Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy New Year

I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a
Happy New Year!

This is my neighbor's shrub. I'm not sure what it is, but it is covered with beautiful red berries, and looks quite festive against the weathered building, while the freshly fallen snow accentuates the cement block wall.

We watched with interest, as this icicle on our house grew longer each day during the Christmas holidays. It almost touched the ground...before the rains came and melted it away.


"Another fresh New Year is here...
Another year to live!
To banish worry, doubt, and fear,
To love and laugh and give!

This bright New Year is given me
to live each day with zest...
To daily grow and try and be
My highest and my best!

I have the opportunity
Once more to right some wrongs,
To pray for peace, to plant some tree,
And sing more joyful songs!

~William Arthur Ward

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Greetings

This little nativity is one of my favorite thrift store finds...and it represents the true Spirit of Christmas for our family.

"For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us Son is given;
And the government shall be upon His shoulder.

And His name shall be called
Wonderful, Counselor,
Mighty God,
the Everlasting Father,
the Prince of Peace."

Isaiah 9:6


To all my readers, fellow gardeners, bloggers, friends and family:

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Black and White World

Our second round of snowfall has brought the level to about a foot deep. It went over the top of my boots when I took my veggie scraps out to the compost pile this morning. :-) I think this may be a record snowfall for us, especially this early in the season. Something I really appreciate about living here in our valley is the lack of wind, which allows the snow to pile up neatly on everything.

I like the way my birdbath resembles a layer cake...complete with fluffy white frosting.

Our patio dining set. Care to come over for a (very) cool drink?

Flat heads of Yarrow in the flower garden sporting their fancy conehead caps.


"I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape - the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show."

~Andrew Wyeth

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Snow Moon Rising

I couldn't resist the title for this post, though I'm aware that the moon in these photos isn't actually rising, but setting. Maybe a more fitting title would be.....Goodnight, Moon.

These were taken in the morning, the day after our first snow. The sky was a gorgeous shade of blue, making the moon quite visible.

A close up of the moon above the mountain. It is in the waning stage, a few days after the full moon. (If you click on the photo, you can see it much larger.) Here is a little Moon trivia I found with a quick internet search:

The Moon is visible in the evening (PM side of the Earth) starting a few days past new moon, during first quarter until a few days before full moon. It will be visible in the morning (AM side of the Earth) starting at full moon, during third quarter until a few days before new moon. The Moon will not be visible for a few days around new moon because the sunlit side of the Moon is facing away from Earth, towards the Sun.


"The moon, like a flower
In heaven's high bower
With silent delight
Sits and smiles on the night."

"...and sometimes the morning." My addendum ;-)

~William Blake, English poet

Sunday, December 14, 2008

New Fallen Snow

We finally received our first snowfall of the season. As always, it is beautiful and magical..... adding a clean layer of white to everything it touches.

A ranch in our neighborhood.....always photogenic, but especially so in the low winter light and a cover of snow.

Snow adds a new dimension to this simple, rustic fence post.

The brown remains of Queen Anne's Lace becomes a receptacle for a fluff of white snow.

Wild turkey tracks. :-)


"The future lies before you, like paths of pure white snow. Be careful how you tread it, for every step will show."

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Out of Season Color

In my last post I mentioned a late bouquet I had gathered from the garden on December 5th. This is a definite first for me here in my zone 6b garden. I keep wondering how long this mild weather can hold out, but I am enjoying it while it lasts!

As I meandered around the garden looking for bits of color, this is what I discovered for my December bouquet. The brave flowers are as follows: (roughly from top to bottom) pink Yarrow, Verbena Bonariensis (a bit browned) , Calendula, one lonely Chive blossom, a sprig of Virgo Feverfew, 3 White Pincushion Flowers, a couple stems of blue Sunday Sage and one of pink, one single purple Pincushion Flower, more Calendulas, and finally.....the red foliage of hardy Geranium and the yellowed leaves of Columbine.

This late season color makes the wait for Spring just a little bit shorter. :-)


O, wind... If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?
~Percy Bysshe Shelley

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Calendulas and Catmint

I purchased these vintage green bottles at a flea market last summer, with the vision of arranging them with a single flower in each. I posted a earlier photo with Orange Cosmos in a single green bottle/vase. The green and orange really seemed to work well together.

