Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Of Funk and Poppies

I've been in a funk lately. There's no compelling reason for it, which makes it worse because then I feel guilty about being in a funk for no good reason. Ah, the crazy.

Yesterday I hated everyone and everything, to the extent that a very good friend sent me an article, "How to be less annoyed with everyone." When I got home from work and took Dexter for a walk around the yard, I found this:

A poppy in glorious bloom that was simply a fuzzy, alien-like plant the day before. May we all find beauty when we need it most.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Cutting Garden

Friends of ours are redoing their deck, which meant they had some composite boards that could be repurposed.

Yes, please.

Said friend was so nice he cut them into 4' lengths and screwed them to cedar posts. 

Andrew and I finished screwing them together and placed them behind our veg garden. Our soil is so horrible that we use raised beds and throw compost around every chance we get.

It was harder than I anticipated because the compost was in the way. I'd moved it in a big pile earlier in the season, and it needed to be shifted to get the beds in and somewhat level. Andrew finished shoveling in the compost because he loves me and is a saint.

I planted a couple tomatoes that I didn't have room for in the veg garden*, four zucchini seeds, some dahlias I'd dug up last year and overwintered in the garage, and a bunch of random flower seeds. I have no idea if any of the flower seeds will sprout. (Some of them were quite old.) It's worth a try though, and I'm deeply enamored with the idea of having a cutting garden. A cutting garden feels very English country home to me, which probably says something about how many British mysteries I read more than anything else. Hopefully I'll have some dahlias, sunflowers, wildflowers, and green zinnias to bright up our house this summer!

*I know better than to go with a fellow gardening enthusiast to the garden center. There was no voice of reason present. We both ended up with too many tomato plants... among other things.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


The sweater is an endless sea of purple stockinette, so let's look at flowers!

This is the columbine I dug up from my Grandfather's yard after he passed away.  It's been exceptionally gorgeous the last two years.

Hello, gorgeous.

Alliums amuse me. They're a member of the onion family, and there are a ton of varieties. (They all pretty much look like this to me. This will horrify someone somewhere, I'm sure.) They have great height.

'Bloomerang' Lilac - It's supposed to bloom again in June. We'll see!

I was thrilled to see the Itoh peony come back. It's surprisingly small, but I remain hopeful it will get bigger.

I love heuchera (coral bells) and can't seem to stop buying dark ones like this. File that under Better than a Crack Habit.

A weird plant, Clematis integrifolia, which doesn't act like a clematis at all. It doesn't vine. I love it. I find I love bell-shaped flowers in general, and it gets extra points for being such a gorgeous color.

These are anemone given to me by a friend. They're aggressive spreaders, but so pretty I really don't mind. I planted them next to daisies from another friend and let the two aggressive plants duke it out. It's a botanical cage fight out there.

Armeria maritima (sea thrift), a cute little clumpy plant with round, pink flowers.

Mazus reptans - it's become much more covered with purple flowers since I took this picture. It's a ground cover and a steppable. A friend (the one who gave me the anemone, actually) and I bought them at the same time. I promptly killed mine. Hers did so well that I was convinced to try again, and I'm really glad I did. It's doing great in the second site.

I moved this 'Delaware Valley White' azalea last year to make room for the Itoh peony and the Bloomerang lilac. It is very pleased with its new location. I'm very pleased an azalea is doing well in my yard. I don't have ideal conditions for it. It would like more acidic soil. I do throw some sulfur on it once a year... or when I think of it.

This may be my very favorite plant. It's Asarum europaeum, or European wild ginger. It's an adorable groundcover that likes shade. This variety has glossy leaves. There's also a Canadian version (green leaves, not glossy) and a Chinese version (bicolored leaves). The flowers are nothing to write home about, but the leaves stay green most of the winter, and it is verdant and shiny and beautifully shaped. I love it so much. I've killed a couple of these, so I was thrilled to see it made it this year. (Mine died back in the winter, which doesn't happen to the one at my work. I admit to coveting the one at work. One day I may show up with a shovel and ill intentions.)

Speaking of glad it didn't die, this is our Red Dragon Threadleaf Japanese maple (Acer palmatum var. dissectum 'Red Dragon'). We've wanted one for years and bought one last year when we had the path built. Looking back at that post, I can see how much fuller the tree looks this year. yay!

Here's one of two hellebores that have survived. I have probably planted five or six of them. This one is 'Metallic Blue Lady' which looks neither metallic nor blue this year. I'm not going to complain. It lives and blooms. That's all I can ask for.

