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Seattle Fling 2011

Garden bloggers meet in Seattle in 2011

Street Art: The Audubon Mural Project

Audubon Mural Project

Cover of Aububon Newletter – The Audubon Mural Project in NYC

The February Audubon Newsletter features an amazing art project – painting portraits of all 314 climate threatened or endangered birds on  the roll down security gates in  the Hamilton Heights area of NYC, where coincidently,  John James Audubon once lived. This is the brainstorm of gallery owner Avi Gitler, and artist Tom Sanford. Street art to spread the word about the plight of these birds. The New York Times thought this was a great idea too.

The Newsletter has other fascinating facts. Do you know why woodpeckers don’t get headaches? The big Pileated woodpecker “hammers its head into trees with a force of 15 mph – 20 times every second.”  ”One millisecond before a strike at a tree, dense muscles in the neck contract and a compressible bone in the skull provides a cushion. . . . Also woodpeckers have very little cerebral spinal fluid in the brain, so the brain stay’s rigid and doesn’t slosh around”

Lots of other fascinating facts in the Newsletter and a plea to join your energies to saving the birds. And counting them, too. The Great Backyard Bird Count is scheduled for February 13-14. Organized by the Cornell Lab or Ornithology and the National Audubon Society this was the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real time. Check out the Audubon website and find out about birding, who does it, and why.  If you want to know how to understand birder-talk click here and find out  what an SOB really is, as well as pelagic and pish.

Bright and White and BarelyFreezing

February 10, 2015

February 10, 2015

It is bright and white and barely freezing. The snow has stopped. The plow arrived. One car got  out.

The house at the End of the Road

The house at the End of the Road

Sargent crabtree in Sunken Garden February 10, 2015

Sargent crabtree in Sunken Garden February 10, 2015

The snow has fallen and drifted into the Sunken Garden, half burying the Sargent Crabtree. The western wall is over six feet high – also buried.

Cottage Ornee February 10, 2015

Cottage Ornee February 10, 2015

Plowed Snowbank February 10, 2015

Plowed Snowbank February 10, 2015

If you look closely you’ll see a tiny branch at the right of this photo, hinting of the three hydrangeas now buried – and probably damaged. Sigh.

Plowed snowbank at the End of the Road

Plowed snowbank at the End of the Road

We are really really happy that our ‘driveway’ is town road, plowed and maintained by the  town, but I do wonder how far my wood chip pile has been pushed into the field.  Oh well, it will be waiting for me in the spring. Temperature reached 32 degrees today.

For more Wordlessness this Wednesday click here.

From Heath to Cambridge, MA

Heath, MA February 5, 2015

Heath, MA February 5, 2015

On Thursday the snow stopped long enough for me to make my escape from Heath, onward to Cambridge, MA for a visit with my son and a writer’s workshop organized by the Garden Writer’s Association.

Porter Square, Cambridge MA

Porter Square, Cambridge, MA

And what did I see when I got to Cambridge, MA?  Snow. And ice. And icy icy sidewalks.  I should have brought my YakTrax.

Porter Square in Cambridge, MA

Porter Square in Cambridge, MA

I think snow is more of a problem in a city, but the trip was more than worth it. C.L. Fornari, author of Coffee for Roses: and 70 Other Misleading Myths about Gardening, and GWA member. She gave a great talk about how to be a great speaker – skills that are also important for the writer, especially if she is trying to make a living. You will hear more about C.L. later. I gave her a copy of my book, Roses at the End of the Road and I think she looks like she is already enjoying it.

C. L. Fornari, author of Coffee for Roses

C. L. Fornari, author of Coffee for Roses

 

“Blizzard for the Ages” a Bust in Heath

Birch Tree before the "Blizzard for the Ages"

Birch Tree before the “Blizzard for the Ages”

All was quiet and beautiful after a slight snowfall, but the “Blizzard for the Ages” was predicted. Everyone prepared to hunker down. Supermarkets and libraries were unusually busy as hunkering has many aspects. Pots of water set aside along with firewood and flashlight batteries. A state of emergency was declared for Massachusetts and all non-emergency workers  told to stay home.

The snow, a fine dry snow, did not begin in Heath until 10 pm on Monday, January 26.

"Blizzard for the Ages"

“Blizzard for the Ages” 10 am January 27, 2015

This morning I woke to 12 degree temperatures and stiff breezes blowing the fine dry snow off the roof, and across the fields. The “Blizzard for the Ages” seems to be a bust in Heath – for which we are very grateful. The town plow arrived, and we could leave our hill and explore, but I think we will just stay by the fireside.

My Amaryllis Mystery

boxed amaryllis bulbs

boxed amaryllis bulbs

I suppose my amaryllis mystery began on December 11, 2014 when I rather belatedly bought boxed amaryllis bulbs ready for planting and blooming. I knew they would not bloom in time for Christmas, but glamorous amaryllis flowers  are welcome in January and February as well.

