Friday, June 3, 2011

Spring Crazies and Impending MG's

Oh, my.  I woke up this morning after 5.1 hours of sleep to the sound of thunder.  (The reason I know it was 5.1 hours is because my CPAP machine keeps track of such mundane things for me; all I have to do is hit a button and voila, there's all sorts of data about the last night's sleep or lack thereof) 

I was so confused, thunder?  It's going to rain?  Again??  The weatherman didn't predict this.  I jumped up and looked out the window, bright sunshine to our east and directly to our west, a big dark blue cloud. 

Oh, botheration.  Our farm renter has been trying to get his hay and corn planted for well over a month and just had the fields ready to go as of very late last night, in fact a tractor pulled in to our second driveway to start planting corn at 2AM, a fact I know for certain since both of our dogs started barking.  They are weeks and weeks behind and fields are still not really ready.  The tractor was stuck twice yesterday and after getting pulled out, he just worked around the wet bits.  It's just too late in the season to wait any longer.  Such a year it has been!  Most of the farmers around here are in dire straits...even corn with a 101 day maturity from seed to harvest is going to be cutting it very close, especially if we have early frosts in September. 

With any luck, it looks like this storm (it's still thundering as I write this) will blow on by with only a little rain...just enough to settle the dust (if there was any dust to settle).  On radar, there's just a teeny, tiny line of storms heading through, blink and you'd miss them, but wow, there is a lot of thunder.  Farming is a gamble at all times, but this year, I think the deck is stacked.  The picture below was taken last week and shows the farm field in the background with all the standing water.

The last few weeks have been so tiring.  I haven't had time to post or read other blogs, it's just work from sun up to sun down.  We're gardening as fast and furiously as we can to get ready for the MG's visit tomorrow.   There is so much to do, and nope, it won't be done in time for their visit. 

We gave up working on the Formal Garden wall, it was too wet and way too big of a job to finish before the 4th of June.  I still have a whole bunch of perennials to dig out of that garden, too.  We decided to try and make the rest of the gardens presentable instead of rushing to finish the remodeling.

I am almost done planting the annuals.  There are still about 200 left to plant, but that's better than the 2000 I started with.
 The hardest part was taking the tender plants out of the greenhouse every day and trying to find places out of the wind to harden them off. 
 I put the plants on two wheelbarrows and some shelving during the day and spent a lot of time rotating them to more or less sunny/windy areas. 

One of the new-to-me annuals I started from seed this year and hoped had promise was Mimulus "White w/red blotch":
They looked so good in the greenhouse, before I planted them, but I'm not sure how they'll hold up in the garden.

Another thing I planted last season from seed was a so-called compact Allysum 'Basket of Gold' which was perennial.  I stuck them in the hills here and there last spring and hoped for the best.  This spring, they bloomed:

The blooms were pretty, but I was less enthused about the height and dimensions of this plant, it got much taller and bushier than I expected.  And the fact I'm a farm kid and the flowers reminded me perilously of Yellow Rocket, a noxious weed I was raised to detest.  When I was a little girl, my father would send me out to the fields to pull Yellow Rocket and later on, mustard plants out of the farm. Dad put a bounty on them: I was paid a penny a plant for each and every carcass I brought back home.  But they all had to have roots on them, no fair just breaking off the weed and not getting the root.  Lucky for me, we only have a 98 acre farm, so no, I didn't make enough money to retire early on my weed pulling adventures, though sometimes I would bring in around two hundred plants.  (200 x .01= $2.00!)  Not exactly a Get Rich Quick Scheme, but this started a lifelong obsession with keeping this farm clear of the weeds. 

And then I planted the yellow alyssum last spring and when it bloomed last week, I was mortified.  From a distance, it looked so much like Yellow Rocket.  Dad, may he rest in peace, would have had a FIT!
I know it's pretty, but oh, every time I looked at it, I was feeling guilty.  I kept thinking what the farmers around here were thinking of me, too, not to mention my late father. 
I thought, "Ok, I can live with this until after the garden walk, at least something will be blooming when the MG's come."  But wouldn't you know it, the alyssum is all done blooming as of yesterday.  And also almost all gone now; Carl and I went hog wild ripping it out.  I took one look at the seed heads that were just starting to ripen and freaked out.  We pulled all but some on the back of  Quarry Hill out.  I hope I'm not going to be sorry I didn't yank them, too.  I don't know how invasive this plant is, but it's creeped this old farm girl out.
If anyone has had experience with this plant, I'd appreciate hearing if I just made a huge mistake in tearing it out or not.

Anyway, back to the work saga:

Even though Ann works a night shift at her job, she's been coming out here when she can to help us get ready, a few hours in the morning here and there and any spare time on the weekends.  She rakes up pine needles out in the Back Eight and hauls them up to the garden and dispenses them wherever they are needed.  Last weekend, Richard and Emily stopped in for a visit on Sunday and helped tremendously too, hauling mulch and other odd jobs.  Ann's daughter Jessie was here too, and was set to work spreading mulch for the afternoon.  We are not stingy with the free workouts we offer. 

