Saturday, December 29, 2007

Petunia's Present

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.
~Marcel Proust
Check out this sweet present that arrived on our doorstep for Petunia! All ready to slip in photos and make a nice coffee table book of Petunia's Garden. Thanks, Red! I love it!

There are many pages ready for photos with fun garden trimmings.

Composter cans, sunflowers, vegetables,

and the little critters we so enjoy in the garden.

Pumpkins, of course, leaves, gourds, flowers.

Creative border designs for the different seasons.

Spaces for plot plans, harvest records.

And an offer to drop hints when more pages are needed!

And a nice cover with Petunia on it already! Here is Red's garden last June. We go back to first grade (not THAT many years ago) and I always enjoy catching up with her family through her scrapbooks when I visit. She knew I'd never get around to creating the garden album I talked about, so she took care of it for Petunia and me!

Now I'll have some garden in the living room all year around.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


Can't stay long. Back to work now. So. Tired. Must go deal with the mail... And put my feet up... A cup of hot something would be nice ... See you tomorrow.
P.S. Any cool summer cucumber suggestions? The lemon cucumbers didn't do much for me. I do have seeds left so may try it again if I don't find a replacement.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Garden III

Sweet Return for Santa! This is the nice pace during the 12 days of Christmas, now underway. With time to sit back and smooch. Doesn't this bench look like DH's bench ? (Ahhh, and remember the summer view from the bench?)

One little part of Grandma's salt and pepper shaker collection, here. I loved looking at all of the little treasures she had behind the glass doors built in a little niche in her house. Not that they stayed behind the doors. We would take them out, hold them, move them around. At least the doors kept them less dusty and out of harms way during the daily activities of life.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Peace and Hope to Every Heart
Great Little One!
Whose all-embracing birth
lifts earth to heaven,
stoops heaven to earth.
-Richard Crashaw

(This is one of the trees our friends gave us and we planted in March. See this link. For a photograph of hope, I thought of trees. As seedlings, they have a determined will to live and grow. A slow pace, yet constant. As established trees, they are the whispering giants among us, solid and stable (most of the time), protective and beautiful. This is also the photograph on our Christmas cards this year.)

Monday, December 24, 2007

As the time draws near...

Soon, the close of what has been a needed Advent of blessings, and tomorrow ...

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Garden II

Well, now I have failed fudge. I just realized I left out the vanilla, and it also doesn't have quite the right consistency. I've made this recipe before, but not on this stove top. Either too much or too little heat or cooking time. Or does the vanilla help smooth it out?

So I'm back to posting another Christmas Memory Garden photo. I started to call it Santa Garden yesterday, but I don't really have many Santas. Now, however, I'm seeing that my childhood memories are full of Santas. These Santa mugs are from my parent's collection, probably originally from the 1950's. We had a set of windows with large wooden dividers. The mugs sat in those windows every Christmas. It is a wonder they didn't get broken. I remember playing with them when I got a chance. "L's" cheeks are a little frost bitten, rather than just rosy. I've not found a backup/replacement, though.

Now that I think about it, I'll ask my mom about these. Other items I have were my grandmother's, but I think these started out with my mom.

Happy Chistmas Memory Gardening, to you! And I'm going to have another go at fudge. Maybe the peanut butter fudge this time...

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas Garden

During these days when it dark when I leave and dark when I come home, I turn to the garden inside of the house. Like the garden outside, the most treasured bits are those that are connected to friends and family.

This Santa has been in my Christmases for as along as I can remember. It was crocheted by my grandmother and fitted over a whisky bottle or something similar. As you can see, it is made up of separate parts. As a child, you know I loved these movable parts. How many kitties slightly tolerated a Santa hat for a few moments?

From last December postings you can see other treasures: From Sis, the angel and the reindeer.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Winter Solstice 2007

We are blessed with memories
so we may have jolly snowmen dancing in August
and sweet roses (err...sunflowers...) with winter snow.

