This post covers so much, it's supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
Home Exchange/Home Share for Gardeners
I've been thinking how great it would be to have a home exchange website for gardeners who like to travel but are on a limited budget (such as... looks around, whistles nonchalantly, drums fingers... say, me). I've even offered a bedroom in my modest home for anyone visiting Ann Arbor (see earlier post) who doesn't want to shell out for a hotel room. Plus, local gardeners could show visiting gardeners around, give them a tour of their own garden, and chat about all the things we blog about! As a single traveler, I'm especially open to this idea. I've checked out a ton of home exchange sites, but they all seem to be people with jet-set lifestyles and amenities. Finally I came across the Couch Surfing Project, which is more my speed.
My profile is here and that's my house above with a fall garden two years back. I think it would be cool if more gardeners signed up! :) Hint hint hint. And if any of you plan to be in the Ann Arbor, contact me ahead of time to see if space is available (regardless of whether you register at couchsurfing.com)!
Every day last week I was serenaded by American toads living and mating in the vernal pond in the woods at the end of my backyard. Unlike spring peepers, which can be so loud one has to raise one's voice to be heard above them, even if they're in the distance, the American toads' chorus is lower pitched and a bit softer, but still perfectly audible. I very much enjoyed hearing it from my living room. (Or is it the family room? I only have one such room and I'll be darned if I know what to call it.) So much so, that I asked my friend Pete, who has some fancy electronic recording device (he's a music composer and performer, you see) to come record them for me, just so you could hear them, too. That evening, there were no calls, nor have there been since. The darn wet area mostly dried up, literally overnight! There's a creek about 20 feet away, but obviously they did not move there. Undaunted, Pete and I headed out to some other local places where we knew frogs would be calling. (The previous three years we've done a frog and toad survey for Ann Arbor Natural Area Preservation, so we know where to go.) We (by which I mean Pete) got an awesome recording of chorus frogs with spring peepers in the background in a wet area of woods near Stone School and Morgan. (We do the survey purely by song, not sight, so I don't have any cute photos of the beasties in the way Wildlife Gardener does! Well, OK, I do have a cute photo of a chorus frog, completely unrelated to the official survey, SOMEwhere, but it's not digital and could be... anywhere.)
Mt. Pleasant MG Conference
A year or so back, I gave a talk on winter seed sowing for the Isabella County master gardeners in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan (two hours northwest of Ann Arbor). They offered me a free vendor table at the conference this year, which I gladly accepted as a way to step out of my comfort zone and try my hand at selling my book, Fun with Winter Seed Sowing, in person without also presenting. I've never been a vendor before. My table was in the same room as the speakers, not in the side room with all the real vendors. This had the advantage that I could see/hear the speakers, which the other vendors could not. But I believe more traffic existed in the actual vendor area. No matter, I met my objective of being a chatty salesperson (did I mention this was outside my comfort zone?) and sold a few books.
Imagine me sitting in the chair instead of behind the camera and you get the idea! Books in middle, signs to the right, winter-sown samples to the left.
Last week, I taught a composting class at Washtenaw Community College. I devised a game for the class where I divided the class into small groups. Each group had maybe 30 small cards onto which I'd written things like "coffee grounds," "rabbit doo doo," "egg shells," and "meat scraps." Based on what I had just covered, and a little extrapolation, they had to decide whether what was written on the card was green (nitrogen-heavy), brown (carbon-heavy), or not compostable and place that card into an appropriately labeled envelope. I wasn't sure if they would enjoy this, but I figured it would be fun, and based on their feedback, it was!
The Dove chocolate was meant to be an incentive but it melted in the car and was instead a blob!
Blog Excellence Award
Some time ago, Garden Girl bestowed me with a blog excellence award. Who me? Blush. I'd like to thank the academy... or at least Garden Girl! The award is technically a meme in that if you accept it, you're supposed to pass it on to/tag 10 others who need to pass it on to 10 others who... Garden Girl says she's not so into rules, and I see her point. I'm not one for pyramid schemes. I do however believe in passing on praise, so I would like to mention some blogs I enjoy reading, and to whom I would make the award. You'll excuse me in that they're not all garden-related.
I really enjoy Precarious Tomato's blog, which I came across randomly. I enjoy her offbeat sense of humor and practical life approach. She'd be able to write several paragraphs about how, say, she wore her shirt backwards (which, um, yeah, hi, I managed to do today) that would have you rolling with laughter.
I check in from time to time at Inhabitat, which is all about design with an eco bent. I really dig the wonderful news and photos this site's many authors convey. Admittedly, the cutting edge, extra hip feel of the site sometimes makes me feel decidedly poor and UNhip, but I do enjoy the info there.
I also stumbled upon Christine Kane's blog. She's a singer and songwriter, whose music I don't follow, but who also talks about pursuing your dreams and aligning your purpose with your life's work (which I really dig). Plus, she makes up whole life stories and scenarios for her cats, which, well, yeah, I thought I was alone in!
And now for fun garden blogs, with a huge caveat: I'm still getting used to organizing blogs in Blotanical and never seem to be able to spend as much time reading these wonderful sites as I'd like to! Plus, I'm always amazed at the quantity and quality of blog postings with such great photos and information. There's so much to read and it's quite hard to narrow down favorites.
I enjoy A Wildlife Gardener's beautiful photo essays in Our Little Corner of Paradise. I also love wildlife and I've always been a bit of an Anglophile, so this blog fits right in. I always feel like I'm transported to her backyard. Wildie, do you watch Corrie (and yes, I know Manchester isn't in Scotland!)? Americans never know what I'm on about!
Frances at Faire Garden also posts frequent and beautiful photos of wonderful blooms in her Tennessee garden, and she's been a friendly and frequent commenter in my own blog. Her garden looks so inviting!
Garden Wise Guy in Santa Barbara offers fun anecdotes, gardening and otherwise. It's also really interesting to learn about gardening in a zone so different to my own, in terms of temperature and humidity!
Golden Age Gardens posts frequent photos and info about Victorian gardens, a particular interest of mine, especially those in England, his home country. It's fun to go back in history, right from my computer chair, at his blog.
Yolanda Elizabet's Bliss is another site with lots of great photos. She's in Holland, another favorite place of mine, and she also likes cats. What more is there to say?!
Bek's Augenblicke im Garten offers a great selection of garden stories and photos, in German and English. She has a second site that compares life in the US and Austria, which is of particular interest to me, as my dad was Austrian. Plus, it's nice to learn German names of plants. I also enjoy a few other German garden bloggers, such as Sabine's Creekside Gardens and Wurzerl's Garten-Impressionen.
Finally, back to where we started, I like Garden Girl's blog, and I don't even hold the fact that she's so near the Chicago Botanic Garden against her. Much. ;-) She posts nice photos and interesting stories.
Cincy Flower Show
You're kidding right? You want to read yet more? I'm surprised you even made it down this far. Aren't you tired? I admit I am, so my photos and recap shall have to wait a bit longer. Oh, all right then. Here's one photo to tide you over.
A happy, cute, and friendly window box display. I love the colors!