Monday, September 2

Cloudy Day = Cooler Temps at the Botanical Garden

Hit Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden with Joan at 9AM sharp this morning---sure had heated and humidified up by the time we left at 11.  We both had been to nature classes over the summer and Joan had been to Andre Viette's conference in Virginia last month, so we were psyched for learning Latin names of plants. That's what garden nerds do for fun...

The cloudy sky didn't make for great photos, but I had to record the elephant ears along the path to the conservatory.
 This was just about our favorite plant of the day--Eulalia.
 Thanks to my dragonfly class in June I could enjoy the Blue Dasher by name.
This is a type of Magnolia--great vertical growth.  Maybe they prune it off later but it looked so geometric in the sunlight.

Loved the bamboo plant marker.  Mark Y. gave me begonias just like these several years ago and they are blooming near my back door right now.  The reddish stems highlight the light pink blooms.  Begonia Grands Alba (Hardy Begonia)

Tuesday, August 27

Using the Lasagna Method to Easily Prepare a New Garden Area

Read about this method in a recent issue of This Old House magazine.  Bet it'll work great to prepare the soil for the new butterfly/dragonfly plants I'm hoping to try:
Starting a New Garden Bed Using the Lasagna Layering Method

Newspaper, coffee grounds, vegetable and fruit clippings--what could be easier?

Friday, August 23

Amazing Anole?

All summer I've been enjoying several blue-tail skinks sunning themselves on my back steps.  Today is the first time I saw this little guy; he was only about 3" long from nose to tail.  Sorta looks like an anole--does anyone know for sure?

Thursday, August 15

Butterflies are Free

They're free to watch in gardens and, with a low-cost membership to your local botanic garden, you can learn about them for free.  Add a friend who treats you to lunch and your whole, enjoyable day can be a freebie.

Each of the three classes I took, for free, at Lewis Ginter Botanic Garden Lewis Ginter this summer was wonderful, especially since they were given by the same engaging and data-intense teacher, Butterfly Barbara.
We learned about the most common butterflies and moths seen in Virginia, their host plants and nectar plants.  Where can I get some milkweed???

Plus, my buddy, Joan, took the class with me and surprised me with an invitation to lunch--for free!
At The Continental on Grove Avenue

What a gorgeous day!

This is how I felt after lunch!

Sunday, August 11

New Exercise Idea--Do Some Farm Work

My SIL, DD and DH got some good exercise yesterday at the farm:

Exercising on the Farm--Racing Against the Rain Clouds

Friday, August 9

Mom and Pop Organizational Methods

On a trip to Charlottesville to pick up a piece of furniture our friends treated us to a de-lish lunch.  The hostess, knowing my love of organization, excitedly showed me her spice drawer:

If you look closely you'll see that anise is at the top left and the lower right spice might be tarragon.  Yep, they're arranged alphabetically.  Go Sheila!

To be fair to her engineer husband, who was born with the D for Detail gene type, I'm including a photo of a section of his shop:
Please notice that the C-clamps are all oriented in the same direction.  Go Bill!

Monday, August 5

Big Beauty

We have a canal walk in Richmond and it is being developed more and more over time.  Went to a restaurant near the canal walk with a gaggle of girlfriends for lunch today and was delighted to see this enormous mural, by Ed Trask, painted on one of the flood wall panels.  Beauty all around, and it was big.

Saturday, August 3

Don't Be a Scaredy Cat

Walking around Lexington, VA with a good girlfriend on Friday was glorious--warm temps but not humid, bunches of fine arts/crafts shops (favorite:  Artists in Cahoots ) and a creative spot for lunch (Blue Sky Bakery) right on the edge of the Washington and Lee campus.  We were too early for the First Fridays Art Gallery walk and wine tasting event but it was a treat to visit so many open galleries.

Driving south on Route 11 to Buchanan was beautiful and we easily found the swinging bridge there.
After the initial trepidation of entering via that awkward slope, it was delightful and only a little "swayie" but not really swinging.  Once we arrived on the far side we were treated to a passing train only 30' or so away. Great tootin' horn and rumbling on the tracks.
 Via the public boat launch and nearby water outfitters there were lots of ways to enjoy the James River.

What's Not to Love?

 Rhennie was sitting on the top shelf in the closet we recently attacked, waiting for someone to love on her.  Closet Rescue True to form, my DD wasn't interested in keeping her so we quickly looked up comparable solds on Ebay and learned we could only sell her for very little.  What to do?

An all-call to friends on Facebook did not yield immediate requests to adopt her, so I started thinking about a new neighbor's granddaughter--she has flaxen blond hair and might love to have her.  I almost called my neighbor and then the answer came via Facebook--my good friend for 20+ years had a 6 yo granddaughter visiting her and might like to have Rhennie.  My hopes were high.

Sure enough, the little sweetie adored Rhennie from first hug.  Happy Success!  But, there was a bonus.  She was just the right size for the purple unicorn Halloween costume my mom had made about 25 yrs ago and she has a younger brother would might love the green dinosaur costume my mom made for my DS at the same time.  Super success!  It's so much fun to give stuff away, especially with happy endings like this.

Tuesday, July 30

Washing Windows--Terror on the Rungs

When I work in the garden and come across a spider or ugly critter it's easy to scoot away.  The fact that I wear gardening gloves also makes me braver.

But, when I'm up on the ladder washing windows and the spiders are dangling over me and the hornet scout is checking me out with a fearsome buzzing, there are only two choices--develop some nerve or jump off the ladder.  Good thing I just have a one-story house.

