Monday, May 25, 2009

Mish-Mash Memorial Monday

Happy Memorial Day! And lest you think I'm getting in a rut with Mish-Mash Monday, note that today it's Mish-Mash Memorial Monday. Ha! Well, let's get to it.

Monday Maths
I just love Esther's Monday Maths, and I've been inspired to do a second one myself. I didn't write a poem, but hopefully that's offset by the fact that I actually drew something. Esther told me, and I quote, "Not being able to draw is never a reason for not drawing!" So there you go! Crayon is definitely my medium.

You Really Are Priceless!
As Monday Maths tries to convey, I'm very grateful for all the great people I've met through gardening, both in real life and online. You guys are the best! Gardeners love to share and I'm so thankful for all the plants I've gotten from local friends over the years, and recently from my blogging friends! As mentioned in another post, Shady Gardener sent me some Virginia bluebells.

But it's not just plants, but camaraderie we gardeners share. I got to know two of my closest friends IRL through the master gardener program and I've enjoyed getting to know so many of you online. I love getting and leaving comments and I enjoyed meeting a few of you already, and I'm looking forward to meeting more of you at SF. I truly consider you friends, who pick me up and share their lives, gardening and otherwise.

Last week, I got two packages in the mail, one from Gail in TN and one from Randy in AL. Here are the contents of both packages, waiting to be planted. Gail sent Phlox pilosa (also known as PPPP), Penstemon X, and Iris cristata. Randy sent two very cute baby shrubs: a nandina which I had oohed and aahed over in his blog and a sweet mock orange (Philadelphus coronarius), plus Crocosmia 'Firefly' and a bunch of bearded iris rhizomes, including 'Beverly Sills,' my first ever named iris. I know!

Here is PPPP close-up, with Penstemon X in the background.

And here are the sweet mock orange (left) and the nandina. Noogies times 2! (In case you're wondering, nandina is hardy to zone 6 and I'm zone 5b, but I'll be taking it inside over winter for some years to come.)

I hope my Monday Maths drawing is good enough for Gail to pick out her PPPP and for Randy to find his nandina! And thanks so much to both of you for sharing your plants with me!

I also got three offers from my English garden friends to mail me tea, based on another post, which was so nice and unexpected! Thanks so much in advance!

In Bud and In Bloom
I still have a lot more plants thinking of blooming than I have actual blooms.

I bought a few perennials in 4-inch pots a few weeks back at a really good price. I wasn't expecting them to bloom this year, and yet this delphinium has buds already... does this red hot poker. I love how its buds and foliage look together--sort of like a yucca, even! I even love its curving stem, stretching up behind some evergreen shrubs for the light.

On May 21, my first iris was getting ready to open. I love how the yellow beard peeks out here.

Today two other irises are open, both this pale yellow color, but most of my irises still have buds.

A few centaurea have popped up here and there in the garden. I love how they inserted themselves in the middle of these rudbeckia.

One of my favorite currently-blooming plants is Jack in the pulpit. You'll have to trust me when I tell you this location is sunny only for about 2 hours a day. I think this is what they mean by backlit photography! :)

I have five little clumps of pinks, three of which are blooming. I got these free, along with some sedum, as they were left over after I helped plant a green roof in downtown Ann Arbor last May. I even went back last November to get some snow photos of the green roof, but I have yet to post about this!

This amsonia is a really cool shade of very pale blue.

I keep meaning to move this allium but forget where it is in fall. I love the way it's hiding in the viburnum foliage (note Burny also has flower buds!).

This shot doesn't really convey the beauty of this red twig dogwood, which I bought on deep discount some six years ago as a sad-looking shrub maybe 2.5 feet tall and 1 foot wide. It's now over 6 feet tall and just about as wide and it's blooming its heart out. (Linda, that's the thyme we got from the ChiBot last July to the bottom right there. I've moved it twice.)

Here is a red twig dogwood flower cluster up close. Awwwww!

