Thurs. Sept. 16, 2021: It’s Starting to Turn Colors

image courtesy of RebekkaD via pixabay.com

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Second Quarter Moon Waxing in Capricorn

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

Celtic Tree Month of Vine

Cloudy and humid

The weather has been all over the place this past week. Some days have been cool and crisp; yesterday was hot and humid and summery again. Plenty of thunderstorms coming through, although I don’t live in constant fear of flooding anymore.

One of the Thanksgiving/Christmas cacti on the back balcony is blooming like crazy, as are the red geraniums. The maiden hair fern has berries, which I’m sure the birds will enjoy. The peace lily continues to be a drama queen.

The leaves are just starting to turn to glorious shades of yellow, gold, and red. It’s already beautiful; it will be stunning in a few weeks.

Whenever I can, I walk to my errands, so that I can enjoy the beauty.

I was worried about being able to access fresh produce all winter. We’ve gotten so spoiled here with the farm-to-table commitment. But some of the farms have heated greenhouses, and, as for other produce, we’ll lean more on what’s seasonal.

Autumn is my favorite season anyway, and I’m excited to experience it here in the mountains.

How is your autumn, where you are? Or your spring, if you’re in the Southern hemisphere?

Thurs. Dec. 3, 2020: Holiday Decorating

photo by Devon Ellington

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Third Quarter Waning Moon in Cancer

Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

Not much to report on the garden at all this week. We’ve had a series of storms coming through. My neighbors spend all their time leaf blowing, and then the wind just blows leaves all around because THEY DON’T HAUL THEM AWAY. As usual, doing everything half-assed and spending hours creating noise pollution that does nothing.

I haven’t finished taking in things from the deck, although I will probably do so this weekend. Because of the storms, I’ve delayed putting up the exterior decorations, something else I hope to get done this weekend, although we’re supposed to have more storms.

I suppose I should be grateful it’s all rain and not snow.

The lemon seeds have not sprouted. I’m not sure if it’s because the lemons weren’t actually organic, as marked, and these are sterile seeds, or because it’s off season. They’re in a lovely pot in a warm, sunny window.

I find it alarming that so much seed-saving from grocery-bought food now yields nothing. Too many sterile seeds, and too much corporate control of our food supply.

I’m designing fictional gardens for several stories right now, and thoroughly enjoying it. If there isn’t much to say, plant-wise, over the winter, maybe I’ll share some of that.

The Thanksgiving/Christmas cacti are blossoming, though. They are beautiful, and make us happy every time we walk into a room and see them.

We don’t have real Poinsettias because of the cats. We do have an artificial one, and I have to spray it with Bitter Yuck anyway.

Our neighbor down the street has put lights up on the front of his house, and they are quite lovely. He keeps them on all night.

It seems quite a few people have waited this year to decorate outdoors. There’s a lot of talk about more indoor decorations, since more people who have the option to stay home as much as possible during the holiday season are doing that.

We have the large, artificial tree up – we had to rearrange the furniture in the living room, since the large cat condo lives where the tree usually did. I bought this tree at Pergament in Port Chester for $49.99 in the early 90s. It’s been a lovely workhorse.

We have several artificial trees throughout the house – or rather, we will, when we finish decorating, which will probably take a few more weeks.

We do, however, have a live wreath, pictured at the top of this post. I buy a plain wreath, and then we decorate it however we wish for that year.

We also use a lot of real pinecones in our decorating.

When I take it apart over the winter, I save a handful of the dried greens for the following Solstice – for instance, last year’s wreath will start this year’s Solstice fire on the 21st. The rest of the greens I also keep, and use as kindling throughout the winter for the fireplace.

That’s pretty much it, this week. If the weather lets up a bit, I can put up the outdoor decorations. At the very least, I have to start getting in the furniture and the last big pots in off the deck. It’s been mild, so I haven’t wanted to bring the overwintering plants in yet.

