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Friday, November 26, 2004

Did you notice the new masthead? 

I've changed my masthead and hope you've noticed. Why has it been changed? Well, it's sort of like rearranging the furniture or moving pots around in the garden. I was looking for something a little different - a bit more elegant and understated. This fits the bill and, to my mind, is absolutely beautiful.

I had been muddling the idea around for quite some time, but just couldn't come up with exactly what I wanted. My husband is the artist in the family and willingly agreed to work on it for me as soon as I found the photographs that appealed. He had designed the original and I knew whatever he came up with would be perfect. Anyway, life got in the way and the search for new photos got postponed. Until I heard from Andrew.

Andrew Stenning wrote not too long ago to tell me about his blog. A garden designer in the UK as well as a natural photographer, his work is stunning. Not only did I add a link to his site, I was so taken by his photos that I asked if I could use one or two to redesign my headers. Andrew responded right away with his consent. And the rest is history. We'll be changing the other pages over the next few weeks so don't be surprised as more gorgeous photos find their way on my blog. My sincere thanks go to Andrew for his contributions and I highly encourage you to visit his site. You'll be glad you did. Happy Gardening.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving 

It's Thanksgiving today. The year has flown by, as they always do, and it's now time to reflect on all of our blessings as we gather with family and friends. What's the history behind Thanksgiving? Did you know that the first Thanksgiving was shared in 1621 after a particularly difficult year for the Pilgrims? Governor William Bradford declared the day one for the colonists to give thanks and share their bountiful harvest with the Native American Indians. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln signed the first proclamation for a national day of thanksgiving. Every President since then has proclaimed the fourth Thursday in November as a Thanksgiving holiday.

So what generally happens on this day every year? Family and friends travel miles and miles to come together and share good times. They cook like crazy throughout the days leading up to the big event, then pig out like never before and plop down on a comfortable chair or sofa to watch the football game. Oh, and lest we forget - what is Thanksgiving without the Macy's Day parade! I still remember as a kid sitting in front of the TV and watching every minute of the parade as I enjoyed the performance and, most of all, the floats and balloons. And the big finale? Santa Claus heralding the beginning of the Christmas season. How cool.

It's Thanksgiving today and I have many, many things to be thankful for. My wonderful husband and family (my dad just turned 85 on Sunday and is still going strong). Our cute and cuddly four-legged boys and girls (almost cuddly - Girlfriend is still the mystery. She's the one on the right.) constantly keep us entertained and love us just because they can. We live in a house and neighborhood we absolutely love and we truly want for nothing. We are so lucky and very blessed. And tomorrow I have a day off to go play in the garden! What more could a person ask for. Happy Gardening and a happy holiday wish to everyone.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

I forgot - it's not one it's two new gardens 

Well, the patio has been poured and it's every bit as nice as we had hoped it would be. It makes the downstairs area look huge and gives us the patio we have been looking forward to - it's undercover if it rains and gives us some protection from the hot summer season. A couple of weeks ago I shared a picture of a new garden I had "discovered" as we were cleaning up in prep for the new patio. Today I realized that there would actually be two new gardens not just the one I found. Where? Well, that's the fun of it.

When we decided on the layout of the patio we also agreed that we should leave the area directly under the upstairs deck open. We have a water hose up there and that's where we camp the boys out to do their business when there are workers in the backyard. Consequently, it wouldn't make sense to have a seating area under there in case we needed to hose down the deck...you catch my drift so to speak. So when the patio was formed that area was left open. When the workers asked my husband why, he said "so my wife can build a garden, of course." He didn't tell me their reaction but I can imagine them shaking their heads. Another new garden - I'm rubbing my hands together in happiness and thinking about what I'll plant. It's got to be something that likes partial shade and the occasional dose of doggie poo. Happy Gardening.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Why we blog 

Don from Hands in Dirt wrote an article about why gardeners blog. Jane picked up on it and made mention on her blog, Horticultural. She thought about it for a day or so and posted her reflections. I offer up my idea on the subject: Why do you blog? Let me know what you think. Happy Gardening.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Did anyone say hard drive? 

Well, it happened. My brand new HP computer hit a snag going 100 miles an hour around dead man's curve. I was busy surfing the net, doing my usual garden research and all of a sudden my computer came to a screeching halt and refused to go any further. After attempting to restart the computer several times and getting a "primary master hard disk error" it occurred to me that I had worked the thing so hard it decided to die on me. So I did what any adult would do - I screamed out a few choice words! After I calmed down, I pulled out the manufacturer information and called HP Support. The hold time was non-existent and the tech was very courteous, telling me at the very beginning of the call that her goal was to provide me with exceptional service. That impressed me. After just a few questions she agreed with me - the hard disk was fried. Since it was still under warranty, HP would send me a brand new hard drive and, for a nominal fee, a tech would come to my home and install it for me. Now that's a deal.

So two days later (yep it really was only two days since I called) the new hard drive is installed and I'm blogging again. I really have to commend Hewlett Packard for the exceptional service and the speed with which they fixed my problem. Not only did they replace the hard drive without my prodding, but also sent me a set of recovery disks to reinstall the operating system and all the programs originally packed with the computer. The tech who replaced the drive was friendly and knowledgeable and answered all of my questions in real people speak. So bottom line, I'm glad I've got an HP. I've always loved their printers and scanners, and now I can add computers to the list. Oh, did I mention their support line is available 24/7? Happy Gardening.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

I have an ilex and I'm not afraid to use it 

Ilex vomitoria - it's not exactly a pretty name and conjurs up some fairly disgusting mental pictures, but it really is an attractive shrub. More commonly known as a Yaupon holly, this landscape plant comes in a variety of cultivars. Some are on par with a boxwood, some are larger and can grow as tall as 25 feet. The variety in my garden was about 6 feet tall when we moved in. Since it's planted alongside the front wall of our house I decided it really needed to be trimmed and trim it I did - all the way down to about 2 1/2 feet tall. This little guy, or should I say guys and girls since it takes both male and female to produce flowers, was very happy. It started reaching out its limbs to the sides once it was cut, which makes me believe it's probably a weeping variety. Not only did it start spreading out, it started sending runners underground and sprouting little babies everywhere. Consequently, the shrubs fill in the corner of the garden very nicely. But they do tend to get a little too aggressive so I have to keep it controlled by cutting some of the sprouts at the ground level. I am, however, encouraging some of the sprouts to grow toward the new garden I'm making. They will make a nice background filler as I begin planning it out.

Yaupon holly is very salt tolerant and adapts well to any soil. I truly have not babied these guys and they are still spreading, so it does support the any-soil adaptation theory. I am a little disappointed in the number of berries my plants produce, but it probably comes back to how little care I provide. I'm sure if I fed and watered them more, the berries would be more profuse.

When I was a kid the only holly I thought was available was the prickly kind but I always loved seeing the berries. I sure was happy to learn there are many many more varieties available and some are even native to the south such as the Yaupon. Now, I have learned that the berries are poisonous and can cause vomiting and diarrhea - kind of supports its name I guess. I've also learned that the young leaves can be browned and dried in the oven and then steeped in hot water to make Yaupon tea. Interesting, not that I'll try either one. Well, I learn something new every day. Happy Gardening.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

I did it and here it is! 

A week or so ago I told you about a gorgeous groundcover I saw in North Carolina. I had taken a picture with my pda but couldn't figure out how to get the pic to my computer. Well thanks to my lovely techno-savvy sister I did it, and here it is. Enjoy.

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Thanks to Andrew Stenning who contributed the photograph for our masthead

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