Sunday, February 28, 2010

Cabin Fever and the Obligatory Countdown

The difference between cabin fever and a healthy outlook 
towards winter often hinges on your choice of hobbies.
Take Buddy, for instance. His idea of a good time is to watch and wait for the orchids to re-bloom. That takes about 6 months so winter boredom is not an issue for him...
I am considerably more productive. 
Not only am I watching the Orchids. 
I'm watching the Azaleas, the Cyclamen.....
And the African Violets, too.
And, I'm watching the countdowns. Hard to escape that info! Seems all of my garden buddies have installed cute little counters on their blogs ~ bragging up the fact that spring is just days away.

Which prompted me to create my own little widget. But, after I plugged in all of the pertinent details, and discovered it was still 90 days 'til planting season, I had a huge change of heart. Best to ignore this information. For at least another month, or two. :(

Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday's Freebee: On The Cuff Goody + Last Week's Winners

Last Friday, I had a bright idea. Offer up a FREE passionately purple perennial garden (seeds) to anyone who could guess the identities of a few pretty flowers. This was fun. (Please scroll down to bottom of post to see plant ids and seed winners.)

The flower I thought might be really hard, turned out to be quite easy. The flower I thought was a slam dunk not only fooled a few, your guesses fooled me, too. I don't plant annuals (they can't handle our volatile weather) so I know very little about them. Stock was the guess. Stock? What's Stock? Well, now I know. Plus, she looks like someone I'd like to grow.

"And, now for something completely different!" 
~ M. Python
Make a true confession and I'll send you one of these.

Have you ever been bitten by the inventor bug? I come up with a new idea every week. Have not, as yet, landed on anything the slightest bit worthy of patenting but that hasn't stopped me from pondering the many ways to make a million. Clearly, I need to get together with Rana. And, take some copious notes.
Rana invented these nifty, little foam cuffs. If you visit her website you'll see they're only available in Texas. Why should Texans have all the fun?

Put them on your wrists when you're washing your face and they stop the water from running down your arms or getting your shirt sleeves wet.

I've used them and I really like them but they're not just for bipeds. Bad Dog can't get enough of them ~ though he's a little sore they come in sets of two vs. four.

Want some? All you gotta do to get your wrists in a free pair of these drip stoppers is...  

Leave a comment and expose to the world...
your most hated household chore.

Easy peasy.
Last week's winners of the passionately purple perennial garden are... 
Gloria, Lona, Monica, Betty, Flowercents, Sweet Bay, Kylee and Rose. Oh! Didn't I tell you? You didn't have to guess correctly. You just had to guess! If you want some flower seeds, please drop me a line. I'm all excited to send you goody bags.

Passionately Purple Perennials: Upper left: May Night Salvia, upper right: Cranesbill Geranium Johnson's Blue,  lower left: River Prairie Phlox, lower right: Kashmir Sage, smack dab in the middle: Dame's Rocket (with one very happy Swallowtail Butterfly.)

Why give away free stuff on Fridays?
Rest assured, it wasn't my idea. Every once in awhile somebody sends me a goodie and asks me to give it a try. Bad Dog decided it was time to share the love.
* Don't worry. Your Freebee is not the one BD was modeling.

* PS: I don't have tons of these so howsabout we pull the winners out of a hat?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Chioggia Heirlooms

Please don't write me off as a raving lunatic. Not just yet, anyway.

I know... I know... the only time you've ever eaten beets was when Granny forced them down you. And, the only good thing to come of that experience was how they turned your taters pink.

4 fantastic facts about the lowly beet:
1) Fresh, whole, heirloom beets ~ lovingly roasted in the oven ~ are surprisingly tasty.
2) They're a snap to grow in a mountain garden, provided you amend that challenging clay soil. Ready for harvest in about 60-70 days.
3) Who cares about those dull details??
Beets come in designer colors! 
That's gonna make you look like a rock star at the next Master Gardener's picnic!

Heirloom Chioggia Beets: If you boil 'em, they'll lose their pretty stripes.

