Thurs. Sept. 1, 2022: Flamingo Sentinels

omage courtesy of Ulrike Leone via pixabay.com

Thursday, September 1, 2022

First Quarter Moon Waxing in Scorpio

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

Celtic Tree Month of Hazel

Sunny and cooler

September 1, and finally, some of this humidity has broken! The plants will be relieved. The front porch gets a little bit like a hothouse conservatory during the day. Which isn’t a bad thing, but I have to adjust which plants do well there.

The rosemary does not, so next year’s rosemary will have to go out back. I had some mugwort in the front (and in the back), but the mugwort in the front wasn’t happy, so I moved it.

The marigolds in the back are getting ready to bloom, which is exciting.

The four o’clocks are lovely in the front, the way they open and close. The night blooming jasmine is enormous, but hasn’t yet bloomed. The mountain heliotrope has lovely, periwinkle-colored blossoms. The dahlia restarted. I have no idea what’s going on there.

The black-eyed Susan plant is doing well in the back. I love how cheerful they are.

The pink flamingos are doing their job in the back, and keeping away the squirrels. So next year, I think I will buy some whirligigs, too, for the back. Put something in every pot, and maybe then the squirrels won’t destroy it all.

The black-eyed Susan vine is blooming like crazy out back, and it looks like the morning glories might start. Still nothing from the moonflowers, although the vines have grown nicely, and, between the three kinds of plants, it’s created a lovely natural curtain along the railings of the back balcony.

Apples come into season soon, and I can’t wait. I love apples, and I  miss eating an apple every day. I already had the first apple cider donuts that showed up in the store!

I can’t wait for some genuine, autumn weather!

How are things in your neck of the woods?

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Thurs. July 14, 2022: More Squirrel Shennanigans

image courtesy of Alexas Fotos via pixabay.com

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Last Day of the Full Moon in Capricorn, moving into Aquarius

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Holly

Cloudy and humid

The squirrels have been a problem. Spiro Squirrel is the worst, going after the tansy all the time. I wonder if there’s something about the root he likes, or he’s just preparing for winter. I wound up taking in the tansy, and hope I can save it. The pot of tansy on the front porch is doing well. It’s a useful natural insect repellant, which is one reason I like to have it.

Bingo and Jingo, the pair that always pulls shenanigans together, are also all over the balcony, poking at this and that. They will be very disappointed when all the pots disappear from the balcony in the winter. Spiro is the one, though, who knocks on the window regularly at lunch time and expects us to pass out a sandwich. Just in case you worried, we do not.

As annoying as they are, the fact that they’re already burying things for winter concerns me. Along with the fact the cats shed their summer coats and are growing in thick winter coats already, and miserable, because the heat and humidity have gone up in the past couple of weeks, and are likely to remain so through the rest of the month (although it’s still much cooler than it was last year at this time). And, I noticed, out back, one of the large shrubs is starting to turn for autumn already.

I am planning accordingly.

The Celtic Tree Month of Holly began last Friday. This is about the immortality of nature, masculine energy, and protection. One of the things I miss from the Cape is the Ashumet Sanctuary in Falmouth, with all the wonderful holly varieties. Holly is one of my favorites.

The Farmers’ Market continues its wonder. The large tomatoes are now available, which is good, because our tomato plants haven’t even blossomed yet! We are getting our little, tiny cucumbers, though. They’re not supposed to grow more than 6” in length; they’re not even an inch yet, but there are a bunch of them. I put the pumpkin plant out back for the bees; once it’s been pollinated, I’ll bring it back in, before the squirrels cause problems. I harvested some spearmint, and it’s hanging to dry. I’ll harvest peppermint as soon as the spearmint is ready to strip and put in a jar.

The sugar snap peas from the market last week were spectacular, as were the new red potatoes. I bought extra lemon basil and put up some lemon basil pesto.

Last weekend, I finally stripped the pine wreath from Yule. It stayed green well into June. I have a jar of small branches to burn at Yule, and then 5 jars of needles to use in various concoctions. Tessa helped; she always loved working with me in the still room.

I bought cut flowers last weekend, a big, mixed bunch, and we have filled vases all over the house. Buying those pretty vases a couple of weeks ago at the thrift store gave me a good excuse to fill them!

I still haven’t replanted the jasmine, and I have to plant more cat grass, because the cats decimated what was there.

This weekend, in and around the work I have to do, I will take the cats out in their playpens onto the back balcony. The front porch has been too hot and humid for any of us to spend much time out there (although the plants enjoy it). The back balcony is cooler. The cats have been little fur puddles all week, although they enjoy the ceiling fans. Too bad their summer fur didn’t hold on for a few more weeks.

