Friday, March 30, 2007

THE GARDENER'S YEAR

This month's book selection was definitely different. I started out liking it, then I thought it started to drag a bit, and I lost interest in it for a few days. I picked it up and tried again, and I kind of enjoyed the rest of it.
I got a kick out of his odd observations, like why in leap years a day is added to the cold and nasty month of February instead of May. I also enjoyed the chapter when he goes on vacation.
I guess I saw myself in so many of his thoughts, and could relate to so many of the things that he talked about. It is hard to believe that this book was first published in 1929. The things that he writes about, are the same things that we face today. From unruly hoses to the delight at getting your hands on some "nice manure'.
It would have been a joy to have had a long chat with him over the difference between gardening in Prague, and gardening in Indiana.

HERB GARDEN

What a great day! I did not have to work today so headed for the herb garden early this morning. I spent the day dividing, moving, and mulching. I am getting nervous that the leaves I stock piled last winter to mulch my beds, are running out, with two beds left to go. But, I did have enough to finish the herb garden. I have never had the herb garden done before all of the plants were a foot tall. It is so much easier to do when the are just sprouting! I always leave it until last, and then I dread doing it, so I am VERY happy this evening. All that I have to do now, is uncover the pond, which I wait to do until everything is up, or else all of the leaves end up floating on top.
I am also adding a few pictures for all of you fighting the battle of the rabbit. The first is the nest that I found under the maple tree in the ivy. I hate finding them when they are full of babies, because I can't bring myself to destroy it. But this one is still empty, so I can fill the hole.
The second picture is what I found in my trap this morning. I had put this trap out two weeks ago, baited with carrot's, and then lettuce. Something kept stealing the bait, and not setting off the trap. So I moved it a few days ago, and threw a carrot towards the back. This morning, there she was! You just never know. Sometimes I will have the trap set for weeks, and just by moving it, I finally get one.
Now, if anyone has a problem with me trapping rabbits, just give me your address, and I will be happy to drop this sweet little thing off in your neighborhood. ;)

Monday, March 26, 2007

HONEYSUCKLE VINE


Well, I finally tackled the honeysuckle vine this evening. I have been dreading it because it is so overgrown, but it had to be done. The birds enjoyed roosting in it all winter, and were not a bit happy that I was trimming it back. The vine that I have came from a start from a friend of mine, and she got her start from her Mother's garden, so it is definitely an old variety. There is nothing like that smell when it is in bloom. The only problem is that it usually needs to be trimmed back twice a year. It also is very strong, so a normal trellis won't get it. I use the hog panels sold at farm stores. They form a barrier between the herb garden and the rest of the yard, and the honeysuckle makes a nice cover.

I also am working on a area in my yard that borders the neighbors lawn, (calling it a lawn is VERY generous of me!) I have looked at the mess for two years and finally decided that I have had enough. They started renovating there house, and all of the junk went out the back door, where it has stayed.
There is already a fence dividing our property, but I am now adding a wood fence in front of the wire one, to hide the mess. I will only have to put up 3-8 foot panels, but what an aggravation, not to mention the cost. But if I wait around for them to clean it up......well, that just isn't going to happen.
So we bought the fence, and now need to get it up before the lily of the valley, and the hosta's are up, or they will be trampled, and with these 80 degree days, they will be a foot tall by the weekend!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

SPRINGTIME!

