Thursday, July 24, 2008

Simple Minded

Very nosy hens checking out the new guys on the block.

and little, baby hens who are sticking together for protection. They are getting along better but it is always a good idea to keep the youngsters separated until they can fend for themselves. The older girls just kind of push them around now, letting them know who is boss. Talk about a pecking order, sheesh!

The glads are looking especially nice this year. These gladiola corms have been in the ground for about 5 years now. I never dig them up and I have armload's of gladiolas every year. I also have some dahlias in this bed in my vegetable garden that return every year. We are zone 5 so I am not sure how this happens but the dahlias must be very happy. This makes me a very happy and lazy gardener. I have never been too good at the whole lifting and storing thing with dahlias. I don't have a garage that stays the right temperature and they always seem to dry up because I forget to mist them over the winter. I have had much more success with this method of storage, although I know it is not correct. So far it is working for me.

I must be the most simple minded person on the planet. I can't tell you how much pleasure I have received from this old wash tub and a ten dollar deer chaser water pump feature. I really want a water feature. I am certainly not water deprived here at Touchstone Farm. We have two very large ponds, two smaller ponds and a lovely swimming pool. You would think that would be enough. Obviously my inner island girl comes out in the summer and I must have water everywhere.

This fills the bill and doesn't make me want to run to the bathroom. It is also great entertainment for one year olds. See, simple minds.

I know I have said how much I love long garden shots of the design of a garden. I still think that way but my garden looks for s#@* right now, and the flowers look amazing up close, so...

Obligatory bloom shots.

Tithonia I started from seed. The plants are about 4 feet tall. I will definitely be starting this again and putting it in a sunnier border next summer.

This is a beautiful day lily, Hemerocallis " Catherine ?" Of course the plant label bleached out before I could record the exact name of this day lily. It is purply and very pretty.

Great Oriental Lillies and the fragrance is to die for.

Hemerocallis "Barbara Mitchell"

OK, I take it back the bloom shots are sexy and oh so pretty.

Girls...look what daddy did this morning.

There will be pie!!!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Arghhh! I found them as soon as I posted the last entry. Anyway here are the shots of the newest baby sweater pictures for my friend's daughter's baby boy, Jude. His mother lost a little girl almost a year ago so he really is taking a "sad song and making it better." to quote his grandmother. Mother and baby are doing fine. My friend told me everyone keeps telling them they will be exhausted by the crying. She doesn't think that will every happen, it is a joyous sound to them.

Yarn: Mission Falls Cotton
Needles: Size 5 Turbos
Size 2, Took 2 balls cream, 2 balls black and 1 ball blue, could have used another ball of blue. (Thought patch pockets in blue would have been cute on the front.)

She also told me how important it was when they lost Chloe, their first child, to have the blanket, photos and memory box that the hospital sent home with her daughter.

She said projects like the Wrapped in Care Project are very important to these mothers. Many friends and family donated to the local care project when Tasha lost Chloe and they used this money to buy a new digital camera to take the photos. So money is always useful too.

Welcome to the World, Jude!

2008 Botanical Garden Tour: Part 2

More gratuitous garden pictures from the Botanical Garden Tour 2008.

This is a water locust. The original cutting for this locust is believed to be 2,000 years old. My girlfriend threatened to yank a piece out of the pond and take it home with her. The fact that she doesn't have a pond or water feature of any kind did not distract her. When I warned the police would probably be called she rethought it. Talk about guerrilla gardening.

A very serene Ligonier garden. I have a bench like this, mine sits on my deck looking at the garden. I love the idea of the bench in the garden I just don't imagine real gardeners ever sit in their gardens. But it makes a very nice vignette.

Another very nice water feature. I do love the idea of the waterfall. This one isn't too bad but the hill in the back looks a wee bit suspect, too artificial and man made.

We all fell in love with the turtle with a shaggy haircut. He was a frame filled with sphagnums moss and then poked with various mosses.

A little garden of succulents.

Hilltop is the name of this garden and very appropriate too. This is as close to big sky country as we have in western PA. As someone who lives half way up the mountain and am surrounded by trees these vistas appeal to me. But I am very happy with my little corner of the world (Occasionally the people on top of the mountains run out of well water, that rarely happens at the bottom of the mountain).

