Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Another Day with No Photos

Today got away from me! I managed to plant the living wall this morning, dug the holes for the arbor vitae (no mean feat, as one hole had some serious concrete left from the gatepost that used to be there), then supervised the workers who came to install the lattice on the fence and the stairway railing. Lloyd cut some wood to frame the flagstone area between the arbor vitae. I put a couple of gallons of water into the holes and let it soak down, so the ground will be moist when we plant them tomorrow.
Then it was off to Sedalia, a haircut, lunch, and a stop at Big Lots with NJ. At BL, I snagged a couple of metal wall art pieces -- one for the back fence and one for over the door of the shed. By the time we got back, there was time for a little yard cleanup. After supper we headed over to the farm store and got a dozen bags of cocoa mulch, showed off our progress to some friends who stopped by, and then watered everything well.
In the morning, I'll start weeding and mulching in the front, which gets the most sun, and then work my way around to the back yard, which is shadier and doesn't dry out as quickly.

Monday, June 29, 2009

A New Look

Every day in the garden brings a new look, but the new look of the title refers to the blog background. It comes from Hot Bliggity Blog free blogger backgrounds for the cool peoples. You can reach the website by clicking on the little bar in the upper left corner of the screen.
The new look in the garden today includes many plants. Two rectangular planters were added beside the front steps. They were intended for a baker's rack on the screened porch but turned out to be too big. They are planted with dusty miller and cardinal flowers (lobelia x speciosa) "Fan Scarlet". I used Miracle Gro's soil with the moisture beads, as this area gets hot sun every afternoon. I'm hoping the moisture beads will keep them from drying out too quckly. Just below the steps, on the left side, is a salvia "Eveline"; it is replacing one of the plants from Michigan Bulb that didn't make it.

On the left side of the porch, where the hollyhocks are, I added an echinacea "Pink Poodle" (red circle) and nepta "Blue Dragon" (blue circle). Inside the yellow circle are three hollyhocks. The larger one is from Michigan Bulb; the two smaller ones are from seed. I have no idea what the tall leggy flowers in the center are. The ID stick was missing from the pot. They have lovely white flowers. [Click on the photos to enlarge]
To the right of the porch I planted two baptisia "Carolina Moonlight" (red arrows) and three amsonia hubrichtii "Bluestar". I'm not familiar with these, but they should grow to about three feet tall by 30" wide and effectively block the gas meter from view. Inside the red box is the butterfly bush. It still doesn't look like much, but it has added some new leaves.

Moving to the back yard, I finally planted the four lilies I got on sale at Walmart weeks ago (red arrow). The only ID on their little tag said Lily, pink. In the foreground are three heucheras (coral bells) I got at the nursery sale last Friday. From left, they are: "Miracle", "Berry Smoothy", and "Lime Rickey." The stick in the background (yellow arrow) is one of the witch hazel bushes from Michigan Bulb. It's leafing out nicely. The other two aren't as robust; one has some leaves, smaller, and the other seems to be dead, but I'll leave it where it is for a while, just to be sure.

In the peninsula end of the Maple Island, I added a columbine (yellow arrow). I don't know its proper name, but I'm sure it will be lovely all the same.

Have you noticed something depressing about these pictures? The flowers seem to be awash in a sea of gray: dried dirt, dead grass. I think I'm going to have to break down and start mulching the areas that are planted. I was hoping to avoid mulching, and maybe I can cut way back on it next year, as the plants get their growth, but this year I think it is a must. I hope I can find enough mulch so that it can all be the same kind. It's getting a bit late in the season and the stockpiles at the farm store are dwindling.
I added eight sweet basil plants to the little kitchen garden bed. They're lined up along the soaker hose on the backside. I don't recall if I mentioned the four yellow pepper plants just to the right of them. They came from Walmart and were planted a few days ago.

Despite all of this planting, there are still a few in their pots. I took the begonia out of the turtle planter and put in a creeping phlox plant. The other small plants will go into the crevices of the wall itself. I'm going to stuff more of the Miracle Gro potting soil with moisture beads into the cracks in hopes that they will be able to root into the dirt mound behind the wall before they dry out and die.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday Morning ... a Surprise!

