Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day at the Oregon Garden

Judging by how full the parking lot was, not to mention the garden tram, I think half the folks in the area had the same idea we had: if it's sunny on Mother's Day, let's drive up to the Oregon Garden!

Fortunately, there's a lot of garden to see, so once we were in, it wasn't crowded. Busy enough, but not crowded.

This early in the season, at Silverton's elevation, bloom time is a little behind the valley floor. It's been a cool, late spring to begin with, so while the tulips were done and the rhodies were out, irises were just barely getting started.

We said hello to the "pot people," a friendly terra-cotta couple in the children's garden;

The little garden train, a new feature, was up and running -- after the train was stolen a few weeks ago, found, and returned!

The green wall, a feature that's becoming the darling of architects trying to plan for sustainability, is looking bare in patches. Even the experienced gardeners at the Oregon Garden are still investigating ways to keep green walls green.

The monkey puzzle tree looks so wonderfully architectural, but having lived with one in the back yard, I'm not eager to plant one again. Those sharp, triangular leaves, long summer grass, and bare feet just aren't a good combination!

The day was marvelously sunny, just warm enough for shirt sleeves and for lying in the grass, looking up at the tulip tree:

Alas, the Cooley iris walk wasn't in bloom, but I found this gorgeous specimen just opening up:

What do you think? A cute little water feature like this in the back yard? Shouldn't take long, I think... given an unlimited budget and a large crew of burly men...

Rhodies were in bloom, including this striking specimen in pink and yellow:

The home demo garden featured this living fence of espalier apples. Amazingly, there were no wire supports for the branches. Must figure out how they did that because I want an apple fence in my garden:

This utility shed has a green roof, which is hard to see with the sun behind it...
...but easier to see from the lawn above, on the other side. Now there's some "green architecture" that works. My son is at Portland State, where several of the buildings have green roofs. Scientists studying them have found various insect fauna starting to move in, the beginnings of a whole rooftop ecosystem.

We had lots more to do on Mother's Day, including a trip to the land of Yarnia -- the rest of the story is over on my knitting blog: Of Gardens, Yarn, and Bacon: A Mother's Day Tale.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

As though we needed another reason to eat chocolate...

Now there's a study out of Johns Hopkins suggesting that compounds in dark chocolate may help protect the brain from stroke injury.

I'm looking forward to future prescriptions for Sees, Godiva, Dagoba...

Sunday, May 02, 2010

And we've got to get ourselves back to the garrrrdeeennn...

It's been a long and busy winter and early spring, what with teaching and being out of town for conferences, running here and running there... I didn't even get time to grow my own starts this year, alas.

But here we are in May, past the last average frost date by two weeks, it's a sunny weekend, so dare we start some summer planting?

We dare!

This morning started with some plant shopping, yielding a nice little haul of annual flowers and some veggies. I even found Brandywine and Cherokee Purple tomato starts at the garden center. Add a gallon of stinky fish fertilizer, that magical stuff, and we're off.

Yeah, dinky little starts tucked into their garden beds don't make for impressive photographs, do they? But they will once summer gets going.

Since "last average frost date" is just an average and isn't always to be trusted anyway, I tucked the tomatoes, squash, and melons in under tomato cozies and cat litter jugs with the bottoms cut out. Lettuce, chard, and spinach should be just fine.

Around the garden, the Irix tenax is in bloom:

As are these sky-blue dwarf iris:

Columbine have been popping up everywhere in fresh new colors each year:

Salmon pink and deep burgundy together -- stunning!

And doubly stunning when seen from below, looking up at the overhanging pine and the blue sky:

It's beginning to look a lot like suuummmerrr!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Kitty Woes

(Cross-posted with my knitting blog)

This is Mr. Licorice, sometimes known as Mr. Fangs and Claws:

He came to us as a half-grown abandoned kitten that wandered into a co-worker's garage. Out of all our feline herd, Licorice is the only one who goes outdoors on his own. Even though he's neutered, he acts like an intact tom: aggressive, territorial, foul tempered when he's indoors; aggressive, territorial, and happy to be petted and adored when he's outdoors. Prozac failed to curb his behavior, and while tempting, I can't keep him under sedation all the time. So we had him microchipped, put a reflective collar on him, cross our fingers and hope for the best, knowing that outdoor cats are exposed to all sorts of risks.

Well, Licorice must have run head-on into one of those risks, because Monday evening he came in with an open sore on his chest that on inspection looked like an abscess that had opened up. He seemed chipper enough and had a good appetite, but the next morning it was still open and oozing and had a foul odor, so I confined him to the sick kitty crate for observation and called the vet. Most likely he'd gotten into a fight with another cat, and since the wound was on his chest, he was not the one who backed down! Yeah, that's our Mr. Fangs and Claws.

Wednesday morning (after a dose of sedative so getting him in the kitty carrier wasn't quite as bad as wrestling a cactus) he went into the vet's office. By then he'd developed a fever and the wound was still draining. When the vet got him under anesthesia and got the abscess open, it was pretty bad. It had gone deep, the fluid inside was thick and smelly, and there was a patch of skin that had gone necrotic. If we'd tried to treat this at home, he wouldn't have lasted long.

So Licorice came home that evening and went straight back into the sick kitty crate. He was pretty agitated and loopy coming off the anesthetic, so I covered the crate with blankets, trying to calm him down. The next morning he was very quiet and subdued, probably hurting from the surgery. His appetite was good, though.

And this morning he's a little brighter and demanding to be let out of his crate (sorry, it's kind of a nasty view of the drains in his incision):

He's eating well and using the litter box, so recovery looks good, but he's not a happy kitty. Hates the plastic cone. Hates being confined. Hates it when the other cats come and stare at him.

Poor, sad kitty:

That was a $600 hit to our bank account, and we were already tapped out helping my mother-in-law buy heating fuel. I think we've got just enough left for groceries until payday, but we're going to have to be reeeeal careful.