28 February 2012

A new page: like it list

You've probably seen those cryptic favorites lists that so many blogs are prone to produce monthly or, god forbid, weekly.  Can you tell, I find them a tad annoying?  I mean, who has time to investigate every link to see what the person dug up on the internet and loved so much they had to post about it.  All the sentences like "loved this" or "found this at this cute shop and couldn't resist" just make me a little crazy (and are a huge time sync when curiosity gets the best of me).  Plus, I get feeling manipulated after clicking down their list and hitting a bunch of retail sites, no doubt allowing someone to get paid more for their ad space . . . 

All that griping aside, I like the idea of keeping track of good finds.  A week doesn't go by without being told about a cool book or resource -- not always on the internet, mind you -- that I want to keep track of.  So . . . I've started a new page on this blog as a repository for, well, exceptionally likeable stuff, in my opinion.

I hope you enjoy it -- and maybe even find it useful.

21 February 2012

Perhaps I have a problem

My friend Darcy calls it an addiction.  I think she's right.

This is gardening I'm talking about.  It started innocently enough just as a hobby.  Now, well, it's definitely something more.  Especially since nowadays the only place I get to move plants around is in my head.  Life doesn't afford me much time to get my hands in the dirt with a 13 month old on the loose.  Despite this fact, I keep acquiring plants and gardening accoutrements.  Hmmm.

Any new plants are in addition to the myriad of not-quite-dead-yet plants that I have in "temporary" pots lined up alongside the house.  Plants that I took from our old house so as not to have to give them up. That's worked out real well, let me tell you.  Honestly, I lost many of them after leaving them for more than a year in my sister's yard.  Life got busy and then it got out of control  and just plain nuts during the summer and fall of 2010, and my plants didn't appreciate my neglect.  I'm still figuring out where to plant them.  To be fair, the dirt in our yard is rather occupied with unfortunate things like rhodies planted in 1961 and dying azaleas.  I don't think I have the space for my plants at the moment so they remain unhappily in their little pots.

The need for new plants is not the issue here.  Clearly.

Yet today I stopped in at the bare root plant sale at a local nursery.  Everything was 40 percent off.  Oh, the possibilities -- and the savings I could take advantage of!  I convinced myself that I needed plum and pear trees (with three grafted pear varieties on the same tree) growing in a beautiful line on the south end of the back yard.  "Maybe it wouldn't be too hard to put dwarf fruit trees in there . . . this weekend," the evil little voice in my head piped up.

Then the sane part of my brain kicked in and I just walked away.

But then I passed the hydrangeas.  And who can resist a 40 percent off oak leaf hydrangea? Then I wandered into the blueberries.  "Just think of how great it would be to freeze your own berries," said the evil little voice.  Seriously?  I think I still have like 18 of the 40 pounds I picked last September kicking around in my freezer.   Plus, I've already got four blueberry plants in the front yard.  Oh my.

Luckily, I got a grip.  I did not buy any bare root plants, shrubs, trees, or the like.

Oh wait, I kind of did.  I bought five dahlia bulbs.  They were my concession . . . and because I did not go to the flower show this year and get my token new dahlias from Swan Dahlia Farms.  I think these dinner plate-size dahlias will look beautiful mixed in with the 'satan' crocosmia near our flag pole (Yes, I did say flag pole).  Now I just need enough time to dig a few holes.  Perhaps I can get a babysitter . . .

I also came home with a few more envelopes of seeds.  Sunflowers.  Cosmos.  Zinnias.  White Echinacea.  Oh, and some peat pots to start a few lettuce plants indoors on the windowsill.  You see how my brain works.

In the spirit of totally coming clean, I must tell you that I have ten bare root strawberry plants on order.  They should arrive by mail the beginning of March.

I know . . .

12 February 2012

Visiting the Witt Winter Garden

Last week I made it to the Witt Winter Garden at the Washington Park Arboretum.  I've wanted to see it in bloom for many years, but have never had the time to visit at the right time of year before.  This is the perfect time of year to go, and walking through it (twice) completely made my week.  The garden was beautiful, fragrant, and seemed so "alive" at a time of year when most gardens lay dormant. 

My visit made me want to plan for more winter interest in my own garden, and it made me excited to get going again on my front yard landscaping project.  I found this garden every bit as inspirational as the idea gardens at the flower and garden show. . . no, actually, it was better.  Plus, it was free!  If you're interested, the link above also provides access to a garden map and plant list. 

My pictures don't do the garden justice -- the scale and slope and color is so much better experienced in person.  Even so, perhaps they will be enough to entice you to plan a visit before the blooms are gone this year.  I hope to visit again at the end of the month to catch the camellias and magnolias that were yet to blossom.
Three varieties of witch hazel with hellebore below.

Lemon yellow on golden yellow -- nothing like it!

07 February 2012

All I have to say is, "Have you seen the moon lately?"

