Monday, May 25, 2015

Before and After in the Garden

I have mentioned before that the previous owners of our house had a "more is more" approach to decorating the outdoors. I offer this collage of selected items found around the pool as a reminder.

Those are, in all honesty, merely a representative sampling of the "treasures" that could be found everywhere. I can't recall why I may have chosen those particular items to show my readers. Perhaps I didn't want to frighten anyone with the larger pieces of art that were scattered about the property. I must warn everyone that I can no longer hide the truth. When Turfman first came to tour the house (I couldn't make the third house-hunting trip), he found this as he and the realtor came up the driveway.

Note: This is not my photo. It is from the Georgia MLS website,
and I cropped it.

When I look at this photo, I wonder what came first--the tractor or the trough? In my mind it doesn't really matter. What would make a person feel like one was insufficient? A myriad other questions continue to plague me about this tractor-as-lawn-ornament.

Happily, the tractor was gone, but the trough remained when I first surveyed the property. The trough was offensive to me. It was clearly a water feature, but something had gone awry with the electrical wiring, so neither it worked nor any of the outdoor outlets anywhere nearby. It immediately went on the demolition list, but it was low priority. The water sat stagnant all last summer, growing all sorts of bizarre things. I dreaded the thought of dismantling it, which would likely require a hazmat suit.

And a close-up of the monstrosity 

Time has a way of softening us, I think. Sometimes it's best to embrace the less desirable aspects of life and just see if they can be made palatable, which is why (well, that and the hazmat suit) I decided to resurrect the water feature. I dropped two enzymatic tablets into the water (which are basically beneficial bacteria that eat all the junk and keep the critters safe) to start the process of de-greening it. To make the pump itself less offensive, I gave it a faux patina. Then came the scrubbing of the mossy wood and applying a coat of tinted water sealer to help it blend into the landscape a bit more. The final touches were the installation of a new, working pump and some planting. It will take some time for the plants to grow in and hide much of it, but I think this thing may grow on me. 

New life for old eyesore

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Collecting Clematis

I have a thing for Clematis. Browsing Brushwood Nursery's website is a dangerous activity for my bank account because I simply have little restraint once I start clicking through the photos of gorgeous blooms. We have five Clematis vines scrambling up various supports at present and would have so much more if I could just figure out where to put them.

Lately, the desire for more of these magnificent vines has been nearly out of control, and it's not been ignited by a virtual Brushwood shopping trip. The culprit is the vines I planted from Brushwood last year. Don't be too quick to judge me for my weakness, dear reader. I simply ask you to consider how you might feel if, every time you walked out your side door, you were greeted with this.

A very content Clematis 'Giselle'

Such a profusion of flowers makes me feel a bit giddy at first, but then the greed sets in. I want more. I try to calm down, but then out the back door, I'm met with this.

There's Clematis 'Huldine' scrambling up an old ladder
fitted with chicken wire

Sitting behind 'Huldine' yields even more trouble, since it boasts gorgeous bars on the back of the petals. Again, this only makes me want more.

Looking good all around

Visitors to the garden might suggest that I already have more than enough when they catch sight of a little pinkish purple peeking through an ornamental grass. 

That's another tempter, Clematis 'Twilight'

They might be right, but then maybe they don't know that there's a Clematis called 'Rebecca.' Don't I need one of those? I don't know what will happen when 'Josephine' begins to flower. It may trigger a need for 'Galore.' Doesn't the name imply that it could sate my appetite?

I may just order that one to test my theory.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Flower Arrangement Challenge, April

Okay, this one is coming in just under the wire. I fretted about not really having any cutting garden plants in bloom, but then I noticed the wildflowers in the field and the Knock-Out roses. They make a sweet little bouquet with a sprig of Dusty Miller.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Building a Garden Fence, Part II

Today I realized something that struck a little fear in my heart. There is a distinct possibility that the story of the garden fence could ultimately come in something over 12 parts. The process is going so slowly--or so it seems--that I occasionally doubt it will ever be complete. I imagine rabbits running wildly about the countryside spreading the good news that some twit is growing all manner of vegetables and offering them up to the beasts of the field, their assumption fueled by the lack of any deterrent erected on my part. These visions have led me to make some drastic but necessary decisions. The plan for chickens will have to wait until next year. The tasks for completing the garden are too time-consuming to give the chickens the time and attention (not to mention the gorgeous digs) that they deserve. I'm disappointed, but that's tempered by the deep relief I feel from eliminating something monumental from my ridiculously long to-do list.

