Wednesday, May 30, 2007

There's one in every crowd

A few years ago my brother-in-law in the desert talked me into trying some miniature roses in the garden. My previous experience with them were impulse buys from the grocery store. They came with the pot wrapped in that colored foil that makes you think they're house plants. I put them in a sunny window and then came the spider mites. They didn't last long. So I was surprised to hear they are actually star performers in the garden. So back to the grocery store where I bought three more and planted them in a sunny bed in front of my house. This is one of them. The other two languished and eventually died, but this white one decided it liked being next to the brick wall and over the years has done a good job of aspiring to the size of a standard rose bush. It blooms faithfully all summer long.

But what's this? Suddenly there's a pink bloom standing out from the crowd. I'm used to roses dying back to the rootstock occasionally and then I have a different rose altogether, but this obviously hasn't happened here. I don't get it but I'm enjoying the oddity of it.

Meanwhile, while perusing blogs, I came across a post from Posie Gets Cozy. I don't bake. But that recipe made my mouth water and after spotting rasberries on sale at the grocery store, I knew I had to try to make these raspberry muffins. It would be nice if I had grown these luscious berries, but I didn't.

I dusted off the Kitchenaid and got to work. I quit cooking long before they came out with those giant-size muffin tins which are recommended for this recipe. So I found some foil "pot pie" sized pans and used those.

These are not bad considering I've forgotten everything I know about cooking. I shouldn't be eating these. Maybe that's why I quit baking to begin with. But a few more hours in the garden ought to work off the calories.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Hot colors, sleeping woman

Finally, I got the patio pots planted. Some of those bedding plants had been on my porch for so long their roots had wound aroung the bottoms of the containers. I had to wield the scissors to cut and pry them out. These are my "hot" color pots. I want to see some pizazz when I walk out the back door and the pots are in my direct line of view. The tall yellow plant is Euryops, mixed with grocery-store zinnias, Laguna White lobelias, and a calibrachoa.

More of the same in another pot. See how the leaves have yellowed in the center of the white lobelia? I tried to tidy them up but it soon became obvious I'd have a plant with no leaves.

This is a broken strawberry pot. I have lots of broken clay pots, I just turn the broken parts to the back so only my neighbor sees them. You can see where I tried to reinforce the top with a piece of leather shoelace. That's annual Gypsophila "Gypsy" in the pockets. I usually put bright blue lobelia in there but decided to throw caution to the winds and try something else. Also I couldn't find the bright blue, only the dark blue.

This is the view of my hot colors "Mexican" corner. My dinky pond is in the background. I've given up putting fish in there as the raccoons will come snack on them at least twice each week. I bought a big plastic turtle that "swims" in the pond when you press a button. The grandchildren should like that.

The big plant on the left is common mullein (Verbascum). The birds sow this all over and I always hope I get lucky and a couple will sprout somewhere other than in the middle of the path. This one almost made it. The path is just a little narrower now. Mullein is probably a noxious weed in Colorado but I can't help but reap what the birds sow. And it's no wonder they do, one mullein can produce up to 180,000 seeds per plant and the seeds remain viable for 100 years. How do you beat odds like that? It comes full circle for the birds though. By the end of the summer they're busy swaying back and forth on the tall seedheads gleaning their breakfast.

The grasses in the pot are Stipa, or Korean Feather grass. I love to see the light shine through these early in the morning or at the end of the day. The silky tips of the grass look frazzled which remind me of how my hair looks sometimes when I wake up. It's amusing on the grass, but not on me.

Here's the sleeping woman. I bought this head at a garage sale a long time ago and each year she's lost parts of herself to frost and ice. Now she's only half what she used to be so I put her to sleep with her head resting on the groundcover. Not so sure the grandchildren will like this. Even I think it's a little creepy. Her "thyme" may have come.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Still falling down, but not the Ivy.... it's me. Vertigo. Last week, still not completely over the viral infection I've had, I flew to a conference in San Jose, California. Big mistake, as the combination of the pressurized cabin and the recent virus messed with my inner ear. This week I found myself light-headed and staggering to catch my balance. The easiest thing to do was lie down. Meanwhile, my bedding plants are lined up on the back porch, begging to be put in their pots, and I've "vanished" from cyberspace without a word of warning. My humble apologies to all, and as I regain my equilibrium just in time for a long Memorial Day weekend, perhaps I finally get to finish planting!

