The Growing Season

Front2Today I thought I’d share how the front flower bed and rain gardens are looking this season.  The perennials from previous plantings have slowly been coming in and I’ve added a few new items as well to get the front beds going for the season, although like most other things around here, it’s a work in progress. (On that note, pretend you don’t see that crazy hose situation going on in the foreground there.  Our expandable hose bit the dust last season and unfortunately we haven’t figured out a good system for storing the long hoses we replaced it with just yet so they stay coiled in this pile for daily use for now.)

The first thing that showed up was this amazing allium, which sprouted and then produced a long stalk with a odd shaped bud at the top.  At first I thought an alien had taken up residence in my flower bed, but thanks to the local garden group I was able to identify it and enjoy watching it blossom.

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FrontAllium

We moved the rain barrel out of the small corner next to the garage so it can be used in the backyard with a gutter so the space needed a bit of rearranging.  I filled the void from the rain barrel with white iris from my mother-in-law’s garden that I brought back when we picked up Brinley and added some phlox between that and the hosta that has come back much better than it did last year.  The phlox is doing quite well and has doubled in size since I planted it, so I’m pretty sure it’s happy there.  I’m also loving the metal hearts I added on the wall, which will look even better when the plants grow up and fill some of the empty space below them.

None of the previous plantings on the other side of the walkway came back so I took the opportunity to try something new – an anemone and a sea pink armeria.  The armeria reminds me of a Dr. Seuss plant, but hasn’t rebloomed since I deadheaded spent blooms, so I might need to find a better spot for it.

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The anemone is doing very well, although upon closer inspection last night I noticed aphids so I’ll have to address that.  It’s been a horrible season for pests so I’m checking out every DIY remedy available online.

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I moved our little wooden moose statute into the corner to hide a cable that comes out of the garage wall until the plants grow in and do that on their own.  In the opposite corner next to the porch, I paired this metal sphere and piece of driftwood for a fun little garden vignette.

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There are more spheres on the far end of the bed on the other side of the porch.  This space got several new plants including daisies, lupine, yarrow and day lilies transplanted from my mother-in-law’s garden.

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The daisies got a little wild as they started to grow in so I used some of rusty cement stakes to create a little support system for them.  I’m hoping they go to seed at the end of the season and self-sow an even bigger crop next year.

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Mr. Frog found a nice little resting spot next to a big piece of driftwood in the back of the bed.  He’s sorely in need of a paint job but I think I’ll let him be this season and address that next year since I love his colors in this spot.

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I filled the whiskey barrels on the stoop with dusty miller and purple alyssum, which has been slowly growing in.  Beyond that there is white alyssum in wire and burlap pots on each side on the first step, with purple daisies in rustic metal pails on the top step.  Those extra pots you spot hanging out on the porch are awaiting new homes in the gifted garden along the side of the house.  Before that can happen I need to weed that bed and make a bit of room for them.

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The rain garden is coming along quite well, and without much effort on my part, which is my kind of garden.  I moved the tall obelisk we got at the Great Junk Hunt last year to this space for some height at the back of the garden and really like it here.  I plan to transplant a lilac in the gifted garden to that same spot at the end of the season so it has more room to spread out, which will hide a large section of the tire wall. 🙂

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The clematis on either side of the garden weren’t growing in to cover the tire wall as I’d hoped so I decided to give them a bit of guidance with temporary tape.  One side is looking fairly lush and seems to have adapted well, but the other side is still a bit sparse.  I may add a third and forth clematis along the back wall next year if I don’t see much growth by then.

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The chives I planted out here at the end of last season when cleaning out the garden box are doing well and have actually bloomed.

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The mint from our herb planter last year is also coming in quickly.

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This mystery plant in the front of the garden is growing quite rapidly, but I haven’t been able to confirm what it is just yet.

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I was surprised to discover the vinca vine I planted when we first did the rain garden had come back in after it showed little signs of life last summer.  Next to it the spikewell is quite lush although it hasn’t shown any buds yet.

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The water iris are slowly growing, but I’m thinking they may not bloom again this year.

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But the large clumps of iris that came from our friend’s yard in Seward have finally started blooming!  In fact almost every plant has several blooms opening on it!

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The other two lilacs that were at the back of the garden have been relocated to either side of the garden so they have room to establish and spread out without crowding each other.  I still need to clean up the areas around them but at least they have their own space now.

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The lambs ear from my mother-in-law’s garden survived the winter after transplant and has grown taller, so I’m hopeful it will continue to grow and create more shoots.

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Here’s the view from the driveway of the whole scene.  The pile of rocks in the foreground are headed for our new rock garden and there are small batches of ground cover along the front that will eventually grow in to cover the slope.

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Between the house and the rain garden lies the raspberry patch, which is coming along nicely.  I pruned back the dead branches to encourage the new branches to produce which worked well since we have lush growth on the stalks and numerous white buds on each plant so we’re on track for a bountiful harvest.

We also added a haskap bush in front of the raspberries.  Haskaps are similar to blue berries, but are better suited for our climate.  Hopefully we’ll harvest those to accompany the raspberries in our summer time desserts.

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The hubs also rigged up the big water tank you see in the background to gravity feed the soaker hose in the raspberry patch, which has been super convenient on the occasional hot sunny day.  I’ve decided to let the fireweed that’s encroaching on the raspberry patch be for now since both are fairly dominant and should fight each other out.  Plus it blocks out the ferns and other undergrowth that would like to spread out from the woods just beyond and if something going to spread I’d rather have fireweed than a thorny Nuka Rose!

