How about a Garden Post?

I saw this rose by chance when I let the dogs out this afternoon, and couldn’t resist–a picture was needed.

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Then I noticed that all the roses had decided to bloom today!

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MLG was here this morning, and commented that he had heard a local garden show on the radio say that at this time of year, you should let the rose hips develop. If you cut them back, they will grow new canes, but it will get too cold for them to bloom. Anyone ever heard this before?

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So…my favorite lantana… a couple of years ago a reader from Australia commented that they consider lantana invasive plants. I think the reason they aren’t invasive where I live is that they only last a year. This year I bought a larger lantana at a nursery, and I think it was  one that had wintered over. So it stopped blooming soon after I brought it home, and it just grew and grew all summer.

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See? It just took over the whole front of this bed. Just this week it has finally given me some blooms. And then it will be gone. Those plants with the heart-shaped leaves?–those are “money plants” that I grew from seed. They don’t bloom until the second year, so I am really looking forward to seeing them in the spring!

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The “giant zinnia” in front of the vanilla marigolds.

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Close-up:

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The dwarf red abutilon has done well, blooming all summer long.

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Close-up. Hmmm. I don’t know what those white specks are. I didn’t see them until I saw this photo.

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Sophie says, “oops. not pink.”

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MLG was trying to compliment me, and exclaimed, “wow! It looks like a forest.” Umm, yeah. But I live in the forest. This is supposed to look like a garden🙂 I have a plan. It involves some aggressive pruning. Part of me is still pleased that I have plants growing so well after so many years of coaxing minimal growth in my pots.

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And some special visitors in the garden! I don’t really like bugs. But these guys move so slowly, and even though it looks like they don’t have eyes, they turn their head like they are really watching you or the water. I don’t know if there’s a whole herd of them, or just two that move from place to place, but I’ve enjoyed seeing them.

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And! something new. How and where to stack the firewood is always a problem. And then the stacks fall over or get messy. And then there’s the tarps. Anyway, MLG started suggesting some things we could do to make it better, and pretty soon I said, “it sounds like maybe I need to ask J. the contractor about doing this.” MLG shook his head enthusiastically in agreement. So here is my new fancy wood shed. J. the contractor mills his own wood, and the outside boards are actually made from a sugar pine that my neighbor had to take down–isn’t that fun?

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And that’s the garden report for this week.

Senior Citizen???

I recently had to write a small piece about myself for my church newsletter. In case there are any readers who do not know everything there is to know about me, I thought I’d share that here.

I was surprised when I received R’s request to be interviewed for the “Senior Connection” in the (church) newsletter. Wasn’t that for old people??? And then I remembered that I had gleefully applied for Social Security just a few days prior. And of course, I’m always very happy to take advantage of senior discounts. But I’m not really a senior. Isn’t that how most of us view ourselves?

Anyway, for what its worth, here it is. I was lucky to be born to two really great parents. My dad was enamored of God’s word and studied it voraciously his entire life. My mom told me “I could do anything I really wanted to,” which gave me the courage to try things I didn’t think were possible.

I always loved dogs, and I loved handwork. And that is where I have ended up—with five rescue dogs and working as a studio artist. Along the way, when I listened to God and followed his lead, I have had some amazing adventures. I was a neonatal intensive care nurse for 25 years, despite the fact that I only passed high school biology by being the teacher’s pet and taking care of the classroom animals. Science did not come naturally to me, but I felt God’s leading and was moved to work with the tiniest and sickest babies. It was a great privilege.

I came to Grace Fellowship (my home church) shortly after it started, and it was through Grace that God impressed upon me the importance of helping children in third world countries. Going to a foreign country was for sure something that was not in my comfort zone, but I have traveled to Africa with Vapor Ministries, and have been to Haiti twice to visit “our” kids in Carre Four Poy. It has changed my outlook on life, and has changed the choices I have made in my daily life. I believe that it is only through visiting the poorest of the poor in person that you can truly understand the need. I saw this happen with my brother when we visited Haiti together.

When it came time for me to retire, people always asked what I was going to do. I wasn’t sure how it would work out, but I would say that I was going to be a quilt artist. When I was inspired to put Scripture into my quilts, that is when I found my passion. It is a way for me to share my faith with others. I will see a verse in a new way, and bring that to life in a quilt. Its very meditative to sit and stitch the words and think about them. Recently I finished a series of 18 small quilts, titled “what they said.” It is what different people said when they encountered Jesus. No matter whether they liked him or hated him, the response to Jesus was never static. It was very moving to me to try to illuminate the emotion behind the words and to spend so much time stitching these words. I am now working on a quilt of The Hallelujah Chorus. Listening to Handel’s Messiah was my dad’s favorite thing at Christmas, and in recent years, it has been the most important thing I want to do at Christmas. Years ago, I had the opportunity to sing the Hallelujah Chorus in my church choir, and so it holds great meaning for me.

