Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous Fun Stuff’ Category
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!
My Dad passed away this past Christmas, so it was a very sad Christmas and winter for me. My Dad was a serious gardener, his specialties being Rhododendrons (he hybridized and named a few) and bonsai. He also grew many different flowers and fruits. He had a wonderful area that he kept his bonsai in, with all sorts of empty pots and bonsai paraphernalia.
My sweet husband, knowing how much I was missing my Dad, dismantled my Dad’s
potting area and moved it to our garden, rebuilding it, just as it was. It is under a very shady Boxelder tree and beside my potting shed, which is very convenient.
I love spending time back there, mixing up my potions and potting mixes and potting up plants for the deck and front porch. Even though he had 25 or 30 bonsai at one time, many were lost last fall and winter by a terrible wind storm that tried to blow us all away and by neglect. I was too busy taking care of my Dad to worry about the bonsai. At least I have a few to remember him by.
I miss being able to call my Dad with gardening questions and spend time in his garden with him, but I sure love being in my new potting area with his bonsai around me.
Last fall I wrote a post about finding so many bumble bees sleeping on my Zinnias in the mornings. I would check on them for a few hours, sometimes till 11:00 A.M. before they would wake up and take off.
I only saw bumble bees and only on the Zinnias, not on any of the many other kinds of flowers nearby.
This week I’ve been finding honey bees (at least that’s what they looked like) sleeping in the roses. Even though the Zinnias aren’t blooming yet, I’ve not seen any bumble bees sleeping in the roses.
In my opinion, honey bees must have the better taste.
Springtime in the garden is magical…at least this spring it is. Last spring was so cold and wet, maybe that’s why I’m appreciating this year so much.
Even though the flowers are just beginning to bloom, there are so many more that are just waking up and setting buds. The saying with perennials…”first year they sleep, second year they creep, third year they leap“. This is the third year for most of our perennials and I am expecting some leaping.
So much to look forward to in the garden this year.
An unexpected thing I enjoy about our garden is getting to talk to so many people as they pass by, some strolling, some on bikes and many in cars. We live on a corner just off Main Street in our little town of about 40,000 and so it feels like we live in Mayberry, with so many friendly people. Anyway, one day a man walking his dog stopped to talk and was telling me how much he appreciated me putting the names by the plants so passersby could know what they were. I told him I hadn’t thought about the people passing by, I was just trying to remember the names of plants and what was planted where.
I moved out here to the West almost 3 years ago and even though I’d gardened for such a long time in the south (zones 7 & 8), there were so many plants out here (zone 5b/6a and elevation ca.5000′) that I’d never heard of and didn’t recognize. Really, there were very few of the ones I was use to growing that would grow out here. So if you think you have to know a lot to be a gardener, then I’m living proof that you don’t. I started reading a lot, I now have 154 gardening books (I just counted out of curiosity), almost all second hand. I like to be able to look up anything I need to know about. I do use the internet a lot but I get a lot of help from books.
Back to the names on the plants…I use metal wire stakes with a metal plate to write on. They work great for helping me to remember the plant name and to mark the spot where it’s planted so in the spring when I’m looking for places to put new plants I’ll know that place is reserved for something that will be coming up soon.
When I have spaces to fill I like to plant annuals that have plenty of blooms to use and share, like Cosmos and Zinnias, which can grow quite tall if they’re happy. Last year I had a profusion of blooms along the sidewalk outside the picket fence on the South side of our yard (our house faces West) and large areas covered in blooms inside the fence.I try to get everyone to come and cut bouquets from the zinnias and cosmos because it encourages more blooms and it makes people happy.
One afternoon as I was sitting on a little stool weeding by the front sidewalk a little girl, about 8 years old, came riding by on her bike and stopped to talk. She gave me one of my favorite compliments when she said, “Your yard looks like a flower forest.”
How could I not like that?
Everybody enjoys looking at a garden or being in a garden, but not everybody actually enjoys getting in and getting their hands dirty and their backs tired. The rewards are so great though, it’s worth the effort, time and money.
Here are just 10 very good reasons to garden.
- I want a beautiful yard and can’t afford a gardener.
- I need the exercise.
- It keeps me out of the house so I don’t have to see that it needs cleaning.
- I get fresh fruits and vegetables that are way too expensive in the store.
- I get a sense of accomplishment.
- I get an opportunity to talk to neighbors and passers-by that I would miss cooped up inside.
- I can take my frustration out on the weeds instead of my sweet husband.
- It creates beautiful, relaxing places to spend time with family and friends.
- It gives me a great reason to get out of bed in the morning.
- It’s in my blood and I just can’t help it!
