Sunday, September 21, 2008

Jack Frost nipping at my toes.....

....Well, not yet but he's gaining on me. The weather people were waffling on whether my area would get hit or not on Thursday night. I was out in the dark covering up my tomatoes. False alarm. I kept the big sheet of plastic hanging on the garden fence so it's ready to go when Jack arrives. Heritage is blooming (see photo) I forgot it doesn't have much of a vase life until after I cut it. Whoops! I also cut some zinnias and cosmos. The zinnias aren't really too impressive this year. I'm warming up to the cosmos. Some of the blooms are really tiny and delicate-lilliputian is how I would describe them, some are medium sized and some are large. The colors range from pale pale pink (almost white) to Raspberry pink. Some are pink with Raspberry edges. Very pretty.
Bodie got under the deck again this week. This time he decided to try the other end -right next to the Heritage rose. Aaaagh! Luckily, the rose bush came out unscathed. My perennial Helianthus wasn't so lucky-it had been infested with tiny red bugs so I cut it all down about 2 weeks ago. If it doesn't make it I won't be bummed. Some sweet peas got clobbered too they are the annual kind so they're about done anyway. Father in law was at the house when it happend (we were at work) he's a good one not to panic and got Bodie out from under the deck with a trail of dog biscuits.
I dug up one of the daikon radishes I planted back in July. Not at all impressive. Didn't look like much of anything so I put it back in the ground.
Well it's Sunday and Sunday in the Fall means Football!!! Go Bills!!!!! Hockey season is right around the corner-Wooo Hooo!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Tomatoes at last!

First regular sized tomato was harvested September 2- a Super Sioux. Since then the Garden Peach and Green Zebra have decided to join the party. I ate everything so fast I forgot to take pictures. Whoops. I have posted a pic of cherry tomatoes from the farmers market in one of my favorite bowls (by Richard Aerni a nationally known local artist). I wasn't at all scientific-I haven't weighed or measured anything. I have just sliced and salted and popped in my mouth. Mmmmm..Super Sioux has a really nice flavor-perfectly round and for the most part unblemished fruit (I picked a cracked one today we had a TON of rain last night and SS suffered as a result). Great flavor. I'm kind of weirded out by Garden Peach-it really looks like a peach and has fuzzy skin. I haven't tried to eat it skin and all yet. But I did try one that I blanched and peeled-it has a really nice mild but not too mild flavor. I made a fresh tomato sauce for some spaghetti for dinner the other night. I can honestly say it was the best spaghetti I have ever had. I shocked the heck out of myself.

2 of Each-Super Sioux, Garden Peach and Green Zebra-blanched seeded and diced

c. 1 Tbs fresh Basil -chiffonade

1 clove Garlic- minced

Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper

Israeli Feta cheese (not as dense and less salty than Greek feta)

I put the olive oil and garlic in a large fry pan over medium heat, when the garlic started to release it's garlickyness I added the diced tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste. Brought the whole thing to a boil, added the basil and then poured over a bowl of spaghetti and topped with the feta- not too much more of a heavy garnish than an actual ingredient. Mmmm the salty creaminess of the feta was a nice compliment to the acidity of the tomatoes.

I gave up on the squash and zucchini-the powdery mildew really took it's toll. The plants weren't putting out much fruit and what was coming out was really weird looking. I ripped everything out this morning. I left the cucumber plant, it is still producing despite looking like hell. I also ripped out all of the lettuce-it has all bolted.

Good news is the roses are happy for the cooler nights (in the 40-50's) They have bloomed in the last 2 weeks in the following order: Winchester Cathedral, Sweet Promise, Gruss an Aachen. Heritage has 2 buds and will probably bloom later this week. Eden is growing like a weed. Captain Sam and Distant Drums are looking a little peaked but not too bad.

I potted up the rose cuttings I took during my class that I took in July with der Rosenmeister. Belle Sultane, Rosarie de l'hay and Illusion didn't make it :( in defense of der Rosenmeister, it was the hottest day of the year and my cuttings were in the hot car for quite a while that day when I was supposed to put them directly in cool shade. The Fairy is doing great and has been transplanted into a gallon container and Thor is chugging along (I'll see if it's ready to transplant in another week or two). I also took cuttings from my moms roses- all are mystery roses given to her by family friends and neighbors. They all seem to be doing well and have been transplanted to 1 gal containers-this is probably their only chance for survival as I had to plow through weeds to find the sickly plants to get the cuttings. This success with the later cuttings leads me to believe der Rosenmeister was spot on in his instruction and I'm just a schmuck for not having a better plan in place after the class.

Note to self: don't let DH drink two cups of coffee and then watch football-he gets WAY too agitated!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Woe is me!

Veggie garden is being assaulted on 2 fronts: squash vine borers and powdery mildew! That coupled with the green tomatoes has left me very discouraged. So far we have had 3 ripe (peacevine) cherry tomatoes 4 more are ready to come in. I harvested 1 black beauty zucchini and another cucumer and a green serrano- the serrano wasn't hot at all. We had a couple of cool nights (down in the low 50's) and the garden is starting to look a little sad. The powdery mildew seems to have taken off over night. Yesterday was a very warm 90'F and it's back in the high 80's today. I woke up this morning and the powdery mildew was everywhere! I cut a lot of leaves off the squash and zucchini and sprayed the rest with a milk solution to try to contain the powdery mildew. I've also cut out 5 squash vine borers from 2 plants (the only 2 plants that have produced thus far!) I'm thinking they are so stressed out now they will probably kick it. I hate squash vine borers! One plant that had them was planted early and not covered, the other was planted later and covered with a floating row cover until the week of July 4-obviously that didn't work well!

