Welcome to a total garden takeover! My name is Whitney and my husbands name is Brett. We will be taking over the garden for a while. Ron and Judi have taken off for the magical land of Hawaii for a few years and left us amateurs with the “secret garden” (at least that’s what I call it when I explain it to my friends).
To give you a little background, I have absolutely ZERO experience gardening. I once planted a small garden outside of a house that I lived in college. I think I spent about $30 on pansies and that’s probably it. I MAY have read to see if they could live in full sun or partial shade (or whatever it was that garden got) and I just went with it. I moved out only about a month after I planted them, (since Logan stays so cold so long) and I never went back to see how they did. I treated those plants like my babies for one short month and then my gardening days were over. From then on I lived in apartment after apartment. OH! I also once killed a palm in my apartment in Los Angeles. I bought it at Ikea and could never figure out just how much water and sun it needed. So, how much confidence have I just instilled in all of you? Probably none. haha! Just bare with me.
If you are curious to know, I am a photographer. I work from home, which means I get to check on the garden pretty much whenever i want (bonus)! Brett is still in school full time. Most of our big yard work days are done on breaks that he has from school . All of the cleanup was done over his Spring break. Lucky him! This last week he had a little break before Summer semester started and we did some much needed weeding, unwanted extra plant removal (hollyhocks EVERYWHERE), and tied up the plants that were a little heavy for their stems (some roses and all of the peonies). Everyday I do a garden walk through and try to grab as many weeds out as I see. We will see how that holds up as the Summer continues.
Here is how I am learning to garden:
(Via Texts to Judi)
Me: (sends a photo of a patch of the garden as well as particular mystery plant to me) What do I do with this patch of the garden? What is this plant? Should this be pulled out?
Judi: The top right photo is all weeds and needs to be pulled out. That is a poppy, DON’T pull that out. Also, see all of those big leaves there? Those are Hollyhocks and should NOT be there. Get those out as soon as possible.
I then proceed to do what I’m told. Luckily, Judi also has a LOT of gardening books around the house that I have cracked open a few times. They taught me when and how to prune a lot of the stuff in the yard. My mom is also some help. She lives five minutes away and used to be a florist and also has a pretty garden.
Some things I know I have already done wrong:
1. I was VERY shy with pruning the roses. I had no idea how big they could get so quickly. I was worried because I didn’t want to ruin anything. So now we have these massive rose bushes and we had to tie some of them up to keep them up. The climbing roses around the fences and archways are also a little out of control because I didn’t know what I was doing. Luckily I have been bringing a lot of roses inside in vases and I try to prune them a bit when I do that. Also, since it’s just the first year I think I can get it back under control. Next year I will prune back MUCH more.
2. Some potted trees and bamboo died over the winter (Judi still doesn’t know so she should be finding out now whoops). I think it may be because we had a VERY dry and warm winter. It was 60 degrees almost half of February and we only had about a week or two of snow in the valley. I can’t lie I loved not dealing with the snow, but it definitely put things into bloom early and even as an amateur I could tell it messed with some of the plants.
3. I planted some tomatoes seeds inside and they were going GREAT until they got a bit too large for their pots. I got the medium sized pots and thought they would be okay the whole time in there, but some of the cherry tomato plants are looking a bit yellow. We planted them outside this week after hardening them off for about eight days, but they are still looking a bit yellow. We will see if they will live or not. You live and learn, right?
4. I wish I would have weeded a little earlier. Because Brett and I are both busy, (I work full time and he is in school) we can only garden at certain times. I could not BELIEVE how huge some of those weeds got. Next year I will get at that earlier so they don’t end up so big. Maybe that’s normal though? I really don’t know.
The truth is this is all new to me, but I am LOVING it! Who knows, some of these photos could be of pretty weeds haha! I do know the garden instantly calms me down and brings me happiness. I may not know what I am doing, but I have a HUGE desire to keep this garden beautiful and I know that’s why it’s going to be okay! The amount of work IS worth it to me and I can’t wait to continue to see new things happening in the garden!
Can you see the dead tree behind the rose archway?
We also have some sugar snap peas, beets, and turnips coming in nicely! Also, we are finding little strawberries popping up! We can’t wait until summer and more fruit! seeing the little peaches form is so exciting!
The peonies have me swooning! I love the little ladybug hanging out on the bud and I LOVE watching the cute little bees!
