Thursday, April 24, 2014

G is for Gardening, and Grrrrr....

It's well seen that Gardening begins with a G - G for Grrrrrr, that is. (Arms folded, bosom heaving stance.) Honestly, it's almost impossible to garden in northern US places like Chicago.

Last winter was so brutal I have so far lost one 7 year old, 8 foot high Buddleja/Butterfly bush, two 7 year old, Russian sage bushes (aren't those things meant to be indestructible?) a 3 year old sage plant, a rhodadendrum and 3 delphinium.

Completely dead Butterfly Bush.  

Somehow the chive made it through!

The added problem we had this winter (apart from the usual sub zero temps) was extreme sub zero temps, and ten feet of snow. Sometimes the snow can act as insulation, but when it melts a little and then refreezes, as it did this year, all it does is kill the roots.

I hate it when plants die.

Chicago gardening experts advise holding off any planting until the 1st of May, when we can almost safely assume there won't be another overnight frost. That means that your newly-planted garden might have a chance of looking full and bountiful sometime in September, - if the plants can make it through the heat.

I recently bought myself a cheap little miniature greenhouse, thinking that I could start my herb seeds off, and bud a few coleus plants etc. Spent last Sunday potting, put all the seed trays in the greenhouse and zipped it up.

Although there wasn't an overnight frost, next morning the two small cuttings I had included were looking decidedly droopy, so they are now back on the kitchen window sill and the greenhouse is now wearing the BBG grill cover between the hours of 5pm and 10am. We'll have to wait and see if the seeds survived.

Nice and warm in the kitchen.

Sometimes I wonder if it's worth all the effort, but I can't face a summer of desolate looking back garden either.


Friday, April 18, 2014

It's that time of year again

I always get slightly hysterical a bit stressed at this time of year. American schools finish for the summer at the end of May or beginning of June (yes, I know) so the end-of-year stuff is starting to appear on the schedule.

It's busy for me personally because I have a huge sponsored walk for my school in Ghana in early May, swiftly followed by organizing the world's largest jumble/garage sale at school. (No kidding - it takes two whole days and an army of volunteers to set up, we fill three gyms with "stuff" and the sale goes on for two whole days, at the end of which, I am physically drained.)

This year we also have the Man-Child's graduation, which is an event-filled um, event (several parties, ceremonies, official photos etc) with extended family members flying in and needing beds. The Little Guy is moving into middle school (years 7,8,& 9) so there are mini-graduation things for him too, including a dubbing ceremony 'cause they've been studying the Middle Ages. All very sweet.

And then there's getting the ex-Queenager back from Europe in one piece and with all of her belongings. We are attempting to fly her and grandma over the Atlantic on the same flight using air miles; it'll be a bloody miracle if it happens as they're not starting off in the same country. Oh well...

Meanwhile this week, I organized a bake sale (how American) at school for the Ghana school, and as a bit of PR for the sponsored walk. Guess how much we raised? Go on.


From selling little cakes and cookies (mostly for 50 cents) to school kids most of whose mothers had actually baked and donated the stuff in the first place! Admittedly quite a few parents handed me a $5 or $10 bill and told me to keep the change as a donation, so I didn't actually sell $600 worth of 50 cent items, but still. (That would have been 1200 cakes if I'm not mistaken.)

Anyway - I'm happy!

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