Not so unusual

I have a fun little app on my phone called timehop.  It somehow scans through my history on lots of other apps (facebook, twitter, instagram) and the photos and text messages on my phone.  Then each day, it gives me a little history of what I posted on this day in history.  It’s pretty fun!

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So yesterday, a picture of my crocus popped up.  Seems like a year ago to the day, my yard started blooming.

February certainly has received a bad rap.  We always consider February a cold, bleak, gray month.  The only thing to look forward to is the birthday duo and Valentine’s Day.  Actually, not bad for a cold, bleak, gray month!

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This was my birthday bouquet.  Purple roses!  Who knew!

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And I think I have finally found the perfect location for my fancy pants helebores.  I will have to check on the tag for the real name.  Looks like he will be blooming any day now!  I have been waiting for 3 years now for this event.

When I realized the crocus was in bloom, I quickly checked for the snowdrops (none just yet), and strolled down to the new location of the helebores.  Now, every day I’m checking on the progress.

I’m so glad I found some flowers that seem to enjoy blooming while the snow flies.  And I sure hope deer don’t like the taste.

If you live in the cold zone, let me know what is blooming in your snow!  I’d really like to add to my winter blooms collection!

We’re Cool

We  don’t truly appreciate things in life until they’re gone.  How many times I’ve seen posts on Facebook, usually around Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, lamenting the times and people who are lost.

Certainly not on that level, but our air conditioning decided to take a break a few days ago.  How can you blame it, working basically non-stop through this searing heat of early summer.  My family has never known life with it.  I was not going to hear the end of the wailing until something was done to bring that A/C back to life.

The HVAC company I’ve always used (always being 20 years in this house now) told me it was time.  Time to put the A/C down, remove it from its years of service, replace it with a better unit.  Very well, I agreed.  It really wasn’t turning out the cool air like it used to.

Second opinions are always a good idea.  I know this is good advice.  Not that I always abide by it, but the cost of that new unit made me take note.  I’d be calling for quotes the next day.

We couldn’t bear to sweat through another dinner at home, so we went out to our favorite the local restaurant that night.  We ran into a friend, who we never see out.  She listened to my hot tale, and recommended a guy who had replaced their unit not long ago.  Get a quote.

I called her guy the next day.  Some service guys really mean service.  This one called me back after he had completed his service calls for the day.  It was already 6:30 in the evening.  He would grab a bite to eat and come take a look at the old unit.  He wasn’t going to replace anything he hadn’t tried to fix.

And fix it he did!  He was at the house for 3 hours that night, flashlights aglow, umbrellas overhead during the torrential downpour, he ignored the lightning in the distance.  He wasn’t going to let us go through another night in that heat.  Listen to the master – his quote, not mine!  And mark my word, when that A/C unit breaths its final breath, the master will get my business for the replacement.

The following morning, I went out to check the area he had been working in.  The outside unit sits right in the middle of one of my borders.  A neglected border.  (How do you control thistles?  I need to find out.)  But one of the plants he had trampled (not judging, as he did fix the unit) was blooming – a tall phlox I have not seen for a couple of years.

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I’ve missed this plant so.  It hadn’t bloomed in years, I thought it was gone.  These tall flowers are great for the rear of this border, as the bright pink flowers show up so nice next to the dark brown brick of the house.

However, it’s always a good idea to place plants in locations where they will thrive, for optimal growth.  A quick check in my trusted flower book tells me this tall phlox is not in its optimal location.  It’s not a shade loving variety.  Most likely the reason I hadn’t seen it bloom for so long.  It needs a sunny location, protected from the wind.

There’s a challenge for me.  Most of my sunny beds are smack dab in the middle of the yard – no protection from wind.  There’s a new bed along the fence, and yes, it gets sun, so I’ll most likely put it there.

Occasionally, we get a second chance.  A/C units can be fixed, plants can be relocated.  Not always with people, though, so make an effort today to appreciate those who you know you will miss.

Daylily Faves

June, aka Daylily Premier month, pretty much escaped me this year as I was so busy preparing for B’s graduation party.  I took a few pictures here and there as I noticed the blooms.  I usually take note of the order of blooms – yellows, then oranges, then reds.  They are all in bloom today!  But I’m sure they did it all in order.  Great thing about perennials – they grow without any help from me!

