Friday, April 29, 2011

Busy Weekend

Today's weather: Sunny, high of 67 degrees Fahrenheit.

Today is absolutely gorgeous!....and I'm stuck in the office all day. At least I can open a door up here and let the fresh air in. Two barn swallows decided to visit the office as well, but we got them back outside pretty quickly. They apparently didn't want to be trapped in an office all day either.

Despite my wimbling about my front flower beds I still have plenty of work to do this weekend.

I'm going to start building the back shade garden. I've got the area cleared, I just have to start constructing the bed.

Future Shade Garden

I'm going to make raised bed of sorts by using large rocks to outline the shape. I'm going to make a curved, non-symmetric shape in the corner, leaving a path all the way around. This will help me avoid any winter problems with insulating leaf bags and make it easier to weed the back of the bed.

I'm also going to split and move some of my existing pink and white Phlox to the kitchen side of the house. I've tried planting rose bushes there but they're just not doing well. Being squashed isn't helping so they're coming out and Phlox is going in. Phlox is cut to the ground every Fall so it's perfect for the space.

Perfect for a Phlox bed
I'll have to buy some more Phlox (the plants I started inside have done absolutely nothing so I think they're duds) and fill in the space but I'm hoping this will eventually be filled out with the butterfly-attracting plants. I'm still hoping to find some purple and orange.

I might also create a new bed over by our garage. My Father in Law planted a couple of Lilac bushes over there last year and now he can't mow there at all. He's been grousing about it and even though it certainly wasn't my idea to put them there, I still want to make it easier for him. Besides, a new flower bed is a new flower bed, even if it's where I can't see it without taking a little hike.

That should keep me busy enough but in case I get that back Shade garden done, I may also move my existing Hosta to the back and split my Iris plants to fill in their space around the kitchen.

Future Iris Bed...after the Hosta moves out
And for the first time this season, we're supposed to have two full days of nothing but sun and temps in the low sixties - perfect weather for working outside.

Now, if I can only get myself to clean the house tonight so I won't have to do it tomorrow morning I'll be all set.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Still Undecided

Today's weather: Warm, a high of 64 degrees Fahrenheit, but it's rather muggy. There's a possibility of thunderstorms during the day but right now, it's just cloudy.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about the front flower beds this past week. As I mentioned in a previous post, uncovering the beds to find damaged and squashed bushes really depresses me. My front beds have never looked good and the fact that I can't really plan for future growth makes it even more difficult.

At its best - but still not good

I've been considering planting only Iris, Hosta and Day Lilies in the beds - three plants that I know can handle the rough winter and being flattened by leaf bags every winter.

I've also considered pulling everything out and just planting Annuals every year. But I'm on a pretty tight budget and buying plants every Spring isn't really feasible. The alternative is to plant from seeds, which I've done before, but it takes so long for the beds to fill out that they only look halfway decent for just a couple of months in the late Summer/early Fall.

I've also considered doing both - sowing the annual seeds and then planting Hosta and Iris in the same beds, forcing the seeds to grow around them. This sounds simple, but I don't know how it'll all turn out.

Guess I won't know until I try.

But then there's the problem of where to put my existing bushes. The Hydrangea was squashed but it's growing - there are green buds all over the thing - and the Azalea bush looks fine although it hasn't really shown any signs of growth or flower development. And that Rhododendron is perfect.

I'm certainly not going to throw them out but moving them would require building another bed out in the yard. I wouldn't mind doing this, but the Father in Law might not like it - he'd have to mow around it and I try to make that chore as easy as possible for him. The only convenient place for a new bed is in full shade and I don't know if the Azalea could tolerate that.

Crimson Azalea
 *Sigh* I guess some more research is in order, but that's the easy part. Making actual decisions - that's the hard part.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Things Be Happenin' 'Round Here

Today's weather: High of 61 degrees Fahrenheit, partly sunny. It was supposed to storm, but all I've seen are some clouds. But I know the rain is on its way.

Well, things finally started happening this past weekend. Within hours of my last post the black leaf-filled garbage bags were hauled away by my Father in Law. I normally help out with this chore but he did it while I was at work. So - score! That saved me at least half a day.

Unfortunately, some of my Daffodils were planted underneath those bags and when the bags were pulled away, there were a few nasty surprises:

Sick Daffodils

Looks like rejects from a creature feature, don't they? Ick. I broke off the stems and will move them to a better location in the Fall.

It rained all day Saturday so I did some indoor chores and crafts (which I'll show you later) but Sunday morning I was out early cleaning up the beds and putting out some of my new decorations.

