Thursday, December 30, 2010

My 2011 gardening resolutions

Happy New Year y'all!

Like most of my fellow plant lover's, I have made my gardening New Year's resolutions for 2011:

I vow to include my children more in the gardening process

I will stay on top of the pruning, especially those perennials that require it for size control

I will grow even more of my own food and do it in a sensible way

I will dig like a champ, put my body through complete torture and revel in the pain 

I will continue to incorporate more and more native plants

I will admit defeat to the deer

I will do my best to stop and "smell the roses" more often

There was to be an additional resolution, but after I typed it out, and after some reflection, I realized I felt exactly the opposite way about it:   
I will do my best to only buy a plant after it's requirements have been fully researched and if  I actually have space for it.

C'mon now, who am I kidding? Sounds great and all but that ain't happening, EVER. And I honestly believe there are a number of reasons why it makes sense to be completely spontaneous and reckless:

  1. When I bring home a plant and have nowhere to plant it, it forces me to get creative and come up with a unique solution. Combinations I never dreamed of are born and more often than not, I am thrilled with the results.
  2. I can remember purchasing a Carex and after getting her home, learning that she wasn't reliably hardy to zone 6. It forced me to find an appropriate micro-climate out in the yard and she has thrived to this day. I like to think of it as forced innovation.
  3. More forced innovation - if I can't find room in the ground, I often resort to adding the perennial or shrub to a container as a temporary home. This gets the creative juices flowing and more often than not, I'll add more plants to that container and a new combo has been created. 
Maybe it's the fact that I have this blog and it's fun as hell to share my stories here, but I cannot wait to take more chances and get more creative this upcoming year regardless of the consequences. I am going to treat my yard and gardens like one big laboratory.

Dr. ONG 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tis the season ... to be lazy

Oh the joy of the Christmas season. All of the build up to that one morning when the kids descend down the stairs to see what Santa has left for them. It brings back my own memories of staying up all night, listening for the sounds of the reindeer or some sign that St Nick had arrived.      

But before we get to those niceties, a quick little side story for you.

I missed Christmas day in both 2006 and 2007 due to sickness. In 2006, I was yakking all morning and never made it out of bed. In 2007, I came down with some violent fever and was shaking so much in bed that my wife actually asked if the house was shaking. As a result, my entire extended family has become paranoid each subsequent Christmas Eve wondering what would happen next to moi.

Well, there were no issues in 2008 or 2009 so the bad memories were a distant memory ... until 2010.

It's 11:45 PM on Christmas Eve and my wife and I have taken care of almost everything that needs to get accomplished. Just one more "task" remained and then it would be time to retire to the boudoir. I can best  describe what happened next as a simple math equation:

Frozen chocolate croissants      

Plus a butter knife to separate them
Equals this

Yes, yours truly managed to shove the dullest butter knife into my hand and puncture the skin. I have done some dumb things in my life, but this ranks near the top. Maybe subconsciously, I did this as fodder for the blog or I wanted to display my enormous strength? I'm leaning "dumb decision".  

After the crime scene was assessed, I quickly determined that the wound required stitches and that I would need to drive myself to the emergency room. We couldn't wake the kids up and risk a nasty confrontation with Santa. Off I went into the night, dish towel wrapped around my wounded hand.

My stay in the hospital was only two hours so it could have been much worse, plus, I managed to catch the Pope presenting midnight mass while in the waiting room.I still don't know if it was an amazing spectacle or a strangely terrifying event; either way, those surreal moments alone in the waiting room will never be forgotten .

I was wrapped up and medicated come Christmas morning and it was all good. The kids opened their gifts and were oblivious to what happened to their dopey Dad. 

My daughter has been singing Taylor Swift songs on her new karaoke machine non stop. Watch out world, girlfriend has some serious moxie.           

She introduced creepy Ken to Barbie and I'll never understand what she sees in him. And if I had the time I could do a whole dissertation on Barbie, but I'll spare you the pain.      