I broke down and went to the farmers market today and bought tomatoes. The ones in the garden don't seem to be producing much fruit and the fruit that is there isn't growing very fast and it's not ripening at all. I got some heirlooms, some hybrids and a ton of cherries for drying in the oven. I haven't tried them yet.

Good news: Winchester Cathedral, Gruss an Aachen and Sweet promise all have buds. Zinnias and cosmos are blooming-tiny flowers -it's weird! Veronica has sent up a second flush and the cone flowers are going bonkers.

I'm not feeling the garden today so I decided to share a picture of Watkins Glen taken on Aug 1 when DH and I went down there for a hike. A beautiful state park at the south end of Seneca Lake,

Thursday, August 14, 2008


I think I may hav 2 potential zucchini's-it looks like 2 zucchini plants each have a female flower, fingers are crossed! It also looks like I may finally get some tomatoes to ripen-one of the cherry tomato clusters seems to be changing from green to an orangey color. I believe it is the peacevine tomato. Most of the seeds I have planted are sprouting.

On the flower front-Sweet Promise and Winchester Cathedral have buds again. Eden has little worms munching on it-I have been squashing them. My "Cut and Come Again"Zinnias are finally blooming-the flowers are tiny and rather pathetic looking. I really don't have much luck with annual seeds!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A Small Harvest

1 more crookneck yellow squash (total:3) 2 Amira hybrid cucumbers (total:3), 2 really small, red Serrano chiles (total: 12) and enough lettuce for 2 1/2 side salads (total: about 4 side salads). Everything tastes so good! The squash have been really tender, the cukes were AMAZING-refreshing and crisp. I haven't had the chiles yet. I'm thinking of putting them in an omlette tonight. The salad was very good: Black Seeded Simpson (bolted-I'm waiting to see what the flowers look like-probably not the best way to go but F-it), Red Fire- both bought from the nursery. The Red Fire is excellent and hasn't bolted-yay! Also Jericho, planted from seed, a romaine lettuce that I planted from seed, also tasty- hasn't bolted=BONUS!
Everything seems to be growing really slowly this year. I'm not sure why, we've had heat, sun and tomatoes are still green-Uggggghhhh! I have been torturing myself by reading about tomato taste testings on other blogs and forums. That's probably not helpful. I think the bunny delay really set me back. In the unplanted portion of my garden I found some tomato volunteers and potted them up out of curiosity. They obviously won't fruit before the first frost (mid October-ish) so the plan is to try to grow them in the sunroom and see if I can hand pollinate and have winter tomatoes. It probably won't work and if it does, they won't taste like real summer tomatoes -but what the heck?
Through the self imposed tomato taste test torture I have been exploring the different Heirloom tomato options-phew- There's a ton out there! I have been plotting next years garden. I'm obsessed with Goose Creek tomatoes but of course can't find seed in the US. I have 2 options: try to get seed from the UK and hope it doesn't get confistacted by "homeland security" or get a seedling sent from California. I really love starting things from seed. Who knew tomato seeds were a threat to national security???
The tomatoes I planted this year are as follows: Brandywine, Super Sioux, Green Zebra, Garden Peach, maybe a Consolato Genovese (extra seed-not impressed with the tomato last year), maybe a Sanibel Hybrid (free seed sample from Totally tomatoes), and maybe a San Marzano. I planted 2 cherry tomatoes- Jelly Bean and Peacevine. The maybe's are in there because once all the seedlings got confused I chucked all the seed packets into a box and I can't remember what I planted and what was hanging around from previous years. Duh! I need to be better behaved when I start my seeds! So next year I will LABEL my Plants, take NOTES about what I planted, start them EARLIER (so I can be eating tomatoes now instead of writing and reading about them!), and try some new colors and kinds. Garden Peach and Super Sioux are the only 2 new regular tomatoes this year. I've never grown cherry tomatoes for myself before so both kinds are new for me. I've never tried a dark tomato before-I'm definitely going for a black or purple tomato next year!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Sound of Summer

I found this ugly little guy hanging out amongst the rose cuttings in the shade of the maple tree. It's a cicada, it's pretty big -a little bigger than my thumb. Everytime my husband hears one he says "sounds like summer!". They emit a kind of raspy sound when it's hot and humid. You can listen to cicada songs on wikipedia from all over the world but they don't really sound like the ones around here.

I was off from work last week (family in town). On Tuesday I worked for a long time in the garden and yard. I planted seeds of Swiss Chard, beets, turnips, rutabagas and NY head lettuce. I haven't grown any of these before so this is an experiment! I also weeded the heck out of the existing beds and put down newspaper and a layer of grass clippings on the paths. On Sunday I planted peas, beans, spinach, and 3 different kinds of lettuce: jericho, red deer tongue, bibb. Following Sally Cunningham's advice, I'm trying to extend the growing season here. I'm really curious to see how it works.

Harvested from the garden: 2 yellow crookneck squash, 9 serrano chile's (gave them to my BIL), 1 cucumber. Squash tasted great, cuke is in the fridge, we'll put it in a salad tomorrow night. I think things are going kind of slow, combination of the bunny delay and the weather. I've got a lot of green tomatoes but nothing ripe so far.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Not my garden

Look what I found in my FIL's butterfly garden today- not only a butterfly but a Giant Swallowtail butterfly. The largest butterfly in N.America (I looked it up). His butterfly garden is great, it's not very big but it's a nice jumble of butterfly loving plants, we watched the bees and butterflies coming and going all day. I aspire to that kind of garden.
Picture was taken with my new camera- Canon Powershot A590is. I wanted to get another Kodak Easyshare and support the local economy however the Kodak, despite taking great pictures, seems to have a major problem: the motor in the lens tends to conk out, then work, then conk out again-unreliable. The fix is about expensive as a new camera. I was hoping in the intervening years between first camera and now they would have fixed the flaw, but after a little research that doesn't seem to be the case-I googled it and came up with recently posted issues. My mom, MIL and SIL all have the Kodak Easyshare too and all have had a problem with getting the lens to extend and retract. Not good when you are trying to capture memories! Not to mention butterflies. So DH and I used our anniversary money and after a lot of research settled on the Canon. So far I like it. I'm all about supporting the local economy but I'm also all about not throwing money away. Kodak shows a lack of respect to it's customers by not fixing the problem in the past 6 years.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Drunk on Pollen?

