Just got a huge bag of lovely daffodils, 100 dn1. I should be able not only to finish the row along the side of the quonset barn but put in a row in the lavender field and share a bunch with Mom as well. A lady saw me loading them into the truck and asked if they were onions, a reasonable query as they are in the same sort of net bag and about the same size. Being deer & gopher proof adds to their value too.
As I can't possibly plant along the barn until we get a good soaking rain, I will have to figure out how to store most of them. But it was far too good a deal to pass up and they are beautiful bulbs, full of promise.
One of the treats of mid-summer: hosts of butterflies floating about everywhere. The nearly black Mourning Cloaks have superceded the Spring Azures and one can barely walk through the garden, much less drive out to the road, without raising a cloud of them.
Last week's close to a foot of snow Chinooked away in about a day, leaving mud and miscellaneous snowpiles behind. It wasn't here long enough to really get set firmly in the mind, but it is very strange to be this near to Christmas and bare ground and in the 40's. 'Taint natural. There are primroses still blooming, and pansies. If we get the usual circum New Year's sub-zero days, plants will really get hurt. And looking at the weeds humming along to themselves, I do wish it would freeze hard once again.
One good thing about zero: everything sparkles. It was a rousing1° F this morning, and when the sun rose over the mountain at quarter to 10, the garden was all over glitter and diamonds. It still is at noon.
Reaching on tip-toe to gather all the poplar buds I could, I realized I was echoing the deer. We both stand on two legs to get at them, clambering through the snow and lower branches for this treat. We may use them differently (they're too bitter for my taste) but somehow we both crave them. They are intensely fragrant and make a good salve or balm for us two-leggeds; they are anti-scorbutic to the deer. It is pleasing to see how similar we are.
Weed-o-rama! The spring rains came back and the grass has leapt into action, choking everything. Digging it out by the barrowful only seems to encourage it. This is the one plant I wish I could wave a magic wand and ask to behave. Less annoying weeds like Miner's Lettuce and Alpine Forget Me Nots I smile at and maybe yank--or eat the lettuce. Weeding can be overwhelming, but the crickets' chirping and the Meadowlark's songs are cheering. Saw a snake the other day, almost a month early. (People used to say snakes brought thunder, and I can see why: they seem most active on hot, muggy days.)
The heat is oppressive for the shade plants & myself and the weeks without rain seem downright unnatural. We're at the point of just hanging on until the rains come--maybe a month yet. Grasshoppers and some fantastical crickets the size of little mice (no joke!) have wreaked havoc with the fruit trees. The Gloriosa daisies, lilies and lavenders all still look good, troupers that they are, and the Lysimachias are flowering now--seems a bit early but then this year has been out of calendar from March onward. Even the snake in the rosebush looked tired.
Prepping the gardens for winter means cutting away venues for voles--a good tidy up and exposure of the nests they've already made to get out of the fall rains. It's amazing how much their nest material looks like some felting project gone awry.
Midwinter chores include tucking heeled-in plants back into the ground after the deer toss them, ick-poo! for not tasting good.
Bright sun break in all the rain (the rainiest January in over 30 years) and a chance to survey the double Primroses blooming where the snow has melted. There are some violets too, venturing a flower here or there. The surprise is the Helleborus foetidus, opening its flowers about a month early. In the greenhouse the Aubrieta gracilis is doing the same.
The barometer was at 29.06 this morning, the lowest I've ever seen. It has stormed all day, melting back the weekend's snow and slathering on more rain. The gardens are a soggy icy mess. Even the grouse are tippy-toeing around. In the greenhouse nothing is stirring after last week's zero cold spell. Indoors though, the germinators are running and the cat peeks from time to time to see if there's anything just for her in there. The poplar buds gathered last month made a nice salve and will make a batch of soap this week as they are good for the skin and smell wonderful.
Typical spring weather: bright & sunny and snowing while I'm digging plants for market and mail. The days alternate between that and rain squalls. Daffodils are beginning to bloom, and the ducks are nesting.
The voles who seem to nest continually have made great strides in converting several garden beds into vole cities. Totally aggravating and a great loss of plants, but when one reads that they mate for life, and sing for their mates. . . .
Autumn is the only real travelling time for northern farmers; nothing much to water, nothing more to harvest, no pipes to have to worry about bursting and no snowy roads to plow. This year: Tumwater via train, and the farms and nurseries out the window were still in progress. Beautiful, and a bit daunting to think of farming year-round! We did Soapmaking 101 and adored the bright weather.
Seedlists, seed catalogs, seed pans, heatmats, oh yes and digging to find the greenhouse under the soft-serve like snow.
A Treat!! Bonus for Waiting! A yellow peony from seed bloomed the afternoon of the first market. Really-o truly-o yellow.
Transplanting like mad. Once again my eyes were bigger than the greenhouse. But there were so many delicious things to try: Grindelia, Gazania, Gnaphalium and that's just the G's. Plus new schemes for soap combinations including oils infused last summer and dried botanicals from the garden.
Weeding--has to wait. That's a constant sore point around the house; one can transplant the seedlings for the market, dig the woody plants and early risers, take root cuttings, take the chains off the tractor and put the snow shovels away------or weed the flower beds by the house. I hand-cut the grass around the roses and call it a day.
