Thursday, June 30, 2011

Celebrity Rose #1 :: Cary Grant

Today marks the first of a new feature here at the My Maine Garden Blog. It has nothing to do with Maine or even my gardens.

Even though I'm not very good at growing them, I love roses. It's amazing just how many types there are out there and how many new varieties are created every year.

Some of the prettiest that I've seen are those named after celebrities. So, starting today, I will post a Celebrity Rose every Thursday.

Who better to start with than Archibald Leach, more commonly known as Cary Grant?

The Cary Grant Rose
Beloved by men and women alike, Cary Grant was one of the great film stars who was a talented dramatic actor as well as a hilarious comedian. Grant's fifth wife, Barbara Harris Grant, commissioned this rose in 1986 as a Valentine Day's gift to her husband. Cary reportedly loved the red-orange color of the rose and the flower was planted along their home's driveway.

Purchase the Cary Grant Rose from Regan Nursery

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Garden Update

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

I'm feeling much better now despite the fact that my antibiotics make me pretty nauseous. At least I can move my arms again.

But, there hasn't been much to do in the gardens except watch them grow, which I'm pretty good at.

Front Garden - South Side
The front gardens are looking better than they ever have. They're pretty much a mish-mosh of flower and plant types and look horribly disorganized, but at least they're filled with green.

Front Garden - North Side
The little Geranium hasn't grown much but at least it's flowering.

Geranium Flower
The Dutch Iris bulbs I started inside have finally flowered - at least these two have. These are 'Eye of the Tiger' and look nice against my huge, green Hosta.

Dutch Iris: Eye of the Tiger
The wild Rose Bush has done very well this year. I need to spray it for bugs but the number of buds that actually opened this year is amazing. (Two years ago I got a lot of buds but none of them opened - they just withered and died as buds.)

Wild Rose Bush
They're all extremely aromatic and the prettiest pale pink color. Unfortunately, most of the roses have at least one hole in the leaves from the Japanese Beetles, but this one escaped unharmed (so far). Even with the holy leaves, that corner looks quite nice with all the flowers. And from a distance you can't even tell they're Beetle food.

Wild Rose and Buds
The Smoke Bush is on it's way to becoming the big poofball in the yard. It's hard to see in this picture, but some of the buds have turned into purple smoke.

Smoke Bush
The vegetable gardens are going a little slow due to lack of sun, but they're going. The pumpkins are doing fine. My cucumbers are about a month behind in growth but they're getting there.

Pumpkins and Cucumbers
My best performer in the vegetable garden so far are the peas. I should have plenty by the end of the season.
Peas

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ticks = Bad

It's been a week since I've written and while that's not a rare occurrence on this blog, this time I actually have a legitimate excuse! (No, wait - really!)

Early last week I noticed a red spot on my upper arm. I figured it was a mosquito bite or a pimple (yes, I still get those, dammit) and didn't concern myself. However, it continued to get larger but I still dismissed it as a boil, although it didn't hurt like one.

By Friday night the redness covered my entire shoulder, burned to the touch and I COULDN'T LIFT MY ARM. That's when I started to worry. By Saturday morning I couldn't lift either arm.

Sidenote: Washing your hair when you can't lift your arms requires contortionist acts that most human beings are not capable of.

I saw my doctor on Monday and was diagnosed with Lyme Disease. I'm already better, although the antibiotics are making me a bit nauseous, and I can use my arms again. The right still hurts when lifted too high but it's at least usable.

My poor gardens have been neglected but they're doing fine, the peas especially. The tomatoes have even stayed upright, vertically speaking.

Regular blogging will commence but probably not for a few days. The house is a wreck and I have a lot of stuff to catch up on.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Flower Progress

Today's Weather: Party cloudy with a high of 76 degrees Fahrenheit. I saw the sun this morning!

Despite the less than stellar weather we've been having, things are growing around the farmhouse.

In my little corner bed, the Dianthus is doing wonderfully. It's already bigger than it was last year and the flowers just won't stop. They're covered with adorable red flowers and more buds are appearing daily.

Dianthus flowers
In the new shade garden, the five Astilbe plants I planted last year are all growing despite the fact that only three of them did much of anything last year. One is tiny (lower-right) but it is growing. I haven't seen any flower buds but I'll be just fine with nice green foliage.

Hostas and Astilbe Plants
In the past, the wild rose bush on one of the back corners of the house has always been cut to the ground in the winter. Two years ago I didn't and I got some flower buds - but that was it. The buds never opened and just withered away and died.

