Thursday, May 13, 2021

Delay and Learning Patience

 The deck project sat undisturbed for 10 days while the contractor tried to amend his mistake of ordering me BROWN decking when I specifically asked for gray. Light gray actually. This is dark gray and the expensive brand, Trex, which was also not what we had decided on. Plus when he finally found a supplier of the gray stuff, it was in Knoxville and had to be trucked down here, for an additional expense. Then it sat in my yard for three days, while I waited for a call or email or anything to tell me when they would get it installed.
I know I mustn't grumble, and things could be worse. At least I have hot water. Wha? Well, my sister had a bad week, because her septic system overflowed into the lower level of her house where my niece resides. So they had to call in a guy to dig down and flush out the tank, which was done after calling the gas company to insure that the gas line wouldn't be disturbed. The gas line was then disturbed by the digger. That was last week, May 5th and she has been without hot water or stove use, showering at the sports club across town, no laundry, etc.  Still no relief, 8 days later. 
So as I said, I mustn't grumble.

 Here's the partially filled planter box. It is lined with a rubber liner, which I perforated and then covered the holes with coffee filters, to allow water to drain but to keep the soil in the box. Worked great. I will be adding more soil, actually mushroom compost as soon as the deck is done. Planting comes immediately afterwards. 

 I took these photos early this morning and the floor is now finished and the clading of the planter is half done. It will all be completed today...God willing.


 That hose is the thing I am so excited about having. It is connected to a retractable hose reel, which will be mounted on the front of the house, making it easy to water everything in the planters and across the driveway in the peony bed, which holds a zillion other plants, both perennial and annual.

So before everthing is done, I walked around to get the feel of the space. It is bigger than I thought. Which is good. But it is also so exposed. I don't think this will be conducive to Dave wanting to be out there. But I have a plan.
I will put really large flower pots on the deck 'planted' with trees or bushes inside, to act as a screen or simulated enclosure. These will eventually go in the yard, once that landscaping is decided. The pots have been borrowed, just this morning, from my sister, and are that light weight resin, that looks like concrete but weighs almost nothing. Dave likes the idea, and will paint these pots which have seen better days (white paint which we had in the garage already.)  I'll do a before and after, once I decide which and how many of them I will use.
One project after another. It keeps me alive!
 

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Art From Scraps

May the 4th (be with you) is my BFF Patsy's 70th birthday and I wanted to make a big deal for her, but what kind of present should I give to celebrate? She and I both have too much stuff, but I must do something ...so I made this THING. I told her it was a bookmark, or a coaster, or if placed on the ground it could be a trip hazard. Something we all need.  In actuality, it is a big piece of scrap wood from my deck construction. 2"x12"x I forgot to measure. 
It has six sides that I could paint and it is free standing, as any good doorstop ought to be.
But first, I needed to dry it out, as it has been rainy, rainy, rainy (thank God for the wonderful rain, sez my garden). So I baked it in the oven for two hours. Yeah. 
Then I scraped it as smooth as possible and layered on the modeling paste, which smoothed it out further but also added some 'artistic' texture. Then find my paints and paint the background color on the whole block. I let that dry overnight.
I have not been in my studio very much since we moved, mostly because I have been focusing on knitting, but also because the lighting is terrible.  Not conducive for creating. But nevermind, I wasn't doing any painting or sewing or anything else creative til this project came along. I had ordered new paint pens and new white gel pens, which never got used and this was just the thing to try them out on. I have oodles of tube acrylics, safely stored in a drawer, which managed to almost dry out from lack of use. Ooops. But my more liquid craft paint was still good, so all was not lost. I located my container of pens, another of brushes, and another of stamps. But first the sequin waste and sponge stampers. 
This is where the brain let's go and the fun begins. Stamping and stenciling and drawing and dotting and more drawing and wiping off the goofs, and just playing. I used my hair dryer to make sure nothing got smudged, and so I could add the next layer of detail.



And then to add the significant birthday greeting and my signature.
Here are the super wonderful paint pens and white ink pens. 







Addictive!



Saturday, May 1, 2021

Flowers for the new porch planters

 Zinnias! Magellan and Swizzle. For the last several years I have been shopping for plants at the big box stores, and Walmart, and occasionally online, for special items not found locally. But now I have found the perfect place about 15 minutes from my new house that sells plants and produce at great prices and I took advantage yesterday with this selection.  The variety here don't grow very tall, but do fill out in a nice clump which I really will need with the large planters that are underway.
 In this flat are the best all around zinnias in my humble opinion. Profusion is the variety and they ain't kiddin'. Each one of these little plants will grow 18" tall and 24" wide, if I space them properly. That will be hard, as in the beginning it will look kinda sparse, but I must be determined, and give these little plants what they need to succeed.
Then, new for me this year are angelonia, and Vista Bordeaux petunia ($5 a pot!!) which were hightly touted on Garden Answer on Youtube. I am excited to see how well they perform for me. They will be a contrast to the oranges and yellows of the zinnias. I was gonna have a color theme, but forgot all about it when faced with trays of gorgeous blooms like these. The Vista Bordeaux petunia is a huge bloomer, and will also need a lot of space. 
I also have a bunch of Easy Wave red petunias, because red was missing from the mix. They are a really deep velvety red and should spread like any other Wave variety. 
 A true stalwart for me in the past has been begonias. I especially love these with the pink edge on the leaf. They always grow well, even in bright sun. So I have plenty! Next to them are a bag of peppers, Big Bertha and Poblano, (for the veggie bed of course) and behind them another strong grower is blue bedder salvia, Rhea variety. They are usually perennial for me, and are BLUE, so what's not to like. Just in bud stage so far, but I can expect blooms well in to fall.

