Weekly Garden Journal #4

We had a week that taught patience…again…with lows in the 40’s, high’s in the cool low 60’s, and rain that defied forecasts, but came on anyway.  I think we are finally done with the 40’s, done with the planting and mulching,and ready to put up the pool, but I’m no meteorologist…

My zucchini continues to worry me, but I am talking to them in dulcet tones, praising them for any growth I can spot.  The tomatoes and peppers are stellar!!  I was going to plant the second crop of green beans on Mother’s Day last Sunday, but the wintry weather persuaded me to wait a bit.  The original crop of bush beans is just so-so, but the pole beans are a wonder!

Check out the lavender, planted  with a stray coreopsis and daisy, alongside two pots of nasturtium that seem to love their location in the part-sun.

Earlier we had pulled down an old trellis/birdfeeding area on the south side of the house.  At first I thought our 3-5 year-old butterfly bushes were going to fade, but they look great.  The new center is an old-fashioned snowball viburnum, native to these parts, and a gift for the birds…  It will grow quickly to 8-10 feet tall, 6-8 feet wide and become a veritable condo for our feathered friends…

The entire east side of the house has been updated with a new hose caddy, new plantings of phlox and liatris, and a dandy solar lightpole planter that I picked up for 66% off at the end of last season…   I’ve planted the planter with super bells and petunias of some sort that can tolerate hot sun in metal…I hope…

Coming home from Olivia’s birthday dinner last week, the kids were wide-eyed and surprised when we abruptly pulled over to pick up these chairs from the Heavy Trash on the side of the road…the owner was just bringing them out from his backyard where they’d spent the winter, said he just didn’t need them….

Yes, we will take your free stuff, especially if it’s better than ours…

Keep on Growing…


Weekly Garden Journal #3

In the Edible garden, the green beans are worrisome with large gaps in the rows.  I pushed in some new seeds, hoping for the best..  All of the original tomatoes look terrific and we staked and caged them.  Casey’s out picking up a load of mulch from Hillside Gardens and that will pretty the place up nicely.

The Bird Garden is a Real Garden now and we’re keeping a close eye on our birds, spying several rose-breasted grosbeaks…and a dang brown-headed cowbird–boo… and the Cardinals are loving it, even using the bird-bath!    Plenty of hummingbirds have dropped by–they don’t care if we’re out there working or not.

The peonies have burst into bloom!  The rose bushes are covered in buds, but just a few have opened…  Honeysuckle is hosting a party for the bees…

I still have some containers to fill, and hope to get the Viburnum planted sometime this coming week.  I’m kind of sad that it’s winding down…but there is another bed of green beans to plant, and All That Watering!

I harvested my arugula and made a delicious arugula, beets, and goat cheese salad.  I would have taken pictures, but it was not as attractive a dish as it was tasty.  I harvested the cilantro, as well, and have a week’s worth of cilantro-lime recipes lined up…

Keep on Growing…

Weekly Garden Journal #2

I love the sleep that rewards a day of working in the garden. I wake up feeling like I’ve been healed and nourished, praying “God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world”.

That is, unless it’s another rainy, gloomy, cool-ish day like today.  That’s Spring for ya, a moody little witch that can get you high in the 70s and kill that buzz with a low 40…

We had some good work-days this week.  All of the veggies are in.  I’ve kept one bed free for a second sowing of green beans.  The original bed is sloow popping up, thanks to those 40s and some pounding rain, but I think they’ll be okay.  I’ve changed around some of the container contents, and may change them again. I ended up with too many bell peppers and roma tomatoes and had no choice but to plant as many as I could find space for.  I still have 4 peppers and 1 roma left, if anybody’s interested…


The Big Excitement, though, is Phase I of our Bird Garden.  We spend quite a bit of time watching the birds, especially in the winter and we realized we wanted our feeders to be closer, and where we could more easily see.  Inspired by Sharon Sorenson’s book, Planting Native to Attract Birds to Your Yard , I started envisioning planting a playground for our birds to frolic as we while away the winter watching..

