Archive for the ‘gardening’ Category

July Rain

My goal last night was to do some gardening today.

I woke up this morning to find that Mother nature was refilling my rain barrel at a very steady rate.

I decided to take photos of the front yard in lieu of actually working on it. It was a great sacrifice: by the time I got back inside the house my jeans were soaked to the knees, my hair looked like I had been standing in the shower, my windbreaker was dripping and I badly needed another cup of coffee.

My lovely prickly pear cactus that never blooms.

A touch of front porch color. I haven’t killed it (yet). I usually end up killing my hanging basket flowers. I think the rain we’ve had this summer has saved this one (so far).

The pale pink rhododendron is much prettier in bloom, when the bumblebees cover it. I planted the hostas two summers ago and they have eked out an existence under the rhodie. I think I need a better plan for the hostas but I haven’t come up with one.

Oh look! Raindrops on the camera lens! This is the dark pink rhodie under which I have a hosta, some honesty plants (now past), some lilies and the forsythia. There’s some foxglove back in there, too, but I am afraid it is year one for that pretty biennial. I lost the established foxgloves last winter. It’s sure weird what plants you lose and what manage to make it through the winter.

This is the mid-pink rhodie, not as dark as the one and not as pale as the other. It needs so much pruning! There’s a stack of pruned branches sitting there on the base of it because I got in there and trimmed it up, cut out a bunch of dead stuff and tried to open it up. Don hauled half of it off already. I need to trim more.

I have bear grass under this rhodie, some wild licorice ferns, bunchberries that need to be moved to a better location (they don’t like the rhododendron and the constant layer of fallen leaves, and fringe cups all growing under this bush – all native plants I have gathered and transplanted (with a permit, of course). Nothing grows right under the rhododendrons except the native “Boston” -type ferns. Even the licorice ferns appear to be trying to escape the alkali soil and lack of sunlight…

The side closest to the front door with my store-bought picket fence. The Dianthus (Sweet Williams) are all falling over themselves in an attempt to escape the rhodie.

I planted this hydrangea seven years ago. It is nestled under the lone tree in our yard, a half-dead Lodgepole pine that we hang our bird feeders from. I chose the spot carefully: I wanted my hydrangea flowers to be blue. The color of the flowers is dependent on the acidity of the soil.

This poor bush doesn’t grow very quickly. The tree saps the water from the soil. I forget to water it and it is in direct sunlight most of the day. But after seven years, it has begun to hold a nice round shape and it shows signs of surviving the Lodgepole pine.

The pine has a fungus inside of it. I don’t want to cut it down because it holds my bird feeders. It isn’t a big tree and our house is in no danger should it ever fall. It’s just that it is our only tree and the birds love it.

Rain drenched day lilies. These were salvage plants. I brought them home and planted them in the grass in front of the retaining wall and hoped they would live. Day lilies are rather like irises and Shasta daisies. You have to work hard to kill them. I picked a place where I knew I would never want to move them from. They thrive on lack of water and neglect and they reward you with a couple weeks of beautiful blooms.

And, yes, my car door is open in the background. I was still unloading groceries when I decided I needed to take some photos of the front. In the rain.

The ever-popular bird bath, overflowing in the rain.

I had no idea how popular a bird bath would be when I bought my first one last summer (it froze and broke in half. Don purchased this one-piece concrete one for me to replace it).

Last summer, I had the bird bath closer to the house. This year, I put it closer to the retaining wall and the day lilies, where the birds could see cats coming. The change in location seemed to help: it gets used by crows, the band-tailed pigeons, robins and more.

Robins especially like the bird bath. This guy was so soaked that he had to sit on the edge a few minutes to allow his feathers to dry! Robins won’t use the bird feeders but they love-love-love bird baths.

The water in the yard art more than doubled since yesterday. Little rain gauges.

A lovely shot of the weeds in front of the garage door: forget-me-nots, dandelions, false dandelions and more. I was going to pull weeds today but instead Mother Nature watered and they will grow taller before I get to pulling them.

Last (but not least) my lovely yucca. It was also a salvage plant. The guy up the street had it sitting on the curb with a sign that read “FREE”. that was five years ago. It’s grown, it’s bloomed every year, and I completely forget about it when it isn’t blooming. I love my yucca and it loves me.

There’s a weed growing in it that is nearly as tall as the yucca itself. I keep forgetting to pull the weed.

