Sunday, May 31, 2009

Notes to self (but you can read too!)

Yesterday I was busy, busy, busy! First a trip to Home Depot to pick up soil and manure (I really need to find a good farm source for this next year!), where I also picked up two more Astilbes (this time in a pretty antique pink) for the back plus two Delphinium for the front! It was nice to pick up four good sized plants for just $20. Then I found a giant pussy willow tree for $10, thinking it could go in the gap that allows us a delightful view of the neighbor's trashy little yard, but that got nixed by C., who thinks it would block out too much of the sun eventually, and/or eventually touch our neighbor's house. So it's back to the drawing board for that—one of the bushes on my list, which is fine.

I may end up returning the pussy willow since there's not really another place to put him. I wouldn't mind trying the front, but C. also nixed that idea (thought it would look too funny), and after some thought I realized it would probably end up blocking a lot of the sun I get for my front garden. *sigh* It's too bad, such a pretty little tree. Not to mention cheap!

Most of my time yesterday was spent enlarging the little plot we made last weekend. I more than doubled it (I think it is about 4 feet by 8 feet), and boy, was it a lot of work! I did well, though. Add some topsoil and manure and added two more pepper plants, plus a Sugar Baby watermelon (still have three seedlings left to put somewhere), as well as four asparagus crowns (six left). It's probably a bit crowded, but we'll see how it works. I can't wait to see the little asparagus sprouts poke their way through the soil! I read that it should take only about a week, so we'll see. I'm hoping that when I come home from NH next Sunday evening I'll have some surprises waiting for me.

It turned out to be quite sunny all day (and I have the sunburn to prove it), but in the evening we had quite a storm and lots of rain. I bet the new plants will love that. So far this year we seem to have good timing with Mother Nature helping out with the watering.

I still have so many photos to share but just haven't had the time to upload them. I plan to relax much of the day today, so maybe I will try to get to it later.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Satisfying work

Wow, two posts in one day!

Well, I want to be more diligent about posting so that I can look back and see what I did when each year. I'll be glad I did!

So. This evening all those new tomatoes and peppers went into containers. Our back yard is starting to look like a regular tomato farm! I also cleared out more weeds from the beds and have just a few more feet left to clear out. If I don't get that done this weekend (it's supposed to rain tomorrow), then I certainly will when I am on vacation in June.

I also took a gamble and planted two zucchini seeds directly into the ground, we'll see if those do anything.

I have a feeling that within the next few years, the entire back yard will be garden. And that's going to be awesome.

Tomorrow, I'd like to get more astilbes and more garden soil and compost to put in asparagus, but it'll depend on the weather.


Alas, I have been remiss in keeping up with the progress of the gardens. The spring blooms are all but gone now, leaving the front garden looking rather plain save for the centaurea and the few odd Iris that are coming out. It's definitely a transitional time there. In the back, however, all kinds of fun stuff is developing.

Last weekend (Memorial Day weekend), I bought several new plants plus a lot of supplies (soils, tomato cages, a flat-end shovel, gravel, etc.) and got to work. In the back along the house went foxglove, lupine, and astilbe. The astilbe were already in bloom and added instant punch to that area, not to mention it coordinated quite nicely with the centaurea already established there.

Another small plot was dug out to plant some of our pepper plants as an experiment. Unlike the broccoli which was just buried directly in the ground, I added manure and garden soil to the pepper plot, and created rows of mounds in which to plant. I still haven't gotten to the asparagus, and now I wonder if I will at all this year—it would certainly require a lot of digging, but we'll see. Maybe I'll try to get a few in the ground in the next few days. I also have a few little watermelon seedlings patiently waiting to go somewhere. I also placed two Queen of the Prairie in next to the fence for privacy since the label said they grow up to seven feet high, but subsequent research tells me I'd have been better off planting a bush or two instead, which I may still do. I am considering:

Physocarpus opulifolious
Variegated Weigela
Primrose Lilac
Kaleidoscope Butterfly Bush

And I'll probably poke around local nurseries and see what I can find. I wish I had done that when we first moved in; a bush would have been halfway there by now!

In the front I tucked in a couple Icelandic poppies and another quite grand plant whose name escapes me at the moment... will fill you in soon.

