Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Flowers for hospice

My garden club met last weekend to put together flower arrangements for a local hospice, for a memorial dedication the next day.

Everyone gathers up flowers from their gardens (or a local market), and we mix and match.  One of our members solicited vases from a neighborhood list-serve, so we had plenty of lovely vases.

A simple hour of time was rewarding.

arrangements for a local hospice
The note we received back from a hospice staff member was snuffle-producing.  Simple for us, lovely for the families and patients.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Gardening for pollinators

It's National Pollinator Week, and in Asheville, the Pollination Celebration for 2016 is in full swing.

I participated in an excellent pollinator walk this morning with Heather Holm at BGA (Botanical Gardens at Asheville), and heard her speak about native bees and other pollinators this evening. Wonderful photographs and information!

I'm looking forward to reading her book, too, which she's obviously spend a LOT of time producing; it promises to provide some info that will be helpful for encouraging folks to plant more pollinator-friendly plants.

I'll be doing what's become a habit for me during Pollinator Week (doing a Native Plants for Pollinators program on Saturday at BGA, a wonderful native plant garden here).  My approach is primarily plant-focused, with a bit about pollinator habitats and ecology, so it was fun to hear more details about native pollinators from an insect-based perspective.

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Sunday, June 19, 2016

More vole (presumably) woes

I transplanted a small eggplant that had been shaded out in my front raised bed, and perhaps out-competed, too, by the vigorous sugar snap peas vines nearby, to a slice of garden that's between us and the apartment next door.

It's a space that's only good for vegetables in summer, as it's shaded in winter and in the shoulder seasons, by our house and the apartment.  But I've grown beans there, productively, and the chard looks good at the moment. 
Eggplant that succumbed to voles (I think)
Now, the bean seedlings have been nipped by an opossum, and other veggies have been marauded by voles, so I shouldn't have been surprised when the eggplant transplant started wilting.

Chewed stem
Its roots had been consumed!  And check out the chew marks on the lower stem...

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Saturday, June 18, 2016

Sunset, enhanced by sycamores

A local non-profit, Asheville GreenWorks, has been planting trees around Asheville for more than 25 years.

These sycamores, planted some years ago, soften the otherwise harsh landscape outside of a popular brewery (The Wedge), down in the River Arts District,

Sunset was lovely last night, but I most appreciated the sycamores!

Sycamores and sunset

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Woody enjoying a rest

Woody, whose role in life is to make people happy (when they look at him), looped through downtown Asheville with me this evening.

He worked his usual magic, but initially scoffed at the Farm Burger's warm water in the dog bowl. 

I asked some young girls who were admiring him, along with their mom, if they'd like to get Woody some fresh water.  He then decided it was drinkable and plopped down for a short rest.

Woody enjoying the halfway spot in our loop downtown.
Thanks, Farm Burger for providing water for dogs!

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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Sharing extra produce

A friend and I harvested ~ 20 lbs of chard and collards for the Kitchen Ready's Southside Kitchen today, from the Southside Community Garden, and then continued with another 20 lbs or so of chard, collards, and kale, that I took to the YMCA's Healthy Living food pantry for distribution this afternoon.

one of the boxes from last week's harvest (~ 10 lbs)
Another volunteer took ~ 30 heads of butter lettuce to the BeLoved Shelter, just one of the many organizations who serve meals and provide shelter to folks who need it here in Asheville.

Volunteers have created a productive garden here, with the support of the Housing Authority of Asheville and Green Opportunities, a local non-profit.

It's great to see abundant harvests going to good places.

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Monday, June 13, 2016

Beet greens

I've been amazed by the productivity of the traditional market garden approach, taken by the community gardens that I'm associated with.  Yikes!  Who's going to harvest all of this? My friend and fellow volunteer and I are only over there (at this point) two times a week.

Half of the Southside Community Garden
Geez, I thought my raised beds were productive enough, and they are.

This is what I harvested this evening to cook.  Way more than enough for dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow, not to mention extras for dinner, too.

Beet greens and chard: today's harvest
I've frozen so many cooked greens already, along with foraged service berries, I'd better keep room for the tomatoes yet to come.

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Sunday, June 12, 2016

Craggy Garden view

A lovely hike off the Blue Ridge Parkway early this morning took us from below the Craggy Gardens picnic area up to the visitor center and back.

This view is near the shelter, at about the halfway point up.

The Catawba rhododendrons were close to their peak flowering.  Lovely.

Here's a link to a post I wrote 5 years ago about Woody's first hike in the woods (also at Craggy Gardens).

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Friday, June 10, 2016


A young leek chewed below ground in my front raised bed was the first sign.  The second was a wilting red-veined sorrel in the same bed.  Examined, the roots had been nipped off in a straight line.


Who would have thought that a vole (presumably) would have escaped all of the neighborhood cats to burrow into my raised bed, and eat a leek and (very sour) sorrel roots?

Maybe that's what's happened to my seeds/seedlings in that bed (I've sowed climbing squash and beans, and there's been limited evidence of seedlings, at least so far).

OK, I'm a wildlife-friendly gardener, but voles in my vegetables, and a bear flattening the perennial leeks down below, along with the woodchuck that now seems to be creeping up from the ravine and nipping on the tomatoes!  Not normally a woodchuck favorite.


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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Gregory Bald azaleas

We have three hybrid native azaleas from Gregory Bald, in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, planted below our deck.  Two are a lovely coral pink color --luminous in the morning and evening.  The diversity of hybrid flame azaleas on Gregory Bald is legendary. 

A third is a deep orange color, much smaller.  I've posted about it in the past, or a relative; we're now thinking that it's a replacement!

Our plants came from a small nursery owner who had grown them from seed.  The flower color variation in seedlings is impressive (as are the variations in the natural hybrid population).

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Monday, June 6, 2016

Caging tomatoes, harvesting greens and thinking ahead

It's been such a cool spring (again) that the sugar snap peas continue to produce, and the cucumber and bean seeds seem to be sulking (and not germinating).  Some seeds sown (many?) seem to have given up, in cool nutrient-rich soil, with others consumed by some sort of herbivore (slugs?)

Well, there's still plenty of time to sow more seeds (there are some sturdy-looking squash seedlings in the lower bed, just waiting for a woodchuck to appear, I suppose).

And, of course, the young bear that's trap-lining the neighborhood is not interested in vegetables, but is foraging around looking for various things as he's snagging the bird seed in our feeders and those of our neighbors.

I spent some time harvesting yet more beet and turnip greens, as well as kale, and cooked them up this evening.  Hmm, we're certainly getting a healthy dose of greens yet again this spring! 

It certainly doesn't take much room to produce greens for two...

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

A stylish local landscape

Front garden
These folks bought a house that was an old church, carefully reworked into a residence, and proceeded to create a very nice landscape, not too far from our historic neighborhood.

I've never spoken to them, but my gardening companion has, and apparently the homeowners ARE the gardeners.  Very nice.

Side garden

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