Thursday, June 30, 2005

Barrel Progress

This barrel is filling out very nicely. I am quite happy with the brilliant red celosia--not so happy with the small orange and yellow celosia. As you can see, they are too small for the more aggressive plants and are getting overrun. I will remove them this weekend while I can still salvage them. I am also not very happy with the Persian shield (in the back center behind the red). Supposedly it is fast growing, but it has barely grown at all in the past 4 weeks.
I think putting this hibiscus tree behind the barrel was a good idea. From the front, it appears as one planting and it provides the height I needed. When the large orange flowers begin to bloom, I think it will be quite wonderful. I did the same thing with another hibiscus behind the second barrel on the opposite side.

Sabine's Garden

Sabine's Garden
I must share with you a new blog I just found (from a comment posted on my blog). Sabine has just started her blog and it looks like it will be a great addition to the cyber space library. She even has "landscape" pictures. I was disappointed when I got to the bottom and found it was a new blog and there were no archives for me to devour. I will be visiting Sabine in British Columbia, Canada daily to see how her garden develops.

Blah Garden at the moment

There is not a whole lot happening in my garden right now. A few lilies are starting. By July 4, things should be looking pretty nice. I thought this area of feverfew and rose campion was nice. I especially like the green drumstick allium in the front. They will be a mauve color when they open.
Are you all familiar with feverfew? If not, it is the white flower. It reminds many of a large baby's breath. Feverfew is actually an herb (but why quibble over details?). I find it indispensable in providing relief for the eye when colors are mixed. It is very, very easy to grow. Once you plant it, you will have it for life as it readily reseeds. (Often more than you want it to, but it is easy to pull out. I pulled out about a dozen plants last night that had reseeded where I did not want them.

The top pic is a close up of rose campion (lychnis coronaria). I can't seem to get the picture on the bottom.

What do you like in a blog?

I have decided to take a little survey to find out what all of you like to see or read about in a garden blog. I have some specific likes and dislikes, but others may have different ideas. Here are some of mine:

1. I like pictures. A garden blog without pictures is like a hot fudge sundae sans the hot fudge. If you are really hungry for ice cream it might tempt you, but on most occasions you will pass it up.

2. And about those pictures – I like to see landscape pictures, the full view of a border, rather than close ups of flowers. An occasional close up is nice to show the detail of a flower you are talking about. But what I really enjoy is seeing what you have planted next to each other, the shape and size of the full border, where it is located in your landscape, etc.

3. I like to see container plants because I am always looking for ideas for unique containers or creative combinations of plant material.

I think the main reason we read these blogs is to gain ideas for our own gardens (quilts, decorating, etc). Often looking at someone’s work will spark an idea of my own that will turn out to look nothing like the author’s. But had I not read that blog, I would never have created that particular work.
So if any of you would like to share your thoughts, please click the comment line below. I would be quite interested to hear what you have to say.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Old Doll Cradle

I just planted this old doll cradle two nights ago. I have a coleus in the back, Persian shield in the middle and a variegated morning glory (ipomoea nil 'Sun Smile') in the front. There are a few Dusty Miller on the side, which need to grow a bit to be seen better. The morning glory was a hanging basket, but after hanging it and living with it for a couple of weeks, I decided it needed to be lower so that I was viewing it from the top. The flowers get lost in the foliage as a hanging basket.

Grill Planter

The old grill is filling out nicely and I am happy with everything but the sweet potato vine. I want the vine to grow to the ground, but as you can see it is barely moving. I am still optimistic that it will take off soon and fulfill its duty.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

I do

I just got home from work at 9:00 p.m. The wedding we did tonight was lovely. The decorator did a few things I have not seen before. The bride & groom sat at a "sweetheart table", a table for just the two of them, while the attendants sat at two other tables. The decorator had an antique buffet behind them nicely decorated with family pictures in silver frames, candles, etc. In the center of the room he placed another antique table and did a large floral display. Every thing was nicely done. I rarely work at night. Usually I just book the event, meet with everyone get all the details and issue function sheets to all departments of the hotel so they know what they have to do. Tonight I helped plate the dinner, plated appetizers for another event we had going on at the same time (military appetizer party with 8 Generals attending--very special for our town), I cut strawberries and affixed them to the side of champagne glasses, poured champagne, .... I even cut the wedding cake. Both events went exceptionally well, and it was actually quite a fun evening, although my feet are killing me. For seven hours, I pretty much ran back and forth from the kitchen, to the reception room, to the military event, just making sure they were all happy.
Today I started arranging the deck. This is what I LOVE to do. My containers are finally filling out, the deck has been stained and we brought the furniture out from the basement. I spent the morning positioning plants until I had everything in a position that was pleasing to me. I then pulled out my pillows and my old crazy quilt (which inspired the deck color scheme). I made this brightly-colored calico quilt when my son was a baby. He is now 27 years old. After I got everything done, I sat on the opposite bench and just spent a moment looking at the quilt and remembering him crawling around on it as infant. Such wonderful memories!
Unfortunately, I now have to get ready for work. We have a wedding today and I have to be there from 3 p.m. until about 7:00 p.m. I really would rather just be sitting on the deck enjoying this beautiful day.
The Living Wreath in its new home

