Friday, April 29, 2016

Check that one off the list

I've been wanting to corral the two 'Betty Corning' Clematis growing at the corners of the den (a.k.a. the New Room, a.k.a. the West Wing) for a while (interrupted briefly by the idea of moving them). My original idea was to hang a trellis from each corner, but there were obstacles like downspouts and flood lights. Also, the trellis did not need to be that high. Also, I'm against putting unnecessary holes in my house. My SO and I were contemplating building something from the ground up, but while wandering around the garden section of Home Depot, found trellis panels that fit the bill. Hinging two together for each corner seemed like the simplest thing to do, as then they can be stored in winter.


(Please ignore the weeds and bag o' mulch.)


They are supported by rebar, but otherwise freestanding. We'll see how well the clematis grows through the lattice.

I'm not having much luck getting annual vines started from seed. NONE of the first batch of cardinal climber seeds I purchased from the local Master Gardeners at the Home and Garden show germinated; I'm trying again with the remaining seeds. About half the black eyed Susan vine seeds germinated, so I planted more. Ditto the cypress vine. Some of these are destined to cover the pergola and the red bud trees with summer blossoms, two ideas I'm excited about. To soothe my disappointment, I succumbed to purchasing some fuchsia plants from Kroger.


Unfortunately, these two specimens had no plant tags, so I cannot provide a variety name with any true accuracy.


My son is still here, still mowing and weeding. I'm out in the yard, too, but I'm beginning to see what it must feel like to have an on-site gardener. He also cooks breakfast and washes his share of dishes. I'm going to get spoiled.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

It takes a village, or at least a couple of helpers

Today the weather was absolutely perfect - cool but sunny, after a couple of rainy days. My son is visiting, so I put him to work, mowing and cutting down volunteer mulberries and honeysuckle, then he weeded the orchard. Meanwhile, my SO did some repair jobs around the yard and we hung two more planters on the pergola. Their assistance allowed me to clean bird houses, weed, plant peas, spread mulch, etc. If I had been the one to mow, I would have been too tired for anything else. Now I am feeling hopeful.


Last summer I enjoyed a Wild Ones tour and visited the Chicago Botanical Garden. This year I am going on the Garden Bloggers Fling, in Minneapolis. gardeninacity is a regular on these tours, and I have enjoyed his posts in the past, never imagining that I would someday get to go. I didn't realize the only qualification is that one be a garden blogger for at least six months. Believe it or not, I have been at this blog for almost ten(!) years. Also, Minneapolis is not that far away AND a place my SO and I have visited and wanted to return to. My guy helps in the garden but doesn't contribute to the blog, so he will have to entertain himself while I saturate myself in inspiration. I am really excited to be going.


Finn has been doing his job as rabbit controller, catching (and eating) at least three bunnies so far. Today I spotted one in the vegetable garden *and* saw it escape through a gap in the fence. I plugged that hole. Meanwhile, the sparrows are really doing a number on the tulip poplar, stripping bark from the lower branches, presumably for their nests. The poor tree looks positively frayed.




There was a misunderstanding between my garden designing friend and me - basically, he is no longer designing gardens. He did offer up the names of some others who can help me, so all is not lost.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Dog days of April

The weather forecast is for a couple of days of unremitting sunshine, temperatures in the 80's, then it will cool off again. When spring is hot, I think I have missed the window for planting cool weather vegetables. Not so, not yet. Meanwhile, what plants are in (the onions) and up (the rhubarb) look a little bedraggled.

Last fall, I planted and transplanted natives to the south side of the house. This spring, the creeping Charlie threatened to take over the entire bed. Today I carefully removed the latter in order to find the former. It looks like most (maybe all?) of the plants survived. I'm hoping the few no-shows are just late to emerge. It doesn't help that I am unfamiliar with many, hence not sure what they look like when they break through the soil. Fortunately, the newbies (mostly) retained their plastic plant tags. Note to self: find a better way to label plants in situ.

Other tasks tackled this week included a proof of concept: adding hanging planters to the pergola. I purchased five deck planters from Menards, and my SO and I mounted two of them this past Friday. It took us a while, but we figured out how to get them to work. Yay! The annual vines I plan for them are planted indoors and just starting to sprout.

Other indoor plants: zinnias and marigolds are seeded and sprouting, and I potted up the broccoli. Outdoors, the bean poles are standing tall, and I transplanted the lettuce seedlings to lettuce "bowls". And I mowed front and back. I would pay good money for someone to install and maintain a no-mow lawn.

