Tag Archives: landscaping

Leeks and Pollinators

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I love to have a day like today, when I stayed home and worked, mostly in the garden. I planted seeds in the greenhouse on Wednesday, and today I wanted to sow others directly into the planting boxes. But I hadn’t realized how little space is currently unused by other plants. So I decided to take out a few leeks to make room for carrots. gl IMG_3034

 

I haven’t been sure about those leeks, if they are growing properly, or are a complete loss. Maybe they didn’t get enough water and are spongy as well as spindly? So I pulled up a few of the largest, and discovered that they are perfectly fine. This was comforting; my fennel had indeed been almost a complete loss, because I let it go too long. And one doesn’t want to have that experience often, of using a chunk of precious space for several months with not much to show for it.

(So I made some Leek Confit this evening.)

gl P1050374 leeks

At one point in my back-and-forth around the garden, I stopped raking pine needles or preparing seed beds and just watched all of the insects that are incredibly busy feeding off the flowers. It’s  become the pollinator garden that I planned for, and there are many kinds of bees, wasps, flies, moths and butterflies to be seen working.

These two seemed to be taking a break from their job, to play tag on a zinnia.
After I took several pictures of them they escaped from my spying and continued their game on the underside of the flower.
gl pollinators on zinnias

I also noticed a hummingbird at the Bachelor’s Buttons, when he made the branches shake, but he didn’t hang around very long after that. gl IMG_3042

The arugula seeds came up in only three days, in the warm and humid greenhouse, and in four days the hollyhocks began to emerge! This is a newborn hollyhock for you.

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gl P1050366 calendula

While I was doing my work in the back, the landscapers were doing theirs out front.

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I was quite pleased to see how they made use of the clods of adobe clay to make a sort of wall by the drain that slopes down the grade and will carry off any extra water from heavy rains.

A lovely and restful day. Only my feet hurt. So I wrote this blog post instead of taking an evening walk.

Good night!

 

 

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How gardens are made – or not.

In a way, my gardens have been too successful. I planted tomatoes where they didn’t have gl berries P1040889room to grow, and have had to drastically prune them back so that I could get in there to pick them as they ripen. No pretty picture to show you there.

The fennel grew so lovely – now I realize it was overgrown and woody before I picked it. I’m eating it anyway, and the edible parts are yummy. Next year will be my third growing fennel and it should be the charm.

Rudyard Kipling said,

“Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh how beautiful,’ and sitting in the shade.”

That goes for harvesting, too! But the making I need to do today and next week concerns seeds…. Before my next trip to see grandchildren, I have a few weeks to get seeds planted in flats in the greenhouse, and to water them once or more daily until they are big enough to set out in the garden where they will get automatic watering from then on.P1050162

What seeds? I don’t even know yet. But perhaps these that I received from Prairie Moon. I saw a picture on a blog post, of unidentified coneflowers growing wild on the prairie, and researched to find out what variety it might be, and where to buy seeds. It turns out they are Echinacea pallida. The company sent me milkweed seeds also, as a gift, and I dug out my own milkweed I had collected a couple of years ago.P1050165 I’m not even sure that I can successfully plant them now to have plants to set out in the spring. Probably I should be reading up on that instead of writing and speculating!

My front yard is taking a lot of attention. In July we laid cardboard and mulch thickly all over the lawn (this is called “sheet mulching”) to kill it, and now that that has been done stonemasons are beginning work on a walkway and a wall. gl P1050150

Later we’ll landscape with some plants about which I am still deciding. I had two rosemary bushes in the front, one of which was about 25 years old. Landscape Lady said it looked like a Bristlecone Pine, and at first we were going to keep it around for its venerableness. But it wasn’t that worthy, and would scratch and poke me twice a year when I took the pruners to it, over the years shaping it into its crotchety self. I didn’t want to go through that one more time….so I took parting pictures.

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Now that I have great soil and many options for growing various things, I don’t know if I will ever have a chance of “keeping up” with my garden. But I plan to go on enjoying it, and reporting about it here. Perhaps even while sitting in the shade.

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bee on rosemary in its younger years

December and my watered gardens.

It is a little strange IMG_1228to finish the installation of my garden at the beginning of winter. Some of the plants and trees are going into their dormant stage soon after being planted, and are not likely to be very showy until next summer. I’m thinking of the coneflowers. So I ran out and bought three six-packs of Iceland poppies to plant in that area to break up the expanse of wood product that will be staring at me. And some Dutch iris bulbs.

Much mulch, that’s what you see now. The bare branches of fig and plum don’t show up against the brownness. The paths are one kind of mulch, called Playground Mulch. It’s soft and laid on thickly so the grandchildren won’t scrape their knees on flagstones or whatever I might have used instead. Neither will they get muddy, because there will be no dirt to be seen! The other kind of mulch, coarser but a similar color at this point, covers all the planting beds and hides the drip irrigation lines; it is tucked in around every flower or shrub. This is how you do it if you want to conserve water, and I do….

