Monday, November 29, 2010

Don't get bronchitis!

If you do, you might end up missing lots of work, and getting poked with needles and IVs, and having to learn about things like nebulizers, and missing three weeks of beautiful fall gardening weather. So just don't do it, okay?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Arlo and Janis: The Gardener's Comic

Have you ever read Arlo and Janis?  It's one of my favorite comic strips AND Janis is a gardener. Click on the comic below to go to cartoonist Jimmy Johnson's blog.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Time for a trip to the hardware store

Our backyard patio doesn't look quite as bad as the street in Amy Stewart's post on Garden Rant, but it's definitely come close.  I think I'll be checking out the Depot this weekend for some concrete and mortar for my caulk gun.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I was just reading "Five Ways to Know It's Winter in Alaska" on Last Frontier Garden, where Ms. Christine posed the question, "how do you know it's winter where you live?"  After gaping at her pictures, I could not but giggle at the idea of describing winter here. 

Mulch Boy, a native of Massachusetts, would argue that we don't have  winter here in Northern Virginia, not by his standards anyway.  Last year was an exception, as we were uncharacteristically buried under feet of snow for weeks, resulting in the inevitable complete shut-down of the entire DC metro area, including the Federal government. Such events, however, are rare here, and the following are the more common signs of Winter Inside the Capital Beltway.
  1. The parkas come out. Sure, it's only 55 degrees out, but you'd think the thermometers had dropped below zero as the natives pile on their coats and scarves and gloves against the "cold."
  2. Schools close because of snow. To clarify, schools close not because it HAS snowed, or because a lot of snow is expected or blizzard conditions are clearly on their way.  No, the fact is it MIGHT snow a quarter inch (!) (although it hasn't yet), and the closure is a preventive strike.
  3. The supermarkets run out of bread, milk, and toilet paper. One of the first winters after I first moved back to this area, the local news teams were all reporting on a Thursday that it might--MIGHT!--snow on Saturday. Perhaps an inch.  Maybe.  Every channel was broadcasting that Thursday from a supermarket parking lot, filming the carnage inside the store where panicky shoppers stripped the shelves of basic necessities to prepare for the possible inch of snow on Saturday. Which never came.
  4. Schools close because of rain. Because...  honestly, I have no idea why.
  5. Mulch Boy grills outside in his shirt sleeves and declares it's still like summer and he doesn't need a coat because in Massachusetts people would scoff--SCOFF I tell you!--if you told them this was cold. That Mulch Boy.

Career Criminal

I confess: I am a repeat offender of The Rule Against Onesies.

When I first began gardening, my cousin the landscape architect (hi, cuz!) laid down the design law: don't plant single examples of plants around your garden. Instead, plant in groups for impact, and always in odd numbers to avoid things looking too regimented.

I've had this lesson reinforced to me many times over the years, and the pros definitely know. I've seen enough violations--my own and others--to deny the truth.  So why do I continually break this rule, over and over and over?

Impulse buying. Those who know me well know I can spend hours at a time snooping around the garden center, my face covered in pollen as I literally stick my nose into every promising blossom. I may have come for a bag of garden soil, but I'll be leaving with a cart full of random plants that are "so pretty"! However, since I have no real plan regarding what to do with them, I've only bought one each--because who knows where I'll be able to fit them in at home?

I have learned my lesson, somewhat.  Those single perennials who looked okay in my little square patch at the townhouse look like little orphans lost in the mulch in my big beds at the little blue house. To be fair, I inherited a bunch of onesies when we first moved in, so I'm not responsible for most of them . In fact, I've divided a good many of the little fellers to remedy the situation.

But then there were shrubs.

My beds are way too big to fill with just flowers. They need some anchors. They need some shrubs!

Problem is, well, the same as before: I see, I impulse-buy ("so pretty!"), I have no plan. Now I don't impulse-buy to the same degree as I used to with the perennials--after all, shrubs aren't $5 each, and I was brought up to be a thrifty girl. But even so, I've ended up with quite a few singletons when it comes to my shrubs: nandina, mahonia, St. John's wort, beauty berrry, forsythia, broom, abelia, virburnum, boxwood...  And just a month or two ago, a Mugo pine, a goldthread cypress, a bluestar juniper, and a...  a...  another thing that was 100% impulse buy and I have no idea what it's called (but it's PRETTY!). Oh, and that other one that was reddish and droopy; what was its name? (Also SO pretty!)

Right now my yard probably sounds pretty crazy-looking, but I swear, somehow it works.