Archive for the ‘Fun with Plants’ Category

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – October 2016

The Front Garden at Hayefield - October 2016

Yes, FINALLY, we did get some rain: a few blessed inches at the end of September. We’re still about 8 inches behind for the year, and it doesn’t look like there will be more soaking rain for a while, but it was better than nothing. It was enough, at least, to freshen things up a bit over the past few weeks. Continue reading

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – March 2016

Galanthus nivalis 2 Ondra

There’s a lot to smile about right now, that’s for sure. It’s not often that I have enough flowers in mid-March for a Bloom Day post. Our weather has been so freakishly warm–more like May or June than March–that new things are coming into bloom daily, and some of the earliest bulbs are almost finished now.

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Celebrating Containers

'Profusion Double Cherry' zinnia with Carita Purple angelonia (Angelonia angustifolia 'Car Purr09') and 'Golden Edge' golden dewdrop (Duranta erecta); Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

All-summer interest: ‘Profusion Double Cherry’ zinnia with Carita Purple angelonia (Angelonia angustifolia ‘Car Purr09’) and ‘Golden Edge’ golden dewdrop (Duranta erecta)

I have to admit to being something of a late arrival to the container-gardening fan club. When I look back at pictures of my previous garden, I’m surprised at how few pots I had–well, except for the hundreds of potted seedlings I raised in my little backyard nursery. I mean the usual sort of container plantings: one or more decorative pots meant to add a touch of color where in-ground planting isn’t practical, such as next to a door or on a patio. I guess it’s because I was still fresh my studies of soil science and thought of pots and potting soil only as a propagation tool–a poor second to the experience of digging and planting in “real” soil. Continue reading

First Impressions

Anemone x hybrida Plaster Tile; Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

It’s so easy to find inspiration: interesting garden projects, gorgeous plant combinations to try, and beautiful things to make. The hard part is finding the time to actually try some of the wonderful ideas that other people have come up with. My own to-do list is ridiculously long, but over the past few months, I’ve been ticking a few things off of the list and having a great time doing it. One project I’m particularly excited about has been at the top of the list ever since I read about it in the March 2014 issue of Gardens Illustrated. The article, which you can read online here, features the work of Rachel Dein in the U.K.. It focuses primarily on her work with making plaster castings of plants, though she works with other materials as well. The photos of the finished projects were so enticing that I knew I had to try the process for myself. Continue reading

Mid-Autumn Miscellany

Autumn rainbow at

Apart from two light frosts in October, the weather has been mostly quite mild here in southeastern Pennsylvania, but we’re getting a taste of Novembery chill today. Knowing that the bad weather was coming, I took advantage of lingering blooms and fall-colored leaves a few days ago to have fun with some scans. But first, some odds and ends.

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Paper Training

Handmade paper with fall leaves

Being immersed in writing a book is a great experience, but when I’m in between books, I enjoy picking up smaller assignments, especially when I’m asked to write about topics I normally don’t get to indulge in. Over the last six months, I’ve been working on a number of fun plant-related projects for the HGTV website, which has given me the opportunity to experiment with a variety of crafting techniques. I’ve enjoyed them all, but one of the best ones was learning how to turn some of my favorite garden plants into handmade paper. So, as a change from post after post of endless garden photos, I decided to write up some of the stuff that I didn’t get to include in the finished project, just in case any of you might like to give this a try while there’s still lots of great paper-making material available in the garden.

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Herb Mustard and Edible Publications


Text and photos ©Nancy J. Ondra

Granted, writing about food that isn’t still attached to roots is a bit of a stretch for me. Those of you who have been reading here a while know that I’ve mentioned a few (hundred) times that I’m not much of a cook. It’s not that I lack the basic skills: I can cook when the mood strikes, but it doesn’t happen often. I put a great deal of thought and time into preparing feed for my animals, but for myself…well, it seems like a poor use of time I could use to garden or read or play Neopets. But I do have a few things I enjoy making, mostly because Mom likes them too: granola, roasted root vegetables, and onion soup. And once a year, a batch of herb mustard. Continue reading