A Weekend of Sun!

We finally had a lovely late spring weekend with sun and temperatures in the low eighties. Everyone’s garden is flourishing from all the rain (and we’re expected to have three days more of it this week).

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By clearing out some of the early crops I made a little space for some okra.

I harvested lettuces, spinach, carrots, beets, and radishes and left some kale to get a bit bigger. I also have abundant herbs, which is nice. I cut up cutting celery, parsley, and some basil into a pasta dish tonight, adding some store bought tomatoes.

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Alex gave me two garlic bulbs. I will find a way to use them with some of this produce!

The Plot Against Hunger gardens are also flourishing and we harvested carrots, beets and lettuces from them this week and I added more carrots, some turnips and some lettuce to the tally. Alex will be taking those to AFAC tomorrow.

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Larkspur, interspersed with poppies on a busy corner…

One of the amazing things in the garden is the profusion of flowers. We have a lot of larkspur, the remains of love in a mist, zinnias coming on, yarrow, poppies, and some sort of primrose whose name I can never remember.

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These are some sort of primrose, but possibly not primula anything. The foliage turns red in the fall.

I brought home a bouquet which pleases me immensely. As for the kitchen, work has been done, but it doesn’t look a lot different. I am told the countertops, floor, and appliances will all go in this week, in which case, I will be very busy next weekend!

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Ah, flowers for the house again. Using one of my host’s vases!

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Seizing the Sun

We’ve become trapped in a weather pattern with rain most days. While this has been good for the drought, and is undoubtedly good for all green things and the bees, I would welcome less rain. I was in the garden working away on Sunday afternoon and it started to mist a bit. I ignored it. I was wearing a straw hat and a wool sweater (yes, in May) and wasn’t feeling wet. Kept working, looked up at a certain point and realized it was full out raining and I needed to stop working.

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My hosts’ updated kitchen has cupboards such as have been ripped out from mine.

I ate a sandwich I had brought to eat in the garden amidst the distinct scent of wet wool in the shelter of my car and repaired home to my borrowed apartment, where I settled in reading a jewel of a mystery by Michael Innes (aka J.I.M. Stewart). I thought I had read everything he wrote, but found on my hosts’ bookshelves The Seven Suspects. I don’t know about you, but there are writers whose new books I wait for. And it is always unfortunate when I find an author who will be writing no more and whose works I read completely over the course of time. Stewart was very much alive and writing when I first discovered him, but it was a treat to find an unread Sir John Appleby mystery. I have yet to finish it, but am very near the end.

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The chaise is a very commodious reading spot, and these shelves are only a smidgeon of what’s in the apartment…

Today dawned gray and chilly, but turned out beautifully. I had arranged for a little urban hike with my friend Carolyn. We set off from my place, downhill to the river, across Key Bridge. We had decided to walk the C&O Canal towpath, but went east toward town, thinking to find the old water gate of the canal. Yes, the infamous hotel of the same name is called after the entry from the river to that canal.

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Key Bridge from the water steps.

We got sidetracked by a lovely vista of riverfront park and we followed it, because, really, who can resist a river? The day had cleared and turned out beautiful, drawing vast numbers of people who had been holed up in their homes contemplating the art of boat building.

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Some boats moored on the river walk. At left above the boats is the Watergate; at right, the Kennedy Center.

People were out on the river in boats and on paddle boards and in canoes all coexisting relatively peacefully with larger craft. If you look closely, there were also a lot of ducks and geese.

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Walking across the Key Bridge, we spotted a Great Blue Heron in flight, probably heading for calmer fishing waters. We stopped to eat at a restaurant on the river called Tony & Joe’s, where we could eat outside under an umbrella. It was fabulous.

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I also showed Carolyn my kitchen cupboards, and will now show you as well!

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Fridge on the left, sink and cupboards without, as yet, hardware.

Stove and microwave (my first ever) will fit in here.

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Tall pantry has five pull out drawers inside.

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I’m thinking this week maybe the floors and the countertops will go in, as well as under counter lighting, the sink, disposal, and other stuff. I’m hoping to reclaim my space by June 9th, but we’ll see.

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Back to the river for a view of a construction barge under Key Bridge.

On our walk back across Key Bridge, we paused to inspect a construction barge. There are repairs going on to one of the bridge arches. There’s also a large dock loaded with more scaffolding. So, while it feels as though my apartment is filled with all the construction in the surrounding area, it just isn’t so.

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A Surfeit of Greens

Salad days are here! I’m eating greens like crazy–spinach, chard, lettuce, kale–and some of the other lovely things that grow along side them in the spring, such as carrots, peas, radishes, and the occasional turnip.

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I roasted this with last night’s dinner.

The Plot Against Hunger gardens are both thriving and planted completely. The large garden has already yielded quite a lot and the small garden will be turning out lettuces and peas soon. Later, there will be carrots, tomatoes, and sweet and hot peppers.

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These lettuces have been harvested several times. I expect they’ll be bolting soon, but in the meantime, it’s all going to AFAC.

One of the pleasures of this time of year is the flowers. Roses show up in any photograph down the length of my garden.

