Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sad News

I am very sad to report that our two bonsai tress, a juniper and a Chinese elm, were stolen from their perches on our front porch sometime between the night before yesterday and yesterday morning. I am probably more surprised than anyone at how upset I am about this. Not only is a feeling of being violated (much how I felt the day I walked out of my apartment on Jersey St. in Buffalo to discover that my car had been broken into and rifled through), but also that we really loved these little trees. C. was the main caregiver to them, but we both loved them.

We bought them back in April at Hollow Creek Bonsai in Avon, NY. We took the drive out there with my mom in tow... I bought her a jade tree for an early Mother's Day gift. It was a beautiful day, and we were so excited about our purchases.

Sadly, I don't have any good, close up photos of the trees, just from a distance from when I took photos of the front of the house. Here is one where you can see each, at the right side of the photo. The juniper is at the top of the column on the porch, and the Chinese elm is the one down below. So whomever took the trees actually had to climb the stairs to get to the juniper. They did, at least, leave our four hot pepper plants (now much larger than what you see in the photo, which was taken early in the growing season)... those were probably too big to bother with.

I can't imagine a good end for the trees. Either someone took them who just wanted them and probably doesn't know how to care for them properly, or some neighborhood ruffians took them for "fun" and dumped them somewhere. I am truly worried about our little trees, go figure.

They were an investment for us—and I don't mean financially, though as you probably know, bonsai do not come cheap. We were looking forward to seeing them grow and develop, and nurture them through a long, happy life. I feel terrible that they're out there somewhere...

Good bye, Bungalow Bonsai. We miss you!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Staying put

Ack, it's been practically forever since my last post. The vegetables are nothing to write home about, much less photograph these days. I yanked out the last zucchini plant this morning so that the asparagus plot finally is just that. We picked one watermelon yesterday, prematurely it turns out, but tasty nonetheless (Yay! We can do it!). The tomato plants look terrible but are still producing. I got another eggplant but am ashamed to say that it languished in the refrigerator. The peppers are the darlings of the garden this year for sure. Those and the Earl of Edgecomb tomatoes, which make the positively best tomato sandwiches ever.

So, we're not moving to that non-descript ranch out in the country after all. Among other things, the land tends toward wet which is not conducive to vegetable gardening. Not to mention that the next door neighbors have like three vicious dogs who seem to think that the land the house sits on is theirs... and don't seem concerned about keeping them tied up. My mom loved the place, but C. hated it. I was in the middle and could go either way, but also feel that we could probably get more for our money, maybe? I also don't want to just rush into things. So we've decided to take the winter to get our houses ready to go so that at the first hint of spring, up they go on the market and out we go for house hunting in earnest. A dream house for ALL of us is out there somewhere, I know it.

Anyway. Not much else to report for now. I am just happy to not be quite so stressed out at the moment.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


(One of our tomatoes...)

So, it looks like we're going to be moving house in the coming months, with my mom. We found a ranch duplex out in the country with a couple acres and plenty of sunny spaces for big gardens. It's not official just yet as we still have to get through the bank stuff and having the offer accepted, etc. but from what I can tell these things might just be necessary formalities—dealing with a small-town bank, and buying directly from the seller (I think, my mom is handling most of the stuff at least for now). The house still has some work to be done, but should be ready in a few weeks. As for us and our side of things? Especially for my mom, who has 35 years' worth of stuff to sort, we've got a lot to do to get ready to show and sell our respective houses. Inside and out!

I'm pretty sad to leave the gardens that I've worked so hard to build, even in the short time I've been here. Especially the shade gardens. I really, really hope someone who likes to garden and will appreciate all that our little property has to offer will buy our house. Not to mention, we LOVE our house. Totally love it. It will be hard to let it go after all we went through to find it in the first place. But, I am hoping that the trade-offs we will be making will be worth it in the end. It's definitely bittersweet... but I tell you what, we'll be able to have a veggie stand if we want to... that has to count for something.

It's a fairly nondescript little ranch, but just look at that setting!

Wish us luck that everything goes smoothly, and that this ends up being a good choice. It's so hard to know, to let go of the familiar and beloved for what feels like the complete unknown.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Notes from Home

No photos today, but notes so that I remember things for next year.

