Cats, Chives, Tomatoes, Quilts

Quite a bit was accomplished Tuesday in the sewing room and beyond. We were expecting rain, and so I wanted to get everything done in the garden. That meant weeding the herb garden, fertilizing the herb garden and the two zucchini plants, and picking chive blossoms for chive blossom vinegar. Of course, I had a lot of help choosing the chive blossoms.

They haven't all opened yet, but I still had enough to get the job done.

When choosing blossoms, it's best to pick the ones that are not occupied by bees.

I picked about four cups worth.

After that they go into a jug. Cover them with white vinegar (or whatever vinegar you like), set them in a cool dark place for two weeks, strain out the blossoms, bottle them in some pretty container, and it's done.

They went into the pantry a couple of hours after this picture was taken, and the white vinegar already had a pink tinge to it. You can read about how to make chive blossom vinegar in more detail at this old blog post.

Maggie was out with us too. She likes to hide under the junipers or the raspberry bushes.

Here she demonstrates her full attack cat position.

She has so far refused to go through the kitty flap when it's closed, and so I've been taping it open with masking tape. Prior to that, we were leaving the sliding glass door ajar, which meant we were getting a lot of flying insects in the house. Not to worry...the big game is Maggie's favorite quarry. Here she's attacking something invisible to human eyes.

After I'd fertilized, weeded, and harvested chive blossoms, I took a little walk around. This azalea is looking amazing right now.

Two more of the rhododendrons are beginning to open.

This one at the far end of the herb garden is in full bloom right now.

Here's a close-up of its flowers. By the way, the pot in the image above is just sitting there. It used to contain mint, and it was buried in the herb garden. The goal was to keep the mint from taking over the garden. At some point, it burst out of its pot and started growing everywhere. When I say I'm "weeding" the herb garden, that generally means I'm pulling up mint starts. Don't worry about the mint though. It took up residence in one of the whiskey barrel planters, and that's an excellent place for it. Grow away, mint.

The first plums are appearing on the plum tree. I'm hopeful we'll get a good crop and that they will ripen at the right time. We have a vacation planned for two weeks at the beginning of September. Often, we are gone just at the wrong time, and I'm not able to harvest them. Since I'm fresh out of plum chutney, I really want to be able to make some this year.

Also, our much-maligned apple tree has some apples on it. I'm afraid if these all ripen, it might break the tree off at its trunk. The deer will probably keep them from that.

This is a lilac planted by the original owner of our home. It is in the shade of a sugar pine tree all day long, and it has never done very well. I think it needs more sunshine, but also, I think the pine needles on the soil surrounding it probably don't do anything good for its soil chemistry. We often think we'll dig it up, but its trunk is tall and graceful in a way that is interesting whether or not it ever produces any leaves or flowers.

This year, it actually has one cluster of blossoms.

The white iris are blooming to beat the band.

This is a burning bush. It puts on its best show in the fall when its foliage turns an eye-popping red color. In the spring, it produces these tiny white flowers.

Finally, I reached the object of my desire...the tomato starts in their red solo cups. They're tall enough they need repotting. Their foliage has a yellow cast to it because they've been sprinkled with sulfur dust to keep the sucking insects away.

When I was finished, they'd all been repotted into six-inch pots. They'll stay in these about six weeks when I'll repot them again into their largest pots of the season.

There are a couple of reasons for these medium sized pots...they might not be good reasons, but they are my reasons. I learned from my dear departed father-in-law who was a champion at growing tomatoes. First, the plant will grow roots to fill the pot before it grows any larger. Second, they need to be able to drink up the water in the pot so that they dry out on occasion. Tomatoes do not like wet feet. If the pot is too large, their roots are not able to absorb enough water to ever achieve dry soil. Third, it gives me something to do, and keeps me out of trouble.

Here, you can see that one of the new echinacea seeds has sprouted. The other three have yet to show themselves. Query: How is it that one seed can be so much ahead of the other three when they were all planted exactly the same way and at the same time? This is a mystery.

The cherry tomato has a tomato on it!

