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Blogging about gardening in zone 4, marriage, our golden retriever and life in general.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Kitchen beds

See the flower bed outside our kitchen door:

Pretty darn boring, huh? I mean, they're obviously stuff planted in there, but not in big enough clumps to make an impact. From left to right below, Irises, rudebeckia, a flopped over tulip, crocus, daffodil, daylilly, more iris, lavender and more rudebeckia.

Yep, definitely not high impact.

My plan for now is to pull out all of the plants in the middle for relocation. Then purchase and plant two new dwarf bushes while compiling all of the bulbs and other bloomers in the middle (about where the daffodils are now).

But what bushes? Something that offers bloom, preferably. Something that gives great fall color, probably. Maybe another burning bush, which looks like this in the spring (the lime green blob in the middle).

And this in the fall:

Or maybe a dwarf forsythia, which blooms like this in the spring:

And then looks like this in the fall:

But maybe also a small boxwood hedge, with these Korean boxwoods which are hardy to zone 4. They'd add nice winter interest. 
Hmm, damn. Now I want all three. Thus is the problem with shopping online! Time to call the nursery and see if they have these in dwarf species, and how big the dwarf species actually get! 

Friday, May 27, 2011

May 27 Friday Farming

Real quick like, as I've got to get to bed. 

The front flower bed is getting a little raggedy. that large low plant in front is an aster (or crysanthemum?). To the left of it is the burning bush, which never dropped it's leaves last fall. Nor did the leaves turn red their first year. I totally thought it was dead. In front of it is some kind of sedum from Jane. The pokey thing in the back is a alium (more on that in a minute). Also visible are a single red tulip, played out crocuses, irises and pepper pots. 

 Over in the driveway bed, my spring plantings are coming in nicely. I read somewhere that you shouldn't just landscape against your house; you want to create vistas out of your windows too. Thus tulips under aspens.

The plants damaged by last week's east wind are recovering okay.

Raspberries are coming in. I really think it'll be 2-4 years before we get an edible berry from these things. But I'm glad to see foliage on them!

The muscari still shocks me by blooming.

Back out in the front beds, we have daffodils, muscari, tulips and a burning bush in the back. I love the lime green of the burning bush leaves!

And the alium is opening up.

The spinach is adding leaves. I'm not sure what I'll do about this spinach; I get a sens it'll really get going just about the time I plan to tear it out and replace it with peppers. Maybe they'll do okay as a companion plant for a bit?

More tulips, in the power box bed.

The Autumn Joy sedum is probably my favorite new plant. I love the way it looks!

Over in the inside starts, the larkspur is up:

As is a zinnia.

In the back a lilly is up. I only planted one of these, and think I probably need to add a few more.

A lupine seems to be doing well.

I think the leaves of these things are cool.

More Autumn Joy Sedum.

Leaves and bloom buds on the lilac.

I started snipping flowers for inside arrangements. The whole point of planting flowers is to be able to bring them inside!

These tulips were actually snapped off by the east wind last weekend; I snipped them and put them in water and viola! forced bulbs.

Back outside the peas are doing well. Still no sign of the asparagus.

The single remaining broccoli transplant seems to be doing well.

Lettuce is loving the cool weather.

Carrots are up.

More lettuce.

This picture is decieveing. In a fit of nice-weather rage, I planted squashes last weekend! Early, I know, but I couldn't resist. in the column on  the left, from top to bottom is a zucchini, croockneck summer squash, flower seeds (cosmos and marigolds), and a winter squash, then more flowers. Flowers should be interplanted with veggies to attract bees, which polinate the veggies.

On the lower tier I replanted the spaghetti squash, and seeded corn too.

I noted the Gian Sunflowers are up.


So there you have it. I'm a little ahead on a few things. I also popped gladiolus bulbs into the pots I have, thinking I really had no where else to put them! The glad bulbs I put in the ground in mid-April are up, so I look forward to seeing those plants. I've never grown glads before! 

This weekend's rainy forecast doesn't speak much for gardening, and we're not quite past the frost date. In fact, it might snow! So I'll wait one more week before purchasing and planting the last plants: roma tomatoes, early girl tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, jalepeno and banana peppers. 

Hopefully we'll be able to harvest spinach and lettuces from the garden soon!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

One born every minute

A sucker that is.

I'm adamant about not letting Harlow on the couch. I hate sitting down in a pile of dog hair. She lets herself onto the couch while we're at work, requiring vacuuming of the couch every week.

