31 October 2009

Happy Halloweening from the kitties!

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures
If it's not one thing it's another. Been buried in work (which is good and fun and interesting and pays the bills) but also down-a-quart, healthwise. So I've been missing in action again. I told the catchildren they could do the post for Halloween but most of them weren't interested, being busy sleeping.

We don't get trick or treaters here now, because the local kids are all grown, & we're too rural for others to visit except from car. So we'll have a quiet evening of reading, whether online or actual books. And napping, in the case of the catchildren.

However, no Halloween is complete without a big black cat, so Rowdy Retread hopes everyone has a fun and safe day and evening. He isn't going trick or treating, but is good at supervising yard cleanups. And at having naps.

Mungus isn't so interested in candy treats, but he highly recommends pizza. Especially pizza that comes with a big box he can lay on afterwards for his post-pizza nap. (what's left of the pizza is in the fridge, incidentally).

I'll be back later with something more garden-related!

19 October 2009

Gardening by colour: White spring bulbs

The weather here continues to be more like November than October: cold, wet, dreary, windy, rainy, repeat as necessary. It's been annoying because the great fall colour we often get has been somewhat beleaguered by excessive wind and rain, so that many leaves are just getting to their good colour when the wind shreds and sends them away. I've done nothing outside, but am declaring a day off indoors to catch up on much neglected matters, such as blogging and cleaning the house up.

Work took me out and around the other day and I landed in unexpectedly to visit a dear friend I hadn't seen in far too long. She was taking the opportunity of a decent (if cold) afternoon to clean up her containers, bring her houseplants in, and do other garden chores I've yet to touch. Naturally, we got on to the subject of planting bulbs and of colour and of other timely subjects.

Last year I received a box of white-flowering bulbs from the International Flowerbulb Centre, and managed to get most of them planted out before snow and surgery ended my gardening year. In talking to my friend, I remarked that while I love white flowers, I wasn't sure how much most gardeners would appreciate white bulbs after a winter spent buried in snow. We're really craving colour by March, aren't we? And we're not all into doing a white garden a la Sissinghurst, are we?
My friend pointed out, wisely, that white is an excellent colour for bringing out contrast and attention to other colours. And actually, it's pretty awesome by itself, just accompanied by sparkling green foliage, as with these 'Mount Hood' daffs.

When I got home, I got thinking about white bulbs in earnest, and went back through my photo libraries looking to see what I do have planted out there. Of course, the first harbinger of spring in our garden are the valiant white snowdrops (Galanthus, top photo) which are barely out of the ground before they're blooming. They are my favourite spring-flowering bulb, bar none. We do have some white crocus ('Snowbunting', second photo from top, named for my beloved snowbirds) but mostly I do prefer other colours in crocus. But I'm really partial to white or white-bicolour daffodils of all sizes and forms, including this double 'Sir Winston Churchill'.

'Thalia' is another favourite white daff, smaller than the standard types, and highly fragrant. In our garden it blooms with the forget-me-nots so we have this lovely sea of tiny, lacy blue flowers underpinning the wonderful daffs. Makes me very happy.

The last daff-family species to bloom in our garden are the 'Poeticus' narcissus, which don't come on til late May and into June. They're very fragrant and strikingly beautiful; they're also known as 'pheasant's eye' narcissus, and if you've ever fed pheasants in your yard and gotten close enough to watch them well, you can see the description fits well.

Normally, I DON'T plant white tulips. This is one situation where I really do want outbursts of colour. There are exceptions to that sort-of-rule, mostly having to do with form. These white parrot tulips have yet to reach their full glory, but I love the green and yellow feathering on the white, ruffled petals.

The double white 'Mt Tacoma' looks more like a peony than a tulip, but I do like its clean appearance. Behind it is perhaps my favourite of the viridiflora tulips, 'Spring Green'; again, that white-and-green combo just does it for me.

Muscari, or grape hyacinths, do very well in our garden, forming lovely clumps of fragrant, brilliant blue flowers. This white hybrid 'White Magic' appeals to me very much too, and I hope it multiplies as quickly as its relatives.

Lastly, we have the 'White Festival' hyacinth, which is amazingly fragrant. I planted these in the front garden near our main door and they sent out huge waves of fragrance this past spring. The fresh gold-green foliage of 'Aztec Gold' creeping veronica on one side of them, and the almost-black new growth of Actaea 'Black Negligee' made this little combination quite appealing.

I've found focusing on these white flowers has actually brightened up my weather-dreary day, bringing some much-appreciated light into my perspective. My plan is to focus on various colours over the next few blog posts, and maybe get some conversations going with more of you again. So it's over to you--do you like white spring bulbs? What do you plant?

10 October 2009

The fruits of MY labours...

I've mentioned before that autumn isn't my best time of year, as the daylight shrinks and the garden winds down. Normally I do something to sort of prepare for the coming of winter, a yearly ritual like putting the garden to bed, filling the woodshed, and so on. It's amazing how it fortifies one's mind and soul.

This year is no exception, and thanks to my longsuffering spouse's generosity and loving support I've had a wonderful rejuvenating interlude. More about that soon, I promise. And now I'm really, really, REALLY busy with work. For which I'm extremely grateful to editors and other clients, believe me. But it's meant very much limiting my time with my blog and more importantly with visiting other friends' blogs. I figure the next two weeks are going to be insanely busy and then after that will return to the normal rhythm of work.

A couple of other little things are happening: I got a new, compact digital camera for work purposes (the kind with really good resolution that you can stick in your purse and just go with so I don't have to drag my DSLR everywhere I go) but also need to have the time to really work with it and get to know it. Unfortunately, the weather has been nothing short of hateful for the past week or so, at least when I've been home. Rain, fog, and drizzle, followed by fog, drizzle and rain. Not so conducive for good photos in the garden, at least not when it's also blowing a gale of wind.

So thank you for the concerned comments/emails/facebook PMs I've received in the past few days. All is well here, and more than well. I ask for everyone's patience. I'll visit and comment whenever possible, and post once I clear a few of the urgent deadlines off my desk. Meanwhile, let's all pause a moment to envy the art of perfect relaxation as done by Mungus.

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