The children might get wet, though, if they stick their fingers into the fountain. It’s finally all put together and hooked up to its new electrical conduit deep under the pathway, and I can turn it on very easily whenever I want. Then its lovely water sounds provide a needed auditory focus and delight during this period when the plants are small and mostly not flowering.

Even when it’s not turned on it makes me happy, sitting there in the middle of everything and marking the intersection of the four directions, not quite the points of the compass, but pointing to the corners of the space. I don’t like to call it a yard now that I’ve invested so much in the beautification of my property. It was a yard, when it was all a big slab of dirt, waiting to be turned into something, with heavy machinery and other non-living stuff all over the place. But now, now it is a watered garden.

IMG_1225The unfinished tasks are likely to be completed before Christmas. In the meantime I am giving my attention to the holiday, and rain is watering the garden, too, so even the poppies are droopy and not photogenic. What I do find photogenic is my Christmas tree, which Pearl helped me set up and decorate last week. Christmas tree 2015

I realized last month that I could not manage a cut tree of the size I wanted, so I bought an artificial tree, and I’m happy with it. Even the thought of getting an artificial tree caused me to panic at first, because I had no idea where to start looking, never having given a thought to that sort of tree before. But my goddaughter Sophia is an interior decorator and she immediately helped me. It’s been easier than I expected.

I couldn’t resist buying a darling live tree in a pot as well, but I’ll show it later. It’s still outdoors in the dark at the moment. Oh – but I see that it is showing in the photo above, with the hose caught on its branches. I don’t know where it will go when I bring it in, but I will decorate it with birds and pine cones.

Today was the feast of St. Nicholas. Everything was lovely at church. We have been having Matins before Divine Liturgy Sunday mornings, and I’ve helped with that service most Sundays, which means that I arrive at about 8:30. Matins is all about the Resurrection of Christ, so the significance of his rising from the dead is what we sing about for an hour straight, and that’s before we even get to the Divine Liturgy.

When both of us are in church, I hold my goddaughter Mary, whom I wrote about here and who is now nine months old already! I carry her up for Communion, and like to keep her with me as long as possibl3be58-nicholasilluminatede afterward just because she’s so sweet. Today as we stood in line we looked up at the chandelier that was still swinging gently from when it was earlier set in motion to accompany a hymn to the Theotokos. We stood next to a candle stand for a couple of minutes and watched a score of candles shining. I sang along with the choir, to her, “Receive the Body of Christ; taste the Fountain of Immortality.” Then we did, and our hearts were refreshed.

This glorious Lord’s Day —  It all fills up the soul and tires the body!  Today after the service I worked in the church bookstore that is open during the agape meal, so I didn’t get home until 2:00, exhausted.

This evening we listened to some Christmas music, and Kit built a fire to cozy us up. It feels like December!

Not by singing and sitting.

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Getting the paths leveled and straight.

 

Gardens are not made by singing “Oh how beautiful,’ and sitting in the shade.
~Rudyard Kipling

What does make a garden is thinking and planning, digging and preparing good soil, marking out paths and providing for water.

You build any needed hardscape in the form of trellises or boxes, retaining walls, patios and paths.

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Fine craftsman installing the trellises that he made.

 

You get some plants and arrange them so that they are in the right relation to the other plants, and to the sunlight. You place them in the ground in such a way that their roots can spread out and take advantage of that good soil.

The paths here are made of three layers: a layer of weed cloth on the leveled soil, an inch or two of base rock on top of that, to be followed by a couple of inches of path mulch. Don’t ask me what that is, because I haven’t seen it yet; I am going on the recommendation of Landscape Lady who has it in her yard. The final layer of path will be the last step in the whole landscaping project.

I haven’t been doing much physical work, but I spend a lot of time sweeping and wiping the floors inside the house after I track in the clay mud. The other day after the paths got their layer of base rock, I realized that I was tracking the mud from the patio that hadn’t been swept in weeks, so I swept it. That was my contribution to progress. GLP1020753After the rock is smoothed out with a rake, it has to be tamped down by someone with muscle equal to all the pounding foot-by-foot until he has flattened all the paths very hard. The playhouse served as a coat rack, and the snowball bush gleamed on the afternoon.GLP1020749Today was the big day when the first of the plants went in, most of the dononea or hop-bushes along the fences. I could have helped with this if I hadn’t been running to the store or in the kitchen for those hours, making a very involved meal for a new mom. I did dash outside a few times to take pictures. Today it was the womenfolk, Landscape Lady herself and her assistant. GL P1020778They lovingly and carefully put the bushes in their new home, and then I sang,
“Oh, how beautiful!”