Shoutouts to Blake, Tara, Mary, Mary, Sally, Jim, and Tami. And, of course, Ange.
My daylily beds are all weeded and mulched, ready for summer. The daylilies are looking fantastic after all the recent rain and it should be a stellar bloom season. Annuals will be added in the next week or so. Thank you so much to my dear friends and family who helped me get these flowerbeds in order. I am overwhelmed beyond words.
Shoutouts to Blake, Tara, Mary, Mary, Sally, Jim, and Tami. And, of course, Ange.
Many gardeners have tribute gardens. They memorialize family members, friends and pets, just to name a few themes. Annuals and perennials with meaningful names and colors are chosen and planted to honor their loved ones. Names of certain plants may evoke comforting memories. Gardeners often add plants dug from the person's garden that they are memorializing as keepsakes. Personalized whimsy can be added for visual interest.
Gardening and being outside with nature holds vast rejuvenative powers. For some people, their garden is the only place they can put aside feelings of grief to feel peaceful for a brief moment in time. Tribute gardens are not only beautiful; they can be healing.
We keep a whimsical metal cat statue in a flower bed to remember our beloved rescue cat, Small Fry (a.k.a. 'The Fry'), that lived with us for 17 years. Our youngest son named her because he thought it looked like she had a small french fry on her face. Whenever I see the statue it makes me smile and reminisce about The Fry.
It all started one morning when a chubby woodchuck was spotted standing up on his hind legs with his front paws on the glass entryway door peeping into the office. Imagine the chaos if he got inside! To make matters worse the front door would, on occasion, stay open a little bit due to the vacuum in the vestibule each time the door was opened and closed. Yikes!
Just outside the entryway there were large, overgrown, 20-year-old evergreen bushes. They looked pretty rough. Rabbits would nest in the bushes and litter would collect on windy days. It was time for shrubbery removal. In place of the shrubbery, a small patio was put in. Staff members worked on the project a little bit at a time. A bistro table and chairs were placed on the patio so that when people attended meetings they could sit outside and take phone calls in privacy. This looked 100% better than the ratty old bushes. Shade plants such as mini hostas, Beacon Silver ground cover and Purple Palace coral bells were planted around the patio. And best of all, no animals came close to the entryway door anymore.
Shrubs were removed from other areas around the building as well. These areas were turned Into perennial gardens. A few plants were purchased, but the majority were donated by staff from their home gardens. Perennials included shrub roses, sedums, several dwarf bearded irises, different decorative grasses, echinaceas, 'Little Joe' Joe pye weed, coreopsis and a variety of daylilies. Daylilies included Red Volunteer, Star of Fantasy, Custard Candy, Family Reunion, Leebea Orange Crush, Only Just Begun, Strawberry Candy, and American Revolution. Finally, annual marigolds and petunias were planted for constant color through October.
When the flowers were in bloom the compliments started rolling in. Visitors enjoyed looking at the gardens . Now the office looks just as beautiful on the outside as it does on the inside - definitely a win-win!
One of my favorite parts of gardening has always been working with landscape rock. I find such satisfaction putting together the puzzle of a plant border. I have these borders around most of my flower beds.
Every rock in our yard has a story, as we have recycled them all from old, razed barns. When Ange and I would drive around in the country and see a barn being torn down, we immediately found out who the owner was so we could get permission to remove rock. In many cases we got there just in the nick of time to remove rocks that were being bulldozed and buried. I can clearly remember the two of us running around the bulldozers frantically grabbing what we considered just the perfect rocks. It felt so gratifying to rescue these beautiful limestone rocks to live a second life.
We always keep an extra stash of these rocks in a pile in our field. They come in handy when an occasional rock cracks and need replacing over the course of time.
Dani (L) and Middie (R) were two unlucky cats that ultimately lived very lucky lives. Both cats were rescues from two different shelters in Illinois. They shared a similar history being female, three-legged, special needs kitties. From what their respective shelters knew, Dani lost her hind leg after being hit by a car, and Middie lost her hind leg after being attacked by a coyote. Upon adoption, the two of them lived 'the princess life,' spending their days on soft pillows and warm blankets. They got lots of good food and love from Jade and Blake, our grands, along with their Mom and Dad. Dani lived 12 years, and Middie lived 17 years.
