Last Build Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2017 00:15:00 GMT
Mon, 17 Apr 2017 00:15:00 GMT
Uvularia perfoliata, Bellwort
While the warm season grasses rise above last year’s stubble and the trees are beginning to leaf out in earnest, all of the ground layer of plants are grabbing sunshine while they can. The meadow is sporting blue eyed grass (Sisyrhinchium), violets, pussytoes (Antennaria), and wild strawberries (Fragaria). The cool season Junegrass (Koeleria) is already spreading its pollen, along with all the Carexes. In the woods, the violets are joined by a delicate carpet of bellwort (Uvularia).
The redbuds are wrapping up; as hot and dry as it has been, those flowers won’t last much longer. The dogwoods are well into their season. I’m hopeful we’ll get some of the rain forecast for the coming week, or these won’t last long, either. The highbush blueberries have only just gotten started. I don’t think the groundcover blueberries have opened yet.
In the greenhouse, I’ve transplanted the peppers into larger pots. It may be hot, but I don’t trust that we won’t have a sudden cold snap, and these plants take a long time to reach plant-out size. I’m not taking that chance. This year’s varieties are sweet peppers Super Shepherd, Sweet Banana, Corno di Toro, and Ashe County pimento, and hot peppers Jalapeño and Tiburon poblano–most of them aren’t locally available.
Today I also sowed the larger portion of the plants I’ll be setting out in three or four weeks. So many seeds! We’ve got six varieties of tomatoes (slicers Vinson Watts, German Johnson, and Illini Star; plums Illini Gold and Black Plum; and Pink Princess cherries), three varieties of tomatillos (Everona, Cisneros Grande, and Purple), and herbs Thai and Genovese basils, catnip, borage, parsley, and cilantro.
Daucus carota ‘Dara’ – OMG
I’ve started another several pots of the Daucus carota ‘Dara’ I flipped for two summers ago in hopes of actually getting a decent stand of them this year. I also started a bunch of Red Drummond phlox, something that came up on its own from a set of plants I purchased elsewhere and which I liked so much I located a source to start my own crop. And for the bees I’ve sown three marigold varieties (Jaguar, Spanish Brocade, and seed saved from marigolds that self-sowed in the garden a couple of years ago), Tithonia, and two varieties of sunflowers (Tiger Eye and Lemon Queen).
Later this week, I know I’ll be laying hoses and running water out to the garden, even though the outside beds won’t be in use for another couple of weeks. There’s only just so much hauling of jugs of water a person is willing to do, and I just doubled my watering duties.
Tue, 14 Mar 2017 01:35:04 GMT
Carex pensylvanica and Nassella tenuissima along the path.
The other morning, it was 24F in my corner of the world, the second or third frosty morning in a row. The little garden behind my house – the one visible from the kitchen window, and called the winter garden because it’s the only one I spend much time with in winter – has an increasing number of native plants in it. There are several Carex pensylvanica in there, all self-sown.
On this particular morning, I happened to be checking the plants in the winter garden, looking to see which ones had survived the weather. I blinked, then leaned closer to the Carex. Damned if it wasn’t blooming.
Cool season grass (“grass”), yep.
Thu, 02 Mar 2017 17:49:42 GMT
I’m pleased to announce that I am now a certified Chesapeake Bay Landscape Pro! The program involves a rigorous series of practicums (practica?) and testing, and emphasizes a dedication to sustainable landscape design.
So, what is sustainable landscape design, and why do you need it? Essentially, sustainable landscape design aims to provide not only beautiful landscapes, but also landscapes that serve the invisible lives that share those landscapes with us (and without whom we stand no chance of life on this planet). Sustainable landscapes feed soil, protect water and air, support the flora and fauna indigenous to the project site…and at the same time bring beauty, health, recreation, and solace to those people using the landscape. Win-win, right?
Of course, climate change being the juggernaut it is, deliberately setting out to not only maintain, but to actively improve the conditions in which we live is becoming more and more important. Let’s not kid ourselves: the very air and water are at stake, here. The combination of greed and a simple lack of education on what really matters – how what we do, the choices we make, affect everything around us – degrade everything we know and love every moment of every day.
All is not lost, however. Changes we began to make two decades or more ago have made our water safer, our air cleaner. It’s returned the bald eagle to a common sight along waterways. It’s reducing sediment, nitrogen, and phosphorus in the water that runs off into the Chesapeake Bay, and increasing the numbers of native oysters in beds of native grasses replanted along the Bay’s shallow waters and the numbers of crabs and fish whose babies grow up in those grass beds. It’s bringing the Bay back to you, and me, and everyone around us.
We must not give up. We cannot simply shrug and say, Oh well, at least today is pretty. Our children and their children won’t be able to say the same if we don’t work to make our landscapes truly sustainable.
