come to a birthday party


I met Doug and Joyce many years ago. They were remodeling a barge into a floating home and we were doing the same with a decommissioned tugboat. We were moored side by side at the tip of Tomahawk Island when it was still undeveloped and wild. Such conditions breed close relationships that stand the test of time, even when later contact is sporadic and widely spaced. Indeed, the last time we visited them in the hills above Sheridan, they were living in tents and logging the land to build their house.

clay sculpture

Doug is an architect/furniture builder and Joyce is an artist/teacher, so artistic touches wait around every corner…like this clay sculpture with its arms raised in celebration.

andiron plant stands

I can only imagine how great it would be in high summer, but the stripped down winter face allowed little touches, like the repurposing of a pair of andirons to hold a metal pot, to stand out.

the wrap-around deck

The wrap-around deck has pergolas, roof lines and decorative elements to keep it interesting.

save the trees

A cutout in the decking accommodates a tree growing close to the house.

whimsical handrail

I didn’t take many indoor shots because the party was in full swing, but here’s a whimsical handrail.

huge jade plant

A huge jade plant filled an alcove.

jade with lights

It was dressed for the season.

Doug in his shop

Here’s Doug in his woodworking shop.

carving on a panel in progress

A peek at some of the carving on a panel he’s working on. Every door in the house is its own miniature landscape.

the four daughters

I failed to get a picture of the birthday girl, but the four daughters are like versions of Joyce. They regaled the crowd with song and dance and silliness back there with the tree in the window for a backdrop. It is such a joy to reconnect with old friends. I hope you got to do some of that during the holidays.

foliage follow-up, January edition

foliage replaces flowers

This area outside the nearest New Seasons market is usually ablaze with blossoms, as you can tell by the banner above. With the cold snap, all of the flowers have been moved inside, replaced by the hardier stuff of foliage plants and bundles of colorful twigs.

grasses an heucheras

Hanging baskets feature grasses and Heucheras, a look that is much more appealing to me than summer’s petunias and such.

evergreens and hellebores

With the exception of a few Hellebores at the far end of this display, we look to foliage here to satisfy the desire for something to bring home to brighten our days.

indoor display of succulents and air plants

Step inside to see a display of succulents, cacti and air plants.

tiny pots of succulents

I can never walk by a collection like this without making a purchase…and at $1.99 each, why not? R looked at my choice of plant and expressed the opinion that it looks just like all the others I have at home. You, dear reader, know different, right? The more we look, the more we see. If you find yourself wanting to see more foliage fabulousness, go directly to Digging to see what Pam has in store for you this month for Foliage Followup.

Odds & Ends

Alcea rosea seeds starting to sprout

Let’s start with the odd. I plucked this seed pod from a stalk of Alcea rosea, a single, nearly black hollyhock. See how the surface of the pod looks almost mossy and the seeds within are beginning to sprout? I had never seen anything like this before. Scott of Rhone Street Gardens noticed the same phenomenon on some of the seed heads that he had left standing in his garden, and was equally perplexed.

Alcea rosea seeds two ways

The seeds on the right came from that pod, while those on the left came from one I brought in earlier, before the monsoons set in. I think I will experiment with planting both to see if all are viable. I also left some on the stalk and scattered others around, just to see what will happen.

drab maple

Here’s another garden event I’m puzzling over: this maple turned brilliant shades of red for several years running. This year it was satisfied to cloak itself in shades of gold-to-brown. Any ideas what’s up with that?

Digitalis seedlings

Another result of lazy gardening practices: when foxgloves are left to dry in place, the ground becomes choked with seedlings. Here they are duking it out with Ajuga ‘Black Scallop’. I am leaving them to it, to see which of them gains supremacy. In future, I think I will cut down the dying stalks of the foxgloves.

leaky pipe

Here’s a situation I brought on myself. Late in the season, I started digging up an area where I wanted to establish a new bed. I got as far as removing all the sod when the rains set in. During the holidays, R’s sister, Kathryn, was visiting. She called to our attention that a virtual stream was gushing forth out there. Oops! Without the grass to absorb the rain, the water had accumulated to such a degree that it had caused the water line from the pump house to the main house to rupture. We really know how to entertain house guests: R & John spent the next couple of days up to their shoulders, digging a trench and repairing the pipe.

the hole

We marked the path of the pipe before filling in with planting mix and making sure that the area is planted with plenty of Acoris, whose root systems should take over where the missing grass left off.

ornamental kale in red pot

Not everything around here has been an unmitigated disaster. About the time bloggers were debating the pros and (mostly) cons of ornamental kale, R came home with one. I had proclaimed my love for red and purple as a color combo. I plopped the purple kale into this red pot, and quite like the effect…how about you?

daggawalla seeds

Speaking of seeds, I came to this local company by a circuitous route: Margaret Roach’s A Way to Garden, to be exact. These folks are a brand new company right in my own back yard, so to speak. They feature a collection of hard-to-find Nicotiana, among other things. One of the joys of dealing with start-ups is the personal touch. They sent me a hand written note and a bonus packet of seeds with my order. Won’t this be fun? Take a little side trip to check out Daggawalla to get in on the ground floor of this new enterprise.

seed card

Here’s another seed experiment waiting to happen. This was a birthday card. The yellow outer card is impregnated with flower seeds. Supposedly, it can be buried under a light topping of soil to produce a floral display. I can’t wait to try this.

gardening sentiments

A gardening friend brought me this card, along with a bright bouquet, when she came to dinner. I thought you would enjoy the sentiment.

woven card by Ellie

Another friend, Ellie, makes these cards. They are stacked and woven from papers that she designs and has printed in soy-based inks on recycled paper. You can find her cards and papers at her Etsy shop.

spring card

Email has replaced much of the correspondence that used to take place, but I am fortunate to have a few friends who still send hand written thank-you’s. Some even make these cards themselves. Here’s a hand calligraphed and painted card from Susan to leave you with thoughts of Spring.

hello, 2013

hello 2013

What a difference a day makes. Here come some photos of what yesterday morning looked like:

snow on the crape myrtle

snow on grasses

This morning: still cold out there, but with sunshine lighting things up.

snow on Poncirus trifoliata

The ice in the bird bath and the frost on the ground testify to the temperature, but the sun makes itself known.

sun on cherry branches

Because the sun is coming in at such a low angle, it lights up these cherry branches while leaving the background in shadow. Dramatic, isn’t it?

‘Heavy Metal’ Panicum

Any year that starts out with a sunny day holds lots of promise. I look forward to sharing its highs and lows and in-betweens with you, my blogging buddies. Happy New Year!