After Middie's passing earlier this year, Jade and Blake were finally ready to bury both cats' ashes so they could be together. They decided our house would be a perfect place, so we had a kitty burial for them. We put them in a safe, protected place so the urns with their ashes would never be disturbed. The kiddos painted a special memorial rock and placed it on top of the dirt as a remembrance of their two pets. Now when they come to visit they can always take a moment to remember Dani and Middie.
I know, I know, every September and October it's the same old story -- downsizing. This year the grand plan was to remove one-half of a large flower bed in our backyard that was separated by a central arbor and stepping-stones. I have some amazing friends and family that helped dig out my daylilies and relocate the plants I was keeping. I never imagined the job would be completed as quickly as it was. I am so grateful! The arbor is gone and the half of the garden we removed was tilled, seeded and turned back into grass. Then, finally, the rock border was re-done around the half of the garden we are keeping by our neighbor. The rest of the rock border still needs updating. That will be completed this fall, or next spring, depending on the weather.
We also had a 'holding garden' on the east side of our house that I used for keeping plants I planned to sell or rehab. That area was cleared of plants and turned back into grass as well.
Ange wanted some of our shorter daylilies removed for more back-friendly deadheading in the future. Many of the large clumps were divided into four to six plants each and given away. This process needed to happen to make gardening easier. I did experience one minor slip-up in August when I purchased a new daylily, which I promised myself I wouldn't do. What can I say? It's an addiction.
Also pictured are a few of the plants/daylilies that found new homes.
With winter coming up on December 21st, gardening tasks are officially over, right? You can kick-back, relax, and forget about the flowers. Well...as gardener, I have to say that couldn't be further from the truth. I choose to look at winter as a gift; a time to do a variety of tasks and activities I was too busy for during the growing season.
Here's a list of some gardening 'stuff' I usually do in winter:
Does water collection interest you? Pictured is the system we used for many years. We have a well, so we felt good about saving the well water for our personal use. While our collection system was in place we rarely needed to use any well water for our flower gardens. My husband put this system together after watching all the YouTube videos he could possibly find on building water collection systems. He created this hybrid from the ideas he liked best. He did a great job, because these barrels certainly retained water!
We used eight-60 gallon water barrels. They were hidden from the eyes of any visitors. One set of five sat behind our garage and the other set of three were disguised underneath our sun porch and covered with lattice. Hoses were available to attach to the system, as well as the ability to simply place a watering can under the spigot. We had easy access to water wherever we needed it.
Our recycled barrels (of lemon-flavoring) were from a local brewery. It's important that the barrels come from a food-based source, since any chemical source would obviously be bad for the plants. Also remember that as rain water flows over a roof surface it can pick up pollutants such as bacteria from birds and other animals, and chemicals from roof materials. Consider these factors when using rain barrel water on edible plantings as opposed to flower gardens. For more information go to: https://www.epa.gov/soakuptherain/soak-rain-rain-barrels
Note: After we remodeled our garage to make it larger we lost the space needed for the rain barrels to sit. I posted this information in case anyone was considering water collection.
Lucky me! I had some help getting my gardens in order this spring. Our nephew, Neil, had some time available during Wisconsin's shelter-at-home days. He took care of our mulching, weeding, and annual planting, for which we were very grateful. He's very detail-oriented and did a most awesome job. Plus it's always nice to see him! :)
(When we regularly resume spraying deer deterrent, the protective tomato cages will be removed.)
Ange and I decided to plant some spruce trees on the small parcel of land we own across the road from our home for some visual interest during winter. After pricing trees ($$$) at various nurseries, Ange decided to go a different route and visit a Christmas tree farm instead. Awesome idea! We bought six four-foot trees at a very reasonable price. So, as of today, our new spruce trees have settled in and they have a forever home that every Christmas tree only dreams of.
Ange and I recently demolished our rock garden with the help of our neighbor. I will miss the garden, but the demo was necessary for a few reasons:
Now the garden is gone; the dirt has been leveled and seeded with grass. The perennials were relocated or given away, and the boulders are by our neighbor's fish pond. We did keep a few of our favorite boulders to incorporate into our landscape at a later date. After pondering this demo for a couple of years, this was the year that it finally came to fruition. Happy face/Sad face.