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I’ve protected the beans from the depredations of the rabbits, but I think some wily voles munched quite a few of my beets. They must have a sweet tooth.

Some are spectacular, like these yellow ones.

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These are in a neighboring garden.

And of course, there is love-in-a-mist (Nigella something or other). I love the pink, blue and white of this and the different forms of the flowers.

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There’s something very endearing about these flowers. Jerusalem artichokes are encroaching on the right.

The kitchen, should you be interested, has been gutted. Electrical wiring has been upgraded and the plumbing inspected. It’s not pretty. Sometime this week, I expect cabinets will start to go up. The following week, let’s hope we have the floor and appliances in, but that will remain to be seen. I’m awfully grateful to be staying in another place for the duration, where I can cook my greens and relax in peace.

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I’m so grateful not to be living with this, but to be close enough to drop in and see progress.

Cheers and good wishes for the coming week!

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I’ve had the loveliest crop of radishes this spring.

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Catching Up

I can’t believe I haven’t written for more than a month. It isn’t as though the garden isn’t in full swing. I forgot the camera a number of times and then when I took it, I didn’t find time to write. So here is the update.

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It’s pretty lush in my garden right now. We’ve had a lovely amount of rain and things are growing wildly.

Jane’s fabulous Plot Against Hunger garden has already given about 15 pounds of produce to the food assistance center. And that’s poundage in lettuce and kale and greens! Okay, some carrots and radishes, too. More will be going tomorrow from the small garden–Tom Thumb lettuces and some carrots, as well as more spinach from the large garden.

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This garden is very productive. It’s given lots of lettuces, kale, and spinach and soon it will give beets and carrots. Later: squash and tomatoes.

So the season is in full swing. I had help today from Mike. He and his wife Gerda are neighbors in the garden and signed on to help in the Plots Against Hunger, which needed a weeding. Gerda will harvest early tomorrow so Mike can take the goods into AFAC.

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These Tom Thumb lettuces are the first thing to go to AFAC from the small Plot Against Hunger garden. Cheers!

My own garden is now fully planted. The spring crops, especially the greens, are coming faster than I can eat them, and all my salad and cooked greens recipes are starting to come back to me.

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I brought home kale, arugula, spinach, and beet greens from thinning. Salad days!

The flowers have been out–irises, columbine (aquilegea), now roses, and love in a mist (nigella).

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I love these! And they’re just getting started.

And mallow. It is such pretty stuff, but wildly invasive.

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I am the culprit who introduced this to the garden and now lots of people are having to pull it out!

Marcel, a gardener I hadn’t seen since last fall came today and when I wandered over to see him, he cut some of his peonies for me. I gave him a lettuce head from my garden. He said he was having a friend for dinner and would eat it tonight. Meanwhile, I have these lovely, amazing and fragrant flowers for as long as they last.

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There was no way to do these justice with the camera. Of course I had packed all my large vases, but the water glass was perfect.

I am in the midst of packing up my kitchen for the remodel. I have been quite apprehensive about it, but that’s because I like a calm, orderly home. Supposedly the whirlwind will hit on May 15th. Since I may not have internet access enough for blogging while the remodeling is going on, if I don’t write next weekend, I’ll probably be absent again until the end of the month. But don’t worry. I’ll most likely be gardening.

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Nature and the Nursery

Last weekend I got together with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. Saturday was warm and partly cloudy and we decided to drive out to Manassas to walk the battlefield at Bull Run. It was a nice hike and we got to catch up with each other’s lives while noticing the spring landscape.

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A farm house and outbuildings were on the hill here. They survived the battles, but apparently burned in the early 1930’s.

There was green coming up under the trees.

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I loved seeing the new grass, but there were so many dead trees!

Along Bull Run, bluebells had come up in little swaths.

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These were close to Bull Run.

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The landscape looked stressed. We are very near drought here in Virginia and I noticed more than the usual amount of dead trees. The bluebells were also a bit stunted, about half the height they are normally. There were a few spring beauties as well, looking themselves, so some things had not been adversely affected.

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Normally these are taller plants, not so compact. It could be that they are a different variety than what I usually see in the woods.

On the way back, I asked Penny if she would mind stopping by Merrifield, which is a large nursery and garden center. I didn’t have anything in mind to buy, but I go there sometimes just to smell the plants and the earth and see the colors of masses of blooming things. Once I bought live ladybugs here to eat the aphids off my roses.

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NOBODY was in a bad mood here…

Penny was up for it. The first thing we saw as we parked was a forklift carrying two cherry tree saplings in bloom. Pretty cool. I didn’t get a picture of it, because I gaped at it in delight for too long. I missed a second chance later because I was carrying my purchases. In my mind, the only visual better than a forklift carrying cherry trees in bloom is a truck full of watermelons.

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I did capture a vehicle hauling a lot of bamboo. Whoever plants that will rue the day…

There were a lot of flowers out: potted bulbs, flats of pansies and other early flowers, begonias, gerberas, ranunculus, geraniums.

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There were vegetable garden plants as well. I picked up some parsley, cilantro, sage, and lavender. I also got a pink gerbera and some snapdragons. I’ll plant them all out sometime this week or weekend.