This morning I saw the most spectacular thing -- the moon setting.  It was about 7 a.m. and that beautiful full moon we marveled at Monday night was golden and huge and just beginning to slip behind the Olympic Mountains.  The mountains were shrouded in night, so I couldn't see them much, just where the moon silhouetted them.  I've really never seen any thing like it.  Of course, I tried to take a photo, but well, I don't think it captures how beautiful it was, but hopefully, you get the idea.  Seriously beautiful.

04 February 2012

Saturday night at our house

I have no idea how this became a favorite Saturday night meal.  It hardly seems like a meal at all, actually.  But I, and lots of people I know, grew up eating this way every Saturday night.  Sometimes we still do -- like tonight.

The main course:  popcorn.  The sides:  apple slices with peanut butter or naval oranges (grapefruit is a personal favorite) peeled with one of those Tupperware peelers.  As I recall, this meal is traditionally served with ginger ale, root beer floats, or hot chocolate.  You can, of course, drink whatever you want with it.

When I was a kid, this meal was eaten while playing board games or Uno or watching movies on the VCR.  For others it was traditionally accompanied by Hockey Night in Canada.  Tonight we ate around the kitchen table, feeding Wyatt pieces of orange and bits and pieces of popcorn that we were fairly confident he wouldn't choke on.  We upped the protein content of our meal by adding a few quesadillas made with cheddar, refried beans and hot sauce.

There were no board games or movies for us tonight. Just a low key night where we all have gotten to do things we like.  Wy got a bath, books, and some songs before bed.  Now that he's asleep, I get to nerd around on the internet and post to my blog -- a luxury these days now that there is a walking 13 month old in our house.  I'm sitting in the same room as Byron who is also doing something he really likes -- playing Call of Duty with a buddy in Washington D.C. (how late is it there??).  He's wearing headphones, so all I periodically hear are things like, "Crap, did I blow you up?" and "I can't believe I'm dead again!" followed by "Let's try this one more time."  He's having fun.  Oggy is curled up on a mohair chair, which is a place he is normally not allowed to be.  What can I say? Even the cat deserves a little fun.

Admittedly, we are home bodies and, frankly, a tad boring.  It may not be your idea of a good evening, but this is Saturday night just the way we like it (at least periodically) around here.

Getting started in the garden

Friday was gorgeous here in Seattle.  It was a taste of spring, for sure.  Wyatt and I spent much of the day outdoors -- on a walk around Green Lake with friends and then in our garden at home.

We planted peas, radishes, spinach and arugula today. I know, it's really early, but around here peas could go in in the fall if they wouldn't rot! We'll see how quickly they come up.  I've put my toasty grower to work in our new raised beds to help things along.  It's going to be a good gardening year, I can feel it.

Wyatt and I had such a good time getting our hands in the dirt -- for me, the first of the season and for him, the first time ever.  I hope he likes spending time in the garden with me as he grows up.  It's one of my favorite places, and I want it to be that for him, too.

I have fond memories of watching my dad in the garden, and gardening with him when I was a little girl in Western North Carolina.  I remember having a little plot of my own within our family garden.  One year, I chose the space directly under a big apple tree -- because it was shady, of course.  I preferred not being too hot while I gardened.  That year I think I tried to grow watermelons.  Needless to say, it didn't work out so well.  We did discover a box turtle laying her eggs in a hole in my apple-tree-garden that year, however.  We carefully dug them up, put them in an aquarium filled with soil and sand, added a spy hole (i.e. toilet paper roll) into the eggs, and watched them all winter long until they hatched in the spring.  Five perfect little box turtles emerged from those soft shelled eggs.  I remember that we painted the turtles' shells with letters -- one each -- L-O-V-E and X (we didn't have a sixth turtle for the O).  We set them free, but never saw them again.  When I think about it, I spent a good chunk of time in the summers in our vegetable gardens.  Those many different patches of dirt that my family cultivated are full of memories for me.

Today, I introduced Wyatt to gardening.  We worked together to get the pea seeds out of the bag  (the seeds in the bag sound pretty cool when you shake them so it's debatable whether one should remove them at all) and lined them up in rows -- or, as Wyatt preferred to do it, in little piles.  He also had to try to eat one but spit it out because it was too hard (luckily he isn't into pushing things into his nose yet . . .).  In any case, we used our fingers to push the seeds down into the newly cultivated soil until we couldn't see them any more.  Wyatt found this great fun.  He looked at me, smiled, and laughed with every seed he pushed under ground.  I was impressed he could use that little index finger with such precision.  I think he was impressed with himself too.

He did some exploring on his own while I weeded and cultivated other beds, preparing them for different seeds.  I saw him sift handfuls of dirt through his fingers.  He ate a little.  He tasted the hand shovel.  He tasted the wood chips on the paths.  He chased the cat and found the moon in the sky.  He kept walking out of his boots (because they are a size too big for him), and occasionally, I'd find him sitting down and unable to get up without help.  So I'd pull him up by his arms and off he'd go, holding on to the edge of a garden bed.

I think I will remember today for a long, long time.