Six on Saturday – Shirley’s Magic Wreath Machine – December 1, 2018

This is a repost of a blog from last year. Nothing happening in the garden except waiting for it to dry out enough that leaves can be gathered and mulched. We had our first killing frost last week. This weekend I will be in Indiana for that state’s premier of The Santa Diaries, a Christmas play Laura Ambler and I wrote for the Avalon Theatre in Easton in 2012. We are excited to see the interpretation of the Sugar Creek Players.

From December 2017: As my blog readers know, I’ve been involved in planning meetings for the St. Michaels Woman’s Club garden group, Green Thumb. This year my task was to coordinate an annual wreath making event. Shirley Windsor of Seasonal Flowers comes to the St. Michaels Woman’s Club clubhouse with her magic wreath making machine and all participants go home with a beautiful wreath.

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Each year Laura Ambler, my writing partner,  allows me to cut greens from her property.  And each year she gets a wreath I make. I took this one to her office and she hung it on the front door. It would be way to big for my front door. Some years I make a big one and a smaller one for myself.

These wreaths take a lot of material and we all bring our own bags of greens. And we share. Each large wreath needs 18 bundles of greens (each with 10-12 stems). A small wreath takes 14. The ends of the bundles are wrapped with a rubber band. Each bundle is inserted between two prongs on the wreath frame and when Shirley presses on the foot lever, the two prongs are pushed flat over the end of the bundle. You can see the lever on the bottom of this photo. It’s really quite amazing. I found this company online with what looks like the guts of Shirley’s machine.

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The workshop is messy and we had put down tarps the day before. I had to be in Annapolis so my friend Carol and her husband Jim got all the tarps down and taped and the tables set up. I was so grateful for their help.

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Making bundles takes time, but everyone goes home with a wreath they can be proud of and every single one is different and beautiful.

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This was Leslye’s first wreath. Spectacular!

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Jennifer’s first wreath. She told me she was going to highlight the magnolia leaves with some gold paint. She was one of the last ones to get her bundles put on a frame and the rest of us were sweeping up and removing tarps around her. The clubhouse had to be left spotless as a crew setting up for the Christmas in St. Michaels’ Gingerbread House Contest was coming in early the follwing day. The preview party was Saturday night. There is lots to do in St. Michaels this time of year.

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Christmas in St. Michaels is in its 36th year and raises money for charities in the Bay Hundred area. It’s a spectacular event and the result in a year-long planning effort. It starts next Saturday with the best small-town Christmas parade in America.

 

 

 

Six on Saturday – Cold on the Cusp – November 17, 2018

It’s colder, but we still haven’t had a killing frost. A lot more rain last week so the yard is too wet for the guy who runs the big mower that will mulch and collect the leaves for me. There are a few outdoor tasks remaining but we did get the Avocado sculpture wrapped for the winter and the drip irrigation system shut down and the timers removed. The hose has been rolled and the sprayer removed. I don’t bring it inside. The water that’s left inside can freeze and expand without rupturing the hose. There are a few pots to be moved closer to the house. They will survive the winter — or not.

  1. I got a flat of yellow pansies and planted them in some pots. They’ll give me a pop of color on these drab days.

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2. The potted dwarf Alberta Spruce is on the deck ready to be wrapped in fairy lights. I leave the lights on it until spring because it’s so pretty at night. I’ve had Alberta Spruce in the garden before. Lost one to red spider mites and then planted two on the other side of the garden flanking steps leading to the deck. One succumbed to mites and the other looked healthy, but my sense of symmetry was bothered so I dug it up and gave it to Laura Ambler, my writing partner, for her garden.

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3. A month ago a sunken area in the garden was filled with bags of top soil and seeded with grass. I bought a seed mixture that was incorporated in mulched newspaper last spring because a guy in the check out line at Lowe’s told me he used it. I had it in the garage and hoped the seed was still viable and it seemed to be. After I put the mixture down it rained and rained. I thought the seed might rot, but it germinated.

 

4. I remembered to harvest seed pods from the thread leaf amsonia hubrictii this morning. Now I just have to get them into a container and label them before I forget what they are. The good news is they are now in the garage, not still in the garden. These thread leaf amsonia don’t self-seed like the other variety I had. I want more of the golden fall color.

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5.  Hairy Balls Milkweed aka Family Jewels Milkweed

A friend brought me some flowers that contained a stalk of these. I dried them out and will see if I can raise some from seed. Apparently the Monarch butterflies like them.

 

6.  We emptied out the water in the avocado sculpture, put a beach ball in it to keep the tarp raised and fastened the tarp with bungee cords.  Last we had some fall color from the small maple on the left, but nothing this year. The leaves are holding on. The random pieces of paving were thrown there and never got properly placed. A job for spring.

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That’s my six for this week, a meme started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. I learn something every week from the participating gardeners. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Six on Saturday – A Retrospective – October 20, 2018

We still have no fall colors on the trees. The asters are blooming and the Sheffield mums are beginning to open. It has seemed like such an odd year in terms of weather that I thought I would go back through previous years to see what was happening in the garden during the third week in October.

1. 2018  The confused Vitex at the end of the drive is blooming AGAIN.

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2. 2017 – zebra grass in the early morning light.

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3. 2016  A good year for tomatoes and this was the last of them. I spread them out in the garage and processed them as they ripened. This year my tomotoes were okay, but nothing like this so I pulled the plants at the end of August and seeded fall crops.

