Beautiful knitted flowers from Nora J. Bellows

Flowers make a great gift but, the book “Noni Flowers” is a beautiful gift in itself. “Noni Flowers” is authored by Nora J. Bellows. It is a book of 40 knitted and felted flower patterns and six projects to adorn and embellish garments, accessories, gift decorations and home decor.

The photographs by R. A. Sullivan are so well done that you feel as though you have just visited a florist or walked through the botanical gardens with Latin names provided. The flowers in all their detail are eye candy.

More about this book and a beautiful slideshow here.


Z and S Twist in the Garden

I was in my garden this past week noticing the growth, the plants, put on this summer. What put a smile on my face was nature’s own way of spinning and weaving. Also known as twining. These are vines that encircle vertical supports.

5 Leaf Akebia quinata vine

'Z' and 'S' Twisting Plants

'Z' and 'S' Twisting Plants

A Z or S twist can sometimes help determine the type of plant you have. For instance Chinese wisteria vines (Wisteria sinensis) versus Japanese wisteria vines (Wisteria floribunda). These vines are beautiful, fragrant and the potential to be very invasive. So a word of caution here: if you decide to grow them you will need to be a hands on gardener. Be ruthless about keeping their growth checked. Prune often. You have a Chinese Wisteria if it is growing in a counterclockwise direction  and Japanese Wisteria if it is growing in a clockwise direction . These do well in zones 4 – 9.

What’s twisting in your garden?

Bamboo: from the Garden to the Wheel

phyllostachy bamboo

Being a gardner I am always looking for the unusual and different. This is the third summer Bamboo has been growing in my yard. I have both the clumping and running varieties.  I have been asked  about the process, of getting what is in my garden, onto my spinning wheel. When I was giving a tour of my garden a friend queried, “Paula is this where bamboo yarn comes from?” When I offered up a yes, she quickly came back with…”how do you spin it?”  “I say, it is like the process of getting paper from a tree.” bamboofiber

In the garden, bamboo is a grass. The size of the cane (culm) that emerges from the ground is the diameter it will always be. Each year new growth will have larger canes until it reaches that species maximum diameter. The height the cane gets to when it emerges and stops growing in the first season, is the height it will remain for its lifetime. The lifespan is around 10 years per cane.  Bamboo is evergreen. In the New England area where I live, if the winter is harsh the leaves will brown. New leaves form in the spring and the brown leaves fall off.  Rarely is it bothered by pests or diseases and requires little care once acclimated to its site.  CAUTION: Running bamboo, depending on the variety, can overtake your yard and possibly the neighborhood, if not mowed back or a barrier put in place.

Clumping bambooclumping bamboo is just that…clumping,

forming a “shrub”. I have several kinds and they vary in height, cane size and cane color. The color of the canes can range from yellow, pink, blue, black and in between, striped and solid, again depending on the variety. They are fast growing, provide nice screen coverage and are exotic and interesting to learn about.

As a fiber to spin or knit with, it has the following qualities: It is considered an eco-friendly fiber and is biodegradable. Bamboo is anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and has excellent wicking properties. It is soft with a wonderful shine similar to silk. It is lightweight and strong. It behaves more like cotton then wool when knit.

Try it…in your garden, on your wheel and/or on your needles. I am off to dye and spin some bamboo.

Pinky Winky Hydrangea

I finally own one. This is the third summer I have been searching garden centers and asking for this perennial. Check out Proven Winners Pinky Winky Hydrangea video , you will see why I fell in love with this gynormus hydrangea.

Proven Winner

Proven Winner

The Master Gardener in me saw this in a magazine a few winters ago and it was a ” have to have”. 

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Master Gardener Programs are volunteer programs affiliated with a Cooperative extension service office and a land-grant university that educates the public on gardening and horticultural issues. Typically Master Gardeners answer questions via phone, speak at public events and participate in community gardening displays.

The program started in Washington State in 1972. It is in 45 states and 4 provinces in Canada. The cost is anywhere from $65 to $400 (I think I paid $75, but then again it might have been only $35, during the mid 90’s.) It is 40 – 60 hours of classroom and another 60 hours of answering  phones and walk in questions. (check out the numbers to be sure) I was asked questions from “How do I get rid of the wild turkeys in my yard” to “my plant has leaf drop, what do I do.” The classes were very informative, covered various topics and were taught by professors from our state cooperative extension.

Oh yeah…and we went on many garden tours (not included in classroom time) from people in the class. The plant swaps…the best.

So sign up and don’t forget to wear sun screen and a garden hat.