December 31, 2010

Commenting repaired...I think!

The commenting got snafu'ed last week but I believe I have it fixed.  If it's still broken I'll have to peek under the hood again tomorrow.  Sorry for the difficulty!

December 24, 2010

Christmas Wishes

A card from long ago, and some older music brought to you via the modern Christmas magic of the net, and some school kids: enjoy, and have a great holiday season.















December 21, 2010

Changes to soap pages... :)

Introducing Wildwood Soap Company.

(Still just me,) but it needed a makeover, and this will facilitate a shopping cart later on.  Plus it's easier/faster to say than SoapfromParadiseGardensRarePlantNursery.  And much easier to see what is there, with much simpler navigation.  I only use FF and IE (as a look-see), so if anyone notices anything amiss in Opera or whatever, please let me know.  There are several new soaps from this fall's soapathon, and there will be more in the coming weeks.  Shipping will probably get tweaked, I'm working on streamlining that too.

What do you think?

December 17, 2010

Klusmanp: Project 4 Awesome 2010: Circle of Kindness Towards Animals



Wonderful, thoughtful, timely.  I bet this guy is a marvellous teacher; must be a great human being.

As you scan your eye around Earth's circumference, you're seeing every sunrise and every sunset in the world, all of them, all at once.

Monday night, the moon disappears and turns red for a big chunk of the Northern hemisphere: Solstice Lunar Eclipse  
This is the first time a total eclipse has happened on the Solstice in about 700 years.  It will be visible in all of North America (weather permitting) (ah overcast Idaho...), and partially, in Atlantic Northern Europe.  At the link you will find maps for that.  Quoth NASA: 

The eclipse begins on Tuesday morning, Dec. 21st, at 1:33 am EST (Monday, Dec. 20th, at 10:33 pm PST). At that time, Earth's shadow will appear as a dark-red bite at the edge of the lunar disk. It takes about an hour for the "bite" to expand and swallow the entire Moon. Totality commences at 02:41 am EST (11:41 pm PST) and lasts for 72 minutes.
If you're planning to dash out for only one quick look -­ it is December, after all -­ choose this moment: 03:17 am EST (17 minutes past midnight PST). That's when the Moon will be in deepest shadow, displaying the most fantastic shades of coppery red.

Why red?

A quick trip to the Moon provides the answer: Imagine yourself standing on a dusty lunar plain looking up at the sky. Overhead hangs Earth, nightside down, completely hiding the sun behind it. The eclipse is underway. You might expect Earth seen in this way to be utterly dark, but it's not. The rim of the planet is on fire! As you scan your eye around Earth's circumference, you're seeing every sunrise and every sunset in the world, all of them, all at once. This incredible light beams into the heart of Earth's shadow, filling it with a coppery glow and transforming the Moon into a great red orb.

November 26, 2010

Yesterday's Thanksgiving festivities including reindeer practice

Plowing the lane first, so I could be sure to get back in when I came home; a slippery drive; lots of smiles and greeting and meeting friends of friends (small world smaller!), a nice dinner, then coming home I successfully did not hit one of the (I counted:11) deer on the road on the way (had to go in the ditch though), nor the elk, flushed for some reason out of the woods, they thundered by like --well a herd of elk, but imagine a like herd of horses, only larger, with decorative spiky elements, in the dark, with snow flying.

November 23, 2010

Back to work...finally

This was a longer hiatus than I intended, and it's not over quite yet, but I'm now able to believe there will be spring for me.  Seed catalogs are coming in weekly this time of year, and their cheer and hope are a restorative.  Things at the nursery will be different in the spring, to accommodate changes in ability, but my love of plants has not diminished.  Lavender will still be a star, and fragrant plants my love. Their healing, welcoming, invigorating qualities are more important to me now than ever.  There will be a spring catalog along about February or March, with some new and some old favorites, and the soap end of things will expand a bit and see some changes too for the new year.

The website will be updated soon (I'll be working in the background like a good Nisse!), the vandalized parts repaired or replaced . . . time for some new things, anyway.  I've got some books to add to the book list, and some fun gardening, arts, and sciences links too, plus new recipes. 

September 26, 2010

Sailor take warning

Rather ominous red sunrise turned into not such a stormy day... though it's not over yet.  But the sounds of hail at dawn did turn out to be a flicker testing out the acoustic properties of the roof. :)

Slowly, slowly getting my feet back under me... literally.  Friday I had feeling in both feet!!! Gives me hope.

Soaping research today, making applesauce, napping in a sunbeam as though I was a cat.  Tomorrow: mowing the farmyard, I hope.  I am having a tendency to overdo, but am grateful for the energy to try to overdo. 