I have to admit that I’ve not grown too many succulents. Ive had the Hen and Chicks and the Kalanchoe, but not much else. Lately though, I’ve been noticing them more and more in other people’s gardens and in the garden centers. I had no idea that there was such a huge variety of these beautiful plants.
They are not only beautiful but very easy to grow, if the conditions are right. When we were in the San Diego Botanical Garden I fell in love with these figures that had been created using succulents. How do people even dream up things like this, much less figure out a way to do it?
One of the garden centers we visited in California had such a huge selection of succulents to choose from, I would have like to have had one of each.
When our garden centers get up and running this spring, I intend to check them out to see what wonderful little treasures I can find. I will be finding ways to use them in our garden from now on.
Not all color in the garden has to come from flowers. Whether you like bright, vivid colors or more subdued pastels, you can have color throughout the garden with painted furniture and with garden ornaments.
In my garden I have leaned toward the softer hues of purple, pinks, blues and white. For my flowers, I still prefer those colors, but after a few trips to Mexico, in certain areas of the garden I have ventured out into the brighter shades of the same colors.
You might like the warmer (or hotter) colors of reds, yellows and oranges. Whatever colors appeal to you, there are ways to get
them into your garden. Check out the things that I found for sale at a plant nursery in California. There were sun faces, lizards and frogs etc. to hang and birdbaths and colorful pots as well as all sorts of garden figures. Now, beautifl pots come in ALL colors.
I like to tuck figures in among the plants and most of them, you really have to be looking hard to even see them. It’s fun for the grand-kids to have something to look for. See post: http://wp.me/p1OXDF-4L
There are plenty of garden ornaments that you can make and it is really easy to slap a coat of paint on some yard furniture.
Have fun in your garden and make it a relaxing fun place to be.
I’d written about dates from a previous trip, but I hadn’t yet tasted fresh dates. The ones we saw were all dangling from trees. See post: http://wp.me/p1OXDF-1wf
On our recent trip we sampled fresh dates in Arizona and in California (both delicious) and now I’m trying to figure out a way to grow dates here in zone 6. The trees are beautiful (as you can see) and one tree would produce almost enough dates to keep me happy for a year. I’m not sure they would produce well in a greenhouse, but that seems to be my only alternative.
We learned so much about dates, for instance, they like it hot, hot, hot but also need lots and lots of water. That’s why they grow in the oasis. The giant, premium dates are called Medjools and the smaller, round ones are Deglets. There is a long, thin one called Barhee, which I loved. It is drier and chewier than the others and it has a nutty flavor. Dates are very nutritious and full of anti-oxidants.
I took some to my daughter today and even though she doesn’t like dates, she tried them and loved them. See her blog at: http://greenardelle.blogspot.com/
If you can’t get down to Arizona or southern California, you might like to order some fresh from the grower, and no, I don’t get a kickback 🙁
The great place we stopped at can be found online at: http://www.browndategarden.com/ They also grow grapefruit and oranges. We got some of their Temple oranges that were amazing. The people there were so friendly and helpful. We will definitely look them up again when we’re in California.
If you’ve never tried fresh dates, then you don’t know what you’re missing.
This is a re-post from earlier. Since we are in the middle of winter, it seemed a little more timely…
I’ve lived in zone 8, and there, gardens just need to be trimmed up a little and maybe mulched for some protection. Even in the warmer zones, most gardening activities take place in spring, summer and fall. So what do gardeners do in the winter?
Some gardeners, like us, enjoy traveling or visiting distant family. It’s hard for gardeners to get away during the growing season, because too many things need attention, but in the winter, there is a lot more free time. If you live where there is a lot of snow, like we do, then it’s fun to go to warmer parts of the world. We like to go to Mexico, or to south Florida, where it’s sunny and warm even in January and February.
Here in zone 6, the winter is long, but even with the holidays and traveling, there is still plenty of time before spring arrives. This is the best time for gardeners to evaluate their garden, to think about expanding the planting areas, or building raised beds for vegetables, or even planning an herb garden. As you think about problem areas, where plants might not have done so well, you might consider improving the soil. It’s also a perfect time to think about adding arbors, decks or fencing to your yard, to give it structure or vertical interest. I kind of mentally walk around the yard and garden, trying to find places to plant another rose bush, or maybe another fruit tree.
It is very helpful to make a drawing of your yard, being sure to include the house and garage or any other buildings or structures, like patios or decks. It makes it much easier to evaluate the growing space in your garden and see how everything relates to each other. See post: http://wp.me/p1OXDF-Z9
Winter is also a good time to learn more about soils, fertilizers, soil conditioners and mulches. In the long winter evenings, you’ll have more time to learn about plants you may have heard of and wanted to grow, like hardy kiwi or bamboo.
