Archive for the 'flowers and gardens' Category

La La La La La

tall canna lily front garden

Isn’t that what you say when you cover your ears so you can’t hear what someone is saying to you? La la la la la la la. I do NOT have the energy today to deal with macro issues: return to school? presidential election? senatorial elections? college football? eating out? La la la la la la.

1st mushroom sighting

The first sighting of the mushrooms. They look harmless, don’t they?

Unfortunately for me, my little micro concerns were also difficult this week. Sigh. So no cat pictures today – still a little bit too sad about GC for that. Which leaves me only the garden and yard for an escape. Oh – and food. There is always food, right?

crustless quiche

crustless vegetable quiche

Let’s do food first. My husband has been cooking. His new obsession is making pot stickers from scratch. I can assure that yes, you CAN get bored with eating pot stickers. The last two times he suggested it I vetoed the idea. That got me homemade pasta with sauce (oh yum yum yum) and a delicious flatbread pizza. I also got a crustless quiche. You can tell from the photo that he LOVES cooking tomatoes. I’m not as fond of cooked tomatoes as he is but at the moment they are still preferred over yet more pot stickers. The night he made the pasta he made a tandori sauce to go on it. Out of this world delicious. Remember Snuffles, the treat loving dog from Quick Draw McGraw? That describes the 4 of us having dinner. My brother-in-law is usually the bread baker, as I’ve told you. His breads are beyond compare. He was busy all day, however, so baking the challah fell to me. It was good, but it convinced me to get myself a bread thermometer. I worried about it being under-baked so I gave it more time than I thought it probably needed. I’d rather have it that way, even though over-baking means leftovers dry out faster.

Ahuva's challah

That is a 5-strand braided challah. Haven’t done one in years and so my strands were not as evenly thick at the end of the braiding.

The local news reported today that July was the hottest month on record for New Jersey. As everyone commented – tell us something we DIDN’T know. When I was a young lass, maybe all the way up to my 30s, NJ summers were my favorite weather. Hazy hot & humid did not faze me. Now that I am older, I have more empathy for those who complain about NJ summers. The humidity wipes me out. I learned in Arizona that temperatures above 100 are probably more heat than I enjoy, but I can go up into the 90s and have no problem if it is dry. I finally understand the phrase “it’s not the heat it’s the humidity”. Yes, it’s the humidity. And the dratted no-see-ums that are eating me alive every time I water the plants. My legs are covered with scratched bites and scabs. My legs look like the legs of a grade schooler (if there were still such a thing as grade school – oh wait – do NOT go there). My wonderful husband heard me moaning every night after watering the plants and bought me mosquito netting pants!!!! They do work! The problem, I think, for me is that I sweat so heavily from the humidity, that it is still attracting them through the pants. The number of bites is greatly reduced but I still got bitten the other night. I think I’ll try spraying the pants with insect repellent and see if that makes any difference. I could try to get up early when there are fewer bugs about but mostly I get up that early to make sandwiches.

mosquito netting pants

You may laugh but everyone who has seen them or heard me talk about them has asked where they can get them (search on mosquito netting pants)

I came home from making sandwiches yesterday and went to pull into my driveway. And I stopped. There was a man from the utility company walking out of my driveway and 5 orange cones IN my driveway. I rolled down my window and looked at him, and asked “What are you doing?” He explained that he had cleared it with the man in the house (*grin* I said – my husband, he said – I didn’t want to presume, I said – wise approach these days). The apron of the driveway was damaged when we got the new gas and electric to the house back in February or whenever it was. They are finally getting around to repairing it. He said we couldn’t drive on it for 3 or 4 days. That means no convertible – it is in the garage. Too bad, because the temperatures are only supposed to be in the 80s for the rest of this week. Of course, the humidity is also supposed to be in the 80s. It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.
driveway before and after

Last year I mentioned that I should plant lots and lots of canna lilies because the butterflies seemed to really enjoy them. I have only seen 2 butterflies this year so far. I showed you the monarch butterfly on the butterfly weed. There has also been a black swallowtail I’ve seen periodically. The swallowtail seems to check out everything but the things I planted specifically to make butterflies happy. It seems to really like the echinacea. I saw it today checking out the herbs, tomatoes and superbells, but it flitted away before landing anywhere. Camera-shy I guess.

