Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Problem with Snow

In case you've been living in a hole - Boston (just down the road from me) has had it's third snowiest winter on record this winter. And most of that has been in February. I've got about 4 feet of snow on the ground in my yard right now.


The bit of plant to the right is part of a four foot tall Pieris 

Even our fuzzy dog is tired of it. 

But what problem is this causing to my garden? It's causing a problem that I'll have to deal with in April and/or May.

I'm still getting new catalogs from mail order companies.


I've ordered too many plants.

Because of the snow I'm not getting out of the house as much as normal. So I'm stick inside, bored, and longing for some green. And I've got this great big stack of catalogs on my desk. 

Add to that the fact that my garden looks like this...



and I can't exactly go outside and look at the garden and notice where the empty spaces are or where I could possibly tuck in  a new plant. I think I've ordered about 2 or 3 plants for each space.

Oh, look. I haven't ordered anything from the new High Country Gardens catalog yet...

Monday, February 2, 2015

What's that smell?

I'm a mad biologist who has filled her house with life: about 70 houseplants, 3 cats, 1 dog, 1 large fish tank and Walter the snail. So sometimes my house, well, smells (not in a bad way, just in a well lived in way. Well, I guess the house perfume industry would argue that any smell except for their house perfume is a bad smell but I just don't buy that).

Last Friday I went upstairs to bed and smelled an unfamiliar odor. Sweet. Floral. Hmmm... I didn't think anything upstairs was blooming. I checked. Nope nothing. Maybe the maids used a new cleaning product when they came earlier in the day?

I found the source the next morning when I walked into my home office (which is right below the bedroom) and go a stronger wiff. 

Ah-ha! Hoya!

Hoya iacunosa


This is a very small Hoya and it only has one bloom cluster (yes, those are my fingers holding the bloom) but it is enough to spread fragrance throughout the office, through the ceiling and in to our bedroom. Very impressive!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Preparing for The Storm

The weathermen are predicting The Apocalypse tomorrow. Well, they're predicting a strong blizzard but the hyperbole is heavy. It's the Storm-of-the-Century of the Month. We'll probably get a foot or more of snow.

So we made sure we were ready just in case. Fuel in the car, check, food in the pantry, check, pet food, check and back up water supply.



If this doesn't do us there's always the other option.


Yep, that's 120 gallons of less than ideal but still safe to drink water. I don't think the fish would appreciate it if we started in on their water supply, though. I did a partial water change yesterday so it's relatively clean.

Fill the bird feeders.


Realize the birds are emptying the feeder fast today and put "fill the bird feeders" back on the to do list.

My job is cancelled until Thursday. What should I do with this unexpected (and probably house bound) new time?


Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!

So what if I've already placed my orders for this spring. I bet I can find something else I just HAVE to have....


And now [because the relationship is new and I can't get enough of my new kittens] here's Wren. Young and naive enough to get shocked by the weather forecast and very glad he got rescued and is now an indoor cat.

Stay safe ya'll.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Foliage Follow Up - January 2015

It's time for Foliage Follow Up. There's snow blowing around outside but I stayed safe and warm inside, photographing the wonderful foliage of my numerous house plants. And wishing I had a better flash rig. Make that ANY flash rig besides the one that came with my camera. It's high on my wish list. If only the house can stay standing without a major expense for a while so I can afford it.

Here we go: 


I've been developing an interest in Aglaonema lately. Unfortunately each grower seems to have a gazillion varieties with the growers own unique name and I can't get a consensus about which varieties mine actually are.
This one has a bit more of a pale yellow wash than shows up in the photo.


Another Agalaonema, this one has more splotches on younger leaves.


This Agalaonema looks like the one most commonly found in public spaces. I would have passed it up except it was on sale for $3.00 at the Big Box Store and I'm a sucker for cheap plants.


Another $3.00 Aglaonema. This is one of my office plants that came home for the Holiday Shut Down and needs to be carried back as soon as it's reasonably warm outside.


I have mixed feelings about Calathea. This is C. lancifolia, aka Rattlesnake plant. The underside of the leaves is dark purple. I like the foliage and it grows well but if I'm not careful about de-chlorinating the water and watching the temperature these guys seem to get a lot of leaf burn. Then again most of my Anthuriums are also suffering from leaf burn right now, too, possibly due to the extremely dry air inside. Maybe I should set up my old 55 - gallon aquarium as a plant tank... If only I could convince The Husband (and find a spot for it).


