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mixed bouquet

Last week, I didn’t plan on getting much work done, what with it being the last week of school for the kids. Sure enough, I did lunch with my daughter’s class, plus the annual outing with the kids for ice cream. Also did a trip to a library in a neighboring town, plus ran through the car wash because the girl really loves that.

And, of course, different flowers are blooming. Last week marked the end of the peonies for this year, but the rose is blooming, as are the red hot pokers, and the Monarda (bee balm) will be starting soon. Clematis is budding, too. Not expecting anything from the crape myrtles until next month, though. So what do we do with this bounty of blossoms? Well, the girl wanted to take flowers in to her teacher. Hence, the bouquet.

Now we’re back to remembering how to deal with Mom wanting to work with the kids at home. We’ll get it straightened out by the end of the week, I’m sure. Meanwhile, I’m enjoying their enthusiasm.

What are you grateful for this week?

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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Today’s post is both a bit of gratitude, and a bit of “What’s actually going on?”

The branches sagging to the ground.

The branches sagging to the ground.

I’ve posted pictures before of the apple tree in back, weighted down with apple blossoms. We’ve picked apples from it once or twice, but we don’t usually get most of them — we have all kinds of wildlife, from blue jays and robins to deer. So when I really looked at the tree last week and saw how weighed down it was by apples, I was quite surprised.

However, never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I took the kids out to pick apples this weekend. We got several quarts of apples, and the tree still looks untouched.

Look at how many there are!

Look at how many there are!

What we've picked so far

What we’ve picked so far

Sliced apple

Sliced apple

I started off with applesauce. I’ll do apple butter as well, maybe a couple of apple pies (although the girl doesn’t like them), and some apple compost jelly (made with the peels and cores)… the possibilities are almost endless.

But I do wonder why I haven’t seen the deer around at all, much less why they haven’t lightened the tree as they usually do.

Some of what's still left on the tree

Some of what’s still left on the tree

What are you grateful for this week?

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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Although there are ears on the corn plants, the kernels are all underdeveloped. The lettuce has been out there so long that even what’s not flowering is slightly bitter (rather pretty, though). The pumpkin, though — this is my success for the year. Just feast your eyes on this:
pumpkin growing orange

Isn’t that looking lovely?

I’m also (just a bit) grateful that school starts two weeks from today.

What are you grateful for today?

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

Garden pics

Jun. 9th, 2015 05:03 pm
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Here are the pictures I promised yesterday.

First, the blueberry plants on our deck. They look to be establishing themselves well. We won’t get any berries this year, of course, but next year should be delightful.
blueberry bushes in pots

The straw bales with the seedlings (before the tomato plants were added):
corn and other seedlings in straw

seedlings plus empty straw bale

Now with tomato plants in place of that empty bale above.
straw bales from above

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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seed traysBit late in the spring, perhaps, but this weekend my daughter and I started seeds in seed trays — vegetables, flowers, a couple of herbs. Figure we’ll get them transplanted the first or second week of May (assuming they haven’t all died from wilt before that).

She said she wanted a garden of her own this year. I love growing things, even if I haven’t had a lot of success with vegetables here in Pennsylvania, so I’m happy to accommodate her wishes. I even have time to prep space to transplant to.

Not raised beds, not this year. However, I believe I still have time to give hay bale gardening a shot — basically, you prep planting spots on the bales with fertilizer, allowing some time for the hay to break down and make a better planting medium. At the end of the growing season, what remains of the bale is compost, usable to prep beds for winter and next year.

That’s the theory, anyway. We’ll see how it works in practice.

The next step, of course, is to get the hay bales.

So today I’m grateful for time with my daughter, shared interests, and the thought of fresh vegetables and flowers to come. What are you grateful for this week?

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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Crape myrtles bloom much later here than elsewhere — ours are just coming into their own now. (Photos after cut)Read the rest of this entry  )

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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Remember that apple tree full of gorgeous blossoms, the branches bending down under their weight? Yeah, sadly, the fruit’s not nearly as impressive. Fewer apples than we had last year, even, and the ones I have any hope of reaching are tiny things. Read the rest of this entry  )

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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Yes, we’re running about a month behind usual, but we do have spring flowers in the yard at last. Click through to see them all, as well as a couple pictures of bushes. Read the rest of this entry  )

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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My head is suffering from all the pollen in the air, and the brief showers we’ve gotten don’t seem to be removing any of the offending particles, but the neighborhood is pretty to look at. I took some photos in the yard this morning, and now I’m sharing them with you. Read the rest of this entry  )

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.


Mar. 9th, 2013 02:25 pm
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Our first croci of the year. Don’t they look cheerful?


Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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Did I tell you I have a new flash story coming out? “The Call” will be the e-mailed story for Daily Science Fiction on Monday, May 14. If you’re not signed up to get their e-mailed stories, this is a good time to do it. Or you can wait a week, and they’ll have it posted on their site.