Hopefully I’ll get the gifted garden in shape soon and can share that as well, along with the finished rock garden around the back deck. Stay tuned for those updates and a few other little projects in between. 🙂

Purdy-ing Up the Chicken Yard

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Part of my plans for the yard this year included adding flowers around the new chicken yard.  I placed cinderblocks around both sides of the yard so I’d have a built in row of planting spots and picked up a couple flats of lobelia at the nursery just for this area.

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Tequila stood chicken watch while I planted.  Things were looking so pretty that even the hubs commented on the new flowers and I was feeling pretty happy with the project.  That is until those fluffy cluckers attacked said flowers and had picked them down to the base before I finished planting the other side!  I quickly placed boards against the fence so the chickens couldn’t see or reach the plants anymore in a desperate attempt to save those that had been hacked.

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But this was NOT the look I was going for.  The hodge podge of boards constantly got knocked over and landed on the plants themselves which was just as damaging as the chickens pecking them.  So what’s a chicken momma to do?

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Well a crafty chicken momma makes protective curtains!  I dug out some thick sail cloth material I had in my fabric stash and cut it to size to fit between each of the posts.  A couple of simple slits along the top gave me a spot to use a zip tie to attach it to the panel and keep things taunt.

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It’s not the fanciest option, but it looks and works better than the piled high boards.  And it didn’t cost me a cent!

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The curtains are just low enough that the chickens can still see out when standing on the ground and just high enough that Brinley can’t see in unless she stands on the blocks.  She can still see through the door so that’s become her new viewing spot, which keeps her out of the plants as well.

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I did have to replace a few of the plants, but now things are looking pretty good.  I didn’t make a curtain for the small panel at the back, since those two blocks will hold grass that I’ll let grow just for the hens.  They are temporarily blocked with two small boards, but once they establish I’ll take them down periodically so they can enjoy fresh greens.

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I also got the walkway along the chicken yard cleared of the rock piles that had been there (hint, those are being used for another project that I’ll share soon).  We’d like to put down pavers or some other permanent pathway from the deck to the gate, but that’s probably a project that will happen next season.  For now having a clear established walkway functions just fine.

I’m sure the chickens don’t appreciate my crafty genius solution, but that’s ok.  I plan to take the curtains down at the end of the season and let the cluckers have at the remains of the plants since they are annuals anyway.  Then I’ll wash the fabric and store it away for next year.

I’d love to hear what you think of my little project to pretty up this utilitarian space in our yard, so leave a comment below!

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A Little Indoor Gardening

Remember my little terrarium project?  Well it’s gone so well that a few of the plants have since outgrown their little bubbles and were in need of a bigger home.  I’ve been collecting little crocks and containers to serve as planters and trays to set them all on for a few weeks now from clearance bins and yard sales.  I decided I finally had enough and got some potting soil to get things going.  Here’s what I started with.

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You can sense that I had a plan as I set all these out! I moved the larger plants into new pots where they can continue to grow, and transferred the slower growing plants to the now empty terrariums.

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I ended up with enough planters to fill the laundry room window, the master bathroom window AND one of the windows in the family room.

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At some point in the hopefully near future the terrariums will once again hang in the windows, but I’ve given the hubs marching order that his priority is getting the garage unpacked and organized first – which will also hopefully result in him finding his fishing line to do said hanging!  Once I rearranged everything there was still a bit of room in the laundry room window tray so I found another small container for future repotting, or even a new additional plant.

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I was afraid that the dogs might bother the ones in the family room since it sits at eye level for them, but luckily they haven’t seemed very interested.  Hopefully that statement didn’t just jinx things! LOL

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I love having something green and alive around the house, how about you?  What kinds of plants do you have in your home?

My Little Corner of Paradise

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I’ve always thought orchids were exotic and high maintenance, so I’d never considered having one because the plants in my house have to be as hardy as the rest of the things in my home!  Then the other day I was walking through Fred Meyer and spotted this orchid which looked exactly like one I’d recently seen on vacation at Balboa Park in San Diego and just had to stop and admire it’s beauty.  That’s when I noticed the sale.  The smaller orchids like this one were just $16!  Really!?  I’d always thought that orchids were expensive because of the attention they require so I thought it must be a typo or there is something wrong with this batch.

OrchidI decided to take a moment and read the tag attached to determine what the catch was.  When I did it noted that orchids prefer bright to moderate indirect light and only have to be watered every 20-25 days.  WHAT!?  That’s it?!  How did I miss that?!

I immediately decided I would be buying one and set out to find the best color combination available.  I moved several around to compare and I’m pretty sure I gave another lady ‘the look’ when she attempted to move in on one of the options I was considering.  In the end I was in love with this pink dalmatian pattern and the pot was a pretty mauvey purple so it would work well with my “modern exotic” theme in the master bedroom – which I promise to post about at some point soon.  So it went into my cart and came home.

I decided it should live on my nightstand where I’d see it  it every day, reminding me to water it occasionally.  Plus that would provide good indirect light all day from the window near the back door in our room.  It’s been about 2 weeks now and so far it seems pretty happy in it’s new local.

It’s addition has made this little corner of the room feel like a little slice of paradise just for me.  I’m excited to watch the remaining bud open and unfurl more spotted petals.  I’m not sure what the life cycle of an orchid is, so I ‘ll have to do some research on that soon, but for now I plan to just enjoy this stunning array of color each morning and evening.

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