Monday, July 20, 2009

Name that Weed

While weeding I found several types of weeds in my garden, most of which I am rid of for the time being. Of course it doesn't matter what type of weeds they are however I am curious. So I will be doing a little research to find the name of each plant pictured below. If you are aware of the name of any of these weeds feel free to share that knowledge with me. I can think of a few reasons for the existence of mosquitos, however 'I got nothing' regarding the existence of weeds.




~GG in the house

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Garden Riddle

Riddle me this. What grows in your garden with little rain or much, sun or shade, fertile soil or rock, or the absence of planted seeds? You've guessed it! It makes me want to say "It's not fair". My son's teacher tells her students that a fair is a place where you buy a pig and sell a pie! She is right of course. Life is 'not fair'.

I should get used to the fact that I must work to get a beautiful garden and flowers worthy of being cut and given away. I must water the plants regularly (or try). Carefully plant them in the proper location for that particular plant - shade or sun. Treat my soil so that it is fertile and discard rocks, pine straw or any obstruction to growth. Pray that animals and insects will stay away fromthe leaves and that they will grow to maturity. And wait!

However to get a weed to grow in my garden all I have to do is...Nothing. Torrential rain or drought, weeds grow. Scorching sun or lack of sunshine and weeds grow. Fertile soil, rock, pine straw or ground cover, weeds grow. Being trampled by neighborhood pets will still not deter weeds to grow.

Actually given all the conditions in which weeds grow all I have to do to encourage growth is... Nothing! Neglect to put down ground cover AND pull weeds regularly AND spray weed killer and I am inviting weeds into my garden. That was my choice and as of earlier today my garden looked like this:

After SIX hours of weeding and trying to determine what was a weed versus an a planted seedling, I will be mulching the bed tomorrow!

~GG in the house

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ugh Mosquitos

Mosquitos! When did their bite start hurting? What happened to the little sting that I could feel almost immediately and the short term itching? My time in the garden would be much more pleasant if I didn't have to deal with them. Early mornings are great for avoiding them but I have already mentioned my aversion to rising and entering the garden too early. So I slather on the Skin So Soft. Yes, Avon Skin So Soft. Someone told me years ago that the bath oil works as a mosiquito repellent and I have used it ever since. It seems to do the job and since I do not particularly like to put on bug repellent it is a great substitute. I put it on so thick that I am not sure if it is the smell, the ingredients, or the inability of the mosquito to break through the oily barrier that actually deters them. Whatever it is it seems to work for me.

I am sure that mosquitos serve some purpose in our universe. I can think of some reasons for ther existence but I have to press myself to think of these as a benefit.

~GG in the house

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pests in My Garden

Generally speaking I like squirrels and rabbits. Rabbits more than squirrels as they are cute, fuzzy and can make nice pets. Squirrels are likeable for the entertainment they bring as long as they maintain their distance. But as related to my garden one could consider squirrels and rabbits my foe.

Rabbits seem to have stayed away from my newly revamped garden. Did I previously mention that I planted spinach? Really for what I thought might be it's ornamental value. The plants have barely sprouted so the jury is out as to whether or not rabbits will visit my garden in the future for a nibble. In years past rabbits were highly suspect for eating my patio tomatoes. The only thing I ever caught them eating was foliage as they innocently hopped along in my backyard.

Squirrels are a different story entirely. I have caught them red handed. Well really I've caught them hanging from my bird feeder helping themselves to seeds intended for our backyard birds, trampling my potted morning glories in the process. However I am postive that their's are the tiny paws that dug up all but a hand full of my previously planted sunflower seeds. If they didn't get to the seeds they were sure to reduce the plant to a bare stalk. Lots of sowing, very little reaping!
This year has been different thanks to help from a friend and master gardener. Her advice was to place human hair (taken from a hairbrush) around the garden. Squirrels smell it, think that a human is near and stay clear of the area. She suggested alternating this tactic with others such as sprinkling cayenne pepper around the garden, squirrels do not like the smell. One trick does not fool squirrels for extended periods and alternating tricks give you a better chance of keeping them at bay.

In addition I heard a story told by Dr. Mark Rutland in which he mentioned the use of blood meal in a garden to deter dear and other animals from helping themselves to its contents. He referred to blood meal as being a very smelly liquid that was poured around the boundary of the garden. No animal crossed that boundary line. Technology has come a long way and now there are non smelly granules that you can mix in with your soil.

