Kinda looks like the pumpkin carving party is turning into a “tradition”, starting with the invitation. Last year a severed finger arrived in the mail. This year it was a box of sparkly spiders.

flamingo devil

No ordinary flock of flamingos marked the walkway.

flamingo zorro

No, these birds were all decked out as she-devils and masked Zorros.

appetizers & wine

Getting in the mood to tap into our creative potential.


What you can’t see here is the mountain of tools, from felt pens to wicked saws, piled in the middle of the table. Twenty large pumpkins, already hollowed out and ready to be transformed, awaited our ministrations.

rougues’ gallery

Silly, scary, funny, wonky…you name it: here is the rogues’ gallery of Jack ‘O Lanterns lined up for their glamour shot. Then it was time to dig into a homemade feast of chicken enchiladas and chile relennos (sp?) followed by apple pie and/or pumpkin pie. So who doesn’t get off on Halloween?

apples love cardamom


I still haven’t gotten around to processing those apples in my last post. The rush has been on to put the garden to bed before the big storm arrives tomorrow. The photo is from last year. Being a fabric nut, I have boxes of remnants to cut into circles for the tops of my jars. This one is tied off with a remnant of the streamers I use on many of my banners and such. The charming tag really polishes up the package. It is from my friend and fellow Etsian, Ellie. I’m going to do a post all about her soon, but in the meantime, I highly recommend following the link to see her gallery of playful and colorful paper works.

jam bags on Etsy

This year I am making special bags that can be reused later as travel bags, ditty bags, or passing along to someone new. I find that people really enjoy getting specialty food items as gifts, but I feel like I need to keep coming up with new presentations to avoid boredom. These and others are for sale on Etsy too.

Now about that title: I seem to remember a book with the title “Applesauce Loves Cinnamon”, but when an orchard overwhelms with fruit, a certain amount of experimentation is bound to occur. Here are the rough guidelines for my favorite experiment to date. Fill a large pot three quarters full with peeled, seeded and sliced fruit (I like half apples and half pears). Mince a good sized knob of ginger, and add with several whole cardamom pods and about 3/4 c of sugar (I like it on the tart side) (brown sugar gives a mellower finish). Boil until the fruit begins to break down, then mash and process.

Visit Wendy to gain access to others’ inspirations for using the bounty from the land.

eating dangerously

Tricholoma imbricatum

Next week I’ll tell you what I’m doing with all those apples, but today lets talk about mushrooms. When I was a kid, my mom used to come home from the golf course with her golf bag filled with mushrooms. They were a wide variety of shapes and colors. She claimed to be able to tell the good from the fatal by their smell, and I declare…she would cook up the most delectable stew that she and I would eat over toast. My dad declined the feast, claiming that there should be someone left behind to bury us. Well, yesterday was a perfect gardening day, and in the process we turned up the crop of mushrooms you see in the foreground of the above picture. The Chanterelles were a no-brainer. The little brown fellows gave us pause. R went in to consult the mushroom field guide. In the meantime, my thinking went something like this: If I eat just a tiny bit, it will merely make me feel not-so-hot. If nothing happens we’re good to go.

R came back with the news that these were probably Shingle Head mushrooms, or Tricholoma imbricatum (gardeners aren’t the only Latin-crazed cult). The only way to be sure, he had learned, was to take a tiny bit, hold it in the mouth for a maximum of 3 seconds and spit it out. If the mouth and tongue felt numbness, the “mushrooms” were throwaways. By dinnertime, I was still feeling fine, so I followed directions remembered from ‘Another Roadside Attraction’ by Tom Robbins: saute in butter with garlic, add a little wine and simmer until the steaks are medium rare. It was ambrosia for the gods. And I am still here today to tell you about it.

foliage takes center stage

Armeria maritima

Every once in a while the big box stores put out some very cool plants. I love the way the little tufts of Armeria maritima ‘Nifty Thrifty’ show up against the dark mulch. You may not be able to tell from the picture, but the grassy leaves are variegated with yellow-green and white.

