Monday, November 30, 2020

November Gratitude

 Are you finding gratitude hard to come by these days? Well, you are certainly not alone. The world has been troubling for some time now, and the news is often distressing. Still, I'm finding it best not to spend too much time wallowing in anxiety about everything. It's not that I'm trying to be Suzy Sunshine while real problems exist in the world. But it's important to have distraction so we don't go sinking too far down into the mire. Here in the US, we celebrate Thanksgiving in November, and many of us spent this normally family oriented holiday at home in our own household bubble. Again, it may have been hard to find gratitude when you're used to being surrounded by loved ones. 

As for myself, I am grateful for many things, despite being separated from family and friends. I have my husband here working from home, and a warm and cozy home it is. We are healthy and strong, with many ways to keep ourselves occupied here in the nest. Of course I'm grateful for the garden, which keeps me busy, entertained, and emotionally supported throughout the year. 

November was fairly pleasant early on, and many of my favorites were still blooming for me. At this point in the garden year, the chores consist of putting the garden to bed for the winter. Faded flowers are removed, the decorative touches are put away for the winter, and bulbs are planted. Luckily the weather cooperated while I finished up. 

There were even some fall colors to enjoy at the start of the month. I made a few last visits to my favorite parks, just to see what sights were still available. 

Of course here we are at month's end, and the weather has turned more wintery. It's snowing today, and I'm thoroughly enjoying the big fat flakes coming down. I hope it sticks! We've had some pretty cold nights, and only a few bedraggled roses and snapdragons remain in bloom. I've discarded all the pumpkins, and soon I'll decorate with Christmas greens, which will remain in place until March. 

Below you see what I call frost bouquets. Whenever a big freeze threatens, I gather what ever flowers still remain, just in case they get nipped. Sometimes the frost misses the last blooms after all, but it's still nice to have bouquets indoors. And that big ole praying mantis showed up while I was making Thanksgiving dinner. I have no idea where he suddenly appeared from, and what he could find to eat at that point. He stayed for a few days, now nowhere to be seen. The single roses seen are the die hards, bedraggled, but still trying to be pretty. 

It's harder to keep a garden blog interesting in the winter, but I'll do my best. We've been in hunker down mode throughout most of the pandemic, so winter won't be much different, although there won't be any garden to distract us. Winter gardening mostly consists of planning for next year. I'll draw a few pictures of how I want things to look, make a list of purchases, and plan out my color schemes and seed purchases. And I'll work on my gratitude. This is the second year running where I write down my daily gratitude at day's end. It helps. Sometimes the gratitude is simply a cozy bowl of soup, and sometimes it's more extensive. But even in these troubling times, there's always something to be thankful for. By the way, the colorful pot you see below has been a delight all through the cold weather. I did protect it overnight a few times, and finally brought it inside to spend the winter. Hopefully it will keep me smiling throughout the long, cold winter so it can return to the outdoors next year. And please let us all hope that we find it a whole lot easier to find gratitude next year! 

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Autumn's Finest is October

 I thought I'd join the legions of people who swoon over October's beauty, by showing you some of my favorite autumn spots here in central Ohio. Of course I'll show off the end of my own garden season too, but there is little new to share at this point in the year. And the difference in my early October garden to now is very noticeable. We haven't actually had a hard freeze yet, just a light frost, but the short days and chilly weather have taken their toll. Still, I'm glad that some of my flowers are hanging tough. 

It's funny, I was going through my photos to see which ones would work for this month's blog post, and noticed that the first week of October shows mostly late summer type garden photos. Then the second week, I was off and running to see the fall colors at all my favorite parks. And I didn't just go to each one once. Oh no. I went several times, just to see the transitions, because the weather was so perfect. There weren't many garden photos taken mid month. This batch is all from early October, when it often felt summery. 

But then the October color show began. I always start at Blacklick Woods, because of the large fields of goldenrod mixed in with asters. I usually keep my eyes peeled for monarch stragglers, but didn't see any this day. 

