Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Meet the Neighbors

The days are quiet here lately, but in the weeks to come the Garden Spot will be alive with little voices--loud little  voices. Our grandson Jacob will be here next week, and when New Baby Girl arrives her big sisters will be here, so I am enjoying the peace and quiet. These quiet days are the ones I longed for as the school semester began to wear me down. We accomplished a lot over the Memorial Day weekend, especially getting the garden planted. We started tomatoes and peppers in early March inside. The tomatoes are pathetic, while the peppers looks pretty decent.  So come along with me as I take an afternoon walk around the Garden Spot.

Meet the neighbor boys. Cute, aren'they? But don't get too attached because they won't be around for long.

The boys go by their ear tag numbers; no names so we don't get too attached. There are actually 4 steers and they are bad boys. They have already escaped once. Two traveled miles away, but were safely located and returned home. They seemed to have learned their lesson: the grass really isn't greener on the other side.

The garden is planted. Now we wait for the goodness of Mother Earth--and the weeds.

The hay was cut today. This is our neighbor's. Looks pretty good.

Laid out neatly in rows, the hay will dry for a few days then be bailed for Sundance.

Speaking of the old boy. He's on his way to the front pasture. He only grazes for a couple of hours each day; he's carrying a bit too much weight.

Still, a handsome fellow.

The Girls are doing well, though they are a scruffy bunch. They molted early in the winter and just haven't grown their feathers, but they are happy, giving 4-6 eggs a day. Not bad for 8 hens.

Sundance's friends are eager to head out to pasture too.

I love horses. 

Sundance greets his friends and then they all get down to grazing.

I hope you enjoyed our walk about. 

Now, I'd like to walk around your garden.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

How'd You Do That?

When I became a blogger, I didn't realize just how much I would learn and how much I would be inspired by not just the amazing gardens, but the beautiful photography that the gardeners proudly post. I have always loved taking pictures, first using my mother's vintage square box camera as a kid. Once I had my first real job teaching school, I bought my own camera, a used Pentax Spotmatic 35mm. I loved that camera. For years it went everywhere with me. I lugged it through England and Ireland, and I also took a little Nikon, one of these that used a film cartridge. For my third tour of England, I had graduated to a digital camera, and most recently I took the big leap to buy a 35 mm Cannon Rebel--the new love of my life. Along with photography, I am also a computer geek, so in the pre-digital era,  I'd spend hours scanning the photos and playing with the freebe Photoshop that used to come with the HP printers. I just had fun, but never  had a way share my work, except to maybe print a home made greeting card.

Blogging now has taken me to a new level. Jen at Muddy Boot Dreams has the most amazing photos, so I asked her how she got such beautiful backgrounds for her photos, and she kindly shared her secret. She uses Picasa and Photoshop and gets textures from two web sites: Shadow House Creations and Kim Klassen Cafe.com. So with these two web sites, I began downloading the free textures and I began playing.  Last night I played with Picasa and today I spent the morning trying to master Photoshop on my work computer. First I needed some instruction on how to work with layers and textures. After previewing several youtube tutorials, I found one that I could follow: How to Apply Textures to Photos.  (A side note: Photoshop can be pretty intimidating, but with good tutorials you can accomplish what you want, but it is a lot of trial error, time consuming, and even frustrating.)

Here then are my results from Picasa--not perfect, but hey, I am a beginner.

Before: The Head Gardener had been working in the garden all day. He called me out to take picture of a hawk, but hawks don't wait for the photographer to change lenses. But I did a few shots of hubby's tools when he finished his work: a rusty, trusty shovel and his grandmother's old cultivator that he used to ditch his rows propped up against the dying weeping willow.

Using Picasa: After adding a textured layer, the photo becomes more ethereal. I like it. The willow branch that spoils the original blends in, becoming less noticeable.

Before: I did some editing in Picasa first to a not so good photo.

After: I like this. (Picasa)

Just a pink rose with a bit of texture added.

Before: St. Patrick as it appears in the garden.

St. Patrick with a bit of lace texture added using Picasa.

Textures are easily added in Picasa: 
  • Select your photo, edit it.
  • Give it any of the special effects that you like, clean it up.
  • Then add it to the collage tray. 
  • Download your favorite texture into Picasa
  • Add it to your collage tray.  
  • Click on the collage button. 
  • In the menu that allows you to choose how to arrange your collage photos, choose multiple exposure that allows you to superimpose one image on top of another. 
  • And WHA-LA you have an amazing effect. 
  • Create your collage and share it with your readers.
Picasa is limited in what it can do, which I think makes it more fun because you can get good, instant results, so for beginners, it works like a charm. Picasa is a free photo editor that you can download.  The textures come from Shadow House Creations.

So now you know how I did that. Do you have any cool tricks or skills to share? I'd love to see how you did that.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


We had a very busy week at the Garden Spot, culminating in two real mile markers.

Miss Elinore graduated Pre-School at John's Lutheran Church and is enrolled in kindergarten at a charter school in Ft. Collins that teaches core subjects. Congratulations, Elinore. You are off to brilliant start and a bright future.

And that moment passed.

 On to the next milestone: Ellie and little sister Lucy are getting a new baby sister, due June 22.

So we showered the new baby with pink. Lots and Lots of pink.

I had a bit of milestone of my own: I learned how to crochet flowers and leaves. (I love youtube).

And there are milestones in the garden too.

The roses are blooming. 

And there are other milestones in the garden:

Two new columbine that just appeared on their own. Actually I transplanted them as volunteer seedlings from other spots late last summer and waited all spring to see what they would look like, so I don't know the variety of either one.  Upper right, a stick. A sickly stick. Actually it is a red japanese maple that has new growth at the very bottom, so it didn't die over the winter after all. Now, I'd say that is a milestone. We'll see how the little tree fairs over the summer. Heather gave me the meadow rue from her garden, not a very good likeness here, but it is healthy and happy.  And of course, another iris. This one we moved from the old house. It was a Dike's Award winner that hubby bought years ago. I love the lavender and yellow together.

By the end of the summer, I had also hoped to show off the pink dinner plate dahlias that I planted; unfortunately, we won't be seeing them. Some critter has dug up all four tubers and I suppose had a grand feast.

Here's what happens when you neglect a garden, when you leave it to come up with its own grow plan. When you leave a garden to its own devices,  stuff grows and grows and grows. Close up, it looks grand and even pretty, but there is an underbelly of thistle, bind weed to no end, and every other noxious weed that can find its way in. A milestone for this week: get the weeds under control. 

The Head Gardener went fishing for the weekend,  leaving me on duty for chores. So I called for back up.

He comes in the dark of night, egg basket in hand. Silently, bravely, on a mission he heads to the Hen House.

Superman from the Big City (Denver) carefully removes each egg (even the fake ones meant to encourage the hens to lay their eggs in the nests, not on the floor).

His basket full, he disappears once again into the night.

I hope you all had a good week with your own special milestones. I am enjoying reading all of your blogs, eager to see what milestones are happening in your gardens, enjoying the beautiful flowers, wonderful photography, and the good stories that you all share, loving the trips that some are taking, enjoying the home arts and projects that my blogging friends share.

With the baby shower out of the way, the fishing trip wrapped up, the Head Gardener and I will tackle weeds, and hopefully come up with a plan and get started building our main water feature that will be about 750-1,000 gallons. Now that will be a milestone.

I hope you all have a great week and that you meet all of your gardening milestones.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Rose By Any Other Name

It is a quiet, overcast, damp morning at the Garden Spot. Just the sort of morning to linger with a hot cup of coffee. The David Austins should feel right at home with this sort of cool, damp weather.  They are beginning to settle in, but not without trauma. Between a bit of a freeze and harsh wind right after we planted them and probably not enough water, two roses struggled, but now seem to be adjusting to their new home. So meet the David Austins:

The name tag collage didn't turn out quite like I wanted with name of each rose. This little garden represents my tours of England that I took in 2001 and again in 2006 and the fact that I am not only a student of English literature, but I share my passion with I hope eager students.

Top Left: Winchester Cathedral-- named for the cathedral located in Hampshire, England originally dates back to 642 and is the burial place of Jane Austin-- will bloom all summer long. The red rose is Tess of the D'Urbervilles, named after a Thomas Harding heroine in the novel of the same name publish in 1891.  Along with Jane Ayer, Tess is one of my favorite English heroines. Row 2: the pink climber named for famed Irish flute virtuoso Sir James Galway will provide a beautiful backdrop to the court yard pond. Shropshire Lad, named for the county that borders Wales has already bloomed and will certainly put on a show by mid summer. The David Austins will grow 4-5 feet tall and will bloom abundantly with sweet rose perfumed fragrance all summer long. They gracefully unfurl from the center with rippling rows of petals that smile back as I admire their beauty. Once established, they will be hardy in our hot, dry climate. 

Lastly, the tea roses by Weeks Roses Justy Joey and St. Patrick, both have bloomed and seem to be liking their new home. When we bought the roses, I was looking for color not names. Once I got them home, the name Just Joey sounded so familiar, so I looked back at my old notebook from the old house to see if I had a Joey, and indeed I did, so Just Joey has returned, a beautiful prolific bloomer. Finally, a bright yellow rose St. Patrick adds pop to the courtyard among the pinks and reds that are already there. 

