As it's beginning to feel more like spring, garden projects have been keeping us quite busy these days. Here's a little of what's been happening:

Planted 8 store-bought/impulse roses (a big no-no for rose connoisseurs, I'm aware, but they were cheap and by all appearances in great shape, so I'm taking my chances): Joseph's Coat, Lowell Thomas, Paul Neyron, Hot Cocoa, Cinco de Mayo, Angel Face, Camelot, and Europeana. The roses are all leafing out like crazy, and with some heavy mulching, continue to thrive despite last weekend's freezing temperatures and snow (!).

Ordered the following roses: Ash Wednesday, Cardinal de Richelieu, Gloire de Dijon, Mme Berard, Smoky, St. John's Rose, Mons Tillier, Cl. Souvenir de la Malmaison, Ebb Tide, Mme Ernest Calvat, Edmond Proust, Lady Banks, and, my favorite combination (for our arbor bench):


'Bleu Magenta'

+ 'Etoile Violette' Clematis

Planted our latest shipment of heritage apple trees from the wonderful Tom Brown at Apple Search: Autumn Strawberry, Bee Bench, Green Horse, Ice, Haywood June, Forward Sour, Sal, Virginia Beauty, Yellow Horse and Yellow Winesap. They were *much* bigger than some of the other trees we've planted, so I was quite pleased!

We've been tilling and preparing new beds for vegetables and our herb garden. Initially I'd planned for everything to go into raised beds, but that was going to be a bit too expensive, and since we've got good soil, totally unnecessary. So, it appears that we'll have a mix of tilled beds and raised beds, which I'm still trying to sort out.

Moonflower vine

Our seedlings are (mostly) all doing well, but have been keeping me insanely busy. For the first time ever, I was able to get my Moonflower vine seeds to germinate!

Created a small everbearing strawberry patch and inspected the raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, and currants planted last fall. The currant bushes disappeared entirely (rabbits?), but everything else appears to be "waking up." The lingonberries seem to be doing especially well, much to my surprise.

For my birthday this week, my Mom sent me: these shoes from The Original Muck Boot Company, which I'm in love with (so comfortable!), and Bionic Rose Gardening Gloves. I'm also getting a number of new roses, as well as a lovely lilac bush from my Grandmother. I bought myself a book I've been wanting for awhile, The Wild Garden: Expanded Edition by William Robinson and Rick Darke

The Wild Garden: Expanded Edition

This weekend we've got a tree sale to attend, and more raised beds to build. My husband had hoped to start on the chicken coop, but somehow I doubt there will be time. We'll also need to stake all the new apple trees and continue weeding (the never-ending chore!).

Outside my window...the clouds from yesterday's storm are melting away and the sun is shining; it's a pleasant 58° F. A colorful male house finch sits perched at one of our feeders, he has become a regular daily visitor.

I am thinking...about spring and our gardens, plants to purchase and seeds yet to be ordered, where various roses will go, when the remaining trees for our orchard will arrive, etc.

I am thankful...that we have a small bit of land, so that my "grand" planting schemes are possible this year.

From the learning room...much to my distress, we're still on "spring break," a cause for some panic. The twins are both still sick, and now I appear to be getting sick again also. Never, EVER have we had so much illness in one season - the moment one symptom abates or someone is well, a new symptom appears or someone else gets sick. Thus it just keeps cycling through the family, which is really extremely unusual.

I am exceedingly comfy (well-worn) grey t-shirt and grey sweatpants.

I am the grocery store shortly.

I am reading...this morning I finished The Thief Taker by Janet Gleeson, a perfect, well-researched historic mystery, set in Georgian England, that I thoroughly enjoyed. I've yet to finish The Real Oliver Twist: Robert Blincoe, so probably ought to work on that before starting anything else.

From the kitchen...Bierocks (dough here) for dinner, if I ever manage to get them finished.

I am hoping...that I'll be able to plant the bareroot roses that I have soaking tomorrow, they're leafing out like crazy and I'm anxious to get them in the ground.

I am listening to...perfect silence, save for the occasional jingling of the dogs' collars.

Around the house...all is calm, quiet and in order. So seldom can that be said.

One of my favorite seedlings (all 600+!), I'm quite pleased with how well they're doing, especially the more difficult-to-germinate varieties.

Pondering these words..."Half the interest of a garden is the constant exercise of the imagination." ~ Mrs. C.W. Earle, Pot-Pourri from a Surrey Garden, 1897

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

"Spring Flowers"
Claude Monet (1840-1926)

To read other daybook entries, or join in with your own, please visit The Simple Woman’s Daybook.

"Though a life of retreat offers various joys / None, I think, will compare with the time one employs / In the study of herbs, or in striving to gain / Some practical knowledge of nature's domain. / Get a garden! What kind you get matters not." - Abbot Walahfrid Strabo, "Hortulus" (945 AD)
As promised, I've finally put together a list of most of the medieval herbs we'll be attempting to grow this year for our garden project. The herbs are grouped according to usage, though of course many would have served multiple purposes.

