Sunday, December 28, 2008

'Tis the season . . .

. . . for mad crazy bulb forcing. Currently, paperwhite narcissi "Ziva"--the biggest, most pungent variety--are in bloom.

I keep at least one container in flower from October through March.

Bowls, vases, cups--whatever can be filled with pebbles or marbles and topped with a couple of bulbs--will work. If I remember to provide an intoxicating drink, the paperwhites will grow shorter; if I forget, they grow taller. Shorter is better, I think.

Because I was open to a change of pace this year, I impulse-bought a few bulbs of Narcissus tazetta v. orientalis Chinese sacred lily" and Narcissus tazetta ssp. aureus "Grand Soleil d'Or" at a local hardware store. Here's what I reaped--nothing but foliage. I know that these varieties take longer than paperwhites to bloom but after a few months of waiting, I had to move on. Narcissi are all about brevity.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Light up the night

The solstice sequel to my previous post about firewood : light, warmth, and crackling flames.

Some exciting weather was packed into the daylight hours. We've had about 8 inches of snow and sleet, accompanied by downed trees and power lines. A flash freeze is predicted for tonight. Brrrr ...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Wood chopping

Here's the only site of backyard activity this past weekend: where the wood is chopped.

Despite our 21st-century suburban setting, this part of our lifestyle sometimes seems reminiscent of existence in another time and place. We are always on the look-out for logs. What some people consider tree removal problems, we consider a cold weather opportunity. Relatives have been known to come bearing timber in their back of their cars and pick-up trucks. My husband splits enough wood to see us through a winter's worth of weekend evening fires. This little stack represents a few hours of wood chopping. What's nicer than a fire on a winter night? Okay, you're right, a fire with a book to read by it . . . and a choice libation.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Nipped by Jack Frost

This morning brought the first snowfall of winter. Only the top few inches of soil have begun to freeze, so despite flurries all day, few flakes actually stuck to the ground. It was more the concept of a snowstorm than the reality of a snowstorm. Holly berries, at least, seized the inspiration.

Yesterday may have been the last good day of gardening weather this year. And good gardening weather, it was, indeed: mild temperatures, overcast skies, and windless. Lots of tidying up occurred: cutting back still slightly scented catmint, gathering up dead hosta foliage, trimming down bearded and Siberian iris leaves, clip, clip, clip, rake, rake, rake . . .

Only this morning did I remember that I had not yet not planted larkspur seed. So here they are, waiting until it was snowing to be properly winter sown.

The other tasks that I'm only now remembering? They'll be added to the garden goal roll for next spring.