Sunday, May 29, 2011

Hiatus


I'm finding the blog (what with the main page and the other pages) has become too much effort for too little traffic/feedback these days.  I'm going to regroup and consider if I should quit the blogs altogether, or just drop the side pages, or what.

Right now I'm overworked, frazzled and, truth be told,  kinda grumpy so I think it's best to let go the pressure of documenting all the stuff I'm doing, sorting pics, then composing chatty stories around them to post.

Last thing I want are entries that seem forced and un-delightful!

So, y'all have a nice summer.  If you have my email, drop me a line and I'll keep you updated personally that way.


I hope to be back on the airwaves soon after catching up in the gardens, some rest and a little attitude adjustment.  ;-)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Peek-a-Blue

The rains (and storms) have let up, giving this gardener a respite from very wet (and threatening) weather.  Even though the sun is still elusive, the temps are fine and the blue, while not in the sky, is definitely showing up in the garden beds!

Walker's Low catmint

Baptisia (false indigo)

Blue flax

H F Young clemetis

Johnson's Blue geranium


Hope you all enjoy the long holiday weekend. :-D

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

New and Improved Crab Bed

CLICK to ENLARGE then MAGNIFY to FOCUS
The crab bed didn't thrill me at all last year.  And less so this Spring.  About all that survived the long winter were the crabapple trees, the 2 Walker's Low catmint, 1 (of 4) English lavenders, 11 (of 11) Golden Jubilee hyssop and 8 (of 8) Apache sunset hyssop.  Add the new (still in a pot) Hakuro Nishiki willow and that was what I had to work with.

I hemmed and hawed for days, then one nice morning I had just HAD it -- and went to work.

I tossed all the dead: 12 Apricot Sprite hyssops, 3 lavenders and ALL of the mums (4? 6?).  I dug up the last lavender and put it in a large pot for the season and transplanted the 8 Apache Sunset hyssop to the arbor bed.

Then I REALLY got to work.  I had known for almost a year that I really wanted the catmints to go to the ENDs of the bed.  So I got the biggest rootballs I could physically wrestle and transplanted them to the ends.  They were a little shocky the rest of the day, but hey - their last name is MINT!  They could take a little shock.


That done, I went into creative overdrive.

I gathered up some of my new seedlings: "Pink Dreams" nepeta, Crazy Daisy shasta, Yvonne's salvia and nearly 20 of last year's 'rescue' geraniums. I grabbed 4 small clumps of Autumn Joy sedums from the front of the house.  Then, while I was in the arbor bed, I dug up all the (nearly-smothered by day lilies) dwarf bearded iris and invited them to the party.  And what's a party without some decorations?  I hunted through the shed and turned up a half a dozen nice-sized terra cotta pots going idle.

A couple of hours (and a LOT of iced tea) later, the new and improved crab bed was done.


CLICK to ENLARGE
I really like how this turned out.  It's got color and texture and focus (pretty much everything it lacked last year!) - even though nothing is actually blooming yet!  I'm really looking forward to watching the plants develop and color up over the summer.

I totally blame my new willow for this major overhaul.  It's the 'throw pillow' paradox, for sure.  You know - you buy a couple of new throw pillows to snaz up a dull room.  Instead of looking nice themselves, all they REALLY do is shine a spotlight on all the things that look ratty in that room! LOL

So there.  Now that willow has a nice place to hang out!  Ironically, I still have to PLANT the darn thing!  I know how I'll install it for elevation, but that's for another post.  ;-D

Monday, May 23, 2011

Missing in Action?

Yes!  And that ACTION would be GARDENING!  

I'm not AWOL, just crazed and obsessed due to some darn tolerable weather! 

I'll catch you all up soon.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The UGLY

I hate this tree.  I'm afraid of this tree.  It's roots grow in the golf course.  The larger trunk arches over my property.  I've tried to let the golf course know for years it should be cut down before it falls on me and I'm squashed like a bug.  But to no avail.

I can't plant anything under it.  Anything I place there would be crushed when (not if) the tree falls.  I planted those 7 pine trees there last year, but I'm sure at least half of them will eventually be destroyed by the maple.  The larger of the trunks (my side) is hollow and rotten and filled with carpenter ants. 


As much as I wanted to fence out all those *(A#&! golfers that wander into my yard, any expense there would have been wasted.  So I would plant things I had a lot of, or didn't care for along that property line: iris, shasta daisy, daylily, feverfew, unattractive spirea and some peonies that never bloom, but have nice foliage in the shade.

