Showing posts with label gardens. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gardens. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Busy time of year out doors

One bleeding heart bush in the back flower box
It has been all  about spring time outside chores galore; this year as Jerry has recuperated from his April back surgery I was  left to my own on all weeding, mulch removal, trimming and garden flower bed clean up.  Rounds 1 and 2 accomplished but continuance mode is now in effect. Bird feeding is full speed ahead as the orioles have returned, the grape jelly feeders.  I have shown them before on this blog and although they were off to a late start this delayed spring, when we thought winter would never leave, they have been consuming the  32 ounce jars of Welch's Grape Jelly which we  buy at Sam's at the rate of two jars per week.  They have a delightful song and watching the young newly hatched at the jelly feeder is a lot of amusement right out the kitchen window.  In the photo below two orioles at their jellly house feeder while a gold finch sits  aside.  This year the red headed wood pecker and finches as well as occasional warblers have tried to snag some jelly but the orioles are quite defensive of their territory.  They bicker among themselves so do not tolerate any other species, except for the woodpecker who merely shows "my beak is bigger than yours so don't start with me."  

Orioles at their jelly house finch aside May 7.
I enjoy working outside but find that I don't want to spend as much time at it.  Instead with my morning work out trips to the YMCA, Zumba class and yoga, the morning is usually gone.  I would rather continue my physical fitness path adding a morning  walk.  Then by afternoon there are errands to run, appointments for hair cuts or medical, shopping to do, more social activities and then well, the  day is gone and we approach dinner time. My neighbor Diane,  who just returned from winter in AZ,  and I discussed how we are wanting more play time and less to do time. You get the drift, the day is gone. This has eliminated most computer time other than Facebook and email and newspaper reads all of  which I can do handily and  directly from my smart phone and tablet.  So the blog has been absent and looks like it may well continue to be for a time.  While Facebook is so handy allowing a quick photo post, there is  neither time nor space for me to ramble there about whatever  thoughts are fleeting, but it will have to do. It facilitates quick contact amongst multitudes of friends and family, cousins, nieces, nephews all who can merely click on their smart phones or iphones as well.  

The back yard  is heavenly scented with the
lilacs in full bloom from Ms Kim
In my career days I pondered how much time I would have to do whatever I wanted when I retired.  Today I  realize I don't have all the time I thought I would. I envisioned a retirement of lounging, reading, etc, in reality the words of my late Aunt Jinx have arrived, "you will work more when you retire than you did while you worked."  How right she was, household chores, outside chores, appointments, financial record keeping, yikes, time consumers.  My neighbor and I were talking about downsizing, then we know we do not want to live in condos or apartments but neither do we want  to have demands distracting us from our adult play activities.  In this area there are many landscapers and lawnmowers for hire;  we have hired a college student to mow the lawns while Jerry avoids such activities for the time.  But must admit he is not doing the same quality of  work, Jerry   often would mow twice a week in this spring weather while the grass is growing heartily.  We wonder why Jarrett cannot figure out how much extra work he makes for himself because he scatters  lawn clippings and then must  go back around with his blower to get them off the walks and drive ways, where if he mowed the other direction the clippings would go directly into the lawns.  We watch and wonder, at this young man who is a college sophomore, getting educated but not gaining sense. He seems to be more interested in mowing and getting gone. I have an enormous pile of clippings and rose branches, tree limbs and the like piling up behind the garden that we have asked him about hauling off to the local dump, but so far no movement.  Usually Jerry would have done this but looks like it will wait until we return from our RV trip.  By the way Jerry has the motor coach out of its house and has spent  days  power washing it and getting it ready to roll.  
Our Excursion and Jerry tinkering
Saturday Jerry took to his  riding mower for the back hill side which was starting to look like a hayfield.  He was quite happy with himself.  I was more than annoyed when I returned from an estate sale where I purchased naught realizing their prices were too much for nothing I needed, while happy with myself for resisting adding to our accumulations, annoyed because  he was on the mower and further had taken the rototiller to the garden bed.  While tilling he removed some new peonies that I was nurturing, they had spread from the mother plants along the fence line.  This annoys me, he does not distinguish  between fora and weed , it all goes. 

