Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Falling Leaves

Well there's not much going on in the garden these days but I did manage to take a few photos yesterday.  It's pretty much all about the never-ending falling leaves and our crazy weather.  It was bitter cold last weekend and 75 degrees yesterday, and now there's a winter storm possible for tomorrow.

There's still stuff to do outside, still plants I want to cut back, and garden debris to rake out,  but I'm taking a break this week because of Thanksgiving prep. I know there will be some mild days ahead when I get can out there and finish things up.  In the meantime, I am busy looking at recipes, and making pies.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Fall Almost Nobody Sees

The Fall Almost Nobody Sees

by David Budbill

Everybody’s gone away.
They think there’s nothing left to see.
The garish colors’ flashy show is over.
Now those of us who stay
hunker down in sweet silence,
blessed emptiness among
red-orange shadblow
purple-red blueberry
copper-brown beech
gold tamarack, a few
remaining pale yellow
popple leaves,
sedge and fern in shades
from beige to darkening red
to brown to almost black,
and all this in front of, below,
among blue-green spruce and fir
and white pine,
all of it under gray skies,
chill air, all of us waiting
in the somber dank and rain,
waiting here in quiet, chill
waiting for the snow.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Succulents in Winter

I have a lot of succulents and many of them I have had for years. I over-winter them in my unheated  garage, putting them in plastic bins on a workbench where they get a little light. In the late winter I may give them a little water, and then I start bringing them out again in early spring. I trim them up a bit, and they usually come back well.  I may lose a few, but in general this works for me.

Frogs in for the winter

Monday, November 17, 2014

More Gold~~Gingkoes

"Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn."~~Elizabeth Lawrence

Friday, November 14, 2014

Golden November

"I like spring, but it is too young. I like summer, but it is too proud. So I like best of all autumn, because its tone is mellower, its colors are richer, and it is tinged with a little sorrow. Its golden richness speaks not of the innocence of spring, nor the power of summer, but of the mellowness and kindly wisdom of approaching age. It knows the limitations of life and its content."~~ Lin Yutang

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Fall Day in Charlottesville

On Veterans Day Walt and I decided to take a road trip to Charlottesville for the day, since we were both off for the holiday. It was a beautiful day, maybe one of our last gorgeous fall days. We love Charlottesville, love walking the grounds of the university, checking out the shops, going to the Bookstore, and having a coffee on the Corner. We had lunch at Feast, a gourmet grocery and cheese shop that makes great sandwiches and soups. Then we headed to the Downtown Mall to check out the shops~~lots of people were out, enjoying the day, there were even some musicians playing on the Mall.

We also stopped at Ivy Nursery, which used to be one of my favorite stops when we would visit Julia in Charlottesville. It's a great nursery and garden shop, definitely worth a visit.

One of my favorite things to do on the Grounds is to walk through the Pavilion Gardens, just off the Lawn. There are 10 small gardens, each planted with native trees and shrubs and plants, and with a few garden benches and chairs. You can always finds students in these private gardens, especially on a sunny day, studying or reading. My favorite time of the year to see the Pavilion Gardens is in the spring when the spring bulbs and peonies are in bloom. One of the features I like the most is that each garden has its own unique gate.  I just love those gates, I wanted to take pictures of each one. There wasn't much blooming of course, but we did have a nice chat with one of the grounds' gardeners.

In addition to the gated gardens, I'm also kind of obsessed with these serpentine brick walls that enclose the gardens. An interesting fact: the walls are just one brick thick.

Such a great selection of amaryllis at Ivy Nursery. I had to restrain myself from buying more amaryllis.  And also...that pottery. Best selection ever. And why didn't I buy one of those pots from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Paying Guests

I've never read Sarah Waters before but I am hooked now and have already put another of her books on hold. I seriously couldn't put this book down. The story takes place in post-WWI London, and the author does a great job of depicting the bleak times--the war-injured veterans, the disillusioned and unemployed, the devastated economy, class tensions.  Frances Wray is a single woman in her late 20s, who lives with her mother and is trying to cope with life after the war--and the deaths of her two brothers,  the financial mess her dead father has left behind, and the challenges of keeping a house without servants.

Hoping to be able to stay in their house,  Frances and her mother are forced to take in lodgers ('paying guests') to help pay the bills. When a young couple, Mr. and Mrs. Barber,  move in to the house, the Wrays must make adjustments to their life, and Frances' dreary life takes a great big turn-- with far-reaching and devastating consequences. This is a finely written story of domestic life, class structure, and moral dilemmas,  that weaves in romantic love and true crime.  It's a long book, maybe a little too long, but with many twists and turns that keep you guessing until the very end.

“...She worked briskly and efficiently, taking her brush and pan from the drawing-room to the top of the stairs and making her way back down, a step at a time; after that she filled a bucket with water, fetched her kneeling-mat, and began to wash the hall floor. Vinegar was all she used. Soap left streaks on the black tiles. The first, wet rub was important for loosening the dirt, but it was the second bit that really counted, passing the wrung cloth over the floor in one supple, unbroken movement... There! How pleasing each glossy tile was. The gloss would fade in about five minutes as the surface dried; but everything faded. The vital thing was to make the most of the moments of brightness. There was no point dwelling on the scuffs.” 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Looking Back...