In the front garden:
Sedum and euphorbia are blooming, as is the two varieties of phlox, and the mums I planted last year (a bargain end-of-year plant!). The Early Girl tomato plant has three tomatoes still yet to ripen. The slugs are finally starting to eat the hostas, but I don't want to add more slug pellets... I noticed that they also kill worms, which I don't want to do. I'll have to try other things in the future, but at least I had hole-free hostas for a couple months!

In the side garden:
Roses are all black spotty but still producing new growth, both foliage and flowers that are lovely. I just leave 'em alone, though I do need to deadhead a bit. The fennel is flourishing, the gooseneck loosestrife has not yet taken over, and the clematis looks like it's on its last leg, but we'll see next year. The rose bush I planted from my dad has no leaves on it anymore and I wonder if it will survive. I'll give it until next spring and then decide whether to yank it or not. As ever, the mint is a bed hog but the oregano and rosemary and tarragon I planted are holding their own.

In the back shade garden:
It is hard for me to believe that I started out with what was basically a near-empty bed with some centaurea that wasn't really suited for the spot. It is now filled with pachysandra, foxglove, astilbe, lupin, scented geranium, Solomon's seal, and a few hostas (including my prized Pan-Am hosta). It's totally packed in, filled to the brim. I couldn't be prouder, really.

In the New Hampshire shade garden:
Seems I have a real green thumb for the shade gardens... this one is doing really well, too, except that I neglected weeding it for quite a while. I finally got in there last night for some quick and dirty weeding, and planted a couple new things, a little astilbe and a small variegated variety of hosta my mom gave me. The rest is just about all from my dad's gardens in New Hampshire (hence the name). Several varieties of hostas and ferns. There are also two violet plants: one that was already growing in the garden when we bought the house (though I moved it to its current location) and one that my aunt Dorothy gave me.

Next to the NH shade garden is a small watermelon patch (don't worry, it gets light!). Beyond that is the small plot we just carved out where the broccoli had been growing and where we planted carrot (Danvers) seeds that I got for like 50 cents at the local Rite-Aid, and an Italian greens mix of seeds I got from a seed exchange for free. It's kind of an experiment because we don't know whether we have enough time to grow anything from seed, but it never hurts to try, right?

Next to that are the strawberries, which are throwing runners like crazy and still blooming, and the one lonely black beauty eggplant that is finally making fruits!

Adjacent to that plot is the bed where where carefully mounded soil for some of our many varieties of peppers, plus more watermelon. Next to that is the asparagus bed, which now not only houses asparagus but two gigantor zucchini plants that seem to be hell-bent on taking over the world. We've already harvested at least a dozen squashes, with new ones literally popping up overnight what seems like every day. We've got two sugar baby watermelons growing quickly, now bigger than grapefruits!

Also in the backyard we've got potted tomato and pepper plants. The regular-sized varieties are just now starting to ripen, but the cherries have been edible now at a rate of several a day. If we're patient enough, we can save enough each day to make a tasty salsa once a week or so. Many of our tomatoes have problems with yellowing leaves and brown spots that I seriously don't think is late blight. C. is trying an Epsom salt solution, 1 tablespoon of salts to one gallon of water to water the soil with as well as spray on the leaves. It's seemed to help a little.

The rose of Sharon bushes have been in bloom for over a week now and are just beautiful. We have so many of them!

Overall, considering how much less time I'd been spending in the gardens in July and August, I'd say we're doing OK. I know we've both learned a lot and will be able to apply our new knowledge and skills to make our gardens even better next year, whether it is at our current house or somewhere new.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Picture is Worth...

Here are some photos to accompany yesterday's post somewhat.

I'll start out with a comparison shot of the veggie plot. This first photo was taken on July 30th.

And this photo was taken yesterday. Those squash and watermelon plants have totally taken over—I feel so bad for the asparagus, for whom the plot was dug for exclusively in the first place.

Oh, and the hibiscus I overwintered for my mom actually bloomed! I had another one, too, but gave up on it a couple months ago thinking there was no hope for it. I should have waited longer...

Finally, shots of what's producing!

Here we have tomatoes (I forget which type at the moment, but this is our best plant this year).

And a Black Beauty eggplant!

A pepper! (Again, I forget which type...)

My pride and joy, sugar baby watermelon. The fruit now is probably just larger than a golf ball, getting bigger seemingly by the hour. This photo was taken two days ago and it is already noticeably larger!

