Thursday, January 29, 2009

Winter Blahs

I blame my absence from the blogosphere on these northeast winters. I blame a lot of things on them. Here's a list of things I blame on northeast winters:

1) Increase in body fat.
2) Aching joints.

4) Seasonal Affective Disorder.
5) Short tempers.

6) (Too much snow.)
7) Rod Blagojevich.
8) Cheesy inventions.
9) Frost heave.

10) (Weird gardening seminar speakers.)


Friday, January 23, 2009

"Pot" party?

There was a note in the church bulletin a couple weeks ago inviting folks to a "pot"ing party. A nice little witty invite for folks to come and help re-pot some houseplants (or should they be called churchplants?). I showed up on the scheduled day only to find one other volunteer, and there were quite a few plants to tend to.

My assistant had to leave after about an hour, and I was left all alone. It didn't seem like it took as long as it did, but after about four hours the task was complete and the churchplants looked much happier.

Zone 5 winter

Can you help me identify this plant? My wonderful editor at the paper says it's a petunia tree. She got it from her mother who lives in Texas.

Here's a close-up of one of the leaves.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Talk of...

It's said never to discuss politics or religion with friends and family. But I often ignore the warning. Having said that, you can leave now if you've already heard enough about the historical significance of today's presidential inauguration.

Thousands of people are gathered in Washington waiting for the noontime swearing in of our country's next president. What do you think is on everyone's mind? Will this moment in time be remembered as the beginning of real change or mere hyperbole? In other words, are you a pessimist or an optimist?

Some kids from a public high school in the Bronx wrote poems for Barack Obama asking him about his promise of change. Listening to them, I'm not sure if it's pessimism I'm hearing, or uncertainty. Probably the latter.

And yet, I often feel cynical at times: A vendor was selling $30 hoodies on the mall in Washington this morning; the inauguration ceremony itself is costing us millions of dollars more than other inaugurations; the world is "hot, flat, and crowded."

Personally, I prefer to have a positive outlook, but do find it hard to maintain. I'm well aware that you can't change a leopard's spots, but I'm also aware of selective breeding. We do it all the time; think of all the hybrid varieties of flowers we have to choose from.

Spring will come, and with it, new growth.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Friday, January 16, 2009

Does "organic" infer "costly to buy?"

I've been busy this week. The kind of busy that I like; lots of writing about gardening and related stuff. Some of these writings can be less than a hundred words, which is more or less the word count you'll usually find in many of my blog posts.

If you would allow me the courtesy to direct your attention away from this blog for just a few minutes, I'd like to get your opinion about organic gardening, but first you need to read my post in another forum: Click here. Don't worry, it's not a long drawn out thing, but I will say it's longer than a hundred words. Read the comments from others to help you form your own opinion (and the title of my post).

The creators of The Organic Gardeners forum are friends of mine and I've known Doug Oster and Jessica Walliser for several years. Both have inspired me to become more attentive to the organic side of things in the garden. But I think more needs to be done to dispel the quandary that some associate with organic gardening/farming/living or organic anything. I'm considering buying Jeff Gillman's book, The Truth About Organic Gardening, but realize it would be only one of many tools I could use to help me glean a better understanding of what it means to be an organic gardener. Whether you realize it or not dear readers, you too are included in my tool chest.

My article for next week's newspaper column will touch on the above dilemma. And If I can get a few of your thoughts about it, I'd love to include them in what I say. Don't feel rushed, but I'd like to have your view on the matter as soon as possible, say, by Sunday?

And of course, if all you prefer to do is read my post, or not read it and just look at the pictures, that's fine too. Commenting is always optional.


(Please do me a favor and in your comments, tell me if you like/dislike/are neutral about my music player, and whether or not you like the comment box as a pop-up window, full page, or embedded below the post. Thanks!)

Fully open

Severe weather warning loudspeakers?

Should this snow be removed from the shrubs?

