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. May 5, 2022: Spring

image courtesy of dae Jeung kim via pixabay.cm

Thursday, May 5, 2022

First Quarter Moon Waxing in Cancer

Pluto Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Willow

Sunny and pleasant

We’ve been able to leave the plants on the front porch for most of the week, although the weekend nights are supposed to dip down into the 30’s again, so we’ll have to take the plants back in. I hope, by next week, we can set up the front porch and the back balcony the way we want to. I want those enchanted garden spaces set up, and then we’ll add/subtract/rearrange over the season.

This is our first season where we start growing things here in the mountains, so there will be a learning curve

The pear, clementine, and mallow have not come up, and I’m giving up on them. I’ve already planted the Norway spruce seedling in the pot where the pear seeds were. Haven’t decided what to plant in the other pots yet. The lavender hasn’t come up, but that’s not a particular surprise. I usually need to buy those as plants.

It looks like I’ll have to buy different morning glory seeds and try those again.

I keep planting cat grass every couple of weeks, alternating the two pots, because Willa and Charlotte love it so much. Tessa has no interest. She likes the herbs – not to eat, but to roll in.

The peace lily is very happy in its new pot, so let’s hope it can stay in it for a few years. Because I don’t know where we’d put a bigger pot to winter.

The dahlias are the big excitement. They are growing beautifully, and are such fun to watch. If they do succeed and bloom, I think they will be gorgeous. My dahlia coach will be proud!

The Tamed Wild box which arrived last week had a small plant kit (could be marigold, mint, or money plant). Today is a planting day (planting and harvesting days are noted on my Llewellyn datebook calendar), so I will plant whatever it is (I hope it’s mint, I have the other two), and I will plant more cat grass.

I’m already excited about Saturday’s Farmer’s Market. I might stop at the Plant Connector that day, too, and see if I can find a small philodendron, a spider plant, and maybe an ivy.

Once the car is fixed and we can go to Whitney’s Farm in Cheshire, I want to get some herbs, geraniums, and maybe begonias. When it gets a little warmer, I want to get a big hanging basket of petunias, and one of cranesbill geranium to hang out on the back porch. At some point, I will buy a few pots of black-eyed Susans.

I hope the night blooming jasmine arrives soon. Although it’s been so chilly, it’s not surprising that it hasn’t shipped yet.

The Rose of Jericho had its week-long rest last week, out of water, and is back in the water, enjoying it. The research I did indicated the water should be changed every day, but this plant prefers water changed every 2-3 days. Tomorrow will be its weekly rest day. Supposedly, it needs to rest one day a week and one day a month out of water.

In the neighborhood, the forsythia is blooming, and so are the tulip trees. Out back, a neighbor has a gorgeous white flowering large shrub. Not sure what it is. I thought it was some kind of azalea, but friends suggested white forsythia or witch hazel. I’m wondering if maybe it’s apple, and is actually a tree or several trees that have been espaliered against the fence? There are quite a few apple trees planted in the various streets which are coming into flower.

It smells wonderful when I run errands on foot!

How are things in your neck of the woods?

Thurs. April 14, 2022: More Planting

image courtesy of eko pramono via pixabay.com

Thursday, April 14, 2022

2nd Quarter Moon Waxing in Virgo

Celtic Tree Month of Alder

Partly Cloudy and warm

This past weekend was about planting.

I planted the snapdragons, two pots of marigolds, cilantro, and mesclun greens. I also planted Thomas Edison dahlia bulbs. I planted a “growing kit” of dwarf sunflowers, and one of lavender. A Twitter pal has stepped in as my “Dahlia coach” which is a lot of fun, since he knows a lot about growing dahlias, and I have someone to whom I can ask questions.

The greens started coming up in just a few days, and the marigolds had germinated by yesterday.

I also replanted the lemon plant I’ve grown from seed to a bigger pot.

The peace lily is so happy in its new pot. It’s not pulling its usual drama queen behavior, because now it has room to thrive. I hope it likes this pot for a few years, because the next size up will be a challenge!

The pots I got for the dahlias are tall, although not all that wide. They are textured, to look like birch bark, and are really pretty. The Thomas Edison should be a dark reddish purple, with the blooms 8-10” in diameter. My dahlia coach said the stems would grow up about 5 feet, so I wanted to make sure the pot was big enough not to tip over. We don’t have much space, so I didn’t want to go wide. I decided to go tall, but that could still hold enough earth to hold it. I’ll probably have to stake it at some point. I’m regretting giving away so much of my gardening stuff before the move.