I hope you enjoy all the photos of the garden! It’s gorgeous right now. Sorry the formatting is weird… I’ll figure it out next time, but for now it’s late and it will do! Until next time, gardeners!
Since our grapes have began to ripen we have had a lot of wasps under the arbor. They are getting the juice from the. grapes that have fallen. They don’t really bother anyone but many people, especially children, are afraid of them. It’s easy just to shoo them away but it is much nicer not having them there at all.
I just found out about this neat gadget that you can hang in your garden to repel wasps. Wasp are very territorial and this little lantern shaped thing looks like a wasp nest and so wasp take one look at it and take off.
I was skeptical that it would work, but thought it was worth a try. Just hung it up today and the wasps have all vanished. The juicy fallen grapes are still there but no wasps.
I got it at Lowes and there are 2 in the package. It says that it should clear an area of 200′. Now that I’m a little skeptical of. I only hung one for now though. I’m saving the other for next year in case this one doesn’t survive till then.
I have a big variety of roses and of course I have favorites. I tend to like the pastel colors rather than the vibrant ones. The Brandy Rose is a beautiful, soft colored rose that is really pretty in all stages. When it’s fully open it is just as gorgeous as in the bud stage.
This morning I was strolling through the garden and just enjoying, when I noticed a bee nestled in one of the roses. I couldn’t rouse him and thought he might have expired. I moved on but came back and he was still there, tucked down in his beautiful bed. I ruffled him a little just to make sure he was really alive and sure enough he was. But he refused to be run off. I left him there, enjoying his rest. Curious creatures, bees.
One of the joys of growing your own fruit is being able to bottle as much as you want or need to without it breaking the bank. Peaches in the store and at the Farmer’s Market here on Thursdays cost a small fortune. It’s one thing to buy some to eat but having enough to put up is a whole different ball game.
The Red Haven peaches are going to finish up by early next week and then the Hale Havens will begin to ripen. I’ve tried one that was almost ripe and it was sweeter than the Red Havens. When I’ve finished bottling peaches from the first tree it will be about time to get started on the second…and so on and so on. Six trees should take us through September and then it will be time for a well deserved vacation.
We do share a lot of our peaches, thankfully so many people really like peaches. I can’t imagine what we would do with all that fruit if we didn’t share.
We have six peach trees and all of them have peaches that ripen at different times. This way we have a long peach season and we aren’t pushed to do something with all those peaches all at once.
We have Red Haven, Hale Haven, Autumn Star, Elberta and Early Elberta. We also have a mystery peach that has been here for about 50 years, which is about 46 years longer than us. The Red Haven is the first to ripen and it is a teaser. The peaches turn beautiful, rich shades of red and peach long before the peach is ripe. Looking at the tree you would think it was ready to be picked. Not so. Those peaches may look ripe but they stay hard as rocks for quite a while. Then one day they begin to soften. Thankfully, they don’t all soften at the same time, just a few here and there. Soon though they will all be ready to pick.
We like to share them and of course we eat quite a lot too. We will be busy bottling peaches for the next six weeks or so.
A couple of years ago I planted 6 thornless blackberry vines in a patch I had prepared just for them. It turned out not to be such a great place because the nearby trees didn’t allow enough sun to get to the plants and so they grew but didn’t produce much fruit.
Last fall I moved them to a sunny area near the raised vegetable beds. I provided something for them to grow on by driving two pieces of rebar into the ground, one on each end of the blackberry bed and arching a PVC electrical conduit (which I had painted black to blend into the background) over the bed and down onto the rebar. This works great because it is a little flexible and I can pull it down a little so that I can reach the berries.
Apparently the vines are very happy
in the new location because the vines have more than quadrupled in number and are producing prolific amounts of berries. We will have plenty of berries this year. The berries are huge and when they get ripe they are so sweet. I picked a basket full today to make a cobbler. Being sweet is great for just eating raw but for a cobbler, the tartness of the berries is perfect.
Last year, which was the third year, the grape vines covered the arbor by the end of the summer. This year the top was pretty much covered by the middle of June.
It has been wonderful having a nice shady place to enjoy lunches and dinners. The vines make such a difference in the temperatures too. We have had a very hot summer with temps hitting 104′ way too often. In the shade of the arbor though it feels at least 10′ cooler.
Better than the shade though is the abundance of grapes that are growing. Since
our arbor is 50’x10′, that is a LOT of grapes. They won’t get ripe till late August into September, but we will have plenty to eat, share and make into raisins. There are 12 grape vines now, all seedless table grapes. We have Reliance, Candice, Suffolk, Himrod and Lakemont.
