Tuesday, May 26, 2009

ABC Wednesday: Special S's

Today's ABC Wednesday is brought to you by the letter S, which represents someone very special in my life . . .

. . . Sophie

Sophie is no longer a puppy, in appearance at least, having more than doubled in size since she came to live with us three months ago. She turns six months old on Saturday and just last week received her diploma for completing Level I of Puppy Training Class. I had hoped to take a nice picture of her with her diploma, but she was too entranced by a bumblebee flying over my garden. Fortunately, she wasn't able to catch it.

According to her diploma, Sophie has learned to "Sit, Stand, Walk on Lead, Stay, Off, Come, and Polite Manners." Well, at least she demonstrated that in class. At home, it's often another story. Because we have such a large yard, we've allowed her to walk off leash quite a bit until she suddenly discovered birds flying over the fields. On several occasions I've had to trudge through muddy fields in my ratty blue bathrobe trying to retrieve her. Nope, no picture here of that; I'm just hoping none of the neighbors have one either. Obviously, we need to work on the command "Come, girl," so I've signed us up for Level II of Puppy Training. Both Sophie and I could benefit from more training. For example . . .

. . . I need to learn not to leave a roll of toilet tissue within reach of Sophie.

But even this mess pales in comparison to the day she ate right through the cord of my brand new vacuum. Fortunately, it wasn't plugged in, and I now have a real appreciation for Sears' 30-day no-questions-asked replacement policy. Then, of course, there was the week I spent in Arizona, when she ate a 6-foot long strip out of my hallway carpet. That makes worry somewhat about leaving for four days this weekend . . .

At the same time, Sophie has learned to be a little more mannerly around the younger grandkids. Both 5-year-old granddaughter and 4-year-old grandson (above) love to play with her now that she will settle down for them. Youngest grandson, not-quite-two, is still a little wary of her rambunctious behavior, though; Sophie certainly didn't win any points with him either when she stole his bag of cookies last weekend.

But like the toddler that she is, she is an angel when she's asleep!

S is also for Sunshine. After complaining a week ago about all the rain we have had, we've now enjoyed a full week of welcome sunshine, enabling the farmers to get much of their crops planted. I've also planted a lot of seeds in the new butterfly garden and finally got the tomatoes and peppers into the vegetable garden. I've made a big dent in the "pot ghetto" in front of my garage, although more plants somehow keep appearing there:)

The rest of these are going to have to remain homeless for a few more days, because I am leaving Thursday for a long weekend in Chicago--the second annual Spring Fling. For those not familiar with this term, Spring Fling will be a gathering of over 50 garden bloggers from across the country. We'll be visiting the Chicago Botanic Garden, the famous Millenium Park, some private gardens, and, of course, enjoying some social time, discussing--what else but gardening and blogging!

I am so excited to finally meet some of my blogging friends! I have formed so many wonderful friendships through blogging, and all of you have encouraged me, given me helpful advice, and even sent me some seeds and plants (the subject of a later post). Of course, not all my blogging friends will be in attendance, and I hope this will be just the first of many meetings with all of you. I want to mention one friend across the pond in particular today--a big congratulations to Liz, who just found out she is going to be a grandmother for the first time!

And just to show how wonderful my blogging friends are . . .

. . . I received a Surprise in the mail today--an early birthday present from a dear UK friend. A lovely necklace, plant markers, and two books will certainly be put to good use. Hmmm, she must be psychic; I think I'd better read the top book immediately:) Thank you so much, Cheryl.

Four days at Spring Fling means I will be incommunicado for several days, but I will catch up with all of you when I return. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and thanks to Denise Nesbitt for sponsoring ABC Wednesdays.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

ABC Wednesday . . . R

For the past few weeks the operative word around here for the letter R has been . . .

