Saturday, June 21, 2014

Wishes and Whims: The Stuff Gardens are Made Of

I am up early, wanting to get one last post in for the next week. We are having a family reunion here next week end. Company arrives Friday morning and will be here until Tuesday, so we have been very busy trying to get everything done. Today, another trip to town to buy groceries. I will cook and bake today. For the reunion picnic, we have 21, 12 adults and 9 children ages 11 to 2. We will serve barbecue brisket. Everyone will spend the night Saturday night, with out of state company staying in the house. Jen and her family will set up housekeeping in their camping trailer and Heather and James will sleep in our camper. The 3 boys will actually camp out in the backyard. Jacob is a Boy Scout, so he can teach two younger boys how to camp. 

Boone Doggle Update: Max learned in his old age that it was much easier to ride the EZ GO than it was to try to run to keep up with us. We have been trying to teach the new dog to ride the cart. He is getting better, but at 8 months, he'd rather run with his hunting dog nose to ground catching scent of everything.

We will have a good old fashioned cook out with hamburgers, hot dogs, and smokes. The Head Gardener surprised me with this fire pit in a chunk of Garden Spot real-estate that is another weed patch, so he did some major weed pulling. I am so excited about having my family here.

Another project was to get this hunk a garden bed put back together after the patio and pergola were added. This has always been such a headache, growing nothing but weeds. With new soil added, I was able to finally decide what to do with it: plant lots of succulents for a rock garden.

Look at this little darling: Heron's Bill, a miniature cranes bill. I bought three at Lowe's. Note to self: Stay out of Lowe's garden center the rest of the summer. (Probably not happening because Lowe's has such wonderful prices.)

If you are lily lover, look at this little charmer, a miniature lily that grows pond side in the front courtyard.

The rose party continues: This little rose is the only original plant left in the court yard from previous owners. It just blooms its little heart out and look at the variety of stages each bloom goes through.

St. Patrick has but one bloom and it is a beauty. The Saint seems to be struggling this year.

David Austin Climber James Galway finally showed up to the Rose Party. I love the gentle pink. This blooms rests on a moss rock at pond's edge. Love the textures and colors in this photo.

Not to be outdone by the other roses, Shropshire Lad has begun to bloom. This delicate peach David Austin has wonderful color, a sweet scent, and crisp green leaves.

On the other side of the wall from the Lad, I have a mess. The clematis has gone wild, chocking out the sweet miniature white rose underneath. It is over taking Gertrude. I don't know what to. Once it stops blooming, cut it back I suppose.

We finally moved the water lilies from the horse tank to the pond in the back. This white one always blooms every year, while the pink and yellow don't always bloom. I have seven in the pond with one more left in the horse tank that needs to be divided and repotted.

New to the water garden this year is Rosy Clouds, a winter hardy lotus. I purchased it the first part of May at the Denver Botanical Gardens spring sale. For a month and half it has been on my kitchen counter. I wondered if it were even alive, but look at the new growth.

Potting water plants is so easy. I think that they are a half step up from a water weed for they require only regular garden soil, no compost, no mulch, nothing but soil.

I placed the plant on top if the soil, not burying the tuber or roots, but covering them with a layer of pea gravel to keep the soil from leaching into the pond and to keep the plant from floating away.

What a trooper the Head Gardener is. He indulges so many of my garden wishes and whims. He puts on his neoprene fishing wadders and in he goes to place Rosy. She, of course, is a soft pink.

There will be another shout heard round the yard when Rosy's first leaf floats on the water's surface.

The peonies are winding down now. Blooming last is the pink one. The peonies have been so beautiful this year. I wish they lasted all summer.

We will have home made ice cream for the reunion, so I have been picking strawberries every night and putting them in the freezer. Last night I picked a very nice handful.

Sundance hurries to get his favorite dining spot for his evening meal. 

My next post will be after all of the company has left. I have taken so many photos this week as we get each garden project finished, but there just isn't time or space right now to show it all. So I will be back in in July after the party is over and I have my sanity back. 

Here's hoping that all of your gardening wishes and whims are coming true. Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to leave cool comments. I will be reading them and maybe commenting if I am up early enough to beat the breakfast crowd.

Have a great week end. Now to get dressed and head to town.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Shout Heard 'Round the Yard.

