever since I can remember, and the silver-plated tree in the center was a find at an antique store in Saybrook, CT, when we were moving from NY to the Cape. The bells attached to the top came to us on a gift probably back in the 1960s or 70s. The top cloth on the table is a gift from friends in Germany; again, we’ve had it for ages. The cloth underneath (barely visible) is one I made back when I was living in NYC. Everything has a story and a memory attached, whether it’s on this table, or anywhere else. As we decorate, we tell the family stories and keep our history alive. We combine old and new traditions, as works for us.

The fake fireplace (we don’t have a real one in this house) is a work in process. The artificial garland we use had blue poinsettias. In the back, you can see that I’ve put a seasonal ribbon on my broom.

Even though we don’t celebrate the traditional Christmas anymore (Solstice is my big holiday), the tradition of the Advent table and lighting the candles is a big deal. Each Sunday, after dusk, we light a candle. On the first of Advent, we light one; on the second, we light two, and so forth and so on. On Christmas Eve, we light all of them, plus the center (it’s often a bayberry candle; this year it’s the votives in the silver tree) and burn them all the way down.

I still have to get bayberry tapers. Tapers, in general, are difficult to find around here. I’m hoping to pick them up on my errands this weekend, if the weather clears up.

If you haven’t yet planted your bulbs, today is a planting day, by the astrological calendar. Better get them in. Ours are planted and on the front porch. There’s one little shoot, which started peeking out, probably a narcissus.

I’m still trying to nurse the peace lily back to health.

The Celtic Tree Month of Elder began last Friday. Elder is the thirteenth lunation, and is connected to death and regenerative magic. It’s bad luck to cut from an elder tree without permission (and even worse luck to cut one down). Elderberry syrup is a popular medicinal for the winter, helpful in promoting healing from coughs and colds.

Here we go, into the busy holiday season. I hope you take some time to enjoy the greenery, the lights, and the joy.

Thurs. Nov. 17, 2022: First Snowfall of the Season

image courtesy of Jill Wellington via pixabay.com

Thursday, November 17, 2022

4th Quarter Moon Waning in Scorpio

Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Reed

Cloudy and cold

We’re finally getting some winter weather. The storms are coming in from the Midwest, hitting us, and then warming up before they hit Boston.

We had our first snow Tuesday night going into Wednesday. They told us to expect up to 5 inches, so that’s for what we prepared. It snowed steadily in the evening and into the night, but then changed over to freezing rain around  3 or 4 in the morning. It was kind of yucky all day yesterday.

Fortunately, on the garden front, we were okay.

Last Sunday was a planting day, and it was finally cold enough to plant the bulbs. I have three long, narrow trough-type pots, in which I put the different colored tulips, some of the hyacinths, and a handful of miniature narcissus.

Scheeper’s shorted me on the tulips. Each bag was supposed to hold 12 tulips and only had 10, which means they shorted me a half a dozen tulips. And no, the packets are not by weight, but number of bulbs. Another strike against them, along with all the order kerflamma.

Next year, should I want more bulbs, I’ll get them from Color Blends again. Their bulbs are high quality, and they’re lovely to deal with. The only reason I used Scheeper’s this year is because Color Blends sells bulbs in packs of 25, and that’s a lot. But when you buy 25 bulbs from them, the packages actually have 25.

There were still left over hyacinth and narcissus bulbs left over after I planted the troughs, so I have one large round pot with a mix, and one smaller round pot with the rest of the narcissus.

Some of the bulbs looked like they were already sprouting, because it’s been so warm. We may have flowers for Christmas; if we do, we’ll enjoy them.

We did a bunch of rearranging plants, between what’s still on the porch and what needs to be inside for the winter.

On Tuesday morning, I dashed out to get a tarp. We brought in the rest of the plants and decorations, and some of the furniture from the back balcony. The bistro chairs and bench stay out all winter, albeit without their cushions. We tarped them this year, to protect them, and moved the bench directly under the kitchen window, where we can keep an eye on it.

I have some paint touch-ups to do on the decorations over the winter, especially on the windchimes, which need a new coat of copper rustoleum.

Instead of putting the green shelf unit out on the porch, we’re putting it in the kitchen this year, in front of the window, with some small plants on top, and storing decorations and tools underneath. We won’t have 4 around the table again until spring, as far as we know, so we can take up that space.

We’ve got most of the pots emptied and cleaned; there are still a few more to do. I brought in the lemon balm, and will cut it back shortly to dry it, so I can use it all winter.

The tomatoes are still growing, happy as can be.

We might have lost our giant peace lily, after eleven years, which would be a shame. I think I left it out too long. Even though the days were warm, the nights were too cold. I’m hoping to gently nurse it back to health over the next few weeks.

The snapdragons didn’t bloom this year, but the foliage turned pretty colors, so hopefully, it will survive again for next year. And, maybe bloom.

Pretty soon, we’ll need to decide what to plant for next year. I have to go through the garden journal notes I kept and decide what to plant again (we know we want more black-eyed Susan vine), what to skip (dahlias, they’re too much of a diva for me to deal with), and what to add to the mix.

I’m also going to look at seed companies. If it turns out that we didn’t have success with seeds from a particular company, I won’t order from them again.

I didn’t order anything from Johnny’s, up in Maine, last year, and that was definitely a mistake. And I want to buy more seeds from the Botanical Garden down in Sturbridge, because they were good.

I didn’t plant zinnias this year, either, and I missed them. I also want to get some indoor houseplants over the winter, such as another philodendron. I miss having philodendron.

How’s your garden going to bed this year? Or, if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, how it is shaping up?

Thurs. Jan. 27, 2022: Nor’eater Coming In

image courtesy of gabicuz via pixabay.com

Thursday, January 27, 2022

4th Quarter Waning Moon in Scorpio

Venus & Mercury Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Rowan

Sunny and cold

It’s very cold again today, although it’s supposed to get up into the 20’s F later on. We’re preparing for a nor’easter set to come in tomorrow night and hit hard on Saturday. There are so many different predictions, we could have anywhere from 3 inches of snow to 18.

We’re in the Celtic Tree Month of Rowan right now. The Rowan is associated with Brigid, the goddess tied to the upcoming Imbolc next week. It’s a tree of mystery, divination, healing, and success.

Even though it’s cold and there’s an incoming storm, the birds are out and about as though spring is coming. They can feel that the seasons are about to turn. They are very busy and chatty. We have several nests and birdhouses out back, and they are already busy. We are still trying to figure out where to place the bird feeder so the squirrel doesn’t keep taking it down.

I’m working to get everything done today and early tomorrow, so that when the storm comes in, I don’t have to worry about anything other than the power staying on.

Stay safe, friends!

Thurs. Jan. 20, 2022: In Winter

image courtesy of adege via pixabay.com

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Third Quarter Waning Moon in Leo (moving into Virgo this morning)

Venus and Mercury Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Birch (Rowan begins tomorrow)

Snowy and cold

We are genuinely in winter now. I’m a Winter Girl (born during a snowstorm on a full moon), so I don’t mind. I’m especially grateful that the power has stayed on during the storms, and that I work remotely.

Not much to say on the garden front. The evergreen wreath which was on the front door, and, now stripped, is one the living room door is still fresh and vibrant. We tend the indoor plants. I’m looking for the box with the seed packets I didn’t get to plant last year, hoping I can use some of them this year.

While none of my work is particularly difficult right now, all I want to do is rest, read, or lie on the couch and watch the mountains and the clouds. Sadly, I have to limit that time, as I need to earn a living. But still, I steal blocks of time to do so, and I enjoy it.

How are you enjoying winter?

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