27 August 2012

nice combos

 Self-sown Foeniculum vulgare 'Purpureum' (bronze fennel)
with Helenium autumnale  'Moorheim Beauty' behind.

Cleome hassleriana 'Pink Queen' against
a backlit wall of Cotinus coggyria 'Golden Spirit.'

Verbena bonariensis doing its perky, cute thing
in front of Phlox paniculata 'David.'

26 August 2012

garden timeline: aster 'october skies'

I pinched back my clump of three plants twice or three times this summer so that now I have what looks like a two-foot high shrub about three feet across. First bloom (with thousands more buds just beginning to develop): 19 August 2012.


garden timeline: clematis paniculata

First bloom on sweet autumn clematis: 25 August 2012.


most-asked-about plants in margaret roach's garden last weekend

I love listening to "A Way to Garden" on WHDD radio. I hook up to it via an app called Stitcher on my iPhone and listen to it, along with BBC Radio's "Gardeners' Question Time," WGLT's "Gardening with the Dean of Green," and NCPR's "Gardening Conversations" with Martha Foley and Amy Ivy (which isn't on Stitcher, but is available as a podcast), on my drives north from the city. These are my favorites, because I don't feel as if they are advertisements for a particular agenda or product, and they seem most focused on presenting useful information in a way that isn't pretentious or precious or jokey or dumbed down. I wish there were more programs like this, but I'm just not finding them. Any suggestions?

But I digress.

In Margaret Roach's most recent podcast, she listed out the plants that visitors asked about most during her recent garden tour, which was last weekend during the annual Copake Falls Day. Here they are:

I'm particularly interested in Aesculus pavia, which has red blossoms during the spring. Unusual.

23 August 2012

daylilies for james

James, here are a few daylilies I took note of at Slate Hill Farm last weekend. They're all in bloom now. Fiery, but fiery red, rather than fiery orange, most of them.

'Ruby My Dear': Red with a yellow throat, late, 28 inches (Craig and Mary Barnes, 2011)

'Augie Lombard': Red blend, very late, 31 inches (Bell, 1991)

'Caroline No': Red-orange with a red band above a yellow-green throat, late, 36 inches (Craig and Mary Barnes 2008)

'Challenger': Warm brick red with gold midribs, late midseason to late, 72 inches (Stout, 1949); Mary Barnes noted that it was blooming beautifully in an area with half sun

'Poinsettia': Orange-red spider, mid-season to late, 36 inches (Stout, 1953)
I know you already have 'Autumn Minaret." Did yours come into bloom a few weeks ago like mine did? It's already over six feet tall. Just beautiful.

'Princess Irene' is a great orange (see my previous post), and it was in bloom at Slate Hill Farm last weekend, too.

Old House Gardens is selling two other beautiful late daylilies, 'August Pioneer' and 'Black Friar.' Have you seen them?

Good luck! I think I may go back and buy a 'Challenger' this weekend. It really stood out to me. I'll also be on the lookout for more fiery orange daylilies for you . . .

16 August 2012

slate hill farm, the 2012 edition

Gracious, more daylilies! After church last Sunday, I had a choice: Turn left and go home to weed. Hmmmm. Turn right and visit Slate Hill Farm, just to look around a bit and see what's blooming . . . What do you think I did? What would you do?

Craig and Mary Barnes took time out from their weeding to walk me through their late-blooming daylilies, all of which I wanted to buy. I somehow managed to limit myself to fewer than 10. But just barely. I'll pick them up on Saturday.

The information below is from Slate Hill Farm and other sites (including Bloomingfields Farm and Oakes Daylilies):
  • 'Kindly Light' Classic spider, glowing yellow, very narrow petals recurved, blooming from mid-summer for about five weeks, 30 inches (Bechtold, 1950)
  • 'Princess Irene' Rich, clear orange, blooming from mid-summer until frost, 36 inches (Zager, 1952)
  • 'Poinsettia' (for some reason this one isn't in the online catalog, so I'm linking to Google images): Orange-red spider, mid-season to late, 36 inches (Stout, 1953)
  • 'Frans Hals' (ditto on this one, too): Bright rust and orange bicolor, creamy orange midrib on petals, very long blooming from midseason, 28 inches (Flory, 1955)
  • 'Bitsy' Grassy foliage, small yellow flowers, reblooms, extra-early, 20 inches (Warner, 1963)
  • 'Gold Thimble' Tiny, tiny, tiny! Beautiful little cup-shaped gold blossom (Hughes, 1966)
  • 'Lady Neva' Soft yellow semi-spider with rose eye, fragrant, early-midseason, 42 inches (Alexander/Moody, 1970)
  • 'Scarlet Orbit' Red with chartreuse throat, reblooms, fragrant, early, 22 inches (Gates, 1984)
  • 'Easter Monday' Pale yellow trumpet, fragrant(!), mid-season to late, 52 inches (Craig and Mary Barnes, 2006)
Notice the Barnes's hybrid, 'Easter Monday'? It's a large trumpet and fragrant. Say no more. And the color is wonderful. All right, stop. And did you notice how tall it is? That's it: I love it.

