Posts tagged ‘perennials’

April 16, 2012

moving the maple

when we signed on with our builder the original plan was to start around the first of this month.  we’ve had some nasty weather however, and for that reason, things have been delayed by a few weeks.


i’m so excited about our new place, but decluttering, getting rid of things, putting everything else in a box, and moving it all from here to there – not so much.  in order to make the process easier i’m starting early and just doing a little bit at a time; sorting through and packing up the things we don’t use on a daily basis.

this includes some of my plants.

yes, i plan to take with me a few things growing in my yard.  one is a japanese maple given to me by my parents.  the other is a rose bush given to me by a dear friend.

i know it seems really crazy to try to bring these along when they are both pretty happy right now where they are, but they mean a great deal to me.  they have very great sentimental value and the thought of leaving them behind in the care of someone who doesn’t know what they are and why they are there is unbearable to me.  so they are coming along,  even though they may not like it.

we started last weekend with the japanese maple.

we located the largest plastic pot we could find, about 20″ and drilled holes in the bottom:

i put stones in the bottom for drainage:

we filled it with a small amount of potting soil:

and then we set to work digging her out.  well, my husband did that.  i took pictures.  here she is:

we worked, and worked around the base; digging and lifting in order to get a good sized root ball.

pause here for a brief look at the east side garden:

the majority (if not all) of these plants will stay here.  i’m still undecided about the siberian iris….

back to the tree.  we then lifted her out, and placed her in the pot.

we then added some more soil, some mulch, and with the help of a wheel barrow moved her to the back porch.  we have no pictures to document this little journey because i had to put down the camera and hang on to her to keep her from toppling out of the wheel barrow.

she made it though just fine, where we positioned her and watered her in.

i was pleased that she showed very little signs of stress and seems to have transitioned quite well.  so well in fact, i’m thinking we may keep her in a container permanently and use her for the outdoor seating area of the master bedroom we have planned for our future place.

isn’t she lovely?




April 2, 2012

my travel diary

as i have said before my husband travels extensively with his job.  i knew this when i married him.  it was part of the deal.  normally though he would just travel once or twice a month, so the time away was manageable especially since he offices from our home; so when he is home, he’s home.  lately though,  his time away has increased to every single week.  this isn’t as doable for us so every so often i  tag along in order to spend more time together.   i love tagging along.  it gives me the chance to see where he stays, where he works, and the restaurants he frequents so that when he comes home and talks about these things,  i can better visualize where he has been.

last week i tagged along.   i had the wonderful privilege of spending five days in hurst, tx with my sweetie.  hurst, in case you didn’t know (i didn’t), is a suburb of dallas. now, i’ve already done the dallas thing the last time i tagged along: neiman marcus, sixth floor museum, and all that.  so this week was a bit more, how can i say, low key.  which was lovely because, truth be told: i’m not really into shopping and sight seeing.  i hate to shop unless it is for groceries or plants; and my idea of sight-seeing is to look at restored older homes.

so without further ado: these are the hilights of my trip; i present to you my humble  travel diary:

day 1:  arrived at hotel.  i then ummmm….took a bubble bath and finished my book.   had dinner at my husband’s monday night haunt.




day 2:  ran moday night’s dinner (veal parmesan) off while on the treadmill.  decided i love the convenience of a treadmill.  began figuring out how we can have a treadmill on our farm…battled the dallas traffic to get to central market where i had lunch outside while reading up on keeping chickens.  shopped.  bought, mushroom flavored finishing salt and tea biscuits, among many other fabulous foodie things.  battled the traffic to get home, and was nearly caught in a wreck.  was so traumatized i spent the afternoon at the hotel watching tv.  we don’t own a tv, so we don’t obviously watch much.  it was the first time i’ve ever seen paula deen in action.  i was mesmerized by this woman with big eyes and a molasses thick southern accent, using prolific amounts of butter.  i still……can’t get over it.   had an absolutely beautiful candlelit dinner with my sweetie at a french bistro: complete with escargot and floating island for dessert.

day 3: ran tuesday  night’s dinner off while on the treadmill.  still want a treadmill.  still traumatized by dallas traffic.  so much so that i seriously considered skipping the dallas arboretum.  gathered my courage, and my gps, and mapquest directions, prayed hard, and went to the arboretum.  i. was. floored.  it was amazing.  took dozens of photos and decided that we will not keep chickens and plant vegetables, we will have ten acres of amazing gardens instead.  now to figure out how to assemble a staff….. purchased some texas wildflower seeds to see how they will do here in oklahoma.  had barbeque for dinner at another one of husbie’s weekly haunts.