Just for fun I follow some other blogs, and some of them are on vastly different topics than flowers and gardening. One of the blog entries I read not too long ago was about how to organize a yacht party. While this was a very entertaining post to read - and I enjoyed it - this is a lifestyle so completely foreign to my own. But I can truly say that now I know the in's and out's of creating that perfect yacht party, and as I've learned in life, ya' just never know!
Recently I went to a get-together that is much more fitting to my lifestyle. So I thought I'd chronicle my first ever 'She Shed' party. If you don't already know, she sheds are the latest rage. They are totally trending (#shesheds). She sheds are the female equivalent of the 'man cave;' a getaway, far away from those dreary daily tasks like cleaning, dishes and laundry.
My friend Mar's DIY project started innocently enough with the need for simply replacing some missing drywall. We've all done those projects that have snowballed into bigger things, yes? In Mar's case, once the drywall was fixed, the battle cry emerged, "We can do better than this!" So with lots of sweat equity, many trips to the home improvement store, plus a handy next door neighbor, Mar's drywall project morphed into a cute little she shed. It is all prettied up with decorations, photos, and comfortable furniture. Watching the progress over time has been fun, but the best thing ever was relaxing with a cool beverage in the finished product. No dishes or laundry here...well done Mar! Outstanding!
Is this the best idea ever? My friend, Donna, repurposed a non-working grill as her planting station. In addition to being a great decorating accessory, it's also handy for storage. She keeps it on her deck for convenience. When Donna finishes potting up her plants she just closes up the grill top, sweeps the dirt off the deck into her flower garden, and voila, all looks neat and tidy. I thought this was so clever that I just had to share Donna's photos with you.
Garden-wise Ange and I downsized yet again - even though it doesn't look like it in the photo! We took out another 200 square feet from our front daylily garden. The 200 square feet is currently being used as a holding pen for my sale plants (towards the trees). When the spring sale is over and the plants are gone, that part of the garden will be turned back into grass.
There was a split rail fence in the front garden for many years, which we tore down with no regrets. This will make for easier weeding and more air-flow for the daylilies. I was able to move all of my plants further apart. I ditched (literally) all the perennials that the Japanese beetles favored and skeletonized each year. I also said goodbye to my phlox. Not sorry! That will hopefully reduce the number of snakes/snake babies that lurked in the weedy parts.
We divided quite a few of my large daylilies to invigorate them for future bloom. You can see that I tomato-caged all the transplants, because in the past deer have occasionally pulled plants out by the roots as they munched them. The cages curtail that behavior since we don't spray deer deterrent over the winter. The cages also discourage the deer from tromping through the flower bed making big holes with their hooves when the ground is wet. Gotta love garage sales for enabling me to have such a substantial collection of tomato cages.
It was the best fall season ever as far as gardening weather -- one perfect day after another. The great part was that many of those perfect days fell on the weekends! In fact, as of yesterday my iris 'Immortality' was still blooming which is highly unusual for November! I was able to complete everything on my 'do before winter list' except for one large transplant which can easily be done in spring. So now I'm done for the year; ready to take a well-deserved break from gardening and shift my focus to inside projects. Did I say really say that?
Our friends Tony and Christine grow the most incredible garden -- filled with a wide variety of vegetables and fruits! Their garden is organic and pesticide-free. It’s really a site to see, as it's hard to find a weed in residence throughout the entire garden (and it's BIG). Christine cans all of their produce to use throughout the year.
In an effort to get the season started earlier, Tony recently built an amazing greenhouse. In fact, they have radishes growing right now. Imagine that!
As you'll see from the photos, when Tony does a project, it is done impeccably, with much research and planning. Shown below is the first set of photos. The greenhouse is 10 feet x 12 feet in size. It stands about 12 feet high at the peak. The floor is comprised of vapor barrier, then R-18 R-Board, then 2 inches of sand, then 18" x18" concrete blocks for thermal mass.
Christine will be periodically taking more photos as the seedlings grow this spring.
If you are interested in building your own greenhouse, Tony would be more than happy to answer any questions that you may have.
Anthony Reed <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Taking a well-deserved break!
if it's about
my backyard and garden, I LOVE to talk about it!