I used both of these methods and I have healthy, growing sunflowers. The long term deterrent seems to be the blood meal. Even easy access sunflowers on my back deck have not been eaten. Soon large round heads framed by yellow petals will appear on each plant as will many meaty seeds. I'll even share with the squirrels.

~GG in the house

Friday, July 10, 2009

Water Your Garden

Though I like gardening I may not be a garderner at heart. I like gardening 'when I feel like it'. I do not relish getting up at the crack of dawn (or even 3 hours after the sun has risen) to inspect, water and weed my garden, at least not on a daily basis. My desire to garden comes in spurts. The task of watering becomes slightly complicated due to local water restrictions. I may not feel like watering between the hours of 12 a.m. and 10 a.m. on my allotted day. If I miss this opportunity then I must wait two days to water my garden. This means that more often than not my plants are screaming for water before I realize that I need to water them. I enjoy rain showers and thunderstorms in part because it accomplishes this task for me. Ah, the skies reveal that a thunderstorm is brewing. I guess I don't need to water until tomorrow.

~GG in the house

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Anise Hyssop

Also known as Agastache forniculum, Anise Hyssop is the common name of my mysterious plant. This is a beautiful perennial herb that grows to about 3 feet and can be added to salads, used as a seasoning in savory pork and rice dishes and used to make anised-flavored tea. Who knew? After getting close searching the internet I finally found the plant in The Complete Garden Flower Book. A gift given to me several years ago from my husband. I am glad that I asked!

Anise Hyssop

~GG in the house

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Left of the flower bed and beneath the stairs

My sunflowers were the first seeds to emerge. My transplants are sprucing up and my sweet peas are sprouting. The ferns are doing exceptionally well and even the day lilies that were near blooming when planted have grown into beautiful orange flowers. I have yet to see any of the Bluebonnets I planted and I have an abundance of weeds! This tradeoff just doesn't seem fair There is clover, crabgrass and several unknown varieties of weeds popping up all over my flower bed. I was given sage advice to wait to put down pine bark or mulch until the seedlings emerged. I followed that advice and as I may
not have removed as many of the weeds as I thought I did when I was tilling the soil I have quite a bit of weeding to do. Again I find myself on the other side of several days of rain so if I get to the task soon it may not be too painful. Once completed it will definitely be time to lay down a moisture retaining weed barrier.
A day or two after initial planting. Not much to look at - yet.
~GG in the house

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Name That Plant

I transplanted part of this plant from my mailbox area to my new flower bed however I do not know the name of it. I am researching this plant however if you know the name of this plant please leave a comment and let me know. It has leaves almost like a mint plant and has a purple flower which attracts lots of bees.

~GG in the house

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Art of Flower Gardening

My empty and spacious flower bed looked so large that I wondered how I would ever determine what flowers to plant in what location. I liked the layout of the previous flower bed but I had vague memories of what was planted, and where it was planted. As I began to weed and till the soil a mental picture of the garden in full bloom formed in my mind. I began to see a distinct flow that if followed would give me a colorful pattern from one end of the garden to the other. It would also give me a pleasing variety of depth and height throughout. So taking the bed by sections I planted my offering. A mixture of seeds; Bluebonnets, Mammoth Sunflowers, Sweet Pea, Spinach and Imperial Blend (Butterfly bush) were interspersed with transplants; hostas, New Cana, Day Lillies, Irises, Marigolds (newly planted but doing poorly in the original location) and Ice Plant. There are several transplants, the names of which I do not know, that were transplanted as well. Discovering the names of those plants will be a task unto itself. I divided the flower garden into four sections, each with its own flow yet flowing into the next section for continuity. In the narrowest part of the bed I reviewed the seed packets to ensure that I had my seeds planted by the height of the mature plant (lowest to highest).

I mainly used Burpee seeds. Having used them before I knew I was getting a reliable product. I have had success in the past using seeds, except for sunflowers. It's not that they won't grow, it seemed that lots of creatures loved to eat those edible seeds. Some animal (squirrel) thought he'd made the find of the century and dug them up as soon as they were planted. If by chance some of the sunflower seeds went undetected the leaves and stalks were quickly eaten once they emerged. This season to deter any animal from eating my sunflower seeds or other incredibly edible seeds I mixed Miracle Gro Blood Meal into the soil. I had never used blood meal before but I heard it was a great deterrent. Upon reading the package I noted that there were other benefits to plants. Time will tell if it will help my plants grow to maturity. With my seeds and flowers planted and my iced tea in hand I surveyed my handiwork and hoped that I had planted each one in just the right place.