I seem to be partial to older varieties, traditional shapes, and traditional colors, although I did kind of a double-take on an almost white daylily that the Barnes are trialing now. I bet that would look great among brighter colors.

The last daylily I want to buy this year is Sydney Eddison's favorite, 'Painted Lady.' I've found it at Lakeview Daylily Farm, and nowhere else, so before it gets too much later in the season, I need to put a last order in . . .

12 August 2012

upstate new york hosta society plant sale

Yesterday morning, I tagged along with my hosta-loving friend Pam to the annual hosta sale sponsored by the Upstate New York Hosta Society at Faddegon's Nursery in Latham, New York. We decided to go a little early after she told me about last year's sale: She and her friend Diane arrived at 8:45 for what had been advertised as a 9:00 opening. When they got there, they were almost run over by all the early birds pulling carts piled high with hostas back to their cars. The sale had opened early.

The injustice!

So this year, we arrived at 8:30. Who knows but that other hosta lovers cried foul last year, because the sale began at 9:00 on the dot.

Our strategy was to grab the plants we might want and then review our finds later, which worked really well for us. We bought for three gardens—Pam's, Diane's, and B's and mine—so our two-tiered cart was jammed. Between the three of us, we ended up with something like 20 beautiful plants and spent a grand total of $103. Here are my purchases:

(left to right) 'Abiqua Drinking Gourd,' 'Christmas Tree,' 'August Moon,' 'Green and Gold,' and 'Sum and Substance'
    All healthy plants, and we had the opportunity to talk to a bunch of other people who love hostas, too (they're a congenial crowd). What a happy morning!

    21 July 2012

    welcome morning, by anne sexton

    There is joy
    in all:
    in the hair I brush each morning,
    in the Cannon towel, newly washed,
    that I rub my body with each morning,
    in the chapel of eggs I cook
    each morning,
    in the outcry from the kettle
    that heats my coffee
    each morning,
    in the spoon and the chair
    that cry "hello there, Anne"
    each morning,
    in the godhead of the table
    that I set my silver, plate, cup upon
    each morning.

    All this is God,
    right here in my pea-green house
    each morning
    and I mean,
    though often forget,
    to give thanks,
    to faint down by the kitchen table
    in a prayer of rejoicing
    as the holy birds at the kitchen window
    peck into their marriage of seeds.

    So while I think of it,
    let me paint a thank-you on my palm
    for this God, this laughter of the morning,
    lest it go unspoken.

    The Joy that isn't shared, I've heard,
    dies young.

    20 July 2012

    centaurea montana

    My mom grew this in a partly shady garden next to the stone wall on the south side of our yard, and I remember vases of the blooms on our dining room table when I was growing up. The flower always seemed a little odd to me, a little vulnerable, vague, and sparse. I wanted more petals. They're such an intense blue, but I thought there were too few of them. It's a pretty flower, but not in any usual way.

    Mom must have moved the plant to her garden at the lake house where she and my dad spend most of their summers these days, because she still cuts it for her flower arrangements. And I have remained ambivalent toward it.

    This means that I've never asked my mother for a piece of her plant to put in my garden, and when I've seen it or its gold-leaved cousin at nurseries, I've thought, Oh, I should buy that because it reminds me of home, but I never have.

    Then last summer, my friend Pam offered me a piece of her plant, and I thought, Oh, all right, let's try it. She told me not to be sad when the leaves disappeared after I put it in the ground. "It'll do that, and you'll think it's a goner. But then it will send up new leaves and maybe a bloom or two, and you will be happy." Well, it did send up a bunch of leaves last summer, but it didn't flower until this spring. And when it did, all my ambivalence disappeared.