This is the view from the back of their house.
This is the view of the back of their house.
There has also been a little knitting. I am also working on something I can't share because it is a surprise.

I have taken the pictures and just spent the last 40 minutes trying to get the pictures from my camera to the file where I can upload them to this blog. Obviously the learning curve with my new camera has me flummoxed and I will get back with the pictures of the baby sweater later.

This is how we spend our weekends.

This is what a try-athlete looks like before his first Olympic length Triathlon.

This is what he looks like coming in from the last leg of his first Triathlon. Pretty cute, huh?

My honey finished this race 6th in his age group. Which is a tough age group when you realize the winner was a 50 year old man. Rich turned 50 this year. He worked very hard training all winter, rode a borrowed, 20 year old bike, didn't know the course, had to swim upstream in the Allegheny River and still did an amazing job. He said he though it was harder than the marathons he has run in the past and he has run Boston twice. So that's saying something.

You thought I was kidding about the swim. This is the swimmers in the Allegheny River with Pittsburgh on the opposite shore. A pretty view from dry land, intimidating as all get out I would imagine from the water. He is most proud of his swim and how well he did in this portion.

Here he is, in the white shirt, after the 25 mile bike portion.He told me he thought some of these guys were riding bikes that were more expensive than our cars. We haven't bought a "new" car in years so he maybe right.

His time was 2 hours and 53 minutes. The winner did it in 2 hours and 1 minute. Like I said, not bad for your first triathlon.

He is officially a tri-athlete!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

2008 Botanicla Garden Tour: Part 1

(Warning: a very picture heavy post)

So I have finished the baby sweater. This is the sweater for the first grandchild of a very good friend. Her daughter, this baby's mother, was a favorite babysitter for my girls when they were just wee ones. She lost her little girl last year so this baby was very nervously anticipated. I just received word that he was born last evening and is a happy, healthy baby boy. Yeah!!!

All this little guy needs is some cute buttons.
I would like to make a little jester hat or booties to go with this jacket but don't have much of the blue left. Maybe I will make some booties and just crochet a little edging.

Yarn: Mission Falls1824 Cotton
Needles: Addi Turbos size 4 circulars
Chest Measurement: 22"

Now I would like you to suspend reality for a moment and pretend this is the entrance to my garden...

Don't I just wish. I don't have the buckos to do this and if I were in charge it wouldn't be this amazing. (When I showed this to the Head of Maintenance he asked who would be plowing over those stones this winter. He is all in favor of our black asphalt, so I guess this won't be the view into my garden anytime soon.) This is just a little teaser to entice you to follow me on the 2008 Pittsburgh Botanical Garden Open Gardens Tour. It was an overcast day that threatened rain off and on but was actually a great day to see the gardens, not too hot, not too bright, and except for a few showers, just right. So let me lead you down the garden path.

All shades of blue and white. Blue petunias, catmint, balloon flower, must remember this.

This is their perennial garden. It is very long but obviously not very deep. If I were in charge (and they must thank God every day that I am not). This sucker would be about 12 feet deep and just stuffed with plant material. I would have put in lots of vertical elements and ruined the whole composition. The thing I like about this perennial border is that it is low and you can see the forest beyond. It would be quite manageable too. I could learn a lot from this garden. It was serene and lovely.

A really well done water feature. So many water features look plunked down from on high. I think this one works. I would love a little waterfall at our place so will keep this shot in mind when I win the lottery.

We also peeked in the windows. It was furnished in a contemporary style, very clean and modern, an interesting juxtaposition with such a traditional exterior. I loved it and could have moved right in, no one extended the invitation so we moved on.

The sight of this tree completely took my breathe away. A weeping Kutsura tree is a thing of great beauty. I have spent the last 3 days imagining where I could plant one here on the farm. Now you would think with 40 acres to play with this wouldn't take 3 days. But this is a special tree which deserves a lot of forethought. I'll let you know what I come up with.

This was the view behind us from the terrace. This garden was my absolute favorite. The people living in the house now did not make the garden but they are wonderful stewards to the vision of the previous owners. The previous owners purchased the home in the 80's and had all the trees on the property removed. Now this is a big deal because in this particular borough of Pittsburgh you are not allowed to cut down any trees without permission. They paid the fines, brought in yards of good soil and compost and designed an enchanting garden on a sloped, relatively small city lot.

