Thursday, May 26, 2011

Gazebo deck and moss garden…

So dreams are becoming realities! 
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We spent last weekend starting the new deck for the gazebo and then Randy spent a couple nights this week finishing it.
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All that’s left are the steps which are going in the front and some lattice skirting around the bottom.
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The view from up there is wonderful and I love sitting next to the pond and being able to look down on it!.
Have you ever really looked at moss?  I mean really looked at it, took the time to really notice it?  It’s beautiful and it’s different and well there are 1200 types in North America.  Moss is small, it reminds me of quiet, of magic and coolness and well something tranquil. Moss is growing in my garden and I’m working to help it out.
This area the grass has never done well in, but the moss, the moss wants this area and I want to help it!
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So I’ve been weeding this area of grass, one little clump at a time and it’s a time consuming process.  The book I’m reading on Moss Gardening assures me that once weeded it’s needs minimal care, keep the debris off and water occasionally during the summer if I want to keep it from going dormant.
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I somehow managed to give myself a nasty case of tennis elbow and have been told to keep the activities to a minimum with my right arm.  So since I could no longer vigorously pull weeds while sitting on the ground and then use my arm to push myself up, I brought my beach chair over. At least this way I can sit here in the quiet shade and gently pull blades of grass from the moss.
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I just have this little bit to go and then Randy is going to use the blower to clean off the area for me.  After that I’m going to give the moss a nice watering and hope that it decides to fill in the rest.  I’m seriously thinking about adding some nice rocks over here, maybe a few ferns too.  It’s like a whole little world in the moss, all sorts of spiders, beetles and other insects, lots of worms.  I told my mom I felt a little bad when I was pulling the grass from around some tiny ants, it must be like having someone cut down all your trees to them.  I hope this moss garden just improves and gets even more magical….

Monday, May 23, 2011

Then Again…Maybe..

I probably do a lot of things wrong as a gardener.  I don’t always, ok scratch that, I hardly ever follow planting instructions, except in the most broadest sense.  You know like I don’t place a sun loving plant in full shade, or a water loving plant in dry sand.  I never dig the hole ‘x’ number of times bigger, or mound soil just so, I just just figure that tags are sort of like a general guideline, you know, if you plant this plant in these conditions, here’s what it will do.  Anything different and you get different results, like maybe it won’t be as tall, or as aggressive or as wide…So far so good!
The thing is, at least in my yard, the conditions vary a lot,  For instance, even though it has had years and years of leaves deposited on it, my woodland area is under trees. That means that while I can amend the soil till I’m 100, it’s still going to be pretty dry.  Except for right now because it’s been raining almost daily and so that ground is nice and moist. Things are thriving in there like crazy, plants that have adapted to the drier conditions are thinking they hit the lottery.  Then there is the area that gets ‘full sun’ now it’s not full on sun all day, but it gets close to 5 hours worth, some of it morning, some of it late afternoon. That bed, that bed stays moist, as in in the winter sometimes it heaves the plants right out of the ground.  Well right now, bog lovers would do well, but my “I like my feet moist but not floating thank you” plants are showing their displeasure with wilted tops and in some cases delayed growth. Nothing I can do about it, they have to lump it or leave it at this point.  The conditions will change, it will at some point (or maybe not) stop raining everyday and the ground will dry some and all will be ‘normal’.  Again. Maybe.
Things in a garden are never stagnant. It changes not only based on what you do as a gardener but based on the weather and on nature in general.  Did a tree fall, or a large plant die back?  Did you get more rain or less snow? Was it a warm winter a cold spring?  All these things can cause a plant to live or die and in the end even if you planted it in the most perfect location, it’s still a crap shoot!
Happy Gardening!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

F is for Frogs, Fish and Flowers!!!!

I knew I had a few bullfrogs in my pond, but maybe my Prince Charming is among these guys!
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I count at least six of these handsome guys (or girls lol) in any event I am one happy camper to have this many bullfrogs in my pond.
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This past winter was harsh on my fish population, we lost all but two.  So we’ve been adding more goldfish and some minnows.  I also want to get some fresh water clams to help with the cleaning of the water. That’s a picture of the two large fish and one of the small new ones, they look tiny compared to what we use to have.
The rest of these are just some random shots of what’s blooming in my gardens right now.  Enjoy!
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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Ticked…

