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. July 30, 2020: Blooming and Fading

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image courtesy of pasja1000 via pixabay.com

Thursday, July 30, 2020
Second Quarter Waxing Moon in Sagittarius
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Celtic Tree Month of Holly
Hot, humid, cloudy

It’s been so hot and the yard so parched that I’ve used the hose to water it. As far as I know, we’re not under drought warning here, so it’s okay. I don’t have an irrigation system set up – I just give the yard a good soak around 5 AM. I do the back both morning and night. It’s making a positive difference, which is nice, because the Earth Science Lawn Repair mixture I bought isn’t doing a damn thing.

The beans are starting to be beans; we have more blossoms on the tomato plants; we have cucumbers. The zinnias are blooming. I’m not sure why the morning glories and moon flowers haven’t bloomed – the vines are everywhere. The basil thrives – I have a feeling I’ll make more pesto this year. Which is fine, because it’s excellent.

The Hosta blooms are starting to fade, although the bees still enjoy them. The Tiger Lilies are already fading, which is early for them, and the leaves are already turning brown.

The Rose of Sharon plants are starting to bloom.

I’m battling the kudzu and the bindweed almost daily. It’s exhausting. And oak saplings everywhere. Around here, oak behaves like an invasive. Over at the Ashumet sanctuary, they have a grove of pitch pine they’re cultivating (the Cape used to have a lot of pitch pine). The oak keeps trying to push out the pitch pine, so they have to keep taking the oak saplings out as though they are weeds.

Che Guevara Chipmunk is back. I saw him drinking out of the water dish I leave out for the wildlife (and change three times a day). I’m glad. I was worried about him. He spends part of his time in our large peace lily plant; when we bring it in for the winter, we will have to make sure he’s not still in it.

The bunnies still munch, morning and night. The crows are hanging out, hoping for more melon. Lots of finches of various types this year. They are funny. Bossy little birds, but they’ve chased off the sparrows and wrens.

Bratty Bird, the nuthatch, hasn’t been around much this summer, and I kind of miss him. But then, Tessa’s not out on the deck, and he loved to bother Tessa.

I hope we get a thunderstorm today; we need a good one.

But at least I can spend some time, every morning and evening, enjoying the yard. It’s been so hot, the neighbors haven’t been out and about making much noise. Except last weekend, when the neighbor across the street used a leaf blower on his gravel delivery.

I spend time every day in gratitude for this lovely place. It makes everything else going on in the world a little more bearable.

Saturday is Lammas, the first harvest, and the agricultural start of autumn. I feel so far behind in so many aspects of my life that I’m panicked, but at the same time, autumn is my favorite season.

July 2, 2020: My Garden Definitely Grows!

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The terraced border in the backyard

Thursday, July 2, 2020
Second Quarter Waxing Moon in Sagittarius
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Celtic Tree Month of Oak
Hazy and humid

Hello, my friends! It’s been two weeks, because I had surgery last Thursday. I’m on the road to recovery, but it’s taking longer than I would like.

In the meantime, the garden is growing!

The lawn was finally mowed last Friday, and looks much better. I moved the two small, potted evergreens that flanked the front door out of the front beds, and to the side of the house. They’ve grown over the years (I bought them the first Christmas we moved in, in 2010). They don’t look right. They’re too big to be on the small front step; they look wrong tucked in the back of the front bed.

So I moved them to the side of the house (to hide a small dead tree the owner has yet to get rid of). I started cleaning out the front beds and found a wasp nest, attached to the siding, right near the spigot for the hose.

I dashed out to get wasp killer. Note to self: Avoid Hyannis Country Gardens in the future. Only the register staff keeps their masks on, and the customers wear their masks around their necks, not over their faces, and refuse to distance. Not worth putting my life in danger because of selfish Sliding Mask Skanks.

I nearly sprayed them all with wasp killer, but I needed it for the house.

Battled the wasps over the next few days. This weekend, I hope to get the hose attached in the front, and wash the rest of it away.

Because it looked too bare in the front of the house, I brought two of the oversized red geraniums from the back and put them in front. Good Feng Shui, and they look pretty.

One of the baskets of pansies in the front gave up the ghost. I have to put some of the spare pansies in there, and then continue to clean out the front beds.

