Sunday, April 27, 2008

It's Begun ! !

My first expedition of the year to the garden center was very profitable. I wanted to find some shade-loving perennials for Steve's new planting area as well as getting some violas for the front entrance.
Here you see three Pulmonaria "Roy Davidson", two Siberian Iris "Caesar's Brother", various colors of Violas and three Ferns. (My camera really is beginning to suck at pictures taken from a distance! There is no sharpness at all!! Sorry. Maybe I'll use Bush's stimulus check to get a new one.)
Notice the name !! I thought this was really funny - not to be sexist, but I'm assuming that a man named this ??!!
Here are the three "manly" ferns inside a great big, 26" planter I could not resist. Keep in mind that the ferns are each in 3 gallon containers! I'm not sure where this will be or what will be in it. Maybe the backyard - if so, I may as well hang a sign saying "Wild Animal Feeding Station" on it!
Lastly, I found this "Triple Bin Party Feeder" bird feeder to hang outside the breezeway picture window in the back yard. At least that was my original intention until Steve immediately noticed it was too large for the hook on the shepherd's hook that is out there. Guess it's going somewhere else....
Speaking of Steve, we had another birthday celebration for him this weekend. My daughter and family came over with cards and presents for a belated, but fun party.
Here's Adeena with Tony (Sorry Sierra, I didn't get any pictures of you. Bad Grandma!!) and Garm. I'm not sure what Adeena was explaining, but this captures her personality just perfectly. I just love it.
Steve is a huge NASCAR fan and Jeff Gordon (Number 24) is his favorite driver. He's wearing his new birthday gift. As well as that they got him this really funny figurine.
I figure this has to be the Yeti of whitetail deer! Notice the size of the trussed up hunter in comparison - Wow!
The shot of this isn't the best, but I think you can see that it is a mirror shaped like an arrow head framed with a wooden laser-cut deer placed over it. It also has the little clock, which is removable.
It's quite pretty and Steve hung it under one of his mounted heads. He also got a neat little deer night-light.
Even though our weather turned quite cold and blustery, we had a quick walk around the yard so Adeena, Tony and Sierra could see how pretty everything looked. The following is what we saw:
A view looking down the hill in the back garden.
Blue and white Grape Hyacinth.
Pathetic Forsythia that blooms once every 5 years.

Mayapples on the back path.

Pheasant's Eye and Apricot Trumpet Daffodils.
Ever popular Bleeding Hearts and a study in textures with Variegated Solomon's Seal, Species Lily "Henryii", miniature Goat's Beard, and Meadow Rue in the background.
And two tulips that escaped the ravenous ungulates.
Actually I have a lot of this great species Tulip "Tarda". These close up when the sun isn't shining on them, but when they are open, they are really cheerful. They are very short 5 to 6" and are one of the most inexpensive species Tulips you can buy. I highly recommend these!
Even though our walk was more like a forced march because of the cold, we warmed up inside with subs from Cousins and had a lot of laughs playing the latest video game Tony and Adeena had gotten.
I think we should celebrate Steve's birthday every month!!!
Thea and Garm sharing a little patch of warm sun. Looking pretty sleepy the day after the party ....
Cheerfulness gives elasticity to the spirit. Spectres
fly before it.
Samuel Smiles (1812-1904)
Bye for now,

Sunday, April 20, 2008

That Was Fast ! !

Well, here are Sparky and Gidget. They arrived a few days ago - Gardener's Supply sure was quick this time!

And with them was a flock of chickens . ..

who don't have any names. Actually, I'm glad because the names Gardener's Supply gave the pigs is kind of stupid. I can't imagine what they would come up with . . .

for six chickens. Steve said they were a "bit much" in the back garden and there are "just so many". I said that you don't have just one or two chickens - you have a flock. And, six is a good number for a flock.

I picked up another "Welcome Dog". He's made of metal and has sort of creepy yellow marble eyes. From the picture he looks like a skeleton-dog -- it must be the angle because he cuter in real life!
Besides the metal pigs and chickens, Spring came very rapidly. Within the past two days everthing has popped! Just what I was waiting for. Here are some of the flowers that are blooming ...

This is Corydalis. They self-sow all over the place and are blooming in huge masses. When they are done the foliage quickly yellows and disappears. Neat little plant.

