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Then and Now – I Celebrate My 10th Blogaversary

Feast of St. Nicholas snow in Heath many years ago

Today I celebrate another blogaversary. Ten years ago I inaugurated my commonweeder blog. As a reader and a gardener I enjoyed the little play on words as the commonWEEDER and opposed to Virginia Woolf’s CommonREADER books of essays. I had the most basic of ideas about what a blog was, but a good friend who knows more about such things said  I needed a blog. I acknowledged in my first post that I did not know what was to come. I did intend the blog as an invitation to join me in my garden, and other gardens that I visited.

Certainly December does not seem like the most auspicious time of year to start a garden blog, but I always say (when I have forgotten a birthday or anniversary) that I am not a slave to the calendar – in any sense.

And so I began, with the brief post below.  Already it suggests that there will be talk about books as well as about gardens.

Am I too old to Blog? We’ll find out, but in any event I thought that the Feast of Saint Nicholas would be the perfect day to inaugurate my blog. There isn’t anything going on in the garden outside so when the temperature is only 7 degrees above 0, as it was this morning, my only gardening desire is in books. I just picked up my old copy of Green Thoughts: A Writer in the Garden by Eleanor Perenyi. I’ve seen mention of this wonderful book which wanders through her garden and the gardens of history and literature from A to Z in several blogs lately and was reminded of its delights.

The J listing was James vs Benson, and if Eleanor Perenyi is new to younger gardeners it is even more likely that they are unfamiliar with E.F. Benson and his books about Lucia and Mapp, and his humorous description of British country life in the 1920s through the eyes of two outrageous ladies. Lucia and Mapp are another whole story (5 volumes actually) and I wouldn’t mention them here except that Perenyi has found descriptions of the same garden by Henry James and E.F. Benson. Both men lived in the same house, Benson after James, had the same outdoor space and very different views. Gardening is all about indulging our different views, but Benson got so much more pleasure out of his.

In fact I enjoyed Eleanor Perenyi’s book so much that I engaged in my own A to Z projects, most recently in April of 2016 when A began with Achillea and ended with Z is for Zinnia.

As I celebrate this 10th Blogaversary we live in Greenfield, but instead of green fields surrounding the house we have a small urban garden devoted to water loving shrubs and many pollinator plants. There is no snow today!

The view from my so-called office on December 5, 2017

There are changes in the weather since 2007, changes in the gardens, and a change in me. I’m a GREAT-grandmother now.  There have been many things to celebrate and I look  forward to many years of new celebrations.

Celebrating Eight Years of Blogging – Giveaway

Terrariums: Gardens Under Glass by Maria Colletti

Terrariums: Gardens Under Glass by Maria Colletti

This year Cool Springs Press is helping me celebrate my eight years of blogging with a Giveaway of Terrariums: Gardens Under Glass.

These have been rich years for me be cause my blog has brought so many wonderful gardeners into my life, and so many beautiful gardening experiences. With other garden bloggers I travelled to Buffalo and to Seattle and saw beautiful gardens, large and small and all different. This past summer I attended a Garden Writers Conference in Pasadena and visited amazing public gardens, the Los Angeles County Arboretum and the Huntington Library, Art Collection and Botanical Garden. Amazing gardens.

Now that winter is setting in amazing gardens have to be found in places other than the outdoors. In her book of Terrariums Maria Colletti gives all the basics about ingredients, supplies, and tools, and familiar flower arranging techniques. Whether you would like to create a desert arrangement, a tropical arrangement, or a more familiar scene you will find all the inspiration and information you need. This beautifully and usefully illustrated book if full of inspiration as well as instruction

Roses at the End of the Road by Pat Leuchtman

Roses at the End of the Road by Pat Leuchtman

In addition to Terrariums: Gardens Under Glass I will also giveaway a copy of my book The Roses at the End of the Road, which is now a history of our life and gardens at the End of the Road in Heath, a history that ended when we  bought a new house in Greenfield.

To win this Giveaway all you have to do is leave a comment below and I will have a drawing on December 14. I will notify the winner and get the address for mailing the books.

Giveaway to Celebrate Six Years of Blogging

Seeing Flowers

Six years of blogging and I’m celebrating with a Giveaway. It hardly seems possible. Six years of documenting my garden, mostly, but also family events. Because of my blog I have met gardeners from around the country at Flings.  All you have to do to meet some of them is click on the Buffa10 badge on the right side of the page.

Over these six years and 1,406 posts I have learned that gardeners have a wide range of interests.  My post about bee balm remains my most popular for another year. Did I insert some SEO magic inadvertantly? Is it because it reviews the lesson Elsa Bakalar gave me about color? I don’t think I will ever know. This year hydrangeas and heritage wheat also won a big audience.

