Thursday, December 16, 2010

Happy Holidays

Since I highly doubt I'm going to have any garden news for at least another month I'm going to wish all of you a wonderful holiday season (sorry I didn't post this in time for Hanukkah!). I'll probably be back sometime in January with posts about my excessive garden planning - that is rarely ever applied to the actual garden.

From my family to you and yours. Happy Holidays!

I've been a good dog. Send biscuits.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Nifty Idea

A friend pointed me to this site. I have to say, it is a great idea for a garden. I wish I had the space (and patience) to do something like this: Galaxy Garden

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Garden's Last Job

Today's weather: cloudy and cold but not raining - perfect Halloween weather. Bwa ha ha ha!

This past week I was on vacation and finished putting away the flower beds. Now, my house is surrounded by black plastic bags and there are no flowers to make it look any better. *Sigh* Oh well. Spring's just six months away, right?

But my gardens' jobs are not yet done. Now it is time to scare - or, at least, amuse - the passersby with a spooky tableau of tombstones, ghosties, dancing skeletons and floating pumpkins. At least, that's the effect I'm going for.

In the front yard, we hung Dr. Jacques Bones and his wife Cleopatra Bones along with a few of their ghostly pals.

Cleopatra Bones beckons to those passing by
And the vegetable garden has been converted to a spooky-ridden boneyard filled with the spirits of tomatoes and squash gone to seed and used for compost. Their pumpkin friends avenge their useless demise, grinning ghoulishly at all the gals and guys.

The Mills Boneyard, 2010
At night, we light up the pumpkins and set a few candles and portable battery-powered lights we picked up at Big Lots! From the road it does look like the jack-o-lanterns are floating among the tombstones.

Haunted Garden - plus hell hound
If you look close, you can see my dog hiding behind the middle pumpkin. She doesn't like carved gourds so she always stays behind them.

I hope everyone has a fun and safe Halloween. Today marks mine and my husband's 10th wedding anniversary so our treats will include lots of wine and chocolate.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Obligatory Blog Post About Not Blogging

Today's Weather: Sunny and very chilly. I woke up to find the first frost on the car this morning. I'm not sure if it was our area's first frost of the year or not, but it was the first I saw.

Haven't been blogging much. If you're a regular visitor (a very rare breed, you are) I apologize. Hopefully the following plethora of images will make up for it a little bit.

First off, let's see some pictures of what this blog is supposed to be about, eh? The gardens.

Not much to speak of, really. The vegetable garden has been put away - old plants pulled and composted, new compost mixed into the soil, etc. The only thing left is the bird bath Marigold ring and I've posted enough pictures of that.

I'm basically just waiting for the flowers to finally die. They're hanging on longer than usual (for me) this year. I would say this is good except for the fact that I'm not doing a very good job at upkeep and they're presently full of leaves.

Leafy Bed
The bare dirt spot is where I planted some daffodil bulbs. I plan to finish that chore next week while I'm on vacation. If you squint you can see that my Dahlia (in the black pot) finally decided to bloom. I waited months for that thing and I'm not really a fan of the flower it produced. Oh well, at least it adds some color.

Even more leaves
The little Hosta decided it wanted to bloom late, too. The frost this morning probably stopped that but it was nice that it tried. The red Salvia and Marigolds are still going strong.

Halloween is on its way
My purple Petunias had an amazing comeback a month or so ago and they're still doing well. They look pretty good against the Ghoulish Trio, don't you think?

Still Blooming
Boy, was I ever wrong about my Sunbright rose bush. After it gave me the one bloom earlier this Summer, I was convinced that was the only yellow rose I was going to get. It gave me many this season, including one that bloomed just this past week. Pretty, isn't it? There's one bud left but it will most likely get snipped to encourage the bush to go to sleep for the winter.

And that's it for the garden. Even if the flowers are still alive next week they'll probably be pulled. The in-laws will no doubt be itching to get the house wrapped up for winter, which means all the flower beds will be underneath some kind of insulation. Ugh. Ugly House - how I dread it.

