Saturday, September 20, 2014

Fifteen Weeks of Fame (almost)

Mid-September already and where have I been?  Well, where haven't I been would be the better answer, I guess.  My dear mother has had some health issues, nothing serious, but she is in need of my help more now.  My health has been pretty good, but the new thyroid doctor I found less than a year ago is moving to another state.  I am jinxed in that department; I scare them all away.  I have a consultation with a new doctor lined up for November, but I'm not looking forward to the appointment.  Enough about that...

I was in the garden a lot.  Weeding, planting, repeat.  We had two big garden tours/bus trips followed by wedding parties for photography.   We attended three more weddings and there was another booyah party here in August.   I went kayaking once, did a little kite flying twice, and in the middle was a whole lot of tour-guiding visitors through the rock piles of good ol' Quarry Garden.

We had our fifteen weeks of fame this summer.  Way back in April we were photographed and written up in 'Our Wisconsin' magazine and with my cellphone number in the article, my pocket was ringing quite a bit with visitors from all over the country coming to tour 'The Prettiest Farm in Wisconsin'.  (My that's a big title for a humble hut in an alfalfa field, isn't it??)

'Build it and they will come' or have a magazine write about it and that works, too.

 This was the first week we haven't had company since early June.   I didn't keep a running total, but I would estimate we had over 1,300 people look at this rock obsession we call home this year. 

If you want to be a Phone Receptionist/Tour Guide here, these will be the most asked questions.  (Answers are in italics.)  Ready?

How long have you been working on this? A long time.
Did you have a master plan drawn up by an architect? Ah, NO.
How did you know what to plant where? Trial and error.  Lots of the latter.
Are you a Master Gardener/have you had horticultural training/degrees?  Nope.
How many hours a day does it take to weed all this?  32.6
How many people do you employ?  0
What are your hours?  When I get up and when it gets dark.
Is there staff available for tours?  No staff, but I'm here most of the time.
Do we need an appointment or can we come anytime?   An appointment would be great, also it will mean I am fully clothed on your arrival.
Do you have an underground watering system?  Yes and no, there is a well, and we move the water above ground with long, nasty, twisting hoses WHEN we water which ain't a whole lot.
Who built all the garden structures?  Carl with help from spouse and children when necessary.
Would Carl build a dome/stone house/stone wall/stone pyramid/ball fountain/propane tank balls/weird garden art/pan fountains, etc for other people?  Not if his wife can help it.
Why do you plant all these annuals?  Because I love long season color and I'm goofy like that.
How did you ever find a property with an abandoned stone quarry on it?  Refer them to the construction photo album.
Do you ever have weddings here?  Once in awhile.
This could be a real moneymaker.  HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA...repeat.
Why haven't we ever heard of you before?  Faulty advertising staff.
Do you ever just enjoy it or are you always working?  No and yes.  (Ok, sarcasm aside, I enjoy it whenever I look up from weeding and see a flower in bloom against a blue sky.)
Why don't you spray weedkiller/fertilize your lawn?  No money in budget, plus, weeds are green.  And tough.
Do you ever sit out here and read a book?  No.
Do you take your morning coffee out by the pond and enjoy the sunrise?  Not a coffee drinker, definitely not a morning person, but have been known to weed by moonlight.
Is gardening a passion you both share?  Some days. 
Why don't you have a bottle tree?  We don't drink wine.
Why don't you drink wine?  We don't have the time, but Carl is an avid milk drinker.  Somehow a milk jug tree doesn't have the same appeal.
Who has the vision for the landscaping?  We're both guilty.
What is your favorite plant? That's like picking a favorite child, can't be done.
How much land do you own?  98 acres.
Are you going to keep expanding?  No, no, at least not today.
What is this stone 'ruin' thing?  We call it Castle Aaargh because......oh, never mind.
Do you intend to finish it?  How long will it take?   Yes and how long can you stay?  Do you know how to cut rock?  
Why do you make so many stained glass lamps?  We can't stop ourselves, they're like potato chips.
What will happen to this garden when you are too old/dead?  A bulldozer will push the rocks into the quarry and it will be an alfalfa field again.

Our fifteen weeks of fame are past now, but that's ok.  It was fun while it lasted.  The time flew by.

And speaking of time flying; Carl and I celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary earlier this month.  We were 20 when we got hitched, so you can do the math.  No, that's not our weeding attire, those were wedding duds as we were on our way to a reception when Joel took this picture in June. 

1872 Weeks of Wedded Bliss.  More or less. 

 And it went by like a blur.........

Friday, July 18, 2014

2014 Garden Walks

The garden walks are history now.  All that work is over for one more year, all the primping, pruning, welding, weeding and worrying.  It's sort of like planning a wedding, all that fuss for one day; you give it all you've got and more, and then, poof, in the matter of a few hours it's over. Well, this year, we did commit to three walks, so I guess the fuss was worth it.

On June 28 we were one of six gardens on the Midwest Hosta Society Convention tour.  I think around 190 people from five states toured that day and managed to find us even though our address was wrong on their maps.  Thank goodness for cell phones, people called each other and spread the word. 
See that plaque?  That there is proof we were a Tour Garden.  Didn't want you to think we were making this stuff up.

