Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pumpkin Compost Pie Anyone?

I thought that this back corner of the yard would be an ideal spot for my compost. Those lattice panels were left in the garage (now turned office/workshop) when we moved here. I thought I would put them to good use. The picture above was taken the year we moved in. I read somewhere that you should not place a compost near mature trees because they would drain all the nutrients - but everywhere I've used my compost, BIG things have happened so I'm not worried about it. In fact, in the heat of summer that Silver Maple and evergreen shade the compost nicely.

This year I'm offering my compost as a buffet table for all my feathered and furry friends. Why shouldn't they feast on Thanksgiving, too? Here, the table is set ...

I used the lattice panels to make three "bins." We used pipe driven into the ground and strapping to secure each panel in place. I try to put "green" stuff in one bin, "brown" stuff in the other, and use the center bin for "mixing." I don't make it complicated. I am certain I mix up green and brown. But all in all it it seems to work. I empty my kitchen scraps in the center, add some stuff from the other bins, turn it each time. In the Spring, I will empty the center bin and spread it around my beds then start all over. I stash my grass removals here - from when I make new beds - any flowers that have fallen over or need cutting back, weeds that have not yet gone to seed, grass clippings, house plant clippings, old potting soil and all sorts of yard and garden waste. The compost is directly across from my shed and in between are my vegetable beds. The layout works out really well. Here was an initial early sketch to give you a better idea ...

Let's see what goodies we have placed out for my friends ...

Petite pumpkin appetizers among the Sunflower stalks ...

A grand Zinnia biscuit!

Some delectable greens I am sure Mr. Rabbit has his eyes on.
(I just harvested some of these for myself today!)

Squish jello mold with sprigs of Black-eyed Susan and Cone seeds - yum!

Gourmet gourd ...

Butternut squash - one of my favorites!

Who could resist some dried Sunflower drumsticks?

And of course, there is pumpkin pie with Nightshade berries for dessert!
It looks like someone tasted dessert before the main course, hmm?

My little friends should be as stuffed as I'll be this Thanksgiving holiday. We'll see what surprises pop up in the Spring, too. Hope all of you who celebrate, have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. I certainly am thankful for great family & friends, all the little things ~ creatures, for discovering blotanical, and meeting and sharing my garden with fantastic gardeners -
all of you.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Heavenly But Not Blue

I love Morning Glory, specifically, Heavenly Blue Morning Glory. It was so well presented in Kiki's post, Awake With Charm & Spirit, "The Color Essence of Blues." She followed up with another post "Blue Essence Invitation" inspired by Diana, Elephant's Eye, asking other garden bloggers to share their blues.

I am certainly not blue! But sure would like more blues running through my garden. As I mentioned before I am trying, really trying, to stick to this color scheme: BLUE, orange, reds/burgundy throughout my entire garden. I don't have much blue to share right now, because my garden is so young. I can tell you what I've recently planted: Monkshood, 'Stainless Steel,' that I am hoping will spread into a beautiful patch of blue; Globe Thistle 'Ritro', which I expect to rise to the occasion and offer nodding heads of blue next summer; Allium bulbs 'caeruleum' that I can't wait to see pop up; Sea Holly 'BLUE Glitter' - which really does glitter blue and that I unfortunately did not snap a photo of (next year); BLUE Spruce, BLUE Star Juniper, BLUE Fescue ... which I will keep you posted on. But what I do have to share right now, and was absolutely amazed by, is Morning Glory 'Heavenly Blue!'

You may remember the "Nice Driveway" post with the custom built trellis as a privacy screen. Well, the vine that you see covering the trellis is Morning Glory 'Heavenly Blue.' I had planted some older seeds that really didn't come up and then ran across a young plant (about 4" - really) at a local nursery. I just plugged that baby into the ground and look what grew in three short months to this incredible size ...

There is a little Cardinal Vine to the left - in case you look at the larger version of this photo and see the odd leaf shape. I was just amazed by this vine this past season. Just look at this beautiful foliage and coverage ...

However, I did not get many blooms. I have found that here in the "North Country" this particular Morning Glory seems to bloom very late. Any comments on that? Is there a secret I should know?

But what blooms there are, well, are, just heavenly ...

All that remains is what I describe as a "tree trunk" - and it's amazing, too ...

Hopefully, at least a few seeds dropped and will surprise me again next year. But I did plant a Dutchman's Pipe Vine, Aristolochia Macrophylla, a perennial and a host plant to the beautiful Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly. This is the vine that I really had planned for this trellis.

And if heavenly just isn't enough, I have been honored with this award by both Anna at Green Tapestry, weaving a green and beautiful garden for sure, and Noelle the AZ Plant Lady!, a true desert oasis that is always in bloom. Both of these blogs are so well worth visiting and getting to know.

This is something to sing about - and certainly not the blues - maybe a snappy New Orleans jazz kinda tune! Thank you so much - it truly is a surprise and I am honored. Now I must pass this along with these words of advice: Post this award on your blog along with the name of the person who passed it on to you and link to their blog. Then be sure to leave them a comment to let them know that they have been chosen.  Choose blogs which you have recently discovered and you think are great and pass it on to them.

