Gotta Garden

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Mary Washington House Update

Okay, okay...I have not been the faithful correspondent I imagined I would be back in spring. But, you'll forgive me, right? I did get my hours but I didn't spend as much time in Mary's Garden this year as I would have liked. For those of you who might not know, the Mary Washington House is the home of George Washington's mother. I am part of a group of volunteers who work in Mary's garden. Here's a list of some of the previous posts on the MWH I've done.

Anyway, last post's fig reminded me that I had some pictures from early September to share. You'll see exactly what I mean in a minute.

It's always changing in the garden (like any garden) and I find things that I've seen over and over take on a new look. The crepe myrtle petals on the brick were just very striking that day.

Mary's vegetable garden (Isn't it lovely to look at?)

The zinnias were proudly waving and very eye-catching:

Sweet Autumn Clematis...note the posts in front:

Now you know....

Here's an upward view of figs at the Mary Washington House:

And, a not-so-great picture of a very tasty and sweet fig...yum!

Now you know why I want to wrap my tree this year (the one at the MWH doesn't have to be wrapped...)!

Bits and Pieces 102407

After whining about our lack of rain, it is with delight that I inform you that it is raining!! Yes! Right now, in fact. Picture a big smile on my face....

This past weekend, DH and I attended Lilyhemmer in PA. It probably deserves its own post, so I'll just say it was so fun!

The weekend before, I attended the RADS Banquet in Richmond where Jamie Gossard was the guest speaker. Can you say Daylilies, Daylilies, Daylilies?? More on this later, too...maybe with the Lilyhemmer one.

Amazingly, I have a daylily blooming. It's BUTTERED POPCORN and this has been a fabulous rebloom it has gifted me with this month. Not a fancy daylily by today's modern standards, but a workhorse plant.

The veggies are done. The last tomato plant, Sungold, is now gone along with all the peppers. I might still squeeze a final harvest of basil. We'll see (I do love pesto...more on of these days...over at Gotta Eat).

The roses have been blooming and putting on a nice display...even with no water...

My South Carolina Tea Olive continues to pour out fragrant blooms:

Here's my fig tree...which is from a cutting off of the one at the Mary Washington House. This fruit won't have time to ripen, sadly....I am counting on my neighbor down the street to help me wrap this tree for winter. I've not done this in the past and it basically dies down and then has to start all over again. She wrapped hers last year and has been eating lots of figs. I'm eager to give it a try (the wrapping...and the eating!).

This is a bit of what's going on around here....

African Violets...cont..

Recently, October 4th to be exact, I put up pictures of some of the African Violets I have…those that were currently in bloom. I like African Violets, especially the newer ones with fancy leaves and fancier blooms. As I mentioned in that post, I think I stumbled on the secret with them…less is more. I just leave them alone until I happen to notice they are bone dry, then I add water (from the bottom, usually). Most, not all, respond to this pretty well. They’re keepers, as far as I’m concerned. Those and the orchids which, so far, seem to make it with my neglect, are my idea of houseplants. I just can’t seem to keep up with them like I should (or as most require). Okay, I have a spider plant that seems to hang around (my air cleaner), a Christmas cactus (a Thanksgiving one, I think, really) and a hoya….There are a few others, but they are probably on their way out as I acknowledge (to the world) that I am a neglectful, neglectful houseplant person…

Anyway, those African Violets really brighten my day. Such a small thing, but I find them charming. If you haven’t checked out some of the newer ones, you’ll be amazed at how big the blooms are getting. If I’m at a show, I try to hop over to the African Violet vendors to see what they have. They’re very hard to resist! Plus, they’re usually not expensive (always good). I’m constrained by space (they sit on a table with some of the orchids and other plants), but when has that ever stopped me.

So, on one of my, of late, infrequent jaunts about the gardening blog world, I happened upon Carol of May Dreams Gardens’ post about African Violets. Reading along, and giving Carol the benefit of the doubt that she means it humorously, I was still rather taken aback at her characterization of African Violets as “your grandmother’s plants” and how you should only have one per decade of age lest you be thought of as old. My first intention was to leave a comment, but I realized I had quite a bit to say and thought it would be better addressed here. By the way, I attempted to copy the section I mentioned to quote it exactly here, but was unable to. I saw at the bottom that Carol does allow 100 words with credit, which, of course, I would do, but I’m ignorant of how to actually copy it. (Appreciate the heads up though to the right click folks. Think I’m might try that, too.)