Everyone recognizes Hyacinths. Sometimes they aren't reliably hardy in my Zone 5, but I've been lucky - these have been coming back for years.

In the rather hot afternoon sun today, their fragrance was almost over-powering! I was planting green onions nearby in containers, and was getting a headache from it! (Sweet smells bother me a lot - I can't wear perfumes and get sickish when someone who's around me does. What an awkward sentence!!)
I just love these Chionodoxa (Glory of the Snow). I posted some last week but they are so pretty I had to do it again. These are growing all over - in the lawns, the vegetable garden and on the woodchips. I don't know how the seeds get around - animals or the wind probably. They are such a surprise each Spring.
At the front door are the wonderful blue flowers - Scilla bifolia. They are another bulb that reseeds like mad. I'd only planted a few here a couple of years ago and now it's completely full. In Summer a Hosta is right in the middle of this planting area.
This is a close-up them. Isn't blue a great Spring color!!
I thought the deer had eaten all of the tulips in the Main Garden but I see they missed a couple. I took these pictures for posterity because I'm not sure if they will be here when I get up tomorrow morning.
These are species and kaufmanniana varieties. I especially like the tiny species tulips and have planted hundreds but the deer, voles, squirrels, chipmunks, woodchucks,and rabbits have made short work of them. Sometimes I feel like I'm just setting up dinner for the wild animals. If all the countless bulbs I'd planted in the Main Garden had survived, it would be jam packed and look like a kaleidoscope!
Notice the bee coming in for a landing at eleven o'clock. Totally unplanned!!

Spring wouldn't be Spring without lots of Daffodils. I've planted hundreds of these also, and here are some of the different kinds ...
These are my latest addition. They are an extremely miniture trumpet variety. I used my hand to show you how small they are (you probably don't believe I lost all that weight from the look of my chubby, short-fingered, man-like hand - but I have!)
What's so unusual and endearing about these daffodils is that there are multiple stems and each plant is like a little bouquet. They are ultra-mini. I'm sorry I don't have their name off-hand and when I find it, I'll post it.
Good old yellow trumpets .
Rip Van Winkle is this guy's name.
This is a favorite mini - Jetfire.
A fragrant split-cup variety that I don't have a name for.
Don't know the name of these etheral beauties either.
These are Ice Follies and I highly recommend them. They have lots of flowers and don't decline over the years like some do. They are eye-catching and sturdy too. Oh yes, they are really cheap as well.
The temps are supposed to be in the 60s and 70s this week so I brought most of my basement grown seedlings outside. This is a shaded spot at the front entrance and good for hardening off.
The ones that are especially tall and/or sprawling are my ground-cover petunias. They grow so fast once they "catch", as I call it. The smaller more uniform plants are impatiens. Notice on the far left are some Quaking Grass seedlings.
I'm glad we were able to get most of the gardens cleaned up when we did. Once the weather warms, everything grows so rapidly that your "window of opportunity" is very small.
In a few weeks I'll get the pond scrubbed down and put out the fish. The last white fish I had just died (in fact I can't find the body.) She (I don't know why I always think something albino is a "she"??) was laying on her side at the bottom of the pool for a week. I'd touch her every day and she's swim away. I just can't toss out a live fish and she didn't look like she was suffering (it's hard to tell with fish, isn't it?) so I was on a sort of death-watch. Well, now it's a moot point because I can't find her - dead or alive! Probably under the rock shelf that Steve had constructed in the Fall. I just don't want to reach under there with a bare hand -- icky.
So, this week will be another vacation Friday and I'll work up the soil in the vegetable garden and then all that's left is to wait. Wait to do the things I like the most - find some new and unusual plants at garden centers and get my containers planted.
Come to the edge.
We might fall.
Come to the edge.
It's too high!
And they came
and he pushed
and they flew . . .
Christopher Logue (1926 - )
Bye for now,