black swallowtail butterfly on echinacea

Black swallowtail butterfly

I planted 2 gardenias this year – one in a hanging pot and one in a pot along the front walk. I believe that the one in the hanging pot was burned out by the hot weather, after managing to produce 2 flowers in the late spring. The one along the walk has produced one full bloom. It does smell heavenly.

gardenia

Gardenia

Not only has it been humid, we’ve gotten a lot of rain. The fun part is when it rains in the evening so I don’t have to brave the no-see-ums and can skip watering the plants. Apparently it has been even wetter than I realized. This week my neighbor’s lawn has sprouted mushrooms. Every day they have gotten larger and larger. There must be a good story to write there but at the moment I only have the illustrations. 🙂 If they get much larger they are going to cross the line from impressive to creepy.

mushrooms day 2

okay, a little wider, but still not too creepy

Then of course there are the canna lilies. The “rescued” cannas have been thriving in the pots along the walk. FINALLY one of the ones I planted has begun to bloom. I get very impatient in the spring. Even knowing things will grow, I don’t want a lot of empty space that needs weeding and looks neglected. I cram way too many plants into one area. I have this gorgeous stupendously tall canna right smack in the middle of the lawn garden. Beautiful. BUT – crammed in that spot are 2 Rose Mallows, perennials that are in the hibiscus family. One of them was doing quite well before the canna began shooting up. The other is nestled under a canna leaf. When I can brave the biting-bug-filled lawn to go there, I rearrange it to be in front of the leaf. But somehow it always resets to under and behind. I hope it is sufficiently rooted to survive.

Mushrooms day 3

There are actually 5 of these things in the yard. These 2 are about 6 inches across at a minimum.

I like so many flowers, and I’ve now got so many perennials. I want MORE rudbeckia laciniata hortensia, but I’m not sure where I can put them. I will have to pull out the firecrackers or chop down the variegated grass. Or pull out the rudbeckia laciniata (single bloom rudbeckia). That might work, except I also have the goose neck flowers there and I added the swamp milkweed as well. Sigh. Maybe I should put a border garden along the walk? That gets lots of sun.

rudbeckia after the rain

Rudbeckia laciniata hortensia after the rain. do you see the HUGE mushrooms?

Whatever it is that snuck into my planters now has flowers. I can’t wait to see what I’m growing. I thought that purple-edged leaf vine was a sweet pea vine – that’s what I was calling it in my head. But it’s not, according to my search. According to my search I have no idea what it is, other than beautiful. I also have no idea what to tell the lad who cuts my grass. I’m tired of moving pots and putting them back. I think I’ll tell him to just ignore the grass under the vines. *laughing* There isn’t really any grass, is there? My lawn is really nothing but weeds. 🙂
vines in the grass

tall canna lily and rose mallow

Rose mallow, canna lilies and dahlias

You Were Warned

Subtitled: You Had LOTS of Time to Prepare

IMG_3830

Oh my. Frustration is SO exhausting. For at least a week now NJ has known we were in the path of Hurricane/Tropical Storm/Big Messy Storm Isaias. NJ has weathered (hah hah) several storms – sometimes well, sometimes not as well, but I *THOUGHT* we’d been learning with each one. Maybe the individual people are, but apparently our utilities still can’t seem to grasp the concept of “Be Prepared”. There’s a HUGE storm coming. Wires will come down. Power will go out. Things will break.

IMG_3829 (1)

One of my “rescued” canna lilies. LOOK at how gorgeous it is! and the orange spots on the yellow leaves!!!! Moral: ALWAYS rescue canna lilies

I no longer remember the big storm that came after Hurricane Sandy. Sandy was one of those events where everyone remembers where they were, what happened, and how many days they were without power. After Sandy, whenever we had warning of an impending storm, the utility companies would assure us that they were prepared, had their crews positioned all over the state, ready to ride and restore once the storm had passed.

