Monday, May 28, 2012

Giveaway Winner!

I'm a day late (sorry, Sew, Mama, Sew!), but there's no way I'd forget to pick a winner for my giveaway. My giveaway post had 141 comments that were not by me, so I picked a random number between 1 and 141:

Comment #58 turned out to be this one (I counted three times to be sure; there has to be an easier way!):

Thank you to Amy and everyone else who took the time to comment on my post. You had such kind things to say and it was fun seeing what flowers everyone looks forward to seeing each year. Some of you admitted to not caring for flowers, which is totally fine. I didn't hold it against anyone and I'm sure the random number generator didn't either ;)

Sorry again for the lateness of my post, but we were out of town this weekend and stayed a day longer than I thought we would. Making this post on my phone seemed like a feat beyond the limits of my patience, so I waited until we got back. I was amazed to see how much some of my plants grew while we were away; it seems like some grew at least six inches. I can't wait to see how much they grow the next time we get a good, long rain (no idea when that's happening).

Thank you *again* to everyone who took the time to visit and post; I hope those of you who didn't win had better luck elsewhere! I entered a bunch of giveaways and it doesn't look like I was lucky this time around either, but it was still fun to visit and to feel the thrill of maybe possibly winning something cool. Now I face the grind of building inventory to sell at my very first craft fair June 8 and 9. Come see me in Albion, NY at the first annual Pullman Memorial Alternative Craft Fair! But don't talk to me before then because I will be flipping my lid the entire next week and a half ;)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Flower Friday

**Before I get on with the flowers, I want to remind everyone that I am doing a giveaway this week, and it ends today at 8pm EDT. You can find that post here.**

It's Flower Friday on a Friday: the most elusive of days! There are so many things blooming or about to bloom around my house and I did not want those flowers to pass by without taking pictures. So here we go:

Delphinium are tall, staked and ready to roll 

Lavender is ready to go, too. We have about 20 plants and they smell awesome. 

These are beautiful little hot pink dianthus flowers 

Dianthus from afar. This stuff grows like crazy!

This is one of only two clematis blooms. I don't know what I've done to offend it. 

 Blackberry blossoms! Can't wait to eat those berries.

 A columbine flower. I have five plants blooming right now; they are so delicate and intricate.

 A chive flower. I have no idea what to do with a chive plant.

A few other plants are getting ready to flower soon, too, like one of my peony bushes, a coreopsis and some yarrow. And when I say some yarrow, I mean SO MUCH YARROW. I started with a shovelful I got from my mother-in-law's friend two years ago and now that I've already split that bunch into several pieces and seen each little bit spread like a weed I see why she wanted to give some away. This stuff is going to be a challenge.

I am feeling a little overwhelmed right now because I have at least a yard and a half of dirt sitting in my driveway waiting for me to dig it into some new perennial beds *and* I signed myself up for a craft fair June 8 and 9 despite the fact that I do not have a huge inventory of things to sell. I don't know how I am going to find the time to embroider, sew, and dig all the things that need embroidering, sewing, and digging in the next few weeks. I should probably start by backing away from the computer, so here I go. I will be back on Sunday to reveal the winner of my giveaway. Good luck to everyone and have a great weekend!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Giveaway Day!

Giveaway Day/Week at Sew, Mama, Sew! is here! And it's here, too! In case you didn't know, Sew, Mama, Sew! is a super cool blog/online fabric store that is a fabulous resource for anyone who is learning how to sew or wants to expand their sewing skills. I've learned so many things from their tutorials, which are much easier to follow than a regular sewing pattern because they include lots of pictures to help you figure out what you're doing.

That said, if you're here looking at my giveaway, then you probably know how awesome Sew, Mama, Sew! is and you probably don't know anything about me and my own blog. So welcome! My name is Nicole and I like to sew, do hand embroidery, and garden. I live in Buffalo, NY, and I have two kids, two cats, a husband, and an Etsy shop where I sell my hand embroidered accessories.

On to the giveaway! I'm offering up any one of the coin purses in my shop. You can find them here, but here is an example of one:

To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment on this post telling me what flowers you most look forward to seeing in the spring/summer (I am looking forward to seeing my big white puffy hydrangea bloom). Also, please leave your email address so I can contact you if you win.

The giveaway will be open until May 25, 8pm EDT, at which time I will close comments on this post. I will pick a random winner using and publish the results by May 27. International entries are welcome.

Good luck! I look forward to hearing from you :) For more giveaway fun, head back over to Sew, Mama, Sew! and enter your heart out!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Flower Thursday

I've been taking pictures of my flowers the last few weeks meaning to post them here on Fridays and call it Flower Friday. Wouldn't that be cute? Except it NEVER HAPPENS. When I want to post, it's not Friday, so I wait and then Friday comes and I'm like, pff it's Friday, forget that. So, welcome to Flower Thursday. My tulips have been in bloom for the past few weeks. They have been beautiful:

These came from some bulbs I planted last fall: mini tulips!

