Thursday, December 30, 2010

Schizophrenic weather

One day it is so cold the cat is sleeping on the register and the dog is hiding under the covers...

and the leaves of the rhododendron are rolled tighter than my yoga mat...

and then the weather switches to what could be considered a January thaw, if it were January.

The snow should be gone by the time we ring in the new year.  That means no cross country skiing (yet) and no snow cover for the garden, not a good thing.

When it is warm, the birds abandon the feeders, but this chickadee was eating something on the cotoneasters.

It wasn't the berries.  Lichen?  Who knows.

And the Cooper's hawk came back for a visit:

The seed catalogs continue to pile up - such gorgeous photos! - but I am holding firm to purchasing only what I need-need, and from only two places.  BUT I am using the catalogs to look into the future.  Maybe a piece of prairie?  Tree fruit?  Berry hedges?  A gardener can dream, can't she?

Meanwhile, have a Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Where we were and where we're going

Okay, I didn't get everything done that I planned to do last summer.  Gardening is for optimists, though, so below is a recap of last year and a to-do list for next year.

From 2010:

About that lawn:
1. Overseed bare spots in lawn with clover (in February/March) - forgot

And that unsightly tractor tire:
2. Move hosta from tractor tire to under the lilac - DONE
3. Get rid of tractor tire - did not get around to it
4. Use sand from tractor tire to create butterfly water site - ditto
5. Plant Prairie Fire crabapple where tractor tire is - tree not available locally

How about a little curb appeal:
6. Prune shrubs (boxwood, burning bush, etc.) - DONE (this should be a yearly thing)
7. Move some of the cotoneaster to the west side of the West Wing - reconsidered
8. Plant Big Blue Stem to fill in holes left by #7 - reconsidered
9. Move sedum from under asplenifolia to in front of Big Blue Stem - DONE mostly
10. Move 'Clara Curtis' from south side of house to 3B garden - reconsidered
11. Plant Magic Lilies, aka Naked Ladies, in holes left by #10 - reconsidered
12. Divide hostas and day lilies and give away extra - did not get around to it
13. Move/give away iris on north side of garage - did not get around to it

Birds, butterflies, and bees:
14. Plant morning glories on fence behind 3B garden - forgot
15. Install ceramic bird house - DONE but no birds
16. Install mason bee house - forgot
17. Plant winterberry under arborvitae - DONE but it was holly
18. Plant hummingbird sage in 3B garden - forgot

Weed control:
19. Experiment with injecting Roundup and/or vinegar into stems of Canada thistle - tried this, too time consuming, but we'll call it DONE

Protection from the elements:
20. Get estimates for a pergola for the patio - reconsidering
21. Plant arborvitae on west side of house - DONE but it was juniper

22. The West Wing needs some - partially DONE (hydrangea and two hostas)
23. Ditto
24. Ditto

Long term food:
25. Plant raspberries - deferred
26. Prepare asparagus bed - planted asparagus instead (mistake)

27. Use gladiolas as row markers - DONE
28. Keep better (any) records re vegetable garden production - DONE
29. Start dye garden - later, but harvested marigold blossoms for dye
30. Buy a freezer - DONE

For 2011:

About that lawn:
1. Overseed bare spots in lawn with clover (in February/March)
2. Mow at highest setting
3. Treat with Fire Belly

And that unsightly tractor tire:
4. Get rid of tractor tire. Really.
5. Use sand from tractor tire to create butterfly water site

How about a little curb appeal:
6. Move ornamental grass by porch, replace with ?
7. Move rest of sedum from under asplenifolia to in front of Japanese maple
8. Plant Magic Lilies, aka Naked Ladies, on south side for some August color
9. Divide hostas and day lilies and give away extra, if anyone wants them
10. Move iris on north side of garage, but to where?

Birds, butterflies, and bees:
11. Plant morning glories on fence behind 3B garden
12. Install ceramic bird house in new location
13. Install mason bee house
14. Plant hummingbird sage in 3B garden
15. Plant sunflowers and other flowers I have seed for
16. Contemplate reorganizing this area and adding a water feature

Weed control:

Protection from the elements:
18. Get estimates for a pergola for the patio
19. Plant Prairie Fire crabapple by patio

20. The West Wing needs more (like the ornamental grass by the front porch?)

Long term food:
21. Prepare raspberry bed
22. Work on asparagus bed
23. Strawberries?
24. Mini dwarf fruit orchard?
25. Meyer lemon?

Edible landscaping:
26. Contemplate blueberries on south side of house, huckleberry as a hedge in partial shade

27. Set up irrigation
28. Improve record keeping
29. Harvest hibiscus blossoms (and any other plant that can be used) for dyeing
30. Eliminate trumpet vine - it is taking over

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The bluebird of happiness

Occasionally, I see a bluebird or two at the bird bath, early in the day.  Here is evidence!  Not too bad a pic, considering it was taken using the zoom, through a window, when it was still mostly dark out.

Today I also saw a LBB (Little Brown Bird - at a distance they all look alike) land on top of a foxtail, bending the seed head down to the ground, where presumably some seeds shook loose.  The bird would then release the stalk, peck around in the snow a bit, and repeat the performance.  Now I don't feel so bad about (some of) the weeds in my yard.

Some kind of crap (freezing rain?  sleet?  what is the difference?) was falling from the sky, but now it has turned to snow.  A good reason to stay put today.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

More memory loss

This year, when I made my infamous cranberry bread (recipe from La Leche League's Whole Foods for the Whole Family - my copy is about 30 years old), I used a food processor to chop the cranberries.  What I good idea! I said to myself.  Later, while perusing some blog entries from a year ago, I discovered that I had discovered the food processor shortcut to chopping cranberries back then.  One thing about aging is, everything seems new!

I think this is new:

I bought a rasp zester.  Not only no more skinned knuckles, but the zest is captured in the holder AND it is easy to clean.

Another blog entry I ran across from a year ago was my plans for 2010.  All I can say is, HA HA HA.  I accomplished only about a third of the items listed, and some of those not completely.  (For instance, I moved some of the sedum but not all of it, and instead of preparing an asparagus bed, I planted asparagus, which was a mistake.)  The best part of gardening is the planning, though - time for a new list!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Bird watching

Now that I have replaced the black oil sunflower seeds with a millet-based mix, all I get at the window feeder are sparrows.  Fern does not care.

Come back, birdies!
 Are cardinals redder in the winter?  Or does the snow just make it seem so?  This is what is known as "lake effect" snow, of which we received less than an inch.  Not enough for skiing.

Safflower seed, because I'm worth it!
I am going to say that this is a Cooper's hawk.  He sat there and sat there, and finally I crept off to find my camera.  He was still there when I returned, but not for long.

Hey!  Where did everybody go?
I was less lucky today when a ragged V of what I think were herons flew overhead.  They did not honk or quack, but sang an unfamiliar song as they passed by.  I have never witnessed such a thing before.

I also have never witnessed a dog eating a hot pepper right off the plant.  (I brought this plant inside before a hard frost.)

But oddly enough, Betsy does not like raw turkey liver.  Go figure.