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SOME of us prepared. Tucked everything against walls, into corners, heavy side down

Apparently my internet provider forgot the lessons. We lost the internet & cable just before 3 pm. It is now 24.5 hours later and we have no internet & cable, no estimate on when it might be restored. My neighbor actually received a call from a human being (I had NO faith in the automated voice mail system myself, or I, too, could have gotten a callback.). My neighbor was assured that “it is out all over and they will get to it as soon as they can”. I wasn’t upset with that attitude yesterday. I get it – a storm, damage, things broke. BUT. You KNEW it was coming. You KNOW that all of your customers are working from home because of COVID19. You KNOW connectivity is a true necessity these days. I’m disgusted, truly disgusted.

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Removed all the hanging sculptures, did tuck down those brooms after seeing this photo. tucked away potential flying missiles. PREPARED

My son was living in Florida in 2017 when Hurricane Irma roared ashore. Of course they lost power, might have been as long as a week. I was impressed with their power company, however. THEY posted estimated dates by when they hoped to get different localities up and running. It didn’t change anything – my son still had no power. But at least he (and I) knew there was some hope that the utility WOULD restore it, and how long he needed to manage without. Optimum either has no clue when things will work or can’t be bothered telling its clientele when the service might be restored.

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There is a butterfly in there!!!!

How am I posting this blog? It is MY good fortune that my next-door neighbors use a DIFFERENT internet provider. Back in the spring, after the lock-downs, Optimum went out of service. Again, I wasn’t angry because it was around the time when EVERYONE in the surrounding metropolitan area all stayed home and hit the internet at the same time. I had a very important meeting, however, and I freaked that I’d miss it. I ran next door and discovered they were up and running AND I could see their wifi from my house. They gave me the password and saved my sorry self. I contacted them again today and they graciously allowed me on again. All of my work apps are running off of my neighbor’s wifi. My brother-in-law brought me his – okay – I’m going to get this wrong – Google WiFi. I think that is what it is. It looks like a cell phone, it’s something Google, and it finds whatever service is closest and strongest. I guess there is some app and a fee but wherever you are in the country, you can find a service provider and hook up and have the internet. My personal computer and all apps that are NOT behind the company firewall are running off of this thing. My phone is using that now too. Sigh.

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Vindicated and satisfied! This monarch butterfly spent several minutes flitting from one butterfly weed flower to the next. There was a carpenter bee there as well.

I was supposed to run a training session today. We rescheduled it to Friday. I’m supposed to run a training session tomorrow. As I was proof-reading this, my OTHER next-door neighbor called – the one who also had no internet. He says it was UP! But as we talked it went down. Another neighbor texted to say she was back UP! “It’s like Christmas in August!!!:)” She lives 3 blocks away, but I went down to reboot my modem and reboot my router anyway. Nope – still no internet here. I guess there is hope. Maybe. It does look as if the storm passed/is passing far west of Honour. That’s good – it means I can’win’ when we compare complaining! 🙂

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I love the clarity of this photo. 🙂


 

2 Faces of Ahuva

relaxing at The Vault

Relaxing after a long day at the spa

I am having NO difficulty getting into the vacation mind-set this week. Let me clarify that a little – MY vacation mind-set. As you know, I spent Monday at Spa Ahuva. That night I sat down and made a list of all the things I needed to get done this week, things I’d like to get done this week, things that at some point need to get done around the house, and the list of this month’s donations. I had everything written down – 4 separate pad pages. Impressed with how industrious I was going to be, I treated myself to logging in to SL to hear Calli DJ’ing. She was at The Vault, doing a set of sultry tunes. It was the perfect end to a lovely day. I relaxed, chatted with the friends who were there, listened to the tunes, and savored the moment. I went to bed and slept a good sleep – the result of spending the day at the spa and the wonderful music.

