Tuesday, November 24, 2015


“November is usually such a disagreeable month...as if the year had suddenly found out that she was growing old and could do nothing but weep and fret over it.  This year is growing old gracefully... just like a stately old lady who knows she can be charming even with gray hair and wrinkles. We've had lovely days and delicious twilights.”
~ L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

This November has actually been a beautiful one this year, with long spurts of warm, sunshine-filled days in between frosts.  Because of this I've met a milestone - it's the first year that I've gotten all of my spring bulbs in the ground before Thanksgiving.  Since I usually still have bulbs laying around by Christmas, this is quite monumental for me.

Guilty confession:  I still have some of last year's bulbs sitting in my basement fridge.  My plan was to pot them up and force them.  Now they should probably be classified as a science experiment: will they come up when I finally pot them up or won't they?

Talking about me and procrastinating, I had also meant to post some of these flower pictures last week during the monthly Garden Blogger's Bloom Day that so many garden bloggers participate in...

...but I've been too busy between being outside taking advantage of the great weather, running around after the kids, and various other commitments.  I must say it's been a November to be thankful for, as I spent a good amount of time outside getting in my vitamin D before the winter comes.

The bees and other pollinators were soaking up the nice weather, too, swarming over any blooms that have withstood the sporadic light frosts.

But the warm spells had to end eventually as winter marches inevitably closer.  The past few days have seen chillier weather, and light frosts have given way to heavy ones.

But I guess there is a silver lining to the end of the warm spells and gardening outside...

Maybe I'll finally get around to potting up those bulbs waiting in my refrigerator.

Happy gardening as always,
and for everyone here in the U.S., I wish you a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Bee and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

I thought that inside this Fall Crocus would be a perfect place to weather out a rainstorm.

The only flaw in my plan seems to be how to get back out...

Woohoo!  Got this leg out!

Help!  I can't get my big bee butt out of this thing!

Maybe the sun will come out soon and open this flower up?


How do I get myself into these situations? 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Abundant Appreciation for Autumn Alyssum

The weather has turned into a yo-yo, dropping into 20's and decimating the garden with frost before bouncing back up into the 70's for several days of gorgeously warm weather.  So what's a pollinator to do with most of the garden blooms gone?  The last remaining flowers are getting swarmed with bees: the Sheffield Mums, the handful of Autumn Crocus, the last of the blooming Asters, and a couple annuals that can tolerate a light frost - including the impressively hardy Sweet Alyssum.

I have talked before about how useful Alyssum is in the garden - it's drought tolerant, easy to grow, makes a great border in the garden, has a great fragrance, and attracts beneficial insects.  But it's also a great boon to a fall garden.  Sometimes it can flag a bit during the height of summer, especially further south, but by fall it rejuvenates.  And, to the appreciation of the local pollinators, established Sweet Alyssum plants can take light frosts.

Alyssum is part of the botanical family Brassicaceae, aka the cabbage and mustard family, interestingly enough.  It is native to the Mediterranean region, Canary Islands, Azores, and the Bay of Biscay in France, among other coastal regions, which is how it ended up with the botanical name Lobularia maritima, with 'maritima' meaning 'of the sea'.  It grows naturally on sandy dunes, which explains why it is so fabulously drought tolerant.

Of course, the ability to be drought tolerant and reseed itself around can be both a blessing and a bother.  As great as it is in my garden, beware that in dryer, sandier areas it can be a little too giving, and in California it has managed to land itself on the invasive list.

Sweet Alyssum thriving in my hellstrip
Would you be surprised to find out that Sweet Alyssum can actually be a short-lived perennial?  In warm climates, it will live more than a year.  It has no chance of living through our type of winter, but for now all the little blooms are a welcome addition to the fall garden...

and much appreciated by a lot of little guys.

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