Posts Tagged ‘garden’

spring prep

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

Temperatures are unusually warm for March in New England — 72 degrees yesterday! So of course I put on my shorts and started prepping the garden for spring. I actually cut my grasses back last week…

spring prep: cut back the grasses




















My Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’ and Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Avalanche’ grasses were already sending up green shoots. Doh!

The Nassella Tenuissima (Mexican Feather Grass) actually looked like this the entire winter…

spring prep:  the nassella tenuissima is still green!




















Green in the center! That just goes to show you how oddly mild it was here.

Cut back all the Hakonochloas, as well. They likely won’t show growth until some time in April.

I won’t bore you with more grass cutting — I’m sure that was more than enough to do the trick. But did I mention that last August I bought a Mission Black Fig? Oops, sorry. I protected it the same way I did the Musa basjoo banana last December, and uncovered it yesterday.

White tarp (to reflect rather than retain heat) came off…

spring prep: wrapped fig tree




















That revealed the crazy cylinder that David’s going to sink out back in the ground to cover the pond pump…

spring prep: tarp removed from fig




















Then I pulled out the straw I stuffed in around the branches…

spring prep: fig wrapped in straw




















And lookie dat! There’s my tiny fig tree!

spring prep: fig is unveiled




















Doesn’t look like much, I know. And it’s not, yet. I’ll have to reposition this to give it more room, actually. Given its southern position against a warm wall, it should be able to make it through in a New England winter — theoretically, and if I protect it every year. We shall see.

I’d better get out there and uncover the banana.

plants + math, the big finale

Monday, February 6th, 2012

A few weeks back, I posted the first two Doodling in Math videos — a fascinating look at spirals and Fibonacci numbers in nature. This time we finally get an answer for why plants grow the way they do. (If you haven’t seen these yet, I recommend starting with Part 1)…



I should have doodled more in math class.


nothing much to report

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Not much going on the last two days. Remodeling paused but hopefully picking up again on Monday. Did I mention we’re just days away from the one year anniversary of getting our building permit?

In the meantime, I went outside and tested that macro lens I got David for his iPhone. Wow…

seeds on my miscanthus sinensis ‘morning light’




















Super closeup of the seeds on my Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’ — in the wind, no less. Nifty. Looks like I’ll be stealing that lens from David frequently.

what winter looks like

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

The view out back this weekend…

snow on the pond




















We got about 6″. I wonder what the fish are thinking under there? (click to biggify…)

snowy out there












As soon as the deck gets rebuilt, the outdoor furniture will go back where it belongs. Until then, it will continue to collect snow on the patio and look like a really miserable spot for dinner.


it has begun

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

I’m weak. I started ordering plants for Spring last night. That is all.

5 vines i must have

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

The plant stalking for spring continues. This time up: vines. The more crazy and exotic it looks, the more I long for it.


Mina lobata “Exotic Love Vine”   an old fave. must revisit.

mina lobata “exotic love vine or spanish flag” |















Clematis viticella ‘Alba Luxurians’   so unusual. love.

clematis viticella ‘alba luxurians’ |














Vitis coignetiae (Crimson Glory Vine)   brilliant 10-12″ leaves!

vitis coignetiae (crimson glory vine) |




















Apios americana (Groundnut)  native. looks like a wonky wisteria.

apios americana (groundnut) |













Passiflora caerulea (Passionflower)   somehow mine got dug up.

passiflora caerulea (passionflower) |















Where will I put them all? Um… hmmmm. (Btw, I added a few others to Pinterest.)

winter composting

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

We go through a lot of fruits and veggies in this house. But just because it’ll be 7 degrees tonite doesn’t mean I’m going to toss my scraps in the trash. I make compost all winter, in fact, using these three cans I picked up at Ikea last year…

my composting cans




















My food scraps don’t stay in the cans — they just get a good start at breaking down into compost indoors where it’s warm before they get added to the pile outside in the freezing cold. I got the idea from Fine Gardening last winter. Check it out if you compost. This method worked well for me last winter so I’m doing it again.

The basic idea is to create a compost lasagna: chopped up leaves on the bottom, a layer of scraps, a layer of sawdust and soil (I usually use leaves and soil), a layer of scraps, and so on. As one can fills up you move to the next. The third can is for storing your sawdust-soil mixture (or in my case, chopped leaves) so it’s handy. By the time spring rolls around, you’ll have a healthy pile of compost to work into your soil.

plants i’m digging for spring

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

Thought I’d do this post for those of you who haven’t found me on Pinterest yet. Have been flipping through spring catalogs as they arrive and dog-earing things that catch my eye. This is what I’m drawn to so far…



Stachys lavandulifolia Pink Cotton Lambs Ear

stachys lavandulifolia Pink Cotton Lambs Ear |












Rosmarinis officinalis ‘Alcalde Cold Hardy’   COLD HARDY!

Rosmarinis officinalis ‘Alcalde Cold Hardy’ |












Lavendula stoechas ‘Purple Ribbon’  (Spanish Lavender)

Lavandula stoechas 'Purple Ribbon' |












or maybe this one?