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Good Weekend

This was another Sunday when I wondered what I was going to blog about. And, again, I found all kinds of "little" things.
The first are a couple of things that came in the mail this week.
These are little painted metal pigs from Gardener's Supply Company. As a nod to Gershwin, they are named Porky (striped) and Bess (flowers). I'm very pleased with these and ordered their siblings - Sparky (snowflakes) and Gidget (polka-dots).
This is not my house (would never have slate-grey siding!), it's a picture off the Gardener's Supply web site and it is called the Tomato Tower! It's 74" tall and holds 40 quarts of soil and 3 full grown plants. It's in a box in the garage at the moment but next week I'm going to put it together for a dry-run. I'll bet you're wondering why, with all our property, I don't grow tomatoes in the ground. Except for the Main Garden (perennials), there isn't enough full sun in any of the gardens for successful tomatoes. So I'm going to try this - the only reservation I have is that it won't be on a hard surface. We don't have a patio or deck so this will be on the sunny lawn - I'm sure Steve will be able to figure something out.....
This is the grave of our late cairn terrier, Buckley-Rose. Steve chose these pretty rocks especially for her and dug the hole in our back garden. And I thought the fat dog statue looked like her.
This is Claire, our late cockatiel's grave . Claire died in the winter and the ground was frozen then so we kept her in the freezer until the ground thawed. Actually, we forgot she was in there (wrapped in a piece of pretty cloth in a box) and didn't bury her until two years later! Ashley never stops reminding me how "rude" that was.
This is the last resting place of my sister's "wonderful, sweet, and special" cat. She called crying asking if she could bury Darcy in our yard. Of course we agreed and Steve went around the paths with Sherry trying to find just the "right" place. Darcy was really big for a cat and most of the ground along the paths is rocky so it took him a very long time to dig a deep enough hole (we didn't want Sherry to visit and suddenly see Darcy hair scattered around the yard because some animal had dug her up!!). Steve is so thoughtful he even planted a wild phlox from the garden to make it special. You want to know how many times Sherry has looked at or even mentioned the grave??? You guessed it - - Never!! But at least Darcy has a pretty spot for the Big Sleep.
That's it with the graves. Hopefully, it will be a very long time before we have to bury any more beloved companions.
I'll bet you can't tell that this is a rather weather-beaten pig statue that has been toppled by a nasty digging squirrel. That's his snout at "six o'clock".
I righted him and as you see, his ear was broken off in the tumble. The statue is pretty fragile because he was only rolled over - squirrels aren't that strong.
This is the stump from a black walnut tree Steve cut down. Since the roots and leaves of this type of tree produce a substance that kills any other plants around it, this one had to go. The day lilies and daffodils nearby were slowly fading away so we decided it would be cut. I counted the rings and it was 20 years old. What a shame. But not far from this stump is a full grown, 40 foot tall black walnut raining down hundreds of nuts every Fall.
A dumb thing I did. I left this terra cotta bowl with twig handles outside all winter. The sides just flaked off. It is still quite thick so I guess I'll clean it up and leave the shells in there for one more Summer. Sierra loves to go through the shells.

Aren't these neat trails that some insect left under the bark of a dead tree. Looks like modern art.

This is pissing me off!! The dark spots are deer tracks and they have eaten nearly every tulip in the Main Garden! There are tracks on all three levels of the garden and we've spotted them (3 does) close by when we come home from work at night. Ugh!! I thought that I had it made when I realized that the voles were gone. Nope - just much larger, long-legged voles have moved in. We didn't get the Hinder sprayed in time.
After surveying the damage in the Main Garden, I vowed to notice only the what was pleasing during my "walk about". And I think I succeeded.
Begonia Update ! ! !
I felt the mildew problem would be solved if I brought all the begonias up into the breezeway. There is natural light and more moving air. Look how big these two varieties have gotten - red and white ones blooming!
The "Cool Whip Lite" variety of begonia ("Braveheart") compared to my favorite violet. They both have fuzzy leaves.
Weight Loss Update ! ! (Again)
Total of 26 pounds vanished as of today! !
You know I just realized I seem to post the same things every few weeks. I should call this blog "Variations On A Theme"....
I must get going because I want to play "Elder Scrolls: Oblivion" on my XBox 360 tonight and I've still got to take a bath and fold clothes. It was a good weekend for me; I did some shopping, had Ashley over for a few hours, worked in the vegetable garden, listened to some good Stan Getz, cooked a nice chicken dinner, took care of my seedlings, bounced on the rebounder, and played video games. Doesn't get any better than that!
The real secret of how to use time is to pack it
as you would a portmanteau, filling up the small spaces
with small things.
Sir Henry Haddow
Bye for now,