Thursday, April 30, 2009


Not much to report from the garden front since my last post, however each morning I make a cursory tour of the gardens to see what's going on, make sure things that shouldn't be dying aren't, etc. So far, so good with the plants I added to the beds last weekend, although it looks like one of the basil plants (of 3) has wilted. I find this interesting because it is planted in the same area as the other two and so gets the same amount of water and sun. I will try to see if I can revive it, but I don't have high hopes. Everything else, including the rosemary that I neglected to mention last time, which is planted with the oregano among the mint, is doing fine. I even think that the strawberry plants and eggplant have gotten bigger already! (But maybe that's just wishful thinking.)

Aside from that, the early spring bloomers are fading group by group, with the daffodils leading the way. The hostas have not been invaded by slugs yet, with no signs of munching (which reminds me, I really need to take preventive measures and spread some slug pellets). We mowed the lawn for the first time the other night, and C. quite severely trimmed down the rose of Sharon that stands on the border with our "good" neighbor—it was our turn this year. We're still trying to decide what to do with the rather nondescript bush that looks nice for about one or two weeks out of the year, sitting at the corner of our garage; we'll probably take it down and expand our patio out a bit to make more room for our potted plants in the summer, mostly tomatoes and various peppers (hot and sweet).

I have a busy next few days getting ready for a workshop I am presenting on Sunday at the museum where my current solo exhibition is hung, so I'm not sure I'll be able to get out to the gardens much. I do hope to make a little more progress on the carving out of the beds in the back, though—even a foot at a time is progress!

Some photos, as promised from last time:

A plethora of tulips

Newly planted rose bushes along the back

Some returning sedum I planted last year, plus hyacinth

Sunday, April 26, 2009

More Weekend Activity

Yesterday I spent much of my time on gardening-related activities and had a great time, not to mention a good workout, too! The main plan was to travel out and dig up some free pachysandra from a guy who had advertised on Craigslist... I had read up a little bit about the plant but didn't realize what a pain it is to dig up and to replant, with all its runners. But, I also got two small free rosebushes out of the deal, when I noticed them among (and being choked by) one of the beds of pachysandra. I was just like, "Um... do you want to keep this rosebush?" and the guy was like, "You want it? Go ahead and take it!" and it turned out to be two separate plants. I planted them in the front garden along the wall where it is nice and sunny, hoping it will fill the space nicely one day. I hope they will survive and flourish. All the man said he knew about them was that they were pink. Good enough. I've really come to love roses, I think mainly because they remind me of my maternal grandmother, who had all sorts of flowering bushes all over their property back when I was a wee lass. (Peonies are another nostalgic favorite, by the way, for the same reason.)

On the way over there, though I stopped at Home Depot for a couple small things—a cultivator for the new beds I am making, some slug pellets for the hostas, and... I couldn't resist... I know HD isn't the best place to buy plants, but I decided to get a few herbs and veggies for experimental reasons. After the success we had last year with our tomatoes and hot peppers in containers (mostly due to C.'s careful attention and diligence, I might add), and seeing how just about anything I've put into our gardens has flourished, I wanted to see how well plants with a more practical purpose would do directly in the ground. So, I walked away with two strawberry plants, a black beauty eggplant, some Greek oregano, sweet basil, and two types of tomato: Early Girl and some cherries. I'm not expecting success necessarily, but I am interested to see how things do in the locations I've selected for them amongst the flower beds. Exciting stuff! I wouldn't mind trying to see how directly sowed seeds do, too.

I took some more photos around the yard today, but it won't be tomorrow until I sort them out and post a few here. Everything's going like gangbusters now. Most of the tulips are now blooming, and the flowering trees are waking up and showing us their pretties. It's such a lovely time of the year, and I am very pleased at how things that I contributed to the existing gardens are really filling things out, like the variety of sedums, and the hostas that I separated. I am quite proud of my efforts and feel that I have already learned so much in just the two years I've had my own garden.

See you tomorrow!

Thursday, April 23, 2009


I've been meaning to post the photos of last weekend's efforts. I didn't start out intending to do all this, rather just finishing up clearing out the beds and trimming some bushes. But, as it often does, one thing led to another, and I found myself digging out the backyard beds. And as an artist is often wont to do, I had to make it a little fancy. I think once everything is finished, it's going to look really, really nice. I just really hope that we can afford to get a new fence installed, preferably before I start really planting stuff. I'm thinking maybe it will be better to hold off on planting along the fence until I know for sure what is going on. Anyway, here are some photos!