Living Wreath

This morning I made a living wreath. It was so easy--took less than 20 minutes from start to finish.I thought somebody else might be interested in doing this, so I took a few pictures of each step. I used a grapevine wreath, covered it with blobs of moss (I only a green decorative moss handy, so that is what I used - plain old spagnum would work just as well). Then I carried the wreath around the yard and yanked out hens and chicks and wired them right on top of the moss. I did not add any soil. The little soil that remains adhered to the roots when you pull them out is enough. If you use paddle wire, it is much easier to wrap. Just wrap and wrap until you have the wreath covered to your liking. Have you ever seen the prices charged for these? Do a google search for "living wreath". It is amazing considering how very easy they are to make. I have also made one with a wire base (last fall). Used the same moss procedure. I prefer the grapevine as it looks more full.

Dianne left this comment: Thanks for the demo on how to make a living wreath. I haven't tried this before. I guess it needs watering quite frequently.

Good question, Dianne. I meant to address the watering issue, but was so rushed to get ready for work I forgot. Because this wreath is made of hens and chicks (succulents) it does not need much water. If it rains at least once a week, you don't need to do a thing. If not I just give it a spray now and then with the hose as I water the other plants. Since I now have both of my wreaths placed underneath other plants, I expect that the overflow of water will be all I need.

The next question may be, "What do you do with it in the winter?". Last winter I just literally threw it on the ground next to the house and left it. Hens and chicks are very tough plants. It survived a Michigan winter with no problems. It did not look so nice when the snow melted, but it was alive and looks fine now.

Friday, June 24, 2005

As gardeners we spend many hours picking just the right spot for our plants--loosening the soil, amending the soil, applying fertilizer, watering, mulching, applying winter protection, and just basic fussing to make sure everything is just right. So isn't it odd that when allowed to seed themselves they often pick the strangest places? This chive has grown for two years right in this rock and it even flowers!

Never Say "1/2 Off" to an Addict

On a whim, I went to Home Depot last night. Upon entering I saw little signs all over, "Plant Sale - 1/2 Off"...tempting a plantoholic with those words is akin to offering heroin to a drug addict. I had not planned to do any more containers, but by the end of the night I had emptied two trunkloads onto my deck. Unhappy with the wave petunias on the arbor, I decided to purchase more scaevola, (fan flower) because I just adore its purple fan-shaped flowers and its sprawling nature. I added one of these to 3 of the containers there in hopes that it will sprawl quickly and get those containers completely covered. I also added them to the wall containers on the deck. I already have some in the barrels (see pic below). They have grown about 12 inches in the 3 weeks since planting. Scaevola is my new favorite container plant. I also bought a couple of coleus. Isn't it amazing what they have done with this old standby? Simply beautiful foliage patterns in all colors imaginable.
Persian Shield and Dusty Miller. The shimmering purple foliage of this plant should be set off by the silver gray undergrowth. Persian shield is relatively new to my area and this is the first year I have used it. It is said to be very fast growing and prefers semi shade. I have planted three of these in different combos.

I could not resist this coleus called "Radical Raspberry". I loved the brilliant color, deep veining and frayed edges.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Look at this. Two buds on the new ligularia I planted last week. It IS going to bloom this year! I can't wait to see what it looks like. I am expecting big, big (like more than 12 inch yellow spikes). Will I be disappointed? Time will tell.
I planted wave petunias in the planter on top of the arbor. That was probably a mistake. They are not spreading as I expected and the bloom is quite small. I should have bought the plain old trailing petunias, but I did not want to deadhead them since it is a tad difficult to get up that high. Maybe they will turn out OK. I am just so impatient waiting. The two yellow chairs are placed there to guide the hose. I got tired of it crushing the plants as I pulled it. It is not likely that they will stay there beyond this weekend.