Well today did not go as I had planned.  My day was supposed to go like this (after coffee, breakfast and wishing the Mom’s a Happy Mother’s Day) I was going to plant my dahlia bulbs in the containers on the deck, cover myself in Deep Words Off and return to working on my bee garden.  Well, my container somehow never made it to the deck, so I had to get out my hand cart (cause the thing weighted a ton full of nice wet dirt) and roll it through the yard to the back deck.  I then proceeded to look like a sumo wrestler squatting down to heft the thing up two steps at a time.  I did of course achieve my goal and got my dahlias planted (sadly not all survived the over wintering process but the ones that did have already sprouted!).
Next I was headed to plant and went to spray my DWO and uh-oh empty. Not good, I dug around in the cabinet and nope none there.  I eked out what I could and went on out into the big bad backyard. To where I find the husband looking at the gazebo parts. Now long ago we had a lovely gazebo on our deck but we took it down because we built a all seasons room. It has been sitting sadly against the shed waiting to be placed.  I want it behind the pond on the end where the waterfall is and we’ve gone round and round about it.  I think he’s finally coming round to my way of thinking though, especially now that I’ve convinced him that we (thanks in part to his dad) can build a small deck to put it on instead of digging and leveling out the area.  So he asked me to help him clean off the several years worth of leaves and sticks to uncover it and I did. 
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We hefted up the one section, was it ever heavy and wet! He did some calculating and we talked about ways to get it to the other side of the yard.  I suggested a gazebo building party, but I’m not sure he took me seriously.  I’ll happily feed a host of people if they are willing to help heft these two sections across the yard!  The husband then informed me he was going to work on the lattice and since I knew he was going to ask we went over what he could and could not stomp and hack in the flower bed.  I figured better safe than sorry and started pulling weeds in that area.  He went in the house to gather tools and what not and I was working away.  That’s when I saw it, a nasty, blood sucking creepy crawling, disease carrying tick!  It was making it’s way up my arm in short order!  I grabbed it and promptly chopped it in half with my pruners.  (Now if you know me, you know I hate to kill anything but I draw the line at ticks, mosquitoes and now stink bugs!)  Finding another on my shoe and a third on the back of my neck was enough to send me into the house, clothes stripped and left in the washer (door closed so nothing could escape) and directly into a hot shower where I scrubbed off at least one layer of skin.  Now before you go thinking I’m insane, I’ve had a bulls eye from a tick bite emblaze my arm, I was sick for weeks while the antibiotics beat that horrible tick spit out of my system. It is not a journey I want to take again, thanks but no.  If I find a tick on me, as in it’s been eating and I don’t know how long I go straight to my doctor!
So the husband was left to his own devices as I had no plans to be back outside till I can coat myself in Ode’ da Deep Woods Off. He worked along and got all the lattice up and it looks very nice!
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Me, well I spent the rest of the day doing laundry and sucking up stink bugs, what fun!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

B is for blessed and bunnies!!!!

I know that where I live is a blessing. I’m grateful for it everyday because I’m surrounded by nature, peace and tranquility.  Rarely do I have to endure sirens, traffic or noisy neighbors.  The most I hear are birds twitting, my neighbors Guinea hens “buck-wheating'” and the occasional squirrel fussing about whatever.  It is green here, lush really and even though I’m only a short distance from civilization most days it feels like it’s hours away.  So I count my blessings and often.  Today I got another blessing, one that while most gardeners would shudder at, well I embrace as a wonderful gift.
I was gathering up my plants that I’d purchased earlier in the week, loading them into my cart to haul around back. Something moved and at first I thought it was a chipmunk, but when I looked closer I realized it was a baby bunny!  A tiny little puff of brown fur no bigger than my hand sat looking at me with big dark eyes.  I put my hand over my mouth to stop myself from squealing with delight!!  I scurried into the house to grab my camera to get a picture of the tiny little critter nestled in among my flowers.
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My next thought was what is it doing here?  I’ve seen one rabbit down here and that was a couple of years ago, I saw it twice in one week and then never again.  Was this baby lost?  I came inside and searched for information on baby bunnies and learned that mom leaves them, (them"?) behind for the day while she goes off to eat.  Them"?  I went back out and began to look around and sure enough there were other furry little bottoms under my front porch!  There is lattice that skirts the porch but it’s not enclosed entirely. It is however a very safe and dry environment for a bunny nest! 
For me this is another wildlife victory.  I know many will never understand my stance on this and that’s ok.  There are so few places left where animals can go and feel safe, have food, wood and shelter.  If my little place here provides that I’m happy to share, even if it means that some of my flowers won’t look perfect or that I might miss something blooming because someone decided it tasted good.  I’ve been living with the deer and we’ve come to an understanding, if I remember to spray they don’t eat it lol.  The flying squirrels, the raccoons, the foxes, the owls and the hawks are all a part of my life.  Just like the hummingbirds, the chipmunks and those nutty red tailed squirrels that make so much mischief.  We live here together, sharing this piece of property and I think that is one of the greatest blessings of all…
You think you own whatever land you land on
The Earth is just a dead thing you can claim
But I know every rock and tree and creature
Has a life, has a spirit, has a name
Come run the hidden pine trails of the forest
Come taste the sun sweet berries of the Earth
Come roll in all the riches all around you
And for once, never wonder what they're worth
The rainstorm and the river are my brothers
The heron and the otter are my friends
And we are all connected to each other
In a circle, in a hoop that never ends
How high will the sycamore grow?
If you cut it down, then you'll never know
And you'll never hear the wolf cry to the blue corn moon
For whether we are white or copper skinned
We need to sing with all the voices of the mountains
We need to paint with all the colors of the wind
You can own the Earth and still
All you'll own is Earth until
You can paint with all the colors of the wind