A favorite photo of my mom and Julia in the garden, 1991
I've gotten a lot done in the garden this week. I've been outside for a few hours each day when I'm not working, and I've cut down all the peonies in the front garden and the side garden,  raked leaves out of the garden beds, cut down all the annuals in the garden. I always struggle with what to cut down and what to leave for the winter...basically if it's brown and ugly I cut it down, if it's green I leave it. At least for now, until I can't stand it anymore. I've emptied all of the smaller pots, but my big pots are still big and bloomy, so I'll keep those around until the frosts kills them off.  All my pots are emptied into the garden, and I chop up the dirt and annuals with a shovel.

All this clean up and garden organization makes me do some record keeping in my garden journal, notes about what has done well and what I need to do next spring (spray peonies with fungicide, get more lime green heucheras, pull out some anemones, etc.). And inevitably I look back to see what perennials still survive. I first planted my lavenders ('Munstead') in 1990 and I still have them! Also still thriving from that 1990 planting are phlox 'Miss Lingard,' candytuft,  lychnis alpina, salvia, bleeding heart, baptisia, achillea, and daisies. I was really curious about my anemones ('September Charm')-- I planted two plants of them in 1991 and now they have spread to one quarter of my front garden. It's pretty amazing I've had these perennials for nearly 25 years and they are still strong and healthy. Of course I have lost tons of plants...I can't even tell you how many lupines I have planted, and campanulas and delphiniums and foxgloves. Obviously I should be living in England where these plants will grow.

Walt tilling my garden, March 1990

Early garden, 1990
One year old tree peony, May 1991
And tree peony, 23 years late, May 2014

Thursday, November 6, 2014

This Shining Moment in the Now

This Shining Moment in the Now

By David Budbill

When I work outdoors all day, every day, as I do now, in the fall,
getting ready for winter, tearing up the garden, digging potatoes,
gathering the squash, cutting firewood, making kindling, repairing
bridges over the brook, clearing trails in the woods, doing the last of
the fall mowing, pruning apple trees, taking down the screens,
putting up the storm windows, banking the house--all these things,
as preparation for the coming cold...

when I am every day all day all body and no mind, when I am
physically, wholly and completely, in this world with the birds,
the deer, the sky, the wind, the trees...

When day after day I think of nothing but what the next chore is,
when I go from clearing woods roads, to sharpening a chain saw,
to changing the oil in a mower, to stacking wood, when I am
all body and no mind...

when I am only here and now and nowhere else--then, and only
then, do I see the crippling power of mind, the curse of thought,
and I pause and wonder why I so seldom find
this shining moment in the now.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Beautiful Ruins

I am continuing to read books that have been on my 'To Read' list for months (years?). I had started Beautiful Ruins last year, but didn't get into it and then my book group picked it to read this fall and I pushed through. There is so much going on in this book it's hard to describe and that's probably what put me off the first time.  But it begins on a rocky coastline in Italy, in the fictitious village of Porto Vergogna, near the more picturesque colorful villages called Cinque Terre. It's the 1960s, and young innkeeper Pasquale Tursi is trying to attract tourists to his family's simple little pensione, aptly named The Hotel Adequate View.  A young and beautiful American actress, Dee Moray,  arrives by boat to stay at his hotel, having been sent away from a film set in Rome (yes, Cleopatra with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor) because she is ill and has been told she is dying. A series of events unfold that change the direction of Pasquale's life.  Richard Burton makes an appearance, as does the flamboyant Hollywood director, and an American wannabe writer, who spends three months of the year writing at the Hotel Adequate View. From here multiple different stories spin out, spanning sixty years. It's kind of confusing, but you gradually realize that all the stories mean something and come together in the end, making a quite lovely story.   I especially loved the setting--I've been kind of obsessed with the idea of Cinque Terre for awhile, and it was fun to read a little about this part of Italy. I think it would make a great movie.

"Life picks up speed like a boulder rolling down a hill, easy and natural and comfortable, and yet beyond control somehow; it all happens so fast, you wake a young man and at lunch are middle-aged and by dinner you can imagine your own death.
So don't inhabit the vast, empty plateau where most people live, between boredom and contentment.
...embrace the sweet lovely mess that is real life. " ~~Beautiful Ruins

Cinque Terre (photo via Pinterest)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Beautiful Beautyberry

Is there anything prettier than Beautyberry in the fall? It always surprises me how much I love this shrub. So ordinary most of the year, and then WOW.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Beautiful Salvias at Meadowlark

Yesterday was our first cold and windy fall day, just the kind of day I like to take a walk. We had lots of chores to do and Walt went for a run, but in the afternoon we took a nice, invigorating walk at Meadowlark Gardens. I was surprised by all the color that remains, there were still lots of blooms, mainly salvias. They have a huge bed of all different kinds and colors of salvias and it was just gorgeous on this sunny day.  It's really pretty amazing how many kinds of salvias there are. I have a few varieties, mainly smaller ones, but if I had a huge space like I would love to grow these big salvias and just let them go.

One of my very favorites is this fuzzy, chenille-like Mexican sage (Salvia leucantha). It was over five feet high and is so lush and showy.

And this one I was crazy about, I was so tempted to take a little cutting of it. It might be Salvia mexicana 'Limelight,' but I'm not sure. Might have to look for this in a catalog next spring.

I love to see a garden all neat and tidied up for the winter. These daylilies had all been cut back and the beds weeded and mulched.  All the peony beds had been cleaned up nicely too and the peony foliage cut back to the ground. It made me want to come home and cut down all my peonies...of course I didn't. But that is something I try to do in the fall to stop the spread of peony diseases. I still have lots to do to get my garden ready for fall, better stop talking and get busy.