The Impatient Gardener: September 2013

30 September 2013

California dreamin'

As you know I was out of town a couple weeks ago (you know, when I just ditched you all without even attempting to blog while I was gone?). Mr. Much More Patient and I headed off to the great state of California for a little bit of work and a little bit of pleasure.

It was my first time in San Francisco. I love discovering new cities. I also discovered a deep hatred for the Maps app on my phone, which sent us on a walking route that went straight up the most enormous set of stairs I've ever seen and then right back down the other side to get to our hotel. Anyway, we were there for the America's Cup (unfortunately before it got really exciting) and got to see some racing and I even did a bit of work.

We watched some of the races from an apartment that Mr. MMP's company rented for the event. Since the best viewing was really on television, it was cool to be able to watch it on the TV there and then look out the window to the bay to see the action.

I went on a behind-scenes-tour of the television operation for the event which was really interesting. The entire "television city" is set up in a series of shipping containers because it traveled with the America's Cup World Series for the two previous years before landing in San Fran for the big event. 

This is the fourth America's Cup that I've covered and it was much different than the others I've been to. There were very few superyachts around, but this one was impressive enough (from a size standpoint) that I thought it was worth a photo. 

We went to a sushi place with some friends and the chef sent out some appetizers (one of the people we were with was friends with the chef), including this "smoking" sushi tray.

This sculpture was so cool because the whole center was huge succulents.

Our last night there, a friend invited us to her house for a barbecue in San Rafael. I was so envious of her palm trees and lemon tree.

And then we headed north to Napa for a few days of R&R.

It was harvest time and absolutely gorgeous. I feel like I've been to a lot of beautiful places but I'm not sure I've ever been somewhere where you can drive for miles and just be stunned by the beauty.

It was so inspirational from gardening standpoint. I came home all invigorated to get in the garden, which is not easy to do in fall.

This fountain was at what we decided was our favorite of the many wineries we went to: Silver Oak. 

We went to Rutherford Hill Winery because we want to tour their wine caves, which was very interesting, although a little less rustic than I was expecting.

The chandeliers were imported from Italy and they were amazing.

This massive trellis was outside the entrance to the cave.

And this was the few of the valley from one of their picnic areas.

Just a random vineyard.

Another beautiful fountain. This one at Chimney Rock.

We ate dinner at a place called Brix that had the most amazing gardens. I ditched Mr. MMP at the table to run out and take some pictures before the sun set. I wish we would have planned to have lunch there instead so I would have had more time to explore the garden.

I'm so envious that roses seem to grow like weeds there. I grabbed this picture because this walkway was lined with rose standards already in Wisconsin Badgers colors, but the star for me was all the white roses. I'm not a huge lover of white flowers but now I really feel like I need more of them.

Of course I've not had the best of luck with fancy roses. Maybe I should stick with a mushroom garden like this one we spotted at the St. Helena post office.

 It was an amazing trip and a wonderful way to celebrate our 10th anniversary (at least that's how we justified a lot of great dinners). Such a beautiful place, but of course, it's always nice to come home again too.

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25 September 2013

The evolving window box

I followed my own advice this weekend and spent a good amount of time in the garden, although all I accomplished was a lot of weeding and a little bit of planting. There is still tons to do. I hope the weather hangs in there awhile, even though the first day of fall really felt like the first day of fall to me. Beautiful and sunny with bright blue skies, but it got downright cold around 3:30 p.m. Mr. Much More Patient even turned the heat on before I threatened to chop his hand off if he touches the thermostat again before mid-October.

There wasn't too much exciting to report from my garden chores,  but I will say that all those zinnia seeds I threw in the garden certainly seem to be happy. The garden looks a bit messy right now but it's not lacking in color, that's for sure.

The Impatient Gardener -- a sea of zinnias

I will write more on my first experience in growing cardoons some other time, but of the three I planted, this one is loving life the most. It is huge, at least 4 feet high and wide and it is in the least amount of sun of any of them, which is surprising to me. It's still mostly sunny, but you can see when I snapped this picture in the afternoon it was already in shade.

