Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Such a tease

Today's weather: Sunny, high of 77 degrees Fahrenheit...

...but I shouldn't get used to it. Rain is forecast to return tomorrow and will continue to reappear every other day or so. I'm not sure just how much garden work I'm actually going to get done on my extended holiday weekend.

I certainly hope this isn't going to be a repeat of the Summer of 2009. It never seemed to stop raining. The only thing that grew well that year were the crookneck squash. I love crookneck squash but I want tomatoes, too, and more than just the few I got in 2009.

Oh well. I'll just have to wait and see. Two and a half more days and my mini-vacation will be here. I'm determined to get something done, even if it's just clearing the grass that's grown up over my rock and brick borders. Everything looks so scraggly right now.

At least the Huechera (Coral Bells) enjoy the weather. *Sigh*

Coral Bells

Monday, May 23, 2011

Between the Showers

Today's Weather: Rain, High of 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

The past couple of weeks have not been good gardening weather. In fact, I haven't done much of anything except walk around when it's not pouring to see the progress.

I'm beginning to think that the less I interfere, the better the garden does. Go figure.

In between one of the showers this past Sunday I took a walk around the house to check out how water-logged the gardens are. Fortunately, we have pretty good drainage in all the garden areas so everything's doing pretty well.

Future Iris Flowers
I didn't get any Iris flowers last year but that happens with this plant and since I honestly like the foliage it didn't upset me. However, I love the flowers and it looks like I'm going to get more than enough this year.

Dianthus 'Annual'
I bought three of these Dianthus plants last year and planted them in the corner. They were labeled as annuals but I didn't take the time to pull them when Fall came around. Now I'm glad that I didn't. Once Spring finally arrived the plants started growing like crazy and they are now starting to flower. I really liked these last year and planned to buy more this season. Now, I don't have to. Booyah!

White Daffodils
All the yellow Daffodils are gone but these two White Daffodils made a late appearance this past week. Aren't they lovely?

Smoke Leaves
The Daffodils are at the base of the Smoke Bush, which is finally starting to leaf out. It's actually on schedule, unlike everything else in the garden. It never leafs out until late May.

Bleeding Hearts
The Bleeding Heart plant that my sister-in-law gave me is doing wonderfully in my new shade garden. Two weeks after I planted it, it gave me several strings of those pretty little hearts. It's going to look very nice when it gets to full size. I might have to get another for the opposite side of the garden.

Sometime last summer I picked up some cheap Astilbe and planted them in the same general area of the new shade garden. They didn't make an appearance this year so I thought they hadn't survived the winter. Well, they were just late, like everything else. Three of the four plants have made an appearance this past week and two of them are inside the new garden's boundaries. The third (the one in the middle in the picture) is just outside of the garden so I'll have to move it later.

I'm glad they made it. I love Astilbe.

Lilac Survivor
Two of the three Lilac bushes that my Father-in-Law planted last year survived the winter as well and have grown some leaves. They certainly aren't going to flower this year, but it looks like they might actually 'take.'

Lilac Survivor
I saw plenty of bees while I was out and I also saw my second favorite garden visitors - Dragonflies. Several of them buzzed me but only two lingered long enough for a photo.

Dragon and Damsel
China enjoyed the brief period of sun. Too bad it only lasted about thirty minutes.

China Guards the Yard
I took a quick walk through the field as well, checking out the wildflower growth. Nothing much to report yet. Just a lot of these.

Alas, the clouds crept back in and started dropping the wet stuff once again. Looks like it'll be this way for another few days. Hopefully it will be somewhat drier over the holiday weekend. I'm taking two vacation days after Memorial Day to get caught up and to plant the vegetable garden.

Enough, already
It certainly needs some attention. Ugh.

Current Vegetable Garden...eww

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Waiting for Better Weather

Today's weather: Mostly cloudy with a high of 57 degrees Fahrenheit. The weather hasn't been great the past few days. Pretty cool and rainy.

Not much has happened in the gardens in the past week. The weather hasn't been all that great and, quite frankly, there's not much I can do right now. Funds are very tight.

But, there are still things happening out there.

These Daffodils were planted in this spot way before we ever moved in. They never bloomed before this year - we only got the green leaves - but, as you can see, they did very well this Spring.

Last year I started raking out the dead leaves from under the Smoke Bush and that seems to have done the trick. You can't see it in this picture, but a few more flowers are forming in the White Daffodil bed (which had only one flower last year.)

These Daffodils are from a very old Spring bulb flower bed planted decades ago.

Hyacinth Trio
The Hyacinth I bought from the grocery store and then planted last year came back for me. They're much smaller than they were when I bought them, but now they look like the Hyacinth I remember from my childhood.

I wanna rock!
And here's the craft project I mentioned a while back. We have these flat rocks at the base of a couple of rain spouts and I thought it was a waste of good art space. So, I made some mediocre art to liven things up.

I'm not a great artist, but I am proud of that Butterfly. Shiny.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

More Notes from the Weekend

Today's weather: Bleah. (Translation: Rainy, high of 50 degrees Fahrenheit.)

