Thursday, August 8, 2013

Unusual Tennessee Summer...

This summer has been an odd one for us, weather-wise, in middle Tennessee.  We've had some of our lowest temperatures that I can recall, some of the lowest humidity levels, enough rain - and often enough to keep the lawns lush and the flowers blooming much later into summer than usual.  Last year our pool water reached 94 degrees (early in the summer) and a dip in the pool felt more like swimming in soup than it did a refreshing dip in the pool.  Tonight I checked the water temperature and was shocked to find it was 81 degrees.  My husband won't even get in the water unless it's a minimum of 83 degrees.  His swimming season is extremely limited in comparison to mine... when we open the pool (around April 1st) I'll find my way into the water within days... no excuse is too feeble!

After owning a hot-tub (spa) for 9 1/2 years, we finally sold it, last weekend, and got a new conversation set to allow us to better enjoy the patio area.  I know we'll miss that tub; especially on those cold winter nights... but its a nice change to the patio/pool/garden area.  Check out that Sweet Autumn Clematis covering the fence in the background.  It is cut down to the ground each spring and grows so wild and wooly before blooming in the fall.  You know that I'll be posting photos of it in full bloom soon enough!

It will be nice to sit, snuggled up, with my sweet hubby on the loveseat though.  I could tell he liked the new set because it was barely put in place before he'd christened it with a nap!  They young men who moved the hot tub did an excellent job... no damage to anything... and short of one wasp sting and a field mouse sighting - it was basically uneventful.   Ah, the things that sweet youth allows the body to manage!  They were amazingly strong. 
We've been graced by turkeys lately... They are some funny looking creatures; although they may say the same of us!  They amble through the yards, especially in the early morning or just before dusk and roost higher up in the trees than you'd ever imagine possible.  They're not exactly graceful as they settle on a spot to roost... and can be heard thrashing about in the middle of the trees causing a few leaves to rain down as they move about.  As I left for work the other morning I snapped a quick photo from the car as I drove past - there were 18 total.  (Click on photos for larger view)
18 Turkey

Turning in for the night.

You know it has to taste like cotton candy!  How could it not?
I guess I'd better sign off for now.  I hope you're able to get out and enjoy your gardens and do a little daydreaming each day.  Until next time - get out there and get some dirt under your nails!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

It's been a while since I've posted anything... but the gardening does go on! 

Twice since posting about sharing cut flowers I have followed through... sharing flowers from my garden with a coworker.  The first was a simple vase with two pink peony... and they were so simple and sweet.  Don't you think they have the sweetest fragrance?  This time I got a bit more daring with my presentation and selected a few different variety of blooms and was very pleased with how it turned out. 

This vase has Mandevilla, Sunny Knock-Out Roses, Stella de Ora daylilly and a purple butterfly bush who's name escapes me at the moment.  She was thrilled to receive them and even wanted to know the names of each different flower.  It was especially sweet of her to show such interest in the gift.
We've had quite a bit of rain lately and the other afternoon a shower dumped 2-inches of rain on our yard in less than an hour.  The rain fell so hard and fast that one of my two Mandevilla split at it's trunk from the weight of the rain-drenched blooms.  I supported it with a wire frame and it doesn't look any worse for the wear... at least for now, but it was terribly disheartening to see it split. 
I snapped a few photos from the yard that I thought I would share with you...
I'd love to know the name of this flower.  It was shared with me by a coworker who acquired it from a neighbor.  Regardless... it's welcome in my yard.  It stands about 4 feet tall and reminds me of the Black Eyed Susan... but doesn't have the dark brown center.  I'm open to your feedback.
Here's a sweet little lavender colored wild flower growing amongst the fallen hickory nuts at the back of the property.  Another one I can't identify. They are scattered about the yard... each standing only about 2-3 inches tall with somewhat of a trumpet-like bloom (one bloom per plant).
And then there's this sweet dragonfly who allowed me to snap a few photos... while he (or she) rested atop one of my plant stands.

I hope your gardens are thriving and you are able to enjoy them to the fullest. 
Until next time... keep on gardening!  Thanks for joining me in the garden!


Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Hazards of Gardening...

I was chatting with a coworker the other day and she said that she doesn’t have anything that blooms in her yard because she is allergic to bee stings.  Wow… what a bummer!  I had never thought of that before.  That may be worse than a food allergy!!  Two of my greatest treats: flowers and food!

I find the front of my home to be boring and lacking in personality and color; simply because I have not yet come up with a plan for the landscaping.  Sure, it has shrubs: Boxwood, Manhattans, Nandina, etc.  But nothing that pops with personality and color.  Our Manhattans suffered a disease a few years ago that got my hopes up for new landscaping… sadly, they survived!