Uprooted potentilla

Some mystery creature has been visiting at night and  uprooting newly planted things and then digging into the flower beds.  First it completely dug up a newly planted black eyed susan, leaving only a little  stem remaining across the back lawn. Days later it returned and uprooted a potentilla plant I had not yet put into the ground. Obviously it was not to its taste so it did not drag it off nor consume it.  I have  struck back with massive doses of crushed  hot red pepper flakes  in the beds, and that seems to discourage it.  But we shall see, others have  had the same problem. This has never happened before and is  getting on my last nerve.  It happens at night and we suspect a  raccoon, possum, weasel or the like.  

Mama robin perched atop rose bush  limb, ignoring the squawks                    
First robin  to leave the nest
 I am likely to replace the rose bushes that did not survive our awful  winter with other perennials, to simplify my gardening, eliminating the need for mulching over winter, removal of mulch in spring time and above all eliminating food sources for the nasty Japanese beetle that thrives on roses here.  I  just have much else to do and do not want to  be enslaved by my landscaping, much as I enjoy it. The robins who were nested atop the wreath outside our front door have hatched, the  birdies have flown off and we can remove the wreath and wash the siding stone...the first one to leave the nest was quite puzzled and squawked from the front stoop, "Mom, Mom now what?"  Mom merely looked the other way, unconcerned, "go get your own worms kid."  It's too bad some  human mothers do not  let their adult children grow and go, they could learn from the birds.  I wonder why some are such clingers creating a mutual lack of growth for the adult children and  lack of their own growth into something  beyond ever indulgent ever clinging parent hood. Maybe because I was raised to be independent and have always been so, I cannot  comprehend  all the  nonsense, but that's an essay for another time. 
Volunteer salsify

One last thing, the volunteer plant out back identified as salsify.  I left this to grow because I thought the  texture of the spiky leave interesting, lo a yellow flower and through Facebook, a friend identified it. The yellow flower opens in the morning but the pod enfolds it by afternoon.  I understand it is edible but so far I ma not tempted to eat it, merely enjoy the show. 

 This may  be  my update for several weeks, unlikely to have blog time  from the Goshen IN Fleetwood RV Rally. Looking forward to reuniting with friends  we see once a year from around the country. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Been BZ

Bumble  bee on salvia
This is the time of year  that I love, spring has sprung, the first roses are in bloom and offer fat promises of more to come with their buds, the peonies which are my next favorite flower after roses are  just breaking loose (of course we had rain yesterday--needed but it sags the peonies)and all the salvia and cat mint display a waving carpet of purple and lavender next to dusty miller in the rose garden.  The bees love the salvia and we have ever so many again feasting on the purple potion.  They make quite a racket with an incessant mmmmmm and buzz so loudly that it makes me laugh, especially when they want me to get out of their way as I monitor for a weed or unwanted growth around the roses.  I have heard that salvia plants are banned in some places because they are used to make hallucinogenic substances.  I have no idea if this is really true or not but if it is, that might account for my wacky B Z bees.  I used the salvia as fill in the middle of the rose garden and periodically I have to whack it back or it would take over.  Even more invasive is the cat mint.  Last year I dug half of these out to share and this year here they are again.   I really enjoy these perennials and their show. 

Salvia next to cat mint at sunset approaching
I really miss blogging but outside work beckons, well demands my attention and so there I spend my time.  Michelle asked me to post some blooms on Facebook which I did happily.  But as ever, once I get that camera going, I cannot just limit photos and find I have way too many to download and deal with.  So in the midst of effort I will post some of these lovely sights here to the blog.  The rose garden is a sight to watch  from our living room window, but I find myself called there from morning to evening and it is never just a minute or two.  The red knock out roses are in glory already--I had some concern as all put out red mahogany growth and then we had a frost.  Well, we were leaving for our trip and I had only time to snip them back with a solid lecture (yes I talk to my plants), "OK wise guys and gals, you know you are spurting growth too early for Minnesota.  But if you insist you will just have to toughen up because I cannot spend  time with you fixing your frost bitten tips.  So if you think you are big enough to bloom so early, you can just figure it out."  Several locals rushed to cover their roses when the frost came but I did not.  And it appears they took heed and have not complained.  The knock out roses have earned their keep because they winter without any special treatment.  That is another secret to my Minnesota roses, I refuse to baby them and bury them over winter.  They get a  heaping of mulch and clippings and they survive the snows.    