Friday, April 08, 2016

Now it's too cold!

I am not a fan of magnolia, as its beauty is so short lived. Several of my neighbors have them, though, so I get to witness how usually a bit of warmth and a little wind send the blossoms cascading to the ground. This year, the recent cold temps have truly uglified the poor things. The blossoms are mostly brown instead of white. I keep telling my rhododendron to wait, just wait, before blooming, but I'm wondering if their buds are also getting too frosted. I suspect the service berry is toast, too.

The onion plants arrived a couple of weeks ago, but I was afraid to transplant them. Last year they sat in water too long while awaiting relocation to the garden, and many did not survive. This year, I actually planted them in flats where they are doing quite fine. BUT they need to go into the garden proper soon. Maybe next week?

The seed potatoes are here, too, and the goutweed plants arrived yesterday. A few days ago, my SO resurrected the garden fence while I trimmed and trimmed and trimmed. (Note to self: the next time I have trouble with the trimmer, spray it with WD40, the miracle worker of anything mechanical or electrical.) I could hear a few lawn mowers going, but I'm holding off until this weekend. Assuming it doesn't snow.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Asparagus syndrome

When I started square foot gardening, I followed the recommendation to place the beds close to the house, to improve the chances one would provide them adequate care. At least that is my excuse for where I put the asparagus bed. I have to admit it was handy to step out the patio door and cut a handful of spears for a meal. However, as my backyard became more crowded, the placement of the bed became more problematic. It was just plain in the way.

Meanwhile, I had started a second bed of asparagus (purple) in the garden proper. While the 4x4 bed by the house was fairly densely populated, the 8x4 one was not. Hence, yesterday's project to combine the two arose.

My original thought was to dig up all the crowns from both beds, then lay them out again, just like new. That idea quickly fell by the wayside, as digging up asparagus is a LOT of work. (One source suggests just starting over with newly purchased crowns rather than trying to relocate an existing bed. Now we know why.)


Thanks to the upper body strength of my SO, we were able to unearth the 4x4 bed. In the process, we learned something new: an asparagus crown will develop a LOT of roots and/or create NEW crowns. So while I may have planted 20 crowns, we wound up with a LOT more to plant.


Instead of digging out the 8x4 bed, we scooped out furrows between the existing rows and laid the "new" crowns in them. Then all was covered with a mixture of garden soil and horse manure. Today Mother Nature is watering in our efforts. Later, I will check to make sure everything is still underground.


A week or so ago, I succumbed to the store-bought asparagus siren call and purchased some grown in California. In NO way did that compare to what comes fresh from the garden. Establishing a productive asparagus bed takes time, but I am willing to wait.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Yesterday was too hot!

Sunny and 72 degrees feels WAY too warm. Today the temps are back down in the 50's, much more tolerable. What am I going to do come August?!?


The nice weather does get me outside, though. I cut down the ornamental grasses and one remaining clematis, dug quack grass and baby thistle out of some of the garden beds (happy to see the worms hard at work), and made note of the buds on the forsythia and rhododendron. Also, I glared at the signs of woodchuck incursion under the shed. My SO and I are plotting to raise the shed a foot or so, to make its dark underside less inviting.


The other day, while sitting on my living room couch, I could hear something unusual and ODD. I though maybe ducks were on the roof, (it has happened before), but it seemed too loud. While peering out the picture window, I saw the culprit - a woodchuck! He was in the mugo, gnawing on my house! What's next? A skunk under the deck?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Garlic is up, and so am I

Today is Day 12 of the worst head cold I have had in a long time. The fiery throat, sinus drainage, headaches, earaches, and cough aren't the worst - it's the overwhelming fatigue. But I am finally on the mend (knock on wood).

I managed to do a bit of yard work today, including dead heading the 'Limelight' Hydrangea. Standing in that area of the yard reminded me of my plan to install Bishop's Weed as an understory. This corner is a problem area that receives little sun most of the time, then a LOT of sun once summer hits its stride. The Hydrangea loves it, but other plants either starve for light or burn up. Hopefully, the Bishop's Weed will thrive there. And hopefully, I will be able to keep it under control, as it can become invasive. Rumor has it the variegated variety (which is what I ordered) is better behaved.

Inside, I have started broccoli and lettuce plants. I was a little leery of whether Beau, the Feline Destroyer of All Things Nice, would leave them be, but so far, so good. The daffodil my g'daughter picked did not fair so well. Not only did Beau knock over the vase, he broke it. No fresh flowers for me this year.