On July 11 we had a bus of people headed for a fun day up north stop in for a tour here at 7:30 AM.

And finally, last Saturday, July 12, we hosted the Emergency Shelter of Appleton garden walk.  I don't know the exact number of people who came, but it was very close to five hundred.  The day was overcast and extremely humid and the forecast called for a 75% chance of thunderstorms, but nary a drip fell during the walk.  Or after, come to think of it, we could really use some rain right about now.

This plaque is a little less specific but to the point.  In the Year 2014, a Garden Walk occurred here.
 For those of you who have never endured a garden walk hosted by us, I thought if might be fun to show you just what would be in store for you as an attendee.  When we give guided tours here, we stick to a route.   Some visitors are a little miffed by that tradition; they just want to run willy-nilly and look at what they please.  And that's ok, truly it is, but if you'd like to get the Full Garden Experience, please follow your tour guide.

Ok, here we go.  When you pull up on the road, this is what the place looks like.

Ok, rocks, a bunch of trees, yawn.
As you come up the driveway, there's a closer look of some petunias struggling to drape and cascade and generally frolic over the stone walls.  There isn't much frolicking going on yet.
Ok, these petunias planted in light shade pots and supported by scrap metal pedestals are a little more impressive than those out by the road.  Note the Select Crushed Limestone driveway aka gravel has been raked repeatedly for your visit.

Annoyingly, this is where the tour guides stop you.  We must go around the front of the house.  Follow along. 

Either Carl, Karen, Joel or David will answer questions as we go.

 Pine needle mulch?  Where do we get it?

We rake it up in the Back Eight and haul it up by the trailer load.

Do we worry about it causing too high of an acidity for the garden?


Look out for Carl's rotating sculpture in the upper left hand corner, I swear that thing is going to put someone's eye out.
 Coming out of the front hosta bed, we are now in the creek bottom.  The red 'Fresh Look' celosias are just starting to bloom.

Looking to the north, you will see the Pachyberm, so named for the mythical elephant we didn't bury here.  In reality, our geothermal lines are buried under there.  And yes, we've had a lot of winter damage on the conifers, but we didn't saw all of them down.
Just rocks and random plants.  Nothing too terribly exciting.  Move on, Tour Guide.

Stella D'Oro and liatris, yep, seen it before.

Heading back east across the front of the house, more pine needles and pesky pine cones. 
The tour guide points out our favorite daylily named 'Joel'.  The substance of these petals is amazing, they feel like heavy plastic.
Looking back from where we came, ok, we're moving a little now.
Going past what used to be Dave's sedum garden when he was a youngster. Things have gotten out of hand in there. 

 Rounding the corner, we come to Carl's water feature made of granite balls powered by water pressure. 

And here we are back in the driveway again...
Lots of those pink petunias around this joint.
These old geraniums are in a planter by the back door; the owner (me) forgot to water them from October to March last year and there were only a few leaves left this spring that hadn't dried up and fallen off.  They surely bounced back well.
 We go through Grandma Lucille's fancy painted garden gate to the back yard.
The Riverbed flowing in Pepto Bismol pink.  The tour guide will be quiet (finally) and let you look around.

Magellan coral zinnias, datura and cosmos along with my favorite garden statue.
This favorite plaque was given to me by my friend, Nancy, and I feel the saying is true.
Petunias are off to a slow start this year, cold, wet weather has slowed them way down.
Hostas, trumpet vine, weeping white spruce and granite right behind the house.

The hose in the lower left corner is Not a Soaker Hose...I repeat, not a soaker hose.  We drag our hoses around here as we need to.  We don't need no fancy watering systems.  (Actually, wouldn't that be wonderful??)
Assorted goofy conifers and coneflowers.
Another view of the River Bed.
There were some Asiatic lilies open for the walks.
The most talked about garden feature here: the recycled lightshade Pan Fountain.
Random flower shots.
Finally, the Quarry.
The dome.
The lawn furniture.
Back to the dome and the Big Balls.  (Yes, we do have the Biggest Balls of Them All--sing along, it's a catchy little ditty.)
Carl welded the old propane tank ends together and they are great fun to roll around the yard.  More on that in another post.
 There's a third one hiding over there.

 More rocks, petunias, grasses, stuff.
The Escarpment

Ok, lots of waterlilies.  Lots and lots.

Forgot to plug in the waterfall, but we got it fixed for the walk!

 Moving along, going up the trail on top of the Quarry:
View from the hill:

Koi given to us by our friend Ellen

Ok, moving on from the Quarry, there's a Pyramid.
 And the back of the Quarry Hill.

What's that thing over there?  Is it a silo ruin?

No.  Say it with me, everyone....

It's Castle Aaargh.

Aaargh with a view.  What it looks like from the inside looking out.
Why does it have a stained glass window?  What is this supposed to be?  Why aren't you working on it?
Um, yeah.  About Aaargh......on second thought, let's not go there.  It's a Silly Place.

Let's go through the Egress gate and see the Holey Rock Collection.
And the hostas and planters and stuff.

Well, here we are back in the driveway again.  I hope you enjoyed your tour.  

This concludes your 2014 Quarry Garden tour. 

Thanks for coming and don't be a stranger.  

Everyone's Welcome!
(There, now we can mess this place up again.  Get me a chainsaw.)