The Impatient GArdener -- cardoon

Watering continues, especially in this area where the cedar tree came down and everything is newly planted this year. I've found that the single best thing you can do to ensure that new plants survive the winter is to make sure they are well watered before they go dormant.

Watering rainbow

The window box is rather ridiculous now, it is so overgrown but I sort of like it. This was certainly the most interesting window box planting I've done and perhaps the most successful, depending on how you define that term.

This photo was taken July 7, at least three or more weeks after it was planted. You can tell it was a cool start to summer because there really wasn't much happening at this point.

This was taken August 21 and boy do I wish I had turned off the light in the kitchen before I took it. If the nasturtiums (which were planted WAY late) were a little bigger in this picture I think I would say that hands down this would be my favorite phase of this planting.

This is what it looked like this weekend. You can see that it has essentially turned into a study in foliage, as there is little left to see of the Supertunia Indigo Charm and the Superbena Peachy Keen. Interestingly though, I think this is the best I've had a window box look this late in the season. It's not really what I had originally intended, but I don't mind it, really. I'm really happy with the Blue Mohawk grass in the background and I think I will do that again in the future.

What do you think? Which is your favorite look or are none of these your cup of tea? Did you work in the garden this weekend?

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24 September 2013

Gardening tool I'm never without: my phone

I stayed up late last night to work on a blog post. I was quite proud of myself because I even scheduled it to go up automatically. Often I get close to finishing them, but work on them a little bit in the morning before I hit "publish," but it's so much nicer when I finish them and they just magically appear.

But today it did not magically appear. I have no idea why. I only know that it's obviously stuck on my home computer. But I didn't want to leave you without a post.

So I give you these three videos I caught while gardening this weekend. I always have my phone with me when I garden, not because I'm expecting a call (cell phones rarely work at our house in summer, don't ask me why), but because I'm a serial audiobook listener and I love listening to books while I garden. I just started the third book in the Game of Thrones series. I've been watching the television show but I've never read the books so now I'm going back and listening them. This book is 47 hours long! You can do a heck of a lot of weeding in 47 hours of a book.

Anyway, the added benefit of always having my phone with me is that I can catch photos or videos on the fly. There's no way I would have captured this hummingbird moth having a good old time in the zinnias if I had to run into the house to get my phone.

You might have seen a couple of these if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, but I don't think I put all three of them in any one place.

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20 September 2013

The best way to manage blogs

I said I was only going to skip one week of The Garden Appreciation Society but I'm still getting back in the swing of things here and it has been a very bad week in my life as far as technology goes. It is unbelievable how long it takes to set up a new computer. And by the way, don't rely too much on your backup. I was faithfully backing up my work computer daily and I still lost thousands of important emails that could not be found on the Time Machine backup.

I'd rather be doing this than fighting with technology. It's a shot from our trip last week during a tasting at the Mumm winery. That sparkling Pinot Noir on the right? Yeah, I'm not sure the world needed that. 

Anyway, I've been really enjoying summer this year (such as it was, since I think we only had about two weeks of nice weather), and I took a bit of a break from reading a lot of blogs. I'd stop in when I could but I really missed my regular reads. I will say, though, that ever since Google Reader went away, I've found it hard to even find the blogs I wanted to read. I was using Feedly but that started to drive me nuts. I'd open it up and it would say there are no new posts to read. Given that I am subscribed to hundreds of blogs, I knew that wasn't right.

If you click the link on the right to get updates from this blog, it automatically takes you to Bloglovin. I'll be honest, I did that because it was easiest to set up. But I've not used Bloglovin much. Boy have I been missing out. I recently reorganized most of the blogs I follow and subscribed to updates from them through Bloglovin (by the way, you can do this even if the blog owner isn't a Bloglovin member). The page is so clean and I love that you can categorize your blog list as well. I also notice that it gets my updated posts up almost immediately, where as it can take eight or more hours for them to appear in my blog list on Blogger. What is up with that anyway?

