Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter & a truly spring weekend...

As it is Easter weekend, Lucy and Helen wanted to show their easter sunday dresses. As usual, they match (I'm not sure how, but this happens quite a bit)

All of the usual spring flowers are coming out to show off. 

To add some life to our window boxes, I decided on some violas. We had some in a large pot and they did really well all year long, so I'm hoping we can have an extended bloom here as well. As long as I don't forget to water them, they should do well.

This was also a good weekend for wrapping up projects. I had prepared this area (the paver patio on the right) over the last few weeks, so this weekend we actually laid the gravel, sand and pavers. This is the third one I've done, so it definitely gets easier each time. I actually measured and cut everything right the first time and there were no surprise endings!

I also bought and put up our cedar arbors. Then we planted the roses (they are the small plants on either side of the arbors) that will eventually climb the arbors and add some color. I will plant some purple clematis, but they aren't in the nurseries yet. Then we spread new bark around to add that little somethin' somethin' - that last little touch.

Last, but not least, this is our first bouquet of the year. It is an assortment of daffodils, and not too lively, but it is enough to qualify as the first of many!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

sowing my wild ... flowers

There comes a time in every person's life when he or she realizes that there may be lots of bright crayons in the box, but he or she isn't won of them. There may be sharp tools in the shed, but no luck their either. Today was one of those days for me.
In the effort to save effort, I decided that it would be better to lay cardboard and throw dirt on top instead of rototilling the area to prepare the way to sow my wild - no not my wild oat - my wild poppies to be exact. So with the best of intentions I laid out all of the cardboard from our recent swingset purchase and some from past purchases. Then I wheeled dirt from the front yard to the back. Then I wheelbarrowed more dirt from the front yard to the back. Then I carried more dirt from the front yard to the back. The cycle went on and on with small breaks pushing Helen on the swing whenever I walked past. Tired and worn out I then realized my mistake. It would have been much easier to walk behind a rototiller and let it to all the heavy lifting. Yes, this is another shining example of mind over matter. (using  your mind instead of thinking about what matters)
As Pumbaa so nicely put it (yes the one in the lion king) "You've got to put your behind in the past!" So now comes the good times. Throw seeds here. Toss seeds there. Hither and yon, yon and thither. Like the sower going forth, care not what the ground looks like or what birds are watching, just scatter the poppies and expect great results!
Well time will tell if this is the best way, but I hope to have poppies galore before the dogs are able to dig and eat them all!

contemplating evil....

Sunday, March 24, 2013

March Madness...

Now is the time when everyone is talking about march madness; from car dealers to sports fans and even, yes, we gardeners say it too. I think it used to be called spring fever, but with the bubonic plague, scarlet fever, brain fever, quotidian fever, tertian fever, and the fever by Ray Charles I think that as a society we have begun to  look down on fevers in general. Madness has a much nicer ring. It rolls around your tongue like vintage port.
And so, the March madness is seemingly upon an entire nation. Minds are turning to warmer happier days and spring is officially here (according to the calendar) even if, like most political take overs, there are behind the scenes, wranglings and a few free radicals running loose and dropping snow at random. The tide has turned, though and we are on the upswing. Ask not what spring can do for you, but what you can do for spring!
After yesterday's cold start but beautiful sunny day, I told my wife this is just goes to show you that denial is more than just a river in Egypt. I won't use any names, but someone cold and past his allotted time has it running through his veins. She only said that winter wasn't the only one on the banks of the nile. I'm not sure what she was talking about, but I'm sure spring is here to stay and there won't be any more cold days until late September or October.
Our hummingbirds sure think its spring though. As usual, they are congregating and catching up on old times at the flowering currents.

Sunny weather is a good time to get a head start on the spring projects too. Keeping weeds at bay, getting out the supports for floppy perennials, fertilizing, filling bird feeders, mowing, preparing paver patios, building swingsets, cleaning the garage... just the little things that make the endless job list. ;)

I hope you all had a fun weekend and maybe even got some work accomplished!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Spring Post... a bit early...

Today started rainy but ended very nice. I was planning on a spring post on Wednesday, but as it is supposed to be rainy and windy, I will jump the gun and do it now. Spring isn't here if the sun refuses to play along, but when it does, it is a whole new world out there. It is like in the movies or books when someone like Mariana looks out and life is a weary, a weary I think that I shall die; then the sun peaks through (although it is usually the beautiful young lady walks is slow motion) and then it becomes the maddest merriest day in all the new year. It is time for all good men and women to come to the aid of the party and start spreading sweetness and light and seeds.
That is how I felt coming home. I knew there were real jobs to be done, but I wanted just to walk through all of the flowers and bask in the sun. While doing that, plenty of small tasks come to hand like weeds that are trying to impose their frightful regime or rock that have strayed from their moorings and need re-anchored. There is always a plant or two that needs a little love and others that need encouragement.
New life seemed to be popping up everywhere!


The tall one is a peony tree that I thought was no longer with us, but it decided to stick around. The others are peonies that I split last fall/winter. New red shoots are starting to show!

Doesn't it look nicer with sunshine!



