Garden Notes

The daffodils are out – looking lovely. Everything’s way ahead of schedule. There are forsythia blooming in sunnier spots of the neighborhood. This is particularly freaky for me, as the year I was born (in late April), the forsythia were blooming, which was early for around here, so my mother waxes nostalgic on the rare years they manage to bloom for my birthday. We’re a month ahead of that, this year.

I’ve got hyacinth just short of blooming:

The Russian sage is sprouting back up:

and the phlox are coming in again.

So, I broke down this weekend. Part of this was out of necessity. Some of the plants in pots overwintering in the garage were already starting to sprout (the bleeding heart, the thymes), so I pulled everything out the garage on Thursday.

The herbs are currently in the back yard bed. It’s still sunny there for the moment, since the trees haven’t come in yet, but it’s more sheltered than the side garden, so I’ll leave them there for another week or two.

The other perennials are in their normal backyard spot (next to the neighbor’s daughter’s sled, which I can’t bring myself to put in the garage, because I feel like that’ll make it snow the next day if I do).

And, I did some planting yesterday. Below, from left to right are: arugula, nasturtiums, salad mix, and radishes.

Here are cilantro and lettuce.

And, I got in my grand experiment with sugar snap peas:

I have more seed for everything, and plan on putting in more lettuce, nasturtiums, and maybe cilantro as close to April 1st as I can manage. My mother also started some Brights Lights chard for me, so that’ll probably be going in shortly.

It was definitely nice getting things in the ground (or, pots). And though my back is now twinging in places I didn’t know it could twinge, it was a very satisfying weekend.

Frederica – Georgette Heyer

Frederica Merriville has charge of her younger sister and brothers after her parents have died, and so she decides to bring them all to London for a season. Her main aim is to see her sister Charis advantageously married, because Charis is a sweet, beautiful girl, who Frederica thinks is wasted on the country.

The Marquis of Alverstoke has never had much use for his family – they bore him completely, and two of his sisters are always looking for ways to use his money instead of their own. So when Frederica, a distant cousin, applies to him for help in launching Charis’ season, he uncharacteristically agrees. Almost everyone in town believes it’s because of Charis, but in fact, it’s the lively and independent Frederica, and her two younger brothers, Felix and Jessamy (who quickly learn that Alverstoke is the key to all sorts of adventures), that have piqued his interest.

Each of the Merrivilles manages to get into some sort of scrape that Alverstoke sorts out, and by the end of the book, the entire family has him firmly wrapped around their collective finger. It’s a charming story – definitely my favorite Heyer so far – I was actually laughing out loud several times. In fact, I like it so much, this is the first one I’m actually going to keep.

Once Upon a Time VI Reading Challenge 3/21/12 to 6/19/12

It’s that time of year again – Spring, and the Once Upon a Time challenge, which I love so much, I’m even doing it in this year where I’ve given up most challenges.

I’m going to be doing Quest the First, which is to read at least five books in the challenge categories (fantasy, folklore, fairy tales, or mythology). For the past month or so, I’ve been pulling out books that I think would fit as I’ve seen them around, so I have a bit of a stack going. So far, that means I have the following to choose from:

Daughter of the Forest – Juliet Marillier
The Ill-Made Mute – Cecilia Dart-Thorton
Snow White and Rose Red – Patricia C. Wrede
Wicked Lovely – Melissa Marr
Alphabet of Thorn – Patricia A. McKillip
The Tales of Beedle the Bard – J.K. Rowling
Fairest – Gail Carson Levine
The Broken Goddess – Hans Bemmann
Garden Spells – Sarah Addison
The Rose and the Beast – Lia Block
I am Morgan le Fey – Nancy Springer

Alchemy and Meggy Swann – Karen Cushman

Meggy grew up on her mother’s tavern outside of Elizabethan-era London, until one day, her father sends for her. Her mother is more than happy to send her away, as Meggy is crippled- she can only walk with crutches. So off she goes to London, where she finds that her father is an alchemist. He’s also completely absorbed in his work, leaving Meggy to figure out how to get around London and make sure she and her father actually eat on time.

She eventually makes friends with a number of locals, including a cooper, a local printer, and a family of actors. When her father finds himself caught up in a treasonous plot, it’s her new friends that help Meggy figure out how to help him.

This is a fun book. Because of Meggy’s disabilities, she’s had to grow a thick skin, so she’s appropriately tough, and it’s fun to watch her let down her guard and realize that she has friends in London. The author also does a good job of portraying her disabilities in a very true way – life for Meggy is not easy. Like all of her historical novels, the research really makes the story – it’s a fascinating slice of Elizabethan life.