Some Anemone are still blooming, but a few are done. I love how their seedheads look. I never realized they turned oblong, like coneflowers do.

I love how this squirrel is just standing here, like that's the most normal position for a squirrel, ever.

And she posed for me here, too, though my macro feature wanted to focus on the tree bark.

And can you find the American toad in this photo? I knew you could!

I love the silhouette of an ant (not The Iron Ant, incidentally) on the peony bud.

Finally, Fiona says that if you missed James' birthday post yesterday, please stop by to wish him belated greetings. She also wants to assure you that while she is no longer a stray, she can still fend for herself and can unilaterally be considered wild. (IMHO, she's a sweet housecat, but no one asked me!) And in case you're wondering, and even if you're not, Fiona's nicknames will be covered on her birthday, July 4.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Happy Birthday, Jimi!

James is 16 years old today. And to embarrass both of us, I thought I'd share all the nicknames he has. If you're a pet person, you'll understand. And if not, well, then please humor a crazy cat lady!

He was six months old and already named James when he came to live with me. James is not a name I'd have picked, but it really suited him so I kept it. I added the middle name Oberon* a few years back.

I most frequently call him James, Jimi, or Jamie, but he's also Jimmers, Jimi Jam, Jammers, Jacques, Jacques E. Nelli, Jimo, Jimoze, Jimilini, Jimilini Beeni, Lini, Jiminelli, Jimminelli Boom Boom Nelli, Nelli, Mr. Orange, Orange, Tiger Bites, Boo, Boo Boo, Baby, Bay, and Boy (and, frankly, sometimes also Girl in the same way that Fiona is sometimes Boy. It's the aging and distracted brain!). Note he is never Jim.

Please raise your paws and join us in some birthday tuna!

*Named neither for Shakespeare's king of shadows and fairies nor for the outermost moon of Uranus (though both are fitting for different reasons), but rather for my favorite beer, a summer ale brewed by Kalamazoo-based Bell's Brewery, as he's that color.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Mish-Mash Monday

Mish-Mash Monday seems to be turning into a bit of a habit...or a classic! ;-) To change it up a bit, I've added subheadings to direct you!

We've had frost advisories the past four nights and I dutifully covered my winter-sown seedlings each night, though frost never happened. Except last night! Eep! (Note: I am not receiving free trays in exchange for showing product names in my blog, but I'm very open to the idea!)

The seedlings all look OK, but we'll see (knock wood). The seedlings are hardened off (being winter-sown and all), but they're still babies and can't handle the frost uncovered. My garden is way, way too big to cover, but I forgot to pull Piney and Mini-Me Piney under the eaves, but they too look OK (knock wood).

The castor beans, sown in a milk jug, look to be doing fine!

Yesterday I tied two five-gallon buckets to my bike and rode 3 miles to visit my friend Carole and return said buckets to her. The ride is huff-puff uphill on the way there. I had to get off and walk my bike, Trekkie, twice on inclines too steep for me to keep pedaling (in the past I could manage these inclines, but wheeze-struggle-for-air now I can't. I decided not to feel bad about this because I was at least getting some exercise). On the way home, it was wheeeeeeeeeee! mostly downhill and if I hadn't needed to stop at various intersections, it would have been almost like flying home!

I stopped on the Huron Parkway bridge and snapped this photo of the Huron River--can you make out the canoers at the far right?

And just a bit south, at the Huron Hills Golf Course, I passed a little rain garden. Trekkie is next to a non-functioning drinking fountain and the ball washer is just to the left of that. When I was on a work golf league 20 (20? Good gravy! It really has been 20!) years ago, my favorite golf-course features were the ball washers. In fact when my friend initially told me what they were, I thought he was pulling my leg. Who'da thunk it?!

The garden itself didn't have much blooming yet, except some golden Alexander (Zizea aurea) at the back, for which I couldn't get a good close-up.

