Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year Wishes

I can hardly believe another month has gone by...and with nary a post to this blog! It has been a busy month, with preparations for the holidays..... including several handmade projects I made as gifts. (more on that in a later post?)

The above photo was taken on December 6th. I was fascinated to see the cloud formation, which was quite unusual for a Winter sky. Anyone have a name for these type of clouds?


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


It is officially time to get out the seed catalogs that have been stacking up, and do some serious shopping! :-)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

First Snowfall

Our first snowfall arrived on November 22nd this year. As always, it prompts me to pull on my boots and venture out for a few photos. After all, it is an event! We have had several snows since then, adding up to about 6 inches, and it is softly falling even as I write.

Heritage Rose, with the mountain as a backdrop.

A snow-laden rose bud.

Black-eyed Susan seed for the birds!

Autumn Joy Sedum.... still looking good!

Orange Calendula....bravely blooming beyond the frost.

A pair of Black-Eyed Susans......yellow petals still intact.

There is much to appreciate about the flowers that hold on, to give us a spot of color...... long after the Petunias and Zinnias have disappeared!


"He giveth snow like wool....." Psalm 147:16

It is compared to wool for its whiteness, and its softness; it falls silently, and makes no more noise than the fall of a lock of wool; it covers the earth, and keeps it warm like a fleece of wool, and so promotes its fruitfulness. See how God can work by contraries and.... can warm the earth with cold snow. ~ Matthew Henry

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Squash Harvest 2010

It was another good squash year.....which makes me smile, because Winter squash is one of our favorite vegetables around here!

This season's harvest, all lined up in their beautiful colors. These were picked on October 17th....we received our first frost later that night.

Squash posing in front of Steve's garden......with the beautiful backdrop of Cut and Come Again Zinnias in the background. This garden space needed a little something to beautify it, so I made the little bark area, surrounded by smooth river rocks and added the cobalt blue birdbath and pots. I was very pleased with it, except that by the time this photo was taken the petunias in the pots were pretty well exhausted, so next year I will have something waiting in the wings to pop into the blue pots....maybe some fall asters?

Sweet Meat Squash, on the left, are so pretty in their bluish green hues. It is one of our all time favorites for it's sweet, dry, orange flesh. The orange squash, on the right, is called Sunshine, the only hybrid I grow. It is also a favorite, especially for it's earliness. If I pick the fruits early enough, I can get two crops from this variety.

Bumpy and warted Marina de Chioggia. I grew these for the first time last year, and found that they improve in storage, so we will eat them last!

This odd looking squash is called Galeux D'eysines. I grew these at the request of my friend Catherine who supplied the seeds. The days to maturity is 105, and her growing season is too short for them to mature in her area. Does this make me a surrogate gardener? :-)

This is the catalog description from Territorial Seeds: " An elegant French heirloom with an appropriately elegant sounding name. Magnifique! This stunning squash has beautiful salmon-peach colored skin covered with peanut shell-like warts caused by sugar in the skin. Traditionally used in France for soups and sauces, when cooked, the sweet orange flesh is as smooth as velvet. Each flattened squash weighs 10-15 pounds and can store for up to 6 months. Definitely a show stopper in the garden or on the table. " I might add that the vines are very prolific and outgrew my garden....until the deer pruned them off for me.

Two different types of Butternut squash, to the right in the photo above, rounded out the line-up for this year. We love them for the sweet, smooth, dry flesh.... and because one is just the right size to pop in the oven for the two of us.

While pulling up squash vines, I found this adorable little nest of Quail eggs, hidden beneath the vines. We have lots of Quail here, and they are like pets. We love watching them peck around with their cute little top feathers bobbing!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cosmos: A Cottage Garden Classic

Cosmos have to be one of the best cottage garden flowers of all time! The classic daisy-like flowers, their light and ferny foliage, and the way the flowers gently sway in the breeze makes them a personal favorite in my garden.

We added some new flower beds last year, so I finally have the room...and the plant an expanse of Cosmos, instead of single plants here and there. How refreshing it has been to gaze out the window, as I wash dishes....and drink in the color and beauty of these humble flowers.

