Sunday, April 25, 2010

More more morels!

Yesterday I took a bag of blue Dutch iris over to my friend's garden. While we were placing them amongst her own yellow Japanese iris, we were shocked, amazed and delighted to discover this little treasure. A beautiful morel mushroom! She's lived there over 25 years and this is a total surprise to her - never having seen one before. Perhaps it came with the soil she top dressed the bed with earlier this year?

While we contemplated various ways to serve it (LOL) we knew that one 'shroom would not a meal make. So we left it, hoping it would release a gabillion spores and seed the bed for next year.

Gardens. Ain't they fun? :-D

Oh, check out the propagation page for the latest on WS & GUL plants! :-D

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Garden treats

It's bright and cold again this morning. Like yesterday, the bird bath is frozen over. At least the sun is shining and yesterday's cold North wind has died down.

While debating just how much outside work I wanted to do on Monday (turns out - very little! Brrr), I found a couple of surprises. First off this very early iris. I don't remember when or from whom I got it (senior moment). I only know that it is short, has 'real' iris foliage (not like Dutch or Japanese), and blooms in mid-April. I had no idea that it was this advanced by Sunday night and it obviously did not enjoy the 27F. The petals are sort of translucent, a sure sign of freeze. Poor thing. Hopefully the nights won't be as killer the rest of this week and I'll keep an eye out for the others.

I think I posted earlier that I bought 2 rhododendrons to put under the white-blooming crabapple tree. This 'Vulcan' sports deep red blooms and will make a nice change from the rest of my rhodys (lavender).

Obviously these new plants are more advanced than mine. Even so I did not expect them to start blooming in this cold weather (or hot, depending on the day - sheesh!). Still, it's a nice pop of color and (at least this year) I'll be able to see the red under the white crab.

Another garden treat (for which I don't have any pics) was a fun visit from fellow Ohio garden blogger, Jeph. You can check out his gung-ho gardening adventures HERE. Also, he and friend Mary have started a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) co-op this season and you can watch how all that shakes out HERE.

We toured the gardens, exchanged plants (toms, veggies & herbs), shared tips and ideas and thoroughly enjoyed the visit. All too soon he had to leave. Having taken the day off work his own beds beckoned while I was compelled to get out of the wind, so headed down to the basement to start some trays of annuals. After all - it's only 4 weeks till plant out. Woohoo.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Crabs a-blossom

In spite of the bizarre roller coaster weather we're having this year, my crabapples are hanging tight to their blooms. Here's a pic of the front (unknown) crab in full glory. Last year for some reason it only bloomed near the tips of each branch. But it seems to have reconsidered that look and gone back to full and fluff mode.

I'm happy to report that there is a LOT of bee activity this spring. I've been almost overrun with carpenter bees on the shed. The crabs and ground covers (lawn violets, violas, dandelions, pachysandra, myrtle, etc.) are a-buzzin' with hover bees, mason bees and the like. As the rest of my crabs bloom, I'm hoping to catch sight of some orchard bees too.

Hope your beds are buzzing!

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Wednesday it was up to 70 so I mowed the lawn. Thursday it tied a record for 81 and I planted 6 of the Eastern white pines. (*sigh* In the day I could have done all 10 the same day. Now I'm, um, more mature and have this *** failing ankle to deal with.)

The front was supposed to come in Friday, but I hoped for the best. I'd need a couple (maybe 3) dry hours to install the last 4 pines. It was supposed to hit 70 again. I was out on the deck around 7:00, sipping my first coffee and gazed toward the east and the bright sunrise. Yay! No rain. But with my back to the house I did not see what was coming from the west. Next thing you know I'm getting wet! Grrrr. It was a sunshower - bright sunshine and silver rain. I headed into the breezeway to look westward and see how bad the rain was going to be.

And there, low and behold was a perfect rainbow. I dashed for the camera. I've only seen a rainbow in the west twice that I can recall. It takes a perfect combination of sunrise angle and a 180 degree westerly rain shower.

I snapped pics out the front door, then using the autostitch program, I merged them to get the whole rainbow in a pic. (The dark area is where I had to lift the camera higher to get the arch, resulting in a hole in the pic.) Still, you can see the perfect arch toward the west.

