Thursday, May 29, 2014

JUST A DAY IN MY GARDEN

 Chase and I are enjoying one of those rare events...me being in the garden but not doing garden chores. Actually I'm reading my favorite new garden book, "BACK IN THE GARDEN WITH DULCY." This book is a compilation of her gardening columns, put together by her husband Ted. She was the garden writer for The Oregonian for 22 years until she passed away in 2011 at the tender age of 69. What made her so special was that she didn't just preach about what you should be doing in the garden year after year. She let us in on her own garden failures as well as triumphs. She could laugh at herself when things didn't go right in the garden.
 Here's a must have in the garden...an old Fiat transmission...you don't have one, you say? Have I got a deal for you! Actually this treasure didn't last long here and was hauled away by a Fiat enthusiast just last night before I had a chance to tip it up on end and fill it with succulents. Oh well, my loss! 
 Meet "Radiant Perfume" the yellowist rose I know. It is almost blindingly yellow against the green backdrop. I'm surprised it wasn't named "Taxicab." I guess that is not a fitting rose name...and it does have a fantastic scent. 
  My favorite garden ornament...Isabella, the black and white unit, sharpening her claws and hanging out amidst the flora looking for a tender morsel of bug or lizard...
And finally, the beautiful Double Delight...named for its cream petals with hot pink edging and its terrific scent. A "must have" rose in any garden!
We have to enjoy these temperate days...mid 70's when no one is stressed by heat, including the gardener. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

DON'T OPEN THAT CLOSET DOOR, MAGEE!

 No, this isn't a yard sale gone wrong...it's just part of what we took out of "Building X," as Jack calls our 10'x12' big ass plastic storage building. It's YEAR THREE of the "Downsizing Project" here at Angel Crest Manor. When we moved here 3 years ago, we also moved the storage building and most of the stuff stored in it. Since it was the dead of winter and snowing at the time of the move, we just threw stuff into it and said, "We'll get to that this summer after we're settled." Uh huh. So 3 years have gone by and it turned into "Fibber Magee's Closet." (ref an old time radio show called "Fibber Magee and Molly). Our storage "closet" was so full you couldn't even get inside as anything extra was transported from the house to Building X.
 We figured Memorial Day Weekend was the perfect time to attack this mess...
 It took us about 2 hours to empty it out on the lawn. Then it was sorting and reboxing the keepers. I spent $50 at Freddies buying plastic containers so Jack could get rid of all the little cardboard boxes of stuff and organize them into plastic. This is one of 5 storage racks (shown as it is being reorganized).  
Day 3 of this reorganizing extravaganza finds Jack now able to actually move stuff from his cramped shop out into this building for true storage. Also, a lot of it went to a Fiat enthusiast across town. I'm sure his wife is ecstatic about it...and we have a full trailer bound for the dumps, plus a pickup load of stuff for recycling. Time well spent

RAT RACE

 It seemed simple...a small plot of strawberries...just enough for cereal or the occasional shortcake extravaganza. But we soon found out that even the hint of ripe strawberries draws country rats! We have tried traps, as you know, with some success but the berries still keep disappearing. So we had to be "smarter than the average rat" and that meant construction!
We used some leftover 1/2" wire mesh and spent a couple of hours constructing this rat proof cage. A leftover wire cover from something is the top hatch that allows picking and fertilizing without removing the whole cage. Now when I come out in the morning to pick berries for cereal, I actually get some! Take that you pesky rat finks! 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

NO BRAINER BASKET OF FLOWERS

Now days even non gardeners can put a welcoming basket by a front door or gate or patio with no fuss. All it takes is one basket (this one is actually vinyl but resembles willow) and a couple of Fiesta pots or color bowls of mixed flowers (petunia, mini belles and verbena). You can get them at most any place that sells seasonal plants...even the grocery store. They are already done by color scheme for you so all you have to do is set them in a basket. If your state still sells small ivy, you might add that in for a nice trailing effect. Of course, you DO have to remember to water them and perhaps move them to a shady location in the heat of summer...
WARNING: SMALL RANT HERE...I think it is too bad when those who are non-gardeners ignore the seasons. They think the outdoors is what they walk through to get from their house to their car or from their car to their work. I've never been able to understand how some can be so clueless and removed from their surroundings. The only thing that tells them when the season has changed is that they might have to wear a jacket or change to shorts. Oye! I have a stepson like that...I swear a bomb could go off in his yard and he wouldn't notice for days, weeks or months if ever. 


