A Comedy of Errors

I’m back from London and the Chelsea Flower Show. It was an adventure getting to London. The photos below are from the rhododendron area at Kew Gardens and are not related to my post below.
Prior to leaving for London, I wanted to ensure that my garden would be watered in my absence. My supervisor came over and helped me tighten up the connections to the drip system. I was feeling secure that my garden watered. I set the timer for the drip system to water three times a week. I went to work the next day thinking all is well.
When I returned home, I found watering pooling on the tile floor in the family room. I was panic stricken. I called my friend Bill who wasn't home; but his wife Katie offered a tool for me to use for turning off the water at the meter. I was wondering if this was beyond my mechanical ability, but turned to my reliable DIY guru YouTube. The first video I found gave clear instructions on how to turn off the water at the meter; a 90 degree clockwise turn was all that was needed.
My friend Katie also advised me to contact the dog sitter and have her bring water daily for my dog Aster. I went to the store and bought two gallons of water for the dog sitter to refill at her house. I wasn't sure of I should cancel my trip because of the water situation and was angst ridden.
The next day, I flew out of the Santa Fe airport. The flight has a 90% on time rate. We were on the runway for a while because of some storms in Dallas. The flight finally took off. As we neared Dallas, the plane was in a holding pattern. We waited for the weather to clear, but were eventually diverted to Abilene, Texas.
We waited on the runway until TSA staff could return to the airport for security reasons because the airport was closed. Someone at the airport ordered pizza for our dinner. Kudos to the airport staff in Abilene for all they did to help us. I found out later that there were devastating tornadoes in Dallas and that DFW was closed. The airline provided hotel and taxi vouchers. The taxi vouchers were only for one cab company. It looked like it would be a long wait for a cab that took vouchers. However, there was a business man from another flight that had been diverted who generously paid for the cab to the hotel from the cab company that didn't take vouchers. A few of us jumped in the taxi-van and were grateful for not having to wait.
Sleep was fitful. The next day the power was out at the Abilene airport and it was running on backup generators. The remaining passengers who didn't drive to Dallas from Abilene in rental cars got on the flight the next morning. It felt like a chartered flight because there were only about 10 of us on the plane. I hung out at the Dallas airport for about 10 hours.
The next flight leaving for London departed at 7:30 pm. I learned a lot about DFW while waiting. They have WiFi lounges on the domestic side to charge electronics and surf the web and email. However, the international terminal only had charging kiosks, but WiFi was available, too if you know how to access it. I had yummy Popeye's fried chicken for lunch. Something that isn't available in Santa Fe.
I finally boarded the plane and was ensconced in my seat belt when a fellow passenger came up to me holding a ticket for the same seat number. One of the flight attendants found another seat for him and we finally departed for London. Whew, what a challenging few days.
All's well that ends well???


Back From Hibernation, Sort of....

It's been a while since I've posted. The project management class I took last semester was a bear. I have one class this term and I will be done with my project management certificate program and hope I can do more blogging this year. As a graduation present to myself I booked a ticket to London in May so I can go see the Chelsea Flower Show during its Centennial or as the English call it, its Centenary. Tickets to the flower show are going fast! I'm glad I didn't wait until the last minute to buy them.

During my holiday break from class, work was chaotic in what are usually the slow months, November and December. Something went wrong with a system upgrade and I had my first 50-email email chain. Instead of divesting my inbox of old and unwanted emails, more were added.
It was bitterly cold last week so I thought I would post some pictures of the lemon Maximilian sunflowers that bloomed in my garden last fall. They are so warm and cheery looking.
They're are water hogs so I might need to find a good home for them and my echinacea, too. Last year my water bill skyrocketed during the summer. I don't know if it was the vegetable garden or having plants that needed more irrigation.
Or if I watered more frequently because I had the watering on timer for the drip system. I might need to pull out the water wasters and find some drought tolerant ground covers.
The flowers remind me of the theme song to the show Sesame Street.
Sunny Day
Sweepin' the clouds away
On my way to where the air is sweet

Can you tell me how to get,
How to get to Sesame Street?

I hope it's warmer in your neck of the woods!