And I finally got the opportunity to try out the new white marigold. So excited to see how well they do. Sort of creamy colored, but close enough to white to call it that.
 More hosta and Black and Blue Salvia. I have deep love for both of these plants. And the Salvia family is the best. So many wonderful varieties and this one is A-Mazing! It is a perennial and has black stems and royal blue flowers and grows 30-40 inches tall so it will go in the ground not the planter. In fact I may go back and get more. I have seen hedges of these plants in bloom and as I drove by I slammed on the brakes to get a better look. 
So here is the progress from yesterday. I can stand in front of the deck and the planter is chest high. Perfect!
And this box is mostly in the shade, which means space for my beloved shade plants. Yay!




Friday, April 30, 2021

Day Two Progress

 Moving right along. They poured the concrete footings and have plenty more concrete bags in my garage (safe from rain) and will be adjusting the sidewalk to a right angle instead of a curve. Where that cardboard box is, that concrete will be cut away and the new part poured in its place. 
The material for the deck itself has yet to be delivered. It is a compostite like Trex and will be a light gray color. Never needs painting. Can't say the same for our back porch. It was perfectly painted when we moved in last Sept and now the paint is leaving the surface, more with every rain. It's like tempera instead of deck paint! 

I don't know why there is a gap in the middle there...

Anyway I am still so happy and especially so since we had a good soaking rain last night. Whatever happened to April showers bring May flowers? I fear we may have a dryer than normal Spring.
I'm thinking of diving up my pool beds into fourths, like pie wedges. I have sticks and string and that may make me feel a tad of control over what gets planted. First seeds in last night, Sugar Baby watermelon. 


Introduced in 1956, 'Sugar Babywatermelon is a type of icebox or picnic watermelon. It produces small fruits that are 7 to 8 inches across—just the right size for fitting in the fridge or a picnic basket. Red flesh has a high brix value, which measures sugar content.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

At Last!

O Boy! The workers finally showed up Wednesday and began framing the deck/porch/gigantic flower planter, whatever this is. They'll be back today to finish the cross beams and then the deck part and the planter boxes will commence. I am so glad I changed my mind about the size of this project. If I hadn't I would be pretty disappointed at this stage, but instead, I am overjoyed.



One of the things I love about living in the South is the front porch. It is so friendly to be sitting out and waving at the passersby. And we have sidewalks, so we have oodles of folks to wave at. I am looking out my bedroom window as I write this and watching people do a double take as they see this begin.

Perhaps there would be a less expensive way to get rid of that horrible Houttuynia cordata. I hope they follow through on the promise to lay down a weed barrier, and take out those landscape bricks while they're at it. 
In garden news, Dave mulched the hosta bed and it looks tremendous, if you don't notice the frost damage on the hosta leaves. I will be cutting those off today.
And then there's my experimental garden. I moved everything to a flat spot outside the fence, where it is easier to run the hose. 

I have more composted manure at the ready to fill the pools and maybe some of the bigger black bags. I have not given up on the bag idea after all, since all of a sudden with the warmer days and nights, the tomatoes and the one remaining pepper (Giant Marconi) have perked up and are looking a bit enthusiastic. The brick circle will be planted today with beans, peas and one sage plant. Woowoo!
+++++
Here's the view from my window.
 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

The Good, Bad and Ugly of Gardening

Starting with the good. The new white clematis is flourishing. Huge white flowers! Wow. So happy. I am kinda crazy about clematis and now that we have four, I am pretty darn excited. My sister's new husband just sold his old house and moved all the garden supports and trellises to their new house where they might have languished were it not for me swooping in to 'borrow' them for the duration. Nearby is the opening peony. Sweet! The first of many to open in the coming weeks. I am so glad this is not a super multi-petaled version. No caging for this one. 

 On the north side of the house, which is supposedly the shade garden, except for strong morning sun, are two more light lavender clematis. One was half price because it had some broken stems, but the majority was doing fine I so I bought it. In this bright sunlight it is difficult to see the subtle light purple of these blooms. In this bed we have just started to mulch, so it's looks will improve by the end of the day if my managerial skills hold up. I am having Dave do the mulch spreading. 

 The Bad. My darling new Ostrich Fern was bitten by our recent frost, which also hurt a lot of the new annuals I have planted. Pooh! Still, this will survive, alto it may look awful for some time. 

 The north side bed with bags o'mulch ready to spread. Lotsa Hosta, and heuchera, one brunnera, the fern and the clematis is at the end. I really love shade gardens, and hope this one will fill in over the coming years. I had to make myself space the hosta far enough apart so that there won't be crowding and I won't have to transplant them for a long while. 
More Bad. I am losing confidence with the baggy garden, or maybe the pools, I can't decide. Actually it is the cold nights and uneven watering that may have killed off some of my tomatoes and peppers. Some, but not all. In fact one pepper is doing amazingly well, but the frost may be why my bean seeds rotted in the bag. O well. I have many more. But the slope of the yard means all the water runs to one edge and the bags get either too much or not enough water. Grrr. So...I am moving the whole thing in the coming days. And I may just fill the pools with soil and use the bags only for tomatoes, garlic, onions and peppers. Well two big bags have potatoes in them, so maybe I will keep using those too. O I just don't know...but suddenly it got hot, even at night so it's a toss up what may work now. 


 
In the meantime, I made another bed from landscape bricks and will plant my green beans in this one. It is less deep than the pools but sits on the ground so the roots may have a place to grow. We can only hope. 

So if you sense a bit of disappointment, yes, I am. Plus my front porch/deck was supposed to be started yesterday and nothing happened. No one showed up and no one called to say why. Typical. So I took out my feelings on the inside of the house and really cleaned, washed floors, vacuumed and even washed the slip covers on the couch. Satisfying!
OK off to buy more dirt! Yay!