Thursday, September 8, 2016

#pondproject - progress report + what's next

I had some more pictures and videos, so I thought I would continue to document my progress around the pond.   There's a lot more to do, but I feel pretty darn good about my progress so far.

Last weekend's focus was clearing areas that were worked the last time the water was down, about 4 years ago. 

It's a major improvement, and the hawks love it.  I've seen hawks hunting by the pond every day since I cleared this area.  Before you feel too bad for the chipmunks and the frogs and the bugs, know that I've only cleared 1/4 of the pond perimeter.  The end goal is to clear less than half of the perimeter, so there will be plenty of habitat left for all of the critters.

Here's a little video that shows where I cleared on Monday:

And a little video that shoes what's next:

I'm hosting a work day on Sunday to work further down the edge of the pond.  This will be more involved, since these bushes are much larger, and will have to be pulled out with my 4wd tahoe.  Some trees will have to be trimmed as well, but that will help with the view from the porch, so the extra work is definitely worth it.   I can't wait to open this area up some more.  I had my dad come over for a site check this week, and it had probably been 30 years since he had walked that far down the path around the pond.  It's really cool to hear stories of what it used to look like, and how it was clear almost all of the way around.  I know he's excited to open it up again, and this project is making my grandmother happy too - especially the part about clearing the lily pads, she is VERY worried about the fish.

If you want to keep up with my progress, you can follow me on instagram.  I've been posting a lot of pond pictures as instagram stories, and it's a good way to see my progress throughout my work days.

That's it for now.  Happy Thursday!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

#pondproject - updated

Hey everybody.  I haven't completely dropped off the face of the earth.  Its been too hot to do much in the yard this summer, but the drought has dropped the water table, and the low water level is providing a rare opportunity to do some work around my pond.

Fall 2013 - you can see the ball willows lining the pond.
My pond is spring fed, and on a good day, it's about 2 acres.  For the past 30 or so years, the family has kept everything about and around the pond natural... and as you can see, it's grown up quite a bit.  I've heard stories of my dad mowing around the pond (can you imagine!), and 4th of July fireworks being set off by the pond and viewed from the house on the hill.  When I moved in, you could barely see the pond from the porch.  My porch is one of my favorite parts of my house, and I'd love to be able to see the whole pond from the porch.  That means clearing about half of the willows growing around the pond, and leaving the rest for privacy.  That's the goal.  I'm playing the long game.

When I first moved into the house, my mom and I did some major clearing of the underbrush between the house and the pond.  We were also in a bit of a drought, so my dad and I pulled up a section of the ball willow bushes growing in almost a full circle around the edge of the pond.  It was a lot of work, and resulted in being able to see almost half the pond from the porch.  It's a HUGE improvement.

Spring 2014 - post #pondproject part one
Getting caught up to now, you can still see about half the pond from the porch, but the underbrush is starting to grow up again, and watershields have almost taken over the pond.  So you don't see water, you just see the green watershields.  We don't know where they came from, but it only took 3 years to go from none, to takeover.  It's time to get to work.

The first step is getting rid of the watershields.  We looked into a natural solution, but watershields are slimy, rooted plants that 1) aren't very tasty to fish, 2) we couldn't pull them all up by hand if we tried, and 3) we were worried what that would do to the bottom of our spring fed pond.  The last thing we wanted to do was mess with the spring.  So, we looked into granular and liquid herbicides, and found a liquid that is supposed to work well this time of year and also be safe for the fish.  Some friends of the family sprayed on Thursday (9/1), and my fingers are crossed.  If everything goes as planned, the watershields should start dying off in a few weeks.

My project for this weekend is clearing underbrush in the woods, and the grasses/weeds growing around the pond where we've cleared the bushes before.   

Sunday's part of the project was clearing the underbrush in the woods between the house and the pond, where mom and I had worked before.  It wasn't as bad as the first time, but I'll still have blisters from working the lopping sheers.  There's still more to do, but this is a project you just have to take one bite at a time. 

Monday's project is working with the DR, assuming it starts, and doing as much damage as I can.  I need clear paths to the willows, so that next weekend we can pull up as many bushes as humanly until the heat wins.  The problem is there are a number of full grown trees around the pond, as well as some wild azaelas and small dogwoods I'd love to preserve, so getting my tahoe in position could prove tricky in spots.  So the more I can do tomorrow, the easier next weekend will be.   
Next week is the fun part, pulling up the ball willow bushes with my tahoe.  The ground is dry and crunchy, so I'm not at all worried about getting stuck driving on parts of the pond that are normally under water.  I am horrible with scale, but I'll guess the goal for next weekend is clearing between 50 and 100 yards of shoreline.  I think that should get enough to see most of the pond from the porch... if more underbrush is clear, and the trees are limbed up properly.  There's probably another chain saw day in my future,  but that can wait until the weather cools off.