Red Knock Out roses,  by Bill Adler, WI hybridizer
Another champion Apple Jack rose, an Iowa Buck rose with Bon Chance
below it..Apple Jack adds to the feast of bees and the smell is
noticeable the minute we open the door
Close up of an opened nearly spent Apple Jack bloom with
many more buds to open yet

Front of the house from beyond rose garden  taken  as  sunset
approaches....notice the two dots from reflection on the camera lens.  I am intrigued
with this photo.  See the red knock outs at one end and the big
Apple Jack  anchoring the right
Red Knock Outs   Blue globe,  dragon fly with
vigilant smiling lady bug stick

First pink peo

Front rose garden looking down the cul de sac

The dreamy creamy peonies are the first to bloom out
along the back garden fence 
Even the tiny hens and chicks are running wild this year

First pink peony just yesterday.  I love these peonies even
with the black ants swarming them to open their petals.

Even as  a child I adored the  big peony  bushes off our front porch.  And I thought Mom a big grouch because she refused to allow me to  bring a bouquet inside admonishing me about their resident ants.  I learned soon after moving to Minnesota that she knew where of she spoke as I  brought a huge pail of peonies inside.  I could barely set them on the table before the ants came out and about.....oh me!  Mom was right.  I have heard that they can be sprayed to rid the ants but I am a natural gardener and do not use chemicals because we have so many beneficial insects and birds that I fore go anything harmful.  If it is bad for  a living creature it is probably bad for me too.  Now if and when those nasty demonic Japanese beetles arrive as they are bound to do here, I become quite violent.  I pluck them early morning and down into the death jar they go where they swarm and try to swim atop each other in a jar of detergent.  You see I do have a mean streak protecting my roses.  But it's all natural.   

Let me close today by introducing you to Van Gough, one of my cherished garden gnomes.  He was given to me by an elderly lady in CA who made him for my rose gardens there.  She was almost 989 and still doing ceramics; each year I bought something from her at a craft show in April or so at the Auburn Fair grounds.  Well, Van Gough is so named because he lost an ear, long ago who knows by what critter.  It was in pieces and could not be restored, but he still keeps his pleasant demeanor and annually he gets to set with the newest of our front Alberta spruce trees.    Blogger wants to post him sideways so I have removed the tree and try to show  Van Gough alone here so you can see the detail of her work and perhaps his missing ear which he does not seem to mind at all......he has adjusted, as we all must do when life gives us what we do not expect.

My apologies but I cannot get this photo rotated...Tilt
WTH Blogger?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Spring, deserted garden and our neighborhood

Flowering crab apple across the street
It has been the earliest spring here  in the north, no snow in February and a balmy March.  The flowering showy tree to the left is the view we see out our front living room window.  Isn't it like a painting?  So beautiful.  But the dark contrasts are the breaking hearts in the house behind it; sadly, my neighbors are in the midst of a impending grief, keeping the watch, in a dim situation, as their beautiful 26 year old daughter fights  for her life.  Elizabeth has stage IV terminal lung cancer, diagnosed in September a month after her marriage; she never smoked was healthy and boom!  That hand of fate deals the death card.  No one knows what to say or do and they look at me and another neighbor, because we have lost adult children, us a son and they a daughter and so that  makes us experts, officers if you will in this gruesome club into which none of us ever sought membership.  The father, Steve,  is being stalwart, reasonable as one can be under the death watch; he  is an ER Nurse highly regarded in the area and active Army after being  in the reserves; while Monica, the mother is barely functional.  Steve can talk but Monica cannot.  She already has that look in her eyes that Mary and I know.  Their lives will never be the same.  I think we have done remarkably and I take that from a lifetime of faith, but I know that there are times when a tingle of a memory tries still to snatch our spirits, to rattle us.  We did the best we could, we were not able to save an adult and neither were Mary and Randy, nor will Steve and Monica.   So we talk, quietly at times and listen when others talk around and around.  These are times that silence is comforting.  There is nothing to say but to listen and pray with and for them.  To point out the beauty of spring around us amidst the impending.

There's a new bug for my rose garden there to the right, isn't she sweet.  It's her job to twirl her wings madly in the breeze and watch over the leafing rose bushes, which are way ahead this year making me  early to remove the mulch and trim the winter deadwood.  And yet last night we had a short time of freeze.  People worry and ask if I am not concerned and will I be covering my bushes at night.  Yes and no.  I figure I did not tell these bushes to bud out so early  they know they live in Minnesota, and they chose to leaf out so they will have to live with the consequences of their actions--just like people ought to do.  I call  2012, the year of tough love for the roses in this garden.  They can take it or they will have wasted their time.  I am not one to pander to weaklings.

