Sunday, February 28, 2010


Several years ago, I planted 4 rhubarb plants in 4 pots, since I didn't have soil prepared for them. One didn't last more than a year. But I've had 3 for a couple of years now. Last week I checked to see if any of my rhubarb plants were starting to show their red heads yet, and it looks as though only one plant has survived. A few days ago, when I bought my blackberry bushes, I also bought a couple of packages of rhubarb roots so I would have plenty of rhubarb. Even if rhubarb wasn't yummy to eat, it makes a pretty stunning perennial. Although, I have to admit these roots and shoots look rather shabby right now.

(Lock Ness Monster?)

I am planning to make a large round planter out of some of the stones I got such a great deal on. I think the large-leaved rhubarb growing out of this planter will make an excellent focal point. In the fall, I will probably plant Johnnies in the planter and in the spring, I am thinking of maybe growing bush peas or runner beans to fill out the planter until the rhubarb takes over. For now, though, I have rescued the roots from their green plastic bag prisons and put them into gallon nursery containers as they have already started to grow. Maybe in a few days, if it is not quite so chilly out, I will put them into the greenhouse until I get the planter built and it warms up enough for them to go into the ground.

Have a beautiful day!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Blackberry plants...

First, a chickie up-date: I think one of the chicks is blind, so I don't know if it will make it since it doesn't seem to be able to find the food and water. That makes me sad, but I am doing everything I can for it. If it doesn't make it, I will be o.k., though, because this is just part of life. (This is also why I grow plants, instead of raise animals.) Other than that, they are all doing fine. They are rather mesmerizing to watch, so I am not getting very much done!

Today I got a couple of blackberry bushes - an Arapaho and a Navajo. They are thornless and are supposed to be disease resistant, which should be helpful since the humid air of the South seems to lend itself to plant diseases. The bushes are also self-pollinating, but I read that even self-pollinating bushes do better when there is a different variety nearby. I am planning to plant them between the Myrtle trees (for the dappled shade the berries are supposed to like), but first my helper and I will have to dig out the wild, non-disease resistant, very thorny blackberry bushes that are already there. Some fun, huh.

Have a beautiful day!

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Yesterday I went to buy scratch for our poultry. We have 2 ducks, 2 roosters (that's another story), and 6 hens (that is part of the other story). After wandering through the plant section - o.k., so it was a quick wander because it was very cold - I went inside where I heard very cute little bird sounds. My first thought was that for some odd reason, someone had brought their pet birds to work. Then I thought, that's silly. Some outside birds must have somehow gotten trapped inside the store. I have seen that happen. (In fact, one time I rescued a hummingbird that had flown into a store and couldn't find its way out.) Well, that wasn't the explanation either. The store had little chicks for sale and they were making the sweet little peeping sounds. But these weren't the yellow chicks I expected to see. They were black.

Today I went back to the store and bought 4 little black chickies! They are so soft and sweet and cute! The sign said they are Barred Rock, which, if you don't know (I didn't until I looked it up) are those beautiful black chickens with white flecks or "bars." I asked if they were female or a mixed lot and was assured that they were all female. I've never had little chicks before; we got our other chickens after they were grown. My new little chickies will be my work chickens. The ones we already have are more just for fun and some eggs. The new ones will live in my garden either in a chicken tractor (google that one if you don't know what it is) or in a movable pen, so I can change what part of my garden they are digging up and fertilizing for me. Until they get a little bigger - they are 3 days old - and it gets a little bit warmer, I have cute little peeping noises coming from a cardboard box in - where else - my living room!

(I gave them some chickweed {ha-ha} but they just pecked at it rather than eating it.)

Have a beautiful day!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Snowing again...

Yesterday, I saw a Forsythia blooming in somebody's yard in a neighboring town. Today, it snowed again. Go figure. I have to add, though, that the snow didn't stick and it has already melted.

Every place I went today, I looked at seeds and plants. Can you believe I didn't come home with any plants? What's that you say? I must not be feeling well? Now that you mention it, I don't feel well, but I do think I am starting to get over my cold. Maybe the Cardamine I ate yesterday helped. Even though I didn't buy any plants, I found some more seed packets to add to my collection. A couple of tomatoes and an okra. Yes, okra. Even though I don't like okra (gasp!), I feel obligated to try to grow it since I live in the South now.

Have a beautiful day!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cardamine hirta

I have another flower blooming in my garden. I only recently learned its name: on Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, Daricia of "A Charlotte Garden" posted that she had Cardamine blooming in her garden. And that is how I discovered what it was. Cardamine is considered a bitter herb, so if you are an herb person, and know what you are doing, there are uses for Cardamine. But PLEASE don't go eat something or make something into to tea just because you read about it here! I don't know much about that subject at all! I did pick and eat some today. I think I like the way it tastes. Salad, anyone? Hey! Maybe it will cure my cold.

There are quite a few of the Cardamine hirsuta plants scattered here and there, for it reseeds itself, but only a few of them, so far, have started to bloom. The white flowers are minuscule and the plants themselves are rather small and low-growing. Did I mention that they are considered noxious, invasive weeds? But I don't like to pull them out, even though I should, because the flowers are so delicate and charming. Besides, might their taproot help loosen the soil, or something beneficial like that?

