Friday, June 15, 2018

Playing Catch Up

Here it is mid-June already and where have I been?

I guess I should say, where haven't I been.  Though it has barely begun, it has been a weird summer so far.   

Once the snow from the record-breaking April blizzard melted, the water in the Quarry was very high, but that was short-lived as our weather changed again, this time tossing some 90 degree days in our laps in May, which, though not unheard of, is still quite unusual for us. 

 As things stand right now, I am in charge of mowing three lawns; my mother's, my in-law's and ours, which at first with all the moisture in the ground, wouldn't stop growing.  I'd get done with one lawn and as quick as I climbed off one mower, the next one would need cutting.  I like mowing lawn, but this is ridiculous.  Lucky for me (and much appreciated) Joel has taken on the chore of coming out once a week and cutting lawn with me at the other two houses.  Amazing how much faster the job goes with help. 
Parts of my in-law's lawn had not been mowed in a long, long time.

June here in Wisconsin is normally rainy and cool.  My dad always said, "The creeks have to run in June, or it will be dry, dry summer.'  Up until today, June 15, I was starting to think we were in for a drought, but thankfully, we just had a much needed 1.5" of rain this afternoon. 

 I'm taking the time out to write this blog post because it's (Hurray!!) too wet to work in the garden for the time being.  We were starting to get worried; before today's rainfall, the garden was developing cracks in the soil and I was already hauling hoses far and wide around the gardens.  Though it is only in the upper 50's at the moment, in less than 24 hours, we are supposed to be back into the 90's for the weekend.   Today we need jackets, tomorrow we'll need air-conditioning, never a dull moment around here.  

The past winter left devastation behind; we lost many evergreen trees again and a lot of perennials, too.  The biggest loss was in the Formal Garden where the Dwarf Alberta Spruces (Zone 2?!) died off completely this time.  We've had winter burn on them before, and no, we have never covered them with burlap the way we should have for the winter, so I guess it's our fault in a way, but I was very surprised all six of the trees died outright. 

May in the Formal Garden.  That's not very attractive, now is it?

 Carl finally got out the chainsaw a few days ago and put the poor trees out of their misery.

Joel and I counted over 26 rings in the trunks, we've had them a long, long time.  They were only one foot tall when we planted them back in the 1990's. The dome looks completely goofy now with nothing surrounding the base.  

With the late, late spring and then the ninety degree days which came out of nowhere, we were trying to figure out what to do first.  I didn't have a greenhouse this year, so I bought all of my annuals from my friend, Brenda.  No plants do well when the temps are high, so I put off planting out my annuals and moved on to tending the conifers we've been more or less torturing for the last ten years.

Drat!  Can't reach the top!
Carl is afraid of heights, so I tried it and couldn't reach, either.
We have three Picea Abies 'Pendula' aka as Weeping Norway Spruce here in the gardens and they all need their new growth staked if they are to grow in stature.  We bought a new ladder this spring for the job, but it turned out not to be quite tall enough to reach the tops.  We did a very unsafe thing and backed two trailers in and supported one set of legs on each of them.  Luckily, the trailers were stable and we both survived. 

On a totally unrelated note, I ended up in the Emergency Room last week and no, I didn't fall off of a ladder balanced between two trailers, either.  When the hot weather arrived in May, I wasn't feeling well at all.  I overworked myself a bit and ended up calling my doctor for an appointment.  The scheduling person wanted to know what my reason for coming in was and I told them I was having some tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, pain on and off, and well, she fetched a nurse to the phone who told me to get myself to an ER, for if I come into the office, they will send me by ambulance to the hospital. 

Been there, done that in an ambulance eight years ago, so when Carl came home from work, he drove me in.  I was hoping they'd do an EKG and that would be the end of it, but I had to stay overnight for testing and  marching on a treadmill and scans and wires and IV's and (can I make this story any longer?) turns out whatever was ailing me was not my heart.  That's a good thing!  But I did and do feel silly about all of it, but at least when I feel the symptoms come on again, I don't panic. 

One of the doctors asked me if I had a lot of stress in my  Yes, just a bit.  I doubt stress causes heart problems, for if it did, everyone would have a heart attack.  But I guess it doesn't help my overall health much.  Who knows what brings these things on.  I do have to see my Lyme doctor soon, too, dratted woodticks can cause a lifetime of misery.

Anyway, moving on: 

We had a garden group from Minnesota request a tour this past winter, but I'd written them and said that this was the year we were going to try to get the garden in order for the American Hosta Society Tour coming to Green Bay in 2019.  We're one of the gardens on the tour, so we've got a lot of work to do.  The group assured me it would be fine no matter what the garden looked like, so they came last Saturday for a visit.  I was trying not to wince outwardly as we strolled through the parts of the garden I had not weeded yet: quack grass in bloom, dandelions and tree stumps, but they seemed to take it all in stride.  At least the lawn was mowed, courtesy of Joel stepping in to do my lawn while Carl and I weeded what we could.

