Thursday, August 30, 2012

Your Fall & Winter Gardening Guide

My, what an optimistic title!  As if I'm about to impart many wisdoms about buying and planting seeds so that you can have gorgeous flowers next spring. Veggies too!

Just this day I am in receipt of the West Coast Seed company's Fall & Winter Gardening Guide.

Here is what I grew from seed this year:

Cosmos August 28, 2012

 Here is what I planted:

morning glory
moon flowers

and I forget what all else, I get excited in April, and it was a lengthy list, but that was very long ago.

Noticeably absent, vegetables. When I think vegetable, I think farmer's market or grocery. When you have a 2 x4 patch of earth (or thereabouts) and most of it overhung by a rabid cherry tree, you don't bother with rabbit food.

Oh, I did buy some lettuce (I'm reminding myself) but this was for me budgies. When I was new to them and they to me and I was bothering to INFORM myself on the habits of these pests I read repeatedly about their love of lettuce. "Just make sure it's wet," said the sages. Parakeets like their greens to look alive.

As the birds ignored my offerings, wet or dry, and preferred decimating the hibiscus, this year I bought lettuce plants and put them in the solarium, what could be more alive? And then, more or less, carefully watered them to keep them fresh.

This did not work. Therefore, we ate the lettuce. It was not very good. Really, not.

Early in the "season" I bought a tomato plant that I can no longer show you at Wegman's for $10 (if you don't know Wegman's and have the opportunity to visit one, do so). There were approximately 10 tomatoes on it and I put it on the back steps, since that is where I have sun of sorts. All but one ripened at once. The last tomato hung in there for weeks doing nothing but desperately clinging to the mother ship.

Then one day it fell off. Plop.


I also have rather leggy red and green basil and some struggling chives.

None of this has to do with seeds or vegetables. Tomatoes are a fruit, I believe.


This catalog is very nice, flip, flip, flip. OOOH rainbow blend carrots, pretty! Flip, flip. Something lushly purple called Rudolph --can't grow it anyway why bother reading about it.  OH and Nataino! This is gorgeous! What is it! Is it even edible?

There are pages of this, plus broccoli.

Then a whole section on saving your OWN seeds. I suppose I have to grow something first.

Maybe I can sprout! There's Easy Sprout and Sprout Master and the Biosta Kitchen Crop Sprouter (that sounds a little nasty). I don't eat much in the way of sprouts. Neither does the Prince, but that might be because I don't serve them. He tends to eat what I put in front of him. All of it, no matter how it tastes, which will be advantageous the day I do him in.  But that's neither here nor there.

Here are some sprouted sprouts. They look like biology class or a sex education tape.

There are other things in the catalog: Books to tell me what I'm doing wrong; Inflatable greenhouses to stick here and there; Rarefied bird seed; and bird houses like the wood duck boxes (a what?), woodpecker houses, chickadee houses, screech owl houses  (how to really irritate the neighbors), and the bat boxes, "solid color [beige, ho hum] and to Audubon's specs", these can each accomodate up to 20 bats. Personally, I kind of like seeing them hanging from the basement rafers, but if this is what they really prefer....$44.95

*Sunflower photo cribbed from West Coast Seed Company website

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Buckets and Bolts & Easy Things for YOU! to Do

Sometimes it's easier to make up things for you to do, not I.

A few weekends ago the Prince and I visited Baby and Pete and the Murderess in Raleigh, where they're living, for the moment.
The Murderess
Raleigh is primarily a place of fried foods.  Here we have the 1853 Grille at the Raleigh Flea where they serve fried twinkies, fried hohos, bloom 'n fried onions, funnel cakes, fried candy bars, and (as opposed to simply fried) DEEP fried pecan pie. 

Breakfast one morning was fried chicken topped with fried eggs with fried churros on the side.

The Lovely Pete Chows Down

Raleigh is also a place of great inspiration, though since our '89 Mustang melted earlier this summer, I find just about anywhere other then here inspirational. 

That flea market was particularly good, to return to the theme of this post -- Easy Things for YOU! to Do.

You will notice the bucket at the top of this post. The word SEASIDE is embossed on it, which is pleasurable as I have not been to the shore yet this summer in part because of the car, but let's not get into that again.  I cast NO BLAME!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Making Lemonade

On a recent meander through the overpriced antique shops of upper Georgetown I noticed a broken plaster pedestal bearing a fancy parchment tag with $350 handwritten in a scrolling script the color of faded blood.

The plaster pedestal above is not that one.  The pedestal above was purchased at my favorite junk shop, Slindy's of Culpeper (I added that "of Culpeper" to give the place some class).  It was not broken when I discovered it, shoved into a dusty shop corner. And it was shoved into that corner because it is not the sort of thing that attracts the typical Slindy's client, who leans toward Russian military memorabilia and clown paintings on black velvet. 

Therefore, I snapped it up for ten bucks, figuring it would be a fine perch for my jasmine come winter in my tiny solarium. As such things happen, I carried it out to the truck and set it down GENTLY on the pavement where it instantly and tragically cracked in half.

After eying the two segments for some time, I had a eureka moment: shove a plastic soda bottle with the top cut off into the pedestal's neck and make a vase. This is a clever trick, I might add.

Being a good and generous mother, I gave the other half of this pedestal (valued at $350) to baby, who has stuffed it with curly willow branches and set it in a corner of her living room.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

An Ugly Garden Grows

In other ugly garden news...this work in progress.

Note the inviting patio. From the migraine inducing pattern of the pavers to the sheen of new chain protecting the inviting furnishings ...