But... last Friday night I sat on the couch in the office working on my weekend gardening plans. Harlanita kept giving me the look. And she couldn't get close enough to be petted.

So I invited her on the couch.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Shoes for Europe

I've already made a few purchases for our trip to Europe in the fall. As Rick Steves advises, we're planning on traveling light by taking only a carry on suitcase and a personal bag (purse, briefcase, etc.). The lack of huge luggage will increase our mobility. 

I've got a spreadsheet (shut up) going to evaluate what clothes to take for a 17 day trip. We'll be in northern France, then Italy right at the end of the summer, and I anticipate weather to be like it might be in say, Washington DC at that time of year. Warm, but with cooler nights. My priority is to make sure that each dress, skirt, pants, shirt or blouse, etc. can be worn with everything else in the bag, so that I have an endless array of outfits despite taking few clothing items. 

The most important consideration? Which shoes to wear?

We'll be walking around, a LOT. I'd like to have one pair of sandals that I can wear with a dress, one pair of sporty/ casual tennis shoes with excellent arch support, and probably a pair of flip flops for hanging out in. 

I purchased the sandals a month or so ago. Merrell "Lidia" in mahogany (brown). 

I haven't worn them yet, given our snowstorms, but I'll break them in through the summer and hopefully be able to wear them around Europe as my "relief" shoes after a long day on my feet in hot weather. 

But what shoes will be my workhorse for sightseeing? Something I can wear with capris, skirts, and a dress if necessary. Something I can be in my feet in for 8+ hours/ day. 

Maybe the Dansko "Maeve":

I also bought the Dansko "Kate" shoes. I can't find them on zappos, and I worried they'd be sold out before I bought them. I'm not convinced they're The Shoes, but I can return them if necessary. 

Maybe I'll consider these Privo by Clarks "Polar Lake", which definitely leans towards the more sporty shoe?

I've always found the toe-boxes of Keen shoes to be really comfortable, although sometimes the heel is too high and causes blisters. Maybe these Keen "Paradise Ballerina" shoes?

Or these Merell "Plaza Flaunt" shoes?

I think I can see a big Zappos order in my future. Care to recommend any shoes to wear as the workhorse-walking around shoes?

Friday, May 20, 2011

May 20 Friday Farming

I snapped these photos on Thursday morning, as the weather report called for rain all weekend. Good thing since it's lightly raining this morning. 

Here's how things look from the street:

I've been thinking the last week that our landscaping really needs more bushes in it. I was so distracted last year with trying to grow flowers I didn't really think about bushes, which are usually the background of planting beds.

I'm also beginning to think that all of these spring bulbs make the area look... messy. Lots of spiky leaves going every which way. I realized last winter that we need some type of evergreen in our planting beds too. I'll discuss this more in a later post, since Fridays are all about what's blooming!

Tulip, daffodil, alium and muscari are all blooming or close to it. I'd given the burning bush up for dead, as it failed to turn scarlet red last fall or drop it's leaves. But it's coming back nicely this spring!


Close up!

I'm already planning to reposition many of my spring bulbs. This lonely single tulip doesn't make much of a statement, does it? All of my second year tulips are not very impressive this year. Many of them sent up just one leaf but no bloom. Hmmm...

I think the big green ground cover is either an aster or crysanthemum, either of which are fall bloomers. the veggie plants behind them will hold a jalapeno and banana pepper plant, once it gets warm enough to actually purchase and install those species.

Remember when I thought the muscari was dead? I'm not really sure what happened, but it looks great now!

This little section of the driveway bed is where I've installed the "special" plants like bee balm, lupine and delphinium. The prevailing winds are usually from the west and the house usually protects the house from being battered around in the wind.

Unless it's a 40mph east wind, like we had last weekend. Last weekend's windstorm snapped off many of the about-to-bloom flowers I have on the east side of the house! The wind also blew most of the soil-pep into the lawn, leaving many plants sitting up out of the dirt.

Delphinium, snapped daffodil.

The lupine took a battering but is already rebounding.

Same with the dasies? Poppies? I'm not certain what this plant is, but we'll find out soon. Check it out; a flower bud!

The soil pep totally eroded from around this bee balm, leaving the plant exposed.

Across the driveway, the raspberries continue to grow.

One of the newer sets of tulips is about to bloom.

I can't remember what color these are. Maybe a light yellow?

