Sep. 20th, 2016 11:50 am

Falling

muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Usually I'm impatient for fall, but this year I'm happy to have some summer left. Back in April, we asked [livejournal.com profile] monshu what his recuperation goal was and he said, "To sit on the back porch on my birthday drinking tangerine juice with friends." Mom even made a gaudy poster of it to hang in his room at the acute care facility. That didn't happen; it was more than two months before he was able to sit outside at all and another six weeks before he could sit outside on his own porch. (By then he'd swapped out mango-orange for tangerine juice and we still haven't had any friends over.)

He's become so much more sensitive to cold since his dramatic weight loss that what's comfortable outdoor temperature to most people isn't to him. He seems happiest close to 30°C. Below 25°C, his tolerance seems to max out at about 30 minutes--and that's even with him being bundled in a terrycloth robe. So if missing out on crisp clear mornings for a couple weeks more is the price I pay for the Old Man being able to sit outside for a while before the long cold winter, so be it.

I am getting impatient about preparing the garden for next year, though. It's been too hot and dry lately to consider doing much transplanting, so everything which hasn't made it into the ground yet is still on hold. That includes the bulbs I got or dug up (and hopefully didn't ruin trying to dry out and store), which can't be planted until nighttime temps drop below 10°C, the price prairie plants and such that a neighbour shared with me, and whatever miscellaneous purchases I've made.

The other factor is waiting for [livejournal.com profile] monshu's input. He's got definite ideas about the front garden and, with Scooter gone, we have a rare opportunity to do exactly what we want. I'm hoping to drag him out there to make some decisions so I can begin planning the work. (He'd like me to move around several sizable shrubs, so this isn't a small job.) At least he was able to give me feedback on the smoketree which licenced me to hack the hell out of it. It's been growing out more than up lately and something needed to be done. I've taken off a dozen branches and will have to remove more in order to shape it properly.

For the time being, I've abandoned both the hellstrip and our garden plot, which is now a solid mass of oregano and lemon balm outside of the chives along the front fence. The autumn blooming clematis is also well out of control, but I want to wait until it's totally spent before hacking it back. I was very pleased the GWO got to enjoy it in full bloom at least for a few days, especially after missing out on everything else.
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Jun. 1st, 2016 11:58 am

Springer

muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Summer is following so rapidly on spring that it feels like everything is blooming at once. Iris are everywhere, but the first peonies and roses are opening as well. Not yet at our place, but the old climbing rose is covered in buds. Meanwhile the lilacs and chives are peaking, the ornamental allium is just coming into bloom, and the clemates are ramping up. Out front, the lungwort is fading just as the spiderwort is preparing to take over and the celadine poppies in the sunniest spot are blooming even as the columbine in shade fades.

We did get one blossom from the all the irises I planted last year but someone broke it off almost immediately. I'm hoping for bigger, more vigourous plants next year that will stand up better to the abuse they've been receiving in their precarious position along the alley. All the rain has been great news for the woodland plants; I swear the epimediums look twice as large as last year. But the real standout is the persicaria, which seems to grow centimetres every day.

I still need to find spots for the wild geranium, whose seeds I hope to collect and stratify in situ, and the marginal wood fern. The latter cost a pretty penny at Gethsemane, but I'd been sorta obsessing about one (though not as much as I have about a Scutellaria ovata) for a couple weeks so it was worth it. The only plant which doesn't seem to be doing particularly well is the mayapple, which once again faded without blooming. I'm thinking I need to mark the spot so I can dig it up in fall and replant it somewhere it might be happier.
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muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Today I discovered I was wrong about the Solomon's seal and lilies-of-the-valley. They weren't dead, just a bit slow to emerge. There's even one coming up in plot alongside the alley, where I thought nothing had survived (apart from the Dutch irises). Plant are even coming up in places where I'd forgotten I'd planted anything: a clump of lilies near the new dogwoods, a second satellite wood aster.

A month ago, I bought a bundle of green-dyed bamboo stakes to mark out several plants in hopes of saving them from the tuckpointers. Some days later, I looked out again to find that they were all gone. Not a few here and there (as I would expect from random passerby vandalism) but every last one of them. I guess someone was walking by and decided they had more need of them than we did?

