Sunday, December 03, 2017

This Year's Santa-No-Train 2017

This year’s Santa-no-Train 2017


Well, like the title says, we did not have a train for Santa to come in on this year…mechanical problems... so we had a Santa-no-Train. Yeah, sounds dumb, but we just could not let the kids down. We expected a much larger crowd because the train did not run up the Shore this year, but we still had close to 200 people and 80 kids got to see our own Santa and Mrs Claus. We had to break in some new elves, and they were wonderful! Our staff and helpers all pulled together to make this a great success even if the only trains running were on our layouts.

            Here are a few shots of Santa arriving on a trailer pulled by one of our police vehicles driven by our police Chief. (as many of you know, we no longer have a fire department, a loooong sad story I will NOT get into here.) So we built a little building we were going to call the Elves Workshop – but a local kid pronounced it Elvis’s workshop and wondered if we were going to have Elvis at the Station (SIGH)… so we changed it to Santa’s workshop – elf entrance. That was put on a lawn tractor trailer with a bench and decorations and worked quite well bringing Santa, Mrs Claus and our brave new elves to the station. It was fun.

            Here are some of the folks who came to visit and a few of the cherubs who promised Santa they had been good… LOL! I remember the year one kid produced a page long list, told Santa it was his copy so he didn’t forget anything this year! He seriously acknowledged Santa was getting a little long in the tooth, and like his grandpa, maybe Santa was having memory problems. It was all we could do to keep from rolling on the floor with laughter! Bless their little hearts. Anyway – here are a few of this year’s pix, if blogger will let me do anything like that. (grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr)

            I do hope you will have a happy and safe Holiday Season, whatever you celebrate!


Tuesday, November 21, 2017


I know I call these little things my greenhouses, I mean, that is their function, but it does sound quite grandiose for such little things. However, they keep my geraniums, some impatiens, even coleus

cuttings and most important cuttings or even potted strobilanthes(those purple leaves) over the winter. Also, this year, I am keeping the FoxTail fern out here- it did NOT like it in the house and is real messy when it drops all over the place... I also grow the cat's grass in here in the winter and keep a pot of chives growing for my twice baked potatoes.
This year I kept 2 Stand-up gardens busy. The older one had Yellow Wax Beans in it on one side, Italian Flat beans on the other half. The newest garden had Yellow Wax and then plain green string beans, but it also held a bell pepper plant that furnished half the neighborhood, and I kept Black Basil, a few lavender plants, some strobilanthes, and used it to start cuttings of Wandering Jew and a few other plants people wanted. It was a busy spot for being only 4'x4'! It is right next to the carport, so it was very handy for parking other potted plants either newly dug or to be planted. That also made it very easy to care for!
As many of you know, I get politically involved here as many of my friends and former students run for office (AND WIN!!!!! GO RALPH!!! Virginia's next governor) so I often end up with a quantity of 4x4 and 4x8 political signs stashed between the barns.
These signs have MANY uses once the elections are over. I am a firm believer in Recycling or Reusing - or Repurposing materials rather than helping to build our mini-mountain landfill here on the flat shore. The 4x8 treated cardboard signs come in great for garden covers and last for years. Best of all, they are free - unless you count your donation to Ralph's campaign, or whoever... then they become very expensive covers! LOL! And yes, I have signs from the 'other side' I use, too.
Anyway, here are a few shots of the mini-greenhouses and my heating system - a galvanized bucket of bricks and a light bulb in a brooder lamp... you can buy thermometers that you can read inside the house to monitor the temp in the greenhouse - or 'cat warmer' or any space you need to keep from freezing.
The Cat houses are on top of the greenhouse. The heating pad wires are protected with coiled wire to keep critters from chewing the electrical wires. Currently I am only heating the big bottom box - now that Spook is gone. But Hoover still insists on eating in the top box which we now call her Dining room. If she is hungry, she goes up there and sits and waits. Food magically arrives. Dogs have owners, Cats have staff. I am the official CO here... that stands for Can Opener.
Oh, the blue material in this last picture is insulation foam. I have learned to love it. When the temps go really low, I can cover the side walls and doors to the greenhouses with that blue foam.
 I also use  large quantities of it in building scenery at the Train Station. Great stuff!!!!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


Several of you asked about Yule Tide. She has been here for 30 years, but in this particular location only 23 years. Floyd helped me move her when she quickly outgrew her spot beside the house and carport. The flowers are small and often the bush goes unnoticed. It tends toward the spindly side compared to the other camellias here. It has been especially beautiful this year. Here are some pictures taken Nov. 8th, 2017 - just before the BIG freeze this fall.
Yes, Yule Tide is taller than the power lines.
Small flower, never bigger than 3 inches across, but just the purest red to contrast with the bright yellow stamens.
I hope you enjoyed my garden!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

HOOVER AND FALL CAMELLIAS AND AZALEAS before the deep freeze hit! (Front Yard)

Last Wednesday, the hand writing was on the wall, tho it was hard to believe. We have not even had a frost yet but the weather people were telling us it was going to be down in the 20s by Saturday morning! Really???? The yard was beautiful. Several camellias were in full serious bloom. These are huge camellias now, well over 15 feet, a couple over 20 feet tall and diameters on some of them of over 10 feet. Many of them have been trimmed back for years.

