Thursday, April 24, 2014

plant people are good people

Say what you want about tree huggers, but plant people are cool people.

I've been talking to some people for a while about my excess of plants.  I had too many day lilies.  I didn't need 5, baby confederate jasmine, even if they were $2 a piece.  I hate yuccas BUT, I knew exactly the person who would appreciate their toughness and spiky foliage, and I found homes for all my extra plants.

Now that spring is finally here and it's safe to start transplanting, the talking turned into taking. (woo-hoo!) All of the day lilies are gone, and I don't have to look at the yuccas when I drive down my driveway.  And the coolest thing happened, my plant giveaways turned into plant swaps. 

Just as I knew my saucy friend would love the spiky yuccas & spider-warts, she knew that some white and green plants would look great with the new paint job on my house. (It's like she knows a thing or two about design, or something like that.)  Then my newlywed friends who took plants for their first garden, they knew that I would love their extra veggie seedlings.  (Heirloom cherry tomatoes...yes please!)

I had no idea offloading these plants would turn into plants swaps, but I am declaring plant swaps cool, and I think they need to happen more often.  Thanks y'all!!

Also, a shout out to my friends who left me their extra impatiens.  They are exactly what I'm looking for my window boxes!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

garden progress report

I hope everyone had a Happy Easter/nice long weekend.  Good Friday always comes as a surprise to me.  Easter isn't really on my radar, but it's a day I get off work.  So about Wednesday someone usually tells me we have Friday off, and it's always a great surprise.   Who doesn't love a good 3 day weekend??

Long weekends are meant to be spent on the porch.
I spent my 3 day weekend outside working in the yard, and I think these were my last big yard days for a while.  Which is good timing, because mother nature looks like she's going to do that thing again this year where she skips spring and goes straight to summer, and it's going to get hot.  Anyway, I'm glad I sucked it up and got the hard work out of the way before I would be drowning in sweat.

I used a push weed eater to clear paths through they ivy & to the pond.

This guy thought he was sneaky.  He was not.

The biggest project was prepping 3 foundations beds for planting.  Even though I had done all the right things by mulching the beds for a year, and watering them before I started digging, none of that removes rocks and tree roots.  That job was left to me and an maddock...which was then followed by a job for me and a heating pad.  But it's done!! In the past week or so I have cleared those 3 beds, and planted in two of them.
This bed is the smallest of the three.  I started here first because I thought it would be the easiest. 
WRONG. It was full of clay, rocks and tree roots.  It's ready for planting after we install a window box.

Before, with composted manure piled up at the back of the bed.
After.  These hostas should bloom white.
I'd like to add some Lupines that I started from seed behind the hostas.
Front bed before.
Phase 1, adding a rose.  This is Buff Beauty.  This bed has been completely prepped for annuals & herbs.
All of the beds were dug 12" deep with a mattock, mixed with manure & top soil, then mulched.
The next project was finding a home for my other rose.  Both roses that I purchased are as shade tolerant as roses go, but I wanted to find a spot that was got as much sun as possible.  It's a challenge, but I was able to dig up some Yuccas and steal a sunny spot near my driveway.

It's a baby Cramoisi Superieur, but it had some delicate blooms on it before I transplanted it.

The spot is between two boxwoods that I really want to get rid of.  I like boxwoods, I do, and I'm happy with the other 6 or 7 that I have, but I've wanted to get rid of these since I moved in.  They look diseased, and there is a lot more I would like to do in that spot.  They came from "The Old Homeplace", and I'm going to have to find a creative way of convincing my Grandmother that they have lived a happy life and need to be retired.

The rose is much prettier than the boxwoods.

The last of my big projects over the weekend was planting my remaining $2 azaleas. Of the seven I purchased, I really only knew where I wanted to put two of them.  That left me with five hot pink - not pale pink like the picture on the tag - bushes.  But my goal is to add more flowers, and these can be seen from a mile away,. So they found a home in my front yard near my fire pit.  I'll be able to see them from the porch, but they won't get in the way of the view of the pond.  It's a win all around.

