Wednesday, August 29, 2007

help needed

in planning my garden layout.

i'm thinking my gardens need an overhaul from the raging heat spells we had this year, a weird short period of drought, my neglect, weeds taller than a building, 71 pound dog running rampant, etc etc etc.

i have garden beds that, despite some amending of the soil in the spring, are mostly clay based and in full sun. right now the only things that are growing well there are hostas, typical orange day lillies, and weeds. so i need some help in getting some garden flowers and plants that will tolerate those conditions fairly well. i will have a 1 year old running around next summer, so i also want plants that will be kid safe (although every year i get some weird plants that just show up from a neighbor's garden blowing in the wind) and if they can stand up to a dog that will run over some things even better (but not a requirement).

i'm also thinking about putting up a garden fence that is hopefully not that obtrusive around the garden beds to that, at least for the time being, my little bugger won't be able to easily get in my garden beds. any ideas?

i also really really really like the look of russian sage, but i don't know if that is a plant that grows well in my garden beds, or if it is kid friendly or not. i read somewhere that it might create an allergic reaction if handled? anyone?

the fruits of little labor

my poor, neglected garden, i vow to make it better next summer.
as i was hacking through the 3 foot weeds and starts of trees this past weekend, this is what i found:

the majority of my sweet peas (which have taken it upon themselves to grow all over my garden) are going to seed.

some sort of morning glory or other vine is crawling up my fence.

and crawling around the only bush that grows well in my clay side beds.

and yet another mystery plant (or tree) that is growing and crowding the only bush that grows well in my side beds.

i have volunteer tomatoes growing in 3 different places. they are about 6 inches tall, and while most of the tomato growers are harvesting fruit, mine are just starting to bear any fruit at all (actually, just this one. the others look like their flowers are just starting to die off).

ivy is fun.
but it's a love hate relationship.

i love the look of ivy. i hate how it's so invasive. i love the evergreenness. i hate its creepy suction feet.
i tend to cut it back to a manageable growth every year. this year, not so much. it, not unlike the rest of my garden, i have neglected, and it's pissed and taking its revenge by growning rampant.

and it's growing in my gutters, windows, and starting to grow on my roof. so, of course, i freaked out. i don't want it infiltrating my trim and under my roof shingles. so i cut it and ripped it down. but it did not all come down, leaving a little on my chimney and a long, free swinging bushy tendril to sway in the breeze.

but then a pending severe thunderstorm starts to move in with the POSSIBILITY of gusty winds up that MIGHT get up to 65 mph, and i start to freak out again and irrational thought takes over and i start to ACTUALLY BELIEVE that if the wind gets my "free swinging in the breeze" tendril it will rip off all the brick from the side of my house and cause my chimney to come smashing down and through the roof causing irrepairable damage until i can get a ladder and chop it down. but the ladder is in the garage, and honestly, i'm a little afraid of ladders, so i nix the ladder idea and hope. all the while trying to balance out of my window with a extendable hedge shears in the middle of diagonal shooting rain and wind, swiping at my extremely long awkward gardening tool trying to cut off at least the bulk of the free swinging vine.

and after 5 minutes, the wind died down, the sun (or sunset) came out, and i'm sitting soaked looking at my still intact chimney and brick house.

now, for all of you ivy lovers out there aghast while reading my story, i did not rip out the root, because i do like a little ivy, and feel as though i will have fun watch it grow again next year (if i haven't killed it...but i haven't killed it in 4 years).

amazing that MOUNDS and mounds and yards and yards of ivy (and heaps and heaps of irrational thought) have come from just these 2 vines.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


the snake (i named him pookie) in the post below, i believe has died. my husband said he saw pookie in the middle of our neighbors lawn in full sun, and it hadn't moved in a half of a day. i cannot understand how it might have died, other than a lack of food (which means we have no vermin in our yards, can't say that i'm sad about that). we are hoping that he was taking a sun nap, for a really really long time. or molting. which would be really cool. but, we are very sad if he did pass, especially my dog, who thought she found a new friend.

in other news, we are having a stretch of near 90 degree weather, with the nights still very warm. i haven't had much time, energy, or enthusiasm for gardneing still, and i've never been a fan of hot weather, sweating, or working under the blazing sun. i guess having a 3 month old sucks the life out of you. not that i'm complaining, i'd take playing with my son over gardening any day.

but i did manage, between naps and in 10 minute intervals so i could duck back into the air conditioning, to finally mulch part of our garden beds to stop the sun from burning the plants and their roots, and plant the near dead violas we'd purchased almost a month ago. unfortunately, the red salvias we bought did not make it into the ground before the sun burnt them up. all the other plants we bought (snow in summer, bellflowers, veronica) are still living although are just short of being baked due to the summer heat. when i checked them after spreading the mulch though, they are growing, and growing through the burnt parts.

and the bellflowers are still blooming, the veronica is doing okay in the clay-like soil, the near dead violas are reviving, and the dog ran over my peony plant.

i think i might try to transplant the peony. any suggestions of how and when?

