When did you last take time to lie back
to watch clouds
and hawks soar?
Copyright © 2017 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved
Peony season ended yesterday with the last stems going home with market shoppers. Over 700 stems were harvested this year, despite crazy spring temperature swings.
I thought every blueberry flower was frozen during a late March freeze and I fully expected a ruined harvest. Behold, a few weeks ago fruit formed and swelled although I rarely saw a pollinator.
So begins another harvest challenge..wild birds appear to be especially hungry this spring and despite my efforts to foil winged and four-footed marauders, I regularly notice clever catbirds, robins, and one blasted squirrel climbing under the tulle, metallic ribbon, and whirligigs. “Ha!”they say. “On berries we will gorge!”
Now I will share images of what’s blooming here at Swallowtail Cottage this month.
Here at Swallowtail Cottage, in zone 7a, the first nesting season is now complete for the Carolina chickadees, Eastern bluebirds, and Northern cardinals. The three-week old cardinal chicks have found my feeders and entertain me with their antics. Sadly, one cardinal chick appears to have wing issues end I think it cannot fly. I shall monitor the situation as it visits the feeders and will contact the Wildlife Sanctuary for advice.
I regularly chase off the Brewer’s Blackbirds, cowbirds, and jays who invade my feeders and terrorize the new resident chicks. Tufted titmice continue their quiet routines, one Ruby-throated hummer visits the feeder frequently, House and Goldfinches continue to annoy me, Carolina Wrens are scarce, Brown Thrashers are beautiful and elegant, the occasional Chipping Sparrow makes an appearance, and my beloved Red bellied woodpeckers astound and delight. I envy their ability to fly, yet rejoice in the fact that I have arms, hands and fingers…
Happy and bountiful spring to your, my followers. I always enjoy hearing from you.
PS. WordPress just informed me that this is my 200th post. Shall I continue or retire?
Copyright © 2017 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved
“I never had any other desire so strong, and so like to covetousness, as that one which I have had always, that I might be master at last of a small house and a large garden.”
– Abraham Cowley, 1618-1667, English poet
If you are a homeowner, April not only brings spring flowers, but lots of chores…check out this link below…just click the photo:
Yesterday was the second time I mowed this month…and edged, and weeded. Sadly, it appears that I will be fighting wild violets again this year in the turf…Boo! Although violets (not the edible violas or Johnny Jump Ups) are pretty, they will spread rampantly and kill all turf in its path. I learned the hard way…last season. I am not a fan of turf, yet since I own 3000SF, it must be cared for. Since the use of chemicals is taboo here, one must be extra clever to stay ahead of undesirables that blow in and take root.
My neighbor’s field is awash with wild violets and the explosion of seeds manages to permeate my stand of thick cypress trees and attempts to conquer my tidy gardens. Last year I resorted to drastic steps. Did this fix the problem? One stroll into the turf last week, showed a healthy stand of the dastardly plants…all abloom and happy. Oh how lawn care products lie!
Three years ago, I nicknamed my house “the needy box.” This month marks sixteen years here (where does the time go??) and always, always, there is something to do. Can one actually divorce one’s home? IF so, I want one…a divorce.
IF I continue to stay, most of my major improvements since 2001 will need a redo beginning in six years. I admit, I am not ready, willing, nor is my pocketbook. “I ain’t in love,” as some country song wails. With real estate currently a seller’s market, I regularly fantasize about moving, even catch myself steering the car into new parts of the county…looking for eureka! Yet the dilemma remains…where to? Little real estate remains affordable in the US (under 300K), and regional taxes or health care deficits can take a bite out of the relocation dream.
When I shop for converted warehouses around the country, they are there. But who wants to live in the snow belt? If the warehouses here in my area are ever converted, they will become, as most other real estate here, half-million dollar abodes.
So for now, I remain on my little half-acre, not far from town, where birds, flowers, quiet, and sunshine are regulars. Deep in my soul, I wish for continued inspiration and stamina. Today, the growing season begins again…in central Virginia, zone 7a.
Let it be gentle.
So I am off to open closets, vacuum velvet and linen draperies, wash cabinets, and polish silver whilst thinking of Cinderella when she “…wakes to find sunshine bright and all the meadows white…”
What does spring look like in your part of the world?
Copyright © 2017 By Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved
Ok dear followers. I have a reading list for you…simply type these three words into my search bar in the left hand column…ready? Type the thing about and press GO. Voila, numerous posts will appear and when you reach the bottom of each page, click “older posts” as there are about a dozen posts in this series.
Older posts are long-lost in this world of immediate and short attention spans…yet they still hold much fodder. Good fodder, not the kind that is chewed up and spat out. One can ponder these things…
Are you ready? This is the perfect reading assignment, especially if your weather continues to be a beast in your part of the world. Simply type the three words, click GO and gently scroll down (and click “older posts” when you reach the bottom.) Soon a rhythm will glide your finger and eyes…
I put a lot of effort into these the thing about posts and think that they need revisiting by readers, both old and new. Good as Silver & Gold, like friends.
So please, go find a sunny window, settle in, read and please comment. After all it is still winter in the US, and being a couch potato is fully permitted as long as we feed the brain, dream a bit, and sip warm beverages.
I await your comments. There will be a quiz next Thursday. 😉 Cheers, Diane
Posted on a sunny, cold winter day in central Virginia 2017.