DJ Calli

Always good to hear DJ Calli spin the tunes

I woke up the next day and stayed in bed, listening to my husband puttering about (he’s VERY noisy in the morning). There was no BC to come and cuddle. She hadn’t ‘tucked me in’ last night, either. So really – it was all HER fault. I was relaxed, thinking no need to move, let my husband feed the cats, when all of a sudden I realized: IT’S TUESDAY!!!!! I need to make 100 sandwiches this morning. It was about 10 to 8 in the morning. Lately I’ve been getting there about 8:05. I jumped out of bed yelling “It’s Tuesday – I need to make sandwiches”. I threw on my clothes, brushed my teeth, made a to-go cup of iced coffee, called to my husband – take care of the cats and raced out the door. I made it there by 8:20. 🙂 The other 3 were already there. When I walked in, Helene called out “The Birthday Girl!!!!” It’s true – they were 2 days early, but I’d already said I was taking off Thursday. Jay had baked me cookies, and they had prezzies for me and my brother-in-law, who also makes the sandwiches on Tuesdays. They had face masks from the soup kitchen we are supporting. They also brought the Birthday Crown for me to wear. 🙂 I need to return it next Tuesday because Helene’s birthday is the following week and SHE needs the crown then. 🙂 As you can see – I look stunning.

birthday princess

I have taken better pictures. Please remember that is unwashed hair. Was not intending to have the “off the shoulder look” – just part of the total being off-balance

We got the sandwiches and lunch bags done and out the door by 9:30. The stupid squirrels had dug up my dill, and my radishes had died, so I had 2 empty pots that needed flowers. I decided to give up on herbs and vegetables for the rest of the season. I’d planned to go way down to my favorite nursery, but was too lazy and befuddled at that point. Missing the morning routine had me completely off balance. I went to the nearest big box store to find something that would supply bright color and survive the sun (the temps have been in the 90s now for over a week). Well, I saw some canna lilies there at a very reasonable price. They looked so neglected. They looked like they deserved to be rescued. I did what had to be done – I bought 2 canna lilies and 2 pots of yellow marigolds. They were sooooo root-bound. Let’s hope they flower.

canna lily 1

I do hope it flowers – it was so root-bound

I came home, still somewhat off-balance. I looked at my many lists. I made it to the chiropractor that afternoon, before he left on vacation. The nerve! Who said HE could take a vacation??? I made a few phone calls (on my list, unlike making the sandwiches), crossed off buying flowers. I paid the bills, made the donations, and decided the rest of the chores could just wait until tomorrow. 🙂 I have to say, this is the first vacation where I am truly not thinking about work. I see the emails come through on my phone, but I just delete the garbage, mark others as read, and then stop thinking about them. I’m not at all tempted to just send one email, just do one thing. I have a password that is going to expire this week. I’m trying to decide if I should logon and deal with it or just let it expire and deal with it when I return. This vacation is proving a point that my dear friend Honour has been making for years: There is so much to DO if you are not working. I’m NOT going to be bored. Okay, most of my lists are what some would call ‘chores’, but for me they are very satisfying. I’m finally fixing and changing things around the house that have annoyed me for years. There might be something to this whole concept of ‘retirement’.

canna lily 2

This one looks in better shape. Gorgeous leaves even if it doesn’t flower

On Vacation

rudbeckia

Beautiful golden Rudbeckia Laciniata Hortensia

I started my one week vacation at 5:36 pm Friday night. *grin* That’s when I posted my last document to the team and signed out of all my applications and shut down my computer. Ahhhhh. We headed over to my sister’s where my brother-in-law had made the PERFECT Shabbat dinner: chicken, broccoli, potatoes, challah and SALT STICKS!!!! Oh my, his bread is absolutely amazingly delicious. As was the entire dinner. I drank too much white wine but I kept toasting “To Vacation!”.

gladiola

lovely color for the gladiola

We came home, STILL running the air conditioners. Maybe that doesn’t sound odd to you folk who live in modern houses with central air. I live in a house that is nearly 100 years old. MY air conditioners are all window units. I hate the sensation of being locked into the house. I love open windows, fresh air, fans moving the air. We’ve had the a/c going for 8 days straight. That may be a record.