The” growing kits” are bizarre. A peaty disk that is dropped into 2 ½ cups of water. It soaks up the water, expanding. Then, you put most of it into the pot, drop in the seeds, and put in the rest. It can take up to a month to germinate.

The cats decimated their pot of cat grass. I reseeded the second pot (even though it wasn’t a planting day), and am waiting for it to sprout. They love sitting in the various windows and watching the birds, who are getting busy. They also sit on the chairs in the kitchen by the window, to watch the birds in the birdhouses – and Spiro Squirrel, who is being a total brat all the time.

Some of the seedlings have stalled in their growth. They’re staying tiny, and not growing up or getting stronger, which puzzles me. They’re not overcrowded, so I’m not sure what’s going on.

We kept moving the plants onto the front porch during the day, and moving them back into the living room at night. Yesterday, it hit 79 degrees F here – and to think, we had snow flurries on Sunday! We could finally throw open the windows and leave the plants on the porch overnight.

This morning was the first day this season I could have my first cup of coffee out on the porch, and do my first writing session out there, with Tessa’s company. It was wonderful.

It might hit 80 today, and then thunderstorms tonight. It’s supposed to cool down by Saturday, and be cold for the following few days, so we might have to bring everything in again by Saturday late afternoon. But the plants will enjoy their time on the porch.

I have to find my teak oil and oil the furniture for the summer. I didn’t do it at the end of the season, the way I should have.

I’m eager for it to get warm enough to start putting things outside. I want to get indoor/outdoor rugs for the back balcony and the front porch, and I want to start setting up The Enchanted Garden again back there. Later in the season, I will add hanging baskets of petunias to the back, and more herbs to the front porch. I want it to be magical and cheerful, a place of joy and enchantment.

How is your garden doing?

Thurs. April 7, 2022: Things Are Growing!

Peace lily. Photo by Devon Ellington

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Waxing Moon First Quarter in Gemini

Rainy and cool

Celtic Tree Month of Alder

The plants are growing like crazy! Last weekend, I made another trip to buy more pots, soil, and a couple of tomato cages for the tomatoes and the cucumbers. I also repotted the peace lily. When we bought the plant, for the very first party at the Cape house, it was in a 4” pot. I just repotted it into a 14” pot.

The night-blooming jasmine should ship soon. I asked the grower what size pot it should go in, and they said a 16” pot. Um? That’s considerably larger than I expected!

The snapdragon and marigold seeds were supposed to be here last Monday, but are still circling around various depots in the Midwest.

On sunny days, as soon as the porch is warm enough, the seedlings are moved out. In the evening, as it cools down, they come back in. It’s worth it, since most of the seedlings are thriving.

I planted a lot of annuals this year, and I’m not sure that was the best choice. I guess I’ll find out. But I wanted flowers this year, and I’ll slowly experiment with small-sized vegetables and herbs to see what grows well. I’m diligent about keeping up the plant journal, which helps.

When I did the big grocery shop on Tuesday, I also bought a large pot of pansies and a bunch of lavender tulips. Pansies always make me smile. They’re such a cheerful flower, and I love having them around. I think, however, I will use petunias in the hanging baskets I eventually want for the back balcony.

I’m a little worried that the mallow won’t come up, and I’m getting ready to give up on the pear and the clementine, and use those pots for herbs instead. They must have been GMO fruits, rather than heirloom, even if they were grown in “organic” conditions.

I followed instructions and took the Rose of Jericho out of the water to “rest” for a day on Monday. According to my research, I have to change the water every day, and let it dry rest one day a week, and then one day a month. It browned and curled up again during the rest, but, although it’s unfurling again, it’s not turning green again. So I’m a little worried.

I planted more cat grass. Charlotte and Willa love their cat grass, and when they can chomp on that, they leave everything else alone.

How are things growing where you are? Grace, how are your blueberries and azaleas doing? Pat, how are the herbs doing? I love hearing about the plants!

Thurs. March 24, 2022: Plants and Seedlings

image courtesy of conger design via pixabay.com

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Third Quarter Waning Moon in Sagittarius

Celtic Tree Month of Alder

Rain/sleet/snow

There’s a lot of garden-related stuff to write about this week! Very exciting.

I replanted more cat grass on the Equinox last Sunday. As of yesterday, it had already germinated, which is a good thing, since Charlotte and Willa are chomping on the second pot of it.

