Are Alpacas the Answer?

Duncan and Daniel

Text and photo ©Nancy J. Ondra

“What made you decide to get alpacas?”, people ask me. Well, the fleece has some value, if you can find someone who wants it, and they’re fun to watch and hang around with. Plus, the endless supply of manure is invaluable for the garden. But apparently that’ not all they’re good for! Check out this link from The Onion: “Congress to Raise Alpacas to Aid Struggling Economy.” If only I’d gotten a boy and a girl, instead of two boys. (But no, I wouldn’t give up either Daniel or Duncan to get a girl instead.)

‘Red Noodle’ Beans

Yardlong bean 'Red Noodle' (Vigna unguiculata)

Text and photos ©Nancy J. Ondra

The topic of arbors and pergolas for January’s Garden Bloggers’ Design Workshop has gotten me thinking about some of the climbers I tried on my new arches last year. I’d decided that the orchard arch ought to have something edible, so when I found ‘Red Noodle’ (also called ‘Chinese Red Noodle’) bean in the Territorial Seed catalog, it seemed like a good choice.

Read More

And So It Begins…

Text and photos ©Nancy J. Ondra

Seeds from Pinetree and Territorial Jan 28 08It’s still winter outside, but spring is showing signs of returning – at least in my mailbox. The last two days have brought a bounty of seed orders: Pinetree Garden Seeds (42 packets) and Territorial Seed Company (11 packets) on Tuesday and Thompson & Morgan (13 packets) yesterday. So, 66 so far, and many more on the way! What was I thinking? I should have been thinking of how I’m going to manage all of this with four plant lights and one cold frame. Oh well, it’s worked out every other year, so I’m sure I’ll manage somehow. (As a side note, the rather ominous-looking bladed instrument in the photo is a machete from Pinetree. I’ve always wanted one, and I couldn’t resist it at $9.98.

Potato seeds Jan 28 08Many of the seeds are repeats of last year’s favorite veggies and flowers, but I do have a few new things to try. One of the most intriguing so far is potato seeds – not seed potatoes, but actual potato seeds. They arrived from Territorial in this curious little container protected with a large tuft of cotton. Never having seen actual potato seeds, I didn’t know what to expect. I wish I’d been more careful when I pulled out the cotton, because I managed to lose a few of the seeds in the process. As you can see (those three white dots in front of the container), they’re pretty small!

Lysimachia atropurpurea June 8 06One favorite that I haven’t had for a few years is Lysimachia atropurpurea. Not to be confused with the aggressive purple-leaved loosestrife (Lysimachia ciliata ‘Purpurea’) or the invasive purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), this delicate beauty usually acts like a biennial here. The first year, its clumps of grayish green leaves are interesting but not especially showy. If they make it through the winter, though, the second-year show is fantastic, with spikes of blackberry-scented, violet-colored flowers in early summer. I’ve let them go to seed in past years but they’ve never self-sowed, so I’m thrilled to have a new batch of seed to try again.

Winter Sunrise

Good morning! January 29 2008

Not having a great singing voice, I’m trying to resist a rousing rendition of “Oh What a Beautiful Morning.” But oh, it really is. I hope it’s equally beautiful wherever you are today!

Wildflowers on Ice

Schizachyrium scoparium on ice

Text and photos ©Nancy J. Ondra

Several other bloggers are posting this week on the subject “Wildflowers in Winter,” so I’m joining in with some shots from my southeastern Pennsylvania meadow. All of these are from December 14, 2007, in between two periods of freezing rain.

Read More

Arbors Revisited

White arbor in Ondra garden Emmaus 2000

Text and photos ©Nancy J. Ondra

I recently acquired a scanner to turn slides into digital files, and I’ve been having fun sorting through slides of my previous garden. The scanning results haven’t been great, but since I found some images of the arbors and vines I had there, I figured this month’s Garden Bloggers’ Design Workshop would be a good opportunity to try them out.

Read More

Summer Wildflowers in PA

Asclepias syriaca
Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed)

Text and photos ©Nancy J. Ondra

A number of other garden bloggers have been thinking ahead to warmer weather and posting pictures of their favorite summer wildflowers. What a great excuse to look through our photo archives and indulge in some color. So, here’s my contribution to the cause: a gallery of native forbs and grasses, all taken in sunny, mostly wet meadows here in southeastern Pennsylvania.

Read More