Saturday, October 20, 2007

Using those grapevines....

I made a grapevine Christmas tree today. I actually started it yesterday, but ran out of vines and had to stop, go hunt down more vines, pull it from the trees, untangle it, cut it, coil it up, and put it into a trough to soak overnight. This tree is about 38 inches tall and took a lot of grapevine. The frame is just a tomato cage. Starting at the bottom, wire the first bit of vine to the lowest circle at each of the splines. Keep wrapping around, using additional wire to hold in place as needed. The center section didn't need as much wiring, but once I got to the top, I needed to wire it some more because the vines kept wanting to slip off. After the first layer, I went ahead and rewrapped it to completely hide the cage and to thicken it up. The second layer did not require any wiring, just tucking the vine. It is quite heavy, but once it dries and cures it will be a bit lighter. It took me around 2 1/2 hours to make this, not including retrieval of the vines. I think it turned out very nice!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Some red for YOU!

A few days ago there was no sign of this brilliant red. We got a bit of rain and over night they have turned. It is spectacular I tell you!
The Maple trees around it are yellow and green and the nearby Walnut trees are completely bare now. Tulip Poplar is still shades of green and yellow. Choke Cherry is a fading green. We are lucky to also have a few very mature Pine trees that will give lots of color throughout the dreary drab gray winter months.
Here's a couple of buzzards sitting in one of our trees out back. They don't normally hang out there and I wouldn't normally take a picture of them. It was unusual to see them there though, so thought I would share them with you.
My beautiful Toad Lilies are still blooming their little heads off. This is the best show that I have ever gotten from them and I am loving it!

Saturday, October 13, 2007


One of our sons spotted this out in the yard. This is the first I have seen them up topside. Usually we find them at the bottom of the hill, usually way past their prime. I am considering plucking it from the ground, slicing and cooking it up today. I have heard that they are really yummy and it looks prime for picking.
Here is another one that has already split open. It is not good for picking now.
Here is a look at some of the leaves that have fallen so far. I am hoping to rake some and run them through the shredder, but may just leave them whole and just rake them directly into the flower beds.
The colors of the leaves are very beautiful. Due to the drought this year, the only leaf colors we are getting are the ones on the ground. Most of our trees are still green, dropping a few leaves at a time. They seem to be changing color on their way down.

Friday, October 12, 2007


I almost stepped on this little guy while bringing my plants indoors yesterday.

Just a little thing, it snapped at my shoe when I nudged it with my toe. He wasn't more than 8 or 9 inches long. I went and got a leather glove and picked it up. After picking it up, it quit trying to bite me and instead wrapped itself around my fingers. Not being a "snakeologist" nor a fan of snakes period, I didn't know what kind it is. I certainly would never ever pick up a snake without a leather glove. Too gross for me. I did touch it with my ungloved hand away from the head. I placed in one of my flower beds where I wouldn't step on while dragging my plants into the house. I looked in my papers and found that it is most likely a Milk Snake. Harmless and can't really bite. It is a constrictor, which is why it wrapped itself around my finger, it thought it would try to squeeze the life out of me! I hope it catches lots of mice and other critters.

Here is a small portion of the plants that I brought in. These are in the front window, the rest are scattered throughout the house. I have Jasmine, Pineapple, Orchid, Hydrangea, Spider Plants, Jade, common Geranium, Coleus, Sweet Potato Vine cuttings, Elephant Ears, Philodendron, Poinsettias, and a few others. The Poinsettias (a regular red one and a Da Vinci, which has pink bracts) have begun spending their nights in the closet for a couple of months to try to get the bracts to grow. I tried this last year, but wasn't able to keep it up for the required amount of time, so no color. As a gardener though, I have faith that if I try, try again, it will happen.

Gardeners are always so optimistic, aren't they?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Fall planting and transplanting...

I've been doing a lot of planting lately. I did a trade with someone in New Jersey. I sent her a couple of my Toad Lilies, a Candy Lily, and a Red Bud tree seedling. In return I got two Rhododendrons and a Boxwood. She didn't know what color the Rhodo flowers are, but that is okay. So I planted the Rhodos in the large pine tree bed outside our bedroom window and the Boxwood out front near the driveway along the future stone path. I am looking forward to the Boxwood growing and giving us some winter greenery out front.

I also received a large box of plants in the Plant Traders fall swap. Loads and loads of plants! Here is a list of what I received:

Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium)

2 pink flowering Coral Bells (Heuchera)

Geranium Sanguine

Sedum Angelina

Sedum 'Coral Reef'

Heuchera 'Palace Purple'

Sedum 'Kamtschaticum'

Euphorbia myrsinites

Sedum spurium

Kenilsworth Ivy

Linaria Purpurea

Hyssop oficinalis

Sedum 'Blue Spruce'

Woolly Thyme

Clematis viticella 'Venosa Violacea' cuttings

Lungwort (polmonaria)

Caryopteris (Blue Mist Shrub)

Salvia 'May Night'

There were also several packs of seeds and bulbs. I got all of the plants into the ground, but have not touched any bulbs yet. I have others than need to go into the
ground too, but I am waiting on a bit of rain to soften the ground first. I have Chiondoxia, Hyacinth, Daffodils, Poppy Anemones, and Grape Muscari.

Besides all of that, I have many things that I would like to move out of their current locations. Maybe they have already outgrown the location, or maybe they aren't getting the optimum amount of light, or maybe they aren't as visible where they are now. This too is waiting on some much needed rain to soften the ground and make the transition easier for the plants.

I am already excited about next year's growing season, the colors of Spring, how well everything should grow with the addition of compost, some things being in the ground for over 2 years now should be taking off... So much to look forward to. I know probably next fall I will have to expand, I know I have over planted some of the beds already, but you really can't have too plants can you? Just not enough space!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Getting down to the nitty-gritty of fall

It's that time of year...when it still feels like summer, but it certainly doesn't look it. The leaves are changing colors or just plain falling to the ground. Walnuts litter the lawn, making it dangerous to walk for fear of twisting an ankle. Flowers are being pulled and tossed onto the compost pile. New perennials are put into the ground. And a few trucks loads full of well composted horse manure all around.
Most of the flower beds here are very compacted. The plants grow poorly and it isn't soil - you gardeners know what I mean. It's just plain dirt. My brother is lucky enough to know someone with horses who has a couple of piles of horse manure compost to get rid of, since he needs to make a couple new ones. I got 3 truck loads and it only made a dent in one of his piles. These have been sitting for approximately 2 years cooking and seem to be real nice black gold now.
3 truck loads was a lot and made a dent in my flower beds, but really, I could've used one more. I had enough for 8 flower beds, but I didn't get to finish one bed and I have some other beds away from the house that could have used some, but those beds "aren't as important", meaning, they aren't where I keep any prized plants. The plants I get that I don't love, maybe just like, or one's that I've accepted because someone is giving them away, but I don't really want them...just don't want them to get tossed. You know what I mean?

So, the "important" beds are done. Now I am waiting for the leaves to turn and drop. Then the next big chore, raking and running them through the chipper/shredder and putting them on the beds. If you have never used a chipper/shredder, let me tell you, it is a lot of fun. I will be sure to post some pictures of it in action.