Monday, October 22, 2007

plastic plant prisons

What I forgot to mention in my last post is the one thing that really bothers me about getting plants shipped here—and that’s all the plastic packaging that Spring Hill Nursery used to send me my stuff.

Used to be that plants were shipped in plastic or paper pots wrapped in newspaper—sometimes things got a little beaten up, but the packaging was biodegradable for the most part. Spring Hill sent my plants in plastic pots encased in these plastic cases packed in shipping peanuts. Way, way too much packaging, and the plastic was #5, which we can’t recycle here.

My rose, from Wayside, came in a box with peanuts in a plastic pot, but was protected with raffia instead of an industrial-grade plastic über-case and survived the trip beautifully. I could’ve done without the peanuts (don’t mind the starch-based peanuts, but they don’t work well with plants because they dissolve when it gets too humid in the box).

So, I think I’m going to see if I can find a company that uses greener packaging. Or try to buy locally—though prices around here are really high.

And I would love to get some hellebore to live in my garden. Of the ten or so I’ve planted over the past few years here, not one has survived the first winter. And they’re not cheap. Ah well.

posted by lee on 10/22/07 at 11:09 PM

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in my garden yesterday

Finally, I took the time to work in my garden on Sunday. And wander around the yard to just look at what’s been happening in my absence.

I planted bleeding hearts a couple of years ago, but they never grew. I think because the spot I chose, underneath a big evergreen (I’m not sure what kind of tree it is), is just too dry. So I planted two, one on each side of the steps going down from the patio. All the other shade loving plants I put in there do quite well, so I thought the bleeding hearts would be pretty next to the astilbe. I put in some coneflowers and black-eyed susans in the garden under the kitchen window, and some flame grass down by the bird bath. The quaking oat grass I planted there three or four years ago is stunning this year, along with the zebra grass and another grass I planted in the sunny garden. And I put in a dozen sweet red tulips. I have a couple dozen more tulips to get in, along with a rosebush.

image

Stanley is planting the rosebush—Rosa Hot Cocoa from Wayside Gardens. We decided to plant it in the middle of the sun garden and get rid of a big container we had there. The container was nice for a couple of years, but it just started bugging me last year. He got rid of it today and tomorrow, the rose goes in. Stanley was stung by a bee or hornet when he emptied the container—I felt bad about it, but am glad I wasn’t there trying to help because I don’t want to end up in the emergency room. I think my epi-pens are years out of date ... I guess I should get new ones. The garden is amazingly lush this year. The false indigo shrub is finally absolutely full and so beautiful. The roses on the rose arbor have gone nuts—one rose will be fairly easy to tame, but the rosa rugosa is terrifying to even look at, let alone try to tie it back without gloves that have at least a bulletproof rating. The morning glories, refugees from last year (I didn’t get a chance to plant any seeds this year, before Stanley got sick), are just amazing. The andromedas and arborvitae and the lilac bush have doubled in size. The wisteria just went nuts (oh how I hope it finally blooms next spring ... ) The bittersweet, which we battle every year, has taken over half the 100-foot pine tree and has a bumper crop of berries—too bad birds don’t eat them. If I remember, I’ll harvest a few vines and make a wreath for the door. Maybe. I do love the color of the berries. The weather is so gorgeous. Today is the last of it, unless we get an Indian Summer (which, according to Geoff Fox on WTNH, doesn’t occur unless we get a warm snap after a hard frost—and we haven’t even had a soft frost yet.) It’s been nice sitting by my open window and feeling the breeze while I work—a summer breeze in mid-October. Turned out to be a decent day despite an appalling start to the morning. I came downstairs to find the plants and other stuff from on top of the barrister bookcase scattered around the room. Stanley moved things off so he can clean up the mess—Slink managed to get up there and dug out the peace lilies from a big pot and made a horrific mess. I hadn’t put gravel in the pots up there—who knew that damned cat would be able to perch up there and dig—there isn’t that much room to do it? We think he did it to get even with us for putting bitter orange on the ends of a plant we brought in and put in the bathroom—we did it to keep him from chewing the ends off of each leaf, which is his hobby. I guess we showed him ... something to work on while CSI is on. Yuck. We’ve been watching the fires in California on the news—it’s so sad to see the homes go up in flames. I started feeling guilty for just enjoying the weather here while a quarter of a million people are fleeing for their lives. On top of reading about the water problems in the Southwest in the NYT Magazine—I told Stanley that as much as I love the desert and Arizona, I don’t think I’d move back there. The pictures of Lake Mead shocked me—When I was there in ‘89, it was full and came all the way up the towers of the Hoover Dam to not too far below the roadway. I told Stanley that what I remember from living in Arizona is how water is viewed so much differently there than it is in the Midwest and New England—that the water boards had more clout than the mayor. It’s probably more so now. I’m going to hold off writing about events in the Middle East for now. I’m too angry about the crap going on now. And the book I’ve been waiting to read has been delayed by Amazon.com yet again—I pre-ordered Krugman’s Conscience of a Liberal but I guess not far enough in advance. Amazon claims I’ll have it by October 27 (I was supposed to get it last week). Ah well.

posted by lee on 10/22/07 at 03:31 PM

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Saturday, October 06, 2007

another month of this weather, please

It’s been three weeks since I posted—good grief. It’s not like I didn’t have anything to say. I always have something to say. Just busy. On the cusp of launching two more websites and another ecommerce site. Plus doing some other stuff wearing my analyst hat. Hasn’t been dull, that’s for sure.