Acanthus spinosa

Spiky leaves of Acanthus spinosa are every bit as decorative as the flower spikes. An added plus: the deer leave these alone, munching, instead, on the smoother foliage of A. mollis.

curry plant

A friend gave me two curry plants. This one sets off the peony foliage turning color and the dark Weigelia ‘Wine and Roses’ in the background. The other one is planted nearby and is a scraggly mess.


Pinus densiflora ‘Oculus Draconis’ has produced cones for the first time. It will thus be forgiven for failing to maintain the stripes on its needles.


That central paddle was all there was when I planted the Opuntia in the spring. At this rate it will take over the whole bed in no time. Something is nibbling on that paddle catching the sunlight. Any ideas? I have been unable to catch the culprit in the act.

Yucca ‘Bright Edge’

I had begun to think this berm was where plants went to die, but everything put here last spring is going great guns. The Yucca ‘Bright Edge’ is even surrounded by babies. I just hope when winter comes it will be kind.

Astrolepis sinuata

Astrolepis sinuata, also known as wavy cloak fern.

Glaucium flavum

Glaucium flavum, or Horn poppy.

I am actually a day ahead of schedule for once, but if you share a passion for foliage, you will want to visit Pam tomorrow to see her photos. By going to the comments you will gain entry to many other proud foliage growers. Have fun!

yes, there are still blooms

dahlia ‘Cheyenne’

Dahlias can always be counted upon to provide splashes of color and mixed bouquets right up until the first hard frost. This one is ‘Cheyenne’, purchased from Janet at her spring sale.

spidery dahlia

I’m crazy about this one, also from Janet, but unnamed. Color, form: everything about it pleases.

‘Buffalo Gals’

By this time, I am looking for fat red hips on the ‘Buffalo Gals’, but found this instead.

Anemone ‘Honorine de Jobert’

Anemone ‘Honorine de Jobert’ has been going strong for a couple of months.

grasses with echinops

As the grasses begin to tassle up, they combine nicely with the seedheads of the fading Echinops


Love the fuzzy little flowering spires on the Oreostachys

white aster

The only aster in my garden looks like a bridal bouquet.

hemerocallis buds

The Hemerocallis ‘Still Life’ is racing with the weather. I’m pulling for these buds to open before we get slammed with the nasty stuff.


I’ll close with grasses catching the light against a dark background. This image speaks fall to me. Other gardens beckon. Go to May Dreams Gardens to gain access to a world (literally) of blooms.

rainy weekend pleasures

One of the things I like about a wet spell is that the garden loosens its hold and allows us to do other things. On Saturday, we spent the morning slogging through the muddy sidelines, watching friends’ eleven-year-old play football. We’d been hearing that he was a talented player and he proved it. We only lasted through a half, but in that time he made two touchdowns, a sack and recovered a fumble. I was amazed at how hard these kids tackled. The thwacking sounds were a little unsettling, but they always seemed to come up grinning. Sunday was a day for a lazy breakfast and gallery-hopping. Coming home, we usually take a tour through the old neighborhood. In the building that used to house “Castaways”, they were having a big furniture sale, so we stopped for a look-see. The furniture didn’t interest us much, but stepping onto the loading dock…

Versailles gazebo

the adventure began with a gazebo…

Versailles pots

surrounded by an assortment of large pots. When we later chatted with the woman holding down the fort, we learned that all of these neighboring businesses, which kind of flow into one another, share resources. For instance, the plants you see in many of the pots come from Pomerius, a nursery just down the stairs from the large loading dock. The pots, statuary, outdoor furniture and gazebo are Versailles Gardens merchandise, which spills over into the indoor space where, on this day, one woman was overseeing the whole shebang.

chickens in the planting soil

An interesting assortment of chickens have the run of the place, but most of them were working over the mountain of potting soil. Must have been a trove of good bugs hiding in there.