So, the Master Gardeners will arrive tomorrow morning at 9:30 AM and what will they see here?  Not much.  The waterlilies are not blooming, they're not even in bud yet which is very late; the peonies are in bud but nowhere close to flowering (and the buds are the size of little marbles, go figure)  We had gorgeous apple trees in bloom until this Wednesday when we had sustained winds of 30mph with gusts to 45 mph all day long, so all the apple trees are bare of flowers, too.  Not to mention what the winds did to the columbines and bleeding hearts which are all laid out flat and battered and bruised.  Even the ornamental grasses took the wind hard, they look like someone took a blow torch to them, weirdly twisted and dried out. 

Well, the rain has passed and it's time to hit the ground running again.  If I cannot offer the MG's beautiful flowers, the least I can do is try to have the place presentable.  Joel, David and Kayla took the greenhouse down last night but the yard is littered with empty plant pots and cells, and stuff everywhere. 

One flower that might be in bloom (at least it was last night) was our heirloom Ladyslipper from Carl's late Grandpa Henry.  I ran out and took a picture of it last night before I went to bed: mind you, it was almost midnight and therefore dark out, so I had a bit of trouble focusing (ok, even finding it):

 I sure hope it is still blooming for Saturday.  My luck, a deer will eat it. 

Back to work in the gardens; Ann is on her way for a few hours and Carl is coming home early. 

Wish us luck.
P.S. Is anyone else having issues posting pictures to blogger or is it just me? 


Jester said...

HEy Karen! love the pix! I started my last post 3 times because of the damn pix....what I winded up doing, and will do from now on, I will download all the pix I want on the post & "add/attach" them all at the same time. Talk about smack myself moment. Every time I'm doing post the damn pix never stay put, this time was heaven after I did all at once!
I can't beleive how much work you all do on your gardens, it's totally amazing!!!! I hope you wake up to many many beautiful suprise blooms sat! Good Luck!!!

Alison said...

Good luck, Karen! You've been working so hard, I hope those MGs appreciate your garden. Maybe you will wake up tomorrow to gorgeous flowers. At any rate, if they're gardeners they will understand if things aren't perfect.

That lady's slipper is very pretty. I've thought about trying them, but have never done it. They scare me a little, I wouldn't want to kill one.

There are fields here full of that yellow rocket, and you're right, that's just what it looks like. I've never grown that perennial yellow alyssum, so I can't offer you advice on it. But, whether it's invasive or not, if you don't like it, you don't like it. And you don't have to grow a plant you don't like the look of.

Haven't had problems posting pictures, but Blogger has had issues lately.

FlowerLady said...

Dear Karen ~ Just reading your post makes me want to take a nap. You all work so hard and I sure hope the MG's appreciate all the time and effort, blood, sweat and tears that goes into your gardens.

Love that lady slipper.

Try not to stress about tomorrow and I hope everything goes smoothly.

Hugs ~ FlowerLady

Kelsie From Our Country Home said...

Oh bless you heart you poor thing...I wish I was closer by to lend a hand.

We are again at the opposite end of the weather spectrum with drought and heat forcing them to try and pick those melons faster than humanly possible...I sweat I can stand at my back door and watch them turning yellow...I start pacing and waiting for the front garden beds to be in the shade in the evenings so I can get out and start my nightly hose patrol...the bees however are getting cranky in the heat also and will swarm after the water.

I am sure the MG's will be more than sympathetic to your plight this year.

Best of luck and HAVE FUN tomorrow.

Blessings Kelsie

Zoey said...

Oh, those are the lady slippers I remember as a child. I used to have a few in my wooded area, but have not seen them in, oh, about 22 years! So I really enjoyed seeing yours.

That Mimulus "White w/red blotch" is beautiful. I have never even heard of it.

I am so sorry to hear that things are not going as planned for the MG's visit tomorrow. Being MG's I am sure they will understand the weather woes this year.

Lona said...

Girl I bet you all are about wore out getting ready.
The farmers have been planting like crazy this week here too. I can also see many low places that had to be planted around because of standing water. I feel for them this year.
I love the yellow alyssum and it looks beautiful around the rocks. The Mimulus has such a pretty bloom. I tried to seed some one year with not luck. Which is not anything new for me though. LOL! Have a great garden showing.

Missy said...

I'm sure the MGs will love your garden and will realise what the weather has been like as well.
I hope your yellow alyssum behaves itself.

Anonymous said...

You are one hard working lady. The MG will be amazed I am sure. I liked your Basket of Gold in the rock garden. It is a good plant for these conditions. Lucky the rain subsided. It did here too. Some rain tomorrow, but not thunderstorms.Good luck and have fun tomorrow, passing along good thoughts your way.

Rosemary said...

Hopefully the MG tour went well and the rain was light in nature for a change. Take care and try not to work too hard.

Randy Emmitt said...

I'm sure your having a great time with the MGs. The ladyslipper is sweet, I've seen them sell for $100

Gatsbys Gardens said...

That Alysum Basket sure is pretty even if it multiplies like crazy. Don't worry about the MG's they're just gardeners and they know what blooms when. Your property always looks great even without the blooms.


Beth said...

The yellow ladyslipper is fabulous, Karen! How lucky you are to have it. I like the alyssum basket too but I understand your fears...I've dealt with plenty of invasive plants and that is no fun at all!
Blessings, Beth