Tag Archives: seeds

Colors of the turning, or not.

In our Northern Hemisphere, it’s the season when much of the biomass is dying or going down for a long nap, during which, even if we look hard, it’s not always easy to tell if  a particular plant is going to wake up next spring.

But here, some flowers are at their peak, and because we haven’t had a frost yet, only lots of rain, even my cherry tomatoes keep growing and fruiting. Because of the early rain, the turning leaves are brighter than most years.

A couple of days ago I finally planted winter greens and such in the newly refilled planter boxes. My friend who gave me the 30-odd pots when he moved away also left me with a paper bag with “Seeds” scrawled on the outside; inside were envelopes and pill bottles full of boughten or hand-collected species, so I planted one row just of the lettuce and kale and beets from that “Timothy” collection. Out front I scattered the tiny “purple viola” seeds that had been stored in a tiny mints tin.

This picture is Before Planting, during which time the perennial Painted Lady runner beans have started growing up the trellis again. Without a frost, I guess they haven’t got the message that it’s nap time:

I  made use of the seeds from new packets of Renee’s Garden seeds. The artwork on those always draws me in and makes me try different varieties.

Once the jungle of asparagus foliage had been cleared away we discovered that new spears are popping up all over, at least three months earlier than usual, so I’ve been eating them. The soil mix that was left over after I filled the boxes we spread on the asparagus patches (now five years old) and replaced the mulch on top.

The daphne is in bloom early, too!

Out in the neighborhood I found the flock of 22 wild turkeys that I hear have been hanging out by the creek for months.

Where two creeks join, it was interesting to see how much muddier one was. I got distracted and missed the left turn that would have kept me on my usual walking route. But that was okay, because I ended up on a sidewalk that I normally only see from my car as I drive by, and came upon this strange and beautiful bush, that I identified as a Purple Potato Bush. It had exactly one berry on it, but a score of new flowers and many new leaves.

The Gardener feels that she herself is also still blooming, but also by turns taking naps… If she hasn’t turned into a berry or been cut down by frost she will still be around come spring….

Trains next door add to our family fun.

In my own neighborhood.

People have written me from Idaho and Virginia, asking if we are being flooded. No, there is no danger close by, even though it rained for 24 hours straight, as my housemate Susan told me. I had driven north to Pippin’s for a couple of nights to be with various relations who were gathering to see Kate’s family. Fifteen of us ate and gabbed and hugged, and there was the necessary Settlers of Catan game, though it was short and small this time. Children ran and squealed.

It rained up there, too, and on my drive up and back. But not constantly… we were able to go out the first evening and put pennies on the railroad tracks next door; only minutes later a train came by, and then the hunt for flattened metal pieces began. In spite of the tape, which usually prevents them getting knocked off before the weight of the train comes down on them, the smashed coins are often carried a ways down the track and it requires a practiced eye to find them.

It was the shortest walk I’ve ever done while at Pippin’s, but of course there were interesting sights to see, because she was with me pointing them out. Who would have recognized this brown lumpy thing as a mushroom? She said that once she came upon people excavating  one for eating, but she hasn’t researched them.

Indoors, there are four cats again, including a new kitten named Fred. (Pecos disappeared and may have been eaten by a larger animal…?) Rio has a reputation for being “useless,” a label that in this household I don’t think has ever been applied to anyone else. But she offered her beautiful self to be petted by Rigo. Ivy and Jamie showed me the seed collections they had made for their homeschool science.

Kate’s husband Tom is very romantic about trains and loves visiting this place that is hard up against the railroad right of way. After everyone else had gone home or to bed Sunday night, he heard the train whistle again about midnight and went out to the tracks by himself with a flashlight. Not only did he get to see a rare passenger train speeding by, but he found one more thin and shining remnant of copper.

Watching and watchfulness.

 

The birds are happy today and so am I. While I’ve been sitting in my garden corner both a wren and a chickadee came by to say hello. You can hear what the Bewick’s Wren told me here. A while later, out of the corner of my eye I saw movement in the collard patch.

The plants are tall, and with half a dozen house finches hopping from stem to stem and pecking among the flowers, they reminded me of their mustard cousins mentioned in the Bible, in the parable of the mustard seed.

A pair of bluebirds have been flitting about the garden for a week at least. They do appear to be playing, randomly flying from tree to tree to arbor to birdbath, swooping across each other’s paths. Weeks ago we saw them checking out the birdhouse, and now I find that there are at least the beginnings of a mossy nest in there, though I haven’t seen them working on it. They don’t sit still for long, but I got this shot that at least shows the male’s bright blueness.

I’ve selectively removed a couple of established ornamentals from the back garden so that I could carve out spaces for all the young plants that have just this week been liberated from the greenhouse. Last night was their first to stay out all night. Normally I wait to plant until May 1st, but that is Holy Saturday, and I won’t have time. No frost is forecast for the next ten days, so this year I will join the many people in my area who commonly plant in April.