Even more curious, I was reconnoitering yesterday and found several of the wooden stakes I'd used to enclose the saplings missing as well. These weren't like tent poles, but they were substantial; I'd used a mallet to pound them into the ground. Of course, when I'd pulled a couple up in order to reposition a tree or two, I'd done so barehanded. I shook my head and made a mental note to replace them if time ever allowed.

Then that afternoon, I got a text from my botanist neighbour across the street. He'd found a couple in the alley and scooped them up for himself, but realising they were mine while passing by the property, he dutifully returned them. He also invited me over for a bite on the back porch in the unseasonably fine weather with his sister-in-law. She was a delight, and they fed me even though I'd come well after they'd finished eating.

His theatre prof husband was recovering from surgery, having had a device implanted in his lower back to relieve pain, and had already retired. I listened with polite forbearance to their tale of woe. ("Three hours in recovery before they assigned him a room!" Oh, the horror of it.) It was such a relief from our marathon day of specialist visits that I didn't want to leave, but I still managed to head out before I was turfed out.

Tomorrow Nuphy plans to visit the GWO so Mom and I can join [livejournal.com profile] bunj for a little picnic in the park. I have to say, that's damn clever solution to the problem of where to go for Mother's Day, if a damn impractical one in Chicago most years. [livejournal.com profile] innerdoggie and [livejournal.com profile] tyrannio plan to stop by later. All of them have some experience with catastrophic illness and drawn-out recoveries, so I'm hoping they'll be able to buck up the Old Man somewhat (not to mention me).
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
In tough times, I take refuge in my garden. One of the roughest bits of the last month was that I had a bunch of indifferent strangers tramping around in it. It got to the point where I could't bear to look out the windows. I remember one morning waiting for Mom to get ready so we could head to the hospital and pacing up and down the hallway because it was the only part of the house where I couldn't see outside.

Now the tuckpointers are supposedly finished, but we haven't had the final walkthrough yet so I'm still waiting to exhale completely. After I bitched to the association president, she asked me to inventory the damages, which I did over the weekend. It was not as bad as I feared. I did lose the double-flowering kerria it took me so much trouble to rustle up, but [livejournal.com profile] monshu was never that fond of it, so I'm looking at this as an opportunity to replace it with something he'll really enjoy.

The heuchera I thought I'd killed by moving it out of harm's way in a fit of pique is coming back as is, miraculously, the oak fern I'd written off after last year's late drought. Even more miraculously, the mayapple has returned as well. It looked so sad last fall, I thought it a goner for sure. It seems just about the only thing I lost from last year's planting frenzy was the Solomon's seal, perhaps some of the lily-of-the-valley as well. (One or the other is coming up near my newest hügelbeet, but it's too soon to tell which.)

I had some time over the weekend to get dirty again and planted another dogwood to replace the one that got taken out. As long as I was digging on the western end of the Hellstrip, I also relocated the Persicaria to a sunnier spot, shifted a dogwood into its place, and surrounded it with wood poppies from the southern edge of the lawn. I thought that would take me an hour; it took me two and left me wiped out for the remainder of the day.
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muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Looks like the forecast for tomorrow has been revised to remove any mention of snow. That's a relief even though I didn't expect the brief dip below freezing to do any real damage. On our stroll yesterday evening, my horticulturalist neighbour advised keeping an eye on the natives because, unlike the imported ornamentals, "they're not fooled". I'm not sure if the columbine I have coming up in the hellstrip counts, as I can't remember now if it's the plain red-and-yellow of my youth or one of these fancy new varietals.

Everything seems two or even three weeks ahead of where it would normally be around now. Yesterday brought the first full-sized daffodils in bloom. I've noticed their buds swelling since last week, but I hadn't yet seen any open. Dutch irises are awakening, too, and I'm pleased to see the ones I planted along the alley edge late last fall returning despite the compaction from sloppy drivers over the winter. Elsewhere there are even Virginia bluebells leafing out. Rhododendrons are in bud, forsythia are just starting, and we may have magnolias soon.