But I won't think about that today. I'll think about that tomorrow - because today I still have all the lovely fall foliage to look at. Take a look for yourself:

Leaves all around
One of our front yard Maples

My favorite tree - almost bare

Sun through the branches

Entrance to the snowmobile trail at the back of our field

Along the trail, looking up

Along the trail, looking back

The other entrance to the trail

Along the trail, looking up

A mossy stump on the trail - and my dog, China

Halloween Buds
Hope you enjoyed the Fall Fest!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Not that it matters now, but...

I made an oopsy. When I posted the birth flowers for September, I said it was the Poppy. WRONG!

The Poppy, along with the Gladiolus, is the birth flower for August, not September. September's birth flowers are the Aster and the Morning Glory.

My bad.

Autumn in Maine

Today's Weather: Bleah. It's raining, very windy and chilly. They're calling it a Nor'Easter and it certainly sounds like one.

But, before today, we've been having some very nice Fall weather. Cool, crisp and sunny. Due to the dry Summer our Fall colors aren't as bright as years past but it's still beautiful. Since this storm is probably going to blow away a lot of that beauty, I wanted to post some pics from the past few weeks to cheer me up. Enjoy!

My Favorite Tree.
Colorful Views
The view from my backyard
Our little farmhouse
Looking up into the branches of my favorite tree
Getting Ready for Halloween

Friday, October 1, 2010

October's Birth Flower

Today's weather: Awful. 70's, very muggy. Not the way I wanted to start October, but tomorrow looks to be much better (clear and in the mid-60's).

Haven't posted much lately. Quite frankly, there's not much to post. The vegetable garden is done. The only thing left in it is my Marigold Ring and those Marigold bushes. The bushes will be pulled this weekend to make way for our Halloween Graveyard. Muah-ha-ha-ha.

In the meantime, it's time to celebrate this month's birth flower which is, very appropriately, the Calendula, more commonly known as the Marigold.

Calendula are symbols of Sacred Affection, Cruelty, Grief, and Jealousy. This is one passionate flower.

Despite their stinky smell (and sometimes because of it) the Marigold is one of my favorite flowers. They're easy to grow, brighten up any dark spot in a garden and bloom all season long. They'll live and continue to bloom until the first hard frost. I also found out this year that if you plant them from seed, they can grow to about four feet tall and produce huge blooms. They're also good at keeping deer away.

I hope everyone's having a good Fall so far. I'm not done garden blogging for the year just yet. My front flower garden is still going strong. Heck, that damn Dahlia bulb I planted in April just now produced buds. I'll also be sure to post pics of the forthcoming awesomeness that will be our Halloween grave yard.

Yeah, okay, it'll probably be pretty lame, but I can dream.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Non-plant related

Recent Weather: Very fall-like - mid to upper sixties (although yesterday it got up into the mid-70's and felt way too warm ;) ).

Right now I'm only plant flowers and a vegetable garden but someday I would like to raise chickens, turkeys and maybe a goat or two. So, I found this blog post very interesting.

Anyone who eats eggs should check it out. It's very eye-opening. Thanks to Henbogle for the link!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fall Dreaming

This week's weather: Getting chilly. The highs have only been in the 60's and it's been raining more often than not for the past few days. But I like this weather - it means my favorite season is here.

Yes, it is sad that the growing season is over but it's worth it - to me, at least.

One of the reasons I wanted to move to Maine was to have seasons again. I grew up in Missouri and while it is more Southern than Northern, it still had seasons and the trees changed along with those seasons. When we moved to Texas when I was 12, I had no idea it wouldn't be until I was 33 that I would enjoy a true Autumn once again. So, I've been reveling in it every year.

Across the Street
The first real signs of change in my world happen just across the street. Messalonskee Lake is to the North of our house and has some marsh/blog land around it. Trees in those areas are always the first to turn and those are the really red trees in the above picture.

Around the House
Slowly, the trees surrounding our house start their annual change and we get all the great Maple colors - red, yellow and orange.

Colorful Splotches
The surrounding woods is always at its most beautiful this time of year. The pine trees mixed in with the maples and oaks create an interesting texture.

