Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Newest Iris

Finally the iris I've been waiting for has opened, "Prank". Last of the bunch. This is the one I wanted when I ordered from Iris Sisters Farm. Yellow petals with a light blue beard. Supposedly scented, but it's only 9" tall, so hard to get close enough. I also ordered "What Again", which has done the best of all. I may be digging up some of it to give away after they finish flowering. Along with my order they sent me three or four other kinds. I have the names written down, but don't remember them right now. All flowering now.

So, another birthday this weekend. At least I'm not recovering from surgery this year. Hopefully I can stay healthy and get back in better shape before I go to TAC Summer School in July. I went for a walk this morning, and expect to get to Aikido class tomorrow night. Then walk again on Friday. At least it's lighter now in the mornings so I can get out there earlier.

We're planning to go see the Ansel Adams exhibit at the Boise Art Museum on Sunday, as part of my birthday celebration. And I think we'll buy some salmon for dinner. Yum! Plus, the new Star Trek movie opens next Friday. I don't care how nerdy it is, I want to see it.

My parents should be in Boise for a visit in a few weeks. It will be good to see them.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Springing Into the Garden

Wow. How did it get to be late April so quickly? I've been waiting and waiting for the weather to be Spring-like, but it's been the usual roller-coaster 80's to 30's and back again, and here we are, nearly May!

Last weekend hubby and I drove to Yreka, CA, and Ashland, OR, to see his father and go to an Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas concert. I put some pictures up on my flickr page. We drove out on Thursday, out to Burns, south to Klamath Falls, and down past Mt. Shasta to Yreka. Parts of it can be pretty boring, so I amused myself by taking photos from the moving car. Sometimes you can get some great shots in spite of bushes, signs, and fence posts that literally jump in front of the camera.

The concert was on Friday night. We had a nice dinner in Ashland beforehand, at a Thai place. Alasdair was wonderful, as usual, and more relaxed and full of funny stories than I remember him being 20 years ago. Natalie was good too.

That day, walking around Yreka, hubby and I had seen a poster for the concert and saw that on Saturday morning in Ashland there was a Fiddle and Cello workshop! So Ken called and managed to get in. We drove up on Saturday morning. I sat in on the workshop. It was definitely worth it. I enjoyed it too, and I just sat and listened. Nice to see Alasdair again after so long. He was always a good fiddle teacher, in my opinion, but he's got much better at explaining things over the years.

After the workshop we walked around Ashland for a bit, then had lunch at the Standing Stone Brew Pub. I had an amazing pizza w/ pesto sauce, feta cheese, artichoke hearts, walnuts, and then sliced grapes put on after it was cooked. It was sooooo good. Probably helped to be hungry, but it's definitely a recipe I'll try myself. I also had a Belgian-style ale that was very nice.

We drove as far as Burns, OR, that day, spent the night, then went to Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in the morning. Saw lots of birds in the marshes and seasonal lakes, including trumpeter swans, sandhill cranes, ruddy ducks, cinnamon teal, buffleheads, goldeneye, grebes, white-faced ibis, curlew, and snow geese. At the southern end of the refuge is French Glen, with an old farmhouse hotel-turned-restaurant now owned by F&W. We had lunch and headed home Sunday afternoon, tired but happy.

This weekend I'm trying to catch up on some gardening. This morning we went to the Boise Farmers Market, then to the Botanic Gardens plant sale. By the time we arrived there weren't many plants left, but I found an aqualegia I liked, as well as nepeta sibirica "Souvenir d'Andre Chaudron". I hope this one does better than the one I tried to grow in England. It apparently likes drier conditions, so perhaps this will be a better climate for it. I did some weeding this afternoon, and planted the new gladilous "Espresso" bulbs.

Three of the four asparagus crowns have sprouted, so that's a relief. They don't seem real vigorous, but at least they're still alive. I should try to feed them up a bit. I think I'm going to dig over that area gently to get rid of the ant colonies, and take out the stupid strawberries. They don't look good at all.

Tomorrow I want to plant my new blueberry in the half barrel, pot-on the veggie seedlings, and maybe re-plant some parsnip seeds with seed compost in the row. It's been over a month and none of those have sprouted. Whereas six snap pea seedlings have come up. I'm excited about the rhubarb - it's doing really well so far, and I'm hoping I can cut some of the stalks by next weekend!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

What a nice weekend it's been. Two sunny days in a row after a week of rain and storms. I like stormy weather, don't get me wrong. But Spring is special. I know it must be partly the Easter holiday, but today it seemed like everything was looking brighter, and fruit trees and spring bulbs were coming into bloom. Even the buds on our apple tree look bigger today than they did on Friday.

