Monday, December 21, 2009

Snopocalyptic Monday

I think this blog posting is going to be a big one...I had planned on talking about my shift from gardening to birding over the winter. Well, then Old Man Winter stepped in and clobbered us over the head. So, I am going to talk about both. As I'm sure you are well aware of by now, the east coast got nailed by a blizzard and heavy rains. This storm was pretty rare for us in RI because we normally get heavy wet snows in small quantities if it does snow in December. This one set was in the top ten for heaviest snow fall ever for RI and was the biggest snow fall ever for RI in December. Below is our little circle on mid Sunday morning...we didn't get freed by the plow until almost 11:30 am. Thank goodness I didn't have any place to be.

Here in Warwick, we got about 15 or so inches. Since it was light, it blew around a lot. Some places in my yard looked like we had a couple of inches and in some spots it was mid chest on Lars. Aquidneck Island got slammed with 20 - 24" which high winds formed into monstrous drifts . Eric has been plowing over there Saturday night, Sunday, and most of today. The drifts won't quit...some are as tall as Eric. I was over there today and the main roads are so bad with drifts they are controlling them with loaders on the side of the roads. I've never seen anything like it including when I lived in Central that's saying something. Eric thinks he may be home before midnight...he's being hopeful.

Lake Larson has been reduced to large piles of snow and some stakes sticking out of the ground where the nets are for the heron. They flash froze in there...looks like they may be there until spring. There is one little hole in the snow where the air stone bubbles away keeping a hole open for gas exchange.

Bird Central was a happenin' place to be on Sunday. There was bird feeder gridlock at some points.

Of course, after a snow storm, one has to go out and play with their dog. I'm not sure if Lars remembered snow from last winter, but he sure had a blast out there. He kept going to the door asking to head back out there and romp some more. After Old Man Winter dealt us a punishing blow earlier in the day, he softened and painted the sky with a sunset which I haven't seen the likes of in a long time.

Red sky at night, snow plowers' delight...

It was such an intense sunset, the snow reflected the cool.

Lars was not as impressed with the sunset as I was...all he wanted to do was chase his ball which was behind me. Sometimes he just humors me and my need to pose him in my photos.

Just this last week, I had moved the bird feeders up close to the house where I can easily see who's coming to dinner. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly they find them. I decided not to do the Great American Bird Feeder Count with Cornell's Department of Ornithology. I always have great intentions, log my birds for about a month, then I forget. So, I'm just going to enjoy the birds this winter. Just an informal tally of who's shown up so far: Cardinals, Juncos, Titmice, Chickadees, Nuthatches, House Sparrows, House Finches, Goldfinches, Blue Jays, White Throated Sparrows, and Carolina Wrens. Now that I have written it all out, that's a healthy guest list.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Indoor gardening takes over - the sexy orchids.

It's about that time of year where I pack it in, store away all of my tools and bid the garden farwell until about March. I now turn my eye to indoor horticulture where it is much more warm and colorful. Right now I have 4 phalaenopsis orchids which I really have come to love. I was all about african violets up until a couple of years ago. I don't know if I got bored of them or what...but I made the switch. I find the phalaenopsis orchids to be really easy to grow in my house. The slider must have the right light for them to be really happy. We also let our house drop in temperature at night and they really like that too. This is (I think) my 3rd year growing them and I tried something different this summer which I may not try again.

I attempted to place them outside and let them hang out there for the summer over by Lake Larson and the garage. I thought that may be just enough light but not too much for them. Well, when the sun did decide to shine, they got a little fried and had some sun scald on their leaves. Then the rains came...and why I didn't pull them back inside is beyond me. Maybe I had too much on my plate at the time to think about it. But, despite the rain, they flowered all summer...and because of the rain the flowers were riddled with black spots. Yuck. I should have brought them back inside. Oh well. This coming summer, they will be staying inside.

One thing people say to me all the time when they hear I do orchids is theirs never bloom again after they get them. I think one of the main reason is because people take off the flower stems when the blooms drop. Don't do have to leave them on because that's where most of my flowers come from. You can see in the photo above, there's a new sprig shooting off of that spent one. 80% of my flowers come from old stems so leave them on.

This winter I'm also attempting something I haven't done before and that is a new organic fertilizer for the orchids. Phalaenopsis orchids typically bloom from December through May and I'm going to use Neptune's Hydrolized Fish Fertilizer and it's make up is 2 - 4 - 1. It's basically a fish emulsion and I'm using it once a week just to see what results I get. I will say that Lars is fascinated with the plants after I water/feed them. I'm not sure if that's going to be the case with all dogs since he has been graced with a super sniffer, but I'm just saying. I will report, my cat couldn't care less about it.

You guys all know how I feel about Home Cheapo but I am not above rescuing plants from there if they are in good shape. I picked up this little orchid from there around Thanksgiving for 8 could I resist. I do have to repot it though because that is a tiny little pot. I was aghast at the instructions on how to care for this poor thing...water it with melting ice cubes once a week. Seriously? **face palm** Is gardening becoming so dumbed down that watering plants has been reduced to leaving ice cubes to melt on them? Ugh. "Gardeners" like that should just do themselves a favor and get a silk orchid from Home Goods.

This pot has three different orchids in it I don't dare separate...there's a plain white, a white with some pink hints, and the white with the purple netting. I have a yellow one that took the most of the beating this summer and it's just hanging out growing more roots. I hope it flowers this winter, but we'll see. I did repot everyone up this fall into much bigger and shallow pots with orchid substrate. I think they are going to like their new homes.

I did get to my winter window boxes this year! I never got around to it last year because Sam took up a lot of my time . I really like how these turned out and I have to get a better photo of the big one featured above...sometimes the iphone camera just sucks at taking photos. I'll have to use my real camera for it. I used cut holly, rhododendron, norway spruce, juniper, variegated boxwood, and lavender. For the accents, I used maiden grass, switch grass, hydrangea flowers, and crabapples. In the past, I have used cut white pine. But this year, I scored a ton of cut holly from some bushes I pruned back for a client. I LOVE IT!!!

Here's the garage window box and this photo was taken with my real camera (what a difference) It's similar to the big one but I kept a sedge in the front that was left over from the summer box and I used cut sweet fern from around the pond. I used the cut holly, lavender, switch grass, and hydrangea. I think it's darling. ;)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Um, the last time I checked...that looks like the color lavender

I want to know what kind of crack these geneticists are smoking...that's not a blue rose. Why do we even need blue roses? Roses come in every color under the sun as it is. If you want blue in your garden, there are umpteen different hydrangea and perennials you can use to achieve that. I can only imagine the hardiness issues and disease/pest issues this plant would have in the landscape. Yellow roses aren't very hardy because yellow is a massively recessive gene in roses...OMG, blue isn't even in the rose color wheel.

Before these scientists get all excited about their discovery....Conard Pyle already sells something "Blue"

Floribunda Rose "Singing the Blues" (Dare I say it...that's a better blue than the Frankenstein rose they featured in the video.