Copyright © 1997-2009 Demand Media. All rights reserved.
A package from Burpee was waiting for me when I got home. Yipeeeee! I got a "SunCalc":
This is one of those products I'd usually make fun of when I see them on TV or in a catalog. I'd say something along the lines of "Lemme get this straight. You're too lazy to look out the window and see how much sun an area is getting, so you have to PAY to buy a device that will do it for you?!"
HOWEVER! In my defense! I have SO MUCH AREA to cover and I am slowly losing my mind trying to figure out which areas get light and how much at which parts of the day during which parts of the year...bleh. I'm fed up and I saw this thing and I thought - HA! Someone listened to my pleas. My lazy, consumerist pleas. Now, a device will do the work for me and I will vegetate on the couch. Just kidding about the couch part. The thing will calculate the sun for me while I build that greenhouse and plant my plants.
I also got an herb garden kit:
I loved the combination of herbs it included and the fact that it came with two different plans. I think I'm going to plant one of my three veggie beds entirely with this pack. It'll look so pretty. The only thing it's missing is cilantro, but I'll plant some somewhere else.
I also ordered asparagus, but got a little slip that basically said, sorry, you don't get any stinkin' asparagus, but didn't really explain why. They send asparagus out at the correct planting time for your area. I hope that time hasn't passed, but it probably has. Oh well, I might just try again next year, or the next time they offer it.
No more deer predation YET. I live in fear. D peed all over some of the plants in the shed bed (I told him NEAR, not ON, but he got a little carried away), but I don't know if that's working or if they're just saving their appetite for a few days from now when they're going to eat every last leaf.
We shall see!
This might be the SLOOOWWWWEST progress in the history of the world. We've had the greenhouse in boxes for months and now, after finally getting started on it, all we have to show for it is the foundation. And we spent ALL DAY on this sucker.
Here's what it looks like now:
Here's what it looked like as of yesterday:
Much better. It was hard work. D, his dad and I worked from about 9 am till 3pm. I'm tuckered and don't want to work anymore, but we'll probably do a little more filling in with gravel all around the foundation. I got two new gardening books and all I want to do is lounge and read them.
Here they are:
Growing Vegetables is very readable so far. I'm starting that one first. The Anne Lovejoy one seems to cover most of the stuff in her other books I have, so I'm not sure about that one. Gotta give it a closer look.
Today was WARM and sunny. In my thin, long-sleeved shirt and jeans I was almost too warm for comfort by noon. But I didn't really have to get down to a short-sleeved shirt.
I dug up all my spinach and lettuce seedlings. They were packed so close I couldn't thin them unless I sat there for 2 hours snipping out the extras. What a waste. This time, I'm going to plant them "square foot garden" style. It's a little late now, to start them, but hey, we've had snow and hail up until now! The problem will be if they have enough time to get mature before they go to seed from the hot dry middle of the summer days.
I'll just eat a lot of baby spinach and lettuce and then plant again for a fall harvest.
I've seen some gorgeous BIG tomato plants at the stores, but I'm too afraid to plant them with this crazy weather. I need to refer back to last year's tomato plantings and see when I did them. THAT'S another reason this blog is so great. It's the best way to keep track for me.
Off to read my books! In the sun! Weeeeeeeee!!!!
I love 'em and I hate 'em. On misty mornings, when they're peacefully grazing in the field next to our house, I love 'em. When they are curled up in the tall grass near the forest at sunset, I love 'em. When I get home from work and find my wild lilac literally PULLED out of the GROUND and my redtwig dogwoods almost completely defoliated by them...I HATE them. But only for a few seconds. It's not their fault. They're doing what they do. And I planted one of their favorite foods (dogwood) right where they could go to town on them. My fault.
Here's the lilac as I found it today. I nestled it back in the soil just now. I don't think they'll try eating it again. They're too tough to munch and they know that now after sampling it, yanking it out of the ground and leaving it there virtually unharmed!:
And here's the poor little dogwood:
Doesn't look that bad, until you see the before:
Ah, poor baby. Sigh. I HAD to have a redtwig dogwood. I was just hoping against hope that they'd magically ignore them. Ha!
Anyway, here's my temporary solution:
I'm not sure it's stable enough, but for now, it'll have to do.
