Friday, May 29, 2009

All I ever wanted

Leaving for the Pacific Northwest tomorrow morning. Have only 1.5 million things to get done before then. Whee!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Guest Post

Diplowhat sent me the following.

Dear Loyal Readers,
No, Wog World and Undiplomatic Ravings have not been shut down. At least, we hope they haven't been shut down. They have, however, been blocked along with all other blogger sites. I know you have dearly missed our witty posts and snarky comments on your own blogs, but we hope to be back in action after June 4. (That's the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen "Policial Incident".) If not, we will have to find a good proxy server to get around these annoying blockades!

In the mean time, know that life continues here in Beijing. We've made it out to a different section of The Wall (we will take you if you visit - it's awesome!), our home study rapidly approaches on June 5-7, and my Chinese test also rapidly approaches on July 2nd. My teachers claim I will do fine if I can keep my nerves under control. Yeah, well China would do great if it could get corruption and pollution under control. Likelihood of any of those things happening? You're smart - you can guess the answer.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Garden idea for AKJ

For the first time in a long time, I have a really slow day at work. And hey, AKJ is looking for ideas for a shade garden! Hello timing. :-) For the record, I'm just screwing around here. I like building imaginary gardens.

Veggie is right that your soil will collapse a little as the roots die. Plus you have a maple that's going to want to compete for nutrients. So I say bring in a nice pile of fresh dirt and compost and make a subtle berm. (Of course I say that! I don't have to do the work!) If you want the garden to be viewable from all sides, you could make it highest in the center, or you can pick a side to be the "back" and make that the high point.

Here's what I would plant at said high point: Actaea (formerly Cimicifuga) racemosa "Hillside Black Beauty". It has handsome black-purple foliage, gets 4 feet tall (the flower spikes can go up to 7') and makes a nice, dramatic backdrop for all sorts of other shade-loving plants.

I couldn't have a shade garden without Polygonatum variegata (Solomon's Seal). Two to three feet tall, so you can plant underneath them.

Maybe something like the ridiculously charming Galium odorata (Sweet Woodruff)! It's cute, tiny, loves the shade, repels bugs and you can dry it and use it as potpourri. It can spread a bit, but the solution to that is to not water it. Seriously. About 6" tall.

Or if you want a groundcover with a little more substance, there's always Vinca minor (Periwinkle). Like the woodruff, it might try to take over your lawn a bit though. (That's what groundcovers do.) Grows close to the ground.

Of course, hosta are the ultimate can't-kill-it shade plant. And they're not so boring if you use them as a backdrop to show off your Athyrium (Japanese fern). (Maybe a foot high)

For funky foliage, you really can't beat Heuchera (coral bells) — drop these on the sunnier side. They'll do fine in shade, but you get the best color with some sun.

What? You want flowers? Well, okay, but you'd have to work for them a little. (By "work for" I mean water. Regularly.) Enter the Astilbe.

Yay. That was fun. :-)