plant stand refurb

June 27, 2012

Mom gave me this rusted wrought iron plant stand.

I decided to try using rust converter on it. This is a brush-on product that foams up and turns a copper-patina blue.

It dries to a dark film which you can paint over. The container did not provide the formulae for the chemical reaction, but something happens to turn the rust into something paintable.

I primed it, painted it green, and then made the flowers yellow.

With little red bits on them.

Thanks, Mom. And thanks gurus at Crest and Klenosky Paint for technical advice.

fresh boxes

June 24, 2012

A few boxes have got refreshed with some new plantings this week.

The fourth succulent box finally got sorted out. I took some of the ice plant out of one box (bottom right) and put it in the fourth (bottom left).

Then I got four new succulents and put them in the two bottom boxes.

 

dragon’s blood sedum

cobweb hens and chicks

sweet and sour sedum

sedum albus laconicum

Here are my annual flower boxes with new little annuals in them.

 

Plus I decided to try out this big grow bag I’ve had sitting around. I put my basil seedlings in it.

That’s the pagoda bush in the blue pot on the left. In the Ikea wastepaper basket pots on the right we have a wild growing tomato plant and some more basil seedlings. Behind the fence are the regular tomato plants.

You forget what it was like. In April and even in May I was fretting that the garden wasn’t looking good, that things weren’t coming back, that I’d ruined things.

Grape arbor, May 17. OMG DID I PRUNE IT TOO MUCH? WHERE IS MY SHADE??

 

Grape arbor, June 11, just before I had to cut it back again.

May 17, will there be ANY grapes this year?!

June 19, grapes coming in.

May 17, north bed still a mess from winter.

June 19, north bed planted with peppers, eggplant, zucchini, and mulched.

Center garden in bloom May 17, lavender on right of plot, patchy thyme, beans just planted along fence.

June 11, lavender explosion!, thyme filled in, beans starting to climb along the fence.

 

So, don’t forget to take pictures, kids!

 

the cool of the evening

June 22, 2012

It’s been very busy in the garden, so much that we have got behind blogging. On Tuesday I was working in the garden for 5 hours in the morning and another hour or so in the evening. I’d just finished fertilizing, and the fireflies were flicking on and off as the fairy lights began to come on, and I was overwhelmed with the garden-ness of everything.

And for a minute I felt I could see the place through M’s eyes, and I thought how proud he would be of the garden and how far it has come, and of me for all the work I’ve done and all the things I’ve done that I didn’t know how to do. None of the garden would be there if he hadn’t begun it and seen in it what it could be, before I could see anything, when I thought nothing would grow.

M died a few weeks after he’d planted the grape vine and the 2008 tomato seedlings. It’s a miracle that I picked up the gardening at all; it was so grievous to go out there, to his space. I have my father to thank for spurring me to do it that first summer. Just before he left town after the funeral weeks, he turned to me in that advice-giving-father way and told me to keep the garden. Gardening was good for the soul, he said. I don’t believe my father has ever gardened in his life, but he knew this was true and he impressed it on me. He was right. Thanks, Dad.

The garden wouldn’t be what it is without the help of friends, for example the gurus at Crest–who make getting and trying new things so easy, who dispense advice on tap, who love their plants and yet are relaxed and realistic about endeavors, whose constant creative experiments cheer me up and give me new ideas, who build me up by enjoying the successes in my garden, and who are wonderful friends over the wall all year round.

The garden also thanks John and Mary, my friends from England, who have a spectacular English garden of their own that I can only dream about. They built the grape arbor one winter, and they did all the heavy work on the renovation of the center perennial garden two Septembers ago. There have been so many helpers, weeders, diggers when my elbow was fractured, waterers, harvesters, advice givers, appreciators–I can’t name them all here, but thank you.

In the cool of the evening, watering done, fireflies and fairy lights popping on, I always think of God walking in the garden with Adam and Eve, that ancient and only time we walked freely with him before everything went wrong.

in bloom

April 22, 2012

Sunday tour of stuff in bloom, before the nor’easter gets here.

First, there seems to be a lot of aquilegia around, even though I only remember planting one. I think it’s origami mix, blue and white, though there are so many types of aquilegia, it’s hard to tell.

This is some wild that appeared by the fence. It looks like black barlow?:

What’s more, this seems to have seeded from somewhere:

And since it’s kind of smothering the English violas, I might pull it out.

There is the blue phlox I was talking about before, going gangbusters:

Some blanket flowers are already starting:

The lilac bush is opening!

The pagoda bush is in bloom for the first time.

Its little blossoms:

Finally, the knockout roses seem to be thriving after heavy pruning this winter:

 

It’s easy to get so focused on all the spring chores that you fail to pay enough attention to the things coming back to life and blossoming. Here are some highlights from the messy-in-progress-chaos-garden.