I’m ordering the tulip bulbs this weekend. We’re going to plant them in October and let them overwinter on the front porch, when we close it off for the season. It’s far too likely the squirrels will dig them up if we leave them out on the back balcony.

I’m looking forward to the Farmers’ Market again this week. And it’s such a pleasure to have mountain views both from the front and back windows. And so many trees out back! This is considered a “tree city” and trees are cherished.

How’s your garden doing?

Thurs. June 30, 2022: Squirrel Visitors

image courtesy of Joe Breuer via pixabay.com

Thursday, June 30, 2022

First Quarter Moon Waxing in Cancer

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Oak

Sunny and pleasant

I am thoroughly enjoying the growing season here, even though there’s a good bit of pollen flying around. On the Cape, the pine pollen dumped down like yellow snow early in the season, leaving a thick coating on everything and had to be scrubbed off. That’s not as prevalent here. But there is a lighter, steadier pollen. When I spend enough time outside, I scrape it off every few hours. And after I shower it off, I have to run vinegar down the drain.

But everything looks gorgeous. The cucumbers finally have blossoms, so I put that pot out on the back balcony, so the bees can visit and pollinate. The pumpkin should bloom soon; hopefully the tomatoes will, too.

The borage planted last week is already coming up. Borage is one of my favorite plants. I love the blue flowers. When I planted strawberries, I would keep borage nearby to protect the strawberries from pests.

The Farmers’ Market gets more and more exciting every week, too. Last Saturday, I got the most beautiful fennel I’ve ever seen. I spend a lot of time with Deborah Madison’s book LOCAL FLAVORS to get ideas.

The squirrels are being difficult. It’s not just Spiro Squirrel, who’s bad enough on his own. There’s another pair of squirrels running around. They are always together, and they have a fairly wide range of four or five properties on this block and across the street. They are always scampering around together. Well, now they come on the deck and turn over pots, bury things, and chomp on the peppermint. They are so fresh I can walk right up to them and scold them before they scamper off, jump into the tree, and watch from a safe distance. I haven’t named those two little rapscallions yet, but I will.

I guess the work we’ve done on the back balcony to transform it into a garden space has worked!

Because we have so many trees and tree-like shrubs around, the back is lovely and shady in the hottest part of the afternoon, while getting strong doses of sun in the morning and the late afternoon. It’s great to sit out there after lunch for a bit, with a book.

Of course, the cats don’t want to be left inside. Willa and Charlotte have always been good in their playpens. Willa tends to get restless after about twenty minutes or so. Charlotte looks around for a bit, then goes to sleep. It’s too difficult to take them out at the same time, but whomever is left inside gets very upset. When I water in the mornings, Willa wants to come out. She knows the playpens are stored up, folded, in the laundry room when not in use, and tries to drag hers out. Yes, she knows which one is hers.

Tessa hates her playpen. Before Willa and Charlotte came to live with us, Tessa was allowed out on the deck without restraints. She never left or ran away. She loved lounging on the deck and checking out the plants. But it’s too dangerous here. We are on the second floor and the railings are wide enough that the cats could slip through. Also, with dogs in the building and squirrels in the trees, it’s safer for them to be in their playpens. We used the playpens when the movers loaded and unloaded, again, to protect the cats.

Tessa hated it. She struggled when she was picked up to go in, and complained the entire time.

But, she decided that if the other two go out on the back balcony, she wants to go out, too. When I take them out, she sits on a kitchen chair by the window and complains.

The other day, I told her I would take her out, but she had to be in the playpen, like the others. I brought out her playpen and set it up. She sat quietly. She let me pick her up and put her in it. She didn’t like the voyage out to the balcony, but once I had her set up, she had a wonderful time. She was interested in the birds and the squirrels and the neighbors, and everything.

So now all three have to take turns coming out! But I’m glad she enjoys it.

We have a lot of birds, with all the tress and shrubs. I have to look up the ones I don’t know in the bird book. There’s one, who looks like some sort of a jay, but he’s gray with a black crest and mask. I’m not sure if he’s a young blue jay, or if he’s some other sort of bird. I haven’t had a chance to look him up yet, but every time he pops by to visit, I’m reminded that I need to.

The crows still come and visit. The scout and Tessa have a serious conversation every morning. Charlotte was in the window instead of Tessa this morning, and the scout gave her such a lecture. She was shocked. Tessa popped up then, and things went back to normal.

I’m looking at tulip bulbs in the catalogs. I might order some and plant them in pots this autumn, then leave them to overwinter out on the front porch when we close it for the season.

How’s your garden growing?