Needless to say, the #pondproject is huge, but so is the pond.  It took a long time for it to get this way, so I'm not expecting to restore it to it's former glory overnight. 

*Note, I'll fill in the pictures and video soon, but my iphone and chromebook don't play well together.  I'm impressed I got this much posted, tbh. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

tulips hate me

I've struggled with tulips at my house, but last year I thought I finally got it right.

 They were beautiful.

I even fertilized them.

And this is what I get.
  A single flower, and a mess of foliage.
Tulips, I'm done with you.  Next year I'm trying hyacinths.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

hostas and ferns

Ever wonder what your go-to plants are when you life in the woods?  Hostas and ferns.

I have one guiding principle when it comes to my yard: if it was happy in my yard when I moved in - plant as many as you can!  Since my yard was fairly neglected before I moved in, this translates into drought tolerant natives, and southern standbys.  For example, I had one beautiful azaela when I moved in, now I have 7.  I also had a bed of miniature hostas, and a few wild wild ferns scattered about.   Enter the theme for this spring - hostas and ferns EVERYWHERE!

I have wanted to edge one section of woods for a while, and this is the spring to make it happen.  The vision is complete in my head - it's just a matter of finding time to make it happen.  My hope is a fairly naturalized look.  No formal edging, a variety of plants, spaced fairly far apart, following the natural curve of the treeline.  I started a couple of weeks ago by transplanting a few clumps of daffodils, and finally planting my Amber Gem hellebores.  Sunday, I added miniature hostas and two types of ferns, leaving room for larger hostas, more ferns, and possibly some additional hellebores.  The minature hostas are divisions of a 15+ year old hosta, so one plant became 10.  The ferns are a mix of cheap Autumn ferns & about 6 smaller, wild ferns from around my blackberry fence.

I've stolen from this minature hosta bed by the woods twice.
I'm hoping to find some new varieties to fill in the holes.

Because I had extra divisions, I took what was going to be a one area project, and doubled the scope into an area that has potential, but has been on the back burner for a while - expanding the bed along the driveway/rock wall.  I've always planned to widen this bed, and now is the time to do it.

This area looks great in the spring when the daffodils are blooming, but after they're done, there's nothing but moss.  I'm proud of the lack of ivy, but it's nice to have something to look at along the driveway when I come home.  So I sketched out what I hope to make as a swoosh-y the shape of the bed, and got to work.  The ground is not so bad on the top layer, but the clay starts about 5 inches deep, so planting was a process - breaking up the dirt, watering the hole, digging a deeper hole, mixing in soil conditioner, watering again, and finally planting.  With some supervision, I spaced out the plants and got it done.

This bed is going to be gigantic, and I probably filled in 15% of it.  I just have to decide what will do best here...probably more hostas and ferns, but maybe a balloon flower and some fall blooms.  I do know one thing, this is an area that needs some soil work, so it will get heavily mulched in preparation for whatever finds its way into the ground.  All in all, I could plant another 30 hostas this year, and still have room left over.  SOOOOOO, if you or anyone you know have hostas that need dividing, and/or a new home.....let me know & I'll do the digging!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

march bloom day 2016

This is one of those springs where it's mid March, and we've already seen 80 degree temperatures multiple times.  It makes me happy, but the daffodils are not fans of the heat.  I wasn't smart enough to cut the daffodils so I could prolong their lives inside.  Oh well.

Anywho, this is what was blooming in my yard on Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, the 15th of the month!

Front Walk:

Vinca Minor


 The heat got to these just before I took my pictures.  This wide shot does not do my rock wall justice.



 Midnight Ruffles is my first 'fancy' hellebore to bloom.

 The rest of the hellebores are standing tall and taking the heat pretty well.



 Bloodroot, trillium, and bluets.  

The spiderwart below doesn't count as a wildflower on most lists, but I didn't plant it, and it comes up everywhere on its own.


My first azalea bloom of the year!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

hellebore - midnight ruffles

I've started buying 'fancy' hellebores.  This is 'Midnight Ruffles' from Green Thumbs Nursery here in Chattanooga.  It didn't bloom its first year, but has settled in, and has some pretty snazzy blooms. 

