Monday, February 27, 2006
Scent in the landscape
Heliotrope is another perfumey plant that I've been using for years. It's scent is a vanilla/honey smell and is usually only fragrant right in the area where it is planted. Still, on certain impossibly humid, hot nights, I can take the dogs out before bed and the front porch is positively thick with heliotrope scent.
I've ordered seeds for Mignonette, which reportedly was a favorite of Napoleon's Josephine, and is considered the most fragrant flower you can have in your garden, so I will let you know how that works out. Picture me in bed in early May, repeatedly sniffing to discern between Stock and Mignonette and driving my husband insane.
One flower that I know has lost it's scent since I was young is Nicotiana. My grandparents used to grow this in a narrow bed along a walkway at their house. There was wall at the rear of the bed along which an enormous Pyracantha espalier grew. It was always full of bees and usually a bird's nest or two, so I would sit on the walkway and watch all the activity and inhale the spicy scent of all those Nicotianas. When I was in college, I bought a few at a local garden center and put them in pots on my balcony, and was disappointed that there was positively no smell. But this year, I have purchased seeds from Seed Savers Exchange for an heirloom variety of Nicotiana that has maintained the glorious scent. I cannot wait, as I have not smelled that particular fragrance since I was about 7. It should take me right back to sitting Indian style on a warm sidewalk and listening to the hum of bees.
I'm planning to puchase two fragrant shrubs as well. Carolina Allspice, also know as Sweet Shrub, used to grace dooryards in Colonial times with it's fragrance described as a combination of pineapple and strawberry. I'm excited to try this plant and hope that it lives up to it's reputation.
And mockorange is another shrub that I'm hopefully going to work into the landscape this year. I've never smelled one myself, but have heard good things and many references in books that I've read to the perfumey fragrance of mockorange.
Friday, February 24, 2006
A few books that I love but didn't mention yesterday. Cause of course I was thinking of books all day yesterday....saying "Damn, I forgot that book and this book". River Horse and Blue Highways by William Least-Heat Moon. Totally awesome tours of this country...one on back roads and another by boat from the east coast to the west coast, all on our nation's rivers. Majic Bus by Douglas Brinkley. He was a professor at Fordham I think, and ran this summer class which consisted of touring the country by bus (living on the bus and camping) with the stops determined by American Literature. How cool would that be? Reading the book while driving to and seeing the place. Time travel is the only thing that could possibly make that better. I think they cover Faulkner and Wolfe and visit Ken Kesey and a whole lot more. Loved this book and was introduced to an author from North Carolina that I had never heard of, but is now one of my favorites.....Josephine Humphreys. Her books Dreams of Sleep, Rich in Love, and Nowhere else on Earth are great. I wish she would write a lot more. Also, Kaye Gibbons rocks....her books Charms for the Easy Life and Ellen Foster and A Virtuous Woman are great. And Evidence of Things Unseen by Marianne Wiggins. Really really good. Okay. I feel better now.
Continuing on.....Remember awhile back when I said I wanted to get chickens this spring? Well, I was kind of sitting on the fence, what with the Avian flu thing and not being sure about how to care for them and being afraid I'd kill the little chicks.....when the poultry fairy has smiled down on me and granted me some unwanted chickens. My friend bought a little farm in southeastern PA and it comes with chickens which she does not want. So I am getting 6 chickens. Four white ones and two fancy-pants ones. There is also a duck, but she is keeping that because there is a pond. I can pick up my chickens in late April/early May, so I have to get cracking on preparing the "chicken house". I am so thrilled. Hopefully they like me. I will have to make their digs extra nice to win them over a little.
I ordered my seed mats the other day and potatoes (Yukon Gold) too from Johnny's Seeds. I've got to get my seeds started. What with global warming and all, I'd like to put tomatoes in the ground the end of April (with protection if needed). I like to be the first person with 'maters out for sale. I'll be able to sell eggs too! Plus I'd like to have an heirloom tomato plant sale to make some money, if my seed starting turns out okay. So the only thing left is I'll probably buy some more strawberry plants.
