The Lightly Frosted Garden in January

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Tree textures: curly willow (Salix) and Doug fir (Pseudotsuga).
It is not a bad thing‚ÄĒat least in my mind‚ÄĒto wake up to a frozen world outside.
Just a few of my many houseplants in my office/plant room.
With the cold comes sunshine and I can embrace them both so long as the heater is working.
Pieris japonica ‘Valley Valentine’.
With a warm coat and several layers of clothing you’re likely to find me outside now looking around.
Spiderweb frozen in time on a Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’.
Ok, maybe this is a gentle time during the winter for us and I have to admit that I’m more inclined to giggle at the things I’m seeing rather than groaning about the wet muddiness of it all. (That is if I am not cursing the cold. I’m not perfect.)
Clematis cirrhosa ‘Freckles’.
Seeing the blue sky all day warms my heart. I adore the color blue and all that it represents.
Even the ivy that’s considered an invasive plant seems somewhat more tame and delicate with a dusting of the cold frozen dampness.
An Epiphyllum I grew from seed.

Indoors the houseplants are still growing. I sit beside them working while I too bask in the warmth from the heater and I take advantage of the lights intended for their growth.

Some old homes don’t have a lot of windows to let the light in, but I make do.

When You’re Not Really in the Garden

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These last 3 weeks I’ve meant to be here more, and I’ve meant to be in my garden, but the medical requirement to walk 15-20 miles per week has been taking up a lot of my time.
Just a few weeks back, I had the pleasure of walking 6 miles during a really great thunderstorm. Yes, this was classic Portland in the spring.
From the Hawthorne District, I could look back and see where I’d come from and at this point I was a bit worried about the rain that was coming. (Mt Tabor is the green hill you can see far off in the distance.)
By the time the rain started to pour, I was already well on my way home.
Wet and cold, the sky continued to darken but the sunset was nice that night.
Rosa ‘Golden Showers’.
When I go on my walks, as I round the corner for home, I can now see my roses blooming more and more frequently. Sometimes I think of my garden as one big neon billboard exclaiming some really colorful person lives here. I like it this time of year as the jungle begins to take over and there is a different world outside my window.
Oftentimes I see gardens that I think look nice, but are too patterned. I might have a jungle, but these lines really fascinate me because they boggled my brain a bit. I’d rather have a jungle.
Always before reaching home I wander the reservoir at Mount Tabor Park to get in some extra miles. It is such a beautiful place to walk. I walk over the hill you see there in the background and reach home that way. It is such a wonderful place to live.
This past Sunday I walked to the store to purchase ingredients for a lemon tart I was making for a party later that evening and I ran into what I later discovered was a swarm of bees. It was just waiting here until the group could determine where to go. What an amazing thing to watch. One moment it was there, the next it was gone. I wish I could have seen them at the moment when they all flew away.

Later that same day, after the tart was partially completed, I walked over to Portland Nursery to purchase some heirloom tomato plants from myself and a friend. Along the way I spotted this old mattress frame being used as a trellis support. This isn’t exactly my style, but I do love its lines and conical rust-colored squiggles as the grid floats there in the air.

Yes, I am sure this post is a bit random, but when you’re not really in the garden, so often you are, aren’t you?

√ą arrivato l’autunno! And darkness is falling…

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Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) from the bedroom window.

Due to my seed collecting and my husband’s grape harvesting, bottling, and pressing, for us autumn is when we return to our roots. It’s when I begin to feel like cooking again and it’s when I return to my Catholic past. From now until Easter we’ll cover all of the holidays with food and friends. Once Easter hits though it’s back to the “fields” for both of us. (I still have 4 weeks though before Mr B returns home for winter from California. That’s when the kitchen really gets going!)

Burst of gold from the bedroom window. That’s our old garage behind the house and beside it is our overgrown willow ¬†arbor. (This is what happens when you break your pruning fingers.)

This year I will be making one last road trip to the San Francisco Bay area and I will be taking everyone along with me again. Believe it or not blogging along the way makes the traveling a bit less lonely. And trust me, the Redwoods in the rain and fog can be very scary even for this girl from the heavily forested Pacific Northwest.