Why do I have to do this every year?
One sure sign of fall is the above sight. Every year I make my dog sit among the sparse leaves so I can take her fall portrait. It always goes into her yearly calendar that we give to all of our relatives. (They love the dog more than they love us - as it should be.)

Belgrade Dam
 Our house isn't the only lovely place to be in Autumn. The sights around town are gorgeous and a local drive provides tons of color.

My tin roof is on fiyuh!
 As the season goes on, the red in our back yard maple deepens and for a while it looks like our house has tall flames leaping from the roof.

Gold in them thar leaves
My favorite tree in our yard is the yellow maple next to our driveway. I love to just stand under it and look up into it when the sun is overhead. I'm sure the passersby wonder what the hell I'm staring at.

Camden, Maine
The great state of Maine is a favorite tourist destination for all the leaf peepers and, as you can see, there is good reason.

Late season color
Fortunately, our trees all turn at different times so we can enjoy the color for the entire season. In the above picture the center tree has finished turning, while the tree on the right is just getting started. At the time this picture was taken, the trees in the back were half bare.

It's all over - can't wait 'till next year
And finally, all the trees are naked and ready for their winter nap.

The fun is just now beginning so be sure to stick around to see how this year turns out!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Slowing things down

The weather has gotten much better here in central Maine, although it's still not as cool as usual. It's been sticking in the mid-70's with almost daily showers. It's nice - the showers are rarely long and the sun always comes out afterward - but I'm still looking forward to more Fall-like temperatures.

The vegetable garden is done except for some late-turning tomatoes. I did a harsh pruning of the plants in hopes to hurry the ripening process. They look pretty pitiful - much like Charlie Brown's Christmas Tree - but that doesn't matter. Especially since the rest of the garden is pretty much empty anyway except for the birdbath and Marigold ring.

The output of the garden this year was the best of any garden I've planted. I even had to give away squash and I love that stuff.

Squash and Tomato Treats
I didn't have such good luck with my pumpkins, however. I had four pie pumpkins which is pretty much what I wanted so I was happy. However, when I went to cut them after turning full orange, I found that two of them were soft and rotting. I'm not sure why this happened - the other two were perfectly fine - but I wasn't happy.

Also, my one last, large Buttercup Squash that was in the garden split in four places rendering it useless. I already have two large and two small so that wasn't a big deal, but I hate seeing the waste of such a beautiful gourd.

But, I have enough for the fall holidays and that's all that really matters.

Zoe watches over the gourds

The only thing I really have to take care of right now are the front flower gardens. They're doing very well without much help due to the recent nice weather and daily showers. Even my petunias made an astounding recovery.

Front Garden - Stage Left
Front Garden - Stage Right
But the work isn't done for the season quite yet. I purchased my daffodil bulbs - 70 of them - and I'll be planting those in the next few weeks. I plan to get some tulips, too and mix them in with the daffodils. I'm also going to do some moving of Hosta plants to fill in my back yard shade garden.

The season's almost over but the work is not. But really, is it really ever done? ;)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Let's talk about the weather

So, the weather this past week has been nuts. Yeah, we've had a warmer than usual summer here in Central Maine, but it was Summer. Hot temperatures are always a possibility and I try not to complain about that too much. The garden sure did love it. :)

But this week - yikes. The normal highs for this time of year are the mid-70's. For three days now we've been experiencing mid-to-upper 90's. Again. The flowers are not enjoying this and it doesn't help that we haven't had any real rain for over a week.

That's all about to change, though. Hurricane Earl is moving up the coast and a cold front is coming down from the north. Today it will get up to at least 93. By Sunday, the high will be "69, dude!"*

We're certainly looking forward to Sunday. Heck, I'm looking forward to tomorrow! The heat will break, although it will only get down to 83. But after several days of these high temps, 83 will feel nice.

I certainly hope I never have to live in the South ever again. I'm just not suited for it anymore.

 * No, I'm not a surfer. Just a Bill and Ted fan.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

September Birth Flower

Yeah, I kind of skipped last month - although I did post the picture in the sidebar.

This month's birth flower is the Poppy.

The Poppy signifies imagination, dreaminess, and eternal sleep. Yellow varieties are a symbol for wealth and success. They're a bit infamous because some varieties are used to make Opium.