The heat wave broke last night. We should be in the low 80s today instead of the mid 90s. I'm happy about that. I got out this morning and planted the daylilies along the north fence. The shadows in the early morning pictures make it difficult to see, but there are four clumps of lilies spaced along the board fence. The three nearest are the same, a burgundy color. That large clump broke into three pieces. The other clump is much smaller. I could have divided the clumps even more, but the grower suggested planting them as is for now and separating them in the fall, when the plant begins to go dormant. I'll do that after Labor Day, when we pick up the other daylilies from the farm. These are the hybridizer's didn't-make-the-cut rejects. This is the burgundy lily. Its petals are narrow and star-like. It shows up a bit red on my monitor. The petal touching the bottom of the photo at the right looks to be nearest the right color.

This is the yellow one. This photo is a bit green. In real life, the blossom is a beautiful clear yellow. The blue tape is how the plants are marked for digging. You go up and down rows and rows of plants to choose the ones you want. They're marked by one person with your name on the tape and dug by another.

You may have noticed a bunch of greenery in the first photo, along the fence at the right. I saw it for the first time today for what it is: poison ivy! I did a round of weed killing before I started planting this morning, and this puppy was hit with both RoundUp and Weed B Gone. Last year there was a small poison ivy vine on the big oak tree, but Lloyd managed to kill it off.

The main reason for the killing spree this morning is this vine. It has heart-shaped leaves, grows about 6 feet a day (it seems) and seems impervious to RoundUp. I'm hoping the 2,4D in the Weed B Gone will do the job on it.

This is the infected part of the yard. The main body of the vines is on the other side of the fence, so I sprayed all of that, too. I want to plant decorative grass along the fence here, but there's no point in doing that until the vines are gone.

This is the grass that will go in that corner so that something else can go here, beside the shed.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Lilywood Farms Adventure

It certainly was an adventure! Check out this blurry photo of the GPS in NJ's car. See where the bridge is? See where we are? If you didn't know there was a ferry at this point, the image would be pretty scary! This 1933 something-or-other was ahead of us to board the ferry.

Here's the reason for the temporary ferry service in Glasgow, Missouri: a new bridge is being built to replace the decrepit one. I was used to White's Ferry at Poolesville, Virginia. The boat is called the Gen. Jubal A. Early. The fare there is $4 one way/$7 round trip. The Glasgow ferry is $8 one way! I was amazed at the price difference. But, that said, any day with a ferry ride in it can't be all bad. :)

We wended our way through Glasgow and out into the countryside to Armstrong, Missouri, the home of Lilywood Farms. I was surprised to see how hilly the land is south of the river. Some of the roads were like roller coasters. Wheeeeeeeeeeeee! NJ was a good sport about waiting while I stomped around in the lily patches. She was waiting in the car for me to get my purchases wrapped up and snapped this shot of me in the side view mirror. It really doesn't tell you much about the day, but I think it's a cool shot.

Here are some of the many workers trimming and bagging clumps that have been purchased. The deal was, the landscape clumps that normally sell for $30 were on sale for $15, cash and carry. These are plants that are quite nice, but didn't make it into the gene pool of the hybridization program. They aren't registered, don't have names. I got one that is a pretty clear yellow and another, taller one, that is deep burgundy.
Here I am with a lily clenched in my teeth. I think the sun was getting to me by that time. Thanks to NJ, my foolishness was duly recorded.

Some of the registered lilies were on sale at 50% off for double fans. I bought 7 or 8 different kinds. These won't be dug until the plants begin to go dormant toward the end of summer. I can pick them up Labor Day weekend. That gives me time to decide exactly where each one will go, and I won't have to worry about them while we're away in August.

When I came home, I found the flowers here all gasping for water. It was 98F. I spent an hour giving them a good soaking. About 7 pm the cold front finally arrived. Now, at 9 pm, the temp is down to 81. Tomorrow should be a good day for planting.