I'm still not sure when to expect my saplings, but I suspect it could be as early as next week, so if the weather's at all good this weekend, I'll need to get digging. It would make sense to rebuild the retaining wall at the same time, but I'm also wondering if it doesn't make more sense to dismantle it completely and use those pavers to hold back the weight of soil and mulch from creeping over the narrow walk along the curb. Ah, so much I could accomplish if I only had the physique.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
For days now I've been failing to get pictures of the crocuses which bloomed in our yard on Saturday. When I came back outside with my camera in the evening, they had already closed up. Sunday was an all-day rain. I was too tired from DST to even check on them yesterday, despite the persistence of daylight. Today I left work early in order to get my voting in before dinner, but even so they were in shade. I was determined to photograph them anyhow--and then my camera died just as I was about to press the button.

In the meantime, I've seen a few pop up elsewhere, but at the time they were not only the only crocuses in bloom in our 'hood but the only spring flowers at all. Now there are squill and reticulated irises and daffodils in bud at the house across the street. Tulips are sprouting as well and I'm chuffed to see that, despite the manky condition they were in, most of the ones I planted out front seem to have survived--at least on the north side of the walk. But that's in clear view of the windows of the couple who planted them, so I don't feel so bad.

I thought the tire treads across the edge of the parkway corner had obliterated the rudbeckia, but two out of the three I planted in the fall are still there. Precious little of the seeds I planted there are sprouting, but I think it's still early days for prairie plants. Least I hope so. I thought that another set of tire tracks paralleling the alley had crushed the irises, but they're coming up as well. It's going to be the most colourful spring in quite some time (if everything doesn't get slaughtered by hail tonight).
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Mar. 8th, 2016 09:49 pm

Groundwork

muckefuck: (zhongkui)
I didn't even have to visit the black piles of snit to know that they aren't there any more. It's plausible a few could've made it through Sunday, but not after two days with a high temperature of 17°C. At lunchtime it threatened rain so I eat indoors, but it was clear again by evening so I took my first constitutional in weeks.

There still isn't too much popping up yet, just a few daffodils (which were burned badly in the last false spring) and some early tulips and irises. I saw a couple aconite near work, but they're not out in their profusion yet, and not squill at all. Buds are swelling on the trees, though, particularly the rhodie in the backyard.

I think I might need to set some time aside this weekend to prepare the ground on the hellstrip because I can't recall when my trees are arriving. I think I ordered them for the first week of April, but there's not actually anything in my receipt which tells me. I've got plenty of fallen wood for the nurse log and it would probably be a good idea to empty out the composter by at least half given that it's been filled to the rim all winter.
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muckefuck: (zhongkui)
It is finally getting dry here. Not California-dry by any means, but dry enough that watering the plants every other day may not be enough any more. I especially worry about the ones which are blooming, like the azaleas (bringing them in over the winter has blown whatever natural cycle they were on completely to hell) and geraniums. We're still hoping for a rebloom of the dahlia, given how spectacular it was briefly, and I just spotted a bud on one of the clemates, which is rather unexpected.

The garden is rangy as well. I let the greens go to seed thinking that would give us another crop for the coming cool weather, but it probably makes way more sense just to rip them all out and reseed from the bag. I didn't expect the cardoon to survive, but it has, though whether we'll ever see a harvest from it is another question entirely. The heirloom rose in the back is completely out of control and will need to be hacked back again, but the autumn-blooming clematis is being bizarrely restrained.

I wish we knew what was going on between Scooter and his wife. Since she said he was moving out, we haven't seen any signs that he has. But this weekend he wasn't around at all so [livejournal.com profile] monshu and I had to jump in to water the lawn. (The brief thunderstorm last week dropped relatively little rain and I'm not expecting much from the storms predicted tonight.) I don't need to know any gory details, I just need to find out if he's going to be around so I know what kind of transition planning we need to do to make sure everything doesn't go to hell around the condo.

