Monday, November 13, 2017

Moving towards winter

We’re fortunate in the Southeastern U.S. to have a relatively short winter.  Fall, with its colors, has been extended with climate change, it seems.  Mild winters have been punctuated by polar vortex blasts.  A blast is predicted over Thanksgiving.  Really?

But, I’ve swapped my warm season clothes for cool season ones in my closet, so I’m ready.

Beaver Lake
A recent early morning walk at Beaver Lake reminded me of how nice fall can be.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The last of fall colors

The ravine woodland forest continues to be luminous, with yellows and spots of red.  But the freeze last night, and the cold temperatures to come, will be the final push.  The ginkgo in front, again, is slowly losing its leaves (quite unusual) -- the abscission layers haven't been triggered for the leaves to drop all at once, as is normal.

I need to check again on the venerable old ginkgo in the neighborhood.  Last year, just after Thanksgiving, it was amazing. Leaves drifting down, instead of dropping all at once, is a difference with weaker abscission layers, I guess.

The view from my studio (on the ground floor) has been lovely, as has been the view out the kitchen windows.

Studio view
Early morning kitchen view

Same forest, just from below and above.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017


We’ve loved our sassafras trees, so transplanted many saplings from our Clemson house to our house in the mountains.  Thankfully, we’d had both males and females, so HAD saplings to transplant.

The two planted next to our neighbor’s house (a rental) some years ago are so interesting right now (I see them out the upstairs window) — their fall color is so different.  The tree on the left is yellow; the one to the right is dark red.  How interesting!

I found no mention on previous years’ blog posts about this, only happy comments about their flowering in spring, so this must be a curious weather anomaly.  Here’s what they look like now.

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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Fall color

It’s been a great fall color year for two of the pignut hickories in the ravine forest. They’re a beautiful clear yellow, with almost all of the leaves still on the trees.  A neighboring hickory, in contrast, has almost lost of its leaves.

The ginkgo in front is a glorious mix of yellow and green, quirky in color as it is in shape.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

A luminous Japanese maple

I'm not normally a fan of Japanese maples, as they don't really "work for a living" in my normal screen of gardening for nature or growing edibles.  (Our native maples do a better job of feeding insects that feed birds, etc.)  And, I haven't been entranced by Japanese maple stories, although I know they must be interesting.  A recent garden group trip to an iconic local Japanese maple nursery (Mr. Maple) left me impressed with the number of cultivars!

An unusually yellow Japanese maple
Ginkgos have been a feature in all of our gardens because they're living fossils and have a good story, not because of their wildlife attributes (minimal), as have tulips, so maybe we do have exceptions.

However, this beautiful Japanese maple, an unusual yellow color (the iPhone and Photoshop want to see the reddish tinges), caught my attention this morning.   It was luminous in a home garden along one of my favorite neighborhood walking routes.


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Electric pressure cookers

A brief aside towards the cooking connection with gardening.

A sudden interest (from my gardening companion), who isn’t a cook, in slow cooker recipes from an NPR report on Hugh Acheson (via a new cookbook) had me looking into slow cookers (I haven’t ever had one). Acheson was writing about much more flavorful takes on slow cooking than I’d read about (and I read a lot of recipes).

So I was rather amazed to stumble on all of the Instant Pot/electric pressure cookers that combine a slow cooker with what is a truly remarkable modern pressure cooker. I remembered my Mom’s stovetop pressure-cooker from decades ago. Scary.

But the Instant Pot mini that I bought (thinking I could entice my gardening companion into learning how to cook a few healthy things) — well, it’s been amazing.

I never thought that a new electric kitchen appliance would be so interesting. I’ve pressure-cooked all sorts of things, from meat to butternut squash to brown rice to beans (which I’d stopped cooking on the stove-top, because it was so time-consuming, and tedious on our gas stove.)

Whether I can get my gardening companion to pay attention about how to cook in it — well, I’ve made him pay attention a couple of times, but I think I’ll just need to put together my personal version of easy, dump in the instant pot dishes, based on the recipes that I’ve gathered online, and thanks to Hugh Acheson’s and Melissa Clark’s cookbooks.

He seems impressed by the speed and tastiness of the results so far, so maybe I can get him to be potentially self-sufficient (I worry about what might happen if he was suddenly on his own!)

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