The border of the terraced section is lively, as you can see from the photo above. The Stella D’oro lilies are doing well. There’s also that slightly darker yellow lily – I’m not sure what it’s called, but I like it. The daisies are in bloom, as are the catmint, the feverfew, and the Queen Anne’s Lace. The Tiger Lilies are getting ready to bloom.

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The Astilbe is pinker than it looks in the photo, and is lovely. The Elephant hosta is now enormous.

I have to tackle bindweed this weekend, because it’s creeping around choking things.

I’m a little concerned that the hostas are already sending up blooms. It should happen in August; the last few years it’s been happening in mid-late July. This year it’s in early July. Also, the critters are already hoarding for winter. That does not bode well.

The rugosa roses are doing well, and the scent is lovely, wafting into my bedroom.

Tomatoes are coming along. Cucumbers keep blooming, but none of the blooms are producing anything. Beans have sprouted. Che Guevara Chipmunk dug up the peas and the sunflowers, so I think those will be a bust this year.

Herbs and lavender are fine. I’d hoped the morning glories would start blooming, but they are very busy growing.

The hydrangeas are blooming. Cape Cod is known for them, and the hydrangea festival is next weekend. I think people are observing from their cars? I hope packs of Maskless Morons don’t think they’re actually going to tromp around people’s properties.

I wouldn’t be out and about on a holiday weekend around here anyway, because of the traffic and the idiot tourists. Add the pandemic this year, and I’m really staying home.

But I have my enchanted garden to enjoy (and work in). I can read and watch the birds – lots of finches this year!

I love to have my first cup of morning coffee out on the deck. I check on the plants. I talk with the birds and the bunnies. The little black cat hasn’t been around lately. I think she was just a visitor. Sometimes I do my first writing session of the day on the deck.

Later in the day, I either read or take more work out on the deck. The skylights and the covering mean I can even work in bad weather (as long as the rain isn’t coming sideways).

Being out there gives me a sense of peace and belonging, that I don’t get anywhere else around here. It also emphasizes how much I want a place of my own, not a rental.

The bunnies continue to eat breakfast and dinner in the patches of dandelions I keep in the yard. Che Guevara Chipmunk is very busy. He likes to get right in Willa’s face, because she’s in the playpen, but she’s learned how to chase him by turning the playpen into a snowball-like roller.

I am so grateful to have this space to enjoy and rest in, this sanctuary away from the horrors of the world.

How’s your garden doing?

Do I Plant Something So I Can Write About It?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Second Quarter Moon in Cancer
Jupiter Retrograde
Celtic Tree Month of Birch
Sunny and pleasant

I didn’t post on Saturday. I didn’t have much to say. I nearly went ahead and planted something just to have something to write about.

In any case, the macintosh apple seeds are being gently tended; today I’ll plant some pear seeds from a gift of pears we had at the holidays. One of them is sprouting; we’ll see.

One of the interesting things is to see which of the foods we get from outside sources is fertile, and which is not. That’s part of the experiment.

I’m trying to figure out what to plant this year. What do I eat most? Tomatoes, eggplants, leeks, radishes, carrots are right up there. We had a great year for tomatoes last year — my only real limitation is space. It was a lousy year for eggplants and zucchini, a good year for peppers. For some reason, although radishes and carrots are supposedly easy to grow, I am the exception and can’t seem to grow decent ones of either.

That doesn’t mean I won’t try again!

I want to grow leeks this year. And more Asian vegetables, such as bok choy (which did pretty well) and lemongrass. I’d like to grow celery, and maybe garlic and onions.

I was light on the herbs last year — most of them did not grow well. I’m hoping for a better herb year this year.

I’m trying to decide what I’ll plant on Imbolc, the important celebration of “what stirs beneath” — it needs to be something important to me, but something likely to grow well!

Decisions, decisions . . .

Of Radishes and Rabbits

I’ve seen these labelled as both “sun drops” and “evening primrose”. Since they bloom all day, I’m not sure the latter is correct, but I think they’re pretty and I like them, no matter what they’re called. They’ve planted themselves all over the property. Fine by me!

Saturday, July 7, 2012
Waning Moon Third Quarter in Aquarius
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny, hot humid

I must be the only human being on the planet who cannot successfully grow a radish. I’ve read articles by ten year olds who grow them. They don’t work for me. They send up beautiful foliage, but don’t make radishes. I have one Mega-radish that flowered over the winter and has an inedible radish, but the ones I planted this year are doing the same as they did last year, acting like trophy wives — pretty and unproductive.

