Sunday, November 16, 2008

Time For Bed

Well, another gardening season is coming to a close and it's time to say goodbye to my good flowery friends and wish them a nice, long, safe slumber. This time of year always makes me a bit melancholy, especially so this year as I am preparing to leave my garden for awhile to travel around on a great adventure, so I've let them stay up way past their normal bedtime. Now, some (i.e. the responsible ones), have already put themselves to bed and are snoozing away in their dormancy, but my roses are like giggly girls at a slumber party and I finally had to go out there and tuck them in and turn out the lights.

Armed with my trusty tools, I headed out into the garden one last time. Now, I know parents are not supposed to have favorites but I will admit that roses absolutely drop me to my knees. When healthy and in full-bloom, they are heartbreakingly beautiful and come in so many luscious colors and scents it's like trying to pick a ball-gown and a favorite perfume when I'm contemplating my next purchase. Ok, yes, they are a bit high maintenance (especially in Montana) but my roses at the end of the season remind me of a queen who has fallen on hard times. Her dress might be a bit tattered and torn from frost, aphids and powdery mildew but she valiantly fights off marauding dogs with her thorns and sends up blooms so gorgeous that there is no question who rules this garden. And as any good serf will, though it's time-consuming, back-breaking work, I gladly kneel at their feet and help them prepare for slumber.

I certainly wasn't alone, either, as I plucked, pruned and raked away. It was a rare sunny, slightly warm day so lots of the neighbors were also out getting ready to button down for the winter. My "challenging" neighbor, the one who is noisy and gregarious with absolutely no boundaries when it comes to helping himself from my garden or inviting himself in to my home, popped his head in to see if I might have any garden leftovers that he could have.

I took a break when he showed up and admired the handiwork on his own little abode. What is it about squirrels' nests that make them look so cozy? As the sun dropped and my little neighbor made his way home, I imagined him snuggled up tight in his little tree house.

Then one of my favorite neighbors dropped in for a little chit-chat and some preening.

And, of course the supervisors were on duty.

( Obviously, the grueling work schedule wore them out.)

So, another year has come and gone. My seedlings, the ones I worried and fussed over, are now done, the tomatoes, peppers, squash, lettuce, etc long since a distant memory and tonight I pulled the last of the carrots. Since the roses have finally gone to bed and the rest of the flowers are safely sleeping, I guess I can put down my pruning shears and call it a day. Goodnight, my friends, sweet dreams and I'll see you soon!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Stories and Stones

Missoula Cemetery

It's a rainy Saturday morning, cold and damp with snow swirling on the higher peaks around us, so I figured I'd grab my fuzzy slippers and another cup of espresso and settle down to blog.

And this blog is going to be about one of our local Missoula treasures...the Missoula Cemetery.

What?!! A cemetery?!, you might exclaim but I say, Yes, a cemetery! Established in 1884, not only is it a lovely place for an afternoon stroll with its ornate headstones and rows of big, old maples but at least once a year, it's as if your history book comes alive.

Every Fall, volunteers bring to life the stories of deceased patrons. From the Missoula Madam, Mary Gleim, to Missoula's very own serial killer, Wayne Nance, to Missoula's founding fathers which range from architects to Civil War soldiers and, of course, the one I'm most fascinated with, Jeanette Rankin, the first woman elected to Congress in a time before women even had the right to vote! Heck, to this day, we even have a lovely store dedicated to her and her pursuit of peace, Jeanette Rankin Peace Center. And, might I add, this makes it all the more dear to my heart after taking part in the most exciting election I have had the honor of participating in...Yes, we can! May our President-Elect carry us gracefully through a new era of peace, compassion and hopefulness. But, I digress...

My good friend Lori, and her daughters, Emily and Audrey, accompanied me on this Fall afternoon to Stories and Stones at the Missoula Cemetery. It was a gorgeous autumn day and we all had a lovely time kicking our way through fallen leaves as we wandered around with the other Missoulians listening to the stories of lives from long ago. There were hay rides to be taken and goodies to be nibbled and they even provided the kids with paper and crayons so they could make etchings of the stones.