2007 is going in the garden book as a lovely year for roses--Miz Primula bloomed for nearly a month, a testament to the cool spring. Now they are coming thick and fast--the Doukhobor Rose, R. woodsii & nootkana, La Ville de Bruxelles opening well today, Mom's rose showing some color, the huge pink moss rose from Christine has 5" blooms and great piney moss, Rose de Rescht is scattering bright petals, the Sweet Briars and rugosas all blooming and casting pink confetti. Deb's aunt's rose (Harrison's Double) is even trying to out-do the blackberries in sheer petal count, and the dinky baby Pine roses are venturing a few flowers. Rosa Mundi waits a bit yet, she's a prima donna with the goods to back up her late entrance, all stripes and splashes of rose on blush. And my birthday present rose, an Autumn Damask, is large and sporting two buds. 'Gilliflower', my carnation-petalled rose (get of Terese Bugnet) is budding and this reminds me I need to re-enforce the deer fencing. There's always more to do! Including gathering a pan of Damask blossoms to infuse for soap, and pinching back the mums.
July and it's hot. Or what we think of as hot; anything over 75 is uncomfortable and over 85 is ugly. As for over 100--dismal.
The berries are thirsty, the roses are thirsty, and the butterfiles stumble into the greenhouse looking for nectar. I've gotten good at gathering them up gingerly and taking them back outside, their panicked fluttering against the plastic is awful.
The musk strawberries are in full swing now, and a basket of them is mingling its perfume with the last of the damask roses in the kitchen. Basil, perilla, rosemary and other herbs get turned into vinegars and mustards; the kitchen is a jewelbox of bottles and jars full of piquant flavors. (There are basic herb vinegar recipes here as starting points for adventuresome cooks. Nostradamus also weighs in with some canning ideas.)
The lavender are coming on now, and there are bunches hanging in dark corners to dry, there's jelly to make, oil to infuse for soap, and lots of new seedlings to line out. Those, plus new Dianthus, beebalms and mums, and all the other miscellany still looming about in the coldframes, will keep me busy until fall.
The Pink Perfection trumpet lilies look like they will get to flower this year; about 4 out of 5 years a hard frost in late April or mid May takes the buds but this year they are tall and full of promise. The trumpet vines are budding and that seems early, the forsythia persist in straggler blooms and that's late. Does bring their tottering fawns through the yard in the early mornings and late evenings and I catch my breath. Maybe this year I will again be invited to play tag by a bouncing speckled baby.
July 05, 2007
I forgot to use the pre-blister bandaid thing, so of course I got great big blisters pulling grass. But if anyone has things to make a salve for that, it's me, so I made up a little bit on the fly.
Remember, though: put the bandaids on where you're going to get a blister, and you won't get one. Works really well when you're going to be digging or raking all day and would rather keep the skin on your hands than stuck to your gloves.
Doukhabor Rose (above); Rosa La Ville de Bruxelles (below).
It's been an extremely hot, dry, long, ratty summer--very little rain, lots of wind, and trouble keeping things watered. Even with best intentions and care, some things have really suffered. For a few years at least, I won't be trying Meconopsis and some of the fussier Primulas, nor many of the juicy, cool weather loving things that have just shriveled this year. It feels a crime to subject them to this unending heat. The 6-week bout of days over 100, completely unheard of here, followed by a month of 90's & 80's, and still 80's in September, have exhausted the gardens--and the gardener. Some things that have done well in the heat have been the Salvias, an annual new to me called Alonsoa (a really bloomy critter in shades of salmon and peach), morning glories, lilies (that surprised me), and the Agastaches. Even after more than a month of neglect due to family emergency, with only the barest of watering, the Salvias have held their ground, and pleased the hummingbirds right up until they left.
» Scorched Earth
September 16, 2007
Our late fall has lingered beyond all expectations, allowing time in this awful autumn to get things done in the garden that otherwise would have had to be forgotten. With my mother sick and bed-bound, the schedule here at the nursery has been set on its ear, leaving little time for regular duties. Funny how nice the little details seem once you can't get to them! We had our first snow last week, a full two weeks late for this area, and it is gone with all the rain. The snow is gathering on the peaks above me, and as that is next year's water as well as beautiful, I am grateful. Today I got the roses sprayed with anti-gnawing agent and tomorrow the tree guards go on the saplings.
» Dark & Rainy
November 18, 2007
No matter what the calendar says, winter has been here since the beginning of the month. There have been spectacular snows and torrential melt-offs followed by bad-skating freezes. It's been snowing dusty flour-snow all day, and as long as I don't have to plow it, it's fine with me, I can look up at next year's water supply collecting on the mountain and rest easy.
Seed starting is progressing, new soap ideas are getting from the notebook to the soap pot, and there will soon be a shopping cart--at least for the soap department. While ordering will be easier, it will still mean printing out a form--for now--but shipping will be calculated and (in many instances) cheaper.
Christmas here will be very quiet, a relief in what has become a turbulent world here at the nursery. The office kitty, Minnie, is recovering from her injuries (a vestibular disorder caused a fall and head injury)--she will likely always have a tilt to her head and weakness on one side. But she is back to her bonny self, and able to get around. Not bad for 19! Things aren't quite so bright for my mom, but we're doing the best we can. I've done our holiday baking--an orange flavored Christmas bread, and rice pudding (mandatory for Swedes.) I'll post the recipes on the recipe page, but first I think I'll go have a dab of pudding.
Happy Holidays to everyone.
December 22, 2007
The new entries are on Blogger & expand this journal to include recipes, soapmaking notes and more--please take a look and tell us what you think: In Paradise.