Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Notable Exceptions

Last Friday I finally finished garden cleanup for the year.  I still have a few plants to move into basement storage and a garage bay to clean and reorganize but that can wait a week or two.  For now I need a break from all things garden related. 

Unfortunately my buddy Nick was recently diagnosed with a compressed disc.  Throughout his life he's occasionally had back problems and over the past year the episodes have become more frequent.  Last week we had to make a trip to the ER vet.  Monday was the x-ray appointment.  Tomorrow we have an appointment with Dr. Amy, Nick's holistic vet.  I'm hoping that accupuncture and chiropractic combined with a limitation of his activities (my boy has always been a climber and a jumper), will keep him comfortable and moving without expensive and invasive surgical intervention.  Please keep your fingers crossed.

Anyway, on one of my forays outside over the weekend I noticed a few shrubs were still sporting some eye catching foliage.  Now that just about everything is fifty shades of brown, any color stands out like a beacon.

Hydrangea quercifolia 'Little Honey'

'Little Honey' wide angle view.

Zenobia pulverulenta 'Woodlander's Blue'

Hydrangea quercifolia 'Amethyst'

Spiraea thunbergii 'Ogon'

Hypericum 'Blue Velvet' with the everblooming Daphne x transatlantica 'Summer Ice'

Unknown Leucothoe from Fairweather Gardens

Abelia x grandiflora 'Confetti'

Hypericum x moserianum 'Tricolor'

Some years I wait too long to decorate the urns for the holidays and the soil freezes.  I ran out of time on Sunday but wanted to at least get the container next to my side door decked out.  Using fresh foliage from the garden can sometimes be a challenge.  So far I like this theme of using spent Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight' flowers as a focal point.  What do you think?

Time to break out the eggnog and deck those halls!



Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Giving Thanks

One of the ways I celebrate my good fortune during the holiday season is to share it with those less fortunate.  In these technological times sharing the wealth is as simple as clicking through the website of your favorite charity.  I choose to keep my donations local.  Every year during Thanksgiving week I make a donation to my regional food bank.

Foodshare of Greater Hartford will distibute over 19,000 turkeys to needy families in the Greater Hartford area this week.  As long as I'm not one of them, I will continue to give and hope that all my friends and family will consider doing the same.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Scraping The Bottom of the Bloom Day Barrel

Garden season is officially over here and has been for a few weeks.  After two entire weekends spent herding leaves and cleanup waste to the curb I'm ready to be done with it all.  Just one more weekend to go...I can do it, I can do it...

During the week the sun is just rising when I leave for work and starting to set when I get home.  What it all adds up to is not much in the way of photo ops means not much in the way of blog fodder.  Needless to say, it's been a snoozefest around here.

Weather has been instrumental in the demise of the garden this fall  What plants weren't taken out by the hard freeze on October 12th or blown away by Hurricane Sandy on October 29th were no match for the five or six inches of wet snow last Wednesday.  Despite the setbacks though, I was determined to find something in bloom for Bloom Day this month and I was marginally successful.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I did take these pictures on Sunday afternoon but nothing much has changed since then.  I swear it hasn't.

Thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting this somewhat monthly event.

Calibrachoas in general did not wow me this year but take a look at this one.  Usually I keep all the plant tags tucked in the pot but for some reason I don't have this one.  Keep an eye out for it next year.

OK so I cheated a bit and have been keeping this Brugmansia in the garage.  Soon I'll be hacking it back and tossing it in a basement closet for the winter but not as long as it's pushing out flowers like this.

Allium thunbergii 'Ozawa'-an understated plant but invaluable for late season color.

Grasses count, right?  This is Miscanthus 'Sarabande'

A bit of a stretch maybe but I still see a few flowers on this mum

Berries on Viburnum dilatatum 'Cardinal Candy'

Happy Bloom Day!


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Leave It All To Me

Serious leaf and garden cleanup began at Idyll Haven this weekend, and with weather permitting will likely continue every weekend through Thanksgiving. 

As I tossed back a handful of ibuprofen and crawled into bed Saturday night I felt pretty damn good about the progress I had made.  With any luck I'll feel the same way tonight.  But despite the elusive extra hour of sleep I supposedly enjoyed by setting back the clocks last night, I'm tired.

Although I don't get quite as many leaves as I did before taking out the giant backyard Sycamore, I still get alot of leaves.  Leaves appear to be impossible to quantify so suffice it to say I get alot.  Part of the problem is likely a result of having a heavily planted garden on all four sides of my house.  Leaves fall, and instead of blowing into my neighbor's yards they get trapped in mine.  Naturally my neighbor's leaves blow into my yard and get trapped there too. 