    The sparseness of the petals seems delicate and elegant to me now. The plant is huge and has been in continuous bloom since May, a real plus in my gardening book. The blue is gorgeous, and by happy accident my Eryngium 'Sapphire Blue' is planted right next door, so that the interplay of these two odd birds is kind of wonderful. I'm such a fan that I'm considering buying the gold-leaved version, too, and, in fact, I did buy another centaurea this spring, Centaurea macrocephala. It has a yellow, thistle-like flower that makes it look like C. montana's football-playing older brother.

    I'm glad I got over my reservation about this wonderful plant. I don't know why it took me so long to decide to grow it up here on the hill, but I'm happy I finally came around. I feel like I should tell my mom that I get it now.

    And thank you, Pam!

    a million little stars

    The other night, after I watered all the squash I just transplanted (transplanted! in midsummer! so dry! what was I thinking!), I took a rest in the vegetable garden and noticed how sweet the flower bed in the middle looks. B has planted thyme and more thyme and yet more, and it is in bloom.

    19 July 2012

    midsummer triptych

    In spite of the dry summer we've had so far (note crispy Heuchera in the header), the garden looks lush; even 'Rozanne' is hanging in there, and she's in full sun!

    Foxglove with a backdrop of 'Blue Angel' hosta.
    Fern, astilbe, pachysandra.
    Geranium 'Rozanne' and Cotinus coggyria 'Royal Purple.'

    16 July 2012

    finally . . . an update and some fall-blooming crocus ordered

    How embarrassing not to have checked in since the days this spring when the poet's narcissus were in bloom! The garden continues to grow, however, and much is the same (while much is different). Spring has turned to summer, and with summer have come thoughts of autumn in general, and thoughts of fall-blooming crocus in particular. I'm always late to the party where ordering special bulbs is concerned, but this year, THIS YEAR, I've gotten my ducks in a row now and have just placed an order with Brent and Becky's Bulbs for the following:
    A few years back somehow I got my hands on some lovely pale-purple fall-blooming crocus that I planted in the perennial garden in September when space was at a real premium, which means that I tucked them between a raft of Stachys byzantina and a cloud of Anemone 'Honorine Jobert,' way over on the end where I never go. (I wonder if every gardener has a spot in the garden that's filled with plants that don't fit anywhere else.)

    The crocus got a little lost there, as you can imagine.

    I noticed and dug them this spring (never saw them bloom last fall), locating the bulbs by looking for their fading, threadlike foliage, and planted them throughout a bed of Vinca minor at the top of the driveway. Doing this has several advantages: the dark foliage of the vinca will be a nice backdrop to the flowers; the ripening foliage won't be a distraction in spring, and B and I will actually be able to see them when we drive up the driveway! I'll plant the new additions to the family in this bed, too.

    Very excited.

    30 April 2012

    poet's narcissus for betty

    Narcissus poeticus is a very old daffodil associated with the Greek legend of Narcissus. I think it's one of the prettiest: clean, white petals and small yellow corona ringed with intense red. We have some variants that have the same white petals and corona, but are ringed with orange or salmon.

    Normally, they're among the last daffodils to bloom, usually late in May, but all bets are off this year, because they're blooming now. They're also very fragrant, and Wikipedia says that the essential oil derived from it is one of the most popular fragrances used in perfume. I did not know that!

    Have you ever noticed that the later daffodils are the ones that smell the best? I wonder if that's because when they bloom they have to compete with a lot of other flowers, whereas the earlier ones more or less have the place to themselves.

    Narcissus poeticus, though the red ring on the corona is not as intense as some I've seen.
    (Photo by Jean-Jacques Milan, via Wikimedia Commons.)

    29 April 2012

    it had to happen: second and third plant orders

    After a glorious day of digging and raking and dragging and thinking, I went online last night and spent the rest of my birthday money on a few more little items for the garden:

    Dahlias!

    Much as I love Old House Gardens, I took the advice of Kris from Blithewold in Rhode Island and checked out Swan Island Dahlias in Canby, Oregon. Amazing number of dahlia tubers available, but I was most interested in finding one that B noticed at Blithewold last summer: 'Willie Willie.' I know, I know.

    But anyway.

    I got my hands on that one (oh, stop), and then found a few others that looked equally as lovely: 'Crazy Legs' and 'Star Child.' Then, because we must never forget our origins, I ordered Dahlia sorensenii, one of the very first dahlias taken from Mexico to England to hybridize, according to the Swan Island Dahlias website. It's a very clear, light purple.