Every year, I seem to have a new favorite.  As they emerge, I try to remember which was the favorite last year.  I think it was this one.

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2015 Best of Show

 

But this year, I’m not sure which to choose.  These dark red ones are really captivating.

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2016 Fave Contender

 

I wish I could remember where I got each of them.  I do know that these lemon yellow ones came from Elaine, and of course, the original Stella D’oros came from Alice.

I bought a few from Shady Rest Gardens last year, and the blooms are truly spectacular.  I tried keeping the name tags close to the spots where they would be coming up this year, but the weather was not kind to said tags.  They were blank this spring!!  There were a number of new-to-me varieties like Coach’s Fast Break, Jewel in a Crown, Monkey Giggles.  I wish I knew which was which, but they are great additions to the Daylily Collection.

 

Move over Winter

It’s here!  The first day of Spring!  I’ve been waiting all winter for her!  (Spring IS a female, right?)

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Of course, I woke up this morning to a light covering of snow out on the deck, but it didn’t “stick to the grass”.  Ha – the ground is too warm!  My crocuses heralded Spring a little too early this year, thanks to the extremely warm temperatures we had in February.  I’m not complaining!  This photo was taken back on February 20.

And the Snowdrops bloomed for the first time this year, I was so excited!  While I was out filling the bird feeder, this little guy shyly said “Hello!”.

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I planted these bulbs 2 years ago, and have been waiting patiently for their arrival.  These guys showed up on March 8.  It’s so wonderful to have some color poking through.  This winter was one of the warmest on record here in the Pittsburgh suburbs, so it will be interesting to note the arrival of these early bloomers in the years to come.

So, this weekend is my annual seed starting weekend.  Along with the marigolds, I’m planning to start my Salsa Garden – Roma tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, garlic, and cilantro.

 

 

April Flowers – Finally!

I’ve been waiting so patiently for the flowers to arrive.  I’ve watched many other garden blogs sharing their blooms for months now, and I have been so envious.

Here in Pittsburgh, we’ve endured yet another harsh winter, and I keep telling myself that it all really helps us appreciate Spring – when it finally gets here!

April Flowers

Fun story about the violas this year.  I planted the Chair display with violas last year, and just let them bloom almost all summer.  I hadn’t realized that as they went to seed, the wind distributed and planted an entire garden of violas beside the Chair!

I’ve been busy transplanting these volunteers, and have 3 planters full already!  They were the first little plants to bloom, right through the snow!

I’ve discovered a new meme hosted by Judith over at Lavender Cottage – Mosaic Monday!   It’s a fun way to chronicle the garden here at G4T. There’s a few other gardens on display, among other interesting collages.  Be sure to check them out!

In a Vase on Monday – Mother’s Day Harvesting, Part 2

As promised, here is a vase of cosmos straight from the border.

The kids really outdid themselves with their  Mother’s Day gift for me this year.  I hope they remember how excited I was when I received the flowers, seeds, and bulbs.

I’m equally as pleased with the results – some truly beautiful dahlias that I featured in last Monday’s Vase, and these spectacular Summer’s Dream cosmos.

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Once again, my limited arranging experience shines through on the simplicity of this arrangement.  But I think Mother Nature hit it right when she set these airy leaves with these gorgeous flowers.  I could see no reason to add anything more.  The vase is a Lenox piece we received as a wedding present some 29 years ago.

I love the watercolor effect of the petals – something I would never have had the chance to appreciate at the plant’s current height of 7 feet!

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Putting these specimens in a vase and photographing them really lets me appreciate the beauty up close.  While the photo session happened outside on the covered deck, I will be enjoying this arrangement in my kitchen while I pack lunches in the morning and make dinner in the afternoon.  Ahhhh.

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for encouraging us to bring those flowers indoors each week and share them.

In a Vase on Monday – Mother’s Day Harvesting

My kids bought me a “bag of garden” for Mother’s Day this year – I was so pleased!

