Category: Life at the End of the Road
The Sunday Record of the Bedroom View shows winter is coming in on snowy feet. The ‘first’ snow came and went in pretty quick order, and this overnight snowfall is slightly more substantial. Do you think it means we might have a snowier, wetter winter this year? I will take precipitation in any form. 35 degrees at 8 a.m.
This perfect enough Cold Frame was assembled in 2010 as a temporary project. I think I will be using it again this year.
We could have covered the temporary cinder block cold frame with an old window, but when the pyramidal skylight was delivered for our Cottage Ornee some years ago the delivery truck driver delivered it to my neighbor’s house down the hill and took the big box out of the truck. My neighbor called me down to get it, but I couldn’t carry it in my car, so with a great sigh the driver put it back in his very full truck and with a strong heave closed the truck door. Oh – oh. He bent the metal frame that would make a weatherproof seal when it was installed at the peak of the Cottage. Well, the company had to send us another skylight, but they didn’t want the bent one back. It has been waiting for just such a moment to make itself useful.
The skylight rests on the cinderblocks. When I need cooler air and circulation I prop it open with a stone, or I can remove it altogether. Temporarily.
When the seedlings were big enough I transplanted them into the Front Garden and covered them with a floating row cover. It was to protect them from ravenous rabbits even more than cold weather. It was a perfect enough solution pinned down with rocks, bricks and a board or two. Perfect Enough. That is the cry at The End of the Road when we complete our projects. Perfect Enough! I wrote about this last year here.
I don’t know what prompted my mother to make this Farmer’s Arms sampler. It is true that her brother, my Uncle Wally, had a farm on the shores of Lake Champlain that our whole extended family considered Our Farm, and we kids/cousins were shipped up there for part of the summer. However, my father tried farming but quit suddenly one frigid winter day in 1948. Of all the 20 cousins, including my five farm cousins, I may be the one now leading the most rural life. We do have lawns and bowers, fruits and flowers and even raised pigs and chickens.. How do these things happen?
For more (almost) Wordlessness this Wednesday click here.
This gray Sunday I am alternating between a view of the swirling snow and my Christmas book Latin for Gardeners: Over 3000 Plant Names Explained and Explored. by Lorraine Harrison. I never took Latin in school but over the years, almost in spite of myself, I have picked up a fair amount of horticultureal Latin. I don’t always remember the Latin names of the plants in my garden, but knowing some Latin has given me information about plants that I find in the catalogs.
Looking at all the white snow on my hill I checked out the words for white in Latin for Gardeners. ‘Leuc- is used in compound words to denote white.’ I thought there would just be a word, leucanthus, for white flowers, but there is a whole list of words for specific plant parts. Leuchephalus means with a white head as in Leucaena leucocephela; leuchochilus for with white lips as in Oncidium leucochilia; leucodermis for with a white skin as in Pinus leucodermis; leucophaeus which means dusky white as in Dianthus leucophaeus; leucophyllus for white leaves as in Sarracenia leuchophylla; leucorhizus for white roots as in Curcuma leucorhiza; leucoxanthus for whitish yellow as in Sobralia leucoxantha; and leucoxylon for white wood as in Eucalyptus leucoxylon. I don’t know the rules for gender or what else comes into play for word endings in Latin, but the leuc alone takes me a long way.
Nivalis is related to white in that it specifically means as white as snow. According to Latin for Gardeners Galanthus nivalis, the snow drop, was created when an angel turned falling snowflakes into the flowers to comfort Adam and Eve when they were sent out of Eden.
Other Latin words denote color. The familiar word livid comes from lividus (livida, lividum) and as you might imagine means blue-gray or the color of lead. Not quite the color of a livid bruise, but I get the idea.
Loving shades of pink and red as I do, rubri is a familiar word root. Besides plant names with rubrum and rubriflorus, there is rubricaulis denoting red stems. Rufus also means red, and rutilans means reddish. Just to throw in a curve ball rutifolius mean with leave like rue – Ruta – as in Corydalis rutifolia.
Luteus, lutea, leuteum are all about yellow, luteolus is yellow-ish and luridus, lurida and luridum are pale yellow, wan as in Moraea lurida.
Niger is black and nigrican is black-ish as in Salix nigricans,; nigrescens is turning black as in Silene nigrescens.
What botanical color names can you add to my list?
Garden journals are as individual as every garden. Some are elaborate and some, like mine, are usually more sketchy. Still, I have tried to keep a journal noting weather, and plants planted. There are many reasons to keep a garden journal and I have tried to keep some kind of record of each garden year. My system has varied over time. In our early years here on the hill I kept little 3 x 6 inch date books with one page per day. I’d note temperatures, rain or sun, and planting activities. For example the entry for Monday, May 19, 1986 was hot and breezy. I planted rhubarb plants, beets, red kuri squash, green and wax beans, and slept with only a single sheet. Notable heat for May! I see that I made no notes for the next five days except RAIN. I wonder how many of those seeds rotted and had to be replanted. No note of that.
Then someone gave me a handsome illustrated 3Year Garden Journal which provided room for daily entries on weather and planting, maps of the garden, lists of new plants. It was arranged so the record for one week in one year was placed next to the same week for the other two years, making it easy to compare weather, tasks and problems over time. I kept up this journal with fair regularity. When looking at the completed entries for all three years I am fascinated by the differences each year.
I have seen other people’s garden journals, some of which have been very impressive. I think I can put the most notable journals in one of two categories. One is the very precise and complete scientific sort of journal with lots of details about many plants in the garden, possibly including notes on personal experiments.
The other kind of journal is more artistic, with beautiful sketches of plants, planting schemes and maps of the garden. I have been inspired by both of these types of garden journals, but I am not up to either one.