The creek beyond the yucca is the street I live on. Lovely how it turns into a creek when we have nearly an inch of rain fall in one morning.

That’s the tour for now. I have so much work to do. So much work… But it is all worth it.


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I felt like I needed to shout that.

1. It has been unseasonably cold here. And wet, but that is normal.

2. The nice days we did have happened when I was in Nevada.

3. My garden should have had the decency to wait for me to get home but the weeds and flowers just kept on growing. In some cases, the weeds outpaced the flowers by several feet.

Case in point. My prayer garden.

You can see a smattering of blue forget-me-nots and pink bleeding hearts. It was a jungle.

The first thing I did this weekend was I bought two rolls of bamboo screen from Home Depot. For less than $48, I now have privacy in my prayer garden! I don’t have to worry about the neighbors coming out to work in their garden at the same time I am enjoying mine (except I will still be able to hear them).

I don’t know why I did not think of this sooner. Ever since the big tree fell and smashed the chain link, I have had to deal with the renters next door. Nice enough people, but she tends to like to garden in her bikini. I should be thankful she doesn’t garden in the nude: she’s around 55-65 years old age, 5’10” and weighs about 100 pounds. Not an obscene visual just a highly unnecessary one.

Now I don’t have to look. And on the flip side, she doesn’t have to look at me.

I wear clothes when I garden.

Thought I should point that out.

I digress.

I was up at 7:30 on Saturday, raring to go. I knew it would get warm and I wanted to get as much done in that little section of yard as possible before the sun was too high in the sky. I hauled all my tools, a large bottle of water, my knee pads and a wide-brimmed hat out with me. I even broke out a pair of jean cut-offs that are too obscene to wear in public but are perfect for a hot day in the garden.

I was done in by noon. I’d managed to clear out exactly one-fourth of the mess. It was disheartening.

I started in again when the sun sank low enough for the garden to be in the shade, around 6:30pm. By 8, I had slightly over one-third of the garden done. I’d filled the curb-side yard debris bin and had a couple piles of weeds building in the garden. I’d love to compost them and I probably will put some of them into the compost bin – but no seeds or woody stalks.

That’s what else I did on Saturday! I purchased a compost pile turner. Years ago when I bought my compost bin from the county, I thought I wouldn’t need the turner so I did not buy one. And I have regretted it ever since. I haven’t been able to use the compost bin to its fullest potential because I couldn’t turn the compost! Well, that’s all fixed now: the county offered the turners again and I happened to see the flyer and have $15 to spare at the same time. More on composting later – I have to re-situate the bin and sort through the weeds to toss into it so it will be a blog post in the future.

I went to bed early last night (OK, not real early: I stayed up to watch some episodes of “Finding Bigfoot” on Animal Planet’s website. My friend, Jodi, suggested I watch them. I’m glad she did! But more on Bigfoot later.)

Harvey and I slept like dogs (well, he is a dog) until 8:30 this morning. Round two began by 9AM. I was very thankful that I thought to soak the ground last night before I gave up entirely on weeding: this sudden dry and warm spell dried up the ground and weeding would have been next-to-impossible in dry soil today. As it was, the ground stayed damp enough and I cleared the final 2/3’s of the garden by 1:00. Today was cooler and cloudier or I’d have never made it that long.

You can see the ground!

You can see one stack of weeds to be composted sitting against the shed.

I can even find my pathway!

There’s still so much to do but I beat back the 3.5′ weeds in the worst-hit section of my yard and that makes me feel wonderful.

I also edged another flower bed and cleared out the grass from around my raspberry and from under my ceanothus (California Lilac).

Yes, I have the chair there for a reason: think dogs. Two Big Dogs.

Isn’t it pretty?

The chicken wire – not so much. That’s another project for this summer: get some lattice and cover up the space under the ramp to keep Harvey out. And kill the grass under there.

I’d like to kill the entire lawn.

I didn’t just work all weekend. I sat back and enjoyed my garden, too.

Bumblebees in the rhododendrons.

A plethora of peonies. I love my peonies.

Tomorrow is predicted to drop back down into the low seventies. The low seventies are warmer than it has been in months. If I feel up to it and the rain holds off, I have two-and-a half flower beds in the back yard that need my attention and all the bushes in the front yard.

But even if I don’t get to them, I am content that I got this one garden taken care of!