(See the bulb the ice or the cats unearthed?)

Have a beautiful day!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Fish emulsion...

A plant's gotta eat, right? But what to do when the poor little thing is confined to a pot and can't go foraging? It just needs extra T.L.C.,* that's all. It runs out of nutrients and water so much more quickly than my plants in the ground. (*Tender Loving Care)

(Can you tell it rained today?)

One of my favorite things to do in my garden is to feed my plants. I like to use fish emulsion for many different plants. I even keep a measuring cup by my faucet for measuring it out. I guess some would say that the fish emulsion stinks, but I really don't mind it, because of its pleasant association with my garden. (Beside, I can't smell it right now anyway - I have a cold.)

The frozen soil in my pots is starting to thaw, finally releasing the roots of the plants. My Johnnies are looking rather winter-weary, so today I gave them some "fish." I take the pots that are on the porch off of the porch to water and/or feed them so water doesn't puddle on the porch. Those pots didn't freeze, but, even so, the Johnnies were looking like they could use a boost. And in a week or two, all my Johnnies in their various pots will have brighter leaves and more blooms on the way.

Have a beautiful day!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunshine on my deck rail...

The sunshine has reached the deck rail. Yep, I know. That's not earth-shattering, awe-inspiring, or life-changing. It is not photogenic, useful, or motivational. It is not even clever, fun, or unusual.

The deck doesn't have any gorgeous flowers on it (yet) for me to show you. There aren't any cute birds out there at the moment. Even the cats aren't in evidence. Well, not much anyway. All my excitement is focused on that one line between shadow and light.

It is part of the cycle. It is like the long-anticipated bulbs coming up. And the brand new leaves on the roses. It is similar to the first night in a LONG time not below freezing (forecast for tonight) or even the first tomato of summer. It is something special, a marker (for me anyway) in the seasons of the year. And that is why I am so thrilled to see that the sunshine has again reached my deck rail.

Have a beautiful day!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Black Mondo Grass..

In a previous post, I mentioned finding a beautiful blue pot on clearance and a very cool black plant that I had wanted for some time on sale. Well, within a matter of days, I actually had planted the very cool black plant in the beautiful blue pot. I think that may have been a record for me.

The thing that the beautiful blue pot lacked was an appropriate saucer. I knew it needed to be something special; maybe a little out of the ordinary. A few weeks ago, I found it. On sale. I think a square saucer is a little out of the ordinary. Don't you? Aren't, by definition, saucers round? The clerk told me that many people used them for bird feeders, but I assured her that mine was to be a saucer.

When I first bought the pot and plant, I was thinking of planting Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea' (Creeping Jenny) with the Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens' (Black Mondo Grass), but then I decided that maybe that wasn't such a good idea even though they would look well together. The Black Mondo Grass is a slow grower and the Creeping Jenny borders on being invasive. In the spring, I am going to use a trick I figured out in California. I plan to plant a couple of the bright pink/magenta-colored Impatiens walleriana, which are annuals, with the black grass. The grass likes moisture and so do the Impatiens. The Impatians start to wilt when they need water, sounding a warning bell. They will remind me to water the pot so I don't loose my long-desired Black Mondo Grass. And they will look pretty. Which is very important.

Have a beautiful day!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

New rose leaves...

The rose bushes that are up against the house in a protected location are beginning to show new little leaves. So exciting! Ever since I started growing roses, I have enjoyed seeing them start to leaf out. Here in North Carolina, it means that the warmer weather and beauty of spring are not too far off.

{Rosa 'Marie Daly'}

But with my anticipation comes apprehension. I wonder what spring will bring for my roses. After having to dig out and burn 4 of my favorite bushes last year, I am afraid that more of my roses will show symptoms of Rose Rosette Disease as they start growing. There is nothing I can do except wait and see what happens. And hope that I won't have to destroy any more bushes.

{Rosa 'The Fairy'}

On a more cheerful note, my irises are digging themselves out of the snow. More and more of my plants are starting to grow once more as spring creeps ever closer. This is so encouraging to me as there were days and days when I thought I would never again see green.

And then there are cats. Just this morning, as I was uncovering a Campanula that had been buried by a cat doing its "business," I was thinking that the cats should get their own garden instead of messing in mine. I do, however, have to admit that they make a rather charming addition to the scenery.

Have a beautiful day!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


They knew. They knew I was a sucker for living, growing plants. And they didn't want to end up in pizza. Or guacamole. So they spent their time in the dark kitchen cupboard scheming and plotting. What was the strategy they came up with? They sprouted.

Their plan worked, too. Even though it is "o.k." to use sprouting garlic, I really truly don't have the heart to mince it or crush it. I feel as though I am destroying something; I feel so guilty.

Therefore, I bought a package of peat pots and hauled my bag of potting soil out of my laundry room. My bags of potting soil outside tend to get creepy-crawlies in them, so I keep a bag inside for potting plants that I will be growing indoors. You do keep potting soil in your laundry room, don't you?

