Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Hip, hip, hooray

Pretty much the same old stuff is blooming in the garden, but I did notice a haze of reddish-orange as I looked out my bedroom window this week. What do you know, rosehips. These are from an Alba semi-plena rose that blooms once a year in June. I think the hips look cool but I know you're supposed to do stuff with them like make herbal infusions and tea and what have you. I've never really done that and probably won't. I read on a website that rosehips are good for circulation, heart, and bones. Also fluctuating hormones. I thought the author of that article could probably use some herself, as she went on to say that rosehips also protects and enhances our ability to love ourselves and others fully. Oh my.

I do fully love this verbena bonariensis which I finally grew this year after wanting some for just ages. Sorry I waited so long. This stuff is great. Look how airy and tall it is and it enhances just about everything, including the Graham Thomas rose that seems to have quit blooming on this pillar.
Another great plant coming into its own this time of year is Northern Sea Oats, which I bought by accident a couple of years ago. I planted it near the little pond. Yeah, that's a battery-powered turtle that swims in the pond. My grandsons love it.
Look how pretty these sea oats tassels are. I think they're going to turn a bronze color judging by other gardeners' blogs. I think mine did last year but I can't remember.
Another look at Heavenly Blue morning glories on the arbor. I've said how much I dislike the purplish-colored ones that seem to be the mainstay color of the volunteer morning glories. Well, an interesting thing -- I didn't water these for a couple of days and I noticed when they opened for those two days they were definitely purplish. I was horrified and quickly watered them. The next day they were Heavenly Blue again. Some weird garden karma going on.
Well, I'm off to spend a week in Oregon where I'll have some Marionberry pie. These are some strange sort of blackberry that I never heard of till I went to Oregon for the first time. Marionberries are advertised everywhere there, and the farmers in Oregon grow 30 million pounds of these a year. Makes me wonder why I'd never heard of them. Google says they're becoming legend at Trader Joe's and Starbucks. That could explain it. I don't drink coffee so I don't frequent Starbucks, and since Colorado doesn't allow alcohol sales (except 3.2%) in grocery stores we don't have Trader Joe's.
I do like clam chowder too, and Oregon is a great place to taste-test it up and down the coast. I heard about a new place in a converted gas station that supposedly has the best chowder in the state. The Dubious Gardener and I will be trying that. It comes in this bread bowl.
Speaking of bread bowls, I have to go try on clothes and see if I can find anything that fits and is decent enough to take on vacation. I can't wear my normal garden attire, though I'd like to.

Happy gardening till I get back!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Garden Blogger's Book Club

A Hoe Lot of Trouble: a Nina Quinn Mystery
by Heather Webber

First of all, what the heck is that picture on the front of the book supposed to represent? A topiary bunny with stomach trouble? It looks like an ad for Tums. I don’t get it.

I don’t need to be a cataloger in a public library (which I am), to know when there’s a subtitle like “a Nina Quinn mystery”, it means there are more of these books featuring this woman. Aarrghh! Nina and I didn’t get along very well from page one. Who chops up pictures of their philandering husband in a garbage disposal? What’s the matter with using the paper shredder? I guess that was supposed to set the tone for us that Nina is charmingly non-conformist and we need to cut her a lot of slack for her impetuous ways. I found her really annoying.

I also didn’t see much gardening going on except for a few references to Taken By Surprise, her so-called garden design company. And what about the hoes? I thought this story was about missing hoes. No, it was about a greedy developer trying to buy the farmland belonging to the family of Nina’s long-time friend Bridget, who has homicidal tendencies and fakes a pregnancy. Where’s the gardening in that? She does make a reference toward the end of the book about the landscaping in the greedy developer’s subdivision: “Trees dotted the sidewalks and canopied the street. The lawns were exceptionally well-kept, and flowers, everything from geraniums to petunias, were bright and cheery.” Whew, geraniums to petunias! That’s quite a range.

Coming to the end of a good book makes me sad. I was extremely happy to finish this book. To be fair, the author seems like a very nice woman; I went to her website to see what she is like. May is her favorite month, she likes to watch The Amazing Race, eats extra-butter popcorn, and her favorite day of the year is Thanksgiving. I like all that too, so I can relate. But I don’t relate to formulaic mystery writing. When we hear about the escaped pet snake in the first chapter, we know the snake will play a role in the ending. When we find out early on that homicidal Bridget is pregnant, or that stepson Riley (or is that the snake’s name - I can’t remember) has a fixation on guns, we know that will play a role in the ending. Nothing is allowed to happen in a formula-written book that does not have a bearing on the final denouement, and that’s what I hate about them. Nobody wanders off-plot and does or says anything that doesn’t pertain directly to the story. But hey, that’s just me. According to everyone loves this series and can’t wait for more. I’d rather sit on my back porch and stare off into the distance.

Oh, I didn't actually throw the book in the trash. It is a library book, after all!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


That was a big, heavy box the swing came in. Two guys from Lowe's put it in my car but I couldn't get it out. It was jammed in tight against the back of the hatch and I couldn't lift it over the bumper to drag it out. Without the services of an undergardener, I have to be inventive. So I opened the box in the car and hauled it out piece by piece.

Once I threw out all the foreign-language instructions, all I had to do was figure out which part went where. Since I only needed the swing parts and not the free-standing frame or canopy, the assembly went smoothly. Then I got out my trusty drill, the only power tool I own that I'm not afraid of.

Since there were two existing hooks in the ceiling, I figured I had it made. Just add one more hook to compensate for the longer length of this swing and I'm home free. Add one rickety ladder to reach the ceiling and drill a hole for the hook. Luckily for me my sister happened to stop by and held the ladder.

Oops, design flaw. I neglected to visualize that the porch post would be in the way. Darn! My sister says good luck and beats a hasty exit.
By now I'm hot and sweaty so I take a break and walk around the yard before I continue my efforts. Down on the lower patio, I check out the Sweet Autumn clematis to see if it's tumbling nicely over the retaining wall. It is.

Buddha is calmly overseeing things as usual. Am I going to try to winter over that bamboo? Probably.
What's this? An interloper! Well, he can carry on with whatever he's doing, I have to finish re-positioning that hook.

My neighbor checks in to see what I'm doing and insists that she can do a better job of fixing the hook than I can. I let her. Finally! It swings and it doesn't hit the post. My neighbor goes home triumphant.

The swing will also lie flat like a bed. And this is fairly simple to do except for the finger-pinching part.

This is where I was going to take a picture of myself relaxing in the swing. But that would have meant bringing out the tripod and figuring out how to set the camera to self-timer. That wasn't going to happen so this is the best I could do.

A swing with a view. Treetops and lanterns and lots of birds flying overhead. This is while I'm swaying lazily back and forth.

What a heavenly feeling! Almost like the Heavenly Blues that I can gaze upon while I swing the rest of the summer away.