These were all grown from my own saved seed from 2008. I grew many different kinds that year. The seeds were all mixed in an envelope I had labeled "Cosmos - Pretty ones"......and pretty they are indeed!

There are many interesting bi-colors....this one with streaks of white. These are second generation plants, pollinated by bees, so it is always exciting to see what sort of colors nature produces.

View from the other direction, with the woodshed in the background. The foliage is almost as pretty as the flowers.

I particularly like these.... with their dramatic dark centers.

A pair of Cosmos Twins.

One with delicate darker edges makes an attractive looking flower.

I have grown these Seashell Cosmos in the past, but have never seen one with a pink edge like this....they are usually solid pink or white. Lovely!

A pink Cosmos with a hot pink center really accentuates the yellow eye.

Cosmos are wonderful in bouquets! I put together this one for my dear daughter's birthday on October 14th. I added Verbena Bonariensis and Queen Anne's lace , along with several fronds of curved Honeysuckle vine to give it some softness and movement. This bouquet traveled in the car for 3 hours, and still looked great when we arrived at her house.

Frost crystals give the above Cosmos flower an extra dimension of beauty. Our first frost arrived on October 17th.

Though several nights of frost turned my zinnias instantly brown and ended the life of my squash and tomato plants, these Cosmos....though not quite as bright as their former selves, are still bravely blooming this afternoon, October 31st. Gotta love a flower like that!


Monday, September 20, 2010

Green Grasshopper - Take 2

Now that fall has arrived, the grasshoppers are plentiful, and the crisp sounds of their hopping can be heard as I walk through the garden. I was taking photos of some flowers a few days ago when this green one caught my eye. For some reason the green ones seem to stand out to me, as seen by this earlier post.

This grasshopper is sunning himself (see below) on a piece of driftwood, next to one of my flower beds, with Cosmos and Verbena Bonariensis in the background.

Click on the photo for a larger view.


One of the most important aspects of the life of a grasshopper is the seasonal cycle. Every day plays an important role in the seasonal cycle. The grasshopper usually starts his day right after dawn by looking for a place to warm up from the colder temperatures overnight. Most grasshoppers turn one side to the sunlight for a while before turning the other side to the sun, so they can warm up. After about one or two hours lying in the sun, grasshoppers then start to walk around, look for mates, or feed. Grasshoppers tend to be less active on cold or rainy days because they are cold-blooded insects.

The grasshopper typically forages for food twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. All grasshoppers feed on different kinds of plants and have different ways of taking their plants apart to get food from them. Grasshoppers are very picky about what they eat, and they often use their antennae to taste the plant and decide if it's worth eating before they consume it.

When looking for a mate, grasshoppers communicate through physical motions and verbal sounds. Grasshoppers make sounds with their hind legs and wings, and they have small ears in the front section of their abdomen. They also use their wings and hind legs to flash messages to each other, using their complicated eye to gather the messages and interpret them.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Dilly Beans

I have done very little canning in the past several years, since our children grew up and left home. But this year....I just had a craving for some tangy, hot and spicy Dilly Beans! I grow the skinny French filet beans every year for fresh eating, but they are not good for canning, so I this year I ordered seed and planted two rows of green beans, just for the special purpose of making some Dilly Beans.

I picked this large bowl full of PROVIDER beans yesterday. The beans are thick and meaty, some over 6 inches long. I got them planted a bit late, because of our long rainy Spring, so they are just now coming into full production. They are growing next to a double row of 'Cut and Come Again' Zinnias in my garden, which provided the pretty backdrop for this photo.

The Pinetree Garden Seeds catalog tempted me with this description of PROVIDER beans;

"This is a popular stringless bean in New England. It is reasonably early on plants that are quite compact. Size is 5-6 inches and yield is good. Disease resistance is a strong point. The flavor is really different from other green beans and difficult to describe, maybe "beanier". This our bean of choice for making Dilly Beans. There are a number of strains of Provider, all pretty good, but we think this one from an Idaho grower is the best."

So, there you have it....good for Dilly Beans, and the fact that the seed came from an Idaho grower just helped to seal the deal for me! :-)

I had enough beans from one picking to make 7 quarts of delightful Dilly Beans, and some left over to snap for supper. They are very good for fresh eating as well. My hubby even commented on how great they tasted!


