Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Circus Came and Went

Phew, we made it through the garden walk last week Thursday all in one piece.  And we're still happily married!  (Well, maybe I should speak for myself, huh?)  Carl had vacation for the week of June 4-8 and he said it's the hardest he's worked all year.  It's all a blur to us both; we had so much to do.

My thanks to all who commented on my previous post; I can't tell you how much your well wishes helped us stay the course and plow forward with the work.  Did we get everything done?  Nope.  Not even close, but since our visitors were all gardeners, I think they understood.
There's that Vista Bubblegum Supertunia again; I had to have SOMETHING pretty there to look at.

The wall down in the Formal Garden was finally finished at midnight on June 3.  Carl was working alone on the wall all day while my mother and I were weeding frantically.  He had made such good progress he hated to quit at sunset and when Ann called at 9PM I mentioned to her that we were going to put up floodlights and keep on working.  She asked if she could come over and help.  ( I tell you, this friend of ours is such a diligent worker, we owe her such a debt.)

The next bunch of pictures are taken from the Dome in the Formal Garden of the circular wall surrounding it.    That's a lotsa wall.  

I wish I had pictures of Carl, Ann and yours truly working in the dark but I didn't want to take the time to find a camera since we were getting so close to finishing the job.  I even pitched in to help by fetching stones with the cart if they could tell me which ones they wanted.  At midnight we all texted Joel at the same time to let him know the wall was Finally done.

We were really glad it didn't look like this for the walk.  This picture was taken only a few days before.  We still have to plant grass though.

 Joel and Allison were here many, many days last week helping in any way they could to get the work done.  From painting the lawn furniture to raking up pine needles for mulch and hauling weeds, they worked tirelessly for us.  We could never have finished as much as we did without them.

And speaking of Joel's help....... The tent arrived two days early and it was really exceptionally well-made (they are going to get a Glowing Review from me!)   However, it turns out we didn't really need the tent because it didn't rain.  In fact, we haven't had any measurable precipitation for over two weeks now.   So, I guess my menfolk were right when they said I didn't have to worry.  But we put it up anyway.  Once again the floodlights were in operation since we didn't start to work on the tent until dark.   Joel stayed up until midnight last week Wednesday and helped his Parental Units try to figure out how to build an octagonal tent and put it up over a Aaargh's foundation.  We had a head-scratching session for awhile since the tent was almost exactly the same dimensions as the stone house. 

The directions that came with the tent were really vague, but we had our biggest problem when we tried to figure out how three people could possibly lift the framework and tent roof up over Castle Aaargh.  Ideally, we needed two more people for this task, but by then it was approaching 11PM and we couldn't think of anyone to call to help.   Joel came up with the idea of bolting a 2x4 to two of the legs and then attaching a lift strap which gave him the advantage of being able to lift two of the tent legs at once.  With me on one leg and Carl on another across from each other the three of us were able to gingerly lift the tent in one piece and get it over the wall.

We turned off the flood lights and went to bed.  The next morning it was really rather startling to see this sight in the light of day.

The morning of the garden walk...whoa, what's in the back yard?
It does look rather 'outer space-like' doesn't it?  But it sure came in handy as a place to put the food and have the tables set up.  There are walls in this tent you can slide over and zip up (it's really well made) but it was hot that day, so I slid them open.  I wish I had a picture of the walls, but you can kind of imagine them, right?  We were running our fool heads off and didn't have time to take pictures of anything until the day after the walk. 
Thursday morning, the day of the walk, we were up bright and early even though we hadn't hit the hay until well after 1AM all that week.  I woke up short-tempered and frantic and when plodding into the bathroom around 7:15, I glanced out the window and was startled to see a man standing in our backyard.  Good grief, talk about early arrivals!  I hissed to Carl who was still in bed (hey, we didn't get to sleep until after 2AM that night) that we had company and told him pants would be a Fantastic Idea.   I sallied forth to see what our acquaintance required.

