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 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. 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 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?

Thurs. Feb. 17, 2022: First Planting

photo by Devon Ellington

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Third Quarter Moon Waning in Virgo

Celtic Tree Month of Rowan

Cloudy/rainy/mild

There’s actual plant stuff to talk about this week.

Friday was mild enough to be out on the front porch. I cut back some of the plants that did not overwinter well. One of the geraniums will probably come back. Our oldest philodendron, the one that looked like something out of Little Shop of Horrors on the Cape, didn’t make it. It was never happy here, and just gave up. The chrysanthemum which used to be in the barrel on the front lawn, and was in a pot on the back balcony, blooming so well in autumn, has new shoots. That will be fine. I don’t think the Impatiens survived, but I’ll give it a few more weeks.

The rest of the seeds arrived Friday, although I didn’t get down to the mailbox to get them until Saturday. I was excited that they arrived, and then realized I’d forgotten to order one of the ones I wanted to try this year. Maybe I’ll still order it; maybe I’ll wait until next year.

Pulled two of the seed packets from the new box which also need to be planted sooner rather than later.

Sunday, I planted two pots of Marine Heliotrope, a pot of Echinacea, and a pot of Rocky Mountain Columbine. All of them could take up to a month to sprout, so I have to be patient, although I’m fussing over the pots every day. And started the journal tracking sheets, so I can see what works and what doesn’t here, and adjust as needed.

Last night, the murder of crows tried to chase away a hawk. He came to perch on our back balcony for a bit. Beautiful, gray-headed, sharp-eyed, amazing wingspan. Much as I love my murder of crows, this gorgeous bird fascinated me. He took a break, rested up, and then took off. That wingspan! Absolutely stunning.

It’s supposed to be very mild for the next few days (maybe the ice around the tires will melt), and then another storm on Sunday.

I need to get some more pots. At the end of February, I have a bunch more seeds to start. I’m excited about the nasturtiums, the four o-clocks, and the black-eyed Susan vine.

Have you started any of your plants yet?