Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Stevia for One

Stevia rebaudiana is a fantastically sweet little herb that was used as a sugar substitute long before the FDA finally bestowed its approval and products like Truvia subsequently started hitting grocery store shelves. Now one can even buy a certified organic stevia plant at Lowe's, fergossakes. So I did!

This one little plant provides more than enough leaves throughout the growing season to keep my tea deliciously sweet and sugar-free. It doesn't take more than a single dried leaf per cup and I only need enough for myself. Hubby doesn't like his tea sweet; he likes his tea bitter... like he likes his women.

Today I spotted a single, tiny, white flower on my stevia plant. Time to harvest!

I snipped the stems and tied 'em up with thread, then hung them from a trousers hanger in a closet to dry.

Pretty soon I'll have a bunch of crispy leaves to strip from the stems and pop into a jar. I still have some from last year's stevia plant. Maybe this year I'll start some baby plants from tip cuttings and then overwinter them in the garage for next year. Or maybe I'll forget. Meh. For now, I'm going to go make myself a nice cup of tea!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


This evergreen clematis (C. armandii 'Apple Blossom') has tied itself in knots. Literally, in knots. I cannot untie it. I tried awhile ago to no avail. Now it's only gotten itself into more of a tangle. What an idiot. Where does it think it's going to go from there? It's already aborted one tiny new growth tip. If any others start shriveling up, I'm going to have to cut the knot right out. Silly thing.

To its credit, this clematis has survived my bungling for over two years now. Its first year, I put it in the ground and trained it against a trellis on a south-facing wall. That winter, harsh winds decimated the foliage. The entire vine dried up. It had to be cut to the ground. The following year, thankfully, new growth arrived on schedule, so I dug it up and popped it into a big, heavy container with a couple of short friends to shade its roots. Then, brilliantly, I left the container in the path of those drying winter winds again. I tried covering it with a sheet, but I wasn't particularly effective about it. Another season's growth destroyed. So, I cut it down again. Mind you, this is a clematis that only flowers on old wood. What with all of my screwing up and starting over, I haven't gotten to enjoy those sweet-smelling, blushing white blooms since I bought the damned thing. This year, new clematis growth sprang up practically overnight. It grew from a two inch stub to eight inches tall in one day. I'm thinking to myself, This will be the year that I take proper care of this thing. This year's growth will survive the winter. Next year I will have flowers! So, I'm going to have to make it a priority to find a place for this clematis to take shelter over the winter. Perhaps it would like to live on the north side of the house? We shall see...

Here's what the 'Apple Blossom' clematis is supposed to look like when it actually flowers in the spring. Photo taken from WaysideGardens.com

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Fresh Needles

Hurrah for bristling bundles of fresh needles and drooping clusters of colorful cones on my evergreen conifers! Spring is in full swing.

Weeping Norway Spruce

Juniper 'Goldcone'

Dwarf Colorado Blue Spruce

Japanese Black Pine 'Ogon'

In fact, I think I feel Summer creeping in...

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Blooms for Hubby

Just a happy little combo, here. Lobelia with irish moss and a tiny korean rock fern. This planter is visible from our dining area window and is bright and cheery even when fully shaded by the carport roof in the afternoon. Hubby loves those sweet little purple blooms.

I also planted a pair of urns with geraniums, dwarf snapdragons, calibrachoa and bacopa. Hubby and I picked out these flowers together. I have enjoyed them even more because of his input and appreciation.

Gardening loves company!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Perfect Day for a Garden Tour!

April 15th was a glorious day here in Western Washington, so Hubby and I drove northward to Federal Way, where we spent a sunny afternoon walking among the many woodland wonders of the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden.

Lots of photos after the break!
(Please forgive the awkward exposures of many of these shots. It was a very sunny day and I was using my camera-phone.)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Tortoiseshell Among the Tulips

Lizzy does just as she pleases.
I thought I'd take advantage of a sudden sun-break and finish my morning tea on the porch with the cats. I lazily soaked up some sunshine and snapped a few flower pics with my phone while the furry beasts, always pleased to have me around, took turns visiting with me and checking my tea mug for tasty smells.

When Lizzy, my gloriously fat mama cat, came over to visit, she rolled around on her back in order to tempt me with the baby-bunny softness of her expansive belly. I fell right into her trap. As soon as my hand made contact with that soft tummy, she immediately seized it in her paws and tried to eat it, the playful beast. Fortunately, I managed to free myself from her clawed clutches without any loss of blood. Now clearly in a wild animal type of mood, Lizzy proceeded into the brightly blooming container garden, leaped up into a large square pot, plopped her enormous tush onto the creeping jenny and started poking her nose into all of the red tulips that she could reach.

Look at that tubby tortie. She thinks she's a jungle cat.

What a pretty kitty that tubby tortie is!

When I tried to take a wider shot of my containers, the jungle beast took the opportunity to show off her wicked claws. Just look at her ripping splinters out of my poor wooden fence!

“Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.”

—Robert A. Heinlein