Saturday, October 18, 2014

October Abundance

The dahlias languished all summer.  I was really disappointed, since i had hoped to use them to supplement my other cuttings.  I planted six different types - ranging from white to a very dark burgundy and in different flower types.  Sadly, they struggled and only three of six even made it far enough to set buds.

Three weeks ago they suddenly decided to bloom and they have been gorgeous.
This may be the prettiest one i ever grew.  It looks like a lotus and is about five inches wide.
A chrysanthemum type, with the 'Double Scoop Cranberry' cone flower. 
Another chrysanthemum type in a rich pink.
Am planning to put them in a slightly sunnier spot next year and look for another source.  Anyone got a dahlia supplier that you can recommend?   I prefer the smaller ones, so that I can add them to arrangements. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wednesday Workday

Finally.  Another project done.

Once I decided that the Emerald arborvitae was not coming back, I started planning to re-do the area.  Its death is totally on my hands.  I did a poor job of teasing out the roots and then did not water enough.  I know better.  They need two (two!) inches of water a week for the first six months - at least! - sometimes longer, and i forgot it last winter.  [That's the big drawback of planting in the fall.  Who wants to water in the winter?]  I promise to do a better job this winter.  Seriously.

The last couple of weeks in September were really gorgeous here, but i was unexpectedly busy at work and not able to steal extra time in the afternoons to work outside.

Two weeks ago - tiller all serviced and ready to go - i gathered plants and mulch and set to work.   First, tilling the entire area - which was not so easy given the large root system still under ground.

Then I laid out the plants.  The pot is a place saver for the tree.  Then I moved that large clump of 'Lady's Mantle' from the left side and spread them out to form the back "border" of this bed.
You can see the remaining root in the center.  Am hoping it will rot quickly now that I have tilled out so much of it's root system. 

This is a shady area with a few hours of sun in the summer, so i am trying to bring color using greenery and contrast.
In addition to the arborvitae [Thuja occidentalis 'Emerald Green'], i put in a dozen lilyturf [Lirope 'Variegata'] and three Mocha Heuchera [Heuchera x villosa PP 18386].  Then i have left enough room between the plants and the foot path to put in some annuals next spring.  Am thinking a begonia with the green and white variegated leaves. 

Unfortunately - actually it was fortunate - the rains came before i could get the mulch down.  It took two weekends, but the bed is finally done and mulched.  All that remains is to remember to water - two inches a week!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

An Old Friend Returns to Work

Mitchell likes to tell of a day - about 20 years ago - when he came home from work and I announced that I had purchased a tool.  He was thinking screwdriver or wrench. 

I was thinking Mantis tiller!

Having watched too many infomercials i decided it was exactly what i wanted.  You know ... he was always willing to dig me a hole, but often not really available when I needed it dug.  And, little projects just pop up unexpectedly when one would like to move a little dirt....  and a girl needs a small tiller. 

Best purchase I ever made!  Light, easy to start and maintain.  Perfect for me!  [Mantis has in no way paid me to say these nice things - i really do love my Mantis!]
Main back "garden" pre-tilling.  Bird bath has not moved.  2002
Bird bath is just to the right of the statue. 2014

She - this is such a hard working tiller that she is clearly female - dug beds at our old house for several years, and then moved here with us more than 14 years ago.  She dug all my beds, except the cutting garden. 
Side of back yard.  Same bird bath.  2002
The beds continue on to the right.  2014

About three years ago I couldn't start her.  Just couldn't.  When I finished up whatever I was doing, I put her in the shed and ... well, forgot about her.  This summer I really wanted to re-do a bed and really needed the tiller, so I finally took her in for a bit of TLC and she returned to me last week with a brand new carburetor and all ready to tackle whatever I could throw at her.  

We'll share the results in a couple of days, but it's nice to have my partner back.  She's raring to go turn over the cutting garden.  I think next weekend ...

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Wednesday Workday

Everyone could use a little grass ....

The most fun projects are those that just kind of pop up unexpectedly and then work out easily, and that is the story of the new grass.  Many years ago we had lovely clumps of grass, but as the garden grew and I dug new beds the grasses got replaced and we moved on.

  But, now the hibiscus have moved on, and I had a nice empty spot to fill - and at the back of the main planting bed where I could use something tall and something to provide winter interest.  It was clearly the place for grass. 

Over the weekend I checked out what was readily available and cleared the space.  Voila! an easy  project for this week.  

Sometimes I think that my favorite part of a new planting is laying out the pots and moving them around until I am happy with the arrangement.  This one was simple, but I moved the rose planter a bit and relocated the big sprinkler, too.  The only unexpected problem was the need to relocate about 15 iris, but that didn't take too long.

A few holes and I was ready to water it in.  Mother Nature did her part and sent me a rainy day to get it all soaked.  

We're still at more than six inches of rain deficit, so I'll need to keep up the watering for a month or more until things start going dormant.