Category Archives: Garden Planning

GARDENING FOR GOOD

This summer I’ve been dividing my gardening days

Between two gardens.

It’s the first summer that Faith Farm

Has been an all volunteer effort.

It was a leap of faith.

What a fun

And rewarding leap.

We started the season with a plan

Put together by my fellow gardeners

Jim & Michael.

It’s an ambitious three season plan

Since we have a 9 month growing season.

We started harvesting lettuce

In March.

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And we haven’t stopped.

200 lbs of lettuce

120 lbs of gorgeous carrots

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More basil than all of Italy

and almost 900 lbs of cucumbers.

Wow what a year.

We have literally grown well over a ton of vegetables.

All of this done by a dedicated group

Of volunteers.

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Including a few Master Gardeners.

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Twice a week they harvest this bounty

And take it to Loaves & Fishes

Where it is then given

To our hungry neighbors.

Several times a year

Jim offers  gardening classes

To the L & F clients.

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And every so often

We have a Saturday work day

To catch up on the big jobs.

Yesterday was one of those work days.

We had an ambitious list

OK…we had an impossible list.

Thanks to a few new volunteers

We got most of the big jobs done.

Morning glories pulled off the fence

Before they set seed.

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Bolted basil pulled, dried and ground into mulch.

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Ground pecan hulls put on the paths.

And soil added to beds.

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Then there was the shed.

Michael spent the morning organizing it.

Thank goodness.

These are not glamorous gardening jobs

But they are essential.

And feel good to have done.

Along the way we made a few new friends

Loaves & Fishes board member Randi

Brought her family.

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Including her son

Who got to meet Charlotte

Our resident Orb Spinner Spider

She’s been “hanging” around

Since July.

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He also found caterpillars and praying mantis.

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It’s always a good day when you can introduce

A child to the wonders of nature.

And do a little

Gardening for Good.

Gail

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Basil, Bugs, Carrots, Children in the Garden, Community Garden, Compost, Cucumbers, Fall Vegetables, Garden Planning, Gardening Friends, Herbs, late summer garden, Lettuce, Morning Glories, Nature, Orb Spider, Uncategorized, Vegetables

Marry a Carpenter

I think I’ve written before

About the great match of

A carpenter married to a gardener.

Over the years John has built

Fences and gates and arbors and potting benches

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And much more

Basically he’s handy – very handy.

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A few years back he built this screen

To help hide the back of the garden.

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You know

That place where you store things

Old broken pots

Millions of flats and plastic pots

That you haven’t gotten around to recycling.

Old hoses

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And whatever else you haven’t found a permanent home for.

This “hidey hole” has another side.

It’s where I park my double bin compost tumbler.

I literally wore one out last fall.

It’s taken us this long to get it replaced.

And John decided this time it needed a screen

So he built it.

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Nothing much has ever grown in the space

Opposite the compost tumbler.

So we talked about repeating

The plants that have done well

In the shade of the cedar tree

On the other side of the garden

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John planted Yews that will spread to create a backdrop

More Oak Leaf Hydrangea

And a passalong Hosta.

The largest I’ve ever seen

Which John divided into four large Hosta.

Who knows how big they will get.

 

I’ve also added two “Incrediball Hydrangea”.

They are pretty sad right now,

But since they are related to

Those wonderful Annabelle hydrangea

I’m hoping they’ll thrive like their cousins.

 

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All of this joined existing Hellebores and Ferns.

This fall

I’ll extend the brick path

And sprinkle in a few spring flowering perennials

To complete the space.

Thank you John for hours of hard work

In this hotter than usual summer.

This all started with the death of the old compost tumbler.

I was sad to lose my rusted out old friend.

You just never know what will grow

Out of loss.

Enjoy the week,

Gail

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Filed under Compost, Garden Planning, Gardening, Hellebores, Hosta, Hydrangea, Oakleaf Hydrangea, Uncategorized

PUSHING TO THE FRONT OF THE LINE

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There’s a theory when designing a perennial border

That plants should be placed according to their height.

Short in the front

Tall in the back.