It worked out so nicely that there were 22 pots and 21 cloves of garlic. Murphy didn't win out this time! "Repurposed" plastic containers make perfect deep saucers for the peat pots. Oh, and the extra pot will go on the kitchen window sill.

This project smelled so good. Separating the garlic released that wonderful garlicky fragrance. And I do love the aroma of potting soil. Ah, the simple pleasures of gardening - in the house - on a winter's morning.

Have a beautiful day!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

GBBD oops...

So, there I was, diligently photographing flowers for Carol's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. The ones by the dining room sliding glass door - check. The primrose on the table - check. Daphne and daffodils outside - check.

I posted and linked to Carol's post and starting looking at other gardeners' blooms and - wham! Nell Jean of "Secrets of a Seed Scatterer" had pictures of her - what - Violas!?! How on earth could I have forgotten to list my beloved Johnnies for GBBD?

This is almost as bad as the time, back in California, when I forgot my neighbor's name. Do you know what my neighbor's name was? Ruth. Do you know what my name is? Yup. That's right. Ruth.

So, consider this an addendum to yesterday's post. And hereby know that my Johnnies are indeed blooming.

Have a beautiful day!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Bloom Day February 2010...

Thank you to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day! Here's what's blooming for me right now.

If anyone recognizes this plant, PLEASE leave me a comment and let me know what it is! A friend gave me this plant about 7 years ago when I lived in California. Right now the leaves and stems are rather elongated from the lack of sunlight in the house and it desperately needs to be divided, but it still blooms for me. I have no idea what it is, but I would LOVE to know!


This little corner holds most of what is blooming or colorful in my house at the moment. Of course, the poinsettias are always bright. I also have rooted coleus cuttings that are vibrant.

My peace lily just started blooming again.


The last bloom of the indoor 'Tête-à-tête' daffodils.

{Narcissus 'Tête-à-tête'}

The African Violet plants (3 in one pot) that my sister-in-law gave me have some flowers: white with hints of lilac.


And blue with white edges.


On my table resides the most recent addition to my collection: a charming fairy primrose.

{Primula malacoides}

Outside, I am still waiting for my daphnes to bloom. I think they will open any day now and then I will have their wonderful fragrance. Yum!

{Daphne odora}

And, of course, some of the daffodils are almost starting to show their color!


Have a beautiful day!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Bird count...

Here’s one for Murphy. You know Murphy, of Murphy’s Law. This week-end I am participating in the Great Back Yard Bird Count. I have wanted to do this for several years now, but I kept forgetting. I finally remembered, so, here I am, all ready to count birds, and what do you know…

Of course, the bird count wasn’t last week-end or the week-end before, when tons of birds were on my deck. (Well, maybe not tons, because birds don’t weigh very much, but you get what I mean.) Dozens and dozens of the adorable little things showed up in the freezing cold and snow to eat the sunflower seeds I threw out for them. Over the past several weeks, I have seen Titmice, Chickadees, Juncos, Purple Finches, Gold Finches, a Towhee, Bluebirds, Cardinals, Sparrows and Blue Jays.

But, this week-end, when I could be officially counting them, not very many birds are showing up. And I think maybe I know why.

When it was snowy and very, very chilly, my cats were being wimps and hiding from the cold. Now, though, when it is a little warmer, they are out and about and hanging around their favorite places. Including the deck. And, consequently, scaring away my cute little birds.

Have a beautiful day!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Winter cheer...

O.K. So I'm wondering… would you mind if we just go ahead and fast-forward the rest of winter? I mean, really, haven’t we seen enough of browness, greyness, snow, and cold? Aren’t you ready for spring, too?

What do you do to get through winter? Stay inside by a cozy fire? (I can’t really do that: no fireplace.) Make turkey pot-pie for dinner on a snowy evening? (Did that tonight.) How about a cheerful pot of flowers for your table? (Duh!)

I think fairy primroses are so enchanting. They are one of my favorite flowers. (Although, I confess, my list of favorite flowers must be miles long.) I went to New Garden Nursery this afternoon specifically to find a fairy primrose to adorn my table for the week-end. And, of course, this charming little plant will also help get me through another couple weeks of winter.

Have a beautiful day!

Thursday, February 11, 2010


It began as a quick, innocent trip into the store for a simple air filter and then back out again to go home. But as I was headed out the door and back to the van, I was stopped in my tracks by what I saw.

It couldn’t be so. Normally, a single stone sells for around $2.00 and here were 5 pallets of stones on clearance, each pallet priced at either $10 or $15. And each pallet held probably around 80 to 100 stones. You can imagine my excitement as I began to comprehend my find.

As much as I have wanted to build a stone wall to be able to form a terrace to create a home for my seating area under the oak tree, which you may have heard me mention in previous posts, I honestly had no idea how I was going to make that dream become reality at any time in the near future.

Well, here was my answer and I am so thrilled! After a couple of trips to bring them home and several hours of labor to unload them, I now have stacks and stacks of stones in my front yard and I can hardly wait for the snow to melt so I can start building my next stone wall.

(Doo, the neighbor's sweet dog, came over to help us unload stones.)

Have a beautiful day!