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…

 Peace

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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.

Peace

Back in the Garden

So, we just skipped Spring this year, it seems.  Since April 29, when our lows were a chilly 40’s and highs mid-50’s, we have had 2 weeks of blazing highs in the upper 80’s to 90’s, even set some records.  We also got a hail storm, the likes of which I have never witnessed.  It was high anxiety watching as my newly-planted veggies were pelted, but they all made it through with minimal trauma.  Now we’re in a holding pattern of clouds and rain, which is just fine.

Here’s this year’s edible garden, as of today…

 

My roses were devastated by rose slugs.  Can you believe it?  They have bloomed beautifully, but within about 3 days went from having a few holes in the leaves, to being literally foliage-free….not a good look.  We have sprayed, twice, so we are hopeful that they will recover, but…  I sincerely regret buying all these knock-out roses. I guess these blooms  almost…kinda…sorta.. make up for the trouble.

 

Still, this lovely honeysuckle bloom is as easy and pest resistant as it gets…  I should stick with native plants…

I planted lavender in containers this year, throwing in the towel at growing them in the ground.  My original plan was to keep them out in the edible garden, but I’m babying them on sunniest spot on the front porch for now.

Since it was summer-like, we got the pool up and the water was quickly comfortable, especially after working up a sweat schlepping around plants.  We expanded the pool area and changed some stuff around.  I’ll catch you up with that and the front porch (we have had some good rummage sale buys this year) over at Sonnystone Acres .

There’s some good-looking cilantro out back begging me to make Salsa…

Peace

Still growing…

3 weeks + 3 days post planting…

My zucchini/squash are fruiting like crazy!

I’m still a little leery about a few of my tomatoes, but this husky cherry and 2 romas are strong!

I already have 3 bell peppers ready to harvest— that’s 2 more than I had all year last year!

I expect we’ll be seeing a lot of green beans soon.  I have planted a second crop to keep us supplied…

My Cousin Jimmy gave me these banana trees.  I think the grandkids will love them, though I have no idea (yet) where I’m going to plant them..

I finished up this morning, planting some containers, a Black-eyed Susan vine, Lavender, and the green beans.  I trimmed the basil and now have a lovely lot of fresh pesto to smear on my toast.

I hate to tell you, but my roses look like crap.  I failed to have Michael water them while we were gone and they’ve been suffering ever since.  I have fed and watered them, talked sweetly, and I have hope.  A gardener has to have a Lot of Hope.

Now it’s time to sit on the porch swing and relax…

Peace

The Edible Garden is In!

It’s all in…mulched and ready to grow…

I’m trying square-foot-type gardening, partly because I don’t have much faith in some of the peppers I started—not much root to them–and went out and bought some bigger ones, meaning I ended up with 12 bell peppers of assorted types, and 4 sweet banana peppers.  Same with the tomatoes:  I planted 3 better boys before the monsoons hit and they looked pretty bedraggled when it was all over, so I bought 3 bigger ones.  There are also 1 sweet cherry 100, 2 romas, and one husky.  There’s a lot of basil, some sage, rosemary, parsley, and oregano, as well as the broccoli and onions I planted in March.  I put down some carrot and beet seeds around the blueberry bushes…and don’t forget the bush beans and pole beans.   If it all grows, I’ll have plenty to eat and give away!

We’ve mulched around the entire house and it looks great…

I planted some wave petunias in an old stump (ala Pinterest), and surrounded geraniums with marigolds in the old wash tubs…

This lovely Sweet William is peeping out from under the daylilies..

When the rain finally returned, we brought out the houseplants and porch furniture…

 

Now, it’s just maintenance…and a fair bit of luck…

Peace

Catching up with the gardens…

It seems like I have been gardening for months with nothing to show for it.  Well, actually, I have been gardening for months.   I planted spinach, lettuce, sugar peas, arugula back in March, covering them several times as the temps dipped.  In fact, this Spring has been pretty sucky, staying cold until a couple of weeks ago!  We enjoyed a couple of nice salads, and replanted that area with green beans.  The peas are still coming on–sweet Oregon Sugar Pods II–

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We were teased with warmer temps for a spell in April, and I divided daisies and pruned, started planting containers, and buying edibles.  I ended up having to re-pot the better boys and finally put them out on May 2.  We still had some lower temps!, but now that Spring has seriously sprung, they are fine.  I always have a problem with bell peppers, so I bought up a dozen of them and I’ve babied them along until planting them just last Saturday.  We put up the poles and the beans are planted, and if you can see, there are 3 squash mounds under them.  I’m trying the bush zucchini this year (as well as my old faithful yellow straight-neck) and I have no idea what to expect.

That, and several rows of bush beans over in the corner, is it for the in-ground garden, but I potted up a whopping 16 basil plants, oregano, sage, lemon balm, a cherry red husky, and cilantro.

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There are some edibles out on the front porch, too (mint, nasturtium, rosemary, lemon verbena), but it’s mostly flowers–petunias, gerbera daisies, vinca…  We bought the water fountain at a rummage sale last year, and I’m loving the sound of the water flowing.  Some creeping jenny and a water hyacinth are in there, too.  I used an old cd-rack as a trellis for the lemon verbena–it likes to grow wonky and it fits the curves…

 

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…and coleus for the shadiest part.DSC_0008

Check out my nasturtium…

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The front flower garden got straightened up, and I added some hollyhocks and a black-eyed susan vine to the mix…

The East side of the house is a bird-haven, and they love it.  I did add a climbing yellow rose bush behind the birdbath…

Last year I had a huge pineapple sage shrub on the corner and it crowded its neighbors, so I removed it and planted another butterfly bush.  We pulled down an ivy trellis and put up a picket gate.  Until the b-bush grows, I’ve got some coreopsis in there…

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The geraniums for the washtubs were some of the first I planted this year, and they are going strong.  The daylilies are starting to come in bloom, too…

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I think I’ve taken you all around the house, now.  You can see what I’ve been up to…well, don’t forget there have been 5 vacation/trips interspersed amongst the planting time!!!

6 tomato plants–3 better boys, 1 cherry husky, 1 sweet cherry 100, 1 roma

2 yellow straight-neck squash

1 zucchini bush squash

12 bell peppers–4 cal wonders, 4 red, 4 big bertha

pole beans, bush beans

tarragon

16 basil

1 sage

1 oregano

1 lemon balm

1 chocolate mint, 1 peppermint

1 lemon verbena

16 petunias

8 vinca

12 geranium

3 coleus

1 nasturtium

2 gerbera daisies

1 black-eyed susan vine

2 hollyhocks

3 coreopsis

2 butterfly bushes

1 rosemary

1 climbing yellow rose

  The deer ate the plants in my urn, so I’m replacing them with red grass.

I have 12 marigolds for I-don’t-know-where—-yet.

Planting is my favorite…

We’ll be home now until mid-July when I fly out to bring the NYC girls home.  Looks like we’ll be eating well this summer!