Kind of like the order of an elementary class picture.

And orderly it is

Or would be

If everyone stayed put.

But over time

Things seem to move around.

I rely on several self seeding annuals

To fill in between the perennials, flowering shrubs and roses.

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So over the years the number of plants increase

As do the seeds they produce

And the more disorganized it all becomes.

This has been going on for a while now

But this year

It’s as if everyone has run out of patience

And pushed to the front of the line.

Especially my lovely pink Hollyhock.

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The seeds came from Patti when she lived next door.

The number has sadly reduced over the years.

This year I only have one good stand.

Right on the front edge of the garden.

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Tall

Stately

And totally in the wrong place.

Now, in case you don’t know Hollyhocks

They don’t transplant

Because they have a tap-root.

So, where they sprout

Is where they stay.

The other major offender of front to back order

Is Larkspur.

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Lately it seems to want to sprout

Along the edge of every path.

Then it lays down on the path

It has totally covered the Stella d Ora

I thought I was edging my garden in

All those years ago.

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So, exactly how am I to restore “order”

To the front of this border.

Simple

I don’t

I surrender.

My garden has very deep beds

For that reason I’ve made brick paths

To divide it into manageable pieces

Giving me a place to walk

And keeping me from compacting the soil.

But it also gives me a logical path for wondering.

And wondering is something I love to do

Because often I

Wander as I wonder.

Gail

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Filed under Garden Planning, Gardening, Gardening;Perennials, hollyhocks, Larkspur, patience, Seeds, self seeding annuals, Stella d Ora Daylily

VIBURNUM

My current garden is my 2nd perennial garden.

We moved into this house shortly after

I quit designing garden for other people

So I brought with me all of that experience

Mistakes and good ideas

Successes and failures.

This garden is bigger than any other I’ve had

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So I made the conscious decision

To use more flowering shrubs.

And as is typical in spring

Every week something new would bloom

And I’d go out and buy 3 of them!

There was method to my madness

Flowering shrubs take up space

Lots of it

They also give literal armloads of flowers

Which are fun

To cut and share

So the bones of my garden are

Hydrangea & Roses

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Lots of these

Because they give you so many blooms

Off and on during the season

There are fewer Peonies

Because they just bloom once.

But who can live without them!

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Then there are those early spring-flowering bushes

That take on a life of their own

Forsythia, Quince, Spirea, Lilac

And Viburnum

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You may know it as Snowball bush.

That first spring I bought 3

I don’t actually remember where I first planted them

Somewhere in the middle I think

In a sort of triangle.

By the next spring

I realized I had made a mistake

They were going to get too big for their present home.

So we dug them up and moved them.

Now remember that these were all 3 about the same size.

Two were moved to the west gate.

Where they reside today.

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What’s wrong with this picture?

Why the left side is not as healthy as the right

Is likely a conversation for another day.

Then there is the third one.

We couldn’t really come up with a logical place for it.

So we just put it in a hole on the far east side of the yard.

Along side of few other “homeless” plants.

We never did find it a real home.

Over the years it has driven me crazy.

I’ve actually wished it would die.

It’s under one of our big old cedar trees

And keeps growing into it.

I’ve whacked away on it

Year after year

Just to keep it kind of under control

Or so I thought

I guess I must have missed its annual haircut last spring.

Because this year

It’s well … GIGANTIC

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And loaded with blooms

Which is wonderful

Because with the late spring

My yard has been pretty void of blooms.

So I’ve been cutting and cutting.

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Armloads of flowers are such fun

To cut

And share

The stems are woody

So when you cut them

Be sure you either slice or smash them

And feel free to cut away

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Because a happy Viburnum

Is a big Viburnum

So why is it that sometimes

The things that annoy us the most

Turn out to be our best friends

When nothing else is blooming!

Enjoy this wonderful weather.

Gail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Bouquets, Forsythia, Garden Planning, Gardening, Gardening;Perennials, Hydrangea, Peonies, Perennials, roses, Snow Ball Bush, Uncategorized, Viburnum

LETTING GO

 

 

Sometimes it’s hard to know when to let go

To give up.

