Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Fireworks for Fall

With some lower temperatures FINALLY arriving to our area I'm thinking about the fall garden. My beautiful summer plants are still doing pretty well, although showing signs of brown leaves and smaller blooms. The petunias should last until the first frost (at the rate we're going that's probably December 1st!) but the others will bow out sooner.

With that in mind I thought I would begin replacing the verbena, etc with hardy mums - "Fall's Fireworks" of many colors. Better yet, they're on sale these days - Whole Foods is selling them for something around $2.50 per pot! Pretty and cheap!

As for the herbs - I will move them inside for the winter and also dry some of them. The oregano is abundant as well as the sage and basil. The rosemary will do well in the kitchen window sill. The mint continues to rage out of control and is threatening to take over my neighbor's satellite dish - wonder what that will do for her reception? Perhaps she'll get the Food Network...

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Speaking of Accessories

My previous post on accessorizing the garden got me thinking about garden-themed accessories. I have a number of handbags with floral designs - the cat LOVES the red flower beaded bag from Cambodia - as well as jewelry, scarves, and the like. Maybe I chose these accessories because of a previously latent green thumb.

Recently, I received a WONDERFUL gift from my sister (and sometime fellow gardener) - a handbag in the shape of a watering can! Oh the joy!

These garden accessories will bloom all year round :)

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Peaceful Coexistence

For a few months now the cat and the plants have not had to co-exist and both have been flourishing. Now that they'll be living under the same roof, what can I do to keep them both happy?

Cats have a natural curiosity about plants and a natural inclination for mischief. The sad state of the shamrocks, and the accompanying yak (this a scientific term) are testament to the challenging relationship.

I will probably put the shamrocks out of harm's reach - on a high window sill or perhaps hanging. But I'd also like the cat to enjoy living here so I'm looking for plants that she'll enjoy without destroying or being destroyed.

No poisonous plants like philodendron or poinsettia. For tasty treats I'd like to grow some grass and catnip. Let the excitment begin!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Accessories Make the Outfit

Along with flowers and herbs, a good container garden has good accessories. First things first, a good container box is essential - something sturdy with drainage holes in the bottom. The world of container box holders - the metal or other type of fixture which attaches your box to the house - is enormous and at times quite elegant. Alas, we went with very simple fixtures for our home - the choices for deck railings are not quite as varied as for the walls of homes. The fixtures appear to be supporting the enormous weight of our lovely blooms - through many near-hurricanes this summer.

And don't forget good tools- a nice variety of very stylish tools are available from Oxo - the people that make easily grippable kitchen tools. And a fabulous blue bag to boot!

After you tend to the flowers, you need to tend to yourself. What about a great pair of gardening gloves? Perhaps something bionic? Wouldn't I love to be one of my childhood idols - if only a styling pair of gloves were required to achieve Jaime Sommers' powers...

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Geranium, Geraniae?

The Geranium is a very common plant - seen indoors and outdoors. It looks pretty hardy so I figured I had a chance with this one. Most of the summer it's been a bit leggy and not very full of flowers. The leaves at one point had all turned yellow - lack of nutrients, I think. Lately, it's come to life. I don't know why since I haven't given it any plant food and the weather continues to be brutally hot. Oh well, chalk it up to dumb luck.

It's a fairly attractive plant and one that I think I can bring into the house during winter. Yeah! Something to get me through the cold months!

My mother's pink geranium is GORGEOUS! But then wouldn't we all be a bit more gorgeous if we lived in a farmhouse in France...

Monday, August 15, 2005

How About the Shamrocks?

For avid followers of this blog, the fate of the shamrocks remains a mystery. Last anyone heard, they were alive...

And they still are! Flourishing in a cool window sill with part sun - facing south and east. They still require minimal water, something I find very odd given their Irish nature. According to legend, the the three leaves of the shamrock were used by St. Patrick to describe the holy trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). I like to promote my own trinity - food, wine, and coffee!

The cat's fate also remains a mystery... she's still alive! Not cohabitating with the shamrocks at the moment. This may explain why both are flourishing.

Friday, August 12, 2005

The Critters that Visit My Garden

Yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised by a visit from a beautiful Monarch butterfly. It floated around the verbena like a paper airplane. Just gorgeous!

Alas, I've had visits from other critters I find less friendly. There was that vicious thing that attacked my sunflower and left the carcass for me to find - heartless. I suspect it was a mad squirrel.

I also get visits from big bouncy bumblebees - pollinating the flowers (aka "spreading love"). I appreciate the bees for their hard work. Just a bit nervous since I'm allergic. We've learned to live with one another.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

I Can't Contain Myself!

Container gardening, I've learned, is a whole different obsession from your regular backyard endeavor. Maybe it's the constant watering it requires - did you know overconsumption of water can kill you?

With no yard, and a nice deck, container gardening was the way to go for me. The city offers plots of land for community gardens but getting a plot is a challenge. Besides, isn't it more fun to be a mere 5 feet away from your babies? You can check on them every morning when you wake up (be sure to be adequately clothed lest your neighbors spy you outside at 7am) and throughout the day. And later in the evening you can enjoy dinner surrounded by your hard work. An urban oasis...aaaahhhh......

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Leaving your plants for a week can be either a welcome relief from daily watering (5 gallons/day!) or a cause of separation anxiety - wondering how the little ones are faring in the 90+ heat. I experienced a little of both last week while traveling for work (and fun).

Luckily, I had to two able-bodied caretakers. Everyone survived (phew). I even had some other flowers to comfort me.

Friday, July 29, 2005

A Mint of Mint

Herbs (or, as Martha would say, "Herbs") are surprisingly easy to grow. Granted, some have proven a little more difficult - dill and rosemary in my case - but the majority of my herb garden is growing like weeds. Tasty weeds.

Dill apparently has a tough time being replanted and mine is no exception. I've basically given up and let it flower since there isn't enough dill on there for cooking. The mint on the other hand is out of control. It keeps growing and growing, invading the rest of the container. Alas, I have more recipes for dill than mint. Aside from any number of drinks: mint julep, mojitos, mint lemonade..., I haven't come up with mint recipes.

Rosemary is heartier and so fragrant. I think its biggest challenge this year is fighting for room with the basil - I swear as quickly as I pick basil leaves they grow back. Luckily, I like basil a lot and have countless ways to use it (however, none alcholic).

In addition to mint, rosemary, dill, and basil I'm also growing oregano, lavender, parsley, sage, and thyme (I feel a Simon & Garfunkel song coming on...)

Next year I'm going to try and grow Artemisia - good for fighting malaria.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Are these flowers on crack?

It was a bit tough in the beginning, I thought I'd lose a few at first (and we did, but it's too difficult to talk about) but once I understood the concept of "watering" we've been doing really well.

Container flowers need a lot more water than regular garden plants and in this heat (Summer School "Snow Day") I'm pouring about a gallon a day on each container box.

Seems to be paying off! Check out these before and after photos:

Verbena and Petunia - you can't see from this angle but they're growing over the other side of the box.

Geranium, flame thing (I forgot the name), and Sunflower which was later brutally mutilated by some sort of animal (very tragic) - replaced by Black-Eyed Susan.

Zinnias and this white flower (kinda reminds of sweet peas). Cutting the dead heads off the zinnias really does promote more blooms.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Lucky Shamrocks

My first foray into NOT killing a plant was shamrocks. Surprisingly my uncanny ability to neglect them for weeks on end paid off. They seemed to thrive on a lack of water - odd, considering that Ireland is a pretty wet place.

Alas, I never found a four-leaf clover, perhaps the cat ate them....

Sunday, May 01, 2005