Archive for the ‘gardening’ Category

October 31, 2014

We are expecting low overnight temps, so I got busy with some yard clean up.

The last of the Zinnias. I will miss the brilliant mass of color in my front bed.


photo 1
And the remaining tomatoes.

photo 2

The plants all came back inside.

photo 3

Now I think I’ll sew a little.


Mua ha ha ha!  Happy Halloween!


A Quick Spring Getaway

May 2, 2013

On a rare sunny weekend in an unusually cold March, my mom and I zipped over to Arkansas to visit P. Allen Smith’s Moss Hollow Farm. Dubbed “The Martha Stewart of the South” by the New York Times, Allen runs a home and garden lifestyle business which includes a PBS show, several books, and his beautiful farm west of Little Rock.   He was at home that day and led the tour himself.

P. Allen Smith

My mother is crazy for daffodils, so we planned our trip during “Daffodil Days” when the pastures were awash in shades of yellow and gold. The flowers just went on and on! There were all sizes, shapes and hues of sunny blooms waving in the breeze all around the house. It was a most welcome sight for the winter-weary!

daffodils at moss hollow farm

Although not much else was blooming, there was still plenty to see. The farmhouse, an environmentally-friendly wonder, was built less than a decade ago but made to look as if it has been there for years. An enormous post oak in the front driveway adds to the illusion of longevity.

Front of the house with Post Oak

The interior of the house was no less dazzling than the outdoor show. Allen likes the early American look and has managed to capture that aesthetic while also using modern touches and accents. The living room is akin to an art gallery.

living room at moss hollow farm

I loved this modern version of a Windsor chair.

modern take on early American chairs

This arrangement of serving pieces on the wall is gorgeous!

plate arrangement

Of course, I noticed this half square triangle quilt pattern.

Looks like a quilt..but it's a rug!

A closer look shows that is not a quilt, but a rug!

rug detail

My favorite room was the sleeping porch with three beds at one end..

Sleeping porch at Moss Hollow Farm

and a gleaming copper tub at the other.


This is what you see from the porch.

View from rear of house

And here is a view of the back of the house.

Back of the house

The gardens were pretty bare this early in the year, but we admired the espalier


And the variety of heritage livestock such as these Buff Orpingtons.

Buff Orpingtons at Moss Hollow Farm

For lunch, we feasted on recipes from Allen’s cookbook. It was so delicious that we went straight from the table to the gift shop to purchase copies of our own. For the rest of the afternoon we were free to walk around the property and see the rose garden, the vegetable garden and the rest of the livestock.

Moss Hollow Farm is open for tours most weekends and is only 2-1/2 hours door to door from my home in Memphis. Mom and I both highly recommend a visit and are planning to return later in the year to see the gardens in full bloom.

Get Lazy with Sarah

June 27, 2011

Hey, I just remembered that I have a blog!  That hasn’t been updated since February!   Not sure why- maybe I lost my stitching mojo. Chasing an adorable toddler all day leaves little energy for much else. And although it’s been 19 months, it’s still not easy living without Gwen.

But I did manage to squeeze in a few projects. First, a mini quilt for DQS 10.  Disappearing nine patch with batiks.

Mini quilt for DSQ 10

And my first Dresden Plate for the Lovely Linen Bee.  I was plenty nervous about attempting this block, but it turned out nicely!

May block for lovely linen bee

This block for the Linen Bee was the most improvisational thing I have ever done.  At first it seemed I was just making a big ol’ mess.  But, again, the end product looked much better than expected.

April block for Lovely Linen Bee

Yesterday I made these bibs with my very best fabrics for a baby shower.  This was a really fun shower because there were many beautiful handmade gifts.

Bibs for a baby shower

In non-sewing news, we had a clematis explosion,

Clematis explosion

then a lily explosion.  We are still waiting for the tomato and green bean explosions.

Lily explosion

And after 10 years, I got a new car!  This comely machine is a 2011 Subaru Outback and I am in love with it.

New wheels!

The purchase of this vehicle was most exciting, yet somewhat bittersweet.  As part of the deal, I traded in the handicap van I had used to ferry Gwen around town for so many years.  I couldn’t help but feel that I was losing another little piece of the remnants of her life. Yeah, the van is just a “thing”. And  I will never lose my love for my daughter or the wonderful memories of our time with her.  But still….


November 6, 2010

It doesn’t look much like November in Memphis. We have yet to see our first killing frost and the plants around here are making up for time lost during our two months of heat and drought.

My Arctic Queen Clematis makes a second, more subdued showing once the weather cools down.


The melon patch is still producing


We are harvesting fresh green beans every other day.


And the neighbor’s roses are happy too.


This tree across the street seems more appropriate.

