Bully for the bullies

I'm hoping this photo shows a bully hosta next to a sedum in a pot.   Photos are a real problem.'  

I'm looking at my garden in a new way as I tidy up for fall. There's definitely some changes to be made. When we moved here I thought the garden was small enough that weeds  couldn't get ahead of me.  But during the  summer when it was in the 90s, I just couldn't work outside and the weeds did, indeed, get  well ahead of me. 

So I have some areas I'm going to have to  replant with bullies. Unlike  plants that play well with others, bullies are very dense  and keep weeds at bay.  As a rule, they have sturdy foliage and growth habits but aren't invasive.  Sometimes bullies are just the right plant for the right spot.
Some good bully plants I have are pulmonaria, hosta, achillea, daylilies, hellebores, iris, and Joe pye weed.    

 Last spring, I experimented with sedum  cuttings in old pots.  Sedums in pots are drought tolerant, easily moved about, need no deadheading, and have great fall color.  It has worked so well that I am going to do it  again next year.  It's always great when an idea works out.



Susie Wolf

I recently learned of  Susie Wolf's passing in August.  
Susie and I had so many wonderful trips and visits. That will always be so special to me. I loved it when she came to visit me in Spokane. We could be  up to our armpits in fabrics and lace, creating wonderful things.  And when I went To LA to visit her  we went to all the flea markets.  We'd be up to our armpits in fabrics and lace.
We met on Crazy Quilti International on Facebook shortly after her husband  passed and she needed a friend.  I was glad to step up to the plate.    


Duck Ragout on Gnocchi


I love having friends over for a meal.  In earlier days we would do it once or twice a week.  I could whip up a 4-course meal in no time. Now it happens once or twice a month, and it takes a lot of careful planning and two days to cook. Even still, there is always  a disaster or two.

We recently had friends for dinner, and I set a pretty table with my Bobby Flay tablecloth.
Salmon with Capers Spread
Leeks and Prosciutto Tarts
Tiny sweet green Grapes
Duck Ragout on Gnocchi
Fresh Fig and Pear Salad
Assorted Cheeses
Peach Pie

All went well except I burned the first batch of tart shells and had to do them over.   My dear friend made me lovely soft and  pillowy gnocchi.  She has often tried to teach me, but mine are a soggy, gluey mess.  Every so often she brings me a large bag of her  frozen handmade gnocchi.

We love duck, and it's such a bargain. It's usually just around $3 a pound on sale.  I can get  3 different  meals out of the duck.  One meal with the breast, one meal with the legs, and another meal with the duck confit over pasta, polenta or crepes.  Besides, it's something different to cook. 

I seldom find many nice tablecloths or napkins at the thrift stores anymore.  I think people have stopped using cloth napkins. Setting the table I I can do.  Itt's the whole meal planning that I have to rethink.....     


"Not at all is not an option."


My dad wanted a son. 
 Unfortunately, I was what showed up.  After he was divorced from my mother, I visited him one weekend a month.  
He never quite knew what to do with a girl.

If the weather was nice, he took me fishing.  I would show up with a sketch pad, colored pencils, paper dolls, something to stitch, and  a couple of books. He used to tease me about trying to sink the boat with all the stuff. 

I hated  fishing.  The worst possible thing that could happen  was I would actually catch a fish, as I would have to clean it.

If the weather was cold or rainy, he took me into his workshop and let me play with power tools. This was my very favorite.  He was a great craftsman and would be busy working on a project.  There were always pieces of wood I could put together.  I loved the smell of the sawdust and the sound of the power tools. It was always a great day.  I can close my eyes and see it now.

On the wall of his shop was an adage, "Be the task great or small,do it well or not at all."  He repeated that often to me. When I was grown, I found a  cross stitch sampler with the same adage.  I moved it with me everywhere. It still has pride of place in my living room.  It was my mantra all my life.  

But here I am in my 80s and I realize it was dreadfully wrong.
Doing something well is not the important thing and "Not at all" is not an option.  

With impaired vision, I find myself unable to do anything well.   So the most important thing is just doing it    as well as I can. 

If I could do that sampler over, that is how I would stitch it.  I finish this post with this thought:  Remember 
"Not at all is not an option."  


Taming the junipers


When you are first landscaping, the little junipers in gallon pots look so neat and tidy.  Nowhere on the label does it tell you this little shrub can get 15 feet tall and 20 feet wide.  Drive through any neighborhood, and you will see junipers that  are trying to consume the houses.  

When we moved into this house, there were two grossly overgrown junipers that needed to be removed or tamed.  Being inspired by the  bonsai-looking junipers in Japanese gardens, I grabbed a saw and began.  

The first one I tackled was by the steps. It was so huge that it was growing not only into the steps but into the skirting on the house.  It was also encroaching over the walk.  It was about 4 feet square, 4 feet tall, and shaped like a big burn.  I started at the bottom, removing all the small branches first so I could feel the structure.  Then I gradually worked my way up.    As I was feeling which branches to cut, the vision  in my head was a crooked path. 

I know I made some wrong cuts, but this was a project where I had nothing to lose.  I figured if it didn't work out, I could always just cut it down. 
It took about 3 cutting sessions before I got to the point that I was happy. It is underplanted with daffodils and brunnera.

I was so happy with the result, I wanted to tackle the second, even bigger juniper.  It was  twice the size of the first one. And it was growing against the house causing mold on the siding.  I wanted the finished result to be about 5 feet tall.  Again, I trimmed away all the small branches up from the bottom and tried to make a crooked path with the  larger branches left.  It took three cutting sessions. 

I am even happier with this one. I will gradually let the top part  get fuller and will keep trimming up from the bottom until it reaches the desired height.  It is underplanted with daffodils and dwarf iris.  Now both junipers are tamed and just need trimming in the spring and fall. 

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