Taking notes along the way

World Fantasy Convention!

Next week. Where has the year gone, I ask you?

The final schedule is out, and I have one panel and a reading.

Friday 6 Nov: Broadway 2 • 12:00
Reading: I will be reading some selections from JERICHO.

Mass Autographing Session :

8:30pm City Center 2A and City Center 2B
Open to signers at 8:00
Open to all at 8:30

And on Saturday the 7th, my panel:

2:00•City Center 2A : Fantasy and Detective Fiction — A Natural Fit?

After that, on Sunday 8 Nov at 6pm, I’ll be appearing with a host of other writers at Flights of Fantasy Books and Games. Julie Czerneda! Anne Bishop! Garth Nix! Many more! Then that will be it for travel for 2015.

Here at the ol’ homestead, I am watching the leaves fall and trying to work up the nerve to assemble the leaf grinder/mulcher that I bought earlier this month. No more raking the leaves to the curb for the city to pick up, said I. Instead, I shall grind them and use them to mulch the shrubbery in preparation for the winter ahead.

We’ll see how it goes. Last  year, I mulched some of the leaves with the mower, but there were just too many and I wound up disposing of well over half, along with all the damned needles that fell like rain from the Scots pine in the front yard. This year, it all gets ground up. I’ll leave the ground pine needles under the pine and spruce trees, and save the leaves for the shrubs. Oak leaves–of which I have so so many–are acidic according to all I’ve read, so the hydrangeas and hibiscus should like that.

 

 

Flowers, wild and tame

Not sure if I’ve ever mentioned my shady side yard before. I had it mulched a few years ago when it became obvious that the lawn would never fill in–too much shade from the ash and spruce and oak. The mulching proved expensive enough, but the cost of letting the landscaper fill in the area with plants was prohibitive, so I decided to do the best I could with what I had. I have added a couple of white hydrangeas; one is an Annabelle, but I’ve forgotten what the other is (ed. it’s a Limelight). Lots of hosta. Ferns and wild ginger donated by a friend​.

I’ve also let some native wildflowers encroach. Wild violet have started showing up along the edges. Wood anemones:

wood anemones
wood anemones

 

 

I’ve spotted trillium leaves, but no flowers. I hope they make it. I’ll welcome either purple or white, but I’ve seen the purple variety in the nearby woods and hope that’s what’s trying to grow.

Smooth Solomon’s seal have pretty much taken over the area around the gutter outlet. A member of the lily family. I used to pull them out every spring until I realized that 1) they were pretty, 2) they hid the gutter outlet, 3) they were free and 4) thriving.  So I let them go, and they have spread over the last two years:

Smooth Solomon's seal
Smooth Solomon’s seal

I added some non-natives as well. The astilbes are coming up gangbusters, but have yet to bloom. I also planted a couple of origami columbine**. The blue one didn’t survive the winter, but the red one did, and has put forth several blooms:

Origami columbine
Origami columbine

It’s nice to see a spot of color against all the green and white.

There’s still a large area of blank waiting to be filled in. I will probably stick with hosta, maybe a dozen or so planted in a ring. Another hydrangea in the middle? I will also let the wildflowers spread. They bring the woods close to the house.

**columbine are apparently native, but these are a hybrid variety

Yes, we have no tomatoes

There will be no raised bed garden this summer.

I first installed it back in 2009. The first few tomato crops were incredible–I had 6-7 plants, and spent most every weekend from early August through early fall making marinara or tomato casserole or salads with fresh basil (I grew that, too). When the chill weather came, I picked the greenies and stuck them in paper bags to ripen, and had fresh tomatoes into December.

I added compost to the soil and added fresh soil every so often, but for whatever reason–weather, poor choice in plants–the harvests fell off. Last summer’s was the worst–it was so cool that even the farmstands struggled. I managed a couple handfuls of cherry tomatoes and some mesclun. Part of me missed the buckets and buckets of harvest, but part of me didn’t care. It had stopped being fun.

I gave the plastic framing to the chimney repair guy, who had a friend who was planning a raised bed garden. That left the dirt, two squared-off mounds of tightly-packed topsoil. Today, I shoveled it into the wheelbarrow and dumped it around the plants near the deck. Over the next few weeks or months or however long it takes, I’ll trim the area with the edger and add more soil and mulch until it looks neat and proper. I have spirea and hibiscus growing there now, and would like to add a few more things. Some of the daffodils in the front yard are putting forth nothing but greenery, which means the bulbs have birthed bulblets that are sucking away the strength; I’ll separate those and stick some near the deck. Look for some shorter shrubs that flower. I am thinking about moving the birdbath garden to the sideyard outside the fence given that the seed that falls to the ground has attracted skunk for the last few years and Gaby has never met a skunk that she didn’t want to harass, the results of which you can guess. If I do that, I can move the astilbes that are growing there now to new homes near the deck….

That will be the outdoor project for the year. Get the backyard in shape.

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