Sunday Morning Garden Chat: In the Midst of Winter…


A promise of summer. From intrepid gardener & commentor Marvel:

Here’s a spot of bright red happiness.

We grew a ton of tomatoes last Summer but when they came ripe, we were busy doing our fast/furious Buy New/Sell Old Home Switcheroo, so a couple of times a week, I just went over to the old house, harvested a bushelful, brought ’em home, quick-roasted them (to remove the seeds & skins) and tossed the lot in the deep freeze. These past two days, I’ve been thawing, cooking & canning a big batch (~2 gallons) of New Year’s tomato sauce. This quart escaped the pressure canner and will be joining us for dinner pronto — yay!

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You know, I don’t think I’ve ever heard from Southern-hemisphere vegetable gardners. If any of you want to consider that a challenge…

Here in the (not as frozen as it should be) North, seed & plant catalogs have been showing up in my mailbox since Thanksgiving. Anybody placed their 2019 orders yet?








Sunday Morning Garden Chat: Shutting Down for the Season

As we approach the hinge of the year, some reminders of better days, from the indefatigable & gifted Ozark Hillbilly:

We had a rather colorful Fall, with each tree in turn, turning its appropriate colors. As usual the oaks were mostly on the subdued side but the dogwoods, maples, and hickories more than made up for them.

Peak color came in the 1st week of November. (I remember when the 3rd-4th week of October was peak color. Global warming anyone?)

Then our first snow came on November 8th, followed by the 2nd on the 11th, and the 3rd on the 14th.

At top: I have several stands of maples and a few of pines. This pic captured the best of both.


Our dogwoods were special this year, taking on many colors.


A view of one of my stands of maples looking down a holler.

I planted Mexican Sunflowers for the first time this year. While I was disappointed in how they propagated, I was not disappointed in the pollinators they drew.


“I’m not dead yet!”


By the 2nd measurable snow fall, my mums, and my garden, had succumbed.








Sunday Morning (Garden-Adjacent) Open Thread

Did anyone ever figure out what the Oval Office Squatter thought he was talking about?

… My short non-biologist summary would be this: it’s fairly wet and cold in Finland so it’s pretty different. They don’t use rakes to avoid forest fires. Their big problem is bog fires. Many of the best parts of JI’s letter are cris de coeur, insisting on the non-role of rakes in any part of Finnish forage management.

On behalf of all TPM Readers, thank you to TPM Reader JI and we’re sorry about the Trump thing…

On that, we can certainly agree.

Also informative, and infinitely more depressing, is the new report from ProPublica/NYTimes “Palm Oil Was Supposed to Help Save the Planet. Instead It Unleashed a Catastrophe”:

The dirt road was ruler straight, but deep holes and errant boulders tossed our tiny Toyota back and forth. Trucks coughed out black smoke, their beds brimming over with seven-ton loads of palm fruit rocking back and forth on tires as tall as people. Clear-cut expanses soon gave way to a uniform crop of oil-palm groves: orderly trees, a sign that we had crossed into an industrial palm plantation. Oil-palm trees look like the coconut-palm trees you see on postcards from Florida — they grow to more than 60 feet tall and flourish on the peaty wetland soil common in lowland tropics. But they are significantly more valuable. Every two weeks or so, each tree produces a 50-pound bunch of walnut-size fruit, bursting with a red, viscous oil that is more versatile than almost any other plant-based oil of its kind. Indonesia is rich in timber and coal, but palm oil is its biggest export. Around the world, the oil from its meat and seeds has long been an indispensable ingredient in everything from soap to ice cream. But it has now become a key ingredient of something else: biodiesel, fuel for diesel engines that has been wholly or partly made from vegetable oil…
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Sunday Morning Garden Chat: Iris, the Rainbow Flower

From gifted photographer and ever-dependable commentor Ozark Hillbilly:

I love irises. To me they are insanely beautiful.