day 4: ran wednesday night’s dinner off while on the treadmill.  come hell or high water we are getting a treadmill.  and a tv. and cable.  so i can watch the food network while burning calories.  spent the entire day “off” working on my cross stitch while watching (you guessed it) paula deen.  and occasionally ina garten whom i am coming to admire almost as much as julia child.  made a brief excursion out to a cupcake bar where i ordered nothing more than one chocolate cupcake with chocolate buttercream and one vanilla with chocolate buttercream.  my only adventurous ingredient was reeces pieces sprinkled on top which i regretted.  what can i say?  i’m a purist.  had a lovely dinner sitting outside where i discovered blackberry mojitos. omg ya’ll (said with a southern crack like paula deen).  i now have a new favorite cocktail.  move over pomegranate martinis….

day 5: ran thursday night’s dinner and mojitos off while on the treadmill.  contemplated where to shop for our new treadmill and where to put it in my tiny barn-cottage.   showered, packed, crammed my central market groceries into my suitcase.  decided on one final fling: lunch at the new in and out burger across the street.  in and out was closed: not to open for another eight days, so i spent an hour trying to find something else, getting lost, panicking, battling traffic, and getting lost again.  ended up very frazzled at starbucks where i settled for a “bistro box”.   met up with husbie and made our way to the airport for home.  uneventful flight where i caught up on my chicken garden book.  spent the evening on the back porch, looking at our overgrown yard,  and planning the upcoming week.

March 20, 2012

10 ways to welcome spring…

in my part of the world it has gone from winter cold to very warm, very fast.  we almost seem to have bypassed spring and gone straight into early summer.  nevertheless these are some things i’m looking forward to doing this spring when we aren’t busy planning the building of and move to our farm:

  1. opening all the windows and airing out the house
  2. while the windows are open, giving the house a good clean from top to bottom
  3. washing, starching, and ironing the curtains so they look pretty when they catch the breeze from the open windows
  4. (so as not to focus completely on housekeeping) getting a pedicure and having my toes painted pink
  5. making deviled eggs
  6. going for long walks and taking in the blooming daffodils, tulips, dogwoods, and redbud trees
  7. planting a vegetable garden
  8. making a pretty spring wreath for the front door
  9. mowing the lawn, then sitting out on the back porch and enjoying the smell of the cut grass
  10. flying a kite

happy first day of spring!  what are your plans from now until summer?

February 16, 2012

farmette? or homestead?

last friday we became first time land owners.  we now own ten acres in a very small farming community with a population of less than 1,800.  we’ve spent the past several months dreaming, scheming, scratching out figures, drawing up floor plans, researching,  land shopping, then land shopping again (we had one false start), and finally closing out on a place we absolutely love.

the desire we’ve had for some time was to have a place where we could have a large garden, a few fruit trees, and some small livestock; a place that would basically become self-sustaining.  i use the word “self-sustaining” loosely because to some self-sustaining means that one crafts one’s bricks from the dirt in one’s yard – then uses said bricks to build one’s house.  that isn’t at all what i mean.  i mean self-sustaining in the sense that one simply grows and produces the majority of one’s own food but still unashamedly uses the grocery store from time to time  for staples.

last year when asked about our plans for an acreage i described it as “ a sort of homestead” .  i said “sort of” because our scenario doesn’t really fit that of the typical homestead: about 2-5 acres with a garden and some small livestock.  at the same time i couldn’t really say we were planning a  farm because your average farm consists of several hundred acres and a series of out buildings.  i later picked up the term “farmette”.  not only did it describe our situation to a “t” , but  i loved the sound of the word.  wiki describes a farmette as “a small residential farm run by an owner who earns income from a source other than the farm. “  farmettes typically are no more than fifty acres,  and contain a garden and some small livestock.

our farmette will feature ten acres and a pond, a small simple “starter home”, a single outbuilding to serve as a shop and garage, a honkin’ big garden,  and some small livestock.  for the sake of not getting too overwhelmed, we’ve divided our plan into three phases.  phase one: the actual purchase of the land already being completed.

