Thursday, March 26, 2015

My Kind of March Madness

Can you see me doing the Spring is Arriving dance? Well, I'm doing it. The snow has finally melted away, and plants are starting to pop up and even bloom. It's about time! It all starts with my ever faithful Sedum Angelina. In summer, it's a bright green color, but once it gets cold, it turns shades of yellow, orange and red. When I see this emerge from the snow, it's time for spring to begin.

The blooms won't be far behind this display. First, little green spouts pop up everywhere.
Well, maybe some of the sprouts are purple. 
Then the blooms start with my iris reticulata. I started with these pretty periwinkle blue ones. It was a happy accident that they looked so perfect paired with sedum Angelina.

Once I saw how well they played together, I planted more iris under the sedum. I tried a few yellow ones, and then these pretty purple ones. The purple ones remind me of a grasshopper or a bird.
But I still like the periwinkle ones best.
Once the iris begins to bloom, I know the crocus won't be far behind.
And then the first of the daffodils will bloom. Who can resist their cheerful yellow heads bobbing in the garden?
When these early spring cuties pop out, it tells me that I need to get some pansies for a blast of quick color.
And I usually find it hard to resist the Reiger begonias found everywhere around Easter. This one will eventually find it's way into a pot outside, but for now, it's living in the kitchen. 

If it's just warm enough to have a few colorful pots sitting on the patio and porch, then I truly know that it's my favorite kind of March Madness.

Friday, March 6, 2015

I Give Up

Apparently winter has decided not to leave this year. I keep thinking that I will soon have some sprouts popping up, or something to interest me out in the yard. Well, all I have to look at outside is the blinding white of snow cover. It's very frustrating. I'd sure rather see something like this, wouldn't you?

My plans for the upcoming season are all in place. First order of business will be to expand the vegetable garden out a few feet at the ends. That will be hubby's project, and I'll be pestering him to do it just as soon as the ground is dig-able again. It has to be done sooner rather than later, because it won't be long before the cool season crops will need to be planted.

That's about it for the big projects. I do need to replace a mugo pine that quickly succumbed to some type of problem after ten years of health. I think the only reason that the two on either side of it didn't catch the disease is because a hard frost came along right then. I may have to replace all three. I do love them, even if they are susceptible to disease.

Otherwise it's business as usual. I'll have to keep an eye on the roses, because if they fall victim to rose rosette disease, it will mean reworking a very large area. I really don't want to do that.

There will be containers to fill,

and favorites to plant,

and other favorites that I'll be watching for their return.

 I'll have to fill the window boxes.

And I'll want to start my usual water garden full of goldfish. 

But if winter decides to stick around forever, I guess I'm out of luck. I know, spring will arrive eventually. I don't really give up. But you knew that, didn't you? Just hurry up, will you Spring?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Happy Kitchen

It's February, and the garden is still asleep. That means I still have nothing garden related to post about! But as I moved around the kitchen this morning, I realized how much that space makes me smile. Even eating off my favorite plates makes me smile!
Whether or not it's a cliche, I think most everyone would agree that a kitchen truly is the heart of the home. It's where we gather, it's where we are fed. It's where we connect with our family and friends. It's where nourishing foods are prepared with a loving touch.
The sunny, south facing windows were one big reason why we bought this house. Enough sunshine streams in, even in winter, that it encouraged a bloom from the cactus that grows in a pot I brought home from Mexico. I've never seen this plant bloom before. This qualifies as gardening, right?
And I can never resist those brightly colored primrose pots blooming in the grocery store this time of year. I do plant them outdoors once the weather cooperates. 
We've been slowly updating our kitchen space. We already added bright paint colors, and other simple touches. But now we're starting to do some bigger projects. We added new quartz counter tops, and I just love the silver sparkles in it. That's why I added a shiny silver colander full of apples in the middle of the island, to reflect the sparkles. It makes me happy every time I see it! Sometimes I fill it with lemons or limes, and next I might even use fresh artichokes.
Now I think I want to paint the cabinets white. The orangey oak color just isn't the thing anymore, is it? But I do love the orange soffit, and the asparagus green walls. Since I'm a wine aficionado, the Wine and Dine signs over my pantries were just the touch I was looking for. We bought the microwave over the stove as a Christmas present to each other, and I like how it looks there. But it does make me want to match up all the rest of my appliances so that they are all stainless steel. Ooh, that sounds pricey. I'd better wait on that. 
Besides being a wine lover, I'm also a tea lover. I drink it hot and iced, all day long. I have a habit of picking up teapot and tea cup shaped objects when I see them, especially planters.
I also pick up cute teapots now and then, even though I don't really use them. This one resides on my baker's rack next to the back door. The microwave was on this rack before, and I like being able to keep a few special objects on it now.
Well, that's about it for today in my kitchen. Now if you'll excuse me, there's a bowl of BBQ Bean Soup with my name on it. What better way to stay warm on a cold winter's day?
Barbecue Bean Soup

16 oz bag dried northern beans
8 cups water
1 medium onion, chopped
1 lb. diced ham
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 c. vinegar
2 T. brown sugar
16 oz can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
2 T. mustard
1/4 c. chili sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Soak beans overnight, then discard water before cooking. Fill bean pot with fresh 8 cups of water and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for about 3 hours until beans are tender, adding water as needed. As beans soften, watch closely for scorching.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Onward to the New Year

Well, I finally decided to update my blog. I can list all the excuses, but it boils down to this. My holiday season was ridiculously busy this year, and there's not a darn thing to see outside in my garden. December was just the drabbest month. It didn't really snow, the skies were rainy and foggy, and it was just generally dreary. Blah.

 But with the arrival of the new year came the arrival of real winter time. It's been snowing, and bitter cold, just like you'd expect from winter. Brrrrr! Sometimes I think that I'll never feel warm again.

I'm ready to finally settle into my winter cocoon. Honestly, I'm looking forward to things turning a little bit dull. You see, we just held our annual wine party last night, and I'm exhausted! Don't get me wrong, it was a blast, but now I can call my time my own. We normally hold it between Christmas and New Year's, but this year we moved it off the holiday just a bit and that turned out to be a good move. However, it means that I still haven't been able to wind down from the "holidays". I promise, today I did nothing! And it felt wonderful.
In trying to inspire myself to write about gardening, I scanned through last year's pictures for ideas. Instead, I got a little lost there in my photo files. Heavy sigh. Sometimes I can put it out my mind for awhile, but seeing all those flowers reminded me just exactly what I'm missing.

 I guess that just means that one of my first winter projects will be sorting through the seed catalogs. Oh darn.
I'm actually ahead of the game with next year's seeds. I already bought some of my favorites so that they wouldn't sell out before I got to them. After all, I couldn't do without my beloved Queen Red Lime zinnias. I wonder what other treasures I'll find.
There are a couple of other winter projects to keep me occupied, and they are actually related to gardening. That's how I keep my sanity till the garden starts blooming again. I need to gather vegetable recipes for the Master Gardener farmer's market, and I need to tweak my butterfly gardening presentation before I present it to the garden club next month. Of course there are plenty of other non-garden related craft projects too. Before I know it, the first iris reticulata will pop up, and the next garden season will begin again. I can make it.