The one in the top photo was already here when we bought the place. The rest are types I bought at the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Iris show and sale back in 2015. I hope they do another, I’d like to get my hands on a few more rare beauties even if I have to take out a 2nd mortgage to pay for them.

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My favorite tomato-plant vendor has posted her offerings for next year. I’m considering putting in a severely downscaled order right now, while the memory of this year’s disheartening crop failure is fresh in my mind. But that means I’ll have to stay off *all* the tomato mail-order sites come February, and I’m not sure I have the strength of will to resist…

What’s going on in your garden(s), this week?








Sunday Morning Garden Chat: Happy Flowers

From laudably determined commentor Watergirl:

I didn’t get to garden much this year because of my broken ankle, but at least I had some happy flowers to look at through the windows and from the porch.

The windflowers were my happy surprise this spring. I had planted the windflower bulbs last fall, not knowing for sure what they would look like. They really popped, and they are such happy flowers — I am planting more this year.

This was the best year ever for my hydrangeas. Not sure if that’s because we got a lot of rain early or if they finally came into their own after being in place for several years, but either way, I’ll take it! For all those weeks I was stuck inside with my broken ankle. I cold at least look out the french doors and see some happy flowers on the side of my house.

It was also a great year for my mandevilla. I overwinter it every year, but this year I put it on the opposite side of the house so I could see it every time I looked out the window. (see ankle, broken) You can’t quite tell from the photo, but the flowers start out the palest of pale pinks, and then turn white with the yellow centers once they open fully. Pale, pale pink flowers are some of my favorites.


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Sunday Morning Garden Chat: Redesigning

Looks like we have *finally* come to the end of this hellish summer, so I might actually be able to do some much-needed work in my sad neglected yard. Of course, not all gardeners are as wimpy. Here are some photos that have been waiting in the queue for some six weeks, from commentor Susie:

Here are some of my latest garden projects. This is for Lapassionara.

At the top is a barrel planter that used to be under a tree in my front yard. I managed to get it on its side and roll it to the back yard, where I put it on its side and use it for impatiens. I should have fed them more, but earlier in the summer they were full of blooms.

The top photo is about a third of the day lily bed, before I got around to digging it up. Underneath it is a photo of the bed this morning, after I completed the digging. This is deceiving, as when I go back tomorrow and dig around in that dirt, I will find, no doubt, day Lilly roots and corms lurking in the soil.

I plan to use this for sun-loving perennials, as it is just about the only bed I have that gets enough sun for consistent blooms.


These are my favorite shrubs, oak leaf hydrangeas. I planted these three last summer, and there are two doing great, one getting better, but not yet great.

The photo underneath shows some more oakleafs, these given to me by a friend. Mature oak leaf hydrangeas will put out progeny along their roots, and these are easily dug up and potted, then replanted in a suitable site.

The nice story about these is that my friend got her oakleafs from my hydrangeas that were growing in my yard in my former home in South Carolina, so these are grandchildren of my original three oakleafs. I love getting free plants, and giving free plants away.

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What’s going on in your garden(s), this week?








Sunday Morning Garden Chat: Winter Prep


Update from indefatigable gardener / commentor Opiejeanne:

This is the garden shed project so far.

[Here’s the original post, from back in May.]

You can see we haven’t quite figured out how to put the ceiling up. Some of the items like the paint tubes and brushes will have to be brought in for the winter because freezing is not recommended.

The purple chair was a garage sale find; $5.

The blue dresser/desk/secretary was $35 at an architectural salvage place in Seattle. They don’t usually have much furniture. I painted it after finding out that it used to have a nice mahogany veneer that must have gotten wet and the “repair” job was not good. They filled the areas with spackle and didn’t bother to sand it down before painting it black with a drab green interior.


The floor needs to be swept and the rug shaken out; the little rug was damaged by our cats so the shed got it.

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What’s going on in your garden(s), this week?