I don't know if it's because of the unusually long and cold winter we had, or if it was because I couldn't sing or dance this spring so gardening was my major creative outlet, but I have been enjoying the gardens more than usual this year. Here are a few things that have been blooming lately:
Hibiscus and phlox - Except for Osmocote, I don't usually use anything artificial on the gardens. However, small caterpillars and beetles have been decimating the hibiscus leaves so I finally bought and used Neem last week.
A small hibiscus (or hibiscus relative) - this one is very healthy
Daisies and phlox
Asiatic lily and bee balm (the lily is what made me decide to take pictures of the garden!)
I haven't posted here in so long. It's been a busy, eventful spring year. Here's a brief rundown:
Les Misérables was one of the best experiences of my life! It was such a wonderful challenge, and the cast & crew were great! I was going to blog more about it during it, but I was too busy.
I injured my knee the evening before opening night. Since then, it's been up and down. Some days, it would feel fine, and, other times, it would be really stiff. I started doing Zumba again regularly, recently, and I've also been doing my physical therapy again. This week, my knee seems pretty much back to normal - I'm even samba-ing again!
After four years of very hard work and intense involvement, daughter graduated from UNC-Asheville. I'm so extremely proud of her, but I'll miss going to see her so close by.
(... so many Kleenexes...)
I had reflux for the first time ever in March & April. It seemed to come & go mostly based on stress. It was so bad that I was losing my voice. I was eating meals half as large as usual to try to get it to go away. I wasn't trying to lose weight, and when people complimented me I was polite. However, I'd rather STAY THE SAME WEIGHT AND HAVE MY VOICE BACK!!!!!!!!! I got my wish. For the most part, the reflux has gone away, and I'm back to about 3/4 of what I usually eat. I'm close to where I started, weight-wise, which, I suppose, should upset me, but I don't care because - a few days before Seussical auditions, my voice was back to normal!!!!
I sang "All That Jazz" for the Seussical auditions. I was trying not to dance it too. However, after all the times I've danced it in two different Broadway dance classes (and performed it with one), I had to stay so tense to not dance that I danced the second half of the audition (I asked ahead if that would be okay) so that the singing would be easier!
I'm a bird girl in Seussical! We've started rehearsals, and it will be fun!
Seussical is being done by the community theater group I've been in during the summers. I don't put the name in personal posts so my blog posts don't come up when people do a search for the group.
My first musical with this group was five summers ago. Younger son (15 yo) mentioned that I've been doing this for 1/3 of his life. He's going to help me paint sets this summer.
Older son is doing some of the set design!
I did a mindfulness-based stress reduction class through UNC-Chapel Hill in March and April. It's helped to lower my blood pressure and my stress, and I've really liked the changes I've made as a result of the class. I've been trying to take an MBSR class for the last two years, but the program at the other university medical center in the area (which my doctor recommended) never worked schedule-wise (either vacations, my performances, or daughter's performances were on the same days). UNC-CH's classes are more flexible - you can make up a session with the same session in another group, which worked out very well.
Usually, I have seasonal depression in the darkest parts of the winter. Being in Les Misérables pretty much kept that at bay this year.
On the other hand, I was depressed in the later part of the spring. That's almost never happened before. Spring is usually my most energetic time of the year. After reading a lot of different books in the first part of the year, I read very little in the late spring. I got way behind on the photo blogs, and I've hardly posted here at all. I took photos for May's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, but never even bothered to post them. I also watched more TV* than I've watched in decades.
Gardening did keep me going. I think I did more gardening this spring than in many past springs.
My mood totally improved when we started Seussical. All of a sudden, I had energy again.
I could see these pansies from the window next to the computer.
I often eat breakfast while sitting on the front porch steps. This was the view. The daisies in the background escaped from the bed behind them years ago as did the purple mazus in the grass on the right.
A close-up of the daisies and the mazus
The mountain laurel is one of my favorite bushes.
I took a number of photos of the columbines. This is the only one that came out well. They're hard to photograph.
Yellow flag iris
These daisies have escaped from the bed into the drainage ditch between our house and the neighbors'.
I wish I'd taken photos for this last weekend. The tulips and narcissus were in full bloom. We had a front come through today, and the rain pushed most of them sideways. Here's a relatively short set of photos for an April Bloom Day:
The columbines just started blooming.