While looking around the Blogger Dashboard, I saw the selection "Monetize." I was quite excited thinking it would apply some kind of graphic filter that would pixelate my photos, but no. They were weren't talking about applying Monet-like effects, but about earning money from blogging. DOH!

As you may have noticed, I'm a bit of a tea snob. You just can't help it if your ex-mother-in-law and ex-step-mother-in-law are English and you met them at the impressionable age of 19! I've always splurged on Typhoo decaf because I just don't like other decaf brands, but for some reason I was buying PG Tips as the regular tea, perhaps as it's a bit cheaper. The other day I bought Typhoo regular instead and MAN do I like it orders magnitude more than PG Tips. It really puts the nice in "nice cup of tea." (No, I am not getting free tea in exchange for positive reviews in my blog, but I'm very open to the idea!) Note for English friends: Tea in the U.S. is a lot weaker than in England; even those sold under the same brand names. Milk just weakens it more. I used to go to Canada to get stronger tea (still not quite as strong as English, but close), but in recent years the same tea sold in England is available at some local stores in the international aisle, ooh er.

For the first time ever, I think I've seen hummingbirds in my garden. I thoroughly cleaned and filled a hummingbird feeder and occasionally see small blurs of red and dark green flit by it, which, even though I haven't gotten a good close-up look, let along managed to take a photo, I'll assume are indeed hummers. Yay!

Plant Swap & Garden Tour
The plant swap went well on Saturday, despite the chilly and drab weather. You can see some of the attendees here (the lucky ones were behind me and escaped the camera!) I got a bunch of new stuff to plant including a yellow trout lily! Only a subset of folks braved the weather long enough to tour my garden, but that went fine as well. Weeds abounded, but I used Sweet Bay's suggestion of telling them to pretend to wear special glasses that blocked out the weeds!

Thanks to all your encouraging comments while I was panicking trying to get my garden ready. It is true we tend to fuss too much. But I assure you that I really had (and have!) a lot to do — I was using the tour (which I planned way back in February) as a motivator to get me to do all I wanted to do, only it didn't turn out that way. So I wasn't trying to make it perfect so much as get around to some of the many things that have been on my list for a very long time. Well, gardeners understand, right?!

In the Garden
Not too much is blooming right now in my garden. A few exceptions include:

...this lovely phlox (not a PPPP, but a regular garden phlox), new chokeberry shrub,

...this glorious cushion spurge (it's over 2 feet wide and nearly 2 feet tall!),

...these really adorable silver bells (Ornithogalum nutans), which I had trouble photographing, but you can see a better photo here,

...this small variegated red-twig dogwood,

...these daffodils (which I thought I saw on Jan's blog and thought I'd commented that they looked like dogs hanging their heads out of a car window with their ears flapping in the breeze, only now I can't find it on her site) which I just discovered hiding under some evergreen shrubbery,

...this cute yellow columbine (the groundhog ate the purple one), and

...two tulips (out of 100+) the groundhog did not eat.

Lots of things have nice buds, including:

...Jupiter's beard, dear purple smoke bush, and peonies, which are earlier this year than normal, presumably due to the rainy spring.

I've been planting a lot, which means transplanting a lot. For example, a forsythia was too close to my large dogwood out front, so after pruning it down to a manageable size, I dug it out (no problem) and moved it to one of my two "wilder" beds (big problem). I had to get out the chainsaw to cut down some buckthorn and then I had to dig out buckthorn roots to make the hole. I also moved a Miss Kim lilac to have room to plant the phlox, which was no problem, except there was a non-buckthorn tree root right where the lilac needed to go. This root is small compared to the roots I usually have to deal with, and maybe a quarter of the size of the one that sent me flying off the spade the other day.

Also of interest are several mushrooms (fungi?) growing horizontally off the stump of a cut-down cottonwood. This one's for you, WiseAcre Gardens!

