Or two…I’ve had a lingering bug all week and now it looks like my husband caught it, too. Today has been about loafing, orange juice, and taking care of each other. On a grocery store run for some medicine, I scooped up some carnations. Bouquets are part of taking care of each other in my opinion!
The one above features peachy-orange carnations and additional filler clipped from our garden: ornamental grass, lemon balm, mint, and lavender. I popped it in a groovy art vase that I picked up from a junk shop on a visit to Yellow Springs, Ohio. It’s so aromatic!
My second bouquet is a tight cluster of carnations in a vintage Haeger vase. This one is going on my bedside table. Pretty, pretty, pretty.
Flowers are part of my self-care routine. How do you pamper yourself when you’re feeling icky?
The past week was wet and cold. Today was lovely: it started off brisk and mellowed to comfortably cool. Golden light even fought through stacks of grey clouds at a few points. After enjoying brunch with a treasured friend, I enjoyed a day of relaxed puttering around the house.
Gathering up the last blossoms that hung in through our first frosty nights was high on my lazy-day agenda. I was able to create a few bouquets from the autumn stragglers. Aren’t they pretty?
Hydrangeas in a Patch NYC faux bois mug
Lavender, Black-Eyed Susans, Chrysanthemums, a lone Batchelor’s Button, and some grass seed-heads in an empty olive oil bottle.
Knock Out roses, Black-Eyed Susans, and a sprig from one of our beauty berry bushes in an empty spice jar.
This last picture showcases a little bit of a larger DIY home improvement project my husband and I have been working on the past few months. We installed a new hardwood floor in the kitchen (much needed— the old floor was junky peel-and-stick vinyl tile on a thin subfloor which we discovered during our demo had been layered over, get this, manky stained indoor-outdoor carpet. Gick.). We found salvaged trim for the doors and baseboards to match the trim in the older part of our house and installed it in the kitchen. You can also see a salvaged door we found, painted black, and installed on the pantry’s entrance. How thrilling that it fit so beautifully!
We found the trim and door at Columbus Architectural Salvage (http://columbusarchitecturalsalvage.com/index.php). It’s a great store to poke around in, it’s large and packed with interesting finds. New trim from big box hardware stores just didn’t compare with period trim. The new seemed so dinky compared to the older stuff. It was a little bit pricier getting salvage instead buying new, but worth every cent. Plus it’s nice to reuse whenever possible.
We repainted the kitchen, taking it from a creamsicle orange misstep to a fleshy sort of coral pink that was inspired by the sunset in a National Parks poster that hangs in the kitchen. We were initially only planning to do an accent wall in the pink, but once it was up we liked it so much we decided to use it for the entire room. I’m pleased we did. It’s a ridiculously flattering hue. It also visually warms up a room that receives precious little natural light and isn’t too pastel or too hot. The last big thing to do in the kitchen will be replacing the sink’s laminate countertop, can’t wait to find the right replacement.
Due to illnesses and then an injury hitting some of those nearest and dearest to me, this hasn’t been quite the spring I envisioned. (Please wear helmets when you motorcycle, friends, the life you save might just be your own.) There has been a lot of bouncing between hospitals, nursing facilities, and such. And a lot of realizing how lucky we are. The injury, at least, has been stressful and inconvenient- but not tragic. That’s been an important distinction to keep in mind.
Although we’re not exactly on schedule with everything around the house and garden, I believe that all of the chaos lately has made my husband and I appreciate the quiet moments we have been able to snatch gardening all the more. Including here:
Plots at the community garden
We’ve had a plot or two at our town’s community garden every summer since it was created. This summer, we decided not to grow veggies in our plot. (In the past, we were perhaps overly ambitious with our plots, and ended up leaving too much of what we grew to rot.) Instead of veggies we are growing flowers from seeds this time. The idea is to grow a little cutting garden. Hopefully it will be pretty, we’ll get some bouquets out of it, the other gardeners will enjoy seeing it, and it will attract beneficial polinators to the other plots.