 










But golfers hack through the flowers so this spring I at least put in some angle posts and strung some cheapo recycled fencing to slow them down and save the plants.  I also take any fallen branches and pile them behind the fencing, making it even more difficult for golfers to get up close to the fence.

To further stymie the golfers (and to avoid being on a slow-moving mower when the tree finally lets go!) I do not mow that corner of the property.  It's one thing to look out over a nice cut lawn to look for a ball, but with rampant henbit as deep as 8-10", any ball is quickly swallowed and out of sight.  (I toyed with the idea of planting the entire corner in vetch, but it's considered invasive and I wasn't willing to pull that trigger, no matter the benefits!) 



Bonus is that the blooming henbit is feeding a lot of early bees.

Bottom line, while the rest of the place is organized and maybe just a teeny bit over-controlled, under the spreading arms of that accident-waiting-to-happen tree is the ugly step-daughter of a garden, the nasty hairy really-unattractive armpit of the whole place.  And until that tree is GONE, this area will continue to contain only lost, unloved and sacrificial plants.

I pray for a blast of lightning or another Hurricane Ike to blow through. Bring that thing down SOON so I can get on with my gardening life!


========== Oct 2013 update =========

Since this post the I've had the tree 'lightened/thinnned up' and it's much better behaved now.  I've also since strung up wooden snow fence along the property line to keep out the golfers.  I'm actually gotten fond of the tree now and when the course owner offered to take it down only months after I paid to have it trimmed, I declined.  Nope, I no longer consider it UGLY, but a keeper.  Go figure. :-D 

* * *
(Use links on top of sidebar to view my other garden pages.)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Another little bed defined

I've not given much thought to this crabapple behind the privacy fence, except when I have to mow and then it is quite an irritation.  My mower is not zero-turn (it's barely any kind of turn!) so I have to hand cut the weeds around it.

Yesterday was the 3rd (THIRD) sunny day in a row and I was flying high.  But by 2:30 I was pooped and was actually LAZING on the deck.  I sipped iced tea and thought,  That'll do, Pig.  That'll do.  I could finally slow down.  Well, you know how that goes!  I looked at that tree and thought, ever soooo softly, Y'know, it wouldn't take but maybe 2 hours...   *sigh*


Next thing you know I was on the mower harvesting more clippings.  Then I hit the stash of newspapers I'd gotten from the library earlier in the week and laid out a nice egg-shaped bed under that crabapple.  The shape was mostly determined by how many surface roots I could cover and not have to mow over anymore. ;-D  (Glenda, you'll notice I wet the papers down this time.)


Then I piled on the clippings and Bob's your Uncle - another bed defined.  It's not very big, but certainly solves a couple of issues. 


I've got hosta and columbine and lupine just itching to put in a nice little bed like that.

Though you won't see this bed from the deck once the fence boards are up, it will show nicely from the bench under the gum trees.

This leaves just one 'naked' tree in the backyard that has grass growing right up to the trunk. You can see it in the previous panoramic shot in the last post. It's the maple just right of the crab bed. I'm not sure if I'll even do anything about it because, as you can also see in that pick, the crown of the tree is dying, and getting worse for the past 3 years. I'm afraid she's a goner... *sniff*

But that's another post.  For now....where the heck did I leave my iced tea???? 



* * *
(Use links on top of sidebar to view my other garden pages.)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Panoramic view...

...of the backyard beds.


Click to view, then enlarge to focus.  (Well, as focused as an autostitched shot can focus!)  

Keep in mind that when I bought the house 8 years ago there was only a firepit where the veg bed is now and while the arbor bed was here, it was rectangular and smaller.  I'm guilty of all the rest.

(Rest?  Moi? HA!). LOL


* * *
(Use links on top of sidebar to view my other garden pages.)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Glimmer in the gloom

I'm sure some of you (especially Glenda) remember last year's post "My Muse is Crazy" in which the following pic appeared.  If not, go read it.  G'head.  I'll wait.  Dum da dum dum...

Back?  Up to speed?  Okay, now for the rest of the story...



Right after that post, the rains left us and the grass dried up.  There were no resources to make those beds happen.  And oh, how that gnawed at me!

Those 2 sweet gum trees needed shade beds beneath them.


Winter finally left (mostly - the bird bath still freezes), but the rains are here and my gosh how the grass is growing.  I was sooo excited to get to build these beds.  