In case I have whetted your appetite, and you are now craving some Dilly Beans of your own, here is a link to get you started.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Garden Harvest

I thought I should share this photo to prove that, indeed, I do have a garden this year and it is spite of my infrequent posts to this blog! ;-)

I gathered this bounty from the garden last week, in my trusty stainless steel bowl: Cucumbers, Green Beans, Bell peppers and Mini Peppers, Summer Squash, Dill and several varieties of Tomatoes. In the background are two varieties of Rudbeckias I started early from seed this year....Cherry Brandy on the left (which I love for it's deep red color and darker centers) and Denver Daisy on the right. (Park Seed Co.)

Because of our long cool Spring, the garden is quite a bit later than usual, and now we have been experiencing an early fall. I'm not ready to say good-bye to summer.... but alas, it is drawing to a close. I am already making plans for next year's garden. That is the beauty of the is an ever changing palette for the creative ideas of the gardener. :-)


The first gatherings of the garden in May of salads, radishes and herbs made me feel like a mother about her baby - how could anything so beautiful be mine? And this emotion of wonder filled me for each vegetable as it was gathered every year. There is nothing that is comparable to it, as satisfactory or as thrilling, as gathering the vegetables one has grown.

~ Alice B. Toklas

Friday, August 13, 2010

Marinated Lamb Kabobs

This post is dedicated to my sister Darla, who has a food blog entitled In the Kitchen with Darla where she writes about the yummy new recipes she experiments with. I hope you will swing by and visit her there.

Tell her I sent you. :-)

We recently spent a weekend at our favorite campground upriver and we finally got to try something on the grill I have wanted to do for some time........Lamb Kabobs! I marinated the meat in Balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, lime juice, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper. I then skewered it with sweet onions, green and red peppers, and zucchini from my garden. Dear Husband cooked it on the grill, along with some fresh Corn on the cob, and it was wonderful.....a very satisfying and tasty outdoor meal!!


Poor, poor neglected blog!! I have had an extremely busy summer....with several weddings, a family reunion, a couple of camping weekends, four 3 hr trips to the dentist and lots of weeding, weeding, weeding in the garden. My health prevented me from gardening much last year, thus many weeds went to seed and multiplied..... exponentially! So I apologize for my lack of posts, and I will see if I can get back into a better routine here in blog-land!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Whimsical Planter and Brush Strokes Viola

Today I would just like to say a big THANK YOU to my readers who have stayed with me, in spite of my infrequent posts this past year. At present, I am working daily on getting my garden planted and weeded. We have had precious few days of sunshine as of yet, so when the weather settles the temps will likely soar. This seems to be a typical spring pattern for us here in our river valley. Notice how green our mountain is, in the below photo!

This old baby buggy frame was given to me by my sweet friend, Catherine a few years ago. I have used it with several combinations of flowers and containers, but this year has got to be my all time favorite! I made the wooden box to grow wheat grass in, for a Bridal shower. The mellow, weathered wood just seems to fit the old buggy. It is planted with Brush Strokes Viola, started from seed in January.

Here are some of their lovely faces, up close.

They are aptly named, as they really do look like they have been painted by an artist's brush!

There are both bold colors and some softer ones, like this yellow and lavender mix.

Another pot of Brush Strokes Viola, in an old iron planter on my porch, with Denim blue pansies as a backdrop.

A lovely flower from the above pot.....just look those stunning colors!


Gardening requires lots of water - most of it in the form of perspiration.

~Lou Erickson

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Pansy Love

Dear husband brought me home some flowers recently. Not the kind you put in a vase, or plant in the ground...... but these lovely little pansies!

Pansies are one of my favorite Spring flowers, so he scored big with these LOVE stamps!

It makes me want to sit down and write someone, just so I can affix one of these little sweeties to the envelope. :-)

And here is the real thing. Historic Mix Pansies I started from seed, around the first of the year, have been blooming now for several weeks. I couldn't resist adding a few to this small vintage green glass bottle. I liked the results! I can never go back to those huge floppy pansies sold at the nurseries and big box stores. These heirloom pansies are smaller, more delicate in size and coloring. Way back in the 1800's they were called "tufted pansies.' I love their various colors and shadings....and since they are open pollinated there can be some nice surprises. This particular one is lavender with a darker face, washed with a bronze cast. Best of all....seeds can be saved to start again next year!