We are slowly building one fence panel at a time and hiking it up to the vegetable garden to set it in place. Once we erect a whole side, I will stain the wood before we devote our time to stretching chicken wire across the bottom section of the fence and attaching it. I built the last panel for the back tonight, which Turfman and I will affix sometime before the weekend. The center section will only receive a temporary piece of chicken wire, as it marks the spot where I will build my greenhouse (likely in the fall).

What, exactly, will this fence deter at present?

Of course, this is also the season for getting vegetables planted out, so when I'm not cutting lumber (or grading essays for my real job), I'm planting seedlings. Today 13 tomato plants moved into their permanent home. More would have moved in, but I ran out of bamboo canes. Put another thing on my shopping list.

'Cherokee Purple' and 'Principe Borghese'
tomatoes in their new bed

The carrot and beet seeds I sowed two weeks ago have now germinated, and the onion sets are sprouting. It will be a while before we enjoy those, but while we wait, we'll be able to feast on all the lettuce that is filling another planting bed. Radishes and peas won't be far behind.

5 varieties of lettuce jostle with sugar snaps
and radishes

I rarely complete projects at the pace I desire, and they often remind me that I have terribly unrealistic expectations. This one is no exception. Just bear with me. Hopefully I'll be able to show everyone a complete garden in under 10 additional posts, fingers crossed.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

April Showers and Flowers

Last year I prophesied the end of our pond, just a few months after we had moved in. With no appreciable rain for months, the pond shrank to a little puddle in the middle of a massive field of mucky mud. The UPS driver attempted to reassure me, saying that he had seen times in early spring when the water was covering part of the driveway. I looked at him with my incredulous, slightly annoyed expression that I reserve for people who are clearly trying to fool me. If he made the drive up today, I might have to apologize to him.

The pond is officially full

The rain has slowed our progress in the vegetable garden, so I'd prefer to keep its present status from the public for now. Instead, I thought I would share what's happening with the generally non-edible bits of the garden. Hopefully the photos will hold everyone over until I can show real signs of progress on enclosing the veg patch.

The second Dutch Iris to appear

Clematis 'Bourbon' blooming like mad

A little chap taking a rest on the ornamental plum

Things are springing up all through the front beds

We're working feverishly to get the vegetable garden finished and enclosed, but I'm not ready to share photos of our progress just yet. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Reaping What I've Sown

When we first moved to the new house (still unnamed, I might add), I made the grand proclamation that I would attempt to start a kind of wildflower meadow where our property meets the road. I also made plans to plant daffodil bulbs across the gentle undulations of that space. My goal was rather simple--I wanted people to drive by our property and feel their spirits lifted by the flowers I'd planted. That's the reason Turfman and I spent so many hours on our knees last fall with baskets full of bulbs.

The result is not something especially grand this year, but I didn't expect much. That "meadow" is part of a five-year plan, so it will become a little more substantial with each passing year. The daffodils are visible from the road, but they might not draw attention.

Daffodils merely dot the landscape this year

Someone had noticed, though. Last Saturday, as Turfman was returning from a morning of golf, he saw that two female cyclists had pulled over in our driveway. Worried that they were having trouble with their bikes, he stopped and asked if they needed any help. Imagine how pleased I was when he recounted that they had actually pulled over to admire the daffodils! He must have been pretty happy, too, because he proceeded to tell him that "The Boss" (that's me, apparently) has plans for a wildflower meadow. They assured him that they would return to see the meadow's progress. I felt buoyed by that vote of confidence. It was more than enough to motivate me for the next phase.

Surprisingly, though, I received another vote today. As I neared our driveway on my way home from the college, I noticed something shiny on our mailbox. I pulled into the drive, walked across the road, and found a letter in a bag attached to the top of the mailbox post.

The envelope was in a Ziploc bag

The cyclists had returned sometime today, leaving me a card thanking me for my garden. They even included a thoughtful gift, writing that "maybe you could use our seeds, too" when I sow the meadow seeds. I meant to brighten someone's day with the garden, and apparently I did. I just never expected that the goodwill would return to me in the form of such a lovely surprise. Hopefully their seeds will take hold and have a similar effect on others who pass.

Seeds of goodwill

Friday, March 27, 2015

Flower Arrangement Challenge, March

I decided to look in new places for flowers. This is a trio of ornamental cherry and plum tree blossoms and the great structural sweet gum tree leaf blooms. I think they look like hops.