The cutting or butterfly garden, not sure but it was lovely.

And this is my all time favorite water feature. Doesn't it make you just want to spend your afternoon watching the fish go by. This is incredibly peaceful,so large and on a sloped lot, amazing design. It is tucked in next to a retaining wall.

Does anyone have any idea what this plant is? It was growing with the hostas and hellebores in the shade. The new owner didn't know what it is and I would like to plant it in my woodland garden.

I think that is enough for now. Hope this has been as inspiring for you as it was for me. Now I am off to my sorry little patch.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Little of this and a little of that

There has been some knitting, but so much more gardening. So maybe we will start with that.

I love garden blogs that show the long shots of the garden not just close ups of the pretty flowers. I am always curious about the design of the gardens. I am not particularly happy with the design right now.

Everything is just green. I know as a gardener I am supposed to be interested in the textures and foliage. Somehow that makes me a more sophisticated gardener, but sometimes I just want the flower shots.

This is the garden down by the pool which I planned to be very colorful for the summer months when we enjoy spending time swimming. This is not very successful, just green, green, green. Not what I envisioned.
This is a beautiful Pagoda dogwood that has one branch reverting to just green. Margaret talked about this issue at awaytogarden. I cut this branch out after I took the picture.

The endless summer hydrangeas are gorgeous this year and I can say that because I had absolutely nothing to do with mine. They are blue and full of flowers just the way an hydrangea should be. (Sorry, about how washed out the blue looks, I even took this early in the morning but nothing is showing the intensity of the blue.)
The stewartia is in bloom. I love this small, understory tree. No fragrance, but 4 seasons of interest. The bark is amazing.
The hosta bed looks very nice, don't you think,

until you get up close...We have 3 does wandering around the farm. One has a set of twin fawns, who while very cute are munching away on a few of my favorites, these hostas included.

You be the judge. I feel like I should dig everything up, move plants and rethink the whole design. This may have something to do with being on vacation when the spring show was on and I missed the whole thing; peonies, roses, geraniums, dianthus, nepetas, sweet peas. Most of my favorites and I missed them all.

But there has been knitting...

I finished the little Blue Sky Alpaca and Silk Helena sweater and hat for my friend's new baby girl. I am very happy with how it turned out and even have a skein left to play with. This yarn is dreamy. Thought you might like to see the adorable buttons too. I purchased this yarn and the buttons at Sheep to Shore on Nantucket, MA, my hometown.
If you ever find yourself on Nantucket with a few hours to yourself, make your way out to Sheep to Shore. It is a wonderful shop and Chris, the owner, is fantastic. I would love to spend my entire vacation just hanging out in her shop. It is warm, inviting, inspiring, comfortable and oh so beautiful. And all the ladies who work their are great. Hi Sheila(whose husband Matt happens to make the best sandwiches on the whole island. Something Natural is absolutely worth the trip.)

I am also knitting a lace shawl that I hope will be used as a christening blanket for the first grand child of a good friend. The yarn is Alpaca and it feels like buttah. I was inspired the christening blanket by Franklin Habit knit for his niece. The baby is due in August so I need to get cracking on this.

Ann Hanson's Tesserae socks out of the Blue Moon Fiber Arts medium weight sock yarn on size 1 needles. They should be very warm as they are very compacted.
Another baby sweater for the first child of one of my daughter's favorite babysitters when they were wee tikes. We know she is having a boy. Mission Falls Cotton , my own design. Now I must find just the perfect buttons.
Also have to finish a Fair Isle vest for a particular someone who will be home from Venice in 3 weeks. Luckily the weather will be too hot for her to wear it right away.

Now I have a question for you all. This Sunday 2 of my friends and I will be touring gardens of Pittsburgh and Ligonier on the Pittsburgh Botanical Open Garden Tour. I know I will be taking oodles of pictures. What is the correct etiquette about sharing other people's garden pictures on my blog? I am thinking that is not too kosher but not sure. I am sure some of them will be amazing and I would love to share with you all but don't think it is proper. What do you think????