I would dearly love to have all of the shrubbery removed… the soil leveled and new landscaping put along the front sidewalk and porch.  Not only do we have to plant things that are shade tolerant… but we’ve got to battle the deer and select items that they don’t favor as well; because let me tell you... they see it as their personal smorgasbord.   It's a fairly large area though and would be a major undertaking, especially if done all at once.  Perhaps that is the key... I can make it a 10-step program!
The back yard is another story entirely and is really coming together - mostly because it’s where we spend all of our time.  Our biggest fear there is the danger of getting West Nile from the hundreds of mosquitoes that have recently hatched!  They are horrid!  Hopefully they’ll only be a real nuisance for a couple weeks and then retreat to the woods like good, self-respecting mosquitoes should!  Until then, we’ll bathe ourselves in DEET and perform our ceremonial dance around the citronella candle with our arms flailing and thrashing around our bodies as we try to ward off those evil buggers!
Don’t be shy…grab your favorite can of personal pesticide and join in!

Recently planted Black-Eyed Susan from a friend/coworker.  It seems to have really taken root. 
I can hardly wait to see it in full bloom!

Stella de Ora Daylilies and Purple Salvia from our neighbors.

I can't believe they are this beautiful their first year... 
Lord knows they were put through some major stress!

Yellow-Belly Woodpecker stopping by for a quick bite.

Mandevilla, "Sunny" Knock-Out Roses and Wisteria vine in the background.

Friday, May 17, 2013

That's what gardening is all about...

I love sharing things about gardening.  What I have yet do is share more than words and photos of my garden.  I dearly love it when someone cuts a cluster of various flowers from their yard, drops them into water and sets them on a coworker’s desk.  There’s just something so beautiful about this simple gesture; its like warm chicken soup lovingly made from scratch.  Just comforting!  It doesn’t matter if it’s in a mason jar or a fancy vase…store bought flowers, arranged by a professional just don’t have the same appeal.  Not once have I gathered a cluster of blooms to share in this fashion.  This troubles me.  I see it as a major character flaw that must be corrected A.S.A.P! 

Just last week a coworker brought in a simple clear glass vase with a couple branches of deep pink azalea and purple iris with a light and airy, shimmery golden bow tied around the neck of the vase.  A more beautiful bouquet has never existed.  It was breathtaking in its simplicity.  This week a bowl full of fragrant white peony graced a table for her meeting.  A couple years ago a lady brought me a very thin vase that stood about 18 inches tall with one singular pale pink, barely opened rose bud from her garden.  Attached to it at the neck was a long, sheer, flowing ribbon tied at its neck that blew back like an angel's wings as she handed it toward me.  Again… simple – yet gorgeous!

My own neighbors, as I wrote a few posts back, graced us with clumps of daylilies and salvia from their yard.  I can say that I have given away lots of potted plants that I’ve purchased with the intent of giving to a specific person… and given away shovels full of Wandering Jew or Lilies of the Valley, and tons of tips, advice and suggestions for newer gardeners... but not once have I gathered a bouquet of blooms to share.  But I am a “fix your flaws” kind of girl and I vow to make this happen!  Coming soon to a desk near you…

Monday, April 29, 2013

Wrapping up another weekend...

We finished up the new flowerbed this week.  I say “we”, but (as usual) I have to give most of the credit to my hubby for doing all the hard work!  He picked up the edging and another truck load of mulch and had the edging nearly complete by the time I got home from work on Thursday.  We finished up the rest of the bed before dinner and spent the next few days admiring our work.  I was amazed at how quickly the salvia perked up and claimed its spot in the garden.  The daylilies, for the most part, are holding their own; with a couple still lolled over but still nice and green.  The bed runs 40 ft. in length and 4 ft. deep.  Until the daylilies spread we have room for a few annuals for an added pop of color and depth along the front of the bed. 

 My husband is teasing me with the thought of another bed along the back fence – but for now the thought of weeding yet another bed has caused us to slow our process and give it a little more thought.   By “slowing” you know that it’s my husband’s idea… I’d be half way through with it already if it were up to me!
We had a nice surprise visit from a ruby-throated hummer who was sampling the salvia just 6-7 feet away from where we stood.  Such a gift those are to any garden.  We did find an infestation of Sawfly larvae on the “Sunny” Knock-Out Roses so we’ve got to stop them before they do too much damage.  A gardener’s work is never done!
Saturday it rained all day resulting in nearly 3 ¼ inches of rain – for which the new plants are grateful, I’m sure.  Sunday we had a mixed day of clouds and sunshine but only a quick shower in the early morning.    It made for a relaxing day with plenty of time for scouring the internet for ideas and studying growth habits of newly planted treasures!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Unexpected Gifts

