Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Green Peeks from Sicily, Italy (Sicilia, Italia)

Tassel Hyacinth aka Muscari comosa or Leopoldia comosa. (Photo taken at Villa Romana del Casale.) 
Possibly date palm—let me know if you can identify it. (Photo taken at Villa Romana del Casale.)
One of many Cercis siliquastrum seen blooming in Sicily in April. (Photo taken in the Valle dei Templi in Agrigento at the garden wall of Alexander Hardcastle's home.) 
Lovely Bougainvillea.  (Photo taken in the Valle dei Templi in Agrigento at Alexander Hardcastle's home.) 
Please don't prune your Asparagus to look like this. (Photo taken in the Valle dei Templi in Agrigento at Alexander Hardcastle's home.) 
Unknown tree. (Photo taken at the cimitero in Termini Imerese.)
More palm trees and lovely handmade pebble paving from the streets of Termini Imerese. (This was the home of my great-grandparents.)
Trees in the city park in Termini Imerese. 
Lovely large Lantana along the street in Termini Imerese.
Caster bean (Ricinus communis) plants grow wild along the roads in Sicily. 
Artichokes (Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus) growing along the road.) 
Borage (Borago officinalis) growing wild along the side of the road in Sicily. 
Wild Sedum growing along the roadside near Termini Imerese. 
Wild snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus) growing in its native environs. My husband told me that in Italian they're called  "mouth of the lion". He played a lot with these flowers as a boy.  
Not exactly sure of the plant, but I do recognize Sicilian ingenuity. If Dad gardened, this is how he'd stake his plants.
Convolvulus tricolor growing wild in Sicily. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: To Push the Garden Boundaries

Winter Loss = New Possibilities. 
Reviving the raised bed and kitchen garden. 
Some stratified seeds from this season.
Awaiting the garden fence solution. 
Yellow Venetian glass vase. Venice on my mind. 
Seedlings in the basement. 









Friday, March 14, 2014

Digging in the Roots: A Pre-Spring Reverie

Viola odorata. 
After work tonight my husband and I walked to the grocery store. Along the way I plucked a few stray Viola odorata blooms and then cupped them in my left palm like small birds. From time to time—passing the halal markets and medical marijuana storefronts—I held my hand to my nose and drew in their scent. I instinctively wanted to bite into my violets because my brain recognized their sweet scent as a favorite candy. But I didn't. Instead I walked along enjoying the moment thinking about how much I love plants—especially sensual plants.  
Here at home the seedlings are growing in their little pots and plugs. I'm keeping up with my planting schedule (for the most part) but I'm not certain if I'll be able to finish things up before we leave for Italy.

We have a housesitting plan, a cat sitter, and a seedling sitter.

(I think that it's wonderful to know there are friends available to help you with your plants, don't you?)

Whatever doesn't get planted, at least I can buy at a local nursery. Portland is blessed with so many plant nurseries. [Sigh.]
One of my favorite images from the Yard, Garden & Patio Show.
I made it to the Yard, Garden & Patio Show a few weeks ago here in Portland. (I hadn't been in years!) It was a fantastic experience and I hope to post pictures from it eventually, but I know, I've said that in the past.

I mean it this time. It will happen. I will post the pictures.

This pledge is happening because I've been taking my writing more seriously. Being paid to write is a wonderful thing. Thanks to being able to work at doing what I love, a recent goal I've acknowledged is to finally organize my photos. This will help me professionally too. I can't wait to share them.
The plant room has been cleaned out again—for what I hope will be the last time. It is looking better and better but there is still much work to do. Last weekend the compact fluorescent light that has been keeping my plants alive for a few years popped and blew out. That's one more unexpected garden expense that needs to be attended to but it's worth it! That room is cheerful during the dreary and rainy months because of that light and those plants bring so much life into the dead of winter.

This is probably the reason why Mona (the partially feral cat) lives in that room now. She's always loved it back there but now it's her room—at least that is until is warms up enough to be outside all day.
Yesterday I made it outside for a bit. It was the first work I'd done in the garden in a long time. My health has not been great. I had a bad infection for several weeks last month but I toughed it out and am ok now. I'm amazed by how easily I lose my strength and conditioning. I feel strong when I exercise regularly and walk a lot but after a few months off I feel as though I have to begin all over again.