Look who I found passed out in the squash blossom this morning! They were in there for at least an hour, barely moving and then another bumble bee came in and woke them up. It looks like they had a good Friday night!
On another happy note: My Meyer Lemon tree (see July 1 post) has 2 blossoms on it. A tiny bee (? hover fly) was hanging around it this morning and I see telltale signs of pollen on the leaves. Fingers are crossed. BTW it smells fab.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

I'm a homicidal maniac...

...Actually, I prefer to think of myself as a specialized assassin. I only have a few victims: aphids, japanese beetles and garden slugs. I haven't seen aphids in weeks, I think I got them all. Japanese beetles started to show up a week or two ago. I haven't seen a lot of them and what I have seen has pretty much ended up in my soapy water dish. I'm a big chicken and won't work without my green suede assasin gloves. Sometimes a beetle will escape while I'm fumbling around trying to get the gloves on. I must work on my rection time. I didn't mind picking japanese beetles when I was a kid but now their hairy legs creep me out! I can't abide touching slugs either! Eeewe! I have to have my gloves or a stick to pick them up with. My preferred M.O. is a jar full of cider vinager. I throw the slugs in there and they are done.
I guess I'm an organic gardener or at least organic-ish. I don't use anything stronger than above mentioned vinegar and I've convinced DH not to use herbicide in the lawn anymore, I really don't mind the dandilions- they are rather cheerful looking I think. Living in suburban hell is tough because the Chem lawn trucks are still patrolling the area with depressing frequency. When we walk the dog we have to keep our eyes peeled for the little lawn flags that alert us to the use of chemicals. My husband has noticed that the little chemical pellets get scattered out into the street so even though we avoid the lawns we're still afraid it ends up on Bodies paws which he usually ends up licking at one point or another. Washing his feet is not really an option, he doesn't like us to mess with his feet too much. We try to get them wiped off as much as possible after the walks.
I realized that I post a lot about my flower garden but not so much about the veggie garden, so here's a progress report on the vegs: It's official that some of the seeds I started this year ended in failure-namely the peppers, lettuce and marigolds. Yes, marigolds! 5 year olds can grow them in dixie cups but for whatever reason I failed miserably this year-how depressing! I bought a flat and planted them in pots for the patio but my veggie garden is woefully bare of flora. Marigolds get a bad rap, I think they're great... they look pretty, they are easy to care for and they keep bugs away. You can't ask for anymore than that! The spinach I started fizzled out and the endive bolted immediately. I'm reading a book by Sally Cummings -a Master Gardener from the Buffalo area (Great Garden Companions). From Sally's advice I'm trying to stretch the garden into the fall. Yesterday I planted radishes, parsnips, arugula, spinach (again!). I also planted white clover as a cover crop around the tomatoes to crowd out the weeds (and maple seedlings). I'll try to incorporate more of her ideas next year and see how it goes. The ideas in the book seem like really good ideas, but lets review: she's a Master Gardener, I'm not.
I find vegetable gardening to be more difficult that the flower gardening. I know a lot of people that have flower gardens (and even more that don't garden at all)-no veggie gardens. I only know one person with a veggie garden and she lives in Ithaca and I don't talk to her or see her very often. It's hard to figure out how to do stuff. I need to construct something for my peas and beans to grow on but I have no idea how to go about it. Thank God for the Internet!
It's been rainy today-everytime I go outside the heavens open up and it pours, so I've been looking at stuff on the computer. I found the Seed Savers Exchange and Diane's flower seeds- both sites are dedicated to saving and perpetuating heirloom seeds. I try to use heirlooms as much as possible in the veggie garden. I think they are much more interesting than hybrids-those 2 sites have CRAZY stuff-I can't wait to try some new things next year! Brandywine tomatoes are divine, I had some Green Zebra's last year that were out of this world.
A note about the picture above- all of my tomatoes (I started from seed) got rearranged and mixed up when DH was helping me out getting them hardened off while I was travelling for work in the spring. I have no idea what is what in the garden and I also planted up 4 tomatoes in 5 gallon buckets for my mom and niece and nephew but I have no idea if they are the cherry tomatoes (Jellybean and Peacevine) that I had intended or some monsterous Brandywines and Super Sioux! Whoops! Need to come up with a better plan next year!

Saturday, July 19, 2008


I had a visitor in the garden this morning. I was sitting in the sunroom drinking my coffee when I saw it swoop down. I wish my old camera (kodak easyshare) was working, it took great pictures. This is taken as a still from my Canon video camera.
I think it's a Monarch, I looked it up in the image gallery of "Butterflies of North America". He seemed to really like my marigolds in pots on the deck. He also liked the Echinacea. Not the gorgeous deep pink Ruby Star that just started to bloom yesterday but the generic giant monstrosity of an Echinacea bunch at the edge of the garden. My ultimate goal is to attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. I think I've seen some honey bees, I've had a ton of bumble bees. No hummingbirds, I have a feeder hung in the garden but it doesn't seem to be attracting anything but wasps I think I hung it too late in the season.
My foxgloves and delphinium are setting seed, so I was out early harvesting the seeds. I'm going to try to start them from seed myself so I can make new flower beds next year and fill them economically. DH will appreciate that.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Sweet Promise

As promised-Sweet Promise. She must be pretty sweet because something has nibbled tiny little holes in her petals. This is her first bloom ever. She was planted bare root about 13 months ago. The color doesn't really show in the picture but she's got more of an orangey apricot tone. She's supposed to look like this:
She looks more like this:
She does have a nice fruity fragrance, like a fresh cut apple. Everyone has told me not to judge a rose bush by it's first bloom, it takes awhile for it to get into it's groove and start producing a nice show. I'll be patient and see what happens

The seeds came today for my late summer veggie garden-turnip, beets, swiss chard, carrots, rutabaga, peas, beans, cucumber, daikon radish. I also got white clover cover crop seeds to improve the soil. Now I have to figure out where to put everything....