Veggie Garden Update

I'm not sure where the summer went, but I'm glad it's fall. I've been cranky lately because I started another project management class and can't fritter my time away like I did over the summer.  I visited Karin at Southern Meadows and she wrote a post about being in a funk, but turned it around with a little help from some sunflowers and P. Funk. Thanks to Karin for some much needed inspiration.
I've been ready for garden season to be over for a few weeks now and have been trying to will the vegetable garden to hibernate, but it's not ready to go to bed. It's like the energizer bunny. It keeps going and going and going.
One of the lesson learned this year is that I tried to cram too many plants into my square foot garden. Nonetheless, the nasturtiums are keepers and I will plant more next year.
The tomatoes were too large for their cages and for the square foot garden. I decreased the watering about a month ago, but they still keep growing. The organic Roma tomatoes are supposed to be determinate. I thought that they would ripen all at once so I could do some canning, but that hasn't happened. They are still blooming as are the heirloom Brandywine tomatoes.
I read that I could stop watering if I wanted all of my tomatoes to ripen at once. If it gets a lot cooler, I might have to try this. Another lesson learned from the veggie garden was that it took a lot of water. This is another reason to decrease the number of plants that I grow next year.
One of the zucchini plants is still producing deformed little squash. I'm not sure if I'm a huge fan of zucchini. They're definitely not keepers.
The eggplant didn't flourish in the garden. Isn't it cute? It's an heirloom Bianca Sfumata di Rosa eggplant. This wasn't an epic fail, but I did have some other plants that were completely unsuccessful. The red onions and golden beets were very sad. Too sad that they didn't even warrant photos.
I'm still ready for the garden to go night night, but the vegetable garden was a great learning experience for me. Next year, I would like to start some more plants from seeds, plant fewer numbers and grow lots of herbs and be done with all of my project management classes.


GBBD - September 2012

I'm ready for gardening season to wind down and to spend time cocooning in the fall and winter months. I've been curling up with mystery novels instead of pulling weeds. There have been intermittent afternoon and evening rains the last few weeks and my garden is soaking up all the moisture.  The late monsoonal rains have brought some late summer booms.
Everything is coming up salvia. I've had this raspberry delight salvia for years. My supervisor gave me a set of three and this is the only one that is left. Hers are everblooming, but mine only blooms in the late summer. I'm not sure if it's a lack of water or fertilizer. It complements the white gaura that grows next to it.
I planted the Pat Vlasto salvia in the spring. I think they will be favorite when they grow in more. They have a melon/watermelon color. I only saw them once at the nursery and they weren't available on any of my return trips. I can't wait to see what a whole bush of them will look like.
The ultra violet salvia is so dependable. It has teeny tiny flowers, but it blooms all the time. I can't recall what the other salvia is. It's a zone 7 that might not come back next year, but sometimes a good sale is hard to resist.
The salvia azurea (prarie sage) is lovely blue color. I planted them a few weeks ago and they're blooming up a storm. My apologies for all the blurry photos. Salvia flowers are too tiny for my point and shoot camera to handle.

I'm joining Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. Special thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting. Please check out what's blooming in other parts of the country and in other parts of the world.


Goodbye Patricia

Patricia Tryon was a frequent visitor to my blog and one of the earliest bloggers that befriended me. She introduced me to the photography of Karl Blossfeldt and the botanical art of Pierre-Joseph Redouté. This spring I was on a blogging hiatus for a few months because of school and was wondering where Patricia was in the blogosphere when I came back. I followed her on twitter and hadn't seen a post in a while. As it turns out, she passed away on April 14, 2012.

While on vacation in July, I was reading some book reviews on Amazon and stumbled upon one that she had written. I knew it was the same Patricia Tryon because she had done a review for a book of photographs by Karl Blossfeldt and used her full name. One thing led to another and I googled Patricia Tryon. Upon entering Patricia Tryon, the search engine auto-populated Patricia Tryon obituary and I learned of her death. The last thing she tweeted was I know what it feels like to cough up a lung.

She was an avid blogger and had several blogs going at once, but my favorite blog was Picturing Plants and Flowers. In it she introduced me to the world of botanical art and artists. My favorite post of hers was of lilies by Walter Hood Fitch. I would look at it on cold dreary winter days and think of summer blooms.
She mentioned to me that her daughter went to school in Santa Fe. Patricia also loved to shop at Santa Fe Greenhouses and its online presence High Country Gardens. One of the last things that she commented about this year was that she still had not gotten used to the late frost date in Colorado. It's the same one that we have in Santa Fe, May 15th.

Rest in peace Patricia. The blogging community will miss you!


