Thursday, May 31, 2012

fly, butterfly, fly away...

About 2 or 3 weeks ago, my mom sent us a little package of caterpillars (the painted lady type) and all of the instructions on how to care for them until they were large enough to set free. This last weekend, they all had dechrysalized (yes I made that word up, but watch out it's going to catch on) and were flitting about their cage ready to see the big wide world. 
So we set them free. Here are a few pictures of their release into the great outdoors. Like most children, they haven't written home to tell us how they are doing, but I take that as proof they are doing well. If they needed money or sugar water, they'd probably call up right quick. I don't think that Lucy learned about the life cycle of a butterfly yet, or of how our life is a progression of emerging from mere caterpiller to beautiful butterfly who is going to show the world something new, but it was fun for us. Most bugs are still a little creepy, but when the preying mantis egg sack brings forth 100-200 little preying mantis hatchlings (which we've put in the butterflies old cage) she'll get another look at life's great mysteries!

butterflies in their youth

just hanging around getting ready for the big change

Monday, May 28, 2012

Mostly about memorial day weekend...

I hope everyone had a long and enjoyable weekend. There is nothing like a three day weekend for getting all of those projects that you know you should do, but never have the time for. It is also good for relaxing in case anyone did that. If you read my last post, you know I am planning a fragrant garden right now, so there was a bit of research and shopping to do. Also, there were a few parts of our yard that had been overrun in the last month. Things around here seem to have noticed that it isn't winter anymore and are growing like crazy. The weeds are trying to double their size overnight - and succeeding! I won't bore you with the details, but there was some weed whacking, mowing, digging, planning, weeding, shoveling, poisoning, and playing. All lots of fun!
The roses are all just about to bloom. A few have poked their heads out ahead of time, but they will all be in bloom by the end of the week. Right now is a very fun time if you are an avid rose gardener because there is flower proof of all of the love and fertilizer you have been putting into them. I added a few roses this year so they are a little behind the rest, but seem to be coming along nicely.

I also added a rustic wisteria trellis to the other side of our porch as it always tries to climb everything it can. (I've tried to kill it for the last two years, but like some one who might have been wise once said, "if you can't beat them, join them." So not we are going to let it grow) Here are five simple steps if you want to make one like it. 

1) plant a butterfly bush approximately 10 years ago.
2) let it grow, and grown, and grow until nice thick canes are there, then have an ice storm that kills half of the bush.
3) cut the dead branches into relatively straight pieces.
4) tie or screw the branches to each other
5) feel satisfied that you didn't spend any money and it has that rustic feel!

Last of all, here is a list of what we are going to have in our fragrance garden. Feel free to stick your oar in if you feel like there is a need.

Korean lilac.    
Mock orange (tall).     
Ludwig spaeth lilac.  
Sensation lilac
Bloomerang purple lilac. 
Charles Joly Lilac
Carol mackie daphne.     
Summer ice daphne       
Daphne adora.      
Harlequin glory bower         
Black negligee actaea.  
Chaste tree.      
Pink dawn viburnum
Bridal bouquet abelia. 
Winter sweet    
Sweet box. 
Stoppable ground cover -Corsican mint or thyme
Star jasmine
Honey suckle 

I wanted to see how it would all look, so I taped it out with painters tape (we had some extra, emphasis on had) To me it look great. I can see each bush, plant, and bench and even start to smell some of the fragrance. To our neighbor, it looked more like I was loosing my mind. He got quite a quizzical look on his face and said, "What is that supposed to be?" I just answered it is my new garden! At least he'll have a good story to tell his friends at work. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

More weekend fun...

This weekend started off gorgeously.

But mighty Nature bounds as from her birth;
The sun is in the heavens, and life on earth:
Flowers in the valley, splendor in the beam,
Health on the gale, and freshness in the stream.
Lord Byron

So it was a good day for harvesting!

Morning dew on the grass.

The Large things are beets, to the right is red and green leaf lettuce and spinach.

radishes ripe for the picking.

Pac Choi that seems to think it too hot to grow normal.

We caught a nice grub in the middle of its breakfast.

