Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Oh, the weather outside is frightful

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful
And since we've no place to go, LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW!

 I love the look of snow in the gardens. Conifers look especially enchanting with snow cover.

 Beautyberries - as winter goes on, and food becomes more scarce, the birds will eat these. I think they are so pretty; I guess that's why they're called beautyberries.

 A Christmas-card like view...

 A blue spruce that we planted years ago

 Our prettiest tree...sold as a Black Hills Spruce, but I think it looks more like a Black Spruce.

 A tiny Fraser Fir that will be a Christmas tree for us when it gets larger

 This burning bush hasn't lost its leaves yet.

 Another spruce (and a bottle tree) - we purchased this spruce at Home Depot for $10 when it was less than a foot tall. I can't remember how long ago, but probably 8 or so years ago.

 Another view - do you see our berry patch? It is greatly loved by the birds as a source for food and shelter.

 Pine cones grace the Weeping White Pine.

In case you are curious, last weekend the temps were in the 40s. Last night (overnight) and into this afternoon, it snowed (3 inches so far). By Saturday, it will be in the 50s so the snow will be gone.

While I don't love cold weather, or driving on slick roads, as a photographer (ha ha ha), I truly appreciate a snow scene.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Color and Form in the garden

Color in the gardens - now? Am I talking about the color white? Well, yes, there is some of that but there is winter interest in form, structure, and yes, color here at Sunsplash Gardens.

 A cardinal enjoys corn on the squirrel feeder on a snowy day.

 Echinacea, a rose, and a piece of fencing that a clematis climbs on in warmer weather

 This was the view from above after a 2" snow last week. Some of it is gone now.

 Grasses are great for adding winter interest to a garden.

 Hydrangea 'Incrediball'

 In this image, 'Incrediball' provides a tan background to the annual salvia.

 Marigolds, full of spent blooms and also seeds - perhaps they will self-sow for next year.

 Butterfly weed has released its seeds.

 Blue and green bottles add color, too.

 Variety is the spice of life! Echinacea, a dwarf Alberta spruce, a weeping spruce, another spruce, an ornamental grass, and bluish shades of lavender all add interest to my gardens at this time of year.

 The pond and stream are closed for the season. To see the waterfall, stream, pond, courtyard, and pergola we put in this fall, click here.

I find beauty in my gardens in all four seasons!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Tea warms the heart and hands on a cold day!

It's chilly today - just 20 degrees! Brrrrrrrr!

It is a perfect day to sit down with a warm cuppa!

Do you like green tea? I must admit it's not my favorite, but there are some flavored green teas I like, and it's so healthy.

I like Candy Cane Lane from Bigelow. It tastes very minty and yummy. If you haven't tried it, you can purchase it at Celestial Seasonings website.

Another favorite green is a Jasmine tea - green tea with Jasmine flavor - from Harney and Sons.

 Tea and cookies are a winning combination in my book!

I'm beginning to think about Christmas, although I hold off on decorating until the day after Thanksgiving. The Christmas photos are from Decembers past.

 A little Christmas candy - white almond bark melted with crushed candy canes added

 My big tree - I'll miss this one. It got rather decrepit and we put it on the curb after last Christmas.

 I enjoy decorating with poinsettias on my tree. Do you like colored lights or white lights better?

 A gift from my blogging friend Judith from Lavender Cottage

3 Decembers ago, this pretty little doe visited our garden. We haven't seen deer in our yard for some time now. I miss seeing them; they are beautiful animals; however, they can be destructive in the garden - AND to vehicles! We hit a deer 3 weeks ago on a country road after dark.  :(

 On November 11, 2013 we had a snowstorm. We also got snow on November 11, 2014 but it was minimal - less than 0.5".

Snow can create beauty, but I'll gladly wait. (pic from 2013)

In the meantime, I need another cup of tea.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

It's done - our backyard garden makeover!

As you know, we've been transitioning the former border gardens with the help of landscapers. Finally, it's done! Well, as done as it can be until we put plants in next spring.

First, a look at what was:

These photos are from 2013. The area on the left, inside the wooden fence, is what I called my border gardens, also known informally as "the little yard."

As a point of reference, the area to the right in the photo, on the other side of the fence, is the start of my cottage garden.

 My border gardens consisted of four sides: three sunny, and one shady, under the deck stairs. This was the west border bed during the summer of 2013.

 Here's the east border bed. On the other side of this fence, further to the east, is my cottage garden. You'll notice each border was edged with boulders.

 Another view of the east bed....all of these plants are gone - some were annuals, some were moved, some became compost. The grass is gone, so pretty. I am missing summer's flowers already!

The large honeysuckle I loved, and so did the birds; I hope it survives in its new home. The birdfeeder was moved earlier this year; I did not like this location as I couldn't see it well from my window.

A view of the Moon Garden, also gone
I hope to have another all white garden.  :)
I saved the plants, now to figure out "where."

On October 7, work began:  part of the fence came down, grading was done to level the yard (my yard slopes downward), and by October 8th, block was laid to establish the edge of our patio.

 October 17: a pergola was beginning to take shape.

 Work continued on the patio (October 22).

Wow, the area looks a lot different, doesn't it?

The color is gone, but no fears. It will return next spring! I look forward to figuring out plant selection and placement. But wait...I'm getting ahead with my rhetoric...I haven't shown the finished project...the big goes!

 The view from above - the stream and pond are exactly where the fence was that divided the cottage garden from the former border gardens

 Waterfall and stream - the electrical will be dealt with in a less visible manner in the spring.

 The pond had ice on it this morning (11/1/2014)! We got our first hard freeze.

We are really going to enjoy our "courtyard" and water feature, and Ron already is happy that he'll have even less yard to mow!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A new teacup for Tea Time

Recently I was gifted with this pretty new teacup. It belonged to my grandmother, who collected teacups - and also was a "big time" gardener - guess who I took after in those two interests!

This is a Staffordshire teacup. I think it's really pretty.

 Today I'm enjoying Raspberry Royale black tea.

My nosh is a slice of Dr. Pepper cake - my first time to make this, I find it's very much like my very favorite chocolate cake, Texas Sheet Cake.  The main difference is that this cake uses Dr. Pepper for the liquid. If you want the actual Dr. Pepper cake recipe, you can find it here.

Texas Sheet Cake

1 cup butter
3 T. cocoa
1 cup water

Heat the above to boiling and add:
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 cup milk
1 t. soda
1/2 t. salt
2 beaten eggs
1 t. vanilla

Bake in 12x18 pan for 20 minutes at 350. Top with 12 to 18 marshmallows and bake 2 minutes longer and spread while hot. Frost when cool with icing. (Note: I often omit the marshmallows, and I also usually bake this in a 13x9 pan.)

Icing for Texas Sheet Cake

1/2 cup butter
3 T. cocoa
1 t. vanilla
6 T. milk

Heat the above ingredients, then add powdered sugar to desired consistency, beating until thick and fluffy.

Today I'm joining in tea parties at:
Rose Chintz Cottage
Martha's Favorites
Bernideen's Tea Time Blog
Tuesday Cuppa Tea

as well as
Mosaic Monday at Lavender Cottage


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