The wisteria looks like it’s fixin’ to bloom for the very first time! Down near the container:

And up on the wire!

close up for you:

A few snapdragons survived the winter and are blooming again:

Guess I must have put some Johnny Jump-up seeds in here last year:

The Dame’s Rocket is fixin’ to bloom for its very first time after being planted from seed two years ago:

The brussels sprouts never put up a proper stalk of sprouts, but it’s got little flowers on it now, aw:

And of course the most important thing is that the family got built back up again last fall, and now we have Oona! Here she is this weekend at Prospect Park, 10 months old:

and we’re back!

April 12, 2012

Spring, yay! Endless, hard garden chores… no so yay. Nevertheless, it is the resurrection time of year, and we do well to remember it.

Some winter renovations: we severely pruned back the grape vine in February when it was dormant:

Last summer, as you will recall, we began to feel the grapevine was getting out of hand. It not only grew all over the place in my yard, but it began to colonize the next door yard, and it grew all over Mateo’s garden and into Crest Garden Center (they did not manage to sell it, however). After consulting with some of the Italian sages in the neighborhood who have beautiful grape arbors, I learned that you want to prune your grapes way back in the winter, leaving only a few longitudinal branches. I’m not yet confident of my efforts, but hopefully the vine will come back better. This is how much stuff we pruned:

This is the stuff after we broke it down and bundled it up (hard task. took two mornings’ chore time!), and yes, that is the blackberry vine leafing along the fence:

The perennial garden is coming back – some of the thyme made it, but some didn’t. That lovely blue plant on the far left is phlox. And look at how big the lavender is getting on the right:

The tomato beds are finally cleared of grapevine debris and weeds and should get planted pretty soon:

Here is what happened to the broccoli that I never got around to picking, oops:

 

building the family up

September 19, 2011

We had a terrible time last week because Scout, our Irish Wolfhound, died.

She had a long life for a wolfhound (9 years, 4 months), but it was just awful. Now the family is down to just us two.

We have had a hard time doing much besides crying and feeling lost in our now too-big house. But, as my mom said, you just have to build your family back up again. We’re looking for a puppy, and there’s not much we can do about the human side, but it’s never a bad time to build up the family outside.

We got two lovely little heather plants and put them in some pots that were waiting for something special. They’re hardy and semi-evergreen, so hopefully they’ll do well.

While I was next door at Crest getting the heather plants, Guru Vincent asked after the plant pockets and wondered if we might find a home in them for a couple of sad little succulents they couldn’t sell. Adoption immediate!

Unknown how they’ll do, but they sure look cute now.


Thanks, Vincent!

The hardy mums from last year are blooming again, bless ’em:

We hope, believe, and see that death is not the final answer.

cute little pockets

September 6, 2011

How much do I love my mom? Impossible to say cuz is so much! Last week I sent her the link (h/t Regina @ Crest) to this couple who were “plant bombing” their neighborhood (San Francisco, I think?). She knits, he deals with plants. Sunday, I get up to the country (Mom’s place in Duchess County) and up in my bedroom, what do I find?

 

Can you believe it? The plants here are in little pots, and since we’re not sure whether they are hardy, I’ve decided to keep them inside. I took them home and put them up in the bathroom, where my aloe and Christmas cactus have been thriving for years. Here they are in their new homes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think that pipe is a steam pipe, though, so I’m probably going to have to move those guys. Mom whipped up a couple more pockets for me to fill with dirt and try outside, so tomorrow (if the rain stops) I’m going to appropriate some hearty succulents from my plantings.

In other news, there was another batch of figs, so I tried some fig cookies that were like fig newtons but with fresh figs. Yes, yes, yes.

fall planting

September 1, 2011

I’ve never planted a second harvest before, but this year I decided to give it a try because 1) Crest is currently flogging some fall vegetable seedlings that look really cute in the container they planted; 2) the purple beans pretty much gave up in the heatwave last month, so I decided to evict them and see if someone else could put out for me. Compared to my trauma over the potential loss of the grapes, this strikes me as a more robust attitude towards death in the garden.

Having consulted, of course, with Guru Vincent, Guru Regina, and Guru Clark, I decided to try some broccoli and brussels sprouts here, in the former purple-bean-bed:

The bigger brussels sprout plant towards the front is one I grew from seed this spring. I’ve never had luck with brussels sprouts from seed, and really this one isn’t all that much farther along than the new seedlings. Obviously, it was a mistake to try seeds in the spring when they’re really a fall plant. It remains to be seen if there’s enough heat left in the season to grow these guys.

I also got one of the felt containers from Crest and used it for some kale (center) and collards (ringing round).

This is also the time to get your out-of-bloom perennials on sale. I took a Culver’s Root plant for the perennial garden, to give the center a little height next summer.

And a Pagodatree bush, which I put in one of the cool pots I got on sale at Paley’s this summer.

Otherwise, the late planted potatoes seem to be on track for a late fall harvest:

The tomato beds are chaotic and wild:

Those basil seedlings are looking good:

But some of the creeping thyme (mostly the wooly thyme) has not thrived, boo:

It’s pretty close to where I tore out the beans, so maybe it will get the hint and shape up. If not, I have plenty of other creeping thyme wot I will transplant over there. Hear?!