But it is fall!

Ahhhh, Memphis in autumn!


August 5, 2010

Last year I joined the Memphis Area Master Gardeners. I don’t go around advertising this much because the title “Master Gardener” implies that one knows everything about horticulture and I certainly do not! But after 14 weeks of interesting classes taught by local professionals, I can legitimately claim to be a lot less ignorant.

At a meeting last spring, someone gave away some extra pumpkin seedlings. I brought one home and planted it in the same bed with the surprise watermelons and cantaloupes. It took off right away, developing a thick vine with huge leaves. It also grew large, yellow male flowers on long stems. Every morning, flowers from the previous day were on the ground as if they had been cut off deliberately. A little googling revealed that these blooms last only one day, then close and fall off the plant.

I checked for little pumpkins every day without success. But then one morning, I spotted this

Baby pumpkin

I forgot to write down the name of this variety, but it has a pear shape. It grew fast and I loved its deep green color.

Still green

Then a bit of orange appeared on the bottom of the pumpkin and traveled up the sides until the whole thing was transformed. Here you can see the progression.

A hint of the orange to come.

Orange travels up from the bottom

Still changing color

Just a few green veins left

This pumpkin will be ready to harvest after the vines have been killed by frost and the stems are dry and shrunken. Apparently, growing pumpkins in the south is difficult because of heat, humidity and disease. So far this one looks happy and healthy, but other parts of the plant are looking puny. I have a few tricks up my sleeve, however, so we shall see what happens. Even if the vine is doomed, my expertise on growing pumpkins has been significantly enhanced.

My pumpkin is a loner right now. The other female flowers won’t open, and the tiny ovaries just shrivel up and drop to the ground.
I intervened by trying hand-pollination. I picked up a closed male flower to harvest some pollen, and a trapped bee flew out! After a little jumping and screaming, I collected pollen with a paintbrush, then opened a female flower and deposited the yellow grains inside. I hope the poor things did not feel violated. It’s too early to tell if this worked, but so far none of the fruits have withered. This is what the female flower looks like.

tiny pumpkin with female flower

In other horticultural news, I am sorry to report that my last watermelon split before it was ready. I cut it up, slicing a finger in the process, and composted it. Only a few bean plants have sprouted so I will start some more in pots. Both of these setbacks are probably due to our recent record-setting high temperatures that are also causing ME to wilt!

Surprise Melon Patch

July 29, 2010

I had every intention of making a second attempt at growing Italian bush beans in my front bed this summer. But mother nature had other plans. If you were around in the 70’s, you know not to mess with her.

Last year, after the root knot nematode fiasco in this bed, I solarized the ground and then added new mulch made in my backyard. Almost immediately, random plants emerged from the seed left in the compost, but it was too late in the season for them to produce any food. I left them there until the first freeze, dug them up, found only healthy roots and thus declared myself victorious over the evil bean-plant-destroying nematodes.

Before I had time to get any bean seeds in the ground this spring, little sprouts began popping up again! This time I decided to leave them and see what happened. Small seedlings quickly morphed into fast-growing, leafy vines sporting yellow flowers.

The first plant to fruit left us puzzled over what it was. My gardening/knitting/baking friend April and I guessed either muskmelon (aka cantaloupe) or some exotic Japanese cucumber.

Melons start out green

Beginnings of "net"

At first they were pale green spheres, but when the ridges and netting began to develop we knew they were muskmelons. Research showed that they would be ready to pick when the skin was mostly golden and the stem began to separate from the fruit. This stage is called “slip” because they slip right off the vine. No knives or shears needed.


This vine was very prolific but we didn’t save any seeds. The fruit had a robust melon-y flavor but was not very sweet. Probably because the original melon was a hybrid and the seeds of this second generation melon reverted back to one of its parents. Next year I’m going to plant an heirloom melon to avoid this problem. Any suggestions on a good variety?

The other three vines were easily identifiable as watermelon by their leaves. They shot out in every direction like kudzu and began to set fruit. I learned that baby watermelons have hair! The first one reached cucumber size and eventually grew into a behemoth about 2 feet long.

Baby watermelon

watermelon progress

Gigantic watermelon

Watermelons are ready to pick when the bottom part that is against the ground turns from white to golden or yellow and the melon sounds hollow when you thump it. We harvested the ginganto melon and invited my mom and aunt over for a tasting. It was exquisite! The sweetest, most flavorful melon any of us had ever eaten. I saved the seeds and made watermelon rind pickles too.

Watermelon rind pickles

The second vine produced a melon that split before it was ready to eat, but the third one still has a fruit making good progress. Every time I water it or check on it my mouth waters in anticipation.

And yesterday I removed the first two vines and finally planted those bean seeds in their places.

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