I forgot to mention the annual dahlias I got a few weeks ago had powdery mildew-I segregated them (but not until AFTER my veronica caught it) and on the advice of a coworker I snipped of the really bad leaves and washed the whole plant with anti bacterial soap and rinsed with fresh water-that was about 10 days ago and it seemed to do the trick. They are still segregated but no sign of disease. I'm glad I didn't pitch them!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What I've been up to

I've been away the past 2 weekends. We went up to Uncle's place up on a lake near the 1,000 Islands for July 4. Different Uncle (and different lake) than Memorial Day Uncle. It's beautiful and quiet up there, we usually go up for the whole week but schedules didn't work out for that this year. Then we were at my moms in Syracuse for the rest of the weekend. My husband took on gutter cleaning duty (she had helicopter problem too that manifestited itself in the gutters) I really dislike cleaning gutters so I decided to weed the front "flower bed". Basically it was all weeds so I pulled almost everything out, hit some sales and planted a bunch of stuff. Then I put down a soaker hose and mulched the whole thing. My moms neighbors are very happy they don't have to look at the weeds anymore. I put in low maintenance plants that are deer resistant.

This past weekend I went to see my sister in Ithaca. There was a rose propagation class there that I signed up for given by Lee at It was a wonderful class. He has a beautiful property with an amazing garden that was a hayfield 5 years ago! It was a 2 hour class and we each walked out with 2 cuttings of 5 different non patented roses and with the knowledge of how to propagate roses. It was the last class he offers for the year. I can't wait to take more classes next year. He's got a large selection of cold hardy roses, I'm studying up on his inventory and trying to narrow down my choices to put in the garden next spring!

Gruss an Aachen is blooming right now (see picture), it smells great, it's a beautifully delicate rose. I think the mystery Sweet Promise is actually Sweet Promise. The bud is unfurling as we speak. It's more of a deep apricot than I was expecting. It kind of clashes with the rest of the garden, I'd like to move it at some point to a new location. I'll have to research that and see if it's feasable.

What's blooming now: EVERYTHING! Echinacea, hostas, sweet peas, helianthus, yarrow, stokesia, foxgloves, delphinium, bee balm, cosmos, coreopsis.

Veggie garden update-we have tiny tomatoes forming! I have been harvesting lettuce for quite a while, tiny cucumbers are visible and the summer squash should be ready in about a week to ten days.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Fab news to report on the rose front: Winchester Cathedral is in bloom! Wooo Hooo! I planted it bare root from White Flower Farm on or about 4/23 (pre-blog). My SIL gave me a Gift Certificate from WFF for my birthday (and a Meyer Lemon tree!) I was laid up with a bad flu in early March and spent a whole week perusing their catalogue -Winchester Cathedral is the result. I planted it along the picket fence where I killed 3 roses last year. To be fair- I put the roses in at the end of June last year and it was a brutally dry-hot summer. This year has been ideal for the flower garden- a lot of rain and only a few heat waves-otherwise moderate temps. Gruss an Aachen is happily chugging along-definitely one bud maybe 2. Sweet Promise/Mystery rose now has 2 buds (!) Now Windchester has 2 blooms and 1 bud. Eden had 3 blossoms clipped yesterday to keep me company while I drudge away at my day job.

Sweet Pea bloomed today too-Yeah!!! I'm not sure what kind it is- I planted a couple of kinds and made notes about what went where and then Bodie went after the chipmunks and dug everything up. Sweet Peas are popping up all over the place! They smell fantabulous!
Picture courtesy of my video camera- doesn't take pictures as well as the dead camera but it works!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Good News!

Where to start? Sister's blue bird family had a second go around and so far so good (picture courtesy of said Sister)- Ma, Pa and 5 babies are doing well-Yeah!!! My Gruss an Aachen rose has a bud!!! Yeah!!! My mystery-Sweet Promise rose has a tiny bud too- Stay tuned to find out if it is acutually a Sweet Promise or if they mystery continues. Mystery plant (came with the house) has buds on it. I think it's a hydrangea but as it's never bloomed, I'm not really sure. I found out from my MIL that one of my other mystery plants is a Potentilla. Good to know! I like that one. Mystery Foxglove has been tentatively idetified as either "Candy Mountain"-spitting image but doesn't "turn it's blossoms up to the sun" or the Camelot series Rose.

I've been making a concerted effort to check out all the local nurseries. Upstate Gardener's Jounal did a bang-up job cataloging the places on the east side of the city. Luckily a lot of them are right around my area. I was very impressed with Lucas. There I got 6 -4" pots of creeping thyme to plant amongst my pavers for the low-low price of $5.60. I've planted half of them so far. They look a little fatigued but I think they'll make it. Hopefully it'll take and I'll have nice thyme growing between the flagstones instead of weeds! I also got some Serrano chile plants-some how I got them confused with Aneheim a nice mild chile -Serrano are 5x hotter than jalepenos-Whoops!