Each morning I have my routine. Most mornings I am up around 5. I run water through a coffee pod and sit down with my iPad to read your latest post. I can spend an hour or more just reading and commenting. Really I should be out taking a long morning walk. Once I have had my yogurt and banana and get dressed, I wander about the yard, inspecting everything, pulling a weed here and there and every where. Monday, I let out a shout that could be heard around the yard. I yelled for the Head Gardener who was inside on the computer. Last time there was such a yell I had fallen on a patch of ice and couldn't get up. He could not hear me because he was sleeping with a c pap machine. Fortunately the neighbor heard me. I had broken my ankle, a very serious break, but that is another story. So you can imagine the look on his face when he appeared on the patio. He had a right to be terrified because I had a near fall the other day when I lost my balance and nearly fell out of the raised bed off the patio. I landed on my feet in the lawn, a miracle indeed for had I not it would have been a very bad fall. With blood and broken bones. Anyway.

"I have grapes," I announced proudly, followed with an apology for scaring him so badly.

We planted the grape vine 3 or 4 years ago and it has done nothing. It is supposed to climb and run across the top of the wall underneath the soffit and produce an abundance of grapes. Each spring I cut it back and tie it to the trellis. This spring, however, with the work done on the patio, I let it go and then it got too big to handle and now I have grapes. Not many, but there will be grapes. They may be seedless Concords. I may add another grape out in the garden to grow on the berry trellis now. I feel confident. I do need to do research. Perhaps I should prune in the fall. Or not all. 

I am so impressed with the peonies this year. Never have I had such gorgeous flowers. I chalk it all up to the abundance of moisture that we have had beginning last fall with rain and then snow through the winter and a wet spring.

I looked up the names of the peonies that we purchased at the iris farm, and I think this one is Hermione. Isn't she just gorgeous? I should measure the size of the bloom. I have my little white pitcher packed full and what a sweet perfume they add to the living room.

Mother Nature is so exquisite. The peony blooms are tightly packed into a nearly perfect ball that grows each day; then one petal at a time it slowly opens up.

My treasures are adorned with another pretty bouquet. The tea cup was a gift from my step grandma Hazel when I was just a little girl. The loving sister with her little brother on her lap plays "This Little Piggy." My grandmother bought the figurine on a trip with her sister to Kansas City. When she brought it home, she told me that it would be mine when she was done with it. That happened August 6, 1959 when I was about 12. I often thought that if the house were to catch fire, this figurine would be the one thing I saved. The bunny rabbits are thrift store finds. The doll was my mother's sister's doll. I have a photo of two year old Margorie Nell holding her doll and a teddy bear dating probably back to 1911. I collect swans, too. The far left is a porcelain figurine sold by Home Interiors and Gifts, a direct sales decorating accessory company that I worked for many years ago. The other three are thrift store treasures. The doll in the back on the right was my husband's grandmother's. It was a Christmas gift from her teacher.

In the front courtyard, the roses are just starting to show off.

Top left: David Austin Tess of d'Urberivilles, a Thomas Harding heroine. If you love Jane Eyre, you would certainly enjoy this 17th century novel. Top right and below is First Prize, a Weeks Rose that is a stunning beauty as it slowly unfurls several big blooms. Bottom left: Gertrude Jekyll. I chose this photo because it was supposed to look like she was peeking out from under her cover of beautiful green leaves, but the effect seems to be lost. Still to bloom pink yet in this garden: James Galway, another David Austin, my climber. The yellow St. Patrick seems to struggle, but has a small bud developing.

Veterans' Honor has a very crisp, pure red blossom. And always produces an abundant number of blooms.

This little ground cover is doing her job. I just love her dainty pink flowers.

Sea Pink adds a splash of color next to the gray moss rock of the water garden. Soon she will fade. I will dead-head her, hoping to encourage another round of pink pompoms.

The clematis in the corner has just gone wild. I usually give her a good pruning, but because it was so cold this spring I just didn't it cut back; now I am paying the price. There is lots of vine and not many blooms so far. 

Did I add that I adore pink?

The rest of the photos will be a hodgepodge. I got carried away photographing this morning.

As I began the post talking about inspecting the garden each morning, I should have mentioned that some mornings don't turn out so well such as the morning I found the main stem of my newest rose planted last summer broken to the ground. I am guessing wind. The stem was very tall and should have been staked, I suppose. It was loaded with beautiful pink buds. :(

Plant find of the week at Lowe's: a tray of a variety of sedum. I just have not decided where I want to plant it.

Gadget of the week: this watering meter. Sometimes it is just really hard to decide if I should water or not, so I am finding this gadget very handy. It came with a lengthy plant list with water requirements. 