I have some more planting to do--lots more pots from Fig, scores of seeds to plant--but I want to wait for cooler weather. Not just for my own sake, of course, but to help guarantee survival. The wildflower seeds shouldn't go into the ground until 6 weeks before the first frost anyway in order to ensure that they stay dormant until next spring. Same goes for the bulbs which I hope my jerry-rigged storage system in the basement has preserved relatively intact.
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Jul. 31st, 2015 04:58 pm

Out to dry

muckefuck: (zhongkui)
It was confusing to wake up this morning and find the whole house dark. I checked to see if the forecast had changed but it hadn't. The radar was a complete blank--not just over Chicago, but for miles in every direction. And yet it was completely overcast.

An hour later, it was sunny beneath clear blue skies. That's what it's been like for most of the month. The days when I didn't even think of watering the plantings are gone. I finally got myself out there with a watering can yestere'en to find I was almost too late. I gave up the wild ginger for gone, but by this morning it seemed to have rebounded. Several of the Solomon's seal are looking unhappy, but I'm still hoping they'll pull through. You can kiss the Pennsylvania sedge goodbye, however, along with whatever that bushy plant was the neighbours gifted us.

On the other hand, the Monarda we got from them looks beautiful. I've never seen one any shade of blue before, let alone such a soft and lovely one. Now that we know that's a good spot, I plan to complement it with some bright red or magenta in the coming year. The spiderwort is thriving, too. But I'm afraid we'll have to replace the hydrangeas in front once [livejournal.com profile] monshu can decide what he'd like to see there.

For one reason and another, I still haven't made it to the beach this year. If not this weekend, it's hard to say when since we have my sister visiting, then the Glenwood Arts Fair, and then the Old Man's family in from Oregon for the first time ever. So, all more interesting things than sitting on the sand baking. Still, it would be nice to get a little colour before our six months of winter return.
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muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Good weekend, with the right mix of leisure, work, and socialisation. Friday I went to work on the parkway corner. At some point, I decided the amount of sand in the subsoil dumped in the middle wasn't sufficient to loosen up the dirt enough (Dad warned me later that adding too little sand to clay and "you end up with concrete") and lugged a 70-lb bag back from Clark-Devon Hardware for this purpose. Mixing in more compost would also help, but without Scooter's assistance, I wasn't about to attempt our plan to empty the composter into the wheelbarrow and work it all in. All that effort left me more worn out for the barbecue that evening with Turtle and Turtlewife than I wanted to be. When's the last time I was the one nodding off in the front room while [livejournal.com profile] monshu kept chatting away?

Saturday, however, my power nap turned into a two-hour sleep binge, so making it through cocktails with [livejournal.com profile] mollpeartree's coworker and two of his female friends was no problem. To my surprise, the Old Man not only made it through fireworks on the roofdeck afterwards but was up at home reading until past midnight. I know this because I was up until nearly two carousing at Touché and at some point realised I didn't have my phone. Before panicking, I decided to stroll home and check and found it sitting on the computer desk from whence it had never made it into my pocket. (I did not want to get down and start searching that floor!) Slow night, with few of the regulars about, but I did run into a couple nice fellas I hadn't seen in a while.

Besides, I'd shoehorned my Bear socialisation earlier. [livejournal.com profile] dedos and his better half hosted an impromptu game day, where I was introduced to Gloom, a cheery card game where the aim is to make your extended Gothic family as miserable as possible before bumping them all off in ghastlycrumb fashion. I was very close to winning the second hand until karma bit my ass and took my most miserable relation out of play. I don't know what it is about the warmer weather, but JB's game night went so well he's got another planned for this Friday. I'm wondering if I shouldn't get into the action myself one of these days.

Sunday it was back into the fields. I finally got tired of waiting for the new neighbours upstairs to remove their tulips and did it myself so I could transplant the bargain kale, carrots, and beets while they still had some time left to mature. The cardoon is looking pretty sad; I'm not thinking will get anything from it at this point, but now that I've had time to mound it properly (à la asparagus) we shall see. Fig came by Friday morning with more plants and diagnosed an earwig infestation, so we're going to lay some traps and hope for the best.