One journal is a child’s notebook that I bought in China with a picture of Chang e, the moon goddess, on the cover. It has cheap lined pages. There is nothing about it that makes me feel I have anything to live up in my record-keeping which I know is always sketchy.
Instead of beautiful colored drawings, I’ve taped in catalog photos of plants I’ve ordered. This gives me visual information so I can at least remember the effect I was hoping for. And it gives me cultural information about the plant. I do note the planting times. I’ve also allowed myself room to note the progress of that plant over time.
Sometimes the entries peter out because the plant is successful, like the Meidiland landscape roses which were planted in 1991, and continue today, although not as lushly in Heath as the catalog photos promised. Others are brief. Climbing hydrangea, Hydrangea petiolaris, from White Flower Farm, $15.95, planted in cellar hole, 1991. !992 Dead. In my own defense, and possibly defense of the White Flower Farm, I do have to remember that 1991 was only one year after the barn burned down, creating the cellar hole, and I was just beginning to create the soil there. I also have to say I am grateful for all the plant order invoices that I often, not always, stick in the journal. More info.
Oddly enough, there are no records for 1994 at all, an amazingly busy year in the garden because that is the year Daughter Kate was married with the roses and broccoli bearing witness. However, in this case the memory of all the work her siblings did on her behalf in the garden, the rain all week before the wedding, the romantic mist that shrouded the hill that morning and the brilliant sun that burst through as bride and groom.
It took the Commonweeder blog to turn me into a good (well, better) record keeper. The blog itself is a photographic record of the garden, and doings in Heath and around the area, including the interviews and stories I’ve done for my Between the Rows garden column in the Recorder. In addition, because it is easier to browse through paper pages to locate an event or plant name when I began the Commonweeder I also began keeping much better records in a blank book that became my journal.
I want to give a shout-out to Carol of May Dreams Gardens who instituted Garden Bloggers Bloom Day which has prompted me, and many other gardeners, to post photos of everything blooming in the garden on the 15th of every month. You can see mine by writing Bloom Day in the Search box at the top of the page. These digital garden journals are a terrific record of changes in the garden, and the vagaries of the weather.
Have your kept garden journals? What tips do you have?
Thanksgiving Day dawned mild and sunny. There was little left to do in the morning at daughter Betsy’s house so there was time for a stroll and for The Major and grandson Rory to have a tete a tete.
Things got a lot busier at daughter Diane’s house, especially in the Thanksgiving kitchen. Cooks and kibbitzers gathered near the stove to be there when the turkey came out of the oven.
It is impossible to get everyone in the frame at the Thanksgiving table but all 15 of us were there. We couldn’t reach the Texas branch of the family who were in Pittsburg (?) with the Lawn family but a toast was drunk to family and friends, near and far.
Post Thanksgiving weather was cold, breezy and raw. This morning we woke to snow. The flurries are slight, the air is still, and the temeprature is up to 32 degrees, but the ground is covered.
We are poised for a peaceful moment, but time does not stand still.
The Christmas wreath is hung and the dance towards Christmas has begun. The halls must be decked, the oven fired up and beds prepared for guests.
While Hurricane Sandy was making its slow and warning filled way to Heath we had to set priorities and make preparations to weather the storm. With so much notice, and stories about a possible Sandy snow storm (like last year) I realized it was time to plant the garlic. Fortunately I had already prepared the bed so it didn’t take much to pull apart my choice garlic bulbs and plant each clove about eight inches apart in four rows. Then I mulched the wide row with slightly rotted straw from the not-very-successful tomatoes-in-a-strawbale experiment. That story in a post soon.
With up to 8 inches of rain predicted we set off for the Frog Pond to see if the beavers really were back and what they had been up to. The walk down to the pond showed definite signs of their presence.
The level of the pond was very high and the beavers had clearly been working on the old lodge that was abandoned during the summer. There is an overflow pipe that keeps the pond at a reasonable level, but the beavers always block it. Instant beaver dam. Those lazy creatures.
We did not try to get close to the beaver lodge and just set to work clearing out the overflow.
Fortunately it did not take Henry long to unclog the pipe and send water gushing through into the wetland area below the pond. We’ll have to check the pond again right after the storm passes because it does not take those beavers long to plug up the overflow.
This morning I was up at dawn to get down to Shelburne Falls to help close the Bridge of Flowers before Hurricane Sandy arrived in full force. Officially closed for the season! Let the storm begin! Not too hard.
ADDENDUM – Although it didn’t seem like much of a storm we lost power around 2 pm Monday afternoon, and just got power and the phone back around 2 pm today, Tuesday. We did not suffer at all except for worrying about our full freezer. We are so fortunate, and know others really are suffering and our hearts go out to them.
These surprising blooms are from Bluestone Perennials, one of a mum collection I bought a couple of years ago. The rabbits got to the planting of that collection and I rescued what was left and just stuck them anywhere in the garden and forgot about them. I hope I am not the only gardener in the world who sticks in anywhere and then forgets.
This spring I saw what looked like chrysanthemum foliage in an odd place, and with no recollection of what it might be I left it. The foliage got tangled in all the other surrounding plants and it did not begin to bloom until very recently when I began to cut down the surrounding plants. This is a pretty plant, and obviously hardy. I promise to find a better spot for it before I put the garden to bed.
I first saw this wonderful flower at the Smith College Botanic Garden. There was no label, but readers who saw the photo I took identified it as a ‘Sheffie.’ That fall I bought an unnamed mum at the Wilder Hill Garden and realized I now had my own ‘Sheffie.’ I had stuck it in a bare spot in the autumnal garden, but thought I put it in a better spot this spring. I was wrong. I am going to give a really good site some real thought. It is a good muliplier so I will think of two good spots.
Both mums are doing beautifully in my soil which I enrich with compost every time I plant. That is not too much of a surprise.