Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Skullduggery Lane

 I just spent 18 bars of gold on this man-eating plant.

Yeah, yeah, it sounds like a lot ~ especially with today's gold prices. But, hey! You can't take it with ya.

Plus, it's snowing outside. So, what's a gardening gal s'posed to do?

It being almost Halloween and all (my favorite time of year) I thought I'd give you a tour of my Haunted Mansion.

I've always wanted to own a haunted mansion. Would never get up the nerve to walk in there, if I did own one, you never know what could happen... But, it sure would be a cool thing to brag up at a cocktail party.

This one is free. Like I'm gonna pass that up.

 These spooky eyes guard the joint once the ghouls come out to play.

Do you play computer games? I hardly ever ask people if they do because I never know when I'll bump into some smug gal who scowls and rolls her eyes... because she feels it's a waste of time.

IMHO they're loads more fun than trying to find something entertaining to watch on tv. And, now that it's autumn, the nights are so long... gotta find something to keep my brain occupied.

This is my Mermaid! I paid a bundle for her, too! By 'paid' I mean you play the hidden object game, you earn fake money and spend it on all kinds of really important stuff ~ to decorate the grounds of your virtual mansion. Like this mermaid in a bottle. I mean, seriously, who wouldn't want a mermaid in her garden?

I earn money in my carnival where cute skeletons give away kisses.

So, some people look down upon computer games. But, I gotta say, I'm just loving this one because I get to spend all of my money on gardens.

I get to lay stone paths, plant tulips and roses, (that's a Blood Mushroom, in case you're wondering.) I get to build park benches where my skeletons can sit a spell.

I live here. And, yes, that's Frankendude coming to call.
It's called Dark Manor (and, no, they did not ask me to promote this.) I found it all by lonesome and I am having a ball!

* If you're bored tonight, check it out. If you can, find me, friend me @ Skullduggery Lane. I'll send you a poisonous plant! :)

PS: Have a Hideous Halloween! :)
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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Longfield Gardens and Bulb Temptations

Is there anything prettier than a drift of Grape Hyacinth in early springtime? I just love that luscious blue...

In spite of all this rain, the soil is dry as a bone. I just couldn't believe that, when I was out there digging holes in the lawn today.

Now why would I be digging holes in the lawn?

To naturalize bulbs into the grass, silly. Check out this cool video from Longfield Gardens. That's what gave me the idea.

So, I'm out there a-diggin' and, a-plantin' and I'm just amazed that I can dig 6 inches down into the soil and it is still dry. Boy are my flowers tough! To keep blooming when there is not a drink to be had.

But, it did start to rain on me. A light, quiet sprinkle, turning foul rather quickly. I was pretty soaked by the time the bulb-planting mission was accomplished. And, I suppose I deserved that. Seeing as how these bulbs weren't mine to be planted.

My favorite place on the planet ~ Thanksgiving Point Tulip Festival

Ever seen the movie, Despicable Me? It's very cute! I was nicknaming myself one and the same, while I was out there planting. Inspired by a surprise box from Longfield Gardens that I discovered on my doorstep yesterday evening. Delivered, Fed Ex, to Despicable Me.

I'd forgotten all about this! Longfield Gardens, wonderful folks that they are, offered up a whole bunch of free flower bulbs a few months back. Tulips, Muscari, all the goodies. Bulbs I had originally planned to giveaway on the blog. I'd been talking about this for months. In fact, I've promised these bulbs to just about everybody! This time of year, gardening friends get to yakking about bulbs, you know how that goes.... I didn't think I'd have time to plant any this season ~ hence, the wild idea of sharing the wealth.

But, timing is everything. That bodacious box o' bulbs arrived on a day when Despicable Little Me had nuttin' to do. Willpower being practically non-existent in my world... I selfishly kept them all to myself.
I just love bulbs. They provide so much beauty in a high mountain garden, at a time when the spring landscape would otherwise be adrift in the muddy brown melt of a long, hard winter.

Tips & Tricks

  • Place in the ground pointed end up. When in doubt, plant them sideways and they'll figure it out.
  • Planting bulbs deeper in the ground helps them stand tall with no drooping.
  • Tulip bulbs have an onion-like, papery skin that is almost always damaged. No worries. The broken 'skin' actually promotes faster rooting, when planted.
  • Place bulbs between groups of later-blooming perennials (such as poppies, iris, and catmint.) As perennials grow tall, they will camouflage dying tulip leaves.
  • Give bulbs a nutrient boost with low nitrogen fertilizer (screened cow manure is great and very inexpensive.)
  • After flowering, remove faded blooms so plants put energy into strengthening the bulb, for next year's blooms.
  • Leave foliage in place - that helps bulbs send energy/food to roots for stronger flowering next spring.
Ever wonder why they do so poorly as cut flowers?
Tulips need sunlight to bloom and root energy, too. On average, cut tulips will only survive about 3-4 days. Cut 'em at bud stage to extend their life in the vase.

* Longfield Gardens gave me these bulbs in exchange for a blog post. I'd have posted about them anyway. I like the videos they have on their website, helping us get all creative in the garden.  They've got a great selection and good prices, as well. Check 'em out sometime.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Witch Hazel

A cold wind whips along the avenue, scattering dead leaves and stirring up trouble. Dark clouds drift across a pale moon. And, all that once bloomed is done for the season.  

Or, is it? A bit of odd magic is brewing... from one strange creature, just getting started.

Witch Hazel is a peculiar shrub, flowering in the dead of winter. It begins with brilliant autumn foliage during late fall. Come January, crooked, twisted branches burst forth with spidery, yellow blooms.