A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That

We've had temperatures in the mid to upper 90s for the past week or more. Not much happening in the garden beyond weeding. Tomorrow's forecast is for a high in the low to mid 80s, which is super, as I bought several plants at a local nursery's end-of-season 50% off sale yesterday. And today NJ and I are going to Lilywood Farms (motto: Daylilies for the Distinctive Garden). They have some beautiful varieties, and they're having a sale this weekend.

I wandered around the yard this morning and took some random shots. There was once a low berm on the other side of the sidewalk running parallel to the front of the house that let rainwater run down to the foundation. After weeks of digging a bit at a time and wrestling out many dogwood roots, it is pretty well flattened. You can barely make out the dirt in the shadow. The dirt in the foreground will receive many of the plants bought yesterday. The yellow arrow indicates the butterfly bush that was but a twig several weeks ago. It now has some leaves.

Lloyd likes cacti. He has them planted in several saucers. We couldn't figure out where to put them. I suggested he put them alongside the drystacked brick wall and use some of the extra bricks to raise them up a bit. With the concrete patio as a base, they won't get muddied when it rains. I was thinking maybe a couple of bricks under each pot, but he got carried away. Here is Mount Cactus!
Last week I planted a bunch of nasturtium seeds for some quick and easy greenery and color. One of them is yellow! It seems to have a minimal amount of chlorophyll, but it keeps on growing. When I first spotted it, I thought it was dying, but since then it has produced more leaves. I'll be keeping an eye on this one! [This photo was taken at 7:30 am. By the time I got home at 4:30 pm, this little guy was toast. RIP, little fella.]
Here are the plants purchased yesterday. I moved them out of the sun right after I took the photo. The lattice was delivered yesterday. The tan will go on the fence to support vines. The white will be cut to fill in the openings in the white railing behind the plants. The railing protects the outside steps down to the basement, and the stairwell fills with leaves every fall. I'm hoping the lattice will keep most of the leaves from blowing in, and it will look nice, too. Behind the wagon is a new bottle of Weed B Gone. I'm going to use it to attack an evil vine growing along the back fence. It seems impervious to RoundUp, in fact it seems to gain strength from it. I'm hoping the 2,4D in the WBG will do it in.

The caladiums are finally up. I planted four of them. They were in a mixed bag. Two seem to be the pink/green variety. Not sure what the black one (arrow) will be. Look at how healthy those little weeds are.

Here's a long shot of the north fence. It is along this fence that many of the daylilies will go, with the exception of the section with the X. One of the lattices will go there to hold a fragrant clematis. It's just a few feet from the screened porch.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

You Load Sixteen Tons ...

Well, not exactly sixteen tons, but Tennessee Ernie Ford would have been proud of the way I carried the 22 bags of pond pebbles from the farm store to the back yard. I shoveled the pathway smooth, put down weed barrier cloth, and dumped, pushed, and shoved the rocks to form a walkway between the Shed Garden and the fence. The brown lump is part of a flower pot. I cut the bottom off and am using the ring as a protective collar for the trumpet vine planted there. A trellis will be added to the fence for it to climb on. I used the larger pond pebbles with the thought that they won't migrate as fast as pea gravel when stepped on, and won't start sinking as fast when the weed barrier rots away in a year or so. This was done a few days ago. I'm playing catch-up in the blog.
We're in a HOT spell this week ... upper 90s and humid. My friend NJ brought over four crape myrtle sprouts from her yard. I planted the biggest one in the front of the house, where it will get some morning sun and a lot of afternoon sun. As it grows, it will screen the length of the yard to create some privacy. I can't think of any other place in the yard for a crape myrtle, so I've listed the remaining three on Freecycle and the Midmogardeners lists. I marked it with an arrow, as it blends into the shadow. It was 82F at 7:30 am, when I finished watering it.

While I was outside the fence taking the photo above, I snapped this one of a daylily. It's one that I got at the master gardeners sale. I have no idea what its name is, but isn't it pretty with that little ring of orange in its throat?

On the way back into the house (where I plan to spend the rest of the day in air conditioned comfort!), I snapped this picture of the gladiolus bed. They were planted June 3, so they are 19 days along. You can almost watch them grow!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Quiet Sunday

No photos today, but progress was made with planting. In the front yard, purple salvia seeds were planted just inside the front gate, and hollyhock seeds were planted next to the house, where the hollyhock plants were put in yesterday.

