Wee Garden

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Journaling the progression of our yard and garden efforts in our new home.  Actually it's a historic older home, circa 1892, saltbox, but it's new to us. 
We bought it in Nov 2002, and while it has mature landscaping highlights, it also is in need of some taming and developing as we make it now our home.

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Mammoth Russian Sunflowers
first summer in our home. click picture to see photo album

August 2003
   Our first summer in the house we are buying.  It comes with some already mature landscaping.  Noteably the front yard has the 90 + year old Monkey Puzzle Tree.  But it is showing it's age now, and appears more brown than green. 
The first year here I asked our neighbor to cut off the lower branches.  Since the tree was planted on a corner where 2 streets intersect, it made for poor visibility and our neighbor was happy to open up that space to help prevent accidents for cars trying to make the turn.  I learned something though; dear hubby was heartbroken at the trim job on that tree.  Seems he had already developed a fondness and ownership of that historical tree.
Next is the raised bricked garden areas at the front of the cupola.  While a bit overgrown, the mixtures of small trees, evergreens, and a well developed and aged rhodedendrom give a calming, relaxed feel to that area.  Sweetie just had to do some serious pruning to the overgrowth of the ivy and straggling blackberry shoots.  For the most part, I have no plans for this area except maintenance, as it works well in it's present design. 
I do need to learn the names of the spreading evergreen. It's an expensive variety, low growing with primary branche that grow outwards horizontally on one side.  I believe the orange flowering small tree is a type of rhodendrom. It looks also like a rare and exotic species.   And there is a yellow flowering tree that is prickly.  Maybe a type of holly but the yellow blooms are gorgeous.
Future plans for this area include taking out the small area of grass as it is impossible to get in there and mow it.  And there is a small patio area in need of some refining, maintenance, attendance and planting to sparkle it up. 
There is no 'back yard' to speak of, rather a strip of what is a pathway to get to the side yard.  While there is a nice, sunny spot in a square shape at the juncture of the original house and the added on section, someday it will make a nice wildflower garden.  For now, it needs nutrients, attention and a plan. 
The side yard, which really serves as our back yard has the Harry Lauder Walking Stick tree.  That is also an expensive variety with twisty limbs and curled leaves.  Initially, it looks like the leaves are withering, but it is the nature of the leaves and limbs.  I had to look it up to learn what kind of tree it is and have developed an immediate fondness for it already.  My mother thought it was a sadly neglected tree and I had to explain to her it was a rare type of tree and is supposed to look that way. 
There is a mature lilac which is old enough to be more of a tree than a bush;  another very mature bush grows next to it and that one is a wild fushia bush.  There is an overgown cluster of camellia close by so it looks like a concentration of plantings that have matured now are a bit too close together and growing into each other.  
Someone put in a raised bed next to part of the brick wall that lines the yard.  It has left over yarrow, I believe, still growing in it.  Probably I will start with this raised bed and work my way outward as I decide what to do with this yard.
The yard has a small hill so that it appears to be an upper and a lower section.  The lower section is the septic tank and drain field and I've heard it is not a good idea to plant in the drain field area.  There is a brick wall at the back of this drain field area.  Along that wall are several trees.  Tall natural growing evergreen, and then 2-3 other natural evergreens. Not sure if they were already there and part of the original land or if they were planted deliberately years and years ago. 
 A couple of rhodedendroms are also along the brick wall.  Sparse and hanging in there but not flourishing.  There is a maturing maple tree at the corner where the brick wall forms the right angle.  And it looks like big rocks were brought in to hold the bank of the hill or for decor or....and I can envision a rock garden there easily. 
 And it looks like someone planted what might have been a christmas tree or perhaps a forestry tree at the corner of the rock garden right under the very mature evergreen.  The branches of the mature evergreen are growing into this planting and affecting it's shape and growth.  So a serious cutting of the lower branches of that old evergreen will become a project.
At the back porch area of the house are 3 too mature rhodedendroms which will need some serious cutting back.  They look to be the variety that grows naturally in Washington, so they will get too large for the spots where they have been planted and will be some annual pruning work to keep them in control. 
Well that is it; the lay of the place when we bought it in November 2002.  This is our first summer here and we are without yard and garden tools, so some must buy items.
Projects accomplished in the first summer here;
  -- pruning back the front yard raised beds and shaping the mature rhodendrom.  I will call this area the front oasis for lack of knowing what else to call it, due to it's serene setting.
  -- pruning back the over mature rhodendroms at back porch area.
  -- serious limb removal of the Monkey Puzzle tree
  -- generally just removing weeds and overgrowth all around the house
  -- hoeing and planting the raised bed in back yard along the brick wall.  Biggest accomplishment with that was the massive Russian Sunflowers that I planted.
  -- with no garden, tried the split the top soil bag and grow vegetables directly from the bags.  This worked out fairly well.  I got squash, and cucumbers, and a sprinkling of tomatoes.  The rest was container gardening and container flowers.  Not a too bad first effort, but I will want a true garden space in the back yard.  And over time, I will want wildflower garden and a herb garden.
             see photos here

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seedlings, grandchildren planted
1/2 garden, 1/2 sandbox, seedlings waiting to be planted. click picture to see photo album

June 8, 2004
  Well here goes my new journal for my gardening efforts.  Like Pinocchio, I want to be a "real" gardener some day.  I've had a hand at growing some vegetables in container pots.  Last year I tried the split open top soil bags and planting the vegetables directly in the bags.   Hey that worked! I had nice amount of summer squash,  zucchini, pickling cucumbers, and even a hint of cherry tomatoes. 
  This year my husband cleared a garden space for me, I don't know the dimensions, will ask him and post it here later. The grandkidlets are staying temporarily with us and took over the newly turned garden space into their own personal sandbox.

We had a family medical situation so I got a late start on the gardening this year.  I claimed back 1/3rd of the garden space, laid down newspaper then dumped all the old last year's potting soil from containers on top of the newspaper.   Well, of course that was not near enough.

  I asked my sweetie to buy some more potting soil, and he obliged me by purchasing 10 bags plus the 3 bags of topsoil I already had.   Was enough to partially fill the newly claimed back garden space.
With such a late start, I didn't think seeds would work out, so bought some starter vegetables and planted those.  Okay, so now I have a tiny little wee garden woo hoo... and I thought I'd keep a journal of things that go wrong, and things that go right and things I learn along the way.  

 What I learned from last year, planting seeds is that it's not wise to use cheap seeds, cause they are exactly that..cheap and don't grow too well.     So I'll upgrade to better quality seeds.  I did save the seeds from my mammoth russian sunflowers last year and planted them again this year.  They seem to be sprouting again for 2nd year ..woo hoo for me.
                   See photos here

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The beginning
of our first garden. click picture to see photo album

June 10, 2004
I'm a frugal gardener, by that I mean whatever I can do on the cheap, by innovation, as close to free as possible.  We reduced last year by choice to one income living and of necessity now, I look for the most inexpensive ways to enhance my yard and garden. 
Got late start this year.  But that didn't stop me, no I bought some starter vegetables and reclaimed 1/3rd of my garden space from the grandkidlets who had homesteaded the space for a sandbox. 
My husband, not much for the outdoor work, but very willing when I ask him had hand dug out the sod and lined out the space with railroad ties that he hauled from the neighbors yard across the street (it's okay, they gifted them to us).   I was sooo pleased and proud of him so couldn't possibly let this garden space go to waste after his hard work.
I let my grandson have ownership of the tomato plants.  I staked them using the aluminum prongs on an old antennae that came with the house when we bought it.  My husband took that down last fall, and we figured if we saved it, the prongs might be useful as stakes in the garden.    I used my mother's tip for tying the tomato plants using old discarded pantyhose.  Well it's not very pretty, but hey, I'm practicing to be a "real" gardener so following wise gardening tips that I learn along the way.
To get the garden space ready, I put down newspapers, let the little ones hose them down (we have that breeze here ya know) so they wouldn't blow away until I could take the next step.   I went and collected all my old container pots that didn't offer up any return plants after last year, dumped the used soil on the newspapers and that was the beginning.
I asked my husband, who I call Sweetie, to purchase some potting soil, (10 bags worth), then dumped that all into the space, bordered it off with concrete blocks and topped it with some top soil (only 3 bags, so thin layering).  The concrete blocks are recycled from Sweetie's brick and board bookcases.  We got him a new bookcase for Fathers Day and I had said at 57 he was a little too old for bricks and boards concept of bookcases, that was better left to college students and aging hippies (lol). 
So the little garden space has begun.  I hope to claim another 1/3rd of it from the grandkidlets and convert them to caring for the garden plants, but I'm not real sure they are ready for that, as the corn plant already got stepped on.
           see photos here

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The rocks
planted succulents, lavendar, rock garden begins