This photo from the garden is on my monitor desktop. I find myself just staring at it lately, feeling the warmth, the light and the beauty of nature. Will we see the extra sliver of light each day? If you need some now, just see these other sunflowers and know the garden catalog season is almost here.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Cozy Cloche Report

Here is a shot of the chard, calendula and parsley inside the cloche. They aren't growing very quickly but they do look a bit more happy than the chard outside the cloche. The sedum pan garden from the patio is overwintering in the cloche also. Otherwise, it spends the winter constantly waterlogged (even with holes drilled in the bottom).
The chard outside of the cloche doesn't look too happy about the cold & snow and frosts we've had lately. I suspect it will be quick to send out new growth in the spring, however.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Alternative Mistletoe

In our last house, Opus was a permanent fixture on one of the lights. When we moved a few years ago, somehow he was misplaced (just like Opus for this to happen to him, too). Finally, I found him today! It may be the only decorating we need to do this year.

We have a number of Bill the Cat / Opus ornaments from over the years. We haven't found one offered this year. It may be at the end of an era, or at least a creative license! While we resist most collectibles, Bloom County has been a favorite going way back when. Being the first to remember to look for Opus very early in the Christmas season was an annual challenge for each of us.

Mistletoe doesn't grow here like it did where we lived in Alabama. This Opus has been our answer to that problem.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Flocked Filbert

The snow is gone, but I'm hanging on to it just a little longer. This contorted filbert outside my dining room window caught my attention late Satureday afternoon. The tree is too close to the house and too large for its space, but it is an interesting view out the window in the winter (even without snow). Here is a wider view.

I hope the cuttings I took earlier this year are rooting because someday, this tree may need to be removed. However, I always give it just one more winter.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Snow Recovery

How Maria spent the snowy day...even after the snow melted, and we moved on to buckets of rain. That's the heater vent she is covering.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

December Welcome

The Year 'Round Rose has added another season to its portfolio. Winter! We had a light snow overnight. The skies are turning blue now so there might not be much more added today.

Just as well since yesterday I found a small buffet/sideboard at my favorite charity/second-hand shop and we have to pick it up today. OK, also a heavy wooden Post Office table/desk (75% off!). It will fit in our office and maybe motivate me to organize the office, AGAIN. I only stopped by there last night to check for vintage Christmas items...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Onion Surprises

Last spring, I had some sprouting onion starts not yet in the ground. I tucked them in among the small tomatoes and forgot about them as the tomatoes took over. During the tomato row clean up this fall, I displaces some of the onion bulbs and just thought I'd try again another year.

Now I see onions sprouting throughout the garden (I forgot some of the places I stashed them)! I'll see how they do over the winter rather than my too late planting in the spring. They don't seem mind the frosty nights at all.

Monday, November 26, 2007

November Garden

November, in Petunia's Garden. I've left any flower and herb seed heads standing for now. I think the birds will eat some of the coneflower and black eyed susan seeds. The green and yellow blur about in the middle of the photo above is a remaining broccoli in bloom. I left it standing as the bees enjoyed it, but I think they are long gone for the winter now. Not sure if it is getting other visitors or not. You can also see blooming broccoli in this July post.
Dear Husband mowed up the fallen leaves with the grass catcher on the mower. Then he dumped the chopped up leaves in the wire cages he improvised, at the top of the picture. Once I had the beds ready for them, I spread the leaves throughout the 6 garden beds & the herb area.

Those Brussels sprouts seem to be on hold right now. The plants look good enough, but the sprouts are still quite small.

Click on the label "Garden-Monthly Photos" to see other months.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Squash of Many Lives

This small ornamental squash/pumpkin grew in the garden in 2006 (see a sibling here), from one I composted in the garden in 2005. He decorated the porch in 2007, but started getting squishy so I sat him out in the garden for composting. Well, there he sat Thanksgiving morning, just sparkling with frost. I couldn't capture the sparkles, but you can see his frosty glow in the morning light.

I did plant seeds from another one left over from last year. ... planted them next to the zucchini. I think they must have crossed with the zucchini or the delicata squash, because the fruit ended up long, not pumpkin shaped at all. It also got a late start so the frost finished it up before it made it past the green stage. Don't you just love surprises in the garden?