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I grabbed a Radio Flyer to haul our purchases around in.

Penny had strawberries on her mind and bought a box of plants as well as some garden herbs, lettuces, and flowers.

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She’s got plans for these strawberries, if the birds don’t get them first.

We headed back to her house where her husband had been trying to fit the carrier for their kayak on their new vehicle. Apparently it wasn’t very successful, but a glass of red wine on the porch made it all better, especially when a neighbor with a sweet dog joined us. We took turns petting the dog, sipping wine and telling stories. All in all a nice way to spend a spring day!

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My purchases, snug in their box…

 

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Blossoms, Snow, and Custom Envelopes

Late this week, I noticed some of the daffodils doing face plants in the dirt. They are optimistic, tough little flowers and can withstand the cold. But I think they may have heard about the snow.

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Ooooh Noooo. It was so nice a few days ago…

These crab apple blossoms have not heard yet and are at a stage where the snow will not be helpful.

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Blossoms. Leaves too. Aaiiieee….

The latest forecast I’ve heard is for a nor’easter up the coast dumping either 2-5 inches or 10-13 depending on storm track. I don’t mind; it’s kind of exciting. And given the lateness of the year, the snow won’t be around long. Nor will the blossoms and buds that were tricked by 70 degree weather in February. I haven’t thought much about the storm, since I will probably just hunker down and enjoy it. What I did think about today was getting construction paper to make envelopes.

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It was fun matching paper colors with the different colors on the cards. Each one had a perfect match somewhere.

A while back, Pauline, the Contented Crafter announced the availability of hand made cards. I bought two kinds, one set for me and one set, called Carnaby Street, for my mother, whose birthday was Saturday.

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My technique varied somewhat from Pauline’s web site instructions for custom envelopes.

The cards come without envelopes because once those are added in, the postal rate on the cards shoots way up. Pauline educated us in a blog about how to make made to measure envelopes, so I thought I would do that.

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Aren’t these cards gorgeous? They contain the whole universe.

The thing is, once I got the cards, I realized the envelope they came in was the perfect template. I just traced it on the construction paper, cut, folded and glued. My mother is thrilled with her cards, which I sent with envelopes I had on hand. And I’m thrilled with my cards and the opportunity to match them up with colored construction paper and create custom envelopes.

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Four cards, four envelopes, and a great deal of satisfaction.

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Winter and Spring Tussle

Yesterday I opened the blinds to a beautiful winter day. After letting myself absorb the clear sky and the brightness of it all, my first thought was Dumbarton Oaks. There is nothing like a trip to the fabled garden to make me feel all is right with the world.

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I could tell some snowdrops came out earlier than others, depending on their position. These were fresh.

T.S. Eliot talks about midwinter spring in the Four Quartets. It may be that was what we were experiencing in the last two weeks before the latest cold front blew in. More likely something else, but the poem, Little Gidding, talks about light blazing on a branch and certainly I saw that yesterday.

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I’m not sure what kind of pears these are, but every fall they have lovely fruit.

There had been a smash up between winter and spring, as though winter rose furious from a near knock out punch. The magnolias got the worst of it, but from a distance the frosted blossoms look like exotic buds of some sort.

The grass, unmolested by the sudden cold, looked very like summer. In this view, with no deciduous trees, it’s hard to believe it’s not June.

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Early March? June?

Before we get too far into the ecstasies of Dumbarton Oaks, you may remember that a couple blogs ago, Jan of The Snail of Happiness offered me a custom made pussy hat. At the time, I thought I probably wouldn’t be wearing it until next year, but hat weather arrived at the same time the hat did, from a different direction. Perhaps the cold and the hat had arranged a rendezvous. I certainly gave it to them yesterday.  Does it go with my coat and jacket or what?

I went through the garden out of my usual order and it provided some surprises, views from angles I don’t often see. It was looking for the snowdrops that took me off route and then I had to spend some time with two–I think–flowering quince. Those of you in the know can correct me if I’m wrong. They were so stunning, I walked up to them without getting a photo of the big picture. They were magical.

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There were two of these breathtaking bushes and they mesmerized me.

There was other magic, of course. In the forsythia walk.

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This path has one moment of glory all year.

In the cherry tree alley.

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This was the only crowded place in the garden.

In the naturalized lawn full of crocuses, snowdrops, daffodils and little blue flowers.

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There was coming magic on cherry hill where the yoshino cherry trees are.

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These often blossom before the ones in the Tidal Basin because they are sheltered.

They had some fat buds, undamaged by the cold, that will be out in the next week or so if it gets warmer.

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Buds!! Unmolested by frost!

Up above, I could see the petals of cherry blossoms drifting east in the chill breeze.

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See the guy looking in? Everyone did that before walking under the blossoms.

There was also evidence of winter repairs.

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New wood…

And around the corner from the repaired bench, more magic.

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I have written about the art installations at Dumbarton Oaks before. This one was something, with sounds of a quartet coming from each of the chairs, like a conversation. Of course, when you sit in one of the chairs you insert yourself into the sound, actually feeling it at times. Is it any wonder I love this place?

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In any season it blazes with beauty.

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