Oddly, given last week's revelations, Scooter was around all weekend, doing chores (such as watering the grass) and hanging out with his wife as if nothing were amiss. So who even knows what's going on there. Thursday night I ended up chatting for a couple hours with the Bear Upstairs and he eventually joined us, quite visibly lit. He was a teetotaller until recently, something which--given that he bartends--I'd always ascribed to alcoholism. So I'm not sure if this is a cause of the current rift or a response to it (and probably shouldn't be speculating either way).
Jun. 22nd, 2015 10:05 am

Digging

muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Took me a little while to track down Dad for Father's Day since he'd turned off his phone for a play and forgotten to turn it back on again. The play was in Bloomington, IN, and he and his wife were nearly across Illinois when I reached them. Dad was driving, so they put me on speakerphone in the car, which was kind of ridiculous. Stepmom kept pledging, "I'll stawp tawking so you can tawk to your Dad" and then butting in again at the next opportunity. But they both sounded good, so it all left me in a good mood.

I'd been thinking of Dad earlier in the day when I took a shovel to the hellcorner (where the hellstrip meets the ordinary verge). Coordinating with the rest of the so-called Landscape Committee has come to naught (surprise!) so I thought I start on it myself before the weeds got completely out of control. It's not as bad as I feared. There's a fair bit of sand in the middle about a foot down which will balance out all the clay around the perimeter if you we just mix it all together well. Toss in the contents of the composter and we should have a first-rate flower bed.

When I shared my experiences with Dad, he said that with landscaping (much like with all forms of construction), "You don't know what's there until you start digging." He's still in the middle of a major project for his ersatz church and he's found a helluva lot of gravel, as well as rags and other refuse--anything they could find to raise the grade so the water flowed where they wanted it to. For my part, I've found snack bags, styrofoam cups, and whatever else the Streets and San workers didn't feel like taking with them. Thanks, guys!
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Stomach pains kept me from sleeping well Tuesday night, so I ended up taking Wednesday off. Originally my plan had been to sleep in the morning and then go to my afternoon meeting, but my afternoon meeting was a morning meeting, so there didn't seem to be much point. Moreover, my stomach was still...not hurting exactly, but threatening to in a way that--as [livejournal.com profile] monshu put it--makes you want to stay close to home. (He has a lot of experience with that sort of sensation these days.)

By early afternoon I was bored. Even though I hadn't eaten much of anything, I decided to go outside and spend a couple hours rebuilding a section of the retaining wall in the hellstrip. I had planned that for Saturday, it looks like that's the day we'll be digging out the corner and no way do I have strength enough to do both. Judging from how wiped out I feel today, maybe it wasn't my most brilliant idea ever, but I felt very accomplished afterwards. This is something I've been wanting to do for literally years (I wasn't involved in the original project and I've hated the results ever since) but I didn't have the impetus to attack it until I bought all those plants which need a home somewhere.

There still are a few I haven't planted. My problem with the chrysogonum is that I like it so much I can't settle on a single spot. I guess that's reason enough to buy more. When I transplanted the spiderwort from the neighbours, I was surprised to find some celandine poppies in the spot. I'd thoroughly forgotten tossing about the seeds Fig had brought me last year. Maybe he can get me some more in the fall--as well as the queen-of-the-prairie he promised me. Tuesday I planted the two lungworts he brought on Saturday, plus the oenothera. So far, everything has survived the transplant shock and is looking good, but it's been relatively cool and moist. I suspect I'll have a load of watering to do come August, if not before.
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Jun. 5th, 2015 03:38 pm

Junuary

muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Well, the weather got steadily warmer over the course the week and then crashed again overnight. Yesterday the high was 25°C; now it's 11°. Basically, it's Saturday all over again without the rain. Which actually makes it not a bad day for planting--except I have a friend's party tonight so I did all my planting yesterday when it was hot and humid (>70% relative humidity).

I realised I was fretting too much about placement in the hellstrip. There's just so damn much open space there, it hardly matters where I put stuff, it's not going to be smothering something else anytime soon. I'm a bit worried that the Aralia cordata is too vulnerable to pooch pee, but it's either that or plant it deep in shade where it might struggle and lose its stylish lime-green colour. Moreover, it's not like I can't move it later if that becomes a problem.

