Monday, April 29, 2024

Almost a month later...

 The garden is in. And it grew to include some of the front lawn. In my previous post I showed a spot that was previously low, and got filled with the upturned sod from the current flower bed. It sat for weeks as just dirt and I finally decided (back and forth really) to cover it with cardboard and mulch it and use it as a second flower bed next year when the grass underneath was really dead. I had a small pile of compost available so I filled my grow bags and planted some stuff in them. Then I had my lawn guys dig a hole (pick axe was necessary!) and they planted the small Japanese Maple. 
My friend Pasty brought me two banana tree starts, and not wanting another hole dug, I bought 5 flower pots and put them in one. The others have individual annuals per pot. Texas Bluebonnets, zinnias, short cosmos and tall cosmos. One tiny pot has a peony and then the flower boxes have coleus and unsprouted trailing nasturtiums.  
Containers make it so much easier to plant, and of course, no weeding. In the big round bags, starting from the left, I have five pepper plants, all different varieties, and then two phlox and one verbena bonariensis. I stuck in a few Asiatic lilies which had started growing in their commercial plastic bag. Poor things. We'll see if they take. In bag #2 are a rudbeckia and a Tres Amigos Sombrero coneflower. Lots of blue bedder salvia, marigolds and red Wave petunias, plus six corms of calla lilies. In bag #3 are three different varieties of daisies and one big red Spintop gaillardia, as well as Pink wave petunias, which were mismarked as red, oh well, and six red Empress of India nasturtiums started from seed. Then marigolds and the final plant is a big lavender from Patsy, making it some annuals and lots more perennials. 

The calla lilies in the main shade bed are blooming now and I am so thrilled that one is white. Behind them is one of two Empress Wu hosta which I found at Lowe's. They will grow into monsters and I will have to transplant a bunch of stuff as they encroach. Happy to do it.
The  Dutch Iris are all open and one is white, which is a surprise treat. One large stalk of lily is behind them and is one of a dozen or so that are waiting in the wings. 
On the other side of the driveway is my zinnia bed which I am now referring to as the Cell Block garden, because... it is. Our neighbor cat, Luna, digs in there occasionally, but soon it will be filled with bigger plants and she won't find it so enticing. I also sowed snapdragon seeds there and they have all come up, infinitesimally, but enthusiastic nonetheless. There will be massive thinning in my future. The cells surrounding the bed have lots of lettuces, cilantro, basil, nasturiums, plus one thriving sage. 

These two Japanese maples are doing well and I hope the banana trees take and quickly outgrow their pot. 
Each morning I go out to inspect the garden and observe as things sprout, open or need deadheading. This makes me so deeply satisfied. I am so glad I decided to have 'one more garden' instead of just leaving it as is. But this is my last garden, even if I do have plans to further expand the one on the front lawn. No more digging for me. My knee and back are just now recovering and I can't take the risk of permanently hurting myself. Raised beds are the thing, plus containers, and because I live in this neighborhood, I don't have any 'yard critics' to discourage me. 
Dave is not doing well and dementia is here in full. He is aware of it and 'quits' everyday. I guess that means  he quits trying to make sense of his reality. He gets lost in the house, small as it is, and is unable to dress, bathe or feed himself without my help. Now that I am done putting the garden in, I can and will devote more attention to his needs. Things run smoothly if I put in the time, so for now, I will care for him myself. Having help would be nice, and it may come to that, but I can't figure out how to squeeze in that other person. One day at a time, and lots of naps is how we cope.
Thankfully I have wonderful diversions, church, regular visits with my sister and Patsy, and peaceful times walking the old blind dog, very, very slowly.  

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Flower Beds

 Monday, April 1, Fool's Day (how appropo) I planted the flower bed. From this angle the rows look more or less even. But when they fill out, they will look spiffy. Why even mention this? Because for the first time, I am trying to make it look 'professional' vs slapdash, as I usually do it. In fact I believe that this is the first flower bed that I've done right in all my years of gardening. First, having the sod removed and having compost brought it, and then topping that with a thick layer of mulch.  Then planning ahead and putting in the tree first.  Of course separating the sunny part from the shady part also took some thought.  So, I'm pretty proud of my little, exhausted, 76 year old self.