. . . Rain

A little over halfway through the month, we have already received our average quota of rainfall for the entire month of May. Most of the time we have had gently falling showers that were simply an annoyance to this gardener who was waiting for the garden to dry out, only to have it turned to mud by still another shower. But last Friday we had one of those gully-washers complete with high winds and threats of tornadoes that sent us and son's family (their house has only a crawlspace) down to our basement for the evening.

Saturday morning we had an eerie feeling of deja vu--fields, yards, and streets were flooded much like the downpour we had in early June of last year. The photo above was actually taken a year ago, since I wasn't energetic enough to get out and take photos this time. But looking across the road, I could see the same "lake" rippling behind the neighbor's as last year. This is actually a grassy area behind a small housing development and backing up to a baseball diamond near the water treatment plant. There is a small drainage ditch running through the center that normally has only a trickle of water running through it.

While I have been waiting for dry soil to plant the ever-growing accumulation of homeless plants, the farmers must really be worried. Last year's flood resulted in late plantings and thus a less than successful harvest. Not quite as dramatic a photo as the first one, this picture above shows the fields behind our house, with water accumulating even deeper near the subdivision to the left. If you are wondering about the alien-looking white things in the bottom of the photo, they are augers used to pour grain into a bin. My husband climbed up onto the top of our grain bin to take this photo. Before you think what a wonderful husband he is to risk life and limb for this blog post, he had no idea I was going to use this photo, but was taking them for himself to record some drainage issues here. Not saying he isn't a wonderful husband . . . (whew! good thing he doesn't read this!)

While few, if any, fields have been planted with the usual corn and soybeans--late in the season already--many of the fields are a sea of yellow. This strange-looking crop is actually a field of weeds and is a common sight throughout the area right now. There was some debate on a local radio talk show yesterday about what type of weed this is, but someone finally identified it correctly as a "yellow rocket."

The yellow rocket is a member of the mustard family and tends to appear in untilled soil. Most farmers today have abandoned the old methods of plowing the ground in the fall, thus reducing fuel costs and soil compaction, not to mention soil erosion. Instead, the fields are left untilled in the fall and worked up at the same time they are planted in the spring. I don't know if working the fields with a disk will eradicate these weeds, or if most farmers will have to apply a herbicide. Either way, I doubt most are too happy about these yellow "flowers" in their fields and are eager to get their real crops planted.

All the rain from the previous weeks has also made the flowers happy. Last Friday I posted the flowers that were blooming, saying I had lots of "almosts" in my garden. Just to prove my theory that the best blooms appear right after Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, on Saturday the first clematis bloom appeared . . . and then another . . .and another. Above is just the bottom of my clematis; the top is smothered in blossoms, too.

The rains finally subsided on Sunday, and so far it's been a glorious week without a rainy day in the forecast. I'm hoping it lasts even longer--I have lots of gardening to do!
For more ABC posts check out the ABC blog here.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Monday Miscellany

A few weeks ago, Monica the Garden Faerie posted her first "Mish Mash Monday" post, and I liked the idea so well that I decided to join in today. I've changed the name slightly for my post to avoid any issues of copyright infringement:) Besides, I would have had to add an extra M word--"Mush"--to describe the state of my brain at the moment. Two weeks of fighting a virus and bronchitis have led to sleep deprivation, thus the mushy brain. I finally broke down and went to the doctor on Friday who gave me some medications which don't seem to be helping much. But she did reassure me that everyone who has come down with this virus and nasty cough lately has gotten over it in six weeks . . . Argh!!

But enough of my complaining. A week ago Beckie and I took a day off for some serious plant shopping, including a visit to the local Herb Society's plant sale. Our shopping expeditions and garden touring have been limited this spring, so it was fun to finally be able to find a day that fit both our schedules. This was the first time we had ever attended this event, and though neither of us grow many herbs, we both walked away with a few new purchases. I did buy some chives, but otherwise my choices were more for scent and appearance rather than cooking, such as the lemon verbena and pineapple sage I purchased.