The fountains above are in front of the convention center in San Jose, a charming big-bucks Silicon Valley town that has sunk a lot of money into civic beautification. It was a pleasure to walk around and take it all in, and the downtown area had loads of lovely restaurants in which to spend my per diem.
My fellow co-workers and I had a great meal in this Italian restaurant but what really caught my eye was this smoke tree that I spotted in the back courtyard when I went out to sneak a cigarette in the parking lot.
I've seen one or two of these at home but this one really did look "smoky." Actually that is a puff of grey smoke in the top right corner. Never try to smoke and take pictures at the same time, though the theme was right.
Back at home, I found the Ernest Markham clematis blooming away near the front porch. Ernest isn't fond of growing up the chicken wire on the post and prefers to sprawl in the foliage below. I really need to get out there and tidy him up.
But all of these guys below are waiting to be put into pots on the terrace, so first things first. Last weekend, after I'd gotten home from San Jose and before I started falling down, I had a glorious two days to garden. But since I'm so far behind it was spent mostly on weeding, mowing, and exhaustion later.
While we've had abundant rain, the temps fell too. For the past two nights I've moved my fuschia basket into the garage to keep it safe from the high 30's it's fallen to overnight. But after this weekend I'm no longer pampering anything, after all, it's high time for warm nights.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Boston Ivy falling down..falling down..

Sung to the tune, "London Bridge is falling down". I'm pretty sure the squirrels did this. They're always scrambling around in the ivy that covers one side of my house and up until a couple of weeks ago it used to cover part of the back.

Since the back of the house has all the charm of an apartment building, I kind of like the ivy softening the facade. But how am I going to get it back up there? I gave up climbing 20 foot extension ladders a couple of years ago. And what would I attach it to anyway? Not to mention that a Virginia Creeper has insinuated itself (those birds again!) into the same bed and threatens to take over. Invasive plants love my yard.

Well, as Scarlett said, I'll think about that another day. Meanwhile, this morning I was about to finish mowing my back yard when the self-propel feature on the mower suddenly quit self-propelling. Have you ever tried to push one of those self-propel mowers? It's now in the repair shop for the next two weeks which doesn't bode well for the length of the grass. However it might give me a chance to recuperate from the "cold" I've had for awhile which has turned into an upper respiratory infection. Maybe breathing in all that pollen and dust wasn't such a good idea! No wonder I feel like falling down.....

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


The other day I was walking around the garden taking pictures of things I don't recognize. (No, not the bust of the Roman soldier - I remember buying that at a garage sale). This happens to me regularly. I blame it on the birds "dropping" seeds here and there. The bush above was quite a surprise. You can see it's rather large, about 4 feet tall, and I never noticed it before. Of course with the odd weather we've had I really haven't ventured into the back yard more than once or twice this spring, so it's had time to do what it wants.
Here's a close-up of the the bottlebrush-like flower cluster. It's sweet, don't you think? But I had no idea what the plant was. I figured I'd post it here and someone could tell me. I went to bed that night with the TV on. I had been watching HGTV when I fell asleep and the first thing I saw at 6AM was Erica Glasener on "A Gardener's Diary" pointing out a Virginia Sweetspire (itea virginica) that sure looked like my plant. Pretty odd, don't you think?

According to the USDA, this is a southern plant and it doesn't really grow in Colorado. But it looks to me like it could have sneaked in through the Oklahoma panhandle when no one was looking. Here's the USDA's dinky photo of Virginia Sweetspire. So what do you think? Is it the same plant or maybe it's another of those "false" ones? Or maybe it's just serendipity.

Friday, May 04, 2007

"Bring flowers of the fairest..."

"....bring flowers of the rarest, from garden and woodland, and hillside and vale."

That's part of a Marian hymn, songs to be sung to Mary, the Blessed Virgin, and especially in the month of May which is dedicated to her. Being Catholic school brats, my classmates and I were well-practiced in these songs and they've been stuck in my brain ever since. We eagerly awaited the month of May when a lot of time which would otherwise be spent in class was devoted to rehearsing the crowning of the statue of the "Queen of the May". I think the most popular girl always got to place the wreath of flowers on Mary's head, but the rest of us sang our little hearts out. And we got to wear pretty dresses, not our hated school uniforms.

I still eagerly await the first day of May which brings so much promise of flowers, gardening, and the balmy summer months ahead. My own tradition in recent years is to come to work bearing flowers for all my co-workers.

When I'm lucky, like this year, I can find bunches of these spray roses, so everyone gets a stem with 3 or 4 buds on it. This time I picked two different colors, the hot pinkish-orange ones for the more volatile or exotic personalities, and the pale pink for the sweet, traditional dispositions. They make their own choice and I get a secret chuckle out of pegging each one accurately (or not). Of course, on any given day, I could be an orange or a pink, but on the first of May I'm a traditionalist!

And why am I four days late posting this ode to the first day of May? Because I caught a cold that very day and have been miserable ever since! Which didn't stop me from visiting a local nursery after work today. I gathered a few more bedding plants which are destined to be stored in my garage over the weekend since we're expecting freezing temps tonight. The unfairness of it all! But, the sweet promise of May!