Sunday, April 29, 2012

More gardening

I should never sit down with a clearance garden catalog. 

Thanks to Gilbert H. Wild's spring clearance sale, I've got $70 in plants sitting in my kitchen (because the$12 in butterfly weed (the "fancy" name for orange milkweed) is already in the ground.  Nine different irises, 3 dayliles, bleeding hearts, butterfly weed (asclepias) and one dahlia.  The box was delivered Thursday, and DH dug the new flowerbed today.  I'd planned on putting the iris and at least part of the bleeding hearts in front, but the front iris bed is too shady, so they're all going in back.  One bleeding heart may go out front with the jonquils, but I'm not sure it'll be wet or cool enough there.  At least two are going with the hostas out back, possibly all three. 

I need to find something that likes shade and looks pretty to go out front; the beds are mostly shady, but the front of the house looks so bland.  At least the native-perennial bed by the driveway is colorful.   That primrose is planning a coup, I know, and the coneflowers are all ready to bloom.  One coreopsis is already blooming, the other two are still thinking on it.  I plan to extend that bed down the rest of the driveway and put in more native/butterfly stuff.  Put one asclepias there, and plan to start some from seed to go there as well, if the primrose will back off.

True "garden" news: the first peas are blooming, but something's eaten about 1/3 of the plants, in spite of the pinwheel and yellow-marking-tape flags.  I hung a bar of soap in the garden tonight - it kept the deer away from the hostas last year, so hopefully it'll keep the rabbits away for a while.

Also - raccoons like bananas and apples, but not celery.  And possums are just flat-out ugly.  'Coons may be varmints, but at least they're not bad to look at.

Monday, April 23, 2012

2012 Reading List

Invincible Iron Man andKeeping up the tradition, here's the list of What I've Read This Year

  1. Mourning Gloria, by Susan Wittig Albert (1/xx/12) I like this series. Yes, things and characters are changing, but not so much that it feels wrong (see my complaints about the recent changes in the Sneaky Pie/Harry Haristeen series)
  2. Mastiff, by Tamora Pierce.  Probably the last of the Beka Cooper series, darn it.  
  3. lots of stuff that I can't remember right now
  4. Nurture Shock: new thinking about our children
  5. AustenTatious Crochet
  6. Murder Unleashed, by Rita Mae Brown.  non-Sneaky Pie.  As I recall, focused heavily on the mortgage-implosion fallout.  Again, too much focus on a "political" issue for my taste, it leads to too much soap-boxing that doesn't quite fit the story.
  7. The Good Old Days: They were Horrible
  8. Anthem for Doomed Youth, by Carola Dunn (1/30/12) Blast, now I'm caught up with this series. It's dovetailing nicely with watching Downton Abbey on PBS, though.
  9. Changes, by Mercedes Lackey
  10. I've Got Your Number, by Sophie Kinsella.  I like her books, espeically the Shopaholics.  Good fun reads. 
  11. We Need to Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver.  Very disturbing, and I am not going to see the movie. 
  12. Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All, by Paul Offit.  Should send this one to my sister.  I can't believe he's gotten death threats; or maybe I can.  Lots of information, but not too technical.
  13. UnSpun: Finding Facts in a World of Disinformation, by Brooks Jackson.   Very good, especially for an election year.
  14. How I Killed Pluto, and Why It Had It Coming, by Mike Brown.  Someone to share the blame with Neil DeGrasse Tyson. :)  Another good one, interesting, not too technical.
  15. Faith, Hope, and Ivy June, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  16. Anastasia's Secret, by Susan Emily Dunlapp.  YA fiction about Tsarina Anastasia and the Russian (Bolshevik?) revolution.  
  17. Witch and Wizard, James Patterson.  Tried to read it, couldn't get into it.  
  18. Christopher Lowell's One-of-a-kind Decorating Projects
  19. Butterfly Gardener's Guide
  20. Below Stairs, by Margaret Powell.  Cover claims it was the inspiration for Upstairs, Downstairs, but Jean Marsh has always said it was inspired by her family history (and Eileen Atkins' family).  Still interesting, so I blame the cover-blurb writer.

