Monday, May 30, 2005

I only had to work 5 hours today. My boss sent me home early, so I used the extra hours to work in the gardens. I have a lot of grass to remove which is a big chore in an established perennial bed. Grass will ruin a garden in one season if it is not kept under control. It is, by far, the biggest chore I have in maintaining my beds. I am relentless in removing it. If a plant is invaded by grass, I will remove the entire plant and toss it. At this point, I have been gardening for years and I have dozens of almost all my plants. If a few must be sacrificed for the good of the whole, I bid them farewell in the knowledge that they have met an honorable death.

Nothing makes me cringe like seeing a blade of grass with seedheads blowing in the breeze. I know if I let those seeds ripen and fall, I will have hundreds more next year. If I don't have time to remove it from the roots, I will at least cut off the seedhead. On my daily stroll thru the yard, I carry scissors for little tasks like that.
My apple tree is in bloom. It is quite beautiful at the moment. Unfortunately all of those lovely flowers will turn to apples which I will have to pick up from the ground this fall.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

I just treated myself to a little gift. I ordered P. Allen Smith's new book, Container Gardens. He writes a gardening column in Cottage Living (a magazine) that I really enjoy. His containers are always fresh and beautiful. The three reviews I read on the book were good so I am eager to start reading.

I Must Be One Whimpy Gardener

It was 48 degrees at 9am, so true to my word, I stuck my head out and, not only was it not windy, but the sun was shining, so out I went to finish edging. This area is done. It took a total of 4 wheelbarrow loads (it goes about another 20 feet beyond what you can see in the picture) and was pretty easy work. I was feeling pretty proud of myself for venturing out when it was not quite 50 degrees, until I looked over and saw my neighbor out gardening in shorts and a tank top! Geez, I had on a long-sleeved shirt made out of longjohn fabric and a jacket. I heard some ungodly noises out there and thought it was a bunch of fighting dogs until I looked up and saw a whole slew of geeze flying in formation--like a hundred or so of them--it was quite a site and I wished I had not just put my camera away.

Quiz Time

Who can tell me what this trailing plant is? I am assuming it is something from the same family as the wandering jew houseplant (I know, I know, it is now politically incorrect to call that houseplant by that name, BUT I do not know it by any other, so don't be flaming me). I bought 8 of these "premium hanging baskets" at Walmart, and, of course, the tag does not say what it is. I have discovered that I can cut off pieces and just stick them in the soil and they will take root. I will be sticking this stuff in everything!

Sunday Cooking

I did not find coleus Sedona yesterday, so the hunt is still on. It did rain (finally!) while I was gone. It is only 39 degrees this morning. I really need to get out and do some weeding, but this bod does not venture out in 39 degree weather! I might open the deck door and stick my nose out at about 49 degrees. If there is no wind, I may grudginly bundle up and go out...only because I am at the point of MUST WEED because I have been putting it off for so long. Tomorrow I have to work (yes, I know it is a holiday for most people, but not for me). Tuesday after work, I have to go to yet another meeting in Detroit (that's the 4.5 hour drive again). We will go down Tue. night and come back about 9 - 10 pm on Wed. night. So once again I have no garden time after today until at least Thursday evening. This is my third meeting for the month of May and it should be my last for a while. I do not normally have to go through this torture so often.

Today I do need to cook a few things so DH has something to eat while I am gone. I am planning to make cheeseburger soup (I love that stuff!) and sweet/sour pork with rice. I have already peeled the carrots, & sliced the celery & onion so it will be ready when I am. I just heard my first load of laundry go off, so must go tend to that.

I hope most of you are not working the holiday and have a great long weekend. Please take the time to thank a veteran or at least take a moment to remember the sacrifices they have made for our freedom.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

I want this plant, Coleus Sedona, but have been unable to find it in my area. Isn't the foliage outstanding? I am planning on a little day trip today and will check out every nursery I pass. Someone in Northern Michigan MUST have it!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Here are a few more of my newly planted containers. The first three are wall planters and have petunias with sweet potato vine,. The red petunia also has Tradescantia (Purple spiderwort ). The double container is a new one (I have two of them). I have gold marigolds and orange Gazanias (In the pics the blooms have closed for the night- they are an intense orange color). I forgot that Gazanias close up in the afternoon. Since they are closed when I get home from work, I will only be able to see them on the weekends - probably not the best choice. Live and learn.

