Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Is That a Snowbow!??

When we all woke up in central Kentucky this morning, there was a nice dusting of snow on the ground....somewhere in the 1-2 inch range. It was really cold (by Kentucky standards) at around 20 with some wind to bring on the windchill. So I held off at home a little to let the car warm up and to allow the sun to come up before heading out on these icy/snowy roads. By the time I left the sun had come up well away from the horizon but not quite at full rise. As it shone in the east, it was shining through the light snow clouds that are expected to hang around the eastern mountains as ours cleared off. Ironically, the sun was actually really bright at this point, so I was digging out the old sunglasses when I looked up and saw a full line "rainbow". Not the arch mind you, but a great vertical line stretching up parallel to the sun. As I drove further down the road I could see the matching bow piece on the other side of the sun! The only thing missing from the bow was the part that would have made the arch over the sun. The whole time I drove into Lexington this morning, the sun was showing off with this gorgeous snowbow....or as best as it could muster in Kentucky. So....let me guess....those of you in the colder climates get this sort of thing all the time? - (judging from the flickr snowbow photos that look to be in areas that receive real amounts of snow) But OF COURSE....I didn't have my camera with me!! I've lived in Ky for 14 years and in Ohio for 23 and this is the first snowbow I've ever seen! Gotta love all of nature's surprises. On a technical theological side note....does this mean God also promises not to flood us with snow?

Happy Wednesday!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Konichiwa from Georgetown!

Through the comment of a fellow blogger I ran across this geography project from Bloomingwriter (thanks Vonlafin). What a great way to get distracted from the cold and ice outside...and no...we still haven't had any real snow...I'm sitting at home waiting for another evil ice storm to wrap up its machinations.

So - on to my locale - Georgetown, Kentucky! Even though we have lived in the central Kentucky region for about 14 years, we have only been in Georgetown for about 4 years and grow to love it more everyday!

As a point of reference, Georgetown is located about 10 miles north of Lexington and about 75 miles south of Cincinnati Ohio. This means we are south of the Mason-Dixon, but as a border state, we suffer from a slight identity crisis. The central Kentucky region is very southern in so many ways: horses, southern hospitality, sweet tea, slight to extreme southern twang, the occasional rebel flag on a pick-up truck, good ole-boy politics, and cowboy hats. But in recent years, this area has had a large influx of Ohio transplants (our family included). No place demonstrates this mixed culture more than Georgetown. As the home of Toyota's largest U.S. manufacturing plant (people here joke that the plant is actually much larger than the city proper), and training camp of the Cincinnati Bengals, the north and south seems to have morphed into a truly unique place.

Georgetown is a very old city, founded in 1783 with settlements as early as 1774. History is all around and the downtown area is perfectly charming with very well preserved row buildings full of shops right next to a series of southern style historic homes. These homes seem to gravitate around Georgetown College. Originally formed as a Baptist college, they have waxed more into a well known venue for education majors.

Besides the annual horse festival and harboring half of the Kentucky Horse Park, Georgetown is also known for another horse related event: the annual reenactment of Morgan's Raid. For those of you not familiar with American Civil War History, this event celebrates the Confederate raid of the city by General John Hunt Morgan - a very southern and celebrated local historical celebrity. Despite my B.A. being in history, I'm not really a big reenactment fan. I've only attended this event once, but I have to say, it is a fun time! The camp set up and battle that ensues is very impressive and fairly large! To appease the mixed culture I mentioned above, the reenactors play nice and allow the Rebs to win on Saturday and the Yankees to win on Sunday.

What is very unique about this reenactment is the fact that it starts as an early morning raid through the down town area. The photo above shows General Morgan arriving to perform his raid - visiting what used to be the bank but has now been transformed into a wonderful coffee and pastry cafe! Despite the distraction of modern day life (complete with cars along the street), nothing quite prepares you for the opening moments when the gunfire erupts and the galloping horses can be heard coming down the paved street - complete with rebel yell!
If you've never been to a Civil War reenactment, this would be a nice one for the beginner: lots of horses and action. The location of the event is also a nice place with lots of room: the Cardome center which used to be a nun's monastery... complete with old trees and beautiful architecture.