  21. The Uncommon Reader, by Alan Bennett.  What would happen if the Queen of England found a bookmobile and started reading a lot?  Interesting in an alternate-universe kind of way.
  22. Beauty and the Werewolf, by Mercedes Lackey.  (4/12)  Another one of the 500 Kingdoms fairy-tale retellings.  I like these. 
  23. Wolverine
  24. The Big Cat Nap, by Rita Mae Brown & Sneaky Pie (4/22/12)  Better than the last few, but again with the focus on one theme.  This time it was car insurance & repair fraud, with side trips into high-dollar drag racers. 
  25. All 6 Kit stories from American Girl  (4/25/12)
  26.  Wolverine: Lifeblood. (4/28/12) Too bad it's a never resolved cliffhanger, thanks to contracts. 
  28. Invincible Iron Man vol 4: Stark Disassembled
  29. The Summer of Riley
  30.  Invincible Ironman vol 5: Stark Resilient
  31. Sky Dragons, by Todd McCaffrey (11/4/12) - definitely not up to standard

  32. When the River Ran Backward, by Emily Croffort
  33. Among the Imposters, by Margaret Peterson Haddix (Shadow Children series #2) (11/5/12)
  34. American Pickers Guide to Picking
  35. Beautiful Mess (Diamond Rio)

The Year of the Accidental Potatoes

So, time for another garden update, since we spent most of the weekend working on the garden/yard. 

This year will be the year of the accidental potatoes.  We tossed some soft potatoes in the compost over the winter, and apparently nothing ate them (we've seen coons and possums frequently), because the crazy things sprouted in the heap.  We decided to experiment by transplanting them to the new raised bed that DH built this year.  So far they're doing good, in spite of a weird leaf thing that I'm blaming on tarp-contact (we've had 3 or 4 frost warnings when I've covered the garden).

We also have volunteer tomatoes in the heap, volunteer cantaloupe and sunflowers in the first raised bed, and the mailbox bed is totally populated with zinnias, marigolds and cosmos that seeded from last year's plants.  And then there are the snapdragons, supposedly annuals, that survived the freakishly-warm winter and are blooming like gangbusters.

So.  UPS delivered some replacement plants this week (Gaillardia from QVC last summer, courtesy of Mom), and I've got an order from Gilbert H. Wild in process (9 irises, 3 daylilies, plus asclepias and bleeding-hearts - I fell for their clearance sale catalog), so I needed to get a spot ready for them.  Yesterday DH put together the wheelbarrow and we hauled compost to the flower beds in the front yard.  We dug out a ton of weeds and some landscape fabric, and worked compost in to a couple of beds.  The gaillardia is in the ground now, and the blue whats-it from last year that came back got rearranged.  Don't remember what the blue flowers are, but I thought they were annuals.  But then, that's what the tag on the snapdragons said.  Go figure.

There's a bed ready for the new irises, assuming they can handle partial shade, and the front iris patch will get divided and spread out.  They aren't blooming this year, but a few did last year.  I'd guess they're too crowded and need some better dirt, since they're growing in half-mulch now.  The second iris bed, though, with the random Hy-vee iris from the old place, and the irises I rescued from under the shrubs, is going great guns and bloomed like mad.  Most are dark purple, but the Hy-vee iris is more blue, and I love it.

The garage bed is still crap.  Too much clay.  The snapdragons are okay, and I stuck two marigolds and two zinnias there today.  The violets are doing okay there, too.  The hostas got moved to the back yard, and I'm tempted to let the daylilies and the odd purple weed have it - the purple-weed seems happy there.

The driveway bed is doing great, though.  Everything survived, and the primrose seems to be working on a coup.  It's reseeding itself with passion, and I may have to start getting tough with it.  So far there are three coneflower (2 "Magnus" and one generic), 3 coreopsis (2 Baby Sun I think, and can't remember the third, but it's blooming and happy), and what may or may not be the black-eyed susan I planted last year, or possibly some of the coneflower seed.  Today I added some dianthus and seedling dahlias, and I'll probably toss some portulaca seed for kicks.  It's going to be mostly native flowers, and mostly butterfly-attracting plants.  Although Missouri primrose is yellow, and what's blooming now is pink.  I think it's evening primrose.  And it occurred to me today that my colors for that bed are kind of clash-y, what with purple coneflower, yellow and yellow/red tickseed, dark pink dianthus, pink primrose, and then yellow snapdragons.  Oy.

The perennial bed in back is okay, only one plant died over the winter.  Both delphinium survived, although one is too close to the coreopsis, and the shasta daisies are going to bloom.

Planted the dahlias from last year, although I forgot to mist them enough, and I bought 2 dozen jonquils at a yard sale on Saturday - looked like someone was dividing theres.  $1 per dozen.  They're in the spot the front dahlias were in last year - the dahlias didn't like it, not enough sun.  I'll add some daffodils this fall, and maybe one of the bleeding-hearts.  The spot gets a lot of sun before the maples leaf out, so that should work for spring bulbs, I hope.

And that pretty much covers what's in the ground now, flower wise.  The garden has peas, radishes, potatoes, onions, shallots, garlic, and a lousy stand of lettuce and spinach.  I think that 80+ degree day in March confused them.  I know it confused me.