Lots of delicious edibles, now we just need to figure out what to do with the beets. Due to an ... well some sort of problem in her upbringing, my wife has never ventured far into the culinary fields. So beets have never been on the menu. I have never cooked them myself, so we have a slight problem. It's like long ago when George Washington Carver told everyone to plant peanuts to help out their fields, but then when the peanuts abounded, no one knew what to do! Well, we aren't quite so bad off because out neighbors like them and actually know what to do! A third to one, a third to another, and now the problem is manageable. My mom also sent us some recipes and you tube provided a few more ideas. We'll try one a night this week and see if we replant, or just plan on giving the rest to friends (of course we'll pretend we grew them just for them!)

On such a sweet day and with the latest Fine Gardening in hand, it is impossible not to think of what the next area of improvement will be. If you get this magazine, there is an article on making a smelly garden! or as they put it a fragrant pathway. I guess that does sound a little nicer. I am going to do my own version of this in the front yard near the front door so that we can have the nostril's delight come wafting into the house on nice days in spring, summer, and fall.

What I would appreciate, if you haven't just rushed off to start your own heavenly scented garden, (or fallen asleep reading my post) is to give me any recommendations you have on the below mentioned plants. Specific varieties for the PNW (majorly amended clayish soil, lots of rain, and zone 7-8) and even less specific will all be greatly appreciated. Also if you have any insider tips from the stable about care, planting, or even just success stories I would enjoy them as well. In advance, Thank You! (now you feel really obligated, I hope)

Chaste tree (this may be too large)
Sweet box (this might need more shade than I can give it though)
A steppable ground cover
Lilies of the valley (little ones to line the path)

Possibly also mock orange or choke berry.

These were a few ideas from the magazine...
Carol Mackie Daphne (I've heard Adora is supposed to be the most fragrant, but not seen it in action)
Bridal bouquet Abelia
Harlequin Glory Bower
Black negligee Actaea
Pink Dawn Viburnum
Miss Kim Lilac
Corsican mint ground cover

Hope your weekend was as pleasant, pleasurable, pleasing, playful, picturesque, and pretty as mine!

Friday, May 18, 2012

mostly pictures...

Here are a few pictures I took on a short walk last night. I'm looking forward to another nice weekend!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

New creations and stolen ideas...

Here are a few easy ideas if you (or your husband) are slightly clever at wood working and want to keep a few dollars in the wallet to buy more plants. If you would like more specific directions I would be happy to help, just let me know. 

This is a Corner trellis. The store had an nice rounded curve, but I didn't want to spend lots of time and it wouldn't have looked nice either. The plant (I used a honeysuckle and a hardy jasmine) goes in the raised bed and climbs the trellis. 

1) Cut base boards to equal lengths (I used 1.5') Screw the pieces together to make a solid base. 
2) Screw 1X1 Corner brace onto base. 
3) Mount trellis pieces to base at bottom and onto 1 X 1 on side for support.

Project #2

This is a vertical planter. I saw it in either a magazine or website, I can't remember, but it is easy to make.
1) cut pvc into 4' length. I ran a 1/2 down the middle so that water will get to the entire planter. 
2) cut 1 1/2" holes at equal lengths in pvc. 
3) mount pvc to base using a toilet mount. 
4) add dirt and plants!

4" PVC 4' long. 1/2" PVC 4' long. 

Lucy is a big helper!

One more idea if you have too many wine bottles!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Gardeners Bloom Day!

Spring has finally sprung here in the Northwest and there are lots of blooms! Some of the early bloomers are fading, but a lot of annuals have taken up the cause. Happy bloom day to one and all!

Violas just keep on coming


Asiatic Lilies

Martha Stewart Geraniums 

Hanging impatience 

Forget me nots

Purple and white Alyssum  

These tulips have forgotten to fade like the rest and are still going strong.

Our petunias in the hanging baskets are just starting to spread their sweetness and light.

You can smell the lilac around most of the back yard

Creeping flox...that haven't crept too far yet, but we're hoping

Almost all of the rhododendrons around here are in full bloom

Visit other gardens in bloom around the world at