At the same place as the herb sale, the local Hosta Society and the Prairie Plant Preservation Society were also holding a sale. All three vendors had lots of volunteers staffing them, which was great because they were more than willing to answer any questions we had about particular plants. I couldn't resist buying another hosta, of course, but I was especially intrigued by the Prairie Plant selections. All plants were clearly labelled, with large labels showing their appearance at maturity and some relevant facts about each. I was hoping to find a true prairie coneflower, but they weren't available on this day. However, I did manage to take home several other plants, including a New England aster pictured above, more butterfly weeds, an Obedient plant (which I might regret later), some Joe-Pye weed, and a spindly stalk of grass-looking plant, which the volunteer assured me would grow into a beautiful Blazing Star. If they all survive in my garden, I'll be sure to feature each in full bloom later in the season.

Outside, one of the first Farmers' Markets of the season was also being held. It was still too early in the season to find fresh fruits and vegetables, but lots of other vendors made for some interesting "window shopping." We checked out these whimsical metal garden ornaments, but they were rather pricey. Besides, there wouldn't have been room in my trunk for one after our plant purchases that morning in addition to the plants bought later at our favorite garden center.

Several of you commented after I showed a photo of my plant-filled car trunk last week that I certainly had my work cut out for me. I hate to tell you, but that trunk full was just one of several this spring. I have been buying lots of annuals for containers and a few new perennials, and I've also been buying some plants for my son and daughter-in-law to help them spruce up their landscaping.

All of this buying has resulted in what Marnie cleverly called a "pot ghetto" in front of my garage door. Nobody will be putting their car in the garage any time soon:) Part of the problem has been all the rain we have had which has kept me from being able to plant anything for some time. But that's a story for another day . . . think ABC . . . "R." In the meantime I've been trying to fill up containers; Tarzan will soon have to find another spot for his naps.


After a little over a year of blogging, you would think I would have this blogging business down pat. I just figured out last week that I can actually move my pictures around on a post after uploading them! At the same time, I still haven't figured out the spacing issues here--Blogger seems to have a mind of its own on that. Another plus--after being unable to leave comments on certain blogs, I discovered it had something to do with my internet browser. Now I open Firefox instead of Explorer, and I have no problems. That brainstorm only took about 6 months to figure out:) And finally today, I figured out why my photo never showed up on anyone's "Followers" list--I had marked the "anonymous" following when I added most people to my "Blogs I Follow" list. So if you suddenly notice my photo as one of your followers, that's why. And if you don't see me, don't feel slighted . . . I did this one dreary day in February when I was bored, but I never got everyone uploaded on that list.

I told you my brain had turned to mush . . .

I have to show you this photo above even though the quality is terrible. My husband took it--a first--one day while I was occupied elsewhere. Sitting in the easy chair in the living room, he was watching a pair of cardinals on the suet feeder and quickly grabbed my camera. Once he figured out how to turn on the power, he started snapping away, getting this photo of the male feeding the female a piece of sunflower seed. I think cardinals are my favorite bird of all, not because they're so common here or because they are our state bird, but because of the loving behavior they show each other. Now that I've shown my husband where the zoom button is, maybe he can get a better photo next time:)

My five-year-old granddaughter commented one day while visiting, "Grandma, the birds like your yard much better than ours." I explained to my little nature lover that it probably had to do with all our trees, especially since they live in a new, virtually tree-less subdivision. I only wish she had been here the day I found this little guy on the ground. Well, actually, I didn't find him . . .

. . . Coconut did. Coconut was very concerned about this little creature, and together we managed to snare it in a butterfly net. I put it up on a tree branch, and it promptly flew off to the ground once again. I don't think it was injured in anyway; it just hadn't yet mastered high altitude flying. I realized afterwards it was probably a starling, those black bullies that I wish would leave our yard, but still I couldn't just leave it alone. Thank goodness none of the cats were out that day nor Sophie, whose curiosity is less gentle than Coconut's.