If flowers are the soul of the Garden Spot then this is the heart of the Garden Spot: the watering system. I do not pretend to even understand it. The water comes from run-off when the hay field is irrigated. The irrigation comes from two wells that six home owners share, taking turns on a 3 week cycle. The run-off is collected in large cement tank under that mound of grass. It fills up pretty quickly when the hay gets irrigated. A pump inside the barn pumps the water from the tank to the underground irrigation lines. It works just like any other automatic sprinkler system with at least 9 zones that can be programed to run for a certain time. The system does not automatically come on; the Head Gardener has to flip the switch and can determine which zone needs the most water. Right now he has it dug up so that two more valves can be added. We use very little city water to water. Right now we use city water to water the vegetable garden. Our 5 acres is one of six that were subdivided from the original farm and we all have use of the farm's original wells. Indeed water is an important part of land management. We would not have purchased a parcel of land that could not be irrigated. There are many farms here that have been developed in the same manner, but the water has been sold off, so home owners end up with large parcels of weeds or if they are lucky native grasses. But little can be done without irrigation.

 As he has worked on the underground portion of the irrigation system, he had to remove the holly hocks that grew by the barn door. They were harmless enough and added some color, but they had to come out. He left one clump. There will be only one stem blooming this year. I caught that little white pony Pop with his head stuck through the fence nibbling on some fresh greens.

My current project has been to reclaim the center garden. It is a dumb place for a garden right in the middle of the front drive way, creating a circle drive. Not quite a circle, more of a tear shaped, it grows wild and so unruly. I let it get away from me last year, so this year I am desperately trying to get it look like a garden. Previous owners planted aspen trees and ponderosa pines that are growing so big that soon we may have to think about removing some of the aspen. They are finally maturing enough that I have a shade garden that I am trying to get started. Aspens are really pretty trees, but they are supposed to be short lived and send up suckers. The Vinca Minor is out of control. The bird bath is nearly hidden. It's contents are the results of some imaginative garden nymph. (Elinore).

I like this view. I want to get a climbing vine. I tried morning glories. The seeds didn't even germinate. I think I planted a clematis once. It didn't make it. So I am thinking a honey suckle vine.

I have worked very hard to clear the path from the weeds, mostly dandelions and thistles gone wild. The vinca has also taken over the path.

I have dug some out, but mostly I just pull it out. It will probably come back, so I will have to keep at it. I am going to leave some vinca because I do like it, just not an entire forest.

So the path at both ends is clear; now I have the middle under the aspens to clear. I am going to spray the path and put down Preen to deter the weeds and then get a very fine bark mulch to help define the path.

Sundance is gaining back his golden color after shedding his dull winter coat. He did not winter well at all, and he seems to have recovered from his spell of colic, though he is still thin. Last year he was too heavy. For an 18 year old, he still has plenty of spirit. Pop needs a bath. From show pony to retired. At 25, he's got plenty of spunk too. But mostly the boys just like to eat.

The end of another day at the Garden Spot. I didn't get much work done today. Tomorrow I will go to town and buy the compost that I need to plant a few plants and see if I can find bark mulch. The weather for a Colorado June is still rather cool and a bit wet. Nice weather to work in. 

I need to get to bed now. See you in the morning. 

Thanks taking the time to visit with me. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014


I was reminded of my formative years this morning as I chopped the rhubarb that I pulled last night. As a kid, it was my job every summer to freeze the rhubarb and to make apple sauce. The rhubarb wasn't so hard a task because I just had to pick it, cut it, cook it, then freeze it, nor was there an abundance of it.  Now apple picking was a project. We had four apple trees that probably dated back to the turn of the 20th century. They grew small, sour, worm infested fruit. I was not allowed to pull apples from the tree, only pick the windfall fruit, and there were windfall apples all summer once they ripened. Dad didn't spray the trees for apple worms, so they were pretty wormy, too. I cut the apples in quarters, trimmed out the worm gunk, cooked them, then had to put the cooked apples through the apple reamer, a long and arduous and tedious project. I simmered them in the pot until they were quite mushy, them reamed them, seasoned the sauce with sugar and cinnamon, and put the sauce in freezer containers.

I had a horse; riding was my passion. I always had to ask permission to go ride.I would ask? "Can I go riding?" Dad's answer was always the same: Make apple sauce or pick the rhubarb, if there was rhubarb, before I could ride. Summers were long and hot, but I had so much freedom when I rode my big sorrel gelding, Sailor. He was part Thoroughbred and part quarter horse,  a big horse, gentle, but fast and smart. I'd ride hard all afternoon with my friend on Table Mountain behind our homes west of Denver. Her's was a huge thoroughbred mare, Chico. We'd race across the mesa, full speed. Our hair blowing in the wind; our laughter filling the silence of the flattop mountain. At the end of the day I'd come home to wash off the trail dust and horse smell by swimming in our farm pond then take a nap before supper. Life didn't get any better. I loved the fresh apple sauce and the rhubarb sauce chilled on toast. So the labor was worth it, but I swore as a kid that once I grew up no more rhubarb cooking or apple sauce making.

And yet this morning I found myself recalling those sweet childhood memories. And honestly, the one hill of rhubarb is in this garden only at my insistence, for I am the only one who enjoys it. I will pour off the juice and try to make a punch like the one that the Women's League of Ft. Collins makes each year for the garden tour. It is so delicious, but an acquired taste, I am sure. We have two apple trees on the property, so I am hoping that they produce. The apples will be wormy because we don't spray either, and perhaps I will make apple sauce, too.

Now that chores are done, take a walk around the Garden Spot with me.

I had the telephoto lens, so I had to take a photo of the neighbors' horse . Isn't he a beauty?

Kids will be kids. While I find grackles most annoying, I had to photograph this youngster reading his mother the riot act. Boy, was his sassing his mama. Shame on him.

The peonies are finally blooming. They are very late this year, as is most everything else in the garden. We can usually count on them blooming by Memorial Day, making them a favorite for taking to the cemetery on Memorial week end. This beauty is one of three that I ordered 3 years ago from White Flower Farms in a package called Heritage or Heirloom blooms. Can't remember which. So there are three colors. This is first year that these 3 have bloomed and they will be spectacular.

This peony has had to heal from the burring I gave it when I fertilized that garden with hot horse manure last summer. I thought I had killed Raspberry Sunday. She is a very delicate pink and creamy white-- and buggy.

I had to replant the succulent garden when the beds around the back of the house had to be restructured after the patio and pergola were built. The south bed had filled in so nicely, but was totally uprooted with the digging out of the Russian Olive stump. I have added new plants, moved back some old ones, and mulched with pea gravel.

The succulent garden on the north side is healthier and prettier because it did not get as disrupted. I moved the hens and chicks from the south bed to save them. A bit of pea gravel makes the little bed looks amazing. Both of these beds need to be viewed from the patio looking down on them, giving the best view.

I like throwing in carefully placing large river rock or moss rock in the garden. I also like to stack rocks to add interest and a bit of whimsy and curiosity to the garden bed.

The Iris continue to bloom. Lemon yellow and deep dark purple emerged this week. They have names, but I don't remember them. Need to look them up, I guess.

And look at Miss Gertrude Jekyll. She moped about all last summer with yellow leaves, refusing to bloom, and growing 8 foot tall stems. But look a her this year, all smiles, and green, and pink and perfect--so far. Hope she keeps up the good attitude.

We hosted our HOA neighbors this week. Our first official gathering on the new patio. The one family has 5 children--4 little boys and 1 girl--and the other neighbor has two little boys. Naturally both moms were concerned about the pond, so the Head Gardener put up this fence that we used to keep Max out of the garden. It did keep the kids away from water's edge. I think we will leave it up to keep our little Lily away from the water.

Question of the morning: Do fish play? I cracked up watching the gold fish trying to swim upstream in the water that trickles down from the water fall, thinking perhaps they were really salmon. One even jumped out of the water to get to the next level.

They have really grown, too, since they were moved to the big pond. The water is still murky and probably needs another dose of algaecide.

At night I sew. I thought I would share my latest project: two Holly Hobby dolls that I made for two special little girls. I am getting better at structuring the heads. They actually look more like heads for these two. Previous doll heads looked more like peanuts morphed into potatoes. Each doll wears a nicely starched slip, pantaloons, a pretty dress, a pinafore, a bonnet, and little felt shoes. I hope the girls like them.

Each sweet doll has a heart full of love, made out love, given in love.

One little doll likes dragon flies, while the other loves lady bugs.

So as we head into the week end, what are your plans? The Head Gardener will be gone Saturday, so I may make a run to the local nursery. He did pull out all of the chamomile in the front garden (on one side) , so I need to decide what sort of plant material to add. It is mostly shade, so I'll have to shop around to see what shade loving plants attract my attention. Any suggestions?

What ever you do, I hope you have a wonderful week end.

Thanks for visiting The Garden Spot today.

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...