I, for one, have hope that we can slow this juggernaut. I think we can help all life adapt as inevitable change continues. If you want to talk about sustainability in design, or want to see what your personal landscape can do to help with the greater battle, give me a call. If you want to read up on the subject, allow me to direct you to Dr. Douglas Tallamy [Bringing Nature Home: How you can sustain wildlife with native plants], Larry Weaner [Garden Revolution: How our landscapes can be a source of environmental change], and Claudia West and Thomas Rainer [Planting in a Post-Wild World: Designing plant communities for resilient landscapes].
Yes, it’s a pretty day. Let’s make sure tomorrow is, too.
Wed, 08 Feb 2017 20:44:57 GMT
The ruins garden waterfall at Chanticleer
Hang onto your hats, Central Virginia folks! The weather’s weird this year, weirder than it’s been in a while. Thanks to accelerating climate change, it’s likely to continue being weird for the foreseeable future.
So, you may ask—why should you care? For any number of reasons, but specifically in a landscape vein, I think it’s important to note that climate change is pushing the temperature zones northward. Plants which were barely able to handle summer’s heat and humidity in years past are going to be even more stressed, and some will probably have to come off our list of reliable species for our zone 7A or B (depending on where you live).
Additionally, you should expect to get heavier, and more infrequent, rain (or snow) events throughout the year. This means longer periods without rain, too, so keep an eye on those plants in your garden which tend to droop anyway without moisture; water them, or replace them with something better adapted to droughts. Preferably native plants, please! Natives are already adapted to local temperatures and moisture levels and, while those things are changing, the natives are better positioned to do well overall than something not from our local area. In short, you’ll have to water and fertilize a native plant less, and you’ll spend less time fussing over it. Want low maintenance? Plant natives.
Seedheads of Andropogon ternarius
Sun, 15 Jan 2017 20:14:57 GMTI know I'm not the only one making the journey from LiveJournal to Dreamwidth, given the crazy climate of the day. I look forward to seeing who also came across, and to building a vibrant community on this new soil.
Wed, 11 Jan 2017 15:28:11 GMTIt seems the time has come to complete the switch over to Dreamwidth and away from the possibility of interference by, or my unwitting contribution to, malicious parties, so please consider this a final note on this journal. You can find me from this point onward at Dreamwidth under the same name (Clarentine). All other means of contacting me remain in effect.
Tue, 12 Jul 2016 01:06:18 GMTHornworms to the left of me, hornworms to the right--the carnage was everywhere. Tomato plants raised denuded stumps to the sky, crying out for help. Frass littered the scene.
Mon, 29 Feb 2016 16:50:37 GMTWhew! Now, that was a day. I've been to a client's house to measure out the front yard for a base map - thank you, T., for your help. Bought and ate bagels. Drafted up that base map and did some preliminary work on the new circular driveway loop.
Wed, 06 Jan 2016 13:25:25 GMTNine degrees this morning - rising to ten just before I left for work. Yay. :-/
Fri, 18 Sep 2015 13:36:17 GMTWhat else are Fridays for, but for playing along with the current meme?
Thu, 10 Sep 2015 12:54:58 GMTThis is a tune many of those who don't live in the country sing as well, only with slightly modified verses. No doubt you'll recognize your own version.
Tue, 25 Aug 2015 13:12:52 GMTIt's August, and the weather gods are not above reminding us of that fact: we are still deep in late summer's sticky heart. Nevertheless, as we sink closer to autumnal equinox, the occasional chill snap in the air and the angle of the sun remind us - in case we needed the warning - to pack up the fruits of the season and get ready. It won't always be warm breezes and plenty. If we are smart, we will be ants, not grasshoppers.
Sat, 30 May 2015 16:07:56 GMTIt's official - summer has arrived. The fireflies are once again decorating the night with semaphore declarations of love. The heat has been here a good week, and the deer flies are already driving us crazy, but until the fireflies return, it isn't summer.
