Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Back To Normal

We love vacations and our Texas vacation was fabulous, but it certainly was wonderful to get home, which also meant getting back to work. Our first project was a two day affair. Last year we had two large large loads of not so prime wood chip mulch hauled in with the idea of mulching the dozens of trees on the property, so we finally got around to that chore on Saturday. Preparation began with mowing around the trees with the lawn mower where the Zero Turn mower didn't reach, then weeding underneath the trees, and even applying some Roundup to get rid of the thistles and bind weeds. 

I ran the rake and the pitchfork. . . .

. . . and he ran the tractor.  Each tree took at least a couple of bucket loads of mulch.

The crab apples look tidier now along the drive way.

Meanwhile out in the vegetable garden:

The garden survived while we were gone; although the weeds did get out of control. I have too much pride to photograph the weeds, so you will have to imagine the worst case scenario. Here are some of the tomatoes. Our home seeded tomatoes were really pathetic when we planted them. The Head Gardener had little faith that they would do anything, so he bought back up plants at the nursery. I said: Just put them in the ground. They will be fine. (I hoped). They are nearly as tall as the nursery grown sets.

Water Water Water

I once asked my dad what his secret was to his successful gardening. He offered a simple answer: water. Watering a large garden always poses a challenge. Here is our system: a timer attached to a hose that will either run the oscillator or the homemade system that allows for two rows to be flood irrigated at a time. We like that system better. The oscillator really does not give enough coverage. We can set the timer for 20 minutes and not have to worry about forgetting to turn off the water--which we do. Right now we use city water, but one of the projects is to convert to using water from the irrigation wells that water the lawn. 

What we do have growing thrives; however, you will notice a pretty big gap. We changed the way we planted peas. Big mistake. Around here St. Patrick's Day is the day designated to plant peas. The seed packet also recommends soaking the seeds over night for better germination. Do you soak your peas? We never have done either one--planted in March or soaked the seeds. Well, you can see why. First in March there just isn't enough moisture to germinated even soaked seeds. And we just neglected to water. Then the weather got so crazy--cold and wet and freezing. So we have a only a hand full of peas.

Nor did we get a lot of other things planted: green beans, beets, carrots.

The green peppers are pretty puny, too, but hopefully with some water they will perk up.

First Sunflower

I planted teddy bear sunflowers, which didn't come up, but look a this little beauty. You can tell that she is a feral (I like that term instead of "volunteer"--indicates a wildness, a free spirit, kinda like our Mo cat). Anyway. I have a nice stand of sunflowers that self seeded from last summer, also feral last summer. She is a real beauty. The first one of the season. I photographed her at the end of the day with end of day sunlight behind her. She has many sisters, so I will  get to enjoy the wild sunflowers all summer.

Starting Over

  So here is the flower bed that we killed off by top dressing with horse manure last fall. Big, Bad mistake. Killed everything. I blogged about it. The head gardener raked the bed clean and hauled off the pooh. We purchased Eco Complete from Home Depot along with topsoil that he will till in, which we should have done to begin with.

Here are my bargain plants from Ft. Collins Nursery. Two butterfly bushes, a bleeding heart, two echinacea, and Buddleia Aleternifolia, a butterfly bush. We went to two nurseries on Sunday, but there really were slim pickins. The plants are long and leggy, stressed from the heat, and still very expensive; however, we were able to buy the small containers at Ft. Collins Nursery at half price.

So while the Head Gardener worked Monday ditching corn for his friend, I headed to town to find more bargains. I love Lowes. They have the best selection and the best prices.

Gold Rush Yellow Shasta Daisy
Lupin (half off)

I love this geum.

Honeysuckle to grow up the blackberry trellis.

And the herbs: Parsley, sage, and thyme (one of my favorite Simon and Garfunkel tunes)
 And a pot each of basil and lavender.

I was reading on Pinterest a post on natural herbal remedies for a variety of poultry ailments. Quite interesting. Herbs to increase laying, herbs to relax, to fend off rodents, as antioxidants; for example Basil as an antibacterial, sage as an antioxidant, lavender to relieve stress. So I purchased 5 that I will grow in pots by the house that I can use in the kitchen and in the hen house.

 Speaking of Pinterest. Do you Pin? I know that I follow some of you and some of you follow me. Nice harmless fun, unless, of course you get addicted and find yourself pinning at 11:00 at night when you should be getting your beauty rest.

I never was much on succulents until my daughter introduced them to me. We have this private little nursery in Ft. Collins that we go to each year where she buys her dwarf plants and alpine plants for her little garden. She helped me get my little succulent garden started in the front around the water garden. They have done so well, that I planted some in that back patio bed where they have done quite well. I like the combination of the sharp leaved hens and chicks with the softness of the delicate dianthus flowers and the lamium

So I decided to plant my lady's head with succulents. Well, let me tell you just how hard it was find succulents. I am speculating, of course, that Pinterest has inspired many to plant beautiful little succulent gardens. So now that I want to increase my succulent garden, they are suddenly very hard to find. I found these two at Lowes, and though they are bigger than I wanted, they will do.

I also have been gathering plates and dishes at the thrift shops to make some of those gorgeous glass plate flowers and I am having a very hard now finding pretty dishes for that project. Blame it on Pinterest--everybody else wants to make those pretty flowers, too.

One Year Old

And finally, my sweet little Lily Ann turned one. I gave my camera (yes the Cannon) to Ellie to take pictures while I videoed. She took the top photo. I love it. The composition is perfect with sister Lucy looking on and mom coaching the blowing of the candle. Jen made Devil's Food cupcakes frosted with cream cheese frosting topped with fresh raspberries. Lily loved the raspberries so much that she really didn't eat much cake.

It's hot today. I have been in the basement all day cleaning my craft area, putting away stuff I moved out of my office, and blogging. Once it cools off, I think we will work on the back garden, tilling in the Eco Complete and hopefully getting my little plants settled in their new home. I'll share the results. 

Thank you for all of your kind thoughts on our loss of Max Dog. He was the greatest dog (but then aren't all of our dogs). We miss him so much. Any second we expect him to be under foot. Your kind thoughts helped.

So what are your projects as summer really begins to heat up? 

Stay cool, drink plenty of fluids, and keep the mosquitoes off.


  1. I do love seeing your garden photos! Glad you had a wonderful trip to Texas, I LOVE Texas :)
    Happy Birthday to the cutie pie!

  2. Your flower bed has the same bricks we have! I love them!
    Isn't it HOT? We have to hose water or all the flowers will wilt.
    I'm glad your trip to Texas was great!
    I love the yellow butterflies, don't you? And the goldfinches!

  3. All your plants look great! I got my first sunflower today, too! What a darling birthday girl!

  4. Sounds like you had a great trip...good to be back.

    I soak my peas inbetween paper towels on a plate, until they germinate, and then plant them...they take off faster that way.


  5. Welcome home! You sure are catching up on the garden work! My goodness you have such a large place. I am having trouble weeding with just my little gardens I have.

    Your tomato plants do look as good as the nursery stock and they probably have a much stronger root system. I bought nursery stock this year since I was still working on the kitchen mess. So far they are doing pretty well but I do miss having a Ponderosa tomato and I couldn't find that one in the nursery.

    I love the additional plants you have purchased to add to your garden. The buddleia is a lovely tall bush to have. The hummingbirds also love that one.

    Don't work too hard Ann!

  6. I love looking at all your garden - the plants that are established and the ones yet to go in the ground - but those sunflowers are my favorite. Your pictures are almost like getting a personal tour, and remind me how much I love summer!