 Here's a view of my Charley Brown Japanese Maple, with kinked trunk. The leaves are green (surprise!) and they have a skinny red edge, which might mean that they turn a pretty color in the fall, I hope.  Here's the plant list starting at the left in this picture. First a pot of Lavender from my pal Patsy, then Easy Wave petunias, 6 red and 6 white, supposed to spread 30" . We'll see, but I did space them out instead of my usual crowding. Then a closer spacing of 32 green leaf begonias, which have pink edges to the leaves. The next row is 18 Victoria Blue Salvia and on either end of that row are Baptisia Australis (blue), and Plum RosyBaptisia  (lavender+white). Behind the Victoria salvia are 6 Black and Blue Salvia which I am hoping will become perennial here, as they did in my previous garden. Now we are in zone 8a and my perennial hopes are reinforced. The final row in the sun garden is Stella D'Oro daylilies. Oops, forgot that it starts with a few sprigs of Creeping Jenny, from Patsy.
There is a break after those and then the shade garden begins. I am thrilled that the 4 Bleedling Heart roots I bought in a bag from Walmart have all become wonderful little plants, and one has even sprouted blossoms! I gush. Hollyhock roots are also leafed out and I have some seeds which I will add to that spot, since they are biennials and the seeded plants won't bloom til next year. German Iris in dark purple (yet to show buds) from my pal Patsy, and a group of Dutch Iris are next and then 12 Asiatic Lilies followed by 6 Calla lilies both from bags which are up and growing fast, and 4 pink German Iris (bagged) and one Ostrich Fern which is unfurling daily. There were 3 roots in that bag but so far the other two have not risen. And the last row is 3 potted Heuchera from Home Depot, and lots of Hosta, from bags and one super big potted one from Lowe's that survived my total neglect and spurred me to make this garden.  And at the very back corner, a Hellebore from Patsy's garden which is showing signs of being alive. 

 I splurged on this fancy schmansy Japanese Maple and have yet to find a spot to plant it. 

 Ranunculus from Lowe's half price shelf. I am thrilled to have them and will save the corms and plant them in the flower bed.

 Another view, with that vigorus blue Baptisia, which will become bushy in years to come.

 But wait, there's more! I was gonna use that wood frame that I garbage-picked, but changed my mind and decided to go permanent. These concrete blocks from Lowe's are the big ones. 16x12x8. I've used them before and liked them because they have bigger openings to grow things. For this bed, I thought ahead and put down cardboard as a weed barrier and laid the blocks on the board to keep straight lines. I made my own potting mix from coconut coir, perlite and compost. Filling that bed took about three hours and I was pooped. I tossed in three packets of zinnia seeds and a packet of snapdragon seeds, the tall variety. As they sprout I will decide if I need to add more seeds. The block 'holes' will get basil and nasturtiums and maybe some impatiens for the west side which might be in shade a lot of the day. I have a few lettuce starts which I might put in a few spots too. Lettuce is so pretty as it forms a head.

 Then I have this bare spot which is full of roots from some previous tree. I will spread some potting mix over it and sow portulaca seeds. It's surrounded by weeds, so it's better than nothing. I really don't care that our 'grass' is so overtaken by clover and wildflowers. It's green most of the year, and isn't Bermuda grass. 

 I still have lots of compost to use in my veggie beds, which is another story. More on that later.
I've said this before in my previous houses, "This is my last garden".  But my age is catching up with me and my endurance is pitiful. I have to have a day off between bouts of work. As I lie in bed, I keep dreaming of what I'll do tomorrow and only get half of it done. On the other hand, I am making progress, just turtle style, not jack rabbit. 

Sunday, March 17, 2024

In the frame

 On my way to church, I saw this backless bookcase had been put out to the curb. I asked at the house and made sure it was a 'giveaway' and said I would be back with my brother-in-law and his truck to pick it up. To me, this was a treasure, a ready made raised garden bed frame. Actually this was not a bookcase, but a bed frame, upon which a box spring or mattress would have topped. 80"x60".  All I need do is get some cardboard to place over the grass (weeds really) and under this frame and add dirt!

 In another part of town I spied these big IKEA boxes, also put out at the curb. Just exactly what I needed for the foundation of the raised bed! Cardboard covers the grass and the soil covers the board and the plants are happy to grow there. 

 On a different street I  spied another 'bookcase' at the  curb and thought, Perfect! I'll take that one too. This one is smaller, about 4'x2', but it will do just fine. I have other cardboard to use under this one.
 Another freebie, from the same house with the IKEA boxes, was this plastic packing material which I needed as we are going to have a freeze tonight and I wanted to cover the plants that I have perhaps planted too early. 

I am slowly filling the fiber garden bags, mixing my own potting mix from coconut coir, compost and Perlite. The bags will sit on the tarp, and I have one more large tarp to add to this set. Yet to be filled are three more round beds and 10 bags of 30 lb each. All of this in preparation for the last frost date and then planting!

Quietly in my laundry room greenhouse, the elephant ear bulbs have sprouted and I am going to have to get them planted very soon. 

Thursday, March 14, 2024

The Garden Begins

 My wonderful landscape guys arrived early today and began to dig out that front sod bed, in preparation for my flowers and trees. Yay!! So very happy.
They made quick work of it, and were done before I came home from bible study. A lot of that sod went into a 'break an ankle' low spot, and will fill in with Bermuda grass, with no help from anyone.
 I asked for enough compost to fill my veggie beds in the back of the house. But I only got as far as filling one 100 gallon bed, before I gave out. Tomorrow it is supposed to rain all day so I was prepared to cover the remaining compost and save it for another day.

 Here's the first of many bag gardens. At this time it is 100% compost but I will augment it with perlite and coir fiber and fill other bags from this 'mother' bag. It's from Temu and is 48" wide and a foot deep. 

 Here's one coir block which I let sit in water until it broke down. It took over an hour, but we went to Home Depot and Walmart in the meantime, so no biggie. It's very fine fiberour stuff and will be lovely in the bags, holding water better than just soil.