  The gentleman was there delivering some plants for the plant sale to be held here. I'm sure he meant no ill-will, but when he commented that it looked like we had a lot of work to do before 6PM, I kinda lost my temper a bit.  Remember I said we won't host any more early June walks?  I told him, too, rather bluntly.  I fear I was a bit rude as in retrospect I'm sure he was only making conversation, but I was barely awake and to have him point out the obvious was just a tad too much.   There was still so much to do and no time left to do it.
Is the paint dry yet??
 The picture above was what the driveway looked like on Thursday morning, so I guess his point wasn't misplaced; it just rankled me at the time.  He has a beautiful garden we were privileged to tour several times and in his defense he had merely pointed out that he knew how much work it was to get it all done.  However, his city garden is much, much smaller than the lunacy we try to keep weeded here and I blurted out, "Well, why don't you try crawling around on your hands and knees planting a few thousand annuals in a week and yanking weeds and flippering stones around on two and a half acres and we'll talk."

 The minute I said it, I realized how rude I had been but then it was too late. I think he realized he was in the presence of a Mad Woman so he wisely made good his escape.

Have I truly reached the stage in my life where my Filter is gone?  Oh, gads, I hope not.  I'm sure you all know some elderly woman or two who have a knack for just blurting out what they're thinking with nary a second thought as to whom (or is it who?) they offend.  I'm afraid I've done crossed over the threshold of my Filter-less Age already at 54.  Oh, boy, it's probably all downhill from here on out...Beware the Gardener, indeed.

Maybe my lapse of good judgment (and manners) was caused by the Venus/Sun solar thing that happened the night before?  Sort of like the Full Moon and werewolves?  Joel managed to get a really good picture of the phenomenon below using one of Carl's welding helmets and assorted other welding lenses.

The Sun and Venus in the upper right corner. 
Ok, I can't blame any planets for my being snippy.  I can, however, blame Stress.  There was plenty of that to go around on Thursday.

After our first visitor left,  I decided the first thing I had to do was clean the house because it was Just Awful in here.  I am going to admit this in print, even though I should be ashamed to, but it took me four gallon pails of scrub water to get my floors clean and I have a very tiny house.  We're really dirty gardeners.  Carl helped me by picking up all the tools (doesn't everyone have drill motors, paint cans, vise-grips and screwdrivers on their dining room tables?) and then set to fixing up the messes we still had outside. 

Joel had worked a half day and was home by 9:30 AM to help.  He handled the lawn mowing and hauled yet ever more mulch for me along with just about every task under the sun.  He was indispensable. Allison came out later in the day after work and helped with raking, last minute tossing of things into the barn and setting up the food.  We were so grateful for her help.

 I talked to Ann that morning and vented a bit over my guilty conscience while I was scrubbing.  I have a hands-free headset for my phone, works like a charm, by the way.  Ann so very kindly brought over a veggie tray and a lovely sliced watermelon and helped me prepare the other snacks I had here before she went to work.   Another kind friend from our hosta group brought cookies and bars. ( I love my friends!)

 For beverages, we had Joel's vending machine in the garage.  Yes, Joel owns a vending machine.  Doesn't everyone?
 The beverages were ice cold and free, all our guests had to do was make their selection.

Carl wanted to make a fruit punch.  I know nothing about punches, but he felt we had to have some.  Alas, we had nothing to put the punch in, so Ann kindly lent us her set.  However, once we found out hers was a family heirloom, we decided against using it.  Aaargh's hard concrete floors would make short work of a lovely crystal bowl, so we put a frantic call to our son David to go to Goodwill and buy us a punch bowl.   Dave arrived at the party just in the nick of time bearing a $5 treasure.  It worked out just fine and the punch was delicious.

The tables and chairs worked out very well in Aaargh's foundation and though I have no pictures of the actual proceedings, there were over twenty people in the tent at one time that I saw.  Joel had a time lapse camera set up and I'm looking forward to viewing the footage.  I realize there's a very unlovely view of rock piles in the distance, but we just ran out of time to haul all the stones for construction away.

Oh, well, it was all about the garden, right?
Ann gave me this plaque for Christmas.

Entering the back yard.

And the hostas.......after all this was a Hosta Society Garden Walk.

And some of the other flowers in the garden were still blooming, too.