One of my favorite winter activities is watching the birds. There are so many different kinds of birds at the feeders in the winter, and it’s fun to watch them inter-act with each other. They can get quite territorial at times, but usually they all feed in peace, taking turns at the feeders. When food is so scarce, it’s much easier for them to eat at our dining room, so we tend to have a lot more visitors in the winter months.
One of the bonuses of feeding the birds during the winter is that as the weather begins to get warmer, the migrating birds will begin to come through and then, for a short time, we get to see so many different species. Winter is a great time to learn about the birds, how to recognize them, what they like to eat and how best to attract them to your yard.
As you can see, winter can be a very enjoyable, and productive time of year.
Winter for gardeners can be a time of relaxation, evaluation, planning and self education. It’s time to take stock of what worked in the yard or garden, and what didn’t, and decide how to change it and make it better. With so many books about gardening and bird feeding available, and countless sources of information on the internet, there is no reason not to be able to make your garden more productive and your yard more beautiful.
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The quick answer to that is…not much. Or so it seems.
Many plants, especially fruit trees and some perennials, need these cold temperatures. They have a cycle they must go through, that’s why refrigerating bulbs can force them to bloom early. Some fruits trees need a minimum of 1,000 hours of freezing temperatures to bear fruit. So a lot is going on with the plants, just not in the leafy, green, growing sort of way.
The rose bushes look so pitiful and almost dead. They will be pruned back just as the buds begin to swell in early spring.
The raspberry bed looks so empty without all that lush foliage. They will be back bigger, thicker and better than last year. The rhubarb plants that share that bed seem to have
disappeared, but they will also be back, bigger than before.
The raised vegetable bed is empty, the corn, green beans and squash long gone. Next year we will add more compost to rejuvenate the soil for the next vegetables to grow there.
The asparagus has gone to sleep, with the plants all collapsed down with a covering of snow to insulate them. They will be some of the first to make their appearance next spring. Can’t wait.
So much to look forward to in the spring. The dormant time in the garden is a really good time to learn about some of the things that need to be done when spring finally gets here…like pruning fruit trees and rose bushes, dividing and transplanting perennials that have outgrown their space, starting and maintaining a compost pile, deciding on what vegetables to grow this year…..and on and on.
That’s why gardening is so interesting and so much fun. There is always more to learn, always something to do and always so much to enjoy in a garden.
Finally home from our relaxing vacation in Las Vegas. We made a quick dash to get there but coming home we took our time and made a few stops along the way.
Coming across the Nevada desert we took a little detour and went over to see the Valley of Fire. Amazing views of screaming red rock cliffs and mountain formations were everywhere. The red sandstone mountains looked like Swiss cheese with all the caves, large and small. The wind was blowing so hard the whole time we were there that it was easy to see how it had carved so many shapes into the sandstone.
There are some really nice petroglyphs (Indian art carved into the mountainside). The area had been used by prehistoric groups from 300 B.C. to 1150 A.D., including the Basket Maker people and the Anasazi Pueblo Indians.
The beautiful red formations reminded me of the mountains of Southern Utah around St. George and the beautiful formations in the national parks all over central and southern Utah.
Ahh, even with all that beauty, it sure was nice to see the mountains of northern Utah on our horizon. It meant home was near.
I just love beautiful colored glass. I would love to be able to create forms out of glass and to be able to have complete control of the colors. I’m in awe of what some people can create.
Here in Las Vegas we have seen some gorgeous things, and the creations in glass are a part of that.
There was an art gallery in the Bellagio Hotel with some awesome glass pieces in it. (I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t get the artist’s name.)
Then there was the ceiling in the lobby of the Mirage with its colored glass. It looked like a glass flower garden. I still have a crick in my neck from spending so much time studying and admiring that sight.
I just thought I’d share some of this with you glass lovers.
We visited an amazing place this week, and I’m not talking about the hotels, fabulous shows and restaurants. There is just so much to see and do in Las Vegas, that I doubt very many of the visitors who come here get to see the acres of pottery and garden decor we walked through. I’ll bet the locals know about it though. It’s a place called Little Baja Garden & Design and it’s located at 3033 W. Ford Ave. in Las Vegas. You can find them online at http://www.littlebaja.com
The selection of pottery was astounding. We’ve shopped for beautiful pottery in Mexico, Arizona and Florida, but I’ve never seen a place with so many choices. It’s fun to have beautiful colored pots on the deck or patio. If we had room in our garden for even one more large pot, I would have had to spend the day selecting just the right one. We decided to buy a couple of beautiful, colored plant saucers. We’ll put these on pedestals around the yard to use as bird baths.
We also like to collect sun faces and other yard art. Again…what an amazing selection to choose from.
