The past two days we've had thundershowers, lots of thunder but not very much rain. Some of the plants have begun to blossom and the Athyrium filix-femini (Lady Ferns) have been growing like weeds. The Aquilegia canadensis (Wild Columbine) by the front door has begun to put on a show as well as the Sambucus (Elderberry). It's finally gotten some blossoms on it which helped me identify it.
I still haven't planted anything in my Waterfall Garden but I have some great ideas thanks to the suggestions of all my friends on this site. The same goes for my rock retaining wall. If I don't get on the stick Fall will be here and I will have missed another planting season. About the middle or towards the end of this month I have to plant my pumpkin seeds so they will be ready in time for Halloween, and my friend is thinning out his summer squash, and has graciously offered to give me some, so at least the front yard will be greening up a little. Our neighbor across the street hasn't started grading his lot yet so I am still anxiously awaiting my fill dirt.
I have lots of plans but haven't been able to make them realities yet, so here I sit chomping on the bit.
In the backyard... the blackberry bushes didn't make it. I have proven once again that I can kill the unkillable! The hawthorne bushes didn't make it either. On a positive note I get to put something new in those spots, so I'm happy about that, and thank goodness it's still early in the season for planting. The Lamium that I transplanted in the planters beside my waterfall have taken off and the largest of the strawberry plants is looking great; the two smaller ones are struggling but are hanging on.
In the front yard...I still haven't seen any berries on my mystery shrub yet which we think might be an elderberry. The 'flowers' are getting bigger but they still look like unopened blossoms. I'm very curious to identify this thing. It has grown exponentially in the past week and has taken over a huge section of the yard. Sometimes I think I can see the thing actually growing. The locust tree, which I've cut down and kept as a shrub, has filled in as has the maple tree and now we can no longer see the houses on either side of us. It's just this wall of lush green plants. Oh how I love summer! I still haven't been able to transplant any of my Virginia Creeper because the berries aren't even as big as bb's right now. I must wait patiently, not one of my strong points.
Today the USFS (United States Forestry Service) is out doing weed abatement and they have the chipper with them so all of my dead branches in the front yard will be gone today. They will be coming by at least once a month from now until December. I just got an email from our local forestry service ranger that the USFS has a demonstration house set up in Lake Arrowhead where you can tour the property and see how they want the lots cleared. There were some pictures on a website. They have the thing cleared down to the dirt. It looks like a Martian landscape. There is no way I am doing that to my lot!
The weather here is warm (80's) with a cool breeze and there are some serious rain clouds darting about. I hope we get some rain today it would be so nice to smell everything clean and fresh not to mention having it wash all that pine tree pollen off of everything.
Today is a little warm for up here, it's in the 90's, so I work in the yard in shifts. There are a few scattered clouds which give me a temporary reprieve. I picked up where I left off yesterday. Still digging vinca up, still weeding front yard, thank God the stairs are done. In the cool of the morning I dug a trench and buried one of our garden hoses, wait that sounds weird. I needed to get a hose from point A to point B and I didn't want to trip over it all the time, so I dug a trench, stretched out the hose and layed it in the trench then covered the whole thing up. This way it's just below the surface, you can't see it and now it reaches the ends of my soaker hoses on the other side of the yard. Obviously we don't have a sprinkler system and aren't looking to put one in.
Around 3:00PM I'll head back out in the yard to bag up pine needles and pull some more vinca.
Today I moved two very small blackberry bushes from next to the path to along the chain link fence. They aren't very friendly (stickers), last year the bushes got pretty big, and I got stuck more than once walking by them. My girlfriend, Linda, told me that it's really hard to kill one, and if I do she's got tons of them growning on her fence and she'll give me some. They aren't very big and I was very careful with the roots, so I hope they survive. The area where I moved them to is very rich and loamy. I know I won't get any berries the first year, but I'm hoping they will survive and that I'll get enough to make a pie or some jam. I've never canned before, but it sounds fun
I also moved I moved two Indian Hawthorne bushes (small ones) to the back yard. I had them in the front yard up against the house, but they kept getting squashed from the snow, and they were growing all hunched over. I hope they survive in their new home. The soil looks rich enough, and they'll get about the same amount of sunshine. I lost my Blue Nikko Hydrangeas to the snow this year, so I'm hoping the new shrubs will get established and provide me the privacy I'm looking for in my "dining room". This is what it looked like before I put the shrubs in...
And this is what it looked like after...
I brought out all of my yard decorations, faeries, garden gnomes and animals, and placed them around the yard. I love them, they add a sense of whimsy to my garden.
The planter below has chocolate mint in it, and when it grows in the bear will look like he's swimming through a still water pond.
Not as exciting but still necessary I did some more raking and cleared out the dog run. I'll leave the bagging up for Eric. I also pulled a ton of invasive vinca from the front yard area by the bedroom window and along the fence line in the backyard. Darn stuff is like a weed!
The birds are beginning to come back to the feeders and are taking baths in the water fountain. I love to sit on my swing and watch them.
Today was a busy day for me. I decided to tackle my first garden project of the year. I took a blank area just outside our back door and began transforming it into my waterfall garden.
