Thursday, April 30, 2015

Expanding the Flower Garden

While trying to decide where to place a new plant (Osmanthus fragrans, sweet olive), it became obvious that I needed to expand the flower garden area.  Technically, part of it is a whole new bed, because it's separated from the rest of the flower garden by a pathway (to be graveled in the near future).

It also seemed like a good idea to tweak the original path layout to make an opening for the wheelbarrow-- not to mention walking, since this is an oft-traveled route to the backyard. (I can only hope the dogs will choose to take the path, too, instead of blazing one of their own through the flower bed!)

So, I positioned an old water hose in a pleasing gentle (mower-friendly) curve between the circular rock bed and the garage and "traced"(cut through the grass) along one side of it with a sharpshooter shovel. 

Expanding the Flower Garden

Expanding the Flower Garden

Then (not pictured), I removed the hose, went back along the "traced" line-- perpendicular to it-- and dug/lifted/loosened the grass.  (The first cut line makes this easier, and the grass will automatically lift in a fairly clean line on that side.  If you want a clean line on both sides, "trace"/cut two parallel lines before doing the perpendicular digging.) 

Expanding the Flower Garden

Next comes the hard part-- shaking soil from sod.  If you don't need the soil right away, there are easier ways to deal with this, but I tried to shake out as much as I could.  Into this newly de-sodded trench, I planted monkey grass (a.k.a. mondo grass).

Fortunately, there was a strip left over inside the flower garden, planted in the years before we planned the gravel pathways.  Divided and stretched a little thinly, that was just about enough for the new edging, but I did also thin a bit from the circular bed, too.  (And managed to accidentally cut off a daylily scape in the process.  Boo!)

Here it is, freshly planted and well watered in:

Expanding the Flower Garden

It looks a little rough at the moment, but it should perk up soon, and in just two or three months, I bet it'll look like it's been there for years.

Planting monkey grass (especially if you're doing it by "thinning" or transplanting) always seems like a lot of hard work.  I tend to put it off-- but today it really wasn't that bad.  (It helped that we had absolutely beautiful weather.  Cool, dry, and breezy.  Heaven-on-Earth weather.) 

I need to do some more monkey-grass planting, at some point.  But for now, I haven't even finished the current bed expansion.  Next up is planting the sweet olive and mulching it.

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While I was planting the monkey grass, I was visited by a pair of bluebirds.  The female was the braver of the two.  She was very interested in the grass I had tossed onto the lawn.  I imagine she's building her nest.

What a nice thought, that the scraps of grass I pulled yesterday morning have now found their way into a cozy nest that will protect baby bluebirds, later this year!

Female Bluebird

Here she is again-- this time on a wheelbarrow handle:

Female Bluebird

Please ignore the cobbled-together second handle.  (g)  The original one broke off, and though we've bought a nicer replacement wheelbarrow (which is actually no longer in pristine condition, either), we're still eking out some use from this old one.  It's funny, but sometimes I actually prefer using the broken-down things to the newer ones, because I don't have to be careful with the old one, as it's already broken!  Plus every bit of use you get out of it at that point is a thrifty bonus or something... ;o)

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This seems to qualify for inclusion in this blog, because it's about growing your own food-- just not in the garden. 

We like sprouts, but I'm a bit paranoid about the store-bought ones, because of some recalls in years past.  I know they're most likely safe, but... Well, at least I admit that I'm being paranoid.  ;o)  I'd rather grow them at home, where I can apply my own stringent levels of quality control.  (Actually, I didn't know you could grow your own until Donald told me about it.)

As an added benefit, after the initial outlay expense, you can grow tons of sprouts from very little seed, which makes them a very cheap food.  Cheap and loaded with nutrition. 

A New Hobby?  ;o)

I ordered the sprouter and seeds (sampler pack) above from Amazon.  Technically, you can grow sprouts in a simple glass mason jar, but this sprouter seems more foolproof.  (And probably easier to use, which should make me more likely to do it.)

The "EasySprout" box looks like it was designed in the 80s, doesn't it?

I'll probably start my first batch of alfalfa (starting with something familiar) today.  If I remember, I'll post updates.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Late April Vegetable Garden Update

We have three baby zucchini plants-- one that just came up today (not this one):


Swiss chard has sprouted:

Swiss Chard

Loose-leaf lettuce is already a yummy shade of green:

Loose-Leaf Lettuce

Radishes are always pretty:


I didn't get a picture of them, but a few of the tiniest green sprouts of bunching onion are beginning to appear.  No sign from the dill, though.