And I'm going to stop there because "7" is lucky! And I feel lucky and thankful, but not blue.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Garden Blog is Never Finished

Much like my garden, it seems my blog will never be "finished." I think I have changed the layout about six times already. Well, I am new to blogging and of course, must explore all my options. At first it was too plain and the green too bright. And the "violet" color wasn't quite right - but I should stick with violet because it's in the name, right? Then it seemed too garish and the background too loud. Then it seemed too busy with a flourishing background AND flourishing title. Then the title just didn't seem subtle enough and the background was still a bit too frilly.

If I have learned anything about design - it's that less is more. So now I am back to plain.

This has been much like designing a new perennial bed ... Those yellow flowers clash too much against that red bee balm ... Hmmm, I could use some more blue foliage to deepen that purple patch right there ... That spot looks kinda empty, maybe I should add a ground cover there ... I need something "spikey" there ...

I hope you will still enjoy my blog even though it's "in the making."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Deck the Window Boxes Fa La La La La La La La La!

I love to add evergreens to my window boxes and outdoor containers. It is so much nicer to look at during the long winter months. I tend to find a lot of stashed peanuts come Spring that always make me laugh - those Blue Jays! A lot of places charge you incredible prices for fresh Christmas greenery. If you have your own woods, you can cut your own. If you don't, you can go to the public dump and make a haul like I did.


I like to do this now before Thanksgiving (which I love to celebrate BEFORE Christmas). I like the greenery for Thanksgiving - it's festive. But another more practical reason is that the dirt is not yet frozen and I can add greens without an ice pick.

Here are some baskets I'm getting ready to fill.

And following is the finished "decking."

Basket on back deck picnic table.

Wall basket by back door.

Symmetrical baskets leading from front porch steps.
I have left the Dusty Miller and some of the dried flowers -
they just looked "silvery" and in the spirit.

Basket by front door.

Front window box.
(I didn't have the heart to pull out those Straw Flowers
- they are still blooming!)

Even the shed gets a "window decking!"

I also filled a half wine barrel by the "nice driveway" with greens. Every year is something different as I never know what I'll find. Last year I happened across a neighbor who cut back a LOT of yews! And I added some Dog Wood branches from a sorely neglected shrub that I wanted to rejuvenate. Some Winter Berry would be really nice but I hate to cut it from the side of the road - the birds like it, too. Someday I will have my own Winter Berry to borrow from - it's on "the list." This was a jolly FREE project - 'tis the season!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Bloom Day: November, 2009

This is my first Bloom Day! Bloom day is hosted (and created by) Carol at May Dreams Gardens. Every month on the 15th bloggers share pictures of what is blooming in their gardens.

Not much blooms in North Country this time of year. But it has been a spectacular Fall and I am just thankful we are not under snow cover yet - as we usually are! Most of my blooms have faded but are still standing, and a few brave ones are still blooming - incredible. I usually do not "clean up" until early Spring so the birds can enjoy the seeds, and the bugs the cover, during the winter. I still find the faded blooms beautiful and the color of leaves "bloom" in their own right. Here's a tour of what's "blooming" in my garden.

Christmas Cactus (Indoors)

Switch Grass 'Dallas Blues'

Agastache 'Golden Jubilee'

Cornelian Cherry (Cornus Mas)

Evening Primrose



Sedum 'Blue Spruce'


Lettuce Mix




Black Lace


Mt. Bluet

Cone Flowers (Eaten by birds)

The last Oak Leaf

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cheers to a Nice Driveway!

While joining up with some friends camping this summer, we met a man who happened across the Polish side of Buffalo. We were toasting and he came up with the cheer "Nice Driveway!" He explained that those Polish folk in Buffalo kept toasting to their nice driveways, or so he thought. What they were really saying was "Nostrovia!" which translates to "for health." Well, I suppose having a nicely planted driveway contributes to my health and now I can cheer "Nice Driveway!" with the best of them.

Here was my spring training past. Yeah, more lawn gone!

Our driveway is almost obnoxiously huge (for the village). It needed some "balancing" but this is not the sole reason for this new planting bed.

Hello neighbor! This is the view from the left side of our back deck. And though we have great neighbors, sometimes you like to grill or hang out in your own peace of space - I'm sure our neighbor does, too. Our property line literally is the side of their house - crazy old village! But we discussed leaving a nice pathway between us.

Meet "Big Bern", my contractor of choice - okay, he's also my husband. And he was hired (translation - forcibly volunteered) for the job of building me a "trellis" or, as the required village permit stated, a "fence."

The ground work was completed first. These posts are set below the recommended frost line for the North Country - three to four feet. We're pretty gosh darn close to that.

Here it is - the finished masterpiece! I think Big Bern missed his true calling - first the shed, and now this beautiful, custom "trellis."

Add some plants and wow, in one short season we have something much more interesting and a sense of privacy. I am still not certain of everything I want to plant here. It will make for some fun winter planning. For now we have some perennials as fillers which can be moved around. For permanent structure, I planted a Ninebark cross "Coppertina" which I really love (that is still holding its leaves!), and an Arborvitae. Both offer four season interest and I was also keeping the birds in mind.

These annual sunflowers made a great privacy screen for this season. Of course, I already plan to extend the bed further down the driveway next spring.

The only downside is that this is where the snow plow used to plow our snow. And the planned snow blower for this winter is now an unplanned new (used) car. Looks like I will be shoveling snow instead of lawn for my winter training. Oh well - here's a cheer to the shovel and "Nice Driveway!"


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