In Victorian times, certain flowers had specific meanings. In the language of Flowers, Pansies stood for loving thoughts.

"I pray, what flowers are these? The pansy this, O, that's for lover's thoughts"

~ George Chapman

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Salad Season

It's that highly anticipated season of the year again.....Salad Season!

This beautiful mix is a favorite of mine, Pinetree Lettuce Mix. It was winter sown on January 10th, transplanted out in February, and kept covered with ventilated plastic on those early cold days and frosty nights. It has come through several Spring hail storms! Last week I began picking this lovely, delicious lettuce. It is so tender, that it actually tastes creamy to me. ( I know creamy is an unusual word to describe lettuce, but that is just how tender it is!) Early lettuce is always best, as heat tends to make it bitter. Summer often hits us rather quickly here, so getting an early start with the lettuce is something I always endeavor to do.... and the little bit of extra time and effort involved pays off!

This photo shows the full view of the self watering container I use to grow the lettuce in. The size of the container is about 6 ft long by 1 Ft. wide. We received two of these from a friend, who was cleaning out his back yard, and I LOVE them! The second container was just planted yesterday with two lettuces that can take more summer heat, Jericho and Anuenue. When the heat hits us, I enlist the help of dear husband to move the container to my deck, where it gets morning sun and afternoon shade.

A bowl full of freshly picked, sweet, succulent lettuce.

A close up of all the beautiful textures and colors!


Tip: Lettuce should be planted in full sun for the spring and fall, and in partial shade for the hottest part of the summer.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Spring Postcards from Idaho

Spring has come to our valley! A couple weeks ago we took a drive up the mountain to a nearby community to attend a funeral. I spotted this idyllic scene on the way up, so persuaded dear husband to stop for me on the way back down, grab a photo.

This is a view of the beautiful Clearwater Valley. I loved the resting cattle in the foreground and the grazing sheep in the background. (Click on the photo to enlarge)

Just before we approached the above scene, we were surprised to see this herd of Elk, on the opposite side of the road. Seeing Elk is always an occasion, and a good reason to pull over and stop the car! (Click on photo to enlarge)

And lastly, I leave you with a lovely Spring sunset .... captured from our deck. There wasn't much light left when this was taken, but I liked the effect of the mountain silhouette.


Happy Spring..... to everyone!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

My Own Dog Tooth Violets

One of the first wildflowers to cover the mountains here in Spring, is the Dog Tooth Violet. But there weren't any growing near our home, so two years ago I attempted to dig some up and transplant to a shady area beneath some pines in our yard. It was a good deal more challenging than I expected....because I had to dig really deep to coax the bulbs from the rocky soil, and it was difficult to lift them without breaking the roots. I wasn't at all sure that it would be a successful endeavor.

I am happy to say the operation was a success! Shown above is a close up of this cheerful yellow wildflower....growing in my very own yard.

They aren't very thick yet, like the ones on the hillsides, but I am hoping they will naturalize and spread, to cover the area. I do so love their appearance in early Spring, signaling the change of seasons.... and I am especially glad that I can now see them from my kitchen window. :-)


DOG'S-TOOTH VIOLET, Erythronium dens-cani

OBSERVERS of plants who endeavour to understand their names have usually a tough, task before them. Many names, indeed, carry their meanings in their faces, but many have no meaning at all; and, again, many are founded on such subtle distinctions or fanciful notions that it is not in the plant but in the mind of the no-menclator that we must seek for the coveted explanation. But whatever the vices of botanical terminology, there are many reasons why names intended to be descriptive should be founded on obvious characters that are displayed above ground. Here is a dog's-tooth violet, and the inquiring amateur may be led to search leaves and flowers for some resemblance to the dog's-tooth moulding that so often occurs in architecture, and may conclude at last that the spots on the leaves shadow forth the resemblance. But the dog's tooth is underground, and we must dig up the plant to make a proper study of its name. The bulbs of the plant are white, and in form not unlike dog's teeth.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Blessings

...Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
~1 Cor 15:57

Because I live, you will live also.
~John 14:19