The rain lasted only 15-20 minutes. Everything got wet but by 10:00 I was out planting. I'll post the update about that soon. Maybe on the 'garden projects' page. Or, at this rate, I may have to add another page for 'trees and shrubs'. LOL

Meanwhile, this morning the bottom has fallen out again. It's only 36 degrees outside. I went out cut my first asparagus for lunch today and it is spitting sleet and snow. The weather certainly isn't boring around here.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I pine for yew

When I moved here 7+ years ago, the back of the property was a lot more secluded. The branches of the pine trees were lower, screening me from most of the 15th fairway. The 14th green (right behind the big split-trunk silver maple, though, has always been exposed.

this place was for sale, it was touted as "secluded private yard with park-like setting". And it was. There was good cover at the back of the property and my neighbor to my left also had lots of saplings and shrubs along her border to the golf course which was great additional visual screening for me.

Since then that house has changed hands. A single guy moved in and cleared out all the screen shrubs. Then last year the golf course limbed up not only the pines behind my house, but throughout the entire course! They wanted easier mowing (like those cemeteries where all the markers are flush with the grass so they can mow right over the graves). So now, not only am I exposed to the fairway adjacent to my property, but all the golfers as far as 3 fairways over! (And all the noise now carries further, too.)

Last year was the big deck arbor repair so couldn't swing any serious screening. I thought this year I'd at least make a start on the project. I wanted several Eastern white pines to screen the 14th green. I also wanted some hefty yews to plant along my entire 165 feet of rear property line.

Yesterday my friend and I went to see what was available. We planned to go to Sam's Club, Home Depot and Lowes. We started at Lowes. Last week there wasn't much there. But wow, now racks were full. I didn't get my hopes up, though, especially with my modest budget.

First thing we saw were balled Eastern white pines. $26. But they weren't great -- 3.5 feet tall and kinda scrubby. Obviously they needed water and were suffering. We passed those. We checked out inside and as I was walking along an employee was placing a display cart with a fresh delivery of yews. I took a gander. Taxus "Runyan" in 1 gallon pots. I read: Fast growing. Good. 8-10' high, 12' wide. Better! $5.98 BINGO! The rack held 24. Four didn't look so good, but the other 20 - mine mine mine. LOL I had expected to have to pay at least twice as much for yews that size!

Still, I didn't know if I could do pines this year. But we wandered around some more and found 5 2-gallon pots of Eastern white pines that were maybe 20" tall. They looked wonderful. All soft and green - though very small. $18. Well, I reasoned, I saved a lot on the yews. We're here. They're there. Guess I should spring for them. As I was loading them onto the cart, the same employee passed by and mentioned that there were bigger outside. Yeah, we said. But they looked bad. She agreed, then said she needed to move them or they will just die. How about $10 each?

Oh man. From what we saw they looked like all they wanted was a place to die. We told her we'd think about it. Eventually we checked out the big pines again. There were two pallets and all the outside ones where nasty. But in the middle, where the root balls had retained moisture, there were some salvageable ones. Hmmm. So I counter offered. $8? Calls were made. People paged. Okeydokey. Shazaam! (Honestly I don't know which was more exciting: finding what I needed or playing lets-make-a-deal. LOL)

So now I have evergreen screening to install out back. I'm sure there are aches and pains in my future, but will be well worth it!

It was as if the planets had aligned. A beautiful day, out with a good friend and her cavernous van, and the price fairy perched on my shoulder. When we stopped for ice cream on the way home, my friend said it was such a lucky day for me I should buy a lottery ticket. I laughed and said, "Well, yeah. But only if I could get it for 75 cents." ;-D

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Time travels

Back in February I posted about bringing home the "comfy chair" and setting up a reading nook. I can't tell you how much I enjoy my little retreats to this corner with my morning coffee. It's amazing how much thinkin' goes on while I sip and rock, rock and sip.

