Monday, November 29, 2010

My new toy.

Yes. I broke down. At 5:35am on Friday morning, I was standing in line at the store to pay for my $29 vacuum cleaner.

Did I need a new ShopVac? No. But I couldn't resist. I had taken to borrowing Carla's. I justified the purchase by thinking of all the cat hair I'd be removing rather than scattering from corner to corner. I wouldn't have to move the big fern and found table base in the dining room to clean behind it.

And around all those table and chair legs. You know how long it takes to get the table re-centered under the light?

The tropicals that were in the dining room had to be moved. They needed more light. So I hauled them to the office. I don't want to move that container again until spring.

Even the "free" black rack from the store has a bit of Christmas cheer. I couldn't resist a Norfolk Pine. I've always wanted one. The rack actually cost $1. We have to pay for anything we take, and that's the least amount they will take. It would have been recycled with the pallets if I had let it go. I saved it.

It's the little things, like a clean house, that make days off worth it. Obsessive? Not at all. It's more therapy. I've moved on from gardening until spring. I can't think of anything I want or need to move. No, really.

It's 45 degrees outside. Something went wrong with the lights around the roof last night. I've got to get back up there and figure out what's the matter. Or I might just leave the switch off and deal with it later in the week when it's warmer. I need to bring wood into the basement too. Rain expected the next two days.

Maybe a nap first.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I've changed my mind.

I spent half the day decorating. I did the windowboxes.

Hung the wreath on the front door with a few additions.

The real show comes after dark.

Even the ficus got wrapped.

The front door glows.

Merry Christmas. Bah-humbug.

Two Days Off.

I had planned to sleep in this morning. Really. I did. But at 7:15, after laying in bed awake for more than half an hour, I got up. The third cup of coffee is about to be started. The second cup was cooled quickly on a stroll through the yard. The neighbors probably "wonder bout that boy."

Right outside the basement door, the pineapple sage continues on. I guess the concrete is warm enough to protect from even a hard freeze.

There is ice on the birdbath.

The brugs are done. If I were planning to take any more cuttings, I would do it today before the sun really hits them. But I don't need any more. I have enough for a couple of containers in the spring. Just in case I need to take them with me.

The cannas are done too. I may dig a couple of these to pot with the brugs. Maybe a chunk of grass too. I should probably start looking for huge containers.

My agave survived the summer and put out a new "leaf". I should probably google the proper term. I'm hoping the rocks protect it this winter. It's marginally hardy here. However, the parent plant survived last winter and three weeks of below freezing temperatures. I should be okay.

Confederate Rose did manage to bloom.

Okra just doesn't know when to quit.

The hosta are gone.

This summer, I tucked three rooted gardenias along the property wall in the front yard. They're doing well. I hope they don't suffer any burn this year. I'd like to see some flowers soon.

It's 39 degrees. I'm gonna need a ladder for today's activities. More on that later.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

I've never been a fan of pansies.

It doesn't make an attractive man. And I've never really cared for the flowers. So I bought 36 of these.

And a hanging basket of these.

At first, I was like, meh.

A little manipulation.

I like these pansies.

They'll be planted tomorrow.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Rhythm Is Gonna Get You.

The last four days have pretty much stripped all but the oak trees. Even the Muskogee only has a few hanging on. It was like that all the way to my parents' house. We did our normal Thanksgiving thing. We went out for buffet. We'll cook at Christmas.

The seasons are changing again. We're falling into winter. Nights are cold, hovering just above freezing. People are shopping. Tomorrow is Black Friday. This weekend will be our busiest time yet under my watch in the garden center. I'm anxious about it.

I've been through this before as a Specialist. Now, I have to carry us through as both the Specialist and the Department Manager. They still haven't hired my replacement. So I've done it already. I know what comes next. Just like in the garden, the mums arrive in early September if we're lucky. In late August, they just fry on the tables in the heat. You can't water them enough.

Pansies start to trickle in the first week of October. After that, it's a full on assault by growers. Just as it's starting to slow down, the Christmas trees arrive. Yes, we move all those concrete blocks by hand, most of them twice. You have to put it down so you can pick up another one. And that's where we are today.

The trees are here. We've had ours since Saturday. The poinsettias are hopefully still as beautiful down the two main aisles as they were when we left Wednesday night after midnight. I'll find out at 6am.

In all that, there are cycles. Each season leads to another. Christmas was on the shelf in October. We'll do another reset just as Christmas is passing on the calendar. Spring will arrive in January. New mowers will be there in February. Dianthus. YES!