Although, I keep eyeing up those catalogs with the 25$ coupon gimmick, and I keep wanting to order some PawPaw trees, a persimmon, and a fig. Did you know that there is a fig that is good to Zone 6? I am thinking of ordering from Gurneys, cause they have all these things. Anybody have good or bad to say about Gurneys? I've never ordered from them. I also have to call Dutch Bulbs and complain about my Winter Aconite bulbs, cause they aren't coming up and they should have been up by now. Stupid bulbs. Okay, thats about it then I guess. I have a whole weekend of wallpaper removal (which is 90% done) and spackling and sanding ahead of me. Thank God it's cold and windy out.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
The Book Meme
1. Name Five of your Favorite Boooks
1. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee (love the book, love the movie, have probably read over 20 times)
2. Travels with Charley - John Steinbeck (discovering a long-ago America with his dog. What could be better?)
3. Noah's Garden: Restoring the Ecology of our own Backyards - Sara Stein (I have read this every spring for the last five or six years).
4. Ribbon of Sand: The Amazing Convergence of the Ocean and the Outer Banks - John Alexander and James Lazell (I read this every summer. It delves into geology, biology, climatology, history, sociology, totally interesting).
5. A Walk Through the Year - Edwin Teale also, A Naturalist Buys an Old Farm (love them both)
6. (I know, this is more than five) Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood - Rebecca Wells (Ignore the movie, it sucked. I loved this book because it was so very southern. I could almost feel the humidity and hear the deafening din of katydids as I read it. It is one of those books that I have to ration, lest I just consume the entire thing in an afternoon).
2. Name the Last Book you Bought or Brought Home from the Library:
I haven't been to the Library as of late because of the damn wallpaper. But I have been to the used bookstore. Here is what I came home with:
1. An Island Garden - Celia Thaxter (haven't read it yet)
2. The Best of Cooking Light
3. The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook (totally opposite of the Cooking Light one. Can you say Lard?)
4. The Moosewood Cookbook (the original, which have been checking out of Libraries all over southcentral and southeastern PA for the last 15 years. Now I own it.)
3. Name the Last Book you Read:
Onward and Upward in the Garden - Katherine White (a collection of her gardening columns from the New York Times from the late 1950s and early 1060s).
4. Name Five Books that have Been Particularly Meaningful to you:
1. Walden - Thoreau
2. Conscience of a Liberal - Senator Paul Wellstone
3. COnversations with the Archdruid - John McPhee
4. Into the Wild - John Krakauer
5. Bark of the Dogwood: A Tour of Southern Homes and Gardens - Jason Tippett McCrae (A curious juxtaposition of the South, gardening, and dysfunctional families, totally good read).
5. Name three books you've been dying to read, but just haven't gotten around to it:
1. The Davinci Code, just to see that all the fuss is about
2. Marley and Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog - John Grogan (Although I think this will be sad. Anytime a pet dies in a book, it makes me cry.
3. North With the Spring: A Naturalist's Record of a 17,000 mile journey with the North American Spring - Edwin Teale (sadly, this is out of print, but I'm always looking).
4. Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading: Finding and Losing Myself in Books - Maureen Corrigan
So there you are, a semi-complete idea of what I like and who I am based on what I read. I'm not going to tag anyone, but feel free to abscond for your own blog. This was pretty fun to do.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Something chilling this way comes
or maybe bumperstickers
From the end of the Bloggers are the enemy editorial - "As nightfall does not come at once," wrote Justice William O. Douglas, "neither does oppression. In both instances, there's a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we all must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become victims of the darkness."
Monday, February 20, 2006
I have Snowdrops in various places in my yard. Some in flower beds, some that have escaped into the lawn, coming up in places where I know they did not grow last year. And I am always happy to see them in the winter, but being cold, I'm usually admiring them from a window or while filling up the birdfeeders. It isn't quite like the supring or summer garden where you are intimately familiar with certain plants because you are on your knees weeding around them. No, I've never really noticed how beautiful Snowdrops are. I have taken this harbinger of spring for granted and I regret it. Last fall, when I was planting a climbing hydrangea, I dug up a clump of Snowdrops. Not having a place in mind to move them I threw them in a pot and put them in the garage. A few weeks ago, I noticed that they were starting to emerge, so I brought them inside and put them on my kitchen windowsill. And now each day I am thrilled to see their progress. How cleanly the white flowers are encased in their clear covering as they emerge from the bulb, until they are ready to bloom. The blooms hang delicately down from their leafless stalks like little bells. And have you ever looked really closely at the inside of a snowdrop? I hadn't before, but I'm glad I have now. They have these delicate little green markings on their undersides. The common Snowdrop is known as Galanthus nivalis which means "milk-white flowers". There are more than 75 different species of Snowdrop, and a diehard collector of Snowdrops is known as a Galanthophile. Apparently, Snowdrops are quite popoular in the UK and there are lots of collectors and clubs. So next time you're out in the yard, snip off a few of these seemingly non-descript blooms and bring them inside. Put on a windowsill in a little glass bottle, they will add surpising beauty to these last few weeks of winter.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
The Philadelphia Flower Show
The Philadelphia Flower Show is almost here.