Narcissus and tulips
The view from the kitchen table
The dogwoods aren't blooming as profusely this year. This one has the most blooms of any in the yard.
The view from the library window
Some of the happiest flowers, right now, are the ones that have escaped from the flower beds into the grass - like this mazus.
This ajuga also is happy in the lawn.
The leopard's bane is escaping into the yard too.
Usually, this azalea bush is covered with flowers - but not this year.
Happy violets in the grass
When I open the blinds in the bedroom, this view of the dogwood flowers makes me very happy.
View of the viburnum prunifolium (black haw) tree from another window in our bedroom.
It's been a while since I blogged - the show took all my creative attention and lots of my other attention too. I finally have most of the downstairs cleaned up after weeks of bringing things in and dumping them somewhere. Today, we spent lots of time cleaning up outside from the ice storm a week ago. We were in Charleston right after the ice storm so we're finally getting to take care of the yard. It was a lovely, warm afternoon!
Our yard is roughly pie shaped, and the point of the pie goes downhill here. This is what it looked like the day after the storm as the ice started melting (view from older son's bedroom). Here's a close-up:
We took care of the two trees on the left and the one that you can't really see well on the right in the shadows.
While we were in Charleston, SC, lots of bulbs started blooming! Here are some of them:
I love the stripes on this crocus.
Daffodils and more reticulated irises in front of a large branch from the cedar tree. When younger son was a toddler, we had a swing hanging from that branch (the flower bed wasn't there then). The ropes for the swing were long so the swing made a large arc. He still remembers how fun it was. We're trying to figure out something special to do with the branch.
Daffodils and white crocuses in front of the top half of a tree (the one in the shade in the first two photos)
It was a beautiful, though chilly, day today. Very unusually, I didn't have any errands I needed to run on the way home from Zumba so I stopped by the Botanical Garden for a very peaceful walk. There were almost no other visitors there.
At some point in the fall, I gradually go from "There's not as much blooming anymore" to "It's so wonderful that there's anything still blooming!"* I'm always very happy to be living in NC in early November (and late February too)(they make up for July).
We had a frost last week, but we covered up plants and the guys hauled lots of pots into the garage and back out the next morning. Here are the flowers making me happy:
The view from the front porch
These spider flower plants came up on their own.
I was glad that this nasturtium made it through the freeze when we covered it up.
The "Lady in Red" salvia is one of my favorite annuals. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any at the local garden stores this year (I found the pineapple sage in Asheville). I finally ordered seeds in June or July, and I didn't have a chance to plant them (and pay attention to them) until August (after the summer musical was over). I didn't think I'd get to see them bloom, but they started blooming three weeks ago. They're about five inches tall (they usually are 3 to 4 feet tall by the end of the growing season).
The bright yellow chrysanthemums are the last perennials to start blooming every fall. Here, there just about to start.
Most of the black-eyed Susan vines got blasted by the frost. However, this one came up in a hanging pot (I didn't plant it there) which was moved to the garage.
* I grew up in Detroit, MI and Poughkeepsie, NY, where the highs tomorrow are going to be, respectively, 45 and 48. The high here should be 63 (5 degrees colder than today).
I once heard of a family who described themselves as "being indoor people." With all the hiking and gardening I do, I've long considered myself an outdoor person, but I lost that this year. With all the exhaustion from the CPAP, I didn't get into gardening last spring the way I normally do. I didn't even get around to planting all my annuals. Since I felt exhausted for months (so exhausted that I couldn't safely drive in the evenings and taking walks was challenging), I didn't do much outside. I started feeling better about three weeks before opening night of the summer musical so I was too busy (and it was too hot) to do much outside, and then I spent the next two months (futilely) trying to catch up on all the things I didn't do when I was exhausted.
We were on vacation for the first two weeks of October, and it was wonderful! We hiked twice most days, morning and late afternoon/evening - rain, fog, or shine. The house had a beautiful view (panorama from the deck above) so we ate outside or I read outside as often as possible. There was a sheltered spot on the deck that I could sit in even during chilly afternoons (view from that spot of Grandfather Mountain) I got used to being outside a lot again.