Just inside the entrance to the Cardome Center is a lovely gift from the local community, Toyota and our sister city Taharacho, Japan - one of the largest Japanese gardens in the U.S. and the first in Kentucky: Yuko-En on the Elkhorn. The pictures on their site are not very good, so as soon as Spring arrives, I'll take a trip down there to give you an idea of its layout and attributes.

I also hope to visit other nearby attractions such as Midway in the next county and tour the wine country that has developed in this central Kentucky area. If you're looking for a beautiful and relaxing area to visit, or a great place to garden permanently, look no further than Georgetown!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Jack Frost is an Evil Flake!

Since standing outside in the elements and shaking ones fist at the sky yelling curses wouldn't be considered to be the actions of a mentally sound individual....I will blog rantings here. I will begin by giving a back ground on Kentucky's snow history. For the past 9 years or so, the central Kentucky region has had so few occurrences of snow that the local weather men have declared our region protected by a supernatural snowdome. See the "heatmiser" for more details:
We point to 9 years of snow drought because 10 years ago we had a whopping 19 inches. So, after the snow factory dumped our allotment for the next 9 years in one deposit, we have been starving for snow. Oh Jack Frost has taunted us mercilessly...but always with a big threat that resulted in dustings or more often, the dreaded freezing rain event with maybe just a quarter of an inch of hard snow added to make it extra slick....I can hear his evil laugh now!

For the past two days we were headed for a major winter storm...and it had us all smiling...we had 4 inches of beautiful fluffy snow fall from the evening until the time we went to bed Monday night. But when we woke up Tuesday, the freezing rain had hit overnight shrinking things down to a nice ice hardpack of about 3 inches. So I went out to photograph what I could and even caught some rose leaves coated in ice. This cold looking specimen is the Russelliana dreaming of spring below that icy layer. Most of the garden had a nice layer of ice, but not enough to stick to the electric wires for power outages. Kentucky is fond of attracting the major ice storms too....but snow is our Moby Dick.

The rest of the day brought temps above 40 and a great amount of rain to melt the majority of our winter taunting....and then overnight, the temps crashed, and we ended up with a huge sheet of ice with a dusting of snow for the added slide factor. Since it is a half hour + ride to work, I stayed in for much of the morning hoping the ice would disappear enough to head in....while I waited with my hot cup of tea and some good garden blogs, the snow that had "left the area" suddenly reappeared with a vengeance, and we picked up about another half inch...just to make it more fun for driving! But at least I was able to get out and snap some more as things came down:

More ice and snow on the pond - sure can't see the fish now! And my personal poor, cold cement frog that sits in the middle of the rose garden (warming the spot until I can find a nice size celtic cross to be seen above the middle section of tall roses). He looked very undignified being bathed in ice and then showered in snow. I think I just saw him shiver.
As you can see, his area of residence is completely covered, as are all the paths and rose sections. This has not been the case in the past. As you can see below - this was the biggest snow we got last year:

So it looks as though we missed out again this year on the big snows. Of course, they are forecasting the possibility of another snow storm this weekend....but knowing Jack, I won't hold my cold breath!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Vintage Gardens

When the wind decided to pick up and the temperature decided to drop today, the central Kentucky gardener had no choice but to flip through seed catalogues, garden magazines or pick up another hobby entirely. As a point of relaxation I decided to look through some old family photos. Naturally, pictures containing flowers or gardens caught my attention. Somehow it is comforting to see gardening in Kentucky is still flourishing as it has for's a peek at some proud flower moments in our Kentucky family's past.

For our first selection, I have chosen cousin Ralph Quinlan. He was my great Grandmother's first cousin on the Cox side of the family....only important for those of you interested in the family tree...but get a load of those gorgeous sunflowers! I hope Ralph appreciated those beauties....I know his cousin Nellie could grow a mean hollyhock, but I had not heard of Ralph's gardening prowess.

