Friday, December 28, 2012

December Sunrise

As I was walking out to my car this morning, a flash of pink caught my eye. I managed to grab my camera and capture the tail end of an amazing December sunrise.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Special Christmas Present

For Christmas this year I was spoiled with many lovely presents. However, one really stood out. My Sister-in-law Cathy commissioned our family friend John Pelliter to do a pastel drawing of my garden. Back in October, when we were all gone at a Duck football game, John came over to the house. He went down to the garden and created this one of a kind drawing for me. The dahlias were still in bloom and John captured everything perfectly. Below, the "live" view today. Thanks to John and to the Cookson family for my special gift!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

"From our happy home
Through the world we roam
One week in all the year,
Making winter spring
With the joy we bring
For Christmas-tide is here.

Now the eastern star
Shines from afar
To light the poorest home;
Hearts warmer grow,
Gifts freely flow,
For Christmas-tide has come.

Now gay trees rise
Before young eyes,
Abloom with tempting cheer;
Blithe voices sing,
And blithe bells ring,
For Christmas-tide is here.

Oh, happy chime,
Oh, blessed time,
That draws us all so near!
"Welcome, dear day,"
All creatures say,
For Christmas-tide is here."

Louisa Alcott

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Christmas Eve Walk

I managed to find some time to take a hike around the property today. In the last four days, we have received another 2" of rain. Thankfully, today was dry and there were a few sun breaks as well. The creeks were running high today but not all full capacity.

As you can tell from the washed out bank, the creek has been over a foot higher recently.

Even in Winter there is still beauty to be found if you look for it.

Down around the big garden I found a new patch of mushrooms that has popped up since my last trip down there.

They had very interesting thick caps that folded upward like an inside-out umbrella as they aged. Their stems also had a pretty texture that resembled a tree trunk. A nice find on Christmas Eve.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter Solstice

The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper

So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.

They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,

And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us - Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,

As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, fest, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

First Snowfall

Last night at about 12:30 AM, it started snowing. By the time I got up at 6:30 AM we had over an inch and it was still snowing hard. We ended up with just over 2" of the white stuff. While we may have missed a White Christmas by one week, it was still pretty exciting. There was beauty to be found wherever you looked. A landscape transformed.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

First Frost

We finally have had our first official frost. Eugene's temperature hit 32 degrees overnight and I am sure that we were a degree or two lower up here. All three of the birdbaths were frozen solid and there was a pretty hoar frost on all of the plant foliage. This is a full two months later than last year. It seems very typical that we either receive our killing frost during early October or then it doesn't happen until December.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Hellebore Maintenance

Well, it's just over two weeks until Christmas and I should be doing "Christmas" stuff! However, the outdoors was calling me today. It was mild outside with no wind and no rain and I just couldn't stand to be indoors. I decided to tackle the front flower bed outside the dining room window. Hundreds of tiny green weeds had already germinated here and all of the leaves from the japanese maple were still littered on the ground. I also noticed that many of the bulbs had already begun to come up and the hellebore had already started producing this year's bloom stalks. It was time to get busy!

I worked for about an hour and a half. I got all of the maple leaves cleaned up and about half of the bed weeded. I cut off all of last years hellebore leaves. As you can see, this plant is already blooming. The majority, however, are just starting to grow. I also spent a bit of time in the western front flower bed. I weeded it and did a bit of generally clean-up. The "Jet Fire" daffodils have pushed up. It looks like those bulbs will  produce in abundance again this year.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

More New Discoveries

Walking out and about today, I made two new discoveries! My first discovery was in the raised garlic bed located in the western flowerbed. The twenty "Tzan" garlic cloves that I planted have started to come up. They are slower to germinate than the other two garlic varieties that I planted. I think that this is due in part to the location of this garlic bed. It only receives a few hours of direct sunlight right now so I think it's average temperature is much cooler than that of the other garlic bed. Hopefully this won't have a negative long-term effect on the "Tzan" garlic bulb growth.

Further along in this same flower bed I discovered that my "Sabrosa" jonquilla daffodil had also appeared. And even more exciting it looks like it has naturalized. Last year I had only one bulb to plant but it appears like there is more than one bulb coming up this year. Fingers crossed!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Excitement in the Garlic Bed

We recently had a big rain storm move through the area. It was accompanied by some very high winds. As I was walking around the house today, I noticed that the remay fabric had blown off most of the metal hoops over the garlic bed. As I set in to adjust the fabric back over the hoops some green caught my eye - the garlic is up!

The "Russian Red" that I bought in Maine has really sprouted. It is 3-4 inches tall already. I think it has really liked out mild Winter weather in Oregon and thinks it might be Spring already! The shoots all look healthy and strong.

I was especially thrilled to see that the "Chesnook Red" garlic has also started to come up.The cloves were a little bit dehydrated when I planted them so I was unsure of their viability. Of the 10 cloves that I planted, 9 have sprouted. Most have just broken through the soil, so there is still hope that number 10 will come up too. Things are looking good!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Dahlia Digging & Storage - Finished!

This is the day I have been waiting for- I am finished with my dahlia tubers for the year! Back on October 29th I cut down the first four rows of dahlia plants. Then on November 4th I dug those first four rows. Since then, I have been "working" on dahlias after work and on weekends almost every day straight. Today the last dahlia tubers were fully dry. I wrapped them by variety in saran wrap and then carefully labeled them. The last tuber bundles almost completely filled storage box number 4! As far back as I can remember, I haven't ever saved this many tubers. Last year it was 2 1/2 boxes worth.

Looking at my notes, this year I divided about 230 clumps. Two plants showed signs of virus and I tossed those tubers over the back fence. I also lost 4-6 clumps due to rot. After dividing those 230 clumps, I washed, bleached, dried, wrapped, and labeled 922 total individual tubers. Of those 922 tubers, I ascertained that 761 definitely had a live eye. The others I wasn't sure about, but saved them to check on in the Spring. Not a bad one month's work!