The Office Garden, Expanded

The little garden I planted outside of my tiny office is filling nicely. For example, the small nicotiana I transplanted has blossomed:

I like the handling flowers, and it smells nice, too. The container planting has also filled in over the past month or so:

Since this container gets a fair amount of shade, the pansies are still going strong. The whole thing has filled in with all the rains we’ve had:

This garden connects to a tiny strip of land bordering the garage. I filled that in with daylilies that I moved from the perennial border a couple weeks ago. These are a very vibrant red, but that color no longer works with the white-orange-blue color scheme that I’ve switched to:

So now these are hanging out in the back, and once we paint the garage yellow like the office, they should really pop:

The daylilies should also look a little fuller in seasons to come. These are divisions that I transplanted fairly late into the season, so they’re a little droopy this year.

It’s Raining Cats

So just when we decided that Smithy just didn’t come around enough for our tastes and got an indoor cat to play with, another cat seems to have walked into our lives:

This one is a big guy, and — despite the somewhat startled expression on his face in the photo above — is oozing confidence. I saw only his black tail scoot past the back door and thought it was Smithy, but then this much bigger cat sauntered through the cat door onto the porch for what was left of Smithy’s breakfast:

This photo is better, since I opened the door to take it. When this guy was done eating, he came right up to me and was just about to walk on into the house, but I didn’t let him. So ever so calmly turned around and walked away, without flinching or even picking up the pace beyond a slow walk. 
He looked healthy and clean, so I’m not sure if he belongs to someone or is just a solid survivor. We’ll see if he comes around again for more snacks — I wouldn’t mind having him set up shop in the garden, since the…

Meet Fiddle

So this happened yesterday:

After much discussion, we decided that we would really like a house cat in addition to a barn cat. Smithy has become increasingly aloof this spring since we went on our April vacation. He only comes around at night for his food, and sometimes he’ll go a few days without coming around at all. I even tried enticing him with catnip and caught him in a Have-a-Heart trap to give him his tick meds, and though he stuck around on the patio and ate breakfast that day, he wouldn’t come up for a pat. He may change his tune when it gets colder again and he remembers the treats in my warm office, but he seems content to come and go as a barn cat should.
Trouble is, we kind of got used to the ultra-friendlybarn cats of the past, so we decided we should have a house cat to dispatch the errant mouse and curl up on laps. 
So this is Fiddle. He’s an eight-month-old boy who was found in a feral colony, but who the rescuers thought was young enough and sweet enough to be soci…

Adding Color to the Perennial Border

For years I was working with a very limited palette for the flower garden that wraps around the house: all white, with a few touches of red in spots. This was very elegant, but now that we’ve begun painting the house yellow, I’ve found myself leaning toward orange and blue plants. I love the yellow-orange-blue color combination, and we were really happy with how our swath of orange tulips worked with the new paint color this spring.

As is always the case with a flower garden, plants don’t live for ever. This year when I went shopping to fill in some holes, I reached for some more colorful plants to mix in with those white ones. They’re not all blooming right now, but here are a few that have opened for a sneak peak of next year’s color palette:

These apricot blanket flowers actually have orange centers, but it’s hard to tell in this picture. That makes them blend well with the little orange petunias I have sprinkled along the very front of the border:

Since I have officially given up…

New Year’s Resolutions, Month by Month: May

It’s been nearly a month since the end of May, and I have yet to assess my May resolution. Instead of eliminating something as in past months, I decided to add to my routine: 30 minutes of yoga every day.

When we lived at the Red House, I went to yoga classes twice per week at the Y, and it was great. Once we moved here and I started commuting to Brookline, though, it was very hard to motivate to go out again in the evening after spending so much time in the car already. I still stretch regularly in the evenings, but I hadn’t done a real yoga routine in years.

Getting back into it wasn’t hard, per se. I no longer have a yoga mat, having cut it up to make a cushy mat for the standing desk in my office, but it’s actually much nicer to have a real rug to spread out on, anyway:

There are plenty of videos on YouTube with yoga flows to follow, and it was nice to be guided to do poses I haven’t spent any time with in a while. (My downward dog is much better after doing it for a month)
The h…

And Now, Flea Beetles

Some of the time you would say it was luck, and some of the time you would say it was weather, but this season has been really hard on the garden in the insect department. In addition to the usual trouble with cutworms and cabbage loopers, we also have a bunch of asparagus beetles ruining that crop.  

And now there are also flea beetles:

That little black bug in the center is a small beets that can hop around, and we have more than just one. you can see that there’s tons of damage on that arugula leaf it’s sitting on, and every arugula plant in our mesclun patch looks the same way. They also really like radishes, so I don’t think we’ll be getting any of those to plump up any time soon. 
We can live without arugula and radishes, but these bugs have also gotten into our broccoli and cauliflower, though the damage for the most part isn’t quite as severe:

Since radishes are their favorite food, I planted several small patches in the broccoli and cauliflower beds to serve as a trap. The …

Attack of the Asparagus Beetles

Coming off of the drought year has been hard enough on our asparagus, which needs lots of water to thrive, but we have another problem on our hands as well:

After a good week or two of a small harvest, we started to have stunted, crooked spears like this one. At first I thought the tips were being nibbled by an animal, but then we noticed this:

I thought they might be aphids, but upon further inspection, it turns out that those are asparagus beetle eggs. They belong to these guys: 

The red beetles are spotted asparagus beetles, which I have seen before — but never this early in the season. They’ve never caused much harm. But there are also these guys: 

The black ones are common asparagus beetles, and they do cause a lot of damage, since as the eggs hatch the larvae eat their way up the stalks. They probably got a foothold during the drought as the plants were already weakened and overwintered in larger-the-usual numbers. They’ve been ruining our asparagus, and all we have are some sk…