I've never found that this this an eating variety. The only time I ever see this type is in stores in the fall labeled "ornamental."

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Welcome Matron!

So here is the exciting garden blogger event I mentioned on Sunday. Matron and her US friend visited Petunia's Garden! Oh, how fun it was to meet them, talk gardening, kick around the soil, and see that glint in another's eye when surveying decomposing leaf mulch.

A little surreal to meet a fellow garden blogger in person, but what a great common background we all have in gardening. And, she gave me a copy of Grow Your Own magazine. It is new to me and just full of veggie & fruit guidance. I will have some of these tips on my 2008 planning list, soon to be posted.
Here is my view across the pumpkin. Visit Matron, at Down on the Allotment, for her view!

I told Matron this pumpkin was soon to be in the oven. Finally, last night, I cooked it... half of it that is, since that filled the two large baking dishes I had. It weighed about 18 pounds. The cooked half filled a 7 cup storage container. Tonight I'll cook the other half, make a pie and freeze the rest of it for later.

Thanks, Matron, for fitting this visit in your busy schedule and for the wonderful magazine. Enjoy the seeds, and tell me when you are getting them started. We can keep a running comparison next year to see how they grow.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Hawthorn Berries

Along with the rosehips, these hawthorn berries are decorating the hillside now. I just realized this little tree has something to offer across the seasons.
See these links:
Summer shade
Autumn leaves
Berries and snow

I hope the birds enjoy the berries too.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

This Just In...

Not bad for November 18th. Surely there are some stay-healthy vitamins in there. New crops of parsley are popping up throughout the garden, too. Some of this lettuce and chard came from the covered wagon cloche, some from out in the open.

I think it is Red Sails leaf lettuce that has been a star this summer and now. It doesn't get the bitter flavor some do. In the green, is Valmaine, I think. I've mixed together assorted seed mixes so it is a little of a guessing game. I think I'll try specific varieties next year. There are some beets in there too.

It has been an exciting garden blogger day, today! Stay tuned and you'll find out why.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Year 'Round Rose

This wild rose growns on our hillside (remember visiting our hillside retreat?). It is my kind of rose. Pretty pink blossoms, long arching canes and these lovely rosehips in the winter. It is also the home of Petunia's cousin. We have a path through this hillside pasture that goes by this rose bush. Often, a sunning garter snake would dart back in the brambles just as we walked by. DH doesn't like this, so I have to take the lead on this part of the path.

Here, I found the photos from this past May:

Wow! Look at all of that green too!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

What's Blooming?

Just outside my back door is this beauty. Chocolate Lenzites, I think. It is growing in a split in the landscape timber holding the walkway stones in place. At other times, I've noticed some sort of growth here, but haven't noticed it looking so interesting before. It must be its favorite time of the year (wet, but not too cold).

See other NW beauties here: Blooming Lichen, Small Spaces I and Small Spaces II.

To see some real blooms around the world, visit Carol and her May Dreams Gardens Bloom Day post. See the comments to the post for all the other bloggers with blooms to share.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Baby Sprouts

Some of the sprouts are leaning to the west (to catch those last rays of sun, I guess). As I propped one up during my quick garden inspection today, I noticed the baby sprouts! (Ok, look closely.) Good thing, too, as I just found a Brussels sprout recipe I'd like to try. How much longer to harvest?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Hello World

Yes, I've been away on an unexpected trip. Off the internet grid, too. I'm in the airport now, heading home so see you all soon.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Autumn Leaf Harvest

We've had many nice webs in the tall grass (/weeds) we've let grow all summer, but this web on the fence was they only one I managed to capture this year.

Saturday, DH did the second round of mowing up leaves around the yard. Normally, he doesn't use the catcher on the mower, but he does for the leaves. Then he has been dumping them in a temporary compost spot. Gradually, I'm putting them on the garden beds. It is amazing how quickly the collection has started to compost. You can feel the heat coming off of it.