It's hard to see but there are 5 new pink azaleas mixed in with the Huckleberries.

All in all I've done a good bit of work, and I'm pretty happy with where I stand so far.  This is my list of garden goals for 2014, and I'm doing pretty good for April :)

Here are my garden plans for 2014:

The first window box is up!
  1. Fertilize EVERYTHING.  A friend boards horses, and my parents have a truck.  I have no excuses.  The 'to fertilize' list includes, but is not limited to: my rose, the boxwoods, the rhododendron, the azalea, and the hydrangeas. (roses, boxwoods, holly, & magnolia 3/11/14; azaleas, bulbs, & raspberries April)
  2. Make a map of my house & garden for the blog. (yeah, about that.....)
  3. Install lattice for my Confederate Jasmine to climb. (check, completed 3/16/14)
  4. Plant a rose. Probably Buff Beauty. (If they're sold out by the time I try to order I will hunt you down.) (ship date 4/7/14, 4/19/14 planted both  ofmy roses!! )
  5. Plant morning glories around a tree. (I need to start these seeds)
  6. Build at least 2 window boxes.  (2 built, 1 installed 4/19/14)
  7. Plant impatiens in my tree stumps. (soon, very soon)
  8. Plant goosenecks by the new day lily bed. (check, 4/8/14)
  9. Design & plant in the beds around my foundation. (design - check, planting - started)
  10. Grow things from seed as much as possible. Basil, purple coneflower, black eyed susans, moon flower, morning glories, foxgloves, there are SO MANY SEEDS, and it's so much cheaper than buying plants! (Most of my seeds are started, just one more round to go)
  11. Experiment with cuttings (wild azelea, mock orange, etc?)
  12. Clear ivy in at least 2 more sections of yard.
  13. Plant more bulbs. (gladioli & fresia 3/15/14)
There's something pretty gratifying about that strike through.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

april bloom day 2014

It may be raining, but I have flowers!  That is my #1 garden goal this year, and I'm excited about what all we've done, and the things I have found, so far. I knew the weather was going to be a mess this morning, so I took my pictures this weekend.  I hope you'll forgive me.

When you turn in my driveway the first thing you'll notice are the Dogwoods.  They are especially white this year, and dot the woods all through the property.

If you take a walk in my woods you will see a lot more wild azaleas than I have noticed before.  I thought I had two or three, but they number more than 30, and are in a couple of different spots.  Some are taller than I am, and some are just babies.  We cleared underbrush last year, and I think that's helping them bloom.  I spent the weekend clearing out around the newly discovered azaleas, so the show should be even better next year.  The white azaleas are are first to bloom, and the pink ones are just starting to open up.

Also in the woods is a thicket of Carolina Sweet Shrubs/ Allspice.  Seriously, a thicket. Most range 4'-5' tall, with a few closer to 6' or 7'.  They have really cool blooms, and I transplanted a few small plants near the house. They are pretty much in my ideal category of plants - plants that thrived on their own through 20+ years of neglect.

When you get to my house you will notice that the yard is covered in little purple flowers called Blue Its.  I don't mow my grass very often, so these flowers have really taken off and spread since I've lived here.  I love them.

I have later blooming daffodils blooming in scattered spots around the yard and woods.  I love how haphazard their placement is (before my time here).

The hellebores are still going strong, and a few of the earlier blooms have started to go to seed.  Looks like I will have more baby hellebores next year.

The Bird's Foot Voilets (Viola Pedata) are really happy this year.  I have 4 that come up in my kitchen garden, and they seem to be growing some this year.

I also have this giant bush/small tree that was must have been planted by my great grandmother 30-50 years ago.  It has a huge trunk, and arching branches that have taken over a walkway.  It is a survivor, but I don't remember it blooming since I've been here.  I cleared out some small trees around it last fall, and it's got a few blooms.  It's not very showy, it's hard to see the white trumpeted flowers against the silver leaves, but the bees are happy.