Spells & Swashbucklers, an anthology of pirates and magic from Dragon Moon Press, has my short story, “Maskèd Panama.” The official launch party will be over Memorial Day weekend at Balticon, but it’s available for purchase now (paperback at Amazon) (Kindle).

I did pick a winner for the Live and Let Fly giveaway contest and e-mailed to find out what format of e-book was preferred. Nutschell, if you’re reading this, check your e-mail. If I don’t have a response by next week, I’ll pick another winner.

It’s been a month since I’ve done a post on genres, and I do intend to get back to them. Life’s just been hectic — to keep those up while doing the A to Z posts would have required a lot more pre-planning (which I’m noting for next year). I will start those again next Friday. I’ve actually been pleased to see people find my blog in search engines by looking for things like the definition of urban fantasy or what makes cozy mysteries different from hard-boiled ones. Clearly, these posts are filling a need.

The A to Z challenge was a lot of fun, and the hosts of the challenge encouraged everyone to do a reflections post. They said, “You can put up your Reflections post anytime between now and Saturday May 12th.” Mine will go up tomorrow. If you’re interested in my thoughts, what I liked, what I’d do differently, come check it out. Otherwise, feel free to go enjoy the weekend. It’s supposed to warm up about 10 degrees here and be sunny (which still leaves it cooler than California and Nevada — springlike weather here generally is for the most part in the 60s and 70s). I may even get outside to plant the flowers I bought from the fundraiser at my daughter’s daycare (begonia, portulaca, impatiens, and geranium).

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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I already posted pics of my first flowers of the year, I know. Yesterday was such a lovely, sunny spring day, however, (as opposed to the current cool and overcast) that I had to take more pictures to share.

First up, a hellebore — pretty little thing, isn’t it? Well, not little like croci — it’s a couple of inches across the bloom.

Hellebore flower

Hellebore flower and buds; should be really pretty next week when the other buds open.

You might remember that we had a heavy storm at the end of October. Unlike many people, we didn’t wind up with trees split down the middle or huge branches littering our yard. We did have one split up in the tree, but as you can see from the picture below, that branch isn’t dead yet.
Maple in bloom

Maple tree is blooming now. Note the cracked branch, bent downward from the rest.

Also not dead, but not from a lack of trying on the part of the neighborhood deer, is my rhododendron. With a mild winter, they have to have had lots of things to choose from to eat. Why pick on my bush?
Chewed up rhododendron

Who's been eating my leaves? The neighborhood deer, of course!

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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Just thought I’d drop a note in to say I’m doing better this week. Taking most of last week to recover really was a good move. I’ve been running several times, and I’m up to being able to run 30 minutes (not necessarily fast, but that’s okay) at a time. Proofreading has been my focus this week, with some progress made on the book for Moongypsy. I could tell my burnout was fading when I started getting ideas for new stories, and I have one idea for a short story that I’ll probably get written next week.

My big revelation this week has been that everything takes time. It’s something I know and am okay with when gardening — I planted a rhododendron six years ago that finally bloomed this year, and of my two clematis, this is the first year the maroon one has bloomed. (The purple one has been blooming for three years now.) Peonies also take a few years between first planting and blooming, but then they produce profusely every year.

Yet, even though I know I’m getting into better shape, sometimes I get depressed when I look in the mirror and see how far I still have to go. Then there’s writing — from idea to completed project can take seemingly forever.

So it’s good that I can look out at my garden and see that even things that take years to yield results are worth it.

maroon clematis

First bloom, after five years.

Clematis flower, partially opened

A regular showpiece in the garden.

white rhododendron blossoms

Six years' wait

Pale pink peony

Steady performer, every year.

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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If you’ve been reading for a while, you might remember last fall when I said, “You can never have too many daffodils.” Well, right around then I planted a couple hundred bulbs in a single bed. Below is a picture of what they looked like last week.

daffodils again

A couple hundred still isn't too many.

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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White daffodils and red dicentra

Narcissi and bleeding hearts

It’s April, which means everything is in bloom. Magnolias scatter their petals in the streets. Dogwoods are opening, their buds still looking dry and brittle. Tulips, hyacinths, and daffodils flourish in beds and around mailboxes. My new hellebores have their first blooms, and the bleeding hearts are stretching out their limbs.

First hellebore

It also means I have to clean up the dead peony stalks I didn’t deal with last fall, deadhead the daffodils as they finish blooming, remove the grass from the flower beds, and put new mulch on top of the old to nourish the soil.

New growth on peony

I also regularly support the Arbor Foundation, and I just got a shipment of ten random saplings (maple, oak, spruce, dogwood, redbud) that needed to be planted around the yard. Thus, new holes dug, edgers placed around the saplings to protect them from the lawnmower, that sort of thing. (Meant to have a pic of the edgers and the saplings to put here, but I decided to take my daughter to the park yesterday instead.)

The lovely thing about April? Even with a warm spell, it’s pleasant enough to do the work, and there’s plenty of rain to keep everything greening nicely.

What about you? Any new or old projects in your yard this month?

As always, thanks for stopping by and reading!


Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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Violets in the grass

Violets in the grass

Volunteers, in this case, referring to plants that grow somewhere without being planted there. As, for example, the dogwood sapling in our front flower bed that I need to decide whether to transplant or leave where it is. It can — and probably should — stay where it is until fall, as the best time to transplant is when there are no leaves on the tree. However, we’ve been talking about redoing that bed since we moved in, and it won’t survive that.
Dogwood volunteer in the flower bed

Volunteer dogwood

Mary Engelbreit may say to “Bloom where you’re planted,” but there are times when to really thrive, something needs to be moved. I think this is one such case. Meanwhile, however, it grows and becomes stronger. That’s all that I can ask.

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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Daffodils are my favorite flower. The second poem I ever wrote was about daffodils (the first was called “Clouds, hurl your spears,” and doesn’t bear thinking about), and although it’s not something I’m going to share here, I still remember every word of it.

single daffodil

Cheery, isn't it?

I loved the flowers we had at our wedding, but I did have some moments of sadness because it was too late in the year to include daffodils.

Now my mantra when gardening is “You can never have too many daffodils,” and I plant beds full of hundreds of bulbs. I love this time of year, as they start to bloom in waves across the yard.

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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Well, happier for some of us than others, I suppose. Woke up this morning to snow on the ground and wintry mix falling from the sky. Also, the toddler brought home a cold from daycare, so now both her brother and I are coughing, too.

On the plus side: spring bulbs, blooming!

purple croci

Spring has sprung!

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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It was over 70 degrees on Friday, over 60 yesterday. It doesn't matter to me that the temperatures are dropping back to the 40s -- I want to garden. It should matter; that means more frost, which isn't exactly recommended for most plants. But I ache to get soil under my fingers and see the resultant color this summer from my hard work now. I'd be outside planting now if it hadn't been pouring rain this morning. Don't want to compact the soil.

I have, on occasion, planned gardens. Years back, I charted out an elaborate 10 x 10 herbal knot garden. It was going to take years to grow up to its full definition, and we moved before it got to that point. For all I know, it's been converted to lawn by now. But I had the plan, and I could see in my head what it would look like when it was mature. (And meanwhile, we got to enjoy its bounty in our kitchen.)

More often, though, I just go with that image in my head of what's going to happen, and I start planting. And the image is subject to change. I plant my flowers and vines and shrubs in a more free-spirited frame of mind -- throw in whatever captures my fancy, many of them, (catch phrase: "You can never have too many daffodils!"), closely packed, and see what happens. Across the brick walkway (laid by my husband) from the knot garden was a raised garden with daffodils, tulips, freesias, crocuses, irises, hyacinths, dahlias, gladiolus, cannas, chrysanthemums, and more. I tried planting Mazus reptans as a ground cover, but it didn't get enough water in the months after planting. But the bed itself flourished.

I tend to prefer bulbs that can be planted and forgotten about (cannas and glads count in California, but not in Pennsylvania, more's the pity) and perennials. I like my work to grow from year to year, rather than having to start over again as one must with annuals, unless they self-sow. And if the work not only grows but also provides framework for the garden -- bonus!

I can have a flower garden that's just a flower garden -- no shrubs, no vines, not a rose or a statue to be seen. But if you look at my yard, that flower bed wouldn't appear in a vacuum. We have maple and dogwood, apple trees and blue spruce, holly and azalea . . . oh, and a house right smack dab in the yard, which slopes from east to west and north to south, down to a gentle swale that eventually runs off to join a creek. So there's structure there, whether I want it or not. My challenge is to work both with and against what's already there to create my vision for the yard -- playing the entire time.

And I do mean playing. Yesterday, I planted 2 clematis, 5 peonies, and 30 peacock orchids. I also started seeds soaking for sweet peas, moonflowers, and morning glories. And then there's all the stuff I'm not going to get planted until the middle of the week, or maybe even next week, what with the danger of frost and all -- lily of the valley, bleeding hearts, and ferns for the shady spot between the house and the front sidewalk; lilies and glads to plant on the east side of the house; and the seeds, columbine, blanket flower (Gaillardia), baby's breath, butterfly weed (Asclepias), snapdragon, bee balm (Monarda), phlox, delphinium, and hollyhock.

It'll be a jumble, sort of like my mind. Lots of color, with some direction to it, something going on everywhere, and a big picture only emerging over time.

Anyone else seeing parallels with my writing style? Yeah. I read everything that looks interesting, pick up shiny bits here and there, and throw them into the ground to either compost or grow. Some ideas may not be productive for years. (Both clematis and peonies tend to take three years from first planting until one sees blooms.) Some grow better for pruning, and others die for no apparent reason. Ever had an idea that died because you didn't neglect it? Because you watered it and fed it and wanted it to be spectacular right then?

So right now, I work at some things for how my garden will look this year -- moonflowers and morning glories to climb up and wreath our deck in flowers -- and plan for taking over at least half the front yard from lawn over the next few years. And I work on short stories and judge whether some of my novel-length ideas may be ready to blossom and plant new trees and vines in my mind to give structure to what is to come.

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