But the key for me is the app. I do most of my blog reading on my iPad in bed in the morning and quite a bit on my iPhone when I'm out and about. And the Bloglovin app (for iOS and Android devices)
is great. I just downloaded it this morning onto my newly updated with iOS 7 devices (and yeah, I pretty much love iOS 7 and I've already ordered a new iPhone; I'm a sucker for gadgety stuff).

So allow me to make your life a little easier. If you read a lot of blogs, give Bloglovin a try. I'm absolutely thrilled with it so far.

And if you haven't already subscribed to get The Impatient Gardener updates, you can do that through Bloglovin right now. Come on, click. You know you want to.

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19 September 2013

Fall is not for sissies

Well that was a bit of a break, wasn't it? I had great intentions of posting while I was out of town but have you ever tried to do any real typing on an iPad? Oh my gosh, it's exhausting. So I didn't.

Anyway, it was a great trip and I'll share a few photos from it soon, but today there are important things to talk about that having nothing to do with drinking copious amounts of wine, which just happens to be how I spent a few days over the weekend.

Hang on to your hats because I'm about to give you a pep talk. Oh I know, whether any of us like it or not, fall seems to be arriving. And even if the weather wasn't giving us some not-so-subtle hints, autumn is everywhere you turn. Catalogs are full of Halloween stuff, magazines are showing us warm color palettes and television commercials are telling us to order our new carpet now so it is installed by Thanksgiving. And I'm sure you're a little anxious to get to the business of fall: you know, making mantel decorations that include faux pumpkins, making apple cider and getting some chili going in the crock pot. I am too. In fact the mental to-do list is getting long enough that it's probably time to put it in a more tangible form (hint: all but one of the things I can think of have to do with paint, of course). But you need to put down the paint brush and the glue gun. There are other things that need to be done first.

Your garden needs you. I'm not even talking about the end-of-season cleanup (which is a month away or so for me). Everything you do in your garden now will pay huge dividends come spring. I look at it this way: I garden in spring for me, but I need to garden in fall for the garden.

This is a great time to divide hostas, and I have plenty that I need to do that to. In fact I may have lost two huge Blue Angel hostas because I didn't divide them soon enough. I'm going to try to divide them now, but I don't know if I'll be able to salvage them.

It's also a good time to divide other perennials.

I doubt most gardeners have this problem to the extent that I do, but it is the perfect time to get all the plants I have growing out in pots in the ground. My goal this year is to not have any pots to heel into the garden before winter.

My goal this year is to not end up heeling in a bunch of pots into the raised beds to overwinter. I'm just going to keep repeating: "Everything in the ground!"

I don't really mind any of those jobs, but sadly there's one other job that is really important to do right now: weeding. We haven't even had that much rain lately but it's amazing how the weeds multiplied while I was gone for just a week. It's crucial to get weeds out now before they drop seeds and make next year's weeds and to pull the perennial weeds before they get even more footing.

If you're planning on starting a new bed next year, now is a great time to do it. I am a strong believer in a sort of lasagna gardening, although I don't put too many layers on. For me, the key is to start a new bed by killing off whatever is currently living there with layered newsprint. I do at least six or seven layers using so-called end rolls of newsprint. These are the last bits of the huge rolls of newsprint used for printing newspapers. Most printing operations (i.e. newspapers) have a bunch of them on hand. They are required to recycle them so they will often give them away for free. I put down whatever I have for organic mulch on top of it to hold it down.

Before you enjoy the beauty of the season, get your gardening chores finished!

And if you have any energy or time left after all that, edging your beds one last time for the year will make that chore much easier in spring, not to mention keep your garden looking spiffy until the very end of the season.

I know it's a lot. I know you don't want to do it. I don't either. I really, really don't want to. But fall isn't for sissies and we're not sissies. Now get out there, and get gardening.


06 September 2013

The Garden Appreciation Society Week 17 -- I know you have flowers ... link up!

The Garden Appreciation Society seems to be getting later and later each week. And last week I really screwed it up when I set the dates wrong on the link tool. Sorry about that.