We’ve got a pair of rabbits – -which means, by summer’s end, we’ll have a lot more than a pair. They’ve awfully cute, and, except for the marigolds and one set of greens, they’re leaving the garden alone. They’re pillaging the neighbors’ gardens instead. I usually see them early in the morning and at twilight. Since we have an owls, I worry that one or both of the bunnies will wind up as someone’s supper, but so far, there seems to be a truce.

The peas are happy, one of the spinach plants came up well, and the bok choy has gotten over itself and it coming along nicely. Although mulched, the vegetable bed has more weeds this year than usual. I’m about the stake the cucumbers (don’t want them hollowed out on the ground like they were last year), and we can’t keep up with the chives, which are growing beautifully. The lettuces and mixed greens are all doing well, and we’re having a Summer of Salads. I don’t mind eating lots of greens when they actually taste interesting.

The round bed I prepared is not doing well. None of the herbs planted from seed came up, nor did the sunflowers (a shame, since it’s sunny). The marigolds were eaten. The pale yellow petunias I planted are doing very well, and the rosemary I planted is happier in that bed than the other rosemaries I have around the premises. The thyme is still making up its mind.

This is a good year for hydrangeas and lilies. The Stella D’oro lilies were gorgeous this year, and the Tiger Lilies prove to be even better. The lavender I planted in the terraced bed last year bloomed this year, and the catmint is stunning and spreading (not that I mind).

The poppies never came up, unfortunately, and the red salvia, which was perfectly happy last year, is struggling this year.

I’m growing three different kinds of tomatoes — Silver Fir, Principe Borghese, and Eva Purple Ball Vine Tomato plants all look good, the eggplants are making eggplants, and the zucchini and pumpkins are in bloom. Even the mystery pumpkin, which took nearly four months from seed to a shoot, looks good. I’ve got more zucchini in the veggie bed, along with heirloom squash (gift from a friend) — growing slowly, but growing.

Of the 10 trees from the Arbor Day Foundation, 8 of them are doing well, along with the Red Maple sapling. All of them are happy, for the moment, in pots. The lilacs and bush cherries and Rose of Sharon are doing well. I think we’ve lost one of our Everbearing Raspberry bushes (which is a shame, since it had the most berries on it).

We harvested our first strawberries (Seasacape) to have with our breakfast this morning. This year’s are much bigger and tangier than last year’s. Yummy!

The small hydrangea, which we thought was dead, has a new shoot. Glad I was patient with it. The Sea Holly, I’m pretty sure, is just plain dead, which is a disappointment.

This is not a good year for herbs — all of my herbs are struggling, which is frustrating. But I think we’ll have lovely zinnias and sunflowers.

The clematis and I debate every morning –it does not want to climb the hoop it’s supposed to, it wants to go elsewhere. The wisteria had a growth spurt and needs a solid trellis, or it’s going to wind its tendrils around the kitchen door and either yank it open or trap us inside.

A friend gifted me with a butterfly bush. It struggled the first few days after planting, but seems to be doing well. The impatiens down at the bottom of the driveway are doing well, but the black-eyed Susan is still unhappy, and I’m worried it will die.

The pansies are soldiering along in the urn. I did what someone suggested and didn’t dig up the pansies in the front bed, but overwintered them — and a few brave ones are sticking up their little heads behind the marigolds. The marigolds in the front are happy — they’re close enough to the house not to get munched.

I moved some hostas which had planted themselves in an unhappy clump, and lined them down one side of the driveway. They look nice and are much happier.

My chrysanthemum in front is about to bloom. It’s going to be gorgeous, but isn’t it a little early?

My heather, however — it’s turned orange. It’s a lovely color, and it doesn’t feel dead — the foliage is soft and yielding. But I didn’t think it was supposed to do that. I’m watching — maybe cut it back hard this fall and see what happens? I can’t find this situation in any of my gardening books.

The roses are fine as long as I leave them alone, and only deadhead. The minute I try to do anything else, they snap at me. A lovely pink bush (all my bushes are red) planted itself near the fence — it’s gorgeous, so I’m not arguing.

It’s fascinating to watch how differently the same plants react in a different year.