Of course, what I want to do is put everything where I can see it and say screw the other building whose residents do fuck-all when it comes to landscaping. But I can't really get away with that if I'm going to turn in my receipts for reimbursement. So now they've got not only the aralia but also a columbine, a coneflower, an epimedium, and whatever that forb is that the taller of the two neighbours gave me. I wish them all good luck.

We're trying beebalm again in front. I put it in the most well-ventilated spot I could to help ward off powdery mildew. I keep hearing that one of the owner has thousands of echinacea seeds he wants to sow in the corner spot once we turn the soil, but he hasn't come through on a date for that yet and I'm not fool enough to do it on my own. Not when I'm already fool enough to want to rebuild the rest of that shambolic excuse for a retaining wall and create some beds to protect the smaller plants.
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muckefuck: (zhongkui)
This really is the most beautiful time of year. I was trying to figure out what it was, over and above the lush greenness of the foliage that was making me think that. It's how perfect everything is. Until the midges arrived today, I'd hardly seen any bugs, so there's been nothing to much away at all the tender young leaves. And the weeds really aren't out yet--which is odd, because I attribute their success to getting a jump on more desirable species. But where the unsightly clumps of lambsfoot, plaintains, and trash trees that I'm used to seeing in vacant lots and along alleyways are conspicuous by their absence.

Things are happening in the garden. The spring clemates are coming into their own, and naturally ours is the most spectacular of all. At the same time, the woodruff hasn't ceased blooming yet and the lilacs in the gangway are just now peaking. Several weeks ago, because I wasn't sure what else to do with it, I sprinkled lettuce seeds all over the garden. Now it's so crammed with greens that the Old Man was able to assemble a salad yesterday with almost nothing but. When I got home, I seasoned it with several heads of blooming chives.

I've planted a lot already, and there's more to come. About a month ago, I constructed another hügelbett in the hellstrip. I went to Gethsemane to find things to populate it with and returned with wild ginger, wood asters, and Jacob's ladder. Then my buddy Fig invited me to come up to Wisconsin with him to hit a few nurseries and I returned with even more stuff: Pennsylvania sedge, Solomon's seal, maple-leaved alumroot, Chrysogonum, an oak fern, a Buglossides, and an aralia. Tonight, I supposed to head to the neighbours' to dig up and remove some of their native plants, then on Saturday, Fig is supposed to bring by some rejects from his garden.

The trip, incidentally, was a grand adventure, even if the weather was terrible--windy, rainy, and cold. The best that can be said of it was that it kept away dilettantes, so we had the nurseries basically to ourselves. The Prairie Nursery up in Westfield was kind of a bust: steep prices (though with significant discounts for buying in bulk) for small plants. But the Flower Factory south of Madison was tremendous. More than a dozen greenhouses with all sorts of beautiful plants. They had more varieties of daylilies than any place I've been and this was after they'd sold out more than half their stock.

The timing worked out so that we were passing through Madison around both breakfasttime and lunchtime. For the former, we stopped in at Sardine downtown. Not cheap, but then--despite Madison's amazing situation--there are surprisingly few restaurants in town which can boast a lakeside view. It was raining most of the time we were there and Lake Monona was so misted over it felt like we were in some remote resort town rather than in the centre of a city of a quarter million. It had cleared up by midday, although the wind was even worse. Fig wanted Culver's, so I managed to talk him into eating at the Tipsy Cow instead. Both of us would probably be better off in the long run not knowing that deep-fried cheese curds tasted that good.
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May. 2nd, 2015 06:06 pm

Rooting

muckefuck: (zhongkui)
I hope I didn't overdo it with the gardening today. I really did very little, but I still have to roll out a pie crust and then make a load of cocktails, both of which are hard on my back and the cumulative effect could be beyond the power of bourbon to overcome. But I couldn't let this good weather go to waste. It's easily the most glorious weekend of the year so far, whereas Monday is predicted to be stormy, so I very much wanted to get some things in the ground, like the hydrangeas. Well, one is, and the geraniums are in the planters out front (though I may have inadvertently slain one by lopping off too much of the root ball).