Anyhow…although I am coming upon a big birthday, I still don’t think of myself as old…unless I am joking with someone or wanting to claim some benefit of age! I didn’t know either of my grandmothers very well, so I don’t really know if they had any African Violets. I do know my dad pretty well, however, and he once propagated and grew numerous African Violets (he’s never been a grandmother or an old woman…). I think he was fascinated with the process and the reward they gave, something I can identify with (Thanks, Dad!). Usually, the vendors at the shows I’ve been to are men as well, sometimes women, but I haven’t yet met one who was elderly.

Now, there are African Violet clubs and societies just as there are for other plants people like to collect such as daylilies, orchids, daffodils and others you could probably name. There are…ahem…some older folks in these groups. I think that is probably because they have the time…finally…in their lives to be active participants. My experience has been that some of these folks are hard to keep up with!

I don’t know this, but I’m just putting a guess out there that maybe this thought (one I’ve never had) about them being grandmother plants might have come about because 1) they are inexpensive and 2) they make great plants to take to someone who is ill and/or in the hospital (small, blooming, and, again, not costly)….

Since it’s a big blog world out there, I’m putting forth that you can have as many as you like…no rules…have fun with them! Shouldn’t gardening, whether indoor or not, be fun? Like what you like, collect whatever moves you, and certainly grow whatever brings you pleasure.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Catching Up

I feel as if I have some catching up to do…then, I remind myself that one of the joys of blogging is not having constraints. You do what you want to do when you want to do it.

I happened across Kim's aka Blackswamp_Girl’s post on Not In My Garden. Quite clever and interesting (Love your new header, btw!). It reminded me a bit of the phases one goes through in gardening which I wrote some about here. Not exactly, you understand, but the whole idea of what one wants and doesn’t want is a changing process. Things you thought you’d never like, a few years down the road become appealing…and things you thought you’d always like become uninteresting. That’s life.

I do appreciate the mention. I’m always happy to find someone has included me or linked me or whatever. Funny, though, while I am unabashedly a daylily enthusiast, it, too, is a learning process for me. I am enjoying the journey. Daylilies, for me, are like surprise packages…never the same, endless possibilities…and, at this point and time, they hold my interest. If you were to walk around my garden with me (ignoring the weeds, naturally), you might be surprised to learn that there are many things here besides daylilies. Some represent different phases of gardening interest, some remind me of travels and events, and some are just whims.

It amuses me a bit that the wandering salesperson or campaign volunteer or whatever-reason-one-might-ring-a-doorbell-person, just about always will ask me the question: What are all the tags for? Note, they are not visible from the street, for the most part….you have to come inside my yard (that gardening in thing). Most are not familiar with daylilies on a scale of this magnitude but just about everyone understands collecting with a passion.

As for me and my gardening phases, I have certainly felt changes in the last few years. This year, I made very few of my garden expeditions to nurseries here and there. I’m out of room, for the most part, but have found that I don’t have a lot of wants, plant-wise, anymore. I mean, I can still be tempted, but I’m better (ha) at resisting. I like the whole shopping and buying thing, but don’t like the sitting-in-the-shady-pot-ghetto-all-summer and then finding more than a few have not appreciated that. I mean to get to them. Somehow, time gets away from me and I get to this point where it is a race to get them into the ground (no longer in fighting form after their long summer) because the whole storing them in the garage thing just doesn’t work for most.

With the drought, it seems pointless to buy plants (except daylilies…okay, most of those have been in the works for quite a while)…it’s enough of a job to try to keep watered (by hand) those that aren’t established. Fortunately, most (not all) of the established plants seem to be hanging on through this extreme lack of rain.

But, back to the point. (I know, you wonder, does she really have one?) I don’t really look at plants, plantings, gardens, etc. with the same eye I used to. There was a time when I would zero in on the unusual, odd, new or just plain different plant and think “I’ve got to have one.”….and, in most cases, I got it. I didn’t really care if it wasn’t exactly suited to my environment, I just wanted the pleasure of growing (or trying ) it. Jokingly, I have called various gardens of mine, “The Test Gardens” because I didn’t really know if what I planted would make it. I learned a great deal that way. I think I liked challenges.

Now, (here it comes) I don’t really look at things with an eye of “Not in my Garden”. I just appreciate it or them for what it is. Interesting. Clever. Wild. Spectacular. Peaceful. Unusual. Whimsical. Hard-to-care-for (the Better You Than Me category). It’s just pleasurable to experience it. I now know that I probably will never have a Japanese Garden (like Kim), but I enjoy very much visiting one.