Finally, I can get out in the yard for a little while. To wet to do much, but it was nice just being outside.
I got up this morning planning to clean the house. But as soon as I saw the sun trying to come out, I decided that it was time for the overwintered plants in the basement, to be moved to the greenhouse. I always hate that job, because some of them are pretty heavy.
What a surprise when I started moving them. My favorite orchid, (he is mainly my favorite because I have not managed to kill him yet), is in bloom! So, I hustled him out to the greenhouse, knowing that he would be much happier there. I divided this Orchid two years ago, and this is the first time that it has bloomed really well since. It grows like a weed, another reason it is my favorite. So, now I was on a roll! My Gardenia had a bad case of the spider mites, so I had to take care of that before I moved her into the greenhouse.
Everyone else looked pretty good, but I am sure all were happy to return to a nice, bright, warm environment.
Next, I brought all of my additives and chemicals back outside to my shed. I garden mostly organic, but occasionally I need a little help. Spider mites is one pest that I have never been able to handle with organic insecticides, and scale is another.
So, after that was all finished, I decided to start trimming the Honeysuckle. That is a huge job, and since it looked like the rain was moving in, I thought that I could trim until I got rained out, and that is exactly what happened.
So now I am back in the house, and I think that I have a little time left for cleaning. Darn, that is not how I had it planned! Oh well, better to get it done while it is raining outside and I am not able to do much else, than to have to give up a sunny day to be inside.
I made one last spin around the yard before I went in and found this little Iris histroides 'Katherine Hodgkin', blooming. I ordered a bunch of bulbs last fall, and didn't get them planted right away, and when I finally got around to planting them, some had deteriorated so much, that I knew they would never grow. The rest of them I planted, and hoped that they would be alright. This was one of them. This species is called an Orchid Iris. I have never grown them and will be anxious to see how they do.
Well, I am off to clean the house.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

MARCH BOOKPILE


I have entered two photos in the March book pile contest at Librarything. I have never done this, but I couldn't resist, since one of the subjects was spring. I am a bit late getting my plants started in the greenhouse, but I usually don't plant my tomatoes into the garden until mid-May, so they will have plenty of time to grow by then.
I am trying several new varieties this spring, mostly heirloom annuals, perennials, and herbs. I was inspired by Elizabeth Lawrence. One perennial that I am trying this year is the Primrose-Cowslip, Primula veris. The catalog that I ordered the seed from, actually quotes what some of the old garden writers have to say about the plants and seeds they sell. Elizabeth Lawrence is quoted as saying that this Primrose should be used to edge a bed of early daffodils. This catalog has lots of heirloom seeds, and they are fairly priced. I am not sure were they got my name from, but the catalog appeared along with the rest of them, in my mailbox this spring. The name of the company is Select Seeds (www.sselectseeds.com). I also ordered from Seeds of Change (www.seedsofchange.com), mostly because they have unusual varieties, they are all organic, and I just like the way they are trying to keep these old varieties from disappearing.
I also ordered a few plants from k.van Bourgondien & sons, inc. I can order wholesale from them, so I do take advantage of that when I find
something that they have. I usually order Canna's from them for a client, so I just add a few things to the order for myself. :)
That is one problem with being in the business, it is very hard when you are picking out plant material for a client, not to add a few for yourself.
I can do this, and often do, because customers come to my property to look at different plants, how they grow, etc. It is helpful for the clients, and I get to enjoy the plants the rest of the time!

BACK PERENNIAL BEDS


Well, I got a little bit of work done outside this week. I am well ahead of the game from last year. I have found that getting the beds cleaned off in the fall, saves me loads of work in the Spring, and also doesn't give the rabbits as many hiding places over the winter.
I started on the back perennial beds, because they are farthest away from the house, and I like to get them done and out of the way first.
I am so thankful for the leaves that we collect in the fall. They are run through a mower and then a vacuum, which leaves them shredded. We maintain several lawns that have oak trees. I make sure those loads of leaves are dumped in the back garden to use there. It is so easy to lay them when there is no plant growth, so I put down fertilizer and cover the bed with the leaves. I have very few problems with weeds throughout the summer that way. I got one half of the back bed done, and have the other half to do this coming weekend.
I ran across a very handy addition to my arsenal of gardening stuff. When I bought this bag I really didn't have much faith in it being that helpful, but was I wrong! This bag has become my best friend, especially on windy days. I drag it along with me, and what I put in it, stays there until I dump it on the compost pile. I really expected it to wear out half way through the summer, but it has held up well, and I am using it again this spring. It sure beats the tarps that I was using. After I found out how much I used it, I bought several to use in the business. They held up well also, even with daily use. The price is right on them also, I think that they were five or six dollars at Menard's. It is always nice to find something new, that works so well.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

SPRING CLEANING

Well, I headed out at about 1:00 this afternoon to spend the day in the garden. The mistake that I made was opening the shed door. What a nightmare!! So, in order to get to my potting bench, to get my seeds started, I was going to have to spend some time in the shed. So I emptied all of the pots of soil that held live plants last year, cleaned out all of the mouse nests that I could find, got all of my hand tools organized, and everything put back into it's place.
Next, I decided to check on the greenhouse. Second mistake!! I had overwintered a bunch of hosta and other perennials in there, and they needed to be moved outside, so they didn't get the idea that it as May, and they could take off.
So, needless to say, I didn't get into the garden to do any work.
But it sure does feel good to have the shed cleaned out, and the greenhouse ready to go. As soon as I get my seeds sprouted, they will have a nice warm place to grow.
Maybe next weekend I will make it into the garden. I will keep my finger's crossed that this weather holds.

