Sunday, December 30

Christmas album 2018, Portland, OR

Christmas Day Table setting

One of three of my trees

The day after we visited the Portland Chinese Gardens

The tea house at the Portland Chinese Gardens

Christmas at Pittock Mansion

The music room at Pittock Mansion

Another tree in my home office

Friday, December 21

Winter Solstice 2018

A song for the season- Waiting for Snow- by John McCutcheon. 

Have a blessed Winter Solstice!

Saturday, December 15

Flower of the Week is Pine-cone

Yes! A pine cone is a flower! In fact, the Maine state flower is the white pine-cone and tassel.

Thursday, November 22

Happy Thanksgiving 2018

A lovely song from John McCutcheon- enjoy! 

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day everyone!

Saturday, November 17

Flower of the Week is Amaryllis

Autumn Leaves in Maine

We have snow on the ground now, but last week this is what my yard looked like. We had a couple windy days when leaves rained down on the house and yard. The cats enjoyed watching nature's show.

Saturday, November 10

Flower of the Week is Flanders Poppy

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
    Between the crosses, row on row,
  That mark our place; and in the sky
  The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead.   Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
  Loved and were loved, and now we lie
      In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
  The torch; be yours to hold it high.
  If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
      In Flanders fields.

~John McCrae

Saturday, November 3

Flower of the Week is Carnation

The carnation's symbolism changes depending on the color.  Pink symbolizes a mother's love. Light red is friendship.

Wednesday, October 31

Happy Halloween 2018

This is what usually happens to the pumpkins on my deck this time of year, although my squirrels aren't as creative as this one.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Saturday, October 27

Flower of the Week is Corpse Flower

Watch this incredible time lapse from the Chicago Botanic Garden of a Corpse Flower blooming. Apparently her name is Alice! Amazing!

Saturday, October 13

Tuesday, October 2

Flower of the week is: Chrysanthemum

I look for myself but find no one. I belong to the chrysanthemum hour of bright flowers placed in tall vases. I should make an ornament of my soul.  Fernando Pessoa

Sunday, September 23

Garden projects I am doing right now-Portland, OR

This has been the strangest gardening season ever. It was a nice hot summer,  but a little too hot for my liking. You would think a hot summer would supply a nice harvest, Well, you would be wrong. Even though the hot weather plants put on a nice display early, they were already past their prime weeks too early. Oh well! That is what is so great about gardening. There is always next year and a new chance to have your best garden ever. With that thought in mind I thought I want to show you  what I am doing right now to get my garden ready for fall. I also will include any thoughts I have on what I will do better next year.

My Patio

The patio garden needs some work like everything else. Most of the bulbs and perennials have outgrown their containers and need to be transplanted into the garden. The patio is covered. and a future fall project is to spray down the furniture and do a general clean up. I will leave it to the spring to transplant the perennials and summer bulbs like lilies. I can generally leave the furniture set up until the rains here get bad which is generally in November.

Summer vine annual now flowering

This is a annual vine that I don't remember the name of (sorry).  It is quite common and grown from seed. I usually use plant labels, but  they often disappear. I need a better plant identification system. Back to that vine, it did pretty good except it is only now flowering. I like it because it is delicate and not over powering. I think it is supposed to flower earlier, but perhaps it hates hot weather.I will definitely grow it next year and maybe I can find what it is called latter. 

Problem tomatoes

This was a heirloom tomato variety that I never got to eat. It produced well, but all the tomatoes had large black bottoms. No, they are not supposed to have black bottoms. I had to get rid of the plant and its fruit. I am not sure if it is another heat victim. I just don't do good with heirloom tomatoes. Other types I do fine. Lesson learnt! Next year I am only going to grow a heirloom that someone recommends and will grow well in our short usually cooler summers. Other problems were cucumbers that tasted horrible. My mistake. I grew them too close to the squashes. Now I am wondering how my squash will taste. I just harvested them.It was too hot for the beans. They produced a handful of beans instead of the usual bucket full. Peas? What peas? No peas this year it was not cool enough. Just a few of the challenges this season.

The way to my secret  "Gulch Garden"

A side view of the entry into the "Gulch Garden"  The rose bed is against the fence.The roses look like they are going to flower again as they are budding up to bloom. I am going to  leave them be for now. They are not a priority in my garden for right now. There are too many other projects. Our winters are mild here so I usually prune away the dead twigs and blooms. This fall I would like to add some mulch around each rose. My biggest problem will be keeping the soil from getting water logged. Roses like to have their roots dry I have read.