How’s your week in the garden?

Thurs. Oct. 1, 2020: Chrysanthemums Start Blooming

image courtesy of Manfred Richter via pixabay.com

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Full Moon in Aries

Pluto, Neptune, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Ivy

Cooler

Not much to report on the garden front. We had some more tomatoes, which were luscious, and enough beans for another meal – so good. In the next few years, I want to grow more beans.

The chrysanthemums are starting to bloom. I have some that are in a hanging basket on the deck, acting like vines, and then the pots I bought for the front. The one in the barrel is still considering its options.

I put lawn food down on Sunday. It rained quite a bit Tuesday and Wednesday, so I hope it soaked in rather than washing off.

Leaves are falling; soon it will be time to rake. Neighbors have started up the daily leaf blowing. Not that most of them ever stopped.

Of course, all this leaf blowing means all the leaves in the neighborhood eventually end up in MY lawn (because the neighbors blow them into corners of their property and the wind takes them here). Since I am the only person who actually brings the leaves to the dump. . .

Pretty soon, we’ll have to start taking in the big pots to the garage to overwinter, which means setting up our quarantine area in the garage somewhere else.

Today, however, is the first day of October, which means the decorating starts, both inside and outside. I’m looking forward to adding bits and bobs to the yard and gusseying up the house for the holidays.

We get two full moons in October, which makes me happy.

I will take and post pictures on the Instagram account, which is @devonelllingtonwork. I use that account for garden, cats, cooking, textiles – very little book promotion!

How’s your garden doing?

Thurs. Aug. 27, 2020: Visit From a Hummingbird

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image courtesy of fprose via pixabay.com

Thursday, August 27, 2020
2nd Quarter Waxing Moon in Sagittarius
Celtic Tree Month of Hazel
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Cooler

Red sky this morning. Wonder if we’ll have storms coming through?

Not much to say on the garden front. The Roses of Sharon are blooming, and the bees are very happy. We’re getting more cucumbers. We have tomatoes, but they’re not getting ripe; they’re staying green. The grass hasn’t grown much, but it’s looking a bit better. Hopefully, the lawn food arrives soon and I can feed it for the autumn.

It’s a little cooler now, and you can smell the earth early in the morning and in the evening. It’s not quite the scent of autumn yet, but also not summer.

I’m pulling out the lily stalks as they finish browning, and the chlorophyll sinks back into the bulb. When the stalks are done, they pull right out. I’ll have to cut back the hosta blooms that have faded.

The hydrangeas were lovely this year, but they’re starting to fade, too.

I can’t believe some of our pansies are still blooming!

In a couple of weeks, I’ll get a few pots of chrysanthemums, especially for the front.

I’ve been looking at garden design/planning software as a tool to draw maps for the books that have gardens in them. I didn’t realize there was so much out there!

I started with Plan-A-Garden, from Better Homes and Gardens, and even that is overwhelming. It will be useful when I get in close and detail specific plants, but it doesn’t have me do the aerial view of the design of the entire property, which is where I need to start. I’m stuck on my current book until I can map that out. The magazine does that often, so I know the software exists, I just don’t know what it is. So I guess I’ll start, once again, with pencil and paper, and go from there. Otherwise, it becomes an excuse not to write.

I’m going to look at some of the other software options, too, but many of them are too complicated. I can’t take three weeks to teach myself something and then find out it doesn’t do what I need it to do.

I’m looking forward to the cooler weather. Not looking forward to raking leaves, especially since all my neighbors do is amp up their leaf blower use (from daily in the summer to twice or three times daily in autumn). They make big piles of leaves on their property that are then carried by the wind to my property, and I’m the one who rakes them and bags them and takes them to the dump. I’m getting tired of it, after ten years.

Willa and Charlotte love being out on the deck in the playpens. Tessa would rather be free to roam, but it’s too dangerous at this point.