Sunday, May 18, 2014

GOOD AND NOT SO GOOD GARDEN FAUNA

 Big swan and froggie grace the deck, along with a vintage pot, all filled with succulents. A happy sight.
A nocturnal bit of fauna and marauder of ripe strawberries succumbs to the lure of peanut butter and lives no more. A dead rat is a good rat, in this gardener's opinion. One less interloper. This one is about 12" long (including tail) and looks like a pregnant female. When I went out to pick strawberries for our morning cereal yesterday, all the big juicy ones were missing so we knew what to do. This was the scene at the strawberry patch this morning. We had hoped that our much improved fence would discourage the buggers, but it's back to the traps. You'd think that our neighbors would clean up the brush piles in their yards...not only for the rats, but also for the fire danger! 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

LESSON LEARNED

 In April of 2013 I adopted a new baby...a beautiful lace leaf Japanese maple...perfect for filling the corner of our newly constructed privacy screen/wind break on the back patio. It was love at first sight for this plant besotted gardener. It was in a suspiciously small pot for its size but I was sure I could convince the roots to spread out and be happy in this large redwood tub. All seemed well as it started to leaf out this spring. My gardener's ego was pleased that I had indeed "rescued" this tree from unhappiness in a small pot and the purchase price of $75 (a lot for me!) was vindicated. (I had ignored the warning signs, it seemed, during the previous summer as it seemed to get a lot of tip die back, even with copious amounts of water). 
It never fully leafed...it just stopped and the little leaflets never opened. 
What had I done? I forked the tub in a panic and discovered that the root ball was a solid mass. I couldn't get my big garden fork into it. I still didn't give up and added fertilizer, drenched it with my special compost tea and talked to it. But by May nothing had changed. I wrenched it out of the tub. It was time for a post mortem. Turns out the main root system had continued to wrap itself around the root ball. Some research (an article in Fine Gardening) confirmed that I had made a classic mistake thinking I could change the rooting habit of a tree. According to the article, I never should have fallen for it. I should have popped off the pot right there in the nursery, seen the wadded up root ball and passed. You can't change the mind of a tree root system!     
So a new baby is growing in the big tub. It was in a 2 gallon tub...freshly dug and brought from the tree farm south of Eugene, OR to the new nursery of choice for me. I forked over $47.99 this time. It got the "treatment" of compost tea and fertilizer along with recharged potting soil. So lesson learned...you never stop learning in the gardening game, it seems!   

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

GILIAN LIKES IT HERE!

 Gilian Blades must have been something to have this beautiful clematis named after her/him!
These blooms are about 7" across at full flower and last several days. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Thursday, May 8, 2014

MUM'S THE WORD

A fortune teller told me 40 years ago that I'd have a son and that in 40 years he'd send me olive oil for Mum's Day....well, maybe not exactly what she said... 
A really nice surprise arrived today on Big Brown...all my favorite Lucero oils...Meyer Lemon infused, Basil infused and Miller's Blend plus a lemon vinegar. Wonderful stuff. And from my "favorite son!" I wonder how he knew all my favorites? Maybe he had help from the Lucero computer! Thanks, sonny & Susan (my favorite daughter in law)! 

FELINE WATER RIGHTS

 Gosh, every cat know that outside water is better than inside water!
Besides you never know when some extra protein, say a tasty spider, takes its last swim right in your bowl!  

Monday, May 5, 2014

IT'S A SNAP!

 These little green gems are snap peas....the plants I grew "by accident." I went to the Grange without my specs and thought that I had picked out Green Arrow pole peas. Imagine my surprise when I discovered (shortly before planting) that I had grabbed the wrong thing! Since I couldn't be a plant murderer, I planted 'em. I went back to the Grange and got my regular peas, along with snow peas (the edible pod type). But these little morsels of pea-ness (oops, don't say that out loud...) have turned out to be the earliest variety and a nice addition to salads. You can eat the pod and the little peas raw or saute them quickly for about 1 minute and add them to other veggies.  
 May is clematis month here in the Rogue Valley. The garden arbor entrance sports 2 varieties, C. montana wilsonii (the little white ones) and a C. jackmannii (the big dark blue on the left). My garden theme is white, purple, blue and yellow with a few pink accents. One of those is the New Dawn rose growing up the right side post but not blooming just yet. The hanging basket repeats the color scheme. Yes, that's a goose on top of the arbor, though he is at rest this week after lots of wind last week. His wings go clack, clack when the wind picks up.
Here is a long shot of the veggie garden entrance. Bright green is the main color right now, as everything is madly growing. Some nice showers and mild temps have lessened plant stress after our week of record setting high temps in the low 90's in the valley and mid 80's up here in the foothills.