Timber Press is helping me celebrate my blogoversary.  They will Giveaway a copy of their beautiful book  Seeing Flowers: Discover the Hidden Life of Flowers with amazing photography by Robert Llewellyn, and written by Teri Dunn Chace. I wrote about Seeing Flowers here,  but I cannot say too many times what a stunning book this is, providing us with a closeup view of  each blossom, a view we could never get in real life. There are all manner of fascinating facts, some of which are sure to put a plant on your must have list. For example, did you know that the milky latex sap of euphorbias is toxic and will cause stomach upset? This means deer won’t eat them. A whole new family of plants is newly attractive to me!

Along with Seeing Flowers I will giveaway a copy of my own book, The Roses at the End of the Road, which is the story of how we got to the End of the Road, the roses and life we found here.  Kathy Purdy, who was so generous with technical advice when I began blogging, writes Cold Climate Gardening and posted a review here. All you have to do is leave a comment before midnight on December 12. It would be lovely if you would tell me the name of your favorite flower.  Especially if you have a favorite rose. I will choose comment at random and announce the winner of the Giveaway on Friday, December 13.

 

We Have a Winner!

Beautiful No Mow Yards by Evelyn Hadden

We have a winner. Eileen Taylor will recieve a copy of Beautiful No Mow Yards from Timber Press and a copy of The Roses at the End of the Road from me. Congratulations, Eileen!

Thank yous to all who helped me celebrate my fifth anniversary of blogging.

Happy Fifth Blogoversary to Me – and Giveaway

Purington Pink Rose in full June bloom

Today is my fifth blogoversary. Five years ago, on the Feast of St. Nicholas, with  a lot of help from my husband, I gave myself the gift of the commonweeder blog. I had no idea where it would take me or the gifts it would give me. Because of this blog I joined 60+ other fascinating garden bloggers in Buffalo and Seattle for Flings that took us to amazing gardens, meetings with creative gardeners, and gave me lively and instructive conversations with other bloggers over meals and while in the bus travelling from one great garden to another. I have ‘met’ many gardeners through the comments they have left on the blog and the emails they have sent. All have added to my horticultural education and horticultural pleasures.

The blog turned out to be a wonderful record of what is going on in my garden.  One of the special people I want to thank for prompting my monthly record is Carol over at May Dreams Gardens who has been hosting Garden Bloggers Bloom Day for more than five years. Now just by checking my Bloom Day posts I can see the changes in my garden from month to month and year to year. A great gift.  I have also gained a new awareness of the richness of my own local gardening/farming/eating community  over these past five years as readers have come to me with news of their own projects.

Henhouse #7

On this fifth blogoversary I can count that I have written 1190 posts and received 4274 comments.  Some of the most popular posts have been Whither my Wisteria, and Henhouse #4. I have never understood why Henhouse #4 was more popular than Henhouses 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, or 7 which was a work of art. The Hawley Woodpile has been a favorite in every season and brought me a reader from France. Mirrors in the Garden – A Trend? was one of the many gifts of the Buffalo Fling.

To help me celebrate Timber Press will give a copy of Beautiful No Mow Yards by Evelyn Hadden to a randomly chosen reader who leaves a comment below. This Giveaway will end on Monday night at Midnight. December 10.  On Tuesday morning, December 11, I will announce the winner.

Beautiful No Mow Yards is a beautiful and useful book about the various ways we can cut down on the amount of lawn we have, or even eliminate it altogether. Even if we want a lawn, Hadden shows us that  there are eco-friendly alternatives to plain turf. Alternatives that will require less work. It could be yours! Just leave a comment below.

Another part of my celebration is that I can also Giveaway a copy of my own book, The Roses at the End of the Road,  which one commenter once said described ‘the life of my daydreams’. It’s got stories about roses, of course, but also about life in the country and the delightful characters around us.

Leave a comment, I’ll randomly choose a winner on December 11 and notify you by email. Then we will arrange to have both books mailed.  Good luck!

We Have a Winner!

Congratulations to Laura Bell! Succulent Container Gardens and The Roses at the End of the Road will be on their way to you – as soon as I get an address. I know you will enjoy them. I also want to thank all the other commenters for visiting and making these past four years such an enjoyable time.

Blogoversary Giveaway

Succulent Container Gardens by Debra Lee Baldwin

On December 6, the Feast of St. Nicholas, I will celebrate my Fourth Blogaverary! It wasn’t an ideal time to start a garden blog, but I had just learned about blogs and ‘met’ Kathy at Cold Climate Gardening, Carol at May Dreams Gardens and all the Ranters at Garden Rant. I was lucky to meet such stars early on because they have taught me so much and continue to inspiremme.  I even got to meet them all at at the last two Garden Blogger Flings.

And of course the greatest gift I gave to myself that December 6th, was the opportunity to meet so many knowledgeable gardeners from all over the country. They all have something to teach me, new ideas, new perspectives and new resources. I thank the entire community of garden bloggers for their generosity in sharing with me – and with all their readers.