Friday, June 01, 2007

i almost peed my pants...

...and freaked out so many times in the span of 30 minutes that i KNOW i did some damage to my heart.

so i'm walking outside to let the dog in. i stopped when i saw her hunched over and staring at the bush near the fence with one paw up (think hound dog pointing at a duck). so, i go over to take a look, thinking it was a cute bunny or chick or something.

well, no, not that cute. i almost peed my pants. this is what i saw.
the snake was in my driveway IN THE SUBURBS and i would guess that, if stretched out, it would be about 4 feet long (seeing since, coiled up, it was at least 2 feet).

after my initial freak out complete with near pants-wetting almost loud scream, i tried to stop the dog from trying to play with and eat it and get her inside. she, of course, did not want to with her new friend slithering in front of the door so i tried the age old trick of "wanna go for a ride?" which made her run to the car and jump in. then i went back inside to get my camera.

even knowing it was there, i still freaked out a little when i stepped outside to snap photos of it. mostly, i wanted proof of the snake since no one would believe my story, but also wanted pictures to look it up on the internet and to take to the emergency vet in case the snake bit my dog before i came out on the off chance it was venomous.

i finally got it inside to look it up, and after i thoroughly examined my dog for bites, the first web page i come to has a snake that looks like this:
which is the eastern massasauga rattlesnake, the only venomous snake in michigan. i freaked again, thinking that it was just my luck that i would have, in the middle of the city, the only suburban postage stamp yard that the ONLY venomous snake in michigan had made it its home. after calming down a bit, i compared pictures, and told myself that the snakes in my backyard did NOT have a rattler, and the head is totally different, and my snake is skinnier.

so i've decided that my snake is like this one. it's an eastern milk snake. non venomous and minding its own business. and now that the shock is over, i just wonder what it's doing here, in the city, and even think it's kinda cute. i shall name him Pookie.

my final freak out startle complete with sky high jumping out of my seat came when i was researching snakes on the internet and came across this webpage and scrolled down to see this photo...
i don't know why it freaked me out but this little tiger salamander just did. and it is kinda creepy in a cute way.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

daily garden inspiration

i love this.


last year, we planted these dianthus for my friends memorial garden. they started out as just a single flower or two growing atop some leafy greens. they were sold as annuals from a local farm market. we let them overwinter, and they got all brown and straw-like.


then, with the help of a few rain showers, some sun, some warmth, they've exploded again this year.


almost like a perennial, but i have a feeling these will bloom all summer long, as they now have HUNDREDS of little flowers with HUNDREDS more buds every day.


makes me think that janien is watching me, helping me cultivate my garden. and inspiring me daily. the white flowers glow, and remind me of her incredible smile. we miss you daily.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


i must say, my husband can really get going on a project. i have to credit him with the work he did in the garden. i weeded probably about 5 square feet, picked out plants, complained about the heat, and went inside to feed the baby. he did the rest. and boy, do our garden beds look good.

for all the complaining i did about the 75-80 degree weather (doesn't it get toasty in the sun?) and refused to weed/garden in full sun... i finally did plant our garden today.

on the hottest day of the 90 degree weather week, in the hilt of the midday sun.

seriously. what was i thinking?

i guess it was trying to take advantage of sleeping baby time, and got out there for a couple hours while he took a nap.
and it was HOT. but since my husband pruned the garden beds, all i had to do was dig holes and drop plants in. i still think i burned my back though.
here are a few before and after pics of our gardens now.
plot #1, before

plot #1, after

plot #2, before

plot #2, after

Monday, May 28, 2007

brand new day

taking a cue from meagan, i have decided that since my garden is anew, i will change the garden blog look. i was getting sick of all the green anyway.

stay tuned. i promise lots of pics of my garden. just as soon as blogger lets me upload a ton o photos.

and if blogger does not, then i will change my blog yet again. maybe to one of their competitors....

Thursday, May 24, 2007

memorial garden

this was the 2 year anniversary of janien's death. we planted flowers in her memorial garden. this year, the dianthus we planted overwintered and came back again, in full force. also planted celolus this year too. it's looking mighty nice.

on a better note, the man who murdered our friend, who was almost done with his time served for possession of firearms decided to boast about getting away with murder. now they have him videotaped and are going to trial for her murder. God works justice in strange ways.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

ho hum...

all right fellow gardeners. i need a little motivation.
today, i had good ambitions and planned to get up early, weed and clean up the garden, try to amend the beds, then scatter my germinated seeds before the sun gets too hot and my baby's doctor's appointment. well.... here's how my morning went.