A Dull Day Makes a Girl Want to Play

I had a pretty dull day at work. Three managers are on vacation, so my boss is working afternoons to cover for one of them. I like it much better when he is there. I know that is pretty strange, but after almost 20 years working with him, we have become more like friends. Our offices are adjacent so we spend a lot of time just chatting, joking, etc. It was pretty quiet all alone. I am very fortunate to have a boss that I enjoy.

I had a lot of energy when I got home and spent 4 hours outside. I scraped and painted two benches, gave all the hostas a dose of deer repellent, swept the deck, arranged a few plants, took a scrub brush and bleach and attempted to remove deck stain from concrete (it did not work), moved a heuchra that did not seem to like where I placed it last fall, and moved a few rose campions that had seeded themselves in an inappropriate spot. Since DH is not home, I did not have to cook dinner. I came in at 7:00 p.m. and threw a bag of popcorn in the microwave. When it was done, I doused it with sharp cheddar cheese and closed the bag until it melted. That was dinner and it was delicious! (Brit, wasn’t it you who likes popcorn for dinner?)
It has been a month since I planted my deck containers. It seems like it is taking forever for them to fill out. Some things have been a disappointment. Remember the chair I planted with purple petunias? Well, look below. The petunias turned out to be mostly pink, which is NOT what I wanted. I hate when the plant tag does not tell you exactly what the plant is. The orange calla lilies I had planted in the chair never came up. I removed them and they were mushy. (that is the second Walmart purchase that flopped this year; 3 of the 6 dahlias I planted also never came up). The sweet potato vine seems to be stunted. It is just sitting there, not trailing down and filling in as I expected. I could no longer take looking at the bottom of the chair, so I placed another plant in front until it fills in. I didn't like the grapevine bow on the chair, so it is now gone. I did paint a watering can yellow to match the yellow chairs and table. Then I removed the table and chairs from the deck. Of course, they could end up back in their original position.

Changing things is nothing new for me. I rearrange my deck like many people do their living room. Actually it IS my summer living room. If I am not on the computer, I am usually working in the gardens or on the deck.

Monday, June 20, 2005

I've had this decorative birdhouse chair for a few years. this year a bird decided to use it to raise her new family. How exciting! I love to watch the antics of the baby birds. I have not yet seen the babies, but soon they should be big enough to peek out now and then. I plopped down on the grass with my camera and just waited to get this picture. It did not take long. Mama flew in and out 3 times in a five minute span. Is this a sparrow or a wren? Anybody know?

Update: Evidently this is neither a sparrow nor a wren. Thanks to Dianne, Jenn, & Sylvana who all agree it is a chickadee.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Big Chore Completed

We finally get to cross off a big task from our list -- staining the deck. I did all of the cutting in around the railing and 3 sets of stairs. DH used a roller for the stain. We put one coat on Saturday and a second today. It is an oil stain and will take overnight before I can bring back the plants and furniture. The two 1/2 whiskey barrels were to heavy to take off the deck, so we just moved them, stained and moved them back today. We have always used a water-based stain which dries completely in about 3 hours vs 12 or more for oil. We are getting very tired of doing it every year, so this year we decided to try oil based to see if it will last longer. It looks great right now. We are hoping it stays so shiny and wet looking. Our deck is pretty big -- about 40 feet in the direction you see here and then it turns and goes 20 feet in the other direction. It is a very good feeling to have it done! Today my first peony opened. I have been seeing peony pics on everyone's blog for the past two weeks. I must be 2 - 3 weeks behind everyone else. This year a rather amazing thing occurred--a peony I have had for 15 years put out its FIRST bloom. Yes, I waited 15 years for a THAT is patience!

Friday, June 17, 2005

Plant Pronunciation

Ever see a latin plant name and wonder how in the world you pronounce it? I have many times. Today I found this handy little site that has an alphabetical listing of many latin names. You click on the name and it is pronounced for you. I have been clicking like crazy--only to find out I have been mispronouncing 90% of them. I think I will refer to this site often.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Creeping Bellflower

Isn't she beautiful? Delicate little bells swaying in the wind.

That is what I thought when my MIL offerred me a few plants. Within three years, those few plants turned into hundreds and I spent most of last season attempting to eradicate this obnoxious weed from my rock wall garden where it was running rampant.
I began by digging out the roots (see below), but soon realized that it would take the remainder of my life to get them all. I finally had to resort to using RoundUp, which was quite effective. There are still a few popping up this year, but I hit them with RoundUp as I find them. I still have this pest in my other gardens, where it has intertwined itself among many other plants and * will have to decide whether to risk losing most of the other plants by spraying the RoundUp or letting it go another year.