I decorated for a bridal shower this week, which motivated me to try out my idea. Here they are grouped together on my kitchen counter. They looked a little bare with only one late blooming Calendula per vase, as the flowers are pretty small this time of year, so I doubled them up and added some blue Catmint. They do look charming, I think.....especially at a time of year when color is so scarce. I didn't end up using these for the shower, but I am enjoying the bright spot in my kitchen!

A tour around the garden did yield a small bouquet of flowers for the bridal shower....on December 5th, no less! I will share the photo on my next post.


"The gardening season officially begins on January 1st, and ends on December 31."

~ Marie Huston

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Welcome December

It's the second day of December, and we are still enjoying such unseasonably mild temperatures that the Lilacs, Service berries, and other shrubs think it is Spring....and are budding! I took advantage of the mild weather today to take a walk in the neighborhood.....camera in hand.

This country road is where I take my (sometimes) daily walk. I tend to not walk as often as I should this time of year, because of rainy days and early darkness. Today the mountains were wearing their white shawl of low hanging clouds. I love the mood and effect it casts on the surrounding scenery.

A view towards town.....with lots of gray clouds in the sky. The river runs just below here, though not visible in the photo. Today I received my first seed and gardening catalogs which, for me, officially marks the beginning of the "Plan and Dream" season. :-)


"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

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Bouquet

I'm pretty sure this will be the last of my garden flowers...some late flowering Calendulas. So I'm sending it as a virtual bouquet to all of you, and wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving!


"It is a good thing to give thanks to the Lord,
And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;
To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning,
And your faithfulness every night."
Psalm 92:1

Monday, November 24, 2008

More Fungi

As I was giving my compost pile one final turn for the season, I spotted this cute little colony of mushrooms. They were just oh, so photogenic!....so I'm sharing a few photos as an addendum to my previous post, Fall Fungi.

There were around two dozen or so of the little mushrooms , growing together all cozy-like.... shorter ones under the taller ones.

A view from the side. Notice how they branch out like a tree from the bottom? I discovered they were all growing up from a small tree limb, which was buried underneath the compost.

A top view...showing off their fancy 'parasol hats'.


Fall mushrooms, which appear as if by magic in our woodlands and meadows, are as diverse as the many shades of fall leaves.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Fall Fungi

Now that the Fall rains have arrived, mushrooms seem to be popping up everywhere! Though they are not showy like flowers, they have a certain appeal of their own, many being quite diminutive in size. It sometimes takes a keen eye to spot them....but is worth the search.

A trio of tiny toadstools.

A pretty pair..... charming in their little brown caps.

A stocky single specimen.

This looks a little like the type you buy in the grocery store, but I'm sure it isn't edible. I don't know a thing about classifying these, but if anyone can identify them, feel free to do so in the Comments.

I like the way the light plays behind this fragile little mushroom.

And lastly.... my favorite photo. Same mushroom as above, plucked and turned upside down to reveal the intricate gills on it's underside.


"I am a mushroom; On whom the dew of heaven drops now and then." ~John Ford

"All mushrooms are edible - once." ~unknown

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Autumn Images

This has been one of the most beautiful Autumns I can remember.... with mild temps and many sunny days, which has made garden clean-up a pleasant task. I've been so busy outdoors, I nearly missed capturing a few photos of the fall colors with my camera.

This wild Cherry tree stands just behind our wood shed. The day after I took the photo, the tree was nearly bare....the bright leaves piled in a soft bed beneath it's limbs.

Our mountain in Autumn. The sky was grey on this particular day, but the colors brilliant.

These beautiful rose hips dot the hillsides in abundance at this time of year.

A scene on the Southfork of the Clearwater River, with Autumn colors at their peak.


"Autumn burned brightly, a running flame through the mountains, a torch flung to the trees."

~Faith Baldwin

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Icy Iceland Poppy

As I walked around the garden on this chilly morning, I saw this Salmon colored Iceland Poppy lying flattened on the dirt, sparkling with frost. The stark contrast between the fading flower and the dark ground beneath it prompted me to go inside for my camera.

