Thursday, May 24, 2012

Fleeting May

One thing I have learned about myself while doing this blog: April and May are the busiest months for me in the garden and I have little time for blogging. Preparing beds, planting seeds, dividing perennials, mulching, there are endless tasks that need to be done early. Now I am busy working on the areas I had the landscaper cleared out. Here are some photos taken during May. Note, I still have yet to send in my main camera lens for repair, so I’m still using the zoom. Not the greatest thing for taking pictures of my small garden.

The azaleas bloomed early this year, starting in late April. The ones in the back yard bloomed a bit later. 

Azaleas in the back yard by the shed.

I planted this Midnight Wine Weigela maybe two years ago. It is a reliable bloomer and I love the dark red foliage.


I love my Purple Smokebush that I also planted a couple of years ago. In the morning the light hits the leaves just right and they have that gorgeous two-toned look.

Purple Smokebush.

This purple clematis is growing on the arbor with my pink climbing rose.

Purple Clematis and pink climbing rose on the arbor.

I missed getting a photo of the arbor at its best. A little while after taking this picture the rose was in full bloom, as was the climbing hydrangea on the left.

Arbor with climbing hydrangea, climbing rose, and purple clematis.

More roses. This yellow Graham Thomas English rose is blooming better than ever this year. It’s not usually a great bloomer. It is captivating in the sunlight. Too bad it’s hiding behind another rose that isn’t blooming yet.

Graham Thomas yellow rose.

Even more roses. The roses aren’t in full bloom yet, but they are certainly getting ready. The catmint is another reliable performer in spring. Not to mention the neighborhood cats love it.

Roses and Catmint.

The purple Siberian Iris really went to town this year. It’s planted next to the roses. I had dug out about two or three of these from my mom’s garden a couple of years ago and they were really happy this year. Even the ones that I planted in a shady area near the greenhouse bloomed this year.

Purple Siberian Iris after a rain.

I planted a little “rock garden” in the front of the flower bed. Mainly because I’ve developed this love of sedums and succulents.

Rock garden with sedum and succulents.

A close up of some sedum and hens and chicks (calcereum).

Purple Sedum and Hens and Chicks.

Speaking of little treasures, I have these small pots on the screened-in back porch. Two have curry plants in them and the one in the middle is English Thyme. They both smell amazing when you rub the leaves.

Little treasures.

More little treasures and more sedum and succulents. These are on the steps of the screened-in back porch.

Aloe, sedum, and succulents.

The sage by the back door is blooming early.

Sage and boxwood.

One of my problem areas is less of a problem. The area in front of the shed/workshop has really filled in. It is looking lush, green and inviting. The Knock-out roses are starting to bloom now.

Boxwood, daylillies, Knock-out roses and more in front of the shed.

I didn’t take any more pictures of the purple columbine, but it is still blooming. It has bloomed a long time this year due to the warm spring. I have to say I have loved this spring. It has been nice and long. However, now we are approaching summer and warmer weather is upon us. I still have lots of yard work to do and it’s only getting hotter. Time to sweat!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tackling a Problem Area

In a previous post I mentioned how I have a few problem areas I want to tackle (January post called “Problem Areas to Tackle in 2012”). The main problem area for a long time has been the overgrown area next to the screened-in back porch. There used to be a big tree there and after part of it fell on the house and we had to have the rest removed, the stuff that was growing under it went crazy. Mainly lots of ivy and honeysuckle, but lots of other stuff including poison ivy resided there. I had tried to clear out part of it two or three times over the past few years and it just kept coming back. The area takes up almost half of our back yard. I finally came to the conclusion that I couldn’t do it on my own. I needed help. Help in the form of big strong men, with perhaps some chemicals (which I hated to use). So I hired a landscaper to clear this area out. What a difference. I feel like I gained half my yard back. (Ha! Nice shot of the crappy built-in grill that came with the house!)