I've only been twice, but I think I'll go this year. The theme is "Enchanted Spring...A Tribute to Mother Nature" so sounds interesting. I always try to get people to go with me but they never like it as much as I do, so I think I'll go by myself. I took my sister one year and it was crowded cause we went on a weekend. I have never heard someone complain so much in my entire life. It was like she was channeling five 80-year old women at the same time. To this day if the subject is brought up, she will begin an hour long reminiscence of how crowded and awful it was. So, yeah, will probably go by myself.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Happy Valentine's Day
Monday, February 13, 2006
I cannot move my arms
I know I said that we were getting a digital camera for Christmas. And I'd love to have great snow pictures to show, but we bought a king-size bed instead, so the camera will have to wait for a few more weeks. The bed was so worth it.
Friday, February 10, 2006
This is how it starts
In other news, my latin scientific name is Packus rattus and I'm attempting to deal with my hoarding tendencies. I don't hoard really, but I keep things around that I'm not using simply because they are too nice to throw away. Freecycle is helping me dispose of my treasures without throwing them out. It's a nationwide program that has tons of local groups that post things they are getting rid of. Or you can post for things you are looking for. And no money changes hands. It's simply to keep things out of the landfill. Just last night, while we were moving things around in preparation for the contractor who is ripping the cracked plaster ceiling down at my house today, I came across a box of ummm....things to good to throw away. It is not JUNK! My husband, for the 20th time, asked me what I going to do with it. He picked up a perfectly good softball glove that I briefly (twice) used in my early teens. I can't throw it away, it's perfectly good. So this morning, there was a Freecycle request from an older man that has recently had shoulder sugery and has to throw a ball against a wall repeatedly for therapy....and guess what? HE NEEDS A SOFTBALL GLOVE!!!! It has a new home and I can give my stuff away with a clean conscience.
My Lancaster County Conservation District tree sale list came the other day. They sell native trees and shrubs to raise money every spring. I have gotten things from this sale twice before, mostly American Cranberry Bush and assorted pines and firs to plant as a wind block. I really don't need any more trees but I will probably buy a few more cranberries. They are a viburnum and are one of the few things that will grow under a black walnut, which secretes a toxic resin and poisons plants around it. Anyway, to my delight, this year they are also offering a lovely Hydrangea paniculata (Pink Diamond) and a wiegela (Wine and Roses). For a 12 to 15 inch plant they only want $4.00!!!!! Awesome!!!! They also are offering a Galliardia (Goblin), a Heuchera (Palace Purple) and the standard coneflower, shasta daisy, and black-eyed susan for only $2.50. I might order a few Pin Oaks to put up in our woodlot to replace a few White Pines that have died. But seriously, $4.00 for a decent sized Hydrangea? Super cool.
And lastly, we are scheduled for a winter storm warning this weekend. Usually I hate winter, but it is disturbing to see things ready to burst open into bloom at the beginning of February, so I'm actually looking forward to a snow cover again. As much of a pain in the ass as it is, and as much as I hate being cold, it will be nice to be back to normal. Not like I'll be able to go anywhere this weekend. I'll be cleaning up plaster dust out of every nook and cranny for most it.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
Watch what you say
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Guess I can cross this scenario off the list. haha.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Good Molly column
Have you noticed this?
Then yesterday, I'm getting some hot water for tea in the break room. A co-worker comes in, asks me if I watched the Superbowl. I say yes and lament that Lynn Swann (someone with no political experience) will probably be our next governor. He says "yeah, that sucks that Pennsylvania will have a "n-word" governor". Only he actually says the n-word. And then goes on to opine that he will probably institute more minority opportunity programs and there shouldn't be such a thing and that women and minorities now have the same chances as everyone else and they shouldn't get special treatment. At this point, he must have noticed the fact that my eyes were huge and I had a look of horror on my face and obviously wasn't in the same boat. So he shrugged and walked off.