the second part of our plan is to now build  our home. we’re starting out small and temporary (most likely).   i see this as the modern day equivalent to the sod houses and log cabins of our pioneer ancestors.   i’ve found that in starting out on the land  it is common to use a travel trailer, a mobile home, or in some cases even a yurt as a temporary residence while the permanent home is being built.  but my husband and i are not good at roughing it.  we hate camping.  we must have heat.  we must have running water.  so we’ve decided instead to build a small barn,  influenced by the traditional red barns seen in a children’s story book; and fit it out as a cottage.  it will be very, very simple but i still plan to give it some style.  my decor has evolved over the years, starting out very colefax and fowler, to  williamsburg colonial, now to modernish vintage country chic (is there such a thing?).  my hope is that when we open the front door to our  new home for the first time our reaction will be “this is gorgeous! let’s just stay here!” instead of “omg.  what on earth have we done!?”  once we have the home built we’ll put our current little house on the market, and move.  we’ll do a lot of landscaping (i’m thinking native perennials) and put in a kitchen garden similar in size to what we have now.  then we’ll purchase three chickens.

phase three will be to establish a very large garden, large enough to provide the majority of our produce with enough left over to freeze and can.  we have also toyed with the idea of growing enough to someday enter the farmer’s market arena as a small business.  the garden phase  will also include some apple trees and blackberry bushes.  then, we’ll  purchase a few more chickens.

if i’ve learned anything since we’ve started acting on our  plan, it is that things never go according to the plan.  so i’m trying to keep it all loose and just go with the flow.  should however, things actually go as planned, they may look a little something like this:

~ increase the chicken flock to provide adequate eggs and meat

~ add some ducks and turkeys to the mix; maybe geese if they will be nice

~look into the possibility of taking on small ruminants (dairy goats and sheep)

~ train the sheep to graze picturesquely on the front lawn.  ::sigh:: ok maybe not.

~mmmmmaaybe…raise a pig or two so we can have bacon with the eggs

~plant millions of daffodils on the slope below the pond

~toy with the idea of a dairy cow

~contemplate bee keeping

~dig out the pond a little deeper and see what it would take to stock it

and finally:

~build a new-to-look-old-white clapboard farmhouse depending on how much we like our barn cottage and whether or not we decide we need or even want anything more than that.

i know we’ll be crazy busy.  i know it will be a lot of work.  i know it will be a tremendous challenge, but it is a challenge we welcome and we can’t wait to get started.

as for timing?  i really don’t know.  we plan to start as soon as we can but i’m sure we’ll encounter some snags and delays along the way.   again, i plan to just try and go with the flow and in the words of tim gunn “make it work” regardless of what happens.

January 30, 2012

garden happies

happiness is stepping outside to water the pansies….

….and discovering the helleborus in bloom!

July 21, 2011

new toy

for my seventh anniversary my husband gave me, not a diamond necklace, not a trip to europe or a caribbean cruise but…….compost bins!

i couldn’t have been more ecstatic.  i’d had a bin i made from chicken wire but it wasn’t the right depth and width to make for easy turning.  it also wasn’t very pretty and i like everything in my yard to be pretty.  even a compost bin.

we assembled these last weekend and stationed them just outside our garage.  i ordered two, to be placed side by side.  as we accumulate all the little things that make compost they will simply be shoveled from one bin to the other on a weekly basis.

after assembly the bins were properly christened.

while i don’t really see myself as a compost guru, here are some things i have gathered over the few years i have composted (is that the proper verb?  i don’t know….)

*do use: grass clippings, leaves, and other garden waste such as weeds provided they are not diseased.  coffee grounds, tea bags, egg shells, vegetable scraps, etc.

*do not use: beef or dairy products or grease.  these attract rodents.   grass that has been chemically treated, or as noted before, any diseased garden waste.

*compost just happens.  there is very little that needs to be done in order facilitate the process.  one can get as elaborate as fancy bins, worms, and compost tea; but really all you need to do is pile your scraps and garden waste and allow nature to do its work.

*it will go a little faster however if the pile is turned on a regular basis.  when i am organized and doing everything right, i turn mine once a week with a shovel or cultivator.

*chopping up the waste into smaller pieces will also help.

*the compost pile also likes a little bit of moisture.   if yours looks to be a bit dry mist it with a garden hose.  don’t mist too generously however.  “moist” here is the key word.