The Garden... Imagine the possibilities

More helebore



bleeding heart

After all of that goodness and life, here is death row or perhaps the green mile. My wonderful wife has given the presidential veto to the continued existence of house plants. A few, a very few have made the cut, but this bedraggled bunch didn't live up to her lofty expectations. So they sit here awaiting new homes. I think a neighbor will take the calathea and the rubber tree. The peace lily is looking a little down and out so he may be a little harder to place. I'd look sad too if someone didn't want me, though, so I can't blame him. In all truth, they didn't fit in with the new addition, but I would rather have a junglesque feel to the home and my wife likes plants happy, healthy, and far away. Alas, this is her domain and the executioner shall be called for. Well, I can always visit them in their new homes.

Happy Spring to one and all!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The "almost" Weekend...

This was an almost weekend for us. The rain almost stopped, the sun almost came out, it almost warmed up, I almost got stuff done in the garden. The hyacinths and daffodils are almost open. I almost didn't buy some flowers for our gate planter, then I almost planted them. 

The tulips are looking well and should be giving us some color late this month or early next.

The hummingbirds love the flowering currents. The bush is opening, but the trees are a few days behind.

the bubbles help add color

Here are a few things that actually did happen, but with out my help. It seems the good Lord keeps on working even when I almost get started to commence to begin working. Below are the winter sown calendula and below that are the first radishes showing their cute little leaves. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

There is nothing like the smell of grout in the morning to wake you up...

The question in everyone's mind, well ok, not everyone, but almost everyone who lives in most of western washington - except not the higher elevation, but more like the lower and mid elevations and lowlands and cities... "Is spring here to stay?"
Yes, that is the question. Friday and Saturday were both very warm, sunny, springy and everything nice. Our neighbors on both sides were out in their yard planting green things, mowing the grass, and some one was even spotted wear shorts. If that doesn't sniff of spring, then I don't know what does. Of course, the skeptic out there is nodding his head and saying, "check out the forecast, mr. optimism" I know, I know, it is supposed to rain for the next week or perhaps 3 months, but that won't dampen my enthusiasm.
We did, however wake up to a light frost, so that is a little scary to our small plants just peering out from their dirt filled lairs. This wasn't a heavy frost filled with the chilly touch of death. It wasn't the cold that kills with its basilisk stare. No, this was his playful little brother, who creeps up and almost apologetically lets you know that if it had its way, then spring would be here, but as it is only March, well this was his way of saying good bye and good luck. By about 10:00 the frost, ice, and chill was gone and all that was lovely had taken its place.

We haven't had a large variety of birds lately, but what was lacking in melange was made up for in numbers. They seem to know spring is here and it's time to get down to the chore of eating.
The hummingbirds have been sitting in the tops of trees and singing their little hearts out. It is one of those noises that you'll never mistake once you've heard it. I don't know if the little lady birds are attracted or not, but i'm hopeful.

Now, on to the main feature. You probably wondered what on earth could have brought on such a title as this post has. Well, as most of you know the best time to do messy home improvement projects is when the little ones are sleeping. So, after they went to bed last night, my wife and I retiled the fireplace. (we had done the prep work the night before) Then early this morning, (we noticed a robin looking in the window and shaking its head as if to say, "I thought I was the early bird") we grouted (installed grout, or perhaps engrouted the tiles) until the grout was gone. As this was our first venture into the tiling world there were some mistakes, but when people ask, I'll just say that my wife did that area, and I'll bet she'll tell them I wouldn't listen or something like that. We are just about wrapped up on our home expansion now and have only a few minor details and the fun of rearranging everything, so we are ready to have the boredom of nothing to do... except like I said before its spring. Time to get outside and do stuff!

Oh, and one last tip, don't forget to check your freezer every now and again. A long, long time ago we made some bird suet and put them on hangers to hang for the birds. Then we put some out and froze the rest. Then we forgot about them. Well, since even the weariest river windes somewhere safe to sea, we cleaned out the freezer and found them lost in their dreamless frozen sleep. Now 'viola!' here is one hanging in a tree for all the birds to see.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Alas...(not "a girl", but more like "oh no" or "golly")

With a gnarled hand, winter clutches at us one last time. Spring has begun melting its cold, frosty fetters, but he won't be foiled so easily. Yes, we had another mild frost. I had hoped it wasn't so, I thought an early spring would be not only nice, but also here. Alas, as hope deferred makes the heart sick, so an unexpected frost maketh the plants wilt. Never fear though, for spring in here. That is the last frost of the year (I hope) and now we are on to bigger and better and brighter and warmer days!

With more projects than budget, we've had to prioritize a bit. The beauty bark for the back is on hold - true, as you are thinking I haven't moved the dirt or pulled out the grass, but I'll do it soon. It is supposed to be a nice weekend. I also am prepping the area in the fragrance garden for the new pavers, but as we don't have the gravel or sand, this too is on temporary hold. To save some money I am moving the pavers that lined the fragrance garden to the side and will reuse them for the patio. (pictures to come) In their place I am putting some of the rocks left from the rock wall that used to be up front until we had that redone by people who actually know how to build rock walls. I am trying to line all of the beds in the front yard with these repurposed rocks so that they will all kinda sorta tie in together and look like someone planned it. I know it won't fool anyone who really knows what feng sui is or even the designers out there, but since you can't fool everyone all of the time, you gotta to try to fool some people some of the time.
I did tie up the raspberries and weeded them. This rebar was used on the front fence, but as it doesn't need it any longer, the rebar is being repurposed. This year we should have a much bigger and better crop. Last year was the first year for them and they did much better than expected. Lucy and Helen enjoyed eating them (ripe or not) and should enjoy them again this year.