November 26, 2022 Six on Saturday

Or as many as I could find. Pleased to be here for yet another Six on Saturday! Temps in the 50s F now with rain in the forecast. Thanks to Jim at Garden Ruminations for keeping the tradition alive.

A lot has happened since I took these pictures. I realized the other day that I could no longer play flute – the notes were simply no longer there. A look in the mirror revealed a subtle but definite facial droop on my left side. Well, sounds like stroke, so off to the emergency room I went (I want a refund on my day off, but wait, I was technically going to go in at least for a bit, so I an charge yesterday to sick time!). They did a CT and I found myself thinking about what my dose from this scan would be CT scans represent the lion’s share of non occupational radiation dose to humans from medical procedures. Radon is the largest environmental source of non occupational dose, but I digress. At the ER, they said that they could not find evidence of a stroke but wanted me admitted all the same. At the hospital, an MRI conformed that there was nothing in my brain causing the facial hemiparalysis – good, no stroke, no tumor pressing on parts of my brain that I actually use. So, what is it? It is believed that I have Bell’s Palsy, which I am told is believed to be caused by a viral infection attacking a nerve. The good news is a week of antivirals and corticosteroids along with persistence should have me back in form in a couple months. I will not be able to play flute in our Christmas Concert on December 4 – having only half an embouchure is not really satisfactory

First some icicles as the recent snow slowly melted off the roof. They are pretty as long as they don’t get too out of control. This was last Sunday. You can see grass poking through the snow, a testament to our laziness to mow one more time and the fact that four inches of light dry snow blows around and will not stack up if there is enough wind.

Thanksgiving morning, snow is receding, temps heading back towards the 50s F. Warm enough that I will not bother with shoes if I will only be out for a couple minutes. My garden sleeps.

The sun was out briefly, so Nimbus went out to sit on her blanket in the doorway. She has her Christmas sweater on, so she is cozy.

Well, I have so few pictures, might as well include one from this morning out my hospital window. Lake Monona in the background Nice room, dreading to learn what my out of pocket will be, but what are ya gonna do?


Six on Saturday November 19, 2022

We have moved to full winter now, with temperatures around -10 C. I wish I had gotten a snap of my baby arbor vitae all snow covered. It has been windy, so there is not much snow left on the trees, but it is still coming down, swirling around and gusty winds blowing the fine snow off the roof. I love the quiet peaceful Saturday afternoon, with snow swirling outside the windows like I am in a snow globe. The garden is asleep, but I will continue to enjoy the warmer seasons vicariously. Jim at Garden Ruminations, is acting Six on Saturday host. The highlight of my Saturday is seeing gardens of all sorts from all over the world.

Snow, cat on lap, book to read, winter bliss!

November 12, 2022 Six on Saturday

A day late posting, but suffice it to say that winter has found us. Thursday we had rain and sultry 70 F temperatures, but Friday morning saw at barely 30 F. Always a shock to the system. I harvested kale one last time to make soup for next week’s lunch and emptied my rain barrels, which had begun to freeze up. Less and less to see outside, but nice to have SOS to remind me that somewhere it is always spring or summer or autumn or winter. If you want to join in the fun, you can see so many gorgeous things posted at Jim’s Garden Ruminations.

Our first snow of the season – non accumulating, of course, with the ground so warm. Here is a detail of the yew hedge out front. Not really proper snow, kind of gritty pellets.

Broccoli flowers are finally looking done in, though bees were busy there before the rains on Thursday.

Calendula still brave, but also dusted with frozen precipitation.

My ostrich fern has lovely brown fertile fronds that will release spores in the spring.

I am still loving the purple color of the V hastata stems. Hope to have this one for many years.

The kale soup is calling me! It has onion, garlic, carrot, sweet potato, Greek runner beans, thyme, and black pepper. Simple and tasty.


November 10, 2022. It got above 70F and was sultry until it finally started to rain. Tomorrow morning predictions are for a temperature half that. Saw three does run across the street in front of my bus when we were nearly to my stop on the way home. Another reason I prefer to take the bus. Deer will jump out in front of your car. If there is one, there are more, sometimes a herd. I would prefer to spare my car the damage that even a small deer will inflict.

Last week the heavy rain took Dane County back out of drought. My rain barrels are full, so I will need to empty them again. This time, for real. Time to bring them in, and dream of Spring. I can’t wait for my more abundant daffodil bed. I can’t wait to see my native plants re-emerge after the winter and to see if any of the seeds I scattered find a happy place to grow. Wonder how much snow we will get. I hope Nature is generous!

