Saturday, July 5, 2014

Weeds, Welding, Weddings & Walks

No blog posts since April?  Let's see what's new.  The snow finally melted sometime ago.  And of course, the weeds appeared to take its place.  And the wood ticks did too.  I was bitten by a deer tick in April and went through a course of antibiotics to hopefully ward off Lyme disease.  So far, it seems to have been effective, but then maybe the tick that bit me wasn't a carrier.  Could I be that lucky?  Time will tell.  

In April we were contacted by 'Our Wisconsin' magazine and the photographer wanted to come out and take pictures for the Aug/Sept issue.  In April??  I said, "Oh, it's a disaster, there's nothing pretty to look at," but they insisted.  So we're going to be in the magazine late this summer.  They did let me submit photos, so at least there will be some color.   There's a picture of yours truly holding a chicken in the coop, so don't miss that issue.  Sigh.

My friend Ann's son got married June 14 and they were coming here for pictures after the ceremony.  We've had a wet, cold spring and an equally late start on the garden chores and the date snuck up on us.  We had to get the garden in shape as quickly as possible. 

 Ann came to help when she could, but being the mother of the groom put time constraints on her too, so we all muddled through the best we could.  The greenhouse was still up in the driveway and my annuals were teeny tiny little leaves in the ground, but the photo shoot went pretty well.  I'll have to get my pictures together and have a wedding post, I have no idea what I did with them at the moment.  Yes, I'm organized, as usual.
Tools of the trade

Get that pine needle mulch down!
High Speed Joel!  This is the way the weeks have been.  RUN!

The following weekend, June 21, was our neighbor 'son' Eric & Vanessa's wedding and they also came for photos.  Joel was an usher for Eric's wedding and we did manage to get a nice photo of him and his lovely girlfriend, Abby.  It's unusual to see Joel out in the garden in a tuxedo.

 The next event to frazzle our nerves was the Midwest Regional Hosta Society Convention, held on June 26-28.  Our only contribution to this event was having the garden tour-ready by the 28th.  Oh, what a chore that was.  The rain was incessant and things weren't getting done as fast as they should.  
Hostas, it was all about the Hostas.

Joel came here every day after work to help with whatever he could; we truly wouldn't have been anywhere near ready without his help.  The greenhouse was finally taken down the week before and stashed back in Mom's machine shed and we set about weeding and mulching as fast as we could go.  

We repainted the dome's aluminum rose casting trim and the posts that hold it up.  Lots of bronze paint this year.  And yes, the dwarf Alberta spruce trees look ratty, but they will recover.  They're just like us gardeners; they took a beating, but they survive with a few dents.

Carl's been very busy fixing and repairing things that I have broken, namely the Egress Gate in the picture below.  I hit it with the lawnmower two years ago and broke out the castings on the bottom plus pulled the entire structure sideways and bent it badly so he had to take it down and straighten, weld and repaint the whole thing.  He didn't really want to put it back up, but I insisted and he gave in.  I'm glad he did; people who tour often miss the hosta bed until they see the gate.

For some reason our Holey Rock display tipped over this spring, so Carl and I got that back up on it's feet, too.
Then I had the bright idea to 'make' an urn for the hosta bed.  Carl had brought home a metal stand from a machine that was discarded at work and we had a decorative cast metal piece to stick on top of that.  The next step was to find something to use as a top for the urn/planter part and Joel reminded us we had the top from a discarded stainless tank out back.  A can of bronze paint, and Voila, instant big urn.  I should take a better picture of it, but this urn stands about 4' tall.  (We haven't named it yet, but we will.)
Anonymous Junk Urn waiting for name---Journey?  (Junk+Urn?)

To publicize the Midwest Regional Hosta Convention, we were asked to do a live TV spot for the local news.  I told Carl it was his turn to talk this time since in the past I've always been the one to jabber nonsensically.  Carl kept asking me if I was sure it was a good idea to have him do the talking and I assured him he'd do just fine.  
 At 6:30 AM last Thursday the news station's van arrived
 and drove down the lane to put the antenna up.