So, deer? Maybe you could just leave me the dogwoods? You can have the ENTIRE forest, if I can just have my dogwoods. Please?
It's been snowing all morning. Perfect for blogging. I've been thinking about my dad a lot lately. He was an incredible gardener. He planted our entire front yard - no grass! His veggie garden was HUGE and could've fed the whole neighborhood. I think he worked just to support his gardening habit (and me). I didn't catch the gardening bug until after he was gone.
He died four years ago and his death brought a complex jumble of emotions. He broke my heart when he was alive and he broke my heart when he died. Our relationship was a tense, painful one.
I miss him as a person, now and I wonder if our common passion in gardening would've strengthened our relationship.
I think of him every time I'm in the garden and dedicate every ounce of effort I put into it to his memory.
Every spring when the seed catalogs start arriving, I smile to see that a few of them are still addressed to him, but forwarded to me. His gift to me. A peace offering. A reminder that he is me and I am him, and that gardening is the medium between us.
Better late than never!
Now, on to the weather. Next spring, I'll be able to see this entry and think to myself, oh yeah...it snowed in late April last year, and then summer did actually come anyway. Hope is not gone.
So, here's the view from the porch at around 8am:
Here's the same view at around 9am:
I've already cleaned off the hummer feeders twice this morning.
Here are my lettuce and spinach seedlings:
And here are my peas. Very sad:
Summer will arrive, right?
It's 10am, now and the snow is still coming down. Sigh.
Maybe next weekend, I'll be able to get something done!
I set out to get one large project (deck bed) done this summer before I moved on to any other. Well, I got the deck bed done (largest plants only, that is) AND I made a second bed and planted it, too!
Here's the deck bed - From left to right across the bed, I've got a wild lilac, the stewartia, spring boquet viburnum, red twig dogwood, another viburnum, another dogwood, a flowering currant, and another viburnum. I also bought two clematis (both were supposed to be bare root in a little plastic bag) and the only non-soil object in the dirt was this one tiny sad little root segment. I planted it and we'll see what happens, but geez, I payed $12 for that?
It looks so sorrowfully empty in this pic. In reality, I was worried that at their mature size, the plants will be crowded one day! Each viburnum, red twig dogwood, and the currant is supposed to get to be 8' by 8'. The wild lilac tags say 4' by 4', but the two we've had in the ground for a few years now are much bigger than that, so I don't know.
And, I didn't use all the viburnum, redtwig dogwood or wild lilac that I bought, so I decided to put them in the bed I built next to the shed. I also transplanted a lilac I'd been saving in a temporary bed into this one. Here's the finished product:
Now, for perennials. For the deck bed, I searched Home Depot and Fred Meyer for coneflower, aster and stella d'oro daylilies. No luck. I DID find some evergreen candytuft at Fred Meyer that I thought might make a nice groundcover layer for this bed. But, I didn't buy it. I want to see some other choices first.
Well, I'm pooped. I hope the weather next weekend is as nice as this weekend. I got SO much done.
Oooh, I love before and afters!
The path up to the potting shed has always been narrow, awkward and lined with boxwoods. It was close to impossible to get the mower in and out of the door of the shed. So, we finally did something about it. Here's the before pic of the shed:
And, now...the after:
I moved the boxwoods to some temporary beds. I don't know what I'm going to do with them yet. I took the rocks that lined the path and used them to frame the new gravel area. D and I dumped and smoothed the gravel and then we made a new mounded bed on the side of the shed:
Now, I just have to figure out what I will plant here. I have a lilac I've been trying to find a spot for. I think I'll put it here as the anchor for this bed. Then, I want to put in a few evergreen shrubs and some perennials.
I'm currently trying to make a list of all the plants I have that I want to move and see if I can group them up into beds that have a nice balance of evergreen/deciduous/mult-seaso
I'm using an excel worksheet with columns for light needs/bloom time/evergreen or deciduous/form, etc.
So far, I have:
name light needs form blooming season
rosemary full to part evergreen shrub summer
lonicera (2) ? evergreen shrub
wild rose ? deciduous
boxwood(4) ? evergreen
small rhodies(4) shade evergreen shrub spring/summer
Okay, that didn't paste very well. I can't get that "summer" to move over to the bloom column when I post, but you get the idea. I'm maybe halfway done with this list.