And more is coming up than I suspected earlier in the spring. Winter didn't kill the knotweed; it was just screened by all the damn daylilies. And the mayapple I'd given up for dead is back, though struggling. One of the epidimediums may have pulled through as well; something is coming up near the spot where I planted it, and it doesn't look like a weed. But the biggest success are the tulips. [livejournal.com profile] monshu bought one pot last year which I divided promiscuously. Now we have two clumps in full bloom. From such small beginnings...
Apr. 23rd, 2015 09:56 pm

Bursting

muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Yesterday it actually snowed. Or at least so I'm told--I wasn't up early enough to see it. The whole day felt like winter, though, even if the sun did peek out for a bit; despite the forecast I'd be surprised if it cracked the 40s (>4°C). Today wasn't much better. Regretfully, I went back to wearing my down jacket.

The plants don't seem bothered, however. If you like spring flowers, this is what you should actually be hoping for: a brief warm-up, some rain, and then days on end of cool weather. The warmth and moisture get the bulbs blooming, and the coolness preserves them. We finally have trees in bloom now. Mostly magnolias, but some cherries, too, and I've even seen a few premature pears. I was worried out kerria was laid waste, but it's keeping pace with the healthy ones down the street, so I think it'll be fine.

The black-eyed susans are returning as well, but most everything else we planted failed to survive. I do have two columbines which we nursed indoors over the winter, but I'm loath to set them in the ground yet. I do have the larger one outside acclimating. (Otherwise I was concerned it would start blooming and I'd have to hold off replanting.) And all our tulips survived from last year, which is something.
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muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Today I was given a second second chance. The weather was predicted to be chilly and rainy (which I belatedly realised is what I had been wishing it would be Friday or Saturday in order to better suit my homebound lethargy), but the morning was gorgeous. I announced my intention to visit Andersonville and the Old Man proposed accompanying me to La Colombe. I had a gâteau basque and a mocha, which was enough to convince me that I like their pastries but don't care for their coffee, and took up a strategic location where I good views out both sets of windows. So much stroller meat! It reminded me of the punchline of that hoary Jewish joke, "What do you need so many goyim for?"

Afterwards, we hit Middle Eastern and I left him holding the bag as I trotted up Clark Street. First stop was the bookstore, where I found a remaindered copy of a reprint of a quirky American Indian book; second was the bank, where I loaded up on cash; and third was Gethsemane, where I bought a pot herb and some seeds. Between each station, I ran into some I knew--first someone who'd shadowed me at work back when he was studying for a library degree, then a couple from work. Then I returned home through Edgewater Glen, where I saw the first bridal wreath of the season as well as an immense cherry in full bloom.

The herb was lemon thyme, and rather than plant it outside while there's still danger of frost (however minor) I repotted it for the windowsill. I still prepared our plot and seeded it with salad greens while we decide what we want to try to grow this year. Little seems to have survived. The chives are going strong, but the sorrel, woodruff, and lemon balm are just emerging. I ripped out the garlic chives we never use and transferred some catnip from the adjoining plot (soon to be taken over by the nice couple upstairs) to a pot which I may or may not bury later.

Early spring is over and the grounds are waking up. The black-eyed susans did survive the winter after all, as did the shrubs in the front lawn (including the GWO's hated bayberry). Not only is the kerria coming back to life, it has some fat buds on it. The tulips are also in bud, and I'm chuffed to see that every one of the bulbs I buried survived. No sign of the bluestar, unless that's the mysterious plant coming up in the hellstrip.

By now it was early afternoon and quite cloudy, so I broke for lunch, called my brother, and read some. I've taken the plunge on Tanpınar, whose discursive style isn't exactly engrossing but is pretty enough without getting too florid. In addition, [livejournal.com profile] monshu, impatient for the publication of The book of strange new things in softcover, acquired a couple of Michel Faber novels and I read the first chapter of Under the skin. Looks like good shuttle reading.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
aconite Yes, it's a terrible picture, but it's the best my lame little phone can do. On Monday I saw snowdrops in bud, but these little gems were the first flowers I've spied open. Yesterday, when the weather turned cool again, they closed up, but they should be back in their glory tomorrow. Elsewhere, daffodils are sprouting, but I haven't seen any trees in bud yet.