Thanks for following all my meandering thoughts this morning. I'm happy to report the sun is out this morning, and the forecast doesn't hold a drop of rain in it for the week! Maybe some of those homeless plants will finally get planted. Wishing everyone a good week in the garden!

Friday, May 15, 2009

GBBD: May 2009

Welcome fellow bloggers to another Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, the brainchild of Carol, the Queen of May Dreams. Someone recently said that this is "almost" time in their garden, and that is an apt description of my garden right now. The daffodils and hyacinths are long gone, the last of the tulips have dropped their petals, and the main color in the garden right now is green.

There are many plants almost ready to bloom, like this clematis, believed to be a Nelly Moser.

The few irises I have, all unnamed passalongs, are showing buds
with this one almost ready to open.

Looking back at last year's post, I found that I posted only one photo for GBBD May 08--a picture of all my new purchases lined up ready for the rain to end so they could be planted. I could show you a similar photo this year, since on and off-again rains have made it difficult to plant anything, but I will spare you. Suffice it to say, that the area in front of my garage door is awash in colorful blooms! Above is one of the few containers I've managed to plant, this one with a favorite of recent years, Supertunia "Raspberry Blast." If you're looking for a trailing petunia, this one is a great performer.

Two hanging baskets of ivy geraniums also add a little color to an otherwise green landscape.

In the main garden two of the most dependables are already showing some blooms: Nepeta, "Walker's Low" above . . .

. . . and Salvia, "May Night" here. It won't be long
before the bees find these, two of their favorite plants.

In the shade garden, some newer plantings are also beginning to bloom. I am so excited to have my first bleeding heart! These teeny tiny heart-shaped blossoms refused to stop swaying in the wind for the camera woman. But I had to show them anyway--I have had no luck with bleeding hearts in the past, so I'm thrilled to see even the tiniest of blooms this year.

These heucheras, the old-fashioned coral bells, were also tiny plants when I planted them last year. But they are quickly catching up to the fancier hybrids in the garden and showing off with the coral blossoms for which they're named.

One of many plants on my "wish list," this Brunnera "Jack Frost," was finally purchased a few weeks ago. It seems to have settled in nicely here and is still showing its delicate blue flowers.

But here's my new favorite for May--a columbine! Oh, for a better camera to capture this sweet little bloom! Three small columbines were added to the shade garden last year, and two of them resisted Tarzan's best efforts to transplant them all summer long, so I am really excited to see them bloom.
That is it for the blooms here at the Prairie, but more are almost ready and should be all decked out in time for June. Check out more Bloom Day posts from around the world at Carol's.

. . . . . . . .But wait! I had to take the dogs out before I finished this post, and look at what has appeared this morning . . .

. . . the first iris of the season has decided it is ready to bloom Now!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

ABC Wednesday: Q . . . and a leftover P

This Wednesday we have reached the letter Q, which puts me in quite a quandary. Q's are not very common in the garden. I can't very well use my Quercus Macrocarpa once again, since it was the focal point of the last round through the alphabet and also showed up for O two weeks ago.

I do have another Quercus, much younger than the Bur Oak, though I don't know what specific type of oak it is. Like the grand old man at the end of our lane, it is one of the last trees to leaf out; now that it has, the front yard is full of shade once again.

For some time, however, I had planned to use the only other Q word in my garden--a flowering quince. But not everything in the garden works out the way you expect it to each year.

These are the lovely coral red blossoms that appeared for the first time last May on the quince. In fact, until last year I didn't even know what this plant was. As far as I was concerned, it was a shaggy, unsightly shrub that I was ready to dig out, so I gave it an extreme haircut in early spring. Apparently, that was just what it needed, because it was covered with these blooms last year. After it flowered, I took the advice of several garden bloggers and cut it back to half its size, thinking this would produce even more blooms this year.

Unfortunately, what I've had this spring is the same unkempt, boring shrub of past years.

Instead of a mass of blooms, a few appeared but hidden by the outside branches. I can only conclude that I should have trimmed this shrub again early in the spring to encourage its flowering. Perhaps someone more familiar with this plant can suggest another reason why it didn't bloom as prolifically as last year.