And that's it for today. Whew! Happy Mish-Mash Monday.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Monica's Garden Foibles

A Quick Update and Second Guest Post by The Iron Ant

Hello! It's The Iron Ant again, from the previous post! Monica wanted to participate in Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, but she's been a little distracted trying to ready her garden for a tour tomorrow. Not only doesn't she have recent photos to show, but she didn't even realize it was the 15th until she started seeing all the GBBD posts! Why she thought her garden would be ready for a tour, I don't know, and neither does she (I asked her).

I noticed Monica has been doing funny things lately. For example, she complains about how much there is to do outside and then spent all day yesterday volunteering at the master gardener phone help line!

On Wednesday, she found a morel mushroom in a most unusual way. She was digging out a huge clump of tansy, to make room for a chokeberry, and jumped on the shovel with both feet. Only the shovel hit a very big, thick tree root, which sent her flying, landing ungraciously on some balloon flowers, Helenium, gooseneck loosetrife, and the morel in question, which came off at the base of the stem. The other plants, and her behind, are fine.

In other news, very strong winds yesterday toppled Piney again, despite the brick recently added to the bottom of her pot, and knocked a winter-sowing tray upside down onto the ground. Fortunately, it had its lid on and the soil didn't spill too much. The cell pack containing her main seeds of concern, wild petunia from MMD, seem to be OK but it's hard to say. We'll just have to wait and see.

~The Iron Ant

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Willy-Nilly Wednesday

Guest Post by The Iron Ant

Hello! Monica has been very busy lately, moreso thinking about all she has to do in the garden than actually doing most of it, but now she's getting a bit panicky as she offered her garden for a tour after the plant swap she's hosting on Saturday. So today, inspired by the good job Manny Mantid did yesterday for Frances, I'm doing this post for Monica.

Let me introduce myself. I'm the Iron Ant. Can you see me there in Piney?

Here I am close up (note how Monica forgets about her shadow when taking photos.) I'm made of a railroad tie stake by an artist at the Toledo Botanical Garden and came home with Monica (which is pretty amazing as she's really cheap) last summer. (I promised not to sit on her peonies.) I'm going through a list of Monica's notes to put this post together.

Monica was very happy last week to receive some Virginia bluebells in the mail from Shady Gardener in Iowa! Here's what they looked like, cut back for the journey. They had healthy roots and are now in Monica's northern shade garden. Thanks so much, Shady!

The next two photos are, with apologies for this one, for Linda who tweeted that rabbits had eaten both her tiarella and anemones.

Here is a tiarella to tide you over.

And here are some ersatz anemones. Oddly, our groundhog leaves both of these alone.

Monica also received an email asking her to review some free products on her blog. Several bloggers have been complaining about this practice, but Monica's main reaction was "Why doesn't anybody want to send me free stuff?!" (I told you she's cheap.) As it turns out, she wasn't interested in any of the items, but if she had been, she'd have accepted them with the caveat to the company that she'd review them, good or bad, and the caveat to blog readers that she was given them to review.

In other news, there may have been an incident here at Garden Faerie's Musings involving a human having to bathe a cat. Let's just say the circumstances leading to this are equally embarrassing and equally attributable to both Monica and Fiona, and that it went about 106 times better than Monica had feared. James and I stayed the heck out of the way.

We had a frost warning for both Sunday and Monday nights. Monica covered the winter-sown seedlings. They are, by their very winter-sown nature, hardened off, but they're also babies and Monica didn't want them to get frostbite! They're growing. A lot of silene had already been planted in the garden, and they are fine.

Others, like tomato, lupine, and borage have been transplanted to larger containers for the plant swap.

Finally, I'm a little worried about this guy. He seems to have followed Monica home from the visit to her mother's house. I'm just not sure about him — I mean, what's he planning to do with that mushroom, anyway?

I prefer this gargoyle. He's guarding the deck from groundhogs and you can tell where you stand with him.

Well, that's it for my guest post. I'm feeling a little rusty. ~The Iron Ant