06 November 2007

Certainly depressin', downright mindmessin', cleanin' up the garden bluez

With apologies to the late great Jim Croce, that’s what I was singing to myself as I slogged around our garden doing a bit of cleanup. As I watched the seeds from milkweed pods whirl away on the wind, and the raucously hungry blue jays stuff themselves on sunflower seeds and ornamental corn, I remembered what other blogging friends had said about how they like the light and the stillness that come on some November days.

We had stillness and golden light yesterday, sort of a rest period after the frenzy of the weekend. Today however, we're back to the wind blowing with great zeal and enthusiasm. I tucked a few bulbs into the ground, but it's still very wet around the yard (over two inches of rain in a few hours will do that, especially when you have clay), so with most of the containers empties and put away and even all the garden tools rounded up, what else was there I could be doing?

Oh, weeding. Well, deteaseling the back garden would be good for a start. Just as I had done last year, I let a few too many teasel seedlings take hold this summer. Although I like the seedheads very much, as they hold up all winter and the birds enjoy them, and the foliage is very effective at shading out weed seedlings there were just a few too many prickly rosettes of deep green in one bed and out into what passes for lawn too, so they had to go. Two wheelbarrows-full later, and the compost heap had something green to counteract the piles of brown (donkey and horse manure) I’d been heaping on in recent days, and the garden looked a little better. There’s still the war of the couchgrass to handle, but I’ll work away at that too.

You may remember that I am something of a new fan of penstemons, having not had success with them before this summer. Sour Grapes is STILL producing flowers, even though the plant is a bit battered after the recent spate of weather. It has cast more than a few of its blossoms onto the ground, and I thought they looked pretty even as part of a petit-point with soil and--well, could that be WEEDS growing there???

All too soon the clouds that were threatening moved in with great enthusiasm, and the wind developed a bite to it, and presto, we were into one of those November days that drive me inside. Still, as I noted previously, the good days in this month are something to be savoured, like good wine or fine dark chocolate--and better yet, there are great blogs and websites to read, so I can garden electronically, watching those of you who are slipping into summer rather than autumn. Where WOULD we be without the internet?

That's a bit of a rhetorical question, but I'll leave you all with one that might be food for thought. Stuart at Gardening Tips n Ideas wrote about the demise of yet another gardening magazine (and Graham Rice has also been writing about sales of gardening magazine copies in his native Britain. My observation is that many of us are turning more and more to getting decent information--accurate and current and detailed--off the internet rather than from magazines. I do subscribe to one Canadian one, and pick up the other one most of the time, but I find they aren't nearly as good as they used to be--the articles are shorter, or there are too many central-Canada gardens featured, and there's too much on 'home living' and recipes etc. I want those things, I'll go to Canadian Living or House and Home, not to gardening magazines.

So friends, tell me: what are your thoughts on your favourite gardening mags? Are they as good as they always were? Do you find yourself wanting more from their articles? Have you noticed a dumbing down, a tendency towards sound-bite or news-clip type short pieces rather than something you can really enjoy? Or am I being picky?

And if you needed to find something out quickly--like about what's new for perennials, or how to bring houseplants back indoors, or what neat crafty things to give gardeners for Christmas...do you go to the Internet, to blogs and commercial websites such?

Speaking of reading...I'll be doing some book recommendations in the days leading up to ho-ho-ho time (I already wrote the C-word once in this post!) but as for what mystery I'm reading...I go through one every day/night or two, and my tastes are mostly for British writers--Ian Rankin, Martha Grimes, Minette Walters, Ruth Rendell, Peter James (not to be confused with P.D. James who I also like)--and the two popular American suspense writers Patricia Cornwell and John Sandford. Always open to new recommendations...but perhaps we should wait til another post!


  1. James Lee Burke's New Orleans mysteries are well-plotted with credible, interesting characters, but most importantly have a wonderfully evocative sense of place. Reginald Hill's books are great, especially for the fun he obviously has with words -- never quite gets in the way of the story, but he's always managing to work in words I get the dictionary out for, surprisingly perfect but amusingly obscure. Really like Michael Connelly's LA books with Harry Bosch as well. And there's Peter Robinson and . . . whoops! you wanted to wait 'til another post, didn't you?!
    I think you're onto something with the magazines, btw. I'm a big fan of magazines, but it's been two years since I let my gardening mag subscription lapse and I don't pick up at the newstand either. Go to the internet for questions and to real gardens when I want the visual hit I used to love the mags for.

  2. I subscribe to several gardening magazines, but spend far more time reading about gardening on the Internet. I'm not ready to discontinue my subscriptions yet but sometimes question if it is a good way to spend money. It is becoming easier and easier to find good gardening-related info on the Internet.

    It was windy and cold here, too, but this is the time of year when I spend from dawn to dusk at my day job, so no time to garden until the weekends. I'm starting to get a wee bit panicky because I haven't planted my bulbs yet!

    And thanks for the link to the handmade crafts post on my blog. I'm looking forward to your book recommendations. A few might end up on my wish list for Christmas.

    Carol at May Dreams Gardens

  3. I just came across your blog and enjoyed reading about your adventure. Thank you for sharing it with the world! I look forward to reading more.

