Thursday, May 26, 2011

Garden Oddities

Teeny native Penstemon blossom and buds.
Have you ever looked at a plant or bug in the garden and said, WOW!  I certainly do that often, especially when I inherit an unfamiliar plant or see a teeny toad. 

Teeny Strawberry Begonia flower (no petals are missing).

It's amazing that after 20 years of gardening, I still do not know all the plants created by Mother Nature.  Plant hybridizers have added to the list by creating vast hordes of new varieties for us to enjoy but often it is the simple native plant species that amaze me the most.

Hybridizers have created larger flowers for a real pop of color.  It's hard to see some of the native flowers because they are so small but once you do, it leaves an impression and one wonders why we had to toy with nature in the first place.
My husband photographed this cute warty American Toad.
I am first a collector and secondly a rather pitiful landscaper which makes my gardens more of a "cottage" effect.  Different plant varities sprayed here and there.  Oh if I were only more artistic with my landscaping, utilizing multiple plant species to create visual impact (yawn).

Now don't get me started on cute wildlife... there are too many odd crawly things to even include in this post.  But very often you might think you hear crickets but they are really frogs or toads... and they are more difficult to visually identify than plants!  You can only be certain by their call.  For Virginians, the prior link is the best website to explore when trying to identify a reptile or amphibian.

Lovely Variegated Solomon Seal
 I hope you enjoy some of the oddities on Forsythia Hill.  Do you have an amazing oddity to share with us?  Please leave a comment about it!


Monday, May 23, 2011

Coop de Cville

Triple decker coop - WOW
Saturday I loaded my vintage bike into my vintage truck and headed to downtown Charlottesville for the first annual Tour de Coop Bike Ride.  Be sure not to miss Ian Ayers video trip recap on that website!

It was loads of fun and enjoyed by 70 bikers!
Being that I had not climbed on a bike for a "serious" bike journey since the ever so cool Moonlight Bike Ride in Charlotte, North Carolina in the 80s, it was a little strenuous at times for me.  At the end of the 2 hour ride I was last of the pack.  It was a meandering trip into peaceful neighborhoods such as Altamont, Belmont, and Woolen Mills.

There were all levels and ages of bikers, some on cool vintage bikes others on fancy top of the line serious treker bikes, and other with seats or attached cabanas for kids.  The ride was as flat as possible (given this is Charlottesville and flat is not the norm).  I was happy to get a quick rest every now and dismount to checkout a cool coop.  

Chickie a member of the family
There were many double decker coops, a few small single story coops, and most were situated on a very small amount of land with neighbors nearby.  One home in particular was lovingly landscaped with a babbling brook and pond complete with a frog.  The chickens were obviously a part of the family and they love having the coop attached to the house where they can enjoy their girls.

All coop keepers also had gardens.  Chickens and gardens go hand in hand - feed the chickens your veggie scraps and put the high nitrogen manure in your compost pile to fertilize your plants! 

Barred Rock Chicken
I'm very excited that soon I will be getting my neighbors six chickens! 

Cluck, cluck.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Saving your Dollars

SAVED nearly $100.00 in a WEEK
Harris Teeter Triples

Store Trip #1 - SPENT $25.00 SAVED $40.00

This week is TRIPLES at Harris Teeter.  Any coupon up to .99 is tripled in value!  I also picked up my $5.00 gift card for buying Purina Litter and Tidy Cats at Target.   

At Harris Teeter: Presented 18 coupons, all at least $.99 in value.

A few of the Harris Teeter Deals and what I paid for each:  

Ocean Spray Blueberry Cocktail- $.27, French's Mustard - $.50, Duncan Hines Brownie Mix - $.50, Method Soap - .99, Sunsweet Prunes - .63, Dole Pineapple Juice -1.90.

FREE - Athenos Greek Yogurt, Can Black Eye Peas.

I love getting Method and Pineapple Juice discounted.  I buy the juice all the time and it is never on sale and coupons are so hard to get. 

Store Trip #2 - SPENT $30.00 SAVED $50.00

FREE - Prunes, Colgate Toothpaste, Colgate Toothbrush, WASA Crackers.

This was my second strike, if I would not have used coupons, I would have spent $145.00 in one week instead of $55.00.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

What's a Girl To Do

A few fun events in Charlottesville this weekend.