Lavendula stoechas ‘Madrid Blue’ (also Spanish)

Lavandula stoechas 'Madrid Blue'  |












Monardella macrantha ‘Marian Sampson’   Freaky!

Monardella macrantha 'Marian Sampson' |












Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blond Ambition’ (Blue Grama Grass)

Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blond Ambition’ (Blue Grama Grass) |












Salvia greggii ‘Wild Thing’  Love the one I got last year so much I must have more.

Salvia greggii 'Wild Thing' |











Euphorbia ‘Blue Haze’

Euphorbia 'Blue Haze' |












Hesperaloe parviflora Perpa ‘Brakelights’   A red yucca!!

Hesperaloe parviflora Perpa ‘Brakelights’ |












Pterocephalus depressus (Carpeting Pincushion Flower)

Pterocephalus depressus (Carpeting Pincushion Flower) |













Monarda ‘Lambada’   whoa. that’s a bee balm?!

Monarda ‘Lambada’ |













Euphorbia polychroma ‘Bonfire’  the machines killed most of mine.

Euphorbia polychroma ‘Bonfire’ |














Tricyrtis ‘Blue Wonder’ Toad Lily  love. need a few more of these.

Tricyrtis ‘Blue Wonder’ (Japanese Toad Lily) |















Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Fascination’ (Veronica)

Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Fascination’ (Veronica) |














As catalogs roll in, you can expect more updates. I’ll cover vines in another post. Don’t want to wear out my welcome, ya know.


FYI: have been thrilled with many a plant purchased online from the companies above and I’ll buy that way again, fo shizzle.

back to the front

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

Well, we did it. Managed to squeeze one final outside project into 2011: the front walkway. I didn’t feel strongly about having one but David did, so we enlisted Jim Egan at Land Design Associates to create something that would tie to the rest of the hardscaping he’s done for us.

Here’s what Jim came up with…













Basically three terraced levels with steps in between. In his drawing, the top level (far left) shows the original concrete walk that fronts our concrete entryway steps and walls being replaced with granite. That’s this area…





















There was also talk of facing the concrete steps and walls with granite but that just doesn’t make sense. I think the concrete is integral to the design of the house. And there’s nothing wrong with any of it other than that stupid crack (under the black mat in the photo) at the bottom of the steps. So we’re keeping it as is and adding below it down to the street level. We realize that a granite walkway will never match the old concrete but think we can make it work.

So, our slight revision to Jim’s initial idea looks something like this (click to biggify)…

fronthill2 | rough drawing












The crew came and made short work of it. First they dug out the hillside and leveled out bases for the two terraced parts of the walkway…













That involved moving a lot of soil…





















I added a good amount of that soil to other parts of the slope after they left, shovel by shovel, and then sculpted it as I saw fit. But I digress. The crushed base went down and the steps were heaved into place…





















Then the first granite terrace went in…





















Followed by the second terrace…













And Bob’s yer uncle!

We’re left with a hillside of disturbed soil and it’s too late in the season for plants to take root. So once again, I staked biodegradable Curlex down to hold the dirt in place…

























I rolled erosion control blanket and pounded stakes until almost midnite in a mad rush to beat the ground freezing the next day. But it’s done now and I won’t touch it again until April. Looks much better, no? Remind yourself what it used to look like.

And the crack? I’ll show you another time.


last gasps

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Mid-December in the garden. You can tell we’ve been spared an early winter because the strawberry plants are just now turning color…





















The lavender and rosemary are still happy, but the rosemary’s unlikely to make it through January…





















Somehow, the Nicotiana (Flowering Tobacco) is still making flowers…





















Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’ is psyched about the cooler temperatures, as is Dryopteris erythrosora ‘Brilliance’ (Autumn Fern)…





















All three of the Cynara cardunculus (Cardoons) are growing like mad…





















The Ratibida columnifera (Mexican Hat or prairie coneflowers) recently bloomed again…





















And the bottlebrush flowers on the Sanguisorba tenuifolia ‘Alba’ (Great Burnet) are still hanging in there. Believe it or not, I spotted a few local die-hard honeybees on it just last week…





















As usual, Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’ is going gangbusters. Temperature doesn’t seem to affect it much. Although it hasn’t taken on its typical fall coloring yet…





















New growth on the Acanthus molls (Bear’s Breeches) is about 3′ across now…





















My poppies are suddenly popping up again. And the Conradina verticulata (White Cumberland Rosemary), Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’ (Blue Fescue), Origanum libanoticum (Cascading Ornamental Oregano) and Euphorbia myrsinites (Donkeytail Spurge) are still green (click to biggify)…



Even though it hails from the Mediterranean, the Marrubium rotundifolium (Silver-Edged Horehound) still looks good — though it’s missing its namesake silver margins. At its fee, the Thymus Pseudolanuginosus (Wooly Thyme) is still thriving…





















Turns out that if I wanted to, I could make holiday mojitos. The mint is still happy…





















After I shot this, I ate the last two (wimpy-looking) raspberries…





















Nom nom nom. That’s pretty much it for the season.