One question I am asked frequently is “do you have children?” And my answer is always the same—“No, I’ve never been married.” R. asked for a favorite verse. There are way too many to choose just one. But one that has stayed with me since I was a very young woman, and has stood the test of time is Phil. 4:11-12 “…I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content.”

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Of course, there are other parts of my daily life that I didn’t even mention in this little article–like gardening and exercise and the fact that I’ve been on a diet for TWELVE YEARS. But you all know that🙂

The Garden’s Supporting Cast

There’s lots of plants in the garden that don’t get a lot of press. Because they are not big and fancy and colorful, the way I like things. But all these little plants add to the look of the garden. I decided they needed a feature of their own.

This creeping wire vine is all over the shade garden. I really like the look of it. It will take over (the bunny is just about buried here,) but its easy to keep under control too.

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There’s a button fern in there. I need to trim the wiry plant to give it more room to grow.

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Creeping Jenny, along with some violets.

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Licorice Lemon plant. I really like this plant. I thought it played well against the dark red petunias.

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These little pink begonias do well for me. And sometimes they come back year after year.

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The violets….This variety has dark green fairly glossy leaves, and so they are attractive even when they’re not blooming. But they are pretty insistent on spreading, so they are a two-edged sword. I am using them to fill in the spaces of one of the stone pathways.

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I don’t know what this plant is. But its doing just what MLG wanted it to do–climbing over those big rocks. I had it in a container in the shade garden, and it just about took over the whole garden. So I was going to toss the whole container, and MLG saved its life, by suggesting planting it in the back of the garden. Its doing very well, and it is better than bare dirt!

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Another plant I don’t know the name of. But these tiny blue flowers bloom all summer, and the bees LOVE them. I like their intense color.dscn4518

Hollyhocks!! I’m pretty excited about these. I grew them from seeds (from a packet that was a couple of years old!) and I’m looking forward to seeing them bloom next year.

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Mondo grass. Another plant I had in a container. It did so well in that container that it almost choked the life out of the Japanese Maple that was in the same container. So When I put that maple in the ground, I saved a couple of clumps of the mondo grass to plant along the front fence line. It has been very slow, but I’m glad to see a few new sprouts coming up.

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And I couldn’t resist some pretty pictures! The geranium with the salvia.

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My favorite lantana. This is a little plant that Noah almost destroyed when I first planted it. So I moved it over next to the fence to give it a chance to live. The ground there is not that good, but it is really doing well now.

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Close-up:

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And that’s the garden report for this week. I hope you are enjoying your weekend🙂

Outside the Garden

Yesterday, Noah spent most of the day sleeping in the house. Very unusual for him (I later discovered it was because his beloved bed had been propped up against the house and was unavailable to him. oops.) Anyway, I guess since he wasn’t in the yard, some visitors felt more comfortable about helping out with some pruning activities.

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After the first picture I remembered to move the camera away from the window cross-hatches.

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There was a pair of twins.

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And a really little baby.

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Of course, now they had seen me, and were thinking about their next move.

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“But dang, that stuff tasted good!”

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The littlest fawn was a really pale color. Later I figured out that her mother was also a paler color.

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One of the older fawns.

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And now I’ve gone out the door, and they are  seriously saying their goodbyes.

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They split up, and the mom with two fawns went in one direction, while the mom with the pale fawn went in the opposite direction.

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Of course, I don’t want them to eat all my plants (thus the deer fencing.) But I sure do enjoy seeing them close up once in a while, especially the babies.

In other news, I completely forgot to blog about my visit with Shelley!! It has been so great that we have this California/Texas connection, and that we have gotten to visit in person occasionally. I grew up in the Bay Area, and so driving “over the hill” to Santa Cruz was something we did quite often. It brings back great memories when I go down to visit Shelley in Santa Cruz, and now we are creating memories of our own, with our visits to Pacific Grove and fun eating and knitting and talking together. Shelley wrote all about our visit, complete with some pictures–visit her blog for the whole story!