I had to go to Buffalo this week for work. I decided to stop at a really large gardening store on the west side on the way home- it was humongus! At first I thought: UH-oh this is going to be very dangerous... but I was able to control myself. I stuck to the list: potting soil and new gardening gloves. In the end I wasn't really impressed with the place for a few reasons: There were no birds or butterflies to be found. It smelled like chemicals (probably the reason I didn't see any birds or butterflies). Prices weren't any better than any other place. Selection wasn't nearly as good as some of the smaller places -they had a lot of stuff but it was a lot of the same stuff and pretty pedestrian at that-impatiens, geraniums by the acre. The place was so huge it was overwhelming. I do have to say they had a nice selection of landscaping bushes and pots. The staff wasn't terribly helpful or friendly. There were many bunches of kids standing around chatting. One nice kid put the bag of potting soil into the cart for me. Check out was painful 2 registers were open and they both had a hang up for some reason or another. When I checked out the cashier was too busy chatting with her coworker to even acknowlege me and as a result I was left on my own to wrangle the bag of potting soil into my car-It was a bulky 25-30lb bag and I was wearing heels and a business suit. I managed and didn't mess up my suit-Yeah!!!

Friends of ours just bought a new house in the city and moved in last weekend. It's a beautiful old house with a wonderful established garden complete with fruit trees and a pond. They don' t know anything about gardening and asked for help. I copied and printed some articles from old gardenig magazines about basic stuff and stuff specific to what they have in their yard and I found a nice book that should work as a good reference. It looks like the neighborhood has quite a few accomplished gardeners living there, and with gardeners being notoriously nice and helpful, I think they are in good shape.

Camera is still on the fritz and is probably dead. Hence the bluebird photo.

I place my Heritage Rose and Eden Rose in head to head combat last week here are the results:
Scent- Heritage by a landslide, vase life-Eden, maintenance-Eden (heritage has an aphid problem). Eden wins by a hair but the scent of Heritage makes it closer that it looks! Eden doesn't really smell like anything.

What's blooming: Lady's mantle, Yarrow, foxglove, delphinium, roses, spiderwort, potentilla, clematis

What's budding-Buddeleia, rudbeckia, echinacea, mystery plant (hydrangea?)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Can't see the forest for the trees....

I hate helicopters!!! Not the kind that fly around in the sky monitoring traffic congestion and video taping police chases in Los Angeles (although, really, is that necessary?) I'm talking about the seedpods for maple trees. I have shovel fulls of these things all over the yard, the patio, the veggie garden, the flower garden...and with all the sun and rain we've had, mini maple trees are popping up everywhere! I'm trying really hard to appreciate the beauty and force of nature. For millions of years this area was forest and within the last 200 years or so-probably not even that long-people have chopped down the trees, planted farms, tilled up the farms and planted suburbs. Nature is just trying to gain back it's equalibrium. I'm all for being one with nature, but I would like a little variety! Needless to say I've been pulling up maple tree seedlings and picking up piles of 'helicopters' all week. I really need to get out in the veggie garden and do some hoeing or I won't be able to see the tomato plants for the trees...

The hordes have left town and everything is back to normal. We went out to dinner with friends last night in the village. It was hot again, a cold front came through earlier in the week but by Friday it was back in the 90's. We went to the new "Irish Pub" in like the old Pub better. The new place is trying too hard to be authentic. The old Pub isn't trying to be anything but a place to hang out and drink beer and maybe have a little supper. During dinner the heavens opened up and it started to pour. Lightning, thunder- the whole enchilada. We decided not to have dessert at the new pub so we ran out in the rain and went across the street for ice cream. We sat on the porch along the canal and ate ice cream and watched the storm. It was really kind of nice.

With the thousands of tourists gone it was safe to go the the farmer's market again today. I tried to get as much produce as possible. Everyone is totally freaking out about the tomato/salmonella outbreak-OMG stop eating tomatoes!!! Eating tomatoes that have been shipped 3,000 miles is totally gross whether or not they have salmonella-they taste like crap! This time of year the farmers with the greenhouses have tomatoes ready. They aren't nearly as good as garden grown but they aren't picked when green and hard as a rock either (and shipped across the country while they ripen). Side note: is 230 cases of Salmonella in a population of 300 million really something to freak out about? I bet there's a lot of other things on those tomatoes worth freaking out about it but since you won't feel the effects of it for another 20 years or so, don't worry about it.

Anyway, I digress. In additon to the tomatoes I also brought home scallions, lettuce and radishes. I meant to pick up some scapes but I got distracted again by the flowers....damn flowers. I had a plan, it was a nice economical plan: only get the things on my list of flowers that I have space for in the garden, it was a short list. The plan got shot to hell and the list got tossed aside. I got another salvia (Salvia nemorosa "Blue Queen"). I meant to get catmint (to replace the one that died) but the salvia was really pretty and the catmint was looking a little stumpy. Salvia went in the catmint spot. I also got 2 foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea). I love foxglove. The original plan was to buy some in a few years when I put in a flower bed next to the gate. I jumped the gun. I couldn't resist. One looks like "Pam's Choice" and the other I'm not sure. I'll have to do some investigation. It's hot pinky-raspberry color....Sweet! I have space, I just need to dig up and move some newly planted iris (see below about the free irises). I tried to sneak out of there but Japanese maple-man stopped to chat about the status of my Green Cascade. Then-caught like a cheating lover-I got stopped by the lady I usually buy my perennials from (the best prices, heathly plants, nice variety, really friendly and helpful) she wanted to tell me what beautiful plants the foxgloves were (I got them from the grumpy, not too helpful chain smoker with a better than usual selection this week). Luckily she had delphiniums-they were on my list! Redemption!!! I got 2 delpiniums to replace the (1) delphinium that Bodie accidentally dug up this spring while persuing a couple of chipmunks under the deck. I could easily have gotten 8 -so I consider it a victory! Dear Husband doesn't quite see it in such a favorable light. He shudders everytime I leave the house on a Saturday morning. I tell him he's lucky...I could be a drug addict, an alcoholic, a shopaholic. I could get my hair done, my nails done, I could hire a decorator to re-do the house, a landscaper to re-do the yard. I don't do any of that. So what's a few flowers? At really good prices I might add...