November 6, 2022 Six on Sunday

Yesterday was busy, windy, rainy. The grey rain felt appropriate as we held a celebration of life for a member of the community band I recently joined. B was meant to join us, but it was not possible. Thankfully the concert performance by many of his good friends was recorded so that he was able to enjoy it but without the hugs and tears that were on tap. I only knew B a short while, but from everything people said about B, it is clear that this gentle soul was kind, welcoming and a good friend. I know that B made me feel welcome when I joined the band. Few leaves remain, though I still have calendula and broccoli flowers that prior to the storm were still attracting pollinators, given that our weather had been unusually warm for November. I filled my barrels up one more time with the rain, but I guess this will be the last time for the season. Also, I have not yet won the Powerball Lottery. Next drawing is for 1.9 billion. $2 to dream… Anyway, sorry to be late to the party, but looking forward to seeing the gardens! If you want to join in the fun, join us at Jim’s Garden Ruminations.

Prior to the storm, we were busy slipping back into drought, and guiltily loving the unseasonably warm weather. Note the green grass. I liked the way these leaves nearly matched the old yellow train cars behind Kohl Arena on my way to work.

I also went to Centennial Gardens for what might be my last visit until next Spring. Not so much to see once there is snow on the ground, but look at his gorgeous little flower that was blooming in the Alpine Garden section.

I also found time to walk along the lake shore on campus. I saw this crab apple tree laden with fruits against a blue sky. It was a good day!

Lake Mendota is a jewel for us on campus. So many water birds – even a could white pelicans were about and often one will see sandhill cranes and wild turkey milling about. The land in the distance is a 3 mile long spit of land known as Picnic Point. Wonderful place for birdwatching.

Everything has gone to seed. Here are milkweed (A. syriaca) and goldenrod seeds. I have taken a selection of native seeds from campus to plant in my garden. We will see what comes up!

And one last glimpse of Fall color. You can see the corner of the Health and Safety Building from my vantage point on the bike path off/on ramp.

Collecting Seeds

It was a gorgeous warm autumn day. I had the good fortune of excellent timing at work, which is something that gives me satisfaction. It is a combination of good planning and better luck. Helps to have a good team, too.

I began by checking in some packages that arrived late afternoon yesterday. FedEx arrives with a couple more just as I was finishing up. S and I got into the shuttle (have you seen these? By Suzuki, low speed, at least ours are, four wheel drive, and they are tiny. Oh, and one drives from the right hand seat, which is not the norm where I live. S drove to Chemistry while I called to see if K was in the lab yet – no, so we kept driving, stopping at Animal Science, then on to WIMR. We dropped off another package. I continued on foot while S returned to Chemistry to rendez-vous with K. I had a very good audit

What did I do with my good fortune? The payoff: I walked about two miles along the lake shore. Sunny, warm, maybe 22 C. I saw a pair of white pelicans, as well as ducks and geese. I visited the garden that is my favorite space on campus. Everything was gone to seed, which has a beauty all its own. Bet it is gorgeous coated in frost. I collected a bunch of seeds, a small pinch from many different plants. The plan is to put it out and see what wants to grow. I took seed from yarrow, goldenrod, aster, yellow coneflower (Ratibida pinnata), some kind of allium, and some nasturtium with non variegated leaves, that had some flowers even after the frost we had a few weeks so that took my nasties out. It will be a free for all! I love the promise contained within a seed!

Native Plants – a love affair

I have truly been enjoying my foray into native plants. If you follow my posts, you know that I have been adding natives to try to make my vegetable garden into something more.

There are so many interesting plants to consider, and from this year, the only one that maybe didn’t make it was the maidenhair fern. I will see if she reappears in spring, and if not, I will have to consider if I have a better place for one of these lovely plants.

My absolute favorite is the moisture loving Lobelia cardinalis. The hummingbirds love the bright, almost unnaturally red flowers, and the flowers bloom for about two months.

You can see behind it Verbena hastata, which ends up with bright purple stems after the flowers are spent. V hastata was loved by bees and butterflies – I saw my first spring azure nectaring on it

Prairie Smoke, Geum triflorum, is very attractive. The leaves are similar in form to the parsley that I planted nearby. The foliage is bluish green, and the flower heads are nodding pink buds that need to be pried open by bumblebees. This is a bare root plant that I planted in spring – I did not expect it to flower this year. The bumblebees had a pretty good buffet, so I only found evidence of one flower having been pollinated. Normally they bloom in spring when there are slim pickings in the garden.

I really enjoyed having milkweed. I had about 20 caterpillars and am hopeful that about 4 made it to butterfly. The A verticillata was plagued by aphids. I alternated between letting them be and washing them off. I kept hoping to see ladybug larvae, but maybe they don’t like the taste of milkweed flavoured aphids. A tuberosa bloomed nicely and produced mature seeds. I only saw monarch cats on A incarnata, AKA swamp, rose or marsh milkweed (probably other names as well). I collected the seed from my milkweed to sow at the marsh. Saved the floss to give the birds in spring. Someone will have a nice soft nest

An impulse buy, blue eyed grass is a favorite that I hope will colonize a bit. It is in the iris family, but looks like grass. It blooms with adorable little blue flowers that have yellow centres. Each is only a centimetre or so across. This is Sisyrinchium angustifolium. Flower flies likes it, as did small bees. I could get one of the other varieties and it would do well in the hot dry area next to the house.