Yesterday I invited neighbors over to see my back garden for the first time; I only met them in Covid-time and we have chatted on the sidewalk and texted a lot about our gardens, we have shared seeds and plants and produce. They brought their 2-year old and we had a good visit strolling about and drinking iced rooibos tea. The little boy insisted that both of his parents come into the playhouse with him. I told them that is the first time I’ve had a whole family in there together.

While we were looking at the pea vines, I asked them if they had seen any honeybees yet this season. They said they’d seen one. Suddenly the carpenter bees we’d been watching were joined by excited honeybees and bumblebees! I think they had just got the news about the borage.

I sent my neighbors home with a dozen plants, most of which I’d grown from seed this spring, but a few propagated from cuttings, or volunteers removed from the garden and potted up. In the last category were Yellow Bush Lupine and Showy Milkweed.

I have a lot of calendula seedlings from seeds that a friend at church gave me from her garden, the Indian Prince mix (picture from seed packet at right). Calendulas are blooming now here; they often overwinter and reseed themselves, but I only have two currently, so I’ll fill in with several new plants. This is one of the established ones:

It is the 5th Sunday of Lent for Orthodox Christians. After this last week of Lent proper, we enter Holy Week; Pascha is May 2nd this year. In this last week the tone changes a bit; it shifts from repentance to watchfulness, our rector told us, and we begin to look forward to the raising of Lazarus, which is a sort of pre-feast of the Resurrection of Christ Himself.

I arrived early today, so I could stop by the hall to drop off a bag of onion skins, which are being collected for dyeing eggs for Pascha. I couldn’t help taking pictures of the wisteria and other beautiful flowers there.

Today we commemorate St. Mary of Egypt, who in our hymnography is often called “Mother Mary,” which can be confusing to those who think of Christ’s mother by that name. We usually call that Mary the Theotokos (“God-bearer”) or the Mother of God, to affirm Christ’s divinity.

This hymn got my attention this morning:

The image of God was truly preserved in thee, O Mother,
for thou didst take up the Cross and follow Christ.
By so doing, thou taughtest us
to disregard the flesh for it passes away;
but to care instead for the soul,
for it is immortal.
Therefore thy spirit, O holy Mother Mary,
rejoices with the angels.

St. Mary of Egypt by her life exhorts us not to slacken our effort in this last week, not to think that we can coast the rest of the way to Pascha. She was repentant and watchful for decades in the desert, and the fruit of her life and testimony has nourished the Church ever since.

As Abba Zosimas said of her, “Truly God did not lie when he promised that those who purify themselves will be like Him. Glory to You, O Christ our God, for showing me through your holy servant, how far I am from perfection.” 

Flora, fauna and future of the garden.

“From December to March,
there are for many of us three gardens –
the garden outdoors,
the garden of pots and bowls in the house,
and the garden of the mind’s eye.”

-Katherine S. White

I received a Christmas gift of flower seeds, which made me realize that I really do need to get busy and finish the upgrading of my greenhouse that was begun by my neighbor Bob in October. He supplied it with electricity and installed grow lights, but it remains for me to set up the heater, thermostat, fan and timer.

Then I can get seeds started a little earlier than would be otherwise possible during this season when the greenhouse sits in the shade of my two-story house. In the meantime, neighbor Terri and I can talk about our gardens past and future. Yesterday she gave me this heavy Pink Banana squash she grew last summer, evidently a good keeper!

I can eat one thing from the garden currently: collards — and I found a wonderful, vegan recipe for collards in coconut milk that I will try to post here. Fruit from the arbutus or Strawberry Tree got spoiled by the rain this year, but before that, at least it didn’t have anything like the mysterious pests or diseases of last year, which was a big relief.

Not my photo!

I received New Year’s gifts in my garden, not plants flowering or fruiting but birds visiting. Their energy and personality are even more welcome when the landscape is dark. On New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day a pair of Northern Flickers came by; they got my attention fast, such big birds acting like woodpeckers on the pine tree, but nothing like any woodpecker I’d ever encountered before. They hopped around the garden for hours, pecking in the bark mulch, so I had plenty of time to leaf through all the pages of Peterson’s guide until I found them. This was the most exciting Bird Event (repeated this morning!) since my first sighting of Hooded Orioles at the hummingbird feeder some years ago.

A different sort of event was when a bird flew into my slider and sat stunned on the mat for such a long time that I was able to take its picture. I had been thinking that these were some kind of sparrow, but once I got such a clear image, it was hard to fit the little creature into that family.

Attached to a suggested blog post in my WordPress feed that very evening, I glimpsed a photo that looked very much like mine. It was a blog post about Pine Siskins — what do you know! It’s Pine Siskins that I have been enjoying here for a couple of years at least.

They feed alongside sparrows, finches, and warblers, while chickadees and bushtits enjoy the suet feeder nearby. Juncos and titmice, jays and doves fly in and away. Occasionally a towhee visits… then the Cooper’s Hawk swoops down for the kill and adds drama, only three feet away from me across the glass. If I don’t take a break from watching these busy birds, I won’t get any seeds planted. Yes, that could happen….

…because the world is full of delights.