Several years ago I bought one of those small preformed water fountains, and I've been using it as birdbath. I chose the one that looked like a rock waterfall and it has held up really well throughout the seasons even in winter. Last year I drained it and stored it because we were having the concrete retaining rock wall for the old spa busted out. Underneath all that mess was a concrete slab about 3x5 ft. I had no idea what might be underneath it, and rather than risk it being something nasty that I didn't want to have to deal with I told the guys to leave it alone. The problem was I didn't know what to do with it afterwards. It was smack-dab in the middle of the yard! It's right under all the pinecones you see in the picture.
This area is directly across from my swing, and I spent many hours sitting on it relaxing and watching the birds fly in to bathe or eat at my birdfeeders. I didn't want to lose the enjoyment that I got from that, but I was at a loss as to how to recreate it now that the retaining wall was gone. It's a tricky area too because I have only about a 3 ft clearance on the left side because of the fence for the dog run, and we have to use that side as a path to get to the firewood in winter.
My girlfriend, Linda, suggested that I turn the area into a small garden using the fountain as the focal point. She suggested that I incorporate the concrete slab into a pathway to the water fountain, add a few steps down to it because it's lower than the rest of the yard, then line the slab and steps with rocks and make a planting bed out of the sides. What a great idea!
So that's what I started on today. I didn't have time to get any flowers, so they will have to wait until next week (depends on $$$), I did transplant some Lamium, and wild strawberries into the area to use as a ground cover. Unfortunately , as is the case with any project, one thing leads to another. In order to bring the right sized rocks over to the new planting areas I had to move some from another part of the yard. This lead to finding and bringing in rocks from the rock pile on the side of the house. While doing that I found an unused soaker hose that I layed down for irrigation over there, so I brought it over to use in my new planters. Of course, once I started cleaning up this area I noticed all of the areas that needed a little work and general clean up, so I did that too.
Today was the first day we were able to go out in the yard and work. I got a good start this morning before things warmed up. I pulled a ton of weeds and raked up ANOTHER ten bags of pine needles. I cut back the alder bushes along the property line. You can see them up by the tree trunk.
I was talking with our neighbor across the street (it's the green house), and he said that he had a ton of dirt to move (he's putting in a driveway), and that he had to pay to have the dirt hauled off. The wheels started spinning in my brain! I asked him if he'd mind giving it to me for my front yard. He was more than happy too. So, in June I will get my front yard graded and leveled out with all this wonderful, free dirt! This is what the front yard looks like now.
Things are finally beginning to green up around here and the nights are getting warmer. We actually had the windows open last night (it was 47 degrees but it didn't feel that way).
We spent the morning raking up some of the pine needles (just the pathways) and it filled 5 trash cans! I haven't touched the flowerbeds, and the growing things in there seem to be happy that I haven't.
The blackberry bush is making it's yearly appearance (in the wrong place of course). I hate to pull it up because I love blackberries, but my friend, who has them growing on her fence says they can easily become overwhelming. You can see how far the plant is from the fence. I have no idea how to get it over there without pulling it up, and I don't know if that will kill it, and then it will never grow back :(
The Heuchera has multiplied and is beginning to fill in my planter area where the swing is, and the Lamium I planted there last spring has a good start this year. There used to be only 2 plants there, and last year the Lamium was about the size of my hand.
Some of the vinca has naturalized itself into my back planting area so I will need to get out there and pull it before it takes over things.
The ferns that once grew in the back yard are starting to make a comeback. The only bad thing about this is that they pop up where they want to and not necessarily where I want them to be. I don't have a very large back yard and my planting beds are quite small, so although I love the ferns I fear I will have to pull them up in most of the planting beds if I want to plant any kind of flowers back there this year.
The front yard is springing to life once again as well, and as always the weeds follow the daffodils. Usually the daffodils bloom first, and shortly after that the weeds begin to show up. What a perfect job for the weekend. I also need to pull up the ferns (lower left) because they will quickly take up the whole area and I'd like to plant some flowers along the stairway on that side. The squirrels were busy last year hiding acorns and I have oak trees popping up all over the yard. You have to dig those darn things up to get rid of them. You can' t pull them the root goes too deep. I also have some errant pines and cedars that need to be pulled too. The Periwinkle (vinca major) has really begun to cover the planter to the right of the stairs...
And in the backyard I'm going to pull up all the vinca in this area and transplant it to the slope in the front yard. We hope to make this the site of our vegetable garden for next year. We want to use raised beds that way we can control the weeds and the vinca, and won't have to level the yard. We are very excited about the prospects. Our neighbors planted a raised bed garden and they have half the size that we do. If theirs does well we will plant ours next spring. They've planted carrots, lettuce, green beans, strawberries (I know those grow, I've got them popping up like weeds), several kinds of tomatoes, potatoes, and squash.
And this will be the site for our pumpkin patch this year. This photo was taken at 6:44PM which is why it's not sunny. Hopefully this year I will be able to put in a retaining wall to make the yard more usable. When we had the new septic tank installed they really messed up the yard by dumping the soil all over the place in a haphazard fashion which is why the yard looks the way it does. I have to keep telling myself that I can only do things in stages and that i should relax and enjoy the transformation, but I'm just so embarrased at the way the yard looks.