Dalea pupurea was a huge hit with the bunnies. Purple prairie clover is apparently their favorite flavor. As soon as it came up, they mowed it down. This happened over and over until I finally put some fence around it. You can see bun-bun looking on, saddened by my clover cage. It bloomed and hopefully was able to put down deep roots. After it was touched by frost, I removed the fence and let the bunnies have their way with it.

In previous years, I planted Agastache foeniculum and Echinacea purpurea, which are both very successful, especially since the Japanese beetles were not as prevalent this year, so the didn’t completely trash my flowers. A foeniculum is not much to look at, but the bees adore it. Reseeds like crazy, but the foliage smells nice as I pull the young seedlings

I also planted an elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) a year ago and it made a showing with flowers and berries. I thought the birds would eat them. Not so much.

All that and vegetables too! I am plotting my next move! I want to plant something low, native, that likes dry hot poor soil along the back of the house. It is a dirt strip that gets grass encroachment, has some bulbs, including tiny grape hyacinth, but it would be nice to have something short, not sprawling that would grow in hot dry conditions, with minimal input from me. Maybe some more blue eyed grass mixed with prairie onion… That might be just the thing…

October 28, 2022 Six on Saturday

The weather has been cold, warm, sunny, rainy. No snow yet, but the garden is definitely on the wane. Last week I watered all my young trees that are shrub sized after three years. Emptied the barrels, heard it was to remain relatively warm and that we would get some rain, so I left the rain barrels out for another fill. They are quite full now, so more watering will be done, and I’ll probably bottle up a few more bottles for houseplant winter watering. I am jealous of the color that so many of you still have. Feel free to indulge your voyeuristic tendencies and see what is happening in gardens all over the world, and join in if you like – visit Jim’s Garden Ruminations to enjoy Six on Saturday to the fullest.

Fall color is about done here. The crab apple finally gave up most of its leaves. The weeping cherry sort of changed color, but was already a bit crunchy from cold weather.

It was a bit frosty this morning, the lawn, Geum triflorum, parsley, kale, and calendula all sparkling.

So, we drift along towards winter. Hope we have good snowfall and a peaceful season. I plan to run up to the marsh and scatter some native seeds to see if they take. Lobelia cardinalis and Verbena hastata where the ground tends to be wet.

Have a great week – looking forward to looking at all of your posts!

Milkweed Seeds

I promised the spousal unit that I would not let my milkweed seed fly all over. I have been watching the pods to monitor ripeness and today I found that the A. incarnata and tuberosa pods were beginning to split. I cut them off the plants and pulled out the top end of the floss bundle. Then, over a plate, I pulled the seeds loose while keeping hold of the floss bundle. I saved the floss in a plastic bag to offer up to the birds in the spring. Someone may have a very soft nest next spring!

A. verticillata bloomed last. It has only a few pods, and I do hope to get some seeds. Guess they will be smaller still than the A. tuberosa seeds.

A. tuberosa (top) and A. incarnata (bottom)

I had drained one barrel and plan to drain the other today, watering trees and natives, as well as filling a few more bottles for winter indoor watering. I have recently begun to worry about the plants I re-potted – they may need more water than last year. I can’t dunk my peace lily into my Tillandsia watering bowl any more, so that one will take a fair amount. The good news is that we should get rain this week, and the temps are not so cold, so I will refill both barrels and water the key outdoor plants again. Noticed that the bunnies have been noshing the purple prairie clover now that I reopened the buffet. It should have nice deep roots, so it will come back in spring.

October 22, 2022 Six on Saturday

Time again for Six on Saturday, with new host Jim at Garden Ruminations.

It is like a late summer day here, warm and sunny. The bees are flocking to the broccoli flowers that have survived the recent seasonably cold weather. I watered the baby trees and the natives to make sure the soil has adequate moisture before we get back to weather reality. Abnormally dry conditions have crept into Dane county, and we are expecting warmer temps and rain. I might just refill the barrels one more time!

The parsley is holding on and seeds are ripening – I took the pods from the milkweed so that they would not seed in places where they are not desired. I will separate them from the floss and offer them up to interested parties and/or scatter them where they might take.

Parsley is robust this year
A. incarnata seed pods. One has started to split.
V. hastata sead heads
Arbor vitae cones beginning to open up

Finally, the bright pops of yellow that Calendula is so generous with.

Hope you all are enjoying the winding down (or winding up, depending on your hemisphere) of the seasons!