In the back yard, most of the remaining plants found a home. I didn't tackle the big area in the rock garden. My muscles rebelled at the thought of digging and turning all of that dirt and peat moss. Tomorrow.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Great Wall of Marshall

Before we get to the wall, let me share some photos of the Grand Entrance in its current incarnation. My friend Norma Jeane came over today with a bag of pachysandra from her garden and shovel in hand. It's so much more fun to have a kindred spirit in the garden, and as an experienced gardener, she helped a lot. She gave me a certificate for a day's work for my birthday last January; today I cashed it in. When we were finished, the front entrance had been reworked. The square tubs with the hibiscus are now on the ground instead of hanging over the lower step. When they start blooming, their red blossoms will really pop against the black shutters.
Here's a closer view of the left side, part of NJ's planting. The red lines are pointing to hollyhocks. I'm going to plant hollyhock seeds behind them, so next year there ought to be a grand display of hollyhocks there. The blue lines point to some to some lavender grass. The orange arrow is pointing to pink pampas grass that is hiding behind the planter. The brown arrows indicate the chocolate chip ajuga that she planted all along the front walk. When it starts to fill in, it will be better than mulch and won't have to be replaced. It's a good place for it, as it doesn't mind being stepped on once in a while. I just wonder how it will fare when we put deicer on the walk next winter.

Here are the pachysandra plants under the magnolia. You can maybe make out the half dozen variegated plants that I put in a few days ago. All the rest are from NJ's yard. They'll make a nice neat carpet when they spread. This bed is ready for edging now.

While NJ was working in the front yard, I was busy in the back. I planted the three reblooming azaleas; I love their delicate light green leaves. I also planted the three witch hazel bushes. That stick with the white tag on it is one of them. I put an arrow on it so you can find it! [Remember, you can make these pictures bigger if you click on them.]

Continuing along the back fence, I also planted the Lenten Roses (hellebores). I've never seen them in bloom, but the pictures are lovely. They bloom in early spring. The arrow in the upper right is pointing to another witch hazel. I'm having a hard time imaging these sticks growing into real bushes -- they look like willow switches.

Besides the planting, which was almost incidental, I managed to complete two major projects. Below you're looking at the backside of an L-shaped wall. Yesterday I built the stone part, and today I made a wall of bricks along the patio side of this island. It took six trips to the front yard to dig dirt for the backfill. It's a big wheelbarrow, and I can only roll it when it's 2/3 full. I did take a good sized chunk out of the berm in the front yard that needs to be removed anyway. The flowers in the foreground are primroses bought on sale at Walmart yesterday. The little tag identified them as annuals, but I know they are perennials, as I've grown them before.

Here's the front of the wall. The bricks, like the stones, are dry stacked. I turned some of them at a 90-degree angle to sort of anchor them into the dirt. If the little wall (it's only 4 courses high) starts to wobble, I'll take it apart and add some Liquid Nails for stability. I don't want to mess with mortar. The lilies in front of the wall were half price at Walmart. I like sales.

I did say two major projects. The other one was clearing out one end of the rock-bordered garden. This is what it looked like early this morning. The holes were left when I lifted the mums and moved them to the front. In the course of clearing out the weeds, I found two more mums, very tiny. I moved them up front, too. If they make it, fine. If not ... well, they can always be replaced. Note the rocks in the lower left corner. They were messed up with the fence installers rolled over them with the mini Bobcat and had to be reset.
After several hours of labor, the bed was cleared of weeds and six bags of topsoil and a bag and a half of peat moss had been spread. The topsoil bags leaked, so the soil was very wet and weighed more than the 40 pounds marked on the bags. I broke it up with a hoe as best I could and then spread the peat moss over the top. Tomorrow I'll get in there with a spade and do some mixing. Some of the rocks are still a bit cattywampus, but at least they're lined up again. I got some herbs and tomatoes at Walmart yesterday. This is where they'll go. I may put a couple of flagstones in the middle, a continuation of the center line in the next bed for easier access to the inside of the square.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Rain Delay Bonus: A Living Wall

