Archive for the 'garden' Category


Spring’s tribute to Rocky

p5198351rhodies1ftf.jpgI see you shiver with antici…



Wishing my camera had smell-o-vision




Yes, more flowers

I just can’t help myself: suddenly, gobs of flowers are appearing everywhere, and I must photograph them.

I spent Mother’s Day with Jan and Sylvia (and two of our friends) at Winterthur. We visited the fairy garden first (of course), then strolled though most of the other gardens. Weather-wise, the day couldn’t have been better. And our timing was impeccable: the blossoms in Azalea Woods traditionally reach their peak on Mother’s Day, and this year was no exception.

Azaleas don’t do much for me during the fifty weeks when they’re simple shrubs. But when they’re festooned with brilliantly colored flowers for two weeks each spring—wow.





Spring outing

p3316800marchbankftf.jpgTuesday was one of those spring days that are just about perfect. You know what I mean? Sylvia didn’t have school that day, so we decided to celebrate the arrival of spring with a trip to Winterthur, a self-described “museum and country estate.” It was built by the DuPonts, and it’s a pretty amazing place. The house now houses a museum with several collections of the sorts of things that make the Antiques Roadshow hosts start to drool. I much prefer the grounds, which are a delight to explore in any season. On this visit, Sylvia and I got to see the March Bank covered with a carpet of periwinkles.

p3316826greenmanftf.jpgWhen we got on the open-air tram (Sylvia loves to ride it), the driver looked at us and said, “I bet I know where you’re going. The Enchanted Woods, right?” You bet. We call it “the fairy garden,” and it’s our favorite part of the entire estate.

As soon as we got there, Sylvia visited the Green Man, hopped on some stepping stones, and ran a labyrinth (so much for its meditative aspects!). We visited the fairy ring and the little (kid-sized!) thatched cottage and the giant bird’s nest and all of our other favorite spots.

After that, we just walked around and explored. We saw one of our old friends, a 250-year-old sycamore. By late morning we had shed our coats and by lunchtime the sun was warming up everything nicely. All told, we spent four hours there, finding signs of spring everywhere we went. All over the place are huge swaths of dark green, where daffodils are pushing through. I expect they’ll be blooming in a week or two. And we’ll probably go back to see them.











Life update

Watching: Groundhog Day. Yes, I watched this on February 2.

Knitting: Wavy scarf from Knitty.

Reading: Mr. Darcy’s Diary, by Amanda Grange. This is total fluff, but entertaining. I think Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance – Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem! will be an appropriate follow-up read.

Growing: Paperwhites (forced in Mason jars on the kitchen counter).

Eating: Pureed broccoli soup with garlic, ginger, and white miso.

Shoveling: Lots of snow. But I actually enjoy shoveling snow, so I don’t mind.


Garden, ho!

Last year, Jan and I built a 4’x’4′ raised-bed garden along the side of our house. (Our yard has a lot of trees, and that’s pretty much the only consistently sunny spot.) We were very modest in our goals, and wound up with decent harvests of purple beans, lettuce, and Swiss chard.

This spring, we decided to expand our garden—not least because Sylvia was very interested in the project and had helped choose some flower varieties to plant. We added a 4’x8′ raised bed next to the first one, and filled both of them with mushroom soil, which is readily available in this area (southeastern Pennsylvania grows most of the mushrooms in this country) and has been described as “rocket fuel for plants.”

p6111224garden.jpgA wet, cold spring gave our seeds some problems, but now that the warm weather is here things are taking off a bit. We have zinnias, cosmos, sunflowers, and some other flowers (I don’t know what they are—it was a packet of seeds that Jan’s dad sent to Sylvia from the Netherlands). There’s a bit of chard and Italian parsley, and two bean plants.

When Jan and I gardened at our apartment, we had a seed-starting setup (complete with heat mats and grow lights) in the tiny spare bedroom. Our plan is to do this in our basement, but we didn’t manage to clear out the clutter soon enough this season. So we went to our local farmer’s market and bought some tomato plants and several basil plants. My end-of-summer goal is to make and freeze a gallon of pesto.


Sights of spring

A few more photos from our recent trip to Longwood Gardens:










Another birthday

p5230771meadow.jpgAll three of us have birthdays in May. Sylvia’s is on the 6th, mine is on the 8th, and Jan’s was yesterday. He and I are the same age for fifteen days, and then he leaps ahead again.

Jan always takes Sylvia’s birthday and my birthday as days off of work, but yesterday was the first time in a long time that he took his birthday off, too. We celebrated by heading to Longwood Gardens (which is where we’d spent my birthday, too).

It was one of those perfect spring days: sunny, clear, breezy, neither too warm nor too cold, not humid. The garden wasn’t very crowded, and the flowers put on a great show. The best part for me was just watching Sylvia be happy there. She loves that place, and it’s such a wonderful location for roaming and exploration and just being.


Reprieve from winter

Last week, daytime temperatures were in the 20s. I wore my flannel-lined jeans all the time, and put on a hat, scarf, and mittens whenever I went out.

p1088988hopscotch.jpgThis week, daytime temperatures are in the 50s and 60s (with one day’s high at 69!). I believe that general warming trends are harbingers of bad things to come (Al Gore is right, people!). But I love those one or two balmy days you get in January (always in January—why is that?) that offer a quick break from winter. Some wishful (or extremely cold-tolerant) types go so far as to wear shorts and t-shirts on those days. Me, I’m just glad not to have to wear a heavy sweater and wool socks for a little while. And I’m also glad when it’s mild enough to permit non-bundled-up playtime outside—and a game of hopscotch.

p1068931seedcatalogs.jpgSpring really isn’t that far off. Look what’s been arriving in my mailbox over the past few weeks. Now that Christmas is over, I expect a deluge of these things.


In bloom

pc038479paperwhites.jpgI love flowers.

In the spring and summer, I’m happy to see them outside my windows. The winter, however, is a different story. I can’t afford to have cut flowers around often, and we don’t have many good spots for houseplants, so I usually content myself with forcing paperwhites on a windowsill in the kitchen. A few years ago, I got very ambitious and potted up crocuses, hyacinths, and all sort of other bulbs that require hardening, but they took up a lot of real estate in my refrigerator for a long time, so now I just do paperwhites.

I buy a bag of them in October or November and force just one or two of them at a time, placing them in mason jars with smooth river rocks on the bottom. The first of this year’s bulbs started flowering a couple of weeks ago, right around Thanksgiving, and I expect to have enough bulbs to last until the daffodils start appearing in my yard in the spring.

Some people don’t like paperwhites because of their smell. If you have a whole bunch of them, yes, their fragrance can be cloying. But just one or two at a time produce a mild perfume that wafts through the air and reminds me that green spring will be returning soon.

« Prev - Next »