3 chickens

A few of them were hanging out in the outdoor lunchroom. I thought to myself “Boy, if one worked here lunch would be a special event, with produce from the extensive raised beds and eggs from the chickens. Apparently, if we were to stop by on a Thursday, we’d be invited to share the soup of the day in this fully equipped outdoor kitchen with tent roof overhead.

Pomerius yard

But lets take a look at some of the plants, shall we? This nursery kind of limped along for the first few years, so I am happy to see it coming into its own.


The plant material trends toward the exotic, which suits me just fine. It is also way too rich for my pocketbook when something like this magnificent aloe runs to three figures. At this point, I stopped looking at tags and decided to simply drink in the beauty.


Everything looked like it had been coddled to the peak of perfection.


And arranged to show to best advantage.


I could pretty much point the camera in any direction and win points for composition.


The art of topiary is definitely practiced here.

topiary +

Everything from little balls of boxwood to the big twisty thing and everything in between.

Leave us not forget the espaliered apple tree. I am no fan of torturing trees, but must admire anything that is done so well.


Time to wend our way back through the labyrinth of beauty, but I’ll be back…say on a Thursday…around noon?

Oh, and by the way, right next door is Bedford Brown, and just up the street…well, never mind. It is just safe to say that I will never run out of material as long as the camera holds out.

african blue basil

I have a real aversion to anything with overtones of licorice…which is why I was so excited to find a basil that had no trace of that aftertaste.

african blue basil plant

As far as I know, the only way to get it is to grow it yourself, so I haunt the early spring farmers’ markets for plants. It roots easily, so pinching off a few sprigs and putting them in a glass of water on the windowsill can turn a couple of plants into many. For the two of us, five plants is about right.

african blue basil sprig

The leaves are much smaller than those on the commonest variety, so I snip them off into the food processor with a pair of scissors. The stems are purple, as are the undersides of the leaves, which have a rough texture. Because of the dark coloration, a pesto will not have the bright green you might expect from a regular pesto, but man, will it be delicious, especially if you are licorice-averse, as I am.

tomato/basil appetizer

A platter of cherry or other small tomatoes, halved and topped with a pesto made from this basil, makes for a tasty start to a meal. Because R has an aversion to pine nuts (much like my aversion to licorice, which he loves) I make my pesto with toasted walnuts. Wendy has created a venue for us to share the ways in which we enhance our gardens’ bounty. I’ve gotten some great ideas there. You can too.

on the road again

The last time I drove into town I took the back roads and had my camera handy.

rusty band

Lining a long driveway off of Cornell Road is this whimsical band fashioned from steel and odds and ends of household appliances, tools and such.

rusty band up close

There were no trespassing signs, so I had to use my zoom to get a closer look.

potter’s house

Years ago, I interviewed a potter who lived in this cottage with studio attached. Since his death a few years ago, it has become completely overgrown, but you can still see the clay relief over the door.

old sequoia

He must have planted this giant weeping sequoia long before they became all the rage. It practically engulfs the studio.

Joel Cottet tower

But here, dominating the neighbor’s yard, is the work that Joel Cottet was known for. You can spy it from Cornell Road, across the street from the school. The car just visible behind the bush gives you an idea of the scale of the thing.

many sequoias

And in the back yard of this neighbor’s house is a whole row of giant weeping sequoias.

stapelia gettleffii

roadkill flower
The above photo on Etsy caught my attention, after having read James’ post about it here. He had a colorful name for Stapelia gettleffii based upon the dead meat smell. He called it a “roadkill flower”. Clicking on the image took me to Prickly Pear, where they made no mention of the odor, which attracts pollinating flies. Maybe that was part of the reason that this particular item was sold out by the time I got to the shop. What I found intriguing was their offerings of seeds for all sorts of exotic succulents, including the spiral aloe that I showed you a while back. I may have to give that a try.