...Also I saved him over $720 this did I do that? I went to my pottery class and my friend Michelle gave me 16 Hostas, 6 irises(recently moved 4 feet forward to accomodate above mentioned foxgloves) and a columbine for free(!!!!!). Have I mentioned how much I love free stuff????? I planted everything and DH didn't even have to dig one hole. How do I calculate the savings? My friend Holly hired a professional landscaper to give her an estimate and a plan to re-do some beds in her yard. HOLY SMOKES! What a rip off!!!! I know these guys need to make money but A) it was a damn ugly design B) totally lacked imagination C) it clearly didn't take into account the mature size of the plants. Sell more plants, make more money, customer rips the plants out in 5 years and that's money down the drain, plants die a senseless, tragic death. D) Where do they come up with these prices? He charged $45 for a hosta!!! ONE HOSTA! That must be a damn fine hosta (16 hostas x $45= $720 savings to DH -I love it when math works out in my favor!). I know that includes labor but how labor intensive is hosta-hole digging? It's not like a rose or an ancient redwood, you don't need a backhoe! Luckily for Holly, she's a smart girl and realized she was about to be ripped off and it was a damn ugly design (complete with fake-red mulch). I told her to wait a few years and I'd divid my hostas and sell them to her for the low, low price of $39.99 each...I also mentioned to her that I have a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell...

...I also got a (red) morning glory vine for $1. I planted it where it will totally clash with my pink perennial sweet pea. I'm big on having a color scheme in the front yard-pink and chartreuse. In the back yard my color scheme: God puked up a rainbow. My poor neighbors.

Blooming this week: Peonies (hurrah!!), salvia, veronica, spirea, bleeding heart, foxglove, delphinium, roses.

Rose Race final results:Captain Sam won the first to bloom race, Distant Drums was a not so distant 2nd. Eden and Heritage are about to bloom any exciting! Winchester Cathedral has little buds on it. Not bad considering Distant Drums and Winchester were little twigs a few short months ago.....Gruss an Aachen doesn't have any buds but seems to be chugging along ok. I'm pretty sure Sweet Promise...isn't. I think it's whatever the root stock is. I diligently inspect it for buds but so far...Nada.

*about the picture-this is an old one- I busted Bodie trying to break into the garden to steal my eggplants. My camera has sh-the bed! I can't get the lens to focus and I get an error message on the screen. I'm hoping a little rest will set it right. If not, I'm formulating a plan B

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Hot Hot Hot!!!

Ugh! Heat wave in's been in the 90's for the past few days with oppressive humidity. All I'm going to say is that I hate it and I'll leave it at that. The people in the Mid-West are having flooding and tornadoes so I feel really lucky that natural disasters are few and far between around here.

I went to the nursery today (festival in town= 250,000 visitors the village this weekend=no farmers market for me!) I wanted to get a hanging basket and fill it with shade plants. The front of the house is kind of blah...and shady- Big red maple out front. Ideally I would like to put window boxes in the front windows. I have the inserts but need to make the boxes- not in the budget this year. So, what I got was some hot pink impatiens, chartreuse sweet potato vine (Marguerite), some chartreuse and pink coleus and asparagus fern. Throw it all together and I think it looks pretty good hanging on a branch of the red maple out front. I also got some Golden Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea') I had intended to put it in the basket but ran out of room. I put it in a pot with the leftover hot pink impatiens. I'm going to try to over winter the asparagus fern (I'll bring inside and put in the bathroom), the coleus (cuttings) and I'll put the creeping jenny in the ground-I'll try to reuse it all next year in the boxes.....I wonder if I can save the sweet potato vine???? That thing was hard to find..they only had a few and they were all chartreuse, good thing I didn't want a dark purple one!

I also got a flat of marigolds and some purple sweet allysum. I love orange and purple together. I filled some of the window box inserts & clay pots and put them on my deck -not terribly fancy but my back deck was woefully bare- flowers are so expensive!!! I wanted some verbena and lantana but there was no way- too much dinero. Thats why I love perennials, they cost a bit more but they last! I have some Fordhook nasturtium seeds that I planted in the veggie garden last week left over so I put them in the boxes and pots too. Seeds are seeds.

I had never been to that nursery before (we have a lot of them around here). It was really nice. Not too far from my house & they had a huge selection of just about everything and everything looked really healthy, not an easy feat with this heat. I found a rose that I want to plant next to the driveway "Happy Chappy" was the name. I'll have to look it up and see if it will work there. I could have gone crazy and spend a ton of money but I managed to control myself. Besides the creeping Jenny the only other perennial I got was Veronica alpina "Goodness Grows" beautiful electric blue spikes. I couldn't help myself. I love Veronica and used to have it at my old house it's like a butterfly magnet! I just planted it between my Captain Sam and Distant Drums roses. Yesterday those two were neck and neck: who will bloom first???? I think Capt Sam pulled ahead this morning. The first bloom is just starting to open..... Distant Drums bud is still closed up.

Weigelia is finishing up its blooms I should have taken a picture, it was gorgeous this year. Sage bloomed and is kaput. Allium moly is out in full force. My chives are going nuts! Thyme is blooming. Salvia blooming. Stokesia and echinacea buds are forming. Peonies are probably going to bloom tomorrow-I see a lot of peonies blooming in the area. Iris' are out in full force. Bleeding heart is looking really good. I need to pull out the Spiderwort in the front (also blooming). I love it but the purple blooms are clashing with my hot pink and chartreuse color scheme-it was planted by the previous owner who apparently had no color scheme or master plan. I may replace it with some Echinacea from the back yard garden-I've got plenty! I'll see if anyone in my pottery class wants the Spiderwort. That's a great place to get and give plants. Most of us are gardeners in addition to being potters. Picture courtesy of Aunt & Uncle's garden

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Bad week for Bunnies good week for roses

I'm sad to say the bunnies aren't doing so well. They left the garden yesterday, unfortunately their timing was really bad. Bodie was out in the yard and caught one. I was yelling. Lovely husband got him to drop the bunny and I took Bodie inside. Husband took bunny out of the yard and put him on the other side of the fence in the shelter of a woodpile. He said the bunny looked ok, we're not sure if he made it or not. Husband found another one (deceased) in the yard. We don't know what happened to him as Bodie was confined to the house for the evening.