This is right along the back of the house. There are some centaurea that are already sprouting up back there, that came with the house. Last year, I transplanted a few to the front garden. I think it prefers full sun anyway? It's pretty shady back here, I don't know. That's about it for now; here is where I want to plant a bunch of those old-fashioned cottage plants if I can: foxglove, delphinium, ferns, etc.
Around the gardens, April 2009

And this is, obviously, along the inadequate fence... it looks like some topsoil needs replacing along there as well. A lot of the back yard is quite uneven.
Around the gardens, April 2009

Another view... I still have more than half of the beds to dig out yet (from over where I was taking this shot). You can see where I ran out of steam toward the lower right hand corner.
Around the gardens, April 2009

And, at the back border of the yard, it is still fairly wild and woolly. Last fall, my dad came to visit and brought lots of hostas and some ferns that got dispersed through this area.
Around the gardens, April 2009

Here is the first half of the front garden.
Around the gardens, April 2009

And the second half. There is a lot going in there; tons of spring blooms plus a lot of plants I added to the bed last season, from spring all the way through fall—that's when you get the bargain perennials! I'd like to get some taller plants in the back, not to mention enlarging the bed further away from the house. If I had my druthers, I would make the front yard totally garden, but the mister has kiboshed that idea for now. "Do whatever you want in the back, but leave the front how it is." No fun! Well, I am at the very least going to expand it out, so there.
Around the gardens, April 2009

I can't wait to really be able to dig in and go crazy, especially in the back yard. Plans, I got 'em.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Inspired by...

I forgot to mention an extremely important point about this blog. It was totally inspired by this blog and this blog.


Oh no! Another blog?

Probably the last thing I need in my life is another blog to keep up. It would seem that my life is becoming more and more segmented in this manner, but no matter. It's kind of nice to have these neat and tidy spaces in which to write about different aspects of my life. Topic-specific blogging definitely helps me to keep my head organized, I won't lie.

So I will tell you that in addition to being an amateur gardener, I am an artist who has struggled with food and body issues most of my life. Thus, my other blogs are regarding my art and my struggles with health, fitness, and weight loss, with the latter being, quite frankly, in indefinite hiatus.

Now that my introduction is in place, I will tell you a little bit about my gardening life, which goes back to my earliest years as a child. When I was four, my parents bought an old abandoned farmhouse with some acreage in a small town in western New York. I have many memories of helping out in the large gardens that they built (wait, do you build a garden?), though not always happy. While I loved being able to crunch on a string bean or some sweet peas right off the vine, I really didn't care much for the dirty, hands on hard work that was required to keep the gardens thriving. It was just never my cup of tea. Looking back now, though, I know how lucky I was to have that gardening experience. They had two huge plots (maybe about 20 feet by 30 feet each? I'll have to ask my mom) in the back yard, along with about 30 feet of grape vines. This was back in the 1970s, and my mom canned a lot and made homemade jams, pickles, relish, ketchup—none of which I appreciated very much, for shame.

After my parents divorced, the veggie gardens were no longer, but my mom kept up many beautiful flower gardens throughout the property, and does to this day. Again, over the years, I'd be implored to help out with weeding, and would do so grudgingly, if at all.

Fast forward to two years ago this August, when my boyfriend and I bought our first house. While we don't have much property, what is there came installed with some garden materials. The house came with some lovely rose bushes, rose of Sharon abound, a gorgeous weeping cherry tree, a lilac, a flowering quince, and a healthy patch of spearmint. There were also a few small bushes including holly, azalea, and rhododendron, not to mention several clumps of hostas and centaurea. The following spring we also discovered that previous owners had planted hundreds of bulbs including several varieties each of daffodils, tulips, crocus, and hyacinth.

Last year's weeping cherry, with a glimpse of the flowering quince at left
Weeping cherry tree

I found myself getting really excited about having our own land to work and take care of. Sure enough, I finally got bit by the gardening bug. I finally fit in with the rest of my mom's side of the family, who are all gardening nuts.

My first spring at the house, last year, I spent time cleaning up and just getting to know what exactly what I had to work with. As the warmer months came, I became more and more involved and active in the gardens. I started moving things around little by little. Toward the end of the season, I found myself scooping up deals at local nurseries for bargain perennials to fill up the empty spaces with. I also realized that we are very lucky to have what I am pretty sure is darned good soil, because it seems like just about anything I stick it the ground thrives—at least so far. Sedum, aster, dianthus, winter pansies, more sedum (I really like this group of succulents) and others (I have to check the labels I kept from when I planted), including a group of iris from my cousin Marianne, hostas and ferns from my dad, and a few things from my mom including columbine and poppy. So far, I am seeing lots of new growth that I have had my eyes on since the snow melted—it's really exciting to see the fruits of my experiments! (Which I say because I was really doing just that, a lot of experimenting. I don't really know what I am doing quite yet and hoping for the best.)

Last year's late April blooms
Front garden

Some of the sedum that was planted last summer, July 2008

This year I am being ever more ambitious and digging out more in the back yard, which I've been gradually trying to tame from its rather jungle-like, unkempt state when we first moved. It's a little postage stamp back there, but has great potential to become a paradise for sure, as long as we can also manage to afford a good fence against our next door neighbors, whose backyard view is less than attractive. The current fence is too short and starting to deteriorate... and I am pretty certain it is theirs, not ours.

The backyard about a month before we first moved in
Back yard

Anyway, just yesterday I came across a website for a nursery located a few hours away in the Ithaca, NY area called Graceful Gardens that specialize in traditional cottage garden plants and flowers. It is here where I think I will be getting many new flowers to add to my gardens, especially my shady one right at the back of the house. I have visions of foxglove, delphiniums, and lupins...