Last fall I decided to not cut it down again to give it another chance.

I hope it does better this year because this bush is covered with hundreds of buds. I'll have to do some research and see if I should remove some of them to help them flower but it's amazing how many there are.

Wild Rose Bush
Readers of this blog may remember the drama of the Smoke Bush and how it was severely pruned last year after a bad thunderstorm nearly flattened it. Because Smoke Bushes will not bloom on new wood, I didn't get much 'smoke' last year.

Well, this year this bush is going to be one huge poofball. This picture isn't all that great, but like the wild rose bush, the smoke bush is COVERED with smoke buds. It's going to be amazing, assuming the sun will come out and help out with the blooming process.

Smoke Bush, Recovered
At the base of my tomato planter hangers, I planted some Morning Glory seeds. Once again, I failed to follow the directions for the seeds - I did not nick them or let them soak overnight. But, they seem to be doing just fine. The package said it would take 7-14 days for them to sprout. This picture was taken about 4 days after I planted them.

Morning Glory Sprouts
In the middle of last winter one of my sugar pumpkins went bad before I could use it. (It lasted a long while, I just failed to make anything with the gourd.) My compost bins were under snow so I threw it in the corner of the vegetable garden.

It was already pretty mushy when I threw it in (I waited way too long) and by the time Spring arrived, the only thing left was a pile of seeds.

Because of the fact that the snow refused to stop, I never removed them so when the snow finally melted, I already had a corner full of pumpkin sprouts.

I moved the largest of them into the bed and they seem to have survived the transplant. I pulled all the smaller seedlings and tried to remove the rest of the seeds.

Pumpkin Seedlings
Well, I guess some of them got buried in the process because a week later, I was greeted with this sight in that same corner. I think I've hit the neverending font of pumpkin seedlings. :)

Even more seedlings

I decided to try strawberries again this year and turn the middle bed into a strawberry patch. I bought three plants and planted them on the end of the bed. As you can see, they have already provided.
Strawberry...yum
I have also planted crookneck squash, buttercup squash, cucumbers, sunflowers, watermelon and sugar peas. Everything has sprouted except the watermelon (they were old seeds and I only planted them to see if they would take) but everything's going slow due to lack of sun.

Hopefully this won't turn into another 2009 for Maine where all we saw was rain and the only produce that did well was the crookneck squash.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Garden Paths and Garden Critters

Today's weather: 50% chance of rain, high of 55 degrees Fahrenheit. I swear, we've skipped over Summer and gone straight into Fall. Ugh.

But, back to the catch up of the last couple of week's activities.

I love the path I built around my vegetable garden last year. Not only does it make it easier to mow around the garden, it protects my plants from the lawnmower's blades and my shoes don't get muddy when I work on the beds.

However, since I've never built anything correctly from the ground up, I have to fight the weeds from overtaking the path. This was what I faced this year:

Along the Sides

The Worst Spot
It's a little hard to tell from these pictures, but certain parts of the paths were being taken over by creeping grasses. So, I spent a few hours once again pulling grass and covering the dirt with more mulch.

This year will be known as The Year of the Creeping Grass. I just can't keep it out of the beds.

But, I finally finished and I'm pleased with the results.

Nice Lines

Filled with Mulch
As I've done my work the past couple of weeks I've seen many garden 'critters' crawling and flying about.

For a whole day, this Robin sat on top of our garage and tweeted his authority over the building. He would leave occasionally - probably for his lunch break - but always returned to keep up the appearance of his dominance over all other Robins.

This is MY roof. Back off!
I also saw several caterpillars. One I could identify, the others I couldn't. (Never Google 'Green Caterpillar' and expect to find what you're looking for.)

Eastern Tent Caterpillar
I spotted an unspotted Lady Beetle among the Rose leaves. (See what I did there?)

Welcome Critter
And this spider made a quick lunch of one of my beloved Dragonflies. I don't begrudge the Spider - it was just doing what spiders do - but I wish it had been a horsefly instead of a dragonfly.
Spider 1, Dragonfly 0

Monday, June 13, 2011

So Much to Blog, So Little Time

Today's Weather: Overcast and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. It's been rather chilly for a few days now.

So, the weather isn't so great right now. Not terrible, but not great. We had a few nice days last week, then we had a couple of pretty bad thunderstorms complete with hail. Global Climate Change can be such a bitch.

So, since it doesn't look like I'll be doing much gardening the next few days, perhaps I can get caught up posting on what I HAVE done.

