Archive for the ‘What we're growing’ Category

I intended this post to be about creating a yard bouquet from the gorgeous peonies blooming in our garden. I clipped some peonies, arranged them in a vase, put them in the kitchen window and took their photo.

I knew I’d written a post last year about our peonies. So I just had a look at the post and am dismayed at myself. Though last year’s post was really about the process of planting our five peonies, I did clip a flower.

And then I brought it inside.

Put it in a vase.

Placed it in the kitchen window.

And took its photo.

Last year's peony. It's even in the same vase.

Though it’s disappointing that I essentially made the exact same bouquet last year, the thing that really threw me into the pit of predictability was that I took a look at the date on last year’s post: May 5, 2010. For those not paying attention to the calendar, that is exactly one year ago today.

So in an effort to spice up life a bit, here’s a photo of my yard bouquet of peonies in a brand new place — our small writing table.

Here’s another sorry tale, which also points to my poor memory and adds a hefty dose of my failure to lead an organized existence. Earlier this week I made a fantastic acorn squash soup with a pan-fried sage garnish. I used a little bit of this and a little bit of that and the result was a whole lot of yum. I took a bunch of photos of the soup and quickly wrote out the recipe, certain that I’d share it on this blog.

Then I lost the recipe. I have absolutely no idea where I put it. I tried blaming Mark, but he doesn’t even remember seeing it, let alone moving it or throwing it out. It’s just plain gone.

Such a nice soup. Too bad it, unlike, say, my peony bouquets, can never be replicated.


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I’m not sure it’s fair to call this a yard bouquet. For one thing, I’ve already made a yard bouquet of bearded irises. For another, I didn’t clip these flowers for myself. I gave them to our friends Jenni and Joe who were kind enough to have us over to celebrate Easter. It turns out that yard bouquets also make fabulous hostess gifts; who doesn’t appreciate fresh-cut flowers?

Have you clipped any spring flowers lately?

You can check out the other assortment of flowers cut from our garden by clicking on the “Yard Bouquets” link below.

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About this time last year I transplanted a redbud tree from one location in my yard to another. At first, the transplant process appeared to be a success. The tree put forth some pretty little flowers followed by some leaves. Eventually, however, the leaves all dropped. I called the “Master Gardeners” at our local botanical gardens and they said I shouldn’t give up hope; the tree might just be in shock from having been transplanted. Sure enough, a short time later the tree sprouted new leaves on new branches (the leaves on the old branches never came back). But then the deer ate the new leaves. That brave redbud put forth more leaves, but the deer got them too. Autumn came and I just crossed my fingers that the little redbud tree would come back the following spring.

Well, spring is officially here and that redbud is officially dead.

I’m beginning to feel that this is “oops” week at the ol’ Yikes Money house between the dead redbud and the disastrous pesto project.

Anyhow, Mark and I knew we wanted to replace the redbud with another tree, so we shopped around and after considering lots of options, we bought another redbud. This may seem unimaginative, but the new redbud is a little bit special. It’s called ‘Hearts of Gold’ and its leaves are a fantastic chartreuse color.

This little tree with its unexpected leaf color just seems to pop. I love it.

We even got the tree on sale. Well, sort of. A local nursery was offering 50% off select trees and this redbud was included in the sale. Unfortunately, however, Charlie and I went together to buy the tree and somehow in the process of hauling the tree across the nursery and endeavoring to pay for it while ensuring that Charlie didn’t destroy every other plant in sight, I got overcharged. I paid full-price and didn’t realize it until I got home. One email and three phone calls later, I got it all sorted out and the manager of the nursery has promised to send me a check for the difference.

So what about you? Are you thrilled with something you’ve planted recently?

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It’s getting to be my favorite time of year here in North Carolina. Winter is giving up its wrath and spring brings a new array of flowers just about every day. Forsythia lead the coming of spring in our area. When they (and the hellebores) bloom, I know winter can’t do much more harm. Though all my neighbors grow gorgeous forsythia bushes, ours is nothing more than some scraggly branches.  Several years ago I made the mistake of planting it in too much shade, but it manages to put forth a few flowers each spring nonetheless. This spring I thought I’d enjoy the branches more inside than out, so I cut a few.

And as a bonus bouquet, Charlie clipped us some daffodils and put them in my always-makes-me-smile glug glug jug.

If you want to see my 22 other free bouquets, click on the “Yard Bouquets” link below.

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The first year Mark and I lived in this house we planted a Japanese maple (Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’) on our wedding anniversary. We spent over $100 on that tree, but it’s been worth every penny. It’s gorgeous and has grown tremendously in the past six years (you can see a photo of it on this previous post). It also remains Mark’s hands-down favorite thing we’ve planted in the yard. Last summer he said to me, “No matter what is going on in my life, when I look at that tree I can’t help but be happy.” Now Mark is not a tree-huggin’, nature-lovin’ kinda guy, so that statement was pretty darn powerful. In fact, it planted the seed (ah, clever pun) for his Valentine’s Day gift this year.

The Japanese maple is stunning in the fall; its leaves turn a deep crimson. So when the leaves started changing last October, I began plucking some leaves off the tree and tucking them in a thick book. I collected leaves over a few weeks to make sure I had some representing the peak of fall color. Then I just left the leaves alone (or, I “leaved” them alone — I just can’t stop the puns today!) in the book to dry out.

For Valentine’s Day I gathered all the leaves I had tucked away in the book.

Then I grabbed a frame we already had.

I picked my two favorite leaves, arranged them on the glass, cut some pale green card stock to serve as the background, and put a piece of cardboard behind that so that the leaves were pushed snug against the glass (I didn’t want them slipping).

Mark was really touched by the gift. He even put the frame on the bookcase right next to his most beloved collection of Michael Chabon novels and his Edgar Allen Poe action figure. I feel so honored.

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It’s slim pickings for yard bouquets in the middle of winter. But I have to hand it to our Aucuba japonica, it has bright, attractive foliage all four seasons. This Aucuba japonica is one tough plant. It survives endless nibbles by deer and our long hot summers (it does prefer the shade though).

I even transplanted a little volunteer Aucuba japonica last March and I’m happy to report it’s growing strong in its new location.

So for this mid-winter yard bouquet, I just clipped some of the Aucuba’s leaves and brought them inside. I figured they’d provide a nice pop of color. I also put them in a lovely new vase my sister bought me (which is actually one of two new vases she gave me; you can check out the other one here).

And don’t the Aucuba clippings look nice against our new backsplash and countertop? Weeee!

Wanna see my other 21 free bouquets I clipped from my yard? Just click on the “Yard bouquets” link below.

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For Christmas, my sister gave me a gorgeous bud vase because she wanted me to have more options of vases to hold my yard bouquets. I inaugurated the vase with some nandina from the front yard. Nandina unwatched can be annoyingly invasive, but I do love it in the winter when it sprouts festive red berries amidst its delicate leaves.

You can check out my previous 20 free bouquets that I picked from our garden by clicking on the “Yard Bouquets” link below.

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