This variety of Iceland Poppy is called Meadow Pastels. The colors are soft and pretty, this particular color being one of my favorites. They were started from winter sown seed. I had just recently spread a layer of my homemade compost on this bed in preparation for growing my early greens here next year......hence, the squash seed, visible to the left of the flower. :-)

A short distance away from the flower was it's missing petal.


"For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together. For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad."

~Edwin Way Teale

Friday, October 17, 2008

Good-Bye Garden

Our first killing frost came early this year, on October 8th....and it came hard, with the thermometer dipping to a a chilly 24 degrees! By the time I got out to view the damage the sun had already melted the frost.....so no lovely frost pictures like last year.

This orange Cosmos is hanging its head....succumbing to the inevitable. Oh, how I will miss the cheerful flowers!


"By the breath of God frost is given..." Job 37:10

Thursday, October 9, 2008

White Pincushion Flower

  • One of my favorite summer flowers is Scabiosa, also known as Pincushion Flower. I think the common name suits it very well, and is ever so much nicer sounding than Scabiosa, wouldn't you agree? :-) This year I winter sowed seeds for a White variety, which I have enjoyed very much. It has been blooming strong.....even into these cooler fall days. I took all the photos below on the same day. The flowers were in four different stages on the plant, all at the same time.

The tightly packed flower bud, which resembles a pincushion.

The partially unfolded flower. I love the contrast of the white and the greenish center.

The flower in full bloom! Note the slender stamens inside each fold . . . they look rather like pins.

The handsome prickly seedhead. . . . still looking rather like a pincushion, don't you think?


Pincushion flowers can be either Annual or Perennial, and I suspect this variety (which I obtained from a seed trade ) is an Annual, so I will save some seed to plant next year.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Cabbage White on Verbena Bonariensis

The garden is all a-flutter this time of year with many small moths and butterflies, including the Cabbage White Butterfly which seems to have a definite preference for Verbena Bonariensis.

And who wouldn't? It is a lovely plant, with it's stiff, widely branched stems and open, airy look. This native of Brazil and Argentina grows to 3-6 ft., flowers all summer until frost, and re-seeds readily. The 'see-through' quality of Verbena Bonariensis makes it a great weaver in the Cottage garden, and a good choice for the front or middle mixed border. Although it is said to be a Zone 7 perennial, it came back for me this year in my Zone 6 garden....where it was heartily welcomed. It also winter sows very well.


Tip: Pinch out the first few shoots of Verbena Bonariensis in spring to encourage branching. The more you cut it back, the more shrub like it will become.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Glorious Daisy

Black-eyed Susans are one of my favorite garden flowers...especially so in late Summer, when they bloom their hearts out while other flowers languish in the heat. They also go by the names Rudbeckia or Gloriosa Daisy, which literally means Glorious Daisy, which I think decribes them best. I grew several varieties from seed this year, with the winter sowing method. This is one of my favorites so far....

It looks rather like a burst of sun, doesn't it? I love the sunny yellow ring around the brown center cone, along with the splashes of orange. I obtained the seed from a GardenWeb trade, labeled as 'Cherokee Sunset'..... but descriptions and images of that variety show them to be either double or semi-double, so I'm not sure if the seed was mis-labeled or perhaps just crossed with another type of Rudbeckia. In any case, it is very pretty!

Rudbeckias can be either annuals or perennials, so since I don't know yet what this will be, I'll save some seed to re-plant next year.... and hope to get the same results.


Some Trivia.....

The name Black-Eyed Susan is likely derived from the poem composed by English poet John Gay, titled, “Black-Eyed Susan,” which was written in the early 18th century.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Baby Belle Peppers

In the past, we have purchased bags of multi-colored mini-bell Peppers from Costco, and really liked them.....so I was delighted to see seeds for these Baby Belle Tricolor Peppers in the Nichols Garden Nursery Catalog last year.

Aren't they just the cutest things? I grew them successfully in the ground last year, but this year I decided to try 4 plants in a half whiskey barrel planter. They grew very nicely and produced many peppers per plant. Two plants turned out to be red, one orange, and one yellow. In the above photo, the largest pepper (bottom center) is beginning to turn yellow...a bit behind the others for coloring up. The flavor is mild and sweet....a garden treat!