Emily making an engraving

This is one of the many reasons I love this little town I live in. Friends and neighbors getting together in a postcard perfect setting to celebrate the lives we share now and the lives of those who came before us. Thanks Lori, Emily and Audrey for sharing your time, stories and smiles with me!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Dinner and a Show

My brother, Tom, and I decided to wander downtown Saturday night to grab some dinner and see what was cooking in Missoula on an Autumn eve. Well, Missoula was all dressed up in her Fall finery and there was even a rainstorm show to keep us entertained!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Autumn in Missoula

I really don't believe there is a lovelier season than Autumn. It just begs you to get out and take those long walks in the woods, cozy up to a crackling fire with friends, drink that gorgeous, big Cabernet you've been saving, or just get out in your garden for those last precious weeks. So, before I start putting it to bed, I thought I'd put up a few photos from my garden showing off some of its fall beauty. Happy Autumn to you all!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

California Fever

Oh, Southern California! You either love it or hate, I guess. Of course there's the crime, smog and traffic but, lest we forget, California has some pretty amazing gardens tucked in amongst the urban jungle. I was extremely fortunate to get to visit a couple recently (this is just before Santa Barbara burst into flames) so I thought I'd post my Ode to the California Garden. Enjoy!

Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens is a wonderous place, tucked in the foothills surrounding Santa Barbara.

The Getty ...need I say more?

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Magnolias and Mason Bees

I woke the other morning to such a glorious magnolia in full bloom! It has creamy pink petals and such a nice form and it happily sits right outside my kitchen window where I look out on it every morning. Such a nice thing to wake up to each morning. It's probably one of my favorite plants and I have been trying to grow one for years now so watching this one flourish has been extremely satisfying.

My first attempt with magnolias started with a mail-order purchase through J&P shortly after we bought our house. I mulled and considered and planned out where I would plant it to give it the best chance of succeeding. I envisioned sitting in our sunroom, sipping my coffee and gazing out at this magnificent tree. So, I researched and thought some more and finally placed the order... then patiently waited.

Finally the day arrived when my tree was to be delivered. I requested that it be shipped to my work to eliminate any undue stress that might occur from it sitting on our front porch all day. I drove our truck to work so I would be able to get it home and informed our receptionist that I was expecting a magnolia tree today and, if she would just buzz me when it arrived , I would quickly get it out of the lobby for her. I even asked a male coworker if he could help me get it to the truck when it arrived and then I sat back and waited some more.

By lunch it hadn't arrived. I had to run out (but made it quick) and, upon my return, I scanned the lobby hoping my magnolia had arrived in my absence. Pam, our receptionist, was looking at me and I asked excitedly if deliveries had been made yet. "Yes", she told me, "and I do have something for you". Great, I thought, scanning the lobby again. Well, as if taken from a Saturday Night Live skit, she reaches under the counter and pulls out a Fedex box which couldn't have weighed more than 2 lbs. I looked at her, confused, saw that the box was from J&P and ripped it open . And there, in all its magnificent glory, was my magnolia tree! Basically, it looked like a pencil with roots! A small, sad pencil with roots. I looked at Pam, she looked at me and then she asked, "Shall I call the guys to see if they can help you get it out to your truck?". Hardy, har, har! And, thus, my first introduction to mail-order plants. Oh, and by the way, I took my pencil magnolia home, planted it in the 3 foot hole I had prepared and watched it promptly shrivel up and die. Grr.....

So, after several more attempts, I'm sure you can understand why I am now proud as a mother hen of this little beauty.