The seedlings I got from my cousin a few weeks ago are still wee, but hopefully growing. The one tomato I have left in the ground out front seems to be doing well.

Last evening I bought yet more tomato and pepper plants from a city-dwelling local enthusiast, so I need to find places for them. The ones got mail order were all planted last weekend in either containers or in the ground. We're planning on taking advantage of a sale going on in early June and getting six more plants. Are we crazy? You bet, but hopefully we will be flush in tomatoes and peppers well into winter (via freezing and canning).

I've run into my first snag. My roses have been attacked by the nasty sawfly larvae and I hand-picked many off the plants and squished 'em. I'm going to try a soapy water spray and hope for the best otherwise, but sadly many buds were already decimated by the evil varmints. Even more a shame is that because of some good pruning and fertilizing earlier in the year, the roses have really exploded, both in size and in bud production. I hope they will come out of this OK.

I do have photos—many, in fact—but won't be able to post them until this weekend. I have lots of beautiful things to show you!

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Wonder of the Bloom

One of the things I simply adore about gardening is the endless surprise and amazement it provides. Maybe I am simple, but, I get really excited watching the progress of plants I've added to my beds. It's a miracle to me every single time I see something new poking its head out, or blooming for the first time, or spreading itself out to establish its place in the garden. I will never get tired of watching my little treasures, to the point where I am pretty sure that my neighbors probably think I'm a little crazy—I'm out there just about every day, sometimes taking photos, sometimes just looking. And looking again. What is it about gardens?

More tulips I couldn't resist sharing with you

I had a great day yesterday, celebrating Mother's Day with my mom's side of the family. My mom, my two aunts, and all my female cousins are all green thumbs and wondered where I came from until a couple years ago, when I finally got bit by the bug myself. With so many new things popping up in all of our gardens, and me asking for advice and plant ID by showing them photos on my digital camera, it was definitely a garden kind of day, even though the weather was cold and grey. My cousin Marianne, who was our hostess for the day and who gave me those irises last year, dug up a few things to send me away with: bleeding heart, 4 o'clock (more pondering on this later), gay feather, and something else that escapes me at the moment. I'm also hoping to get some of her lamb's ears on my next visit.

An unexpected early bloom of iris—just transplanted from last year!

After lunch, my mom and two aunts and I went to a nearby nursery because my mom wanted to treat me to some hens and chickens (hey! I'm not even a mom!) like the ones I'd been admiring in Aunt Dorothy's garden. So, I walked away with a nice, large plant that already has several "babies" dangling from it, which means I get to propagate more. In addition to that, I bought myself a few broccoli plants, some asparagus crowns (!) and more ice pansies, of which they had a great selection—so many pretty colors! I'm going to wait to plant my new additions until Wednesday, when hopefully the threats of frost we've been having the past couple days will have passed for good. Of course, the pansies will do fine regardless.

The ice pansies I've had since last season have really taken off! Also, a larger view with the Columbine that has just exploded, and the roses, and everything else.

On Saturday, I had a busy day and planted the last of the pachysandra (it lasted fine just sitting in a pot, no soil or anything, just a couple good rainy days), and dug out more of the backyard beds. I was so happy to find out that the pretty little flowers that I thought were weeds turned out to be forget-me-not. There's pink, blue, and white, and it's all over the place! To think that last year, I yanked all the foliage out before it blossomed, thinking it was a weed. (Yes, I know, a weed is in the eye's beholder. Or something.) I also noticed two volunteer tomato plants growing in one of the containers we used last year, and we're obviously hoping those will do well.

Doesn't look like much yet, but it will someday!

The nearby section I got cleared out for the most part—more work than it looks!

Forget-Me-Nots take over! I love it!

And speaking of tomatoes, next week we'll be anxiously awaiting the arrival of the many tomato and pepper plants C. ordered. That will keep us very busy, getting them settled in! Here are those volunteers I mentioned earlier.

Finally, I am pleased to announce: hostas and ferns imported from my dad's house in New Hampshire! Success! I love that I get to have a piece of where he lives, right in my backyard.

Other assorted lovelies:

The first centaurea bloom of the year!

The lilacs responded well to a pretty severe trim!

The light was lovely just before turning dark. Flowering quince among the as-yet untamed jungle.

And the weeping cherry.