  4. Jodi, the weeds in my garden are raising their ugly heads since we received some rain and cooler weather. I need to be out there fighting the good fight but work calls me yet another day.

    As to garden magazines...I really like the eye candy. However as you mentioned they don't have very informative articles to go with them. Also it seems like they have started showing more gardens in the Southwest. Which means most of the plants they showcase are just annuals in my garden.

    I definitely look on the internet for gardening information. I was delighted to find garden blogs. They are not only a wealth of information but finding people that are as obsessed (dare I go that far?) with their gardens as I. This has been an affirming discovery.

    Then the pages in the garden magazines are watered down with the magazines being loped off into catagories such as patios with the same gardens being used just different angles of photos. You purchase a magazine with a different theme and the same gardens in it.

    I would rather see one magazine with an intersting garden fully showcased. Plants, water garden, patio, outdoor dining etc all in one.

    I would like the advertisers not getting most of the pages either. You have to delve through so many advertisements that I get worn out with looking for something about the featured gardens.

    As to reading, I don't read many mysteries. I do like Patricia Cromwell. I wouldn't read her normally but MDB and I like to listen to her books when we travel in our car. They keep you entertained. No going to sleep behind the wheel when you are disecting and investigating with her.

  5. I don't regularly any garden magazines but on my occasional look, I have found the glut of advertising off putting as well. That and they rarely address exactly what I need at the moment anyhow.

  6. I've been thoroughly enjoying your blog since discovering it last week. Love the cats too ... my Mom adored cats and her orange ones were her faves. She too was an avid gardener ... I guess I came by those similarities genetically!

    I have a technical question for you: my blog is also on Blogger but I cannot seem to get my photos to download anywhere in my post except at the beginning. I love how you intersperse your photos through your post ... I've tried that and it just won't work. Is there a trick to it? (sorry to take up space asking a techy question).

    I enjoy your blog so much I've added it to my blogroll so friends will hopefully also check yours out.

    Warm regards from chilly Alberta,



  7. Beautiful pictures. Thank you so much for sharing. I too have cats, a few pics on my blog as well.


  8. I'm feeling down to with this weather. It's gotten cloudy and nippy the past few days. I miss the warm sun. I'm glad your penstemons are doing good for you.

    I'm having a hard time finding garden magazines. I haven't found any that I really like so far. A few weeks ago I ask for a free trial of Horticulture magazine. I'm still not sure if I really like it enough to subscribe. I get more information from the internet and blogs than anything else. Also it's cheaper than buying books. I still look at the books in hope I'll have enough money to get the ones I like someday.

  9. I used to subscribe to several garden mags, but I've cut down in recent years. They do seem as if they have declined in quality. While I get much gardening info online, I still like to have a magazine to curl up with in the evening when I have to cede possession of the computer to the other members of the household.

  10. Hay.I like gardening a lot infact I love doing anything that keeps me out of doing my homework and keeps me busy for a couple of hours!If you want to check out my blog it's www.tigercat5000.blogspot.com
    I'm new and don't have very many posts,but I would love it if you could send some of your veiwers my way,please?

  11. Hi Jodi, well, the one thing about the mystery genre is that you'll never run out of reading material! I did mysteries almost exclusively for years and years and one day just quit reading them. I guess I'd reached my quota. There are so many fine writers out there, and there's nothing like the thrill of discovering a new one and then reading their whole collection. It just goes on and on, as I'm sure you know (and love!).

    Gardening mags - not so much. I don't subscribe to any of them anymore, nor do I pick them up in the grocery store. Eye candy for sure, and then what do you do with them? But I did sell them all on eBay so someone else could enjoy them (and house them).

    You're right, there's a lot to be said for "gardening electronically", especially when the real thing is hibernating for the winter!

  12. After reading your newest post I realized how much there is in front of me about studying English. My vocabulary seems to be lacking a lot. I will improve it.
    I like a lot you dynamic style of writing - it gives a lot of fun while reading.

  13. oops, my apologies ... I really should have answered the questions you asked ...
    (ps: thanks for the tip on the photos ... how silly of me not to think of cutting/pasting)

    Just this year I dropped my long-running subscription to Canadian Gardening. I too found they were including a few too many non-gardening articles and way too many advertisements, but I didn't see enough Western province coverage so that was more of my decision. There is a Western Gardener and it's 'nice' and does have western gardens and gardening featured but I feel the price of the magazine for the poor quality of photos and sometimes lesser quality articles just wasn't value for the money.

    I do find, as you say, that many of the other gardening magazines have dumbed down so they're not appropriate for some of us who've been gardening for so long.

    Where do I go if I'm looking for gardening info that I'm not sure of, or maybe want to dig deeper about a plant or region? I go to the Internet but have become careful about whose information is reliable. It's the Canadian info that is difficult to access. When I'm really stumped, I'll send an email to Jim Hole (or one of his staff members) at Hole's Greenhouses (St. Albert, Alberta). His mother was the renowned Lois Hole.

    I realize you're going to leave the reading 'til later but with the list of authors you mentioned, I wonder if maybe Elizabeth George is another fave.

    Sorry this got long. Great questions!

    warm regards from chilly Alberta,



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