October, and I’m happy

I’ve been waiting for autumn to arrive, and it is here. I’m sitting on the couch in sweatpants, with a wool blanket over my lap and a kitten curled up next to me. The wind whips at our house, and it whistles over the chimney like when you blow air across the top of a glass bottle.

It’s been raining for days. Soccer was cancelled. It’s too wet to mow the lawn. For the first weekend in months, there was not. one. thing. on the calendar. Instead of doing house projects — painting trim, ripping out shrubbery — like we usually do during down time, you know what I did instead? I read an entire book yesterday.

It was a good day.

Today I’m making chicken noodle soup and helping our daughter bake bread. I’m going to wear slippers all day long. And I’ve started my next book, this time set in Illinois. A perfect October book: Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury.

It begins with a thunderstorm. I already love it.

September gardening

cabbages and pansies for boxes

Cabbages and pansies for garden boxes

We thought we were going to wait till spring to start any gardening, but none of us could stand waiting.

I’ve been poring over gardening books, planning the spring beds. Our house looked sad and bare, though, after we ripped out the previous owner’s shrubbery. So we decided, we can at least put in some evergreens for winter, right?

Hick's yew with berry

Hick’s Yew (Taxus x media “Hicksii”)

holly in the garden

Japanese Holly (Ilex crenata “Helleri”)

With our freshly painted porch and door, we thought it might be nice to add some garden boxes too.

window boxes on porch rail

Fresh paint and garden boxes

We’ve never had garden boxes before. They are my new favorite thing about our house. Besides the turquoise front door. And the oak floors. And the kittens.

flowering kale cabbage

Pansies and flowering kale

We wanted something alive at our house when winter comes, and the man at the garden shop said pansies and cabbages would be great for garden boxes. The only real gardening I’ve done was in Florida, and I know nothing about winter plants. I am trusting blindly. Even if they don’t last through winter, though, they look awfully pretty now :-).

porch rail garden box

Garden box on the front porch rail

Hahn Horticulture Garden: a Microadventure

My coworker Jeremey DuVall wrote recently about adventuring. Specifically, he wrote about taking more microadventures: little adventures taken at little cost, that take you out of your normal routine, and can be done in your own back yard or your own small town.

I took his advice today. For my birthday, my son gave me a book on butterfly gardening with native plants, and now I’ve been bitten hard by the gardening bug. With a naked lawn — a blank slate — I decided I wanted to go find some ideas. So in the early morning, before the tailgaters were out for the big game tomorrow, I packed a water bottle, my real camera, and a Luna bar; slathered on sunscreen and donned a baseball cap; strapped on my day-pack; and I walked across town, across the Virginia Tech campus, to the University’s horticulture garden.

And boy did I find ideas. Now I want a butterfly garden, an herb garden, a woodland garden, a meadow garden, a waterfall, a pond with lily pads, and much, much more.

I would also like to identify the plant in the images below. Its fragrance drew me across the entire garden, and I want one. If you know what this is, please let me know!

I think my next microadventure might be a trip to the nursery.