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 28, 2022: Plant Plans

image courtesy of Albrecht Fietz via pixabay.com

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Day Before Dark Moon

4th Quarter Moon Waning in Aries

Celtic Tree Month of Willow

Partly cloudy/party sunny and cold

The photo above is not my front porch or yard, but it’s definitely inspirational!

The weather is still all over the place. We’re back into a cold spell now. It will warm up for a few days, and then, toward the end of next week, get cold again.

In other words, the plants can’t stay outdoors yet.

But the forsythia and azaleas are blooming. There are some bushes that I think are weeping cherry, maybe, also blooming. It smells lovely when I walk around to do my errands. There are daffodils and hyacinths up, and people are planting more. Really lovely. People are excited for spring.

I’ve been working to oil the teak furniture. I have one more small table to do, and then, once it’s warm enough, I can oil the bench and the two bistro chairs and the bench out on the back porch.

Plantwise, I’ve just about given up on the mallow. It’s been nearly a month or slightly over a month since the seeds were planted (the plant journal is in the other room, and I’m too lazy to check). I can repurpose the pots for other herbs or maybe some lettuce.

The mesclun greens seeds popped up and faded immediately. The cilantro came up fast and isn’t doing well. It may well be similar here as it was on Cape – makes more sense to buy lettuce and herbs as plants, rather than trying to grow them from seed. The morning glories, who’ve always grown well for me, are not happy, either. I might have to get a new packet (from a different company) and re-sow. Some of the columbine is doing well. The marine heliotrope and echinacea are not. The lavender has not yet come up.

The snapdragons and tansy shoots are still small, but they’re holding on.

The sweet peas, nasturtiums, and four o’clocks are growing well. The moonflowers are undecided; they’re hanging in there, but it’s almost as though they’re worried about the morning glories. The hollyhocks and black-eyed Susan vine are doing well. The dwarf sunflowers are doing well.

The cucumbers and tomatoes are up, but not really doing much of anything. The pumpkins are doing well, and I will have to replant them a larger pot soon.

The dahlia bulbs have both sprouted, and that’s very exciting. Those are going to be big plants. Since this is my first foray into the Cult of the Dahlia, I’m excited, but also a little intimidated.

I mentioned that I got a small Norway Spruce seedling last week, a gift from the grocery store for Earth Day. It’s sitting in its little pot, doing its thing. Since it’s a tree seedling, I have it out on the enclosed porch, with the chrysanthemum I brought from the Cape house (it used to be in the barrel outside). Eventually, I will probably move the tree seedling to the back balcony, but we’ll see.

It’s supposed to get cold again, one more time, next weekend (not the one coming up, the following one), and then, it should be steadily warm enough to set up the back balcony and leave everything out in front and in back.

Soon after that, once the car is fixed, it will be time to head to Whitney’s Farm again, and get in lettuce and maybe some more geraniums, and some begonias.

All of our philodendrons died. The move shocked them. They’d been in the same spot, growing up the walls inside the Cape house for a decade, so it’s not surprising that the move would be too much. And, after all, the biggest of the plants (that looked like it could be an understudy in a revival of LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS), was originally given to us in 1966, when my dad was in the hospital after a heart attack.

But I want another philodendron. I might make a trip, in the next couple of weeks, to Plant Connector, which just moved to Main Street, and see if they have a small philodendron, and if they have a spider plant. We used to have lots of those, and I used to pot up the offshoots and give them to people. But none of the spider plants survived the move to the Cape.

I want to be more creative on how I decorate indoors with plants. I’m looking at lots of photos on Instagram and going through the garden books that made it up (I have to get the rest out of storage over the coming months). I don’t want to overdo it inside, because of the plants that spend most of the summer outside who have to spend the winter inside. But I do want to be a little more creative inside with plant choice and plant placement.

When I lived in NYC, I had a stack of books on houseplants. When I moved to the Cape, they were packed away (and are now in storage), and I focused on outdoor container gardening and outdoors, in general. I don’t have a yard here, but between the enclosed porch, the back balcony, and the wonderful natural light from the large windows, I can do a mix.

Patience, right? Isn’t that what gardening is supposed to teach? I still have a lot to learn in that department!

How’s your garden doing?