Carl was a nervous wreck.
 The black blob on the ground was the camera.  They put an earpiece in Carl's ear and he spoke live with the TV station.  Though it sounds easy, it's harder than it looks because you never know what they are going to ask you and scrambling around in your mind for a coherent answer ain't easy.  I thought he did great.
I'm not sure if the link to the interview will work, but here goes:
Carl on live TV

He said he looked like a pale, old guy.  That's what all this garden insanity will do to you.

So we got the camera guy on his merry way and went back to weeding, welding and running around in circles.  The convention tour was coming here last Saturday, the 28th, and I was supposed to have cookies for refreshments for approximately 190 people per the hosta club's orders.  I wasn't sure when I was going to find the time to bake cookies in the midst of the rest of the work, but Abby came to my rescue.  She baked 300 cookies and took care of getting them set out for the attendees.  What a relief it was to know the refreshments were being handled in such capable hands!

The night before the walk, my friend Brenda stopped in with a beautiful basket of flowers for me.  She pitched in helping us put pine needle mulch down until dark.  I'm so lucky to have fantastic family and friends to help.  
Carl showing a convention attendee around.

The walk itself went ok, the first tour groups showed up at 7 AM and we had a nice time visiting with people from five different states.  The only bad part was we didn't have enough people to here to conduct tours, so I called Ann and she graciously came out to help for a few hours.  The sad part was by the time Ann arrived, there were no more people arriving to tour.  We were perplexed....what happened to them?  For over two and a half hours, no cars arrived and we sat, twiddling our thumbs.  Well, actually I weeded a bit more and then made lunch, but it was weird.  

The tour was scheduled to be from 7 AM to 3PM and from 11 AM to 2PM we were without a single visitor.  Then two cars arrived and the mystery was solved.  The attendees had been given two sets of instructions for garden tours; there were six gardens on the tour so the thought was to split the group in half so they wouldn't all descend on one garden at once.  In theory, that would have worked quite well, but on the afternoon instructions, our address and street name were completely wrong.  When they used GPS to try to find our garden, there was no match for the address, so a few of the attendees drove over 50 miles out of their way.  What would a big garden walk be without a wrinkle, right?

Luckily most of the attendees knew others and they called each other to give the correct address which is amazing since they were all from different states.  Finally at around 3:30 PM, cars started pulling up in droves.  They were some of the nicest people we've ever met; even with being given the wrong directions, they were happy and pleasant.  It was a long day, but totally worth the work and worry.
Out by the escarpment
The Hosta Convention was over last Saturday, but we're still running in high gear.  Mom (yes, she's still weeding at almost 94) has been coming to help me every day and Joel has been indispensable buying paint and groceries for me in the big city and mowing lawns (Mom's and ours) and loading mulch, whatever he can to help us get the work done because we have a bus trip coming next Friday morning and next Saturday our garden is on the Emergency Shelter/Appleton Garden Walk.  Last year was a banner year for that organization, they had 600 people tour seven beautiful gardens and they hope to surpass that number this year.  

We had a preview of the gardens on the tour this week, we were driven by coach bus to each garden and it was wonderful; they were all stunning.  The only hitch, and yes, there's always a hitch when it comes to us, is the fact that our garden is far, far away from the other six.  We are a 20 mile drive from Appleton itself and many of the gardens are much farther south.  So it's anyone's guess how many people will show up here next Saturday....we might get a few, but I know they have our address correct since I've seen the tickets!  

In preparation for the tour, even if we only get a few people to drive this far, we're giving it all we've got.  I'm going through the gardens one more time with trowel and pine needle mulch and Carl is busy welding again...check this out:

Do you know what that is?  Well, besides being a ball, duh....if you are familiar with propane tanks, when they are taken out of use due to their age, the two ends are often put in scrap yards.  Carl's dad had seven of the ends in his stash of projects to make someday and Carl came up with the idea to weld them together to make a big ball.

He puts the two halves together and welds them, the shiny part above is the seam after welding.
Then more bronze paint, and ta da, a ball for the garden!  He's already made two of them, Number Three is halfway done.  It took him about twelve hours of work to construct one.

