Sunday, December 30, 2012

So long, farewell...

Adieu to another year. Full of hopes and fears, trouble and turmoil, from small things that have shaken communities to larger events that have caused an entire nation to pause and pray. Each year passes a day at a time, yet memory creates a much shorter timeline. I hope that there has been a silver lining for most of the dark days we've all had. Maybe the celebrations have been sweeter knowing how fragile and fleeting life is. 
Like every year, I have planned a lot and done a lot. Some things were better than the planning and lots were worse, but what better way to learn? Our yard has had some pretty dramatic changes over the last year, but I think mostly for the best. 
Winter still has its iron grip over most of the country and will probably last until on or about March 20th. The fickle fancied weather gods may play along or keep us on our toes. Either way I hope your holidays have been good and your year better. 
When Chekhov saw the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope. Yet we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life. But here among Garden Bloggers Anonymous and basking in the warmth of our hearths and hearts, I could cant imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter - unless it be an early, a very early spring. 
May blessings and your garden abound in 2013!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Weekend Expansion and a little sunshine...

It was a pleasant, brisk sunny day on Saturday. The kind that trick you into going outside with the sun shining and then a winter breeze comes up holds your hand and searches for a chink in your armor and attempts to chill you to the bone. (Good reasons to work hard to stay warm!)
As I had jobs I wanted to get done outside though, it the best day I was going to get for a while so into the cold sun I went. I had done some prep work last weekend for our garden expansion and today I finished the construction faze. I put some gravel for the paths around the raised beds (don't worry, you'll see pics below, and that will probably make it clearer) but as most people weren't open past 1:00 I will spend next week getting more gravel and lots of dirt. Then I'll have almost 2X the amount of planting space as last year. I seem to always pack things in no matter how much room, but I'll to make it a little more zen like and open and uncramped and stuff like that. 
I think someday I'll write a book. Something like "Laws of Gardening" and I'll go down into history as the father of modern gardening or some such. People will speak of the Phares Laws the same way - in the same hushed reverent tones - they speak of Newtons or Zeroth Laws. My first one will be something like "Gardening expands to 114% of the space allotted." Another one will be "For every 1 seed you plant, 17.34 weeds will grow." Fun laws like that. I'll have to come up with case studies and proofs, but for every fun job you must have a chore or two so I won't mind.
(just a tidbit for you to think of this next week or so)
On to more fun. My two dogs and big helper, Lucy, were out as usual, so there are a few pictures at the end. I think gardening (maybe my third law of Gardening) is increased 19.32% by every "helper" that comes out to join the fray. I will have to say that this grand total must be divided by the average age of the "help" or perhaps the subluniary total in conjunction with the temperature forms a basis for increase of enjoyment. Something to confuse anyone who is not an avid gardener. But proof or not, having children, grand children, or your neighbors children (provided no one gets hurt) makes it lots of fun.

So, in closing, I hope you all had a great year and next year is even better. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

snow day!

We woke up to a bit of snow on the ground this morning. We probably won't have a white christmas, but we can enjoy the snow for now!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Midweek post...

I know, you are saying to yourself, "what mischief are you up to now?" After months of no middle week posts, out of the blue comes one now.
Well, I like to keep my public guessing. You never know what madness will come out of this humble abode. This will make up for one of my missing weekend posts in the past or perhaps the future. Either way, it isn't out of the ordinary. It just doesn't happen very often.
So, on to the breaking news of the day.

With most people now a days speaking out on how the good old days were, it seemed time to speak well of modern conveniences. Take your mind back. Say we are in about 45 BC. Right about the time of cleopatra and marc anthony. Were I to send you a picture or even spread one about the merry old city, I'd have to see it, then get one of the great artists of the day to come and see it. Then a mason would chisel out a stone or two for sculpture. I may also fell a tree and make papyrus. Either way, the beauty would be etched or drawn (which would take a month or so). Then I'd call in one of my nubian slaves and send them off with the rock portrait or papyrus drawing. They would travel the deserts to your small hamlet and give it to you - if they did not drop it in the nile or throw it at a passing scorpion. All said, months may have elapsed before you were able to behold the sight I thought so beautiful.
Back here in modern days, all I do is take a picture and post it on my blog. Much simpler.

So weather you love or despise the computer, enjoy home remedies or go to the doctor, use a riding lawn mower or hand pick each leaf of grass, use synthetic or organic fertilizer, plant bioengineered seeds or sow by the light of the 3rd full moon you can still enjoy these birds.

I'm not sure what they were doing, but maybe it's a sign it will be an early spring and twitterpation is in the air. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012


About this time of year, the bird feeders are usually full of water which makes them no good for bird or man. The seed gets slimy and compacted and with that comes mold and grossness. 
However, this year I bought two of the finch feeders that only have the side ports and the water doesn't fill the lower basin causing wreck, ruin, and other havoc. (i'm probably explaining this poorly, but don't worry - I understand it completely!) Also to help explain, just look at the pictures below and you'll see the new feeders. 
All of this is good news because now we get to watch the birds eat their breakfast while we eat ours and they get food and that makes for a win-win situation. 
Below are a few pictures from this weekend's breakfast.

Also, I am beginning the construction of our expanded garden for next year. I dug the area up and put plastic down on Sunday. Now when I get time I'll construct the raised beds out of the old split rails from the fence we just took out. Then we'll fill them with good dirt and spread gravel around the beds. I should have more time for this over the christmas weekend, but will be slowly working on it when I get time between now and then. I'll post pictures as I go. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Holidays bring...

As you all probably know, though if you've been anywhere shopping lately you will have observed as well, it is the holiday season. Johnnys and Susans and Burts are crowding every store in search of the perfect gift for that special someone which shows just how much he or she really cares, but costs only $19.99 or less.
Also, the holiday season bring people. This year is especially special for me because my mom and step dad are flying in from Minnesota. Yes, that marvelous, magical master gardener of a mother is coming. I've been telling the plants that it's time to shape up. It's time for all good plants to come to the aid of the party. "Cast off your gloom!" I say "I don't care if you've been freezing your tootsies off. Shine and shape like you've never done before." I am not sure how your motivational speeches go around your garden, but mine went over like a lead balloon. They cheered and what not, but no action. So now its up to me. I spent most of the weekend pruning, weeding, putting in a couple steps, planning (only 20 more days), and the like. Some seem to be getting into the holiday spirit, but like someone once said, "Where there is a whip, there's a way."
All that is left is lots, but in case I don't get around to all if it, I have a back up plan. If you read much in the gardening sector - blogs, magazines, books, etc - you start to pick up a few good one liners. I'll start off with a "We are letting that area grow a lot of the native plants. Really trying to bring out the true Washington unspoiled soul come forth." After that, I'll just stand in front of an area that isn't quite up to par and point out something in the middle distance. As a last resort, I will stand about 10 feet away and say, "This area you have to stand back a little to take in the whole landscape. It ruins the affect if you get up and close to each (here if I was truthful I'd say mostly dead, or sad looking) plant."
Between hard work and shaded true (or white lies) we shall be able to pull off a holiday spectacular!

I used flagstones to make a less muddy path for our neighbors to walk through

From inside the fence

Front wall

At least someone in trying to make things pretty