Lady Bug whirl a gig with Bon Chance
We are thankful for the beauty of spring each year, the renewal even with the  work it brings, outside pruning, clipping, hauling  carloads up and down the hill.  Good exercise in the fresh air, but then  resultant acheyness for a day or two the protest of muscles not used enough over the winter.  Doses of Advil are a good thing and allow us to go on the next day without too much grumbling. 

April showers bring May flowers is an old child's poem but what brought the March and April blooms this year?  Not showers and certainly not the snow.

Lilac bush between our houses
The house next door sets vacant like my Uncle Carl's home in PA.  Both Frank and Dorothy are dead and their adult children do not appear to be in any rush to clear it out or  list the home for sale.  We will have new neighbors someday.  But for now, I am left to smell the wonderful scent of lilacs without Dorothy's chatter warning me to not take them inside.  When we moved here I asked her if she minded if I cut bouquets from the bushes on my side, the lilacs are between our houses.  Not at all, but she could not understand my  bringing those flowers inside, "..they have bugs.  You will not like that. " You know she was right,  she knew these MN lilacs were to be enjoyed outside, unlike my later blooming Miss Kim bush or the ones we had in CA.  She was quite the gardener, an old farm gal really.  And at the last when I saw her in the nursing home when she was so wasted away and hardly knew herself let alone anyone else, I knew it would be mercy if she could pass on; Dorothy who loved her old fashioned and would raise a glass in  toast, a drink to the garden and who was opinionated and certain, died at 90 a month ago. Frank died two years ago so the place is empty. 

I will be unlikely to ever dig around here without remembering them and especially her.  She was just my kind of woman.  Crusty and testy at times, and really one of a kind.  We have two front door to our home, built that way by the original owners.  Dorothy would never use the big front door, she preferred the garage door that comes into the kitchen but it our garage was closed she would come to the small front door that enters into a hallway and then the kitchen.  I can still her say that she wished Frank had built such an  entry to their home, because when people come in the front door it just tracks in everything.  When she was failing before she went into a care facility she locked herself out of the house, she was out in the yard.  Fortunately we were home so she came right over and announced her dilemma.  It took some time to reach one of her sons, it was quitting time and they were en route.  Dorothy was very stirred up and I suggested we have a glass of wine while we waited...that helped  calm her down but when the one son arrived she chewed his ears for delaying.  We laugh about the strong lady and her activities.  It was so sad to watch her fail  first using a walker and then into the facilities and as I said, the last, well it was not the Dorothy we knew.

Dorothy's hoe at her garden
 I did not set out to memorialize Dorothy today but I did snap some photos of her deserted garden.  It is poignant because she kept everything so neat and now, well it is askew is the best I can say.

She oversaw Frank at his assigned tasks there to be sure everything was done just so.  Her particularness reminded me of my Aunt Jinx.  After Frank died, she took hoe in hand  against the wishes and admonition of her family.  The photo to the right is what I snapped today.  It tells a tale of desertion and neglect, when the  primary person is gone and no one else cares.

Dorothy's deserted garden
 We never found her stumbling or falling down out there as happened all too often to my Uncle Carl before he went into assisted living.  I suspect she would not be happy today to see her garden abandoned to becoming the mess that it is.  If she has any  power from the beyond I know her family's ears are burning,  "get over there and  fix my garden"  She grew tomatoes and gave them away which we appreciated; Frank did not like them but Dorothy could not imagine not growing tomatoes anymore than she could imagine weeds in a garden.   RIP Dorothy lady of our hood!  As her eldest son Gary said at the funeral, "no peace for Dad now in the hereafter...the boss has arrived."

Bleeding heart
I close with the last blooming photos of today, the first bloom is peaking through on the bleeding heart bush in my back flower garden.  It just started.  This is never in abundant bloom until  late May...showing just how far ahead of things we are this year. 

Finally my tulips.  When we ived in Newcastle, CA I could not grow tulips but had nearly every other bulb.  We had an abundance of gophers and moles there who would dine on the  tulip bulbs considering them a delicacy. Everytime I planted some Jerry would say, "feeding the gophers?"  I tried all sorts of remedies,  chicken wire, adding moth bulbs, and to no  avail.  I never saw a tulip come up in spring.  So I was very excited to have a tulip bed in Minnesota.  Today I caught some of them swaying to the breeze. 

That will close my post for the day. 

Some of my swaying tulips