Take a few moments with your second cup of Monday morning beverage and dream of how a week or a lifetime would look/feel like here…
What do you like most about this slice of Italy? Would you have the patience to take on such a project?
As I ponder yet another house project here at Swallowtail Cottage, a visual pause permits contemplation and inspiration.
Happy February…I see signs of life in the gardens, and the wild birds continue to keep me company…77F here yesterday…much too warm. I also need to find out who is spying on me at night with their drone…I thought a plane was about to crash, then noticed the lights were hovering just above my privacy fence!
Posted February 2017
Winter is my dormant season when I have time to hibernate with good books, good movies, and good searches on the Internet…
here is a good garden find:
And if you are in the mood to root around your closets, here is another good project for the dormant season:
IF I lived in my perfect world, this is what my home would look like…
yes it would…
Finally, if you love your photos and are in a techy mood, try these ideas:
How are you spending your dormant season?
My central Virginia gardens endured one of the hottest, driest summers in recent history.
Since most of the fifteen-year-old landscape is well established, only the few new installations required weekly monitoring. The basement dehumidifier supplied a consistent 2-gallon supply of free water daily, greatly reducing the labor intensive task of hose dragging.
I gave up raising home vegetables in 2014. Too many persistent insects prayed on tender leaves, leaving undesirable remnants. I fully support organic growing methods, yet for the effort involved, I would rather spend my time tending the heirloom daffodils, peonies, and lilies that reside here. These spring beauties bring endless joy to me and my market customers come April/May, and by the time June heat and humidity build, I am spending only minimal time outdoors.
Gardening during cool temps from November-March soothes my soul. The tempo is slow. The air is crisp and clean. I add to my perennial collections, as fall is planting season. And above all, the dastardly biting insects are absent and I once again enjoy the outdoors.
This month the arborist arrives with his bucket truck and helper. He annually sheers the 135 Leyland Cypress that border my property. This year I am tasking him with drastically reducing the elevation of the rows…tough love. Over the years, they slowly crept up to twenty feet, a height I no longer desire. Soon entire row at the back will be totally eliminated by the power company, as maintaining it is now unsustainable and my splendid privacy fence doing a fine job.
As of today the house and shed are washed/painted/caulked where needed. The roof chimney and vents are caulked and painted. The patio furniture has a fresh coat of paint (yes that DTM paint project two years ago was a miserable failure.) The windows are washed inside and out. 23′ of deer fencing is installed in the lower corner of the garden to close a gap. Three arborvitae and a Kousa dogwood will replace an ancient dogwood (Cornus florida) and an unimpressive japanese maple. Eventually this new installation will screen the deer wire.
THEN, on the fifteenth of November, I shall have knee surgery…just a repair for a torn meniscus.
Yes, gardening does take a toll. Perhaps last November’s foundation planting did in my knee. That two tons of river rock did not seem that difficult, yet perhaps it was the eleven hours it took to prep/plant the seventeen shrubs. Ahh, November.
A time to complete chores, reflect, relax, and bask in the glow of a dreamy winter ahead.
Copyright ©2016 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved
There is one word that describes the month of August in central Virginia… steamy. Not unlike steam room cloying temperatures and humidity with dew points in the 70’s.
This year does not disappoint. Any Virginia gardener knows this month requires resolve and fortitude and multiple trips to the shower. If Mother Nature holds back quenching storms, this gardener must rise before dawn to drag hoses around for blooming plants, inviting nectaring insects and butterflies to have sweet tastes. Newly added plant material must be monitored for even moisture, if they are to survive and put down healthy root systems.
Despite these character-building conditions, I want to share with you the beauties that dot my landscape this month…
Twice per week this time of year I run errands and make deliveries very early, then confess to enjoying short afternoon naps in the air conditioning. Heat is hypnotic. Reclined on the loveseat, dozing between paragraphs of a Baldacci novel, I later rise and do indoor chores. Then around 7PM I dress for insects and head out weekly to mow and perspire. Soon. Soon. Very soon, there will be lower dew points and garden clean up, as the blooming show will be mostly over until next spring. And this gardener will sigh a large exhale.
Thanks for reading along. Your comments are always enjoyed.
Copyright © 2016 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved
With July fourth around the corner and summer heat and humidity present, I decided to pull out the stops and shop for festive seafood. Landlocked here in central Virginia, most of the ingredients for this recipe came from either Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. Since I do not live in Maine, lobster is out of the question, although langostino is a fine substitute for lobster OR shrimp. Please enjoy this quick recipe inspired by the famous Lobster Roll…ah LaSauce.
This past winter I ate my weight in TJ’s Argentinian wild caught shrimp. Discovered in the frozen food section, I hoarded pounds at a time and feasted regularly. Meaty and tender and ready in four minutes, what could be better? Following a few month’s break from the binge, these beauties called out to me again today.
Are you ready for a simple, simple recipe?
At Trader Joe’s pick up a package of butter croissants, a pound of Argentinian Wild Caught shrimp, some organic bread & butter pickles, a bag of organic celery hearts, and a bag of organic blue corn chips…see photos below.
At Whole Foods, collect a jar of 365 organic mayo, a lemon, and Old Bay seasoning.
OK here is the simple:
Happy Independence Day to all Americans, and may peace prevail. Be safe.
PS: I do not receive any compensation for mentioning these products…just wanted to share my findings with my readers. Bon Appetit!
Copyright © 2016 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved