Archive for May, 2013
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!