April 6, 2019:


The income taxes are finished and were taken to the Post Office yesterday to send out via certified mail, which now costs nearly $16 for two 8 1/2 11 envelopes with return receipt. Yikes! But worth it because I have proof positive once I get the little green cards back that the returns were delivered and received. And just in case, there are tracking numbers that I can also tap the U.S. Post Office for to verify that delivery was made. In these times, it's better to be safe than sorry

I have been working in little bits and pieces outdoors whenever a window in our crappy weather has presented itself. Today, however, was the first day where I was able to spend an extended period of time outside. First, I cleaned up areas on the sidewalk and driveway along the edges where pine cones and branches tiny branches blown off during the seemingly wind storms we endured over fall and winter 2018-2019. After resting for a bit, and removing the winter hat, gloves and jacket, I moved to the back yard because I'm sick of feeling sick to my stomach every time I look at it through the patio doors in the dining room and window above the kitchen sink. This winter left it a true disaster zone. I worked steadily raking small areas and filled two trash can size black trash bags full of debris blown down from my arborvitaes and neighboring trees over the winter, in addition to about half a ton of nut shells. The nut shells are my fault because I feed all the neighborhood squirrels. They are so entertaining, and very smart! I also made a small dent in starting clean-up of the flower beds, where the "mild" (ahem) weather and thawed earth has encourages perennials to start popping through, whether I'm ready for them or not!

All in all, a somewhat decent start to making a larger dent in clean-up operations. I worked outdoors about 4 hours off and on. I didn't want to overdo it, and truth be told, I'm pooped! It's humbling to not be able to work as long or as hard as I used to. I can get it done, but I have to take lots of rest breaks so it takes quite a bit longer now. Good thing I'm retired


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Gardens: Beginnings -- Back Yard

This is a photo of my back yard (and part of the large concrete patio), that was taken after I did my very first cut of the back yard grass, on July 8th:

A partial view of the large concrete patio area.
That raised planting area with lots of day lilies vulgarus (that's not the actual botannical name) in the photo above, looking lush and pretty, is now looking pretty crappy:

The very last bloom on the day lilies bloomed on July 13th (I was off work that day so I could appreciate it).  The rest of d-l-vulgarus now have bare, dried-out stalks that need to be cut down, and lots of dying-back foilage (ditto). That's just the nature of this particular beast. After having put up with their habits for 24 years at the former Maison Newton I want to go in a different direction with this garden... 

If you'll take a close look at the second photo near the center of the bed (not such a good photo and the area is shaded, too), you'll see that I have added a baby Rose of Sharon plant donated by my friend Barb.  I transplanted the little shrub that was there (see same area in the first photo to see the shrub) to the north bed, where it seems to be happy.

I didn't realize it until a couple of weeks later when the first flowers popped open, but there are ALREADY two other Rose of Sharon plants in that east bed!!! Duh. I did not recognize them until the taller plant on the left started blooming.  Then I took a closer look at my baby Rose of Sharon and the blooming plant (and also the not-yet blooming shorter plant on the right side of the bed) and realized the leaves are exactly the same on all three plants -- they're all Roses of Sharon!  I don't know why the plant on the right is so much smaller than the one on the left; of course the baby plant, now in the middle, will have some catching up to do!  [Postscript added August 24th:  I now realize why the Rose of Sharon on the left is so tall -- it's actually two different plants!  See next post for details.]

You may have noticed, too, the Rose of Sharon with lots of blooms poking its head and shoulders above my terra-cotta colored fence! That much larger shrub is in the neighbor's yard.  I envy him both that shrub and his beautiful purple leafed maple tree.  I enjoy their loveliness from my perch at the dinette table looking through the patio doors into my new yard.  Neighbor's Rose of Sharon has deep pinkish-purplish blossoms with burgundy-colored inners.  It is full and has TONS of blossoms and is really putting on a show fpr me.  As far as I can tell, my neighbor (single thirtiesh male with a shaved head and buff bod) doesn't do a thing to his yard other than cutting the grass and using a string-line trimmer once a week, so perhaps I don't need to be babying my Roses of Sharon so much (giving them lots of water during the past 3 week dry-spell; and of course, I'm babying the baby transplant until its root system gets established). 

I haven't had luck growing Rose of Sharon at my two previous residences but this, my third house, may be the charm.

The two hanging planters in the second photo were purchased on Sunday August 10th at Luxembourg Gardens. Laurie-broker and I ventured forth after I'd expressed a wish to her to add some color to my garden even though its so late in the season.  I picked Luxembourg Gardens because it is a private business run by an extremely knowledgeable home gardener with lots of loyal helpers, and having shopped there for many years, I know this place sells only top quality stock.  I have not had a perennial I  bought from Luxembourg Gardens ever croak on me (unlike some stock purchased at big box retailers around here that will remain nameless).  Sue opens seasonally only -- early in spring and closes down on August 31!  So close to her seasonal closing date, she was offering fire-sale prices!