Some trees have lost all leaves now, but others haven't. Maybe one more round with the mower to collect and then we'll leave the rest where they fall.

We both survived the Supermall event and even got a little shopping done. It wasn't so holiday focused which made it less festive, but also kept it from feeling like everything was starting so early.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Join the Special Shopping Event Today

If you are in Western Washington, head over to the Auburn Supermall today for the Magical Day of Giving (11 am - 6 pm)! For a $5 contribution to the participating nonprofit organizations, you get discounts at many retailers and a chance to win these door prizes. The nonprofits receive all of the $5 contribution (& let me tell you, it adds up). In the past, the event has been quite festive with different musical organizations performing and other seasonal fun.

Now, I'm not one to send anyone to the mall, and I do very little holiday shopping. But most of us do have some shopping in preparation for the upcoming holidays. Even Dear Hubby is going to shop for dress shirts (non wrinkle) with the special discount at one of his few favorite stores. It always gets me thinking about the holidays in time to not be rushed.

We'll both spend some time helping out at one of the doors with ticket sales, welcoming shoppers, etc. along with other Way Back Inn volunteers. (At the Aviation Court entrance maybe?) Hope to see you there!

P.S. Please do go visit the Way Back Inn page even if you can't visit the Supermall. Also, the photo is from the our visit to the Gingerbread Village last December

Saturday, November 03, 2007

A Marigold Surprise

This marigold was done in by the recent frosts (photo from August). As I came across it today, I remembered I hadn't posted it yet. This is from seeds from her marigold, French Vanilla, Anita so generously sent me after I won her Easter drawing. Now I often have marigolds self seeding in the garden. I wonder if this one is a hybrid variety and in its second year, it has returned as one of its parents?

Don't get me wrong, it was a lovely plant. Just a little different than expected, I think! Anita, I thought you might enjoy seeing what it did in my garden. You know how I like garden surprises!

Meanwhile, the calandula you gave me still has some blooms!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Get Your Pumpkin Tax Refunds

Pumpkins and tax in the same story, all over the internet - I have to make note of it here. You all have probably read this already, but you know how I feel about pumpkins. Of course they are for eating. What if they don't all get eaten. I'm sure they aren't the only fruit and vegetable that doesn't always get eaten.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Governor Culver Statement On Pumpkin Tax
DES MOINES – Below is a statement from Governor Chet Culver on the decision by the Iowa Department of Revenue to impose a tax on pumpkins:
“It has come to my attention that a policy change made in December of 2006 – before I took office – is resulting in this ridiculous pumpkin tax. I have directed the Department of Revenue to do the common sense thing and suspend collection of this tax and offer refunds to consumers or retailers who have been affected.”

Iowa Department of Revenue Press Release:
Iowa Tax on Pumpkins Put on Hold
October 31, 2007
Iowa sales tax law exempts sales of food and food ingredients. Food and food ingredients are defined as substances that are sold for ingestion or chewing by humans and are consumed for their taste or nutritional value. A review of the issue of pumpkin sales occurred in the fall of 2006. The Department determined the pumpkins which had previously been exempt were not being purchased as a food item and should be taxed. It was first announced in December 2006. It was announced again in September 2007.

It has become apparent that not all sellers of pumpkins have become aware of the change in position by the Department. The Department has decided to revert to its prior policy of exemption. The Department will continue to review the issue and seek to make any changes through administrative rule making with opportunity for input by the public and the Legislative Rules Committee. Taxpayers who paid sales tax on pumpkin purchases can apply for a refund with the Department.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Delicata Harvest

The squirrels can be seen stashing away anything they can carry (I'm starting to think it will be a cold winter). Guess I am too. The freezer is full of summer harvests, now I have delicata squash and pumpkins in the garage.