Before I start my post, I felt I had to share this picture. Isn't this the perfect image of what gardeners have to deal with? Everything looks fine and dandy and them BAM! - you walk outside and find a weed growing in your walkway.

(Actually, I like dandelions, just not in my paths.)


Building the new "shade" garden in the back of the house wasn't my only accomplishment over the weekend. I also did some moving of established plants and some transplanting of flowers that I started inside.

The two rose bushes I planted last year survived the winter, despite being squashed, and have both shown substantial growth. Not wanting them to get squashed again, I moved them to the front of the house and planted them as close to the front of the bed as possible.

But that left me with a big, empty bed with nothing but a wild Rose bush in the corner. So, I split some of my existing tall Phlox on the other side of the yard...

Splitting Phlox
...and moved it to the empty bed. I moved both Magenta and White and staggered them. I also planted the Orange and Purple I bought from the store but I don't have any hopes for those. They sat in my kitchen for over a month and nothing sprouted. But I figured it wouldn't hurt to put them in the ground. If nothing else, they can be compost.

New Phlox Bed
 Last year my Iris plants did really well but didn't give me a single flower. Time to divide!

Splitting the Iris
I moved a few to the opposite side of the steps. (They replaced some Hosta that I moved earlier that day to the front.)

New Iris/Hosta bed
As you can see, splitting the Iris didn't detract from my existing bed. They still look great and are going strong.

I also planted some Dutch Iris that I started inside from bulbs a few weeks ago.

Existing Iris Bed...please give me some flowers this year.
I wasn't the only one busy this past weekend. Along with my bird visitors, I spotted several bees and bumbles. This busy bee stopped long enough to pose. I hope I see a lot of his kind this summer.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Garden Visitors

Today's Weather: Sunny with a high in the low 60's. A very nice day for what was supposed to be rainy and cooler.

In some aspects I'm not the luckiest of gardeners. The land I live on isn't really my own so I have to get the okay before building new beds away from the sides of the house. I don't have enough funds for the projects I'd like to do. My front flower beds have clay soil.

But there is one area in which I have a lot of luck - no deer. I believe our dog is the cause of that. She roams our yard and the field around it and even though we've seen deer at the edge of the woods, they have rarely come very close to the house.

In fact, we don't have many annoying wild visitors at all. We sometimes get a pesky squirrel or chipmunk and the moles can wreak havoc in bad winters, but other than that I haven't had many garden problems from any of the wild animals nearby.

(My first vegetable garden was ransacked by field mice, but that only happened one season four years ago.)

I do have some nice visitors, however. As long as I provide the free lunch.

Hello, my little Chickadee
The Chickadee is the Maine state bird and as long as I keep seeds out, we always have a ton of them in the back yard. They're pretty fearless and if you stand still and don't try to scare them, they'll get pretty close. The above and below pictures weren't taken with a zoom at all.

As summer goes on we get various visitors such as red-winged blackbirds, mourning doves, blue jays, several varieties of woodpeckers and some wild canaries.

The canary waits for the chickadee to leave
I'm always on the lookout for cardinals - I've always loved them - but have never seen any. Perhaps they don't like my seeds.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The New Flower Bed

This past weekend's weather: Perfect work weather. Sunny with a high in the mid-60's. It felt a little chilly at first but once I started working, it was perfect.

As I have mentioned several times before, one of my big plans for this season was a new shade garden in our back yard. We have a corner that used to store yard debris and after it was finally cleared, it was still an eyesore.

No more piles of yard trash but...bleah
So, on Saturday I went for a little drive to the family gravel pit (yes, you read that right - the family gravel pit) and picked out some nice, large rocks with which to line the bed.

I laid them out to make sure I had enough and to get the right placement for the rocks.

Enough for a small bed
And then I started loosening up the dirt and pulling what little grass there was from the ground. I came across a lot of worms which made me happy but I also came across a lot of roots from the nearby Maple trees.

Need an upper body workout? Try some weeding.
I only had to do this for the front half of the bed - the back half was already nothing but dirt so it went relatively fast.

'Tilled' and ready for weeding
I then went to town getting rid of any green stuff I could find inside the bed, making sure to shake off all the dirt that I could. I wanted a 'raised' bed effect but didn't want to have to bring any dirt in to fill it out. Fortunately, I had plenty.

More sun than I thought
I planted the three Hosta plants (Minuteman variety) that I had started inside and also planted a Bleeding Heart plant and some Lily of the Valley. I don't know if they'll take - I bought them cheap from a big box - but my sister-in-law split her Bleeding Heart plant and gave me a nice-sized starter plant for the bed as well (not in the picture.)

And, finally, I added some mulch.

Ladybug Garden
As you can see, I added almost all of my ladybug decor to the garden so I named it The Ladybug Garden. Yeah, I know. Real original.

I will also plant something in the big green pot in the back, hopefully to hide that ugly wall. I've tried cleaning that stain that's a result of a large branch leaning against the house but I haven't had much luck. I' also going to add some mulch around the bed to keep the walkway weed-free and to make it a bit more attractive.

All in all, I think this will be much nicer to look at on those hot Summer afternoons while I read books outside as the dog sniffs in the field.