There were two other incidences last week that were along the same line. What is going on? I mean I know that people out there are racists and biggots and mysogynists and homophobes, but it just seems that they don't feel like they have to hide these views anymore. That everyone thinks like this. Does anyone notice any behavior like this? Maybe it's just a series of coincedences. But I'm afraid that something is shifting in this country. What little foothold tolerance had, is quickly washing away.
Monday, February 06, 2006
Goodbye Governor Rendell
Thursday, February 02, 2006
The stuff of nightmares
Scary children hawking food from the 1950's from this site.
Which do you think is scariest? I don't know about you but I'll be moving extra fast tonight to get in the house for fear the little bread girl with the pigtails will come flying up through the storm cellar doors.
are widely thought to be the most intelligent bird. Live an average of 10 years. Are actually beneficial to some farmers as they keep the European corn borer under control.
Mate for life acfter engaging in actual courtship behavior. Will come to the aid of unknown crows in distress. Use tools. Can count. Have extremely good memories.
Are one of the few animals that actually thrive in contact with humans (they like to eat trash). Unfortunatley, this isn't a good thing for the crow. And sadly, crows can't detect poison in food left out for them, which is what three neighboring municiplaities in Lancaster County are currently doing because local residents and business owners are complaining about the crows. What is wrong with people? The plan was to kill 20,000 crows (this after the population has been reduced as a result of West Nile Virus) and so far several hundred dead crows have been found in yards and parking lots and parks.
Bush and Energy
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
The number one pest by far is Polygonum perfoliatum a.k.a Mile-a-minute weed or Devil's tail tearthumb.
This plant made it's way from overseas to a nursery in York County, Pennsylvania in the 1930s and has since spread in a 300 mile radius. This plant drapes over and smothers everything in it's path. And it has lovely little curved barbs on it's stems and leaf undersides, so you can't pull it with barehands. Mile-a-minute is visible along almost all roadsides where I live, just draping over everything, making a hideous looking reddish mess in the wintertime. Not that roadside plants are that great. Most are invasives themselves, but still, makes you almost feel soory for Tree of Heaven and Multiflora Rose. Almost.
It reminds me of driving through the south and seeing old farmsteads
completely enveloped in Kudzu. Here is a picture of a smothered Christmas Tree farm. All the baby trees drowned in Mile-a-minute. This plant makes a yearly appearance in the corner of my garden. I rip it out, it comes right back. I spray vinegar on it. It comes right back. My husband has burned brush on top it. Still it will not die. I have even (gasp) sprayed roundup on it. I know, extreme....but if this crap gets out of control, I'm in trouble. Still came back. I haven't seen it yet and we put the burn barrel right over top of the spot from which it usually springs. So here's hoping. If you see this plant where you live. Destroy it immediately. Don't hesitate.
The second culprit is actually kind of pretty. Awww...look at the pretty white flowers you might say. This can't be a bad plant. Yes it can. Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard) is a sneaky plant. It's like the jungle gym scene from the birds, where Tippi Hedren sees just a few birds hanging out on the metal bars. They slowly accumulate until, when she turns around again, the entire structure is covered with birds. A few garlic mustard are pretty. But when they take up the entire forest floor and choke out all our native wildflowers, they are a menace. I cannot rid my yard of this weed. It comes up every year. Everywhere. In the lawn, in the flowerbeds. Under my trees. In my little wood lot. I pull it as soon as I see it. Spray the young sprouts with vinegar. It will not go away. I already see the rosettes coming up now, at the end of January. It is a very bad plant.
The third thorn in my side that I cannot kill is Celastrus orbiculatus (Oriental Bittersweet).
Not to be confused with our shy native Bittersweet Celastrus scandens, Oriental Bittersweet is a voracious killer. Growing in leaps and bounds, throttling trees and laughing at human attempts to impede it's progress. It has killed two white pines in my little wood lot and it will not die. It was already firmly entwined in the pines when we bought the house and I could not pull it down. Since then, I have hacked it back to the ground, sprayed it with (gasp) Roundup, and tried just about everything else to eradicate it. It just keeps coming back.
Just a disclaimer. I know Roundup is very bad. I use it sparingly and only in the most dire of emergencies. I do not advocate it's use.