Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Wednesday Vignette

I have a gardening companion who doesn't actually come outside with me when I garden. He watches me from the windows.

I'm not sure what he's looking at, but I guess Ronin loves his mommy -- or maybe he's pining for the fjords

When I went outside recently to take those photos I shared of my front porch succulent display, he jumped up onto the window sill and ducked underneath the slatted blinds to watch me. He was paying close enough attention that he jumped back down and was waiting by the door when I came in.

Friends on Facebook heard about his little adventure a couple of weeks ago, when we had our vents cleaned. The front door got left ajar, and he got out. We found him frightened and cowering in the side yard, whereupon he raced back to the front door and scooted inside. That was frightening for all of us. He doesn't seem eager to repeat that experience.

Anna at Flutter and Hum hosts Wednesday Vignette. You can see her current post here.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day -- August 2016

The garden in August is a bit burnt up, to be honest. Although it has been a cooler and less droughty summer than usual, I also haven't been watering as much as I should, so there's probably less flowering than there has been in the past. I spot-water when I see something I really care about looking limp.

If I don't really care, well, tough love, baby. That plant's on its own. We'll see what lives till next year.

I wonder if anyone remembers the Hydrangea border I tried to plant last year. Man, they didn't like our summer drought. I ended up digging them all up and potting them up. Now the pots get babied and I move them into a spot in one of the shady borders that's full of Dicentra 'Gold Heart' in early spring, after I cut it back to the ground.

Late summer wouldn't be the same without black-eyed Susans.

Eucomis aka Pineapple Lily

Ornamental Oregano is so carefree

Echinacea 'White Swan'

Blue Flax is reblooming

Fuchsia magellanica blooms all summer and into fall, and I haven't watered it even once yet

Geranium phaeum 'Samobor' is reblooming too

California Fuchsia planted last fall is blooming (I didn't think this would survive the winter, but it did -- then again, it was a mild winter)

One of the overwintered Begonias that survived my winter of discontent is blooming

There is more, but not all the photos turned out in focus, and I'm too lazy to go out and try again. So you get what you get. Be satisfied.

Carol at May Dreams Gardens hosts Garden Bloggers Bloom Day on the fifteenth of every month. She's been doing it for years and years. Check out her blog here.

Friday, August 12, 2016

The Potted Plant Display on My Front Step This Year

I usually display the tender plants that I overwinter inside the greenhouse on my front porch step, which is concrete and under an overhang with a western exposure. Most years I start bringing plants out of the greenhouse as soon as I'm reasonably sure that we've passed the point of last frost. They are usually well out long before the true start of summer, by the fourth of July.

But not this year. I was a very neglectful plant steward, I didn't even start bringing them out till the beginning of July, and only just finished a few days ago, in early August. Things were complicated by the fact that I had to sift through the dead bodies to find the living, and in most cases, then trim up the living to make them look presentable.

 Of course, most of the survivors are the cacti and succulents. They don't mind neglect.

My Aloe 'Christmas Carol' is even flowering

That cylindrical Sanseveria had actually started to shrivel a bit, but it seems to have bounced back

The Agave next to it, which I'm pretty sure is Agave bovi-cornuta, is thriving

I noticed for the first time this year that it's variegated -- it has a lighter green stripe down the center

I'm pleased this tiny Aloe polyphylla was one of the survivors

No sign of spiraling yet, but it's just a baby

It seems appropriate that I have a zombie gnome captured in a birdcage on the table. I brought a lot of zombie plants out of the greenhouse this year. And I often felt a bit like a zombie while I was doing it.

I don't mind that some of them didn't survive. Now I have room for seed-starting, which was one of the reasons for getting a greenhouse in the first place. Acquisitional plant hoarding had started to get in the way.

Who knows? Maybe I'll even find room for a little table and chair this winter. Coffee and seed starting is a nice combination.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Wednesday Vignette

For my Wednesday Vignette this week I'm sharing some photos of my very first Brugmansia flower this year. It doesn't usually take my Brugs until early August to produce their first flower, but I haven't been the best plant steward this year. Brugs are heavy feeders and need lots of water, and most years I give them what they need. I've kept them watered this year, but haven't been fertilizing them at all. Unlike last year, when I actually knocked them out of their huge pots and replaced a good amount of their soil with heavily amended new soil, this year I just rolled them out of the garage and lined them up on the driveway.

I consider myself lucky to have been rewarded with a flower. There are more blooms coming too. They're more forgiving plants than their reputation says.

Ribbed for your (viewing) pleasure

Anna at Flutter and Hum hosts Wednesday Vignette every week. Check out her blog here.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

True Confessions

I used to tell people my garden kept me sane. Unfortunately, lately the garden hasn't been keeping its part of the bargain.

You may have noticed I haven't been blogging as much as I used to in the past few months. I've posted for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day every month and for several Wednesday Vignettes, but I haven't been posting about my garden. That's partly because I haven't been doing that much gardening. I haven't been feeling well, either physically or mentally/emotionally.

