Six on Saturday – Fall Colors – October 26, 2019

Every year it seems I despair of the lack of fall color. And every year it comes…just later than I expected. We were in Baltimore twice this week as I had cataract surgery on my left eye and the next day a return trip for the post-op exam. The trip to Baltimore involves highways with lots of trees and in the two weeks from the first surgery we now saw lovely fall colors. And the really great news is that I could see the brilliant colors without glasses.

My two beds at the St. Michaels Community Garden have been cleaned out and black plastic stapled over the raised bed frames to keep the weeds from germinating. I didn’t get any fall greens planted this year and it’s too late for seed germination now. I’ll start planting in March if weather permits.

My own garden is winding down. Leaves are falling and the grass is going dormant. But there are things to see.

  1. Berries on the Major Wheeler honeysuckle.

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2. An azalea bush in the foreground is beginning to show color. The Sheffield mums are in full bloom; their color is perfect with the fading rust of the sedum Autumn Joy. On the to-do list is wrapping the Jan Kirsch avocado for the winter.

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3. A crepe myrtle in the front yard is blazing.

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4. The white flowers have fallen but the Abelia shrubs are fading into autumn colors.

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5. The New England asters were pummeled by last week’s rain, but the garden in general has perked up with the moisture.

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6. A photo from this time last year. Even hosta leaves provide fall color. They are not as pretty this year because of the drought. In this photo it looks like I spread fireplace ashes in the garden and I couldn’t figure out where they came from. Not our fireplace. Then I remembered my neighbor was moving and had a large metal pail of ashes and I snagged it. They really seem to help to deter slugs.IMG_7646 (1)

That’s my Six on Saturday, photos of my garden once a week, a meme started by The Propogator, a UK gardener.  This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in. #lovemygarden

Six on Saturday – Still No Rain – October 12, 2019

Still no rain.  We are now over two months without precipitation. Our quarterly town water bill arrived. Almost $300, but I am hoping most shrubs, etc. will survive as well as the emerging areas that I seeded when we removed the raised beds. Despite what the weather people call a “moderate” drought, there are still things to see in the garden among the desiccated foliage . Several people have wondered how I can still have flowers in the garden. I tell them daily watering and close-up photography.

Here are my six on this fall Saturday.

  1. The flower heads on the Autumn Joy sedums are fading but the Sheffield mums behind them are just beginning to open.

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2. We finished a big job on the side of the house prior to my first cataract surgery last Wednesday. The procedure went extremely well. Second eye in two weeks. This side of the house had four straggly spireas and overgrown iris beds. My first plan was to only remove the iris, but as I worked I decided to take out the spireas as well. They never did well in that spot and had been inherited from the previous home owner.

I dug everything out and transplanted clumps of epimedium which I am watering daily.  The soil is so dry that it really isn’t conducive to transplanting, but I needed to get things done before my eyes were being worked on.

Today we laid down landscape cloth and covered it with pine nuggets. When we have a heavy rain, this bed splashes soil onto the siding. I am hoping to eliminate that problem.

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3. The short iris are now in full bloom, just as the goldenrod is fading.

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4.  My one cucumber plant at the St. Michaels Community Garden is continuing to produce. There is a row of garlic chives by this plant which has been covered with bees since it bloomed. I’m wondering if that’s why I’ve had so may cukes. The spaghetti squash plants are flowering but only with male flowers. I don’t think there will be any squash this year. Last year I had enough from a fall planting to see me through the winter.

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5. These are the garlic chive blooms. They need to be divided next spring, but should be cut back this fall before they seed. If If don’t get that done, the babies will be a nuisance in the area between the raised beds.

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6. Also in the community garden are some beautiful peppers in a neighbor’s bed. They remind me of bells.

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That’s my Six on this dry Saturday. The meme was started by The Propagator, 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.  

#lovemygarden

 

Six on Saturday – Rain, Please – September 21, 2019

Still dry here on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. I have been continuing to move plants although digging is more like jack hammering concrete. Even with constant watering there will be plant loss.

In my community garden bed one cucumber plant has been outdoing itself. I pick this many or more at least once a week. My yoga class takes them home, I take them to the salon where I get my hair cut and make lots of cuke and onion salad for myself. My husband doesn’t like cucumbers and I can only eat so many. The tag that came with this plant is still there so I will know what kind to get next year.

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2. The tall New England asters are beginning to bloom. They will be gorgeous with the goldenrod planted next to them.

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3. Seed pods on the native milkweed are bursting with seeds.

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4.  In the same area of my garden Verbena bonariensis loves the miserable soil. Someone posted last week that this verbena didn’t do well for them. Their soil might be too good. And these have done well despite no rain for two months. Only an occasional sprinkler on them.

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5. I have some carrots in my community garden bed. One of them is going to seed, but it is really pretty.

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6. It’s been in the high fifties at night. Our first fire of the season is only weeks away.

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That’s my Six on Saturday as we head toward fall. The meme was started by The Propagator, 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.  

