Sunday, August 30, 2009


Last summer I planted four hydrangea bushes. They were purchased and planted late in the season so I wasn’t even sure they would make it through the winter. But they did and this summer they are twice the size they were a year ago (as shown above). The problem is--no blooms and it is late August. As I look around the city and see the abundance of beautiful blossoms and already changing colors, I wonder what I'm doing wrong. I vaguely remember hearing that hydrangeas don't blossom the first year after planting (...or did I imagine hearing it to conceal my gardening shortcomings?). Regardless, I need to find out why my plants are not performing.

According to the Hydrangea Hydrangea website there could be three reasons for the lack of blooms:
1. The bushes were pruned too drastically last fall. Not the case since I failed to prune the bushes at all last year. Could that be the problem?
2. The plants leafed out early in the spring during a warm spell and then got caught in a late spring freeze. A possibility...but my neighbors plants are blooming.
3. The bush may not be right for my zone. Since I purchased the plants at my local Home Depot, I can't imagine this is the case.

If anyone has any advice, I’d love to hear it. For now I am left with hydrangea-envy and the amazing city blooms that I've photographed throughout the summer. Next year, these blooms better be mine!

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Dear rained today! (See previous post for explanation.)

This weekend I needed to re-glaze an old window. I tackled a similar project once before and felt confident that I was up to the task. However, as is often the case with DIY, the project turned out to be more problematic than I anticipated!

First off, it appears that previous glazing repairs were made with either concrete or plastic/epoxy compound filler. As I worked the putty knife gently around the perimeter of the glass, the oldest glazing broke away freely (as it should) but the newer patches were more resistant. I applied increasing amounts of pressure only to prove a known fact: pressure and glass are not compatible. I watched the first pane crack and adopted a more gentle hand in working on the remaining panels. In the end, I had shattered each of the four panes. I had certainly achieved what I intended—clearing away the old glazing—but at the cost (less than $20) of having to replace four 8 x 10 panes of glass.

After a quick trip to the lumberyard, I was ready to install the new panes and re-apply glazing. Getting a good and consistent bead was challenging, but with a little trial and error, I was able to complete the project satisfactorily. This link from the Do-It-Yourself website will give you a good idea of what it takes to glaze windows. Of course, it looks easy when a professional glazer tackles the job.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

...and we've got to get ourselves back to the garden!

It seems appropriate to title this post with the lyrics from Joni Mitchell for two reasons:  It was a glorious, rain-free weekend made for gardening, and it was the 40th anniversary of Woodstock which took place in Bethel, NY, about twenty minutes from where I live.

I have owned my country home—that I christened Trout House—for four years and am convinced that, had I been keeping a diary, more entries than not would have begun...'Dear Diary, it rained today!'  But this summer has been unusually wet and cold, as anyone living in the northeast can attest. While I was convinced it was a result of changing weather patterns (you know…the vanishing glaciers…the rising ocean water temperatures…the vanishing bees, etc.), a Woodstock documentary filmed 40 years ago revealed that of the 26 days the show producers were in Bethel, 21 days saw rain.  So much for climate change! 

As for getting back to the garden, this weekend I was able to resume my project of removing a patch of ground cover (pacasandra?...I think not!) that has become weed-riddled and overrun.  I want to clear it away and plant grass so that I can extend the yard and keep it maintained with greater ease.  The ground cover was planted by the previous owners so it's had plenty of time to grow a dense network of underground roots.  I know that if I don’t remove every trace, it will resurface next summer with my newly planted grass.  So it was digging, separating, and digging some more to remove the culprit and make way for what I hope—by summer’s end—will be a patch of beautiful green lawn. Weather permitting, of course.