I think I can thank Felder Rushing for some part in my evolvement. I laughed so much during his talk (which I wrote about here)…and I appreciated the things he showed without having to experience it myself. Which I kinda think is the essence of Kim’s post. She can experience and appreciate others’ choices without having to have them herself. And vice versa. That's major...actually, a really nice phase to be in! I’m just saying that, for me, I have learned to never say never.


More tomorrow. Really.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

African Violets

On a more cheery note, I happened in here (here being the room where my computer is...vs the one the whole family uses...and where my houseplants...for the most part....endure...err, I mean live!)...and to my surprise and pleasure, some of the African Violets are in bloom:

Now, isn't that nice. I can't take any credit, however, because I am a neglectful houseplant person. I keep meaning to cut them down to just the African Violets and Orchids because they best seem to appreciate my...lack...of attention. I'm thinking maybe that's the secret to African Violets...ignore them...and look what you get!

Water Restrictions

Here in Stafford County, VA, we are currently experiencing drought conditions and have mandatory water restrictions. As of Monday, those restrictions will increase and only hand watering (outside) will be allowed. Well, at least there's that. A tiny bright spot is that does show rain headed our way the latter part of next week, but that could always change.

I've been trying to be a good steward and have lost some things, as one would expect. Right now, I'm trying to hurry-up my fall getting-ready-for-winter program. My plan (ha) is to try to get everything all mulched by Sunday (will never happen, but I can dream) and then use that, the last day, to water thoroughly with a hose.

My biggest concern are new plantings. And, since I move daylilies in and out, I have quite a few of those. Somewhere around six or so new daylilies are on their way to me now. I'll get some of those currently potted up, but not Sunday. My biggest worry is my seedlings. I have tons still waiting to be planted out...which I want to do to ensure they're settled in before winter...but, it would be much easier to water them by hand if I leave them in their planting boxes...half a dozen of this, half a dozen of that.

I know I'm not alone...I've heard of water issues from a lot of folks/places and even some areas of Virginia are worse off than we are. However, the areas directly surrounding us do not appear to have these issues...and misery does love company.

Anyway, I have a backlog of things I've been meaning to get to (there's always winter)...for the moment, though, I'm headed out to drag the soil amendments around and see what's hanging on through this...

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

My mission at the book store was to purchase a copy of a book I had recently borrowed from the library (review will come…eventually). Book stores are fascinating places with temptations beckoning all over. Seating myself on the handy bench, I proceeded to look at the new fiction. Pad in hand to write down interesting titles, my eyes were drawn to Garden Spells. No, I thought, I’m not into that type of stuff. Still, my eyes wouldn’t let go. It must be the garden in that title, my mind reasoned. Yet, my hand pulled it off the shelf and I opened it and began to read. Just a tiny bit, I told myself, enough to see if I like it, and then I’ll put it back.

And that, my friends, is how Sarah Addison Allen pulls you in. The book didn’t go back onto the shelf. No, it marched itself (practically) to the register where I found myself paying for it (and no discount…I paid full price…whatever has possessed me). Home we went, the book and I, where I sat on the couch with my feet comfortably under me (no comments) and dug in. Surely, I had other things to do. It didn’t matter. I was more interested in Claire Waverley and Bascom, North Carolina.

I want a house to belong to, as Claire does, and a rather unique garden. Even more (I think), I want to write like Ms. Allen. Delicious and smooth, this book reminded me of an ice cream cone I couldn’t put down. I’m sure I made dinner (I don’t really remember), and the tv must have been on…all I know is that I was deep into the arrival of Claire’s sister Sydney and daughter Bay…and oh, the neighbor, Tyler. Sleep, I did do that, but the next morning, the book was back in my hand. Things all around me beckoned; it was a gorgeous day to be out in the garden. Still, I sat on the couch and devoured this book.

I knew it was coming to an end and part of me wanted to savor it, draw it out and not let it end, but I couldn’t help myself. I had to know. So, in a little more than 24 hours, I had completed the book. Big sigh. It was so good.

If you like small southern towns (come on now, who doesn’t?), small southern town ways and small southern town people…add a little dash of mysticism, a beloved garden and an endearing story of coming home…well, you’ve got a pretty perfect story. Hurry up and write more, Sarah Addison Allen, we’re out here waiting…

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