And with all of that done, it was time to get back to sewing the Adirondack chairs. After spending some time reading Ruth McDowell's book, I realized that I could avoid some of these smaller pieces if they were from the same fabric and if the seam line wasn't important to the design. Here's an example of what I'm talking about. If memory serves, these two pieces (combined into one) were a part of the chair leg. I've left the pin there so that you can see where I would have cut it if I followed the original line drawing, and also so that you can see the scale of some of these.

My friend Debbie pointed out that the fabric below the red chair suggests a shadow under the chair. She also suggested that I try to create a shadow under the green chair. 

That seemed like a good idea, and I remembered that I have some of Vickie Welsh's hand-dyed fabrics in a separate bin. Digging through them I found just the thing, I think. It has a little bit of pink, but more importantly, it brings in the green of the green chair. I'm considering replacing the fabric under the red chair by cutting another piece and repositioning the template to show more pink along with the green. In that way I can have both pink and green under each chair, and I will also be using the same fabric a second time.

Continuing on, I was able to piece this much of the red chair yesterday. 

Not all of the sections are sewn together, but I'm working a section at a time, and then sewing them together as I can. Here's where I left it.

Finally, I was able to get back to my embroidery project yesterday, and I stitched long enough to move the hoop.

Here's where I'll pick it up this morning.

That's where I'm headed next. I have just a little housework to do today, and then I'm going to get back to work on the Adirondack chairs. I've said I'll give myself through the end of the week to work on this, but frankly, I don't know if I'll be able to stop then. It's a completely engrossing effort, and I'm anxious to see it all finished.

11 comments from clever and witty friends:

Teresa in Music City said...

Always a pleasure to check in to see how many balls you are keeping balanced in the air on any given day :*). Love what's going on with your chairs! I have a few friends who have taken classes from Ruth and they loved it. I can certainly see where you would want to keeping working at it, somewhat like a jigsaw puzzle.

Debbie said...

Yes!! I think the force was with you today....a lot done and good selection of fabric I do think :) Love your garden walks and details. Maggie may turn into a force to be reckoned with someday.

WoolenSails said...

Your gardens are so beautiful and I am hoping to get more plants around the yard, once we get everything set in place and I know what areas to do. Maggie sure has bulked out, shows what lots of love can do.


Sarah said...

No one taught me to plant mint in a pot instead of just into the flower garden...let's just say my chocolate mint has spread far and wide, including into the grass. Mowing the side yard now has a delightful chocolate scent!

Vroomans' Quilts said...

Miss Maggie is looking so fine - a loving home has put a glow to her. Your flowers are amazing - maybe if we ever see some sunshine or tree buds might open. You are staying on task with the chairs - I think if you set it aside you will lose the mojo.

Pam's Applique Paintbox said...

what kind of camera do you use? I am getting a new camera for my birthday. your photos are sharp, clear, and with good color. I love photos and yours, especially of the cats-I am not a gardener, are delightful.

Barbara said...

Pam, your settings are at no-reply, and so I can't reply to you personally. I'm hoping you'll see my answer to your question here. I'm using a Nikon Coolpix S9900. It's a great little camera for the money, and I love it. It's the latest version of the Nikon Coolpix, and the third one I've owned.

Dana Gaffney said...

Wow, look at Maggie, she's filled out and her eyes have softened, so beautiful. Your yard is so amazing, will the kids come by and pick the plums if you're not there?

Lyndsey said...

Great photos of the kitties and beautiful flowers. I love that you get so involved with your projects that you just want to get them finished. It also works to your advantage since putting them away at a crucial stage can make you lose track of the project. I'm waiting until I retire to try some of these complicated techniques as I wouldn't have the time to follow them through in one hit and in the end they wouldn't get finished.

Pam Marbourg said...

thanks so much for the camera advice. I love how you can get so close to the flowers or bees and not lose the edges. your flower photos are wonderful tho i still like the cats best. thanks for the heads up on the settings-I am still working out this whole blogging thing but it sure is fun.

Kate said...

The chairs project is coming along beautifully. Looking forward to seeing that piece finished. You have a gorgeous garden. Thanks for sharing it.