This is a bit of a cheat. That's the shadow of a bloom on my Calathea corona (again, I'm not sure of the specific variety. I wish plant sellers would do a better job of labeling).


This is a small Corn Plant (Draczenea fragrans, unknown variety with yellow-green leaves)


Cuban oregano, Plectranthus ambonicus


Dracaena deremensis Lemon-lime, an old reliable for me and a really nice looking plant


Chamaedorea elegans, a nice, very small palm that normally lives in my office at work, where the cats can't nibble on it. 


Last up, Sansevieria trifasciata var. inheritedfrommomii

As you can see I tried to get a little creative with my photos this afternoon. Anything to avoid working on preparing my syllabus for classes that start next week.

Thanks to Pam at Digging for this meme

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day January 2015

My outside garden is sleeping the winter away this month. Even the pansies look cold. But inside my houseplants are keeping my spirits up.

Unfortunately I didn't have much time this morning so you'll have to make do with lower quality pictures. Sorry.





I don't have tons of blooms but all but one of my African Violets are blooming.



And this Calathea shows no signs of stopping or even slowing down with blooming (even though it's not  happy with either the humidity or maybe I forgot to de-chlorinate the tap water so there's some leaf burn).

And... Well, that's actually all. None of my Anthuriums or my Hoya  are in blooms right now.

It's a good thing we got some kittens to liven up the house this winter.


Mango has discovered my house socks. 


Wren barely holds still long enough to get his picture taken.

Thanks to Carol at May Dreams for this meme. Hopefully I'll have some time this afternoon to take better pictures for tomorrow's Foliage Follow Up. My houseplants have a lot more Foliage than Blooms.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Reproduction

I have a bad history reproducing plants from seed. I can get the seeds started. They do all right at first.


As are these Anthuriums.

But then I try to transplant them into individual pots and something always seems to go wrong...


Do I water too much, too little? Am I cursed?

But I keep trying.

These are Eucomis seedlings. I bought a plant last in the summer for $5 and decided, what the heck. I'll try the seeds.

But hope spring eternal in the heart of the not-so-young gardener and I also gathered seeds from an unidentified annual (possibly an Amaranthus of some kind. I just haven't found a picture that quite matches -and the closest one I found was just labeled Amaranth).


I guess I'll keep trying but I'm much better at reproducing plants from cuttings!

Here is my annual winter propagation of Cuban Oregano. This is a plant I've had for years but it gets very leggy so I take cuttings during the winter every year to restart the plant.


And I have a few other plants that I have re-started when they get too leggy or too big.

And then, HERE is my pride and joy (as far as plants I have reproduced). I started this plant after I noticed a leaf in the hallway of my apartment building when I was in grad school. I walked past the leaf a couple of times before I picked it up and put it in soil - it was on the ground at least 24 hours before I "rescued" it.


I just don't understand how I am so good at reproducing plants from cuttings but so bad at starting seeds.

At least I can order already started plants of most things I want. Except for Tithonia. I  have a hard time finding that as a plant....

Monday, January 5, 2015

Visitor to The Edge

On the last day of last year we had a visitor to The Edge. I came up from the basement to find The Husband surreptitiously photographing this:


A young Cooper's Hawk, sitting right next to the bird feeder.

Cooper's Hawks are predators of birds, they are very fast and agile in flight and can catch songbirds on the wing. This one was watching the Pieris bush near the feeder very closely. We could see movement in the evergreen bush. I guess she was hoping to spook up some breakfast.


She did go down on the ground to see if she could scare the songbirds out. It didn't work. Here she is vocalizing her frustration (and hunger). 


This is a young bird who is probably out on her own for the first time. Her hunting technique clearly left something to be desired. The Husband and I debated setting out a Cornish Game Hen for her.

Oh, and I keep using her. The primary visual difference between male and female Cooper's Hawks is size. This one is on the large end of the size range so I'm pretty comfortable with the gender. Smaller ones are males. It's the middle sized ones that you really can't tell. I'm only comfortable guessing the extremes because I have seen (and handled) soooo many of these birds. Man, are they neurotic in the hand! 

Yes, that's right, the females are larger.