I potted all three bulbs up as directed. I did notice that the Athene white amaryllis seemed to have been pruned back more severely or more  recently than the other two. I kept all three bulbs together in our living space which is the warmest part of the house.

Amaryllis on January 19

Amaryllis on January 19

As time passed the three bulbs showed various rates of growth, most especially Athene. If you look closely you can see that I marked her pot with a little W in expectation of a white flower. That bulb never produced any foliage but did send up two bud shoots, one of which began to open a couple of days ago.  We will let the mis-labelling pass. That has happened often enough in the garden, indoors and out. It is the rates of growth that amaze me.  One bulb has produced two bud shoots with  one blooming; one has produced foliage and two bud shoots, one of which is beginning to open; and the third produced foliage and two bud shoots of very different heights.

Is there a solution to my amaryllis mystery?  Is it just c’est la vie? or is there a reason? All three bulbs had exactly the same care and conditions, although we have to assume kind of difference in the striped bulb now blooming.  Any ideas?

Snowflakes and Photographer

Snowflakes

Snowflakes

Snowflakes on the car window early this frigid morning.  And the photographer’s hands.

Snowflake Bentley will tell you more about snowflakes and photographing snowflakes. Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin tells the wonderful story about a Vermont boy born in 1865 who loved snowflakes and learned how to photograph them.

For more Wordlessness this Wednesday click here.

All Kinds of Books for the Reading Season on Wordless Wednesday

Books in the Great Room

Books in the Great Room

Where do you keep your books for the reading season that follows the delightful chaos of the holidays? I will show you my bookshelves – or at least portions of the ranks of bookshelves in my house. There are about 44 feet of bookshelves in the Great Room. This section includes nature refernce books, mysteries, essays and cookbooks and books on cooking.

Cookbooks by the dining table

Cookbooks by the dining table

This array of cookbooks is next to the dining table that also serves as a worktable. This is probably the most used collection of cookbooks in the house.

more cookbooks with an emphasis on baking

More cookbooks, with an emphasis on baking

When we remodeled the kitchen a couple of years ago I gained shelf space for more cookbooks (and the dictionary which must always be at the ready for family ‘discussions’) with an emphasis on baking.

books in the downstairs sitting room

Books in the downstairs sitting room

This is just one section of bookshelves in the sitting room – and you can see it hold more than books. Culinary liquers that can’t fit in the kitchen and Christmas is not quite over at our house which accounts for gifts waiting for more chaos.

books in the bedroom

Bookshelves in the bedroom

A motley collection of books lives in the bedroom – fiction, essays, mysteries, and non-fiction.

garden books in the office

Garden books in the office

My husband and I share a tiny ‘office’ under the eaves, but the books are all ‘mine.’The garden books in this section of office bookshelves have to share with reams of paper, envelopes, toner, etc.

Ever since I learned to read, winter has been a welcomed Reading Season. Where do you keep your books for the reading season? For more (almost) Wordlessness this Wednesday click here.

View From the Bedroom Window – January 1, 2015

view from the bedroom window

View from the bedroom window

The view from the bedroom window on January 1, 2015 is sunny and frigid. 16 degrees this morning. What view from the window will  I be enjoying on January 1, 2016?  Only time will tell

My Indoor Rosemary

Rosemary plants indoors

Rosemary plants indoors

I have two rosemary plants that grow outdoors during the summer, and then come indoors for the winter. The plant on the left is a prostrate rosemary, bought in error when I was in a hurry. I grew it outdoors that first season adn then potted it in this handsome redware container. I did not put it in the ground again for no reason other than inertia. The plant still lives and I have been known to harvest a few sprigs from time to time. It has even produced lovely blue flowers, but it is not really a happy plant.

Even though it was looking sad this past summer, I still didn’t put it in t he ground, but I did buy a small regular rosemary plant at the garden center. I planted that and it thrived in my herb bed all summer. In the fall I potted it up, using regular potting soil, and brought it in the house. First, I brought both plants into the Great Room, a bright (south and west windows) room that is not heated, to help the plants make a transition to an indoor environment.

Later I brought the plants upstairs to a guest room, with south and east windows, which is also very cool. The thermostat is set for 55 degrees at night (I require  a cold bedroom) and stays cool during the day because I do most of my living downstairs – near the woodstove.  I can tell you the worm farm in that guest room are not all that happy, but the rosemaries do fine.

I have brought rosemary plants indoors over many years. Originally, thinking of rosemary as a mediterranean  plant thriving in dry contitions, I tended to underwater. I think it is a good idea to be aware of one’s tendencies. Underwatering kept the rosemary from making it through the winter. I now water rosemary much as I would any houseplant, not allowing it to dry out completely. I’ve learned that my cool indoor climate allows for a once or twice a week watering.

I think I can promise that my prostrate  rosemary will finally go in the ground in the spring. I cannot be so cruel to keep it in a pot for yet another summer. I doubt that it would survive.