Culinary / Kitchen Garden: Borage, Chicory, Oregano, Chives, Thyme, Parsley, Onions, Basil, Lovage, Wild Strawberry

Household Garden: Clove-Pink, Scotch Broom, Costmary, Soapwort, Mullein, Roman Chamomile, Fennel, Meadowsweet, Wallflower, Tansy, Lady's Bedstraw, Pennyroyal

Physick / Medicinal Garden: Feverfew, Horehound, Elecampane, Hyssop, Opium Poppy, Marsh Mallow, Angelica, Wood Betony, Cowslip, Wormwood, Moonwort, Pot Marigold, Mandrake, Rue, Cinquefoil, Clary

Dye and Fiber Garden: Woad, Agrimony, Madder, Weld, Indigo, Flax, Safflower, Dyer's Chamomile

I'm also hoping to grow the following period-appropriate roses. More information on medieval roses can be found here:
Garden Reference:
Folk Medicine / Herbalism Reference:
Seed Sources:
Finally, I've compiled a list of useful reference books in the blog toolbar on the left-hand side.

This has been a weird couple of weeks, hence the lack of regular posting. School has been non-existent these days as we've been dealing with another round of illness that seems to be especially persistent in hanging on - or, the kids just keep passing it back and forth. Also, my migraines have returned, so I've been in not-so-good shape myself. Rather than paying for another round of Botox, my husband has opted that I have surgery for a (hopefully) permanent solution to my headaches, so I'll be scheduling that shortly. In the meantime, I've decided that the past week or so will have been our "spring break," nevermind that it's not yet spring! I've been busy planning our spring school schedule and getting the house and garden plans in order so that we'll be ready to start back in full force next week.

Here are a few personal highlights from the past two weeks:

Photo © amy.arch
  • The Sunday before last, I spent an afternoon at the awe-inspiring Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Wichita for the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion. In the Rite of the Call to Continuing Conversion, the Church welcomes those who are already baptized and are preparing to be received into the full communion of the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil. The Rite of Election is similar, though for Catechumens who have not yet been baptized. It was my first visit to the Cathedral, which is absolutely beautiful, and the first time I've had the opportunity to hear our bishop speak, and I quite enjoyed it. We have a wonderful down-to-earth bishop with a great sense of humor.
  • We got a free piano! A beautiful 1915 C. Kurtzmann upright that has some minor [cosmetic] blemishes, but sounds absolutely lovely. My goal is to have it refinished, eventually. I took piano lessons when I was little, but have forgotten most everything, so I hope to start lessons again soon.

  • While picking up the piano, we also adopted a new dog ~ a 2-year-old chocolate Doberman Pinscher named Jake. He may very well be the best dog we've ever had: he's calm, friendly and extremely well-trained. Jake gets along with both Emma and the cats beautifully and does not chase birds like Emma does, thank goodness. He's even good as a guard dog, though really, he's just a big baby!

  • Last week, I read Amelia Dyer: Angel Maker: The Woman Who Murdered Babies for Money by Alison Rattle and Allison Vale, an excellent book which I had *hoped* would put an end to my interest in Victorian baby farmers, but had quite the opposite affect. I also read half of The Real Oliver Twist: Robert Blincoe: A Life That Illuminates a Violent Age by John Waller. This week, I continued The Real Oliver Twist and read The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective by Kate Summerscale and Possession by A.S. Byatt ~ both of which were very good.
  • Going to the local feed store at this time of year is always a dangerous thing for me, because this is when the baby chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese arrive ~ a sure sign that spring is just around the corner! Several years ago we had both chickens and ducks, but a neighbor's dogs broke into the pen repeatedly and killed most of our chickens; another neighbor shot the rest for fun (fortunately, he has since moved!). I've been wanting chickens again, and much to my delight, my husband surprised me last weekend with eleven of them! We're going to build a new house for them right outside our immediate back yard (where the herb and vegetable gardens will be), and fence off the entire area so that they can free range while still being closer to the house. Hopefully this will keep them a bit safer.

  • We have an appointment with a realtor tomorrow morning to look at this house:

    An honest-to-goodness Victorian mansion that I've been obsessing over all week. It is 3 stories, 6000+ square feet with 7 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, 5 fireplaces, 3-4 stained glass windows, numerous built-ins, and two guest houses on the property (which we could use for rental income). Now clearly it needs a lot of work, which is my biggest hesitation (can you say money pit?!). It's not conveniently located either, which we could overlook if we weren't so scared about the sheer amount of work involved (new plumbing, new heating, new wiring, etc.). Nevertheless, the potential is incredible! I've dreamed, since childhood, of fully restoring an old Victorian, and this house surpasses everything I could have imagined. It's especially wonderful because the original features have been left mostly intact, which you sadly don't see much of anymore. Initially my husband was enthusiastic about the house, but now I'm afraid reality has set in; perhaps he'll be won over after looking at it?!

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