Monday, September 29, 2008

Heirloom Bulbs & Indian Summer

"All is perfectly still, as if Nature, after her exertions during Summer, were now at rest." - John Bradbury, 1817

High in the mountains, we're quietly savoring our 'second summer.' Those warm, peaceful days that come right after Mother Nature has frozen all of my tomatoes.

Last year, these lazy autumn days lingered into late November. It was so nice for so long, it charmed my honeysuckle vines into a second flowering.

So, I've been dragging my feet on fall planting, thinking I've got all the time in the world. Plus, I was saving up my energy 'cause I'm going hog wild on bulbs this year.

Rather, I was planning to go hog wild. It just never occurred to me that bulb companies weren't patiently waiting for my order!

I'm not usually this emotional but I literally shed a tear when I saw that the Old House Gardens Cafe Brun Tulip was sold out.

They'll probably sue me for showing these photos, but a picture is worth way more than a thousand of my words.

In spite of sold out signs on the bulbs I really wanted, I still found a few goodies...

Allium, Camassia and this pretty cool tulip. I'll probably have to tether the cat next to these tulip bulbs 24/7 so the critters can't eat them.

Daffodils that hopefully will naturalize like crazy, making many more Daffies, in the years to come...
I'm fond of the Old Bulb gals because it feels like I'm buying bulbs from a neighbor.

This young lady will surely die but I just couldn't resist. I am a sucker for perennial Cyclamen.

* Just in case you're wondering, the answer is no. They did not pay me a dime or offer me a bulb for yakking about them. I just really like the company. (Now, if only they'd build a better website... ;-)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Crabby Apples

I grow Crabapple trees for the flowers. Birds love the fruit.
I started blogging a couple years ago, at a time in my life when things were literally falling apart at the seams. Starting that blog I had 2 paths to take ~ I could bitch non-stop about real and perceived miseries. Or, I could talk happy whenever I wrote about life's little incidents. I chose the latter.

Life is a continuous [and sometimes painful] learning curve though I discovered something on the opposite side of this coin. You really can fake your way to happiness. I did.

My cardinal rule was to only blog when I could find a highlight to the day. Pretty soon I started seeing that most of my days were filled with highlights, even when I didn't want to acknowledge the happy things happening around me.

Lately, I haven't been bloggin 'cause I couldn't find anything positive to say. Mostly I was just ignoring all the good mixed in with the bad. And, that got me thinking about how much I love this cardinal rule. Because I could have dragged this emotional funk on forever. Only I didn't. 'Cause I was really missing my blog.

Crabby Apple Canning Recipe
2 pounds crab apples that you absolutely grew yourself.
2 cups apple vinegar
1.5 cups water
1⁄3 cup sugar
2-3 tsp. cloves
However many cinnamon sticks you think might work best.
  • Boil vinegar, water, and sugar.
  • Immerse the apples into this boiling mess for just a couple of minutes.
  • Place the little crabby apples into pint size jars, pour the hot syrup over the apples and put the lids on.
  • Boil in a water canner type thing for about 30-minutes.
  • Or just eat them right now. They already taste pretty good. :)
Hot Tip!
Poke the apples with a toothpick before cooking so they don't explode all over your kitchen.
I'm a little amazed that my 4-year-old crab trees are ripe for the picking! Kwanzan and Prairie Fire Crabbapple Trees are two goodies for high altitude gardens.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Stylishly Late

I expected to see little Moonbeam Coreopsis a month ago. Not sure what took her so long to get with the program.

Yarrow should have finished flowering mid-August. Perhaps she and the Moonbeams are plotting a new growing season? (I know they're fast friends.)

I take full responsibility for Potentilla's late showing.
(I always forget to water her.)

Red Hot Poker fulfilled her obligations in July. Oh, I do love an over-achiever...

Feathery pink Liatrus is so late to the party I forgot I'd invited her.

So, what's going on here?

Darned if I know. Except that it's been raining. A lot. And, water really is the gift of life to you, me, and any plant we hope to grow. So, perhaps that's why everyone is flowering overtime ~ in spite of the chilly nights.

Johnson's Blue Geranium never runs out of steam. This tireless perennial refuses to stop 'blooming.' When flowers fade, foliage turns to brilliant shades of red and orange. Now if only I could figure out how to encourage blue autumn colors... then I really could rule the world. :)

Friday, September 12, 2008


I did it! You can, too.

Clearly, I'm not so much a leader as I am a follower. Because I am the 109 thousandth, 599th gardener to do this. Though, I was still rather proud to receive my certificate in the mail today!

