Azaleas and Lilacs and an Owl

Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Moon first quarter in Gemini
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and cold

My Stewartsonian Azalea is getting ready to pop — I can’t wait! I got this bush on sale last year at Mahoney’s for $9.50. It was gorgeous then, and I think it will be even more spectacular now.

Last Friday, a friend gave me some violets and some holly cuttings from her garden. The violets are doing well in a lovely stone pot, and the holly cuttings are sitting in a bucket of water.

I think my two Foster’s hollies from the Arbor Day Foundation have had it; however, hollies usually look a bit sad in April/May, so I’ll wait a few more weeks before making a decision on them.

I got the mower going, and managed to do the terraced back area last week; looks nice. Yesterday, I got most of the front done, except for the strip leading into No Man’s Land. That’s on my agenda for today, and then, probably Friday, I’ll start on the back meadow. Looks much better, but I still have to get out there with the clippers and trim up edges around the trees, the urn, etc. I’m wondering if I should invest in an edger this year.

Not sure how the grass seed is doing, since that’s all new to me, but I’m diligently watering it twice a day as instructed (except when it rains).

The tulips are gorgeous. All 125 I planted came up. ALL of them. Talk about beginner’s luck! The white ones (set to bloom early) are almost done, so I’ll have to do some dead-heading per the instruction book, and then let the leaves wither so the bulbs have fuel for next year. The Carmen Rios are on the cusp of fading. The reds have a few more days left. The Gavottes (yellow and maroon) are at full strength now, and the Queen of the Night are just starting. I got them from Colorblends, and I’m very, very happy with the results.

I planted a bunch of seeds on the 17th (planting day, by the Almanac). All three kinds of tomatoes have come up, some of the cucumbers, the basil, calendula, marigold, All the seedlings go out in the sun on the deck when it’s warm enough, and come back in at night (it still gets down to the thirties). Some of the tree twiglets from Arbor Day Foundation are starting to leaf, as are two of the three raspberries. The new strawberry plants arrived yesterday from Johnny’s (the Fed Ex guy found my sprawled on the grass after mowing the lawn — I think he was afraid he had to call the paramedics, but then I popped up and I nearly had to call the paramedics for HIM).

I think several of the twiglets are going to die; the Niko hydrangea sprig which looked okay when I got it looks miserable now, and the sea holly — I don’t know what it’s supposed to look like, but I doubt a dead stub is it.

The lilacs, however, have me in euphoria. The photo is of the lilac that’s in the ground here. This year’s blossoms are a deep red-violet –quite different from last year’s lavender blooms followed by white ones. It’s nice to see that the places I pruned last year after blossoming (which including falling over the fence into the neighbor’s yard when I leaned over too far, standing on a kitchen chair) are blooming even more this year than last year.

My small Boomerang Lilac from White Flower Farm has small blooms, and looks lovely. The Fragrant Lilac from Arbor Day probably won’t bloom this year, but it’s got healthy growth. Both the Miss Kim and the Edith Cavell from Miller Nurseries are doing well in their tubs, but I think only the Miss KIm will bloom this year.

I’ve been training Tessa on leash and harness, so she can come out with me on the deck. She loves it, but, of course, wants to go further and further. I think she started to realize the danger this morning. We were on the deck, (me) having coffee, when the birds had a fit and Tessa started to shake. I looked up — there was our owl, even though it was early morning, making a statement about territory. Wish I had the camera!

I knew we had an owl from the calls and the pellets and the other traces, and I saw the nest in the neighbor’s large pine. I was too far to get a really good look, but I’m pretty sure it’s a Great Horned — especially from the attitude (and the call and the wingspan). Tessa’s too big at this point to be snatched, but neither she nor the owl know that yet. She’s not allowed out on her own anyway; maybe now she has a better idea why.

I’m in lust with a Scotch broom and a poufy yellow azalea at the garden center, but don’t know if this year’s budget will stretch for them. As I’m offered or price freelance gigs lately, I’ve been calculating how much over bill-pay I’ll have left to use for the garden!

I love sitting out every morning with the first cup of coffee, looking to the garden and listening to it, deciding what it needs. I love sitting out in the late afternoon/early evening, with a glass of wine and a book. This is why I live here, and not somewhere else.

Devon

How Does My Garden Grow? Not sure, but it’s Growing!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011
New Moon in Gemini
Solar Eclipse at 5:16 PM
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Celtic Tree Month of Hawthorn
Sunny and pleasant

What a busy time! First, Spring dragged its feet getting here; now, everything needs to be done at once!

I can’t keep up deadheading the rhododendron; there are too many, and it’s too time-intensive. I just do as much as I can each day that I can, and that will have to do.

I still have not found my mowing Zen, although I’m getting better at the physical aspects of it. And wrestling with that heavy mower means no jiggly arms — they are toned for summer tank tops! Look for the bright side, right?

The back meadow looks awesome when it’s mown!

The irises are starting to bloom! Iris is my favorite flower — heck, I even have a cat named Iris! However, the Very Expensive Iris I bought from White Flower Farm — the Moonsilk, black, and SuperEgo — not much happening there. The black iris vanished, the Moonsilk is dying, and the SuperEgo — not sure what’s going on there. Disappointing.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned this year — get everything locally. The local growers have to deal with you because we live and work alongside each other, so they are going to make sure they sell you something that won’t keel over in ten minutes!