I’m a little worried about the heliotrope and the columbine. I’m not sure the seedlings will survive. The echinacea is growing slowly, but it’s growing. The black-eyed Susan vine is growing steadily, which is very exciting. The lemon balm has only one tiny shoot, not even a half an inch tall. The cherry falls tomato seedlings are doing well, and the mini cucumbers are growing fast! All 10 seeds germinated, and I will need a tomato cage for them by this weekend.

I bought more soil and pots, and even some more seeds, because I hadn’t bought any morning glories or moonflowers, and I love those.

I planted the Watchman hollyhocks, a rose mallow (Lavatera), a batch of mixed colors morning glories, moonflowers, jewel blend nasturtiums, marvel of Peru four o’clocks, heirloom sweet peas, and two pots of tansy seeds.

Yes, the tansy seeds finally arrived, after travelling from Missouri to Massachusetts to Chicago and back.

I also planted some saved seeds: pear, clementine, and some of the pumpkin seeds I saved from my friend’s Halloween pumpkin she carved when she visited.

Once the front porch warms up enough in the morning, we move the seedlings out for their sun. As it cools off in the late afternoon, we move them back into the warmth.

The night-blooming jasmine should arrive in April sometime. We’ll buy some lettuce plants and herbs, and a couple of hanging baskets of flowers later in the season.

It’s all very exciting! This is the first year we’re starting the growing season in the Berkshires, so there’s a lot to learn.

We’re in the Celtic Tree Month of Alder now, which means a focus on expressing hopes and dreams, and forgiving the past.

I focused more on flowers than on vegetables this year. I want to see how these work; if they grow well, I will try a couple of others next year, and so forth and so on. I’m more conscientious about keeping the notes updated in the plant journal, which will be a big help.

I still miss my lilacs so much it causes physical pain, but I will have to figure out what to do about it; keep some small ones in a container? For this season, I will have to buy bunches of cut lilacs.

Even missing the lilacs, I am excited about this year’s planting.

This morning, the weather keeps fluctuating between rain, sleet, and a smattering of snow., coating everything with a white sheen.

How’s your planting going?

Wed. March 17, 2022: More planting, more seedlings

image courtesy of pexels.com

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Second Quarter Moon Waxing in Scorpio

Cloudy and mild

Celtic Tree Month of Ash

After a beautiful day last Friday, we had yet another snowstorm on Saturday, which dumped heavy, wet snow on the area. And then the temperature has rocketed up again. It was 61 degrees F yesterday afternoon. Most of the snow is melted; there are some small patches, in places that were plowed into mounds.

I’d picked up more pots and more potting soil, and used them quickly, for the cherry tomatoes and mini cucumbers. I need to get some more pots and potting soil for the rest of the plants. I don’t know when we’ll get back to storage to get the pots we’ve still got there (and there may not be enough). I didn’t want to buy too many, but too few doesn’t work, either. And I always, always underestimate how much soil I need.

Charlotte and Willa have nearly decimated the first pot of cat grass, so I planted a second pot. I will alternate the two, so they always have cat grass (which means I need to buy more seeds). The second pot has already started to grow.

The lemon balm hasn’t yet sprouted, but a few shoots of the black-eyed Susan vine are cautiously putting their heads out. The echinacea is doing well. The heliotrope and columbine remain tiny shoots.

I’m still waiting for the tansy seeds, which should have arrived on Tuesday, but seem to be going around in circles between Springfield and here. Usually, once something hits Springfield, it gets here fast.

The sweet pea and mallow seeds arrived much more quickly than I expected; I hope to get more pots and soil soon, and then I can plant them.

The peace lily is, once again, outgrowing her pot. This plant is a bit of a drama queen anyway, but is getting crowded. To think, I bought it for $3.98 in a 4-inch pot back in January of 2011! And it’s spilling out of an 11 ½ inch pot now.

Some of the Christmas cacti are blooming. They’re always a bit confused, and tend to bloom year-round, taking turns.

The birds are very busy on the back balcony, sorting out who will live in which house, and on the nest under an eave. There was a cardinal in one of the trees the other morning, and the crows living in the tall evergreen out back are very busy, morning and night. The scout crows check in every morning, and when I run errands on foot, I generally have a running commentary from the crows as I head there and back. They have an absolute fit if I step off a curb and there’s a car within 100 feet of me, as though I’m not bright enough to avoid getting hit. I do appreciate the warnings, though.

Because the screened-in front porch faces south, it generally warms up quickly when there’s sun, so we put out the seedlings in the late morning, and then take them back in before supper.