So while I'm spending entire weekends in November lugging load after load of leaf and garden waste to the street, my neighbors are firing up their leaf blowers on a Saturday morning for an hour and and calling it good for the week.

Fortunately my town collects leaves at the curb to compost at the transfer station.  I take full advantage of this service and toss in an additional ton of pine needles from my driveway and back garden and a few tons of fall garden cleanup debris.  Nobody seems to notice so it's all good.  Unfortunately I don't have the room on my property to compost this much volume.

Our first collection isn't scheduled until the week of November 12th.  Occasionally the town pleasantly surprises me with an off schedule pickup (when it comes to fall cleanup it's the little things).  Perhaps they do this because a town truck happens to venture down my street to this:

The curb in front of my house.  Currently 75 feet of leaves piled a couple of feet high and a few feet wide.

And this:

The cul de sac curb of my side yard.  Another 30 feet or so of leaves piled high.

And this:

Continuing around the cul de sac on the other side of my driveway

Like many things in life there's good news and bad news.  The good news is in addition to moving all of this debris off my property, I also got both fountains drained, a good portion of the garden cut back, and the lawn areas mowed for what I hope will be the last time.  And at 4:30 tonight I felt confident enough with my accomplishments to call it quits and leave my house for the first time all weekend.  Destination Starbucks for my first Caramel Brulee Latte of the season.  Tra la la la la!  Without it I likely would have succumbed to this new "fall back" schedule and been asleep by now.

On the bad news front, I'm nowhere close to done.  Half the leaves are still on the oak trees that line my driveway and I barely touched the east side of the house or the curb gardens.  Some cannas and dahlias still need to be dug and dried, and plants are waiting in the garage to be re potted and stored in the house.  A few perennials are kicking around waiting to be planted and if possible I'd really like to shuffle some plants around.  All I can do is keep my fingers crossed that the weekend weather holds up going forward.

Happy Fall!


Friday, November 2, 2012

Coventry Regional Farmer's Market

If you're looking for something to do on a Sunday from June through October, check out the Coventry Regional Farmer's Market.  For the past two years, Yankee Magazine has listed the CRFM as the Best Farmer's market in Connecticut.  Rows of vendors offer the highest quality local products ranging from fresh seafood to beeswax candles.  And the food!  Brick oven pizza, fancy grilled cheese sandwiches, tacos, deli fare, baked goods and a dizzying array of produce.

The market is held every Sunday on the grounds of the Nathan Hale Homestead in Coventry from 11-2.  This past Sunday was the last outdoor market for the year.  Next week it moves to Coventry High School where it runs indoors through the end of February.  My local farmer's market moved indoors weeks ago.  At that point many of the vendors stop coming but I've found many goodies are still to be had even in the colder darker months.

Parking for the CRFM on the grounds of the Nathan Hale Homestead

Vendor area of the CRFM

Sweet native strawberries available in late October!

Beautifully arranged fresh, local produce at the CRFM

The best Baklava I've ever tasted from Lazizah Bakery in Yantic

NoRA Cupcakes-be still my heart!

Not your grandmother's grilled cheese sandwiches

The Lincoln Culinary Institute was giving away samples of a pumpkin apple cake. 

In keeping with a Halloween theme, many people dressed their dogs (and kids) in costumes.

Monique and Les's Oliver waiting patiently to check out the market

Activities for the kiddos included this pony powered "train"

Some piglets...

And Alpacas-a big hit with the young and old

Straw poll takers offered men (women are not allowed to vote of course) a ballot listing candidates Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.  Beats the current choices if you ask me.  Of course Bozo the Clown...

Whatever you do, don't eat before heading over to the CRFM.  And don't expect to be hungry when you get home. 

For us the feast began with fresh brick oven pizza topped with kale, potatoes, mozzerella and bleu cheese.  After sampling just about every flavor Savor Cookies had to offer, we made our way to the demonstration barn for some of Lincoln Culinary's pumpkin apple cake.  A quick stop at the first aid tent for an insulin injection allowed us to meander over to NoRA's for some Halloween inspired cupcakes (I tucked those away for later to allow room for Baklava).  Planning ahead, I also grabbed a broccoli cheddar quiche from Six Pence Pie Company and a bag of heirloom salad greens to take home for dinner, a pint of the fresh strawberries and a bag of organic homemade granola.

Local farmer's markets are such a treat.  I'd love to hear about others in CT that are worth a trip.  If you have a favorite, please let me know.