 While at Home Depot I spied these gorgeous orangey Heuchera, to insert among my baby hosta. In the white pots are Stella D'oro daylilies which will go in soon.

 But this is the best part. All that weedy sod is gone, or shall I say, moved to another part of the yard. This will be my Japanese Maple tree spot, with sunloving flowers surrounding it all. So thrilled to have this emptied and filled with good compost. I can get really excited about dirt. 

 Here's the previous low spot. So much safer now.

 And my lettuces continue to charm me.

Catching Up

I've been having a bit of a staycation, just being lazy and enjoying the warm Spring sunshine on my front porch. Basking in it while the air is still cool, and storing up Vitamin D, if that is a thing.

In the afternoons, I knit a pair of socks from some really luxurious Zen Yarn Garden sock yarn, merino, cashmere and nylon. If I had purchased this yarn at the store, I would have paid $34.25 for the skein. But nooooo! It came from an estate sale and was pennies instead.  I used a toe up pattern and then finished with a stretchy bind off, which looks better on the foot than pictured here. Because the yarn is hand dyed, the second sock is a different shade, but matching is overrated, I always say. 

I was also working on my new poncho pattern when I ran out of yarn, again. This time tho, I found a fellow knitter on Ravelry who was selling just what I needed and it soon appeared in my mailbox, and I will get back to this project as soon as the weather gets nasty. 
 I've moved out the plants from my laundry room greenhouse but still have my sweet potatoes in water. I will have more than I need of slips to plant and will have to find another gardener who wants to grow these Beauregard beauties. I've grown these before and was amazed at how huge they will get and so abundant. Absolutely no hassle from pests and they love the really hot summer temps. 

 Just this morning I decided to sow some more seeds and prepared my peat pots with potting mix. I am soaking them at the moment and later I will decide what to plant. My lettuce in eggshells are doing great outside and have begun sprouting their second sets of leaves. Today the high will be 80 degrees, a fluke, and then rain like crazy tomorrow, which is just perfect. 
Yesterday I got ambitious and swept the carport and brought out tables and chairs and the plastic rug, to cover the greasespot, common to all driveways. We had lunch and then I read a bit in my loungechair before drifting off to sleep. 

 My friend Patsy and I are making socks with another fancy schmancy yarn from that same estate sale. More cashmere/merino/silk this time. Who would wear socks made from this 'expensive' yarn? We will!

Monday, March 4, 2024

Planting Day

 O yes, these little egg cups are just the perfect incubator for my lettuce seeds. I put them directly outdoors for the last four or five days, during the rain and cloudy days. No matter, they have sprouted! I can count the individual plants, by color, and am so pleased, as you can tell.
I loaded the shells with the potting mix that came with my bulbs, and just spritzed them with water. The rain did the rest. It was gentle at first, and soaked the tray well.  I will put these in the ground soon, and may even pinch out a few, choosing the sturdiest seedling to keep.  Seed starting outdoors is so much easier than setting up lights etc, indoors.  'Course it's easy with hardy stuff like lettuce.

 In this tray I have six calla rhyzomes of various colors, probably yellow. And three living hosta (Olive Bailey Langdon) and one dead one. My growing zone has changed this year to 8a from 7b. Global warming I guess. In the past I have overwintered calla lilies effortlessy, just leaving them in the ground. The micro climate where I will plant these (today!!) is pretty safe for them.

 This is a pink bearded Iris, one of three which were dry and brittle and looked hopeless when I opened the package. But after soaking them for over a week, look at those green shoots and long roots! I may go buy some more. 3 for $5.42 at my local Walmart. Can't beat that price. At our fancy schmancy nursery, a potted iris goes for like $9 each.

And nine more hosta ready to go into the hosta bed. Patroit and Stained Glass.

 And this is the hosta that gave me hope. I ignored it since last August, never watering it and expecting it to die. But noooooo! It spouted visible nodes weeks ago and now we have green leaves. So thrilling. It is a biggie, and lime-y yellow green which will contrast nicely with the darker greens and white of the other hosta. I counted thirteen leaf nodes altogether. Woowoo!

 This is a collection of just sprouted Dutch Iris. You may not be able to see their slender stalks just yet, but they are there. 

 Asiatic Lilies, 2 out of five have sprouted. Disappointing, but soon they will be on sale at Lowe's, once the blooms have faded, and I will get bunches of them. I live closer than ever to Lowe's now, heehee. 

 Indoors in my laundry room greenhouse, I have sweet potatoes sprouting and roots are visible. These will become slips which I will get in the raised beds once soil is made available at my local stores. 
On Wednesday my lawn guy, Audelio, came to look at my lawn and has agreed to dig out the sod in my future flower bed, and load it up with new compost and top it with mulch. This won't happen until next week, but I am so happy to know that this job is not gonna be the ruination of my knees. We have several places in the yard that once were tree filled and now are big empty holes. He will fill those up and make it safe to walk around without falling in or spraining an ankle. Speaking of trees, we don't have a single one. That won't last.