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This piece of pepper was bitten off the main plant by a pest (cut worm?), so we tossed it aside.  After days of torrential rain, I noticed that it was trying to grow new roots, so I planted it-- but then it drooped, and we figured it was done.  Now it's perking up again!

A very determined little plant:

The Little Pepper That Could

From a distance, the pepper & squash bed (also hosting two cherry tomatoes):

Pepper and Squash (and Tomato) Bed

This afternoon, we noticed that there are a couple of squash blossoms getting ready to bloom soon!  And some of the tomatoes have been blooming, too!

Here's the tomato bed, where we found a volunteer tomato from last year.  Considering how far we moved these beds and how mixed up the soil has been, I'm pretty surprised to see it.  No telling whether it's from a hybrid or an heirloom, either.

Tomato Bed

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Some of the nasturtiums I transplanted to the border of this bed are turning yellow, but a few look relatively happy.  The dwarf marigolds continue to grow, and some of the flower seeds I scattered are also sprouting.  We should have plenty of marigolds, at least.  I can only hope they'll be satisfied in such close quarters.  If the irrigation system doesn't water them enough, I'll have to remember to do it by hand-- an iffy prospect.  (...Or I could transplant them to the flower garden, if they're drying out too much in the cinder block holes.)

Monday, April 27, 2015

Almost the End of April...

I'd like to have another climbing/rambling rose like the one currently growing on the west wall of the house.  (...Though I'm not sure where I'd put it, and it might actually be even nicer to buy one of a different variety...)  Well, anyway, I'd still like to propagate that rose.  (We have a big yard; I can find a place for it.)

I'm not sure whether it's a climber or rambler, despite reading about how to tell the difference.  It has groups of seven leaves and it is pretty pliable, which would make you think it's a rambler, but I'm still not positive.  I asked about it last year on GardenWeb, and someone suggested 'Lavender Lassie' as a possibility.  Most of the photos of 'Lavender Lassie' aren't an exact match, but I've found a few that do look a lot like my rose... 'Lavender Lassie' is a climbing "hybrid musk rose" introduced in 1960. 

In any case, I did a very little reading online about how to propagate roses, then took four cuttings.  I'm not feeling very confident, based on how much the leaves are drooping.  I haven't had great luck propagating roses, in the past, but I'm sure I wasn't doing it correctly. 

- - - - - - -

I fertilized some of our plants (shrubs, perennials, small trees) this morning, in advance of the predicted rain.  I have no idea if it's the right time, right formula, right amount, right phase of the moon-- but I figure it's probably better than nothing. 

The job's not completely finished, but even "started" is something.

 - - - - - - -

Unless the weather forecasters are playing a cruel joke, we're due for a couple of cooler days starting mid-week.  That sounds wonderful.

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Photos from the past couple of days:

The first daylily bloom of the year!
This cheerful yellow came from Mom's garden, earlier this spring.  At least some of those (not sure if it was all or not) were originally grown from seed by Carrie and Victor (one of my sisters and her husband).  I believe Mom said the ones they grew were registered hybrids, though she didn't know their names.  

Yellow Daylily

Yellow Daylily

Creeping Jenny 'Goldilocks'.
It's hanging in there.  I'd like to get this established in the ground.  Right now all I have of it is in a couple of containers. 

Creeping Jenny

Aloe vera can look so lush:

Aloe Vera

Freckle-face has performed better than I expected.  Some of the hold-overs from last year probably need trimming soon, though.


'Nearly Wild' rose.
I have two of these.  One is much smaller than the other.  It hasn't grown much for the past couple of years-- not as much as I'd have expected.  A gentle early-spring pruning might be reinvigorating.  It was among the fertilized plants of this morning, so maybe that will help, too.

Nearly Wild

Nearly Wild Rose

Thunbergia (black-eyed susan vine).
It's not growing very quickly, but it's early yet.
I think I'll transplant most of these marigold seedlings and leave just one on the other side of the tub.

Thunbergia and Marigolds

Double Red Knock Out rose.
It's kind of crazy how BRIGHT RED these things are!  Retina-searing red-- but in a good way.  ;o)


Double Red KO Rose

Double Red KO Rose

Achillea continues to bloom.
It has a very natural wildflower look to it.  (It probably is a wildflower, but I haven't seen it in my little corner of the world.)  If it starts taking over, next year, I may relocate it to another part of the yard.


Stormy weather approaches...
But it turned out to just be some gentle rain.  Nothing like the weekend's violent wind and soaking bucketfuls. 