I feel GOOD (and SORE).

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Rosemary Arch

I saw this item for sale at a nursery a couple weeks ago and I told Don, “I could do that.”

He said, “Yes, you could. We certainly have the wire available.”

He brought me home two big bales of galvanized wire once a long time ago when I was going to devote my life to making wire sculptures. I’m still going to devote my life to making wire sculptures, but in the meantime… we have a lot of galvanized 8-gauge wire in twelve foot lengths.

Anyway, back to my story. I picked out two rosemary plants.

And they have languished on our front stoop waiting for a break in the rain.

We didn’t exactly have much of a break in the rain this weekend. Yesterday I spent it killing myself by weeding. Today I decided to see how much more damage I could do to myself by potting the rosemary.

First, the pot:

I decided on a pedestal planter big enough that Murphy can’t knock it over accidentally. Well, he could, but please do not tell him that. I settled on the pedestal style because it looks… um, Grecian, and somehow a rosemary planting sounds like it should be Grecian. Truly.

The pot I purchased is made of fiberglass. I prefer ceramic but after pricing a few, I settled for the fiberglass pot at 25% off retail.

I filled the bottom of the pot with broken terra cotta pots and river rock.

I already knew that I needed to do this, but the pot came with instructions: “fill the bottom with gravel, rocks or broken pottery to 3″ depth to insure good drainage”.  (7.6 cm)

Then I braided the wire together into a circle the size I want my rosemary to grow to. That was fairly simple: just wind it in and out of itself using one single strand.

I buried the ends of the wire in the potting soil (also purchased at the same time I bought the planter).

Last, I added the rosemary plants. (The glittery globe was a Christmas gift from Chrystal. She gave me three plastic garden decoration “balls” and I finally have a place for one of them.)

I decided that I may not be out there to oversee the first growth spurts of the rosemary plants, so I gave them a little incentive to grow toward the wire by using some of that Velcro™ produce tape:

Eventually, the rosemary will grow up the wire and intertwine.

Well, it will look prettier than that, but I wanted to give myself an idea of what it should eventually look like, properly pruned & trimmed. It will stand a meter tall (about 40″).

When I was finished with that, I obsessed and attempted to weed the north flower bed. I hoed, pulled, dug and clawed through 2/3’s of it before giving in to the compacting mud & the imminent drizzle. I also confess that my shoulders, upper arms and back were beginning to hurt from two marathon days of trying to get in all the weeding that should have been done over a course of several weekends back in April & May, but which were confined to one three-day weekend at the end of May.

I threw in my rubber garden gloves and called it quits.

Then I put Tripod to pasture.

(Don’t blame me: Donald named him!)

I inserted myself into a hot shower, took some pain reliever and settled in for a long movie on the television while the rain began to pour.

Maybe next weekend we will have another break…

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This blog is supposed to be about my garden (sometimes), but I haven’t done much with my garden since July when I busted my ribs. The ribs have healed completely, but now the weather has changed and my life has changed and priorities have changed. Pretty much in that order.

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And there’s this. This is new. This is a gopher or a mole that has invaded our yard.

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This has been hunting the gopher. It can’t end well.

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The gopher may live another day, but the back door may have taken a fatal blow.

I just love dogs.

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This is my garden today. In between rain storms.

I don’t want to get all muddy and wet, so instead I took photos. I’ll contemplate the photos awhile and guilt myself into planning a day in the yard to work on everything that needs to be done before winter really sets in. I’m thinking sometime between now and Thanksgiving Day there will be a relatively dry Saturday or Sunday and I can get the shovel out.

I’ll divide irises, peonies, grape hyacinth and daylilies. I’ll dig out some of the Shasta daisies and the borage that took over my prayer garden. I’ll dead-head all the flowers that still need it: the asters, the nasturtiums, the hollyhocks, the peonies and the sunflowers. The chickadees have stripped the sunflowers of seeds. I’ll cut down the old canes on the black-cap raspberry and trim up the Oregon grape. And by that time, I will have filled the yard debris bin and topped off the compost pile.

Don has already cleaned out the vegetable garden. He’s mowed the front lawn for the last time this year and is waiting for a dry day to tackle the backyard one more time. Then we will both be done with gardening for 2009 and we’ll be looking forward to seed catalogs.

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Melancholy Garden

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It is the last full day of summer and this is my garden today.

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