I feel so much better when I get outside a lot!
The last three days, I've spent the afternoons working out in the yard. Yesterday, we spent the morning at the Durham farmer's market, and the garden store, and, this morning, dear husband and I walked at Ayr Mount (right).
I'm not in choir right now because I'm trying to get my blood pressure down again (it started drifting up over the summer. The choir chairs are close together, and the choir sits sideways to the altar. I've known this isn't good for my body because I tense up in order not to bump into anyone in the close chairs, and I end up with a tension headache because of keeping my head constantly turned to the side for over an hour. Every Sunday, I'd get home from choir, change out of my church clothes, and take Advil for the tension headache/backache/Achilles tendenitis/whatever was tense that day. Unfortunately, the thing I do regularly which makes me the most tense is choir.
Since both my regular doctor and the hypertension specialist have recently recommended relaxation exercises/yoga/etc. to help get my bp down, regularly doing something that leaves my body tense (in a way that exercise, interestingly, doesn't do), undoes what I work at doing for the rest of the week. I was sad to have to drop choir, but, hopefully, I can return eventually.
Over the summer (when there's no choir anyway, and even the service I go to is cancelled), dear husband and I got into the habit of hiking on Sunday mornings. The last few weeks, we've changed that to walks at Ayr Mount, a historic home in Hillsborough. I decided, both for a new photography challenge and to get myself outside in all kinds of weather, that I would start a new blog. Last week, I put it together. It's a new photo blog platform and format, and I'm really enjoying it. I love the way it displays the photos.
My new blog is 52 Weeks at Ayr Mount. Ayr Mount is only about 8 minutes away from my house so it should be easier to keep up with the photos than it's been for our Duke Gardens blog, which I've started posting on again also (but which will probably be more intermittent).
This is my picture of hope for today. They're the peat pots that you start seeds in. These were the pots in which seeds didn't germinate or plants died. I finally cleared the rest out this morning. They're now in the woods - in the spot where I put things that are waiting to go in the compost bins. While they wait, they can release their nutrients into the ground to nurture the trees. The trees above this spot are very happy (right).
I've grown lots of annuals and many perennials from seed since I started gardening (about 23 years ago). I started doing it because I couldn't afford to buy the plants.
I've kept doing it because it's less expensive, but also because I enjoy it. Not everything germinates, but I love watching the things that do. I also love looking at an eight foot plant and knowing that I started it from seed - like the tithonia to the right.
This year, I did really badly with the seedlings. I was so tired and unfocused from lack of sleep with the CPAP that I forgot to water or to put the seedlings out in the sunshine. I had little sunflowers that bloomed four inches tall in their peat pots in the shade on the front porch because I never got around to planting them in flower beds. They were rather pathetic, I suppose, but I still enjoyed them.
I started three trays of seeds - spring, early summer, and mid summer. Fortunately, seeds aren't too expensive because out of the 150 peat pots worth of seeds, I actually transplanted maybe two dozen plants in the flower beds and deck pots. The rest didn't germinate or didn't survive, and the pots got moldy from being in the shade - which, apparently, doesn't bother "Lady in Red" salvia - my biggest success this summer. Tithonia also survives neglect pretty well and then takes off when put in the dirt.
Even the tithonia in the shade did well. The bed next to the garage only gets direct sun in June and a bit of May and July. I've never planted anything in there as late as partway into July so, even though these plants came from the same batch as the one above to the right, they only are about three feet tall instead of seven because they haven't gotten enough direct sunlight. They're still blooming, though:
If I'd been more practical, or if I'd known how wiped out I'd be for months on the CPAP, I would have known not to start seeds. I'm glad I didn't and that I had the hope of more plants, even if it didn't pan out.
I spent $18 for three trays of peat pots, maybe another $15 for the potting soil, and $15 for the seeds. Actually, it was still a pretty good deal - coming out to about $2 per useable plant. Even without that, it would have been worth it for the hope of gardening.
When we were in Asheville for our early anniversary trip last weekend, we spent Sunday at the Biltmore Estate. The gardens are beautiful right now - there's so much blooming and so much color that it was like walking through a box of crayons. Here's the video I took (I'm still getting used to the camera so it took a few seconds to stop recording at the end):