jueves, 25 de diciembre de 2014

Christmas morn

December is always such a busy time of year with the children's plays, parties, baking to do and the end-of-year happenings for work.  Of course, the blog is hard to keep up with with the holidays.  I have been planting quite a bit in the garden, though, but nothing is photo-worthy yet.

Christmas is Christmas, however, whether in LaMancha or not.  And, to this day, I still get up at the crack of dawn, just like when I was a kid.

The morning was frosty.

There were cinnamon rolls to be baked.

The Christmas tree was guarding a few surprises.

Wish I could share the smell of these baking!  

Merry Christmas to all, wherever you may be!


lunes, 8 de diciembre de 2014

In a Vase on Monday - Giving Thanks

Like many Americans who live abroad, we are usually not able to celebrate Thanksgiving Day on the fourth Thursday of November as Abraham Lincoln would have it.  With school and work, it is hard to find the time, and here in LaMancha it is often hard to find a turkey!

This year, we celebrated Thanksgiving quite late - yesterday, to be exact.  Turkey with all it's trimmings - everything homemade and nothing out of a can, box or bag.  Here, there's no corner supermarket to pick up cranberry sauce or pre-packaged stuffing mix, and I envision it as a meal that would be very similar to that of our forefathers (and mothers!).  Heck, I even had to "hunt down" the bird!

My husband had knee surgery a few days ago, so this year's meal was quite informal (I figured that crutches and fine china were not a good mix).  For the centerpiece, I threw yet more roses into yet another old coffee pot, along with the ivy from the vase of 2 weeks ago.  It would seem that my vases are stuck in a rut.

In the kitchen, with apple pie and pumpkin bread

Abraham Darby gets darker and more orangey in the fall.

The Shepherdess may look delicate, but she's one tough cookie!

Hope you also enjoyed a Happy Thanksgiving!

Once again, I'm linking with Rambling In the Garden's In a Vase on Monday meme, where garden bloggers post photos of arrangements with flowers and greenery from their gardens.  Stop by!

viernes, 5 de diciembre de 2014

Sunsets, toads and kestrels

With the shorter days of December, I never seem to have time to get out in the garden when it's daylight out.  We have had some rain, though, which is a good thing.

The pond out back is full again, and the tamarix are showing a little fall color...

... although the reservoir is still quite low.

The dampness in the garage attracted this enormous toad...

...that completely freaked me out because he did not hop but walked like a turtle instead.
I think this is what they call in Spanish a "running toad" or 
epidalea calamita.  I still call it freaky.

The cool, wet weather also brought a cernícalo, or kestrel, who comes to our porch at dusk to spend the night.    Sometimes, he also brings dinner (a bit of which you can see to the left of the beam). 

So cool!

The best part of cloudy, overcast days is that we get these unbelievable sunsets.

lunes, 24 de noviembre de 2014

In a Vase on Monday - Darling bud of... November?

This Monday's pickings are slim: a simple William Shakespeare rose with ivy in a bud vase.  This combination brought to mind the first few lines of Shakespeare's Sonnet 18 ("Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May").  Funny how the brain works.

The bud vase

 For natural lighting, the vase is in front of a window atop a WWII military trunk that has been around the world quite a few times.

Sometimes simple is better.

Once again, I'm linking with Rambling In the Garden's In a Vase on Monday meme, where garden bloggers post photos of arrangements with flowers and greenery from their gardens.  Stop by!

sábado, 22 de noviembre de 2014

Fall Foliage

We planted two large trees last February, a Pyrus calleryana and a Ginkgo Biloba, and this is their first display of autumnal color.  It's not much, but here in LaMancha there isn't much in the way of fall foliage anyway.

Ginkgo and Pyrus

Parthenocissus tricuspidata is starting to cover the stone-faced retaining wall by the garage. 

The variation in color is spectacular.

Here, it's interesting to see how the overlayer is red and the underlayer is yellow. 

 On the other side of the wall, fall color is provided by Parthenocissus, nandina domestica, abelia and a little mum.

 Migrating cranes flying over my house are another sure sign that autumn is well underway.

I'm linking up with Christina at My Hesperides Garden for Garden Bloggers' Foliage Day.  
Stop by to see her wonderful Italian garden.

lunes, 17 de noviembre de 2014

In a Vase on Monday - Fall Milk Bottle

No, the milk bottle is not falling.  It is a vintage milk bottle filled with fall color.  Parthenocissus tricuspidata and some sprigs from a thornless blackberry accompany the unreal orange tones of Meilland's Baby Romantica (a gift from my babies one Mother's Day).

I believe that The Deerfoot Farms dairy was located on Deerfoot Rd in Southborough, Massachusetts.  The bottle was found in my grandmother's root cellar, in perfect condition even though it has to be more than 60 years old.

This vase is my contribution to Rambling in the Garden's In a Vase on Monday meme.

sábado, 15 de noviembre de 2014

Bloom Day, November 2014

Once again, I am joining other garden bloggers for Bloom Day at May Dreams Gardens, where bloggers from all over the world post photos of what is blooming in their gardens on the 15th of each month.

Like any other November, the pickin's in my garden are quite slim right now.  We had our first frost last week, and it has been raining on and off for the past couple of days.  So, no I have a frog in my throat.  Lovely

The amazing color of Benjamin Britten


Winchester Cathedral

Abraham Darby

Abraham Darby is not done yet!

William Shakespeare

The Shephardess

The back yard, glistening after a rain

A rainbow, seen from the kitchen porch

And me?  Well, I'm keeping my toes up by the fire until my throat gets better. 

What's blooming today in your garden?

miércoles, 12 de noviembre de 2014

Baby Steps

If you know me or have read an earlier post from this year, then you know I broke several vertebrae and ribs in a riding accident this past spring.  As you can imagine, for months now my gardening has been limited to dead-heading my roses and little else.

Pilates classes three times a week have been my saving grace.  After just two months  of perserverence, my flexibility has improved and so has my strength.  I still refrain from lifting heavy weights, but this weekend  I did dome digging and planting for the first time in nearly seven months, and I feel great!

After a good rain, the clay soil was soft.  I started out simple by planting some honeysuckle clippings in shallow holes made with a hoe.  It was just a baby step, but so rewarding!

The next day, I had no pain, so I tried digging deeper holes with a shovel to plant ivy, cerastium and salvia along the south-east side of our property, which is really an eyesore.  The following photo was taken from our kitchen porch, where you can see the neighboring property - a bank foreclosure (lots of those around here).


You can see how poor the soil is here, and how tough the growing conditions are.  I mean, even the weeds have a hard time growing in this soil!  In the next photo, you can see what I had planted last spring: cypreses, teucrium and iris.

A picture worth a thousand words!  Here you can see the mechanics involved in gardening in La Mancha: clay that is so hard that it cannot be dug - instead it is chipped away at with a pick-axe (when dry) or "sliced" with a shovel (when wet); chicken wire along the perimeter fence to keep the rabbits out, plus chicken wire cylinders around all susceptible plants (see bottoms of cypreses); soil ammendments; drip irrigation so everything survives.

Below, things are starting to look better already with new ivy, more teucrium and compost.  The salvia in the center looks huge because it was still stuck in its pot.

This is how it is starting to look from the living room balcony.  I am exhausted (didn't even clean up after myself), but so excited to see some green in this barren part of the yard!

Just a few baby steps, but I’m in no hurry…