The herbs I bought as plants and repotted are doing well. The lobelia is not coming up in the urn, so I will get some flowers, such as petunias or geraniums (the pelagorums, probably, not the cranesbill) and fill the urn with that. An empty urn out front just looks sad.

The yarrow and echinacea are starting to sprout, so there’s hope. I think I have a pair of male hollies, rather than a male and a female, as they were sold. We’ll find out — if Princess has berries, I’ve got the mixed set; otherwise . . .

I’m madly in love with my witch hazel plant, and need to repot the small lilac. The big limb that broke off my in-ground lilac, which the nursery said would quickly die, is thriving in its bucket of water, so I plan to enjoy it for as long as possible.

Most of the vegetables are in the veggie bed — I hope they survive and thrive. The tomatoes still need to grow a bit stronger before I plant them, but the pots are already prepared, with marigolds and basil.

The strawberries are blossoming like crazy, so maybe we will have some strawberries, even if they’re late.

I love going out every early morning, tending the garden, and then sitting with my morning coffee. The squirrel still races next door, takes two leaves of something, and comes back. He’s checked out my veggie bed, but left it alone. He came right up to the deck yesterday, while I ate lunch, and I tossed him a blueberry. He caught it and dashed off.

I named the woodpecker Carlos, and we have a little morning and evening ritual, where he’s at work, I call to him, he comes and stares at me, then goes back to work. The seven crows in the front leave the owl in the back alone, but they mobbed a hawk that tried to invade the territory the other day. They also tell me when the mailman’s here. Gossipy little things, aren’t they?

I’m in a battle with ants, who’ve pockmarked the front lawn to an alarming extent. I was told I could get rid of them by pouring boiling water down the holes, which seems cruel, but I don’t know what else to do. However, it also kills the grass. I have to call the owner and have him deal with it — that’s why I’m a renter!

The poppies and the morning glories didn’t come up — I waited too long to plant them. I should have started them inside — I’ll know for next year.

I love to sit on the deck in the evenings, with a glass of wine, reading a book, or just sitting there, listening. There’s a lot to which to listen.

Devon

Mornings on the Porch

Saturday, April 16, 2011
Waxing Moon second quarter in Virgo
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Celtic Tree Month of Alder
Sunny and cold

I love sitting outside in the mornings. I feed the cats, take my coffee, and sit outside for about twenty or thirty minutes, listening to the garden.

More and more birds are migrating back. I’ll have to get a Petersen or Audubon guide to learn what they are. I’ve never heard some of those songs before.

The owl in the back usually wakes me up, just before dawn. I love owls, and I’m pleased we have one in the vicinity. The neighbor’s pine has a nest high up in it, so perhaps that’s where he’s staying. I’m not sure which kind of owl he is, but from his call and the nest, I’d think it’s a Great Horned.

The songbirds and other birds fill in as I sit there, and there’s a spring robin jaunting around the grass, getting his breakfast. Before I moved here, I didn’t even know that there were spring robins and winter robins.

The blue jay zooms past, yelling at the top of his lungs, because, of course, it’s all about HIM. I know most people think blue jays are pests, but I’ve always had a soft spot for them. They’re scrappy and stubborn and independent. And the blue coloring is so intense and lovely, much more vivid than anything artificially created.

The crows stay out of the back. There’s a group of seven who visit the front lawn every morning, usually a few minutes after I sit down to work. They wander the yard, peering at the windows, and give me the news of the neighborhood, then go off on their rounds. They come back and hang out in the neighborhood, though, and let me know if someone is coming. They seem to know the difference between people who live on the street and “intruders”, and only call out if a non-resident approaches.

I learned, at the various wildlife seminars, that crows mob owls and hawks, but, for some reason, My Mob of Seven seem to have a truce with the Backyard Owl. The crows stay out of the back, the owl stays out of the front, so they’ve worked out some sort of a deal.

This morning, the jays had a fit because a hawk was just outside of the property, circling, looking for some breakfast. The crows came racing around the side of the property, mobbed him, and chased him off. What was interesting was that they kept whatever truce lines they’ve drawn with Backyard Owl, not crossing through the backyard, but going around it, to get to the intruding hawk.

I’m going to start some more seeds on Monday, the next planting day. Some of them, I’ll start in seed pots, and some I’ll start in the pots I plant to put outside. My dilemma is that, in all the design books, the advice demands mixing as many different plants as possible in each pot for a lush, abundant look. However, I feel that, since I’m so new to all of this, that I should start them separately — a pot of chamomile, a pot of lemon balm, a pot of lobelia, etc. Then, as they grow and I’m more familiar with them, I can figure out what to mix and match, dig some out of some pots, put them with compatible, pretty plants in other pots, etc.

The Racer pumpkin that came up a few days ago is getting big, and the second one which came up is racing to catch up. The Chucky pumpkins are growing at a much more sedate rate.

The Lemon Verbena didn’t make it, unfortunately; it was too traumatized during the shipping process.

I heard from White Flower Farm that they’ve shipped my iris plants — iris are among my favorite flower, so I’m excited.

I like roses when other people take care of them — they seem like an awful lot of work — but some of the shrub roses I’m reading about look rather intriguing. I remember there used to be a special type of climber specific to the Cape, but maybe I’ll see more of it in June. The stores are carrying the “hybrid tea” roses, which , as I say, are pretty in OTHER people’s gardens, but I’m not up for the work.

I love sitting on the porch in the mornings, letting the yard talk to me. I learn something new every day, and, hopefully, the garden will teach me what it needs.