Mon, 25 May 2015 22:33:46 GMTThe garden's doing just fine, growing quickly now that the heat's arrived...wait, I didn't say what I'd planted, did I? Okay, for the record, this year we have:Last fall's Rocambole garlics and the potato onions which are sharing a bed because they're both all-season crops. I decided to see if the voles, which have yet to bother the garlic, could be kept away from the onions by planting garlic in rings around them, and thus far the experiment has proven successful. I also put my spring-planted shallots in the gaps between plants. They're also doing well. (Pam Dawling recommends digging garlic three weeks after the scapes show up, which is a lot earlier than I've done it in the past. I noticed scapes today, so that means the weekend of June 14, the garlic should come up. I'm curious to see the difference if they're pulled this early. I think the onions will have a while yet. Fortunately, I don't have to disturb them.) Purple Peacock broccoli. It's a hybrid with one of the kales, I think, something with purplish, frilly leaves (like Red Russian kale, actually). Looks nice when I pull off the insect cover to weed that bed. This one's not to be harvested until some time in the fall. I think I planted it way, way too early. This is the first time I've planted broccoli, though, so it's all a learning experience.The spring-planted Premier kale has long since bolted, but the leaves are still nice and tender. I cooked up a mess of the greens last weekend, and will pick and cook more this coming week, before I pull all the plants. The late corn should be in there afterward, but I think it's going to see buckwheat first for some green manure. Speaking of corn...again this year I've tried Augusta early sweet corn. Last year, in a different bed, I got poor germination. This year, I got none. Too wet and cold? Probably. So, this weekend, I've planted the first batch of midseason corn (new variety Tuxana, as a replacement for the Silver Queen I'd been planting) where I'd planted Augusta. We'll see how it comes along. It certainly doesn't have the same excuse of cold and wet!And, at the end of this bed, the tomatillos and peppers are doing fine. They all got off to a slow start - tomatoes, peppers, and tomatillos - in the seed flats. Part of that was damping off fungus, I think, but the rest...I just don't know. Not warm enough? In the next bed is even later-planted Premier kale, doing just fine (if besieged by weeds). The cilantro and tatsoi both bolted quick when the spring warmed up; I'm waiting to collect seed for both before turning them under. The tomatoes I planted two weeks ago are really starting to hit their stride. This year we have Pink Princess cherries, paste tomatoes Illini Gold and Black Plum, and slicers Illini Star, German Johnson, and a Virginia variety of Brandywine. I need to get the first row of Florida weave trellising up, but it's been wicked hot today. Maybe tomorrow evening.The cucumber trellis is up and I planted out the cucumbers yesterday: Garden Oasis (a beit alpha type) and Chelsea Pride (an English-style cuke), both old seed and showing poor germination after a couple of years, and new cukes Suyo Long (an Asian) and Empereur Alexandre. I really like the beit alphas for their tender skin and juicy, sweet, never-bitter flavor, but they just don't germinate well. We'll see how the new cuke varieties handle our heat and humidity.I'm planning on seeding out some Senposai for summer greens - it was indeed durable last year - but that hasn't happened yet. Too many weeds to clear and not enough good-weather hours in which to do so. When I finally got down to it yesterday morning, I cleared half the bed before the heat and the [...]
Tue, 03 Mar 2015 13:50:43 GMTThis morning, headed down the sidewalk past Capitol Square from the bus stop, I was composing a post about the effects of this long, cold winter on the camellias planted there when there was a rustle and a heavy thump on the other side of an azalea. I glanced in that direction and then came to a dead stop: it was a big bird. Not one of the hawks that hunt in the park, either - it was one of the peregrine falcons who live in downtown. I'd never seen one in person, but they're popular webcam subjects because they like to nest on the ledges outside of upper floor windows in the office buildings downtown. I gazed, and it gazed back, and then since I knew there was someone coming down the sidewalk a ways behind me I went on, leaving the falcon to continue with whatever it was doing in the underbrush undisturbed.
Sun, 15 Feb 2015 13:31:24 GMTWell, I now have empirical proof that you can, indeed, freeze your hair. :-) No damage done, though it was very weird to wonder what was poking my scalp as I turned my head and realize it was my hair. Fortunately, the wood stove was already fired up for the morning, so I stood there in my coat for a couple of minutes until it thawed.
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 20:28:37 GMTOh, my god, what a glorious day - what a beautiful weekend - this has turned out to be. Clouds gave way to sunshine and a warm, southerly breeze yesterday about midday, and today is an incredible 70 degrees! I changed out the bedding in the chicken house in my shirtsleeves. I helped stack up the next bunch of logs to be split, and then took Kay down into the garden and stood around in the sun while she explored where the rabbits have been hiding out. Days like this don't come along all that often in February; I'm glad these two happened on a weekend so I could make use of them.
Fri, 30 Jan 2015 13:36:24 GMTYesterday, my commute gave me the complicated lace of branch tips stark against a salmon-pink winter sky.
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 17:26:30 GMTThis post - https://medium.com/message/never-trust-a-corporation-to-do-a-librarys-job-f58db4673351 - and the news it communicates, is awesome. So very awesome. Every generation has computer software it uses, and loves, and then abandons when something that seems cooler comes along...only to find out later the previous software did some things better or was more fun to play with. The past seemed lost forever; software is all too often now not backward-compatible, so the early versions might as well not exist. Old movies, books, games, all rendered as if they'd never been.