Lately I've been 'traveling' into the past, remembering events and people I knew. I know you can't 'go home' as they say and about the only way to revisit such experiences is through memory. But sometimes memory just doesn't do enough. There are a couple of long-ago friends I would love to get in touch with. But even the magic of the internet doesn't have the 'ooomph' of Professor Peabody's WayBack Machine that I seem to need.

Still, other folks out there do lots of searches, so I thought I'd do up a post or two about a couple of old friends I'm looking for. Perhaps those friends, or folks that know of them, might find this blog and lend me a hand in tracking them down.

My first search is for Debbie Hilliard. I'm sure she's married long ago and changed her name. We lived at an apartment complex called Hallwood Manor in Mentor Oh. I lived with my mother. She lived with her father in the next building.

Here's a sketch of her I did while she napped one day.

In 1967 we both had the most marvelous vacation at the Jack and Jill Ranch in Michigan. We went for 2 weeks, enjoyed lots of boating and horseback riding, shooting, archery, swimming, campfires, all the great dude-ranch activities anyone could imagine. They also took us to some huge dunes where we 'buggied' all day. At night we enjoyed wonderful food (and lots of it!) and great stage shows by the staff. Afterward we'd head back to our cabin overhead the sky was so clear, so bright that the Milky Way lit our path.

We were young (I was 20) and, of course, both of us crushed on a couple of the staff. LOL They were all so charming and talented how could we resist? Back then the Jack and Jill Ranch (also known as the Double J) was a guest ranch for single adults. Talk about good clean fun. Even the music was perfect and we'd all hang out to the Carpenters, the Mommas and the Poppas, Petula Clark. Warm summer days. Mild nights.

We had such good times those 2 weeks that we went back for Labor Day weekend. We met some wonderful people and had what is to this day the best vacation I've ever had. Really. The very best.

I used to have a whole box of pictures from that trip, but alas, it's been lost for decades, perhaps accidentally discarded during one of my moves. Big regrets!!

So, if you're out there, Debbie Hilliard. You worked at Lake West hospital in Willoughby (I think) when I knew you and I was working in downtown Cleveland at Thomas and Associates. I hope you are well and happy and have as many fond memories of our wonderful Michigan vacation as I do. I'm sending out a big ole Rowdy Dow Double J call out to you.

Friday, April 9, 2010


Have I ever mentioned that Ohio weather is quite, um, challenging?

It hit 80+ 3 days this week. Today, right now, it is 37 degrees.

And snowing.....

Saturday - April 10

It's 27F this morning with clear skies. The sunrise is beautiful, glinting off the ice on the bird bath. *whine*

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Daffy daze

I don't usually post more than a pic or two on the blog (well, hardly ever). But I'm making an exception today. Hope you enjoy the pics.

Since I moved here 7 years ago, I've been planting daffs. Or I guess it would be more accurate to say I've been re-planting daffs. The previous owners had let go several large clumps and when I dug them up there were hundreds, though you'd never have known it from the meager blooms I saw that first year.

It took me a couple of years to redistribute the bulbs, as recently as last year (I put clumps in the new ring bed and stump bed.

I spread the wealth around.

This year the cold winter (with heavy snow) seems to have spurred all the daffs into glory.

Here's a gander at the front of the house.
1st pic -- driveway entrance
2nd pic -- front steps
3rd pic -- front arbor
4th pic -- under the birch trees

And what's also interesting is that the hyacinths, usually later, are blooming at the same time making a nice violet counterpoint to the all the sunny yellow.

As we meander toward the back gardens, here's peek at the clusters next to the woodpile. This emerging drifts of bright yellow is just as warming to the spirit as the fire the wood provided during winter.

As we round the garage there's a little bulb bed I've been working on. All summer it's smothered in a dandy ground cover, Kennelworth ivy which blooms until freeze. But this time of year, it's a bulb bed. I just love the miniature daffs on the left.

A little difficult to see in this pic of the bird bath bed, but there are lots of daffs that bloom later (by maybe 10 days). Even so there are a decent number already open today.

At the far end of the foundation bed there are a couple more clumbs flanking the pieris japonica. Interesting note: both this and the front pieris did not bloom at all last spring. They sure are making up for it this year! Wow.