Gifts for the Gardener – still time to shop

Gifts for the Gardener begin at the garden center

Gifts for the Gardener begin at the garden center

I have never thought it very hard to find gifts for the gardener. After all, what does a gift say? I love you? I understand you? I want you to enjoy your days? I want your dreams to come true? I share your passion and I know just what you need?

No matter what your message there are garden centers and other kinds of shops that have just the gifts to convey these messages to the gardener in your life. I made the rounds of some of these stores and this is what I found. The Shelburne Farm and Garden Center has colorful Dramm long armed five liter watering cans ($30), and equally colorful one gallon Gardman watering cans ($18). A rolling Saucer Caddy ($40) holds more appeal for me as I get older. My potted plants get bigger every year and moving them a bigger chore. These gifts say ‘Lets have some fun in the garden, but let’s not strain ourselves. I want you in one piece at the end of a gardening day.”

SF&G also has a nice array of gloves. I used to pride myself on not using gloves, but after years of dirty nails and dry calluses I decided gloves are a Good Thing. Of course, gloves like Cool MUD gloves ($10) with water repellent nitrile have gotten lighter, more comfortable and breathable. One style of Women’s Work gloves is flowery and has nice long gauntlets ($20). When I got to the Greenfield Farmer’s Cooperative on High Street I found they had a whole aisle of gloves. And a lot more besides. Gloves are a consumable; they wear out and need to be replaced from time. A gift of gloves says “Don’t worry. Dig in. There is always another pair. Better the gloves get ugly than your lovely hands.”

There are fewer flowers in the winter, but SF&G has bags and bags of bird seed and a whole array of bird feeders. Attract the birds and you will be able to enjoy these flowers of the air. I met a neighbor there and she expressed her pleasure at finding that birds love safflower seeds, but squirrels don’t. Good information.

Blue Pots at the Greenfield Farmers Coop

Blue Pots at the Greenfield Farmers Coop

Greenfield Farmer’s Coop has a fabulous array of Burley Clay pots in sizes from about one cup ($7) to large handsome pots that can hold a striking flower arrangement that is a work of art or even a small tree ($60) These pots come in lovely blue, and subtle shades of green or brown. They also have an array of black metal trellises, perfect for supporting ornamental vines in the garden. Prices range from $25-$40. They say “Isn’t it fun to have plants grow up and add a new dimension to the garden?”

Grow Bags are another way to have fun and continue the vegetable garden indoors during the winter. The Farmers Coop has several Grow Bags ($7-$15) that include coconut coir instead of potting soil, but you will need your own seeds (any left from the summer?), a liquid fertilizer and good light. I think these are great for growing herbs and greens like lettuces. You know your beloved just can’t stop wanting really local food.

Christmas platter at Stillwater Porcelain

Christmas platter at Stillwater Porcelain

On the other hand, sometimes you want to stop thinking about tools and chores. Sometimes you just want to surround yourself with the images of flowers and nature while carrying on in your non-gardening life. I stopped in at Stillwater Porcelain in ShelburneFalls where Pat Pyott has a unique way of creating ornamental tiles, with realistic images of Queen Anne’s Lace, autumn leaves, herbs, an evergreen branch. There are functional pieces like a variety of plates to tiles that surround a mirror. Prices range from $15 for lovely tree ornaments to $218 for a platter that will hold the roasted holiday beast. “I know you want to be surrounded by nature in every room,” these gifts say.

J.H. Sherburne embroidered cases

J.H. Sherburne embroidered cases

Just a little further down State Street is J.H. Sherburne’s shop. Jo-Anne has garden ornaments, and lovely botanical jewelry. I could not resist the gold and silver bulb complete with leaf shoots and roots that provided a space for a sprig of leaf or flower. I am not really a jewelry person, but I found this absolutely irresistible. She also has a collection of brightly embroidered Guatemalan cases, from luggage ($187) to a change purse ($7). I don’t have a cellphone (no service in Heath) but if I did I would love a flowered cellphone case ($14). I like the juxtaposition of technology and a flower garden.

Portrait by J.H. Sherburne

Portrait by J.H. Sherburne

Jo-Anne is also a fine artist and just think what a gift a portrait of the beloved would be, set among the colors of the garden. Full information about how that process works is on her website.

Gift certificates carry all sorts of messages. They can say, “I know you, and I love you and your garden, and while I have no idea what you want or need, I want you to have it.” This message is often sent to experienced gardeners who can be very particular and opinionated about tools or plants. A gift certificate is a gift of anticipation, of time for thought and the delight in picking out just the item you have been longing for. There are times when a gift certificate is the perfect gift. What about a gift certificate to OESCO where fine tools are found in Ashfield? The Greenfield Farmers Coop, the Shelburne Farm and GardenCenter, JH Sherburne and Stillwater Porcelain also have perfect gift certificates.

Between  the Rows   December 13, 2014