Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Walkway Challenge: Hens and Chicks

My front walkway is of the dry stack variety -- there's no mortar between any of the stones. Stone dust was tamped in during construction, but with each heavy rain, a bit more of it washes down the sloping yard.

I got the idea to plant some hens and chicks in the spaces that have lost the most rock dust when I saw them in another stone walkway.  There was already some decaying organic matter in the cracks: broken down sticks, leaves, nuts. I just broke a piece off the hen/chick pile and crammed it into a few spots.

These little succulents are nearly indestructible, and they love the walkway's sunny conditions. They come back year after year, too, as long as you don't accidentally scrape them off when you're shoveling snow or vigorously sweeping.

Plus they're cute, and they do seem to be helping to create some hold in the risky patches of the walkway.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Low-Effort Container Gardening

Clematis and impatiens in front of garage.

It wasn't until I started taking photos of them that I realized how many containers I have going outside this year.  No wonder I ran out of potting soil!  With a fairly big lawn to mow as well as other time-takers, finding plants that do well in containers with very little effort is a priority for me.

Geraniums and a spiller on the deck.

Some of these are only just starting to fill out and bloom, or are between blooms, but if past is prologue, they'll all have a good summer here in northern Virginia.

A wall planter, complete with asparagus
fern and a wren's nest!
Look closely -- there's the wren!

A fern softens the edges of the patio steps.

Wall pots in a mostly shady breezeway do
well with impatiens.

Fairy garden, with one of
Lance's found objects sculptures. Learn
more: lanceglassstudio.com

Impatiens and grass out by the firepit.

Just-planted boxwoods in the breezeway.

Front walkway with geranium, grass, and
sweet potato vine (a thriller, a filler, and a

Another fern, appropriated from the
woods, on patio.

Herbs on the deck. More basil is growing in the veggie
 garden, but it's nice also having this close to the kitchen
for quick snipping.

Deep pink mandevilla climbs a
trellis on the deck.

Lighter pink mandevilla climbs up a
trellis behind the patio.

Impatiens and grass on the patio

Begonias and grass on the patio.

Impatiens do well in a breezeway that doesn't get much sun.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Wine Barbie?!

I just saw a blog post about "Wine Barbie." Seriously?  That girl is everywhere!  Turns out this particular Barbie is a wine enthusiast, and is holding forth for Women's History Month. 

The article mentions a few wine makers and experts who are women (and we KNOW there are a lot of female drinkers -- wink). 

My beloved sweatshirt. 
I didn't see mention of one of my favorite wine maker names and coincidentally a women-operated business -- Hip Chicks Do Wine in Oregon.  My sister and I did a little tour of a few wineries in the Portland area several years ago. Hip Chicks was on our list mainly because we simply HAD to see what this place was all about with such a fun name. Their wines are what they call drinkable -- nothing complicated, but easy going down. I brought back a few bottles of their Vin Nombril, or “Belly Button Wine.”  It's a Pinot Gris-Muscat blend, and lovely on a warm summer day--sit back, sip, and contemplate your navel. Learn more about them on their website.

One of my go-to reds is MacMurray Ranch's Pinot Noir. Fred MacMurray may be gone, but his daughter Kate MacMurray is still involved in the winery. Their wines are easy to find in the Northern Virginia area --Wegman's is where I usually go. The extra couple of dollars for the Russian River Valley PInot Noir is worth it, but the Central Coast PInot Noir is just fine in a pinch. I haven't had good luck with their whites. 

Speaking of good white wines, Naked Mountain in Markham, Virginia, makes several yummy whites. They also hold various events, such as delicious lasagna lunches in the winter, Winemaker Dinners, and more. One of the upcoming events is a star-gazing evening on the mountain. How fun!  Too much wine and I suppose we may start seeing UFOs instead of stars.  I'll take my chances.   

Thursday, February 13, 2014

ISO Stink-Free Paperwhites

At about 10 days.
Guaranteed to bloom with very little effort on my part and with their delicate white flowers, paperwhite indoor narcissus are such a nice bit of cheer in the dreary days of winter. The only problem is that they have a fairly strong odor that I don't care for.

Some might consider the scent "floral," but to me it's just plain stinky, and too strong. Like lilies, the scent also acts as an allergen to some of us. I can feel my throat close up when I get too close.

I was delighted to stumble upon fragrance-free bulbs at Merrifield Garden Center. They cost a bit more than I remember paying for regular paperwhite bulbs, but I figured they were worth it.
At about 2 weeks. 

Lies, all lies! I'm here to tell you that they are NOT fragrance free. They may be a bit less odoriferous (how's that for a $5 vocabulary word?), but I can smell them when I enter the room.  Forget sitting next to them.

The process is so easy:

3 weeks-ish.
Place bulbs, little hairy roots down, in a shallow container. It's fine if the bulbs are touching. I used 3 bulbs in these photos.

Cover with pebbles or aquarium gravel.  Some people use soil or peat moss.

Water to keep the roots wet.

Place in a sunny location in a 55-65 degree F. room.

4 weeks.
After the stems start to get really tall, I try to remember to tie a loose bit of string or ribbon around them to keep them from flopping over later.

That's it -- just keep the roots moist by adding a bit of water every few days.  In 4-6 weeks you'll have beautiful (if stinky) blooms.

Even with all my grousing, I enjoy watching them grow and bloom.  I'll just enjoy them from afar. 

Ignore my dormant orchid in the background.