    And who wants more hostas? I do! I do!

    So then I trundled over to the New Hampshire Hostas website where I dropped a few selections into my shopping cart, including 'Empress Wu,' because I am not feeling very hopeful about the two plants Pam scored for me last fall (a possible casualty of the snowless winter?), and another 'June' and 'Spilt Milk,' and then, despite the really horrible name, what is supposed to be a very fragrant variety, 'Fried Green Tomatoes.'

    I am lousy with dahlias and hostas. And that's an enviable position to be in.

    soil temperature

    Even with the all-over-the-map temperatures we've had this spring, and the early appearance of the daffodils, and the possibility that the ground didn't freeze as deeply as it normally does (I planted daffodils the second day of January, for crying out loud!), it is still early spring here on the hill. As I weeded yesterday, I realized how cold the ground is (conversely, the ground stayed warm pretty late into the fall last year).

    Other than the daffodils and the ramps in the woods and the grass (Scott mowed for the first time of the season on Thursday) and, of course, the Euphorbia polychroma in the header above, the garden is taking its time waking up. Good thing, too, because we've had frost the past two nights (27.7 degrees on Friday night, 29.8 degrees last night). The baptisia is about six inches tall, the noses of the hostas are three inches out of the ground, and there are some other early risers (helianthus, nepeta, geranium), but most seem to be holding back. They know when the time is right.

    28 April 2012

    actually accomplished on saturday

    As of 10:15 am
    • Weeded dahlia bed
    • Weeded new bed by barn
    • Dug and replanted some autumn crocus (more to replant this afternoon)
    10:20 am: Off to town to pick up mail and visit hardware store to buy digging fork, replacement blade for cutters, oil for lawnmower

    By 7:00 pm
    • Dug, divided and moved one clump of daffodils that were too close to an aruncus (it's a start, after all!)
    • Dug, divided, and replanted  'Blue Angel' hosta, numerous astilbes, and ostrich ferns; raked out and weeded astilbe bed
    • Cut down old grass in perennial bed; used new digging fork to dig up dandelions, too
    • Cut back Rosa rugosa on slope and piled branches as neatly as I could for Ted to take away
    • Replanted rest of autumn crocus
    • Began weeding between boxes in vegetable garden
    What a glorious day and what a nice sleep I'll have tonight!

    27 April 2012

    on the docket for saturday

    • Dig, divide, and move five clumps of daffodils (it's a start!)
    • Wager with Betty: 10 of my poeticus for 10 of her 'Van Sion'
    • Dig and divide hostas and astilbes (and move to where pachysandra will be removed?)
    • Cut down old grass in perennial bed; top off mulch
    • Drag brush for Ted to cart away

    back into the 20s?

    Craziest spring, but I believe I say that every year.

    Smelled wood smoke in the air this evening, and that reminded me of a friend who greeted me with a question last week: "So, have the leaves at your place changed yet?" which made both of us chuckle.

    Our daffodils have looked tired from the moment they emerged—early—this year. I wonder whether all the up-and-down temperatures contributed to their lassitude. The past couple weeks have been much cooler, though, and we had some rain last weekend, so the later poeticus look lovely. B took a bunch into the office.

    All we can do is hang on. No doubt that by June, as Hal Borland says, things will pretty well even out. From the perspective of the summer of 1967 he wrote (after a late, cold, wet spring), "The earth kept spinning, the seasons did follow their eternal sequence, and the urge to sprout and grow didn't even falter."

    Still, I worry about the lilacs, which are close to blooming and have a very good chance of being clobbered by temperatures in the 20s tonight. Oh, well.

    07 April 2012

    garlic up and growing

    You can see that in the header image. Didn't get around to ordering garlic from a garlic grower last fall, so I decided to get my garlic from the grocery store. It's not organic, it's nothing special, but it's up!

    Seriously, I don't know much about growing garlic, but I do know that any head I buy at the store begins greening up and sprouting before I've used it all up, so I figured I'd give garlic with a Price Chopper provenance a shot in the garden. The worst that can happen? We don't get any garlic. Shoot, we can handle that.


    Look how pretty, all snug in its box.


    great day in the garden . . .