Now I need to plant the yellow ones I got last spring...I'm sure they'll be much happier in the ground than in their 4" pots.

spring cleaning 2016 - part 1

Look at my shed.  It's so pretty.  It has a fresh coat of paint, and a pretty wreath up for Christmas 2014.

So cute from the outside right? Inside is another story.  I'm not even going to show you the inside, it's that bad.  Inside are the last unpacked boxes from my move (just a few years ago), an unplugged deep freezer (no outlets inside yet), a stained glass workbench (and corresponding tools etc), yard stuff (this is actually organized), assorted scrap wood, my recycling, and furniture & boxes I've been storing for my sister.

It's a mess, but a mess that's easily hidden from public view.  This weekend spring cleaning started with my shed.  I sorted my recycling, broke down all the cardboard boxes, stacked the lumber, and started the process of making it a usable space.

The goal is for my sister to move her stuff out, so I can put my boxes, and my Christmas decorations, upstairs.  (This will free up some much needed space in my spare bedroom.)  Then I'll be able to run power so that I can set up a stained glass workstation, have a functioning deep freezer, and be able to plug in a lawnmower.  The building has two light bulbs, so adding outlets shouldn't be a super huge project, but I want to put my stained glass workstation on a different breaker.  (That may be phase 2.)

I may even buy matching trash cans to sort my recycling in.  Crazy talk, I know.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

first daffodils - feb 20th 2016

If you're seeing this, then thanks for not deleting me from your feed reader, blog list, etc.   Last year was just not a big garden year for me.  I don't think.  Or maybe I just don't remember.  Anywho, I stopped blogging.  It's really helpful to have these posts to look back on, so here I am again.  Whether it's reminding myself that I really have made progress in the garden, or just getting excited about spring, my blog really is a good resource...for me anyway.  I don't promise to be fully "back" by any means, but here I am.

Please feel free to say hi, and let me know what you've been up to in my absence!

{photo from last year, they haven't changed much}

plant swap!

** draft from 2015**

This was the *perfect* weekend to be outside in Chattanooga, and for me that meant working/playing in the yard.

Saturday was one of my favorite spring garden days - our 3rd annual plant swap + Belle's Garden sale at Green Thumbs Nursery! As always, I made out like a bandit.  From the plant swap I got black stemmed peppermint, white Japanese iris, early blooming daffodils, a jade plant, and ranunculus.  From the Belle, I got a 'winter wonder' hosta, a Japanese painted fern, 3 cantaloupe colored cone flowers, and some yellow hellebores. If you're a gardener in Chattanooga and want in on our plant swap, let me know, we have one in the fall too! It's a great way to get rid of your extra stuff, and acquire free plants that you know survive in our area.

Yesterday the weather was gorgeous, and I spent the day planting, mulching, burning brush, and even mowing the grass.  (I have so much shade, mowing the grass is something I do about twice a year.  It only takes 45 minutes, but it's a big deal.)  I worked all day, and I'm feeling it this morning! My calves and hamstrings are not happy. BUT my shade garden & fence gardens are coming along nicely, and my rock garden is getting the mulch it so desperately needed.  The soil is so bad, I feel like it eats mulch. I'm weeding as I go, so it's slow, but I'm about halfway done, and hope to finish up this week. 

For whatever reason, it feels like I haven't done too much in the yard this year.  I think I've worked in the yard two weekends, at most....with is not a lot for me.  Ever since I moved into my house, every spring has brought a huge garden project.  First there was clearing the ivy, then massive mulching of all the empty beds to improve the soil, and then working and planting in those beds (some of which were infested with tree roots btw).   This year there are no big projects, just maintenance and a few additions.  I've trimmed out the spent blackberry stems, and this weekend I filled in a few holes with new plants  All that is left is to finish the mulching, planting one or two more things, figuring out what is wrong with the boxwoods, and putting impatiens in my window boxes.  I'm not going to lie, it feels good to have things "under control".

new plants - (last year) spring 2015

I thought I wasn't doing much in the yard this year, but when you write it all down it sure looks like a lot.

From plant swap
japanese iris
black stemmed peppermint

Hosta -Winter Warrior
japanese painted fern
yellow hellebores Amber Gem

from grandmother
small fern
big fern
flowering grass

From Maxine
black eyed susans
regular voilets
confederate voilets
wild geranium

From Modern Sauce
fern leaf bleeding heart Dicentra formosa "luxuriant"- LOVE IT

from Ace

hosta "Patriot
bleeding heart

From lowes
bare root bleeding heart  - didn't show up last year, maybe in 2016??
bare root red astillbe - didn't show up last year, maybe in 2016??

From Ooltewah nursery

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