For the first time ever, Hoover decided to follow me around the yard close enough that she was not hidden. Her coloring makes for a perfect natural camouflage. She has always followed me around but has managed to stay out of sight. But not now… perhaps because her buddy Spook is gone so she is lonesome. 

Anyway, I thought you might enjoy seeing the flowers from Wednesday that are now drooping in the cold, the ground covered in red, pink and purple petals. I have never seen Yule Tide look this good. It is huge. It was a first Christmas-in-my-new-house gift from Sabra when I moved in- 1987, I think. It has been moved twice. Yule Tide is not a thick bush, but tall with a 10 foot diameter. The flowers are small but the red color is rich.

My “birthday” camellias have filled the bushes. I have one on each side of the house.

Several pink camellias are in bloom. These are some of the fall azaleas out by the street. These flowers are large for azaleas, the spring only variety being much smaller.

This is only a fraction of what is in bloom here now. And, as usual, Blogger will not allow me to place them where I want them... so, sorry for such a sloppy looking post. Enjoy the flowers anyway!!!!!

Monday, October 30, 2017


OK, Playing Catch-up here. I do a lot of that anymore. First, I finally managed to get the previous post here OFF the SPOTS blog. I know, for many of you that would seem a simple task, but I seem to get less techy all the time. Then I managed to get a few pictures taken and downloaded on the computer… pictures to answer a few questions I have had about certain plants. And then I managed to get what belonged on the SPOTS blog on there! Finally!

So, first, catching up in the garden… I told  many of you that I was finally able to go to get my newest day lilies and that included the day lily that started my love affair with lilies – Happy-Happy. I can hardly wait to see it bloom!!!!!
Happy-Happy is in the front corner of this new lily bed. I have had to cover the bed because the deer ate a bunch of my lilies down to the ground over on the side of the house… and I can’t afford to let that happen to these lilies. Some of these are rather expensive, not saying that to brag, just mentioning how bad my addiction has become. And, this is the last time I will be buying any daylilies. It has gotten too hard to plant them and care for them… I don’t have what it takes to start a new garden area.
When I picked up my lilies, one was in bloom. Of course, I was supposed to cut it off so the strength of the plant stayed in the root system to help it settle in… but, you can see it was too beautiful to cut right away. I just had to leave it for a couple of days and watch it bloom. This lily is named Passionate Prayer.

I have also had questions about a plant called Strobilanthes. I think its common name is Persian Shield?????  I just love the colors. It is seldom found in the local garden centers around here, so I work at taking cuttings or potting the plants to keep over the winter. I have a modest success rate, tho one year only one cutting survived. I also take cuttings from favorite coleus plants, or pot up small ones for the winter. I bring some cuttings inside tucking them in with the orchids that live in my kitchen window.
As usual, I hope you enjoyed the mini tour of the plant world here. Hopefully, more later!
Oh, did I mention I have been busy working to get Ralph Northam elected governor???? I first met Ralph when he was a boy in 3rd grade - my very first year teaching here on the Shore. He grew from a fine kid into a fine and HONEST man. Apparently not everyone requires- or finds- honesty in their politicians, but I do. Vote for Ralph Nov 7th!!!!!

Sunday, October 29, 2017


I am not sure how I did it, but the previous post of the Sept garden got published on the SPOTS blog instead of here. It took some doing to get it off the SPOTS page and on this blog instead... it must have looked strange to folks looking for any SPOTS info! DUH!

Anyway... here it is - a month late... and the garden is even more beautiful now... more camellias are open, the hibiscus is gone, of course, more azaleas are open... but I have been so busy, I just haven't had much time to share. I know I have some pictures on the camera, some of which need to go to the SPOTS page. Some here. Maybe I can get it right this time.

more later!
AS you might remember, I have quite a few fall blooming azaleas... well, they do bloom in the spring, too, and most of them are huge bushes, most of the blooms are double the size of the spring-only blooming azaleas. They started to bloom in August this year and I took these pictures a couple weeks ago just before we had a big storm with some serious winds. They have a lot more blooms on them right now and a couple other bushes are just barely getting started. I will get to them later.

The Hibiscus was especially nice this year. The blooms tend to be 10 inches to a foot in diameter.

And every year, right on my birthday, my huge camellias in front of the house give me usually just one bloom each. I figure my yard is giving me a birthday present! These bushes have been right on schedule for about 25 years. That's pretty good, isn't it? These bushes are so big, I have had to have them cut back to get them off my roof.