Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The planter LIIIIIVES!

The house sits alongside Main street, a white, peeling construction from the first half of 20th century. It is enclosed by a natural fence of yews, once bushes, now trees; it stares with unseen, curtained eyes into the dull shade of its guardian oaks.

There is a dozen houses like this one throughout Abingdon, some of which have been abandoned and shuttered up, and some of which still function as bed-and-breakfasts, or even modern ghost-castles for retired recluses. What makes this particular house different from all the rest is purple.


We thought we were hallucinating, the first time we drove by it. The entire lawn was covered in seamless carpet of crocuses, a fuzzy blanket of petals. The effect was absolutely stunning.

Elrin's project

The planter is done! The construction has been filled with top soil, compost (about 6$) and 26 bulb flowers (2 containers, one of white-edged red tulips, and one of mixed tulips, daffodils and hyacinths; would have been 10$ ea., but I've gotten 5$ off the tulips, since their pot was broken). Yay for bargaining!

I've of a firm opinion that 4 screws on either end (total) is -not- enough to hold the thing together, and that it will warp/pop apart/explode after the next rain.

Elrin remains stoutly optimistic.


The hiking over the weekend (mostly in Sugar Hollow park, but some downtown Abingdon, too) brought sightings of additional plants (deadnettle and bitter cress, according to Gardenweb folks). Brownie points for guessing which is which.

Hint: deadnettle leaves look a bit like regular nettle ones.

Since a major warm spell’s been upon us, ground’s been unthawing, and, in some places, forming this interesting patchwork of vertical ice crystals. They fall over if you poke at them, creating a sort of fur effect.

This is what a chunk of the stuff looks like, atop a glove..


African violets continue to bloom. Sadly, none of them are what you'd call 'pure white'. Also, a leaf of curly purple-green one finally decided to grace the world with some babies. This time around, there's actually more than one of them.

Non-variegated spider plant (grown from seed, thank you very much) has decided to send off a single off-shoot, which ended in a tuft of flower buds rather than little green plantlet. The plantlet might develop later on, but even if it does not, I'd have found this tuft of flowers interesting by comparison.

Potted grape hyacinths are about spent; if weather will continue on being as warm as it's been this weekend, they're going outside with the rest of the bulb flowers.

The mosaic plant (a 1.50$ purchase from the clearance shelf at Lowe's) may be in serious need for repotting, as are 3 out of 4 seed-grown lemons. ... and then there are individual growths of some sort of sedum and a few Russian cactus off-shoots, that really need their own containers...

Russia has no cacti, you say?

Well, no.

Therein lies a story.

(Third person point of view starts here.)

In the pre-9/11 days, little Errant brought to the US of A three cactus babies from a potted plant that's been in her family for something like 20 years. The first one she stuck in a pot and proceeded to drag around with her to Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, and, just now, Virginia. The other two went to Err's mom, to live contentedly in a single pot, and grow fat'n'happy.

The first Russian cactus (labeled as Jeremy and Lawrence at different times, for humor's sake) has been sunburnt, beaded, rubbed against by a variety of cats, and, once, dropped. Its longevity through times of trouble is an inspiration to us all. Or to Err, anyway.

(Third person point of view ends here.)

Hereafter referred to as Lawremy, the cactus has stubbornly refused to bloom, despite its large size. Instead, it insisted on asexually propagating at an alarming speed, while occasionally shooting off an extra rib from the top. If the house was burning down and I had to rush in to save any single plant, Lawremy would be it.

Others would've included the aloe, parent-plant of which was originally saved from a frigid ceramics studio during boarding school days, a kalanchoe (mother of millions), gotten in my first-ever horticulture class, and a variegated dwarf sansevieria, which was a product of a friendship with a graduate student in the horticulture department back in the university days.

After all, potted plants with stories to them are just that much more special.


White crowned/throated sparrows have been all but replaced by song sparrows in the adjacent bushes. I hope some of the latter end up nesting in viewing distance..

Monday morning, we've also got a chance to hear a rather odd blue jay vocalization: a sort of two-toned call, rather loud and shrill. The call was repeated a few times, as the bird hopped from branch to branch. Not sure what that was all about.

But Tuesday was a –real- treat. A red-breasted woodpecker on the feeder! You know something exciting is spotted, when Elrin interrupts scone-making with a “ComeherecomeherecomeherecomehereFAST” in a low, urgent tone of voice.