I came home from Disney World back in April with a headache that wouldn't go away. Technically it's called a Chronic Daily Headache. I've had episodic migraines for all of my adult life. For the first couple of days of vacation I had a migraine, which then just settled into a background headache that came and went in intensity every day, sapping a lot of my energy and enjoyment, and leaving me with a low level of constant nausea/queasiness. I thought maybe it was just the stress of traveling too soon after my gall bladder surgery and ulcer treatment (which I posted about here), and that when I got home it would go away.

But it didn't. Instead it became a constant part of my life. A week after getting home, I had an MRI, which proved I did indeed still have a brain, but nothing else untoward happening inside my skull. That removed one source of worry, but still the headache refused to go away.

I might be more inclined to agree if whoever made this meme knew how to line up those damn bullet points

I've always been a worrier, and now that I'm older, I worry even more about my health and about getting older and wearing out, especially after the gall bladder surgery and ulcer.

Along with the headache, extreme anxiety about my health took hold and wouldn't let go.

I spent days Googling all kinds of headache causes and headache remedies -- Vitamin B2, Butterbur, low-carb diets, etc. -- and tried each one, but eventually decided to bite the bullet and see my Primary Care Physician, who put me on a daily dose of a medicine normally prescribed for seizures. It helped the headaches, but it had side effects that affected my energy and appetite and digestion and left me feeling even more anxious and unlike myself. My energy level was nil, my sense of humor was gone, I wasn't sleeping, my interest in things I used to be passionate about had disappeared. Strangely, although those are all hallmarks of depression, I didn't feel depressed, just very anxious. Most days I felt shaky, to the point of feeling like I had a vibrator implanted in my chest. I had to marshal my strength just to get out to the grocery store. I used to love going out to eat, but couldn't bear the thought of a restaurant meal. I was almost agoraphobic.

It was time to see a therapist. Sometimes you just have to talk to a real human being.

Not the way I do it. Have you seen what I spend on plants?

Her first suggestion for dealing with my anxiety was a life-line. She recommended meditation. I found several different apps that I could download on my iPhone, some of them for free. They were so helpful. I had always wanted to learn how to meditate.

Here are some I found most useful:

The Mindfulness App ($1.99)

Relax & Rest Guided Meditations ($1.99)

Omvana (free)

Relax Melodies (free)

Both of the free apps have add-ons that cost extra, but I found the free version quite useful for helping me relax. The Mindfulness App and Relax & Rest were a bargain at $1.99 each.

Mine is an actual person, and I've gotten a great deal of help from her. I can't help wondering who's the therapist in this picture. Is it the sky? Or the fire. Or maybe it's the sunset. The clouds? Or the errant comma. Oh dear, I'm being very judgey.

Anyway, my anxiety is getting better, and I've managed to lower my dosage of the headache medicine. I discovered how much probiotics can help with psychological issues. I've started taking a high-end, expensive probiotic that I buy online. Have you heard of the enteric nervous system that runs our digestive systems? There's more serotonin and dopamine in our digestion than there is in our brains.

Here are some interesting articles to check out about what scientists call our "second brain:"

Scientific American: How the Gut's Second Brain Influences Mood and Well Being

Scientific American: Gut Feelings: The Second Brain in Our Gastro-Intestinal Systems

Psychology Today: Your Backup Brain

I actually made it out to a local nursery a few weeks ago, and then a week after that I went to one of the open gardens on the Northwest Perennial Alliance Open Gardens Tour. That may not sound like much, but it was a real milestone for me. I'd like to eventually get off the seizure medicine completely, but for now I don't think that will be happening. I've just started seeing an acupuncturist, and I'm hopeful that will help. We'll see.

A friend on Facebook shared this recently, on a day when I really needed to see it. I printed it and laminated it and started carrying it in my pocket. I pull it out and reread it every once in a while.

So, if you've been wondering what's been going on with me, well, that's my story.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Wednesday Vignette

It's Echinacea season in my garden. No coneflower does better in my garden than the straight species wildflower, Echinacea purpurea, which I sowed in place about 3 years ago when we redid the front garden, right onto bare soil under a plastic cloche. The seeds sprouted wonderfully, and the plants that resulted continue to drop seeds and reproduce modestly. I've tried many named varieties over the years, and none have been as sturdy or robust. Plant breeders keep trying to capture my fancy with their crazy petals and poofy double flowers and crazy colors. I should have learned my lesson by now. None of them thrive like this. They're all wimps.

The pollinators prefer it too.

Anna at Flutter and Hum hosts Wednesday Vignette. Check out her post here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wednesday Vignette

For today's Wednesday Vignette, I'm sharing an image that struck me recently when I was in my front garden weeding. I happened to glance up into the branches of a dark-leaved ninebark and noticed the distinctly bell-shaped flowers of a dainty Clematis that I had planted at its base a couple of years ago. It's in an out-of-the-way spot, facing my neighbor's driveway, and I seldom venture there, maybe once or  twice a year, mostly just to weed (since I have to stand IN my neighbor's driveway to do so, and that makes me feel conspicuous, as if I'm trespassing.) I had long ago assumed the Clematis had died.

I guess it was just biding its time.

It was a delightful little surprise.

Anna at Flutter and Hum hosts Wednesday Vignette. You can check out her current post here, and don't forget to also visit all the posts of the bloggers who comment and leave links to their own Wednesday Vignettes.