So I am rather disappointed with my Q's this week, and I'm also wishing we could turn back the clock one week, because I would have had some great additions to my P post. On Saturday my friend Beckie and I went on a day-long plant shopping expedition, starting with the local Herb Society's sale and ending at a favorite garden center, Prairie Gardens.

We managed to test the volume of my new crossover vehicle to see how the volume of the back compared to the old minivan's. I think we could have squeezed in a few more plants.

But this isn't the week for P's . . .

. . . so I won't even tell you about the local Prairie Plant Preservation Society's sale or how some of these plants made their way home with us. All this will have to wait for another day.

In the meantime for more creative and quirky representations for the letter Q, you can visit Mrs. Nesbitt or the ABC anthology.

Friday, May 8, 2009

A Weed By Any Other Name...

. . . would smell as sweet?

Sign in the Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix Arizona

It's been a beautiful week here in central Illinois with mostly sunny skies and warm temperatures--the perfect time for working in the garden. I'd like to say that I've gotten a lot done, but the truth is, I haven't. There are so many projects I have planned this spring that I'm a bit overwhelmed. Each day I work as much as possible outside until my energy is exhausted, and by evening I'm ready for bed by 8 PM! Meanwhile, the weeds are growing like . . . well, weeds:)

We all recognize this weed, of course, but I have trouble recognizing many other weeds. I have been known to let an unfamiliar shoot of green grow for a couple of months, hoping it might turn into a flower I had forgotten I'd planted, only to have my mother tell me that it was some type of weed. My gardening philosophy has become "if I don't know what it is, and it's not bothering anything, I'm going to leave it alone."

Many people spend a small fortune eradicating dandelions so they can have a lush lawn. I pull the dandelions that have wandered into my flowerbeds or that have managed to take root in the landscaping rock around the house. But our yard is much too large to worry about killing the dandelions there. Besides, what would my grandchildren have to pick for a "bouquet" if we didn't have any dandelions?

The same is true for all the violets. I don't really want them in my flowerbeds, so I am constantly pulling them there. But they are so pretty and dainty that I leave them alone elsewhere; they're certainly preferable to other, much uglier weeds.

Here's one of the many weeds, though, that I can't identify. It is growing in what I call the "back forty" near the farm outbuildings. In mid-April it was topped with these delicate purple blooms. Does anyone know what it is?

Nearby is another unknown weed that likes to grow around the edges of concrete structures like the old cistern. Lately, I've noticed it creeping into the lawn as well. After seeing a post of Racquel's about ajuga, or bugleweed, I thought perhaps that is what this is. However, after googling bugleweed and finding some images, I don't think it is. Any i.d.'s on this one?

Blogging has given me a serious case of "plant envy." One of the many plants I saw on blogs last summer that I coveted was goldenrod. Imagine my surprise last fall when I discovered I had several plants already! Oh, I know this isn't the hybrid cultivar that gardeners plant, but rather the "weed" that grows freely around this area. These were all growing near an area with the fuel tanks; in fact, one was growing through a crack in the concrete! Please don't enlarge this photo--you're apt to see some junk in the background:) Actually, I've been planning a flowerbed back in this area with lots of natives and plants to attract butterflies, so I decided to leave the goldenrod alone. We'll see how it turns out.

One man's weed is another one's flower.--Me

Last month while visiting the Sonoran Desert Museum in Tucson, my husband called me over. "Rose, come look at this--can you believe this?!" He pointed to this sign for a planting of milkweeds, shaking his head in disbelief. To a farmer, a milkweed is just one of the many nemeses in a soybean field, something to be pulled or sprayed immediately before it spreads, choking out the beans. I tried to tell him that milkweeds are hosts to butterfly larvae, and that gardeners plant different varieties to attract the butterflies. He knew about the attraction to butterflies, but wasn't convinced they should be planted at all. I think I'll just tell him I'm planting asclepias in my garden; any more information might send his blood pressure soaring:)

A few weeks ago, Beckie stopped by, and I proudly showed off all my tulips that were in bloom then. I pointed out this weed growing near the house that I'd never seen before. Neither of us knew what it was, but both agreed it was pretty. We thought it might be some kind of wildflower . . .wrong!! While reading the weekly gardening column last Saturday by our local horticultural expert from the county Extension Office, I had an unpleasant revelation. This little "wildflower" is actually garlic mustard.