Let's get started, shall we?

I think I'll start off with problems. Not to be a downer, but I'd rather get those out of the way. First, my tomatoes.

I finally planted the vegetable garden on June 5th. I found a couple of double metal hooks for my tomatoes and put them up. I stupidly used dirt from the garden itself which proved to be too heavy for the hooks so I dumped the dirt and replaced it with potting soil. Amazingly enough, the three tomato plants and one Green Pepper plant survived the ordeal and looked pretty nice.

Lookin' Good
But then the big thunderstorms came through along with some hail. When I got home that night, I found this:

My poor tomatoes were squashed. I didn't take pictures but the green planters did the same thing. At first I thought the hooks had bent again (that happened when I put in regular garden dirt) but what had actually happened was that my garden turned into a big mudhole and it couldn't keep the thin metal rods upright.

So, I lay the plants on their sides until the ground dried up a bit.
Waiting to dry
It finally did dry out  - a little. I built up the dirt around the poles and even added some heavy rocks. So far, so good. It has rained since then and they're all still upright. Hopefully there will no more tomato faceplants this season.

They have all done well, despite falling right on the ground, as you can see below. They're all growing. Hopefully they'll flower soon.
Growing Tomatoes
And here's my other troublespot:

Discolored Hosta
One of my Hosta plants has this discoloring. It looks like the leaves bent and the crease got really weak. Thing is, I don't remember the leaves getting bent like that.

Anyone have any ideas?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Long Weekend

Today's Weather: Partly cloudy with a high of 68 degrees Fahrenheit - cool even for Maine, but very nice.

So, what happened to me, eh? I didn't really drop off the face of the earth, I was just too busy digging in it to post anything last week. Actually, it was more like I was too tired after doing the digging to do anything but lie around and groan about my new aches and pains and all the mosquito bites.

I did overdo it on my long holiday weekend and I'm paying the price for it but I'm starting to feel better - just in time to do some more garden work this weekend. :)

And I didn't get everything done to get 'caught up.' Oh well, so I'll be a little behind this year. It's nice when it's only me making the schedule - easy to amend it when necessary.

I did get the flower beds cleaned up. All of my rock borders had been grown over and weren't doing any good to anyone. I couldn't see them and they weren't holding back the grass for easier mowing.

Front North - Before

Front North - After
As you can see, I also added a few new plants - some Salvia and some hanging potted Petunias to give some vertical interest.

Front South - Before

Front South - After
In this bed I added another hanging pot of petunias and a Foxglove plant. (It's hard to see in this picture - it's between the Azalea and Hydrangea.)

Iris Bed - Before

Iris Bed - After

Kitchen Side - Before

Kitchen Side - After

Phlox Bed - Before
For all the stone borders, I had to actually pull the grass out by the roots which lead to a lot of the aches and pains I mentioned. Grass really doesn't like to come out of the ground.

Phlox Bed - During

Phlox Bed - After
In addition to bed clean-up, I also created an entirely new bed. As I mentioned in earlier posts, my father-in-law planted three Lilac Bush seedlings on the shady side of our garage. He's been complaining about how hard it is to mow around them now so I decided to make a new bed.

New Bed - Before
However, there was no way I was going to pull all that grass. So, I decided to try something I had read about online. I lay down newspapers to shape out the bed I wanted around the Lilac bushes. I weighed them down with the pile of loose asphalt that's been next to the garage since before we moved in - which I absolutely hated - so it was a win/win for me.

New Bed - During
And then, I covered it all with mulch, moving the asphalt back from the edges so that the lawnmower doesn't catch them and send them flying.

New Bed - After
This will, hopefully, kill the grass underneath. Next year, I can either remove the asphalt or just leave it there and dig around it to plant some shade plants. I'm not going to bother this year because I want that grass to die first. This might look a little bare, but it certainly looks a lot better than it did with foot high grass that couldn't be mowed. If the bareness really starts to bother me, I'll just pot some flowers and set them on top of the mulch.

A lot of my flowering plants/bushes put on a nice show for me while I was working out there.

Immortality Iris

Crimson Azalea

Lilac Bush (with Bee)

My new Foxglove plant
The Foxglove plant was my spontaneous purchase this year. I've always liked them, they were on sale and I needed another tall plant on the south side of my front garden to balance out the tall purple Liatrus Spicata I have on the north side.

I think my front flower garden might actually not look pathetic this year. Woo hoo!

Now, to get started on the vegetable garden...