June 10, 2004
Yesterday I got the rock garden planted.  There is a rock formation in the yard separating the upper from the lower section.  I had thought it would make nice rock garden for succulents and some wildflowers.  Well, it's of course, more adept at growing weeds, so I put the black plastic on it, held it down with bricks (laying around the yard from the gradually crumbling brick wall) and wouldn't you just know it, No Sun to bake the weeds.  Two rainy weeks, not fair.
Impatient, I planted the succulents anyway.  Tossed some potting soil on top of the plastic, dug out squares of the plastic and into the soil underneath and planted all the plants.  Now grow dang it, after all, supposedly, you can't go wrong with succulents...we'll see.  
Around the base of the rock garden I have planted some of my lavendar, one big one and a couple of little ones.  There are few more lavendar plants yet to be planted.  I will also plant the rosemary around the rock base.  Over in the sun/shade corner the lillies from last year are sprouting beautiful red flowers (I think they are tiger lillies).   I will try planting  those 3 potted Easter lillies I was given at Easter and Mother's Day.  There will be a lilly corner then at the base of the rock garden.
Oh, and I planted my Calla Lilly.  My so far, one and only plant.  I think these are so beautiful, and hope to acquire more plants.  Then I planted some annuals in the flower beds.  My daughter gave me a hand edging and weeding the vegetable garden outside the railroad ties.  She wanted to get the weeds underneath (I told ya, my husband isn't big on yard work, he got the railroad ties moved and just set them down on top of existing sod), so she heaved those railroad ties around, and I know I'm getting old, cause I can't budge em.
Had to go into town today, which gave me the excuse to get some more potting soil, cause I used up the 6 bags yesterday.  And of course, had to pick up a few more annuals, But, the store had bulbs on sale 1/2 price, so I bought 2 more Calla Lillies, and some Gladiolas.  Oh, but I wanted one of everything there and watching my budget ..... well I didn't, I overspent a bit. 
So, for now, I have new this year the start of  a)  vegetable garden  b) rock garden  c) flower beds  d) hosta beds and e) bulb bed.   I still have a rose bed I want to make to plant the 3 rose bushes I bought.  I still want to make a herb garden (I love herbs!) and haven't figured out a home for where that will be yet.  And I just Have to get some tulip and daffodil bulbs in the Fall.    Anyway, I've made a lot of progress this year compared to last year's efforts.  I'm becoming a "real" gardener bit by bit.

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Two part planting in the garden
1/2 garden, 1/2 grandchildren's sandbox, 2nd planting. click picture to see photo album

June 14, 2004
It has rained all week here and actually, I got a lot done in the yard  (see previous posts).   Saturday, and I tackled another section of the yard, edging and shovelling out another flower bed.  My daughter came to my rescue and helped me with the heavy manual work of hauling off the sod.  
 I planted the rest of last year's iris bulbs and maybe they will take and maybe not as they sat in a black garbage bag through the winter.  I saw green on the bulbs though, so planted those...we'll see what we get.    I had made a row of iris last fall from donations and they bloomed nicely this spring.  I did not have beds enough to plant all the donations, so hopefully, I "wintered" them to salvage...as I said we will see.
 I'm excited about planting my new Calla Lilly (discounted plant in container that I planted in the ground) and hope it will grow well.   The local hardware store had bulbs on sale 1/2 price, so I bought 2 more Calla Lillies, in pink and yellow.  I was too fearful of planting them directly in the ground, so put them in pots to see if they will grow.
I also got 4 varieties of gladiola bulbs, which I did plant directly in the ground, and have my fingers crossed they will grow, looking forward to seeing gladiolas in the yard.
I put the cosmos flowers in a grouping and tossed out some baby's breath seeds.   Forming a little beginning of a flower bed which I hope to expand.   The foundation will be the gladiolas, then will gradually add differing heights of flowers.   I realized though, I didn't know what was an annual, what was a perennial, so I went to google on internet and created a list of perennials.   I want to scout for them at the nurseries around here (not too many, maybe 3 within 50 mile radius).   I hope to plant perennials and create a kind of wildflower garden.
I'm staying small here and keeping with the green grassed yard, don't want to overwhelm my husband (or me for the that matter) but in years to come I'm looking forward to gradually claiming more to the beds I am creating and growing this project to have larger and larger beds of wildflowers and perennials.
The grandchildren (ages 3 and 4) helped me to plant all the vegetable seeds so we have little pots now all lined up with vegetables waiting to grow.   We have  
green peppers
tomatoes full size
cherry tomatoes
wax beans
    oh, I've forgotten the rest.  My daughter gave me several packages of seeds this year and we made a grandmother, grandchildren project out of planting them all.  
That about wraps up this week in the yard.   Got so much done this year.  I'm taking a break from the garden and yard for a bit.  This week we will be doing some errands and driving around for my daughter's family trying to get to Germany to be with her husband.     Now that is another very long story of a different topic altogether. 
             see photos here 

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Herb garden planted
dug up lawn, set the frames, now herbs just grow!