#lovemygarden

Six on Saturday – A Walk Around Three Gardens – February 16, 2019

No particular theme this week. Just a walk around three gardens. The St. Michaels Community Garden where I have several beds, the Wilson Reading Garden at the St. Michaels Library which I helped establish and maintain, and my own still soggy garden at home.

Yesterday it was sixty degrees. It wasn’t raining for a change. I harvested some Red Russian kale for dinner from my community garden bed and did a little weeding. IMG_8298

2. Across the alley from the community garden is the reading garden we created outside the St. Michaels library. We did a major clean-up in the fall and the garden is ready for spring. The original path was made of oyster shells. They are hard to get now and we will have to make a decision on what material to use as there are beginning to be some bare patches. Volunteers planted hundreds of daffodil bulbs in this garden last fall. It will be spectacular in a few months.

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When I got home I wasn’t ready to go in yet so I started raking leaves. I found all sorts of things.

3. The white hellebores are beginning to open and nearby I found a pink hiding under the leaves.

4. I pulled leaves out of the old wheelbarrow where I plant mint and found pineapple mint rosettes waiting to be discovered.

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5. Nearby day lilies are sprouting and the green thready leaves of crocus could be seen, but no flowers yet.

6. Buds on my Roseum Elegans rhododendron are waiting for May. I didn’t realize how beautiful the buds are until I looked at the photo.

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That’s my Six on Saturday, a meme started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. It’s mid February and as spring approaches there will be new things to share every week. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

In the Rearview Mirror

We had a postponed Christmas dinner last night with Laura and her family.

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It was lovely. We toasted with blue champagne, had oysters and shrimp from the grill, country ham on country biscuits and my excellent curried cheese ball while we stood and chatted in Laura’s kitchen.

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I don’t know where Laura was in this photo. On the far right hand side, I think, behind her husband in the Santa hat. Then we made room for tenderloin, potatoes and fresh asparagus sitting at the beautiful dining room table. Laura loves to make a festive table.

I made the desserts. Two Key lime pies at Laura’s request and an apple pie. And because I had eight egg whites left from making the Key lime pies, I made chocolate espresso meringues. I don’t have a pastry bag so dropped the whipped mixture from spoons. They were beautiful and delicious.

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I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. I suppose I used to and they always seemed to be about losing weight. But 2017 was a year when I made a concious decision to step away from many volunteer activities. 2018 is going to be a significant birthday for me and I have a third novel to finish. It’s been marinating in my brain for ten years. That’s long enough. I’m getting close to the end of the first draft, but some of my characters seem intent on following roads I didn’t see, and I have to take the time to see what they want to do. They usually turn out to be right.

I suppose part of my decision in 2017 was because of volunteer fatigue. People come to assume that you will keep doing what you’ve always done. But I knew I was putting my own projects on hold and I didn’t want to do that anymore. The other thing is that I am making enjoyment a priority. If I raise my hand to volunteer, is it something I’ll enjoy doing? There are a lot of things in life that just have to be done, but I want to enjoy the things I choose to do.

Writing is one of those things. I find writing to often be an unconcious process. I get centered at my computer, sometimes using a dowsing crystal to help open my brain to the “movie” of my book. Then I write what I see. My friend, Helen, says I’m channeling and I won’t go quite that far. But I do enjoy the process!

In March of 2018 the Bay to Ocean Writing Conference will happen without me being part of the planning. For the past ten years I’ve been on the planning committee doing a variety of year-long tasks. By the time we’d get to conference day I was too tired to attend sessions. In 2018 I will enjoy attending.

Eastern Shore Writers Association is also going on without me. I’ll just be a paid member. Those almost daily hours spent keeping track of membership are now spent writing. I found some membership software to take over for me and the board agreed to the change. It was time that the organization moved in that direction and I gave them a push.

I stepped aside from my role as co-chair of Green Thumb, the St. Michaels Woman’s Club gardening interest group. It was time for new ideas, and there have been some splendid ones.

I did raise my hand to help at the St. Michaels Farmers Market last summer but it was just for an hour or so on Saturdays and an hour to send out a weekly market update. The market is undergoing a restructuring. I don’t know if I’ll raise my hand in 2018. I want to see what’s going to happen to the market before I volunteer.

And last year I was still involved in the organization of the St. Michaels Community Garden. A friend and I have been sharing the responsibilities for about five years. It’s time to pass the torch. We sent out an email asking for volunteers and got radio silence. The next step is to itemize what we do and send that out. Maybe if people see the discrete chunks, some will raise their hands. If people want a community garden it will survive.

I’ll stay connected with my Working Writers Forum. They’ve been reading what I’m working on for eleven years, and they always give me good advice.

Laura and I are hard at work for the Christmas play we’ve been commissioned to write for The Merlin Players in Faribault, Minnesota.  Collaborating with Laura is a priority for me. We both enjoy the process. It’s FUN!