Looking into the heart of the Cyclamen.

Before I leave I still have so much work to do and that’s why my blogging has been a bit slow. At least the Ikebana work has been picking up thanks to my enrollment in a course. My teacher is a wonderful woman I met over 20 years ago when I worked with her husband as an ESL helper for Japanese exchange students. He is also a much loved Buddhist minister and it was such an honor to me that he came to our class solely to say “Hello” to me on my first day. I am still smiling about that! Glowing really.

Perennial Impatiens arguta.

Autumn has had a few surprised for me in the garden too. With the onslaught of a lot of rain, my perennial¬†Impatiens¬†has gone crazy with bloom after bloom. It is so beautiful to see such delicate jewels just before it’s the end of the season. The lilac is so unlike so many of the other fall colors but I don’t mind a bit.

I couldn’t help but chuckle a bit when this box arrived on my doorstep. It’s full of dried plant material for crafts, as well as heat sealable teabags and dried kelp for making compost teabags.

There are all of the last minute craft projects too that I have been planning for my shop. Some are things I have always wanted to sew, like sachet bags, and some are new ideas, like bath time teabags with fresh local dried hops and honeycomb extract from France. Sounds tasty too, right?

Dried Praying mantis.

Autumn is also the time we have to say goodbye to things we find beautiful until the next season, and when I found this amazing specimen dried between my exterior and interior window today, it saddened me and I felt a little tear well up in my eye, but there will be more Praying mantis bugs in my garden next year. Until then, it’s a little bit of feasting around these parts…

Ogghiu di ‘n summa, vinu di ‘mmenzu e meli di ‘n funnu.
“The choice oil is from the surface, the best wine is from the middle,
and the best honey is from the bottom.”‚ÄĒSicilian saying

(I tend to practice my Italian this time of year too by singing a lot out of boredom so here’s a little Italian pop music courtesy of my favorite Italian singer¬†Jovanotti. The first one is a corny love song, the second is a classic funny song about love, and then the last one is s new “magic happy” song I am kind of really into right now and the foster kids seem to love it because it’s bouncy:¬†Baciami Ancora,¬†Bella¬†&¬†La notte dei desideri).

 

How My Garden Grew into a Jungle

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When we left for California on May 31st the garden needed to be weeded, but it wasn’t really growing much yet. Funny how that can all change in a week if you add just a tiny bit of heat and rain! When I drove into the driveway late on Wednesday night I was a bit overcome by all of the flowers. When did that happen?

Clematis¬†‘Josephine’.

After my father-in-law picked up my husband in Ukiah, I headed back to Oregon along Highway 101. I’d wanted to get in some more time with nature, but due to a tumble I took beside the Smith River, I chose to come home one day earlier than I’d originally planned. Glad I did too since the house may have been eaten by green if I’d waited any longer.

Clematis ‘Josephine’ climbing up one side of the living willow arbor.
Clematis ‘Lincoln Star’.

Yesterday I had a lot to do, but first, I took my morning coffee out back to the garden and took in the sights while watching the youngest cat, Mona, rejoice in my return. The two Clematis vines in bloom really made my day because the neck pain from the whip last was really excruciating. (Yes, you can get whip lash from falling and I recommend that all gardeners be careful when doing wobbly tasks.) I am so happy to see my garden smiling as it were again. It really made me smile a bit myself too.

Night Blooming Phlox (Zaluzianskya capensis) with pollenating friend.
Later in the day I went back out to catch the Night Blooming Phlox when it opened. I was happy to see that an insect was happily doing its job. Adding back some night bloomers should really work wonders this year for insects and I am excited to see how that works out.
Night Blooming Mona the Cat enjoying new boxes brought home from my most recent road trip to California. Along the route back I purchased a lot of vintage items for my Etsy shops and I suppose she thinks this was her souvenir.

Now if I can only fix the mess I have to clean up outside. Luckily, my favorite garden worker bee will be here this weekend and I know she will be ready to get to work.