Wow!  Now that’s what I call an awesome day!  We started off our day without any definitive plans; just easing into the morning.  I slept in; while the best husband in the world rose early, as usual, and started his normal routine in the quiet hours of the day.  We had breakfast and moved out on the patio to enjoy the day when a neighbor came dragging over a huge piece of cardboard filled with 3 huge clumps of Stella de Oro with purple Salvia coming along for the ride.  Oh joy!!!  We get free plants!!! I love it when someone shares a plant – not only because it didn’t cost us a penny… but because it will forever be a reminder of someone who was kind enough to share.  Double blessing… followed by years of blessing; both sight and smell!  How can you go wrong?  

So, we eyeballed the yard searching for the perfect spot that would guarantee full sun and where we’d be able to enjoy them readily.  We were thinking about just putting the three of them at the end of a flowerbed where we’d recently removed a huge Hemlock tree but I urged my husband to come with me to look at another option.  We’ve got an area to the west end of the pool that doesn’t have a flower in it.  Just grass and various weeds – and more of the latter than the first.  I suggested us centering them in between the fence sections to add some interest to that spot of the yard.  Much to my surprise, he thought it was a great idea.  I’ve got to say he’s like most men and does not exactly enjoy mowing around plants… so I was somewhat surprised. 

I began to look more closely at the plants to try to determine how many we could separate these three into without harming the plant.  By the time it was all said and done we had 13 Stella de Oro and 8 Salvia… just enough to complete the long run of the fence in that area!!!  Woo Hoo!  They are going to look fabulous!  Bear in mind we must now weed and mulch around them and add an edge or border before it will be done… but since we didn’t have time to plan we felt it best to get them in the dirt while we had the hours to devote to the project. 

I can hardly wait to see them bloom!!!
We also planted a Bleeding Heart in a bed alongside the driveway that is shady and needs a spot of color.  Transplanted an unknown plant that was out of place to a new home and planted 4 tomato plants for my lovely hubby.  Bless my sweet husband’s heart – before the day was done he had dug 27 holes for planting and somehow made it look nearly effortless.  What a guy!

So here I sit on the patio, weary from a day of work, surrounded by the smell of the wisteria and the sound of various songbirds.  Life is sweet my friend… almost as sweet as the iced tea that is just far enough away from the keyboard to prevent catastrophe!  Blessings to you and yours!

Monday, April 8, 2013

SPRING! I knew you'd come again!

Spring, like the absent blogger, is back and hopefully has been missed!  This past weekend was so needed!  So appreciated!  My soul has longed for spring’s beauty; the sights, the sounds, the smells and the everyday miracle of the rebirth of all things dormant.  This weekend my husband and I worked like young folks with strong backs!  We opened the pool Friday evening to find water that was clean, but not sparkling and worms, worms, worms!  We replaced the sand in the filter and scooped up all the worms; wishing that they were so plentiful in our flowerbeds and then followed that up with a good vacuuming. 

Saturday we pressure-washed the concrete surrounding the pool and didn’t stop there.  We then washed the patio and sidewalk until they were almost a blinding white!  While he pressure washed the patio I nabbed the clippers and began cutting the dead out of the boxwoods behind the house.  Sadly, once the dead branches were cut away we were left with a freakish row of boxwood that screamed for something more drastic.  After slight convincing, we pulled out the big guns and WHACKED the boxwoods nearly down to the ground.  We watered them with added hormones, vitamins and a light fertilizer – said a prayer and now it’s up to them!  If they’d like to stay… this is their opportunity to shine! 

I then convinced my sweet hubby to dig-up and transplant a struggling crepe myrtle that has never done well in its original space.  If you know much about my style of gardening… you know that much of it is based on moving things around… never planting anything and just leaving it be.  My yard must look like a giant chess board from above… constantly changing.  We chalk this crepe myrtle’s poor performance up to it being located too near a propane exhaust pipe from our house.  It now has a chance to thrive at the other end of the sidewalk where it will be much appreciated once it offers privacy and a splash of color!  I said to my hubby Sunday that I feel for the plants that are selected by us... until then... they've got just as much chance at survival as the others on the shelf.

Today my hubby must have been thrilled to see me off to work so he could finally get some rest.  I told him tonight that when you hear people say that a younger woman can wear out an older man you have no idea that they mean by yard work – until you’re in too far invested in the relationship to turn back!  He’s my love…  and one heck of a yard-man!  LOVE HIM, LOVE HIM, LOVE HIM!