This is the time of year when I really miss being in England. So many daffodils everywhere, gardens already in flower, weather soft and warm after all the cold wet. And the bluebell woods....I miss walking in bluebell woods. Bright lime-green beech leaves over a carpet of fragrant ultraviolet-laden purple-blue bluebells. Cameras just can't capture the color. You really have to see it. And even this doesn't *quite* have the impact of real life. It's probably a bit too early right now, but April is usually a good time.

Today my sister and her daughter came over for Easter dinner, and she took the picture above. We had turkey-ham, potatoes au gratin, and steamed asparagus, with pineapple upside-down cake for dessert. Talked, walked around looking at the garden. Ate Easter candy. It was fun.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Spring Yet?

Finally a Spring-like day. I think it's supposed to be mid to high 60's with cold nights for the next few days, with little chance of rain until Thurs. So I'll have to keep an eye on the seeds out in the garden. Don't want them to dry out too much.

The rhubarb is making reasonable progress, considering how cool the weather has been. I left the hose in the frame for scale. Still no tulip buds yet, but other things are beginning to peek out. I have tiny leaf buds showing on some of the raspberry canes, and new leaves coming out of the ground. The strawberries and asparagus are not doing much yet though. That is a worry. I'm considering what to do about both, though I'll wait and see how they look by the end of April.

Only one of three asters in the half barrel out back survived the winter. Disappointing. I'll probably re-plant that barrel once the bulbs have finished. They seem to do well in the open ground. I might try parsnips in the barrel, since they don't like our garden soil, however much I dig. They don't germinate real well, and you get a lot of forked roots if the soil is clumpy. I just read a good hint on growing parsnips today. Make a 6" trench and fill that with good, sieved seed compost, then plant the parsnip seeds in that and cover lightly. So that's something to try. I only got four parsnips to grow last year, out of two rows of seed.

So here is the newly-cleared "cottage garden" area. As you can see, I am barely able to hold back the weeds around it. Morning glory is a constant menace. Even cedar mulch didn't help for long. It's a losing battle and I just don't have enough time to be out there every weekend spending hours pulling out morning glory roots. I daydream about hiring a bulldozer and just scraping off all the topsoil so I can start with new. Yeah, like that'll happen. The nice thing about this area is how well all my new iris are doing. On the far left, the round clumps of shorter leaves are dwarf re-blooming iris in their second full season. I'm hoping I'll get flowers in spring AND fall this year. We'll see.

I saw a cedar waxwing in the garden today. They're around here all year, but that's the first time I've seen one in our area. The only ones I've seen were up near Kooskia when we went rafting on the Clearwater. They are pretty birds. I like the tanagers too, but those pass through a bit later in the year. I saw three or four of those last year in early summer.

It's been a week since I applied the pre-emergent weed killer to our lawn. It's still hard to tell if it's made a difference. I'm thinking I'll have to do more to get things cleared up so we can re-plant. Once we have a decently weed-free area, we want to plant a low-water fescue lawn. One of the locally-owned garden & farm supply centers has the seed. That's one of the bigger projects for us this year - getting the lawn to look like a lawn again.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April 1st

Here it is, April already. It doesn't seem like Spring is here yet, and we're already in the fourth month of the year. The weather forecast is predicting rain and snow showers in the next two days. I hope if it snows on Friday that it comes in the evening. I have to drive to Mountain Home on Friday morning. Never fun in falling snow.

Supposedly the tulips are behind this year. The only one blooming now is a species tulip, T. clusiana chrysantha. At least that's what I think it is. Seems to match the pictures. All the other tulips are just leaves. Looking back to last year, I didn't have any other tulips blooming in early April then either. But by late April things were taking off. I'm still waiting for the asparagus to come up as well. If there's no green peeking out of the ground by the end of April, there could be a problem.

My veg seeds haven't germinated yet. It's only been a few days, but I always get impatient. The sweet pea seedlings aren't looking too happy. I'm hoping they all have enough of a root system that they'll hang on and recover once I've planted them in a larger pot outside.

I'm looking forward to April 17th. Hubby and I are going to an Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas concert. It's been a long time since I saw Alasdair play. We'll take a long weekend and camp out one night on the way home, at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. If it doesn't rain or snow we should have a good time. It will be relaxing to get away for a bit.

Found some beautiful gladiolus bulbs last weekend, a color called "Espresso", a beautiful velvety dark maroon color. The glads I planted last year did well, so I thought I'd try some new colors. With this new bag of 18, I now have over 40 bulbs. Not sure they'll fit where I put them last year. Might have to find somewhere else.

Once again, not a particularly earth-shaking post. But then, I haven't been feeling particularly inspired or energized about anything lately. Sure ready for some nice Spring weather and gardening. Much as I like winter, it's time for the season to change.