incipient canna lily

Looks like this canna lily will be the first to bloom. surrounded by Bolton’s Aster (False Starwort)

It was Friday, I was on vacation, I was a little tipsy, and I was not in the mood to watch TV or read. What to do? Second Life. 🙂 I logged in. An “old” friend was inworld – I’d not chatted with her in at least 8 years. I pinged her and we had a lovely, lovely chat. We caught up on life, life under the pandemic, and then had a WONDERFUL time chatting about our cats and cats in general. 🙂 I also chatted with another “old” friend – one with whom I’ve maintained contact over the years. I know that some people do not feel as if this kind of connection is ‘real’. I’m sorry for those folks, because in times like this pandemic, for those of us who believe in social distancing, the ability to be together virtually does wonders for my emotional health. I’m looking at scenes that tell my brain I am out and about and interacting with friends. It really works for me. I only wish I could reconnect with some of my friends who are no longer in SL – Dale, Zha, Chestnut, Honour, Jessica, Oura, Svea, Alem, Fricker Fraker, Winston and all the rest. We had such fun back in the day.

is this a squash

I seem to be growing a squash of some sort. It snuck in with the flowers

Now here I am, the first morning of vacation. I treated myself by staying in bed an extra 90 minutes. BC was obliging. She did jump onto the bed after the first 60 minutes, but settled in when I began rubbing behind her ear. 🙂 She often prefers love to food. When I finally went downstairs and outside to bring in the newspapers, I discovered that the temperature and humidity were at a reasonable summer level. I opened ALL the windows. Yet another pleasure on this first day of vacation!

look at this bug

Just LOOK at this bug. It was huge. I have no idea what it is

Haiku to You

hibiscus

drangonfly haikusucculents haikured zinnia haiku
daisies haiku
cosmos haiku
carpenter bee
echinacea haiku
wc haiku
firecracker haiku
rudbeckia haiku
sandwiches haiku
purple petunias haiku

rainbow haiku

It’s Been 12 Years

perfect hibiscus

Most beautiful hibiscus with white superbells

That’s what WordPress tells me – 12 years ago today I started blogging. That sounds about right because my SL birthday is June 26. Wow. Twelve years. So much has changed. I don’t blog much about SL anymore. I’m not even in contact with most of my SL friends, even though I met so many of them F2F. Maudlin though it might sound – they are all still very much a part of me. Very real to me even if it’s been years. My SL life was so vivid. Intense. It started me on a great path that led to a new job, a new outlook on life, a new me. I think my enjoyment of taking and framing pictures began with all those zillions of screen shots. 🙂 Prior to SL I’d been curating a haiku board on someone else’s website, but blogging my SL life gave me a whole new way to write. I thank all of you who follow me and who just drop in to visit. 🙂 Having reminisced, I know to move on and talk about cats and food and flowers. 🙂

outake from bc's photo session

An out-take from BC’s photo session 🙂

I don’t think I have any new cat pictures to share. WC is not feeling very well. She’s spent most of today under the bed. 😦 She and GC will be 18 in August. They’re entitled to whatever foibles they care to exhibit. BC says she has no foibles. She is a work cat, she says, helping me get things done. Funny, somehow whenever she is in my lap while I’m working, my productivity rate slows.

perfect baked rolls

c’mon – LOOK at these rolls! they are PERFECT!!!

I do have some food pictures I haven’t shared yet. 🙂 You’re probably tired of me raving about the perfect 40 minute rolls. I baked a PERFECT batch of them the other night. I also made sesame noodles and coleslaw that night. I’m wanting the wheatberry salad but that takes a lot more time and effort.

swamp milkweed

Swamp milkweed and goose neck

And of course the garden. There are ALWAYS pictures of flowers and plants. I get such joy from the flowers. I have 2 rose mallow plants growing in the front garden. They are a variety of hibiscus – perennial in this zone. I’m hoping that they thrive. It would be such a joy to have hibiscus flowers every year. I don’t think the colors will be as spectacular as the tropical hibiscus but I think the size of the rose mallow flower is much larger. Only time and good fortune will tell!

