Archive | March 2014

Puppy Break!

Last weekend was cold and rainy, I took a break from gardening tasks and had a double feature of puppies

First, my god-dog Willow who has quadrupled in size in the short 7 weeks she has been with Tom and AnnaS. She is a mini-goldendoodle multigen cross who is supposed to grow to 30-40 pound size. This was a biggie: Willow’s first playdate with my pups after finishing all of her shots. She wasn’t too sure about playing with my 2 but did work up to an aborted feint or two by the time she left. When I keep her while her parents travel, I am sure the dogs will have enough time to work out their play signals.

willow march 2014

Visit 2 e

This is Frisco – who I refer to as a micro-goldendoodle. He comes in just under 10 pounds, and was supposed to have been in the 30-40 pound range. He had quite an unsettling experience before we left. Five deer crossed the property and Frisco took off after them into the woods. With his long and very fuzzy coat, he quickly became entangled in a briar patch to the point he was immobilized. Lynne had to go into the briar patch to bring him out . We literally had to cut the briars off of him; he couldn’t even straighten up, poor thing.

He is shown here with one of my long-term fosters, Nala.  She actually outweighed him. All that fur does make him look much bigger than he is.

frisco and nala

The highlight of my puppy tour: LynneP’s 2 six week old goldendoodle multigens Scarlette and Ruby. They are both female and should in time give a great start to LynneP’s mini goldendoodle line. Someone could make a fortune designing a stasis box, so you could keep them forever at this cute stage.


PS: five flats of 4 inch pots started today, more hellebores, Rudbeckia and the alleged creeping phlox – which is actually a wildflower I think.


Week 2 of the Spring Gardening Frenzy

We are having nights with frost, but some warm 70s kind of days that make me believe that spring WILL come.

Last week’s post was delayed, for lack of  pictures. My phone died: it did not seem to care for the swimming lessons it was offered in either the wash or rinse cycle. The new phone has been to the house three times – according to the slips FedEx has left – but has stayed on the truck. The last notice was taped directly on top of the previous notice I had signed in black ink as instructed. I still have no phone but hope to catch up with the new one next week.  It is currently residing about an hour away in Greenville and I refuse to drive that far. I borrowed DonnaW’s camera.

I have processed most of a truckload of branches into suitably sized lengths, taking care that each end is near a node, scraping off the outer surface at the bottom to get to the nice, green cambium layer, dipping the bottom end in rooting compound, placing each into a dibbled hole in my new sand growing bed, or in a water filled jar in my south facing kitchen window. Through this entire process, one has to remember which end is up. This is a challenging task sometimes; unknowns are tossed. It certainly feels like hundreds worth of cuttings, but is probably really only dozens and dozens worth.

Since the labor to pot up each of these bizillion segments is going to be significant, I am trying a sand bed for rooting for the first time. The sand was leftover from  DonnaW’s dome construction; I am praying it has no nasty contents that would be harsh on tender new growth. I scrounged the landscape timbers from previous use as bed edging and had a roll of nursery-grade landscape fabric just waiting for use. A quick trip to Lowes yielded some slender strips of woods that I intend to tack the row covers onto, to provide some wind and frost protection.

New Sand Bed

New sand bed for propagation


The sand bed is currently 16 foot long, of which 14 feet are in use. I will have add more space to finish up the last of the truckload of cuttings. I am becoming a Hydrangea Queen, if this year’s grow as well as the previous ones did.

My house is a disaster. It has been way too cold to work outside this winter, so I work indoors. I use the kitchen and DR to prepare cuttings and to pot up small plants that will fit in a 4 inch pot. These Hellebores/Lenten Roses, and Montauk daisies are in my bedroom, as the windows face south and west. I am using outdoor-rated light rope to provide bottom heat  and hopefully fake the little buggers into believing that it is spring and to grow, Grow, GROW. Waiting for transfer to 4 inch pots are Autumn Joy sedum, Green and Gold, more Hellebores and something that looks like creeping phlox to me. I hope it is, I have several slopes I would love to cover and so not have to mow.

Spring Prep in the Garden

Resident Gardener checking in here. I have some idea of blogging about my efforts to start a plant nursery and using it as a garden journal.

Blooming now: daffs, hyacinth,  hellebores, pussy willow, forsythia and winter jasmine. Day lilies and iris are 2-4 inches high, the new Chestnut tree has swelling buds. I wonder how long before it is mature enough to bloom?

