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Thursday, February 05, 2009

Symphytum "Langham's Pink"

Brrr, it's freezing outside so there's nothing better to do than sit here and go through some lovely photos taken last spring. One plant caught my interest quickly, Symphytum 'Langham's Pink" also known as comfry.

Now some of you might be groaning out loud since comfry is considered invasive by many people. I don't have any experience with invasive varieties, this pink version is extremely well behaved. I've been growing this beauty in my garden for about four years now and in all three spots it has stayed in a clump.

Here you can see it along with some of it's neighbors. The Coreopsis verticilata 'Zagreb' growing next to it is at least as vigorous a grower. The same goes for the lovely, silvery Stachys byzantine (Lamb's Ears).

Finally, here's a close up shot showing what a nice contrast there is between the foliage of these two plants.

This spring I'd like to divide the Symphytum. I've never done this before so I do hope that it's a simple dig and then chop. If you have any advice, drop me a comment here. Many times it's not HOW you divide a perennial but WHEN you divide it that makes all the difference. For instance, the Coreopsis get's divided extremely early in the spring. If I divide it after it's three inches high it just flops all over and looks lousy for a year. Divide it early and you'd never know it was cut.

By the way, after the Symphytum finished it's first bloom season, I cut it back hard and put the cuttings on my compost heap. About a month later you will be rewarded with another flush of bloom and the cuttings will have already decomposed. What more could you ask for!

Off to put on another layer of socks.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


Good morning,

Nothing like a fresh new day. My rested brain thinks it has figured out how to access those smaller images.

Hope you like today's image. Geranium sanguinium and the lovely silvery foliage of Stachys byzantine (Lamb's ears).

I've deleted my test posts from last night so I don't bog down anybody on dial-up.

Right now we are covered in a fresh blanket of white snow so the only gardening going on is photo manipulation.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Weight Loss Tips - 1

Ok, now many of you are probably asking how does the title "Weight Loss Tips" fit in with my garden blog theme here. Well for one thing, I really look forward to working in the garden this spring. For the first time in years I have more energy than I know what to do with and you can bet I'll be focusing some of that new found energy into my garden.

For the past week I've been hounded by weight loss spam every time I log on to the internet. These ads are combined with before and after photos that basically look like somebody first slouched over and stuck out their belly and then stood up straight and sucked their gut in as far as possible.

No photos here, at least not for now. What you'll read here (and hopefully once a week or so) is what worked for me. Bear with me, this post will be a bit longer as I lay out the ground work.

Here's the background, no holds barred. Last year during winter break (February 2008) I decided I was sick and tired of the extra weight I'd been carrying around. Most of the people who know me did not think of me as fat at that time. I was wearing a size 10 in pants, sometimes I squeezed into an 8 if it was labled "curvy fit". By the way, that "curvy fit" really means "hey, you should be buying the next size". When I was married at the early age of 23 I was 123 pounds. As my age crept up into the 30's, so did my weight and by my early 40's I followed suit and found myself weighing in the low 140's. So how did it happen that by the time I was in my late 40's I was no longer in that 140 range?

I was never one to step on the scale. Truth be told, I'd rather go to the dentist than confront the number on that little thing. It took two weeks of "dieting" before I had the nerve to get on that scale. Holy cow, it said I was 162 pounds and I knew I had already lost a few pounds by then. Did that motivate me? No way, I went into a funk and ate my way to happiness for another month. Great, now I was up to 165.

Finally, with no pants fitting me I decided I just had to get back on track. There are so many weight loss tips and products on the market but all I could think of was something I overheard at the pool at the Kings Point senior citizen developement in Delray Beach Florida. There was a younger man there with a body builders physique who was speaking to two women. He told them that his opinion was that somebody should NOT try to lose weight by working out. Working out builds muscle and it also makes you hungry. His idea was to try to lose the weight first and then start toning your muscles. Ok, but you still have to figure out how to lose that weight. Still, the thought of no working out sounded good to me so my next step was to figure out how to cut those calories.

If you are like me then you've read hundreds of weight loss tips and articles. I can't even count how many times I've read that you should eat a big breakfast, a medium lunch and a small dinner. I'm not a breakfast person but I thought this might work for me so I started making myself a big healthy breakfast. I measured 3/4's of a cup of Fiber One (bran) cereal into a bowl, added a lowfat yogurt and splurged on what ever berries were available in the supermarket. Yum yum, that was a delicious breakfast. Lunch was always a salad of some sort with lots of protein and dinner was our usual dinner fare but smaller portions. Did I lose weight? Nope, not really, maybe a few pounds over 3 months but nothing to write home about.

Maybe the big breakfast concept works for some people but for me it just stretched my stomach and I continued to want to eat all day. The good news though was that I had stopped gaining weight and managed to get into the high 150's which got me back into a few pairs of pants. Do I think this type of diet would work in the long run? Yup, it would but I wanted to lose weight now, not 2 years from now.

By May 2008 my motivation was kick started and I found myself looking more seriously at my eating habits. My biggest weakness came around 4:00 in the afternoon and continued until 6:00 pm. We were late dinner eaters here, usually eating as late as 7:30 pm. My problem was I was hungry long before that and nothing was safe when I began grazing my way through the kitchen. So I made a huge decision, I would no longer eat dinner at 7:30. Dinner time for me had to be when I was hungry, even if it was 5:00 pm. Luckily, with only one daughter left at home, this was something that I could manage since Emily spends most of her evenings at the high school at after school activities. Also, my husband Don is not a big eater and he was fine with not getting dinner many nights or just heating up something I had cooked earlier.

I began to cut things out of my diet. No alchohol unless I was at a party or dinner occassion. No bread, that meant no bagels, no toast, no sandwiches or anything like that. I didn't cut out the carbs all the way, I still had pasta (smaller portions) and potatoes when they were on the menu. I just cut out the bread.

The big breakfast just wasn't working for me and I switched back to my old standbye. Two cups of coffee and a slimfast meal bar. This is my number one tip and I truly believe the reason my weight loss began to really work. Today I still have the same thing every morning. It fills me up and I don't get hungry again until about 11:30 am.

Ok, I'm going to end this here. Be assured there are lots more tips coming. One thing I forgot to mention at the beginning of this post is that for the last two weeks my weight was 125 pounds and I've actually had to make an effort to put a few pounds back on! For those of you who are math challenged, that's a total weight loss of 40 pounds!

Now don't forget, this is what worked for me and I'm not a dietician or anything like that. I'm a stay at home mom and gardener.

So to wrap things up, the tips in this post are:

1. I didn't work out while trying to lose weight. I did move about though, walking is something I've always loved and once I lost some weight I swam daily but nothing super strenous.

2. The big breakfast didn't work for me. I'm much happier with a small breakfast and decided it's ok to eat lunch at 11:30 if that's when I'm hungry.

3. Late dinners are a killer. Rather than graze for two hours in the early evening, I ate dinner then and didn't eat later in the evening.

Stay tuned for more diet tips and of course, more gardening posts (once this darned snow goes away).