grape tomatoes ready for harvesting

My grape tomatoes are ripening! The radishes are doing something, but I really think they are doing something odd, not something radishy. I am sure they are growing down and long, not round. The bits of red I can see between the leaves and the soil look distinctly oblong, not spherical. I’m giving them a bit longer. No pictures of those yet.

canna lilies pre planting

3 dark leaved cannas, 2 green leaved cannas – ready for a home in the ground

I had to hunt down canna lilies this year. Last year I had no trouble finding them and I noticed that the butterflies seemed to really enjoy them. I already told you my thrill upon seeing one of those tropicana canna lilies wintered over and is growing. I have a recollection that I usually head out the last week in June to get my cannas. I went out on Saturday. Unlike my usual style I’ll cut this story short. It took me over 1.5 hours to find them. 3 Home Depots, 1 Lowes, 1 of my usual nurseries and a Walmart. It was the 3rd Home Depot where I finally found some. They were not all that great looking either. 2 of them had tags indicating variety, the other 3 did not. I’m hoping they are tropicanas because those grow to 6 feet. I was planning to go online and pay whatever I had to pay to get some cannas if that last store had not had them. I was exhausted, it had started raining, the humidity was horrible and I was distraught at the idea of no cannas. There were 7 left at the store. At one point I had all of them in my cart, but then I put 2 back. I wasn’t really sure I could fit 7 in the garden (they get fairly large) and I thought maybe someone else was hunting for cannas as crazed as I was by the scarcity. I promise you a picture as they get larger.

cactus with weeds

It HURTS to get stuck by the cactus when I’m trying to remove the weeds

My lovage is doing very well in its new location. The ones I left behind in the planter are not as happy. I do like the blue flowers. 🙂 Do you have any idea how difficult it is to weed around a cactus? They don’t seem to appreciate the effort I make to keep their pots clear of clover and other weeds.

flowering lovage

Blue lovage flowers and a very healthy lovage plant

My pollinator plants are doing well. I have lots of bees all over the goose neck (Lysimachia clethroides) and the swamp milkweed. No one seems to have discovered the hyssop or the butterfly weed yet. I hope the butterflies get here. 🙂 Can the bees use up all the good parts???

hyssop

flowering hyssop (see the rudbeckia leaf behind it???)

12 years. wow. 🙂

Major Cleanup on the Side Garden

Lilies and gaillardia

Lilies and gaillardia

I’m very proud of myself. I finally tamed (mostly) the side garden. I had to hunt for a photo to show how bad it was because I have very carefully NOT been taking pictures of that disaster. 🙂 All I have is a cropped piece of a photo from April. Trust me – it was a lot worse by the time June came around. About a week ago I couldn’t stand the sight of it anymore and began tying back the forsythia and yanking weeds. There were flowers in there once, I know. The problem is that the weeds look exactly like the flowers I plant. I never know if what I’m looking at is weed or flower. And of course there was the incident of the weed that was pretending to be rhubarb.

overgrown side yard

Before (April) – Peonies just beginning, forsythia just ending, lots of dead brush

I took a few hours one morning and began the cleanup, so I could transfer some flowers to the side (mostly peppermint and my borage). That involved cutting back a good part of the rhododendron, and hacking out some very deep-seated weeds. The white azaleas need to be hacked back as well, but I couldn’t do it all in one day. Once the azaleas are cut back we might be able to see the hydrangea that is there. I need to find either a good ladder or a brave soul so the top of the rhododendron can be cut back. I don’t really need it reaching the roof, and that’s where it seems to be heading.

pruned side garden

After (June) – Borage transplanted nicely – will have blue flowers, you can see the ferns and the variegated whatever.