Behind the Quarry
The waterlilies are taking over the pond again.  If we don't get some rain soon, there won't be any water to look at.   This is the view from the top of the Quarry Hill.
And this is the view looking back toward Quarry Hill from the other end of the pond.

The next morning, Carl and I went out and took the canvas part of the tent down.  The framework is still standing, we have to figure out how to take it down with just the two of us.  (Or wait for Joel or Dave to come home.)

 Carl wants to get to work on Castle Aaargh next.  So do I.  If it would rain a little, I wouldn't have to run around in circles with the hoses which is taking a lot of my time right now.  I still have a few hundred annuals to plant yet, too.

The annuals I had in the ground look pretty teeny right now.  A nice, gentle soaking rain would do them a world of good.  The lawn is downright crispy where I haven't watered it, just like August is normally.   Last year we were floating and longed for sunshine, this year we're the opposite.

 All's well that ends well.  And the garden walk was worth the effort we put into it.  I'm not sure how many people actually came, but the person in charge of counting cars said there were over forty vehicles.  Carl and I wished we could talk to everyone; that's the real downside of having large groups, there's just not enough time.  Our first guests arrived at 6PM and by 8:30 it was all over.  They were wonderful folks.

And even though I groused and grumped around about how early this walk was, now we have the garden in pretty good shape so we can start working on the masonry on Aaargh again much earlier than last year, especially since the stone wall is done in the Formal Garden.  We've had two more groups of people tour since Thursday, too, and it was nice to have the garden tidied up for their visits, too.  As all of you know, garden walks force you to get things done that might not ever get done otherwise.  They're a great motivator.

Ugh, it's 2AM already (where does the time go??) and I have to get some sleep.  I'd love to blog more than I have been doing and visit everyone but I keep running out of steam by 10PM usually.  I'm still exercising, which is a record for me, ha.  A week ago I ordered a stretching video and this afternoon just before supper (and after marching with Leslie) I did an advanced workout.  Uh, something already (my abs) tells me that tomorrow morning (in three hours) when the sun comes up I'm going to be lucky if I'm even able to move.  I think I may have overdone it a tad.

We'll see. I think I'll go back to the beginner's segment. 

Even though I own a circus tent

perhaps I wasn't cut out to be a contortionist.  

Maybe I could convince Teddy Dog to perform some Stupid Pet Tricks?

 He has the right idea.....Time for BED!


Anonymous said...

You two are amazing! The garden looks wonderful. Well done to your helpers to. I hope all your visitors appreciate the amount of work you have done.
What on earth was that silly man thinking bringing plants over so early in the morning then making stupid comments I think I would have lost the plot as well!

FlowerLady said...

Dear, dear Karen ~ You all are so industrious. All of your hard work shows in the loveliness of your place. I love the new stone wall, and the tent looked great over Aaargh!

You all did an outstanding job, now you can breathe a little easier having broken the ice for this season.

Enjoy working on the castle and I hope you get some rain soon.


El Gaucho said...

Wow, what an amazing display of work and effort and garden preparation. I can't even begin to express my admiration at how hard the two of you (and the rest of your volunteer crew - I guess it does take a village to raise a garden) worked to prepare for this event. I'm sure that the folks who were lucky enough to stop by your place truly appreciated it.

I'll see if I can direct some rain a little East of us over in your direction. My rain dance skills might be a little rusty, but I'll see what we can do.

Junebug said...

Wow, Wow, is all I can say of your hard work!! You should be so proud of your garden for all your work, wait your 6 should be proud!

Just beautiful!!!!!

Sall's Country Life said...

Bravo Team!! It all looks amazing, I bet your guests were all stunned from all the beauty. The tent looked lovely, I hope you plan on sharing some of that time-lapse photography...I want to see more!! I wouldn't lose any sleep over the delivery man with the thoughtless comments, I bet his wife set him straight! All of your hard work is mind boggling to me and You actually have enough steam to stay up and blog about it - whoa girl - you are my hero!! Enjoy a little rest now please?

Anonymous said...

