18 September 2012

imposter

Pacific Chorus Tree Frog on a recently acquired Rhododendron (the frog was a sign-- I had to buy it!)

 My sister said to me the other day that I really needed to tone down on the plant talk on my blog.  She said it's aging me and that I would get more readers if I posted some more on my personal life- specifically, juicy stuff like fights with my partner.  (Partner?  No, I'm not a lesbian, although I have absolutely nothing against them and in fact encourage whichever sexual preference one has.  Boyfriend?  After almost 10 years it just doesn't have the same ring to it.  Better half?  I beg to differ.  Let's stick with partner, shall we?)  Well, for starters, although I follow many blogs in which the authors share much of their personal lives, I'm not interested in sharing that much with the world.  I like to post about what I'm interested in, and just hope that some other randoms who have the same interests as me enjoy reading these posts.  If not, I'm okay with that, because another reason that I have a blog is to journalize my own interests and improvements, in things like house renovations, garden projects, and bird photography.

blooming Sempervivum

And another thing has occurred to me after reading my last few posts--I might actually sound like I know what I'm doing when it comes to gardening...which is complete and utter nonsense!  Maybe I'm good at sounding like I know what the heck I'm talking about, but in reality it's all new to me.  I do read a LOT of gardening magazines and books and blogs, and spend a LOT of time in nurseries talking to other backyard gardeners and nursery owners.  I ask family, friends, neighbors, pro landscapers, and co-workers a ton of questions.  And the vast majority is trial and error.  Some things work, and some don't.  That's the hardest part of gardening at your first home.  You buy the wrong plants for the wrong places and they do great for the first couple weeks when they are fresh home from the perfectly fertilized and irrigated nurseries, and then they fail.  Realistically,  failures outweigh the successes in my garden.  Often times just moving the plant to a better location can fix this but then you can run into the problem of the colors and foliage not combining well with the other existing plants.  This all just takes time and it is incredible to see the improvements year after year and what a little more knowledge can do for your landscape.  Any amateur gardener can attest to this.  When neighbors ask to get a garden tour I am always apprehensive because "it's not finished" or "there's better color in the spring" or "the lawn edges aren't sharp enough".  I think that some people expect to see this amazing flawless jungle when they come over to my house, and I'm pretty sure I am letting these people down.  Sorry about that.  It's important (for me, at least) to learn that it is not about the perfectly planned and finished border--it's the journey with the worms, backaches, bruises, dirty fingernails, and blistered hands that is really the part to treasure. 

Anyways, that's about as personal of a post that you're going to see.  And besides, the bf and I never fight, so there would be nothing "interesting" to write about!  ;)  Thanks for reading....

The latest haul.  Actually, that's a lie.  This is about 3 hauls ago.  Some lovely hellebores, hakonechloa, hostas, ferns, toad lilies.

17 September 2012

september: what's blooming now

It's that time again- summer has almost come and gone but luckily there is still lots of color to be found outside, not to mention the intoxicating scent of such flowers as the Acidanthera which appears below. 


The top left is a new addition- a type of Tricyrtis or 'toad lily'.  It's a delicate shade perennial with late-blooming beautiful colourful flowers that resemble orchids.  These get fairly tall- about 30 inches, but with strong stems holding up light flowers they seem to to be holding their own so far.  Moving right, there is the summer annual Nicotiana, still blooming away profusely.  I don't add many annuals but have always had a fondness for these reliable little guys--this year planted in a large pot beneath the tropical leaves of a calla lily. 

The next perennial deserves it's own paragraph- Acidanthera (Gladiolus callianthus) has the absolute best smelling flower I have ever encountered- it has a tropical look to it, too, which fits right in next to the calla lilies which have recently stopped blooming.  The foliage is much like a tall Crocosmia, but these are more compact plants with larger flowers.  This one is going to be an experiment for overwintering.  The tag says zone 8, and with some further research I have come across this handy little table which confirms my thinking that some mulching should do the trick throughout our mild zone 8 winters.  Wish me luck.

USDA Hardiness Zones
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
- Sp/C Sp/C Sp/C Sp/C M M H H H
C=container; H=hardy; M=hardy with mulch; Sp=plant spring, harvest fall; F=fall plant 


Finally on the bottom right is the popular Limelight Hydrangea- I purchased one last year, but this one is a new addition which has been pruned into the shape of a tree. Standing about 5 feet tall, it has been a wonderful addition to the new border. It provides some height and late-season color, right into October and November when the thousands of petals will transform from lime green to bright white to cream to a rosy blush and then finally the dried flower heads will remain until I prune it back in early spring.



14 September 2012

pot reno

It's hard to believe that it's that time of year already.  You know, that tired, thirsty, ragged look that your garden gives you when you get home from work and have no desire to begin the inevitable but necessary fall garden prep and cleanup.  I prefer to start with the easiest pick-me-up, and that would be tearing out those leggy summer annuals and replacing them with cheery pansies.  For only a few bucks per 6-pack, it's an easy way to brighten up a corner or clean up some patio pots.


The nicotiana, licorice plant, and already-bloomed sempervivum had seen better days!  In a few weeks the fresh pansies will fill out nicely and provide some contrast to the grey-green succulents nextdoor. 

13 September 2012

modern adirondack


 You heard me degrade those plastic Adirondack style chairs around our new firepit a few posts ago, when I mentioned I had a new little project up my sleeve.  I have been desperately seeking out a more modern take on the classic comfortable solid wood Adirondack- but most of my options would have set me back $1200+ for four chairs.

So I found a few photos here and there and we designed our own, for only about $150 total for cedar, sandpaper, and stain.  It probably took about 3 hours per chair of cutting, drilling, assembling, sanding, and staining.  Plus a little extra time for the whole designing process.  I can't take credit for any of this except for the initial brainstorming.  I was way too busy in the garden to spare any time for building these. ;)


Not sure why it took me so long to post about these beauties, considering we've been enjoying them for at least a month now.  They are pretty comfy to sit in as is, but I think some custom cushions with outdoor fabric would really finish them off and make them super comfortable.



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