To move on.

John and I are that way about trees.

We love trees

Of all sizes.

So it’s been hard – especially for me

To admit that we have two trees in our yard

That are dying.

The Redbud I mentioned in an earlier post.

We’ve thought it to be the most likely to go down first.

All the while knowing the Mimosa at the entrance to our backyard.

Is sick.

We think it was planted sometime in the late 50’s or early 60’s.

At least according to Cindy who grew up in this house.

That means that it has lived almost a double life.

Twice as long as the 30 year average of most Mimosa trees.

It has as they say great bones.

Architectural branches that form a graceful canopy

Near the Wisteria covered pergola.

Leading into the garden.

This is after all the “front door” of the garden.

Where you enter if you are coming to

A bridal shower, an Easter Egg hunt, a garden party.

Or if you are looking for me

When it’s above 50 degrees outside.

But it’s more than just the “hostess”  of the backyard.

It’s our childhoods.

If you grew up in this part of the country

You likely have a Mimosa tree

In your memory.

Though not native to this country.

They have enjoyed a popularity embedded into our horticultural souls.

I think of them as a 50’s thing.

Along with harvest gold appliances

And gingham checks!

Now, I know some consider them “trash trees”

And, I’ll admit that they do drop a series of

Seed pods,

Frothy blooms

And leaves

Everywhere the wind blows.

I personally have pulled up 1,687,543 baby Mimosa trees.

But they bloom as the hummingbirds are migrating through.

And they are drawn to each other.

Providing great dinner time entertainment.

For us and the birds.

We had a plan.

I let one of those baby Mimosa seedlings go this year.

And it has grown…and grown.

In one season it is over 5′ tall.

Our intention was to plant it near its mother

And as nature took its course.

It would grow and replace the dying tree.

A natural transition.

Made sense to us.

Until one afternoon last week.

When out of the blue

A major branch just dropped to the ground.

When we examined the split

It brought very sad news.

Let me back up a few weeks.

Sometime in July

This tree began to “foam at the branch”.

A white, frothy, sticky substance

Just began to ooze out of it.

And we noticed the bark was splitting.

But we had hope because new branches

Were suckering all along the old.

John shifted into research mode

And discovered that it is suffering from

Mimosa Vascular Wilt

This is caused by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum f sp. perniciosum.

Which is weird because Peg had a fungus the same week!

But unlike Peg’s fungus the tree fungus is terminal.

Quickly – within months usually.

And remember our tree is ancient.

It’s a soil born fungus that is being spread by contaminated soil

In nursery containers.

Which explains why Mimosa sales are outlawed in some states.

And to add insult to injury

It can also spread via seeds produced by infected trees.

So not only is the mother dying.

I have to kill her child.

It would have been a good week not to have internet available for research!

We simply can not figure a way to have another Mimosa tree.

We have to let go.

We will wait till fall for the next dreaded step.

Give her and the hummingbirds these waning days of summer.

To enjoy each other’s company.

To soak in another August afternoon rain.

To great visitors coming to the garden.

So this week while Jason and Torry took the first step

In letting go as Cassidy gleefully headed to kindergarten

John and I were next door at a different stage

Letting go in a different way.

Life has such synergy.

Gail

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Filed under Fungus, Garden Planning, Gardening, Hummingbird, Mimosa Tree, Mimosa Vascular Wilt, Timing, Uncategorized, Wisteria

VISION

Three years ago Elliott & Kristina bought their first home.

To say they had “vision” is an understatement.

Their timing was incredible.

The house had been on the market for sometime.

The front had a mammoth awning.

I’m thinking it distracted couples with lesser vision.

Then there was the backyard.

It was….well…frightening!

But this is no prima donna couple.

They are after all, both descended from gardeners, farmers & ranchers.

They could see what it could become.

Vision.

Not everyone has it.

But they possess it.

And they weren’t afraid of work.

So they began.

I guess you would call the first stage demolition.

Thankfully, I’m a state or so away so I missed this stage.

There was not  a lot to save.

The decision was made to take out even the Aspen trees.