The other day, as I sat outside reading, a hummingbird visited to drink from the flowers. First hummingbird I’ve seen this season (we usually have quite a few). It was a delight to watch.

Next week, the summer decorations start transforming into autumn – the over-sized hummingbird comes down, the basket of fall foliage goes up on the front door. We start switching out the summer fabrics to autumn-themed ones. The big changeover comes October 1, when the white lace curtains come down and the black spiderweb curtains go up, and everything goes to Samhain décor.

Meanwhile, we keep on keeping on.

I have to figure out when to harvest the basil this year. There’s a lot of it, which means plenty of basil pesto to get us through the winter. It’s so much more delicious than anything from the store.

In the next few weeks, I’ll have to see about getting in another load of firewood for the winter, too.

But I intend to enjoy my time in the yard and on the deck as much as possible!

Thurs. Nov. 21, 2019: The Weather Is Not Cooperating

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Thursday, November 21, 2019
Waning Moon, 4th quarter in Virgo
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Celtic Tree Month of Reed
Partly sunny and cold

The weather is not cooperating.

We took 10 30-gallon bags of leaves to the dump late last week. We’ve only filled about 3 or 4 more, mostly because it’s either been too windy to rake, or it’s been raining. That cold, damp, chilling rain that stings when it hits your skin and makes you cold to the bone.

I managed to scrub down the inside of the deck over the weekend. There is no mold. It was all dirt from being blown around in the yard, or from the plants. I dry brushed, then used Murphy’s oil soap. It downright gleams now.

Some boards in the deck do need replacement, as do the stairs, but they don’t have to do the whole thing.

The guy who was supposed to come and look at the deck and the back of the house (which was never painted eight years ago when the front of the house was done) never showed up on Monday. I’m sure it was because of the rain, but still, someone should have let us know. I rearranged my work day so I’d be here.

I’m tired of losing billable hours due to unreliable workmen.

It’s rained all week so far. This is the first day it’s drying out.

As soon as it’s dry enough, I’ll be raking again. We’re supposed to get snow at some point this weekend. I’m just going to rake any day it’s dry enough so to do. Every day a bit, and eventually, it all gets done.

Because the front is what’s most seen, that’s what gets the most attention, but, eventually, I’ll get the side, the back, and the meadow done as well.

Much of it depends on how soon the snow comes in, how much it is, and how long it covers the ground.

The beds are tucked in with leaves, so they will have a good winter. It’s always good to use leaves on the beds. They mulch down nicely, and then the soil is in good shape in the spring. Clean-up’s a bit messy, but the plants like it, and it’s worth it in the long run.

I can’t believe next week is Thanksgiving. Which means, shortly thereafter, that the Winter Holiday decorating begins. I decorate outside as well as in, so I’m sure there will be something to say.

The Thanksgiving cacti are in bloom, and look beautiful. The photos at the top and bottom of this post are those plants.

I won’t post on Thanksgiving, but I’ll be back the following week to talk about how I’m doing with my holiday greens!

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Thurs. Nov. 14, 2019: First Bite of Winter

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image courtesy of JillWellington via pixabay.com

Thursday, November 14, 2019
Third Quarter Waning Moon in Gemini
Celtic Tree Month of Reed
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Partly Sunny and cold

We had our first bite of winter on Tuesday night, with a dusting of snow, and plenty of sharp, cold weather.

Charlotte is fascinated by snowflakes, Willa runs away, and Tessa is used to them.

Last weekend, we worked hard to put the rest of the plants to bed for the winter. I did some of the pruning (not enough). I have much more pruning to do this weekend. We cut down/pulled out the annuals and put the pots away. We brought in the remaining pots that will spend the winter in the house, rather than in the garage. I oiled the teak furniture before putting it away. The large teak bench went upstairs to live at the bottom of my mom’s bed. Brought the large geraniums in — they live near the very sunny window in my bedroom all winter, and usually bloom and bloom and bloom. Cleaned the decorations and brought them in.

