Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Site Log

We finally got a digital camera, which I resisted because I'm an old fuddy-duddy. What convinced me was my desire to keep a log of sun and shade patterns in the yard so I can plan gardens better. So I started the log this weekend. Its tricky since I need everything to line up: A sunny day on the weekend when I'm home. ideally, I want to take a picture every hour of daylight several times during each season. I only got three time-points in this weekend. On the left is the pool garden, of course, with a fresh top-dressing of home-made compost!

Next is the area to the left of the pool garden when looking towards the back.There are hosta,
violets, little white flowers that smell like chamomile, and weeds here.
The trees get tons of white flowers in the late Spring. I wish I knew what it is.

On the left again is the Middle Bed, which I will be working on this Spring. The shape is blobbish and I don't know If I can improve on it much. I lack imagination.

Then there's the Back Bed (and the compost pile). This is the first garden I planted. I plan on edging it this Spring--its been shrinking steadily.

There's more to come. And don't worry, I won't bore you with all the raw data, just the occasional garden tour through the seasons.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


IMG_0059, originally uploaded by chels580.

It won't be above freezing tomorrow, but these shoots are a guarantee of things to come. Thank God for seasons!

Monday, March 9, 2009

(almost) Spring Cleaning

IMG_0056, originally uploaded by chels580.

I got my fix this weekend, spending four hours outside. I cleared out dead leaves and learned a few things:
1. Tiny green things in March make me smile like a fool.
2. Weeds multiply and grow during the winter.
3. Echinacea is the easiest plant to clean up since its leaves just melt into nothing.
4. I REALLY need to edge the garden to keep the grass from growing into it.

When Eric chopped wood for us a few years ago, he left a nice pile of pieces and bark. I decided to break up the bark to mulch the path. (I spent more time weeding the path last year than doing anything else. The best part was when my niece and nephew visited and it became a game. "Hey, I want to do it!" "Ok, you can dig five weeds, then she can dig five." Awesome!) I was able to mulch about a third of it before my hands wore out. Thing is, I know there's not enough for the remaining two thirds. Oh, well, at least I know what it will look like mulched. I will buy the rest when the garden center finally opens in Spring.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Mexican Hat and Creeping Jenny

425165-R1-16-8A_017 copy, originally uploaded by chels580.

The Daisy Debacle

Yellow Mexican Hat, originally uploaded by chels580.

The Daisy Debacle
I found a semi-local nursery where I could order online and then pick up the plants at the Rochester Public Market (http://www.lighthouse-gardens.com/). That way I save on shipping. I placed my order and had a nice email conversation with Todd. I navigated the bustling public market, paid without looking at the receipt, juggled the plants into my car, and made it home. It was raining so I took a few minutes to rest. I looked at the plants. I looked at the yard. I looked at the plants. And I started crying!

I had told Todd that I wanted 8 Alchemilla mollis, 4 crazy daisies, and 4 Echinacea 'White Swan.' He asked me "you want them all in the 4 packs, right?" I interpreted that as the 4-pack size not quantity. I came home with 16 four pack of plants! And I was so busy navigating unfamiliar territory that I didn't notice I was carrying TWO FLATS of plants, or that I paid 4X more than I was planning to! Its the money part that I was crying over, not to mention the embarrassment. My Sweetheart was a little flummoxed that I was crying over this and just put his arms around me and told me he wasn't mad. I love him.

My honest opinion is that no garden needs 16 daisy plants. But on the other hand, this solved my empty space problem. I am also establishing unity and rhythm through repetition (a lot of repetition) of the alchemilla mollis.

The Mexican Hat (Ratibida columnifera) was the only thing I actually got ONE of. It was super happy in the garden and flowered constantly all season.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The pool garden begins

The pool garden begins, originally uploaded by chels580.

The first thing I learned from reading about garden design is to think about the goals of the garden.
Rabbit trail: Whenever I use the word garden, I am referring to a flower garden and not a vegetable garden. Now, while I feel a bit guilty about throwing myself into cultivating the land and producing nothing (well, nothing edible), I have several reasons not to plant veggies.
1)I don't have time to weed, water, or harvest.
2)With just the two of us, I don't want tomatoes up to my elbows or zucchini coming out of my woohoo.
3)I am not willing to put all that work into it, only to feed the birds, bugs, slime molds, and the neighbor's woodchuck.
In short, I have no hope for a veggie garden. If you can suggest a perennial vegetable that I can set and forget, I might think about it. Actually, asparagus comes to mind. I should think about that...
Right. Goals.

Because there are views of the garden from the kitchen windows and coming to the house from the driveway I wanted it to be both soothing and welcoming. For soothing, I chose white, yellow and green. I really like the soothing combination of green and white and yellow is one of the easiest colors to see (not receding like blue or advancing like red ). I added some purple lowlights, so hopefully its not boring too. For welcoming, I added a winding path through the middle.

When I first calculated how much dirt we would need to buy, I was naively hoping that I could make a mound up to six inches high. Um, yeah, that would have been my whole budget. So I settled for half of that--4cubic yards of compost and 2 cubic yards of top soil. It took two days of shoveling, wheelbarrowing, and raking. I loved it, because all throughout I kept thinking, "This is gonna be the best garden ever!" I may even have had a maniacal grin on my face. I'm not exactly sure what was going through my Sweetheart's head to motivate him, but lets call it love.

I bought most of the plants by mail-order, except some that I ordered online and then picked up at the farmer's market (which I shall refer to as the great daisy debacle). And for you goofy people like me, here a plant list:
Alchemilla mollis 'Thriller''
Anemone xhybrida 'Honorine Jobert'
Arum Italicum
Acteae (Cimicifuga) ramosa 'Hillside black beauty''
Dicentra Spectabilis Alba
Digitalis grandiflora
Heuchera 'Palace Purple'
Hydrangea arborescens 'White dome'
Itea virginica 'Little Henry'
Lamium maculatum 'White Nancy'
Ligularia dentata 'Desdemona'
Polygonatum biflorum
Pulsatilla vulgaris
Stylophorum diphillum
Smilacena racemosa
Tiarella cordifolia
Carex Hachijoensis 'Evergold'
Pulmonaria officinalis 'Sissinghurst white'
IRIS sibirica 'Caesar's Brother'
HOSTA 'August moon'
Echinacea Pupurea 'White Swan'
Chrysanthemum Superbum 'Crazy Daisy'
Ratibida Columnifera Yellow
Eupatorum Maculatum 'Chocolate'
Ajuga 'Chocolate Chip'
Earlicheer Daffodils
White Daffodils