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sprig to twig » 2012 » January

Archive for January, 2012

Eucalyptus pauciflora ssp niphopila (for Jane)

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

propped up Eucalyptus

Jane, known to many as the Mulchmaid was bemoaning the fact that her Eucalyptus was listing to starboard after recent storms. We were having that problem, so R propped ours up like so.

close-up of the prop

Here is a close-up of the end that makes contact with the trunk of the tree. Extra boards are screwed to opposing sides of the 4×4 post, making a groove for the tree trunk. The post and tree are lashed together with electrical tape below those boards and the other end of the post was driven deep into the ground. These trees have a tendency to shoot up rapidly and get a bit gangly. The shallow root system makes them likely to tip over, especially when the ground has become soggy with heavy rains.

euc.jpg

I’m pretty sure any expert would tell us to cut back all of those suckers coming up from the ground, but the main part of the tree is so rangy that the extra fullness they provide is welcome. The buttress has been in place now for two years, so I think it is about time to remove it and see if the tree can make it on its own. Jane’s leaning tree has a much handsomer profile…well worth a little extra effort to keep him on the up and up.

488 BeBop downloads later

Friday, January 27th, 2012

I’m sending out a big “Thank You!” to all who helped broadcast the special Amazon free download. 488 seems like a pretty big number to me. It means that many people have the book that didn’t before and it can sink or swim on its own merit.

Our book club is reading Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand and I marked this passage to share with my gardening friends: “He liked the clover, evidence of the country always pressing in close, quietly sabotaging anyone who tried to manicure nature into suburban submission.” The book was written by Helen Simonson. I hear echoes of Remains of the Day in the staid, buttoned-up British “stiff upper lip”, but the Major’s humanity wins out as clashes of generations, cultures and religions buffet him, nudging him ever farther away from his comfort zone. Our group trends toward gentle fiction, though we have veered into the likes of Choke by Chuck Palahniuk and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larssen. Simonson’s book is filled with lyric passages that create the atmosphere of an English village on the cusp of an invasion of modernity: bittersweet, thought-provoking stuff.

BeBop giveaway!

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Dymaxicon (publisher) is conspiring with Amazon to do a promotional event for my book on Tuesday, January 24 and Wednesday, January 25. During those two days, anyone can download BeBop Garden to kindle or computer for free.

front cover of BeBop Garden

We are hoping that it will help to spread the word and “kindle” interest far and wide. Of course, on Kindle one would be missing the beautiful cover. Any person who leaves a comment on my blog with their email address will receive a downloadable version of the cover that they can then print out for themselves. All of my blogging friends have been super-supportive, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Now if you will let your vast readership in on our ‘Limited Time Offer’ (HA HA) you will be helping us to…Bop On!

Now HERE is the link that will take you directly to the Amazon order page.

after the storm

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

‘Thunderhead’ pine

The rain ceased, the clouds parted and a patch of blue sky could be seen: a fine opportunity for a walk around our place and up the road. I spent a long time looking for my ‘Thunderhead’ pine back before they started popping up everywhere. It has been in place now for about four years and was beginning to earn its name, before this drastic pruning job administered by Mom Nature. It lost a good half of its volume. Several less precious pines out in the front hedgerow suffered lesser damage.

broken birch

We have a little grove of birches along the entry drive. Several of them had their main leaders broken off.

sapsucker damaged birch trunk

Of course, the birches had been weakened by the attack of the sapsuckers, who had drilled them full of holes before R put the protective cages of chicken wire around them. This latest of several home remedies seems to be doing the trick, especially if I keep the suet feeders full.

rain-beaten grasses

Grasses that had been standing tall have been beaten to the ground. Guess I can’t put off cutting them back much longer.

roadside snow

Out on the road, the remnants of the snow storm linger. Many of our neighbors had burn piles going to deal with the debris. With all that wet material it looked like they were sending smoke signals back and forth.

forest damage

The forest gets thinned out naturally from time to time. This go-around left broken branches and fallen trees all over the place.

salvaged rocks

Loosened rocks fall onto the roadsides every winter. We hauled home some beauties today.

mossy rock

Here’s a rock from a previous plundering party that has had a chance to settle in and accumulate some moss. Seldom have I met a rock that didn’t call out to me for adoption.

It was pointed out to me by Loree, that most dangerous of gardeners, that I have been largely absent from the blogosphere of late. I was touched to have it noticed. I guess I am beginning to feel some spring-like stirrings that should prompt a spate of new subjects to spout off about. Thanks you, as always, for stopping by.

“weather event”

Friday, January 20th, 2012

deep snow

Here’s what we woke up to on Wednesday morning…about a foot of very wet snow. It broke many tree limbs and bent others (and even some whole trees) to the ground. It also kept me from an event I was very much looking forward to…reading from BeBop Garden for a garden club in Vancouver WA. They were gracious about my wimpy ways and assured me that we could reschedule for a couple of months hence. Enough with the carping. It was really pretty.

snow scene with flags

Everything covered in white becomes even more dramatic viewed through the line of flags at our front deck’s edge.

snow scene taken with the flash on

Richard took a few pictures with the flash on. I like the effect…very different than the first pictures, taken with the snow setting. Here’s another one:

more flash

Unfortunately, we can’t seem to reach a level where these special effects are anything other than accidents. By this afternoon, most of the beauty had dissolved into a bleak, dismal slush. R commented that it was an Edgar Allen Poe sort of day. Hah! Turns out today was EAP’s birthday!

wall pocket history

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

wallholidy.jpg

This is what my wall pocket looks like right now, decked out for the holidays with two wintergreen plants, (Gaultheria procumbens) and a lemon cypress cupressus macrocarpa ‘Goldcrest Wilma’. I have had this pot for many years and am fond of it, but finding just the right plants has always been a challenge. It is attached to the wall next to our front door. The roof of the deck is plexiglass beyond a two-foot overhang, so it gets indirect sunlight. Early on, I was very pleased with a planting of Streptocarpella, which had deeply grooved, velvety leaves with pale blue blossoms on wiry stems that danced with the slightest breeze. Sadly, I have not seen this plant for sale anywhere in years.

Ipomoea ‘Margeurite’ & Lobelia

A couple of years ago I hit upon this combination: a pale blue lobelia flanked by two sweet potato vines named ‘Marguerite’.

‘Marguerite’ takes over

The lobelia did not fare well, but Marguerite flourished.

trailing Marguerite

By season’s end, she was trailing flirtily down the wall.

Ipomoea ‘Lime’

With the idea of building on the previous year’s success, I repeated the Ipomoea, this time ‘Lime’, but I really did want to punch it up with a bit of contrast. Aha! A coleus with sunset tones and just a smidge of lime at the edges would be perfect.

oops

What went wrong? I examined what was left of the plants for predators: nope. The plants had come from the nearby one-stop. While they were not primo, they gave no clues that they would end up like this. I had to believe I was the culprit. I dumped out plants and soil, then soaked the pot in a bleach solution overnight.

replacement plants

The replacement plants (from a real nursery, just to be on the safe side) were a less satisfying color combination, but they did thrive. My wish for you in the new year is that you will thrive, as will all that you touch…in the garden and elsewhere. I am looking forward to sharing 2012 with you.