April 25, 2005
   Spring clean-up.  Weather was unseasonably warm early this year and the yard is abloom before it's seasonal.  So getting an earlier start this year, as everything in the yard thinks it's spring in March already. 
    Trimmed the Harry Lauder Walking Stick tree because it grew new limbs rapidly, and I didn't trim the shoots that sprouted last summer.  Then I went after the wild fushia bush vigorously.  I love it and it draws the hummingbirds, but it has grown so much as to consume a large amount of yard space.  It is threatening the close-by lilac tree and spreading right into the garden area.  Sadly, now, it is but a memory of what it was last year, but it is wild-growing and intended to take up a lot of space. 
I'm Sure it will grow back fairly rapidly.  I did leave some tall middle branches left over from last year to leave the hummingbirds something for this year.  After this summer though, I will trim those back also as there should be enough new growth on the overall bush for next season.
The Lilac tree suffered this year and it has 4 seperate growing trunks.  One trunk leaned so far this year, that it was in danger of lying on the ground.  I had Sweetie pull it up and another trunk was weakened and came out with it.  So there are now 2 trunks left and half the tree it used to be, sigh.  But now that it is done, it actually looks better and even more healthy.
The rock garden is growing well and looking very good this year.  I'm glad I did that planting last year as it is almost professional looking this year.  I need to tend to the one end where the peculiar christmas tree was planted.  Overall though, I am most satisfied with the rock garden.  So much so, that I'd like to do another one sometime.
Now the hard part, yuck....edging out all the beds and hauling sod.  I do this in spurts as it is back-breaking work for me.  Ambitiously I have cut and hauled sod out of the entire sidewalk section with an eye towards having a herb garden there.  I am so lazy that when I want fresh herbs, I want to walk out the kitchen door, down the steps and have the herb garden right there so I can snip and get back to the stove.  
I like the herbs planted around the yard, but once I get outside, I tend to get lost in my wonderment and lose track of time.  That doesn't work well when I'm in the middle of cooking, so a quick run out the door, snip, and back to the kitchen. 
For the herb garden, I used some cast off wood strips from the neighbor's yard to inset areas for planting different varieties of herbs.  I put a pathway down the middle, using the mulching set on top of plastic that I pinned down.  So far the herb garden has:
parsley (I moved some of the parsley that was growing well where it was..hope it transplants!)
oregano (I had some growing in a container, so transplanted it into the ground)
chives (I transplanted the entire clump, hope it survives)
sage (again, transplanted froma container pot)
rosemary (transplanted from container pot)
lavendar, 2 small plants.  It will take them years to get big enough to be a problem.
creeping thyme (a new tiny pot plant)
marigolds for color
eunyomis (gold and green varieties.  These are creeping ground covers of evergreen genisis and might not have been wise to plant in herb garden.  But I hope to contain them as sidewalk border edging..we'll see)
mint In container pots as I hear mint grows rapidly and takes over and is wise to keep it contained.
catnip, but I didn't plant it in the herb garden as I don't want our cat, Lance bothering the other herbs.  I planted the catnip in a side bed along the brick wall.  Lance, an older cat, enjoys the catnip and gets all goofy playing around with it.  Treat for the cat!
last year's plantings of flowers, perennials, and not sure what will come back this year, so whatever does is a bonus to the herb garden. 
I had dug out and hauled sod at that spot out of curiosity as last year when I was doing the flower bed, I kept hitting hard objects (bricks).  I was curious to see if there was an entire brick patio underneath, so patiently over many days and weeks dug it all up.  There were bricks alright, but not an entire patio's worth. 
Since I now had a big mud patch, I decided to make a pathwalk from the sidewalk to the edge of the yard.  I laid down plastic and edged both sides using the bricks and then poured the three bags of lava rock that my daughter had purchased for me last year. 
It was intended to make a small walkway to the flower beds using lava rock, but I could never quite figure out the design without interfering with the overall look of the yard.  So, this seemed a good use and an experiment worth trying.  It looks very handsome so far, and I will need to finish it off now for continuity all the way to the edge of the yard.  I will need more lava rock though, and that's a purchase that will have to wait a bit.
The front of the house, where the Oasis garden is located has a slab of concrete that may have once been a driveway or ??.  It has grown over with grass and I was curious about it's original shape, so I began edging and digging and carting off sod.  Sweetie saw me hard at work and came over to lend a hand.  When finished, it wasn't a driveway but a rather incomplete patio
Some section was finished and smoothed, but other sections were raw and unfinished.  I'm not sure what the original intent was, but it is disappointing in that it looks exactly like a project started and left incomplete.  Now I have some serious designing to do to disguise the rough outer edges.  But otherwise, we have a nice, small patio area, perfect for a little bistro table and 2 chairs and many container pots of flowers. 
Okay, now some serious work on the garden bed.  It fared well enough over the winter and while there are some weeds, it's not too bad.  So pull, turn, cart off more sod pieces and rake up the bed.  The railroad ties that outline the garden bed work well enough, but the natural grass and weeds that insist on growing are encroaching from underneath the ties.  So more back-breaking work to dig out all the growth and create beds around the outside of the ties to keep the grass (and weeds) at bay. 
 Once the garden bed was cleared and turned though, I was able to pour out the compost I've been mulching for 2 years and in the spirit of a garden, I decided to go ahead and plant some of the vegetable seeds in seedling containers, using the last of the topsoil bag I had left over from last year.
There was enough soil to plant these seeds:
tomatoes (cherry)
There are seed packets still to plant, but as it is, I am taking a risk to be planting so early as it is only late April now.  Yet it has been unseasonably warm, and to wait till May or June, the seeds may become confused than think it is early summer, so I'm taking a risk by going with nature's intuition this year.  I'm taking my cues from the everything blooming and growing early this year and hoping there will be no surprise late spring frosts.
I've started edging out one side of the garden railroad ties, and Sweetie came out to help turn the garden bed, but he isn't much for the edging and pulling out sod work so I'll be picking away at that for weeks to come.  He had in mind a serious pruning job on the front Oasis garden and he really got in there and took down a lot of the overgrowth.  In one year that area can sprout some serious wild growth! 
Between ivy and natural growing blackberry brambles, that is one area that could go wild easily.  He trimmed the seriously mature rhodedendrom back into it's 'tree' shape only this year it looks like Edward Scissor Hands visited the front Oasis and did some trimming.  It's cute...un-natural but cute.  The top is too tall now for him to reach, so that will entail getting out a ladder to trim the top.
   Well, we are off to a super-early (for us) great start on the yard and gardens this year.  I did manage to get the 3 rose bushes planted late last summer, and they seem to be weathering well.  One is showing a bud already.  These are climbers, and yes, I want to get those old-fashioned trellis ladders for them to climb.  I placed those at a rather unfinished part of the house, by the kitchen window. 
At one time there had been one of those tall antennae for television and so it was a rather raw spot.  Sweetie took the antennae down last year.  He actually climbed out of the upstairs bedroom window and walked across the roof to unhook the top holder.  He didn't tell me he was doing so as I would have freaked, but he managed to get it done without falling off the roof.
You have to understand that Sweetie can do a lot of things, but also things happen to him when he is doing so and I've learned to get nervous now about the projects he undertakes.  He's not clumsy, really, but he does fall down a lot, or pull muscles a lot, or other odd things that happen to him when he is at work on a project.