Our last outdoor market is this upcoming Saturday, then we shift into a more quiet mode as we work against the clock for Fall.  Still no hard, killing frost yet, which is so very strange I can't put it into words.  I may yet have time to get into the ground the plants I need to for the winter; seed catalogs are arriving, and I'm sketching out a list for spring, which seems impossibly far away right now.

June 30, 2010

Soaping adventures

Before things came really unstuck, I got a bunch of new soaps made; I've been having fun with unscented varieties (oatmeal-honey; straight goatmilk), using herbs from the garden (eucalyptus, rosemary-lemongrass), local goatmilk (Idaho peppermint) and infused oils from the woods (evergreen).  I made an anniversary soap for friends to remind them of a favorite vacation they took to Corsica... that scent will go in the repertoire, I think.  I have more to make, re-stocking to do, and hope to get back to some of that next week.  I also hope to get some photos taken and post..... some of the swirls came out really nice, even if I do say so myself!

Heart failure

...would make me cranky (I am a bad patient), if it didn't make me so tired.  There's probably a bad pun in there somewhere, but I cannot find it.  It is making the gardens, though, weedy as they have gotten, intensely beautiful to me.  The roses are in bloom, the pinks and iris...achingly lovely.

June 15, 2010

Out of Office

...I don't actually have an office, of course ;)  but health concerns and family obligations will keep me away from nursery things for the rest of the month.  I hope to be back at full energy by late summer, but recuperating is taking a lot longer than I thought.  Shipping is continuing as I am able, and I appreciate people's amazing patience. 

The cold wet spring has morphed into a wet early summer--we've had 4" of rain in about three weeks, which is odd for here---and the plants' schedules are vastly messed up; lilacs aren't done, peonies are nearly over, tomatoes and beans are rotting in the ground.  When the heat came it came like flicking a switch, requiring the shadecloth be put on in panic-mode for the sake of the plants in the greenhouse (and the frogs in there too).  Finally though with the sun, cuttings are rooting and propagated things leafing out with vigor; seedlings are beginning to catch up.

June 1, 2010

Now back to the regularly scheduled website

. . .  the one where the links work and the images load correctly, and the email form does not deliver mails to the 4th dimension, instead of the inbox.

I'm not certain what happened to the website for the nursery, but I think I have it fixed.  It's unclear if it was vandalism or a virus or just what, but things seem to be working better now. Luckily I had a backup copy of most of the images. 
There's nothing like spending a day in a thorough under-the hood going over of a website to convince you that

  • a)  maybe you need to change things up and streamline them (which will be coming later on this summer) and
  • b) you're glad you don't have to do web design for a living.
Emails I think are working again, I've tried out the form and so far, so good.  Apologies to those whose emails did not get through.

May 24, 2010

Soothing Rosemary milk bath

This is supposed to be good for stimulating the circulation and soothing puffy extremities; we'll see about that, but it is fragrant and pleasant, foams a bit in the tub and is simple and easy to do.  I did feel a bit energized after trying this!  It's from one of my favorite herbal books, The Pocket Guide to Herbal Medicine, by Kraft & Hobbs.

I like Tunisian rosemary, but any nice Rosemary essential oil would do. 

5 drops Rosemary e.o.
1/2 cup milk

Blend and add to a hot bath, or use as a wash with a Turkish toweling wash cloth and massage towards the heart.

May 12, 2010

Spring Fever

It is outrageously beautiful today, the way spring is imagined in so much art: gold and green, Flora's breath exhaling flowers and birdsong, the sky so blue it makes you feel like crying, the snow still decorating the peaks and (mostly!) staying off the porch and up the mountain.  It takes the breath away.  The amazing luck to be alive in the spring, to be out of doors, to be in this universe while spring is happening.  This kind of day calls for Scarlatti and Vivaldi in the background, and traces of really light sweet bluegrass music, and something from Hildegard von Bingen.  Heart-poundingly beautiful weather.

Humdrum reality intervenes: now that it is really sunny and the grass is long and sweet, and the birds singing, the trees blooming, and I don't have to wear 4 layers to work outside...I have some kind of mystery thing making me dizzy every time I stand.  Hilarious a bit, to be tottering around in the garden and wondering if I am only suited for sluicy downpour weather anymore.  Cranky-making, to be so dizzy it takes a half hour to write this.  Maybe it's just the weather...

May 8, 2010

Weather Report

It has been a much colder spring than usual, and things in the gardens are quite a bit behind schedule here.  Being in a frost pocket near the mountain adds to this; I went to a friend's house last week for a bit of a visit and their apple trees and service berries are in full, while up here the apples are just opening, and the service berries are not open at all.  It's good because I have more to dig, and have been sick; it's bad because it is shortening the season for growing veggies...but who knows what August may bring?  Almost anything will be better than last year's. 