The weather has been gorgeous. Awfully dry—we’re officially in a drought and are supposed to conserve water. It’s supposed to get into “normal” temperatures later this week (60s—my favorite temperature decade), but not much rain in the forecast. I ordered some perennials to put in my badly neglected garden, cone flowers, black-eyed susans because Stanley really likes them (so do I), another batch of bleeding hearts to try, other things and of course tulip bulbs. I have a rose coming that’s this odd red cocoa color—I hope it takes because it will be really pretty if the photos do it any justice at all.

Stanley brought in what is probably the last rose of the season, I think it’s an Emerald Isle that I got from QVC. The problem with having fresh flowers in the house, though, is the damned cat Slink takes them out of the vase and eats, shreds, or tosses them around. This is what it looked like when Stanley gave it to me (click image to enlarge):

Last rose of 2007, Lee Fleming Thompson

Now it’s got shredded leaves and it’s kind of bedraggled, but it’s still pretty. In a sad kind of way. I picked it up twice so far. The red box is by Barbara Schaefer, and I just love it. (We are going to be redoing her website soon—I’m looking forward to it.) We’ve needed a new boiler for oh, at least six years. Probably more like ten, but I haven’t been living here that long. It’s the last “big ticket” item we need for a while (knock on wood) as we’ve gotten a new roof and new appliances. We have steam heat, with the old-fashioned cast iron radiators, and we just love it. Our existing boiler just sucks down the biodiesel—we were spending more than $400 a month last winter, going through something like 150-170 gallons a month. The filter kept getting clogged and we never know if it’s going to just die for good (Stanley resuscitates it usually, but it’s really far gone). So we called our oil company, Santa Energy, and got an estimate from them. Ouch—about $7300. But we really need it, so we’re sucking it up and going ahead. I figure it will pay for itself in about 15 years. Maybe less—I’ll have to compare how much fuel we used last winter with this winter (assuming we can get it installed before we need to use it). I’ve been meeting to put up two pictures of my mother’s cat, Einstein. They’re from last month; Stanley took them. I mentioned that when Einstein is distressed, she puts his ears down in an odd way that makes her look like Yoda (click image to enlarge):

Einstein scowling, September 4, 2007, by Stanley H. Thompson

Now what makes her look like this? Ginger, or course. (click image to enlarge)

Einstein scowling at Ginger, September 4, 2007, by Stanley H. Thompson

Ginger, of course, just wants to play with her. Ginger is still chasing Slink, but is playing with him a little bit now. She goes crazy when she sees Slink eating what she considers HER food, whether it’s some leftover salmon or one of her doggie treats, which Slink loves. Slink steals Ginger’s treats, grabs one and runs away with it. Slink steals a lot of stuff—weirdest thing I’ve ever seen a cat do. He steals the sink stopper, the caps for the toilet bolts, shiny stuff—more like a ferret than a cat. We find his treasures in the strangest places. Tonight, as we were sitting down to eat dinner, Slink showed up to get his share. I almost fainted though, as I was sure he dropped a mouse into the couch cushions. So Stanley looked—sure enough, a small mouse, dead or nearly so. It looked like Slink had been beating the hell out of it and dragging it all over. So, of course, Slink immediately helped himself to Stanley’s milk—so gross. Stanley didn’t drink any milk with his dinner—almost an entire glass wasted, yuck. I’m glad Monday is a holiday. It will give me a chance to catch up with a bunch of the odds and ends I’ve been putting off, like small updates to a couple of sites. Or maybe I’ll plant the new perennials and bulbs. Or both even. I’m still looking for a cabin on the ocean that we can escape to for a long weekend next month. One of those cabin-type “resorts”—nothing fancy, just a place right on the ocean, with heat. Not in Connecticut—I want the Atlantic and not Long Island Sound. Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire—far enough but not a really long drive. Dogs allowed. Most of the places that would work want you to rent for a week or a month minimum, and I just want to rent for three or four nights. Or a hotel on the beach with a kitchenette ... something like that, Or on a cliff overlooking the ocean—the idea is I want to see and hear the ocean from the room or cabin. I’ll keep looking.

posted by lee on 10/06/07 at 09:51 PM

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