I suppose we all have those days... when it feels as if we can make no positive impact on this world. At times like that it's nice to take a stroll through the garden and watch the bustle of activity. Because everything we do matters ~ even if it's on a small scale.

Birds singing, bees buzzing, hungry critters waiting patiently for me to plant a few more tulip bulbs. (Sorry, guys, I've learned my lesson.) From big to small, they come to call. Moose wreaking havoc near dawn. Every once in awhile a surprise coyote scares the pants off Bad Dog in the dark of the night...

* You don't have to live in the middle of nowhere to garden for wildlife. Look around you. Wildlife is everywhere. Simply offer a water source, plants, berries, places to nest and raise babies.

** And, absolutely no chemical fertilizers or pesticides. But, you would never dream of doing that, now would you?

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Sunday Mornings

Jenn and Phantom stopped over for coffee this morning. Phantom is a) an opera aficionado, b) a tormented teenager, or c) a horse.
Since I was hard at work on every one's behalf, I handed her a pair of scissors and asked her to pitch in. We were harvesting hollyhock seeds. Creating a whole bunch of goodie bags for gardening friends.

Whenever we sit on the deck, we're spied upon by this pretty little dove. She's been living in the Ponderosa Pine for most of the summer.

If you guessed that Phantom is a horse, you win the prize.* We're all pretty horse crazy around these parts.

So, I got a little bit of work out of Jenn and a whole lotta work out of her obliging pony.

He's fertilizing the part of my yard currently known as the Big Weedy Disaster. And, hopefully soon a pretty wildflower garden. He makes his deposits that I later till into the soil.

Your prize, should you decide to accept it, is a shipment of Hollyhock seeds. Want some? I'm up to my eyeballs in hollys this year...

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Man Magnet! Or, the Troy Bilt Barter System

It is so nice to have a man around the house. Or, two... or, three... or four! Let's file this under the "Where were you when I needed you?" column...

I tried hard to sucker somebody into putting my new rototiller together when it first arrived.

No takers ~ so, I ended up doing it myself. It was easy, though I nursed a little grudge the whole time I worked on it.

Then I fired it up and began to tackle The Big Weedy Disaster (aka half acre of sage brush that is soon to become a wildflower garden.)

A quick 15 minutes later, my work was done!

Mostly because my backyard looked like a very familiar sitcom:

They were literally standing in line waiting for their turn to till my soil.

And, it's been that way ever since. Tall, short, fat, thin, slightly balding or pretty hot... the noise of my Troy Bilt tiller is the call of the wild to neighbors of the male persuasion.

I get all excited when the phone rings thinking somebody wants to invite me to dinner. But, mostly they're just wondering if they can borrow the Bronco.

The moral of this story? If you want more help in the garden, invest in a big, noisy machine. I sit on the deck and sip iced tea while they do battle with my hard packed soil.

Tilling a new garden may feel a little daunting but I've found it to be a good way to eliminate years of future headaches.

We tilled this section twice. First to loosen the hard-pack. The second time we tilled in compost so it could begin the magical process of evolving into good garden soil.

"You did a pretty good job of putting this together!" so says my condescending neighbor. (Yeah, well, thanks for nothin'.)

* Wild Mallow (orange,) Sego Lilies (white,) Geraniums (pink,) Cactus (fuschia,) and Bluebells.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Sweet Spots & Energy Kisses

Sedum Autumn Joy is promising quite a show. Two years old and three feet high, she is pushing the boundaries of her tight, little spot in the garden.

Unseasonably cool September days have given me a gardening reprieve. And, a chance to get reacquainted with the big boys.

I love my little mare though I take lessons on a much bigger, faster, stronger horse. It's scary. But, sometimes I think it's good to be a little scared. To stretch our boundaries and see how far (within safe reason) we can push ourselves. See how far we can grow.

And, that's what I've been doing with the Dapple Grey.

I think I know a thing or two about gardening. And, horses. And, half the time I'm wrong on both counts.

Sedum is in the wrong place. She doesn't transplant very well. My knowledge of ponies was the same as yours. You kick 'em to go and holler whoa!!!

In reality, you never kick your horse. You make a kissing sound with your lips and that means go. Sit deeper in the saddle and they know it's time to slow down.

If you're still alive at the end of the lesson... you rub their neck, at the base of their mane by the saddle. The sweet spot. It's kind of like rubbing your doggie's belly. It turns the toughest of horses into a happy pile of mush.

* It may appear that Sedum is blooming. She's close. Those pink buds will all flower in another couple of weeks. She's found her sweet spot. Now I just need to give her enough room to stretch her legs.