Year of the Black Water Dragon

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Happy New Year to You!
Outdoor Nativity in Sharon CT
From Korea, Nam Hee writes that the Black Dragon sign comes only once in 60 years, this time on the 23rd of January via the lunar calendar for the Chinese/ Korean New Year. This year, 2012, is special and we may start all over again. Good news! As I write this on the last day of the year of the white rabbit, I see many benefits from a change. (To be fair I am just recuperating from a nasty virus, which does color my view, but does give me time to finally start blogging again.)

Rider enjoys the kachelofen
By the fall of last year, I thought perhaps to give up gardening, at the very least, vegetable gardening. The hurricane drowned any fire in my heart as I watched a bountiful plot of winter squash rot in the standing water. I still had not put the garden to bed when the October snowstorm dumped its load so I sank into the proverbial winter armchair for November. That is, when I had a chance to sit. Rod tore out the Helios, a masonry heater he is developing. In its place he constructed a tile kachelofen, complete with wrapping maple bench. Translation: I spent most spare moments cleaning up construction dust again and again. 

The weather then reverted, the snow disappeared, and the early bulbs shot up. So ok, I was a little inspired and worked in the garden. Yesterday, we finally had a little snow cover, but the forecast for tomorrow, Monday - the Chinese New Year - is rain. Yuk. Ok, probably zone 6/7 plants will survive outside this winter and last summer was a good year for green beans and garlic. But many exotic seedlings in the nursery did not make it through the fall. Germination was good in the spring, but they disappeared after the hurricane. The record 73 inches of rain for last year was definitely not to their liking. (Note- kept the seedpots as there may be germination again.) The crevice beds fared much better. Drainage is the key. All the acantholimons made it. There was even a rebloom on Iris mellita in the warmth of late November.

The beaver pond one the way to Sharon


During that black spell on the weather in the fall, I couldn't even bear to look at seed lists. There were some great plants mentioned, I found out later. My regret mounts as I check out Holubec's, truly stellar list this season. And the pictures of his travels are breathtaking. It was in the midst of the family Christmas holiday season when I saw his website, and quickly made a wish list on Pinterest.


Veltheimia bracteata

Do you know that site? It really fills the need for those of us who think visually. After you join you are given a little Pin button for your browser. Then you can grab webpage images and add them to your pin boards, hosted on their site. Most people use it like we as children did with an old Sears catalog, circling wants, or later on as we grew up, tearing out pages to keep in a folder of ideas. The main board feed is rarely of interest to me, but if you know where to look, there is great humor. And yes, it can be yet another addictive escape exit for middle of the night. Too, it's a great place to sort out one's emotions visually.
Alan Bradhsaw's Alplains list is again the best of the west. While I have quite a bit of seed to sow from my travels to Colorado last summer, there are a few items on his list I know are must-have. Of course, I need to order them first before I tell everyone about them! And don't forget the society lists of NARGS and APSChris Chadwell even is sending out a list this year. There is still time.  So I will use this day, where I am forced into bed by a cold, to catch up and order. It is a good year to start over again.
Finally some snow cover on the garden!
Blessings to your and your family! May all your seedlings make it through planting out.