deck garden, garden

Can you believe it?

I certainly cannot!  The Wisteria Tale continues.  I stepped out on the deck that afternoon, it was such a nice day.  Low and behold, the wisteria had decided to create such a lovely display.


Do you suppose she heard me talking about chopping her down?  Crazy how she hasn’t created the display I’ve dreamed of  – UNTIL NOW.  Kind of how my hair misbehaves – until the day before I plan to chop it all off.

I really hate to say this too loud, but my plan to cut her down to size remains unchanged.



Only perhaps I’ll wait a week or so until those blooms fall.  So that was the wisteria just 3 weeks ago.

And here she is today.


You can certainly understand why she really needs to go.  But wait – what have we here – right in the middle of the railing?  I really cannot believe this.


The wisteria lives to see another summer.  Nice try, wisteria, but I see serious trimming in the future.

garden window

Plants really do talk – but do we listen?

My orchids are doing very well in the garden window.  It has taken me a long time to find plants that appreciate an eastern exposure, and orchids do!

A few weeks ago, I noticed my “brown-spotted yellow” orchid starting new leaves.  I have no idea what this one is called.  I picked up a few toss off orchids at the Phipps Conservatory annual spring flower sale a couple of years back.  It did bloom once, but hasn’t been one of my more prolific bloomers.  Unfortunately, I never did take any photos of it in bloom.  It looked something like this, if memory serves me right.

Orchid Dendrobium Minnie
photo credit – clown alley orchids

The new leaves were kind of crinkly, shaped more like an accordion.  I don’t remember seeing new leaves like this before, but I thought perhaps this was the way new leaves developed.  I took the “wait and see” approach.

Yesterday, as I realized the leaves were still crinkly, I started thinking that perhaps this plant is trying to tell me something.


I quickly Googled “crinkly orchid leaves” and discovered that this is really not the normal way this orchid presents new growth.  I read that crinkly leaves could be a sign that the roots are not taking up enough water.  Only one way to determine if the roots are unhappy.

Upend the pot and take a look!


An inspection of the roots revealed that while most of the roots were in fair condition – most were white and plump – the medium was completely saturated and clumpy on the bottom of the pot.  The medium breaks down over time, and these little roots aren’t making spaces through the medium so that the water could drain out properly.

So rather than not enough water, my orchid was sitting in a swamp.  The roots could not breathe!

In order to allow proper drainage, I added a few pebbles to the bottom of the pot before I refreshed the medium, and replanted.

Hopefully, this plant will re-establish itself and bloom once again.  I’ll be sure to capture the blooms then!



Caught my eye

I was walking to the office one recent morning, and spotted a delicate little blue flower on the edge of the lawn at Phipp’s Conservatory.  My usual iPhone pic of this little beauty and a Google search revealed a groundcover called Veronica Whitleyi.

Veronica Whitleyi
Veronica Whitleyi

Rabbit resistant, deer resistant, excellent neighbor for rock gardens – I’m in!

Now to find a specimen for my rock garden!



The Evening Primrose

In a former life, I worked at numerous health-care facilities in Western Pennsylvania.  My favorite, by far, was the Latrobe Area Hospital.

It was a smaller hospital, located in a quaint neighborhood on the outskirts of Latrobe, PA.  I will always remember the feeling I had at my very first interview at the hospital.  Walking down a long hallway not really sure where I was going, every one of the people I passed said hello and offered to help me find my way.

After working for 15 years in the heart of the City of Pittsburgh, this friendliness was striking.  It turned out to be genuine.  And it started from the top.

The President of the hospital attended each and every one of the monthly orientation programs for new employees.  He met everyone at orientation, and he remembered names!  The first time I passed Mr. Clark in the hall – “Good morning, Elizabeth!”.  I was stunned.

The Hospital’s Foundation held numerous fundraising events throughout the year to benefit the hospital.  That long hallway I walked down that first day played host to many of these events.

I purchased one of my favorite gardening books at the annual book sale.


The coffee shop at the hospital, The Little Shop, was also run by the Foundation.  It housed the cutest gift shop.  I would stop in there at least once a week, intending to browse, but inevitably finding a great doo dad for the garden or decoration for the house.

The annual plant sale was one of my favorite fundraisers.  Local gardeners and garden shops would contribute live plants.  I purchased at least one plant at each of these sales.  It’s where I picked up one of my most memorable specimens, the Evening Primrose (oenothera triloba),

It was kind of a sad looking specimen, and the lady who was selling the plants told me to just take it, she wasn’t sure it was going to make it.  It looked like a wilted dandelion, to be honest.  But I took it home and planted it right in the front of the border outside my front door.

stemless evening primrose
stemless evening primrose

That was probably at least 10 years ago.  That sad little “dandelion” has made an appearance in my garden every year since.  And I have given numerous pieces of it away – I was even able to add this variety to Alice’s garden.  It’s very hard to find something that Alice doesn’t already have!

When the kids were younger, it was always fun to try and guess how many Evening Primrose would bloom.  And just around 9:00 each night, we would go out and watch the flowers bloom.  I kid you not, we would go out and actually watch the small buds show a tiny bit of yellow, and wait for it, within 5 minutes you could actually watch the flowers bloom.

I was always so thrilled, and to this day, I ask the kids (teenagers now who have better things to do than watch a flower bloom) how many they think bloomed tonight!