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Iris in bloom along fence-line
second year, and the beginning of my flower garden

May 4, 2005
    Iris is blooming and gorgeous.  My mother gave me these from her garden after she thinned hers last season and I got them planted in my yard last year.  It was not the season for them to bloom, and they were fairly straggly.  I cut them in fan shape as my mother recommended and sort of just crossed my fingers and hoped they might take to their new home. 
   This year, they have done beautifully with healthy leaves and almost every one of them has blossoms.  It is as I envisioned it when I planted them along the fence-line.  A row of beautiful iris which would bloom in the spring.  I can look out my kitchen window and see them and I am very pleased.  It has been my plan to be able to look out my kitchen window at my garden and to expand the lawn area there to have varieties of flowers in a flower garden.  The row of iris along the fence-line is the beginning back of the row of my future flower garden. 
   My plan is to add a row as I can each year, with the barrier being having to dig out sod to create the flower garden.  I can only do so much digging and carrying off sod as my body permits, so it is slow work which I knew would take years to realize.  But I'm delighted that the iris row is looking so well, and it will be the beginning of many more varieties of wildflowers for my wildflower garden. 
   When the years pass, I will one day be able to look out my kitchen window and see a wildflower habitat next to my vegetable garden.  But this is also a fairly well manicured yard with some most special showcase type bushes, trees, and plantings deliberately placed by the previous owner(s).  I have to go slowly so as not to detract from the natural flow or give the appearance of clutter where there is now some orderly appearance.
    Vegetable garden started now.  I planted some vegetable seeds into starter pots last week and some are beginning to show plants.  It was a sunny day yesterday and good time to work on planting the rest of the vegetable seeds. 
     I just don't have the will, room, energy to work all the seeds into starter pots, so I sowed the seeds directly into the garden soil.  It's a risky thing to do as there are birds galore here, and not sure if the seeds will survive bird feedings.  But that is what I did and I marked the rows so I would remember what was what.  I also made a map of the garden and what was planted so that I could remember and watch for little plants to sprout.
I know what some vegetable plants look like so know what to expect from those, but others I do not know and need a map to help me out.  So here is what is planted now in this years garden:
Sunflowers to line the entire back of the garden by the fence.
Sweet Corn in front of the sunflower line on the left side of garden.
Sweet Peas in front of the corn on left side of garden.
Beets in front of the sweet peas on left side of garden.  These are seeds in starter pots and I plan to transplant when they show plantlings.
Turnips in a semi-circle planting will butt up against the beets and the hill I made at garden corner for zucchini.
Zucchini in a mound I made at left corner of garden.
Onions from last year which are returning this year. Another small semi-circle of turnips planted around the onions.
Cucumbers in another mound I made at front center of garden
-- break --
Carrots at right angle to the corn and peas, in a half row.
Green Beans will be in front of the sunflowers on the left side of garden.  I forgot to check to see if these will need trellis or pole. 
Lima Beans will be in front of green beans on the left side of the garden.  I haven't grown these before.
Carrots along the right border edge of garden.  Figured I could easily get to these and do a second planting.
Lettuce, iceberg, alongside the carrots.
Radishes row alongside the carrots.  Again, figured I could easily get to it for second planting.
Tomatoes, cherry, alongside the radishes
Tomatoes, full size, alongside the cherry tomatoes.
Green Peppers in a teardrop shaped section next to tomatoes.
Well that fills the garden space that I have, yet I have more seeds.  So, will also do either the split topsoil bag and grow direct from bag or containers for some of the other seeds.  Other seeds, like radishes, carrots, lettuce are reserved for second plantings.
Now, let's see if this garden can be grown from seeds and if the seeds survive the birds around here who know where to find seeds!    My back up plan is that if the seeds don't take is to purchase small starter plants from local nursery.
On a side note, the barn swallows are back again this year (3rd year running) in the carport/garage area.  Already they have their new nest.  I really like those birds making their home where I can enjoy them, but they do create a real mess with their droppings which are directly atop where the vehicles are parked. 
This seems to have been an ongoing situation at this house as we can see evidence of the previous owner trying to discourage these birds in as friendly a way possible.  Last year, Sweetie printed out some ferocious looking owl photos and hung them around to discourage the barn swallows.  It didn't work! 
When I told him I heard the birds there today and found a new nest on the light socket, not the same place as last year, but again, above where he parks his truck, he said he'd take the nest down.  I said No, we can't do that now as they already have their nest and maybe eggs already.  So we will have more adventures with our friends in the carport/garage this year.  They naturally, by their nature, understand it to be their home, not ours. 
Actually, I need to do a bit more research on what type of bird they are, as last year, I determined they were barn swallows via accidentally internet exploration.  I'm glad they are back though, I like how they look and sound.  Kind of a delicate small bird with some color and a very pleasant bird song.

