The Best and Worst - January 2012

I'm joining Bumble Lush Kitchen Garden's new meme: the Best and Worst of my garden for January. It's a post that is published on the last day of the month to summarize your monthly garden triumphs and tribulations

The Best of January or Surprise!
I’m cavalier about planting my bulbs after the first hard frost. I usually put them in a crisper drawer in the fridge until I’m ready to plant. Two weekends ago, it was warm and I thought I would plant the bulbs that I had neglected. I pulled out the crisper drawer to see my bulb purchases from fall. Surprise! I found some fall blooming crocuses in the drawer that needed to be planted immediately. Tender shoots had sprouted.

Fall Blooming Crocuses
I saw some beautiful photographs of a fall blooming crocus on Stacy’s blog, Microcosm and thought I had to have some. Well, I did go get some last fall, but you know the rest of the story.
10 Days Later
I planted them like you would paper whites instead of the more traditional method for forcing bulbs. After the fact, I did find an article and video for next year on forcing bulbs. I also managed to get some drumstick allium (allium sphaerocephalon) bulbs planted in the backyard around my spiral.

The Worst
Alas, the grape hyacinths are still in the crisper drawer. 


No More Picnik

I didn't misspell picnic. Picnik is the online software that I use for my photo editing and collages. However as of April 19, 2012, Picnik will be defunct and a ghost of software past.
Roses at Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida
I mostly don't do much photo editing. I usually forego the auto-correct option that is available in Picnik so that you can see my photos warts and all. Most of the cropping that I do is prior to taking the photo or by moving photos around in a collage frame. Within a collage frame, you can slide the photos side to side and sometimes up and down for limited cropping.
Aster Before and After Auto-Correct
Picnik has a lot of free functions or you could pay $24.95 to use the premium features, which will now be refunded in its entirety. It has an easy interface and it has fun effects like sepia tone and touching up that I didn't use, but I did like the different frame features - especially the drop shadow.
Harry P. Leu Gardens
Some of the Picnik features will be available via the Creative Kit in Google+, but not the collages that were so easy in Picnik. I can download Picasa and try the collage feature in it and Donna at Garden Walk, Garden Talk recently posted a tutorial on creating collages in Photoshop.
Spanish moss on an oak tree at Harry P. Leu Gardens
Anyone can use the premium features of Picnik until its expiration date April 19, 2012 without having to pay. Check it out if you have a chance. (One caveat, Picnik has been a little sluggish since all the premium features are now free.)


Lights! Camera! Action!

Some garden blogs provide great information. Cindy at enclos*ure has written informative posts about cannas and tea plantations in Rwanda. But my posts are not literary, didactic or informative. It took me a while to appreciate blog posts that have substantively more text than photos. I'm mostly about the photos and often have difficulty cobbling words together between photos. I would have no problem with the meme "Wordless Wednesdays" becoming "Wordless Weekdays and Weekends."
Tent Rocks - 2010
With this said, I’ve been thinking it might be time to start looking for a new camera. I've noticed that the left edge of my photos is saturated with more color than the other three corners. I’ve dropped the camera a few times and the zoom has become sluggish. The first digital camera I used was a Kodak. It was so simple to use that I bought one for my Mom.
Garden 2010 - Aspen Leaves
The first camera I bought for myself was a Canon. It proved to be too complicated for me and was prior to image stabilization. So I ended up with a Kodak z712 that has 7.1 megapixels and 12x optical zoom. I'm a huge fan of optical zoom.

I’ve been eyeing two cameras, the Panasonic Panasonic DMC-ZS9 and the Kodak EasyShare z990. Below is a comparison of the two cameras.








16x optical 21x intelligent

30x Optical




View Finder




Proprietary battery

2 AA


< 16 oz

21 oz

Shutter Speed

 Not sure

Can be slow

Garden 2010 - kniphofia

I don’t think I’m in the market for DSLR. It’s beyond what I need. When I had an SLR, I had a Nikon that I loved, but I’ve never tried a Nikon digital camera. About a third of my blog photos tend to be from my phone. It’s great to have on the go.  Aside from gardening, vacation photos and snapshots, I sometimes volunteer as a photographer onsite for Habitat for Humanity. Thus, my camera needs are limited.

What kind of cameras are my fellow garden bloggers using? Does anyone have any camera recommendations?


New Year's Resolution

I’m not compulsively organized at home, but I do keep a spreadsheet of all of the projects that I’m working on at the office and I’m a three ring binder junkie. At a former job, I used to have project plans for grant writing and checklists for coordinating meetings, but at home nary a grocery list. I think I realized in the last couple of years that there is a huge disconnect between how organized I am at work and the lack thereof at home.
I read an article a few years ago about someone who endeavored to work on one thing during the course of a year instead of trying to juggle competing interests and not getting much done. I thought this method might work for me since I’m a little ADD and my mind tends to be interested in EVERYTHING. My resolution for the New Year is to focus on getting organized in the home and garden.

So, I’m taking three baby steps to be more organized at home. The first step I took was to start using my work spreadsheet to track projects at home. Duh, why hadn’t I thought of that sooner? Now, I track my blog ideas and gardening to-dos. My spreadsheet already had an Issues/Barriers field, which I appended with "Lesson Learned" so I can participate in Bumble Lush’s meme, the Best and Worst of the Garden.
The second step I took was to create a garden journal. I read in mixing creative a fast and easy idea for creating a garden journal.  charlie b. assembled a journal in a three ring binder. I love how she affixes plant tags on the pages. She also uses it for notes, ideas and seed purchase lists.

One last organizational idea that I love, Deb at Deb’s Garden uses the month of January to clear out unwanted photos from her hard drive.

I posted these ideas to my Organizing the Garden board on Pinterest so I wouldn’t forget. I’ll keep you in the loop on how my resolution is coming along during the year.  Please share any garden organizing tips that you have!


Still Winter...Sigh

On Monday, I was off of work for New Year's Day and I went hiking with a couple of friends. We had intended to snowshoe, but snowshoes were unwarranted given how snow packed the trails were.
The temperatures have been creeping up all week and in the high 40s and low 50s. I feel like I have ants in my pants today and want to start my spring garden clean up. I know, however that the mild temperatures belie cooler winter weather to come.
I'm going to enjoy the mild weather while I can and not rush the onset of spring in my mind. The forecast tomorrow calls for snow. 
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