Posts Tagged ‘flower beds’

I got sunburned. 020But I also got this whipped into shape for the summer, and the sunburn was worth it. No, not Murphy – I’ll never get Murphy “whipped into shape. He was just doing a trot by when I took a photo of the island. Handsome guy, Murphy, but it’s the flower bed I am proud of. It’s just about the last of the existing flower beds to get weeded and trimmed before I start on the new flower beds. It is also where I was working when I conveniently forgot that sunblock exists. OOPS.


There’s a story behind this corner. We have a brown rat that has taken up residence under the house. I hate rats. Brown rats are somewhat less obnoxious than Norway rats (in that brown rats are a native species), but they are still a pestilence. This particular rat had an escape hole dug into the corner of the yard here. I buried it today. We’ll see how long before the rat digs itself out. Next weekend, I buy hardware cloth and bury it in the corner.

I dug up my (fuschia vulcanica?)(rubra grandiflora?) trumpet fuschia. I can’t kill it, so why not? I’ve grown to hate it. The hummingbirds love it. If it survives this location, it can stay. It grows 3-4′ in height, is very woody, dies back every winter. I have to dead-head all the old wood stems. It takes up a minimum space of 3-4′ wide. We will see who wins: me or the bush.


I just had to take his portrait. He comes to the bird feeder by himself every evening. One lone, lonely, band-tailed pigeon.


My husband bought the squirrel feeder for me two years ago. I figured out how to hang it to the tree this year (I took apart an old hanging planter, used cup hooks on the feeder and the chain from the planter, plus an existing nail in our dying pine tree. Squirrel (and jays) love it.

013I redid the black-cap border with a bamboo trellis. This year’s berries will be on the vines pointing eastward (the green). I will train this year’s vines to grow onto the bamboo & next year’s berries will be harvested there. Black-caps are native berries and my go-to favorite for standing and eating by the hands-full. I will be a little piggy if the blossoms all turn to berries. YUM!


This just amazes me. This year, I purchased seeds and will expand the small spring patch of “poached-egg” flowers. Sadly, they are a spring-only plant and even the green dies back after the blooms fade. But: oh-my-gosh when they are blooming! Love, love, love! limnanthes douglasii010

Starflower. Trientalis borealis. It came as a surprise bonus plant with a maple my husband procured from the wild. This is the first year that it has bloomed in such profusion. I love native flowers.


When my mother died, my father dug up all of her irises. He had relegated them to a gravelled spot in the shade behind his motor home. He hated irises; my mother loved them. I inherited them via the US Mail. This is my favorite.


This is a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor. I can’t have a horse, but I still have my WARNING! sign. I paid a pretty penny for that sign. It guards my Russian sage. The chair provides a support for the sage (of sorts – the sage usually outgrows the chair by summer’s end. I have a love/hate relationship with the sage, but the bees love it and it isn’t too invasive. Like the fuschia, it dies completely back every year and I have to cut all the woody stems back completely before the new growth comes on.


Can you say WOW? These are my two favorite rhododendrons. The fuschia one is a bush I have another love/hate relationship with: it’s placed directly in front of our front door & the steps. It is too large for the location and covers up the house number. I end up hacking it back every 5 years or so. It is a relatively new rhodie, maybe 20-25 years old? Just very poorly placed, but a stunner when in bloom.


This rohododendron is as old as the house, I think. It’s 20′ tall, thick, healthy. The bumblebees – all of them, but especially the great big ones – love it. You can stand next to it when it is in bloom and all you can hear is the buzzing of bees. I hated rhodies in general until I met this bush/tree. This one changed my mind and heart.


My baby hostas! I planted them … four years ago? Five? This year, I placed the mushrooms strategically: I can put slug bait under the homemade mushrooms (two flower pots) and not worry about poisoning birds and other critters. The slugs buy into it and leave my hostas alone (mostly).


11 years ago, I planted a few day lilies in the grass out front. It’s city right-of-way, but not in danger of ever being paved. If you have a spot that you can’t really maintain but you need some color in… Daylilies. They are weeds. We keep these in line with the lawn mower. In return, they give us several weeks of summer blooms and a lot of low maintenance green.


If you read my last blog post, you know about my crow that thinks he’s a raccoon. We have named him “Bones.” Bones brings a chicken bone by nearly every day and drops it into the front birdbath. It soaks most of the day until it softens enough for Bones to break into it and peck out the marrow. In the evening, I wash everything out of the birdbath so other birds can use it. Bones apparently thinks the birdbath is his own self-serve diner.



Four years of neglect and my husband finally cleared the veggie garden space. We are going to have a garden again! He put a lot of sweat into this: blackberries and crabgrass had taken over. I’m surprised my rhubarb (center) survived! Very excited to have fresh veggies again.


So this is my next project. I have all the flower beds in shape & only need to do a touch-up weeding project in them over the summer. This bramble pile, haven of the brown rat, and scourge of our landscaping – this goes. That’s a pile of Himalayan blackberries, noxious nightshade, and invasive English ivy. There’s also a variegated holly stump under there. Maybe a rat nest. I don’t care: the welding gloves will come on and I hope to reduce this to a new flower bed by summer’s end.