With spring almost on the horizon, I am getting excited and starting to make progress. In the past week I have:

washed 50-odd pots, all 1 quart size or less

potted up 16 baby hellebores

have 8 hellebores divided for planting

gleaned multiple types of hydrangea, spirea, montauk daisies, pussy willow, curly willow and a wealth of other cuttings from a generous friend. These all need to be sectioned, treated with rooting compound and potted up – dozens and dozens and dozens worth. Last year I started about 150 pots of hydrangeas.

determined that I needed a sand bed, to be used for starting multitudes of cuttings at once, the potting up process being very labor intensive as described above. We have a large sand  pile left over from DonnaW’s dome build which will need to be relocated.

had a mature pecan tree taken out, to use that area for nursery stock. ARRGGHH, I still am having difficulty with the fact that I caused the death of a mature tree. To soften the blow, I found a wood artist  (  who was excited to get the wood and – better yet – pay for having the tree taken down. As part of our agreement I get a finished piece of his work. The tree will live on in beauty, so that helps my guilt somewhat. I donated the mid-sized 4-6 inch thick pieces to a neighbor who does serious smoking for BBQ, and am hoping to get some product to sample.

purchased a cubic yard of potting soil from a local farm for the first time. This was educational. It has been windy and raining a good bit, so I specifically asked for dry mix. Guess what happens when a front loader dumps a cubic yard of dirt into your pickup bed? The entirety of the wet truck and especially all of the glass you’d like to be able to see out of, looks like it has been involved in some serious off-roading. I just *thought* I had had a working truck before!

This second weekend in March is promised to be partly cloudy, zero percent chance of rain with temps near 70.  I have so much to do including a bizillion pots yet to be washed, new flower beds to finish prepping, all the cuttings to process and  a multitude of chopped leaves to be spread as mulch.

A word on the chopped leaves source – the lady who had grown up in this house dropped by a couple of years back. Joan brought Polaroid pictures from the 1950s of the house and property; it was awesome to visit with her. I was amazed to see how much the trees had grown in just 60 years.  Joan’s mother was a big time gardener. Joan has given me iris and daylilies that her mother originally grew on this property – life does come full circle.

Joan and I were chatting one day, and I discovered to my horror that she had been hauling bags of yard clippings and shredded leaves to the dump for years! They now come to Soul’s Ease and greatly aid in soil improvement, much less weed control.

Basement Cleanup

Well, I’ve been in Roanoke for yet another snowstorm, but this wasn’t as bad as Seneca had a couple of weeks ago. I still would not want to be on the highway between the two cities. I have mostly worked on the basement this trip – unfortunately had to cut short my hours each day as I stirred up so many allergens. I have been doing a lot of tossing things out – still finding a lot of debris from the bathroom construction, besides junk that I have accumulated, like most people do, in out-of-the-way places. I have had Habitat for Humanity pick up some big furniture items, so I do have more space to work.

office or guest room before clearing

office or guest room before clearing

office or guest room partly staged

office or guest room partly staged


I have cleared almost half of the basement, and have started to move around the things I have for staging a den and an office/guest room. It is just too chilly to scrub the floor this trip, so I have to be satisfied with a good sweeping. I have one corner swept and various boxes collecting items for either myself (in specific categories) or Goodwill. There are a lot of large trash bags, too. Very satisfying to get rid of stuff.

den space before cleanup

den space before cleanup

den space during sorting, lots now in trash

den space during sorting, lots now in trash

On a sad note, I lost a friend yesterday. She was in hospice care for the past 6 or 7 months, so it was not unexpected, and she said she was ready and at peace. At least Sharon and I got to see her briefly the day before I came back to Roanoke. It is still sad to lose someone dear.

This morning was the first day I heard a lot of bird calls in the early morning. I usually take that as a good sign of spring finally being near. To me it is still awfully cold and I will be happy to get back to Seneca with low 70s this weekend.

When I was here in January right after the extreme cold spell, I thought my
camellia had survived, but this trip I do not see any buds left. It is a gamble
in this climate, even in a protected location. The shrub itself looks very

Crime Wave?

Well, glad I keep a close eye on my accounts, as I found an unknown charge on my credit card for $525. I have called to take care of it, but unfortunately the current number has now been cancelled and I will get a new card soon. I am in Virginia and the card will be sent to my billing address in South Carolina. I have a debit card, so I can get home okay, but it is frustrating. I really liked that card number – yes I am a number geek, my degree was math – it was almost palindromic, so I easily memorized it years ago. I doubt that I will be so lucky again. The woman who took my call was very nice, and sympathetic, about it. I have not been using the card much the past 2 months, but who can guess what might have been hacked to get the number. I suppose it might have been Target, as I have shopped in a store but not online with the card. This was odd, the purchase location was a law enforcement supplies place – and the woman who helped me said it was non-durable goods. We couldn’t figure what it could be. Last time I had to switch cards was about ten years ago, so that’s not too bad, and they will credit my account after I fill out the form they are sending me. Worse things could have happened, but I hate being a victim.