One of the Candice vines turned out to be a Concord. Unfortunately it didn’t bear till last year. When we discovered it we took it out and put in a Suffolk. Cross pollination can occur between seeded and seedless grapes and eventually the seedless won’t be seedless any longer. That means we have an open area in the canopy of vines, at least till the Suffolk catches up with the others and begins to cover the top.
Our garden is four years old now and I’m familiar with most of the plants in it. I don’t know the names of everything, but I “know” the plant. There was a lily that I had ordered from a catalog and planted that first summer. It came up and grew year after year but it wouldn’t bloom. The stalk was a little spindly and it never would grow very tall, but at least it kept coming up.
This year it not only came up but it came up in a couple of clumps with lots of little lily babies all around it. The stalks are thick and strong and then it began to set buds. I was so excited to see if this lily was going to finally bloom and to see what it would look like.
Not only did it bloom, it is the most beautiful lily I have ever seen. I am so glad that it is multiplying because I wouldn’t mind having this throughout the whole garden. A lily well worth waiting for.
On the other hand…
I think I mentioned earlier that when my Dad passed away I dug up his Lilies, a Heaven On Earth rose, all his Irises and a Honey Crisp Apple tree he had just planted. I planted these things all over the garden, not knowing what colors the Irises and the Lilies would be. There were some beautiful ones, like the deep roses colors but the bright yellows I’m not fond of. I like the “cool” colors of blue, pink, lavender and purple better. One of the Lilies though is white with maroon speckles inside. Not very pretty to my eye, but it sure is healthy and has tons of blooms. I just wish it weren’t in such a public spot, right by the sidewalk. Maybe some passserby will think it’s pretty.
For Mother’s Day our sweet grandchildren usually give me a Lowe’s gift card. Perfect gift for a gardener, right?
I always buy Clematis with those gift cards because then they can see what they gave me and watch them grow more and more beautiful year after year. That’s how I came to put Clematis by the front gate area. I’d never grown Clematis before but I kind of had a little idea that it was a delicate little vine with a few flowers here and there. Oh my, was I ever surprised when beautiful things started to happen. It only took a year before there were plenty of bloom. Yes, the vine is very delicate, which is surprising considering the amount of growth it puts on each year and the abundance of blooms it produces.
We have nice people stop all the time to chat about the garden. When the Clematis are in bloom (a very long time) most comments and compliments are about them.
The peachy Day lilies beneath them set off the pinky lavender of the Clematis really well. Both SO easy to grow.
The Delphiniums seem to get bigger and taller each year. Pretty amazing since all of them came from a little packet of seeds I planted in June four years ago. The first year they barely came up and were so little and spindly. The following year wasn’t much better, just a little taller. Last year though, they just decided to get up and grow and this year they are taller than ever, about 6′. The stalks are much sturdier too. I guess Delphiniums were meant to teach me patience because I sure wasn’t impressed with them at first. Glad I decided to just leave them alone to see what they would do. (Check out the picture to the right, that was the 2012 version. See how much taller and fuller they are this year?)
Now the Hollyhocks on the other hand are not as prolific and showy as they were
in past years. The first year was sketchy because they are biennials, which means they come up the first year and bloom the second year. When they did bloom, it was gorgeous, with big beautiful flowers and lots of lush foliage.
This year, and a little last year, they have many problems. The leaves are covered in rusty looking bumps, the flowers are small and sparse and they are only reaching about 6′ at best, many not even that tall. Since they reseed so freely every year, I don’t want to continue with this crop so soon I’m going to rip them all out and clear out the bed and replant fresh seeds. I think if I can get them to grow a couple of feet that they will bloom next year. We’ll see.
It has been a nice, warm summer so the flowers are thriving this year.
The arbor built over the south gate a couple of years ago has finally been covered in roses this year.
All of the Clematis are finally maturing enough to really begin to put on a show. Most of them are 3 years old, some are 4 years old.
Here are some shots of the garden that include roses, clematis, hollyhocks, catmint, salvia, peonies, irises, feverfew, centranthus, lavender, daylilies, oriental lilies, snapdragons, hostas, dogwood, delphiniums, larkspur and many others. (Click on picture to enlarge)
Several years ago I had found a bare-root Blaze climbing rose on sale for about $3. I didn’t really want a red rose in my mostly pink, blue, purple and white garden, but the price was right so I decided to find a place for it. There is a 10′ section of fence on the outside of our yard along the public sidewalk that gets good morning sun so I thought I’d try it there.