Wish me luck. I’m getting old for this kind of radical gardening. I’m starting on it the next nice day we have.




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Today was Beautifuler.

My Sunday plans to meet up with friends fell through, but it could not have happened on a nicer Palm Sunday. I quickly changed gears and got ready to muck it out in the yard.

I had grass to deal with. We have a lovely lawn out front, with real lawn grass (and a lot of moss, but, hey – we live where we live). The back yard, however, is a mess. I don’t know who to blame for this: Barney Schultz, who bought this house in the 1930’s and turned the yard into a peony meadow, but then got old and couldn’t take care of it? Or the people who purchased it from the estate with the intent of “flipping” it, and so concentrated solely on the interior remodel and not so much on the garden?

The latter asked us if they could remove some of the peonies when they moved, and we gladly obliged because I knew that removing some peonies would not affect the overall peony garden (peonies, like irises, need to be divided every few years. And no matter if you *think* you got them all, you didn’t).

EVERYTHING in the yard then was overgrown in grass. I dug up sod, peeled back grass, and hand-created the flower beds we currently have. This is not ordinary lawn grass. We have crabgrass, clumping grass, running grass, and several other horrid invasive grasses to contend with in the back yard. The only reason(s) we don’t raze the whole thing is: my flower beds and the dogs. The dogs dig potholes in the “grass”. If it was lawn, I’d have conniptions. It’s not, and when I edge garden beds or dig out new garden beds, I use the sod to fill in the holes. Works for me, for now.

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I want to get the grass out of my flower beds, but it’s damn near impossible. Yes. I just swore. The clumping grass comes up pretty easily right now.


You grab it and everything comes up as pictured above. But the grass that throws out runners…


Yeah, that stuff. It’s not tall enough, the ground is too muddy, it’s too wrapped up around the iris tubers… Just.Ugh.


Still & all, I made a really good sweep along the north end of the yard. I only left the grass in the iris beds, which I will just have to figure out some other time.


My main goal was to pick up the oak leaves and pull up the grass and weeds that I could get to. And looky here! Gladiolas pushing upward!


Oriental poppies getting ready to bloom!


Pearly Everlasting pushing up through the hazelnut mulch.


This happens when you realize you have runaway crocosmia that need extra protection from 80+pound dogs. I use whatever is available (in this case, old wire shelving) to form a fence around my precious plants. The mushroom planter in the foreground doubles as a place to hide slug bait where big dogs and birds can’t get to it – but slugs can.


I have a method to my madness. Random stakes in random places also deter large dogs from deciding to lay down in flower beds – or make a habit of trotting through.


You probably noticed I have a lot of garden fencing up against the wood fence. The reason is this: Harvey eats wood fences. What he can’t eat, he digs under. Plus, the fencing protects my gladiolas from being walked on or falling over.


I mentioned digging up grass the old-fashioned way and lamenting how I can’t get rid of it. I don’t want to use harsh chemicals in my yard, around the insects or the dogs. I do use an organic herbicide (dawn soap + vinegar) in certain areas. If I have a few dry days, this is one of those areas. It works great for something like this, but the compound does *not* kill the roots and it’s darn hard to apply around precious plants. I’ll treat this area twice in the summer and it will kill all the grass under the wire, but I’ll have to repeat next year.


Speaking of under the deck… Native bleeding hearts have taken hold on one end. They haven’t started blooming yet. I love bleeding hearts.

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I have one peony that gets bud eaten before it can bloom. Every year. I don’t know why this one peony has this problem: too much shade? I am thinking of dividing it this coming fall to see if I can get ahead of the pest. It’s a triple-burgundy.


The one healthy blossom on it is crawling with ants – ants have a symbiotic relationship with peonies, so you don’t want to kill off all the ants in the yard.


Yesterday, I blogged about problem areas in the yard… This is behind the garden shed. It’s full shade. Ivy, Himalayan blackberries, and nightshade love this corner. I love nightshade. It’s pretty. But it is invasive as heck. Ivy and the Himalayan blackberries… KILL THEM.

I have no idea if I will ever conquer that corner…


This is what I am up against in my SW garden: pine cones. Acid. Tiny pine cones.


I planted a bunch of bulbs last fall, but I don’t remember what I planted. Can we say “surprise”???


I took a nap and then came back outside. I started on the south fence. The plan is to hack back the grass and blackberries to create a full shade border. Oh- did I mention blackberries? Not Himalayan ones: these are freaking NATIVE ones that creep along the ground. We inherited the Himalayan ones because some emigrant long ago decided that the NATIVE plants weren’t invasive enough or tasty enough. Or thorny enough.

I don’t think you can really see what I did there, but I dug up a lot of grass, blackberries, and pruned old fronds off of a native fern. I left the fronds on the ground in the hopes of encouraging new ferns to fill in the spaces. I can’t think of better shade plants than ferns.


The first year that Harvey lived with us, I put up chicken wire to keep him from digging. I only put it up in small sections and I hope to remove this section this year for the more aesthetically pleasing fencing.


He’s never tried to argue with this. 017

All in a day’s work.

I’m tired.


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