I'm finally able to work more than an hour or so in the greenhouse and gardens again, and while I am still woefully behind, at least I can enjoy my time out there without knowing I will pay dearly for it for days afterwards.  Slow and steady, right?  Digging in the garden, hearing the chickadees and robins, all things I have really missed.

April 18, 2010

Strawberries and Poisonberries

Last week's windstorm brought a windfall--literally; a falling spruce brought down a poplar, which was bad, but it gave me a harvest of buds for resin, which was good.  I had a lovely fragrant morning harvesting them, listening to the birds and the stirrings of spring.  I picked them until my fingers went numb and my shoulder spoke to me... The resin will go into salves and soap, and some just to be treasured for the delicious, wakening scent. 

The weather has been cooperative, neither a windstorm nor a snowstorm nor injury this week, and plant digging has finally begun again.  It looks like a good crop of Musk strawberries, and a few lucky customers will get to trial Cinnamon Strawberry 1.0... these are get of a clump of plants we discovered with fruit having decidedly cinnamon overtones.  Ask about them, they won't appear on the availability page.

Last fall's abrupt deepfreeze cost us a lot of things that we can usually winter in the greenhouse, so some plants will be in short supply this season, or off the list until next year.  This includes violets and primula, much to our sorrow. To try to fill these gaps, we've added more unusual fragrant annuals and snowbirds--including some scented geraniums and some dye plants.  Today I noticed the Pulsatilla are opening, as are the Hyacinths by the house, and the species tulips... I hope to have some for offer this autumn.

The Poisonberry vines (Schisandra chinensis) look to be coming along well, and as soon as they break dormancy, will be ready to ship.  If you haven't eaten these berries, you're missing out on a real treat.  Totally not poisonous, (this is a pet name for a berry with an unusual, assertive, tart flavor.) these are high in Vitamin C and redolent of citrus and conifer...rather like a lime juice/gin concoction.

I saved out a clump of violets and tomorrow I'll plant them at Mom's grave so she will always have flowers at her feet.

April 9, 2010

Lists of plants to attract and feed bees, birds and butterflies

It's that time of year when we are thinking about feeding the wild creatures that pollinate our plants and give us so much enjoyment in gardening, the bees and butterflies and birds.  I've updated the resource lists on the nursery site, but for handy reference here are some links to sites listing plants which attract various beneficials and lovelies to the garden. Remember that all will need more than one kind of food, water, and cover or safety. Butterflies in particular, with their two stages of life, need support and food plants for the caterpillar stage, and then nectar plants for their adult forms. Honey bees and other bees also need nectar and pollen plants, and the various types of bees are adapted for different shape and color flowers, as are birds.
"How to" reference page on our home site:
http://www.rareplantnursery.net/how-to.html

For honey and other types of bees:
http://www.ebeehoney.com/Pollination1.html
http://www.beeeducation.com/BeeEducation/Beekeeping101_Nectar.cfm

by the season:
http://wapedia.mobi/en/Northern_nectar_sources_for_honey_bees#1
http://wapedia.mobi/en/Northern_nectar_sources_for_honey_bees#2
http://wapedia.mobi/en/Northern_nectar_sources_for_honey_bees#3
http://wapedia.mobi/en/Northern_nectar_sources_for_honey_bees#4
http://wapedia.mobi/en/Pollen_source
http://wapedia.mobi/en/Nectar_source

For birds, generally:
http://chestofbooks.com/gardening-horticulture/The-Complete-Garden/Plants-Used-For-Attracting-Birds.html
http://www.floridata.com/lists/bird_plants.cfm
http://www.thegardenhelper.com/birdplants.html ---very detailed! including notes on plants for songbirds, etc.
http://www.wildbirds.com/AttractBirds/PlantsthatAttractBirds/tabid/687/Default.aspx
For hummingbirds:
http://chestofbooks.com/gardening-horticulture/The-Complete-Garden/N-Perennials-for-Attracting-Humming-Birds.html

For butterflies:
http://www.floridata.com/lists/butterfly_plants.cfm
http://www.northerngardening.com/butterflyplants.htm
http://www.thegardenhelper.com/butterflies.htm

April 4, 2010

Notes on Farming & the Economy

Organic Farming Opens a Way for Farmers to Return to Their Proper Role as Innovators and Stewards of the Land
"People yearn for greater authenticity and a genuine search for meaning and significance in life," said Hassebrook.  "They don't just want to accumulate things.  They are searching for community and meaningful relationships with people and with the land.  They are yearning for more access to nature."