So there's a countdown I'm doing. I just want Christmas over. It's not because of family or work. It just means that spring will be coming soon. January is New Years and a week or two of really cold weather. February is planting time for spinach and snow peas. Dusty Miller is available from the nurseries. Pallets stacked three high line the outside of the garden center. There's stone, mulch, soil, whatever we need. Petunias? YES!!!!

Then it hits. The 100 days of Hell. I'm looking forward to it.

So I'm not really celebrating Christmas with a lot of ornamentation at the house this year. I'm just not in the mood. I've been surrounded by it daily for weeks already. But in the spirit of things, I'll show the past two years' trees.



I might do the windowboxes again this year. I just need to collect some free trimmings from the store.

Laura reminded me that it was Chocolate Covered Cherry Season. My mom sent me home with nine boxes. She says I'm too skinny.

I don't think so.

Yeah. I had to do some shopping last week. I hate shopping. I hate trying on clothes. But as the seasons change, last year's wardrobe doesn't fit. I bought a lot of flannel. It's going to be a cold winter, I think. I'm so ready for spring. 114 days.

Monday, November 22, 2010

More fall sightings.

The Muskogee Crape Myrtle never bloomed, but the best color comes in the fall.

Brugmansia continues to bloom.

The leaves of forsythia match the house.

Red and orange can be found in the "tender" annuals Tithonia and Salvia splendens.

Next, we have the camellias. My C. sasanquas didn't bloom again this year.

It's 52 degrees. I've got to move some firewood today. I keep thinking I should chop down all the dead things in the garden. Clean and tidy, I like blank slates. But this year, I'm enjoying watching it fall naturally. There's beauty in the cycles. Next year's larkspur is already up.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Another beautiful morning. It's 52 degrees and sunny. There's firewood to haul into the basement. I've already planted my Lemon Cypress and pansies in the pot by the garage door. It'll be moved to the front porch soon. I'm working tonight. Maybe I'll take a nap.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Laundry. A little cleaning. Splitting more wood this afternoon. It's 37 degrees.

More blooms.

Golden Showers is also reblooming. She got a little nipped last night by the light frost.

I took another one of these this morning.

A vignette. I like the layers of color.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bright and Shiny.

When I went to bed last night, it was muggy and warm. It was only 59 degrees, but it rained. And boy did it rain. The lightning flashed and the thunder rolled. This morning, the air is cool and crisp at 51 degrees. We'll get into the 70s today with 30s tonight.

Lots of leaves are still hanging on. It's windy today. They won't last long.

The sky is that beautiful Carolina Blue people write songs about.

The cabbage, collards, and broccoli are doing well. They must have enjoyed the rains.

There are figs that will never ripen.

Confederate Rose might have enough time.

Lots of aphids on the Butterfly Weed.

Today and tomorrow I'll spend most of my time splitting wood. It's going to be a long winter.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A day late.

Yesterday was bloom day, but I didn't show any. I was waiting for this.

There's frost damage, but they're still blooming. If the rains come today, more will open tonight. It should have been raining already. It's a very warm and humid 59 degrees.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Early Morning.

It's a special time of day. Click to embiggen.

It's 36 degrees. Laundry is half done. The ceiling fans have been cleaned. I remember talking on the phone. The next thing I knew, it was 5am. I made coffee and did last night's dishes. It's been a wonderful day so far. There's still plenty of time for something to screw it up.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

After work.

That's a good time to take a walk around the yard. I've been closing a lot lately, so I tend not to do this at midnight. The neighbors already think I'm odd even if they like me. But today, I was home just after 4pm. I made some coffee and took a walk. I rarely use the kitchen door, but today it struck me as a good place to start.

The colors are evident just by looking down.

And up.

There is something around every corner.

Some things demand closer inspection.

The Thundercloud plum will someday fill the understory with purple.

Even the Muskogee Crape Myrtle has finally decided to change. I've moved this tree four times now. I like the current location. At the base of it, there's flowering quince, mint, and nandinas. We'll see what survives.

Further back, the Pokeweed has succumbed to the recent frosts.

The Eastern redbuds hang on.

It's worth looking back.

There's something about the way the light plays with the colors.

But some colors still scream, even in the shade.

Across the street, it makes a nice photo if you crop it properly.

The trail of gold and the orange and yellow sky detract from the ugly porch and chain link fence. Winter is a hard time to visit this side of the house.

It's 66 degrees. I did not get my compost on Friday. I tuckered out. I will do that soon. Rain in the forecast Monday and Tuesday night. Lows in the 50s. We're not expecting another frost tonight at 39. My hands are numb.