A Little Adventure and Some More Flowers

You Guys!! Did we ever have an adventure around here yesterday. I was gone most of the day. So when I came home, I followed the same routine I always do–I come in through the studio door, find Noah’s bark collar, let him out of his crate, put the collar on, let Bess out of her crate, and then open the door to the mudroom. They both run out through the doggie door, and I follow through the human door. As soon as Noah got outside, he barked once (bark collar) and that’s not that unusual. As soon as I got out the door, I heard something that sounded like one of my pipes or hoses had sprung a big leak and was spraying water somewhere. So I turned my head in the direction of the sound…. and there, curled up in the corner of the house, RIGHT NEXT TO THE DOGGIE DOOR, was a HUGE rattlesnake. He was hissing and rattling, and that was the sound that I heard!!!

Here’s a picture of where he was, you can see how close he was to the doggie door.

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So even though I was hyperventilating, I managed to get Noah to come to me, and picked Bess up, and took them carefully in the house. The snake never stopped hissing and rattling, but he didn’t move from his corner. I put the hard plastic thingie in the doggie door (just in case he decided to come inside) and got the dogs back in their crates, and called my neighbors (the best neighbors in the whole wide world,) and asked in a very shaky voice “is Tom there?” So Debbie sent him over. It seemed like it took forever for him to get here (they live about 1/2 mile away.) The whole time I was pacing around the house, and then peaking through the mud room window to make sure the snake didn’t move. That would have been even worse, not knowing where it was!

So….you can see the “scar” on the siding there. Just one shot, and it was over. I made myself spend time outside watering the garden so I wouldn’t get all paranoid about being outside. If I was a better blogger, I would have gone out and taken a long distance shot of the snake while I was waiting for Tom to get over here. You’ll just have to use your imagination.

And to end on a pleasant note–one last look at the rose bouquet in the oak tree.

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And a close-up shot of one of the prettiest roses I’ve had this year…

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I love these liriope so much. I have five of them and this is the only one that bloomed. I’ve done a little research, and I think I’ll just move all of them to a different location to see if I can make them happier next year.

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The color and the substance of the blooms just fascinates me.

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I hope you had a great weekend.

In The Garden–What Season Is It?

My oldest laceleaf Japanese Maple thinks its fall. I think it got a little dry and so it decided it was time to change colors!

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Is it spring? The rose bouquet in the oak tree fascinates me🙂

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There are at least six blooms up there!

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It must be summer. All the annuals continue to thrive.

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The white marigolds have finally started blooming in earnest. I put the short ones in too early this spring, and I think they did worse than if I had just been patient and put them in later.

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I bought a new hibiscus a few weeks ago. Couldn’t resist, even though I know its not frost-hardy. Aren’t the blooms beautiful?

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Beautiful, yes. But a bit too close to pink–Sophie was EXTREMELY interested.

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Ha! A Sophie-proof container. Every morning she stops below the pot and stares wistfully up at the blooms. And then she goes and chomps down one of the little blooms on the Abutilon. Her look says “they’re not nearly as tasty, but they’ll do in a pinch.”

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I am enjoying the garden and the cooler temps we are having. I hope you all take time to smell the roses along the way.

Summer’s Bounty

This summer I am taking advantage of the wonderful fruits and vegetables that are available this time of year. I hope you are enjoying them as well!

A summer veggie bake–just tomatoes, zucchini, onions, and a bit of parmesan on top.

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Blackberries so ripe and sweet, even I did not need to add sweetener🙂

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Green beans! Yes, I boil them, and add about a teaspoon of butter per serving. A very worthy addition.

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Peaches have arrived!

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And good tomatoes! I forgo the oil in a caprese salad–just the balsamic vinegar, some basil, and one ounce of fresh mozzarella. Costco came out with some little “singles” of the fresh mozzarella–just right for a single person like me!

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Also frequently seen this summer: cantaloupe, with and without cottage cheese, watermelon, broccoli salad, taco salad, and blueberries–usually baked into something or other, or made into my blueberry apple compote–perfect with yogurt and a bit of granola.

Another new product I found was some uncooked corn tortillas–good directions on cooking them, and so delicious–only 60 calories!

Dinner tonight: Canteloupe and cottage cheese, and one of my favorite stir-fry combos: zucchini, fresh corn, and onions. And am I the last one in the world to discover that fresh grown onions taste SO MUCH BETTER than store bought onions???

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Honestly, I can get on board with minimizing sugar, eliminating processed foods, increasing protein. But when I bite into a perfect piece of fruit, I CANNOT fathom giving that up for the rest of my life like some people do. I just don’t get it. If you just don’t like fruit, that I get. But if you are giving it up because it “makes you gain weight,” that I don’t get. Its one of God’s greatest gifts to us.

That said, I did see a very funny Jim Gaffigan riff on fruit “who likes fruit?” And I remembered how, when I was very overweight, I didn’t eat fruit, because I needed more room for cookies…….