Finally Getting Some Color

I am lacking energy again tonight. I felt like going to bed, but when I looked at the clock it was only 5:30 p.m.! So I forced myself to go out and do some edging in the rock garden. I worked for about an hour and then took these pictures. I am finally getting some blooms. The arbor gardens have creeping phlox starting to bloom. In the rock garden, ajuga (dark purple),creeping phlox, snow-in-summer (the silver foliage which is not yet in bloom. It will get tiny white flowers.), and primrose (red/yellow).

I am so far behind on the weeding and now the mosquitoes are out in full force. I must have a dozen bites on my neck/face/head. While I was out there a rabbit ran out from hiding in the daylillies and scared the bejeebees out of me. You would think I would get used to that as it happens all the time.

Arbor Gardens Creeping Phlox

Rock Garden shows some color

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

No Deer Damage

I am so happy to report that the Hinder seems to be working. It has been 4 nights now and no deer damage to the hostas. I sprayed them again tonight. We still have not had any rain, but the leaves are opening and I thought I had better get some on them. Florrie, thank you again, for spurring me on to purchase this. I cannot tell you how happy it makes me to stroll the gardens and NOT have deer damage.

The weather has been warming up here--today it was high 70's. Last night I left most of my plants out and tonight I put the tuberous begonia hanging baskets out. It's been about 45 degrees at night, so I hope they will be OK. I can't take much more of the haul-them-out and haul-them-back-in routine.

I have the majority of the containers planted. I need to touch up the paint on a few of them. I like to paint almost all of my containers green so they don't compete with the flowers. I even paint the plastic containers. They do chip off easily, but it is easy to touch them up each year with a can of spray paint.

I am off now to check everyone's blogs to see what you all have been up to.

Barrel Plants

Last night I was too tired to finish my post. I wanted to tell you what plants I had planted in the barrel:

Persian Shield (back middle - should get 3 feet tall). A foliage plant with purple leaves & silver veins. I have not grown this one before.
Celosia -Red foliage plants on each side in the back. They will get red spikey flowers
Celosia - orange and yellow spikey things
Osteopernum - purple daisy
Calibrocha - It is a tiny yellowish petunia- like flower spilling over the edge. I believe it is also called million bells.
Sweet Potato Vine - planted two of these - -purple foliage
Scaevola aemula: Blue wonder, Escabola, Fan flower - Trailing purplish thing in front (I planted this at work last year and it was beautiful)

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

It was a long day. I got to work at 6:15 a.m., did the daily deposit, labor and left for the meeting at 7 a.m. I got home at 6:30 p.m. At first I didn't feel like planting, but it is a nice evening and I decided to just go out for a few minutes and plant the barrel. It did not take long at all. It is supposed to rain tonight which would be wonderful. We have not had any rain for three weeks. I did not water the barrel because I am just too tired to haul water up the steps. I am counting on the rain to do it for me.

A Day of No Gardening

Yesterday I did not do a single gardening-related thing. After work, I had to get my nails done. The week of planting really did a number on them. Now they are all nice, neat and freshly French manicured.

Sunday I bought a half barrel to replace my whiskey barrel. It has a nice BIG planting area, which I love. I went looking for plants to mimic the bodacious planter (from the contest post below). Of course I could not find any of the plants here. So I will just have to use what I can find in similar colors. Maybe tonight I can get it planted.

My boss and I have to leave at 7am this morning for another meeting. This time it is only an hour and a half drive. It is a regional meeting and our bosses (the BIG bosses (i.e. our hotel owners) will be there. From my understanding there is some human resource stuff happening and that is why I have to be there. I just hope I get home in time to do some planting.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Vacation is Over

I took the past week off to work in my gardens and get my containers planted and I accomplished quite a bit. I have 75% of the deck containers planted. Even though I still have to haul the plants inside at night, I had to get it done because this is the only time I would have to do it.

I really did not do much in the perennial gardens -- I weeded a couple of them and that was about it. With all the deer damage, I have just not been as enthused this year. I did use the Hinder spray last night and there was no new damage to the hostas. Maybe it really will work.