As you probably know from reading my blog, Franklin Park Conservatory is one of the best spots to watch the seasons change. Their displays are stellar. I was a little early for the color changes, but it's so beautiful there that it didn't much matter. 

Of course, nearby Pickerington Ponds has plenty of pretty spots to see. One day, I even got up before dawn and caught a sunrise. That was truly a miracle, but then again, the sun didn't come up until 7:45 that day, so I can't brag too much. 

Sunrise at Ellis Pond

Next stop on my autumn tour was Chestnut Ridge. This place is a favorite of mine, I often take my lunch there, even in winter. I think I visited there four or five times this month! There was always a new scene to see. 

Made a brief stop at Inniswood, where I don't even have to go past the gate to see their pretty fall display. What always comes to mind when I go there in fall is how well they use texture in the gardens. There are layers and layers to see. It's all very professionally done. 

I found a new spot to explore this year, Blendon Woods. Its draw is a fall foliage driving tour. Even though it's the middle of suburbia, it even has a few steep hills to drive through the woods, making it extra appealing. And I thoroughly enjoyed the flock of wild turkeys that stopped traffic. I'll definitely be back here every year. 

We took in Dawe's Arboretum for our anniversary this year, and it was a perfect day for it. They also have a driving trail, but it's much longer. After the arboretum, we had a car picnic at our favorite Mexican restaurant. We don't otherwise eat at restaurants yet, only takeout. It was a little too chilly to have a real picnic. 

There was a particularly bold colored tree that kept drawing me back to Blacklick Woods. I kept taking its photo as it transformed from green, to bright orange. It's empty of leaves now, but I sure did enjoy watching it get to this showy orange. 

After enjoying all those lovely parks this fall, it was time to circle back around to Robin's Nest. Believe it or not, I did still have a few monarchs earlier in the month. I had a very late one this year that I named Miguel, and it was cold by the time he emerged. It took an extra day to release him, it was so chilly that he wasn't quite ready. But eventually, he took off. In honor of the 92 monarchs I released this year, I dressed as one for the Halloween Parade in my neighborhood. I'll miss them over the winter, but sure glad I had the chance to care for so many. It was the most I ever had! 

Miguel the Monarch

Of course I had to do some fall decorating outdoors. The impatiens gave up long before frost came to town, so I replaced them with pumpkins and gourds. 

One of my favorite trees in fall is the Sweetgum. It puts out autumn leaves in a veritable rainbow of colors! This summer, we planted one here, and even though it's small yet, I was able to gather its fall leaves into my traditional leaf rainbow. This little tree has already brought me so much autumn joy, I'm so glad we finally got one. 

Autumn's roses are still blooming out there in the cold. We've had a few light frosts, and so far, they don't care. 

The rest of the autumn diehards are worth a look. Most of the zinnias pictured were zapped by frost last night. But those hugging the patio were protected. When ever frost threatens, I fill the house with frost bouquets. 

With cooler weather comes more crafting. I made this neutral colored tassel blanket for my own self. I give away many of my crochet blankets, so it's nice to make one for myself now and then. The earrings are also for me. I am a person who likes things to match, and when I can't find earrings to match my tops, I'll sometimes buy beads and jewelry findings, and just make them myself. As for the multi colored piece, it's going to be a pocket shawl. I haven't yet figured out where it will land. 

And a couple of sunsets to say goodbye! In case you are wondering, hubby and I have risk factors for Covid 19, so we are considerably more cautious than most people. The beauty of visiting outdoor parks is that I don't have to get anywhere near other people, and if I do, of course I wear a mask. We don't yet gather with other people, no matter how maddening that can be. Someday, I hope to have a social life again, but meanwhile, this will have to do. Take care, and be safe, and thanks for coming by to see what's happening in Robin's Nest and beyond. It's been a glorious fall, and I savored every little bit of it. So glad I can share it with all of you.