It didn’t do much that first year but the second year it put on quite a show. Nothing like this year though. Since climbing roses bloom on the vertical shoots that come off the horizontal stems, I trained the rose into horizontal planes and secured them to the fence. This spring it sent up so many shoots, all loaded with buds.
When I saw all those buds I knew I would need to feed that rose well. I put a lot of compost around the base of it. Now every time it gets watered, it gets fed. Also the compost helps to hold down the weeds and keep the roots moist. A win, win, win situation. I got our compost from the city landfill, but bags of composted steer or cow manure will work well too.
Too bad this rose doesn’t bloom all summer. It will have it’s glory days now in the late spring and then will have smaller bloom times off and on through the summer.
I like that it fills up a big, blank spot and doesn’t take up much room since it’s attached to the fence so securely. Right now it is a show stopper though.
My Dad was a gardener and had a pretty good collection of beautiful Irises. When he passed away, I dug them up and moved them to my garden. They didn’t do very much that first year (2012) since they were just getting established, but this year they have been spectacular. It has been wonderful having such a variety of color in the garden. I had no idea Irises even came in so many colors.
I also hadn’t realized how heavenly scented they are. Their perfume drifts over the garden all day, but especially in the early morning. Ah, bliss.
Here are some of the many colors abloom in the garden this year.
This doesn’t even include the White, Yellow, Blue and Black ones. Irises are one of my favorite flowers, rating right up there with Roses, Clematis and Peonies. I just wish their beauty lasted all summer.
It looks like it’s going to be a very good year for grapes.
First of all it’s exciting that the vines have finally reached the top and are already shading the arbor area. We like to use the grape arbor like an outdoor room with it’s tables and chairs, swings and other seating areas. The deep shade the grape vines provide make the space usable all day instead of just the cool of the early morning or evening.
We had a lot of grapes last year but the vines were still young, only 3 years old. I
think we may be in trouble. There are so many tiny baby grapes up there it’s mind boggling. These photos only show a couple of square feet each. (click on the photos to enlarge if you’re unable to see well. Even click again to make them even larger). The arbor is 50′ x 10′ so that is a lot of grapes headed our way.
Even with eating tons of them, giving even more away and drying many into raisins (the best raisins in the world I might add), I think we are going to have so many grapes on our hands.
If you’re interested, we are growing all seedless table grapes – Reliance, Suffolk, Candice, Himrod and Lakemont. Besides these 10 vines on the arbor, we have 3 very old vines growing on the fence on the north side of our garden which already produce tons of grapes. We have no idea what they are since they were planted about 45 years ago, but they are white seedless and delicious.
Here are some photos of last years grapes ripening.
I failed to mention that on the two north posts we have Hardy Kiwi growing. They take a long time to begin to produce fruit, but it looks like this might be the year. There are a lot of little BB looking things up there. I’m keeping my eye on them too.
This is one of those lemons/lemonade things.
For some reason, none of our Asparagus survived this winter. I don’t know if I hadn’t planted them deep enough or if the winter was too bitterly cold, or if there was a disease or fungus or whatever. But no Asparagus.
So…after looking at that empty bed for a few weeks, waiting and waiting, I decided to dig. At first I was digging to see if there was anything happening down below. When I found all of the Asparagus gone (DOA) I decided to really start digging.
I get excited when there is a blank space in the garden because it’s so fun to plan an new garden area and to make it happen. This new space is between a peach tree and the grape arbor. At the back is a 6′ wooden fence and large rocks in the front. A blank canvas.
I wanted something that would grow tall in the back, taller than the fence but not tall enough to shade the grape vines on the arbor. I wanted something in the mid-range in the middle and a little shorter closer to the front. Then much smaller plants in the very front.
On top of all that, I wanted plants that would have a long bloom time and be long lived. In other words, a permanent bed. I don’t like spending a lot of money on annuals that have to be re-planted each and every year.
I chose Hibiscus (Rose of Sharon, Hardy Hibiscus, Althea are other names) for the back. They will grow to about 8-9′ and bloom all Summer and Fall.
In front of the Hibiscus I decided to use Centranthus ruber (Jupiter’s Beard) since it can get to about 4′ easily and blooms from Spring through Fall. A very tough and beautiful plant and so easily grown.