To the lively mix of flagstone and white rocks (the French courtyard look?) that I assume will checkerboard the entire side yard when it's completed -- a process that has been underway since spring, by the way. It takes time to realize such a vision. 

Does this picture not shout, Come sit a spell? 

At least there are no railroad ties involved. Yet.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Ugly Garden Five or Perhaps Six

I have been planning to write about this garden for several years.

And why you might ask.

I pass it near daily on my schlep to Eastern Market to get coffee and whatnot.  It is too irritating to ignore.

However, each time I whip out my camera one of the denizens pops out and gives me the evil eye, like they're lurking behind the door for the Ugly Garden bloggist to appear. And there I am.

So I pretend to be otherwise engaged, fiddling with my lens, casually humming to myself while shooting pictures of tree branches or the sidewalk, or examining the sole of my flip flop for dog crap and then sidling on by.

This morning I win! I decapped my lens a block away and tip toed forth, whipping the camera up and snap snap. Triumph!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A White Garden on Capitol Hill

The guys that own this house a few blocks from mine are heavily into white flowers. They must have been riddled with questions as they felt the need to hang a note of explanation on the front gate.

This touch of country in the city is wonderfully blousy and particularly cool and calming given this blistering spring and summer.

The flower mix is simple enough: great sprays of white clematis with faces the size of salad plates tumble together with white roses over the black wrought iron fencing, then frolic their way through the border greenery with Dusty Miller providing a silvery accent.

Pots of white impatiens stationed along the walk can be moved here and there to fill in the inevitable gaps left by an August vacation.

There were white peonys in the spring. 

At night, there's a soft glow from the lamp posts along the brick sidewalk and the twinkle of little white lights in the tree beside the front door.


Monday, August 13, 2012

The Era of the Urn

As previously noted, I've entered the Era of the Urn, and as with most of my eras, this came about by accident.

First came ornately embellished terracotta pots and a gilded and sculpted fiberglass beauty or two. Then the metal urns began turning up as things do, in someone's trash. There are several in the garden, light weight and cheaply made but lively with ferns and sprigs of geranium and ivy and such.  In the winter they'll come indoors to perch on the various columns I've similarly rescued and arranged around my tiny greenhouse.

The urn here -- fabulous isn't it -- is my most recent addition. I came across it last week when I was in the scoping it out phase of staging a home that will shortly be sold -- staging, if you're unfamiliar with the term, is the process of rinsing a home of any notion of personality so it resembles as closely as possible an exceedingly bland yet marginally trendy place you'd see on HGTV.

This cleansing usually requires heroics of patience and charm, which we leave to the real estate agents, but in this case, the home was empty, the owner deceased and blessedly unable to weep and flail about the piles of pictures and dusty antimatussymussies being consigned to a thrift shop.  The executor was showing us through.

As it happened, a neatly planted pair of these cast iron urns flanked the front doorway and ten more marched emptily along the garden path in the rear of the house. I stared in wonderment; they were beautifully modeled, clearly antique, worth a small fortune. 

One of my minds turned instantly larcenous, licking its chops -- I would shortly have the keys and who would notice? But my better half, that priss, that wuss, quickly countered, "Will you be having a yard sale? I'd like to buy one of these..." I simpered, attempting a sweet and adorable countenance, which is not easy, being me.

"Please! Take one," she said, so I did, and quickly, before she could change her mind.  Lifting the behemoth of behemoths (of course, it would be) and tottered with buckling knees up the back steps, through the house, down the front steps and to the car where I managed with a final insane heft to land it on the car's back seat, drive it home, and wrestle it onto the front walk, leaving further heaving for the Prince.

Happily, I happened to have a palmy thing that looks like it's growing out of a pineapple -- I know it has another name that I've forgotten and it's not actually a palm, fill it in comments if you're compelled -- that I bought for $10 last week in Raleigh where we were visiting baby and Pete and Lula, the murderess; perfect as a centerpiece. (The Raleigh farmer's market is fantastic).

I also had a $2 wandering jew in a shocking shade of pink, that I actually bought (the vendor was so nice and really, Stephanie, $2? -- I hadn't the heart to pinch and pinch, as I would ordinarily do. (See my treatise on wandering jews).  

This was added to purple and variegated sprigs of wandering jew that I snipped from the window boxes, and some flowering stuffs that recently arrived as part of a gift basket that have arranged themselves to drip rather nobly over the rim.

The whole is heaved upon another trash find -- I can never believe what people discard around here --an iron base that the Prince insists is plaster and will be ruined sitting out in the weather. He is wrong, as usual. I pinged it.

So. It's all very grand.

$12. How brilliant am I? Honestly. I can't get over myself some days....


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Reviving Timmy

This morning I am moved to resurrecting my fallow blog by the sad state of Timmy, which is some kind of green plant I've been nursing for more than 20 years.

I digress here for a moment because last night, over Cotelleta Milanese at Trattoria, The Prince suggested "we" do more with gardening; proposing togetherness work wherein I would design gardens and he would -- under my direction -- execute the execution.

Anyone that has been around me and my beloved over the last 3 decades will instantly realize the ludicrousness of this suggestion. Beyond that, while I am capable of making something out of nothing -- which I will shortly demonstrate -- I can rarely identify the nothing I'm making something of. For example, and to return to the topic, whatever kind of plant Timmy is.

Here is Timmy not looking at all well. Timmy is named for his original owner, a lovely guy who died of AIDs and was part of a children's theatre troupe I once traipsed around with. When Tim passed away, Susan took his plant, and passed it to me when she moved to L.A. It was green and lovely then, and has been on occasion since.

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