Oh, and did I mention how cute they are? :-)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Cosmos in Vintage Vases

I enjoy collecting old glass bottles to use as flower vases. I thought it would be fun to share a couple of my latest finds.

I purchased this old bottle for 50 cents at a yard sale this summer. I love it's heavy glass feel, top lip, and rather unusual shape. It stands a little over 3 inches tall, so is perfect for a few selected flowers. Featured here with a few 'Picotee' Cosmos flowers. (Cosmos bipinnatus) The large blooms are white with a rose/pink picotee edge, and some blooms are also splashed or striped with crimson highlights.

This green bottle came from a recent flea market, where there was a huge selection of old glass. I didn't have any in this color, so I bought several in different shapes and sizes. In my mind's eye, I pictured a collection of them sitting on a tray with a few casual flowers in each. I like how the green color compliments this handful of Orange Cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus). Both photos were taken with the vases placed on my ironing board (cover by Martha Stewart), with natural light from a nearby window.


"Dirty hands, iced tea, garden fragrances thick in the air and a blanket of color before me, who could ask for more?"

- Bev Adams, Mountain Gardening

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Doubledecker Coneflower

An internet search yielded this brief history of Doubledecker Coneflower:
A German plantsman, Eugen Schleipfer found an Echinacea plant that looked very different from the others. After years of selection, a reliable seed strain with two tiered flowers resulted. A set of shorter petals rests on top of the cone while a "skirt" of longer, deep rose-pink petals emerge from the base of the cone. First year plants sometimes produce single flowers. From the second year forward, a high percentage of two tiered flowers appear with either a single or double set of petals. Occasionally, older plants produce single flowers.

I purchased this as a very small plant 3 years ago from a mail order company. It had only bloomed with single flowers the past two summers, so I was excited this year when I saw some pink flower petals beginning to sprout out of the center cone! I wanted to wait to photograph them until they were fully formed, but unfortunately by the time that happened the original flower was already beginning to brown, as you can see by the tips of the petals.

A single bloom, growing out of the original flower. They have a somewhat 'messy' look.

This top flower is double and almost dwarfs the original flower.....making it look a bit top heavy!

Less than half of the flowers on my plant exhibited the double flower characteristic, so it will be interesting to observe, next year and beyond....to see if a greater percentage of flowers will display this trait. I think perhaps this variety is still a little unstable, but 'Doppelganger' (it's German name) is an interesting plant, adding an unusual charm to the cottage garden.


Fun Fact: The word "echinacea" comes from the Greek word "echinos" meaning "hedgehog", referring to the flower's spiky central cone.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Helenium Mardi Gras

This was my first year to order a few plants from Bluestone Perennials, and Helenium Mardi Gras was among them. Helenium also goes by the name Helen's flower, or Sneezeweed.

The flower petals are mainly yellow, splashed randomly with red. They have a sort of tie dyed look, which.... for some reason, I seem to be attracted to. (See this previous post.) The brown center cone on some of the flowers appears as though it is wearing a delicate crown around the outside edge....as seen in the bottom flower in the above photo.

This second photo shows some of the tightly packed flower buds, which are attractive in their own right. I look forward to this plant growing into it's full height and stature in the next couple of years. It it quite winsome, and has definitely secured a place in my perennial garden.


Since Helenium also goes by the name Helen's Flower, I am dedicating this post to Helen...
my sweet sister-in-law. :-)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Butterfly on Coneflower

I was taking some photos of a few new flowers in my garden yesterday, when this butterfly caught my eye. It was checking out the Coneflowers and I got the chance at just one shot.....before it quickly fluttered away again.

I am not sure what type this is....but it's not one I see often here. Can anyone identify it for me?

Coneflowers are always a favorite of the butterflies.....and me. :-)
I love the fact that they come into bloom just about the time when I am hauling cartloads of spent flowers out of the garden!


Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Passion for Pollen

I am always pleased each year when the Cosmos begin to bloom. It is the classic summer flower!

This bee looked to be quite smitten with this pink Cosmos bloom, and was tightly hugging the center of the flower. :-)


The family reunion is over, and it went beautifully. We have spent some time this week at our favorite campground upriver, in our very favorite campsite, on a bend of the river.....with the sound of rushing water relaxing us in the day and lulling us to sleep at night. It has been wonderful therapy, after some very busy weeks!