Overgrown area cleared out.
Overgrown area cleared out – as seen from the back of the yard looking towards the house.

(Was I drunk when I took that picture???? It’s all crooked and blurry. Sorry about that.) As you may notice, I decided to keep a few things — the wisteria tree (that looks GORGEOUS every spring), some hostas (which to be honest, I’m not a huge fan of, but they fill in shady areas), and a tall grass.

I have been working on some plans and started to lay out my stone edging. I have to finish setting it out and then dig it in so it’s sideways like the edging around the flower garden. About half of these stones were buried under the overgrown mess. The other half I got from Leonberg Nursery. The garden bed will be to the right of the stones and I’ll put grass seed down in the area to the left of the stones. We have talked about wanting to put a patio in here sometime, but that will have to happen sometime in the future.

Starting to lay out the stone edging.

I planted a couple of shrubs that should grow to hide the neighbors eventually. I planted a skip laurel and a summer wine ninebark. I have always wanted a summer wine ninebark. I love the color of the foliage and its weeping branches.

Skip Laurel and Summer Wine Ninebark.

Unfortunately, you can now see how bad the fence looks on this side of the yard. By the way this fence is facing you would think it was our fence, but it’s not, it belongs to the neighbor on the left side of us. Sigh... I seem to have no control over fences.

I am looking forward to working on this side of the yard. I am planning for it to be not as attention-needy as the flower garden on the other side — mainly shrubs with a few perennials. Nothing that needs a tremendous amount of care because I already have that!  It takes time, energy, and money to do all this, though. We’ll see how long it takes for it all to come together. I’m sure it will be a work in progress for a long time. Just like my flower garden still is.

Finally a Fence! – Kind of…

Is the “fence farce” not a farce after all? Has it changed from an “invisible” fence to a “real” fence? As you may recall, Mr. Loud Talking Neighbor who lives behind us said he was going to put up a fence “next week.” He said that two years ago. We had paid a friend of his to help clear out the overgrown hedge we had back there, in anticipation of said fence. We waited…and waited…and waited…. We started to think we had been had. The neighbor now had a great view of my garden and we had a crappy view of their parking lot of a driveway, which usually has at least four cars in it, a wave runner, and a broken down boat. Seemed to me he had the better end of the deal.

He had the fence panels for awhile, but hadn’t gotten the posts. Then he got the posts. A few weeks ago they started to put the fence up and I went running to Brian with my arms flailing about in excitement exclaiming, “It’s a fence, it’s a fence!!!!” I was so worked up that I actually had to leave the house for the day. I knew if I stayed there I would just sit and watch them put it up, nit-picking their progress.

It’s a fence! The view as you enter the back yard with the fence in the background.

This may come as a shock (note sarcasm), but the fence is not finished. They still have about three panels to put up. And it’s been that way for a couple of weeks now. How much longer do you think it will be that way? We were chatting with him the other day and he said they ran into a snafu – a bunch of tree roots in one area. There must have been a tree right where they wanted to put one of the posts. So they have to get an axe or something to try to break through the roots.

Unfinished section of the fence.

I shouldn’t be surprised by this, but they are doing a really shoddy job of installing this fence. REALLY shoddy. I should’ve known that would happen. The posts are all uneven and the brackets and panels aren’t lined up. Also, it’s an ugly, white vinyl fence. Not something I would have chosen. But it’s not my fence and beggars can’t be choosers. And I’ve been begging, really begging, for this thing to go up. Hey, at least it’s a fence and it obscures their driveway. I guess I’ll try to grow enough things in front of the fence to try to hide its brash whiteness and shoddy installation.

Fence and the entrance to my Kitchen Garden.

I have to say, I’m not holding my breath for this fence to be finished. If I did, I would probably die from lack of oxygen. But hey, at least we have three quarters of a fence and that’s better than nothing. I’m not breaking out the champagne yet, though, until that whole fence is up. And then it’s party time! Because you better believe I’ll be celebrating the day that is finished.