Sunday, December 5, 2010

Great Gift Ideas for the Hosta Lover in your life

If you have been struggling with what to get a hosta lover on your list for Christmas look no further than this blog!  Who better to get ideas from than a hosta lover.  

Thursday, November 4, 2010

November in the Cheesehead Garden

It's November in the Cheesehead Garden.  Within the past week we were hit with our first hard frost, which is actually late for Wisconsin.  So what does the garden look like?  Much of my hostas are yellow and brown, laying on the ground like sad versions of their old self.
However, there are a few hostas that are must have hit the gym or something this summer and have toughed out the frost.  The hosta below is h. "Halcyon", it's one of the last hostas to go dormant in my garden.
My containers are all looking pretty sad.  It's time to start gathering them and putting them up against the house or in the garage.  The ones that have perennials and hostas in them will be placed on their sides and covered with leaves to prevent them freezing and thawing over the winter.
The mums are still looking good in the garden.  In the background is also Eupatorium Rugosum 'Chocolate' or Chocolate Joe Pye Weed.  It's a late bloomer and usually stays in bloom 'til the first snow fall.  My fall crocus are also in bloom right now.

One plant that is surprising me this year, still being in bloom in November, is my phlox.  It has been a great year for phlox in my garden, they must have enjoyed all the hot weather.  I thought the hot weather we had would have made them more prone to mildew, but it seems to have had the opposite effect on them.
Looking at these pictures reminds me of all the work I should be getting done in the garden before the snow starts falling here in Wisconsin.  So what does your garden look like this time of the year?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Non-Gardening Post - Colon Health

It's a non-gardening post today, but I wanted to put the word out about a cancer no one likes to talk about, colon cancer.  My grandpa died of colon cancer 19 years ago this past July.  It was a death that may have been prevented had he gone in for proper screening, or when he first realized he was having problems.  It was very painful to watch my grandpa waste away to nothing.  I can still remember sitting in my grandparent's living room with all of my family, and my grandpa's skin yellowed from the cancer moving into his liver.  When my grandpa died we found a bunch of medications stashed away in the bathroom which made us realize he knew something was wrong, but was too embarrassed to go to the doctor.

It's a coincidence that a report came out on Thursday, the day before I was going in for a colonoscopy, that only 1 in 5 doctors follow the colon cancer screening guidelines.  Doctors are both under and over prescribing colonoscopies.  My new Gastroentreologist was very surprised that I was having my second colonoscopy for my age until he found out about my family history.

For a person without a family history of colon cancer, routine colon cancer screening should start at age 50.  Should being the key word in that sentence.  My people I talk to say that they have never had a colonoscopy because they don't want anyone touching them "there".  That makes me wonder how many people do not have colonoscopies because, like my grandpa, they are too embarrassed of the procedure?  I'm here to tell you it's not that bad.  The worst part of the procedure is the day before when you have to cleanse your system, and even that has greatly improved since the last time I had one 5 years ago.  Unlike the last time I had the procedure, everything I needed for my prep could be purchased over the counter.  This was a huge improvement, since the prescription they made you drink before tasted like pure salt water and was hard to choke down.   The day before the procedure you are only allowed a liquid diet.  That means jello, broth, soda, water, etc as long as it's not purple or red.  Half way through the afternoon you are asked to take stool softening laxatives.  Then sometime in the early evening you are asking to mix a powdered laxative with Gatorade or Crystal Light, and then drink 8oz of this mixture every 10-15 minutes until gone.  It tasted just like Gatorade, so I had no problem drinking this solution.  Then be prepared to use the bathroom!  Hopefully, unlike me you have more than one bathroom in your house.  It's also a great idea to buy wet wipes and have them on hand.  It's really not as bad as it sounds.  Then the next day you go in for the procedure.  You are asked to lay on your side, and they put some wonderful medicine in your IV that makes you very sleepy.  Some people are awake for the procedure, but I'm guessing most people sleep like a baby right through it.  The colonoscopy itself only takes about 10 minutes.  I was awake during the procedure, but honestly I can't remember anything.  Then they move you to the post-op room, give you something to drink, and the doctor comes in and explains everything they found to you and a family member (since you won't remember more than likely).  Then it's time to get dressed and someone can drive you home.  Yes, it's that simple.  I usually go home afterwards, have a really nice nap, and then ask my husband what happened that morning.  Nothing to be afraid or embarrassed by, that's for sure. During my screening the doctor found a polyp, and so it's being sent to the lab for tests.  They found some the last time too, so I am not worried.  However, this is exactly the reason why you have a colonoscopy.  If polyps go on undetected and not removed they can turn cancerous.

So be proactive, if you have colon cancer in your family, or you are at the age when you should begin screening, remind your doctor if he/she has not prescribed a screening.  My grandpa's life could have been spared had he been proactive.  My grandpa was a wonderful man, and I still wonder what it would have been like to know him as an adult.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Seed GROW Project October Update

We are in the frost/freezing warning time of the year here in the Fox Cities.  I am not looking forward to the day I walk outside to see all of my annuals withered away.  So far, my annuals are still looking good.  Including my "spitfire" nasturtiums from my Seed GROW Project.  These are the ones I started early before the danger of frost in spring was over, and so they have come full circle.

 "I'm growing Nasturtium "Spitfire" for the GROW project, thanks toRenee's Garden for the seeds."

Friday, September 24, 2010

Sad Loss

It is with a heavy heart that I write this post. I just found out tonight that one of my local twitter gardening buddies, Peter Vandenberg (@pdvvandy), died in his sleep unexpectedly on Tuesday night. Even though I only met Peter once in person, I held many conversations with him over twitter. He was a kind soul, and I know will be greatly missed by his family and friends. He and his wife collected hostas, and they held a yearly plant sale with all proceeds going to school children in Uganda. Peter was born with polio and was an avid bike rider. He was trying to see if he could match the time to qualify for the paralympics. If you would like to make a donation in Peter's name, the charity he believed wholeheartedly in was the Alliance for Youth Development. Their web page is

Thursday, September 23, 2010

What's the Buzz About Sedum?

Sedum is a standard plant in many gardens, because it adds color in the fall when most other plants are dying off for the season.  It's easy to grow, and I have put it in my sunny and shady beds and it works in either place.  It also is a great magnet for bees and butterflies!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Helenium - the long lasting perennial for color

On Wednesdays, I usually post a wordless Wednesday post that features plants that are blooming or are just interested at that time.  I realized last week that as I was looking around in my yard at what was still blooming in late September, that my helenium were still blooming.  I guess it wasn't until I started posting pictures every week that I realized just how long the blooms on the helenium last.  I started taking pictures of my helenium in July, and they are still blooming over 2 months later.  Not only are they long lasting, they also are magnets for bees and butterflies.  I have mine growing in both sun and part sun, and they do fine in both locations.   Helenium can get quite tall by fall, sometimes reaching over 4 feet tall.  So last year I did an experiment and cut them in half in early summer.  My plants stayed shorter, and still bloomed just like asters would if you cut them in early summer.  Some different varieties I have in my garden are 'Chelsey', 'Mardi Gras', 'Red Gold', 'Sahin's Early Flowerer', and 'Moerheim Beauty'.