A good spell was cast upon this odd fellow, back in the Middle Ages. Witch Hazel limbs are used to divine - to find underground water - where conventional technology cannot.

While it can't be explained, other than to acknowledge that it's true,* diviners find water with amazing accuracy, where random drilling has little success.

American Witch Hazel provides lively color in the dead of winter, when nothing normal should be blooming. Plant it in a shady spot, keeping in mind that any self-respecting shade trees will have given up the ghost when this bewitched little bush hits its stride. Hardy to USDA zone 3.

Witch's Brew: Tannins and volatile oils in Witch Hazel make an effective natural astringent for treating eczema.

The Eyes Have It:
One of the magic ingredients in Preparation H is witch hazel, and while we won't get into that, it's used because it tightens up the skin, reduces puffiness.. Therefore it is just about the cheapest, most effective, eye cream a gal could ever use...

* Hey! I'm not making this stuff up! Journal of Scientific Exploration, Stanford University, March 1995. Researchers observed two thousand divining cases prior to well-digging. The success rate of diviners in Sri Lankha was 96 percent. They predicted water depth with "amazing accuracy." Nearly all cases occurred on lands where random drilling for water had little to no success.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Autumn Surprise

Well looky there. Perky little Primrose, typically an 
early spring bloomer, is back with a happy smile.

I'm painting the house. Just about the last thing on the planet I wanted to do this late in the season, in between rain and snow squalls. And, I'm mad as a hatter about this!

Mostly because it's all my fault. It would be so nice to finger someone else for this costly mess. (And, I'm still trying to make that happen.)

Did you know? Golden Delicious Apple Trees act as a pollinator for all apple trees. 
We're enjoying remarkable autumn harvests, once a Golden Delicious was added into the mix.

All summer long, meddling advice-givers caring friends kept saying. Geez you should paint that house. It is peeling badly and it will be a huge problem, come winter.

Oh, what do they know? That money would be better spent on... horse tack! Vacations! Flowering trees! A water feature!

Euphorbia is actually prettier in autumn, after the blooms.

Then came a very impersonal letter from my insurance company saying they'd done a 'random inspection' of my property and in order to continue my coverage I needed to paint the house.

Sheesh! The nerve! I'll show them!

So... I cancelled the insurance and went with another company. Who, one month later, sent me an impersonal letter informing me that in order to continue my coverage I needed to paint the damn house.

What's this? Honeysuckles blooming in October? 
A welcome surprise for migrating Hummingbirds.

And, so there you have it. We're painting the house.

I was out there, yesterday, with my chosen victim, the cheapest of all the overpriced house painting bidders. He felt it was important for us to walk around the property and talk about this. Clearly, he wanted to rub salt into my imaginary wound of losing the battle with the insurance company.

Dead but still stunning, clumps of John Cabot roses hang heavy from the vines.

Anyhoo, he was pointing out this, that and the other thing that is wrong with this old house. Like I don't know that....

And, I was doing a fine, fine job of ignoring pretty much everything he had to say.

With good reason, I might add. Because I was amazed at all the bright bloomers going nuts out there!

I've been ignoring the garden. I don't much like to watch it die the obligatory slow death that comes with the freezing rains and ultra chilly nights.

Only it hasn't kicked the bucket at all! It's putting on a very pretty show! Which has inspired me to siphon a bit off the house painting budget and go buy some autumn bulbs. (Don't tell the painter. I'd hate to see him all demotivated before this infernal housepainting job is done...)

PS: Screw Allstate.

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Friday, October 04, 2013


No point in looking at my flowers, this time of year. The trees are waaaayyy prettier!
 Space. If you're a 'trekkie' that word might conjure visions of The Final Frontier, the iconic intro to that beloved Star Trek series. You know... the good one! With Jean Luc Picard.

On the to-do list this week ~ to savor every last leafy bit of my favorite season.
No, no, I'm talking about physical space inside my house and how the squishing of an entire household of stuff into half the space it used to enjoy is... well...  a wee bit difficult.

But, it has been done! And, now that it's done I'm kind of thinking it should be a requirement for everyone to move every 7 years.

Without the mandate to consolidate, really good junk seems to grow exponentially. Faster than the dust bunnies under the bed. If there is an empty space to be filled, rest assured new junk will set up shop there, in the blink of an eye.

You might be surprised to discover that there is a scientific equation that calculates this dilemma. (I may, or may not, have made this up.)
X [the finite amount of space I have] times Y [as in.. why, in the hell, did I purchase this junk in the first place] = Q.
You expected me to say Z, didn't you? Q is more appropriate because that's what's been going on around here all week long. The Big $64,000 Question as in... what to keep and what to toss. This little house is bursting at the seams.

Which prompted a half dozen trips to Recycle Utah, the Peace House, and pretty much every other organization who believes that one woman's trash could very well be another one's treasure.

We tried to spend as much time outdoors as possible because the weather man was predicting...
No, I'm not moving. Are you kidding me? I'd have to uproot 2,000 little green perennials were that case.

I'm moving someone in. 

By Friday, the brilliant colors were replaced with - argh - snow.
I invited a family member to spend the winter with me because he landed a dream job as a pastry chef at the Deer Valley Resort. That hoity toity ski resort here in Park City that thinks nothing of charging you $108 per day (!!!) for the pleasure of skiing on their slopes ~ though they couldn't possibly pay their employees a living wage. So, he's living the dream, by living with me.

And, that, my friends, is what inspired the massive over haul of everything under the roof.

Here's hoping you all have a marvelous weekend!

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