Monday, November 30, 2009

Still life in the garden

OK, so maybe my heralding of our first snowfall and next day melt was a little dramatic. I like the moisture the snow brings because till it freezes up, I can pull weeds with relative ease. What the first snow does is make me come to grips with the fact that summer is really over. Well it snowed early Friday, the paths were melted by Friday afternoon and it was all gone by Saturday afternoon. The sun came out Sunday and the temps were in the 50's. What better time to take some pictures? Not that I need an excuse to hunt around the yard for signs of life and beauty. The anemone pictured below must think its spring. It has 6 blooms on it. What a wonderful surprise
This is a nicotine flower that was still hanging in there Saturday morning. For no other reason than it is still surviving, it deserves this shout out.

I did not notice these guys all summer or I would have taken pictures. He didn't freeze because he was walking around.

These ligularia grew from seed. This is next year's nursury project. I'll dig the survivors up in the spring and transfer them to a sheltered bed for a year. We'll give them away after that.

You are looking at our next year's batch of marsh milkweed. It just doesn't know it yet. Pat and I picked the original plant up at a native plant seminar last spring.

This sedum wants to bypass winter and start growing again.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

snow's gone

The last of the snow is skulking around in the shadows like a Cleveland politician. This lets us have another "ah!" moment sometime in the future. The snow has left our backyard nice and muddy, just as I like it. You can see the deer tracks better when the ground is muddy. This is important because I don't want to plant anything they like near the deer trail. Come to think of it, deer like everything, don't they?

Friday, November 27, 2009


We woke up to the first snow of the year this morning. Now, it's not your Donner party kind of snow my colleagues in the mountain west are used to. Or that early to arrive and late to leave kind of snow my colleagues in the great white north get. This is your Northeast Ohio wet and on the verge of melting kind of snow that turns our clay soil into mud that goes all the way to the other side of the earth. I took the boys out to run around in the snow. Bob loves the snow and will catch snow balls all day. Fred was paging through his contract finding the clause that made him a house dog.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

and you don't need to water them

Now I don't want anyone to think "Oh, Jim is so artsy craftsy" because I'm not. I don't have an artsy craftsy bone in my body. I dig in the dirt. Now Pat is very artsy craftsy as the pictures show. We do not dead head flowers because we want them to reseed themselves and feed the birds. The dried plants also make the backyard look nice. Today while I was hunting up plants with life in them, Pat decided to bring some of our backyard beauty inside. We got your hydrangia, ligularia, sedum, goats beard, goldenrod, hosta and some kind of grass in the vases. I think I did pretty well my naming all except one.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

why I walk the yard

Sunday was the last nice day for the foreseeable future. Right about now the sun disappears behind a blanket of clouds not to be seen until April except for a few quick glimpses. Pat and I were sitting in the front when look what caught my eye. The anemones were blooming again. We tried splitting these guys a couple years ago and the plants have finally recovered, never to be split again.

This has got to be the last myrtle flower, but I think I said the same thing a couple of weeks ago. The myrtle stays green year round. Finding this little wonder is the reason I walk the yard every day. The sage is a very pleasant surprise. We have bundles hanging out to dry in the sun room. We'll give some away to our garden impaired friends. It started out as part of the center pieces at our oldest daughter's wedding, which happened in our back yard. Pat planted the center pieces after the wedding and hoped for the best. I've been pulling mint from our flower beds ever since. The sage and oregano took off like gangbusters.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

around the yard

We planted this pear tree three years ago. We try to plant a tree for every tree we have to cut down. It gives us some middle level cover till it matures. It was the last tree to hold its leaves in the back yard.

These are "Virginia Sweet Spire." This is the second spot for these bushes. The garden center told us to plant these guys in the shade. We kept them in the shade for 2 years wondering why they were so small. You have to remember, we were still at the bottom end of the learning curve. Well, we moved the bushes to their present location where they have flourished. They have a beautiful cylindrical white flower. The snow will take the leaves.