    . . . or shall I say in the margins of the garden, because that's where I spent my time, dragging fallen branches into a pile that Ted, our resident brush hauler, takes away whenever I call him. That's luxury: I gather the debris, and he makes it disappear.

    He also dispatched a pesky pile of compost that someone (not us!) dumped next to the cow barn way before our time, right at the foot of an old broken-down fence. Ted took the fence down (I saved the posts, which must be over a hundred years old and are made of white oak, we think), used a pickaxe to clear the weeds from the heap , and then spread the pile around and leveled it. Beautiful. A backbreaking chore, and one he accomplished in about two hours. My hero, because I've been meaning to get to this for the past few years, but always never quite do.

    B and I are now considering what to do with this sweet new garden. Do we want Ted to erect a new fence that we could plant golden raspberries on? Do we want another dahlia bed? Hmmmm . . .

    After Ted left, with a promise to come back soon and cart away another few piles of brush, B and I mowed around the young spruce trees on the hill behind the garage, dug out some Rosa multiflora and wild raspberries, did a little raking and a little more dragging, and then pretty much crawled back inside. We will hurt tomorrow.

    Still lots to be done, but looking better.

    helleboah

    I love them, and every time I say the genus name out loud I feel like Katharine Hepburn: "The hellebores are in bloom again . . ."

    But, gosh, what a pretty flower. And all the more so because I have to crawl around on my hands and knees and search them out. They nod and hide among the leaves. And because I planted mine among some pachysandra, which has somewhat similar-looking leaves, I really have to crawl around to locate the plants as well as the flowers. 

    A few weeks ago on "Gardeners' Question Time," one of the panelists visited Ashwood Nurseries in Staffordshire and talked with Phillip Baulk, who breeds hellebores. He was awfully proud of some new varieties that have upward-facing blossoms, and he asked Pippa Greenwood what she thought of them. She giggled, hesitated, and then told him that she thought they were horrible. She likes her hellebore blossoms facing downward, because she likes to have to look for them, same as me. Even though the upward-facing variety in question shown on the Gardeners' Question Time website is nice looking, the blossoms have a sort of a brazenness to their gaze. They're a little too direct. 

    Hellebore-bore-bore.

    If you feel the need to contemplate a bloom from a sitting or standing position (rather than lying on your back among the pachysandra), you can do what I do: pinch one off and float it in an eggcup. 

    new box for vegetable garden

    The 4'x4' boxes we knocked together for the vegetable garden seven years ago (SEVEN YEARS!) are on their last legs, sad to say. We probably should have replaced them last year, but, eh, you know, time passes so quickly and where did the spring go and where did the summer go and all that. Now they are in rough shape.

    When we made the first boxes in 2005, we used 2x6 boards cut into 4-foot lengths, as per Mel Bartholemew's Square Foot Gardening instructions. But when Betty put her garden together a few years ago, she used 2x10s, and they look wonderful. So now we are using 2x10s, too. Lovely lovely lovely.

    Top row, left to right: Thank you for seven years of service, old box! New box assembled and ready to go (please note artfully arranged watering can and late-afternoon shadows on new box's pristine sides). B making way for the new box.  Bottom row, left to right: B placing the new box. B posing with the newly placed new box. Old box remnants on their way to the compost heap.

    Because B wanted to get the potatoes planted on Good Friday (that's when his grandmother planted hers in Kentucky) AND under a full moon (a full moon, right? the best time to plant, right?), we stopped at the Agway yesterday afternoon and had the boards for the potato box cut for us.
    Full moon shining over Pleasant Hill, Good Friday 2012.

    I screwed the box together on the patio, B and I trundled the new box over to the garden in our cart, and B set it in place. And then last night we planted our potatoes (half a box of 'Katahdin' and half 'Red Norland') in the light of the full (and silvery) moon.

    Only five more boxes to go!

    04 April 2012

    more plants, please!

    An order with Select Seeds. I've been looking for 'Will's Wonderful' for a few years at least, and 'Hillside Sheffield Pink' looks as if it will be happy near 'Mary Stoker,' if, indeed, 'Mary' made it through the winter.

    Seeds, seeds. Nothing too difficult here, but all old varieties (or old-looking), which is satisfying for an old guy in an old house.