It is now a little after 8 o’clock in the morning on the first day of 2018 and I’ve been up for several hours. I am at my desk and have just pulled up the file of my novel. I can’t wait to see where the story goes this morning.

I’m going to enjoy 2018. #enjoymylife

 

 

 

The Garden Gets Put to Bed

Almost all the leaves are off the trees. This year I’m having a guy come who has a big mulching mower and can dump the mulched leaves where I direct him. Not all goes in the wire corrals I created, but most of it does. His machine makes finer mulch than my little self-propelled mower with a bag. Chris has been here once and I’ll have him do another pass in a few days. Then I can put those mulched leaves on the flower beds and my four raised vegetable beds at home.

I currently have three beds at the St. Michaels Community Garden. One is a bed that nobody wants. It’s under a big maple tree and requires extra attention. It’s planted in garlic at the moment, although I am thinking about planting it with some hardy flowering shrubs next spring. Another bed is covered in heavy black plastic to keep the weeds down. I’ll uncover it in the spring, add some amendments and dig it before planting seeds. The third bed, where I had my tomatoes last summer, was planted at the end of August with fall crops: radishes, turnips, collards and two kinds of kale.

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Last week I put a floating row cover on it. I’m always surprised that most people at the community garden never think about fall crops. Our temps are moderate here on the Eastern Shore. We didn’t have a hard freeze until  two weeks ago. Friday was the first day I had to scrape frost off the car to go to my early morning yoga class. The row cover will allow me to harvest greens all winter long.

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The garden across the alley from this bed is the Wilson Reading Garden at Carpenter Alley which I helped create and maintain. A vacant lot when we started, it’s outside the St. Michaels branch of the Talbot Country Free Library. A winding oyster shell path and benches offer an inviting place to sit and unwind.

The land the Community Garden is on is owned by the town. The town council just approved our second five-year lease. Another friend and I have, for the last four years, been primarily responsible for keeping the Community Garden going. Recently we sent out an email that others needed to step up as we would be stepping away from our leadership roles next year. We got two “thank-you for all you do” emails in response, but no volunteers for the behind the scenes work that keeps the garden going. I’m not sure what will happen.

One of the original goals of the community garden was to create more opportunities for the small black community which borders one side of the garden to interact with the rest of the community (or the other way around). We were more successful with that in the beginning because the pastor of Union United Methodist church was very involved in the garden. A couple of years ago he moved to another church and the new pastor isn’t interested in the community garden project. That is not a criticism. Not everyone is a gardener.

Non-profits ebb and flow. Change happens and sometimes things get better. Sometimes they don’t. We’ll see how interested the community is in continuing to have a Community Garden. In the meantime, I’m off to the garden to harvest red turnips for a dinner party tonight.

 

 

A Busy Weekend

Next year will be the 20th year of the St. Michaels Farmers Market. It was started by a couple of women who then helped start other farmers markets in the area. They called them Fresh Farm Markets and the parent organization provided insurance, organizational help, etc. Fresh Farm Markets are now primarily on the Western Shore (Annapolis, DC, etc.) and this is the last year they will be the umbrella organization for the St. Michaels market. We are in transition this year but have wonderful vendors with terrific products. It’s fun getting to know the farmers.

I volunteered to help get out the weekly market reminders on MailChimp. It was something I knew how to do and enjoy. And my husband and I have been volunteering some Saturdays to help with market set-up. We are scheduled to do that again this weekend. Last Saturday was rainy and I woke up this morning at 3:30 to the sound of rain. It seems to have moved off for now, but even if it rains, people come prepared.

By the time we got to the market at 7:30 it was 65 degrees and not raining. The market was bustling by the time I left at 10. I’d walked over to the Community Garden to take a look at a bed nobody wanted. I’ll weed it this weekend and plant some blue hubbard squash I raised from seed. The beds at the Community Garden are 14 feet long so the plants will have plenty of room to run.

Last week at the Farmers Market I bought a loaf of low gluten bread. What a treat. We don’t keep bread in the house because my husband has gluten sensitivity. We had the last few pieces last night – toasted and topped with homemade guacamole – while we played rummy.

The town will be chockablock this morning. Besides the Farmers Market, it’s the weekend of the St. Michaels Wine Festival. People who live in town have to put up with more than the usual weekend foot traffic – and some drunken shenanigans. We helped one of the first years of the Wine Festival when it was held at the Maritime Museum grounds. Now it is spread all over town at inside venues and tented spaces.We usually don’t go into town on Wine Festival Weekend unless we need to.

This afternoon we are helping with an event to be held at the Avalon Theatre in Easton. It is a fund raiser for the Talbot Interfaith Shelter. People will gather to sing together, raising positive vibrations in our community for this very good cause. Here’s the link to the inspiration. It gives me chills every time I watch it.

I’ll let you know how it turns out. When I get home I’m working in the garden. I have Amish paste tomato plants to get in the ground and my husband is going to mow at the Community Garden. This is the time of year when sometimes the grass needs to be mowed twice a week.