Our garden is looking particularly grim. [livejournal.com profile] monshu keeps telling me it's too early for anything to be up, but so thoroughly did everything die back on the hellstrip that I can't even locate where things should be. I hope this doesn't spell the end of our epimediums; I had hopes for them. It also complicates the placement of the seedlings I plan to order from the Missouri Department of Conservation. The timing is tricky in any case; if I wait too long, they'll be sold out, but I don't relish the prospect of trying to plant anything in frozen ground.

There's also the issue that they don't sell anything in bundles of fewer than ten, but I may have a solution to that. Yesterday, I came across the gay couple who live across the street and said to the tall one, "I have a proposition for you." ("Right here in the street?" his partner replied with a tone of mock disapproval.) When I suggested he take some of the seedlings for his yard, he seemed amenable. So I may put the order in as early as next week. The surprising thing about that convo, though, was how warm the Irishman was. He engaged me, suggested we all get together for a drink sometime, and asked for my number. Maybe, if the Old Man is up to it, I'll see about reviving my cocktail nights next month to furnish an opportunity.
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muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Although there's always the possibility of a St Martin's summer, in all likelihood today was the warmest day we'll see until some unseasonably balmy day in March. Officially, the high was 26°C and, if anything, it was a bit too warm. I was determined to take advantage of it, so I walked up to Al's Deli on Noyes and looped through the park to take the long way back. Blocks away from campus, I began to feel uncomfortable. It was the same this evening after dinner. Half a mile south of here, I turned around and could hardly wait to be back home.

I don't know exactly when the foliage peaked, but it's clearly on the downswing now. Strong winds over the weekend stripped a lot of the more colourful trees bare. Most of the maples I see now are more yellow than red and the basswoods were dropping their leaves still green. Flowers are still in bloom, though, including the geraniums flanking the entrance here. We'll need to take them in before temps hit freezing on Halloween night. Same goes for the azaleas, which can't seem to stop putting out new buds, and whatever ivy we want to keep through the winter. The front windows are about to get very crowded.
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Oct. 6th, 2014 02:49 pm

Cooling

muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Saturday's Zwetschgendatschi was much closer to what I remember than my previous attempt, but still not quite there. The search for a really good recipe continues. Other than that, I really didn't get much done. It was blustery and wet and all I wanted to do was stay inside. Even so, I might've taken [livejournal.com profile] monshu up on his invitation to come brunching and footwear shopping if only I hadn't had that stomachache. I'd planned to do some editing and reading, but I only managed a couple of chapters before it was time for the game.

I'd kind of hoped no one would show to Cocktail Night or that, if someone did, I could talk him into coming down to the den and watching it with me. Didn't work out that way, but I still caught the best bits anyway. They were ready to head over to the bar before 10:30, so I went with them and stayed for only a half hour. So I caught Carpenter's stunning homerun in the top of the 8th. Too bad it wasn't enough to carry the day, but at least we avoided an insane stalemate on the order of the Giants-Nats game. A little after midnight, I headed back to Touché. There wasn't really anyone I was interested in talking to and they were having their sad annual "Oktoberfest" celebration, so another half hour and I'd slipped away again.

Sunday was a bit nicer than expected, so between finishing up Irrungen, Wirrungen and watching About a Boy, I stepped out for a bit of yardwork. Now that it's cooler and wetter, I feel better about hacking away at the shrubbery, so I took branches off the lilacs, the smoketree, and whatever the hell those bushes are we have in front. I really wanted to hack all these back--particularly the last of these, who were badly hit by last winter's freeze--but I restrained myself. Yeah, it grows back, but you can always prune away more if you need to.

We seem to have settled into a pattern of cooler days and nights, but still well above freezing so I don't see any immediate need to haul everything inside. I've been plucking the mint for tea and forgetting to harvest the mustard greens for salad. The thyme and sage were badly shaded out by the combined assault of the adjoining tomatoes and the squash vines from over the fence, but the basil seems okay. Better harvest it soon, though; nights below 10° Celsius are guaranteed to make it unhappy.
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