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4. 2015   This photo was taken on 10-12-15 so a little earlier. The plant in the lower left is artemesia in shadow — turned blue by the morning light.

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5.  2014   – I’ve been complaining that the asters are late this year, but it turns out they are right on schedule. They bloomed the same week in 2014.

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6.  2013   This photo was taken on October 9, 2013. I have no idea why I would have covered the raised beds this early unless a frost was expected. Or perhaps it was to keep the leaves out of the beds although I doubt I would have been that industrious. There appear to be plants underneath the row covers.

The Brown Turkey fig tree in the background didn’t survive a subsequent winter. A shame as it was just getting to a size that would permit the squirrels to share with the gardener.

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It’s interesting to look back on the gardens as things fill in. Just to the left of the Direct TV antennae is a small red cedar. It is now 15 feet tall and fills that part of the garden bed along the fence.

That’s my six for this week, a meme started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

 

Six on Saturday – I Heard My Garden Singin’ in the Rain – July 21, 2018

It rained on Tuesday afternoon this week. Several inches. I could hear my garden singing as water became available to parched roots. There will be casualties from the drought and this rain won’t see us through the rest of the hot summer, but it was welcomed by every gardener in the Mid-Atlantic region who got some. Rain here is capricious. Often storms that start on the western side of the Chesapeake Bay don’t make it across to the Eastern Shore. And when they do they may skip areas, but on Tuesday we were blessed.

More rain predicted for today. 100% chance. I’ll take it.

Here are six garden songs for this week.

  1. The schubertii allium heads dried on the stalks. I cut them, spray painted them pink and attached them to bamboo sticks. They look like pink fireworks and will give me some color for the rest of the summer. If I really cared I’d spray paint the duct tape that I used. This winter I’ll spray paint them silver or white and use them for Christmas decorations.

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2.  Yellow day lilies continued to bloom throughout the weeks of no rain. My parents both grew up on Iowa farms and both were gardeners. I think the gardening bug bit me when, as an eight-year-old, I returned to Indiana with a newspaper wrapped root of what my Iowa Grandmother called a lemon lily. I planted it when we got home and it lived and bloomed. I was hooked. How did the rest of you become hooked on gardening?

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3. The Goldsturm rudbeckia have perked up since the rain and will now bloom for weeks.  They are a hardy and reliable perennial in my garden. Upper right hand corner of this photo is Soldago rugosa (commonly called goldenrod.) It blooms bright yellow. I cut it back by half on July 4th. I’ll post a photo when it is blooming.

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4. This coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) is happy in dappled shade. Others I had in full sun didn’t suvive. This one keeps coming back.

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5. Zinnias from saved seeds are blooming. Next year I need to get a packet of some that don’t get quite so tall.

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6. We are eating out of the garden. These few Yellow Finn potatoes grew in a patch where I had potatoes last year. Apparently I didn’t get all the babies out of the ground. They are delicious but not worth the bed space for the small harvest. I need to find a better variety. Suggestions?

This bowl will get turned into some German potato salad made with bacon from a local organic pig farmer. Also in the bowl are a few puny radishes I found when I was getting ready to sew a fall crop of turnips. I’ll slice them into a bowl of cucumbers and onions.

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In my beds at the Community Garden I am harvesting small beets and a few tomatoes. Yesterday I made gazpacho with tomatoes, cucumbers and garlic from the garden .

That’s my grateful-for-the-rain Six on Saturday, a meme started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

Six on Saturday: Feb 24, 2018

Six on Saturday is the idea of a garden blogger. The idea is for people to take photos of things in and around gardens and post six photos on Saturday. These are mine.

I was at the St. Michaels Woman’s Club yesterday. A friend and I have been tending the grounds for a number of years and are passing the torch. We were at the club to meet with a local landscaper so we could get a bid on ongoing maintenance. We are just getting too creaky to do all we’ve been doing (like putting down 14 cubic yards of mulch). We have enough to do in our own gardens. In one corner of the back yard I found an early camellia dewed by a gentle rain.

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We’ve had a wet spring, but warmer than normal temps which is pushing things to bloom a couple of weeks before they should. I found daffodils blooming today in a corner of my yard. Our town, St. Michaels, MD is having a Daffodil Festival April 14-15. I wonder if all those thousands of bulbs that were planted last fall will have come and gone by then.

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There is yard clean-up to do, but it’s been too wet. The grasses need to be cut back along with many other shrubs. You can see the standing water, but day lilies don’t seem to mind wet feet. The red twig dogwood needs to be cut back soon, but I’llenjoy looking at it for a little while longer. I took alot of things out of this bed last fall and am waiting to see what’s still there before I replant. I just noticed that in the back left of this photo is the bright blue kneeling pad I couldn’t find.

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Last fall I ordered 50 allium schubertii. They make a huge head that I dry and use in flower arrangements. That was definitely one of those what-was-I-thinking purchases. I planted those bulbs everywhere, including plastic pots that I grow vegetables in. I noticed that some in the ground have been munched so I started spraying with Deer-Off which should help with deer and rabbits unless the rain washes it off. Or, come to think of it,  these might be tulips. I also bought too many of those and was frantic to get them in the ground.

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Bok choy wintered over without a row cover. It is so sweet and tender. We are enjoying it in salads.

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At home I have a small bed of garlic that I planted last fall. At our local community garden I have a number of beds and half of one of those is also planted with garlic. 4′ x 7′ more of garlic there.

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That’s my six this rainy Saturday. I’m heading back out to pick some bok choy for dinner.