Total garden love.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Catching Up

Holy cow, is it really true that I have neglected this blog since the end of July? For shame!

To be honest, I haven't been the most dedicated gardener as of late. I've been busy with other things, not to mention we'd had a lot of rain until the other day. So it was hard to make time to tend to things the way I like to.

However, I'd like to announce that we are officially looking for our country veggie farm homestead with my mom. We want something with at least a couple acres, and a house that will allow us (C. and I) and my mom our privacy and ability to carry on our lives without getting in the way of the other's. All within a certain budget, of course. It's a rather tall order, but I feel that there must be something out there for us, if we are patient and diligent. Last night we had our first viewing of a house, and unfortunately, it was a real clunker. The setting was lovely, but the property hasn't been well-taken care of, enough to really turn us all off. Crossed off the list, what's next?

My mom is still thinking about trying to make her current home (the house I grew up in) work for our situation, but we'll see. It's going to be a long process, but hopefully successful in the end. Wish us luck!

In the meantime, the vegetable garden at our house is doing well. The squash is really just going crazy with a capital "c", as is the watermelon. The black beauty eggplant, which we only just now found out is late season, is finally producing fruit! (I planted it way too early, back in late April, if you recall.) The tomatoes are mostly looking rough-ish, but I think so far we have escaped Late Blight. Other stuff, maybe, but I don't think anything too serious. The plants are producing lots of fruit but things are still very slow to ripen, especially the regular tomatoes. The cherry varieties are coming in piecemeal; we've been able to make small batches of salsa here and there along with the peppers, which have been coming along fine for the most part.

The New Hampshire woodland garden, I am afraid, is a weedy mess at the moment. The other shade garden at the back of the house is flourishing and choking out most of the weeds. I don't really need to do anything with it, in fact!

The front garden is looking a little better than it had been. I was able to pull out the dead and dried-up stuff, which helped considerably. And now, things like stonecrop are really starting to fill out and get pretty. The purple coneflower keeps up, and the snapdragons and the centauria return again and again as long as I keep on top of the deadheading.

I'm not sure when I will have more time to play catch up, but I hope sometime before the end of the month! By then, it'll be time to start planning for next year. Our biggest plan includes expanding the veggie gardens in the back quite a lot... though who knows, by then we could be making much bigger plans!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

MSL and FG on GW

Even though I am not a gardener in Buffalo proper, I am still so proud that our fair city received such a glowing review on the Martha Stewart Living Radio Blog. See, Buffalo (and the surrounding region) is more than just snow and chicken wings! Stacey's post really drives that home.

Also, Kerry from Fine Gardening magazine, whom I met at Elizabeth's garden party on Saturday, took this photo of me at work amongst the blooms! Thanks, Kerry, for also blogging about your experience on the Garden Walk!

Photo by Kerry Ann Moore

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Garden Walk 2009

Here in the Buffalo, NY area, one of the most anticipated events of the year is Garden Walk, a weekend that features over 300 urban gardens that free and open for public perusal and enjoyment. This year, I was invited by my friend Gordon Ballard and his partner Brian to come on Saturday to be the "guest artist" and paint in the gardens while people browsed. I was more than happy to accept!

I had everything packed and ready to go, only to find upon arrival and unpacking that I had unwittingly forgot my paints and brushes! As Elizabeth succinctly put it when I explained what had happened, "Lame!" Indeed. Fortunately, I had also packed my colored pencils and a few sheets of paper to work with, so I wasn't stuck completely high and dry. It turned out to be a happy accident, as I really haven't actually sit down and just drawn something in a long time. These days I'm almost exclusively painting or collaging. It was great. I had never really sat down and worked with flowers and plants in my work before, so this was a new challenge that I really enjoyed.

Here is the most complete drawing I was able to make that day. I had a beautiful clump of Echinachea purpurea standing right in front of my set-up, so that is what I focused on.

And here are some photos I took of just a portion of Gordon's gardens that day. I also happen to LOVE his house and the way he plays off the gorgeous architecture with the plantings.

They had a wonderful little spot set up for me, where I not only made art, but also displayed a couple of my house paintings.

Shots of the lovely gardens...

As always, you can click on the photos to see them larger; if you'd like to see more of my artwork, you can visit my website: Amy Greenan Art & Design.