And she has lost herself in the wonderful world of Disney which is pretty damn cute to watch. 

My son, on the other hand, was all about sports this Christmas

And of course, I have been quietly doing the happy dance watching the sports love pass on from me to my offspring. By the way, the video games today are loaded with incredible music and to hear both kids sing "Crazy Train" by Ozzy Osbourne ("I, I, I") and Rapper's Delight is phenomenal ("Hotel, motel, Holiday Inn").   

Even Casey enjoyed the carnage after the gifts were opened.

On Sunday night, we "only" had about 4-5 inches of snow dumped on us but it was enough to justify a whole lot of ensuing laziness.  

My wife and I are fully embracing the drinks of the season since there is nowhere we need to go.

My absolute favorite new beer is Dale's Pale Ale, known as America's best beer in a can.

And can't forget the Hot mulled cider (spiked at your own discretion).

This old man, while beverage filled, has also taken to sequestering himself while attempting to complete a monster jigsaw puzzle.  

I've also educated myself on all things pest and disease; I've even gone so far as to looking into purchasing beneficial parasitic wasps.

And finally, we have all enjoyed the breakfast of champions each morning.

How we will all survive going back to work and to school on January 3rd is beyond me. We won't even discuss it until the day comes.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays

Thank you for reading my nonsense and enjoy the hell out of the holidays. We'll do it again real soon.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My favorite photos of 2010

Admittedly, this is a self indulgent post.

I went through each of the photos I've taken in the past year for this blog, and pulled out my favorites. The photos I've chosen are not necessarily the best looking photos, but the ones that stir a strong emotion and/or remind me of a specific moment in time. I have A LOT more to learn when it comes to garden photography and I cannot wait to further educate myself in the upcoming months. 

I have included my comments under each photo. Enjoy.

For me, there is no better time to take photos then after a rain when it is still overcast. Love the droplets of water on the fruit of this crabapple tree.  

I think I spent almost twenty minutes trying to get the perfect shot of a bee on one of the clethra blooms. I remember laying down on the ground at angles I didn't think I was capable of pulling off but it was fun and worth it.  

Another example of waiting and waiting for the perfect shot and I couldn't quite get it but damn if it wasn't fun trying!

I honestly believe this butterfly knew it was being photographed so she stood still for me to make sure I got her best side. 

This is the one and only time I've seen a deer actually sleep in my yard. I was so pumped to see it I and can remember frantically running around the house telling the kids to shut their mouths so I could get the perfect shot.

If I've learned anything this year, it's that it is worth the time to take photos of anything and everything because you never know what the results will be. I just thought this one was really cool with the way the late day sun was shining on the blooms of the Karl Foerster feather reed grass.   

Love how this Helenium bloom looks up close.

There were literally a hundred butterflies on the joe pye weed blooms and I may have taken 50 photos with none really capturing it perfectly. I felt like I was on crystal meth as I tried to take these and my excitement got the best of me.  

I managed to catch this guy just as he was emerging from the chrysalis and felt like a proud papa.  

Love me some northern sea oats.

Good times down the "Shore" as we say in NJ. And it is just as rewarding to write about personal ventures as it is about gardening stuff. 

I didn't expect this to come out looking like this when I took it, but I dig how it sort of looks like a painting.

I worked on this back bed all summer and seeing the results after digging out the lawn in 100 degree weather feels very rewarding. 

This horribly shot photo still resonates with me for two reasons: 1)How did I ever think this looked OK? I've come a long way since then. 2)I divided this grass on a whim and it was great fodder for a blog entry - educational yet a chance to poke fun at myself.  

Just damn cool.

A reminder to take a few steps back and enjoy the interplay amongst the plants.

Ah, is there a better time than the autumn?

There is interest to be found in the winter if you look hard enough.

This was taken in Dallas at the Garden Writer's conference. It is where I stepped out of my comfort zone, introduced myself to two photographers and had a conversation I will never forget. It was inspirational and a reminder to pursue what you love and the rest will take care of itself.

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