10 AM - Noon:  "Tour de Coop, 2011".  The first annual bike ride tour of chicken coops in downtown Charlottesville sponsored by CLUCK and Community Bikes.  Suggested donation, $5.00, lunch is provided.  Check their website link at 9:30 am if raining, to see if event still being held.  I'm excited about this event because it looks like I'll be temporarily inheriting my neighbors chickens for a few years and I need all the know how I can get.

9 AM: For early risers and those that are bikeless, The Ivy Creek Foundation is offering a FREE Wildflower walk at the Ivy Creek Natural Area.
Oakleaf Hydrangea getting ready to bloom.


2 PMThe Ivy Creek Foundation is offering a FREE Native Tree identification walk at the Ivy Creek Natural Area.

Have fun outside this weekend as the rain is to eventually move out and sunny skies in!


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Grand Gardens

This past weekend, we attended Through the Garden Gate, a gardening tour series organized by the Piedmont Master Gardeners.  The gardens of Cathy and Chirs Kramer were open to the public and the tour was hosted by the Monticello Gardening Club.

Climbing Hydrangea, one of my favorites.
It was an overcast day with periods of light misty rain but that did not dampen the experience, it only enhanced the vibrant colors in abundance around every corner.  If there was a weed in sight, I certainly didn't give notice to it as the plant diversity held my attention and kept my mind occupied. 

Sometimes you visit a place that you would never want to leave, an oasis, this is one of those special places.  A garden retreat nestled in meticulously tidy woods with pastoral and mountain views

Poppy pods nearly ready to bloom.
I can't begin to name the thousands of plant species that surrounded and overwhelmed my senses but a few that were memorable were Climbing Hydrangea, Clematis and Ivy, native Columbine, Spiderwort, Roses, Peony, Ajuga, Oakleaf Hydrangea, Kousa Dogwood, Japanese Maple, Foxglove, Poppies, Sedums, Coral Bells, Phlox, and Succulents.

This is a garden that I would love to visit with each passing season, to capture the early spring bulbs, summer bold colors, and glorious fall tree foliage.  This was one of the top private gardens I have visited.

We must have spent several hours roaming the grounds but eventually we departed heading for lunch on the downtown mall at the The Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar.  We were pleasantly surprised to discover the best salad in Charlottesville.  The Bazaar Salad was visually appealing and delicious.  Colorful specialty greens were surrounded by small sliced tomatoes and cucumbers topped with yellow raisins, feta cheese, julienned carrots, pears, and candied walnuts (made in house), and finally drizzled with a delicate Ginger Dressing.  Served with a side of perfectly toasted Pita Triangles.  It all melded together so well and each bite was delectable.  We also discovered their really cute outside back porch that looks out toward Monticello (you do have to stand against the wall and squint but it is there).


Monday, May 16, 2011

Teeter Triples

It's been 14 months since Harris Teeter has offered triple coupon week.  Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy.  Beginning this Wednesday, May 18, for one week, Triples are BACK.

All coupons UP TO a face value of .99 will triple.  This means big deals on many items and very often a free deal.  You can only present 20 coupons each day so be mindful of that limit (I have exceeded it and it's a bummer when you do).

It's time to stock up.  Break your trips up over days so you won't be overwhelmed.  Some popular items may be out of stock and, if necessary, the best time to go is around 11 pm when they are restocking (the added bonus is that the market is empty and you can concentrate).  Some of the most helpful Teeter employees are the stockers!

I also noticed that Target is offering a $5 gift card when you buy Purina Cat Food and Tidy Cats Litter Pail, this makes a good deal if you also present coupons.

It's gonna be a fun week.  Have fun - my Friday deal wrap up will be a good one for sure.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

What's a Girl To Do

A few fun events out and about in Charlottesville this weekend.


9 AM - Noon:  "Through the Garden Gate, 2011".  Each spring and summer a series of 5 private garden tours is sponsored by the Piedmont Master Gardeners.  Cathy and Chirs Kramer's home is open to the public for a $5.00 fee, hosted by the Monticello Garden Club.  Azalea, woodland garden, and an edge pool tiered with perennials.  Mosses, sedums, and roses dot the landscape with the Blue Ridge Mountains in full view.

10 - 2 PM:  "Cville Go Green Fest" at Snow's Garden Center.   Food, eco-themed games, a moon bounce, music, ASPCA pets, and lots of family fun.