According to columnist Sandra Mason, garlic mustard "has been the scourge of forested areas for years but now has moved into gardens." It is native to Europe, but "here in the Midwest, it loves the partial shade of our deciduous forests and backyard gardens, where it can literally blanket the ground and choke out other plants in its path." Seeds germinate in early spring, sending up a 2 1/2 to 3-foot tall flower stalk with small, four-petaled white flowers.

Even Mason admitted the flowers are "pretty," but the danger of garlic mustard is its invasiveness and effects on other plant life:

  • "Because of its ability to dominate relatively undisturbed forests, garlic mustard has led to the decline of populations of native plants and the insects and animals that rely on them. Not only does garlic mustard shade out other plants, but it also produces chemicals that can keep other plants from growing around it. It's definitely a bully biennial in the forest or the garden." ("Waging war on the garlic mustard weed," The News-Gazette, 2 May 2009)

Mason recommends using weed-killers such as Roundup (glyphosate) to kill the weeds or hand-pulling them and then removing the plants from the site so that seeds do not germinate.

Looks like this little "pretty" has got to go! While some weeds may find a home here where this gardener is too tired to pull them, garlic mustard will not be one of them. Please pardon me if I get behind in blog reading the next few days--I have some weeding to do!

Many gardeners will agree that hand-weeding is not the terrible drudgery that it is often made out to be. Some people find in it a kind of soothing monotony. It leaves their minds free to develop the plot for their next novel or to perfect the brilliant repartee with which they should have encountered a relative's latest example of unreasonableness.
~Christopher Lloyd, The Well-Tempered Garden, 1973

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

May Book Review: The Last Place

I'm a mystery buff. But sometimes I get in a rut, gravitating to the same authors over and over again, waiting for their latest novels or looking for one of theirs that I haven't yet read. So it was a happy accident when I picked up a paperback mystery by a new--to me--author to read on the plane ride home from Phoenix last month and found I actually liked it.

Laura Lippman's The Last Place is one in a series about former Baltimore reporter turned private eye, Tess Monaghan. The opening pages hint at a sinister villain, but the first villain Tess actually encounters is an internet sex predator who has been chatting online with a family member of her friend Whitney. Tess plans to meet him in a bar, expose him, and scare him off, but Whitney has other plans. The two get carried away and leave Mickey Pechter with some seemingly minor physical reminders to stay from young girls.

Unfortunately for Tess, she winds up being charged with assault, and a judge sympathetic to the predator orders her to six months of psychiatric treatment for anger management. Tess is none too happy about the sentence and throws herself into work--an assignment from a non-profit organization to investigate five homicides that might have been the result of domestic violence. After investigating the first three homicides, Tess finds no connection to domestic violence in any of them and reports back to the organization, encouraging them to give up the futile search. When they accuse her of overcharging them and not finishing the job, Tess angrily goes back to research the last two deaths.

At this point, Tess stumbles upon some eerie coincidences that prompt her to dig deeper, whether or not they fit the non-profit's profile. She interviews Carl Dewitt, a Toll Facilities cop, who had discovered one of the victims' bodies and was so upset by it that he became obsessed with solving the case. He is eager to share his information with Tess and becomes her unlikely partner in investigation.

Soon Tess and Carl are in the midst of a puzzle, one with lots of missing pieces. Through persistent examination of every detail in the cases, Tess and Carl realize they are on the trail of a psychopath, and that it is only a matter of time before he kills again. The tension builds as the two get closer to this sinister villain and find themselves in danger as well.