Who knew?
Beets are simply suffering from a bad rap because salad bars display their canned counterparts just to make us queasy. 

4) Fresh beets are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and a gazillion other things that improve our health, though we're not sure why. Fresh beets are so healthy they even slow cancerous tumors. But, why wait until you have one foot in the grave to give them a try? Roasted beets are dee-lish.

Roasted Beets
Prep time: 1 fun minute!
  • Snip tops and tails
  • Rub, tub and scrub
  • Drizzle with olive oil
  • Sprinkle with Kosher salt
  • Roast whole beets @ 375 (F) until slightly tender. (About 45 minutes. Treat them as you would potatoes; stick a fork in 'em to determine if they're done.)
And, now for the fine print... This little beauty keeps her pretty stripes when roasting, but she loses those stripes when boiled. Yet another reason to refrain from canning beets!

How To:
Give them plenty of wiggle room: Loose soil/No weeds/Full sun/Consistent moisture. Cool temps produce the best flavor. Like most veggies, they're only fabulous when they're fresh.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday's Freebee: A Passionately Purple Perennial Garden

I'm down for the count... at the mercy of a hellacious case of the flu. Part avian flu, part swine flu, with a little bit of black plague thrown in for good measure.

Well-deserved, I suppose, given my catty behavior with Wednesday's blog post. Apparently, no bad deed goes unpunished.

In spite of the repercussions, 'twas an awfully fun week of blog commenting to and fro. And, as a simple thank you for joining in on the fun, I'd like to give you something!

Pictured here are 5 fabulous perennials who simply adore heat, drought, long winters and criminal neglect. Not to mention low nutrient alkaline clay soil... (Though I imagine they'd grow most anywhere, given half a chance.)

They are not huge mysteries, by any means...

However! If you can identify all 5 of these purple posies, I'd love to send you free seeds so you can grow these bright beauties in your own garden. (The Swallowtail Butterflies are happy hangers on. They'll surely show up as soon as they spot the blossoms.)

This is simply a thank you for a super fun week of blog comments, back and forth.

And, the beginning of something I'd dearly love to do all year long. Let's call it Friday's Freebee.

So, have at it! Please leave me a comment, identify these flowers and I'll ship a packet of goodies to you in plenty of time for planting.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Honest Scrap!

My thoughtful friend, Melanie of Northern Gardener's Almanac, gave me this Honest Scrap Award and invited me to divulge 7 tidbits of personal information about myself that you wouldn't know from reading my blog...

1) People call me the Queen of Procrastination. Case in point ~ this award! She gave it to me over a month ago.

2) I thought I was pretty cool in junior high. Reviewing the photos, later in life, set me straight.

3) I gave birth to a beauty queen. Not a clue how that happened. Refer back to picture #2 and I'm sure you'll be as confused as me!

4) Of all the pretty flowers I've grown indoors Tigridia is, without a doubt, my favorite. The only problem is... you have to be there at the precise moment she decides to flower. The bud opens ~ and dies ~ on one blissful day.

5) If I could own any car in the world it would be one you've never heard of: the Nash Metropolitan. Can't you just see me putzing over to the local nursery in this little darling? (I would need a new bonnet.)

6) I've been within 2 inches of a black bear in the wild. Fortunately for me, the car window was rolled up.
7) I live next door to Lindsey Vonn. If you're following the 2010 Winter Olympics you probably know who she is. I've never met her, though her husband has sent me angry emails many times. I'm rooting for her to win gold in all of her events. She's gorgeous and supremely talented, but I still feel kind of sorry for her, being married to such a jerk. 

8) Bonus tidbit: I can be mean and nasty sometimes, too. 