The bees are also happy with the spiderwart and this purple ground cover that everyone loves, but I kind of hate.  It's pretty when it blooms, but the other 11 months out of the year I think it looks awful in my driveway.  I'm sure it is nice in the right setting, but my driveway is not it.

Moving on to my oh-so-cleverly-named 'Shade Garden', this is one of the areas where I said "I will have flowers damn it".  It's undergone a small transformation, moving the wild huckleberries, a holly tree, and Hearts-A-Bursting back from the one thing of interest, the azalea.  And man the azalea is happy now.  I don't think it's received much attention since it was planted, so it is thrilled to have two years of fertilizer, pine mulch, and one year of extra watering under its belt.  It's like the plant version of spa treatment. 

This bed is now home to two of my seven $2 alazeas.  The pink ones have been re-potted and are blooming, and the two purple ones in the ground are right behind the pink one above.  I haven't decided where the other 5 will go, but I have a few ideas.  Side note, I'm not sure when 'hot pink' became 'pink', but these pink azaleas look nothing like my mom's pastel pink ones.

There is also a columbine from last year that is about to bloom.

A few weeks ago I picked up some plants from family, and the wild geraniums and trillium found homes in the shade garden.  They look pretty happy so far.

I also picked up a native columbine that is blooming in the also-cleverly-named 'Mini Shade Garden'.  It sits behind a group of Lily of the Valley, that just put out it's first flowers yesterday.

Let's see, what else.  The vica minor is still going strong, and I have a little bit of thrift that survived an accidental roundup treatment when I first moved in and was tackling some nasty ivy in a rock wall.  The Little Brown Jugs have jugs, and the violets I got from family are doing nicely in the cracks of my rock walkway, even though it's mostly clay.  I know most people think they are weeds, but I like them, and these are really unique.

So look, FLOWERS!!  It's a really nice start to having established gardens, and the project for this week is digging out 3 old beds around the house so I can plant some hostas, bloodroot, and my new roses, and clearing 2 new paths in the woods.  Not overly ambitious at all. :)

This post is part of Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.  Check it out!! 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

from zero to garden

THIS is my year.  When I moved into my house, I said I would observe the garden for a year, and then start gardens.  Last year, my year to plant, ended up consumed by painting my house.  So this year is my year.  We got started last fall with the hydrangeas & day lilies, I have worked in the woods this spring, and I am moving into high gear.  I will have flowers this year.

The day lily bed is to the left of the pot. 
They are much happier this year.

This weekend I picked up some early blooming daffodils from my parents house, some composted horse manure from a friend's farm, and plants from my grandparent's house on Signal Mountain.  I made out like a bandit.

My Saturday afternoon was spent loading and unloading compost.  I also got all of the daffodils divided and in the ground.  They are some of my favorite spring flowers, and I can't wait to have more scattered about.  I also moved my awesome $2 azaleas into bigger pots until I can decide on a permanent home for them, they are much happier now. 

Sunday was busy too, and this is really where I felt like I was making real progress because it involved plants and not prep work.  We celebrated my grandfathers 87th birthday, and I came home with quite a few gems from their gardens.

Here's a list of plants I got on Sunday:
  • Trout Lily, Lilium erythronium americanum?
  • Tiger Lily, Lilium superbum
  • Australian Lily
  • Wild Geranium, Geranium maculatum
  • Trillium, Trillium kurabayashii?
  • Bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis

I'm happy to say that all of these plants now have new homes, or are in a holding bed.  That's a lot of holes dug this weekend.

The next step is digging the manure into 3 new beds around the foundation of my house.  They've all had mulch on them for at least a year, so hopefully it won't be too bad.  This is where the hostas will go, as well as some of the wildflowers, and also my roses.

My roses from Rose Petals Nursery shipped yesterday!!!  It will probably be two weekends before I can put them in the ground, but I'm more excited than most of you can relate too.  We all have our 'things' I guess.

Buff Beauty
Cramoisi Superieur
It started raining right as I was finishing up my plantings, so for those of you wanting to see pictures, they will be coming after I make a little more progress.
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