After my time at Gordon's, I headed over to Elizabeth's for a garden party. I guess I was too busy socializing to get any photos of her gardens, but trust me when I say that it is amazing what can be done with a small, shady, urban space. I felt like I was in a movie, that's how great it was. Thanks for the invite, E.! No doubt she will be posting about Garden Walk in her own blog, Gardening While Intoxicated—don't miss it! You can also visit Jim's Blog, Art of Gardening, for his summation of the weekend. It was great to meet you, Jim, and I am sorry we didn't have a chance to chat much.

This past weekend just went to prove how many cool people are in the gardening community, and I am proud to be a part of it!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Garden Update

Just a quick update, mainly for my own purposes to keep track of what is going on.

I finally got to weed the veggie garden yesterday! C. asked about how long I thought it would take, and I said, "Mmm... maybe a half hour?" He figured it would be twice that, and he turned out to be right. That happens a lot, I must admit.

I am so pleased to announce that all four of the asparagus crowns I planted have made their way to the surface! I just noticed as I was weeding that the last one finally joined the others above ground. This is very exciting to me.

We're also seeing some teeny tiny little watermelons forming. Unfortunately, the first one petered out and didn't make it, but there are plenty of others that we hope won't have the same fate.

The tomatoes still appear to be Late Blight-free. *touch wood* The peppers, all types, are thriving. We're seeing many fruits that might be pickable very soon! The tomatoes are taking forever to ripen, though. Not enough sun, I guess.

It's been raining on and off since last night, with today having some especially vigorous downpours. It would nice to see some warmth and sun follow tomorrow and give things a chance to process all that lovely moisture. Not to mention, I need to get those plants I dug up from my mom's house in the ground!

An odd summer indeed!

In other garden news, this Saturday I am excited to have been invited to paint en plein air in my friend Gordon's gorgeous urban garden for Buffalo's annual Garden Walk. I guess it's something he does every year, include an artist on one of the days. I expect I'll paint some garden things, and maybe his house, too, since that's kind of my "thing" lately. Either way, it should be interesting, and considering how many people attend Garden Walk, I should have a steady audience throughout the day!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


List #1: The tomatoes and peppers I bought from Mater Mark
• Nicky Crain
• Earl of Edgecomb
• Berkeley Tie-Dye
• Sungold
• Stump of the World

• Yellow Peru
• Chocolate Brown Habanero
• Aconagua

List #2: Plants that are drought-tolerant that I want to put in the front garden
• Sedum (have some)
• Creeping phlox
• Snow-in-summer
• Hens & Chicks (have some)
• Common sage
• Lavender
• Common thyme
• Rosemary (have some, but need more)
• Iris (have some)
• Purple coneflower (have some)

List #3: Just plain want
• Black cohosh
• Trillium recurvatum coll. (Bloody Nose Trillium)
• Spiraea Magic Carpet
• Pink velour crepe myrtle tree

... among others

Monday, July 20, 2009

Possibilities: Gardening and Life

Yesterday, C. and I went to visit my mom for the day.

Later on in the evening, our conversation turned toward what she was going to do as far as the house went (since my stepdad died last year and it's a LOT for her to take care of by herself now that she is older), and the fact that I really, really want to live much closer to her and be able to BE there for her at any time. Living almost an hour and a half away means that if I am lucky, I get to see her a few times a month.

All of us great garden enthusiasts, somehow gardening got all enmeshed in the conversation and we decided that trying to figure out a living situation where we could have our own house and she could have her own house on the same property and seeing how far we could take our gardening, i.e. selling transplants, having a roadside veggie stand, etc. and making a little business out of it if only to fund our own gardening expenses.

We talked quite at length about this and it became more and more exciting. We figured out that one possibility is for her to stay on the existing property, build a smaller, one story house behind the main house for her, and have us move into the main house. There is plenty of land to garden. The other possibility is to buy something new that already has a two-house set up, with a little bit of land that we could work. The latter would probably be the better choice since it would leave my mom with more liquid cash to have on hand for her living expenses; whichever way it went, Mom would no longer have a mortgage payment to make and wouldn't have to work anymore, which would be awesome. At the same, C.'s and my situation would be about the same whether we stayed where we are, or the two other options. It would just give us more land to play with.

