Thursday, April 30, 2015

Last Day of April

 It is the last day of April, and we have finished the garden prep. Hurray!
All the troughs are painted and we have our lounge chairs in place in our tiny wooded corner where we can take in the garden and RELAX. The weather is cool, but the sun is warm and it is heavenly to just sit and watch the birds and listen to their songs.

 We have roses in bloom, and the daffodils that I planted late continue to open. Our peppers and tomatoes are coming along nicely and yet the green beans are looking sad. It is still too cool at night to keep them happy. I will replant, me thinks.
I have calibrachoa and bacopa to put in the daffodil pot when they have ceased.
 The Proving Ground bed is starting to sprout little seedlings, thrilling me daily. This is my first time to grow zinnias, from plants and seeds and I am so happy to see their enthusiasm. I have Green Envy seeds planted, along with fuchsia and purple zinnias, which will be alongside.   Green envy zinnia.........easy to grow...ive grown these and they bloomed till frost. Look amazing in arrangements. Zinnia, Purple Prince      Very disease and mildew resistant.  lifecycle: Annual    Full Sun   Height: 36  inches  Spread: 12-14  inches  Sowing Method: Direct Sow/Indoor Sow   Bloom Duration: 10  weeks  Purple ZinniaDazzling!

 I decided we needed a fire pit and came up with this cheap and easy solution. The tub is from Home Depot, $20 and the grate is from Lowes, $17. We used Duraflame logs and cut them into smaller pieces, just to try out the idea. It worked just fine. But we can't stay awake very long (OK we're exhausted) and so a twenty minute fire is enough.
In the front garden, I ripped out two perfectly healthy yet ugly shrubs and replaced them with a hydrangea, Endless Summer, which I had before in my country garden. Very dependable and this one has tons of buds already. Some added begonias will keep it company until it grows bigger.
 We put the coral bark maple in the empty spot vacated by the ugly shrub. Perfecto, in my humble opinion. I have never done a nicer front garden, and my arm is getting tired from the constant patting myself on the back.
Since we have so much lysimachia, I cut sprigs and stuck them into lots of bare spots, hoping by next year to have a carpet of lime green between the hostas and azaleas.
Speaking of hostas I found a lone white leafed variety at Lowe's, all battered and sad looking and convinced them to sell it to me for $1. Ha!
I've had one before but the voles ate it. Let's hope we have better luck here.

Saturday, April 25, 2015


Good Morning, and it is good, cuz it's raining. And that means a well deserved day off. 
 Dave finished painting two more troughs yesterday and now only two are left to paint.
 We enjoyed our first lettuce harvest yesterday, but I couldn't stand to take a whole head, so I carefully cut off the outer leaves and added some spinach we had on hand. It was lovely and so fresh, natch. The onions I have interplanted are coming along just fine. I could harvest a few for scallions. 
We have added a bench from our friend Mary's garage sale. It will get weatherized after the rain stops. Dave has also been weatherizing our fence, so this bench will soon match the color.
My day has been exciting. Laundry, kitchen, napping. Somebody  has to do it.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Finishing Touches

 And then he said, let's go to the paint store...

Wow. What a difference it makes to have these two troughs painted. They look like we have huge terracotta containers now. OK, in our humble opinion. But it does look so much better than the plain silver + Tractor Supply label.

Two down, four more to go. This is Dave's project, and it seems like golf might have to wait.

 I decided to fill the cubbies in the corner bed with leftover plant pots. These are square but flexible enough to coax into diamond shapes, so they stay put in the too-large holes. This will work until the zucchini and watermelon vines get too huge and cover the bed edges. I'll move the pots then.
By the way, that green disc in the ground is a cover for our propane tank. It's always in the way.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Last Bed of 2015

 Empty and filled. happy. I decided to wait to transplant the roses into this bed until fall and instead used the space for my cucurbits. I planted Ice Box watermelon, Japanese cucumber, yellow zucchini, and cantaloupe.
 I transplanted my heuchera to the back of the new bed, along with some lysimachia which will fill in wherever it can. We ran out of soil so the cubbies in the blocks are empty, so far. I have a flat of petunias, and another of marigolds that need homes. More dirt to come to fill pots and cubbies.
 Last year we bought three dogwoods, reduced for clearance and one croaked, but surprisingly the healthiest looking one. Wha? The other two have bloomed and I am delighted to have one of each color.
 The azaleas that came with the house are in bloom and dazzling. Hot pink and lime green, woowoo!
The hostas have unfurled and are so grand. I am so relieved to find that I have enough shade to have these beauties again. I don't think I could garden without hostas.

Now the structure of this year's garden is finished, and I can turn my attention to the mess we left all around the yard, in the house, and garage and maybe see if I still have a studio upstairs.

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Plan Was...