Remember the bag of impatiens I planted two days ago? Well, it is now minus three plants--a baby rabbit ate them. Yes, now I have baby rabbits right under the steps to my deck. I was sitting there this morning drinking coffee and the cute little thing hopped right out in front of me. I had been hearing noises from that area, but thought it was the usual squirrels. Ah, the joys of country life. Well, the Hinder says it works on rabbits, too. So now I will have to spray my container plants.

Tomorrow morning I must go back to dealing with people. Certainly it will be easier than dealing with all the critters around here!

2004 Most Bodacious Container Contest

Aren't these containers spectacular? No, they are not mine, though I wish they were. While surfing this afternoon, I found this site with the winners from their contest last year. The first two would be perfect with my color scheme.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Armed & Ready for Battle

Thanks to a comment from Florrie, I have new ammunition.

I understand the frustration of watching the tender hosta sprouts emerge from the soil only to see them nibbled to the ground. I live in the woods and grow many hostas because there is little sun here. I've tried many things, including erecting 6 foot fences only to have the deer jump them to get at their goodies. For the past two years I've sprayed the hostas with Liquid Fence (putrescent egg solids) - and the battle appears to be over! I am thrilled! It does have an obnoxious odor which disappears quickly, though it repels deer for a long time. Have you tried this kind of deer repellent?

I immediately went out in search of Liquid Fence. (I really do take these comments to heart!) Unfortunately I live in a rather rural area and the only real garden center we have, did not carry it. He suggested, Hinder, and assured me that he had indeed used it and it does work. So right now I have DH outside cleaning out the sprayer and I shall be armed & on ready for action soon. It is all out war now -- Look out Bambi!

Sedum Autumn Joy

I do believe that Sedum Autumn Joy is the one plant I could not do without. I use it extensively - see all those little lighter green mounds--they are all AJ. This picture shows what I love most about it -- not the flower, but the "neatness" of it. It always looks good--from the moment the little knubs sprout from the ground, to this compact mound stage, to pink flowers in September. For me it is incredibly easy to grow; it demands nothing but cutting the foliage back in the spring. When I want more, I just stick the shovel in the center and take out half (which I do almost every year). It needs very little water and has no pests. It does not seem to tempt the deer. When it blooms, butterflies and bees love it - I can have 5 or 6 butterflies on one plant (and dozens of bees).

Have I mentioned I LOVE this plant?

Cutting Back Sedum Autumn Joy

In reading garden forums, I noticed many people have a problem with their Sedum Autumn Joy flopping over. Last year I experimented with cutting it back early in the season just to see what would happen. I took scissors and selectively just cut out areas in the center. I did not touch the very top. What resulted was a plant with blooms going all the way down instead of just large heads at the top. It definitely makes a more compact plant. The blooms get smaller toward the bottom. If you want to try this, you need to do it early in the season (like now).

The arrows in the pictures point to the part that was cut back and show the season's progression.

Quilts I Have Known

While going through my digital pic files, I found a few of quilts I made through the past few years and decided to make a collage of them. (I do so enjoy that collage feature of Hello).

Thursday, May 19, 2005

One Ugly Old Bag

Let's hope this improves with time! Last fall I bought a container at a garage sale and two of these heavy plastic bag planters were inside. I was thrilled as I have been looking for some, but could not find them any place. I want to hang them on the sides of my arbor. These impatiens should grow to cover the entire bag and you will just see a mass of orange hanging down the arbor. (right now they are hanging on the deck where they are close to the garage so it will be easy to put them to bed tonight).


They ate the hosta.

Country Chair Container

My poor old chair should have been thrown away this year, but with a hammer and a few nails, I think I can get one more year out of it. I planted it with purple petunia, blackie sweet potato vine, variegated vinca, and orange calla lilies. So I won't forget that I planted the callas, I took the picture with the label at the back. I hope they grow and flower as this container really needs the punch of orange color. The sweet potato vine and the vinca will grow fast and all the way to the ground. A major pet peeve of mine is seeing chairs planted without plants that hang down. I just hate to see the bottom of the pot sticking out, or, in my case, the screening that covers the bottom. Please, please if you plant a chair, cover the mechanics! It will make or break your whole arrangement. I can't tell you how many chair plantings I have seen that would be quite wonderful if only the bottom of the pot was not sticking out.