Another item in my garden that I'm proud as punch over is my Mason bees. I started with one hive which I got through a pledge I made to our local public radio station and, after their latest pledge drive, I now have 3 hives. For those gardeners who haven't heard of Mason bees, please pay attention! They are such wonderful little creatures; very gentle, non-aggressive, gregarious and inexhaustively busy and, I've been told, they're more productive pollinaters than honey bees. Plus, they are so fun to watch! Nothing makes me happier than sitting in my garden and watching these little guys zip and buzz and dance around. In the morning they will sit in the doorway of their respective holes, like dogs sitting in the doorways of their doghouses, and when the sun finally warms them up, out they come to dance, buzz and pollinate. Take a look at my buzzy little friends!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Sunshine! Glorious Sunshine!

Forgive my delay in posting but the most miraculous thing occured this weekend....SUNSHINE! Hallelujah! After days and weeks of rain and snow, we got that precious liquid gold. Having grown up in a region where you never bothered to check the weather report, you just took it for granted that the sun was going to shine, it's still quite a shock to the system when I go for days without seeing it. It feels like you're in a cold, wet, dark tunnel and you're never going to get out. But, then, the sun comes out and you feel like you can fly!

Having just emerged from that tunnel, I looked around at my fair city and discovered there are a heck of a lot of people who must feel the same way! The sun came out and it was as if the whole city woke up at the same time...... and came out to play. People were everywhere! In the river, on the trails, wandering downtown, hiking, biking, barbequing, snoozing in the park, lounging in hammocks, sipping wine on patios with friends. It was like a citywide party and it was a whole lot of fun.

Erik and I did our best to contribute to the party atmosphere and managed to get out and about town. We snapped a few pictures of our city in the sun on one of our bike rides so hope you enjoy. We even got a picture of our resident beaver, who lives at the end of our street, socializing with one of the ducks who came to visit for the summer.

Now, they say another big, ugly storm is supposed to hit again this week but, for now, the sun is shining, the sky is blue and my backyard view of Mt. Sentinel is crystal clear so I'm going to raise a toast to the sun god and sit back and enjoy!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Murphy, Our Houseguest

Last night we had the perfect houseguest, a baby English bulldog named Murphy. This was Murphy's first sleepover and, I have to say, alot of fun was had by all. I don't know if he has ever spent time around 3 dogs all weighing 70 lbs or better but, after the initial, "Oh my god, what ARE they? Giants?" he settled right into rough-housing, squeeky toy squeeking, chasing each other around the yard, barking at strange sounds and, his favorite, tug-of-war.

Having worn himself out the night before (and rolling off of bed once during the night) morning came pretty early for the little guy but, by this point, he believed he was one of the big dogs and filed out the back door in order like a pro...Large, Medium, Small and Extra Small. He barked at a passing neighbor, tried to wolf down big dog food, and learned the pure joy of leaping on an extra large Coolaroo and using it like a trampoline. Then, unfortunately, after dozing in a sunny doorway while I got ready, the visit was over and we packed his overnight bag and headed off to work to meet his mom.

I wonder if tonight he'll dream little doggie dreams of his time amongst the giants....

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Look At These Little Beauties

I'm happy to report that my seedlings are bursting at their little peat pods and have had to be moved into roomier accommodations. I was frantically trying to find containers to move them into, had even asked friends, neighbors and co-workers for any soup cans they might have hanging around in their recycling bins (not enough, by the way!), when the lightbulb in the brain FINALLY turned on and I thought, "Party cups!" Woohoo! I had a Costco-size bag of red, plastic drink cups leftover from our annual Autumn BBQ stashed in the basement. I went charging on down and got straight to work.

It took me three hours to prep my soil mix, punch holes in the bottoms of the cups and get everyone relocated...but I did it and don't they look happy! I ran out of room in my sunroom so I rigged up a table in our bay window and everyone seems to be settling in to their new digs.

Of course, this means that my mini-greenhouses are empty and ready for the next batch but I'm trying to hold myself back from starting anymore as I have absolutely no where else to put them once they reach the "party cup" stage.
Still, I have packets of seeds and extra peat pods...hmmm, maybe I could just do a few......


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