It's supposed to rain again starting this afternoon, so I'm going to plant the stewartia in the deck bed and the lilac in the shed bed. I'm still not sure what to do with the mock orange (Philadelphus), but I guess I'll just put it in the deck bed, even though I'd wanted Mexican orange (Choisya). If I can find the choisya, I'll just cluster them around the Philadelphus.
Yesterday, I made a list of some groundcover ideas to replace the heath in the design I'm using as inspiration for the deck bed. Here's what I came up with:
evergreen candytuft (my current fave)
blue star creeper
cornus canadensis (bunchberry)
Dragon's blood sedum
I know I have to just go with whatever I can find at the nurseries, but I wish I could have my pick of all of these.
Mason bee update - two holes in the cocoon tubes. No sign of them cementing their eggs into the house, yet.
Also, D discovered a swarm of little black flying-ant-looking insects in the back field when he was mowing. They were VERY numerous. I wonder what they are?
My spinach and lettuce are very slowly growing. I'm going to wait until they're a few centimeters tall and then thin them a little with some scissors, I guess. Today we're going to try to work on the footprint for the greenhouse, because we skipped it last night. Too tired.
I'm off to plant that stewartia!
Finally, it's warm. Yesterday it was sunny and warm. Today it's sunny and HOT! I've gotten a lot done. D and I worked all morning on the area in front of our potting shed. We added a mounded bed to one side of it and enlarged the gravel path up to it. Pictures to come.
We also pruned and trimmed the trees we have planted all around the perimeter of our 2 acrews of non-wooded land. That was quite a job! We have over 100 trees. D did half of them yesterday, while I was at work, thank goodness!
A couple of exciting developments. A pair of coopers hawks have started a nest in a tree not far into our woods. Sometimes I see one of them flying into the woods from the fields nearby. We can hear them "kek, kek, kek"ing from time to time.
D bought a new Cub Cadet zero turn mower. It is wonderful and cuts down on our mowing time. We have A LOT of lawn. Unfortunately.
The swallows are back! This morning, for the first time we noticed, they were dive-bombing and swooping all over the yard.
Our mason bees appear to be hatching from their little cocoons. Two of the capsules show signs that they've been breaking out! D also said he'd seen a yellowjacket in one of the holes in the mason bee house, though. He'd better get outta there and make room for the mason bees.
It was so nice out today that I spent some time sprawled out on my new daybed, looking through my gardening books for ideas. It was so hot, I ALMOST had to take off my long-sleeved shirt and get down to a tank top (I'm always cold) AND I was barefoot on the deck and the deck nearly burned the soles of my feet.
More later. After dinner, we're back out in the yard, working on the footprint for the greenhouse. We have to get it flat and level.
Of my deck bed garden plant list, I've acquired 2 plants - one Japanese Stewartia (the one I was really excited about but was afraid I wouldn't find!) and a "mock orange". Yesterday, I gave D the list of plants and today, he went shopping for them. He went to a local nursery called Bennie's, and just handed the woman working there the list and let her take over and find them for him. This is what he came home with:
Now, I was a bit surprised by the mock orange because I had mexican orange on my list and I had asked for 3 of them. So, wrong plant, wrong amount, but maybe this is another name for mexican orange. I need to compare Latin names, here. I do remember reading that mexican orange is evergreen and this...
is NOT evergreen. At least not in this climate. Gotta do more research on this one. I'm sure I could find a place for it, but I don't think it's what I was looking for. Bummer.
Here's the mock orange's tag:
and the back of it...
And, here's the tag for the stewartia...
I'm going to try to find a good conifer that won't get TOO huge as the second tree for this bed, instead of the Japanese snowbell tree that's recommended. Then, I've got to start shopping for the rest of the list.
I saw some Korean Spice viburnum at Fred Meyers the other day for a decent price, so I might have to go back there soon.
I still have to decide what to plant instead of the heath, because I don't much like heath and I've noticed that that fountain grass hasn't been at Home Depot, Lowe's, or Fred Meyer, so I need to think of a good replacement for it, too, in case I can't find it anywhere else. Run-on sentence, anyone?