Sat, 03 Jan 2015 11:17:19 GMTIn case you hadn't yet heard: BBC Radio 4 is playing the radio show of Terry Pratchett's and Neil Gaiman's "Good Omens" - http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04knthd.
Sat, 06 Dec 2014 19:19:59 GMTA friend once observed, while critiquing one of my novels, that I appeared to be using one of the pair of main characters as a whipping boy. Bad stuff always fell worse on the one character, not the other, though the other is the one who instigated the situation. The other, in fact, often was being forced to watch as a punishment; the bad guys explicitly damaged the one to hurt the other. Which called into question why the whipping boy was there at all - what was their purpose, aside from soaking up punishment I subconsciously did not want to inflict on my chosen character? A very good question.
Mon, 03 Nov 2014 13:54:23 GMTOn a farm, even a small farm like mine, there's always something needing to be done. This weekend, we wrapped up preparations for the first frost, forecast for Monday morning. This meant checking windows in the chicken house, picking the last little bits of the summer garden, and laying in a bag of wood for this year's inauguration of fire season. We finished filling the woodshed last weekend, with the help of a neighbor and his wood splitter.
Fri, 19 Sep 2014 13:15:56 GMTIt's International Talk Like a Pirate Day, and in place of a bunch of really bad puns I offer you (courtesy of the Decemberists) some song lyrics that get at the heart behind what creates a pirate. Along with "Where's all the rum gone?" ::wink::
Sun, 14 Sep 2014 14:05:01 GMTSummer garden report; I'm on the verge of fall planting, so might as well report while it's relatively fresh in my mind.Starting at the lower end of the garden:Corn, Silver Queen and Augusta. It was a good year for Silver Queen. Even the ones I had to rescue from the self-sown cosmos roared back, despite the dry year (and no, I don't water the corn), and produced plenty of nice ears. We put up 14 cups of cut corn. Augusta did not fare so well - thin germination to begin with, and it tasselled earlier than the Silver Queen I'd planted to pollinate it, so we got few ears and none I'd call well filled out. If I grow this again, it needs to be started two weeks before Silver Queen (which I will absolutely be growing again). Note: there are honeybees in the area, all on their own. We know this because, while the Silver Queen was full of pollen, the entire bed was positively vibrating with honeybees. I find this interesting because corn is an ancient, wind-pollinated crop; it didn't need those bees at all. Summer squash. None of the summer squash did well. We had a strong showing of squash bugs rather early, plus a lot of heat and dry weather, and that did it for the squash plants before most of them produced much. The grey zucchini I'd specially sought after produced some of the weirdest fruits I've ever seen, curved and corrugated - not what I'd wanted. Only one of the dark green zucchinis fruited at all, and it succumbed quickly to disease. It's a good thing I still have zucchini in the freezer from last year. Tomatoes, cherry. We grew three varieties this year, two seed-saved here and one I ordered from Fedco. (http://www.fedcoseeds.com) The Rose cherries I've been saving for three years produced, but succumbed early to disease. The Kumquat cherries (also seed-saved, though I only selected these last year) were an odd pinky-orange color, strongly productive, strong grower. The fruit cracks quickly after rain (though not as quickly as one of its parents, Sungold). Not sure about this one. The Pink Princess from Fedco was an exceptional grower and producer of gorgeous dark-pink fruit, and I think this variety will be taking over from Rose; Pink Princess showed none of the disease issues that knocked Rose down, despite a planting location with less air circulation (upwind of the early corn). Tomatoes, main crop. We grew five varieties, two plums and three slicers. German Johnson still gets top marks for productivity and flavor; this tomato remains the backbone of the tomatoes that go in my freezer to make up sauce. Cherokee Purple will never be high on the production list, but the fruits are flavorful and the plants keep going despite disease issues and dry weather. (Most definitely not a tomato for a wet year, as we discovered last year.) The new slicer was Illini Star, which was (and still is) solidly productive of smallish, perfectly round red tomatoes that are a gorgeous dark pink inside, lovely to see on the plate. The two plums, Illini Gold and Black Plum, were quite productive this year; I've already put up 11 half-pints of tomato paste using just these two tomatoes. Black Plum was the only tomato I had that produced in last year's washout season, and only then because the fruit came on early and tends to be small. If any of these plants gets substituted out next year, it'll probably be Cherokee Purple. Peppers, hot. We grew poblanos and jalapeños. Both have been ver[...]
Sun, 17 Aug 2014 23:43:48 GMTI just caught up with this year's Hugo awards - yay for Liz Bourke and her second-place finish in the Best Fan Writer category! And WOW! XKCD's Time panel was deservedly awarded a win for Best Graphic Story; what a fabulous series of panels that was. (If you haven't seen it, run don't walk - it's that wonderful. And time-consuming. :-) http://xkcd.com/1190/)