Thursday, May 21, 2009

Meet Walle

Walle is our new kitten! He is 8-weeks old. He likes to bite, scratch, play, and sleep (cat nap). It is difficult to photograph him because he rarely sits still. I named him after WALL-E in the movie because I really like that movie.

He likes to sleep inside the laundry basket with our dirty laundry. I have no idea how he gets in here, but I've seen him jump out.

His favorite toys are a stuffed chipmunk tied to a ribbon and jingle bell ball tied to some leftover Christmas bows.

Walle, say "Hello" to our Blogger visitors!

Well, looks like Walle is being a little shy! Everyone, please welcome Walle to the family!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Rose Victory

I left three beautiful David Austin roses in my old garden when we moved from Oxford, and two of them have struggled since that first summer. I decided earlier this year that I would move those two to my new garden. In my new garden, Golden Celebration needed a better spot where he could arch freely without getting in the driveway. That left me with two big holes to fill, perfect for Tamora and Ambridge Rose from my old garden.

In late January, before the big move:

The very next day, after Phase One of the big move:
Of course I meant to travel to Oxford soon after I completed Phase One to complete Phase Two: moving and transplanting Ambridge Rose and Tamora to my new garden. But, I didn't get around to it in February at all. Then March rolled around and I still had not moved the roses. Finally in late March I moved Ambridge Rose and Tamora and planted them in their new homes:

Tamora took to her new home beautifully. She immediately picked up where she left off and began the process of leafing out and putting on blooms. Ambridge Rose, however, faltered. Many of her best canes were turning brown and black and dying back. Around the first of May, I cut her back a little bit to see if that would help:

Then, I cut her back even more. All the brown canes came off and I left only the green ones. This photo was taken on May 15th, and I am happy to say that Ambridge Rose is leafing out! Take a look:

And here is Tamora with her first few blooms:

I am so glad I was able to transplant Tamora successfully and revive Ambridge Rose! Austins are not cheap, so I was really bummed out when I thought that Ambridge Rose was dying. I learned a bunch about tranplanting mature shrubs like these. Especially these roses since they are covered with long, sharp thorns. What I'll do differently next time:
  • Don't wait until late spring to transplant. Early spring is better.
  • When digging up the shrub from its original location, be gentle, even if the thorny rose isn't gentle with you. Just because you get a thorn stuck in your forearm (and knee and centimeters from your eye) doesn't give you license to chop away at its rootball like you are cutting up firewood.
  • After transplanting the rose to its new spot, mulch around the shrub immediately. Don't wait 6 weeks! You want to keep all that good moisture in so that the ground is soft and the roots can grow freely.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - May 2009

What's blooming...

in my herb garden?

Catmint "Walker's Low"

in my backyard?

Hydrangea "Endless Summer"

Gardenia "August Beauty"

in my veggie garden?

There's not much blooming, but I have leeks, lettuce, Swiss chard, and fennel. And sugar snap peas, eight-ball zucchini, and yellow crookneck squash.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

My Front Porch Sitting Spot

On Sunday evenings Chip and I love to sit on the porch with a glass of wine and enjoy the last few daylight moments of my weekend. When we got home from our vacation, I was excited to see how pretty the front porch looked. Here is my favorite porch sitting spot.

The 'Bridal Wreath' Spirea has a few tiny white blooms left - not many. The 'New Gold' Lantana is just beginning to bloom. Knockout roses are really rocking my world this year. I love all of that color! Verbena 'Homestead Purple' is blooming like crazy, but the foliage is turning brown. What's that all about? My last two irises are beautiful. On the other side of those I have gladioli, echinacea, and 'Becky' Shasta Daisies getting ready to bloom.

I'm so glad that all my hard work in this bed has paid off in blooms. This was May 15 last year:
What a difference!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Our Favorite Winery Tours

We planned to spread new mulch in the garden beds this morning, but the 70 MPH winds and thunderstorms are keeping us inside. It isn't good weather for gardening but is just right for blogging.

For Chip's birthday last year I bought him a bottle of Nickel & Nickel 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon from the John C. Sullenger Vineyard. I wasn't totally sure what it was all about, but the label was beautiful and the reviews I read were good. We decided to tour Nickel & Nickel and its sister winery, Far Niente, while we were in the Napa Valley. These tours did not disappoint! At both of these wineries, history seems reach out and grab you... and then hands you a glass of fantastic wine. If you are interested in the history behind these wineries, please visit Nickel & Nickel here and Far Niente here.

The Nickel & Nickel tour was really informative about producing the wine, and the grounds are just gorgeous. Upon arriving we had a small glass of Chardonnay in the Queen Anne farmhouse built in 1884.

We walked out through the back door and there stood a barn built in 1774 in New Hampshire, then dismantled, shipped, and rebuilt here on the winery grounds in 2003.

Then, we toured the fermentation barns and huge aging cellar that lies under the property.

The entire winery operation runs on solar power capured from these panels.

We ended the tour with a tasting of seven of Nickel & Nickel's single vineyard Cabernets, including the 2005 Sullenger that I bought Chip for his birthday! Isn't that the coolest?! We toured along with four couples from Kansas City. The entire group agreed that the Sullenger was the best of the seven. I also loved the Copper Streak (Stags Leap) Cab.

On Monday, we were both a little sore from the Point Reyes hike, but after the amazing experience at Nickel & Nickel we were really looking forward to Far Niente. It was wonderful!! The gardens at Far Niente were even more spectacular than Nickel & Nickel. The format was similar - winery, cellars, then tasting - but at Far Niente we also had the opportunity to view Gil Nickel's classic car collection. Our guide at Far Niente, Walt, was fantastic. He was so passionate about the the wine and the vineyard.

The fermentation room...
The cellars...

Us in front of the Dolce cage. Dolce is Far Niente's late harvest "noble rot" dessert wine.

Deep in the caves is the Far Niente wine library where every wine produced since the winery began bottling from these vineyards in 1982 is stored.
As the story goes, Gil Nickel bought this 1951 Ferrari 340 America Vignale Spyder for $12,500 and restored it to what you see below. It is now one of only three of this model in the world and is worth $14 million. On the right side of this photo is our guide Walt. He's a dead ringer for Ed Harris.
Our tasting flight with cheese pairings. The Dolce with bleu cheese was my favorite. I can't wait to recreate that pairing at home!