Bee Garden Beginnings..

Ok let’s see Saturday morning was spent (for the most part) watching Randy level out a spot for the new Top Bar Hive.  It took him longer than I’d expected but, he is after all right..(shh don’t tell him I said that!) The hive isn’t going to be moved around and it’s better for it to be in a spot that’s properly prepared. After he leveled out the area, he made a nice frame out of some landscape timbers and then he put down some large pavers that have been wasting away in the back for a base.  It turned out pretty good and he even made a level spot on the other side where the observation window is so I can easily take a peek!  I painted several frames with beeswax and added some pure lemongrass oil inside.  I’m hoping a swarm will adopt this as a new home, if not this year than next.  If not I’ll be looking for a rescue locally!
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The old pond was in this area (we had envisioned a wonderful in ground pool with beach entry and large rocks but the price was crazy) and it’s always been sort of my problem child. Between the mostly clay soil, rocks, constant encroachment of the woods (and weeds) and the grazing deer I’ve not had much luck.  I’m hoping to change that though. I’ve got BIG plans for back here and so mom and I headed out to a couple of nurseries last week and I got the humble beginnings for a pollinators paradise.  Salvias, catmints, herbs and a few natives and I’m off and running.
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I’m really making an effort to plan this one out but I’m not a ‘formal’ garden plan kind of gal. I mean really unless you are going to spend every second pruning, pinching, dividing and digging, your garden is going to do basically what IT wants. Plants spread to unexpected places, the flop over the borders and they grow how they want despite our attempts to make them do what we want. I’m just trying to actually place stuff a little by size and to group the plants together for the ‘en masse’ impact.  I also made sure to plant a bit away from the beehive as I saw mentioned that they won’t eat where they poop!
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I am using cardboard boxes to map out my path area and I hope to get some wood chips to put down on top of them.  I still haven’t settled on one but might be going for a sort of half circle with off shoots into the beds. There was very little left from the previous use of this area, a pussy willow that is lovely, a butterfly bush that blooms faithfully, a red twig dog wood that’s never looked red, a large clump of ornamental grass that’s long lost it’s variegation, some sweet flag iris that haven’t bloomed in years and some purple fringed loosestrife that has been struggling because of dry conditions and deer.  I’m hopeful with some serious sweat and muscle (mine not Randy’s!) I can turn this area into a pollinators paradise!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Did you hear about the Mason’s???

They are some of the best neighbors you could ask for.  They are hard working, polite and so industrious. Now some would have you believe that they are picky neighbors but I’m here to tell you that this is just not true!  Why they will live in any old hole, they aren’t picky at all.
Case in point, her is one of the Mason girls now, she just happens to be on the underside of the small table on my front porch! 
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When she’s done, I won’t be able to access those screws till next spring because it’s gonna look like this.
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That’s some handy work right there!  I know some people that don’t spackle that well!  Well I decided to assist the Mason family since there are only so many screw holes on my front porch.
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I’ve had this Mason beehive for a few years, I’ve been needing that lovely cedar “L” that you see there.  I just got it this week and my intention was to mount it in the ‘right’ place. Facing south or east, under an eave away from winds, etcetera, etcetera, however I decided to see what would happen if I presented it to the Masons in a location that they were already making home.  Guess what, it took no time for them to start moving in!
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I don’t know how long it will take for them to fill up these tubes but it sure is fun watching them fly back and forth.  They seem to not have a care in the world and don’t mind me sitting here watching them.  I love the sounds they make, that happy hum! 
Mason bees are one of Americas native bee species. They are excellent pollinators and since they are quite furry they come out a little sooner in the cool spring air than most honeybees, which are not native to America by the way. They are gentle bees and unless you are rough with them they don’t sting.  Anyone can provide housing for mason bees, either by building it or buying it.  You can simply Google Mason Bees for tons of information on the variety that live in your neck of the woods!
Bee Happy!

Compost is going to happen!

I have had bins, I have had big round compost heaps and they have all had the same frustrating outcome…no compost.  I admit it, I want to du...