Saturday, July 28, 2012

Gardening news

Lately, I've been trying to get control of my back yard.  It's been a jungle all spring and summer.  I have too many large bushes back there and the wild violets have gone crazy and almost managed to take over the yard.  They did completely cover the path between the steps from the deck and the back gate.  I have managed to pull up all the violets and other weeds that were growing in the path, but there are still  MANY growing in the flower beds. 

Anyway, I have trimmed some of the bushes, so that at least I can reach the path from the steps - the hydrangea was completely blocking the path.  However all the bushes (except for one that has only been in the ground 2 years) need radical trimming.  A friend is urging me to cut the hydrangea back to the ground, but I just can't bring myself to do that.  I will give it a radical cutting this fall.  It is too big for its space at the bottom of the steps, but that is NOT my doing.  It was there and already too big when I moved in.  I will just have to be very strict with the other overgrown bushes (four of them) and cut them all way back.  I just am waiting until they finish blooming this summer. 

When I was visiting my family in NY State back in June, I brought home some flat stones my brother had in his yard.  (For some reason, he didn't want to take them to Wisconsin with him when they moved!!)  I decided these stones would look very nice on the path, but of course there weren't enough of them to make adequate stepping stones.  So today I went to the Stone Store and selected more flat stones.  The main criteria for them was that I had to be able to lift and carry them.  I think I bought about 20.  My friend went with me, as she needed to get a few rocks for her yard.  When we got home, she helped me carry some of my stones through the house to the back deck.  After lunch, I went out and started carrying them down the steps and laying them in the path.  It was very hot work and I'm not quite done.  There are 6 more to take down.  I have laid them on the path, but not done any arranging.  Last week, I purchased plants to put in-between the stones.  These little plants can actually be walked on and will fill in the spaces between the stones.  They will not grow as tall as the wild violets, so will be a better ground cover.  Should look pretty good next year.

Last week, I also did a bit of work in the front yard, pulling up all the Queen's Ann's lace.  That stuff has a pretty strong root system.  I needed to get it out before it went to seed.  It was a mistake to transplant it from the wild.  It spread all over the bed and into the grass.  (Not as bad as the violets, however.)  Most of it is gone now, but I'm sure a few survivors will come up in the spring.  I'm thinking of redoing my front flower bed, but it will be a major job, so it certainly won't be done this year. I love plants and could easily fill twice the space, if I had it.  Unfortunately, I am at the size limit for the beds in the front.  If the Homeowner's Assoc. would let me, I would have no grass, just plants and a path in the front yard.  Maybe someday.....

 Not a very good photo.  I was taking it into the sun.  But you get an idea of what the path will look like. 

If the weather cooperates, I hope to get the stones in place and the step-able plants (not pictured) planted between the stones.  If it rains all week or stays in the high 90s, not so much will get accomplished.  Time will tell.
This picture is taken on the deck.  You can see a few remaining stones on the table.  I'll take them down later, after sunset.  The plants on the talbe and on the chair are some I just bought.  The red ones on the table will go in a pot and stay on the deck, probably.  The green/white one will go below the deck, in the deep shade.  There is also a begonia, which needs to go somewhere, but I don't know where.  The petunias in the little yellow and blue pots live on the table, but have been temporarily displaced by the stones! 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

around my house and yard

I'm going to try to put up some photos, but Blogger has gone all weird, so I don't know how successful I'll be.  It wasn't this way when I last posted, but I think I wrote a post the other day that never was posted.  I'll see if this one is successful.

I like to make little scenes using some of my nick-knacks and pictures.  Obviously, these are beach scenes.

  Here are some garden scenes.   First, a red hibiscus in the front yard.  Each bloom only lasts a day, but they are gorgeous.  Next, a butterfly visiting the cone flowers. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

A busy few weeks

After only a week at home from England, I drove up to Bath, NY (my childhood home town) to help my brother and sister-in-law pack for their move to Wisconsin.  (They will spend summers up there, near their daughters.  Winter in Florida as usual.)  They have lived in that house in Bath for 60 years and have never experienced a 'move'.  I tried to give advice to my brother, rather unsuccessfully, about how to pack breakable items. (He's a retired engineer and doesn't easily take advice from his younger sister.)   Luckily there weren't many valuable, breakable items and I think the box with them went into the car, rather than with the moving van.  Hopefully, nothing was broken.  My niece, Terry came down on Sunday (a week ago) to help with the packing and to drive a pickup truck to Wisconsin.  She is an artist and knows how to safely pack art, so I left the job of packing up the paintings, mirrors and glass shelves to her.  Hopefully, the travelers are in Wisconsin today, waiting for the moving van to arrive. 

We had some excitement up there when a huge branch from a tree out by the road detached itself from the tree and landed on power lines (didn't break them).  The neighborhood came out to watch the guys from the local electric company saw bits off the branch and finally tie it to a really tall metal pole on a truck, lift it off the wires, and drop it to the ground.  They did a really good job.  I'll post a few photos below.

I got home a week ago and got back into my usual schedule, more or less.  Luckily I was home, as we had a huge storm Thursday night and lost power for 27 hours. Actually, I"d just as soon have been elsewhere, but for peace of mind, I'm glad I was at home.  My fridge/freezer stayed cold and I slept in the basement on a very comfortable futon.  In fact, I practically lived in the basement until the power came back on.  I discovered that it's really hard to read or do a crossword puzzle using a flashlight!!  All is well here as to the electric and I hope it stays that way! 

One odd coincidence - a tree down the street lost a huge branch, very much like the one I saw in NY.  Neighbors all came out to look at it and eventually to trim off branches so that cars could drive past it.  I brought out my little tree saw (hand powered) and some very large clippers.  No one else seemed to have the tools needed for sawing through green wood.  Gardeners are always prepared!  We have buried power lines, so no problem there.  (Of course our power was off anyway, due to the storm!) I"m pretty sure the tree will have to come down.  There is a tear almost all the way down one side.  Our homeowners association will have to pay for that.  We're lucky it didn't fall on anyone's car.  All these photos are of the branch that fell in Bath, NY. 

 Here's the guy in the little cherry picker basket sawing off small limbs. 

The second photo shows the long-armed thing they used to lift and hold the branch above the power lines.

The last photo shows the branch suspended upright, being lowered to the ground.  You can see how big it was.

I just want to say that I've had enough excitement in my life recently and would like a peaceful, uneventful summer!