The hanging planters were two for $25. I could not resist the lush beauty of the million bells in white. When I step out into the yard to give them a good drink from the watering can, there are usually several bees happily buzzing about sipping nector from newly-opened blossoms. I like how the white flowers show up against the fence.  A daily watering and an occasional trimming of this exuberant grower will keep them happy and healthy until the frost finally does them in.  I hope that won't be until late November. [Postscript added August 24th:  They already need a haircut!  The plants have added two inches in length hanging down pasgt the bottom of their containers.  They are so beautiful -- just glowing right now in the late afternoon sunshine.  I will definitely buy more of these in future seasons.]

Here are the stairs leading down from my dinette area patio door, and my haul from Luxembourg Gardens -- several perennials (I don't remember the names of most of them except the silver artemesia and a sedum that doesn't look like any sedum I ever saw) and some annuals to give a spot of color to the gardens during the last few months of this growing season:

Oops!  Probably should have tucked the hose under the stairs and swept up the nut and peanut shells that my tribe of squirrels left behind.  The white flowers are million bells, they are annuals (I do not remember ever hearing of them until I purchased these); the purple flowers are perennials and are like a floor mat! They will gradually spread as a ground cover. As I have weed issues in all of the garden beds (that I cannot now keep up with), this colorful tough mat will be welcome!  [I hope I do not come to rue those words...]

I will put the three silver artemesia that I purchased for $5 (plants in this size pot were sold for $2 each or 3 for $5) in front of the lamb's ears already established in the north bed. The colors will complement each other.

Here are the rest.   The somewhat shaggy looking plant is dianthus -- I think one of my squirrels was trying to bury a nut in the pot and that's why it's not nicely mounded like the other two pots of dianthus are:

The plant with the little deep pink blossoms is also a perennial, I have three of them.

The plant on the right is a sedum! I couldn't believe it, but I asked Sue and she identified it as a Sedum and she knows, because she is the one who grows them, and all the other plants you've seen here, too. I thought it was so cool and so un-Sedum like, I just had to buy it! I don't know what the plant next to it (sharing the box) is, but it is also a sun-loving dry-tolerating perennial. Those two plants were a little more expensive, I think they were $4.98 each. They are large and will be divided into several planting clumps.

For now, I'm happy with the yard as it is.  It's private and I can tell that Mrs. Seller wanted to have a lovely garden and that she took good care of it until they got busy packing up their things and such - I know, for the same endeavors took a toll on me two at the former Maison Newton.  The north bed has a great mixture and variety of plants and shrubs in it and will be lovely once I can gain mastery over the weeds and figure out how to care for everything. Here are some more photos.  Except for the one below, they show the north fence line and north planting bed:

Day lilies vulgaris -- east raised bed, in their full blooming glory.

This hydrangea is amazing!  The large blossom at the bottom is STILL going strong, although
its color is now a pale pink.  I haven't figured out what to give it to make the soil
conducive to producing blue colored bloosoms.  Right now the lemon juice and water
mix I've been using occasionally is producing some purplish blossoms, but the more mature
blossoms have turned their natural pinkish-greenish colors. 
Mrs. Seller was a fan of ornamental grasses.  Me, not so much. 
What is plant, and what is weed???
A beautiful Japanese maple, unfortunately crammed into a corner where the north
planting bed meets a little stub of west facing fence attached to the back of the house.  It seems happy
in its location, but I face the prospect (sooner than later) of having it moved as it
will outgrow its spot without continuous vigorous pruning.  I'm not a continuous vigorous pruner!
As it is, it's far too close to the house and fence.  Not even sure it can successfully
be moved, it's a big shrub/tree, how to get enough root ball???
This is part of a horizontally sprawling spirea (very strange), with a chive growing on its left.

This plant has since produced large gold "daisy" looking plants with dark brown centers.
It looks like a purple cone flower, but obviously it's not, with its golden color.  Jerusalem artichoke???
A big fat mess of weeds, sprouting grasses, clover, and a few plants that look like something
other than a weed.  Also, notice the little purplish-colored sprig in the upper right corner.
Not sure, but I believe that is the remains of a shrub.  There is one over on the left side, too,
but it doesn't show in any of these photos.  Darker dirt areas are where I pulled large weeds.
Got my work cut out for me.  Oh, it's finally clouding over outside -- it was very humid and got close to 85 today.  My thermostat read 82 degrees F when I finally turned on my AC and was wondering why the hell I was so hot!  Duh.  We need rain!  Hoping for a good inch of rain overnight.  It was forecast this morning, but who knows?

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