Before I made the new ring bed and the 2 huge beds (privacy bed and maple bed) I had lots of bulbs and not many places to put them. So there way too many in the arbor bed now. Still, they do look lovely.

Now this is a fun bed. The flanking clumps of daffs are nice but what's really interesting are the bulbs I buried in a pocket of soil on top of the stump. They are charming when they bloom (soon!).

Here's some big ones back by the shed.

And finally, here's the last pic I'll post. (Getting a little brain burn, huh?)

This is back by the compost area. I put all my extra bulbs 2-3 years ago. Now it's the go-to place whenever I need to throw a clump or two somewhere else.

There are other plantings, but I think you get the idea. It looks GREAT this year. I'm glad I took the time to photo each clump I own. Now, for the first time, I'll have a visual record of where all these things are. No more digging them up when putting in new plants! I hate it when I think I'm safe to plant and then I slice into nice fat bulbs. No more. Well, hopefully anyway! :-D

Friday, April 2, 2010

Feeling crabby - yay!

I was at Lowe's yesterday, picking up some plumbing fixit supplies and happened to exit the store through the nursery. I hadn't planned to, but I'm sure that subconsciously I had every intention of seeing what's out there.

I found a promotional sale on crabapple trees. Small, sparse, but promising future beauty. So, I must admit, greedily scarfed up half a dozen of the best.

I chose 3 each of PrairieFire and Robinson. The former is supposed to reach 20x20 and the latter a tad smaller, just 15x15.

There are only 5 pots in the pic because I immediately planted one in the stump bed (a PrairieFire).

These guys will take years to look really good, but in the meantime I can watch them grow. Honestly, you can never have enough crabapples!

In other posts, I've put up 2 new entries on the 'propagation page' today - one about (yay!) TOMATO DAY and one about HERBS. You might want to check them out too.

Now everyone out there cross your fingers for me. I'm going to take the battery out to the shed and see if the lawn mower will start for the season. (I dread the suspense...)

12:30 p.m.
I'm happy to report that the lawn mower is out of the shed and in the garage! But it took a little while.

The battery had kept a good charge over winter and turned over right away. But no start. My neighbor Jim wandered over (he hasn't learned to avoid this sort of thing yet! *heh*) Anyway we focused on the air filter. Clogged. He went and washed it out and meanwhile I dug out a new spark plug. That can't hurt, I thought.

We tried again. But no....just grind grind grind. He was thinking fuel line. (Oh, please, not that!) Eventually I pulled out the new plug and held it up to the sky to check the gap. Gap? What gap? This plug had no gab! Curses! No wonder it wouldn't spark. Fortunately I'd bought 2 plugs last year. The other one had a gap. Turn the key, feather the choke. Varroooooooom! Woohoo.

Let the lawn mowing begin. (Uh, mixed blessing here, I guess. *heh*)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

All hands (uh, sprouts!) on deck

I didn't want you all to think that the last post was indicative of what the weather has been like since then! Nosiree! The snow melted, the temps have climbed and the sun is shining.

Yesterday it got to 60 (no matter what the weather channel said it was). Here it was 60. I took the opportunity to bring up the onions onto the deck. I also planted out the Gourmet Blend lettuces into their traditional grow bins and gave them a nice dose of dried blood (they love the nitrogen).

Today it's already blown past 60 and it's only 10:00 a.m. It's supposed to get to high 70s and tomorrow? 80!!

Well, it's waaaaay nicer outside than in the basement so this morning I brought up the rest of the current starts up to the deck. Once the sun is a little higher the rebuilt arbor will provide nice dappled shade for everyone. Not only did I bring up the rest of the 'cold' crops (Brussels sprouts, a new batch of lettuces - Lollo Rossa) but the herbs and pepper plants. You just can't beat some good old-fashioned sunshine to get their little sap flowing.

And today is April 1 - tomato day. Last year I started my tomatoes on March 1 and ended up with giant plants that needed to be cut down and re-rooted. So this year I made myself wait an extra 4 weeks. Will this work out better? We'll see.

BTW - there's sproutage going on in them thar WS jugs. More about that soon.

Stay tuned! :-D