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June 1, 2005
  Where did I leave off in the journal.  The vegetable garden seeds are up now and I'm getting a preview of what will grow and what won't and it looks like the birds have been feasting on some of the seeds, particularly the sunflowers.  Only one plant is showing of the 2 packages of sunflower seeds I planted.  The lima beans showed plants but they are gone now as something ate them? 
   Corn is growing, Snap Peas are growing before my eyes, beans are growing, lettuce is up, and radishes are growing.  Something is eating the radishes though.  Carrots are making a showing and turnips are abundant and I'm not sure how to thin those properly.  I transplanted the beets and they seem to be taking hold. The zucchini are popping up and the cucumbers, but a week later it seems something ate those too.  No way will the tomato plants have enough growing time at the rate they are appearing.  And the green peppers are not showing at all. 
It's off to the nursery then to get starter vegetables for the tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, cucumbers and whatever else piques my interest.  My favorite close by nursery is only open in late May through June, so I need to do this within that window of time and create space in our budget to do it. 
 The Public Market we have here used to be open by April with lots of available plants throughout the season.  But they haven't opened yet this year, cutback in volunteer help seems to be causing shortage problems and less open for business time. I have enjoyed picking up the plants here and there at the Public Market as fillers, but this year it looks like I'm on my own since they aren't open.
  There are very limited places I can go in my area for plants, very limited to 3 places with just a minimum of choices.  There are only 2 nurseries within close enough range and both are Mom and Pop kind of operations, with one being very good and the other rather careless.  So I need to get my once a year visit into the very good local nursery.  There are several nurseries in neighboring towns, but that is some 50 miles away in any direction.
Okay, so I've learned some names of plants I need to record here. The wild fushia bush is actually called Fuschia Tree which I learned after lengthy research on internet, as it wasn't easy to find or learn about this one.  The 'weed' that volunteers wherever it wants to around the yard and beds is called 'creeping buttercup' of the rananculus family.  While some people might want to cultivate this one, I don't as it has it's creeping way and is invasive and I cannot get rid of it, at best can attempt to contain it.
I had transplanted a plant that was amongst other weeds as it did not appear to me to be a weed.  Turns out it isn't and has sprouted delicate pinkish flowers and it is a 'Dwarf Blazing Star' or Liateris family.  I learned this on a visit to my daughter's home in Spokane where we visited Manito Park which has many varieties of gardens.  In their butterfly garden I found my plant exactly and wrote down the name as they have the plants labeled.  Interesting that in the butterfly garden is also the creeping buttercup and I have no clue how they keep that contained. 
An apparant weed was growing at the corner of the iris bed, and I chose to leave it to see what it would develop into as it did not appear to me that it was a weed.  Turns out it isn't and for me, a much desired 'foxglove' plant which is flowering now.  My mother paid a visit and informed me that one of my varieties of lavender is not lavender but artemis.  I spent hours looking that one up on the internet because it was labelled lavender when I bought it.  I could find no match of it in artemis.  Later my mother remembered that she has same plant in her yard and it is Santolina or lavender cotton.  Yes, that is what I have and I knew it was lavender in the lavender family.   A moment of confusion.  My mother is fairly knowledgeable about plants and gardening, so I am inclined to trust her opinion, but with some reservation as she has been wrong on other plants, like my beloved Harry Lauder Walking Stick which she thought was a sick and dying tree. 
Now the Monkey Puzzle Tree is dying, or dead already and I cannot convince my husband that it has died.  So it stands tall, towering above all else around here, in it's brown state glory.
My mother correctly identified my yellow flowering prickly tree as barberry.  Since it is small tree size, and meant to be a bush, it has been growing a while.  It's been loose at the root for the 2nd year and more loose this year.  My husband has wanted to pull it as it is impractical to mow around in that small area.  I don't want it pulled as I adore the yellow blossoms it puts out.  But, in discussing what kind of tree it is with my parents, my husband yanked it out.  Gone. 
I researched it on the internet only to learn that it is a very medicinal tree with it's yellow root and trunk, it's berries and blossoms.  I learned also that it is among the endangered species now as there was Government program in place to eradicate these due to some fungus that transmitted to wheat, corn, and other such crops.  Seems it wasn't boding well for farmers. 