Dusty Miller Annuals

Dusty Miller is one of the garden annuals that I love. I think I remember leaving a few of them in the ground last year and they came back in the Spring. Again we are lucky to have a mild climate and the ground rarely ever freezes in the winter in the city anyway. I have been keeping certain annuals like snapdragons in the ground for a few years now. This year I am leaving in my dahlia too see if it will be okay. I have one friend that has a dahlia garden and she never takes hers out. 

Side future succulent garden

This is a view of my future succulent garden. I did make a start this year . It is also where the goats next door escaped into the garden. As you can see the fence is learning over, so my neighbor propped part of it up with bricks that his goats latter removed. A new fence is on the agenda for next year. Luckily I rent, and it is my neighbors responsibility. Hopefully the propped up fence is only a quick fix.

Tulip bulbs ready to be planted

Spring bulbs get planted late September through November here in the Pacific NW.  I am getting an early start. My theory is that there is plenty out there for my animal visitors to eat so there is no need to dig up and eat my bulbs. I  often feel all eyes upon me when I have plant in the garden. Like they are waiting for me to leave to have a nice meal. That reminds me of another project. I packed too many bulbs in a patio container last year. It looked lovely at first with the first burst of blooms, but then the parrot tulips did not have any room to grow more than a few inches. I guess I will include that in my cleaning up the patio list.

View of "Gulch Garden"

This is the back "Gulch Garden".  I spent most of today in this part. Projects including cutting down lemon-balm, oregano and other herbs to dry inside for home use. This is also the area that I started planting the bulbs. I also topped off some of the beds with my homemade compost and planting some perennials  that I bought on sale,  but had never planted like bee balm. I love using my own compost, courtesy of  Cha Cha my rabbit. For next year I want to make more and also I liked having the small compost heap  close to where I needed to use it.

Home made compost

Here is a photo of the compost I was talking about. It took a year to breakdown, but basically I did nothing to it all year. I have tons of other fall projects so I just made a big list and work on the most important projects done to conserve energy and time. I still have to prepare my community beds for fall. Last year I covered them with black landscape material and it was great! No spring preparation. I just removed the fabric and planted right away. 

 This year I bought some buckwheat as a green manure or cover crop. Have you ever used it? You
sow this one in the fall . Then a few weeks before you want to plant in the spring you  chop it down and work it into the soil. It improves your soil by adding needed nutrients. I did it one year and I found it hard to pull out. I also hated waiting 2 weeks for the plants to die before I could plant. This time I will plan the removal better. So that is it for now, what fall projects are you doing now?

Saturday, September 22

Autumnal Equinox

Another great song from John McCutcheon, "It's Fall, That's All" in honor of the changing season. 

Happy Fall!

Flower of the Week is Sunflower

"And the yellow sunflower by the brook, in autumn beauty stood."

~William Cullen Bryant

Tuesday, September 18

Gorgeous Gardens: Trapp Family Lodge Part 4

Last week I showed you the flower gardens at the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont. Near the flower gardens you will also find vegetable gardens with a view- a view of the cattle heard beyond- and beyond that the beautiful Green Mountain range. I can't praise this place enough. You'll find so much to see and do here. I do hope you will get a chance to visit someday. It's well worth a trip. 

Saturday, September 15

Flower of the Week is Buddleja aka Butterfly Bush

Watch this time lapse of a beautiful Butterfly Bush. I love these flowers so much but have not had much luck growing them. Maybe I will try again next year. Here's a video from Garden Clips with some tips to follow.

And another from Garden Answers:

Tuesday, September 11

Gorgeous Gardens: Trapp Family Lodge Part 3

The flower gardens on the mountain top at the Trapp Family Lodge are simply amazing. It was starting to rain, and my family was itching to head back to the car, so I quickly took as many shots as I could.

I could have easily spent a whole day exploring this flower garden. Wouldn't this be a beautiful spot for a wedding? Just look at that vista of the mountain range beyond. If you are a gardener, and have the chance to visit Vermont, you simply must make time for this garden.

Monday, September 10

Growing Sedum for Beginners

This is the time of year when sedum is in its glory. I saw this specimen recently. I think it may be the variety "Autumn Joy." I love the color, but sedum is also available in a variety of beautiful colors. 

Growing sedum is quite easy, which makes it a good plant for beginner gardeners.