Basically, pooling all our resources seems like it would give us all a better life overall. I could be with my mom all the time without us smothering each other living in the same house. I was thinking too that doing something like this now would prevent a likely inevitable situation where my mom got too old and/or infirm to take care of herself down the line, maybe even in an emergency, where figuring out the logistics of something like this would be very stressful and a lot more difficult. If we do it in the near future, there would really be so little to worry about, because we'd be all in place to help out easily.

As I said, we're all excited about our gardening venture, and among the three of us, we have complementary skills: I'd be the marketing person, Mom would handle bookkeeping, and C. would be the general manager/research and development. All three of us would work the gardens, with Mom and C. being there all the time and me contributing as necessary during the evenings and weekends, outside my day job. We could also bring my aunt and two cousins in on it if they wanted; they are all talented gardeners and former farmers. I'm sort of surprised no one in our family has thought of this before, actually!

C. and I started looking to see if there were any properties that would suit our needs, and it looks like there are some possibilities within or below what we'd like to spend. Nothing totally prefect, but definitely workable. Mom's also going to pick her boss's brain and see what he thinks (being a real estate mogul and all). At least we have an insider on the real estate side of things.

Probably the toughest part of making this happen would be selling the houses, if we ended up buying a different property. That could get tricky, but I feel confident that our house would sell fairly easily, and that Mom's would, too. I guess we'll see what happens!

It's funny how gardening starts to sort of dictate your life's direction... I do see this as something feasible, doable, smart, and fun! Who knows, in the next couple years we could find ourselves with a nice parcel of land and gardens galore to feed ourselves and maybe even fund our gardening habit. How exciting is that?


In other garden news at home, C. called to tell me that he thinks he spotted the very wee beginnings of a Sugar Baby watermelon! This is very exciting news indeed. Hopefully many will soon follow.

Also waiting to be put in the gardens from my mom's are a little variety of variegated hosta, some lily of the valley, some more pachysandra, yarrow, columbine, evening primrose, and some poppy seed heads which I will sprinkle all over the front garden. This evening will be my first big day back out in the gardens—there's a lot of weeding in my forecast.


The veggie garden

Asparagus poking its way through the squash leaves

SQUASH! (Click on photo to see ladybug)

Watermelon, amongst the weeds

Mystery wildflower—anyone?

The neighbors' new, very white fence, with tomatoes in the foreground

Thursday, July 16, 2009

New Techniques, New Fence

I am very, very excited that I will be able to extend my gardening tasks well into wintertime this year, now that I have found out about winter sowing. (The link will take to you the definitive website on the subject.)

I like that it combines gardening and recycling and pennypinching all at once. In a nutshell, you plant a whole bunch of seeds (which are of course much cheaper than buying young plants) and plant them in any number of a variety of small, reusable containers—like two-liter bottles, plastic food containers, or whatever else you can come up with (see the site for a list of suggestions). Then, you set them outside just around or after the holiday season and let the elements do their thing. Holes punched in the tops and bottoms of the containers provide aspiration and drainage. Snow will act as an insulator and also provide moisture; mother nature does the rest.

Come spring, they say you will have more plants than you'll know what to do with, at little to no cost! I like it. No, I LOVE it and cannot wait to try it for myself.

Again, the website I linked to will provide you with full instructions and tips about everything from how to get started to what types of plants are best for this growing method. You can grow flowers and vegetables in this way!


I am also very much looking forward to planning and preparing new beds for next year using what I think is called the "lasagna" method, involving cardboard and newspapers, and lots of patience. Along with this, I plan to start my own compost and discovered some clever ways to do this even with my small outdoor space.

In other news, while we really, really dislike our next door neighbors, I think relations will improve (i.e. we'll all just totally ignore each other assuming that they keep the noise level down) since they replaced the fence that bordered our tiny properties. The fence style wouldn't have been our choice (it's white vinyl), but it is six feet tall and I must say does really make things look much neater on our side. I told C. there's nothing there a couple of well-chosen tall bushes couldn't fix to subdue the bright white a bit. At least we've got the flowering quince, the lilac, and the rose of Sharon in place; we just need another one or two to fill the rest in. There's no doubt in my mind—good fences do make good neighbors indeed. It's been much more enjoyable to be in our back yard now that we don't have a semi-view of their dirt floor and weed-filled one.

