Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Bloom Day January 2014

My Japanese flowering apricot (Prunus mume) and witch hazel are just about finished thanks to the recent deep freezes, but they are still blooming a little bit and it seemed a shame not to allow them to strut their stuff for Bloom Day, even if these pictures are from Christmas Eve.

Seedling of Hamamelis x intermedia 'Jelena'

Covered in brown leaves and surrounded by brown Bidens stalks, here is the witch hazel in its garden setting... :) The shrub to the right is a Knockout rose, the plant to the left is a Rose-of-Sharon with lovely double lavender flowers given to me by my mother-in-law, and the evergreen tree is a wax myrtle that wouldn't give up even though it was wacked back a few times. There's all sorts of garden oops in this picture, since the witch hazel will one day shade at least part of the Knockout and perhaps all of the Rose-of-Sharon, but when I look at this scenario I try to live in the now. I've started a couple of cuttings from the Rose-of-Sharon in case it is ultimately doomed.

Although the apricot and the witch hazel are almost done, the winter honeysuckle is just starting up.

I wish you could take in the fragrance of these winter bloomers. Like many winter bloomers they are highly fragrant. The Prunus mume smells like Dianthus (cotton candy and clove), the witch hazel smells like Fruit Loops and the winter honeysuckle has a sharp sweet lemony essence. On warm winter days they are abuzz with honeybees.

For more Bloom Days join Carol at May Dreams Gardens!

Monday, January 13, 2014

When UPS drivers can't drive

When UPS drivers can't drive, this is what happens to your garden. I am pissed.

ETA: After I posted this I called UPS and two people from the warehouse drove all the way from Goldsboro and fixed the damage with a shovel and hoe and tamper. I was amazed! And actually felt bad about calling them, which is strange.

Here it is!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

For the love of gardening

This post contains gifs. I thought it'd be fair to warn you in case you find them to be extremely annoying.

I love gardening but it does come with a few issues.

For instance, rough hands.
(For those you not familiar with Buffy the Vampire Slayer (my second favorite show of all time, Supernatural being the first), the girl above is not a gardener with rough hands, but an Inca mummy girl that keeps reverting to her mummified state unless she kisses and draws the life out of someone else.)

Now that I have discovered the wonders of coconut oil for hair care, I'm going to use that on my hands too. Even using lotion, and lotion with soap, and lotion on top of that, doesn't help very much.

The dirt! The stuff in my hair -- twigs, berries, pieces of hay. I have never gotten as dirty doing anything as I have gardening. Not putting in fence posts or grooming a mud-covered horse can compare.

I've hidden from the mailman and the UPS man, among others.

FIRE ANTS. There were zero when we moved here and now they are everywhere. And very hard to get rid of. At one point in despair I thought the nuclear option was going to be the only viable one. I think it'd be great to shoot a rocket launcher at those buggers

but Amdro does seem to be keeping them in check. Or they are getting stealthier about relocating. They don't just live in mounds on the ground; they also inhabit our fencing (behind the boards where they are attached to the posts) and dead and fallen trees.

TICKS. They have been everywhere the last couple of years, with the wild winters and wet summers. It's truly horrifying. I'm surprised neither DH or I have gotten sick yet. I don't know if Lyme is present in Johnston County, but Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and other diseases certainly are. Lately once it's tick season you'd have to pay me to do any clearing in the wilder areas.

Naturally tick season is lasting 10-11 months out of the year. Thankfully temps got down to the teens earlier this month and they are gone for now.

Yes, it is cold here now too! Temps of around 12 were expected at the airport so it may have gotten down to below 10 here. The horses' water trough was frozen so thick that they couldn't break the ice, which is unusual; typically even in cold weather they keep it open by drinking frequently but it must have just gotten too cold. I had to take a hammer to the ice and then pour a couple of hot tea kettles of water in and will add more hot water tonight too. It's too cold to do more than take care of the horses and we're almost out of alfalfa cubes anyway, so I'm going to make a feed store run.

What issues do you gladly put up with for the love of gardening?

PS. Is anyone else having trouble loading pictures into Blogger? I use Picasa and all I've been getting for 2 days is a 503 error message.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Favorite pictures of 2013

Les of A Tidewater Gardener had a great idea when he started publishing his favorite photos as the end of the year. He asked readers to follow suit if they wished and leave a link on his blog. So, here they are!

I don't know the name of this Louisiana iris but I love the plush royal purple color. This and the pink-lilac iris bought from Lowe's 16 years ago are doing well beside the driveway, where they get enough food and water from hay mulch and rainwater running down the driveway to make them thrive.

I like the wall of flowers effect in this picture. From left to right, starting in bottom corner: Rosa rugosa rubra, foxglove, 'Alchymist', 'Sir Robert Lipton' (in the background), a mystery China/gallica nicknamed Delia's Purple, and mockorange.

Children dressed in their Easter finery at the twin sisters' garden on Gimghoul Road in Chapel Hill.

Native azalea at NC Botanical Garden, either pinxterflower or Piedmont azalea.

Baptisia 'Purple Smoke' and foxglove in my garden.

Swamp roses in May.

Penstemon 'Midnight' with swamp rose, purple milkweed, and spiderwort 'Concord Grape'.

Purple milkweed with carpenter bees and bumble bees.

September and Bidens. So much golden yellow.

A Japanese maple in Chapel Hill.

I thought this picture captured some of the special beauty of the UNC campus. The brightly colored shrubs are fothergilla.

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