March 29, 2015: Lattice fence

Before and after (and during) my weekend home improvement project: affixing lattice to the frame of the fence. Yesterday, after measuring the necessary dimensions, I went to Home Depot solo and the lumber department kindly helped me cut each 4x8′ piece by a few inches on both sides. Then I ran into my friend Tommy in the checkout line who agreed to drive the pieces to my house  in his truck (which was amazing timing as I wasn’t exactly sure how I would have gotten them home, but it would have involved bungee cords). This morning, Michael and I installed them, as well as the bird house made by my late great uncle Alan (1910-2004). With the help of two cups of coffee to warm up (since it feels like 21 degrees out there), and about 30 screws, we completed the work! He even wore his lumberjack shirt, my favorite one. 


March 21, 2015: Seed starting trays

Soil smells like spring! What do coconut husk fiber, worm castings, parboiled rice hulls, and pelletized turkey litter have in common? They’re all ingredients in this seed starting blend from Organic Mechanics. And they’re about to feed the romanesco brocolli, red chard, pickling cucumber, and blue podded shelling pea seeds that we planted today. Each seed starting tray has 32 cells; eight cells for each type. After planting all the seeds, it’s suggested to lightly mist the soil to settle it before covering the tray with the greenhouse cover, which increases humidity and promotes germination. In several weeks, these will be joined in the garden by the rest of the veggie seeds (candy cane beets, kaleidoscope carrots, tri-color beans), which will be sown directly outside after the last frost. All will be planted in the three hand-crafted raised beds that Jim Cappon (Mike’s dad) is building for me! And the marigolds and beneficial bug and butterfly blooms will be planted in the ground. Planning my whole garden already! Can’t for the temperatures to catch up with the season.

March 17, 2015: Rescued plants

Some vacant lots are an eyesore, but one nearby was filled with bulbs, lilies, and a magnolia tree. Last week, permits were posted, fencing went up, and a backhoe appeared. Within one day, yesterday, the construction crew had decimated the plantings and the tree had been chopped down and removed completely. Shovel in hand, I was determined to save what was left: a daylily and clumps of bulbs. I chatted with the neighbors as I dug. This morning, I planted them out front for the neighborhood to continue to enjoy and watered them with my new Haws watering can. Soon enough, a rowhome will take the place of that garden, but these plants were spared!

March 15, 2015: The Artist’s Garden exhibition at PAFA

Roses, phlox, poppies, irises, peonies, and hollyhocks were the six blooms favored by the artists whose work is featured in The Artist’s Garden: American Impressionism and the Garden Movement, 1887-1920 at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. I photographed details of the paintings in an effort to capture the vibrant color of warmer days spent in the garden that I look forward to in the months to come!

March 5, 2015: Green on white

Though the forecast calls for 5-8 inches of snow today, my windowsills offer a much-needed reminder that the first day of spring is just over 2 weeks away. Indoor gardening has been the green lining of this freezing cold winter! My plant collection has grown with frequent visits to various nurseries and garden stores, including Monday’s trip to the Philadelphia Flower Show, where I acquired a miniature African violet with deep indigo blooms and a blue star fern. These join an urban botanical menagerie of other ferns (button, bird’s nest, staghorn), overwintered herbs (sage, thyme, lavender), and a diverse range of house plants (aloe, jade, a calathea variety known as rattlesnake plant, Dracaena marginata commonly called Madagascar dragon tree, Colocasia or elephant ear plant, a snake plant, a pitcher plant, a rubber tree with red variegated leaves, an orchid, a primrose, air plants, cacti, and Hawaiian Schefflera Capella — the closest I’ll get to the Aloha state this season!).

February 11, 2015: Staghorn fern

Ever since I spotted one of these at City Planter in Northern Liberties a couple weeks ago, then a few days later, saw one on Apartment Therapy, I knew a staghorn fern would be in my future. What I didn’t know was that my boyfriend was concocting a plan to secure such a specimen and install it on an exposed brick wall in my house without telling me! I walked in tonight and found this gorgeous, healthy, vibrant epiphyte set onto a wooden board (salvaged from a barn!), with sphagnum moss, and wall-mounted with rope suspended from a ceiling beam. Named for their antler-like appearance, these plants with their long fronds resemble a taxidermic trophy. Here’s what mine looks like on Day 1 in South Philly.