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?

Thurs. June 23, 2022: Steady Greening

image courtesy of Manfred Richter via pixabay.com

Thursday, June 23, 2022

4th Quarter Waning Moon in Aries

Pluto & Saturn Retrograde

Partly cloudy and mild

It’s been rather on the cool side lately, and for that I am grateful. The heat is off for the summer, so we’ve piled comforters back on the bed, and are wearing socks again. Last year at this time, during the move, we had to be careful not to collapse in the heat. I much prefer this.

However, the squirrels are already burying the barely grown nuts. Spiro Squirrel dug up the tansy on the back balcony to bury tiny little bits of nuts in the pot. The cats are shedding their summer fur and growing in thick winter coats, which means, once the heat and humidity do hit in a few days or weeks, they will be miserable.

It also indicates the likelihood of early winter.

Plants are doing pretty well on both the front porch and the back balcony. The brown-eyed Susan gave up the ghost completely, which annoys me, since it was so expensive. I have to figure out what to put in the pot. The columbine died, too.

Some of the plants that struggled early on are doing well, such as the Marine Heliotrope, the Echinacea, and the Lemon Balm.

I planted some of the borage seeds, some pepper seeds (saved, from bought vegetables), and nectarine pits. It’s late for borage, and I’ll probably save the rest for next spring.

I’m saving some seeds from the cherry tomatoes bought at the Farmers’ Market, and will plant them next spring.

The bulb catalogs have arrived. I think I might buy some tulip bulbs and plant them in pots this October, then keep them out on the front porch over the winter, to see if they come up in spring. Trying to decide which ones to buy are a lot of fun. It means getting more pots, too.

I’ll also have to repot several things by the end of the summer, because they’re growing so well.

I hope the dahlias bloom soon. They keep growing taller, but no blooms as of yet.

We’re using the chives, basil, and parsley regularly. We need to eat the lettuce, before we lose it, and start using the cilantro. I’m wondering if I can grow the cilantro all year.

How’s your garden doing?

Thurs. April 7, 2022: Things Are Growing!

Peace lily. Photo by Devon Ellington

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Waxing Moon First Quarter in Gemini

Rainy and cool

Celtic Tree Month of Alder

The plants are growing like crazy! Last weekend, I made another trip to buy more pots, soil, and a couple of tomato cages for the tomatoes and the cucumbers. I also repotted the peace lily. When we bought the plant, for the very first party at the Cape house, it was in a 4” pot. I just repotted it into a 14” pot.

The night-blooming jasmine should ship soon. I asked the grower what size pot it should go in, and they said a 16” pot. Um? That’s considerably larger than I expected!

The snapdragon and marigold seeds were supposed to be here last Monday, but are still circling around various depots in the Midwest.

On sunny days, as soon as the porch is warm enough, the seedlings are moved out. In the evening, as it cools down, they come back in. It’s worth it, since most of the seedlings are thriving.

I planted a lot of annuals this year, and I’m not sure that was the best choice. I guess I’ll find out. But I wanted flowers this year, and I’ll slowly experiment with small-sized vegetables and herbs to see what grows well. I’m diligent about keeping up the plant journal, which helps.

When I did the big grocery shop on Tuesday, I also bought a large pot of pansies and a bunch of lavender tulips. Pansies always make me smile. They’re such a cheerful flower, and I love having them around. I think, however, I will use petunias in the hanging baskets I eventually want for the back balcony.

I’m a little worried that the mallow won’t come up, and I’m getting ready to give up on the pear and the clementine, and use those pots for herbs instead. They must have been GMO fruits, rather than heirloom, even if they were grown in “organic” conditions.

I followed instructions and took the Rose of Jericho out of the water to “rest” for a day on Monday. According to my research, I have to change the water every day, and let it dry rest one day a week, and then one day a month. It browned and curled up again during the rest, but, although it’s unfurling again, it’s not turning green again. So I’m a little worried.

I planted more cat grass. Charlotte and Willa love their cat grass, and when they can chomp on that, they leave everything else alone.

How are things growing where you are? Grace, how are your blueberries and azaleas doing? Pat, how are the herbs doing? I love hearing about the plants!

Thurs. Oct. 8, 2020: Dreaming of Tulips

image courtesy of Clemens Lettinck via pixabay.com

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Second Quarter Moon in Gemini

Neptune, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Ivy

Stormy weather

Now you have an ear worm of that old standard, don’t you?

Not much to say, garden-wise. I haven’t been doing much to put the garden to bed, but I’ll need to start raking leaves soon.

I’ve put up some of the outdoor decorations. I’m waiting to put up the lights until closer to the holiday.

The new furnace works, and we’re not cold all the time, which is nice.

I’m not planting bulbs for spring, because too much is up in the air about spring. But I’m looking at the catalogues and dreaming of what I can plant NEXT autumn for the following spring. Tulips and daffodils have become favorites, and I hope, next autumn, I can plant a lot of them, so that Spring 2022 will be beautiful.

Tulips have such a tumultuous history, tied in with the history of the Netherlands. There was a time when their value was like that of gold. There’s an interesting article on History.com about how the stories coming down about that time are inaccurate and overblown, and there were indicators of a coming crash that were ignored. So the tulip is not at fault!