Before I explain that cryptic title, let me show you the plantings done yesterday from Michigan Bulb. This is part of the Grand Entrance garden. I must admit, the plants look nearly twice as big today as they did when planted yesterday. I may want to get some close-out annuals and poke them in between for some color. Or maybe not. We'll see.
This little number will be a black butterfly bush about 4-5 feet tall. It's meant to grow up and overhang the sump pump well at the left. It has a pile of growing to do!
These are the plants yet to be put into the ground. There are three witch hazel "bushes" in there, lying down. Each one is a thin whip about 3 feet high. It will be interesting to see how these become bushes. I hope it will be dry enough to plant tomorrow (Friday), but the ground is so soupy that they may have to wait until Saturday.

The gladiolus bulbs are sprouting!

Over the past few days, a plan has evolved for what I'm calling the gateway to the back yard. It's a transition area from the colorful, flowery front yard to the greenery of the wooded back and spans the area between the back corner of the house and the place where the pickets meet the privacy fence. The two tall arbor vitae will define the area; they're not quite where they will be planted. Xochitl pulled up all of the bricks and stacked them neatly. They'll be used elsewhere, eventually. Something will replace them -- an anniversary present Lloyd got for me -- but I'll keep that as a surprise. I knew there was some reason why I was reluctant to dig up the stepping stones.
Since it was too wet to plant (the rain delay in the title), I lugged a number of rocks from one side of the yard to the other and built a living wall. Lloyd has been wanting one, but I didn't see a place for it until today. It is an element in the gateway to the back yard. I left spaces between the rocks for soil and will be looking for plants to fill in. I put a couple of Lloyd's cactus saucers on top, but I'm not sure they'll stay there. The location of the cactus garden has yet to reveal itself to us. I think a tall ceramic pot will go where the bags of peat moss are stacked to anchor the patio end of the wall.

I don't recall if I mentioned it earlier, but that saucer in the middle island marks the spot where the fountain will go. The solar-powered fountain pump arrived today, so Lloyd can now start work on the ceramic bowl that will be the fountain.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ducking Tornadoes

We're under a tornado watch until 1 am, but this post could also be titled "Weather for Ducks" for all the rain we've had. The plants arrived from Michigan Bulb today. I've ordered plants by mail before, but I always forget how small they are until they arrive. About half got planted; the rest will go in tomorrow. There are no photos yet. I don't want to embarass the poor scrawny things, especially in this gloomy weather. If the sun comes out tomorrow, maybe.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Grand Entrance

Well, maybe not grand yet, but it's getting there. This photo is where we left it last Friday, with half of the central flower bed dug and looking like a fresh grave.
This is where we are today, Tuesday. Both sides are dug and the clods broken up. They're ready for the plants coming from Michigan Bulb. I put in a couple of stepping stones, one on each side, so we don't have to step in the dirt to cross the yard or walk around to the back of the house.
Two young men came out from the nursery this morning and dug out the sad bushes that were at the foundation. Some dirt needs to be moved around a bit before anything is planted there.

You can see on the right side of this photo where some of the excess dirt from the entrance garden has been deposited. This area is very low, which I think adds to the problem of water leakage in that corner of the basement when we have torrential rains. With any luck at all, raising the ground level at the foundation and sloping it away from the house ought to reduce the leakage if not stop it entirely. There was one bush right in front of the gas meter. I had the young man dig down a little way and cut it off with a chain saw, then cover up the stump. I'm not going to do any major digging there, and I wasn't too keen on them digging out roots that may or may not have grown around the gas line.

Here's part of the area being filled in. I put in a couple of stepping stones for access to the water faucet when the ground is soggy. Some kind of bush or tree will be planted at the corner of the house to block the view of the hardware. Not sure what it will be yet.

The next thing to be done in the front yard is to move all of the dirt in the center mound. You can just make it out running parallel to the house. We rarely get water in the basement on that side, but I'm sure the fact that the ground slopes toward the house can't be good. The excess dirt from here will add some fill by the water faucet and will also fill in some low spots on the other side of the house.

Mother Nature gifted us with more rain this afternoon, so my muscles are getting a little break.