And the stained glass window for Castle Aaargh needs about ten more hours of soldering; Dave came home and soldered while we weeded.....we might JUST make it in time for the garden walk.  

So that's about all that's been going on around here.  I'm sorry I've been out of the loop for so long but just wanted to let everyone know we're still alive and kicking.

And weeding!  



My Garden Diaries said...

Boy you all have been busy!!!!! And I can see why!! Your garden is like entering a different world! Every turn is something new and beautiful to look at! Happy gardening to you and thank you for sharing your amazing garden with us!!! Nicole xoxo

Shirley said...

No wonder you've been absent here with all you've been doing there! I wish we could get that magazine here. Is it online?

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

WOW, WOW, WOW!!! Weeding, welding, weddings, walks. No wonder you've not been posting.

Everything looks fantastic. I love it all, the lacy arch, the huge balls, the dome, flowers, hostas, evergreens. Amazing. You all are so talented and such hard workers.

Carl did great on live TV. I would have been a nervous wreck.

Nice to see Joel so fancied up with his girlfriend.

Glad you are feeling pretty good and hopefully no Lyme disease.

Love and hugs to the both of you ~ FlowerLady

Carol said...

Everything looks great. Love the new urn and the ball thing. I'm sure everyone enjoyed seeing your gardens. I know I sure would! It amazes me how quickly things green up for yall up there after all the snow. Thanks for sharing!

Netty said...

This time of year is so busy for gardeners, yet you managed a wedding, a walk, an interview and the gardens look great! Bravo! I absolutely love the new ball and urn too :)

El Gaucho said...

Wow, that made me tired just reading about all the work you've been doing. I'm glad that you're back with posts and pictures and stories.

And please tell Carl that he looked very sharp and sounded great!!

Beth said...

Karen, Your gardens are looking fantastic! Love those balls that Carl put together as well as the new urn and the gate and the holey rocks! You two have a lot of creativity in you! I hope you get a little rest soon. I very fondly remember meeting you and Carl and Dave and seeing your fantastic gardens last summer. :)

Stephen Andrew said...

So happy for an update! I had really explored the possibility of coming to the Hosta tour, so I was thinking about you that weekend! So glad it went well. Looks just gorgeous! I love the propane tank orbs! So creative, and what a great way to recycle! Glad to hear from you.

Stephen Andrew said...

And PS- my garden is 12x30 and engulfed in six foot high thistles. I just don't give a damn this year. You put me to shame! I think I'll have to burn and salt it to ever get rid of the weeds at this point.

Pamela Gordon said...

I was wondering the other day where you were! So glad you are doing well and being very busy with your gorgeous gardens. How I'd love to have a tour of them. Take care and have a great summer Karen.

Lona said...

Good grief girl no wonder we have heard nothing from you. Hey, it is okay to breathe now. LOL! And celebrities too! Well your gardens are beautiful and should be shown off but I know it had to be a nervous time getting everything ready. I love the giant balls! You guys cease never to amaze me with your cleaver ideas. Well take time to enjoy that beautiful garden Karen and set in it from time to time. Okay? :)

Indie said...

Wow, you have had a busy few months! You guys and your gardens are sure popular! With good reason - all your hard work has paid off, and the gardens look gorgeous!! I am so impressed with your new Bronze Urn. I wish I had random leftover scraps that magically transforms into amazing garden stuff (and knew how to do it)!

Betsy said...

Such beautiful hostas. So good that the deer leave them alone, I heard they love to snack on them.
Glad you are fine and no lyme disease. I have pulled ticks off before and we have deer that come into the yard, so far o.k. I hear horror stories about lyme disease.

Your yard is so beautiful.
The propane tanks made into a giant ball, what a great yard sculpture. I love all of your pics.

Alison said...

I'm always amazed at the huge amount of work you and Carl and all your friends do to get you ready for garden tours. I sometimes think I might like to put my garden on a tour, but then I think about how hard it would be to make sure it's ready. Too much stress that I just don't need.