Since, though they are lovely

They actually are a bit of a nuisance.

A single wispy tree will turn into a grove of Aspen

Right before your eyes.

Great for mountainsides.

Not so much for backyards.

The giant deck

Was replaced with a lovely flagstone patio.

Carefully layed by Elliott with help from friends.

My parents used Colorado Red flagstone

Inside and outside the “new house” at the farm.

So there was symmetry here.

Meanwhile in my garden.

I was potting up babies from all over my garden

And buying a few.

By June my friend Vivi and I loaded it all up

And drove this garden to its new home.

The humidity in my car was stifling.

Kristina and I spent a long weekend planting away.

Adding roses and hydrangea from a local nursery.

There’s a saying about perennial gardens

The first year they sleep

The second they creep

And the third they leap!

Welcome to year three

We visited again a few weeks ago

What a transformation.

Perennials are oozing onto the grass.

Morning glories dance along the fence

Greeting each new day

Thyme suns itself on the flagstone.

Cleome spills over the edge of the narrow bed

And little juicy golden tomatoes grow practically wild.

Elliott seems to enjoy puttering around the yard.

Growing not only flowers,

But vegetables as well.

Kristina never misses a chance to make a flower arrangement.

Taking them to friends, her office

And sending guests home with a freshly cut bouquet.

They both enjoy foraging dinner from the garden

And entertaining as well.

This year the Kentucky Derby fell on Cinco de Mayo

Calling, of course, for a Cinco de Derby party.

It’s reported that a good time was had by all.

And…the creeping thyme can handle a lot of foot traffic.

Vision.

It brings sunshine to the world.

Enjoy this glorious week

Gail

Peg at the Morning Glory Gate

Peg at the Morning Glory Gate

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Filed under cleome, Flower Arrangements, Garden Planning, Gardening, Gardening Friends, Gardening Mentors, Gardening;Perennials, Herbs, Hydrangea, late summer garden, Lupine, Morning Glories, Perennials, roses, Sunflowers, Tomato, Uncategorized, Vegetables

Mid Season

Yesterday was the first Saturday in a long time

That I spend the whole morning in my garden.

I didn’t dash to the farmer’s market

Didn’t run flowers to the church for Saturday Manna

I was selfish.

I started early in the sunshine

And as the heat came on

I followed the shade.

Weeding

Deadheading

Planning

Thinking

Praying

It’s mid-season here on the plains

We have an 8  – 9 month growing season.

So that makes mid- July just about the middle

Of the time between first and last frosts.

It’s too hot to transplant.

So maintenance becomes the routine.

But…mid-morning a friend came through my gate.

Hydrangeas were on her mind.

Her’s are planted under a Magnolia tree

A giant Magnolia tree.

Her Hydrangea on the other hand have

What we diagnosed as “failure to thrive”

We think the Magnolia is a bit greedy with the water.

And likely nutrients too.

So the solution for now is auxiliary water

In the form of a soaker hose at the base of the Hydrangeas

Turned  on Oh So Slowly.

This should allow the water to go deeply into the root zone.

And not run off.

It’s worth a try.

I’m going to drop by soon and see if we can’t find some more hospitable homes for them.

She and I are close in age.

We are definitely at the same stage of life.

Empty nest

Worked a lot

Volunteered a lot

So what comes next.

She’s seeking

So, it occurs to me once again

That gardens do reflect our lives.

If we pay attention.

My garden is full of life

Here in the middle of the season.

Just like my friend.

They both have much left to give.

And hopefully time to give it.

So how do we re-arrange our lives.

Cutting out the stuff that overgrows

And crowds out the good things.

Even maybe shades them out completely.

Keeping extraneous thing cut back – pruned – deadheaded.

To let in the light.

It’s a challenge.

And a continual effort

To keep our gardens

And our lives

Going where we are to go.

Glad I have a garden and friends to share in the journey.

Gail

 

 

 

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Filed under Bouquets, Dead Heading, drip irrigation, Garden Planning, Gardening, Gardening Friends, Gardening;Perennials, Hydrangea, Uncategorized