Speaking of Hollyhocks, this is little Evodna Johnson standing in a garden with some pretty ones just taller than she was. The stone walkway is also quite cute, which suggests a small garden near the house. Sadly, I'm not sure where Evodna fits into the family, but I'm at least pretty sure she is another member of the family in the Northern Kentucky region. We have a death photo of an infant Johnson that died in 1923. The countryside in that photo is consistent with the Pendleton and Bracken counties that our family seemed to permeate like a moss.

I will now take this opportunity to introduce Christine Scott, another mysterious person in our family photo collection. I have not come across this person in our family research, and I really can't even see a family resemblance....but she makes our vintage garden line-up due to her beautiful collection of graduation flowers. Even the vase holding one of the rose bunches is beautiful.

For one of our last selections in this vintage garden post, I will include these little boys in front of a very unique trellis. Note the ribbon edge cut at the end of each support. With the white trellis against the dark siding of the house, this had to be quite a showstopper! Besides the skimpy rose bush growing on the trellis, it looks as though a nice stand of zinnias are on the end - although, on closer examination they could be a stand of roses, but ones with a heavy petal count. The boys are unidentified as well, but my mother has identified the little blond as "Uncle Jay"....another Pendleton County boy. Until next time, keep thinking happy spring thoughts!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

O Christmas Tree!

I had to share this little experiment of rose protection. Besides our great stand of antique roses in the middle of the garden which are never protected due to their inherent hardiness in the Kentucky growing zone (5,6 or 7 depending on which map you look at), we also have a few tea roses along the fence. It was not my choice to plant tea roses as I have always had terrible luck with them. It seemed that no matter how much you protected them during the winter...and I've tried hay, burlap, Styrofoam...they always emerged with a significant dieback and in many cases reverted back to their rootstock self. In one of my first experimental gardens in Bourbon County, you can still drive by and see about 5 Dr. Hueys (the typical rose root stock used for hardiness before the graft) just blooming their hearts out as they are allowed to flourish unprotected every year. Besides, I have always been a lazy gardener when it comes to winterizing things. With the business of work and school life, I am much more in favor growing things that are NOT high maintenance. So this year, being no different, the tea roses were still uncovered in early January. Of course, up until that time, we had had a pretty mild winter, nothing below about 16 degrees. As I was about to let them fend for themselves this winter, very ready to dig them up if they mother suggested using the live Christmas tree as a method of protection. Instead of leaving it out for the trash to be mulched for others, why not utilize it for a quick winterizing solution? So there you have it, the branches were stripped off the tree and then tied, teepee style over the rose bushes. I have had visitors who say this method will never work.....but we shall see - stay tuned for further results this spring - besides, instead of looking at gray dead like twigs, it is pleasant to see the dark green of the Christmas tree branches....O Christmas Tree! How lovely are thy branches!!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

February Frostiness

I had hoped to begin this blog in January, but the schedule has just been too hectic. That along with the fact that it gets dark by 5:15 in January, means I have a hard time getting home in time for a decent picture. So this past weekend I finally got out to snap a pic or two. This first one is looking toward the back fence and through the naked rose garden.

We had some milder temps this past week which allowed the pond to thaw a little bit...and the fish even came out to hover near the was nice to see them after so long! We just came out of a very long frigid spell that applied an ice layer so thick we had to use a hatchet each day to keep a hole in the ice. Although, as I look at the temp outside, I'm sure they have headed back down below for a while.

Just as an intro, we have almost a half an acre subdivided into different areas. I will profile most of the areas as they apear in the winter to serve as a reminder of how long it takes for things to get growing here in the Bluegrass. I know it's short, but I must get back to studies. Until next time....

Welcome to my Kentucky Garden!

The purpose behind this blog is complex since I enjoy growing things, writing about them and more importantly photographing them. As the winter lingers on, I hope the posts do not just include musings but a documentation of the seasonal growth of a garden in central Kentucky. I have been gardening for about 13 years, so I could still be called an amature with some experience. Hopefully my experiences will inspire the newby, make some smile or urge others to give me advice on developing my very light green thumb.
Come on in...the gate's open!