Friday, April 29, 2011

An Exciting Friday Evening

I was just sitting at home, sewing some more flowers (this time as hair pins), watching an episode of Private Practice when I heard some commotion outside. I thought it was neighborhood hoodlums (although we don't really have any, so I'm not sure why I thought that) on the street. I got up and looked around, and seeing nothing, sat back down to my sewing. And then the commotion got louder. And then "bang!" I thought it was a gunshot. I realized then that the noise was coming from the back yard, and this is what I saw when I opened the back door:

A car on fire in the alley behind my house! I immediately called the fire department and then started taking pictures. Actually, by the time I was off the phone with the FD, most of the flames had been extinguished (the guys had a garden hose from the house behind the car), but it was still sparking and flaming underneath the car. By the time the FD arrived, the engine fire seemed to be mostly out, but the dash was burning.

So they got out their axes and literally hacked the dash out of the car to get at the remaining fire.

I don't even know whose car it is. I don't think it belongs to anyone on the block, but the guy down the alley seems to work on cars. And since he was out there, I'm guessing it was one of his. Scary. I'm glad no one got hurt. And I'm really glad that it wasn't a gunshot like I originally thought!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Another Unidentified Plant Mystery Solved

Pulmonaria. Those cute little flowers start out pink, turn kind of purple and then finish up blue. I feel a little bit silly that I didn't know what it was, but I've never grown it before. Late last fall, I went to a friend-of-a-friend's house and dug up loads of her unwanted plants (she had just purchased a house and wanted more grass than gardens). It was some time in October and most things were already dying back, so it was difficult to identify plants. As time was running out before the first frost, I hastily shoved things in the ground, placing them in sun/shade/wet/dry as best I could based on what I thought the plants were. And now I have millions of things coming up and I don't know what they are, if they're in the right place, or what color they will turn out to be. I have dreams that I have a horrible mishmash of colors and textures. And then I have tremendous dreams of incredible plants blooming all over the yard - like Himalayan Blue Poppies, and awesome daylilies, Asiatic lilies, peach-colored peonies ...

I quite like the pulmonaria and wish I had more of it. Alas, I only dug out a single specimen. I'm hoping I might be able to go back to the the friend-of-a-friend's house for a round of spring cleaning. It really was a treasure trove. More on that to come.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Finished: Boys of Summer Quilts

The sun was out yesterday! I managed to get a couple of pictures of the two Boys of Summer Quilts after stuffing myself with Easter dinner.

I was totally inspired by all of the strip quilts over at Film in the Fridge. I'm not sure that I selected the best fabrics for these projects, but overall, I'm pretty happy with how they turned out. If I had them to do over again, I'd definitely bind them with a solid color - maybe the brown or dark green?

My lovely assistant! Although the sun was shining, it was breezy and a little chilly!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

2010 Produce Meets a Tasty End

I used up the last of 2010's frozen tomatoes yesterday. I had about 3/4 gallon of whole frozen romas, some frozen sun-dried romas, and a quart of frozen sauce (shamefully unlabeled - but I think I just cooked down a bunch of tomatoes with garlic and froze it). I threw them all together in a pot along with some frozen pearl onions, a handful of fresh thyme and oregano (from the garden!!), garlic, red pepper flakes, and a splash of red wine. I cooked it down until it got thick and tasty and then stuck my trusty hand-blender in the middle of it all.

I had some on pasta, but I'm thinking the rest of it will make excellent pizza sauce!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

It's April 20th!

Enough already!
My winter sowing containers are getting a very slow start.

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Snowy Saturday

This is what I woke up to Saturday morning. If the latest forecast can be believed, this is what it will look like tomorrow, too. I know it won't last long, but I still don't have to like it.

I spent the day touring the greenhouses at Linder's and Gerten's. Fascinating operations! And the snow was gone by the time I got home.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Few More Spring Beauties ... and Another Unidentified Plant

I'm not sure what this is, but I'm guessing columbine???

I don't remember putting this in the ground, but suspect if was from the bounty I dug up from someone else's yard last October. I'm looking forward to seeing what other mystery plants appear. I know there were loads of lilies - daylilies, Asiatic lilies, Tiger lilies - can't wait to see what color they turn out to be. Many of them are just peeking out of the soil - I hope tonight's predicted slushy snow doesn't disturb them too much.

The bleeding hearts seem to be popping up really early this year!

There's a very small little baby bleeding heart at the back. I think I should dig it up and move it somewhere else.

The crocus under the maple tree in the hell strip are my favorite sign of spring! The ajuga look a little rough, but I'm sure they'll be spreading out in no time.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Peonies ... A Lesson Learned

I love peonies! If I could find a way to make them bloom all summer along with poppies, I'd be a happy camper. Of course, that's not going to happen, so I settle for the next best thing - I just plant lots of them!