10 - 4 PM:  "Festival of Cultures" at Lee Park.   Hands-on cultural crafts activities, visit cultural exhibits, food, and artisan vendors


1 PMThe Ivy Creek Foundation is offering a FREE Butterfly walk at the Ivy Creek Natural Area.  Hosted by Mike Scott.  Firstly you will see his impressive display of the butterflies of the Ivy Creek Natural Area and then continue on the trails.

Have fun outside this weekend!


Monday, May 9, 2011

Glorious Gardens

Bronze Peony and assorted Pansies.
A loaded down pink and cream Foxglove.
As previously blogged, I traveled Friday to the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Virginia.  I am so glad that I went.  I have been to the Christmas light extravaganza several times (amazing) and to the gardens on the only other FREE day, July 4th.  I have never visited the gardens in the spring and let me tell you, the gardens are spectacular right now.  All trees have leafed out and the Peonies are peaking as is the Rose Garden.  I forget Richmond is a bit warmer than Charlottesville so ahead of our bloom schedule.  I get to see a similar show in a few weeks right here as the Peonies and Roses are budding up on Forsythia Hill.  Several of my favorite plants were budding or in bloom, False Blue Indigo, Oakleaf Hydrangea, Native Wisteria, Foxglove, and Allium. 

The new Conservatory was loaded with Orchids and Bromeliads.  It was a glorious Spring day with perfect weather.

Vermicelli Bowl with Fish Sauce on side to die for.
My first stop in Richmond was to my favorite restaurant, Vietnam 1.  It is always delicious.  When my friend Ed lived in Richmond, he took me to this wonderful place.  It's nothing fancy but the food is inexpensive and so good I eat until I nearly pop.  I always get the Vermicelli bowl with crispy vegetable wonton. 

I also checked out Trader Joe's which is said to be coming to Charlottesville soon.  Oh man, did I fall in love with this store.  I can't wait until they arrive.  Great prices, fresh produce, and I'm loving the Cat Ginger cookies (for people).

Native Wisteria at Lewis Ginter Botanical G.
Have you visited a lovely garden this Spring?  Please leave a comment and tell us about it.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011


This Friday, Better Homes and Gardens is providing FREE tickets to area gardens that would normally charge admission.  This is a national program. 

The nearest garden and one of the best gardens around Charlottesville is the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond.

Hello, SIGN ME UP!  Off to Richmond Friday, a GREAT city.  While I'm there I'll take advantage of the Starbucks half off Frappuccino offer, May 4 - May 15 (just check with your local Starbucks before you buy to make sure they are participating).


Monday, May 2, 2011

Time to Plant

With all the rain, it has been a perfect time to cast seed and to prepare for mass planting. 

Yesterday I went to my favorite annual plant sale at the Ivy Creek Natural Area.  Members of the Jefferson Chapter of the Native Plant Society divide and assemble what must have been a thousand little pots of a hundred different varieties of plants.  I picked up Trees, Shrubs, and Perennials.  My favorite find was a Pawpaw tree.  How exciting!  Nearly all the plants I purchased at last years sale made it through their first winter and are growing well.

Plants purchased from local Native Plant Society
Last week I tossed some seed out into the vegetable patch which so far shows signs of life from Black Raspberries, Potatoes, Onions, Kale, and Garlic.  Anthony's Grandmothers Rhubarb seems to have died (so sad). My herb plot just outside the vegetable garden gate that I started last year containing Oregano, Rosemary, Dwarf Sage, and various Thyme's has really greened up.  The Rosa Rugosa has doubled and the just planted Borage and Fennel plants from K-mart have grown from the recent rains (I pick up a few common herbs for a little over a dollar each year).

I'll soon be planting my new window boxes that I picked up on freecycle and need to repot many plants that I overwintered in the basement.  I also have my 2 trays of tomatoes, peppers and various seedlings that are patiently awaiting for the last frost free date in our area, May 15th, to be permanently planted outdoors.

A little start of Johnny Jump Up's from my friend Sally growing strong.

My friend Cindy helps a local refugee couple and they were really excited about planting a garden.  So we brought over the tools, purchased some cow manure and bricks and got that garden planted last week (I'll blog more about that later).  

I feel like I'm a little behind this year and have more activities to occupy my time such as my Etsy shop and blogs.  But the weather will wait - it's only May 2, Summer has yet to begin.

Happy planting!  -Rebecca 
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