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Tangled Branches: Cultivated

happenings in and around my zone 6b gardens in northern Virginia and in central Virginia

Monday, September 29, 2003

Weather: cool and breezy - fall is coming.

Planting: bought some fresh plants for the planters on the front steps today at Merrifield Garden Center. I found some of the Fall Magic Proven Winners on the discount table for $1 each. They normally go for 4 bucks each. Such a deal. Also bought some that were not discounted. Have to get the tags out to see exactly what I bought, but this is a rough outline: Million Bells - blue, Osteospermum - peach and orange; Diascia - apricot; yellow & green variegated sage; Pansy (or Viola?) 'Halloween' and Pansy 'Delta Orange'. These went in the planters with the Carex 'Toffee Twist' that was there all summer. I got enough to really jam the planters full since they are not going to grow very much more this year.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Weather: beautiful day today - sunny and cool. We had quite a lot of rain Monday night/Tuesday morning.

Chores: cut down the last of the hosta flowering stalks; cut down part of the wild oat grass from the area near where the big oak tree was cut down - want to move this grass next spring; cut down some of the tall annuals that got finished off by the storm; picked up sticks in the yard left by the hurricane (will get the leaves and tiny twigs with the lawn mower); raked the gravel in back and repositioned some of the pots I moved before the storm.

Wildlife: lots of bird activity today - saw a big flock (10-20) of grackles raiding the Nuttery feeder and the dogwood berries (around 9:30-10 am); saw what looked to be goldfinch fledglings fluttering and chirping in the trees and more goldfinches eating seeds from the Rudbeckia and the basil plants; saw several wrens in the afternoon. Didn't hear any cicadas this afternoon - wonder if they were gone before this and I didn't notice. While I was raking the gravel in back, I almost raked up a little toad. I shooed it over into the plants by the air conditioner. Just now saw a young rabbit hopping around among the planters that I had grouped together before the storm.

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Monday, September 22, 2003

Pictures: just uploaded some pictures I took at Great Falls yesterday.

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Sunday, September 21, 2003

Hurricane summary and corrections: we went out to Great Falls today to look at the river; there is a lot of water there, but nothing historic - hope to have some pictures to post later - meanwhile here is one from Reuters; between yesterday's excursion to Arlington and today's to Great Falls we got a general idea of the storm damage - trees and large branches down here and there but nothing really devastating; we have not seen first-hand any of the flooding in Alexandria or the bay.

Correction to my post of Sept. 18 at 10:35 - Staunton did NOT get 14 inches of rain. This was an erroneous report due to malfunctioning rain gauge.

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Friday, September 19, 2003

Hurricane blog: the worst of the storm was over by the time we got up this morning; lots of leaves and small branches down in the yard, but no major damage; the recently-built squirrel nest in back was pretty well destroyed though - squirrels are busy this morning making repairs; we had a power outage between 11:20 pm and 3:30 am, and lost the Internet connection; I'm writing this from the office; Fairfax County is advising residents to boil their water due to power outages at the treatment plants - this has not been very well publicized on the local news; been searching the Internet to find news of the Outer Banks, but have not been able to find much - it seems that the road is washed out and there has been a lot of damage in Hatteras Village.

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Thursday, September 18, 2003

Hurricane blog: we are now getting the heaviest rain and wind so far; the skylights are covered with leaves and pieces of leaves; we have had brief power outages (just a few seconds each) but it seems fine now; just heard on TV that Staunton has had 14 - yes 14 - inches of rain so far, and it now looks like the heaviest rain will be west of us.

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Hurricane blog: we had a brief (few seconds) power outage around 6:30, but managed to get dinner cooked anyway; the patio door started leaking while we were eating dinner; checked the basement and it is leaking in the usual place at the top of the foundation (never understood that - it is well above ground level); the wind is gusty and it continues to rain; it appears that we have had about an inch of rain so far.

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Hurricane blog: the lights dimmed twice just now; Bob Ryan just said that we can expect the worst wind and rain between 9 pm tonight and 3 am tomorrow; we have a lot of leaves and sticks down in the back yard.

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Hurricane blog: raining steadily now; still breezy - nothing major - a few tree leaves are down in back but some of those were starting to fall anyway.

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Hurricane blog: just started to rain, so I took down the bird feeder. You should have seen the surprised birds this morning after I took down the hanging baskets. They were used to perching on them, and so they came flying along as usual, getting ready to stop at the hanging basket and - "huh?, where'd it go?"