Iris Beds with Chimes

Getting Ready for the Hummingbirds

Chimes

The beds look sparse - they're all pretty much empty - but at least they're visible and now leaf-free.

The Daffodils are starting to develop. Yesterday, the morning dew clung to this one (which opened today) and although my camera just can't capture how beautiful it really was, this is pretty close.

Dew Drops on the Daffodil
A few weeks ago I cleared out underneath the Smoke Bush again like I did last year. Looks like that's all that those old Daffodils needed. Instead of one flower head forming, I have at least ten in there. It's hard to see in this picture, but they're there among the green spires.

Plethora of Daffodil Flowers
Also under the Smoke Bush, the three Hyacinth I planted last year are doing well. They've already grown about half an inch since I took this picture just yesterday.


Hyacinth

The Hosta has finally been uncovered and they look to be doing well. I plan to move these either in the back shade garden or to the front. I haven't decided which yet. In their place I'm going to plant more Iris.


Hosta
The Family Tulips are still doing well. No flower stalks yet, but I know they'll be here soon.
Family Tulips
Lastly, I pulled out our lawn chairs. I didn't have any time to use them, but I look forward to spending lazy Summer afternoons here in the shade, watching the pooch sniff the same spots she sniffs every single year but still finds utterly fascinating.
Relaxation Oasis

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Whole Lotta Nothin' Goin' On

Today's weather: High of 48, Sunny. Improving, but still...

The blog has been quiet lately but that's only because nothing is going on. The temperatures have been stuck between 35 - 45 for the past couple of weeks. It's been rainy and very gloomy. The days that have sun aren't warm at all and it's just damn depressing.

There are things I could be doing - some art work for the gardens, getting some non-garden projects done before the busy season starts - but I just haven't felt like doing it. I've been in a general funk for a while anyway and this weather is just making it worse.

Temperatures are supposed to start creeping up next week so hopefully SOMEthing will happen. Right now, I just walk around checking out the slow progress of the Daffodil bulbs and sigh.

(My Daffodils seem to be much slower than those in other yards. I'm seeing fully bloomed Daffodil flowers all over but mine still are very green. At least I can see the flower head - they're all just still wrapped up and waiting for the sun.)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Information Request

HELP!
Today's Weather: Sunny with a high of 44 degrees Fahrenheit. A little chilly, but at least it's not snowing.

I need some information. I've done my Google search but I'm having trouble finding out what I need to know.

What I need is a list of perennials that need to be or can be cut to the ground every Fall and that will grow back nicely every season like Tall Phlox. I would also like to know of any plants that have no problem being covered and essentially smushed flat like Hosta or Bearded Iris.

I'm considering planting all of the beds against my house with these types of Perennials because, quite frankly, I'm tired of buying nice Roses, Hydrangeas, Azaleas, etc. just to have them crushed by the banking we have to put around the house every winter. It's pissing me off and making me sad.

The plants I have on my list so far are Tall Phlox, Creeping Phlox, Hosta, Daylilies and Bearded Iris. These are nice plants but I want to know what's available to me before I fill all my beds with these flowers.

If you know of anymore, please leave any suggestions in the comments. I would very much appreciate it!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Indoor Progress

Today's weather: Sunny with a high of 57 degrees Fahrenheit. *Squee!*

Two weeks ago I started some plants inside that I purchased cheap from the local big box store. I didn't expect too much from them - they were pretty cheap - but some of them have surprised me.

Hosta
The Hosta are doing great. Actually, they're already bigger than this picture which I took a few days ago and growing new leaves. All of the plants had leaves when I planted them but have all added at least two more. Which is good since one of them came out of the bag with two leaves hanging by a 'thread' which I had to snip.
Lions and Tigers
The Dutch Iris are growing so fast I'm afraid they're going to outgrow the tray before I can get them outside.
Makeshift Greenhouse
The only place large enough for this is my kitchen which gets rather cold so I've created this makeshift 'Greenhouse.' It's just cellophane draped over all the pots. It holds the heat very well and raises the temperature from 5-10 degrees, depending on how cloudy it is outside.

The only plants that haven't shown any sign of growth are the Phlox roots I potted. Maybe they're just being slow but I'm afraid this just doesn't work for them. That's really too bad. I really wanted to see the orange phlox.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How can I not get this plant?

Today's weather: Cloudy, chance of rain, high of 43 degrees Fahrenheit. Well, it could be worse.

