Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Time in the Garden

It’s the first week in July. I should have started writing this in April. My gardens are not where they should be by this time of year. This is the first summer in my new home. By the end of next month, I will have been here a year. It’s been a year of renovation and living in clutter. One area gets cleaned up and organized, but then it gets messed up again in fixing somewhere else. It’s getting there and the newly added garage is a huge help in storage space. But I digress. I want to talk gardens.

The house came with a seven foot deep swath of gardens on either side of the front stairs. I recognized rhododendrons, lilacs, roses, and azaleas. I remember from last summer that there were some wild flowers: goldenrod, black-eyed Susans, yarrow, and daisies. Along the slab is a single row of day lilies.

It’s been fun seeing what’s coming up and some of the plants are still not yet identified. I think there are some daisies. I’ve weeded out sheep sorrel, wood sorrel and tiny oak and maple trees. Right now I’m debating whether to pull the wild strawberry. There’s a lot, especially on the front south side (the front of the house faces west and gets a lot of afternoon sun). 

The garden is straight-lined (like the house) and I’m trying to create more of a curve. The guy who rebuilt my kitchen and built the garage also likes to do landscaping. He’s going to build a front walkway and we’ve discussed how to do a slight curve to work the walkway with the new part of the garden. 

I’m at the stage of the game in my life where my body doesn’t allow me to do a lot of physical work. Too much of the past years have been spent sitting. My knees are shot, my feet, hips, and back hurts. I break up my day now by doing a little writing, then going out to the gardens. I get outside before the sun gets on that side of the house.

Yesterday I took white spray paint to the cement deer I’d painted brown the other day. I added the white to the chest and inside the ears. Spray paint isn’t exact, but it’s quick. I’m determined to add brightness to dull-colored items in the yard.

I loaded the wheelbarrow (which I spray painted purple on the outside) twice with mulch and started putting that to the right of the front steps. The left side is mostly done except for the very front of the garden to which I am extending to add that curve. I’m putting a layer of newspaper down first to help keep the weeds down.

I didn’t like where the hose reel was, so I moved that over a bit maneuvering it between iris, day lilies and an azalea. I pulled out quite a bit of wild strawberries, but left some. Two loads were all I could manage before my body screamed for a break.

This side of the house is too sunny and hot to work during the day, so I do my inside work. I’m in the process of making a gardening manual of all the plants in my gardens. I’m gathering info from websites and writing my own version which I print (along with a photo). This way when I want to know something about one of “my” plants, I don’t have to thumb through a book with pages and pages of what I don’t have in my yard. It’s a slow and tedious job, but it’s also teaching me a lot about the plants.

I don’t get back outside until 5:30 p.m. I deadheaded and watered the flowers in the boxes on the back deck first. Out front I debated about more mulching, but decided to deadhead the big hanging planter. 

I got a folding chair from the garage and set the planter on the bench on a bigger pot so the height was easy for me to work. Petunias are sticky things and I got to it. I hadn’t deadheaded this in a couple of days. They are mixed in with calibrachoa (which look like small petunias, but are not). This kept me busy for awhile. The little latch-thing broke on my favorite snippers. Now I can’t put it in my pocket. 

I felt a bite on my leg and looked down. Drat! Ants! There are so many ants in my yard. They are everywhere and they are swarming. (Do they call that swarming?) Anyway, if I stay in one spot any length of time they start crawling on me and they do bite! I’ve put a ton of ant stuff down. I think they like it. (Just like that animal repellent spray seems to attract the squirrels and raccoon.)

I finished the big pot and did a smaller and watered both. I also watered the rest of the flowers in my gardens.

I have a long way to go before I can be considered a gardener. I’m struggling with these plants that say they like full sun, at least 6-8 hours a day, but by late afternoon, they are looking burnt and wilted. 

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