Tuesday, May 27, 2014

best garden time of year

I am always amazed how lovely the weather can be and the garden's bounty of flowers in May and June. The temperatures are mild and the flowers are plentiful. Looking forward to going to the National Botanical Gardens next weekend with my quilting guild for some time in the big garden amphitheater for hand sewing Saturday in the shade. Meanwhile here are a few of my favorite flowers from my gardens. Beginning with a new one that is almost orange the Coral Charm Peony! What a beauty it is.

Then the red peony from Manassas 
Sedum are so colorful this time of year and they bloom too! 

dianthus and the white silver of dusty miller
 lots of bearded iris and siberian blues follow soon after

 blue cadet hosta with chartreuse heuchera, miniature hosta in a low pot, honeysuckle the native orange, geraniums on the steps and maroon and red/yellow columbines 

Two clematis survived the cold winter in pots. The others were white and froze up with the surprise snow and deep freeze we got after a week or two of mild weather. 

A favorite yellow foxglove or digitalis that reseeds after the bees pollenate the flowers and return to bloom the following spring just like the columbines.

This flat blue iris is a Japanese Roof Iris that grew from seeds I planted four years ago! Now they are happy and prolific bloomers at the edge of our big flower bed. Below them is the lavender flower of the money plant a bi-annual that drops seed and takes two years to form new flowering plants. 

"Mary Rose" is one rose bush I have had since I lived in a house on 11th ST. NW back in the mid 1990's and grew them in big pots. It's an old fashioned rose that blooms with lots of petals and a great scent.

Monday, May 19, 2014

log cabin quilt in orange and purple

detail of log cabin quilt top
This is my first log cabin quilt finish. It began as a mix of oranges, purples and neutral grays and whites in an attempt to create a "Modern Quilt" design after listening to a webinar from the Modern Quilt Guild. The speaker extolled the use of graphics and lots of open neutral space as modern. I found it's a great idea but I began with too many colors and neutrals to bring it off in this project. For today and for the first time this year I finished a quilt!
39"X 59" Log Cabin Quilt in orange and purple 

It is composed in orange and purple secondary dominate color theme with a full range of red to blue primaries mixed into the blocks to give it the look I like of many colors together. These blocks are 5 inches square with a center that is always orange laid out in the field and furrow diagonal that resembles the rows in a freshly plowed garden. There are two larger ten inch blocks to add a scale jump, my nod to the modern esthetic of playing with the traditional repeats. At least bright color is a hallmark of modern quilt design and they don't get much brighter than this palette. I imagine this is a modern traditional design but what ever it is labeled, it is done and finally ready to show. Having completed 12 or 13 quilts last year I feel like this year the first finished quilt is long over due.
red pearl cotton #8 hand quilted 

It has diagonal lines of fire red pearl cotton #8 hand quilting to hold the all wool batting and backing together. The binding is a collection of fabrics found in the quilt top alternating orange with purple. The backing is a print of black arrows and lavender circles on blueish purple background called "Homestead" ©2013 designed by Juliana Horner which I fell in love with some time ago and only rediscovered during the hunt for complementary backing.  

Juliana Horner "Homestead" arrow and circle printed backing
Finally the label is a block of purple surrounding orange with red pearl cotton #8  embroidered by hand and blanket stitched to the back corner. Finished and ready to hang vertically with a matching sleeve on the back it measures 39 x 59 inches. 
log cabin label hand embroidered in red on purple log cabin block

Sunday, May 18, 2014

May full of flowers

This month is so full of flowers and things to do. It is like nature woke up for us and put on a lovely show and we are busy doing the same. All sorts of invitations and activities come rolling in and sadly so many have to be left unattended but the ones we do get to participate in are rich and colorful.
Phyllis (mom) with her purple iris and one black iris lower right corner.

I have been lucky to have visited my mother in Manassas twice this month which allows me to see the results of the flower planting I have done over the years. Things like iris that bloom and are gone in two weeks I get to see this year. I surprised to see the black iris from Fairhaven Cliffs on the Chesapeake Bay bloom in her iris bed.  I thought I planted the black iris  and then it didn't bloom but the yellow one did last year... Those iris are tricky to predict sometimes they bloom the first year like my black iris did in DC and sometimes it takes two years for them to flower after transplanting. It was a delight to find them taking hold with three stalks! Juanita and Molly said they were "very hardy" when I was gifted a half dozen plants year before last from Juanita's garden.
darkest purple red iris is called "Black" by Juanita who gave them to us. 