What are you doing to put your garden to bed?

Wed. Febr. 26, 2014: Some make it, some don’t

Wednesday, February 26, 2014
4th Quarter Waning Moon in Capricorn
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Stormy and cold

The pear shoots all died. I’m sad. The apples are doing okay. Both types of eggplant have come up, the leeks and garlic are growing like gangbusters. The radishes shot up, but now aren’t doing well, and I’m not sure what the carrots are doing.

None of the herbs have come up. I think it’s still too cold to start the tomatoes, so I’m waiting.

The potted tulips started coming up in the garage, so we moved them into the house. I have a feeling they will bloom in mid-March, which should be pretty.

Outside, the crocuses are up, and the daffodils just starting to poke up. Very exciting! The lilacs all have huge buds this year — I hope it will be a good year for lilacs, which are my favorite.

I have a lot of clean up to do in the yard, once the storms stop pounding us every few days. We have another one coming in today, and then another one on Monday. Getting a little tired of it, and I usually like winter!

Devon

Wed. Feb. 19, 2014: Positives and Negatives with Seedlings

Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Third Quarter Waning Moon in Libra
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Well, my poor little pear plants aren’t doing well. Two of the three died, and the third isn’t looking so healthy. I’m trying to nurse it as best I can, but I’m discouraged.

The carrots are coming up. The garlic doubles in height nearly every day. The radish tops are falling over, but I’m not sure what’s happening down below the soil line. The Black Beauty eggplants are coming up, but not the Nadias. Only the oregano has sprouted, of all the herbs.

However, three pots of tulips in the garage were coming up like gangbusters, so I moved them inside, and the little apple plants seem to be doing well.

The citrus has recovered — I’m watching it like a hawk.

Some of the Christmas cacti and the kalachoe have also started blooming.

I am certainly ready for spring — we’re getting storm after storm after storm. I did the best I could for the trees and bushes in the last one, with the heavy snow and ice, but a big limb in my lovely Maple in the back and one in the Dogwood in the front have suffered.

The coyotes are coming awfully close to the house, too. They’ve been singing under the windows the past two nights around three a.m.

Guess we’ll have to batten down the hatches for a few more weeks.

Devon

Lilacs and Ants


one of the pouffy rhodies

Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Waning Moon 4th Quarter Pisces
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Rainy and cool

The Lilacs are absolutely intoxicating this year. Sometimes, when there’s a breeze, I have to stop whatever I’m doing and just inhale. Or, I sit on the deck in the afternoon, lean back, close my eyes, and enjoy. Lilacs are out for such a short time, so every moment is savored.

The big old lilac bush in the ground here, with both purple and lavender lilacs, is gorgeous. My little Boomerang Lilac, on the deck, from White Flower Farm, is blooming beautifully this year. It, too, has a gorgeous fragrance. The small lilac from Arbor Day Foundation is growing well, as are the two from Miller Farms — the Miss Kim and the Edith Cavell. None of them will bloom this year, but I have high hopes for next year.

The Stewartsonian Azalea is in full bloom, and is gorgeous. The pink, pouffy rhodies are starting, and they’re gorgeous. The tulips are just about done. The little vegetables are doing well, and can be transplanted next week.

I put in the peas, spinach, bok choy and radishes on Monday, I’m preparing a small, circular bed for herbs/medicinal plants in a rather barren patch, and EVERYTHING is mowed. Although, by tomorrow, I’ll have to start again in the front!

The ants, however, are back, and in force, in the front. I hate putting down poison, but I have no other choice. I clear one section — they pop up in the next. I’m getting very, very frustrated.

I’m enjoying every moment in the garden, even the wet ones! If I could just convince the ants to stay down by the road instead of coming towards the house and messing up the whole front lawn, we’d be perfect!

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

Tulips!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Waning Moon Aries (4th Quarter)
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and cool

I am so thrilled with my tulips! I only bought 125 bulbs last fall — to me, that was a lot, but one of my friends planted 2500 last fall! Anyway, I’d never planted tulips before (never had the chance). So, I bought some creamy white, some red, some red-and-yellows (called Carmen del Rio), some yellow-and-maroon, and some maroon (Queen of the Night), scheduled to come up in succession.

And that’s what they’re doing!

The red and the Carmen Del Rios are at the bottom of the driveway, and a row of them were planted where we tried and failed to do a strip of wildflowers last year. The whites are up against the house (I think they look gorgeous), and the maroon are just starting to come up. I mixed in all kinds in the border. I’m very, very happy with the result.


I still have to get the mower working — before we melt into “Vacant lot syndrome” — the front looks fine, but the back needs some attention.

The baby trees and the bushes all seem happy, and I started the vegetables in pots yesterday (more on that to follow).

The radishes — which never came up last year — seem to have reseeded themselves, as did the mixed greens. The chives came back full force. Something else is blooming in the vegetable bed, but damned if I know what it is! That’s fine, it’s pretty, I’ll leave it. I just won’t eat it! 😉

The bugleweed is blooming — I like it! It’s grown a good bit since the 4″ pot I put in the ground last year, and it’s just lovely.

It will look even better when I get it all mulched in the next week or two!

Amazing what a few clumps of tulips can do for the morale!

Devon

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