Although this could very well be a picture of me finding a new treasure at a favorite nursery, it's actually an illustration by David Catrow for a children's book called Plantzilla.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Persimmon Picking Plus a Prickly Pear Plant

How's that for alliteration?    The squirrels have been eating the persimmons from my tree for a few weeks now.  Notice that I don't foolishly call them MY persimmons.  It looked as if they weren't planning on leaving any for me. Chava said that if they don't ripen inside they should just be left for the squirrels.  That gave me the idea to pick some and see if they'd become more orange inside. 

Since they did, the rest that didn't already have a few bites taken out of them were picked and brought inside.

The pesky bushy tailed rodent thieves had already consumed or at least tasted over half of the fruit but I did get some.

I planted the tree because I love the fruit but also because it looks beautiful hanging from the bare limbs with the bamboo behind.  This one largest and highest one was too high for me to get at with my short ladder and the squirrels hadn't been up there yet so I thought that maybe there would be at least one left for aesthetic appeal.  Silly me.  As soon as I picked what was left of the crop, the bushy-tailed bastards seemed to eat what was left even faster, including this one. 

We'll call the persimmon race a tie. (I'll feel better that way.)

A few weeks ago, I admired a plant in Loree's garden and asked what it was.  She reminded me that it's Opuntia aciculata aka the Chenille Prickly Pear and  had been a gift from Bob, The Miserable Gardener. She'd posted about it back in 2014 here.  Perhaps that was during the time when I'd banned all glochids from my garden.  Somehow, they've crept back in and, although I don't like brushing up against them much, I do love how they look and this one really looks adorable.  Off to the interweb to search and lo and behold, an Ebay seller  had some for sale.  I've had fabulous luck with online plant vendors from Etsy and Ebay and the price was reasonable and included free shipping.    Appropriately, Danger's name was right on the box.

Lots of the glochids that make this look like chenelle came  off in the packaging.  Better there than in my hands, right?  I've no doubt that it'll grow more.  Thanks, Loree, for the info.  It's really a cute looking plant from afar.  A better gardener would have top dressed this with gravel before taking it's picture.
Hope you have a great weekend all! 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day November 2018

Can you believe that November is half over already and it's time for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, a meme hosted on the fifteenth of each month by Carol at May Dreams Gardens?   To see what's blooming in gardens all over the world check out Carol's blog here.

Here's what's blooming this month in my wet winter/dry summer zone 8 western Washington State garden.

The winter pansies will flower on and off  all winter, spring, and maybe even summer. 

"Fragrant Cloud" rose.

A few brugmansia blooms are hanging on.  They last much longer in cold weather.  


Begonia (There are actually a few hardy and non hardy varieties blooming now.)

I'm really digging the color of these aging Hydrangea 'Fire Island.'  They were white with red edges and now have turned the nicest shade of chartreuse.

A few pelargoniums here and there...

Persicaria 'Red Dragon'

Persicaria 'Golden Arrow'

Crazy impatien.

Abutilons - once they start blooming, only a deep freeze stops them. 

Just beginning to bloom this month is Tropaeolum tuberosum.   

Eccremocarpus scaber 

Toad Lilies still have a few buds yet to open before they shut down shop for the winter. 

Pineapple Sage.

Meanwhile, inside the greenhouse, the carnivorous butterworts are in the middle of their long bloom season.

Schlumbergeras are budded up and will bloom through Christmas. 

Grocery store Hibiscus. 

Pelargonium something or other. 


Back outside - Viburnum × bodnantense 'Dawn'

Not really blooms - Euonymus europaeus 'Red Ace'

A dianthus appeared quite out of season . 

Alstroemeria isabellana

It's got the coolest seed pods as well. 

Zauschneria californica

Just in time for the day, the Schlumbergera my mother gave me on a Thanksgiving over 20 years ago is once again blooming. 

Happy GBBD all and many thanks to Carol for hosting the florapalooza!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Wednesday Vignette - The Fallen

Wednesday Vignette is hosted by Anna at Flutter and Hum. Click here to see more.

Our meme host, Anna, recently made heart-rending but right decision to end the suffering of  her feline garden helper, Manneman.  All of us who are animal lovers know how difficult this is and I offer this vignette in honor of Manneman and the other beloved pets that have left an empty place in our hearts.