Fans of Sue Grafton's Kinsey Milhone or Sara Paretsky's V.I. Warshawski will find Tess Monaghan equally likable. A strong, educated woman, Tess is perfectly capable of taking care of herself and shows some of the same smart-mouthed sarcasm of those two heroines, particularly in her sessions with the court-ordered psychiatrist. But Tess definitely has a softer side and carries a gun only out of necessity, not in any eagerness to use it.

Lippman doesn't use clever, but irrelevant teasers to entice the reader nor does she use blood and gore, as so many other crime novelists do. Instead, she develops the novel as a true mystery, building detail upon detail until the final solution. The characters of Tess and Carl Dewitt are well-developed, but secondary characters like Tess' boyfriend Crow are not so well-drawn. However, in fairness to the Edgar Award-winning Lippman, The Last Place is the seventh in her Tess Monaghan series; thus, readers familiar with her earlier books may already know these characters well. As with any series, references are made to past cases and lost loves--a good excuse for me to start reading her previous novels!

I picked up this novel at my favorite mystery bookstore in Phoenix, Arizona, The Poisoned Pen. I went there on our last day specifically to pick up a signed copy of Clive Cussler's latest work for my oldest son, who's a big fan, and happened to see a display of Lippman's novels. As it turned out, she was going to be at the bookstore that evening to sign copies of her latest book, Life Sentences. Although I wasn't able to go that evening, I was intrigued and picked up The Last Place instead. I also checked out The Poisoned Pen's calendar of events--for a small bookstore, they have a very impressive "guest" list. Autographed photos of famous mystery writers who have held book signings there hang from the ceiling. Clive Cussler himself had been there the week before--had I only known, I would have gotten a personalized autograph for my son! And the week following included a visit from Jonathan Kellerman, whose Alex Delaware's novels I enjoy, along with wife Faye, also a novelist.

The Poisoned Pen is tucked away on a quiet street not far from Old Town Scottsdale. If you are ever in the Phoenix area, do take the time to visit!

If you're interested in finding a good book to read, check out other reviews at Barrie Summy's--you'll find quite a variety!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

ABC Wednesday: Pretty in Purple

The perfect choice for this week's ABC Wednesday letter of P is . . .

A pot of purple pansies.

This is the time of year that every gardener looks forward to--getting outside and planting in their gardens. In my Midwest garden, zone 5, the last frost date is May 15, so I have had to restrain myself from buying too many annuals yet, because we could still have a killing frost. Pansies are one of the few annuals that actually prefer cool weather, so they are a great choice when the gardening "itch" hits in spring and you want to plant something for a little color. I took the advice of Carol at MayDreams Gardens several weeks ago and planted a couple pots of pansies to brighten up those cold, rainy days of spring.

While I have had to wait until this week to purchase annuals, like pink and purple petunias, I have been enjoying watching the perennials come up and begin to grow this past month. This early purple primrose is nearing the end of its blooming days, but there are many other plants waiting to take its place in the spotlight.

The heucheras, including "Plum Pudding" and "Palace Purple" survived the harsh winter nicely and are spreading out. Soon other perennials will be blooming, and by mid-June my garden will be awash in purple, with purple nepeta, purple salvias . . .

. . . the purple Russian sage . . .

. . . and my favorite of all, my signature plant, the purple coneflower, which, of course, isn't purple at all, but rather pink, another predominant color in my garden.

In case you're wondering why I am posting my ABC Wednesday post on Tuesday, it's because tomorrow I plan to join a group of fellow bloggers who post book reviews on the first Wednesday of the month. The book I plan to review is light reading, a novel about a private eye, The Last Place, which I purchased at my favorite book store in Phoenix, The Poisoned Pen.

Enough with the P's--the sun is shining, and it's a perfect day to be in the garden!

For more ABC Wednesday posts, you can visit the ABC Mr. Linky.