Passing the Honest Scrap Award on to ten more victims:
  1. A Healthy Gardener
  2. Clueless Crafter
  3. Flowers and Weeds
  4. Focused on Fur
  5. Inside Betty's Head
  6. Johnny Earl Dawkins, Jr.
  7. Just a Mere
  8. Needles of Iron
  9. New Fangled Year
  10. Titanium

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day ~ February

Cymbidium Orchid

It's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and while I'm thrilled with all my indoor flowers, I'm a bit disappointed that the buds of my little newbies are late to the party. Perhaps they'll put on a pretty show for March.
For now, I hope you enjoy the Micro-mini Roses
And, some more Micro-mini Roses.
Are you growing weary of my Micro-minis?
Then howsabout an Azalea?
Or, the dainty orange blossoms of this cute little Kalanchoe? 
No? That's not working for you?

Perhaps a worrisome garden drama is more your speed? Edna, the Christmas Cactus I've owned since college began flowering in mid-November. I usually get a month of pretty blossoms out of her and then the old gal falls back asleep until the next Christmas season. Here it is, mid-February and she's still blooming up a storm. And! She's still budding!
It's finally happened.
I think she's lost her marbles.

* Find lots more blogger's blossoms at Carol's May Dreams Garden. She's the inventor of Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. With any luck, our blogging friends in kinder climates have some goodies blooming outdoors.


For the Love of Heirloom Roses

On this Sunday, Valentine's Day,
the day of love and roses...
I wanted to share some pics from a not-so Secret Garden
we stumbled upon during a visit to Oregon.
It's off the beaten path,
down a country road...
In the heart of the beautiful Willamette Wine Valley,
south of Portland, Oregon.
A magical little shop called Heirloom Roses.
Not just a pile of bare roots leaving you confused and confounded, relying on a picture to make your purchase decision. No no.. Here we found garden after garden of luscious roses in full bloom! Each rose flaunting a name tag so we knew exactly who we wanted to take home.
We wandered through the Tranquility Garden...
The Hope Garden...
And ~ be still my heart! ~ an entire Miniature Rose Garden, my absolute fave.
Enter at your own risk.
Tip: Lock your credit card in the car to avoid big trouble.
Inside the 'candy store.' 

* The idea of this post came from Gail/Clay & Limestone - who suggested we go through our photo files and 'fall in love with our gardens all over again.'

In doing so, I skipped right over my own garden and spent my afternoon drooling over the Heirloom store's roses.

Just in case you're wondering... They do grow other colors than pink. On this blog, you're at the mercy of a pink rose fanatic.

Last, but not least, they didn't compensate me, in any way, for this mention. But that's not to say I wouldn't happily work for roses. I'd love to build them a better website. For some odd reason they don't show pictures of these fabulous gardens on their site!

Friday, February 12, 2010

What to do with Uncle Henry

I am not a hoarder. I'm not!

Fish around in my garage, if you don't believe me. There you'll find lawnmowers, rototillers, every garden tool known to man... A few hundred flower pots. And, that's about it. Nothing but the bare necessities.

People think I'm a hoarder because I tend to keep house plants. Forever.

It's not always because of a deep, emotional attachment. In Uncle Henry's case, I keep hoping someone, someday, might like the looks of this spiny old fella and offer to adopt him.

It has been 15 years. And, so far, nobody has stepped forward to claim this Grumpy Gus.

Uncle Henry is an African Milk Tree. Nurseries say these plants make a cute little addition to those coffee table size cactus gardens that are ever so popular.

Well, that was then.

And, this is now.

Henry is brushing our 10 foot ceiling.

Plus! We have a love child. Check out the photo.

When we did the annual super bowl rotation (it takes an army of house guests to move him and most are none too thrilled with the task) look who was hiding behind the old guy's gnarly stalks! A 4 foot tall bambino. Henry, Jr. exposed to the light of day.

African Milk Trees are called the Good Luck Plant. Give him away and good luck comes my way! Any takers?

PSSSST! Want the inside scoop as to how Uncle Henry became such a big bruiser? It's not groovy, organic fertilizer. It's not special soil. It's Christmas lights. Yup. When we tie him up tight with Christmas lights, he goes ga-ga over the warmth.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Wordless Wednesdays: The Boys Are Back!

Five curious Bull Elk standing on that side of this fence.

On the other?
One scared pony.

For more Wordless Wednesday participants, click here!