On the garden front: I planted the Zinnias (Cut and Come Again) that I had started from seed. There were 22 of them. Bodie stepped on one and something ate another one so I'm down to 20. I love growing plants from seed-it started out as a necessity as I was poor and couldn't afford to buy plants and I wanted a vegetable garden (much more economical than the produce section). I started in 2002 with a shop light hanging from the clothes rod in an empty closet with plant trays on top of the ironing board. I had a great garden that year. The biggest challenge was keeping Bodie the puppy out of the garden- he loved to play with the eggplants. 2003 Veggie garden wasn't as successful-I was dating my future husband and I was in luuuuuve-the garden suffered. No veggie garden 2004- I put my house on the market and realtor said that veggie gardens aren't buyer friendly. Garden was replaced with grass-so sad. 2005 we moved from NC to NY- no house, no garden. 2006 Veggie garden started from seed, husband was very good about keeping everything watered when I travelled for work. Too many paste tomatoes that year. Eggplants didn't do well. Last year I didn't get off my butt in time to get things started. I had to buy my plants-way too expensive! Back to seeds! This year things started out slowly-I got very frustrated, I couldn't figure out why everything was so slow. I had shop lights on timers, heat mats, I made newspaper pots so I could be a little "green". Dear Husband the non-gardener had an idea: too cold in the basement, I should move ghetto BigLots plant stand and shoplights up to the spare bedroom and see if that improves the little seedlings dispositon-Brilliant! That did the trick! Plethora of tomatoes have hardened off, now bunnies are out of garden we can plant! I have some eggplants, habanero peppers (seeds were free Aji Dulce peppers didn't make it), cucumbers, summer squash, zucchini, zinnias, cosmos and marigolds. I might make some more newspaper pots and start some other flowery-type stuff.

The rose situation is looking up: Eden, Heritage, Distant Drums (the new one!) and Capt. Sam all have buds. Capt. Sam the oldest rose at 2 years, has a buch of buds. Eden and Heritage have only been in a year so it might take them another year to get established (?) Honestly, I have no idea as I've never grown roses before. Fingers are crossed. Winchester Cathedral is doing great, I planted it bare-root (grafted) in April. Distant Drums and Gruss an Aachen are both doing well, they've only been in a few weeks-they seem pretty happy. Sweet Promise is another story. It's growing, but it's really short. I think I may have a problem: it's grafted and I'm thinking that the new shoots are coming from the root plant. Who knows how that will end up? I'm looking forward to seeing what happens!

Side note: I spent the weekend at my Aunt and Uncles house in the Finger Lakes-Beautiful! Uncle's rhododendrons are gorgeous(see picture above)! Lilacs, Columbine and Iris were blooming too, their gardens are really breathtaking. Uncle is a professional photographer and Conservationist (and writer like Aunt). Check out his website to get an idea of what the Finger Lakes region is like:

This is the deal: there is a Native American legend that says the Great Spirit found the most beautiful place on earth and put his hands there to bless it. The fingerprints filled in with water and the Finger Lakes were created. The story is actually much better than that, I'm giving the Cliff Notes version. I was very sad when I lived in North Carolina. It's hard to grow up in a place as beautiful as this and then move to a place that's all concrete and highways, glass skyscrapers and strip malls- no soul. The whole state isn't like that. The mountains are gorgeous, the beaches are really nice. Gas and taxes are a lot cheaper there! Luckily, North Carolina has been invaded by New Yorkers and met my husband who is from here too and wanted to move back as much as I did. People in NC thought I was from a place like Manhattan-no way! That's a good 6 hour drive away! Nice place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there!
Blooming: Miss Kim, Paul Thirion, Beauty of Moscow Lilacs. Lily of the Valley, Allium (giganteum?), Chives, Bleeding Heart, Weigela. Some weird plant in the front that has pretty blue flowers. Previous owners planted it. I plan on moving it after it finishes blooming-it's too close to the new Japanese Maple, too pretty to toss.

About to bloom: Allium moly, culinary Sage (!), Salvia, Lady's Mantle, Peonies, Iris

Getting going: Buddleia, crocosmia is peeking through!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Foxes and Bunnies and Birds, Oh My!

My sister emailed me this week- she came home one evening and a fox family was playing in the yard. The parents ran into the brush when her car pulled up but the 2 kits kept playing. They romped around for about 10 minutes before disappearing in the bushes. They've come back once since then around dusk to play in her yard. My sister is a bird lover, she has feeders and birdhouses all over. She was so excited to see that bluebirds were building a nest in her bluebird box. She checked later and there were eggs in the nest. The eggs hatched and she had a bunch of babies. Unfortunately, as the week progessed the babies weren't doing too well. She just called and said that none of them has made it. Very sad. It's been very cold for the past few days-high 30's (F) during the night and mid 50's during the day. She didn't think the parents were able to find enough bugs and other critters to feed the babies.