A major beef I have now is that they were very inconsiderate while installing the fence. Not only did they trample onto our property, which we told them not to do after a particularly heated exchange, they dislodged and apparently discarded the one Queen of the Prairie I had planted near the tomatoes, as well as a small rose of Sharon. The latter I can live with, as we have an abundance of volunteers, but it really rankled me about the QotP. I had two plants, and the one that was pulled up was doing very well. The other one, which I had put in the front garden, hasn't been doing so hot (probably because it's not getting enough water, oops!). So the one in the back was special. I had grown it to about five feet tall from a six inch plant.

The worst part is that they never said a word to us about it, no apology or anything. Just, "Oh, we'll trample all over your stuff and you just have to deal with it." Nice.

(And in case you're wondering why we didn't say anything, I will just tell you that we decided it is not worth it in the big scheme of things that we've dealt with these neighbors. We had a big noise problem with them that seems to have been abated and now that the fence is done, we just don't want to deal with them, period.)

But seriously. What is wrong with people??? How can you just pull up a five foot tall plant and not think that you should apologize?

Neighbors really are the biggest pests of all. Or, at least they CAN be. Fortunately, every other one of our neighbors are great.

I think I am done ranting now.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Summer Flu

I miss my gardens.

I've been down and out with the flu for the past week and half, which as you can imagine doesn't pair well with gardening activities. The most I have done has been to keep up with the watering, and pull an odd weed out of the vegetables here and there as I survey daily growth.

But it's not nearly enough. The front garden especially is looking rather... well, let's just say not so special anymore. There is lots that need deadheading and cutting down. There are empty spots. I never did get around to making a nice edging up there. So, while kind neighbors still tell me that the gardens look very nice, I know otherwise. And it really bugs me.

The shade gardens are faring far better, probably because the are smaller and more filled in. There are fewer types of plants so things look more cohesive without much effort. Plus, they don't need as much watering or fussing over, which is nice.

*sigh* I am counting on feeling much better by the weekend, when I hope to dive in head first and spend many happy hours fixing things up. For now, I have to be patient.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Photo Dump

I'm still sick, but I got out to look at things and snap a few photos.

I don't know whether this is a weed or not, but I think it's pretty. Can anyone identify it? It's short, maybe six inches tall and grows in clumps.

Some echineachea I planted last year.

A daylily of some kind from my dad's gardens.

Yet another rose popped up! It's such a pretty, delicate pink.

I love the dark purple flowers on this hosta from New Hampshire.

We have strawberries!

Look how much Bobby Peru has grown! (and the weeds, ugh)

A view of the veggie plot. It's hard to see because it's so wispy, but the asparagus is there next to the younger of the summer squash plants. We also have a third asparagus plant poke up its shoot! Just one more to go and we'll have 100% success.

The shade garden has really filled in. Here you can see the scented geranium from my dad's garden which has taken off so well, and the "Pan Am" hosta I got from my friend Gordon in the back. Oh, and some more lupin has bloomed, and there are more foxglove shoots coming up, too!

Another view of the shade garden. The Solomon's Seal (also from Gordon) filled that spot perfectly. The pachysandra has been thriving and looks really pretty!

These are red hot pokers from my cousin Peggy's garden. I just love them! I'm happy to say that she dug one up for me to take home on the 4th of July.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Plants update

Just a quick update for now, as I sit here suffering a nasty summer cold, or maybe H1N1! (I doubt the latter, but I guess you never know.)

I acquired a few new plants over the weekend, having attended my cousin's 4th of July party. From her I snagged a red hot poker and a butterfly bush; from her sister, I finally have some lamb's ears! I am very excited. Fortunately, I got the plants in the garden before the worst nastiness of the cold set in.

The end of last week also saw the trimming of the lilacs, bridal wreath spirea, and some of the rose of Sharon. Oh, and the roses were deadheaded and trimmed back—else they ramble right into the driveway!

Did I mention that another asparagus popped up? And that the eggplant has a bloom? And that one of the strawberries is producing fruit? And that the tomatoes and peppers look like they will be very productive? And that the Solomon's seal looks beautiful in the shade garden at the back of the house... it added just the right touch, a little height and a new texture.

I have many photos to share, but that will be for another day.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Where I Come From, Where I'm Going

Yesterday we paid an early evening visit to my mom, at the house where I grew up. She still has many gardens that she tends, so we took a walk around the property to see all that was out to see. I took a few photos—it was starting to get dark so I will have to try again another time for some better shots—but I wanted to show you from where I came, garden-wise.