The is Brunnera 'Jack Frost', another nice shade plant (pictured here is obviously part-sun. Oh, well.) The leaves are pretty, and it puts up airy stalks of tiny, blue flowers.

We've had a really wet spring, and I think it's been good for the plants. I just hope we have some rain later this summer when we really need it!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Falling Stars Progress

It's going well!

Falling Stars (mine ravelled here),

The colorwork was fiddly but not horrible. I've put the sleeve stitches on waste yarn and now it's straight stockinette for years and years. The 9 center stitches will become the steek. I am obviously petrified of them, but I keep reminding myself that a) I have instructions and b) it's going to be approximately four decades before I'm ready to cut anyway. Why worry now?

Note to self: When you put a Thing off, you spend more energy thinking that you should be doing the Thing than you would spend actually doing the Thing. Just do the Thing. This is obviously a difficult lesson.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Just Start

I've had the purple Falling Stars kit for a few... years. I'm trying to figure out why I'm so hesitant to begin. I really like stranded colorwork, so that's not it. I've done projects with the yarn and they were fine, so that's not it. The tiny gauge? Maybe.

But part of it is that I don't like how high the neck is. I have this thing with turtlenecks. After reading a million people's modifications on Ravelry, I decided to cast on more stitches than the pattern calls for (the number I'd have after the first round of increases on the chart), do 1" of ribbing as the pattern says, and then start on round 10 of the chart. That should cut out about an inch. I don't know if that's enough, but it's worth a shot.

I finally started last night.

And I twisted when joining to work in the round. That's not helpful, Falling Stars.

Monday, April 25, 2016

IMA's Perennial Premiere: 2016 Edition

Every year, the IMA holds a Perennial Premiere plant sale. I've gone the past several years, and this year I also volunteered to work the plant check table for six hours on Saturday. (Think coat check, but with plants. You can drop off a box of plants and then keep shopping. Volunteers then pull the prices for each so you don't have to juggle them in the checkout line and then other volunteers take them to your car. It's a well-orchestrated event.)

The IMA puts out a list of plants they anticipate being available. Inevitably something I want isn't there (this year it's the Stachys minima [dwarf betony], but the majority are. Last week I spent an evening with the list, the Internet, and a pen and paper.

I made a list of plants I was interested in. (I admit the list got quite a bit longer than what's shown here.)

I took the list with me on Saturday. I go through this process because, if I don't, one of two things will happen:

  1. I will get overwhelmed by the options and wander around with my brow furrowed in concentration, not actually buying any plants.
  2. I will buy every damn hellebore they have. It is a sickness, and the only cure is avoidance. If it's not on the list, I don't buy it. (This only sort of works, I admit. Still, I didn't come home with another hellebore.)

I was scheduled to work the first two shifts on Saturday, so the selection was really good while I was there. The morning is for IMA members only, with it opening to the public at 1:00. We were slammed on Saturday morning. The amount of plants that were sold is staggering.

I did my part.

Yesterday I mowed and then planted my new plants. This morning on the way to work, I stopped at the drugstore and bought allergy eye drops. Welcome to Spring, my friends!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Knitting Quietly

I've been knitting a bit, reading a bit, and playing in the dirt a lot.

I had three cubic yards of compost delivered. The leaf compost I've gotten in the past has smelled sickeningly sweet. This stuff, horse manure and straw aged for 18 months, had no odor. A friend suggested it was actually unicorn manure. She is probably correct.

That's all been moved now. Two cubic yards or so have been spread on beds and in the raised garden beds. There's a big pile of it waiting for more raised beds to be constructed, but I choose not to think about that.

I've also been knitting Changefuls. I was able to get the obligatory phlox photo in the brief moment phlox looks pretty and not brown and disappointing.

I've finished the first sock. It's... fine. The pattern should be closer to the toe, but I started it too early. I disliked doing the patterned rows enough that I decided I didn't want to rip it out. Left-leaning cables with purls thrown in are a pain.

Changeful- Version 1 (mine ravelled here),

Andrew's office got together for pizza and a hockey game. I was at the point that I couldn't knit Changefuls because of the chart, so I worked on a ribbed sock for Andrew. It's Malabrigo Sock, which feels a little thin, so I did 72 sts and size 0 (2.0 mm) needles. Obviously, I love Andrew a lot.

Turner Ribs (mine ravelled here),
knit in Malabrigo Yarn Sock in the Turner 851 colorway

One of Andrew's co-workers said I was "obsessive" about knitting, and I did not stab him with my tiny dpn. I was impressed with my self-control. There will never ever be knitwear for him, amen.

You can't trust the Muggles.