The Center for Rural Affairs (CRA), located in Lyons, Neb., a town of 980, represents a set of values that reflect the best in rural people, he said:  fairness, widespread ownership, personal and social responsibility and stewardship of the land where it is preserved for the next generation.
From the 21st Annual Conference of the Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) held in La Crosse, Wisc.  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/04/03-0
------------------------------
On Job Creation—Local Fruits and Vegetables vs. Corn and Soybeans
It turns out that foods that are better for you may also be better for farmers and local job creation. A new study by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University found that expanding fruit and vegetable production in the upper Midwest could bring significantly more economic benefits than conventional corn and soybean production on the same acreage.

The study, by Iowa State Research Scientist Dave Swenson, looked at the potential for fruit and vegetable production in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. It identified 28 kinds of fruits and vegetables that farmers are able to grow in the region. Currently, much of the fruits and vegetables in the region come from other parts of the country or even outside the country.
http://iatp.typepad.com/thinkforward/2010/04/on-job-creation-fruits-and-vegetables-vs-corn-and-soybeans.html

March 14, 2010

Finally!

The catalog is in press, and the plant list and first availability list are up, sorry for the delay, but 'e'en the best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley'. 

February 26, 2010

Too Cute not to Share: Postcardens

Reading in science and gardening blogs, I ran across this this evening and had to share it: Postcarden's stop motion video of their darling mini pop up garden:

Wouldn't you love to receive one of these in the mail?  I know I would.

February 24, 2010

The Healing Power of Tomatoes

...the smell of the foliage, that is.  Transplanting yesterday evening I noticed the different scents of the different varieties of heirloom tomatoes I have for spring--the Striped Roman paste variety being much 'greener' and fruitier smelling, even, than the Yellow Brandywine, and the mystery Japanese tomato more of the musky scent I associate with tomatoes, and then it hit me... I was smiling.  Just because of the fragrances of the leaves!  They smelled like spring and the garden and life.  It has been the longest winter of my life, and it is good to be able to think about spring again.

To transplant today: lavenders, asparagus, more lavenders, pansies, species delphiniums....

January 18, 2010

Sunrise

The sun is wending its way back north, days getting visibly longer now.  In this neighborhood, though, sunrise is getting later each morning as there are a couple of mountains in the way.  Once the sun crests Black, things will speed up and then slow, and then--post Clifty---whoom! the days will get a lot longer, fast.  Today there is a generally pearly effect through the mist; we've had snow and rain and snow and RAIN...and snow.  Typical north Idaho weather...for a month hence.  I'm not missing the plowing and shoveling festival that January usually brings (and we may yet have it) but I am beginning to be concerned about water for spring.  My fields are sub-irrigated, and if there isn't so much melt in the summer to last into fall.... well, no sense borrowing trouble.  I've heard the Chickadees singing several mornings now, spring is coming...

Today on the soaping menu: a half gallon of sweet-grass infused olive oil, three quarts of citrus infused oils (lime, tangerine and blood orange), a block of shea butter, and a box of new essential oils to sample.  Last year's Lavender essential oil shortage has spurred me to research a few new types--and there are many more now available than there used to be!--so the next month will be filled with soapy research.  The fruit from the citrus became juice, and mayonnaise, and muffins, and bread, and today will probably appear in a pudding.

I'm drying more peel for use later in cooking and in soap as well--the food processor, cheapest model available though it was, makes short work of the peel and makes it far more even than I can ever manage chopping or zesting by hand.

Seeds starting, cuttings taking, catalog scribbling, all going on in the background...

Saturday I went to the first meeting of a new seed saving group, we have a short growing season here and there are many cold pockets reaching over to the Yaak, where their season is comparable to mine (sometimes as short as 70 days if Mother Nature is in a hurry) and I have some drying beans to try, plus some new herbs. 

Blooming today: Ms. Rosemary, salvia coccinea, a rogue pulsatilla, the grape sage...all on the back porch. 

Recommended reading: Seed to Seed, by Suzanne Ashworth.

January 8, 2010

Sky Blue Pink: Winter for Spring

It's cold and clear, and while the plants are dormant, things are quietly going on in the background... seed ordering & seed starting, catalog editing, plans for new offerings for spring.  Spring.  A funny word it sounds, tonight at around zero.  But nevertheless, it will come.  It will be good to have time this year for my own vegetable garden, something I had to let go of last year while I cared for Mom, there just wasn't time to tend that too.  I missed having beans especially, the test tomatoes I grew provided all the fresh tomatoes I needed, luckily (and I will be adding some of them at the market this year to the other heirloom & perennial vegetables.)I am also planting a bit more of a flower garden just for me, some of the nostalgic things I learned to love as a child and a young gardener... Bachelors' Buttons, Forget Me Nots, Nigella, and the fragrant things I always love to go along with the other cutting flowers.  One of my earliest pleasures was getting to cut flowers for a vase by my bed, almost always something fragrant... if I close my eyes I can still smell those pinks.