Garden Notes

I’m glad at least something is blooming in the garden – it’s making my insane garden fever at least a little bit realistic.

I had a dream last night that I was at some sort of garden center, and they carried every single variety of plant I’ve been mulling over maybe buying this year, so I kept picking things up and then putting them back down again when I remembered that even though it’s May-like warm out there today, that’s completely freaky, and we could easily be back below freezing in a couple days. Even my subconscious is antsy.

I have at least now gotten all of the garden hardware I ordered this year, so I decided to stick at least something out there. This is my latest attempt to corral the clematis. I’ll have to make sure it doesn’t start growing out the back to the wires on the house, but there’s plenty of real estate available in the front, so that’ll hopefully be easy to do.

I also picked up some edging today for the front garden bed. The end of the lawn in that area has never been clear, and now that I’m actually planning on doing some planting there, I decided I needed to add a little demarcation. There’s a little bit of grass that’ll need to fill in, but I suspect it won’t have much trouble doing that.

Knitting Notes

Pattern: Galadriel’s Mirror by Susan Pandorf
Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine in the Oceanic Mix colorway
Needles: Size 4 circs (the interchangeable cables came in really handy here)

I actually blocked this shawl last weekend, but then never had daylight in which to photograph it (and it’s so big that I really don’t have a great surface to photograph it on, so these are not the best pictures in the universe).

I really enjoyed this pattern. There were no stitches that were particularly hard, but they all combined in such an interesting way that I was never bored. I would happily make this shawl again, if I hadn’t already bought the yarn to make Evenstar.

The yarn isn’t bad – it’s a bit splitty, but looks really lovely in the finished product. And boy, is it warm. (There was also the small matter of my massive under-estimation of how much yardage it would take, but I’ve never been that off track before, so I suppose I was due. Here’s hoping that never happens again.)

I brought this to work on Monday, and it was much fawned over. All and all, I love this project.

Specials – Scott Westerfeld

I really enjoyed Uglies – the idea of a future time when people had decided that to end strife, they’d make everyone equally beautiful, and give them all the luxury they could ask for, but in reality were giving everyone brain surgery to take away most of their aggression and curiosity, was really interesting. I liked the story of Tally, who had not yet had the operation, and really wanted to be Pretty, and the struggle she had when she found out what being Pretty really meant.

The other two books in the trilogy didn’t work as well for me. The middle book was ok, but I wasn’t satisfied at all with this book and the final ending. At this point, Tally’s been further modified to be Special, an enforcer of the peace, who supposedly really knows what’s going on, but naturally still has some modifications going on. I just didn’t like how that story line went. I can’t put my finger on why, but I really wasn’t feeling it. Shame too, because after the first book, I thought I’d be keeping these around, but they’re going the Bookmooch pile now that I’ve read all three.

Garden Notes

Why yes, those are budding crocus in my garden.

It’s gotten warmer, and the bulbs are back in force. Thankfully, this is the only thing threatening to bloom at the moment, but even my iris are starting to green up a bit, which I have to admit is a bit freaky.

I actually had a pretty good gardening weekend. I did quite a bit of clean up in the garage. I filled an entire recycling bin with old plastic pots in various sizes I know I’ll never use again. I also took advantage of my new compost sieve and sieved through all the potting soil in pots that didn’t have anything overwintering in them. I’ve refilled my tomato pot, an azalea pot and nearly two full 5 gallon buckets. I’m still going to have to buy some new potting soil, but not nearly so much as I had feared.

I also brought the sorrel, thyme, lemon thyme and Siberian iris pots out of the garage and put them in a sheltered spot in the backyard. I figure they have the best chance of greening up early, but I’ll have to keep an eye on the other pots that are still in the garage as well, considering how warm it’s been.

All and all, it was a very satisfying weekend, considering it’s still too early to plant anything.

Easy Growing – Gayla Trail

I’ve been torturing myself with gardening books again.

After enjoying Grow Great Grub, I decided to pick up the author’s new book, which focuses on herbs and edible flowers. I like it for the same reasons I liked Grow Great Grub – she’s in more or less my climate zone, so focuses on plants I can actually grow, and breaks them down with useful information for the same garden.

I wouldn’t have minded some more plants, though she did provide a list of extra plants that she couldn’t fit in the book, so I do have more to look up and continue the fun.