Welcome reader to my blog - a mixture of this and that. Now that we are living in a retirement community in downtown Columbia, MD my personal gardening activities are somewhat curtailed. I still enjoy visiting gardens, reading, watching wildlife on my walks, traveling, and occasional food commentary. Please leave a comment if you feel inspired to do so. I read every one of them.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Labor Day Weekend Projects


I've been struggling with where to move hostas. They just didn't do well where I had them for the last three summers.

Here's where they've been. You can see the holes where I moved some out earlier.







Here's another picture showing them moved out.


Here's where I moved them to. It doesn't look like much now, but I think the hostas will be happier on the edge of the woods.












My hanging baskets are now in full sun with the sun's position in the sky moving to the south every day. Being back at work means I don't get to water them daily as I had to all summer. I was going to compost the whole thing, but the geraniums looked to healthy. So I trimmed off the verbena and the other plant whose name I don't know and left the geranium. It can stand to have a dry pot.


This is the other hanging basket already trimmed. It looks happier already.














Caught this moth on the water hyacinth. Here are the goldfish that live in this pond.

















My final project of the day was to dig up a hydrangea that never has bloomed - too much pruning by the deer. I didn't have the heart to
throw it away so I moved it to a new location near a stone wall and planted this volunteer butterfly bush in it's place. I know the butterfly bush should be happier since it was growing in the rocks along my driveway. It doesn't look very happy in this picture but eventually it will be attracting butterflies from far and wide as it grows overlooking the pond.















Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Eyes in the Compost Bin

I took the pail of kitchen scraps to the compost bin tonight, opened the lid, and there were two eyes staring at me. It was a mouse in my compost. I didn't know that he was part of the composting chain. He must be attracted by the seeds of the cantaloupe or squash or watermelon.

We are low on rain here and hoping for some tonight.

The deer have discovered they like to eat impatiens. I had some full plants that are now only stalks. They also decided to eat the leaves of the purple cone flower despite it being enclosed in chicken wire. I guess their necks are longer than I thought and they reached in there to nibble.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Waking to Chomps

The radio was softly playing at 5:50 this morning to gently wake me up. But what was that other sound? Not coming from the radio, but from outside. Chomping sounds.

I jumped out of bed and looked out my window into my perennial bed. Arghh! The doe and her two fawn were there having their morning feast. I clapped since they couldn't see me in the dawn light. They bounded off. I haven't gone out to assess what damage they've done. I can only guess. Time for more liquid fence.

When I came to the other end of the house I realized the sound of the fountain in the pond wasn't audible. I bet the fawn was in there again and knocked it over. I'll have to put on my boots this morning to right it. It can wait until I finish my tea and my walk for the newspaper.

Is there hope for a garden in deer territory? This is the end of my third summer here in these woods and I still feel like I'm losing the battle to the deer. I wonder if my plants will ever get to the size where a little bit of nibbling won't matter.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Late August Blooms


I was watering this evening and spied a lovely bright goldfinch. First it perched on an old stem of a day lily near my pond. Then it flew to the Russian sage and perched there. I hoped it would stick around until I got the camera, but it was gone. I took these pictures instead.

Here is a crepe myrtle that I got from the Arbor Day Foundation as a twig. Originally it was planted with the other 10 trees I received two years ago. Only three survived and when this one bloomed last year I knew what it was. I moved it this spring to this location and look forward to it growing much taller.

The butterfly bushes are loaded with new blooms. There were no butterflies on these this evening, but Sarah saw some today. One in particular caught her eye because it was so tiny.

This year I opted not to dehead the spent blooms. The bushes are so big. For awhile I was regretting my decision because they seemed to be covered only with spent blooms. Now they are back to being full and fragrant with new flowers.




Here are some black-eyed susans that the groundhog did not find. These came from my old house in Columbia. I returned there once we moved into this house and dug up some lily of the valley that had come from Dan's grandfather's home many years before. In digging up those I got a clump of these too. They make a great combination because they bloom at different seasons.
















Finally, here is a blossom on one of my two hydrangeas. The first time this bloomed it was pink. Now it's blue. Must be from some fertilizer I gave it who knows when. It's on the backside of the bush so the deer can't see it to eat it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Nature Preserve

I am living in a nature preserve. This morning on my walk to and from the mailbox to get the morning newspaper I flushed a total of ten deer, two of which were fawns and at least four of which were bucks with good antlers growing. Later as we drove out the doe and her two fawns were again by the roadside. The Prius is so quiet that they don't run when we come. They can't smell us in the car, so it's a "who blinks first" game to see who will turn away first.

I haven't sprayed my garden with liquid fence for awhile. I'll have to see tomorrow afternoon what they have been eating there and elsewhere in the yard.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

School

I'm back at school for another year. I'd much rather be in my garden or on my porch reading a book. There's a flowering plant in my wetlands that I want to examine more closely, photograph and post here. I won't have time for any of that until the weekend now that school has started again.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Books Started

I found myself starting a lot of books this week, but for one reason or another put them down unfinished.

"Dreaming Water" by Gail Tsukiyama - loaned to me by a friend. I read the first chapter and found it extremely sad. Not an emotion I wanted to dwell upon as I face my youngest daughter's departure for China in less than a month.