Here's the yard when we first bought the house. A blank canvas, ready to make into my dream garden. I collected images, thanks to Pinterest, and wanted to use the whole yard to form nice neat beds, filled with every plant imaginable.
Cleopatros farm potager. Notice how nicely space is shared in tiny squares, and how trees are included in.
So many ideas, but of course there is one problem. We have no soil. Now that we see what the builders are actually doing to everyone's plot before the house is built, we know they dump rock and cover it lightly with clay and then Bermuda grass. Ugh. So my lovely plans had to be altered. Enter raised beds.
Parterre Garden Design on La Vida    Interplanting Flowers And Herbs In The Vegetable GardenLivestock Tank Planters painted
Again, Pinterest provided the idea of using stock tanks as raised beds, and luckily, I convinced Dave to let me do this. He had to help of course, since the heavy lifting is his forte.
And then concrete blocks entered the picture...
These I could practically do myself. At least I could go to Home Depot, pay for them and have the workmen load them into my van. Dave did the transferring into place, as I pointed and directed.
Armed with more planting space and enthusiasm than good sense, I enlarged my ideas and began to invest in more plants.

 The Pink Dogwood, Rhododendrons, Knockout Roses, all of which are fine in pots, temporarily, but will outgrow them very soon, Ah, it was then I realized I needed one more bed.

Double high for deeper roots, and angled to avoid encroaching on the adjacent pear tree. We got the blocks and built them without a sketch! Geniuses, we are. Seconds after we finished, and were sipping our G&Ts, the rain came down again and that was it for the day. Today we fill it with dirt and plants and again, see the light at the end of the tunnel. So happy.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Garden Progress

Although it has been raining daily, we didn't let that stop us. Here's a quick tour of what's in and what's new. Three rhododendrons, one of which is still in bloom. Behind it is our new pink dogwood, still in its nursery pot. I will find a nice big blue one for its final home. Behind it are heuchera which are also awaiting new pots.
 I love blue in the garden so that accounts for my excitement over the Baptisia starting to bloom. I have two blue ones and three more on order, coming from Pennsylvania, which is still thinking Spring has yet to come. White Bleeding Heart and three dwarf Hollyhocks are in. I have two more pink Bleeding Hearts there too. I planted Hollyhock seeds too in another part of the bed, to transplant all over the yard, as they are not dwarf.

 The Koi Pond, as it were, now the Japanese Maple garden, with 5 new hardy geraniums, aka Cranesbill geraniums, in purple and pinks. I am still looking for a Johnson's Blue which is really blue, and to add a brunnera, a perennial forget-me-not. This year I discovered Grace Ward Lithodora, which is glow in the dark blue, and hard to capture on camera. Love love love this plant and now I have six.

 The hydrangeas got moved to the back yard in a semi shady corner, and are starting to show signs of life. I will have to get some acid-y soil to make them blue, but for now we'll just enjoy pink blooms.

 Now here's what I am thinking/doing with this long bed. I divided it up into 15 sections, separated by little zinnias, and begonias. In each section I have planted SEEDS. Yup. If I am going to be a real gardener, then seeds will be my Proving Ground, which I will call this long bed. I do have one section with Gaillardia and a tiny daisy, called Darling.

 The cubbies in front are holding back the tyrannical Wave petunias.  Here's what I hope to see soon. I have tried to grow these in our country garden and while they bloomed the first year, sorta, they didn't return, no matter where I put them. So third time's a charm, I hope. They'll have plenty of sun and no voles and great soil, so what could go wrong? heh heh heh.

The big trough we moved this year is up against the fence, for the benefit of four clematis and our fave hyacinth bean vines. Since clematis like to have shaded roots, that calls for large plants in front of them. Enter Delphiniums or as I like to call them: Del-finicky-ums. I pray these will love living here, and grow perennially. Also in this bed are blue salvias and new plants which are also spiky blue, and who's names elude me at the moment.
Such a pretty blue.
These seedlings are from last years saved seeds. Hyacinth bean vine. I will have to pinch out a few, eh? Or not. I hate to kill an enthusiastic plant.
Tomatoes and Swiss Chard, which I have never grown and which I have never eaten. I will find out all about them this year. On the other side of this trough I have a line of beets, in seed, waiting to see them erupt. Last year I made a big mistake and planted sweet potato vines in all the troughs, which took over and robbed nicer plants from light and water. Not this year. 
In the front bed, I have some gorgeous coleus waiting to be planted. And the hosta are opening as fast as can be.

So happy to see the returning Celandine Poppy in bloom. I stuck a few sprigs of Creeping Jenny in spots and already it is moving in happily.

And here is the Ivy that ate Hixson. We got this pot at the Signal Mountain Nursery, and it weighs a ton. Two shepard's hooks plus bungies are needed to keep it up. I hope the spot is shaded enough not to burn it up this summer.
As soon as the fog lifts we are off to get more mulch. Our yard in back is squishy from so much rain. Mulch really helps.