Devon

Planning: Sometimes the Best Part


Amaryllis. It reached its full glory on the night of the Twelfth Night Party

Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Waning Moon Fourth Quarter in Scorpio
No Retrogrades
Celtic Tree Month of Birch

I ran into an acquaintance-on-the-road-to-becoming-a-friend a few weeks ago at a music event. She asked why I stopped writing the blog, because she enjoyed reading it! So, here I am!

My heather’s blooming, out front, in the barrel. It looks lovely, but

Learning how to maintain a garden was a little overwhelming for me last year. All in all, although I won’t win any prizes, I learned a lot, I had a LOT of fun, and there were great times. The Black King eggplant (who lived in the house until a spider mite kerflamma) grew to be nearly six feet tall and spat eggplants at us until nearly Thanksgiving; the tomatoes were put in late, so it was nearly Thanksgiving before we got any, but I’d pulled them in and put them under a grow light in the back bedroom — so we had tomatoes. It was too wet for the pumpkins, and they died, which was disappointing. The cucumbers would have been great, but the squirrels hollowed them out and left the rinds; the green peppers were good. The salad greens were amazing.

Supposedly, anyone on the planet can grow a radish. Not me.

Win some, lose some.

While I’m glad I don’t have to live through the winter on the harvest, it wasn’t bad for a first time out.

The culinary herbs did well, and I need to add some more medicinals in this year. The lavender was kind of hit and miss. I’d been told lavender is easy, but I must not have given it what it needs. Some of the plants are dormant now, cut back, so we’ll see what happens in spring. In fact, I have a whole section of the garage with dormant, cut-back perennials.

I bought a witch hazel tree from Country Gardens. I absolutely adore it. It was beautiful all summer, it turned lovely colors in fall. It wants to bud, but hasn’t yet.

My Blue Prince and Princess hollies are doing very well. I also dug up another holly from a difficult place in the yard and stuck it in a pot. It’s doing well, too. From this past Holly Walk at Ashumet, where we get to take branches, I took some of the Goldie berries and planted them — hoping something will come up. I’d love to have a holly that can trace back its lineage to Ashumet, which is one of my favorite places on the planet.

The Boomerang Lilac is still on the back deck, along with the hollies and the witch hazel. I pulled them back, to protect them from the harshest weather, but they’re out there on the deck and seem happy. It looks like the Boomerang will have some nice buds in spring.

The strawberries gave us a small harvest over the summer, but a second, much larger one in fall. We had strawberries for breakfast for weeks up until late October. And they were delicious. They’re cut back and resting, so hopefully they will be even more productive and delicious this year. The kitten (Tessa) doesn’t each much people food, but she does like to pick her own strawberries from the plants and eat them.

The plants from Territorial Seed Company did not do well, other than Black King eggplant (which was magnificent). The Peppermint Ice Hellebore (the most expensive) was unhappy (it’s struggling, but unhappy), the Huckleberry is struggling, and everything else died. Well, the Lemon Verbena arrived nearly dead, but that was simply ignored. I may buy the Black King from them again, but . . .moving on.

Eden Brothers seeds did pretty well, and the locally bought seeds were fine, too. Johnny’s, as usual, worked the best for me. The bulk of my purchases this year will either be from Johnny’s or from the local shops.

I’m sitting down and planning for planting season. I want (and need) more herbs. It makes more sense to buy them as small plants locally than start them from seed. I hope the rosemary comes back, and some of the others. I want more different varieties of thymes and basils. The Feverfew did well — this year I have to harvest it, instead of just oohing and aahing about how pretty it is. The Echinacea did NOT do well, so I’ll give that another go. I want to add chamomile and dill to the mix, and I need tansy, rue, and pennyroyal. I’d like to expand to coltsfood and horehound, but don’t know if I can this year. I use both herbs a lot in cough and cold mixtures.

Vegetable-wise, I’ll put some things in the bed as last year, and others in pots that will line up on the ground below the terraced area in the back. It gets a lot of sun. I need to grown the Asian vegetables I like to use in cooking, and have a hard time finding.

I’m going to start tomatoes earlier, and go with locally-started plants instead of trying to do everything from seed. There will also be more marigolds, and they’ll be EVERYWHERE. Cucumbers, eggplants, zucchini, peppers — hey, a girl’s gotta have enough for ratatouille, right? And cucumber sandwiches. I want to try some lettuces, cabbages, spinach, and peas. I like the IDEA of corn and beans, but don’t know if I’m actually ready to deal with them. I will try pumpkins again.