"Scarlett" by Alexandra Ripley - I picked this up at a book sale in Springfield, VT this summer. It's one I thought I'd wanted to read for a long time. I read the first two chapters and found that Scarlett was complaining and whining the whole time. Not what I remember about Margaret Mitchell's "Gone With the Wind" for which this is supposed to be the sequel.

"Dreams from My Father" by Barack Obama - I bought this in Chester, VT this spring thinking I wanted to know more about the person I plan to vote for. After reading four chapters I have information on his childhood background and don't want to know about the flaws of his youth. It's going back on my bookshelf.


"Where Angels Fear to Tread" by E. M. Forster - I purchased four novels in one volume. They included "Room with a View" (the movie I've seen), "Howard's End" (which I've read). I thought I hadn't read "Where Angels..." but as I got into it I realized I had and I was thinking why had I read it before? I really don't like it. That leaves me one novel in the volume "The Longest Journey" which I don't think I'll try just yet.

"This I Believe" - based on the NPR series. I started this last night. Maybe I'll finish it, maybe I won't.

The Bounty of a CSA

I belong to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) called Breezy Willow Farm.

Usually I only get half of the produce because I split it with a friend. She's out of town so I've been getting all of it. Here's a picture of the tomatoes I got. Aren't the pear shaped ones darling? I also got corn, peaches, cantaloupe, peppers, cucumbers, squash, eggs, bread, and all the basil I wanted to cut.

If you are interested in supporting local food production, I encourage you to check out what CSAs are available in your area.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Recipe Created

I had avocados that were ripe and had to be used. I had cucumber that is perfect his time of year so I created this recipe.

Cucumber-Avocado Salad

Ingredients
1 cucumber peeled and thinly sliced
1 large garlic clove crushed
5-6 cherry tomatoes sliced in half
1/4 cup lime juice
2 avocados diced
sea salt and pepper to taste
fresh basil chopped (to taste)

Combine all the ingredients tossing them in the lime juice. To make ahead combine everything except the avocados and lime juice. Before serving peel and dice the avocado and toss with other ingredients in the lime juice.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Compost



Isn't it lovely? It's compost. An amazing thing happens when I put my yard waste and kitchen scraps in my compost bin. I know there are bugs and worms and other decomposers at work in there because I see them when I shovel it out. But I'm still amazed that they can turn those things in to this fine brown soil.



The biodegradable cup made of cornstarch is still intact in there. My daughter thought we should see if it would break down. I'll leave it in longer to see.

I used the compost yesterday to transplant a variety of plants. My soil is so poor here that I feel better putting the plants into compost than into the soil as is.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Bluebirds

The bluebirds must have had another nesting unbeknownst to me. Yesterday and today I spied young birds hanging around the bluebird box. I can't understand how I missed them nesting there again. I thought the house sparrow had driven them away. I'm glad it didn't. Now I know there will be a good chance for bluebirds next year as well.

Lounger

I went for my usual walk this morning and as I headed down the hill I spied a furry mass on a bench the carpenters had made with scrap lumber. Two of these benches sit on a hill overlooking the big turn of our driveway's hill. As I approached I wondered what could that fur be? Then I saw the eyes and nose and recognized it as the fat groundhog that has been running across the driveway as we drive by. He saw me and decided his lounging time was done. So he scampered down from the bench and into the woods. I never thought that groundhogs take time to relax. This one surely must. I'll have to look for it tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Butterflies are Back!

I guess I've just been too impatient. The butterflies have slowly been appearing. What has kept them for so long? I know they were here earlier last summer.


Mischieveous Visitor

Monday mid-day I was finally getting to the watering I should have started earlier when I discovered some things around the yard out of place. First it was the white wooden angel which stands near the double doors to the deck. It was lying on its side. I knew it had been upright the night before. Further down the deck I found the side counter to the grill on the deck. I replaced that wondering what had been up on the grill that was strong enough to make the counter fall off.

As I got to my perennial bed I found the ceramic pineapple that usually sits in the creeping thyme outside the bed. Now I was really curious as to what had visited me overnight. Moving to the edge of the glen to water I discovered the small watering can that a metal angel usually holds in the grass. This angel is also on my deck. When I returned the watering can to the angel's arms I looked again at the grill and found that one of the burner knobs was gone. It lay behind me on the deck. When I replaced it, I saw all the footprints that gave away my visitor's identity: raccoon.

Wednesday evening, I asked Sarah to feed the goldfish. Where's the food? It was on the grill where I left it on Sunday evening. No longer. That's what the raccoon had discovered and taken. When Dan came home he went looking down into the glen and found the lid, then the cylindrical container chewed open on the side with the contents gone.

I have to get more goldfish food, but now that the raccoon knows it likes this food I can't keep it anywhere outside including the screen porch where it has been kept for three summers. The only reason the food was outside of the porch was because I had a neighbor feeding the fish while we were away. Funny that the raccoon waited until we got home to steal the fish food.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Vacation

We have just returned from a lovely spot in the Adirondacks that we had all to ourselves. We had a wonderful week there hiking, canoeing, swimming, talking, laughing, reading, and just relaxing with no external distractions (aka road noises, other people's ideas of music, atvs, motor boats, etc.) We found the place through vrbo.com. (If you are interested, send a comment with your email and I will send you the link.)
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