After I explained to him what it was, and it was not easily found, easily planted and not a lot known about how to plant, cultivate and an endangered species, we went outside and immediately tried to replant it.  Well, not much hope of it living after being yanked from it's roots and sitting out of the ground for a day, but hopeful some new rootings may take beneath for possibly another new tree.   As near as I can tell it is a Berberis pinnata pinnata or Coast Barberry.  And if it is not exactly that then it is very close to being that, but it clearly is of the  Berberidacea (Barberry Family).  I will post more about it on the page titled Trees. 
On her return trip back to her home, my mother stopped by again and brought me a much desired sedum, Autumn Joy, which I look forward to putting in the rock garden area.  She phoned me to ask what I wanted as they planned to stop at a very huge nursery at Seaside.  I said I wanted a witchhazel tree and sedum, Autumn Joy.  She said they have witchhazel trees there but would not fit into her car, so settled for the Autumn Joy.  I am most content with that and after I learned the price for the witchhazel tree, I would have been most nervous about it as it would have meant pressure on me to keep it alive and thriving so as not to be out the spendy price. 
The three rosebushes that I planted last season are making a lovely showing this year and amongst those three, I had chosen a yellow peace rose which has produced 2 of the most beautiful blooms this year.  I am amazingly humbled and awed and most pleased with this one.  One is going to be a fairly typical climbing rose with small pink roses and the other one hasn't shown it's buds or roses yet, so it's still a surprise. The coffee grounds I save from the kitchen to put around the roses seems to be working?!  I bought 3 more rose bushes this year, that will still need to be planted.  And I still need to find permanent homes for the Forsythia bush my mother bought for me, the lacey leaf Japanese maple (not dwarf) that I bought last season, and now 3 more rose bushes. 
Meantime, I'm waiting for the flower seeds to sprout and make a showing in my 'new flower garden' spot after we seriously trimmed back the camelia.  Tiny sprouts are showing, but it's mighty slow there and I'm not so sure they are going to thrive enough to grow and bloom.  The calendula (yellow)flowers returned and are huge this year, and pollinating themselves adding additional plants so this clump is becoming larger and larger and it's picturesque where it is but overshadowing the small hydrangea bush I placed beside them. The gladiolas I planted last year are making a return this year which for some reason I didn't expect, so that's a nice surprise.  And one bed of iris made splendid showing this year while the other bed of iris produced but no flowers.
All the rhodies except one bloomed well this year after the serious pruning of 2 years ago.  Back porch area has 4 rhodies with colors; red, lavender, pink and deeper pink.  Back yard by the brick wall has 2 rhodies (spindly) colors; lavender pinkish and white.  The white got one bloom this year.  Front yard garden has one main huge rhodie which we have pruned into tree shape with deep pink blooms.  There are offshoots trying to grow, but we are keeping them trimmed down so that there is one central trunk.  This year we heavily went after the ivy that has grown up around the rhodie forming twisted small trunks now which oddly adds an architectural touch and is not unflattering.  However, the ivy cannot be permitted to have it's way on the rhody so we worked it over this year. 
I have 'spent' carefully and 'frugally' this year, investing in perennials instead of a lot of annuals.  So this year I have acquired;
 -- eunomynus (creeping) 2 plants, goldbar and traditional green.
  -- 2 more tiny lavender varieties for the new herb garden
  -- pachysandra, which I planted as ground cover starter beneath the 3 rhodies at back porch
  -- several ranunculus flowers, but not sure that they will make it for next season.  They bloomed nicely, now are died down and it looks like something ate the tops off of 3 or 4 of them.
  -- gift of the Forsythia bush from my mother
  -- 3 more rose bushes
  --  3 CalaLillies, 2 yellow and 1 lavender color
  -- gift of the sedum, Autumn Joy from my mother, who by the way, her name is Joy.
  -- volunteer Dwarf Blazing Star plant
  -- volunteer Foxglove plant
  --  replacement vegetable plants, cucumber, corn, green pepper, zucchini, squash, pumpkin, Basil (woo hoo as I have had basil many times and killed it off every time, learned it doesn't do well in cold and doesn't winter well outside).
  -- surprise, surprise, I had placed the trimmed limbs from the Harry Lauder Walking Stick tree into one of the flower beds to keep the dog and cat out and they are seemingly rooting!  That is not supposed to happen according to what I have read about this bush/tree which usually has to be grafted to propagate.  The one limb that I did prepare by layering and I thought had 'taken' turns out not to have taken but just changed direction and continued to grow as one limb.  I was trying to propagate for my mother, but happily, she took one of the 'not supposed to root this way' limbs home with her and we'll see what happens!   If it takes and works, welllll, I may be onto something!  No cost either

