Category Archives: Gardening

It’s Starting…

The annual migration of plants, from indoors and various plant sales, are starting to hit the deck. Due to a late cold snap, some will have to stay in the house a bit longer, like these beautimous Rex Begonias.

But others are just waiting to be transplanted to larger pots where they can roam freely, and many perennials are just waking from their winter slumber.

Spring can be very long and wet here in the Pacific Northwest so having even the littlest bit of color lifts my spirit. And…fortunately…the annual Master Gardener’s Sale is the first weekend in May. Unfortunately, I seem to have a problem keeping my money in my pockets at a plant sale. So, I should have a fantastic looking deck in about a month and if the rains stop about the same time…I’d be happier ‘n a coon dawg on a bare leg.

As my father so colorfully puts it.

Little Pricks

My hands are full of little pricks…can I trade up for one big one?

It’s not what you think…I’ve been spreading barkdust without gloves. Stupid move. But the beds look wonderful and are producing beautifully.

See…

Purple Bearded Iris

The bearded iris are going crazy…

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We’ve had a great surprise this year. There are gorgeous alliums popping up all around the yard and they weren’t planted.  I know the birds had something to do with this as well as the unusually cold winter and warm spring. This perfect trinity has filled the yard with these beautiful blooms…

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Their color is a much deeper purple than this and I hope to capture their true beauty tomorrow.

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We leave on vacation in a week and I’m almost sorry I won’t be here to see the changes but, if the weather holds out, the garden will give us a spectacular welcome home.

The Bug

The gardening bug has bit hard this spring surely due to the mild weather that’s graced the Pacific Northwest. The usual persistent rain and gray skies give way to sun most every afternoon and the temperatures are pleasant if not downright warm. Although it was a little cooler this weekend than the past few, it was perfect for tilling, moving dirt and planting annuals in pots on the deck.

I’ve already prepped the vegetable garden so Mark can get out there without too much strain on the recovering leg and he’s already planted some lettuces and celery. Yesterday we bought some peppers, tomatoes and herbs that will go into the greenhouse until later this month and a few ornamentals for a long unplanted berm along the driveway.

This afternoon, I trimmed back some large branches from the neighbors fir tree that have been hanging over that unplanted berm and prepped the soil for some flower seeds that will help fill that space until later this summer when I can actually lay out a design for a fall planting.

Then it was off to the deck to start prepping pots with fresh soil for the annuals we’re sure to bring home from the wonderful Master Gardener’s sale next weekend. It’s this sale that usually inspires me to start work in the yard so I’m feeling good about being so far ahead for a change. It will also make the deck more inviting for our dear friends who will be housesitting while we’re in Europe. If the weather holds out…they’ll have a lovely little retreat where they can relax and watch the dogs on squirrel patrol.

While working on the deck I heard the fountain pump laboring and when I went to investigate, I found this colorful little critter caught in the intake filter.

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I love how this next shot makes his color lines look three dimensional…then again …maybe they are. Dr. T?

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I noticed he was still moving a bit so I turned him over to administer CPR and was surprised to find his underside was as brilliant as his back.

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In all the years I’ve lived here, I’ve never seen anything like him. I’ve seen numerous metallic beetles on Dr. T’s blog so I decided it was time to post on this neglected site and see if I could coax the good doctor into identifiying him for me. I should have sent an email but I really wanted to share this gorgeous little guy with those few folks that still stop by…and I was hoping it might spur me on to posting a little more frequently. Hopefully, with all the gardening going on around here, that will be the case.

BTW – He recovered nicely and was released with the instruction not to return to the fountain.

Gettin’ Dirty

Finally, a chance to play in the dirt. A couple weeks ago we had a nice dry day and I decided to rototill the vegetable garden. I pulled out the tiller, filled it with gas, checked the oil, primed the carburetor and with one quick motion, snapped the pull-cord off the flywheel. So much for that idea.

Let’s see what I need to take the flywheel cover off and reattach the pull-cord. Hmmm…rivets? Yep…rivets! So, how do you get to the flywheel? You have to take the entire engine housing off, which requires you to remove the freshly filled gas tank. Brilliant! I’m not going there…I’ll take it to the shop.

I pulled out the little tiller and spent the next three hours turning over the top 4 inches of dirt in the 20 x 30 foot garden six inches at a time. Yep, that’s right, the little tiller is truly little. So, it may have taken a while but I did get all the leaves and grass and compost worked into the soil fairly well and when the big boy comes back from the shop it will make the work a bit easier.