Sunday, January 11, 2009


We've got a lot of snow since Friday, 8 or 9 inches I'd guess. It's accumulated to the point where I can't get to the outhouse. And as you can clearly see, that's a good thing because I can't imagine what would happen to my butt cheeks should I sit on something as cold as what's pictured!

My paternal grandparents had a three-seater; two adult sized openings, and one for little tykes and tots (I bravely sat on the adult sized seat once) . I have vivid memories of not wanting to use the outhouse, but having no other options, forced myself and overcame the fear of red wasps and mud daubers who found it the ideal summer nesting site.

I have no memories of "Little Granny's" garden, mostly due to the fact that my interest and love of gardening didn't kick in until I was in my late 20's and early 30's. By then, I was mostly on my own, out and away from family and their gardens.

Winters here in the northeast are always a struggle for me. I struggle to find a pleasing and different method of photographing snow scenes; I struggle to find beauty in the photos of other bloggers' snow scenes; I stuggle to get some semblance of spring when temperatures are in the teens and snow is knee deep, and on and on, blah blah blah.

It appears that I've become obsessed
with the progress of this amaryllis.

This is how it looks today.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

New Year Rant

I just listened to one of Joe Lamp'l's podcasts and in it he "shares his insights into the many virtues of seed catalogs," plus there's an interview with Susan Harris from the Garden Rant blog.

I thought Joe brought up some good points regarding seed catalogs, and if you've been getting your share of them in the mail, you should click on the podcast link in the first sentence and listen to what Joe has to say.

After Joe's nice little spiel, he interviews Ms. Susan about her "successful" blog which prompted me to post the following comment:

What constitutes a “successful” blog? Success at what in particular? Having lots of comments? I see a type of clique among bloggers, not sure if it’s good or bad. I’ve commented on GR numerous times, not because I expect anyone from GR to visit my blog and leave a comment, but just because I felt prompted to comment about what was posted. I’ve yet to have any of the four “ranters” comment on one of my posts, again, not that I expect it, but it’d be right courteous of one of them to do so. I’ve scolded Felder Rushing numerous times for just this reason. He says he’s just too busy and doesn’t have time, or that there’s just too many others he’d have to comment on if he were to comment on mine. C’mon Felder! and others who say they don’t have time; how long does it take to type “thanks for the good words,” or “interesting post,” or some other short greeting?

Now, I’ll get down off this soap box and open up my latest catalog!

I can hardly wait for spring! I'm gettin mouthy from bein cooped up too long already!

Can you name this flower?
(It's 28" tall!)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Good Times

They must come to an end, in order that there be a beginning to future ones I suppose.

My oldest son, Benjamin, had a safe trip back to Kentucky and now I'm readjusting to the emptiness he left behind. My two youngest are quickly filling the void, as they have in the past and will continue to do in the future when this happens again, that is until our nest is completely empty (something I don't care to think about). Is it selfish of me to want my children to remain with me forever? Is it any more or less selfish if a gardener wants the growing season to last 365 days a year?

Gardening catalogs make it all the more difficult during winter. So far I've received the following spring 2009 catalogs: Bluestone Perennials, Johnny's Selected Seeds, Burpee Gardening, Plant Delights Nursery (the "MAD" magazine of gardening catalogs), and Jung Seeds & Plants. These are only the beginning of the deluge.

What helps you make it through sad times? Or perhaps you're the type that isn't bothered by such frailties of the human spirit. I think I've gotten a little more thick-skinned over the years, and yet just thinking about my children leaving home causes a feeling of gloom. Maybe I've not hardened all that much after all. (Surviving zone 5 winters is just as gloomy, if not more so.)

I wore something out of the ordinary the other night when The Doghouse Three gave a little mini-concert at a local coffee shop. Well, out of the ordinary for me anyway; a light green sweater-vest over a long-sleeved white shirt. I could've swore my wife told me it made me look 10 years younger; she denied saying that. Oh well, it felt good to imagine it for a while anyway.

Here's an aside: guess what flower and/or tree is pictured.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Thursday, January 1, 2009


I felt obliged to show y'all another picture.
(Ignore my lame attempt at red eye correction)