Update posted 6/28/2015:  I finally captured the blooming of the Evening Primrose!  Well, it’s not my first attempt by any means.  At Brittany’s suggestion, I set up the mini tripod last evening.  The videos I’ve tried without the tripod are so shaky, they give me motion sickness!  

Pretty cool, huh?  Only 2 last night!

garden window, seeds

From Seeds to Seedlings

The pansies sprouted and were transferred from the top of the fridge to the garden window about 4 weeks ago.


I’m doing all I can to ensure their success – they are about 3 inches from the grow light and are sitting on a heating pad set to low.  The grow light is set on a timer so they get 10 hours of light a day, in addition to the indirect natural light this window receives.  The garden window tends to be a bit chilly, so the heating pad keeps the soil from getting too cold for good root establishment.

Here are the impatiens that I started about 2 weeks after the pansies.


A few are robust, but for the most part, they all look rather gangly.  I’m not sure what more I can do for them.  Just keep them watered, warm, and enlightened!

I plan to start the sweet peas and a few other direct sow seeds this weekend.  The forecast in my area is predicted to be sunny with temps in the upper 50s and low 60s.  Sounds heavenly!  I’ll be out digging in the dirt!

Have a marvelous weekend!


Seeds of Organization

Those of you who know me well are not surprised that I actually want to organize my seeds.  It’s a project that has been a long time coming, tho.

This old shoebox had been as close to organizing the seeds as I’d ever come.  photo (2)Not real sure about what was contained here, but at least I knew where the seeds were!

I started out by weeding out the seeds that were more than 5 years old.  I tested a few this past spring and got 0% germination rate, so I felt pretty good about tossing them.

I have many packets of store-bought seeds and many zip lock sandwich bags of seeds that I have gathered from nature.  For the store-bought variety, I placed the seeds in these small 2×2 zip lock bags I purchased online.


If you search on for “2×2 baggies”, you will find many vendors to choose from.  I then cut the envelope front for a picture of what will grow, and cut the back for directions on how.

For the seeds I gathered, I made sure to label the zip lock bags with a description and a hint of where they came from.

complete pages

For both sets I included the date, either of the “packed for” year or the year I gathered.

These trading card pages are the perfect size to catalog and store the seeds.


I bought mine at Wal-Mart, and you can get them at any office supply store.  I sorted mine by flower v. vegetable v. herb.  I haven’t done much vegetable growing, so most of my seeds are flowers.  I have many collections of columbine and marigolds, so I have a whole page dedicated to them.  I also used “post it” type notes so that when I run out of the seeds in that pocket, I can reuse the pocket.

book shot

Keeping the seeds in a binder, labeled and sealed, makes it so much easier to visualize what might be started come springtime!


Weeding with Willis

In the yard with Willis

I caved.

Finally, after 20 years of a dogless existence, I caved.  I admit, it didn’t take much.  The most difficult part was convincing the Hub that the kids are old enough to train, exercise, feed, and take responsibility for a dog.  It was easier than I thought.  Turns out, all I really had to do was tell him that I really wanted a dog.

Son #2 is very resourceful, and can be very convincing when he wants something.  He could smell my guard coming down, he could sense my husband’s weakening reluctance.  We were being circled by the shark, and never saw it coming!

S#2 also has a big heart.  He searched online for a rescue, and fell in love with a little guy being fostered at our local Animal Friends.  OK, we will go meet him.  And that’s all it took.  We walked in and asked to meet Willis.  I could tell the staff really liked Willis, and I soon found out why.  He walked right over to S#2, plopped down at his feet, rolled onto his back, wanting his belly rubbed.  Which resulted in a good belly rub!  Instant friends!

Willis has been part of our lives for all of 3 weeks.  He’s not actually a little guy.  At an estimated 5 months, he weighs in at 38 lbs!  He’s a really good dog – didn’t take much to house train – is very good-natured.  I’ve actually lost 7 pounds, because he really needs to go on a daily walk.  He’s a bundle of energy at times, and with a small house, there’s not much room to run around.

Learning how to live with a dog has proven to be challenging at times.  We are all adjusting!  Gardening doesn’t come naturally to this dog.  Wanting my undivided attention while outside, however, does.  He loves to dig and he loves to grab a mouthful of grass and flail it side to side, just to watch the grass fall out of the sky.  It’s actually bringing back memories of trying to garden with small children in tow.  It’s not the solitary experience I’ve come to enjoy in recent years.  But again, we are all adjusting!

Don’t tell S#2, but I know that Willis is actually my dog.  While the kids are all old enough to be responsible for the dog, truth is, they are also old enough to want time with their friends.  They have busy lives, and adding a four-legged friend to the mix is a foreign idea.  So, Willis is my garden bud.  I need to harness his love of digging – maybe we’ll plant a tree!

Blooming Months

Bloom Day – May 15, 2012

As per my usual, I’m late with my May 15 posting of Bloom Day for the Garden Bloggers Bloom Day!

Here’s what’s bloomin’ in my yard this month.  The clematis climbs the mailbox trellis.  The spiderwort is my personal favorite – this photo really doesn’t do it justice, as the blooms look electric in person.  Methinks it may be time to divide this one, but timing is always an issue.

The chair is a ‘new’ addition to my front yard.  I rescued it from the curb of a neighbor on trash day!  I really just want to document how it looks each month.