I've been not-so-secretly coveting my mom's double maroon peony - I keep joking that some day when she's gone, I'm just going to go dig part of it out of the ground. But instead, I begged her to take me to the nursery where she bought it so I could get one for myself. So last year in May or June (I can't remember if it was Mother's Day or Mom's birthday), we drove out to Hul's Nursery in St. Wendel (where? you ask ... seem the map here: map of Hul's Nursery). The people who own this place are great! They answered tons of questions and offered really good advice. I came home with my very own double maroon and a white Japanese-type with a yellow center. I think they were $10-15 each.

I wasn't sure where I was going to put them, so they sat in their pots until September. I was worried I had waited too long to get them in the ground, but they're both coming up roses (er, peonies!).

Compare that to the three peonies I picked up at the Cub flower mart on sale for $6 each. Two of the three look like this:
Nothing but barren earth. Granted, it's still a little early and they might make an appearance in the next couple of weeks. I'm sure they were tissue culture specimens at that price, and I've heard that they may not be has hardy the first winter - not sure if that's true or not. But the peonies from Hul's are all divided the old fashioned way. Last year they only had four pots of the double maroon - after Mom, my sis and I were done, there was only one left at the nursery.

Lesson learned: buy the good stuff. From people who know what they're doing and care about their merchandise. I'll be going back this year for a few more - I think I've got just the spot for a fern-leaf peony.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Is this squill? (I don't mean the Creeping Charlie - I've got that identification down pat!)

I haven't knowingly planted any, but last fall I planted loads of stuff I dug up from someone else's yard. This appeared near the spot I had planted some lilies. I've been meaning to plant some every fall, so now I guess I don't have to.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Birthday Wishes Do Come True!

I took a walk around the garden this morning as was my ritual all last summer. It's not quite as interesting now as it is in June, but I was desperate to see something green. And I found it! The liatris is sprouting little green bits, the rhubarb is looking like some alien life-form, and I see the hyacinth will be blooming in no time.

I also found some garlic, lots of iris (although the Siberian Iris seem to be slower than I remember - and I divided and replanted loads of them last year. Hopefully they'll all make it. I'd be surprised if they didn't - I always thought they were pretty indestructible.), sedum, daylily, overwintered leeks, bleeding hearts, and poppies.  I spent some time doing a little clean-up, cutting off the crusty bits that I didn't bother with last fall. 

And I made a difficult decision and sheared a rose bush to the ground.It came with the house. I don't really know what it is - other than huge and out of control. It only appears to bloom once each Spring - very fragrant white roses. It's lovely when it's blooming, but then it's just "there" for the rest of the year. I wouldn't mind so much, but it's right on the corner of the house in a prime location. I think I can make better use of the space. So I cut it down to a couple of inches above the ground, mostly so I wouldn't impale myself on the 6' canes while digging it up. I'm going to pot up a few bits to give away if folks want them. And I might move a bit of it to the back alley. I did leave a bit of it that had crept around to the other side of the house (I'm telling you, the thing is a monster - it has spread to form about 5 different clumps over a 5-6' area).

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Who'd Have Thunk?

I was at the Happy Gnome last night and had the Braised Lamb Pizza - and it was incredible! I don't often eat lamb and I'm a pizza purist (no weird bbq chicken pizza for me!), but this thing was seriously delish. Well worth the trip. And they've got a ton of beers on tap, including several from Deschutes - I became a big fan when I was in Bend, OR for a meeting a few years ago. The Brewery was near the hotel and I ate there more than one night I was in town.

Monday, April 04, 2011

I Take it Back

I just looked outside and there are HUGE snowflakes coming down! Definitely not Spring-like.

UPDATED: The snowflakes have stopped and the sun actually came out this afternoon. But the wind is raging and it's chilly out there. I took a quick walk around the soggy yard for a look at what might have popped out of the ground since yesterday, and saw that some little critter has beheaded a patch of tulips just poking through the ground. Arghh!

It's a good thing I was working so diligently on those quilts yesterday - the May baby boy came a month early and showed up this morning. So I'm off to finish quilting and start the binding. I don't want the little guy to be chilly in this ridiculous spring weather we're having.

The Boys of Summer Quilts

I've been so inspired by the strip quilts over at Film in the Fridge, that I had to try one out (OK, I actually made two! - it was just easier that way - I was already cutting strips!). Most of the fabric in these two quilts is called "Oxygen" from the Fall 2009 Studio E line. I mixed in a couple of batiks I had stashed on the shelf and think it looks rather lovely. I'm working on some straight line quilting now and hope to have the quilting finished up on one by tonight.

I have friends due with boys in May and July, so I think these will find very nice homes in a relatively short period of time.

In other news, it was gorgeous outside yesterday - near 55F, I think. I took a little walk around the soggy yard and am now convinced that Spring is in fact, right around the corner. There are buds on the rose bush, the rhubarb is popping up, sedum is showing its little heads, and tulips, crocus, hyacinth, daffodils and the like are all making their way up. Not everything made it through the winter with such grace - more on that later.