This shot gives you a better view of the vinca that went "native." This vinca started as one shoot about five years ago.

Pachysandra stays green year round. It is the palette which Pat and I do our shade gardening. It has a small white flower in the early spring. I think "pac" was the ground cover of choice by landscapers in the 80's when our house was built. It is slow growing, so you can cut out a spot and plant hosta or ligularia.
Ligularia is stunning as it sinks into hibernation.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

It's November

You never know what you're going to see when you walk around the yard. That's why Pat and I tour every day. We cut the day lilies down a month ago. We must have forgot to tell this one that the growing season is past. It's November for crying out loud. It's the time when Northeast Ohio is bracing itself for the sun to go away for 3 months and the snows to arrive. But look what we found,. it brings a smile to your face.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

not a garden post

I didn't get to spend any time in the yard today. I left for a school planning seminar in Columbus at oh too early in the morning and got back way too late. A funny event happened near the end of the first seminar. The fire alarm went off. After a moment of hesitation because no one knew their designated exit door, 600-some odd educators filed out of the hotel. The hotel staff looked at us with that look that says "who are these people and what are they doing?" Well, we're teachers and what are you supposed to do during a fire drill? It was fun. The picture is us milling about because all the rooms had to be checked out. On a disappointing note, the presenter didn't show up for a seminar on post high school opportunities for at-risk kids, which are my kids. Do you sense the irony in that?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

an unexpected pleasure

The vinca vines that are all over the gravel are a small wonder. They are supposed to be an annual. The ones Pat plants in her planters die off every fall. There's too many P's in that sentence but I don't know what do do about that. I'm married to Pat. We are talking about plants and plants go into planters. One year the vinca grew all the way down to the ground from the boxes on the deck. Look what happened. They went native. Every year they come back. The ground under the gravel path is moist all year round. Maybe the deck protects them enough. Aren't annuals just perennials that can't survive year round in the climate they are planted? And they are still green as life is draining away from eveything around them.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thank you Blotanists

I've been a member of a site called Blotanical for a month now. One of my faults or virtues, depending who in the family you are, is that I don't usually read directions. Well, maybe I need to change. There is a function called "picks" in Blotanical that allows viewers to "pick" a blog they find interesting.

Have you ever wondered if anyone looks at your blog besides family, who may do it just to be left alone? When I found out how to use the "pick" function, much to my surprise, I found that lots of people have read my blog. It was humbling, to say the least. I started to email everyone and offer a belated thanks. Then I thought, a public thank you was better. Thank you to all who "picked" one of my posts.

As you know by now, I always have a pic. This is marsh milkweed. It is native to Ohio and attracts butterflies. The garden club said it was an invasive weed. Pat and I quit the garden club.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Hosta from our back yard

It's only November and I already miss my hosta. Here's a slide show from early July 2009.

Friday, November 13, 2009

our back yard

Pat and I don't have a distinct section that you could call a garden. We garden the whole yard. We use the ever shrinking turf grass as a palette. I would rather show pictures of the yard in June and July when everything is green and thick. But, these pictures still tell a nice story. You can tell the yard's been worked. The gravel paths started as just a way to cross the yard in the winter to get to the wood pile. Well, as you know, one thing led to another and 28 tons later, Pat and I can walk and garden anywhere in the yard, regardless of how muddy the ground is. The white pvc tubes around the yard are bumpers so the water hose doesn't crush any plants. You can't even see them in the summer. Anywhere you see plantings we worked in sweet peet. It is the only fertilizer we use. We weed by hand daily. We'll put out 40 or so pots in the spring.

I thought that I was the only one who liked wide yard shots. I recently joined Blotanical to see other garden blogs. I ran across a blogger from Wisconsin who blogs at: . Sylvanna has a wonderful blog on what makes a great garden blog. You should check it out.

So, I'll take these shots all year round. One of these years I might even use them to compare one year to the next for planning purposes.