Luckily, it's worth it. The benefits of exercise for me are undeniable. Nothing makes chronic pain go away more than exercise. I guess it really is important to stay limber.
Happy (early) St Patrick's Day!
Since I won't be here again until after Monday I thought I'd leave you with this. I was born an Annie, and internally, I'll always be a little redhead named Annie. There's just a wee bit of Irish in me, can you tell? And I do love the color green, now don't I?

(This post is dedicated to Father Cathal Brennan. RIP I still miss you very much.)
My mom with Father Brennan. 


Friday, February 7, 2014

Pacific Northwest Flower & Garden Show (An Introduction)

It's been a few years but I'm back! Coming up here to Seattle from Portland has reminded me why I missed coming to the Pacific Northwest Flower & Garden Show so much. I guess it'd been so long I'd nearly forgotten. Sure I missed one heck of a snow storm, but it was worth it. 

Here are a few highlights with more posts to come because I'm still really enjoying the show. I'm going to seminars, and after I hit "publish" I'm off to look at some books. (Later tonight I'll return to the restaurant where I first learned how to eat with chopsticks as a teen—but that's another post.)
The show in Seattle is just edgy enough to have a neon-style light in a log on the ground in the garden. I have no idea yet how much this would cost, but I want it. 
There is glass here. This is Chihuly Territory after all and his work has inspired many to take up the craft and I'm eternally grateful for their work.
There is nothing more reminiscent to me of the PNW style than huge trees and rusty metal. This is a refined nod to the logging industry if ever I saw one and to the great resource which although now managed, is something that still inspires awe in all who experience it. That's why each and every year the ancient woods are brought into the convention center. I've missed these homages.
Whimsy? Not always my thing but I burst out laughing when I saw this bat house. My former foster children would have loved this.
There is always something that appeals to the over-the-top Italian side of me. This garden display cured my wintertime blues and made me crave a glass of limoncello.
As someone who specialized in modernism as an art history student I understand it and its midcentury relative well. It's not my style because I'm too wild and flamboyant to live in it, but I love seeing it and being in it when it's in another's home.

It's calming to see the lines all "just right".
 Seeing the simplest joys and pleasures on display here make me tingle.
Then there is what I would do. Luckily I cannot afford a giant glass pavilion with an art orchid made of glass and metal in it. Was it my favorite display garden? Yes. The huge glass Sarracenia? Well what do you think? This was amazing to behold. It could be in a museum.
I should add that I come here for the hotel too—at least this time around. Let's just say that my husband really likes to spoil himself with a nice hotel so this trip I actually have marble tile on my bathroom floor. Did the show spoil us rotten with a great discount at the Fairmont Olympic? Absolutely. Will I take high tea tomorrow with our extra discount? Definitely.
I think one of these is going home to the family house on the river. It only seems appropriate when you have salmon spawning behind your house.
Not something I'd put in my garden, but I would love to see these in lieu of other options in other gardens. Variety is good. I think they're fun and I would love to slam that arrow on the front of my house so that people would walk around that way but it might be an overstatement. (I'm pretty sure there might be something more "subtle" I could do too.)
Miniature gardens are in the show as well. They aren't for me, but my husband is now eager to make a few. I'm excited to see what he makes and I would love to have one. I just wouldn't know where to begin. John has loved other types of miniatures for years so I know he'll make something wonderful.
This is a stake you can add to a planter pot and I loved it. (Gotta have my bling.) We do live in a rainy region so we might as well celebrate it.
Yesterday I didn't buy much but I came back to the hotel last night after a long day with a few free plants from a reception. I was grateful.
My husband John got to take a silly picture of me. That's his takeaway from the event. (You can tell I'm amused.) I'm afraid this is a word that pops out of my mouth from time to time and he does tease me about it a lot. Again, I love the silliness.
Then there is ikebana too.

I miss making arrangements but I'll be back at it again soon.

(More to come with A LOT more detail. I just wanted to post a few pictures.) 
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