Sadly a few of the tulips that bloomed first are starting to get raggedy petals, so they are nearing the end of their run for this year, but I have definitely gotten my enjoyment from them. And now that I know that, in addition to letting their leaves stay untouched until they start to die, I should not water them throughout the summer, hopefully I will get even better production next year.

I have a few other plants that are flowering already: vinca vine and these little guys we picked up last year, a spring-flowering daisy called "Little Leo":

In the "producing buds" camp I have columbines and my little azalea. Columbines make such pretty flowers and all of mine look very robust so far.

I've been doing little bits of work around my flower beds the last few weeks, but not a ton because the weather has turned cooler and wetter. I pruned my big arborvitaes and cut the little one way back to get more sun and air to my peonies. These peonies were here when we moved in and they didn't flower until I did my first drastic pruning of the arborvitaes. But the past two years they've gotten powdery mildew and started to become less productive, so I thought they could use a little more room.

Oh, and baby plants. I have them. A florist/nursery nearby runs a perennial sale each Spring where you can get a 4-pack of perennial seedlings for $1.50. They have a large variety of plants available and it is a crazy madhouse of plant people every year. This year I had to park on a side street nearby and almost got into a collision with another crazy minivan-driving gardener while trying to find a spot. I picked up forget-me-nots, sweet peas, Irish moss, primrose and something else I can't remember. I'm excited to plant them, along with the ferns and peonies I got from my awesome friend Yvonne, but first I need some DIRT. My husband and I are considering getting our very own pile of dirt this year. He has serious dirt envy whenever we sees piles sitting in other people's driveways, and so do I if I'm honest with myself. I can never get enough compost or or sand. So here's hoping that we can get that sorted out because I am ready to work!

Until the next Flower Friday Random Day of the Week, I bid you happy gardening or Spring enjoyment or even happy sewing/embroidering because I think that was supposed to be a subject on this blog, too, so we can't forget about that.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Garden Update

Yes, it's the first week of April and my tulips are just about ready to open up. I'm not complaining; I'm always proud and grateful when they make it this far without being frozen or beheaded by rodents. I have counted almost 20 buds/blooms in my small planting and 35 in my larger set, though that bunch is lagging a bit behind (aka slightly less ahead of schedule).

I can think of only a few perennials around my flower beds that have not come up yet, and that may just be because they're not going to come up at all. That's the sad bit about perennial gardens: when a plant just doesn't come back. I almost feel like I offended it somehow. Sorry, dudes :(

The weeds will surely always come back, however. These past few days I've spent some time hoeing out dandelions, other weeds and rogue bits of grass. While I've been out there, I've had a few lost-in-the-garden moments when I decide I really need to start working on some problem I'd never really paid much attention to or even realized existed before. Tuesday it was rearranging a few stones on the patio and yesterday it was completely tearing out the pachysandra behind our grill.

I always forget before pictures, but imagine this entire space filled with horrible pachysandra

When we first moved into this house five and a half years ago, we had lots of pachysandra in the backyard. Pachysandra is a pretty good ground cover option if you want something you'll never get rid of. It has these roots that are just a huge pain to get out of the ground and then if you leave bits of it in the soil, it will start growing back. I hate this plant. Sometime during our first summer here I tore most of ours out in an agonizing process that involved a garden claw *and* weasel. Neither was anywhere close to the right tool for the job, but I did it. A patch remained in the bed next to our back patio but I left it alone because it was out of sight behind our grill and I couldn't bear the thought of dealing with it. Until yesterday.

Boo. Ya.

It turns out pachysandra is much easier to tear out in early spring because the sun isn't beating down upon you as you toil fruitlessly and because the soil is wet, so your toiling is actually quite fruitful, as the roots of the plant are much easier to dislodge. Also, it is probably a good idea to not use a garden tool that you heard about on TV. I had much more success with my handheld hoe, seen in the lower right corner of the picture below.

This is me not making a hoe joke

I also decided to pull out the stone border at the edge of the bed because the whole thing was just a mess. I managed to dig some ruts for the stones to go back into, rearrange them and pour some extra dirt in there before it was time to go back inside.

And I did it all without getting my pants dirty. *smug*

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

It's the real deal

My last post was at the end of February and I believe I went on and on about the warm winter and strange early spring. It is now the real first day of spring and can you believe it's supposed to be 76 degrees today? In Buffalo, in March? I believe it because for the last four days it has already felt like legit summer. Am I still wringing my hands about pests and bees and buds? Maybe I am, just a little, in the grumpy part of my brain, but I have to admit that I am now much too enthralled by my daily dirt inspections to worry about what this all means.