I know everyone has hostas, but one of my favorite things in my mom's gardens is this GIANT hosta she's had for years now.

It's a monster! I'd have had someone stand next to it for scale, but no one in attendance yesterday like to have their photo taken, so you will have to trust me. This photo might give you a better sense of its scale, though.

Growing up, I never fully appreciated living out in the country. Mom and Dad bought the house and its 14 acres in 1974 for a bargain. The house had stood abandoned for years and there was no yard to speak of—everything was overgrown completely. But now I love that I always have home to return to... it is just gorgeous there.

Back at home, things are happening!

Yet another type of rose... a nice medium pink. This bush is growing right smack against a rose of Sharon a little ways down from the others. I don't dare try to move it, but I'd like to.

The tomato jungle is getting bigger and more unruly, and it's full of buds!

Look! Broccoli!

The veggie plot is doing very well. The thing I am most excited about is that... *drum roll please* an asparagus shoot made its way to the surface, and quite beyond, too! All the rain we're getting must have done the trick. And here I gave up on the asparagus. The shoot is located just near the middle of the three younger squashes in the foreground. Maybe if you click on the photo for a larger view, you'll be able to spot it.

Just a wee thing, but it's a good six inches out of the ground in just a day!

This is Bobby Peru, my yellow Peru pepper. I named him after the scary character in the film Wild at Heart, played by Willem Dafoe and some nasty fake teeth. My Bobby Peru really come a long way from the leggy fellow he was when I first transplanted him, and now he's got all kinds of new growth on his stem! A lovely plant who's not really deserving of his namesake. Behind him (to the right in the photo) is a chocolate habanero, and to the left is a salsa delight that already has a pepper growing steadily!

The watermelon is just coming along so nicely.

The Accidental Zucchini is going to be gargantuan. And I've got four more plants coming up that I don't think will have enough room... so much for doubting my in-ground gardening skills!

So much excitement, so suddenly. This is why I am addicted to gardening now.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Roses, etc.

The pink roses have bloomed, finally! I only have a few of them, and I managed to capture some pretty pictures—they are just about the prettiest, most delicate things I've seen! Unfortunately, I don't know what type any of my roses are, so if you do, by all means, tell me!

(As always, click photos to see larger—I urge you to, as these are so pretty.)

Plus, my first tomatoes of the season!

I planted two tomato plants directly into the ground when it was probably way too early... back in late April. One of the plants didn't make it, but I wasn't sure which one it was. Looks like these are not going to be cherry tomatoes, which means—Early Girl! Just on schedule, too. I can see three fruits so far.

The plant itself is not very big at all, but as long as it makes me some 'maters, that's all I care about. I'll probably try another plant in this spot in my front garden again next year, albeit planted at a more appropriate time!


Also in my garden news, I weeded the vegetable garden yesterday evening. The first zucchini seed that I planted in the back of what was to be the asparagus patch is getting quite big, and the additional seeds I planted in the front just a week or two ago are producing honest to god leaves already! One of the strawberry plants has blossoms, and the other is spreading runners. The black beauty eggplant, also planted too early, is looking better and better lately—maybe it will actually produce! The watermelon plants are doing just fine, too.

All the container tomatoes are growing like mad and starting to produce blossoms. I just noticed a wee salsa delight pepper on that plant in the veggie plot. The broccoli is starting to make, well, broccoli! I can see the tiny florets in the center of the leaves on each of the four plants.

I still need to get into the ground the lovely plants I bought at my new friend Gordon's annual plant sale. He has a spectacular garden in Buffalo and raises money to maintain it each year in this way. I came away with:

Gooseneck Loosestrife
• Two varieties of phlox
Solomon's Seal (what a beaut!)
• Black fennel (as a companion plant to my roses)
• French tarragon
and, my coup of the day!
• Pan Am hosta! This hosta is a direct descendant of a plant that was grown as part of the Pan-American Exhibition, which was held in Buffalo in 1901. What an awesome piece of history! Plus, the plant itself is just lovely.


Unfortunately, the front garden isn't looking so hot since I had the grand idea of, you know, moving stuff around. There's also not much blooming at this point, so it's looking a little barren and empty, aside from the thriving hostas in the front row. If you come a little closer, you can see some pretty details of things, but looking at it from the street is not so special. I'm sad by this, but know that it is just part of the process of creating something really beautiful in the end. I need to be patient.