I loved the columns. I would have loved for our grape arbor to be on columns. Let’s see…they are on sale right now for $500 apiece, and we would need 12 of them. Hmmm….$6,000 for the columns alone, not counting the treated lumber and the cost of the grape vines. Guess that’s why we didn’t do it. Even if I had been able to afford using columns, I wouldn’t have known where to get them. Now I know.
Nothing beats the sound of rushing water, it’s so relaxing and soothing. This place had about a half acre of fountains of every size and shape, from rustic to ultra modern, from tiny ones all the way to gigantic.
What a fun time we had, just strolling around and wishing we had more room in our garden… and more $ to buy some of the gorgeous things we saw.
Oh, and a big truck to get it all home in.
We accidentally scheduled our vacation at just the right time of year to be able to enjoy the celebration of the Chinese New Year (the year of the dragon). The Bellagio in Las Vegas is always a spectacular place to see and be, but with the celebration of the New Year, it has been kicked up a notch.
Dominating the display were the 4 enormous dragons, moving and blowing smoke. Chinese figures all made of flowers were amazing and beautiful.
Pagoda roofs with tipped up corners, and arched red bridges were tucked among the giant bamboo that already grows there. Piles of giant Chinese money were nestled here and there, while hundreds of beautiful red lanterns hung overhead throughout the display.
The many mandarin orange and kumquat trees that grow there already were decorated with bright red bows for the occasion.
It was wonderful and I’m so glad we were able to visit this amazing garden during this special time.
Well, I can’t garden so I might as well head south and enjoy some warm sunny weather. Right?
We’ve been out in the snowy and freezing weather today and that will make us appreciate the warmer climate even more.
I’ll be taking, and sharing, pictures of any gardens I can find. Since we are headed for Las Vegas I’m not sure how many will be at their peak. There is a gorgeous, gigantic atrium at one of the casinos though, and I will be taking pictures in there.
Ah… the sunshine, pool and the hot tub are calling my name. Besides, I’ll enjoy the snow so much more after having been away from it for a week.
Every gardener, whether a newbie or old timer, needs a place for gardening activities and a place to keep their gardening supplies and tools. Whether it’s a little corner in your garage or in a garden shed in the yard, it’s nice to have a designated spot for doing things gardeners do, such as re-potting root bound plants, mixing up some potting mix or other potions or pruning and tending potted plants. It’s also very nice to have all of your gardening supplies and tools in one place, so when you’re working in the garden you know exactly where to go to get what you need.
Potting sheds can be a stand alone, small building or a lean-to off the house or garage. Any potting area, whether in the garage or potting shed, needs to have some or all of the following.
- A bench or table to work at. You can use pre-built benches from garden supply places or one fashioned out of cinder blocks and old boards. An old table will work too. Whatever you use, it should be high enough to work at while standing. A stool is nice to have nearby as well.
- Shelves are a must. Utility shelving units or shelves mounted on the wall or under the potting bench provide areas to group gardening supplies together, such as fertilizers and sprayers, bins of hardware for garden hoses, kneeling pads or stacks of different size pots and saucers. On large shelves under my potting bench, I have large tubs of potting mix, peat, compost. I also have small bins of garden gloves, shards from broken pots (to put in the bottom of pots for drainage), and styrofoam peanuts (also for drainage).
- Hooks or large nails on the wall for hanging gardening tools such as clippers, pruners, hand saws, trowels etc. I also like to hang many other things on the wall for easy access, such as coils of twine, scissors, extension cords etc.
- A garden caddy, large plastic garbage can or very large wall hooks for grouping large gardening tools (shovels, hoes and rakes) together. I’ve turned my tools upside down in a garbage can before and that worked until it got too full. Now I use a garden caddy that keeps them upright and organized. Large wall hooks work great too. The important thing is that they are easy to get to and kept from damaging each other.
- Windows are nice because of the natural light (not much potting goes on after dark anyway). I have lights in my shed but I rarely use them because I get enough light from the two windows. If you do need to work at night though, a fluorescent light in the ceiling is handy to have.Windows can provide a breeze on hot summer days as well.
- A good sturdy lock on the door will make sure your gardening supplies and tools are safe and secure, as well as all in one place.
Location is important because of convenience and comfort. Near the garden is best. At the end of a hard day in the garden, you’re not going to want to put away all those tools if you have to go too far. Also, having your potting area in a shady location makes it so much more useable and pleasant to work in.
This potting shed is going to be hot for a couple of summers until the Crape Myrtle, planted on the south and west, grow tall enough to shade it.
I think having a potting shed is a necessity. I’ve gardened without one and it is so much nicer having my own little corner of the world (or garden) to call my own, to know where all of my tools are and have them so handy.
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