Friday, September 30, 2011

Pumpkins and Pinecones

Who would think that pumpkins and pine cones would go together? Certainly not me, until recently when I started brainstorming about pumpkin and pine cone crafting for fall. It seems that there is a shortage of pumpkins this year due to the extreme weather conditions, this past summer. Everything from the pumpkins themselves to canned pumpkin is in short supply...although you can find a plethora of  imaginative faux pumpkins...that's where I come in. I love my little folk art pumpkins, so sweet and be-ribboned in vintage fabrics. Then there are the plump and plushy ones--my favorites!  They look especially delicious all decked out in the colors of the season with real, dried pumpkin or gourd stems giving them "autumnal attitude."  

Plushy Pumpkins
Folk Art Pumpkins
A couple of years ago I accidentally happened upon the most exquisite of velveteen pumpkins that a person could happen upon, bought two for myself and then searched furiously for more of them. When I actually did find them again in a store up in Pennsylvania, their price was something akin to our national deficit. As captivating as they were in plush "autunmny" colors, I thought it best to pay my mortgage instead and settled for two I already had instead of oh, let's see, another twenty or so.  Then, decided I would try to interpret them in my own way....Voila!

The challenge being, finding the right pumpkin or gourd stem as the crowning touch. You should see the looks I get while fishing through to the bottom of a pumpkin bin in the produce section of the grocery store and coming up with an old dried stem that will look just perfect while passing up some of the prettiest of natural pumpkin fare. One lady thanked me after she patiently waited for me to pull out more pumpkins from the bottom of the bin for her to choose from.  she thought it was a bit odd that I was only interested in the old dried stems already detached from pumpkins and laying at the bottom of the pile. However, one lady's trash is another lady's treasure!

And, then there is the lovely pine cone. That purveyor of all things possible when it comes to glitter and, when it comes to glitter, I know of where I speak. When it comes to pine cones...well, I have talked about my love affair with pine cones many times before. This year, however, my relationship with the fair one took on a new twist when a friend at Peter's office, Marissa, gave him jumbo-sized cones she had collected thinking I might like them....Like?...What, is she kidding?...That would be an understatement! Out came the glitter and I spent an afternoon creating pine cone magic.  I tried very hard to contain myself since Peter thinks I use some colors that are in his estimation, "a little different," but, I just couldn't resist the temptation and I pulled out pink, blue, copper and pewter tinted glitter to work with.

Then, I discovered a can of Christmas Tree flocking tucked away on the spray paint shelf so I just had to try that, too.  I flocked a pine cone and then sprinkled glitter lightly over them and it was just beautiful. So, of course, I had to do a few more of those as well.  I am a glitter genius! The flocking adds another dimension to these already pieces of art only Mother Nature is capable of creating...I'm just enhancing them a bit. Good grief!...Even my shoes somehow couldn't resist the allure of glitter.

Flocked and glittered pine cone
When it comes to crafting, pumpkins and pine cones certainly do have a lot in common. Both lend themselves to the beauty of the changing seasons and are everlasting adornments in this "DIYer's"  heart.  Now, since I have a little glitter left, and I'm already in the glitter/crafting zone, where did I put those magnolia seed pods?...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

September "Garden-keeping" It's A Jungle Out There!

Let's talk about September chores a little.  Oh, alright, let's talk about them a lot...at least what needs to be done here at Blooming Hill.  It has been such a busy month with fairs and events, it seems that I may have overlooked a  few housekeeping duties out in the gardens of late, although not intentionally, of course. I've just been a little preoccupied with other garden-related thing rather than the gardens themselves. The other day, I thought I'd spend just a few moments out by the greenhouse beds taking stock on what needs to be done before the first frosts arrive.  Afterall, I love my gardens and especially spending time in them...right?!

I went with the intention of also planting and primping a few things I had picked up at Southern States the other day and that is when the whole planting and primping idea went out the window and was replaced by hardcore garden-keeping!  The place looked in complete disarray!  The knot garden looked as though the rosemary's, myrtles, bays and whatever else in the holding beds that surround it had been playing musical chairs for days on end. (Note to self: remember to put things back where I originally put them.)  And, the mums I had been growing from cuttings since early spring?..Well...I don't even know what they were doing, all "higgledy-piggledy" among the pots of scented geraniums, long overdue for a trim.

By the time I stepped into the greenhouse I thought I was in this garden's version of "Home Alone!" My tiny little happy place was not so happy and looked a bit abandoned and messy to boot.  Not at all my style...Where the heck have I been?  No one seemed to be in charge in there and every pot looked to be doing it's own thing!  Scissors and snippers also have been misplaced along the way.  No wonder it seems as though I have been on a treasure hunt for any kind of cutting apparatus lately.