My favorite rose brand was Jackson and Perkins, which has gone out of business and, according to a nurseryman, has sold its fields to Week Roses, so the quality will still be there. J&P roses can still be purchased through their online catalog, but I prefer the potted roses to the bare root roses. Right now the nurseries and garden centers are well stocked with roses, but I would imagine that they will go quickly as they make wonderful gifts for Mother's Day.  Last year I bought two roses at Home Depot, off brands that were cheap. One died for no good reason (that I could tell) and the other struggled, but this year seems to be coming on stronger with a dose of good rose food.

My daughter consulted a rose specialist to inspect her tiny rose garden because she couldn't get her roses to bloom. She was ready to tear them out. With a bit of sound advice from the rosarian and Bayers Systemic rose food, her roses began to thrive. So I converted to Bayers and am quite pleased with the results. My roses have always been plagued with aphids and this systemic feed also kills the pests. Some say that today's gardeners tend to shy away from roses because they require so much work. Not really, though they do have specific requirements. I told my husband a while ago that I would to have one hundred roses. I doubt that I will invest in that many roses, but my collection is sure to grow. 

The iris are also starting to put on a show. 

Such easy keepers and prolific bloomers, iris add a dash of color and elegance to any garden spot. I had a nice collection of roses at the old house and moved some that haven't bloomed yet, so these are new bloomers left behind by the last gardener blooming for the first time since we have lived here. 

So what's new in your garden this week? Hope you all have wonderful Mother's Day.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

I Love it When a Project Comes Together: The Great Reveal

We have been working on this project ever since we moved to The Garden Spot.
What a nightmare. I hated coming in the front door.

Pretty Pathetic. Now a rose garden.

Preformed tub for the water garden with a waterfall.

Hubby has such a good eye for digging holes.

I was so happy to see water

This water lily was able to escape the temporary home where my water lilies have lived since we moved to the Garden Sport.

We used nearly a pallot of moss rock. 

I planted the plants this morning and still want to add some grasses to naturalize the area. 

The project isn't totally finished, but I am pretty happy with the results.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Mellow Yellow

The celebration has begun. Spring Semester 2012 has ended. The research papers are grades, handed back, the students have gone home, the office is cleaned, the lights are out, the door is locked.  Bring on summer. We don't have much planned. Just hang out in the Garden Spot watching things grow--weeds trees and roses, and tomatoes, and little grandchild. We do have some projects planned, with a water garden at the top of the list. At the old house we had a little 750 gallon pond. Our gold fish are living at the neighbors and it is time to bring them home. So hopefully we will start digging in the next few weeks. Today more planting and we hope to finish the court yard water feature.

While I was confined to the house grading, things were happening in the garden. I did sneak out in the evenings to stretch my legs and to see what was going on:

 Mellow Yellow
There is lots of yellow in the garden this week. The rose is one of the new ones, St. Patrick. She is going to be specular once she settles in. The last of the daffodils are beginning to fade. Love the pale yellow with the painted edge on the cup. And the butterflies have returned. I used my 70-300mm zoom to photograph the butterflies that were swarming the ever invasive oregano

There were dozens of painted ladies that are on on their migration.

The Chamomile attracts this rather bedraggled checkered White (Ponita Potodice)

A Red Admiral feasting on the lilac. 

There wasn't just one red admiral, but dozens joining the honey bees feasting on this blooming tree. We don't know what the tree is, but it was full of blooms this season that the butterflies and bees swarmed it.

The photo session ended with this wonderful rainbow in a rather odd spot, the south eastern sky.

We have a busy day planned. First things first. Today is the Ault Garage Sale Day where residents gather up their junk, pile it on tables, put prices on odd stuff in hopes of cleaning out their basements and garages. What a lot of work. We have participated many a time, but not this year, and hopefully not ever again. Bargain hunters will swarm the little village, coming from far and wide. The Looky Lus begin early cursing the streets, staking out their musts haves and gotta buys. My sister-in-law is participating (poor thing), so I will have to wander over to her house to see what treasures she is parting with. I heard that she is selling a lot of her vintage linens, so I will arrive early, which means that I had better publish the blog and get dressed.

I have neglected my blog and my blog friends, but my work at the university is done and I can get back to my life. Have a fabulous week-end. See you soon.

A Rose by Any Other Name

Jackson and Perkins roses have been in the garden for at least 10-12 years. This year they have been spectacular. The bushes were taller and...