There are some plants that are well behaved and still contained, playing nicely with each other. The lilies look great next to the gaillardia. I’m hoping the mandevilla that is just sneaking in at the side of the gaillardia (you can see 2 partial leaves) will make it this year. Either I bought an unhealthy plant or I’ve been over-watering it (my guess) or it got sick, but its leaves keep turning yellow. 😦 There are flowers and new shoots on it, so I’ve decided to leave it alone for a bit and see how it does. Benign negligence. Those 2 are in the front garden. The shot below is part of the bed between the street and the sidewalk. It’s almost rudbeckia time!! I finally looked up the yellow flowered brown leaved perennial: lysimachia ciliata ‘Firecracker’. What the description doesn’t say is that it is nearly indestructible!

lysimachia ciliata 'Firecracker'

Yellow flowered lysimachia ciliata ‘Firecracker’, mandevilla’s white flowers, variegated grass, rudbeckia laciniata hortensia (not yet blooming)

The best part of the side garden is that one of my canna lilies from last summer wintered over, and is coming up! This is incredibly exciting for 2 reasons. First, just the fact that something that wonderful wintered over thrills me. 🙂 Second, they cost SO MUCH per plant. This one is saving me at least $25. 🙂 That is ALWAYS appreciated.

canna lily wintered over

Grow, canna lily, Grow!!!

I Grew A Salad

romaine lettuce before picking

Ready to harvest

My romaine lettuce did GREAT!!!! It was large enough and healthy enough that I could make a salad without having to add lettuce from the store. 🙂 I had 3 radishes that COULD have gone into the salad but we ate them. 🙂 I have a lot to learn still about growing vegetables. I crowd them, and mix mismatched sun-types in the same pot. It’s very encouraging, however, when I actually get it right and end up with viable produce! The lettuce appeared to be very happy in a pot of its own, hanging off the porch railing. I’ll plant another!

radishes and lettuce fresh from the garden

My harvest!

The celery isn’t quite ready but you can see that it IS looking very celery. The fun thing about celery is that it grows above ground so I can track the progress. With my radishes I sort of poke around in the dirt if they are not showing through. And yes – I do see that little weed in there that needs to be pulled

it's almost celery

Almost ‘real’ celery

I’ll need to grow more lettuce so that I can make another salad, this time with the grape tomatoes!

grape tomatoes on the vine

grape tomatoes on the vine

Why We Weed

weeded backyard

After cleanup

I spend a lot of time in my breakfast room at my table. As I’ve mentioned before, that has spurred me to start shedding some love on the back yard. I shared pictures of what I’ve done, but those pictures showed all the weeds and mess. Check out how great it looks now that I went out there and weeded and cleaned!!! I still have more work to do in the part behind the deck, and out of sight of this photo. There is still so much weeding to be done in the driveway as well. But for the moment I’m resting on my laurels and enjoying the view!

Finally Attending to the Back Yard

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Path at noon (standing on the rocks under the breakfast room bay window)

As you can tell by my photos, I spend A LOT of time on the front and side of the house. There never used to be much reason to spend a lot of effort in the back as I never really saw it. We have a huge deck (I think it’s 14′ x 20′) attached to the house and we entertain there. You’ve seen the photos of the trellis all around it with the ivy thick on the trellis. The only view of the back yard is from my breakfast room window or when you are walking from the driveway up to the deck. Since I never sat in my breakfast room facing the windows, I didn’t really care about that yard. I’d tried various methods to tame the weeds. I tried putting down burlap covering the dirt so we could get to the composter. I tried using bamboo fencing as a pathway. My goal was about walking to the composter, not about having a nice view.

view from my window including hanging sculpture

view from my window including part of the hanging sculpture

Once we redid the kitchen 2 years ago, I ended up with my wonderful round counter-height table. I sit there all the time. In front of me is the glass wall and door to the deck. To my left is the back yard. Which looked terrible. I began working on it last summer. There are a few problems with the area. The first is the lack of sun. Because of the trees, house, garage and deck that area gets almost no sun on the back property line and very little between the deck and the garage. The soil is poor and complicated by the fact that over 25 years ago I had landscaping done. Why is landscaping a problem? Because landscapers put down that horrible black weed-barrier material, which is nearly impossible to cut. It doesn’t prevent weeds, either. I had the area around the deck completely mulched. I had visions of my son and his friends climbing on the deck rail and falling off. The mulch deteriorated, we replaced it many times, and it became and accumulated dirt. The weeds grew in the dirt. There was easily a minimum of 2 inches of dirt above the weed barrier. I began trying to grow plants back there. They’d die because they couldn’t get roots down far enough. That’s what led to the burlap and bamboo paths.

