too big for my britches

It started with a sad clematis.Sad

Then I noticed a lilac had taken over the party garden.

Lilac good days006

The lilac in happier times.

I decided to dig up the lilac and put the clematis in its spot, where it will get the sun it so desperately needs.

So I dug. And I pulled. And I snipped and clipped. And I dug.

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This is after day 4. Party garden disrupted. Wall collapsed. Tools strewn about. Lilac stump not even budging.

roots)

This is after day 9. Looks like you could just pluck it right out of there, doesn’t it? . . . Nope

Now

Finally, two weeks later, things are looking up. The clematis is still just a bitty thing on the trellis (right in front of the blue jungle gym). But we all have hopes for a better future.

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volunteers

I first noticed the gardening term “volunteers” while reading a novel. I immediately took it and made it my own. I pictured little seeds jumping up and down, raising their hand: “I’ll grow!  I’ll grow!”backyard, Dave's Quilt, Sea Isle 010

My lemon balm sends volunteers all over the yard, as does  my catnip. Sometimes I let them be, but usually I relocate them to a place that pleases me more.backyard, Dave's Quilt, Sea Isle 004

The native sedum that my brother planted in my mom’s yard (that I stole a piece of)  is spreading everywhere. Here I put a clump on an old stump. It’s happy as can be.crepe myrtle, spice jars 001

This crepe myrtle started a few years back beneath the mother tree. I transplanted it to fill up an empty corner.June Backyard 005

But this yucca is the best volunteer ever. It came from a neighbor’s yard, I suspect, because I have not seen one elsewhere. It flew over the street and plopped down in the perfect place in the corner of a street garden.

Swinget turned into swing

Backyard Solutions

I’ve been living in my yard for a lot of years, and I’m learning what works for me.Swinget turned into swing

When our children outgrew the swing set my husband made, we pulled down the kid’s swings and replaced them with a swing everyone can use. I planted wisteria on one side and after just a few years we are getting nice shade.Bird bath made of recycled dish

I go through birdbaths like Snickers bars. I try to remember to empty them before a hard freeze, but the water containers always seem to leak after just a year or so.  I’ve learned that a big dish from Goodwill and a rock is all it takes to bring back the bathers.Gourd vine growing up a tree

My yard is a nice size, but gourds and cucumbers and all of those sprawling vines seem to take over everything. This year, I let the birdhouse gourds overtake the trellis and continue right up a nearby tree. The garden stayed neat, and this totally appeals to  my love of the quirky.Hummingbird silhouette

The hummingbird likes it, too.A squirrel peeking out of the the hole he gnawed in the trash can.

And the solution here? . . . Keep the birdseed in a metal container from now on.

a most unusual morning

It started out as any July morning:Riley web 002I enjoyed a cup of coffee in the party garden at 6:00 am while Riley stood guard and patiently waited for her run. Hot air balloonWhile we were running, I saw a hot air balloon. We stepped up the pace, got home, and I grabbed my camera and drove out to track it down. (Riley had a drink and a nap on the sofa.)hot air balloon on groundThe balloon had a friend.cedar waxwingWhen I got home, I noticed a pair of Cedar Waxwings nesting in my yard. This is unheard of. I am thrilled to see them once a year, in a group, in winter. I have never seen Cedar Waxwings during nesting season.cedar waxwingThey are very active, so the pictures aren’t great – but I have high hopes for the future.

garden structures and a special guest

My husband spotted him first while I was at work: a Rose Breasted Grosbeak at our feeder. SO exciting – I’ve seen them before, but rarely, and NEVER in my own back yard. Just plain old sunflower seeds on  a platform feeder did the trick. He was here for several days and I got a good look at him, the little cutie pie.Rose breasted gorsbeak at feederMy husband has been my best garden supporter this year; he signed me up for the organic herbal gardening course that spurred me on; he  gave me a gift certificate to the best nursery in town; AND he spent his birthday money to make me three of these excellent new planters.Raised bed vegetable planter

This one is sporting cabbages (I’ll pick the biggest and let the little ones continue to grow), rosemary, nasturtiums, and sunflowers.

Happy Mother’s Day!

garden structures

I finished my main vegetable garden excavation and rebuild (pictures soon) using untreated scrap wood my husband has saved from our many house projects. That kind of got me loving the idea of using up the rest of the scrap wood by making structures for the garden.

Here’s my first little project – a trellis for my Heirloom Cardinal Climbers. homemade wooden trellisI’ve read two biographies of Frank Lloyd Wright lately and am feeling quite architectural. Who knows what else I will come up with?

I got the Cardinal Climber seeds from the great library seed bank we have in my area:  Library Seed Bank  Can’t wait until they get growing!

 

spring garden

I am doing a lot of plant watching, lately. This time of year it seems that the weeds grow while my seedlings sit and pout.

I did have a new plant bloom this year:  yellow flowering ground cover

Me: “Mom, did you give this to me?”

Mom: “Yes.”

Me: “What is it?”

Mom: “I don’t know.”

seedlings

I am worried about my seedlings. They are thin and long, not bushy and hearty like so many I see at my blogging friends’ sites: handmade.homegrown.beautiful life

I decided to get them outside into the sunshine, even though it’s early. I put them out  a bit every day for a week and just recently started keeping them out. I built a “greenhouse” for them (rocks on the sides to retain heat and old windows on the top.makeshift greenhouseThey look to be adjusting (haven’t died yet).

makeshift greenhouseI’m most concerned about my heirloom Golden Jubilee Tomatoes . . . they were SO good last year . . .

tomato seedlings

companion gardening

I just finished an organic heirloom gardening class, and I am wildly excited about companion gardening. That’s the art/science/voodoo of grouping plants that are beneficial to one another. I am planning small clusters of companion plants instead of one large plot with everything lumped together.tomato, basil, chive

I can feel a full garden re-do coming on . . .

a winter’s tale

Mockingbirds love our yard. They spend entire spring days here, singing to me as I garden. They nest here, raising their babies and dive bombing the dog if she gets too close. I’ve watched dozens of these sassy birds over the years, but I’ve never seen anything like the mockingbird who is spending this winter here.

mockingbirdHe flies in to meet me at the compost pile every day, and by the time I’ve emptied the bucket and turned around, he’s in there rummaging around for fresh tidbits. Where does he come from, and how does he know when to meet me there? Does he hear my feet crunching the snow on the long walk back there? Is he watching the house all day, just waiting for me to head to the back? It’s a mystery so far, but I’m on the case.