On a recent dirt walk I took pictures of some of the plants that have decided to show up early in my flower beds. Let's take a look:

This crocus is not actually super early, but it is still pretty

 The beginnings of a garden mum

One of my hyacinths

Sedum, I think?

The vinca is already flowering!

And that was just four days ago. On one of yesterday's walks around the house I discovered that my delphinium were growing rapidly--one was already six inches tall--and that my clematis was starting to come back. The forsythia is flowering. Just about every plant in my perennial beds has at least started to peek through the soil. Looking back at previous years' garden pictures, I see that most of these plants are already at the point they'd usually be two weeks to a month from now. It doesn't look like we're going to dip into super cold weather before the month is over, so I am not too worried for my little plant guys. I've allowed myself to admit that it's dirt time and I am very excited!

Now, I won't be planting anything tender until the usual last frost date; let's not get too crazy. But I don't see any harm in raking the leaves out of my garden beds and doing other cleanup tasks like pulling weeds (in March!). On Sunday we bought a little pussy willow tree to plant along our back fence, but I think I'll hold off on planting him until the soil back there de-soggifies a bit.

Is it safe to get excited? Will I complain when the temperatures dip down to the average for this time of year? Will the rabbits and squirrels eat my tulips? I'll discover the answers to these questions soon enough, but for now I will be enjoying the sun, the warmth and all the green. Happy equinox!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Spring Ahead

February is my least favorite month. It's an entire month of winter, and even though it's the last one, I find it hard to feel anticipation for spring until it's done. March is barely better, but it is home to both my birthday and the first day of spring, so it feels a little brighter and happier.

But this winter has been strange; I think we've shoveled our driveway only twice. We've had lots of unseasonably warm days. (I'm talking 40s, though. Buffalo hasn't gone tropical. Yet.) It feels like winter never really arrived and now it's close to ending. I looked at the calendar yesterday and realized we're only two weeks away from the beginning of Daylight Savings Time. Spring is coming soon!

I was outside cleaning my car this afternoon and I felt the first urge to look at my dirt. When spring arrives, it's my favorite activity. I walk around the perimeter of my house, examining the dirt for green shoots. I've spent the last few years planting bulbs and perennials, so now I live for those weeks when you see new plants arriving every day. I figured I wouldn't see much today; it may have been a warm winter but it is still technically February. So I was surprised to see my tulips poking through the dirt already. Daffodils were coming up, too, though that seems slightly less strange. Around the corner I found a columbine unfurling.

Get back under those leaves, little dude!

All that green was definitely a welcome sight, but I almost wanted my plants to go back into the dirt. It's not time yet! I think they will all be okay if we have a blast of cold, but their appearance is yet another oddity in this winter of oddities. It's been nice to not have to shovel or trudge through slush, but what is coming this spring and summer? I'm afraid of the possibility of extra bugs and plant diseases because they haven't been properly culled by a deep freeze. I feel like every month, season and year now is the "most/least x in history", whether it's hot, cold, snowy, rainy or dry, and that makes me uneasy.

Western New York isn't the only area seeing early plant growth; just today I read an article in the New York Times about plants in the New York Botanical Garden blooming early. Flowers are always a joy to see, but at this time of year, one can't help but worry about them. What happens if there is a frost? And I hadn't even thought of pollination. All this early growth and blooming might not be good for fruit and seed production. Is this global warming and if it is, what can be done at this point? I wish we could at least have an adult conversation about our future and our options.

There's really no point in complaining about a warm winter. All the people wishing it were like this every year aren't going to make it a reality just by wanting it really badly. I have been trying to enjoy the positives, but I'll also keep my fingers crossed that we won't be paying for our good fortune come spring and summertime.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

It barely feels and looks like winter outside here in "snowy" Buffalo, NY, so why not start looking forward to a new year of green buds and flowers opening overnight. It will be time before we know it! I am sure, however, that we will get our fair share of wintry weather these next few months, packed in so tight we'll wonder why we ever wished for snow.

The holidays have been a haze; I once again convinced myself to make more gifts and food than I should have (no regrets!) and on top of that we all had a nasty cold. We still had lots of fun with family and friends, though, and we're all feeling much healthier. Now it's time to step forward into 2012 with a clear mind (and nasal passages). I'm excited to get back to doing some embroidery after spending much of the past few weeks crocheting, of all things. I've even made my very own pattern for a cute little coin purse I hope to have in my etsy shop soon. So I feel very official regarding that.

Tomorrow we get back to work and on Wednesday Oliver goes back to school. I am looking forward to this opportunity to set a fresh, new routine after a few weeks of happy chaos. Here's to a happy, healthy, productive new year for us all!

ps- And to the Buffalo Sabres, should you be reading this blog, or maybe Sabretooth at least, if you could pass this along: please start being awesome again.