Monday, July 29

Closet Rescue and Repurpose

When we had overnight guests two weekends ago I was very afraid that they would accidentally open the closet doors in their bedrooms and see the messes inside.  To me, the inside of my purse and the inside of my closets tell the true story of what life is like inside my brain--confused, over-sentimental and slow to make decisions.

My DD made an appointment with me to help me clean out the closet in her old bedroom and yesterday we worked for 2+ hours on that one space.  Very little of the items inside were hers but I still felt like I needed her "permission" to let go of some things, since they had been handed down by family or dear friends.
Good thing she and my DS aren't the least bit attached to family stuff; we ended up filling up the entire back of my little car with bags to take to the thrift shop and I made sure to run them over today.  What a relief.
This afternoon I transferred sewing materials and a few other items from the master BR to this closet, so it's full again.  The closets are playing leapfrog since I'm moving some items from one space to another in order to combine similar things.  After cleaning out the master BR closet this afternoon my car is filled to the brim again, ready for the thrift store run, and includes a package labeled, "Jeans for making quilt--2003."  So sad.

Wednesday, June 26

Making a Little Bed by the Shed

When you look at our little shed all you see is the mildew creeping up the side and a few ratty tools and decorations.  Blah.

There used to be a little flower bed on the north side of the shed, but I forgot to water it during the long, hot Richmond summers.  Wonder if the soil is still rich after all these years; probably full of tree roots.
Still a little improved soil left from a few years ago when I added topsoil and compost.  Looks pretty clay-ish after you dig down a few inches, though.

Good thing we have mountains of rotted leaves out near the woods.  If I can avoid startling the copperheads who like to lay their eggs deep in the nice, warm leaves I'll have some good amendments for the soil.
These whittled-down hostas were formerly on the north side of the house, where bunnies and deer love to graze at night.  Tonight the critters will be wondering where their treats have gone.

Mix up the soil and the leaf compost, add the hostas and water and wait for them to thrive in the north-facing, shaded bed by the shed.
If you look closely you'll see fencing stretched over the top and side of the bed.  You don't really think I trust the deer to keep away, do you?

Saturday, June 22

All Kinds of Garden Gifts from Friends

Begonias and Ferns

So many friends gave me plants this past month.  Thx to Mark for the lush begonias, they look so pretty from a distance due to their striking colors.

The underside of the begonias is a lovely, deep rust color
My "therapeutic" outdoor work station
About five years ago my good buddy, Joe Paxson, designed this traveling garden work bench for me to use at schools with students who have difficulty bending down to the ground.  "I have to be able to take it apart real easy," I told him.  "The kids have to be able to get right up under it with their wheelchairs," I said. 

Of course, he made it exactly right.

A very fine mechanic friend made me this portable raised garden bench
Over the summer it'll be a great growing spot for two varieties of ferns, another plant present from Mark Y.  You can see Joe's precise measurements on the sides of the bench.

The garden improvements are attracting a lot of notice from the neighbors.

Thursday, June 20

Tupperware on Display, Finally

With the exception of the popsicle molds and maybe the green jello mold, all of this lovely Tupperware was given to me by friends or purchased at thrift stores.  It's about half of my "collection."  The remainder is used on an almost daily basis.  Still, it's too much for one person to possess.  "If you love something, let it go free..."

What's especially adorable?  The "How to hold a T'ware party" books from Brenda Smith, the avocado dill pickle holder, the yellow and orange no-tip sippy cups and the pre-Bento lunch boxes with their removable carrying straps.  My prize find--the canned ham keeper, with lift-out tray.

Thanks to Betsy for giving me the white shelves last Saturday.  They're a perfect backdrop for highlighting the pastel and fall-ish colors of T'ware.

Wednesday, June 19

Dragonfly Class for Beginners

For a very inexpensive yearly membership fee I get to go to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden  Lewis Ginter as often as I wish, which includes many free classes.  Today I took my first class on dragonflies in the garden.

"Butterfly Barbara" was our instructor for a 90 minute session indoors and a 30 minute dragonfly sighting trip outside.  You may think that 90 minutes is too much time to sit and discuss facts and photos about dragonflies, but the time "flew" by.  Barbara was an excellent instructor--lots of good info and a little zany, to boot:
Since it was a cloudy, cool-ish morning we were instructed not to get our hopes up about seeing any dragonflies, but the bog area in the garden treated us to about six different sightings.  Look hard!

Blue Dasher???

Dragonfly to the right of the little orange butterfly
One of the great perks about the garden membership is their reciprocal program with hundreds of other gardens.  When I travel back to the midwest I can get into the Chicago Botanic Garden for free.

Tuesday, June 18

Reclaiming the Garden--Day One

Although I've done a tiny bit more on the garden than usual this past spring, it's still a weedy mess.  Today was spent on "Before" photos and reclaiming the area closest to the side door we use all the time:

Tons of weeds mixed in with the baby Cleome (spider) plants which are returning for the 5th year.  Since it's been drizzling the last 24 hours it was super easy to pull out the nasty weeds.


Weeds pretty much gone.  The chartreuse succulent ground cover was a breeze to transplant to the lower corner and will do well in the shallow ground covering a concrete area.  Plus, it won't compete with the cleome, which will be about 3' high in mid-summer.
Finishing touch--Filling the birdfeeders:
One with nyjer seed and one with sunflower seed.  Viewing these is a straight shot from the kitchen window.  Having cleaned them with vinegar and water a couple of weeks ago they were ready to get to work.  Can you see the white grease slathered on the post?  A little extra something to moisturize the squirrels' grabby paws... 

Sure, it's kinda late to offer seed but I think the birds will forgive me.