    Seeds
    • Amaranth caudatus 'Coral Fountain'
    • Scabiosa atropurpurea 'Black Knight' (ca. 1760)
    • Mirabilis longiflora 'Fairy Trumpets' (ca. 1806)
    • Cosmos sulphureus 'Cosmic Red'
    • Tagetes tenuifolia 'Signet Lemon Gem' (1798)
    • Zinnia tenuiflora 'Red Spider' (ca. 1801)
    • Rhodochiton atrosanguineum (purple bell vine) (1833)
    Plants
    • Chrysanthemum rubellum 'Will's Wonderful'
    • Chrysanthemum rubellum 'Hillside Sheffield Pink'
    • Geranium 'Fair Ellen'
    Click on the photo to see a larger version. All photos snipped from Select Seeds website. Top row, left to right: Amaranth  'Coral Fountain'' Geranium 'Fair Ellen'; Mirabilis 'Fairy Trumpets';  Cosmos 'Cosmic Red'; Scabiosa 'Black Knight' Bottom row, left to right: Zinnia 'Red Spider'; Tagetes 'Signet Lemon Gem'; Rhodochiton (purple bell vine); Chrysanthemum 'Will's Wonderful'; Chrysanthemum 'Hillside Sheffield Pink'

    23 March 2012

    first daffodils: 22 march 2012

    Just for the record.

    Mentions of first daffodils in recent years:
    • 10 April 2011
    • 4 April 2010
    • 12 April 2009
    • 19 April 2008
    Snowdrops have been up for at least a few weeks; wish I'd noted when we first noticed them. Also: squill and crocuses blooming now, too.

    22 March 2012

    word(s) on good plants

    From "Gardener's Question Time" on the BBC
    • Salvia 'Huntington Spires'
    • Lysimachia ephemerum
    • Sedum 'Matrona'
    • Monarda 'Violet Queen'
    • Amelanchier (good fall color)
    • Sorbus (good fall color)
    From "The Dean of Green"; trees with good fall color and (in the case of the Salix) shape
    • American yellowwood (Cladrastis kentukea)
    • Blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica)
    • Paperbark maple (Acer griseum)
    • Salix contorta
    Dryopteris erythrosora: good fern for dry shade

    12 January 2012

    about those daffodils

    I love daffodils. I love all their different forms, from the simple early ones that shout Spring! Hello! Rebirth! Everything is new! (B's mom calls them Easter lilies, which makes a lot sense to me), to the very finely made  N. poeticus, to 'Van Sion' that is as persistent as an old peony. They're beautiful in bloom.

    They're also pretty unsightly after they've finished showing off. For a few years I had been planning on digging, dividing, and replanting clumps of daffodils on the east side of the peony bed that each year swallow the lupines interplanted with them. The foliage persists until July, and because I can't easily weed between the thick clumps of leaves, by midsummer the whole bed looks pretty awful.

    So last August I dug a couple hundred bulbs out with every good intention of relocating them in October. I piled them in a basket, parked the basket in the basement next to the bulkhead door, and then it was out of sight, out of mind through October. When November came and went, I figured I'd lost my chance to replant them, but December was a lot warmer than normal. Christmas was positively balmy, and on the second day of January, with three hours left before B and I headed back to the city, I grabbed a shovel, determined that the ground was not yet frozen, and planted those babies all over the place.

    Some are behind the stone wall, on the edge of the cowpath. Some are on the margins of the woods to the north of the house. A quantity more are nestled beneath a cover of fallen leaves in the woodlot to the west. A few are in a hummock of rich, rock-free soil I discovered near the old orchard. We'll see, won't we?

    I did right by those daffodils, eventually. Hope they aren't too put out with me for forgetting them these past months. Hope they are happy to have some room to spread.

    11 January 2012

    expecting snow

    We've had so little snow this winter thatI can't believe I'm actually writing this, given the long, rough winter we had last yearI'm excited about the storm headed our way this evening. Excited in the way I was about snow when I was little. I want to stay up late and watch it begin. I've lit all of the candles in the windows to welcome it. Maybe I should make it a little hot chocolate, too.

    This winter has been beyond unusual. Temperatures have stayed mostly in the 30s and 40s for months. The ground is barely frozen, if at all (I planted some forgotten daffodils a little more than a week ago, on the second day of January). We haven't had to pay our plow guy yet, because he has had nothing to plow. I've shoveled off the patio a grand total of once, and even then, the snow on it probably would have melted on its own.

    So, you might say I'm in a celebratory, anticipatory frame of mind. Two to six inches of snow before midday tomorrow is all right with me.