I have a good excuse for having this week's on Friday, though. There won't be a Garden Appreciation Society link-up next week (for the first time in 17 weeks, if you can believe that) because I'm going to be out of town. The mister and I are off on a little trip that's half work and half fun (a bit of a 10th anniversary celebration) and the work part is bound to be pretty fun too. More on that when I return, but I'm sure I'll be posting lots of pictures on Instagram and a few on Facebook, so follow me there if you're curious.

This is the part where I mention that if you are some kind of creepy Internet stalker you should know that my house will be occupied by both humans and very large dogs while we're gone.

But let's get on with the good stuff. Welcome to Week 17 of The Garden Appreciation Society!

The star of the show this week is that apricot and yellow dahlia (whose name I will have to look up). I just love dahlias but mine didn't do so good this year so I'm savoring the few I have. After starting with the dahlia I threw in come sedum, some kale for the frilly leaves, a couple zinnias, rudbeckia and two other clear yellow dahlias on purple stems.

All in all it's a bit more fall looking that I had intended. Seems like I can't avoid fall even if I try!

The Impatient Gardener -- The Garden Appreciation Society

The Impatient Gardener -- The Garden Appreciation Society

The Impatient Gardener -- The Garden Appreciation Society

The Impatient Gardener -- The Garden Appreciation Society

Now's the time for you to link up. And I promise I'll set the link tool up right this time!

And don't forget to check out previous weeks:

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03 September 2013

A return to something other than the garden

It's not unusual for me to let house projects slide during summer. After all, there is gardening to be done and fun to be had. And winter up here is way too long so it's good to have some things to keep busy with. But this summer, more than any other, I pretty much walked out of the house, leaving paint brushes in my wake, and never looked back.

At least until a week ago or so.

I read a blog not too long ago (I'm sorry, I don't remember which one) where the author was lamenting the fact that one project took her so long to complete that she actually grew and birthed a baby in between when she started it and when she finished it. Well, in the case of the project I finished up last week, I could have grown and birthed an elephant. Theoretically speaking, of course.

And the stupid thing about is that it wasn't hard. It was just a matter of finding the time to do it. Twice.

Allow me to explain. Remember when I painted the front door a different color of blue? Ironically I even mention in that post that I had to repaint the screen door that winter (this is all two years ago, if you're keeping track). And I did. I had decided I wanted to pain the inside of the door white to match the trim in the living room (where the door opens to) and blue on the outside to match the outside of the door.

So I painted one side white and one side blue. And that was all fine and dandy until I went to put it up and I realized I had put the colors on the wrong sides. How that happened, I have no idea, except I think maybe I was thinking the hinges were on the other side or something. Anyway, I was so disgusted with myself that I set the screen door aside for another time.

But that time didn't come until a week ago or so. We actually went all the way through last summer with no screen door on the front door. It was hot last year though, so we probably had the air conditioning on most of the time and it didn't matter much. Or so I tell myself now.

Anyway, this summer I pulled that thing out and resolved to just finish it the heck up. And it was a pain to paint over that dark blue paint. Oh well, that's the price you pay for being stupid.

Finally, the screen door is back on. Just in time for the end of summer.
So last weekend, one week before Labor Day (so, what some people consider to be the end of summer but I refuse to buy into that theory), I hung the screen door. And we've been enjoying the breeze through it almost all the time. I can't believe we lived without it for so long.

Speaking of house projects, I find it amazing that even though I don't have kids, so nothing really changes in my life after Labor Day, and the weather is still summerlike, I feel like I can already feel myself shifting into "indoor" mode. This morning I was pouring a cup of coffee and out of the blue I decided that maybe we should put gray grasscloth on the walls in the kitchen. Where did that come from? Seriously I haven't given an iota of thought to anything in the house for more than three months and suddenly I'm thinking about wallpaper. Insane.

Do you do that? I suppose I better start making a list of projects so I don't go off half cocked and start something I don't need to be doing. Perhaps I could start with last year's unfinished list.