730am. sun is shining, looks like a beautiful day. woke up. decided too tired to move, went back to sleep.
900am. woke up to baby fussing. fed him while sleeping, decided too tired to move, went back to sleep.
1030am. woke up, decided too tired to move, but thought if coffee was made facing day might be easier. while in sleepy stupor, discovered we are out of coffee and creamer. frowned and pouted.
1035am. still frowning and pouting.
1035 and 30 sec. still frowning and pouting as i cannot find my garden clogs
1036am. begrudgingly went outside in straw hat, old flipflops, and pajammas. put on gardening gloves, armed with beloved weeder tool, and faced my jurassic park of a garden.
1037am. gasped in horror when found scary pricker weeks had grown taller than my knees with stalks as thick as my arm.
1038am. decided to abort mission, start with smaller, less scary dandelion and creeping charlies
1039am. gasped in horror when found dandelions had gone to seed and had already been scattered and creeping charlie had grown as thick as my myrtle
1040am. found worm trying to escape to neighbors garden. spent next 10 minutes chasing said worm (i love my worms) and plunked him back into hole in garden mud
1050am. thought awake enough to start on jurassic park garden
1051am. stood in front of said garden and thought "what was i thinking"
1052am. started to weed and accidentally squatted on prickers while trying to weed the prickers (i hate that).
1053am. dug up 3 prickers, accidentally broke off 3 prickers, screamed while spiders, milipedes, potatobugs, june bugs, other bugs i don't know but are still gross scattered and crawled over my bare toes in dumb old flip flops
1054am. frowned and pouted. aborted mission altogether.
1055am. smiled while in shower

please help me getting motivated to prep my beds. i cannot wait to plant, but prepping is getting in the way.

garden reflections

it's storming today.

tomorrow i shall go to the garden and weed my jungle prickers that have grown up to my knees when the soil is softer.
tomorrow i shall spread my germinated seeds in the garden.
tomorrow i shall see what kind of plants have sprouted where, and play with the worms in the dirt.
tonight, i might see what beautiful florescence of green there may be after a rain, under the moonlight....

i love it when it storms.

Monday, May 07, 2007

daily garden inspiration

sand cherry branch. the part that isn't dead.

weekend gardening 5/6/07

my little guy helping me assess my garden.
although he did find it quite boring and just went to sleep right quickly.

not started on my garden just yet. i have walked the trodden path and this is what i've found so far...tulips are very lovely again this year

the dianthus annuals i planted last year and let overwinter have apparently self seeded and are coming in as lush as ever. in the dreaded hot zone of my yard (between the sidewalk and the road) just waiting for some dog to pee on it again this year.

and it's even started to flower. i will see if the flowers are as big and plentiful this year as they were as annuals last year before i start to hack away at them.

the war waging mint that is ALMOST being run over by pricker weeds...

stupid weird pinetree like ground cover taking over my myrtle ground cover. i am into self torture and yes i HAND PICK THIS STUFF OUT EVERY YEAR.

the small, pitiful start of my poor poor hydrangea plant
yes, it's there, amidst the myrtle and weeds....

don't really know what this is, but it's in the exact spot of my poor poor peony plant i planted last year.. i THINK it's my peony plant, but since i'm new to peony plants i will wait and see.

my poor poor young sand cherry bush which is sadly half dead, and half blooming. which is a weird phenomenon that occurs in that particular area. wondering if there is some weird tree root black plague death plotting below the surface...

this weird gross bush i cut down every year (i tried to dig it up but to no avail) which keeps on growing (but is half dead) amongst *gasp* creeping charlie....

an everbearing strawberry plant runner that ran away from it's potted home from last year and is now thriving in the weird dead spots in my garden. go figure. i'm actually thinking about letting it run wild and grow runners over the particular dead spots this year because i cannot get anything to grow there so far but this.

volunteer cilantro growing in my empty plot. i'm just waiting for it to over take my yard....

and last but not least... a random CONTAINER OF DIRT i found in my garage cabinet.
yeah i know. i was just thinking.... ????

oh wait, they might be composting coffee grounds. i cannot tell.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

ugh... work to be done

yes, i do love gardening
and i LOVE weeding
however, i HATE the beginning of gardening season

my empty garden plot.

just too much to do. my husband did a good job of garden clean-up last fall when i just couldn't stomach it, but we are getting a late start this year. i'm just starting to germinate seeds, i have not even LOOKED at any garden shops, turned dirt, amended soil, weeded...

we started to rehabilitate the lawn from momma little helper's running track, "fertilization", and digging.

i also picked up an array of seeds to experiment with this year. i'm leaning towards potting herbs/tomatoes this year and planting flowers in the empty plot.

okay so i started to weed. but i got through 2 plots before i got sick of it and gave up, leaving the rest for another day. was thinking it was just too dang dry to really ease the weeding... then realized it was supposed to be nice and sunny for the rest of the week...

i left jurassic park for another day. too tired to even start. click to see all the prickers and weeds growing over my lovely lily of the valleys and hostas.

daily garden inspiration