*the finished product will be dark and crumbly, something like coffee grounds.  use for amending  your soil, or as a top or side dressing for your crops.

*don’t overthink it.  it is a very simple process.  let nature do the work.

July 11, 2011

summer vacation: the wall

when we moved into our beloved home three years ago, the back yard included a rubble pit in the back corner.  i am not sure what was there originally, if anything at all.  our neighbor’s yard once had a lovely brick outdoor barbecue pit.  perhaps ours did too, but some seventy-five years later, all that remained was a heap of stone, dust, and other debris.

that first summer we cleared away much of the stone that was an eyesore, putting it to use to edge the potager beds.

then last summer we had a privacy fence installed, giving the yard more of a closed feeling (that we wanted) and an area that lent itself more toward the creation of garden “rooms” (that we also wanted).  after much deliberation, we decided that messy back corner would be the perfect spot for what i call a double-decker flower bed. last fall we took the time to go ahead and outline the shape of the bed, line it with steel edging, and fill with mulch and a few shrubs and plants that needed a place to go.

most of these plants will stay in this bed, but will be moved around before all is said and done.  the idea is to get two adirondak chairs and a side table, position them at the curve and enjoy this view:

much better looking of course when we are not in the  middle of a drought.

the fence installed,  this was the year to launch the project and marco planned to take the fourth of july holiday week as a working vacation.  this also happened to be one of the hottest weeks of the summer.  marco’s job was to build the wall (and another project to be detailed in another post).  mine was to take pictures.

the first step was to clear away the rest of the rubble.  after the rubble was cleared, the ground was leveled out to make way for the stone.   it took about a day and a half of blood, sweat, and tears to accomplish this.

next step, laying the stone.

we wanted a natural look.  we didn’t want it to look like we had bought pre-fabricated materials at a big box store.   at the same time we wanted to be able to use a dry construction technique as much as possible.   in the end, we purchased a pallet of thick “flagstone” that would be stacked to the desired height.

i used to pride myself on my ability to gauge distance accurately by eye.  so i told marco 2′ would be just fine for our little wall.  when he got to the desired height (which i thought was 24″) i hollered out to stop.  we grabbed a yardstick and the finished height: 12″.   so much for my gift.

the sides are left open to allow a tiny path for easy access to plants in the back.  this opening will later be concealed by the plants or shrubs in the back.  while the actual planting won’t take place until next spring i have already sketched out a plan that will will include a variety of native plants, wildflowers mostly, that will attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds: butterfly weed, hyssop, rudbekia, and a really great tall grass, among many, many other things in a red, 0range, yellow, white, and blue color scheme.  because my favorite nursery has gone way, way up in price i decided to purchase seeds and grow my own transplants. being the seed and plant junkie that i am, the seeds have already been purchased and are on their way.

i’m really excited about how it is all coming together.

later on this week: the walk.

July 1, 2011

confessions for a friday morning…

* i rearranged the living room furniture while my husband was on a business trip.  i have been thinking about this rearrangement for about three months.  now that it is finally done………..i don’t like it.

* after the big switcheroo, there were numerous dust bunnies on the floor where bookshelves and heavy chairs had been previously.  i was so discouraged and hot after moving things around that i ignored them.  since then, they have been consumed by doggies.

* up to this point i have been completely content with my furniture.   however, now i am starting to think that the arrangement isn’t so much the room but the fact that i need a new sofa.  then if one purchases a new sofa, one must need new chairs, then there are the end tables….

* i have been using the insufferable heat as an excuse for getting out of just about anything except lying under a ceiling fan set to “high”.  it is too hot to run, too hot to go for a walk, too hot to do yoga, too hot to fold laundry.

* in an effort to organize the downstairs, everything i don’t know what to do with but am not ready to get rid of is simply put upstairs.  the result is beginning to look like a large storage warehouse full of all sorts of random objects from a pair of gym shoes to canning jars.  it is frightening.  and hot up there.  i refuse to face up to the fact that some day i really am going to have to deal with that mess.  meanwhile i continue to just carry things up and leave them on the first empty space i see before running back downstairs and slamming the door.  last night it was a pair of cushions.

* earlier this week i watched true grit.  i was so enamored with their antiquated manner of speech that i have contemplated dropping contractions from my vocabulary altogether.  instead of just saying “i’m going to….” or “i don’t”  i will take the extra time to spit out “i. am…”  or “i. do. not…”  just like a true texas ranger.