The roots resemble skinny parsnips

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Chocolate Heaven?

I found this cupcake recipe on this site (click on the site to get the recipe)

Here is an excerpt from the site: "we found this new cookbook devoted just to cupcakes that features an old New York classic, the "chocolate-covered hi-hat" cupcake. According to author Elinor Klivans, these cupcakes are an old-fashioned bakery specialty particular to New York City. Personally, we've never seen them, so we suspect that they're a thing of the past. "
All the more to reason to try the recipe and experience a taste of old New York. The combination of chocolate cupcake, soft marshmallow filling, and chocolate coating sounded irresistible. Definitely a special-occasion cupcake for the extra work that would go into making it, but worth the time.

These look so delicious! Chocolate cupcakes topped with homemade marshmallow cream and dipped in more chocolate--what's not to like?
If I did not have to work tomorrow I would make them. Has anyone made them? If anyone does, please come back and post a comment to tell me what you thought of them.

Luxury sheets

Ah, I should be sleeping in luxury soon. I just found these 1000 thread count king-size sheets on special at Smart Bargains today for $99.00. That is $30 off their normal selling price. I ordered them. I have previously ordered two sets of sheets from them (400/600 thread count) and was happy with both. The 400 are just wonderful, so I have high hopes for these.

Update: The sheets are a disappointment. The picture looks like they would be have a smooth satiny feel, but they do not. They are nice and heavy, but they just don't have the "feel" I expected.

Bloglines Question

Those of you who use Bloglines--Can you post a comment when you are reading from your blogline subscriptions? I can't seem to find a way to do that.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Snow-in-Summer ( Cerastrium tomentosum)
This is one of my few seed success stories. I planted two packages at least 10 years ago and it is still going strong. The flowers bloom a strong pure white (hence, the nickname, "snow in summer"). The silver foliage is equally as wonderful. This picture is taken at night, which is when white flowers are at their best. Because of the darkness, I don't know if you can see the new cherry tree I planted on Sunday (right behind the two center mounds of snow- in- summer.

Monday, June 13, 2005

The Challenges Contine

Yesterday I planted two cherry trees and two Royal Purple Smoketree shrubs. Both were planted in the rockwall area in hopes that one day they will be at least 8 – 10 feet tall and hide an unsightly view of a warehouse. The building has always been there, but this year they decided to expand. Little did I know that they were to remove a number of trees which had previously blocked my view of the building. Imagine my surprise when I came home from work last week and there the big yellow building was totally exposed behind my rockwall. I have worked for 15 years to make a “view” outside my window that was somewhat pleasing. I am just sick. In fact I am going to stop writing about it right now because it tends to cause my blood pressure to rise to an unhealthy level.

So far this has been one challenging year in the garden.

I will try to forget about the new problem for now and show you a few pictures of what's currently happening in the other areas of my gardens.
The hosta sitting area is beginning to fill out. This area is very difficult to grow anything in because of the large tree roots and competition for water. Even when it rains very little gets through the leaf canopy. I drag out the hose on most Saturday mornings and give it a good soaking, but that is still not as much moisture as the hostas would like.
I don�t have much blooming right now. The ground is littered in big orange poppy petals. There are a few buds left to open, but the big splash is already over. Poppies last such a short time, less than a week, and then they are gone for another year.

The rain finally came - all day today-it was a beautiful site to all gardeners in my area. I do not remember ever having such a dry spring. June is usually the one month that my grass is green and plush. This year there are already big dry dead patches.
Here is the view from my bedroom window just after the rain.

Thursday, June 9, 2005

The poppies are just beginning to bloom in the rockwall garden.
If you hate big orange poppies (I can't believe how many people do), then don't look below. This particular spot is just bursting in brilliant color. It lasts for such a short time (it will be gone by next week).

Perennial Plant Crossword Puzzle

Anyone up to trying a perennial plant name crossword puzzle? I found this one created by a Dr. Leonard Perry. Just click the link and print the puzzle. Grab a nice soothing beverage,
take a break from whatever chore your doing today, and give it a try. Warning: It is pretty difficult unless you really know your plant names.

I was going to print the answers tomorrow, but decided to just give you the link today. That way you can just take a little peek if you are stuck on one of them :)

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

Whooo Hoooooooooo I have a Blogroll!

I went to Bloglines and signed up. Somehow I figured out how to make an automatic blogroll whenever I put a blog on my list. Don't anyone ask me how, because I really could not tell you. (for those who are new to this blogging world, a blogroll is the listing of the blogs I read, located on the right side of my blog.). I feel so much better now that I can reciprocate blog links. I will gradually add as I check out each blog.