For this first attempt at growing a cutting garden, we went for plants we’ve successfully grown from seeds before in our yard. We were going for ease! To that end, my husband planted a mix of zinnias, sunflowers, cosmos, and nasturtium seeds in our plot last week. Some are already peeking up:
Ahh, peonies. Easy-going, romantic, and full of variety. I love them in the garden. I love them as cut flowers. I just think their old-fashioned beauty is charming. They make me think of my grandmothers. Here’s a look at the peonies blooming in our garden this spring:
‘Pink Spritzer’ peony
‘Paree Fru Fru’ peony
Mystery fancy-single type bush peony: there were some distressed, unknown varieties of peonies for sale for very cheap at the Dawes sale a few years ago. I got 2. 1 made it, 1 didn’t. This is the surprise peony that survived, isn’t it striking?
‘Ann Cousins’ (I think!) peony with bonus false indigo
There are so many gorgeous varieties of peonies to choose from. (Around 3,000 is the estimate I keep finding.) It is both hard to choose because they are all so tempting—and easy because one can hardly go wrong! I love the sheer extravagance of the bomb-type flowers (like the Ann Cousins)- absolutely worth the effort of hooping/staking to deal with the drooping. I also love the exoticism of the fancy single type blooms (like the Pink Spritzer) and their relatively lighter blooms don’t tend to droop or need hoops/stakes.This year, we picked up a ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ peony plant at the Chadwick Arboretum sale- a pink bomb flower that has been available since 1906. Such a classic, I can hardly wait for it to bloom next year. 🙂
Including native plants in our garden that appeal to butterflies, bugs, and birds is important to me and to my husband. Sterile suburban yards, with neatly trimmed grass and maybe a bed or two of petunias are such missed opportunities, both to provide habitat for a host of creatures and to enjoy lovely floral displays!
One native we’ve had luck growing? Lupinus perennis, also known as wild lupine, native lupine, perennial lupine, or sundial lupine. This beauty attracts a variety of bees and butterflies. It is also the ONLY host plant for the endangered Karner Blue butterfly caterpillars. Read more about the Karner Blue butterfly here: https://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/insects/kbb/kbb_fact.html.
Aren’t they striking?!? They like kind of rough conditions: dry, slightly sandy, and very sunny spots are preferred. We started with a tiny seedling we picked up at the OSU Chadwick Arboretum plant sale years ago, from a booth run by the plant pathology grad students. Its seeds have spread a bit, which we love. Volunteer wild lupine plants? Yes, please!
If you’re in the right zone to grow them, I highly recommend walking on the wild side and making some room for wild lupine in your garden. Not only are they gorgeous, but they’ll help you attract beneficial bugs to your garden -and potentially provide crucial habitat to an endangered species of butterfly. Win win win.
Folk wisdom in our parts holds that you should be safe to plant annuals, vegetables, and what-not after May 15th. So of course there was a frost warning on for last night. And of course, my husband had actually managed to get all of our vegetables in the ground early this year, getting everything settled last week:
Wonderful, right? We were determined not to lose anything. But our sheet collection was already claimed by some tender Japanese Maples and baby trees we wanted to cover, so what to do? I hit upon the idea of buying some extra paper yard waste bags and popping them over the tomato cages for the tomato plants. We’ll use the bags soon enough in our battle against the weeds, and I figured they’d be quick to put in place and would provide ample protection against any frost. Take a look:
Open a yard waste bag completely
Easy as pie!
On the recommendation of a customer from my job, we also tried using a large empty plastic cat-litter bin over one larger tomato plant that we hadn’t caged yet, and an empty plastic coffee bin over a pepper plant. But we didn’t have enough empty stuff in our recycling bin to cover everything in our veggie patch, and I’m a bit leery of using plastic stuff for this purpose. Plants can get damaged if they’re touching the plastic and it freezes. So for the rest of our pepper and okra plants, we used paper sandwich bags.
Much like with the yard waste bags, we opened them first. Then we ripped about an inch up along each of the corner folds so we could make little flaps. We placed the bags over our little uncaged veggies and put dirt on the flaps to hold things in place as it was a bit windy. Here’s how everything looked covered up:
I am pleased to report that, although we did experience some frost, bagging our veggies did the trick. Everything looked wonderful once it was safe to uncover things. Will absolutely remember this option in the future!
Welcome back, cherry blossoms! The last 2 years, ill-timed freezes zapped our cherry trees right as they were preparing to bloom. My husband snapped these dreamy pictures of one of our cherry trees 2 days ago.
I’m a little afraid to investigate the garden today. Last night, freezing temperatures and wind with gusts of up to 50 mph moved into the area. I suspect the magnolia tree will be looking sad, who knows about the cherry trees.