The herb garden is vibrant in green with pink, purple, blue and red polk-a-dots of blossoms and blooms still thriving while the hyacinth bean vine, covering the trellis with a little too much vim and vigor, has not yet begun to bloom.  There are plenty of tiny blossoms coming along but I can't decide whether it is fighting off the munching devil deer or ravenous stink bugs.  I really don't see evidence of either type of garden pest bothering it so maybe it's just being finicky and has decided to arrive fashionably late. 

Still, there is a certain serenity, even in the chaos of this garden and sitting under the trellis peering through the leaves into the gray-blue September clouds and sky fills me with a sense of security and peace.  Snap out of it!  Get up and get to work!  The whole place needs to be swifferred!  Where on earth did I put that umpteenth pair of garden gloves?

The cutting garden, at the back of the property looked simply lovely...from a distance...however, at a closer glance something out of the jungle in Jumanji.  While the zinnias are doing their best and still looking their brightest, they are definitely beginning their slow decline as summer winds down and the almost continual rain of late and present keeps beating them down and the morning glory vines, while glorious, are half-past shaggy..  The dahlias are just about to come into their own with fewer garden pests to bother them now and looking healthier, if not leggier than ever.  I'm glad I at least I had the good sense to stake them earlier in the summer.

Several hours later, at least the holding beds were back in, as my mother-in-law, Lynn, would say, "Apple pie order."  I feel much better, now and can breathe a little easier.   At least I don't have to squint or look the other way and pretend I'm not noticing how things have gone slightly off kilter in just a few short weeks.  This weekend, a salad garden will be back in place there, if it's the last thing I do.  The greenhouse is looking a little like it's old self again, too.  Plants lined up and preparing for the colder weather, with pots and trays stacked neatly and under control once more...at least for the time being.

The herb garden and the cutting garden still need a good thinning out but I'll take my time in those since their colors are plentiful and their textures are rich with late summer bloomers like salvias, dahlias, guara and phlox.  However, I did let every plant and flower know I'm back and I'm still the boss around here.  No more putting off what needs to be done in the gardens especially because there is still plenty of growing season left, along with fall fairs and seasonal events...and garden-keeping galore!  I only hope I can find enough extension cords so the vacuum cleaner can reach out into the cutting garden...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Moon Glow and Morning Glory's

The past few nights have been a succession of brilliant and glowing performances from the Harvest Moon, out-shining even the stars as it ushered in the crisp, dewy sunshine where the late summer Morning Glory's are just...glorious!   It seems the moon was finally able to wake them up from their long summer beauty sleep and now the Glory's are peeking out from behind their heart-shaped emerald blankets looking all bright-eyed and bushy tailed. Their spiraled buds unfold like whirling dervishes and reveal designs in violet to damask blue and creamy white hues on star shaped petals, in my garden, smiling back at the sun busily dusting off the early dawn mists.


It might be sunshine radiating from the Glory's, but it seems to me that each newly opened blossom caught a piece of the golden glow from the harvest moon, these past few nights, and then released it back to the sun in the brightness of the day. The moon glow and Morning Glory's play their parts beautifully during the cool nights and sweet days of September. however, both are fleeting.  The Harvest Moon comes only once a year, as close as possible to the autumnal equinox, while each individual Morning Glory makes the most of it's one day in the spotlight.  Their brief-bloom life cycle continues into the autumn days with the rising of the sun until the first frost.

In the language of flowers, Morning Glory's represent "fleeting love or a love in vain," a beautiful, wondrous thing that, sadly, doesn't seem to last so, bask in the presence of Morning Glory's while you can. And, the particularly bright and radiant night-time glow of the harvest moon, now spent itself, highlighted all the beauty normally not seen in the ordinary day to night and back to day scenes I take for granted in my gardens.  It's closeness to the autumnal equinox and the changing of the warmer to the cooler season makes the moon seem bigger and more vibrant--thus a Harvest Moon complete with resplendent moon glow. Even the devil deer, munching on the spent Morning Glory's late into the evening, seem to enjoy (of course, they always seem to enjoy my gardens...they're devil deer!) the night light.

Moon Glow and Morning Glory's...Moon glow and Morning Glory's...such lovely things to be preoccupied with this time of the year...Or, should it be Morning Glory's and moon glow?...Whichever way you think of them they evoke lovely images of late summer bounty into early autumn beauty.