They're also used by wicked witches to get those pretties and their little dogs, too.

Monday, August 30, 2010

I'm a winner!

Thanks to the Obsessive Neurotic Gardener (one of my favorite garden blogs - if you're not reading it, you should be) I am now the happy owner of a gift certificate to any CSN website. I'm pretty sure it'll be spent at their garden site. ;)

Thanks ONG!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Planning for next year

Since the growing season is slowing down and I'm putting the garden away bit by bit, now it's time to plan for next year! Yes, gardening is a never-ending journey but for those of us who love it that's the way we like it.

First Project: Spring bulbs

I always forget to plant bulbs in the fall for the following Spring. By the time Fall gets here I'm usually too tired to even think about planting anything. This year I've done a much better job at spreading out the work - and it's been my most successful gardening year yet, both in terms of vegetable production and aesthetics.

Tulip Field

So, in the next few weeks, I plan to go the local gardening center and purchase some daffodil and tulip bulbs. I'm tired of only have a few tulips every year (although that number does keep going up with our miracle 'family tulips') and even though we had a couple of daffodils bloom this year, that was a freak occurrence. And really, two daffodils? How is that anywhere near enough, amiright?

Golden Daffodils

Second Project: More Bird Baths

Since my sole bird bath was such a big hit this year, I would like to have a couple more spread around my other beds. I also like to add my own creative touches - and keep down costs - so I plan to build my own bird baths.

It looks pretty simple. All you need are some terra cotta pots of various sizes, some liquid nails, some paint and some sealant and voila, you can create some beautiful baths. These are just a couple of examples I found online.

You can make them as tall or short as you like and you can make them any color you wish. If you're not artistically inclined, you can always apply decals instead of painting - or just paint a them a pleasing, single color.

Third Project: Add Interest to the Flower Beds

One problem I always have with my flower beds is the lack of interest. The flowers I choose may be pretty, but they're pretty much all on ground level and that's all there is - flowers. My favorite gardens have garden art and, even more importantly, varied heights.

One simple way I plan to combat this flower bed boredom is to purchase a couple of low hooks to hang some baskets from. Another way to fix this issue is to build some planters - once again from the ol' reliable - terra cotta.

This example isn't finished, but it gave me the basic idea of what can be done with inexpensive terra cotta pots and bowls. A pot saucer can be added to the top to create a combination planter and bird bath.

The only problem I think I'll have with all that terra cotta is winter storage - it's not going to be fun lugging that stuff around at the end of the season. But I think it'll be worth it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Things are slowing down

Weather for the past week: Very nice. Low humidity, mid-to-upper 70's. It's been very comfortable. It's raining and a little chilly today, but it's a nice break. Our grass was turning brown in places, anyway.

So, the gardening season is winding down, now. The peas finished so I harvested everything and pulled the plants to compost. We couldn't keep up with the cucumbers and too many were getting overripe so I harvested everything that was left and composted the vines. I pulled all squash vines that weren't producing anything and composted them.

The only thing that's really left are the Pie Pumpkins, some Crookneck Squash and a ton of tomatoes. I'm keeping up with those and relatives are happy to help out as well.

So, in the past couple of weeks, my garden has gone from this:

Full, lush garden

To this:

Early Fall Garden
(Can you believe how tall those Marigold plants got? Maybe I should make of a hedge of them next year. :) )

I'm okay with this, though. I'm 'putting the garden away' in stages this year instead of trying to do it all in one day like I usually do. I've not only pulled non-producing plants but I've already spread compost for next year's crops. I did that last year and everything grew like gangbusters.

The pumpkins are almost all orange so they'll be next and I'm sure the tomatoes will be done in the next couple of weeks. There are still tons on the vines but not many of them have any green left.

The only thing left to develop are the buds in the Marigold ring around the birdbath and the new Hydrangea buds. These new flowers aren't nearly as big as the previous but I think the colors are much nicer this time.

Fully Bloomed

Still a few flowers to go.
I also like that the blooms are different colors. The first picture up there is the only one that came out that shade of purple/pink. The others are much more 'purple.' The contrast is nice.