You’ve probably noticed that I change my mind a Lot, but this is a start.  First thing we bought was a Sweet Bay Magnolia.  This tree is allegedly a bird-magnet, providing a little something for every season.  I already have a 10-year-old Jane magnolia, but that is not native.  The birds love it, though, and it is a great backdrop for photos in the winter.  The sweet bay grows larger than Jane, and we put it strategically away from the house, positioned to eventually touch the Jane’s branches.

I broke my rules and bought another non-native Jane because I wanted a smaller tree to define the south boundary of the garden.  The hummingbird feeders are hanging to either side of the south door and already are hosting hummers.

In my head is this grand design using picket fencing, but in order to get things going for next winter’s bird-watching, we simply moved the bird feeders currently in use and planted native rudbeckia and echinacea around the poles.  We still need to widen the flower area, but that is some tenacious weed growing there.   Sharon didn’t have to tell me how much the birds love the black-eyed Susans and purple coneflower! I can hardly wait to watch the goldfinches feast on them.

In the next phase, we’re adding a Viburnum and some sweet virginia sweetspire around the south side for them to feast on, though that’s out of our sight..   I hope by winter we’ll have a ground-level bubbler added, but for now we’ve got an old birdbath thrown down for water…  Still needs Imagination when I look at it, but I like it…

Last year, looking for a red perennial vine, I found a half-dead Rebecca clematis at Lowes, brought it home and nursed it back to health, but not bloom.  Check it out this year!

While the heavens water the gardens here at Sonnystone, I’ll be turning my attention to the weather in Louisville tomorrow for the Oaks and Saturday for the Kentucky Derby…


A Time to Plant

In the past, I’ve carefully enumerated the plants as I placed them in their new digs.  While I could do a quick calculation of this year’s work so far, I don’t really need to impress myself like I used to.  Besides, do you count seeds?  When I dig up daisies and replant them someplace else, does that count as two?  All I can say is we did a helluva lot of planting on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday this week…

We finished up just in time for soaking rains.  Good thing, too, because we need to continue working on the porches..

There’s still more fun in store.


New Beginnings

Every year we watch as the green returns to the grasses and the trees bud, checking the temperatures, measuring the rains…  I look out the windows and plan the planting, imagining a summer garden lush with flowers and vegetables.  The containers are pulled out of the shed, emptied and cleaned, ready to be filled.    The porches that have served as storage are now serving as cozy sitting areas where we rest after our labors.

This Spring has been the best we’ve had in years, meaning there have been no hard frosts (or snow!) to kill the tender buds of the dogwoods, magnolia, and redbuds and they are now flourishing.  The daffodils came out in exuberant droves, the forsythia and quince bloomed in an abundant array of beauty.

The pollens are also prolific and my sinuses are blooming with snot…  Mornings sound like a TB ward around here as I clear my throat from the night’s drainage, but I can live with it just to be out gardening in the Spring.

The average last day of frost in these parts is April 15, but I’m still leery of planting vegetables.  I remember too many Derby Days (first Saturday in May) wearing a coat and winter hat and have learned to be patient.

Just to tide me over, I bought a small 4-pack of Roma tomatoes, Big Bertha and California Wonder peppers, an a sweet cherry 100 and put them over in larger pots.  They should be the right size to plant in about a month when I can plop them in the (warm) ground.

Cilantro and arugula have been put into buckets. Peas have been planted behind the young asparagus.

There is plenty of clean-up to be done.  I have moved everything out of the East garden–mostly daisies, a few coreopsis–and it is ready for a new vision.    I have daisies coming out the wazoo, but they don’t fit in with the plan for my Bird Garden, so they’ve been relegated to the front porch area and over in the North garden. There are a lot of leftovers…always a challenge.

 For now I’m going to plant my four pots of lavender in front of the hydrangea.