From White to (Bright) Yellow

I have been working outside for the past two days. Today I decided to paint my white table and chairs. I thought yellow might be nice. It is brighter than I expected, but I think I might like it with the orange, purple, red and yellow flowers that will be on the deck this year. I was at Wally's World at 7:30 a.m. getting paint. It took 5 cans of only .97/can paint. So for 5 bucks and a few hours of time, I have a new table. I bought six cans, so now I have to find something else to paint to tie the color in with entire deck.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Answering a Comment

So many people don't click on the comments, so when I have one that I think may be of interest to others, I am going to answer it here. I will just copy the relevant sentence of two, like this one from Dianne today:

"I would love to know how you keep your flowers so lush. I did see where you said you watered them daily. Do you pinch them back a lot or give them plant food too? "

First of all, thank you, Dianne, for the compliment. Yes, I do give them plant food. I use water soluble Miracle Grow (the blue powder stuff). I feed them every week. Because containers need watering so frequently, many of the nutrients are washed out with the excess water (yes, mine are watered EVERY DAY, and on very hot days, twice a day. Thankfully, we don't get many hot (over 90 degrees) days here.)

Pinching them depends on the flower. Most of mine do not need it. If I plant petunias, I will pinch them back whenever they get leggy. Actually it is more of major hair cut. I take scissors and just whack off about six inches or so.

I do deadhead daily also. When I get home from work each afternoon I grab a pair of scissors (and sometimes a glass of wine) and walk the deck looking for dead flowers. That is the real secret, I think. Deadheading is so very important. If you allow them to go to seed, they use up a lot of energy, and will not bloom as profusely. And no container looks good with a bunch of dead blooms hanging all over it.

If one considers gardening "work", my deck and gardens take a lot of it! Fortunately it is my passion, so I always find the time and energy to get it done. I must admit, though, it is getting more exhausting as I get older.

By the way, Dianne, I am planting a lot of red and purple this year, too. Actually, red, purple, orange and yellow. Now there's some HOT colors! I used to always do pinks and purples, but a few years ago I tried the hot colors and I really liked them. Such fun to combine colors one would normally call a "clash".

Calla Lilies

It seems a lot of people are finding my site by searching for "calla lilies". If you are not sure what a calla looks like, they are the yellow flowers in the picture below.

Today I planted mine and thought I would post a few "how-to" pictures for those wondering how to store them over the winter. I usually store mine right in the soil. I just cut them off and stick the whole container in the crawl space under the part of my house that does not have a basement. However, last year I decided it was time to remove them from the soil and start with all new soil this year (probably a good idea to do about every three years). I sprayed off all the dirt with water and then let them dry out for a day in the sun. Once they were dry, I just dumped them all in a brown grocery bag, labeled it and stuck them in the crawl space.

Today I went in and brought them out. I am happy to see that they all made it through with flying colors. See the little white shoots? They are all eager to begin their growing season. Sometimes they won't have shoots, but as long as they are not mushy, they should be fine.

I filled my old worn window box with new container soil. Then I just set them all on top before covering with soil. This is so that I can see the spacing. As you will notice, I space them quite close together. Mine are not planted very deeply. Three or four inches should be fine if they will not have to spend the winter in the ground. For warmer climates, you may want to plant a bit more deeply.

In Northern Michigan it is still a bit too cold to leave them outside uncovered. For the next week, maybe two, I will cover them each night.

Callas are actually very EASY to grow. So many people seem intimidated by them, but really, there is nothing to it.

Monday, May 16, 2005

8:25 PM - Me standing at the bathroom window:

"There they are! There they are!"

DH in his office: "What? Where?"

Me shrieking: "Those blasted deer! They are in my garden AGAIN!"

I pound on the window.

She just looks up at me (see her laughing in my face?).

I bang harder.

And harder.

DH tells me to stop before I break the window.

He runs outside yelling, "Shoo, shoo--get out of here. He runs all the way to the arbor waving his arms in the air.

Finally they both run off, the whites of their tails high in the air.

"They will be back tonight," he predicts.

I am sure they will.
Today was the first day of my vacation and I did not even go outside - still too cold here with a high of 53 º today. My day was very productive though not terribly exciting. I did a few of those household chores that I never seem to find the time for when I am working. Things like washing the bathroom walls and dusting the vent on the ceiling--Like I said, it was not exciting but it does feel good to have it done.