Thurs. Oct. 20, 2021: Blooms

photo by Devon Ellington

Thursday, October 21, 2021

3rd Quarter Waning Moon in Taurus

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Ivy

Cloudy/Sunny and warm

The Thanksgiving/Christmas cacti on the front porch are blooming like crazy! They are beautiful.

The porch gets Southern exposure, so on sunny days, it warms up nicely, and there’s lots of sun.

Still no frost. We have plants out on the back balcony. We figured we’d let them enjoy it as long as possible.

We haven’t hit peak color yet, but it’s beautiful. Last weekend, I took a nature walk with Mass Audubon out at The Spruces. Because it was, at one time, a planned community before it was a community park owned by the town, there’s a mix of native plants and cultivars. The walk was fascinating.

It makes me want a book about local flora and fauna even more!

There’s something rather wonderful about being tucked in the mountains. It feels protected (even though we’ve been warned about the harsh winters). And I don’t miss raking leaves AT ALL.

My downstairs neighbor has cut back her vegetable garden, and prepared it for the winter.

I plan to enjoy the beautiful weather as long as it lasts, although I’ve planned to hunker down from November to March, as advised. If the weather is better than expected, I will take joy in every lovely day.

How’s your weather, where you are?

Aug. 12, 2021: Making Friends With My New Area’s Nature

photo by Devon Ellington

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Waxing Moon First Quarter in Libra

Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Hazel

Heat wave: hot, humid, hazy

It’s been a few months since I posted. The photo above is the enchanted garden we’ve set up on the back balcony at the new home in the Berkshires.

We also have a screened in front porch, where we have our Adirondack chairs, the blue wicker chair, more plants (especially herbs, because of the Southern exposure), and more of our outdoor décor.

It was painful to say goodbye to Che Guevara Chipmunk, the murder of crows, the Gemini Oaks in the front lawn, the lovely Maple in the back. The covered back deck.

We couldn’t take many of our large potted plants with us, such as the Roses of Sharon, various lilacs, forsythia, etc. We gave them to neighbors who love to garden, and will either plant them in their own garden, or find them good homes. We gave away a lot of pots, and a lot of garden tools, including rakes, hoes, spades, the lot.

For a decade, we’ve loved that third of an acre, even when things like the mowing were difficult. We had a close relationship with the plants and wildlife. I’d done a lot of rooting work, psychologically, and it was difficult to disengage.

We’ve moved from the ocean – where, due to the increased tourism and the local attitude that ONLY tourists matter, not residents, so the pollution increases as habitat is destroyed – to the mountains.

Technically, we live in a city. Yet there are so many trees all around us. And grass. And plants. We are tucked into the Berkshire mountains, with mountain views out the front and the back. The buildings here have porches or balconies, up and down. Most residents create their little patches of garden enchantment.

It’s very different than on Cape, and each region is beautiful in its own way.

The air is quite different, lacking the salt from the ocean. Also, even though we’re in a city rather than a village, there’s less pollution. The oily residue that’s taken over the air, the dirt, and even the fog on Cape isn’t in everything here.

The soil quality is different. While Cape Cod is known for mounds of gorgeous blue hydrangeas, the hydrangeas here tend to be white or pink and white. Black-eyed Susans (one of my favorite flowers) are popular here, as are sunflowers, and mounds and mounds of petunias, spilling out of baskets on porches and along public streets.

I have to learn the native plants, and figure out what we can grow next year. This year was too late to start much; we bought some pots of herbs, and some flowers, but next year, I will try to start more from seed.

I’ve visited the nearby lake, and I’m looking forward to visiting the Botanical Garden, and some private gardens, and the community gardens that are so popular here, and learning about the gardens and plants that thrive here in the mountains.

While I miss the space and the variety in my Cape garden, even though so much was in containers, I don’t miss the mowing, or the constant pressure for the property to look more landscaped and not be a habitat for the local wildlife.

Our back balcony is habitat – we have two birdhouses and a nest that were already occupied when we moved in (the landlord takes delight in them, too). They are bratty little birds, but an awful lot of fun to watch.

A pair of crows has found me, and visit every morning, when I write on the front porch. They’ve started to stop by and tell me the news. I enjoy my time with them.

I’m excited to see the beauties of autumn, winter, and spring here.

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.