I came across the quote, "Those who think there is a time limit to grieve have never lost a part of their heart." This carex, a swirling mass of strands seems to be scattered with pieces of  broken hearts.  Perhaps there's a piece for each pet one has lost.  Isn't it beautiful how the memory of each one adorns our lives.  Leaves fall and, while  sad to see their season end, we marvel at their beauty and know that after winter, a new season of love and life will emerge.  Sleep well sweet loved ones, thank you for gracing our lives for an all-too-brief season.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

When it's Too Dark to Garden - Restoring a Window for a Friend

Or - How to repair  an old window in a few (13) easy steps and a month of Sundays...

My friend and gifted musician brought me this window with several pieces broken  and asked "Can you do anything with this?"

It's a fairly simple 120 year old panel. The leads were so worn and weak that they all had to be replaced.  The most difficult part was trying to find matching glass.  Fortunately, my pal and stained glass guru, Florence, had glass that was very similar.  Okay, the first real step is to cut replacement glass.   If the broken pieces are present, use contact paper or masking tape to put them together to use as a template to mark and cut the new glass to fit.

Here's how you do it:  

1. Make a rubbing of the window so that when you pull it apart, you'll remember how it goes back together.

2. Remove all of the old lead.  (It's there in a pile on top of the picture.) Do not throw the old lead in the garbage, it needs to go to the hazardous waste area of your local solid waste facility.  You can see the new clear pieces of glass placed on the two ends.  Once the old glass is cleaned up it'll look a little closer in color to the new pieces.  The broken border pieces were easier to match exactly.

3. Soak all of the glass pieces in a powerful cleanser (I use Orange Sol) for a day or two to help soften what remains of the old putty, dirt on the glass, and years of paint on the edges.  Clean, scrape and dry the glass.

4. Re lead the piece.  Note that the rubbing is used as a guide beneath the panel.

All assembled and ready for step 5. Solder the joints on one side and then the other.  Important: curse because you left the wider solder tip you wanted to use at the glass studio where you teach but decide to make do with what you have because you don't want to drive for 40 minutes to get the right one. Worry the whole time you're soldering that you made the wrong decision and wish that you'd made the trip.

6.  After soldering the joints, you can either wash the window to remove the solder residue or go right to puttying  (also called cementing.) Putty must be forced into the flanges of the lead on both sides to waterproof the window and make the whole thing stronger. I thin the putty a bit with mineral spirits and use a brush for this but some people apply it with their thumbs which takes way too long for me.

7. Apply whiting or plaster of paris (one can also add fine sawdust) which helps set up the putty, removes excess flux (used in soldering,) oil, and putty.

8. Wait for a week or so until the putty is at least leather hard.  Moving to the next step too soon will cause the putty to ooze out and you'll have to let the panel dry, clean it up, re putty, and wait again.

9. Take a skewer or sharpened chopstick and run it along all of the leads on both sides to clean up any putty remaining in the points or outside the flanges of the lead.  Make sure that you don't remove any putty from underneath the flanges.

10. Rinse and wash the panel.  (We use Jolt Cleaner) Small panels can be done in a sink or bathtub but for larger sizes, like this one, I move outside and use this metal grid (slotted wood is preferable because it won't scratch the leads and you don't have to be as careful.)  Rinse all the soap off.

11. Apply black patina.  If you do it when the window is wet and then wash it off, it can be poured on and spread with a brush.  Rinse the patina off.

12. Allow the window to air dry.  You can speed it up by using a hair dryer if you're in a hurry.  In the process, the leads will look oxidized and even rusty and you'll wonder what you've done.  Fear not, when you buff the window,  it'll  be fine. You can use a natural bristle brush like this

or find an old floor polisher that makes it go a lot faster. 

The lead and zinc will now be shiny and black and you could stop there or go on to step 13. Apply stained glass finishing compound which must be allowed to fully dry. Then you'll buff the window again and use a towel to finish it off and remove any extra wax that may be close to the leads.

There, that should do for another 120 years or so.  This is as therapeutic as gardening.  Shameless plug:  If you're in the area and want to learn how to do this, call Mandarin Stained Glass, sign up for a class, and I'll be happy to guide you through the steps to creating or restoring your own windows. 

Now, I'd better get busy on those fused glass pieces for my sister!