I quilted a bit on the denim quilt and think I am about half way done. This quilt is so much heavier (because of the denim) than my last one. It feels soooooooo good to snuggle under on these cold days. I think it may end up being my favorite for the winter season.

I stood in my computer room window and took this picture to show you the hostas beginning to come up in this little sitting area in my front yard. I hope that I will be able to show it to you again in a few weeks with the full size plants. I have many (40 maybe?) hostas in this area. I am afraid the deer with eat them as they have everything else. I am so discouraged this year.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

It's Good to be Home

I just got back from the dreaded meeting. I got up at 3 a.m. Four of us left at 4:30 am and just made the 9 am meeting. The meeting was not bad -- all about how to train employees to give quality customer service. I suspect I may be the one appointed to do the training, so I did pay attention. I was not the driver, so I took a few naps, but 3 am to 8 pm is still a long day. As soon as I finish this post, I will be hitting the bed as I have to be back to work at 6:45 a.m. Only two more work days and I will be taking a week's vacation. I am taking a week off to work in the gardens with emphasis on getting all of the deck containers planted. When I pulled out of my driveway at 4:00 a.m. this morning, guess what my headlights landed on? DEER EATING MORE OF MY PLANTS. They did not even run off, just looked in my direction, put their heads back down and continued chomping on my flowers. I was tempted to get out of the car and chase them out, but instead I just sighed loudly and headed to work. This is not shaping up to be a good garden year.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Well Look At This

my old cookbooks are going for $7.50 each at I must have a mini goldmine in my kitchen! I have dozens upon dozens of these.

Monday, May 9, 2005

I love cookbooks and have quite a collection of them. I especially enjoy these small specialty ones. Saturday I stopped at a sale and picked up about 15 more. The three Good Houskeeping ones in the front are copyrighted 1958. I do enjoy the older ones for the pictures of "how it used to be" -- all the ladies in the crisp pristine aprons happily cooking the family meals. Does anyone still wear an apron? Does anyone still have all afternoon to spend on one meal? Oh, the Good Old Days.

Sunday, May 8, 2005

Do any of you happen to collect juice reamers? I have been trying to find out something about this Universal Potteries cattail pitcher with the reamer top, but so far no luck. I suspect it is rare, as I have been unable to find any photographs or even a description on the net. I thought I would post it on the rare chance that somebody out there knows something.

Full Whiskey Barrel Planter

This old barrel was my favorite deck container. It filled this corner perfectly. The wood slowly rotted, and, unfortunately its lifespan ended last fall. I am trying to find another barrel, but so far I have only seen half barrel's.

Friday, May 6, 2005

Weekly Wrap

This week went by so fast. On Tuesday DH and I had to go to Ann Arbor, MI (over a 4-hour drive). We went there and back in the same day. Way too much car time for me. I am not the world’s best traveler although I did enjoy getting a few hours of time to read a novel (Double Dealer by Barbara Taylor McCafferty and Beverly Taylor Herald--twins who write light murder mysteries about twins who solve the mysteries).

Next Wednesday, I have to do almost the same drive all over again for a meeting for work. Four of us are leaving at 4:30 a.m. (that’s no typo) to get to the meeting by 9 a.m. We will sit in a dull meeting until about 3pm and then have to drive back home…I just hate going to these meetings….I have to stop thinking about it or I will ruin my entire weekend.

I just got home from a bit of a shopping spree—Mother’s Day gifts, groceries, and, while looking for clothes for my Mother, I just happened to come across two sweaters and some cropped pants that had my name all over them. As a woman, I am a bit of an anomaly in that I detest shopping. My husband does almost all of the grocery shopping—he shops for it and I cook it—tonight we went together. I am always shocked by the prices. I needed vanilla and cringed when I picked up a bottle and it was $16.95. It was a large bottle, but I seem to remember it being more like $7.99 the last time I shopped for it. And Mr. Greenspan keeps saying there is no inflation—I think he needs a new bifocal prescription.

I am hoping to get some outside work done tomorrow if it does not rain. I am way behind this year due to the cold, rain, and snow. At the moment, the only blooms in my yard are a few scrawny daffodils and hyacinths.

On the quilting scene, I have not done a darn thing this week.

I have been sleeping under my completed log cabin for the past two weeks. It is wonderfully warm and cozy. This weekend I also need to clean up all of the quilting debris scattered around my computer/sewing room. So much to do and so little time to do it all!
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