I just stumbled across a plant I just have to have:

To boldly go where no Hosta has gone before
It's a Captain Kirk Hosta. I love the coloring of those leaves, and come on, if it's named after Starfleet's best Captain, you know it's going to save the garden several times over.

Cap'n - there be awesomeness here!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I think Spring might be here (crossing fingers, knocking wood)

Today's weather: Sunny with a high of 57 degrees Fahrenheit

Things are looking up, weather wise. This past weekend we enjoyed two straight days of partly sunny weather with seasonal temperatures and I was FINALLY able to get some yard work done.

All the winter storms caused a lot of stick fallage (not a word, but I'm using it anyway). The yard looked awful, as per usual in early Spring.

Lots o' Sticks
We have a pretty big yard with 8 large Maples and there were piles of sticks like the above picture everywhere. It took me several hours to clean them all up, but finally, the yard looked like this:

Ahhh...a clean slate
The brush pile has grown extensively, and this is only half the size it ended up being.

Mills Brush Pile
And if the sticks and leaves weren't bad enough I had to look out for loose asphalt and doggy poo from the times when China couldn't trudge through the snow to her field.

It was a long day, but very worth it.

I haven't unwrapped the house yet from the atrocious black garbage bags of leaves, but I had to check the bushes and flowers to see if they survived the winter. Luckily, they all did, although some were a bit beaten up.

Hydrangea
The Hydrangea bush survived and it's showing a lot of new growth, but several branches broke off when I pulled the bag away. Someone plopped one right on top of it after I was careful to set the bags against it. I know it has to be done, but I just wish it could be done a bit more carefully.

The Iris, my cast-iron flowers, are perfectly fine, of course. And this year, the moles didn't snack on them at all.

Ready to Split
Two of the clumps will be split this year and moved to the other side of the steps. I hope they give me flowers this year. They slacked off last year, but I didn't blame them. They had been half-eaten.

We had some rain Sunday night and again last night. Most of the snow is gone, although there are still a couple of stubborn piles outside my office window.

I'll sign off with one of my favorite pictures from the weekend. To me, it looks like China was staring down the snow, trying to will it away. It's right where she likes to sun herself and she's getting as impatient as I have been.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sights Around the Yard

Today's Weather: Sunny (yay!) and a high of 44 degrees (boo)

The extended winter is still in force here in Central Maine. We haven't gotten above 47 degrees in the past two weeks and we're not supposed to until Saturday. The foot of snow dumped on us last Friday is still here and still deep in places, although it is melting away. Slowly. Very, very slowly.

But things are growing out there.

I'm cold, lady. Where's Spring?
The Rhododendron looks to be fine, although a little sad, in its snow drift. Still, it's nice to see some green even if surrounded by the now-hated white stuff.

Stay away. I'll prick you.
The wild rose bush was the first thing to have any buds this year. Since I didn't cut it to the ground last Fall I'm hoping for some flowers. It didn't give me any last year - I didn't realize it wouldn't bloom on new wood - but when it does flower, they smell wonderful.


Room with a View
The Lilac Bush also has leaf buds. So far, this bush has never disappointed with its beautiful foliage and plentiful blooms. I expect the same this year.
Doubled Again
I've written about the Family Tulips before and about how their numbers have been growing every year despite the age of the original bulbs. Well, they did it again this year. I counted 20 sprouts. I think I'm going to have to dig them up this fall and split the bulbs. I'm afraid they're going to start killing each other out if I just leave them be.

Soon to be Daffy
Oh, to be a Hyacinth
Speaking of bulb growth...it looks like all those Daffodil bulbs I planted last Fall are doing what they're supposed to. When there isn't snow on the ground, I see sprouts in every location I planted.

The three Hyacinth bulbs I planted last year are also sprouting. I bought those to brighten up the kitchen last year and now they'll continue to brighten our yard every Spring.

So, things are not as bleak as I may have been making them to be. I'm just very winter-weary and eager for real Spring temperatures to arrive. It would also be nice to be snow-free for more than 24 hours.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Taking Refuge

I just checked the Waterville Webcam again. Looks like someone is using it as a refuge.

Spiders need shelter, too

Happy April!

Today's weather....don't even ask

For the past couple of weeks I've been doing some screen captures of a couple of web cams set up in my two neighboring towns of Augusta and Waterville. It's kind of fun to flip through them and watch the snow go away, then come back and then go away again. Like so...

Kennebec River, Augusta

Kennebec River, Augusta

Kennebec River, Augusta

Waterville

Waterville

Waterville

Wanna see today's shots? These were taken five minutes ago:

Kennebec River, Augusta

Waterville
Pretty, isn't it?