This year Timber Press and I are celebrating by offering a Giveaway – Debra Lee Baldwin’s new and fabulous book, Succulent Container Gardens: Design Eye Catching Displays with 350 Easy Care Plants. Debra opened up a whole new world of succulents to me – which is wonderful because these easy care plants may be the only houseplants I can keep going for more than a year or two. While I have a large jade tree, orchid cactus and Christmas cactus, I am now ready to create what people in my area call a ‘dish garden’, a container planted with a variety of succulents. I never knew there were so many, and that you could fit so many into a beautifully photographed book. Plant porn!

Besides design ideas, and ways of thinking about design, Debra gives information about some of the most interesting and unusual succulents, and basic care information. This informative and inspiring book could be yours. Just leave a comment on this post by December 6 at midnight.  On December 7 I will draw a name at random and will announce the winner. If you wanted to leave a sentence or two about your experience with a succulent that would be wonderful, but all you have to do is leave a comment saying you want this book.

The Roses at the End of the Road

IN ADDITION I will include a copy of my own book, The Roses at the End of the Road which was only the barest seed of an idea when I began my blog. These essays are not about How To grow roses, but how I live among the roses in my rural community. My husband provided the charming illustrations.

I have been having a wonderful time signing my book at local events, and will be reading and  signing at Boswell’s Books in Shelburne Falls on December 4 at 2 pm, and signing at Tower Square in Springfield right next to the festival of Trees on December 6 – my blogoversary!  I even got to show off many of my roses when I gave a talk at the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, focusing on disease resistant roses.

Leave a comment and enter the Giveaway!

 

The Final Winner!

Rose at Ramble 0n Rose has won The Perennial Gardner’s Design Primer by Stephanie Cohen and Nancy Ondra. Congratulations!  I want to thank everyone who has helped me celebrate three years of blogging this month.  And thank you Storey Publications for being so generous in making this Giveaway possible.

Another Winner!

Chosen by a random number generator Ellen Sousa of Turkey Hill Brook Farm is the winner of Recipes from the Root Cellar!  In her comment she mentions that there is a passageway between her garage and basement that maintains a consistent temperature that allows her to store winter vegetables so she’ll be able to put this cookbook to good use. Congratulations, Ellen.  I will get Ellen’s address and send this book right out. I’m sure she will find a some recipes perfect for the holidays.

Ellen will be celebrating the publication of her own book, The New England Habitat Natural Garden, this spring. Two hoorays and congratulations to Ellen.

Don’t forget, tomorrow there will be my third Giveaway – of particular interest to those who have, or want to have, a beautiful perennial garden.

Thank you Storey Publishing for being so generous and helping me celebrate my third blogoversary.

Hen House #2 – Mine

Our henhouse 12-2

When we moved into our house I was thrilled that there was also a hen house in the back yard.  The building is about 30 feet long, divided into three sections. We store the feed, kept in metal garbage cans, as well as bales of shavings, in the first section. We also brood our chicks in that section when they arrive around the first of June. There is a chicken door that allows the chicks to go outdoors into a separate fenced yard when they get old enough.

Our henhouse, second section

The second section has egg boxes, waterers and feeders for the chickens. During the winter when the waterers freeze I rotate them through our house where they can thaw.

You can see that neither the exterior, nor the interior are objects of beauty.  However, the building is functional. We have used it ever since our first spring here in 1980.  You cannot really tell, but I do use the ‘deep litter’ technique.  I only clean the henhouse out once a year, in the spring. Over the summer and fall the bedding and the chicken manure build up and begin to compost. The manure and the composting  create some heat which helps keep the chickens warm in the winter. The manue and bedding also encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria that helps keep the chickens healthy, although their access to fresh air and sun are also important to their health. Everyone always comments on the rich yellow color of our eggs.

Our chickens in their yard

I throw cracked corn to the chickens outdoors every day. You can see we have a mixed flock. I have several Araucanas; they are not especially pretty, but they are great egg layers. Blue eggs!  They lay longer for us, into their second and third year.  I also have barred rocks, and New Hampshire Reds. I love having chickens because of the eggs, and because of knowing that our eggs come from happy and healthy chickens.

In case you were wondering about the third and longest section – that is not used. It is missing the end wall which was OK when we had pigs out there. Pigs only need housing for four or five months, but the space is not suitable for our hens.

I’ll be showing more hen houses built by some thoughtful people.  Don’t forget to leave comments on yesterday’s post to have a  chance at winning a copy of Recipes from the Root Cellar by Andrea Chesman. today is my exact third blogoversary and I am celebrating the commenters who visit, and the other bloggers I have met over these past years. Please celebrate with me. This Giveaway ends Saturday at midnight, but two more books are coming through the generosity of Storey Publishing.