  • It's best to plant in the spring either from seed, nursery stock, or divided plants
  • plant in full sun
  • water as needed
  • deadhead blossoms once flowering is over

Consider adding sedum to your landscape next spring!

Sunday, September 9

The Many Uses of Rose Hips

Rosa rugosa is a species of wild rose that grows everywhere in New England, especially by the seashore. Known as beach roses, pink and white blossoms are still going strong in September providing food for the bees and other pollinators. Soon the bushes will be completely covered in rose hips. They are best harvested after the first frost.

The hips are coveted wild edibles which can be made into jelly, wine, baked goods, syrup and more. I've provided some links below to a variety of uses for rose hips. The list of possibilities is quite extensive. Let us know if you try any and your results!

Rose Hip Wine:  click here

Rose Hip Syrup: click here

Dried Rose Hips and Puree: click here

Rose Hip Fruit Leather: click here

Rose Hip Jam: click here

Rose Hip Herbal Infusion: click here

Rose Hip Tea: click here

Rose Hip Marmelade: click here

Rose Hip Simple Syrup: click here

Rose Hip Smoothie: click here

Rose Hip Pie: click here

Rose Hip Muffins: click here

Rose Hip Graham Crackers: click here

Rose Hip Cookies: click here

Candied Rose Hips: click here

Saturday, September 8

Flower of the Week is Passionflower

This is an amazing timelapse video of a passionflower plant growing and blooming from Temponaut Timelapse. Watching timelapse of plants growing really drives home the amazing life force within them. Enjoy!

Friday, September 7

Tips for Growing Petunias in Window Boxes

I passed these beautiful window boxes overflowing with petunias recently. The mass plantings pack an impact, in addition to the color combination.

I like how the colors are planted in large chunks of the same color. Petunias come in so many different colors, it's fun to experiment with different combinations. 

Tips for growing petunias all from spring to fall:

  • plant in a sunny location
  • be sure to deadhead consistently. Don't allow seed pods to form.
  • use organic fertilizer for lush plants and abundant blooms
  • don't over water
  • plant in well drained potting soil

Thursday, September 6

Vegan Breakfast Scramble Recipe

This Vegan Breakfast Scramble was a hit with my daughter, who is a newbie vegan. I've been learning to cook plant based recipes for her.

For this I used the following ingredients

Morinaga Silken Extra Firm Tofu (6 oz)
3 Unpeeled precooked Red Potatoes
1/2 cup Red pepper
1/4 cup White onion
1/8 cup dried cranberries
1 tsp. Turmeric
1/4 tsp. Seasoned salt
1 tablespoon Coconut oil

It was super easy. I stir fried the cut vegetables in coconut oil for about five minutes. I used a cast iron pan which adds extra iron to food.

In a separate bowl, I chopped the tofu with my manual chopper. Then, I added turmeric and seasoned salt to flavor the tofu and give it a color similar to scrambled eggs. I let it sit while the veggies cooked.

Once the veggies were done, I mixed in the tofu and sprinkled with dried cranberries. I removed the pan from the burner, covered it and let stand for three minutes so the cranberries and tofu would warm up.

I served with applesauce. My daughter loved this recipe. She said the tofu tasted like scrambled eggs.

Wednesday, September 5

Gorgeous Gardens: Trapp Family Lodge Part 2

One of the most special spots on the mountain top is the Von Trapp family cemetery. The flower gardens planted here are so extensive at first I didn't even realize this was a family cemetery. What a beautiful and peaceful place.

Tuesday, September 4

Note to Michele: Chrysanthemums and Mini-Scarecrows


Can it really be September? It feels like I blinked and summer was gone just like that. The garden is on the decline, with only phlox blooming now and just a few cherry tomatoes, herbs, greens and peppers left to harvest, but sadly no more than a handful of each (more about that later.) The record breaking heat and heavy humidity this summer did not set well with my plants. But crisp autumn air is just around the corner and it's now time to move on to my favorite time of year.

To kick off the change in seasons, I was given these beautiful Chrysanthemums by my mother and father. What a lovely surprise!

I love the expressions on the mini-scarecrows! They are so cute and will make me smile for the next few months as we move from late summer, through beautiful autumn and to the brink of....gulp...dare I say it? Winter. But I digress...

Isn't her smiling face just darling? 

And he looks content sitting in his pot of yellow mums, which are about to burst into bloom.

Here's to the start of a gorgeous new season just around the corner! What signs of the season are you seeing in your neck of the woods?


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