As a Master Gardener I know how hard a garden tour can be, your work here is truly inspiring! I love how the driveway entrances turned out. I am sure that everyone that came to see your house was impressed. Hats off to Carl for that stone fence. Can't wait to see what you two cook up next.

Alison said...

Congratulations on surviving the garden walk! It's great that you now are ahead of things, and can concentrate on getting the castle done. I know that all the gardeners on the walk appreciated all the hard work. I love how the castle looks with the tent over it. That's a really nice tent! I'm sure it'll come in handy in the future too.

Peonies & Magnolias said...

Y'all are amazing that is for sure. I love reading your posts and touring your garden through your pictures. It is truly beautiful all year long. Have a great rest of the week.


Dragonfly Treasure said...

I wish I had a quarter of the energy you have! The gardens are amazing, as always. I think we can be so critical of our gardens, but others only see the beauty and not the work we see. You two are real troopers to be able to work those long hours and with such little sleep, and still exercise!! Great friends and family helpers are such a blessing. I'm sure everyone had a fantastic time!
Love that tent! Hoping you 2 can slow the pace down now and "enjoy" work on the castle ;)

Zoey said...

I knew your garden would look great for the tour. It does seem like way too much work, though. Be sure to remember next year that you are not taking tours in ealy June! :)

Your bubblegum petunias are huge! I guess that's because of all the work you do in the greenhouse.

The tent is a great idea. I think you will get a lot of use from it during the super hot days this summer when you can relax in Castle Arrrgh. Yeah, right. I know you two never get to relax.

Take a well deserved rest and then enjoy the remainder of your gardening season.

africanaussie said...

First of all I am always exhausted just thinking about the hours you are up. You are all amazing and it shows - what a beautiful garden you have. I love that tent over castle aargh. Now if I was you, I would have left the tent up and forgotten about any more nights working until midnight with a spotlight. Congratulations on being so persistent with your exercise as well. You are truly an inspiration.

Indie said...

The garden and all the walls look absolutely beautiful. I can't even imagine all the work it would take to get that large a garden in shape (especially if it was my type of untidy garden!) What a fantastic job! I enjoyed the virtual tour - I'm sure it's even more gorgeous in person!

Darla said...

I just know this garden walk/tour was excellent. We have a tend to see what needs to be done and not what's been done. Your gardens are beautiful as always and your writing is very entertaining...have a cuppa and relax!

Debbie@Debbie-Dabble and A Debbie-Dabble Christmas said...



So beautiful!! Thanks so much for sharing with all of us!!
You should be so proud of yourselves!!


Mac_fromAustralia said...

Here's one more comment with the word amazing!

Toni - Signature Gardens said...

Congratulations on all of the work you got done for the tour! Tours are the best motivators for sure! I can't believe how perfectly that tent fits over Castle Aaargh!!! Kind of gives a visual of the finished castle :-) I hope you are not in for the dry summer we had last year. We are having ample rain this year, praise God!! It is such a great feeling to have the bulk of the work done for the summer. After I got all of my work done for the tour my garden in May, I could finally enjoy my garden and tend to it at a normal pace instead of break-neck speed. Can't wait to see the progress on the castle this year :-) I now you'll keep us posted. Now GET SOME REST, will ya? You've got to be exhausted!

myomyohi said...

You guys kicked butt! Everything looks great. The walls, the hostas, the perennials, the tent over Aargh, the furniture, the lack of weeds, the sheer amount of annuals you have planted... you guys have accomplished a lot! Joel and Allison are a blessing to help with everything. I love the grates and the planters in front of them, the supertunias in the dome, I could go on and on, but I've forgotten half of what I wanted to comment on. You should all be proud of what you have accomplished, and will accomplish the next few months. I can't wait to see the castle going up, and see what other projects and adventures unfold over the coming months.

Patrick's Garden said...

Been gone for six months, long story but always amazed by your work. Your Quarry Hill has so many layers. Thanks for your efforts.

Rosemary said...

Loved your post so entertaining to read.... how you and Carl keep up the pace I will never know plus then add some extra exercise into the mix. Makes me tired just reading. As usual your garden looks beautiful. We need rain here too. Hot and dry!