After work today I went to a new nursery near my home to see if they had the ligularia shown below. And they DID. I was shocked! She said they just came in about my lucky day! I purchased two of them and they are planted. I wonder if they will bloom this year? I have to say, they would not win any beauty contests at the moment.

I also bought two Purple Fountain Grass ('rubrum'Pennisetum setaceum). I have never planted any of the grasses before and am looking forward to watching these new additions to my garden.

Ligularia stenocephala

This plant is on my wish list. Last winter I saved this picture from someplace on the net to remind me to purchase it this summer. Does anyone have this plant? If so, can you tell me about it? Do you like it? Does the foliage stay nice all season?

Tuesday, June 7, 2005

Bloglines Feed

A recent comment from a new reader mentioned that she will be monitoring my blog on her blogline feed. I have been meaning to find out exactly what blogline feed is, but forgot about it until now. Can anyone enlighten me? Are there any negatives to having it? Is there a cost? Do most of you use it?

Still Hungry for Garden Blogs?

I found this site this morning which lists oodles of blogs. I will be spending many hours checking them out:

Monday, June 6, 2005

I am getting very tired of weeding. I worked for about 1.5 hours after work today and that was about as much as I could take. I still have quite a bit more to get caught up on. For years, my husband kept telling me that someday I would regret making so many garden areas. I think "someday" has arrived. This year it is feeling more like work than fun. I just don't seem to have the time to get it all done. I think part of the reason is that it really does not look very good this year. With all of the tulips being eaten by the deer, I have had very little to get excited about.

Speaking of the deer, the Hinder spray is still working quite well. I have found only 3 hostas that have had a few leaves chewed on. I have been spraying it on twice a week, which is much more than the recommended once every two weeks. I am willing to spend the extra time applying it to save the hostas. If they should meet the same premature death as the tulips, I think I would be discouraged enough to just give up.

It sure seems that the price of annuals is skyrocketing. Around here they are $11.99 - $13.99 a flat. Just a few years ago I was paying $8.99 and the flat had more flowers. This year I bought a lot of annuals in 4" pots at $2.99 - $3.99 a piece. I only use annuals on my deck, but with 50 - 70 containers, it is getting quite expensive.

A ton of work, A ton of money and the deer & rabbits eat everything. Just WHAT do I find enjoyable about this?????

Sunday, June 5, 2005

The poppies begin to bloom. Just look at all the fuzzy buds waiting to pop.

Woodland Seating

Well, I did not get everything done today that I wanted to. It was 90 degrees by noon and just too hot to dig any more. Instead I hauled out my two chaise lounge chairs, scrubbed them with Murphy's Oil soap and water (they felt sticky) and carried them out to the woodland area where it was shady and cooler. I took a book out there and sat and read for a bit. Notice that I also placed my driftwood in this area as a sort of rural sculpture piece. I also planted another whiskey barrel, carried a bunch of pots of calla lilly bulbs out behind my storage shed until they start growing and look presentable, and did some tidying up of the deck. All in all it was a good day. We had a short thunderstorm this afternoon which provided some much needed rain. It is supposed to rain more tonight.

Frugal Gardener

I just recently discovered that sometimes it is more frugal to purchase baskets of plants already potted up than to do your own. Maybe all of you already know this, but I have always considered it much more expensive to buy the potted plants. Today I bought two of these ipomea (sweet potato vine) hanging baskets at Home Depot. They were $5.97 each. There are 3 nice sized plants in each basket.
Compare the plant above to this one I planted 3 weeks ago. I paid $1.97 for one plant. So the price is the same. I wish I had waited to buy these. I could have taken them apart and would have had a much nicer planting now.
Last week I did not get anything done in the garden, so I am still playing "catch-up" on my spring weeding. I spent about 4 hours yesterday and accomplished a lot. I am hoping to finish today. I have purple everywhere at this time of the year with the creeping phlox and the allium. I have a lot of creeping phlox--all of it came from just 3 small containers I purchased about 15 years ago. Every year I would dig up little clumps and plant them in a different area. Although it only blooms for about two weeks, the foliage looks good all season. I consider it a big plus to find perennials that have decent foliage. Yesterday a few orange poppies bloomed. Unlike the phlox, the poppy foliage is incredibly UGLY -- when the blooms finish, it turns brown and is quite unsightly. It all has to be cut to the ground after it turns brown (another chore). I do love the brilliant orange paper-thin poppy blooms, so the chore is worth it to me. I will post pics later today if a few more open.
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