My questions for planning the season are:

–what do I use most in cooking, and like best?
–can it grow here?
–what herbs do I use and need most?
–can it grow in a pot?

And then, it’s just trial and error.

I wasn’t as dedicated to good note-keeping last year as I should have been. I kept buying plants and not making up sheets for them or noting when they were replanted or died. I have to be better about that this year.

I am an azalea and rhodie convert, and I even fell for the hostas, once they were up. When we first moved here, I did not understand the love of hosta — to me they looked icky and wilted when I cut them back. Then, they came up in spring and summer and were gorgeous. I can’t wait for the Stewartsonian Azalea I bought last year to start blooming again. It seems very happy in its barrel.

I want more pansies this year, and more petunias. The petunias looked lovely with the coleus and the dusty miller in the urns out front. The mums were a little disappointing — the orange, which I loved, where the quickest to fade. Some of the deep reds and the yellows stayed much longer. We will see if they are annuals or perennials. I was told if I got them into the ground quickly, they’d be perennials. Some went into the border in the front, some stayed in pots, so we’ll see. The cosmos looked lovely, so hopefully they’ll come up well this year (I’ll plant more), and I plan to put the poppies in early enough so they can actually come up.

I planted 125 tulips in the fall — a true red, a white, a red-and-yellow (Carmen Del Rio), a yellow and maroon, and a maroon (Queen of the Night). I’m concerned, with the temperate weather, that they’ll get confused and come up before it’s time.

The Arbor Day Foundation is sending me ten trees and two flowering shrubs, so getting those situated (in pots — this is a rental) will take up some time.

The peace lily which was bought for last year’s Twelfth Night party is huge and gorgeous. The small roses are struggling — I think the spider mite plague was more than they could survive. Last year’s primrose is doing well. I bought three more small ones for this year’s party — they’re not as happy. I’m not sure if they need replanting, or were just forced too early or what. We’ll see how they fare.

I want to schedule my time better. Now that I know the garden needs more time, I want to schedule my writing day so that the writing and the garden both get what they need.

Really, this is the best time of year, garden-wise, because anything is possible!

Devon

Possibilities

Wednesday, January 6, 2011
Waxing Moon in Capricorn
Celtic Tree Month of Birch
Sunny and cold

My friend Costume Imp is here from New York. Although he’s a costume designer/wardrobe person, he grew up on a farm and also used to landscape. He knows his stuff. He’s going to help me buy a lawn mower while he’s here, and, yesterday, we walked the property, talking about its possibilities. He identified most of the shrubs and mysterious things poking up from the ground, although one or two remain a mystery.

I’m excited by the prospect of having forsythia, azalea, rhodedendron, and even some roses. The Cape has a very specific type of small, lovely rose that I adore, and I hope that’s what these bushes are — because they’re very hardy and I don’t know much about the care of roses. I would be over the moon if one of the bushes turns out to be lilac. The Cape has gorgeous lilacs, and lilac are one of my favorite flowers. It even looks like there are some irises planted — my absolute favorite, and not just because Iris (aka Princess Hellion) is the namesake!

We talked about what kind of pots and furniture to get, and where to put things. The back is a long, odd shape, but the bulk of the yard gets a lot of sun, which should make growing herbs and flowers easier. There’s holly in front and out back, and a third little bit seems to be determined to make its mark on the side of the house. I adore holly, especially after taking the Holly Walk soon after we moved, so that’s exciting to me.

We can’t figure out a good place to put a bird feeder, unless i get one that’s free standing and I can stick into the ground. Also, I’m worried that, trying to grow vegetables, supplying a bird feeder will encourage them to pick at the vegetables instead of going to the feeder. I’m not quite sure how that works. Any suggestions?

There are indications that hooks for hanging pots were once in the deck, which is great, because I want to hang pots of strawberries and maybe some other basket flower.

I’m looking forward to reading the stack of gardening books I bought in Niantic!

At this stage, there are a lot of possibilities. Even though I’m on a budget, I’m very excited by them. The garden is not a blank slate — it’s been well-loved and cared for by previous tenants. So it will be exciting to see what’s there and combine that with what I envision. I’m sure there will be mistakes along the way, but I’m delighted by the prospect of the journey.