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The lovely cut bouquet was accompanied by “Hayley Jane” dahlia bulbs and “Summer Dreams” cosmos seeds.

I promptly planted all along a new border I created next to the fence.  Thank goodness I chose a “proppable” location, because those cosmos are now challenging the dahlias in a height contest.  Perhaps they aren’t getting enough sun, but those dahlias are at least 7 ft. tall, and the cosmos are in a close second at at least 6 ft.

I know this to be fact because when I went out to cut the dahlias for this arrangement, I had to reach far above my head and bend the plant over so I could cut them.  Crazy tall plants!

I just went out to the shed where I kept the packaging for these plants, to see if I missed some important details whilst I planted – but sure enough, the dahlias were supposed to be 36-48″ tall and the cosmos were supposed to be 36″.  Three to four feet and I’d be looking down on these blooms.

I didn’t have much hesitation in cutting a few for this installment of “In a Vase on Monday”, as these plants are all catty wompus and leggy, so capturing the beauty of the flowers was better in a vase.  There is only one cosmos bloom at this time, so I lay it gently in front for this shot and then promptly placed it in a tiny bud vase to be enjoyed in a less overwhelming display.

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I’m very new at this arranging thing, so please pardon my simplicity.  I originally tried to include a number of “reblooming” iris,  daylilies, daisies, and clematis in this arrangement, and really wanted to feature 3 of these dahlias, but the more dahlias I added, the more I liked the  solo and simple arrangement!

Hopefully, next week the cosmos will be in full bloom and I can feature that portion of my Mother’s Day gift!

Many thanks to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting the meme, In a Vase on Monday.  She encourages us to bring a little of the garden inside each week to enjoy!  Please check out the other entries in this week’s “In a Vase on Monday”.

 

Garden Inspired Afghan

I made this afghan for my grandmother, probably 25 years ago.

Grandma’s afghan

I know it had to be that long ago, because my son is 23 and I haven’t picked up a crochet hook since he was born!  This creative outlet of mine has been in the bottle now far too long!

My grandma loved needlework, especially embroidery and knitting.  She taught me to knit, but I always preferred crochet.  She stopped working with the needles when her eyes started failing her – and I have to admit that I can understand her frustration.  The only thing I absolutely hate about growing older is the eyesight challenges.

I hope I can always find a way to see my way!

Isn’t She Lovely!

For the past 3 weeks or so, I’ve been walking around the gardens taking special notes and photos of the flowers as they bloom.

And for about a week now, I’ve been waiting for the bursting of the bud.

My newest iris did the bursting today!  I don’t know if the rain we received early this morning did it, but when I walked outside to get into my car to go to work, I glanced over at the Butterfly Garden and there she was!

Pink Iris
Beverly Sills Iris

Isn’t she lovely!

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Spring

What I thought would be an easy post turned into waaayyy more reminiscing than I bargained for!  So, thanks for that, WP!!

Of course, any garden blogger’s first thoughts of Spring are colorful flowers.  I knew I had some pictures of the kids helping me plant some color down at my Grandma’s house.  I had forgotten that the pictures I was looking for were now part of a scrapping project that has been an on-again-off-again event, like so many of the projects I have started.  But what I hadn’t expected was the trip down memory lane.

This scrapbook page was one of my first, and I’m very proud of it.

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to grandmother’s house we go . . . . May 2003

I really like using actual developed pictures, although I understand there’s a whole other world of digital scrapping out there.  I haven’t tried it yet, but considering the fact that most of my pictures never see the outside of my computer screen, I should probably take it up.

Every spring, for the last 5 years of her life, Grandma had a visit from me and the kids on her birthday – May 29.  It was the perfect time to pick up a flat of flowers and decorate the two planters on her porch, then line the walkway with (low maintenance) marigolds.  She wasn’t much of a gardener, but she loved flowers.  All the neighbors would tell her how lovely it all looked.

That would prompt a proper thank you card and letter from Grandma.  Isn’t it really a shame how, not unlike the printed photograph, the days of actually writing a note and placing it in an envelope with postage has pretty much fallen by the wayside.

 

Be sure to check out all the other entries in this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Spring!