GARDEN SHOES


OK, Carol, here are my gardening shoes. The ones on the left are my serious garden boots. I wear them to work in every day, and when I get home in the evening, and take a stroll around my lawn, I can get into about anything with these on.
The middle pair are my favorites. They should have been pitched years ago, but I just can't do it! They are so comfortable, so these are my "weekend" garden shoes.
The pair on the right are my muck boots. I got these hoping to replace the nasty tennis shoes, but they just don't cut it. They are great in the fall and spring because they keep your feet warm, and when it is wet out they can't be beat. But for all day wear, they just don't have the support I need.
So that is it. I know there are others, in the mud room, basement, back of the closet. But these are the ones that were handy for the picture, and I was itching to get in the yard, so I didn't spend much time looking.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

POEM

Somebody sent me this poem....it is soooo me! When I read it to my husband, he just laughed and shook his head.

THE GARDENER
She dug the plot on Monday,
the soil was rich and fine.
She forgot to thaw out dinner,
so we went out to dine.

She planted hosta Tuesday,
she says they are a must.
They really were quite lovely,
but she forgot to dust.

On Wednesday it was daylilies,
they opened with the sun.
All whites, and pinks and yellows,
but the laundry wasn't done.

She planted pansies Thursday,
a bright and cheery red.
I guess she really was engrossed,
she never made the bed.

It was iris time on Friday,
in colors she adores.
It never bothered her at all,
all the crumbs upon the floors.

I hired a maid on Saturday,
my week is now complete.
My wife can garden all she wants,
the house will still be neat.

It's nearly lunch time Sunday,
and I can't find the maid.
Oh no! I don't believe it!
She's out there with the spade!!!!!

Saturday, March 3, 2007

BOOK SALE

I LOVE BOOK SALES!!! It's a good thing that they only hold them a few times a year! I only allow myself to go to the sale in my town, and only the first night, (Friday night, set aside for friends of the library).
Every time I tell myself that I will be more selective, and then I get there, and it's all over. This sale I found two books signed by the author, and a couple of books that I intended to order online. My best find was Elizabeth Lawrence's Gardening for Love (The Market Bulletins). After just reading the book club selection for February, I was glad to find this one.
I also found lots of other great books, on all kinds of subjects, and all for about $1.00. I spent under $50.00, and brought home about 35 books. Now I just have to find a place for them!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Book Review: TWO GARDENERS : A Friendship in Letters

Katharine S. White & Elizabeth Lawrence

I ordered the book, and also read it in just a few days. I couldn't help but think how wonderful it would be to have those times back again. Of course these ladies were way out of my league, but I think that I would have enjoyed talking with them, and maybe visiting their gardens. The book also got me interested again in the older plant varieties. It seems that every year they come out with bigger, and better plants. But there is something to be said for the older varieties. When the old fashioned honeysuckle in my garden, that I got from a friends, Mothers garden, blooms, there is nothing like it!
I also immediately ordered, "Onward and Upward in the Garden", so that I could read some of the things that Katharine was writing about during the time of the letters. I also felt such sorrow for E.B. White, after his wife had passed. I am sure that those were lonely times for him. He wrote an introduction to the Onward and Upward book, and at the end of it he writes, "As the years went by and age overtook her, there was something comical yet touching in her bedraggled appearance on this awesome occasion-the small, hunched-over figure, her studied absorption in the implausible notion that there would be yet another spring, oblivious to the ending of her own days, which she knew perfectly well was near at hand, sitting there with her detailed chart under those dark skies in the dying October, calmly plotting the resurrection."
She was a true gardener.