In front of the Centranthus I used Garden Phlox. It too has a long bloom time and is very easy to grow. It will reach about 30″.
For the very front I planted Snapdragons. They aren’t perennials but they have re-seeded freely in my garden so I think I can could on them to re-appear each year.
On each side of this bed is a stand of Hollyhocks which re-seeded a few years ago and I just let them stay.
Now the fun of watching and waiting. It’s one thing to plan it all out and know what each plant is supposed to do, but waiting and watching for the magic to happen is part of the joy of gardening.
A friend was kind enough to give me some of the old windows from her home. I knew I wanted to use them in the garden, just wasn’t sure exactly where. I really liked the idea of hanging them in the grape arbor, since it’s like an outdoor dining room for our large family gatherings.
There are a lot of ways to use old windows though. I considered mounting them on the side of or back of the garage, where there are no windows.
I really like using old things in the garden to make it a cozy, comforting place to be. We have some really old things tucked here and there throughout.
I’ve tried all kinds of ways to provide support for climbers, like sugar snap peas and green beans. Most of them have their drawbacks. Last year I created a framework of long bamboo poles. That worked pretty well except that even though I made it very tall (about 6 1/2 feet) the peas grew even taller. It became a balancing act trying to keep the whole thing from toppling over. I had re-bar stakes to support it but it just wasn’t enough. Besides, until the peas got tall enough to hide some of the bamboo, it seemed a bit of an eyesore.
This year I decided to try and make something a little more permanent. I got some of those heavy metal fence post that have little nubs on them. I had to get up on a tall ladder to pound them into the ground deep enough (about 18″-24″). The little nubs all along the length of the posts let me decide where I would tie the twine. I strung heavy twine horizontally in several places, both high and low. Then I strung string vertically between them. I left a tail on the string at the bottom for the peas to attach to and begin their climb. I almost strung wire for the horizontal support but thought I’d try the twine for this year. It seems like it would be easier to clear out at the end of the season instead of pulling all the dead vines off the wire. I guess I’ll soon see if the twine is going to be enough support for the heavy vines.
Even though we have beautiful, black loamy soil, each Spring we like to add a layer of black mulch.
The mulch we use is produced by our town by composting the leaf and limbs that are taken to the land fill. I think the “black gold” we buy is about 4-5 years old. It is so rich and so it not only keeps the weeds down and the roots cool and moist, but it also adds nutrients back into the soil. It will continue to break down over the year and next year we’ll add another layer. The plants respond very well to it and it makes the garden look much nicer too.
The town I lived in in Tennessee did about the same thing but on a much smaller scale. The mulch there was full of debris and not quite as composted, but at least it was free. All you had to do was drive up and start shoveling it into your truck or trailer. Here, we may have to pay $30 a ton, but they load it for you.
One little hint, don’t ever go right after a good rain. The mulch will be much heavier and much more expensive.
Oh happy day when the Lilacs are finally in bloom. I’ve always loved them and had planted 4 a couple of years ago. They haven’t done much until this year and there are quite a few blossoms to enjoy. They smell so good and seem to last a long time.
In my Dad’s yard were huge Lilacs that bore massive amounts of blooms. I would cut arms full each year to bring home. I realized that in the house a little goes a long way. They have rather heavy perfume. But when the weather is nice and warm (it’s getting there) I can open the windows to get some ventilation. Then I can have them everwhere without driving us out.
This bouquet is for a friend’s birthday, but soon this house will be smelling good!
As if the gorgeous sunshine and warmer (74′) weather aren’t enough to make me super excited that Spring is finally here, the peach and plum trees are in bloom and the birds are singing away.
There is so much to do in the garden, but I have to admit that it has been hard accomplishing anything because I just want to BE in the garden, absorbing all the things coming back to life after such a long, cold winter.
The yard help came and went and did such a fantastic job (I’ll post pictures later of their work) that I can take time to enjoy the garden. It is fun to see things coming up that I had forgotten were there. In the Fall I usually put in more perennials (mainly because they are on sale then) and so it’s a surprise to see the new plants emerge.
The Aprium trees were in full bloom when temperatures dropped down to the mid 20’s so I’m not hopeful of getting many, or any, of them this year. The Apricots and Cherry buds were beginning to open and so this may be a bad year for them too. If we don’t get a lot of fruit, at least the trees will have a year to rest and get stronger.
Now we just have to wait another month before planting the rest of the garden, the annuals and vegetables. Gardening teaches us patience.