Last night, the sun was out and the air was warm when I got home so I decided to divide some Crocosmia and Hostas that are getting a little out of control. That was done pretty quickly so I went to get the flower pots out of the shed so they’ll be ready to fill next nice day we get. Of course, once they were on the deck I couldn’t just let them sit there all empty so I started filling them. I didn’t get very far before dark but hey…I’m on my way to deck beautiful once again.

And…it just felt so damn good to work outside in shorts and a t-shirt and just get dirty.

Tools and Space and Toys and Shit

Not having a basement and, until recently, no garden shed, our garage has steadily closed in on our cars over the years. When we first moved in nearly 12 years ago the garage held both cars, the lawn tractor, spare fridge, chest freezer, tool box, power tools and all the seasonal and infrequently used items such as the chafing dish, turkey roaster, holiday decorations and various other crap you just don’t want to throw away because you may use it someday (yeah…right). Still we had enough room to enter both cars from both sides and even had a table and chairs to sit at when we went out for a smoke.

Once a year we would take a weekend at the end of summer and straighten things up and find room for the newly acquired items. We put in a workbench, shelves for the garden supplies and smaller power tools. We bought a tiller and then a smaller one for the small flower beds, we bought a table saw, a stand to hold a supply of wood, a have-a-heart trap for the ‘raccoon relocation program’, a table to hold the large bins of bird seed and dog food, large pots for canning, cases of jars, and various other sundry items. Things were getting tight and accessing the shelf with the wiper fluid always culminated in new perspectives on the world when I’d next check my side view mirror.

With only a little lean-to of a woodshed, open to the elements on one side, we needed to keep everything prone to rust or moisture damage in the garage during the winter. Soon the smoking table went away because we didn’t use it all that much and it was just accumulating more shit, as flat surfaces tend to do. It was replaced with a smaller table to hold the laundry supplies. Two more shelves were added to hold items that we needed easy access to; propane tanks and lantern as the power was hit and miss, hummingbird feeders and bird houses, the delicate bulbs we had to dig each fall. The deck furniture had to come in during winter and the concrete we used for art projects. Ice chests, lumber, shovels, rakes and tree saws and before you knew it we had to pull the car out of the garage to access to a second person.

Finally, with the addition of the new garden shed/wood shed I saw the walls widen. This past weekend we moved all the garden equipment and tools to the shed. Two of the shelves holding painting supplies, garden supplies, car cleaning supplies and bulbs now reside in the shed. All the planters with delicate perennials or bulbs are now in the shed. The rakes, shovels, post-hole digger and hoes are in the shed. The deck furniture and spreader and saw-horses are in the shed. The sprinklers and hose fittings and barbecue and spare ladder and tree saw and weed eater are in the shed. Virtually everything we won’t need for the next 6 months are in the shed.

Better yet, we identified quite a few items that we no longer need and can either donate or give away. We also arranged the work area in such a manner that the toolbox is immediately adjacent to the workbench. Novel idea! I don’t even have to move the table saw to reach the screws and nails. Whodathunk? Best of all…you can now access both cars from both sides without whacking the door against the tractor or rearranging the side mirror.

Last night, looking at all the extra space in the garage I felt sad that we had accumulated so much shit but when I went to lock the shed I realized everything we’ve added is for the lawn and garden and the house and the wildlife. It’s not unused or unnecessary junk, there are no toys or novelties, no ATV’s or lawn darts (although I’d love me some lawn darts) no, everything in that shed is a tool and I love my tools (get your mind out of the gutter)! I love what they bring to my life and my yard and my table. Then again, being that they’re not used solely for my livelihood, I guess they’re just toys.

Teddy Bears!

My favorite of the sunflowers, Helianthus annus ‘Teddy Bear’, has finally decided to make their appearance in the garden.

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I’m not sure why this flower is so appealing to me but I just love them. From bud to bloom they are exquisite.

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I finally had some down time tonight and spent it in the garden and kitchen. I visited the flowers, took a few pics…

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…and made fresh salsa with all home grown ingredients. This is what summer is all about and the weather is so perfect it’s as if all those cool, rainy days never happened. I sure hope this lasts a bit longer…I’m not ready for the rainy season…yet.

Sunshine

Through gray skies and rain…these have offered a touch of sunshine.

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I’m still hoping for some semblance of summer.