Saturday, January 22, 2011

A touch of spring

 Oh yeah -- horse chestnut!

OK, so we may be experiencing the coldest days of this winter -- it's 2 degrees above zero as I write this and it was minus 31 degrees Friday morning in Two Harbors -- but we still received the promise of warmer days in the mail this week. The Forestfarm spring catalog is here.

This is always a big deal. It sets in motion all sorts of dreams and plans. Most of which will get scaled back as the bank account is consulted. But not all.

Forestfarm has a stunning selection of trees and shrubs and perennials, the prices are reasonable, and the quality of plants is good. Minutes after getting his hands on the catalog, the resident chief tree-planter was marking possibilities with a red pen. We'll let everything simmer for a few days and consider other planting needs before making final decisions.

Meanwhile, it will be fun to curl up with the catalog and a cup of tea or a glass of wine and imagine the possibilities. Mind you, this catalog doesn't tempt you with glossy full-color photos. Its only color photos are inside the front and back covers. (But lots more photos online.) It tempts you with sheer volume -- I counted 53 dogwoods!

Want a catalog of your own? Go here. Forestfarm has the silly dog seal of approval.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Memory aid

I live in a land of dramatic contrasts. In January, it's good to remember that July will come. A snapshot tucked into a Christmas card from my sister is a quick and easy reference to what last July looked like in roughly the same area of the garden.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

From here to there

In April 2010 ...

Sometimes you have to look back to see where you were and what you've accomplished to appreciate where you are. A new year is a good time to review how quickly change can happen. You can see some of those changes at Sillydoggarden in 2010 here.

... and in September 2010.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Geraniums save the (Seventh) day

Fuzzy foliage and delicate color -- what's not to love about this chocolate peppermint-scented geranium in bloom under the lights downstairs?

Outside, the going was tough. Snow. Gray skies. A few seedheads stretching above the snowbanks. There is beauty in winter, but this Jan. 7 I also craved a hit of color. The scented geraniums, or more accurately, pelargoniums, obliged. The blossoms are small, but they did the heavy lifting on this Seventh Day Project. See what I mean in the slide show at top right.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Fresh from under the snow

We dug under the snowbanks around the deck to find some fresh thyme for seasoning the New Year's Eve jerk pork. This is Thymus vulgaris, the basic culinary thyme. It's perennial, and we'll be growing lots more of it come spring.

This candle sports a collar of fresh lingonberry. With snow up to my shoulder I managed to clip some of this perennial glossy ground cover to use here. The stems, left uneven for a looser, informal look, are stuck into a wet block of florist's foam.

It's amazing what you can find when you start digging.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Iced greetings

I hung this wreath made with cranberries and scented geranium leaves on one of the plant supports in the garden. Sunshine is starting to chip away at it.

I've been wanting to make one of these for six years, since I worked on a newspaper package about ice wreaths in December 2004.

I used a Bundt pan but any gelatin mold will work. I filled the pan about half full using a bag of fresh cranberries and water and left it outside to freeze. Once that layer was solid, I finished filling the pan with water and left it to freeze.

Found deep in the bowels of the Christmas closet.
Unmolding the wreath was as easy as running a little water over the pan in the kitchen sink. Add a wide ribbon and you're ready to hang it on a post or a trellis or prop it against a snowbank or chair. Depending on the weather and whether it's displayed in direct sun, the wreath can last for days or weeks around here. When it does melt, the cranberries are a treat for the birds and other critters.

Actually, all sorts of ingredients other than cranberries can be used. Orange slices would be pretty. So would rings of green pepper. Other choices include spruce and cedar sprigs, cinnamon sticks, walnuts, and glitter. For one wreath, I added leaves from my peppermint-scented geranium plant for a counterpoint to the cranberries.

This one is just cranberries. I propped it in the snow on a bed of balsam.