I have a garden related wildlife issue this week- I was moving my tomato seedlings to the garden earlier this week and Bodie kept trying to get into the vegetable garden. The only thing that's planted in there right now is lettuce- I figured he couldn't wreak too much havoc so I let him in and I went back to get more tomato plants from the side of the house. I came back to the garden and Bodie is outside the gate with something in his mouth. UH-OH- I tell him to drop it, which he does (shock and amazement) and he's got a mouthfull of fur that he's trying to spit out. So naturally the next thing I do is start screaming for my husband. Long story short- I put Bodie inside and got my husband a grocery bag and he picks up unidentified object previously in Bodie's mouth and notices that it's a baby bunny- remarkably unscathed but totally freaked out. So we start poking around the garden to try to figure out where he came from and we find a warren lined with fur under a pile of leaves. We put the bunny back in and covered him up. Husband isn't too psyched to have a bunch of rabbits living in the garden but what can we do? We should have dug up the garden sooner and turned the leaves under. Now were kind of stuck until the bunnies move out (which may never happen since they have a nice supply of lettuce in there) I think there are 4-6 babies in there, Bodie and I saw their little faces peeking out yesterday. I really need to get the garden put in.

On a non-wildlife related note: I got my Japanese Maple this week, "Green Cascade" a nice healthy looking 3-4 year old tree from the farmer's market. $50- good deal. I planted the Dahlia's I had started indoors on Sunday. The weather has been really cold (it snowed on Monday in Buffalo) but they seem to be doing ok. I also planted 2 more roses (Distant Drums a Buck rose and Gruss an Aachen) I got them from Heirloom roses-own root and bare root, very healthy. My Winchester Cathedral that I planted a few weeks ago is looking really good. I planted 2 Lady's Mantle that I got at the farmers market too. They look thirsty, I need to water them in the morning. Captain Sam, Eden, & Heritage all have buds. My salvia is also budding and should bloom soon. The crocosmia is starting to poke up through the soil. Nothing is really blooming in my yard right now except the Paul Thirion and Beauty of Moscow lilacs, and lily of the valley are blooming too. My mom's lilac is out in full force (she's zone 5 so a little later than we are)-gorgeous I was at her house last Sunday and we cut some blooms. I posted a picture-

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A bad week for the Roses

Aphids! I was reading Adrian Higgins' Garden Plot in the Washington Post the other day and someone wrote in about their rose bush being taken over by blackspot. DC is a few weeks ahead of us weather-wise so I thought if I started looking for it now I may be able to keep ahead of it. I went out and looked around the roses , I didn't find any black spot but I found a ton of aphids on my Heritage rose. I decided it was too late in the day to blast them with the hose so I pulled them off by hand and squashed them. Only the Heritage was affected. Sweet Promise, Capt Samuel Holland and Eden all look fine. I think I got most of the aphids off, I found and squashed 2 since the- thank you Adrian Higgins!

Captain Sam didn't escape the week unscathed either. While I was at the farmers market yesterday Bodie decided to check on his favorite chipmunk family under the deck. He ripped the wooden lattice work away and dug a big hole and got stuck under there all in the 5 minutes it takes for my husband to take a shower. So nice, clean husband had to dig him out and rescue him. Nice clean husband wasn't feeling very nice and wasn't very clean when he was done! This wasn't the first time Bodie has done this- so it's time to come up with a plan "D" (Plans A, B and C have all been foiled by Bodie). Anyway, during the melee my Captain Sam rose got banged up a bit- his trellis was knocked askew. He's a tough rose and keeps growing in spite of Bodie's excavating activites. Irritated, dirty husband wasn't inspired to take a photo of dirty, chipmunk-less dog, so I had to post a picture from another muddy incident at our old house in North Carolina. This is his "What's the big deal?" look.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


I bought lilacs last weekend from Doc Lilac- 2 Miss Kim to replace the nasty Barberry bushes from the front. 1 each: Margaret Fenicchia, Beauty of Moscow, Paul Thirion, Silver King, and Adelaide Dunbar (left to right across the back fence). I got a great deal: All for $136 most are pretty healthy sizes. I think Doc took pity on me-I have caviar taste on a burger king budget. He knows I'll be back next year, I just need to rip out some more ugly bushes. I think he enjoyed having someone stopping by every 2 weeks since February asking a million questions! He's a great guy to talk to, very knowledgeable and has a wonderful sense of humor. You can visit his site at

I went to opening day of the farmer's market last week. Not a lot of veggies available yet-mostly lettuces and onions. I talked to a guy that grows Japanese Maples-I'm eyeballing either "Green Cascade" or "Kamagata" I came home to do some research. I have another space to fill after ripping out some more Barberry bushes. I think the weeping Green Cascade will look nice there. The prices at the farmers market are far more reasonable than ordering online and they are better than nursery prices. Plus the guy is local so if I have questions or need help he's just a few miles away.

One of the ladies in my pottery class brought me divisions of her primroses. I put them in the ground on a rainy day and they seem to be doing well. The flowers didn't travel well but the plants themselves look healthy.

I went again to the Farmer's Market today-it was packed! I should have gone first thing in the morning but I was lazy and went back to bed. I got some great deals: 5 pink Bleeding Hearts for $20, 2 big creeping phlox for my mom for $14, and the killer deal (I think) was a bag full of 14 bearded iris rhizomes and 4 Alliums in pots for $8. I know this isn't a good time of year to be moving irises around but I figure I'll keep them trimmed back so the energy gets focused on the roots and not on the flowers. The Alliums are looking a little peaked. I'll keep my fingers crossed. I didn't get the Japanese Maple today the guy didn't have the green cascade, I'll try to remember to call him later in the week to remind him to bring it.

What's blooming this week: Forsythia is really on it's way out. Cherry trees are pretty much depetaled. Magnolias are done. Daffadils are done, Tulips are out as are forget-me-nots and lily of the valley, Lilacs are just starting to open (Docs grandson said Highland park is peaking right now) Lilac Festival started yesterday. The leaves on most of the trees are almost fully out. Dandelions are out in full force!