I will have a lot of repainting to do in the spring.

So far, 10 30-gallon bags have gone to the dump. 6 more are waiting, and we’re still working on the front. If the weather holds, there is a great deal of raking, bagging, and driving to the dump over the weekend.

I will have to get my act together to start the seeds earlier in February next year. I started too much too late, because certain seeds don’t like to be moved, and I wanted to plant them on the deck in their mature pots. I’m going to have to find the room to do that inside this year. Not sure how, especially since the cart where we usually start seedlings in the front window of my office has been converted to a perch for Willa.

I have a few months to think about it. But I don’t want to wait until the last minute.

Have you finished everything that needs to be done in your yard for winter?

Thurs. Nov. 7, 2019: Beating the Storm

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image via FreePhotos by pixabay.com

Thursday, November 7, 2019
Waxing Moon 2nd Quarter in Pisces
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Partly sunny and cold
Celtic Tree Month of Reed

We might get our first snowflakes tomorrow morning.

On Tuesday, we raked enough just from the center front lawn to fill 10 30-gallon bags. In other words, 3000 gallons of leaves. We’re taking it to the dump today.

The front lawn is full of leaves again.

We haven’t had the chance to do the side lawn or anything in the back.

We’re taking in the plants that need to overwinter in the garage (the potted lilac, the roses of Sharon, the forsythia, hydrangea, etc. in the big pots. We’ll take in the geraniums that usually overwinter in my bedroom, because there’s a window that gets good sunlight. And the fern.

Not sure what we’ll do with the tomatoes.

Other pots have to be dumped, cleaned, sterilized, and stacked away for next year. Decorations have to be cleaned and put away.

I haven’t done the pruning yet, either.

I have to oil the teak furniture again before I put it away for the winter.

All I can do is the best I can do, each day. Every dry day, I’ll do a little bit. Eventually, it will get done, even if it’s not on the same schedule as the neighbors.

But hiring someone to mow made a huge difference this year. So I hope he’ll come back next year.

Thurs. Sept. 19, 2019: Autumn Equinox in a Few Days

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image courtesy of pixel2013 via pixabay.com

Thursday, September 19, 2019
Third Quarter Waning Moon in Taurus
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Celtic Tree Month of Vine
Partly cloudy and cool

Not much to say. I’m starting to put the garden to bed for the season. Cutting back. I’ll prune the roses after the first frost. I’m pulling up the tiger lily stalks as soon as the bulbs pull down the chlorophyll. I’ll cut back shrubs and branches and cut down dying vegetation.

By next week, I’ll start raking.

We’re still not sure what’s eating the food I leave on the deck at night. Not sure if it’s the stray cat or something else. I’d like to know.

Some more tomatoes have formed. Let’s hope these actually get to make it to maturity and we can eat them.

We had a few sugar snap peas to harvest, and they were yummy. I’m going to start them earlier next year, and hope for a better harvest.

The morning glories choked the beans, so we didn’t have any.

The zucchini keep blooming, but not forming any zucchini. We have some blossoms on the eggplants, but I think it’s too late for them.

Well, one learns as much from what doesn’t work as what does, I guess.

Monday is the Equinox, and then night begins to win until mid-December.

 

March Storms, April Storms

I’m still trying to clean up after the four March storms. We already had another snowstorm on Monday, April 2, and another one is expected to come in this weekend.

I’ve cleaned most of the front yard, including raking out the beds and cutting back debris, to let the beds breathe. They’re growing merrily, in spite of the storms.

I raked the terraced area in the back, along with raking out the big border bed there. That bed is growing like gangbusters!

All in all, those two areas spat out 420 gallons of leaves!

I still have the side yard (what I call “no man’s land”) to clear, a small transitional area in the back behind the garage, and then the big area in the back I call “the meadow” which has a lot of downed tree limbs.

With another storm coming in soon, I have my work cut out for me!