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Hurricane blog: not much to report yet. We had a few drops of rain around 7-8 AM this morning, but otherwise just overcast. The wind started to pick up in the last half hour or so, but it's just breezy - nothing unusual. I'm waiting until the last minute to take down the bird feeder, but everything else has either been put in the garage (grill, lawn chair, some small plants) or grouped together (big plant pots with little pots clusted in the center) or made horizontal (took down my cinder block plant "shelf"). Watching and waiting.....

Yesterday's weather: another spectacular day - no hint of any storm to come.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Weather: absolutely gorgeous!

Wildlife: saw 2 hawks soaring over the pipeline this afternoon, but by the time I got out the binoculars they were gone.

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Monday, September 15, 2003

Weather: the day began dark gray overcast, but the sun is now out and it's a bit humid. We had gray skies and rain/drizzle every day from Friday til this afternoon. Expecting rain/thunderstorms later this afternoon. Watching Hurricane Isabel, but I still believe that if they are predicting it to come close to us then it probably will not.

Chores: pulled off the mature Eragrostis seedheads, only leaving a few thousand seeds behind to sprout next spring; pulled up the raggedy-looking Nicotiana in the planters on the front steps.

Wildlife: just saw a nice big tiger swallowtail butterfly on the Buddleja. Haven't seen a hummingbird for many days now, even though birders are reporting them in the area. Wish I would see some of the many warblers being reported.

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Friday, September 12, 2003

Weather: started raining mid-morning and has been raining since. This is supposedly the remants of T.S. Henri.

Gardening? Have not done any gardening for several days. Next-door neighbors are getting a new roof (must be paying by the hour - they have been working there all week), and neighbors across the street are getting new paint and gutters, and I didn't feel like working outside with all that going on. So I didn't.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Weather: cool (56) and clear this morning. Nice clear sky last night for viewing the Moon and Mars. Clear skies also expected tonight. Did I mention that it was clear? Not a cloud in the sky.

Wildlife: saw a crow in back this morning for the first time in a long time. Haven't observed much wildlife activity lately due to working at the office and then trying to catch up at home between times.

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Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Weather: We have had very nice weather the last few days - some clouds, some sun, but mostly very pleasant.

Pictures: Not much gardening done in the last few days, but did get a few pictures of the butterflies that have been hanging around the sedum. Don't know what kind of butterflies, but I am assuming some kind of swallowtail. Also, one picture of the dogwood berries turning red, and the leaves just starting to turn. Seems too early....

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Saturday, September 06, 2003

Weather: cool, mostly sunny, pleasant. The forecast low for tonight is near 50 degrees.

Other people's gardens/farms: We made our 3rd trip in 3 weekends to the Arlington Farmer's Market this morning. Had used up just about all the vegetables and bread in the house, so we got a large haul today: peaches at Toigo Orchards, tomatoes at Wheatland Vegetable Farm, Juliet plum tomatoes at Potomac Vegetable Farm, potatoes at Laurel Grove, baby bell peppers at Red Rake Farm; chicken and duck eggs at Polyface, Rustic bread and Atoka cheese at McLeod, and croissant and cookies at Takoma Kitchens.

Wildlife: just saw a beautiful black/blue/orange swallowtail butterfly, but it wouldn't let me get its picture - will keep trying - this one was very pretty.

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Friday, September 05, 2003

Weather: cool (69 degrees at 11 am), clear and breezy. It's almost too cold in the house with the windows open.

Wildlife notes: saw a cicada caught in a spider web in the top of the redbud tree on the side of the house. At first I thought it was a hummingbird, and I would try to rescue it. Then I looked at it through binoculars and found it to be a cicada, so I will heartlessly leave it to its fate. Cicadas are very numerous this year.

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Thursday, September 04, 2003

Weather: rain, and gray skies. Supposed to clear up for the weekend though.
Didn't do any outdoor work yesterday.

Region: The NY Times House & Home section today featured a couple from Chantilly in an article on fat suburbanites. I have to look up which subdivision this is, but I think it is just off Stringfellow Rd., fairly close by. Maybe we fat suburbanites should try more vigorous gardening.....

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Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Weather: raining again; more expected. We had a quick thunderstorm with some gusty winds last evening.

Chores: weeded, deadheaded, trimmed ground cover plants back away from the sidewalk, took down the Nuttery bird feeder for a good cleaning.

Flower Notes: my biggest, nicest cosmos plant got bent over in the wind last night although it's not quite broken off. My first instinct was to cut it down, but it will never recover in time to bloom again this year, so I'll either just leave it be (a weeping cosmos?) or try to stake it. Buddleja 'Black Knight' is blooming again after a long break.

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