I'm trying to apply Anne Lovejoy's informal "rule of thirds" to this new bed I'm planning to see if it qualifies. Anne says a garden should have approximately 1/3 evergreen, 1/3 structural deciduous and the last 1/3 seasonal color. I like that idea because it seems more balanced than all structure and no color or vice versa. It also ensures that I will have a pretty good-looking garden, even in the winter.
So, in my plan, I have a total of 12 kinds of plants. Here they are, listed with the amounts of each and an "E" next to the evergreen plants, a "D" next to the structural deciduous plants and an "S" next to the seasonal color plants.
(D)japanese stewardia 1
(D)japanese snowbell 1
(E)mexican orange 5
(E)'spring boquet' viburnum 4
(D)compact korean spice viburnum 4
(E)'springwood white' heath 20 (never was a big fan of heath - I want to find a different groundcover w/ similar properties)
(E) Clematis 2
(D)peony hybrid 3
(D)fountain grass P. setaceum 20
(S)'monch' frikart's aster 6
(S)'bright star' coneflower 6
(S)Stella d'Oro daylilly 15
That seems relatively well-balanced.
The next thing I want to examine is if any of the plants in this list could be swapped out for an something better or more available. For example, I don't know anything about peonies. I think they're gorgeous, but maybe something else would be better, who knows? Also, I just took a trip to Walmart and Home Depot and so far, was able to find the viburnum and the heath and that's it! I really like mexican orange plants, but what if I can't find them? I really want the stewartia, but again, what if I don't have any luck finding it? What would work well in it's place? A flowering crabapple? A japanese maple? What?
And another also. I have quite a few plants that I want to move eventually that I could incorporate into this bed, but aren't in this list. Like, the azaleas that aren't happy over by the shed and something called a "beauty bush" I bought at the farmer's market and just planted without any thought in a spot I want to completely redo. I also have a couple lady's mantles, a climbing hydrangea, and a three butterfly bushes I could use for this bed. But, will they all do well together? Will they like the spot? Agh. It's too much information to keep straight. That's why I initially went right for a plan someone had already made up. They'd done all that planning already and all I had to do was buy the plants and stick 'em in the ground.
And yet another also. I would REALLY like to include some plants that will entice the hummers to the deck, so putting the azaleas and butterfly bushes in there might be the way to do it.
Sigh. I'm going to pore over my big stack of gardening books and see if I can come up with a new plant list today. Then, I'll have to start checking out a few local nurseries and see what I can get there.
Anyone out there have good luck with online nurseries?
Today I moved my clematis from the shop area to the new deck bed. One of the three snapped right at the base of the stem and I threw it away. The other two seemed to survive the transplant SO FAR. I want to be positive, but I don't have high hopes for these guys. They're already sickly and now I've shocked them. ALSO, the topsoil mix I'm using is pretty hot still and although I wetted the soil down to cool it, it might have been a little warm on the root balls. We'll see...if they don't make it, I'll get some more. Maybe a deciduous kind, with brightly colored blooms, instead of white.
These Aspect hummer feeders are the best hummingbird feeders EVER. They are so easy to fill and clean. You just pop the top off! No trying to squeeze a big brush down inside the narrow tube to clean. No more lost or broken bee guards. No more black mold spots I can't remove no matter what I do.
The hummers love them, too. See?
Here's a view from the top:
And, here's one more shot of the hook it comes with.
In conclusion. If you have hated all your hummer feeders like I have, get one of these. They're not paying me for this. I'm just very happy to have found a feeder that doesn't cause me to HATE cleaning and maintaining the feeders!
Unrelated weather update:
We had a pretty good frost last night. Even my columbine looks like it took some damage. I am SO SICK of the cold!
Also, I'm going to move some clematis (the evergreen kind) from containers to the new deck bed today so it can wind its way up the deck railing. It's blooming right now. I hope I don't kill it by moving it. It's doing so poorly where it is, though, that I figure it can't get much worse.
I'm going to go to the nursery today to see if they have the trees I want for this bed: Japanese stewartia and Japanese snowbell. If I can't find them, I'll ask the nursery what would be good substitutes.
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