Vertical Vegetables & Fruit

When a friend of mine introduced me to the vertical gardens of Patrick Blanc, they seemed so surreal or otherworldly at the time. Now vertical gardening is ubiquitous. There are instructions all over YouTube and Pinterest. You can even find a vertical gardening kit on the shopping channel.*

I've been hemming and hawing about writing this book review. It feels like summer is almost over so I'm not sure if it's timely to write about vegetable gardening. I'm joining the August book reviews at Roses and Other Gardening Joys. Special thanks to Holley for hosting.
I picked up a copy of Vertical Vegetables & Fruit: Creative Gardening Techniques for Growing in Small Spaces by Rhonda Massingham Hart this spring at a local bookstore. The books is divided into three parts: one on vertical gardening tips and techniques, the second on vertical annual vines, and the third on perennial fruits that grow well vertically.
The book is well laid out, which is a big plus for me. Sometimes, I won't by a book if the typeface is too small or if there is something about the layout that is incongruous. It doesn't have any photographs, but has inspiring illustrations that made me want to try the techniques in the book. The sections of text are broken up by sidebars that gave hints on specific topics. The book also has a great chart about the soil depth, spacing and sunlight needed for container planting.
The author describes some conventional methods for training plants vertically like building a tepee or tuteur and some unconventional methods like building your own upside down planter or a potato tower. The book is filled with lots of information in small chunks.
I used the second and third sections on annual vines and fruits more for reference. It's not encyclopedic. The author gives an overview of  different varieties to consider, the length of time from planting to harvesting, planting guidelines and how to train plants up. The annual vines, the author describes for growing are: beans, peas, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, melons and sweet potatoes. One of the the sidebars in the tomato chapter was about the different initials and numerals you see on seed packets and that they stand for disease resistance. The book is also sprinkled with trivia and fun facts about plants, like how burpless cucumbers came into being.
The chapters in the fruit section are: blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, grapes, kiwis, and espalier. I liked the illustrations of different types of espalier. The kiwi chapter discusses growing fuzzy kiwi and hardy kiwi. I've seen hardy kiwi at the store before; they are about the size of kumquats and you eat them like grapes with the skin on.
I'm glad I picked up Vertical Vegetables & Fruits. It makes a good addition to my limited gardening library. The text and illustrations are engaging and I wholeheartedly recommend this book.

* Sometimes, when I have insomnia I watch the shopping channel and I saw a vertical garden kit on it one night this past spring. I can't watch for long. The cadence and speed of the hosts make it feel as if I would miss out on a lifetime opportunity if I don't make an immediate purchase. I wonder if there is a school for shopping channel hosting. Maybe it's the same school you would attend to become a carnival barker. 


GBBD - August 2012

Gardening in Santa Fe is a mixed blessing. The average rainfall is 14.22 inches. However, Santa Fe has an average of 283 sunny days. The soil can be rocky, sandy or clay. Last year I hardly planted anything because there was a severe drought. Sometimes, I plant three plants and only one or two plants overwinter. Planting odd numbers has rarely worked for me for this reason. However, this month I'm going to count the blessings in my garden.

I'm joining Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. Special thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting. Please check out what's blooming in other parts of the country and in other parts of the world.
About twelve years, the view outside the window of my office was of a courtyard dotted with red yucca (hesperaloe parviflora). However, it seemed too large to put in my garden so that thought entered the recesses of my mind. Last year Susan at Ink & Penstemon blogged about a dwarf hesperaloe that would be the plant to have this year, Brakelights(R) red yucca. I don't know if it was the power of suggestion, but I planted three in my garden this spring. A month or so after planting, aphids covered the blooms on all three plants. I cut all the blooms off and forgot about it. One of the plants rebloomed recently with nary an aphid.
I've had this gaura in my garden for while. It came in a set of three. Only one survived, but for the first time ever it reseeded and now I have another gaura that is doing well in the garden.
These might be the saddest cosmos of all time, but I started them from seed this spring and they're still going. I'm hoping they'll reseed and I won't have to plant cosmos next year.
I planted this desert four o'clock about three summers ago. It's one of the more xeric plants in my garden. Last week the four foot plus wide plant was covered in blossoms.
It's a sea o' licorice mint (agastache rupestris). I've tried other cultivars, but none does as well as the rupestris. I can count on it from year to year to provide soft waves of color in the waning days of summer.
My last blessing is plants overwintering. Plants don't reliably come back in the spring. I had a phantom drip emitter that wasn't attached to a plant so I plugged the end. The xeric desert asters came back where the drip emitter had been plugged. It is not as finicky and doesn't need as much water as traditional asters. I also planted the blue blazes agastache last year and wasn't sure what to expect. Woohoo, all three plants came back.

What blessings are you thankful for in your garden this year?
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