This is my first year to grow delicata squash. It's said to have a sweet nutty flavor with hints of brown sugar and butter. Can't beat that in a squash! It also was quite a happy grower. I only have cooked one and that was an early one that broke off the plant. I think it wasn't quite ready to be eaten, though. I'll report back on these soon.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Progressive Sprouts

You have to admit, Brussels sprouts are a nice touch in the garden this time of year. Can't beat the name either: Bubbles! This is the first time to grow them and I don't really know how much I'll like them. I suspect, though, they'll be quite appealing in December & January. The plants in this group are actually about two feet apart, but they are filling that space fast. The leaves are getting munched on by something, but so far, I think there is enough to share.

The seedlings got their start back in August.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sunny Cloche

So far so good. The cloche is still avoiding the barn shadow. In another month or so, it will catch some afternoon shade, I'm sure. For now, it catches the sun. The nice day today allowed me to remove the monster size, now frost blackened, tomato vines and do some other clean up.
Inside the cloche. The lettuce, chard and parsley seem to be settling in. The chives look pretty sad, but that's because of not so much care in transplanting them. I figure they'll pull through. I had simply dug up a big clump, chopped back the leaves, divided and plunked them in the ground. Scroll down to see the earlier postings this month about building this cloche, if you like.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Frosty Patch

By the light of the moon on Thursday night, I carried all of my remaining pumpkins into the garage... except the two youngsters that still needed a little more time on the vine. Just in time too. The clear sky full of stars (while the moon was low enough) was also a frost warning. The pumpkin, tomato and zucchini vines are all just a memory now. Time for pumpkin pie.

See this post for the frosty pictures last year. This year, I only captured the aftermath.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Seed Money Waiting for You?

So let's talk about Unclaimed Property / Abandoned Property / Escheat. Or could it be serious seed money? If you've been visiting now and then, you might know I work with taxes, etc. Unclaimed property is one of etc.'s.

This is that paycheck, deposit, refund or other check (or 15 paychecks) that you might have forgotten to cash (??). US businesses have to turn these funds over to the states where they keep them safe until the owners show up. And there might be something for you! Go to this NAUPA site where you can use the Missing Money website or go directly to various states. Search broadly see what you can find!

Oh yes, don't forget inactive bank accounts, dividend checks, stock shares, bonds and forgotten safety deposit boxes (but your goodies may have been sold and you are left with the proceeds).

Property usually goes to the state of last known address the business had for you, but if the address is unknown, then it probably went to the company's state of incorporation. So, search broadly! Maybe you moved around, maybe your address was entered wrong, maybe records were lost, etc. Again, search broadly.

I've seen some hefty checks go off to the states even after trying to locate the owner. Sure, many of them are quite small, but why not do some searching. And if you have any questions about this post or what you find, send me an e-mail. Who knows, you might have those spring seeds covered, and more!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Lasting Lavender

This has been the year of the lavender. Various plants started blooming back in June (see this photo with links from our lavender farm visits last year also) and most kept some blooms going all summer. This photo, above, is from Oct. 13. I did trim flowers from the plants a lot this year. I think it was the cooler summer weather, though. Whatever it was, I hope it happens again.

I am happy to report that the Munstead lavender plants I started from seed last year bloomed a lot this year. Someone gave me the seeds. Otherwise I wouldn't have thought to try lavender from seed.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Covered Wagon Cloche Part II

It's covered! I was spending too much time and energy looking for the best answer so I went back to the hardware store "saddles." Thanks to the input from commentors, I even tried making my own clips out of extra tubing, but couldn't get it to go over the cloche tubing. Big metal binder clips were a great idea too (so many uses) but they wanted to slide right off because of the plastic.
See how the saddles have ridges to hold them on, as well as the nice thumb spot for holding or removing them. I had also found an assortment of the bright clips, below. There are only 4 that will stay on the tubing, though. The others were too small. I'm using these 4 clips in the place that I'll open regularly. They are the easiest to remove.
The smaller clips work well to hold open or hold closed the ends of the cloche.
Lettuce, chard, chives, and two flowers are in there to see how they'll do.

Of course, we had quite a wind storm yesterday while I was gone. No movement to the structure but the plastic had blown around and some clips had come off. In the dark last night, I found enough to put the plastic back on. Tomorrow, I'll see how the plants held up.