I started gardening 26 years ago when my daughter went off to college, the dog died, and I needed a hobby.  Inspired by the old farmers I was visiting as a home health nurse, it seemed to me to be the best way to Live, connected to the earth, giving and taking with the seasons.  It started with some herbs, some tomatoes and green beans.  It grew to water features and compost bins and thyme-covered paths. I have failed too many times to count, but never did I fail to grow something…and that was enough to keep me going.   Every year, sure as Spring, I return to the Garden and fall in love…

Clearly, nature calls to something very deep within us.  When I am in the garden, whether or not the thing grows is not the point; whether the garden is symmetrical is irrelevant.  The weeding and the watering or just the admiration of the season is All.

The effects of nature’s qualities on health are not only spiritual and emotional but physical and neurological. I have no doubt that they reflect deep changes in the brain’s physiology, and perhaps even its structure.  …. Oliver Sacks

Gardening has changed my brain, I’m certain, and has built pathways directly to my Soul where we are All One. You and me and all Living things and all meditations and all prayers and all art and all songs are the Same working together as One in the Moment that is the Only Moment:  Now.

I’m so happy to be back at the blog, as well.  I hope you’ll enjoy spending some time in the Sonnystone Gardens with me this Growing Season.


The Conservatory

As you can tell, I haven’t posted a single-solitary-thing on this blog since 7/29/18…  If you follow The News from Sonnystone Acres you already know that we built an addition to connect our kitchen porch with our laundry room/shed (in these old houses you have to learn the art of re-purposing).  It has polycarbonate walls and ceiling, is attached to our porch, and is used as a greenhouse or sun parlor, so it qualifies as a conservatory.  I’m thinking of Clue…and  the candle holder…and Miss Scarlet…


I don’t have much confidence in my ability to actually grow things in my conservatory, even though I’m pretty good with houseplants.  As a result, folks often remark that I have a green thumb and to that I say Ha!  I did once get some fungus growing under a fake nail, but that is as close as I’ve been to even understanding the term.

What I know is that some houseplants are hardier than others and therefore able to withstand being forgotten for a while if they’re in the right spot.  Since Most of my indoor plants are 5-10+ years old, they are now like pets to me.  I know how much sunshine they like, how often they get thirsty, and have repotted them all at least once.  Still, they surprise me with their persistence…


In the same way, I”m hoping to fill the conservatory with plants that Want to Live so they can survive my inexperience.  I’ve got herbs! mints, rosemary, thyme, and oregano.  I’ve got flowers! begonias, lavender, and rudbeckia.

For once I’m looking forward to winter and having my own little piece of sunshine right outside the kitchen door!


Garden Diary 29 July 2018

The month of July is always full of grandies enjoying Camp Sonnystone.  The garden takes a back seat, but we did manage to pote our buckets around and keep everything as watered as we could…well, almost everything.  Despite our best efforts, the lack of rain combined with the heat took its toll.

After the Jose’ fam left, we surveyed the damage and brought in whatever veggies we could, which was plenty.  Most of the yellow squash had bit the dust (literally) earlier, but there were 3 zucchini producing.  The tomatoes were covered with ripening fruit and the bell peppers are (still) carrying on.  I ended up freezing a dozen quart bags of zucch and squash, though, so I’m happy.  Now there’s one more zucchini on the last plant.

I had to take down a tomato that suddenly went yellow on me, and the better boys have slowed down, but I’m hoping they’ll get started again.  I still have dozens of tomatoes, even after making a huge greek tomato salad and slicing every chance I get.

I’ve harvested 4 pots of basil and made an ice cube tray of pesto.  There’s a pound or so of onions, and some chive put up.  Casey’s barrel of potatoes only produced a handful, but the experiment gave us great ideas of next year.

Oh, and that’s a jar of lemon verbena leaves, ready to be transformed into tea, or infused into some nice vodka.

I’m really grateful, as I know many gardeners have had worse seasons and I do have a lot to show for my work.  It’s just that vegetables are a bit of a gamble.  Yet each year I learn something new.

The flowers, though….  daisies, rudbeckia, roses (!), pineapple sage, butterfly bushes… they are blooming, attracting the birds and bugs and making me smile.


Casey has started a Major New Project, and I’m planning an August Extravaganza of sorts…  You’ll want to read about it over at The News from Sonnystone Acres…