I hope this is the last of the snow. Much as I love living in a place with seasons, I’m ready for the snow to be over. Granted, that means we’re in for mud season, but that’s what boots are for. And I love the way it smells as the seasons change.

The time change, as usual, has thrown me off. I’m great when we fall back; I’m disoriented for a few weeks when we spring forward.

A new combination of plant center and art gallery will open on Main Street soon, within walking distance. I’m very excited to spend time there. I’m sure I’ll learn a lot. And buy too many plants!

It’s lovely to watch the mountains, out back and out front, change with the seasons.

What’s changing in your neck of the woods?

Thurs. March 10, 2022: Watching Seedlings Grow

imaage courtesy of Jesus Leal via pixabay.com

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Second Quarter Waxing Moon in Gemini

Celtic Tree Month of Ash

Sunny and snowy

They told us we’d have 2-3 inches of accumulation yesterday, but it snowed all day, and I think it’s between 6 and 8 inches. I have some shoveling to do in the parking lot to get my car out!

The little seedlings are doing well. When the sun warms the front porch enough, I bring out the seedlings for a few hours in the afternoon, and then take them back in when the sun angle changes.

Last Sunday, I planted the Black-Eyed Susan vine and the lemon balm. They should sprout by the end of the month.

I ordered tansy seeds from one company, and mallow and sweet peas from another. The tansy seeds should be here Saturday, so maybe I’ll plant them this weekend. I want a pot of tansy in for the front porch and one for the back balcony, to keep away pests.

I bought some more pots. I have to get the lighter ones, because I don’t want too much weight on the porch or the balcony. I could have the large, ceramic planters on Cape because they were on the deck, and that was sturdy enough to hold the weight. The porch and balcony can probably take a good deal of weight here, but I don’t want to push my luck.

I have to get some more potting soil, too, which I will pick up tomorrow. I want to get the tomatoes and the cucumbers started. I’m going to seed them directly, rather than do starter pots and then replant.

I will need to replant the lemon that I grew from organic seed into a bigger pot. It’s doing well. I have some organic pear and clementine saved seeds that I want to try.

It feels weird to focus on planting when there’s still so much snow happening, but it’s necessary. We probably can’t put anything out on the back balcony until late April or early May. The front porch, since it’s enclosed and south-facing, will be able to hold plants earlier, as long as the nights don’t get too cold.

I miss my lilacs terribly. I’ll probably spend way too much money this spring buying cut lilacs.

The cat grass grew like crazy. Willa and Charlotte love it, and have almost chomped down the first pot. I’ll order more seeds, and probably grow two pots to alternate, so they always have some cat grass. Tessa thinks it’s awful, and won’t go near it.

The snow is pretty, but it was a heavy, wet snow that’s clinging to branches and power lines. It won’t be fun to shovel. But it will all get done.

The birds are very busy, and they’re negotiating who lives in which bird house and nest out back (there were two bird houses and one covered platform with a nest up on the back balcony when we moved here). The cats love to sit on the chairs in the kitchen near the window and watch the birds. I have a Sibley’s Audubon Guide to the birds I recently unpacked, and I bet we use that a lot this year.

How are things in your neck of the woods?

Thurs. March 3, 2022: Tiny Shoots

image courtesy of u_79qqozws via pixabay.com

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Waxing Moon First Quarter in Pisces

Celtic Tree Month of Ash

Snowy and cold

It’s snowing, off and on, every few days, then changes to slush, then freezes over and snows some more again. We had about eight or ten inches of snow over last weekend, so there was shoveling involved.

The marine heliotrope seeds are growing steadily. Still tiny, thin shoots, but quite a few of them. The echinacea is slowly adding more shoots to its pot. These are sturdier and wider. The columbine has a few wispy shoots coming up.

This past week, on a planting day, I planted some cat grass. I’m going to see if the cats will go for it, and leave the maiden hair fern alone.

Some of the Christmas cacti are blooming again. And they’re dropping some stems, which means we’re rooting them. The geranium, which came from a cutting from the huge geraniums we gave our neighbors when we moved, is doing well, although I’ll probably buy a couple more this spring.

I miss my lilacs so much that it physically hurts.

I’m in the process of getting more pots and more earth, so I can stagger the starts of the rest of the seeds over the next few weeks. Some of them are seeds that don’t like to be moved, so I have to plant them in their permanent pot from the beginning. I don’t want to do that until we can put plants out on the screened-in porch in front. It will be a couple of months until we can put things out on the back balcony again.

How are your plants doing?