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April 1, 2006 - new spring season 2006

Giving the Harry Lauder Walking Stick tree a much-needed trim and setting out some of those early spring primroses and pansies launched us into our spring clean-up. After the winds and rains of winter, our yard looks strewn with debris and left-over projects undone from the end of last fall.

So, getting the planting station in the carport ready for a new spring workout, we got the area cleaned out. Since we tore out the carpet in the main floor of the house, it had been taken outside to the temporary place under the carport. Sweetie got it all hauled out and loaded into his little pick-up to go to the local landfill. Swept out the winter leaves, and tidied up the area. Found grandchildren's toys from last August when the family stayed with us....ahhhh, miss them all so much.

Pruned up the wild fushia bush and took down it's height. That and a hefty pruning of the Harry Lauder Walking Stick tree and we have some serious burn-barrel fires in store. Maybe our neighbor will be as accomodating as last year and haul it to his burn pile for disposal. First spring lawn mowing done. General clean up in the yard and it is already looking much better - ready for spring and new projects.

The kitchen vegetable garden needs tilling and new plantings and I'd like to expand the vegetable garden this year. My vision of it requires more back-breaking labor than either of us really want to expend, so looking for some easy short cuts to make more raised beds for growing more vegetables. I'd like to try the upside down tomatoes this year. I also thought of getting several half whiskey barrels and planting in them.

I've taken on gardening as a leisurely hobby, outdoor exercise and that great feeling of being connected to nature. But I've wanted to get serious about my kitchen vegetable garden as a means of producing some of our food. I'll NEVER want to learn how to do canning thought, but I'm receptive to the art of 'freezing' what I can of the harvest.

We had a small windfall of a bit of extra $$, so I went out to the garden store where I spent 4 hours just looking at every item; envisioning my entire spring and summer and what I could do; then did a reality check and made a list of what I most wanted right now that would fit the small bonus $$ amount. In my mind I spent several hundred $$ but my reality was quite different than my mental shopping spree. In my mind I had lined up to buy 3 trees, 4 bushes, a new wrought iron with canopy outside room, redwood patio set, water fountain gardens for several places in the yard, trellises, wheelbarrow, electric roto-tiller, red lava rock, mulching, mini-greenhouses in several sizes, several more whiskey barrel planters and hundreds of packets of seeds, bulbs and tubers. WoW - had a great time imagining all I could buy....but the few 20 dollar bills in my wallet just wouldn't stretch that far.

With carefully pruning away my mental shopping, I made a list of what I could buy with my real available dollars. I bought pruning shears (boring), potting soil (boring), seed packets (fun - but I had to put about 50 packets back - over my budget), a new tree = Mt Fuji white cherry, the usual assortment of primroses, pansies, and a few other 2' starter flowers, and I found 3 summer tops at price I couldn't resist so I treated myself.

It was time to refer back to my Wee Garden website and update it some, and I learned something about the climate zone where I live in Pacific coastal area. It's not zone 8 like the gardening books and USDA climate zone tell me; it's zone 5 because of the Pacific winds and climate zone. Well, the good news is that with zone 5, the last frost is later than zone 8, so the planting season is later. Might explain why all the seeds I've started for the last 3 years don't seem to germinate. I need to start them later and actually create a greenhouse environment for them of heat, light and moisture. Forget tomatoes, no way in the climate zone I'm in with short, short hot season can I grow them from seed. Sounds like my instincts to buy starter vegetable plants from the nursery is well-founded.

Now where's those grand-darlings to help me with my yard. They really were very helpful and willing workers with the taskings of the yard. Emily hauling off sod to the back, Drew using the big person shovel to dig a hole, their fascination with the worms when we turned the soil.....ahhhhh, I need my families to live closer. All this training them towards their own independence and they are all making their own lives their own way in different parts of the country. I miss them all. I always wanted to own acerage that would allow for building several homes in one place and having family close by but I'm also wanting mostly that they flourish in their own lives.

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--Beware of Snapdragons--

--Gardens are not made by sitting in the shade--
--My husband said if I buy any more perennials he would leave me...gosh, I'm going to miss that man!--