~GG in the house

One Flower Garden Leads to Another

I had one goal in mind, bring my flower garden back to life. As the amount of time I spent in my yard increased it became clear that there were other areas in need of attention, unattractive barren places. So what started out as the rejuvenation of one garden has lead to tending to or creating several more. There is a bald area just off the front flower garden leading to the side of the house. The air conditioning unit, utility meter, wires and pipes are located in this area. I could have planted grass here however a low maintenance ground cover may prove to be attractive and take the focus off the utility objects. This ground cover will fill out, spread and require very little of my attention.

Before ground cover
Another area that needs attention is beneath the back deck. Though it gets very little sun if weeds can grow perhaps ground cover and few shade loving plants will do as well.
freshly transplanted ground cover
~GG in the house

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bulbs, Seeds, and Transplants

I uprooted all weeds and existing plants in my flower bed with the exception of a line of Monkey Grass and ferns that bordered it. Try as I might I probably did not remove all old roots and bulbs. As they grow up with my new plantings I will remove anything that I do not want. The entire front bed was bordered with Monkey Grass but I have grown tired of that look and opted for a low flowering border. I removed some Irises, Day Lillies, and hostas that will be replanted in other areas of the flower bed.

Growing from seed as opposed to mature plants or small seedlings is my preference. I like 'watching' the plants grow and the bed mature over time. It gives me the feeling that I have 'accomplished' something. I also use a lot of plants from other areas of my yard. The ferns bordering my flower bed were growing wild in a wooded part of my backyard. I thought it a shame that no one was enjoying these beautiful plants. I will also transplant small clippings from strong mature plants or uproot bulbs from propagating plants. There is a drawback to using bulbs, seeds and immature plants in that it takes a while before your bed looks full and lively. However with patience, care, watering and weeding I begin to get an overwhelming sense of pride and joy as the garden starts to bud and bloom. This feeling returns with each new plant that sprouts and each new color that blooms. It is worth the wait.

The photo shows Monkey Grass next to the steps and ferns in back of the bed

~GG in the house

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Flowering Canvas

Why not hire a landscaping company? That's an option but I enjoy gardening. I find it relaxing and rewarding. So with my lastest home project I thought I would 'journal out loud' and share my experiences as well as gain some wisdom for future reference. I have a few year's worth of experience in gardening however blogging is a totally new experience. My summer gardening project is a challenge complicated by time constraints. Tackling it will not only give me the benefit of adding to my arsenal of knowledge but will also afford me the opportunity to master new technology. It sure would be easier to hire a landscape company and perhaps one day that will be my solution. Today my garden is a blank canvas and I look forward to personally painting it with brillant colors.

~GG in the house

Flower Garden from Scratch

Working in the garden is an extemely rewarding exercise. It can be hard work but the payoff comes in the form of vibrant colors that adorn my yard and attract various birds, butterflies, or other insects that propagate seed. The payoff also comes from the ability to eat produce picked directly from the earth beneath my feet warmed by the summer sun. (As yet I have only dreamed of reaping this second reward). There are additional rewards for tending a garden and reaping them means dealing with pesky distractions. I will not talk, or think, of them so early in my endeavor. However when a garden has not been tended for months, ten to be exact, working it can be an overwhelming task.

Such was my situation a mere two weeks ago when I began my garden transformation to a thing of beauty from a patch of earth overrun with weeds that had become small trees. Had I made the decision to begin blogging prior to stripping the bed of the good, the bad and the ugly I would have photos to testify to its poor neglected condition. My initial photo shows the bed stripped to the bare minimum. Getting it to this state was a one woman, sunrise to sunset affair punctuated with lots of sweat and liquids to keep me hydrated. Armed with a shovel, hoe, tenacity and determination I began the process that it would have been wise to start prior to the arrival of the new spring growth . At least by the time I got the courage to tackle this job our area had received several days of rain thus I was able to remove roots from a surface willing to yield its hold. With this first stage of stripping the flower bed of weeds and healthy plants finally finished I can now plant seeds and existing plants into my flower bed.

~GG in the house

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