Cloudy Morning

Daisy gardenia.
It's a simple but cute-looking flower, isn't it?  And it's a gardenia, so there's that wonderful, sweet fragrance, too!

Daisy Gardenia

The third clematis.
This bloom is aging, but still lovely.  I love that anemone-type center.  The plum tips!


Overnight, the pineapple guava buds burst open.  There are a lot of them this year.

Pineapple Guava Blooms

Pineapple Guava Blooms

The clumps of spiderwort by the bald cypress are taking over.  I guess I don't mind them there...


The lantana has started to flower!  I wonder if this can be the same type Mom used to have at the old house... Hers was a big bush; this one, so far, has stayed fairly small.  Pretty, but small.


'Little Gem' magnolia.
They both have started blooming.  It's a very fresh, sculptural type of flower. 
I've read that they have a fragrance (like their larger relative, the Southern magnolia), but I don't know that I've ever noticed any magnolia having a scent.  I'll have to remember to give it a good sniff, next time I'm walking by...

'Little Gem' Magnolia

Sunday, April 26, 2015

April Showers

This particular shower was more of a storm.

We got more than 1.5 inches in the space of probably 15 or 20 minutes, along with high winds.  There wasn't much damage, fortunately.  Some of the aluminum cuffs we'd put around the young vegetable plants were blown across the yard, and the tomato plants got a bit battered.  A number of very small branches blew down-- nothing big.  A shepherd's hook holding a hanging basket and lantern fell over, as did a wire obelisk that I had plonked down temporarily in a flower bed.  (I've been gathering things that need a coat of paint.)

The two rose of Sharon trees flanking the covered patio were leaning toward the east, when it was all over.  They've done that in the past.  I guess it's something to do with their root system and/or the sandy soil in that location.  In any case, we've gently straightened them up, before, so I hope they'll be alright this time, too.  It does seem very likely that they'll be among the first to go if/when we have our next hurricane, though...  Well, they're speedy growers and can always be replaced, if need be.

Donald took this video during the storm:

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Tidbits and Photos

This and that:

I'm positive this is passionflower vine.  The only question is why it decided it needed to put up a vine so far (10+ feet?) from its original location-- and why it refuses to put up new growth at the old spot.  If I transplant this to the old spot (by the trellis), will it be happy or shrivel up and die once and for all?  Frustrating!


The tiger lilies are still growing.  Based on photos from previous years, it won't bloom until late June or early July.

Tiger Lilies

Donald noticed that there are new buds on the viburnum!  So it's going to bloom on the new(er) growth, after all.  Nice!


The third type of clematis Mom gave me is flowering.  Isn't that dark plum center lovely against the blue-purple petals?


This week, I re-potted the last of the daylily seedlings.  They're all huddled around the loropetalum for protection from the sun. 

Daylily Seedlings

Let's enjoy the pretty, cool foliage of the bleeding heart while we can.  "Old Time is still a-flying"-- and this may or may not make a return next spring.

Bleeding Heart, Philadelpus

The daisy gardenia is just beginning to bloom.  Mmm, gardenia!

Speaking of them, the big, "old-fashioned" gardenia down in the Wet & Wild corner of the yard is (I'm pretty sure) suffering from whitefly and resultant problems.  We'll try some sort of remedy soon.

Daisy Gardenia

This fern volunteered in a hanging pot that I kept in the garage over winter.  Last year, the blue lobelia reseeded itself in the pot, but no such luck this time.  What did come up was this fern.  I guess we're keeping it for the time being.  I have no idea what kind it is... Ferns all look about the same to me, unless there's something very unusual in the shape or color.

Wild Volunteer Fern

I've planted something on the passionflower trellis, just in case we can't get passionflower to grow there, this year.  I think it's moonflower, but honestly, it could be morning glory.  Without the "starter leaves", I can't tell them apart, yet.  (Based on the size, though, seems like moonflower.)

Moonflower Leaf (I think)

I need to remember to deadhead the dwarf coreopsis...  (And also maybe trim back some of the "wands" of the gaura, if I can tell when they're spent.)

Perennial Coreopsis

The candytuft looks a little glum to me.  Maybe it didn't like all that rain.  When it finishes blooming, a gentle trim might help.

Candytuft (Iberis)

I keep finding baby freckle-face/polka-dot plants!  I guess they set seed, but I don't even remember them blooming...

Freckle-Face / Polka-Dot Plant

I'll close with some photos of Trixie and Luna playing outside in the water-logged yard.  (It's mostly dried out by now, thank goodness, though there may still be a couple of soggier spots.)