Sunday, July 25, 2010

Garden Party - results!!

Corn saute with lots of herbs, Root Beer Baked Beans, Peach pie with pecan strudel topping, phyllo pizza with garden tomatoes, water melon/feta salad sticks, bbq chicken and ribs, Porter Street Fizz and fruity bugs, good times.

Also pictured, my FIRST zucchini and grape tomatoes!!

Let's discuss the 'no bugs' statement.  I used a 'cutter' product designed to kill mosquitoes in your yard for a time.  I did it because the mosquitoes are ruling the world back there and making it impossible to enjoy the outdoors....however it did indicate on the package that if the bees were trying to polinate the clover while the product was wet, it was going to kill them!  It also said that it was dangerous for aquatic animals so watch the run-off if you live near water.  I had a kind of dilemna so I was very careful not to spray it on the area of the lawn that has the clover or get it anywhere near my herbs, veggies etc.  I have seen plenty of honey bees on the clover now and am hoping that they are going to be ok.  This is a classic dilemna that we are all faced with now.  

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Garden Party

That's right, thyme, variegated sage, dill, chives (grown from seeds!) grape tomatoes, basil, mint, curly and flat leaf parsley-  all cut for a cook-out tonight!  Photos of the food and fun to come on the next post.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


The score between me and the poison ivy is:   

 Poison Ivy: 0  Laurie: 18

( I have managed to keep an undefeated record for 9 weeks.  BUT, I got into a patch or two unexpectedly today, so I'm a little less confident than usual.  Check out this product that is supposed to take the oil off.  It's called Tecnu  we use it at the Arboretum as a preventative measure.)

I have succeeded at starting the leaf blower the last 3 attempts. Oh Sweet victory! Finally. I feel like a real big shot now that I can pull the thing hard enough.  I've also learned that when I start to smell gasoline, I have to close the choke... or is it close the throttle? ....well, obviously I'm a real pro...

As a member of the Arboretum staff, I was able to attend the Woody Plant Conference in Swarthmore, PA.  My co-workers told me that that these events are the most 'hoity-toity' events that the 'Green Industry' has...I cannot tell you what a relief it was to hear that news...I didn't tell them, but this event wasn't even a Level 1 of 'hoity-toity' in the ballet world. Honestly it was like the difference between a pic-nic and a Gala.

I was thrilled to find out that The Highline in NY was one of the gardens featured at the conference.  I was already planning a trip to NYC in August to see it (well really to see my best friends from college,)  (off the subject we are also going to Coney Island!)

Before New York though, we are continuing the work on our group design project.   We are creating a low maintenance Native garden around a public bathroom on the Arboretum grounds.  On Monday our design and planting plan is up for approval and in a few short weeks we will have to make a presentation to the Arboretum Staff.  The summer is flying by. 

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Leaf Blowing

Before now, my experience with leaf blowers was limited to passing a guy on the street, who would turn off the leaf blower long enough to let me pass. I had no idea he was 'giving it less throttle' to avoid blowing me and the leaves down the street. I had no idea that the Back-pack leaf blower I use is a '2 cycle engine' as apposed to a car, which has a 4 cycle engine.  In some sense, a two cycle engine is one that combines actions & has less parts, maybe this makes it faster? or lighter weight?...basically it means that the oil and the gas are combined, 50 to 1.  ( I sound like I understand what this means, but I don't)

So, the first step is starting the thing.  It looks like a plastic back-pack.  It has something called a choke, something else called a throttle.  It has something called a primer, and then a the thing that you pull (I have no idea what this is called.)  It's much like a lawn mower, from what I can gather, but for those of you who know me, I have never gotten very close to a lawn mower either.  There was a dance we used to do in college called the 'lawn mower' but we mostly used it for making fun of sorority girls (sorry ladies.)  Anyway, back to starting it, you have to find the perfect balance of choke and throttle or you flood the engine.  You also have to be able to pull the 'thing that you pull' really hard and fast.  My new goal besides avoiding poison ivy is to be able to start the leaf blower on my own.  Most days Ed stops by to see how I'm doing and he starts it for me.

For the most part, in my short experience , you mostly blow the leaves and debris from one area to another and some of it dissipates in the air so it looks like you are 'cleaning up' but really you're just blowing things around at a high velocity with a lot of noise.  Beware of the corners, where the debris likes to collect.  Point the leaf blower in the direction of the corner and watch a terrible funnel cloud develop that doesn't move the leaves anywhere except in your eyes, hair, throat and shoes, and generally gets me one allergy attack and one branch to the eye ball away from a hospital visit.

In closing, please don't underestimate the talents, abilities or even practiced methodology of the landscapers you pass by without hardly noticing, who are blowing leaves off the sidewalk or road--this activity is not easy.  I am possibly the worst leaf blower the Arboretum has ever seen.  I am quite possibly only doing this activity to provide comic relief to anyone looking on and I have to wear ear protection so I can't even hear them laughing at me!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Ready to Eat!!

The Garden is growing, and the green beans are almost ready to eat!  There is a tiny yellow squash just beginning.  We had a set back with some blossom end rot on the Roma Tomatoes.  I got some Lime to increase the level of calcium in the soil and used some dried up day lily foliage for mulch.  I think the problem is solved but only time will tell.  I moved some of the flowers and herbs into a container garden, where they seem a little happier.  A teeny tiny little Habanero pepper is growing in one of my containers for my friend Shannon's tasty homemade guacamole!  

This house abounds with great gardening practice projects for me.  Two of note are the containers in the entrance way.  They are almost full shade and previously (of course i forgot to take a 'before' photo...duh) were filled with thirsty creeping jenny, a few bushy ugly boxwoods, some random mint and oregano that I over wintered there.  U-G-L-Y.  So I kept one little boxwood each and trimmed them up, added two shade loving Hardy Begonias.  They will get pink flowers but in the mean time have gorgeous pink and green foliage.  I added a Hosta (I forget the type ooops)  to each container AND put some Daffodil bulbs I accidently dug up the other day as a treat for the spring.  The second project I took on a whim this morning.'s been floating around in my mind for about a week to cut back the roses in the yard to get them ready for their second bloom in the fall.  So picture this:  me and my PJs at 9am on July 4th, rain boots and a sweatshirt, no gloves ( how sharp could the thorns on roses really be?) and a cute pair of pruners.  These roses were a force to be reckoned with.  Vines and branches at least 10 feet long.  It was a prickly forest. But I have to say, rosewood smells nice.  I was bleeding by the end and discovered that rose thorns are a little like splinters.  Note to self:  go get the gloves next time.  Next up: trying to get all the prickly trimmings into a trash can. So far I haven't solved that step.  For now, they are in a nice shady pile for later or maybe for a facilities person who will want to pick them up before they try to mow the yard?....hmmmm.  Found a holly bush/tree with a long useless branch like a bridge over to the roses across the yard. mess.   Next projects:  pull out English Ivy ( Hedera helix)
in two separate yard spots, weed a bit of the old flower garden.  HARVEST green beans!!!!  Don't forget to check out the slide show of the fieldtrips we've taken at the Arboretum. Happy 4th of July!