Wednesday, April 23

The Bank

Since Sunday, I've been busy working down the bank of our front yard. Probably logged close to 20 hours, but who's counting since I'm doing it for myself? Here is what it looked like right after the trees were pulled out by our kind neighbors:
And now, after hauling out the household trash left by previous owners, and rearranging the rocks I could move on my own and attempting the beginnings of hardscaping by moving earth by hand, this is how it's looking. (The full greens of spring help a lot, I know!)This was the trash I've hauled out. Lots of cinderblocks, as well as a wheelborrow full of household trash like broken dishes/jars, plant pots, oil pan, aluminum tray, garden "art", plastic toys, plastic bags, etc.I had no idea what I was going to do with this space when I started clearing it. The "clean slate" was overwhelming. But while raking out the leaves and pulling out gobs of poison ivy vines (I'm covered with it now.) and grape vines and honeysuckle vines and innumerable other vines, several little natural flowerbed areas started to appear. So with the glut of rocks lying around everywhere, I started to edge them, and came up with this:

That white-ish post is the base of a birdbath, also unearthed in the bank. I'll be finding a bowl to put on it, and hope to make the birds happy.

I now have three flowerbed areas, and have planted some of my own plants in with the woodland flowers. Some I garnered from my local park's spring sale, some I bought through catalogues and local nurseries. This morning I strew out a few seeds as well.

Future plans include a different way to reach the bottom than the precarious leaning metal stairs that are currently there. I also hope to get a couple loads of topsoil to drop down various places in the bank where there seems no hope for anything else. A flat-ish area is begging for a picnic table, so I plan to grade it so it's perfectly flat, and then lay stone or brick in it. Also I hope to cover the pathways with mulch. The bank itself needs planting with something, but I haven't decided what yet.

The whole thing can seem rather daunting, yet it has been such a welcome place to work. While the open yard can already feel hot (at the end of April???!!!), the cool of the woods is wonderful here. The mental and physical exertion that this provides has proven to give some wonderful sleep at night, too, let me tell you!

And the kids? -- They are in hog heaven down here!! Be it catching caterpillars and worms (LOADS of them), digging in the dirt, or just sitting on a rock, they are the happiest cats in town. Nothing could please me more, which helps in my drive to continue with this project.

Monday, April 21

Mystery Tree Continued

A few weeks ago, I posted a picture of a mystery tree in our front yard. Now that tree has fruit -- be it actual edible fruit -- or nuts. I've gotten on a botanical blog site and asked for help in identifying it. Prior to showing this picture, the thing that sounds closest are peach or almond, or a cultivar/cross between the two. Want to put in your guess? When I find out for sure what it is, I'll let you know.

Friday, April 18

Seed Planting

Since I am going for English Cottage Garden look, I filled in all the empty spaces of my garden planting (from yesterday) with seeds, and LOTS of them.
Batchelor's Buttons
Shasta Daisies
and at least one other one that I've forgotten

A few mornings ago, Daughter and I planted 50 peat pots with two seeds each of various other seeds -- vegetables and flowers. So if the seeds don't grow in my garden, I have another alternative growing in my kitchen.

Aside from 1): weed killer drifting on the wind from my husband's attempts to kill weeds along the rock edging, decidedly burning large portions of several of my perennials and 2): an incessant problem of over-spilling eves every time it rains no matter how frequently husband cleans the gutters, thus necessitating that nothing be planted along the foot and a half right next to the house unless I want it trampled to shreds . . . (Whew!) the garden on the right of the house is done . . . for now. There always IS more that COULD be done.Now I'll sit and nibble my nails and frequently pace the front porch as I eagerly anticipate the emergence of hundreds of green shoots.

And poor Dear Husband will have multiple tours of the garden for each green shoot that appears.

By the way, some exciting discoveries: the kiwi vine that I thought died in last summer's drought is loaded with leaves (although portions of the vine are truly dead) and several buds. Could we actually be growing kiwis? How can I make sure we get to eat them (and not the birds or coons)?Also, my clematis has gone wild and is already running along the top of my wall under the eaves. And the weigela is blooming!