* every summer when the heat climbs to 100 degrees and then some, i wonder why on earth i ever decided to take up gardening.  the garden grows, but it is too hot to tend to it.  weeds and pests abound and the tomatoes flop over uprooting their cages.  the pristine image i have of a cozy cottage garden is completely shattered.

* wednesday i attended a meeting at the home of a fellow gardener.  her garden looks like the cover of a coffee table book.  instead of being happy for her i was consumed with garden envy.  i nearly sat down in the middle of her tiny eden and cried.

* my shasta daisies are dying of some sort of disease i can’t identify.  daisies are a weed.  who kills their daisies?  this is hitting me really hard.

* once a month i go to the doctor for an injection that is supposed to straighten out my whacked  hormones.  an additional perk: this stuff acts as a truth serum.  i suddenly have the courage to speak my mind.  i’m hoping the stuff will perform its magic today while i work a volunteer shift with someone who previously said some derogatory things about home-schooling.  little does she know the person she works with today is very different from the person she worked with a few months ago.  bwaaaaaaaaahahahaa!

* this morning i was in automatic mode.  or something like that.  i think it was the heat. i decided to fix boiled eggs for breakfast.  i like mine hard and my husband likes his soft.  in order to distinguish one from the other, i marked mine.  not with an “x”, not with a “j” but with a “b”.  “b” for boiled.  go figure.

June 17, 2011

oh the joys of summer gardening in oklahoma….

yes, far too numerous even to count.

first we have thrips,

it's hard to see, but these leaves are covered with the brown polka dot damage of thrips.

then we have the heat,

note the sun scorch. and this is in the shade bed

then we have aphids,

"crinkled" leaves of my pepper plant where the aphids have helped themselves

the we have curling tomato leaves,

lettuce that bolts before it can be eaten

and did i mention heat?

my poor little squash

there are a few things though that seem to thrive in spite of all of the above. such as:

the lamb’s ear…

these get a little too happy and need to be cut back.

old fashioned day lilies…

nnnot my favorite but they do tolerate the heat

our very special pixie rose…

aka cecil brunner


may night


more salvia…

salvia greggii

and alice.  alice loves the heat.  we’ll talk more about alice later.

now things like sun scorch and curling tomato leaves, i have no real solution for.  but here is what i have found to help with some of the other things:

thrips and aphidspyola spray found through garden’s alive.  this is made from a pyrethrin, a naturally occurring substance in a daisy that can be used as a natural insecticide.  i don’t seem to ever get 100% control, but it does help some.  i spray every other week according to the directions on the label.

aphids can also be controlled by a gentle spray of water from the hose.  once they become dislodged from the plant, they can’t climb back up.  or so i’ve been told.

ladybugs also love aphids.  i have a nursery close by that sells them in mesh bags to be released in the garden where they will feast on those nasty little buggars.  if you decide to go the ladybug (more properly called ladybeetle) route, be very careful using insecticides.

the heat, obviously, is uncontrollable.  plants can be protected though by using lots of mulch and checking the soil every day to make sure that it is  kept moist to the touch. plants in containers need to be watered every day, and sometimes even twice a day.   another preventive method: use plants that are well adapted to the area, and pay close attention to the sun/light requirements.

April 30, 2011

purple irises

my irises finally bloomed.  my front  yard faces north and is largely dominated by a magnolia tree so while it does get some sun,  many of my plants tend to bloom a little bit later than every one elses.  on the one hand, i start feeling left out when i see my neighbor’s irises in bloom; but on the other hand, it’s nice to have mine just coming out when theirs are starting to finish up.

i can’t remember when i planted these.   it has been a while and they were just a rhizome with tiny shoots when they went in so i’ve had to be content with just the growing foliage for a few seasons.  i have three others, also in shades of purple, but they are still quite young and will not be blooming for a while.  we have had some horribly strong winds this spring and yesterday i was sad to see they knocked one of the blooms down.  i decided to bring it inside where we could enjoy it on the kitchen window sill.  just one bloom and two buds looked very empty in the vase so i brought in some of the ballerina roses, some lamb’s ear, a little bit of salvia, and a few foxglove buds to keep them company.  please look at the flowers and disregard the dirty window.  thanks.