In DJ's fern gully, plants are coming back. This is a hosta.

And an astilbe.

And a hydrangea :)

The planting bed under the hammock is one of the areas which needs bushes. Here you see snapped over daffodils, tulips, and irises in the background. I transplanted the bee balm from here, and the daylillies are coming back nicely.

Around back the clematis and hosta are returning.

As well as a lilly.

And the lilac!

Thus far the fence has kept the gophers out.

The spinach is up.

And I used grass clippings to mulch around the transplanted lettuces. I learned this method from another gardener-friend-o-mine, who always uses their grass clippings to mulch. This keeps weeds out of the garden and helps the soil retain moisture. The grass gets tilled back into the garden in the fall, adding nutrients.

The Walla Walla sweet onions seem to have taken off.

And the single, sad little broccoli start soldiers on.

Carrots are coming up! I can tell they're not weeds by the repetition in which the sprouts are coming up.

The sugar snap peas are growing well.

I also popped sweet peas into the ground along the gopher fence. They'll be able to trellis up the chicken wire and provide a nice screen to the veggie garden.

Back around front, the bed to the left of the front walk is doing okay. I already have plans to add a decorative grass to anchor the end of the house as well as a evergreen.

Salvia, tulip.

Cilantro. I'm totally going to co-plant this along side the jalepeno and banana peppers.


See, these are the tulips I'm talking about. They sent up leaves, but no bulb stalk. Maybe a nutrient deficiency?

The spirea is coming back nicely. I love the bright colors for spring!

The redtwig dogwood doesn't seem to be thriving. I'm not sure what to make of it. Harlow's "trimming" of the plant in March certainty didn't help.

Daylilly near the front steps is coming back.

And the alium bulbs I planted are doing well.

They're funny plants. Their buds look like this:

Before peeling back to look like this:

More daffs.

If I do rearrange my spring bulbs, I'll to a better job of pairing my spring bulbs to play well together.

See this? It's a poppy! The first I've ever been able to grow from seed. Do I want poppies in this location? Nope. I'll transplant this one after it blooms.

Over in the power box bed:

These first-year tulips are growing well.

And in them are more sweet peas. Once the tulips do their thing the sweet peas will grow up a trellis and add annual color.

I think these tulips are pinks and oranges.

Check it out! Liatris.

Autum Joy Sedum.

This plant is totally dead. To be replaced (possibly this weekend!) with Russian sage.

See? I think we need more bushes.

I tried planting bulbs at the base of my tree, like all of my neighbors. Sadly, these crocus, tulips and alium were whipped by the wind too. I'm not sure they're going to do well.

Up in the hanging baskets:

And what about the seeds I'm starting inside? Well, the second round of marigolds are up.

And I have no idea what this plant is in the foreground. Truth e told, I was so annoyed that I killed my starts by overheating them that I kind of just threw seeds into the seed-started and thought I'd figure it out when they came up.

If I were to bed, I'd guess these are larkspur?

Starting plants indoors, just trying to use the sunlight, doesn't really work for me. I have to transfer them to the front porch each morning. This requires watching to make sure it's sunny out, but not too sunny lest the plants be scalded. And by Memorial Day when my little starts are ready to go outside for good, the nurseries in town have big bushy plants that are miles ahead of mine. I'll have to decide next year if I want to just buy starts, or go whole-hog into this and buy a grow light. They should be easy to come by, since medical marijuana is no longer legal in Montana!

What's on tap for the weekend? Well, given the rain, I'm not sure much. I need to get plants installed in my parents planting bed, asap. I'll probably pick up the Russian Sage and decorative grass I mentioned above while at the nursery. I'll enjoy the blooming spring bulbs while already plotting to reposition them around bushes I want to plant.

The weekend after this is Memorial Day, which coincides with the last frost date in Bozeman. Once we get back from the lake, I'll buy roma tomato, early girl tomato and cherry tomato plants and put them in the garden. I'll also buy bell, jalepeno and banana pepper sets and plant them. The squash seeds will go into the ground at that time too: zucchini, butternut, spaghetti.

I need to re-seed many of the flowers I'm trying to start. The snapdragons, sunflower and ecchinacea haven't shown hide nor hair.

I've watched/ listened to/ read a lot lately about nutrition as it relates to fresh, organic food. It's interesting stuff and makes me think a bit more about if I plan to store some of this harvest. I'll touch on that in another post :)

Happy Friday!