view from the composters

view from the composter (spiderwort, behind the deck)

I finally realized last year that if I wanted plants I was going to have to do battle with the weed block. First I need to determine the battle site, excuse me, site for the plant. Then I need to push all the dirt to the side to uncover the weed barrier. It is now over 25 years old, so sometimes it yields fairly easily to the box cutter knife. Other times I could swear the barrier was made of steel. Not only do I need to clear the barrier from an area sufficiently wide to dig a hole, I have to slice it for a distance from the hole so the plant can spread. I’m not sure that I always do a sufficient job of slicing to enable spreading. It takes a lot of strength and energy to cut that material, even as aged as it is. I’ve started looking for shade-loving plants (I should move the cilantro back here) and ground covers that will spread. I really don’t want to have to deal with this yard with the effort that the front requires. I’m very pleased with how it’s looking these days, although you can tell from the photos that it is due for a massive weeding. I was planning to do that this weekend but I ended up tackling the rhododendron and the weeds on the side of the house, and then weeding the driveway. Oy. Exhausting.

Early morning sun (8:30)

Path early morning (8:45 or so)

I’ve ordered another 5 stepping stones for the walkway. The bugleweed is doing GREAT. It looks beautifully healthy and has already begun to spread. My only reluctance about it is that it is not native to this area. Besides supporting pollinators, I’ve tried to grow native plants. The lamium (dead-nettles) is doing well also. The 3 smaller plants closer to the house are all from last year. The larger one I bought this year (and did indeed buy a larger plant than I bought last year). There is a small coral bells near the entrance to the garage that is still struggling – I planted it last year. There are 2 larger ones back by the ivy. The curly grass was a transplant from my sister’s yard this year. The tag on it claims it likes shade whereas the site I linked says sun, so we’ll see how it makes out. I need to prune the dead curls and figure out if it’s struggling or doing alright. I added a fern this year that is thriving (it was fairly large to begin with). That was the site of a major skirmish with the weed barrier, complicated by 2 huge tree roots. I forgot to mention that the tree roots are yet another complication in the back yard. I’d planted ivy last year (the solid bright green) and then added more, smaller plants this year. Considering how well ivy does coming up on the deck trellises, I’m hoping they will cover the barrier hiding my neighbor’s garage. 🙂 I moved some spiderwort 3 years ago, as well as some goldenrod. The spiderwort is holding firm but the goldenrod gave up the struggle.

path in the afternoon

Path in the afternoon – after 3pm

The fuchsia are hanging from a pole that I used to put in the front, in the middle of my rudbeckia. I decided it worked much better in the back. When we first moved into the house, the front of the house was shaded by 3 large trees that are no longer with us. For years I’d hang huge baskets of fuchsia on the front porch. Once the trees were gone, so went the fuchsia. I’m very happy to have them back where I can enjoy them. The vine along the deck trellis is a new experiment. It’s adlumia fungosa, also known as Allegheny Vine or Bleeding Heart Vine. I got this (along with my usual butterfly-attracting plants) from Heritage Flower Farm this year. I didn’t really understand what it means to be a biennial plant. I gather I’m not going to get any flowers this year but next year the flowers will come. I thought it also meant that it flowers every other year Apparently it will die at the end of the 2nd year. If I’m lucky, it will seed itself and repeat the cycle. I’ve had limited success with self-seeding plants (note to self: STOP hiring the yard cleanup crew in December). In addition, what I’ve been reading seems to imply that Allegheny Vine is a bit finicky. Given the poor soil back there, I suspect that I’ll be lucky to even get flowers next year. It was worth a try, and maybe it will turn out better than expected! Sometimes plants do flourish when you least expect it. *laughing* ESPECIALLY in the cracks of my driveway!!!

bleeding heart vine

Allegheny Vine (bleeding heart vine)


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