Then my mower conked out.  It would not start.  It would not go.  I could not harvest clippings.  I was so angry.  I watched the grass get tall and was able to borrow a neighbors riding mower over a 2 week period to keep the grass below knee-high.  But there was no bagger.  So no clippings. *sob*

On April 30th the neighbor on the other side had her lawn mowed and the service delivered me a small harvest of grass.  Yay!  So I started my bed project.  But what a challenge!  While it wasn't raining on May 1st, it was cold and cloudy and the winds gusted to 35mph.  Try laying newspapers down in that gale!


But I fought the wind all day and managed to get some of the new bed laid out.

Then it rained for 4 days.  It rained a lot.  I watched MY grass grow and I knew I couldn't get at it!  (Try explaining it to the lawn mower repair people who are up to their elbows in repairs this time of year that I really need my clippings.  Ha!)

Anyway, my very mechanically inclined neighbor to the north came over and helped me track down why the mower wouldn't start.  We both knew it was an electrical problem, but what?  Eventually we saw that the solenoid had shorted and one of the poles were no longer connected.  Ah.  I could buy a solenoid online and replace it.  In the meantime, he removed the dead one and left both poles 'floating' in the space (well separated).  He said I could just use a wooden or plastic handled screw driver to bridge the poles to start the engine in the meantime.  Cool!  (But no way was I gonna reach my hand in there and make sparks fly.  So I fashioned a long-handled prong to do the job.)  Works like a champ.

Yesterday was windy and got into the high 50s.  And the sun shone.  Gloriously.  This day had been forecasted all week and everyone was totally psyched for it!  The entire neighborhood was outside using the rare day: roofs were worked on, cars were worked on, beds were raked, golfers golfed, and lawns were mowed.

And so was mine! 
The day went well.  I was outside from 8-12 working on the plants on the deck, in the garage, in the basement while I waited for the grass to dry.  Then from noon until after 8:00 pm, I mowed and worked on the beds.


I decided to limit the clipping collection, take time to apply them to the bed, then collect more.  That way if the rains came there would not be a pile of clippings left to compost on the blacktop.

The pics don't do justice to just how large the new beds are.  Eventually everything ran out.  I was out of newspaper.  I was out of clippings.  I was out of daylight.  And I was totally out of "oomph".  



Today everything hurts:  my legs, my arms, my neck, my back (oh man - all that bending and stooping!).  I think even my hair hurts!

And while there is about a square yard of sod that still needs newspaper and clippings, this wonderful sight greeted me this morning.


As full of ache as I am this morning, I'm also full of endorphins (and, fair's fair - full of ibuprofen!) for actually realizing this year-long dream of defining those 2 shade beds.  I'll keep adding clippings over the summer and leaves in the fall.  By next spring the sod will have composted and I'll be able to do some serious planting in those beds.


But for now, after I finish that last bit of bed, I'm going to spend some quality time on that bench out there.  I want some quiet contemplation.  Rest on my 'laurels' so to speak.  So listen up, muse.  Go pester someone else for a while.  I'm pretty toasted at this point. ;-D

I guess I should be glad(?) that they've forecasted rain in some form or another for the next 7 days. (Yeah, riiiight!)  *sigh*


* * *
(Use links on top of sidebar to view my other garden pages.)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Gloom and gloomer

There is very little to blog about.  It is cold (35F this morning), wet (raining since Sunday), windy (now from the North) and the clouds are dark and heavy.  Even the crabapples are late in opening, like this unknown variety behind the privacy fence.


The birdbath keeps filling and overflowing even though I bail it out now and then.  I hope it's finally crested...  Guess I should be happy at least that the water isn't frozen!

The deck plants are shrouded against the cold (nights in the 30s) and the persistent wind.

About the only thing enjoying this dreary weather is the new Hakuro Nishiki willow.  As for the cuttings I previously took, I think they've rotted in their cold wet cups.  *sigh*

I envy the willow.  At least it's thriving.  Me?  What's a gal with a head filled with chlorophyll supposed to do when winter just won't leave?  *sigh* I hope it's Spring where you live!
=========
Thursday a.m. update.
At last!  A break from the rain!  
This morning the lawn is white with frost and the birdbath is frozen again....


Oh well, the weather IS supposed to warm up for the next 6 days.  Today should be sunny!  Yay.  Then it's going to rain for the next 6 days.  Boo.  (and Hoo!)

* * *
(Use links on top of sidebar to view my other garden pages.)