Another richly colored delight is the gift from brother David of a red rhododendron which has tripled in size since we planted it and gave a big show of color this year. It's planted on the north side of the house which used to be home to a huge lavender colored rhododendron that had to be removed for some reason that is forgotten over the years. There is an empty spot there now where a tall hemlock evergreen tree met the same fate earlier this year. The tree was split at the top by a storm so it had to be cut down and we are still trying to decide what to plant in this bed. 
Finally the front porch planters are looking swift with hot pink geraniums, dianthus in red white and pink, magenta celosia and a pink with yellow striped calibrachoa and some trailing silvery gray vines. My photos barely show the colors but to the visitor it's a very pretty collection. 

Last today the hanging pot is filled with calibrachoa in hot pink and blue lobelia and one I don't know that is pale pink. 
It's fun to have a second garden to visit and help plant and plan. The hard part is for mom, she is there keeping it watered in the hot weather and watching for flowers which seem to take so long to appear then vanish before you can blink an eye. 
Next week I am excited to see the two peonies we planted two years ago bloom for the first time. Stay tuned for updates or visit my flickr.com page to see more as they are coming in from both our gardens and all around. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

May opened with rain then bird songs.

This month began with a few days of very heavy rains and flooding. I watched from my window as ponds formed in the field across the street and in our garden from the heavy down pours. A squirrel sat on the branch by my window eating an acorn soaking wet in the rain. 

Then a familiar sound came floating in our windows as the skies cleared and the birds began to rejoice. I said to Keith. I hear what sounds like the house wren did you hear it? Sure enough in our back yard there was a little brown and gray house wren singing his heart out and filling our bird house with twigs. In one day it was nearly filled up. I added a second house to help ensure the hen would find one she liked in our garden.

Today for the third time I saw both wrens in the garden. The hen comes and goes but I think she is liking this old gray cedar house the best. Near by the Robins are incubating their eggs in the nest that looks like it is on a serving tray for any of the alley cats who might like a snack. They placed the nest on the lowest bow of the choke cherry tree at the corner of our yard.
I have to sneak up closer to the tree to get a view of the nest but it isn't much more than 8 feet off the ground. The choke cherry blossoms are about to bloom too as the leaves fill in making the view more and more difficult. 

It's a delight to see the garden flowering and leafing out but to have new birds in it is one of my greatest pleasures. Listening to them sing and watching them come and go with twigs and grasses then bugs and worms to feed the fledglings is a daily delight. This morning the noise from middle school construction continues from 7 AM right through to evening at 7PM trucks and heavy equipment continue to make the annoying peace piercing Beep beep beep... but I saw something very interesting yesterday. What looked like the entire work force of the school project assembled on the tennis courts in their bright vests of green glowing yellow and hard hats. It was quite a sight and I took my zoom lens and focused in to capture the moment. It looks like close to 100 people out there for a site crew meeting. And Pepco was working on the power lines on the corner for a couple days now. I assume this electric crew work has something to do with the power going to the new play ground equipment seen in part in the foreground of this photo.

 To my amazement there was another annoying sound under my window of some engine running about 8:00 this morning. Once I got up I was pretty surprised to see a man in a vest with a long orange hose and a water truck! He was filling the bags around all the new trees on our block. I counted 22 new Linden trees on the far side of 10th street and there are almost as many new flowering trees on our side as well as down the side street of Randolph.  It's the first time this year they have been filled and I have been wondering for a while if they ever would be. Here I got a few shots of him at work. It is very encouraging to see the city hired a contractor to plant these great big trees with stakes and watering bags and now they are going to be coming around to water them in so they might have a chance to survive the heat of our summer.

I have been contacting the city and local activists about the care of the trees in Turkey Thicket play ground and was wondering also about all these trees the city planted along our block. It is gratifying to see something has come of my concern. Still no signs of watering in the park and those trees often die of drought with a little kinder abuse thrown in for good measure. I proposed a summer youth job program with a young urban forestry mentor to lead a team of high school kids in a summer of tree care watering and learning about how these trees benefit our community and city. I rediscovered that Casey Trees has just such a program for a few youth. I wish the city took part in this sort of tree and nature program for the summer jobs program instead of placing these young people at desks in community centers bored with nothing to do which we have seen in recent summers right here at the Turkey Thicket Recreation Center. 
There are a few people who agree with me that it is a good idea but we need more letters to the Mayor and the Urban Forestry director to get them to support the tree watering guardians program as a summer job program. 

Mean while I am working on my newest quilt a log cabin in neutrals with orange highlights and finishing up the purple and orange log cabin is going to happen any day now.