Friday, March 28, 2008

Jack Snipe miniature narcissus

This picture is from 3-27-06, and is of the Jack Snipe on the South side, with the shingles behind it. This year that South side bunch was done flowering a week or two before that date.

I think of these and Tête à Tête as early-middle blooming dwarf narcissus. They start after Narcissus minimus and Little Gem, and about the same time as Jenny.

My flowering lawn, which includes these and other miniature narcissus, plus Chionodoxa, Scilla, Tritelia uniflora, grape hyacinths, and other miniature bulbs, is the best bit of garden I ever did. (It no longer has crocuses, because one year there was a gopher.)

It is on the East side of the house, where there was a bluegrass lawn in pretty good shape. So for several years, when I was first here, as early in the fall as bulbs were available, while it was still nice to sit out on the lawn, I'd dig out a weed and stick in a bulb. No need to "gently toss the bulbs to achieve a natural-looking distribution". And for 20 years since then, it's bloomed for more than 4 months every spring.

My more ambitious gardening attempts are long gone, eaten by deer, fat jackrabbits, or blackberries and weeds, but the flowering lawn still blooms every year.

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The flowering plums were lonely this year

These beautiful flowering plums usually bloom in March. The paperwhite narcissus under them usually start in late January and bloom into March so the two overlap. The violets start earlier, but also usually are in bloom with the trees. This year the paperwhites started much earlier, and were done before the trees started flowering, and the violets were just finishing too. These pictures are from last year in early March, when they were blooming together.

The paperwhite narcissus are the kind usually used for forcing to bloom early, since they do not require chilling like most bulbs. If they're forced in good potting soil with fertilizer, and planted out soon after with bulb food and rock phosphate, they will successfully naturalise here (zone 7, south slope, 2500 ft).

They regularly bloom for 2 months in the middle of winter, cheering up the view. They usually get snowed on or frozen, and survive it just fine. This year we had early rains (September, I think), which started a lot of bulbs growing early. The winter iris and violets started early too. Then we had extra cold in Jan & Feb, so the plums are maybe late.

So the flowering plums were lonely this year.

They finished this last week. The pears are starting to bloom this week.

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

New necklaces

Just finished knotting these new necklaces this week. Cyndi gave me the silver & enamel beads years ago, and it took me a long time to figure out how to set them off best.

Then I saw that the hexagonal-cylinder sodalite beads I'd picked up somewhere would alternate perfectly with them, added other sodalite and amazonite leftover beads, to pick up from the enamel colors that I wear. And I found the perfect clasp.

Usually I use handmade hooks, and make the length adjustable with beads. This time I wanted the necklace longer, so I could see it too, and since I was using the clasp, lengthened it with chain.

When I was taking a design class in the art department a few years ago, I suggested to the teacher, at the end of the course, that she use a string of beads as a basic design exercise. Design classes start with 2 dimensional design, and just black & white. Here's one-dimensional design! (She was worried about the expense for students - but there are wooden beads.) You certainly use the design principles of unity and variety, and elements of rhythm and repetition and contrast. In fact, bead design is seemingly simple, but really quite sophisticated.

That's when I knotted up the green necklace, to go with a color of green I was beginning to wear. I was just starting to think of jewelry again after a break. My design abilities had grown during the fallow season, as often happens. Didn't finish it until just this week.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Violets with a scent as strong as wine

The violets start blooming in late December or January, and bloom for a couple of months. The last of them, in some shady spots, are just finishing now. My very favorite lawn weed.

They don't get tall and luxurious for me, since my fat jackrabbits eat them, and sometimes after a rain or watering the deer apparently weed them out by the roots. But they still bloom like crazy, through the pine needles. White ones too, and lavender.

I like to plant them at the base of roses. They are fragrant when the roses are being pruned, and that is nice, but the main reason is to shade the base of the roses. One year an early hot spell sunburned the bud unions of almost a whole bed of roses, just starting to leaf out, and the bark cracked, and flathead borers got in, and by August almost the whole bed of roses was dead. The only survivor had a violet growing at its base, shading it from sunburn. So I plant violets at the base of the roses.

One year I was on the roof in February. I am not usually on the roof in February, but the chimney sweep had the flu, and the main floor fireplace was smoking, and I had reason to suspect that the blockage was in the chimney cap, not the chimney itself, (the ectoplasm incident), so I was on the roof in February.

And from three stories up I could smell the violets, strong as wine.

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