A new and happy discovery is a second snowball bush. Dear Husband gave the first one a massive "haircut" quite some time ago, lopping off all the gorgeous blooms and leaving me stammering in horror. Then last spring's frost hit and totally finished it off. So this spring, after realizing there was no hope, I cut it off at the base. Would you believe some suckers are attempting to revive the old plant?! But then the second bush bloomed and totally surprised me! This, after I bought two more bare root ones. -- A happy mistake.
A sad fact: my mis-placed lilac is loaded with beautiful green leaves, but no flowers or signs of flowers. The leaves will soon be scorching and curling in summer's heat. I didn't get it moved soon enough this spring; will have to wait till fall, I suppose.

Thursday, April 17


Wow, I even surprised myself today.

Yesterday I borrowed my neighbor's nifty tool that I can't even describe to you, and fairly quickly cleared out and enlarged most of one of my flowerbeds. Talk about a HUGE pile of weeds and grass! Oh, my!

Then, today, after it warmed up and we had lunch, the kids and I went back outside till I started teaching piano lessons, and then went back outside again after supper. I finished the weeding (as much as I'm going to do for a few days, anyway), and quickly planted:
4 dahlia bulbs
1 peony bulb
3 echinacea
5 salvia/sage
1 butterfly bush
2 other thistle things that I currently can't remember the names of
and probably some more that I'm forgetting as well.

Tonight I have a good blister in the palm of my left hand because I don't like wearing gloves.

I'm looking forward to seeing my labor's rewards in the morning, because it was dark outside by the time I came in tonight.

I am desperate to get stuff in the ground, as I know I'm late for some of it (like the bulbs). But then we were close to a frost (maybe it did?) earlier this week, and I had everything draped in bed sheets and plastic painter's dropcloths. (Those dropcloths come in handy, I tell you. -- See photography blog.)

Tomorrow I'm going to plant the one lone ecchinacea that didn't make it in earlier today, and then sow a bunch of flower seeds. Aside from sprucing up the bed and finishing the weeding and finishing the edging with a barrier, that bed is ready for blooming time. FEELS GOOD!

Thursday, April 10

Discovering Flowers

When I was a little girl, my dad was big into photography. Aside from taking pictures of my sister and myself, the things I remember him photographing most were flowers. At the time (and even up until today), I never understood the fascination with taking pictures of flowers. I mean, picture books of flowers are a dime a dozen, and, it's not like every dogwood flower has its own name (like people do). We had slides, negatives, and prints floating all around, each with an individual flower. Roses, tulips, apple blossoms, even four-leaf clovers. Each one's composition was impeccable, with the background blurred into oblivion to capture the crispness of the flower's details.

Well, my dad had an SLR camera.

Now I understand.

We went to a park today, and as is everything else around here right now, spring flowering trees were at peak. We were wandering down a trail, and I spotted a brilliant yellow shrub. (Anyone know what this is??) I raised my brand-new SLR to check it out, and suddenly yelled out in absolute wonder. I could not believe what I was seeing! Individual planes of depth lept out through the viewfinder, bringing some flowers into focus, and blurring others. And the crispness of detail was mouth-dropping. I was in wonder and awe.
I spent the next hour or so stalking down flowering trees, holding down their branches with one hand while I snapped pictures with the other hand.

Not that taking pictures of flowers is the only thing I'll be doing from here on out, but this has really opened my world up as far as photography goes. I stand in amazement.

Monday, April 7

Portrait Shoot

I finally succeeded with my backdrop! This one is all grey, as you can see. I wish it had been larger, but it worked nonetheless. Here was the set-up:
Mr. Comedian* slid into my viewfinder between the graduates. I figured he wouldn't mind too much being on my blog. :)

*Not his real name, in case you wondered.

(Post script: I have recieved the pictures and they have been delivered to most of the graduates. So far, I have heard only positive comments, so I am very happy. It was stressful doing this shoot, to say the least, but when the end results are satisfied customers, I will deal with the stress. Ha!)

Wednesday, April 2

New Toy

Of course I had to show you a picture of it. :)

Tuesday, April 1

Nikon D60

It's mine!

I am too exhausted to tell you anymore right now.

And there's too much happening between now and Sunday or Monday or Tuesday for me to tell you before then.

So you'll just have to WAIT.