They were a very nice group of people who said they enjoyed their visit.  This was the only tour scheduled this year, so now we can really roll up our sleeves and make the dirt fly.

 We had to get the pines candled, something we've been doing for decades but it keeps getting harder the bigger the trees grow. 

All those unruly candles need to be cut back in my attempt at 'cloud pruning'.

Last week Saturday we finally finished the last tree.  The one good thing about candling pines is we only have to do it once a year.

Carl's parents celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary back in May and we had a party for them.

Not Pictured:  Me  Ha.
I finally planted the last of my annuals and overwintered geraniums last night.  Luckily, Brenda had some glorious annuals to choose from, without her greenhouse, the yard would be looking pretty glum this year.  I said I wasn't going to be going overboard this year, but I did anyway.  We have such a short growing season and I crave color.

Everything is small now, but with the rain we just had today, I'm hopeful.  Hauling hoses around is no fun.

Our martagon lilies are just starting to open, the weather forecast has thrown in a risk of hail, but I'm hoping to avoid flying ice.

My foot is healing up fairly well from the broken toe I suffered in April, but it's still sore.  In order to get some aerobic exercise, I bought a new bicycle.


It's an Electra Townie 7 speed in 'Icy Blue', a 'cruiser'.  It does look very retro, but when I rode one at the bicycle store, I was sold, the angle of the frame doesn't put much stress on my knees.  My last new bike was a Rollfast way back in 1971 and I had thousands of miles on the odometer.  I bought an odometer for this one, too.
 I only have 44 miles on it so far, but I'm kinda busy in the garden at the moment.   It's sheer joy to take a ride at dusk and cool off in the night breeze, though.
The headlight is great!

In hopes that one day we may be able to ride some of the nice paved trails, I also bought a bell. 
And what a bell!  DING DONG!!! They'll hear me coming!
The bell's style is called 'Night Owl'.  Fits me to a tee.  The only other option I guess may be a basket, which would come in handy, too.  

And, somehow, I lost my favorite shovel in the garden somewhere.  I had it two weeks ago, but no matter how much we searched, we cannot find it, I'm sure it will turn up in the fall when it's time to clean up the foliage. 

 Until then, I decided to buy a new one.  I had my new garden helper try it out for me last night to see what she thinks.


I am happy to say the shovel is Audrey Approved. 


Tomato Thymes said...

Coming from a nurse, stress can cause heart problems especially as we age. I have learned to minimize obligations and the to do list items that really need to be eliminated.

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

Dear, dear Karen ~ I thought of you in the middle of the night last night and here is your post to read this morning. Glad to catch up on all of your news.

Sorry you lost those trees and other lovelies from your gardens. They still look lovely and I love the shot of the butterfly on the bloom.

I wondered when you wrote about your health scare if you weren't suffering from dehydration. Stress can wreak all kinds of havoc on us, and hard work in the heat doesn't help any either. You two be careful out there.

Your little garden helper is adorable. She is growing so fast.

Have a wonderful summer, enjoying your new bike, it's a beauty!

Love, hugs & prayers ~ FlowerLady

Karen said...

Tomato Thymes, yes, you're right, I really do need to prioritize as I get older. There's only so many hours in the day and what doesn't get done just has to wait. :-)

Karen said...

Rainey, how wonderful to hear from you! You know, I believe you are right, it could have been heat stress plus regular old-fashioned stress contributing to my problems. I've just got to learn to do what I can and leave the rest.

We enjoy having Audrey visit and help in the garden; earlier this year she was loading stone on pallets for us. She is growing up so fast!

I think of you often, dear friend, and send hugs and prayers.

Indie said...

This past winter was brutal on trees. I was thankful that we only lost some big branches, and I had to cut some of my boxwoods almost to the ground. Many I know lost much more. Your garden really does look so pretty now, and I love the lotus blooms! Your garden helper is such a cutie!

El Gaucho said...

Karen - It is wonderful to see a post from you. I had long suspected that you were too tuckered out every day to post!

I can distinctly remember how fast the lawn would grown in North Dakota when it was hot, humid, and occasionally rainy. The lawn on our small 1/4 acre lot in town annoyed me with how fast it grew. You and Joel are quite the troopers to regularly mow 3 separate huge spaces.

We look forward to all the posts and pictures of your beautiful garden. Happy gardening and best wishes to you and the family.

Garden Fancy said...

Glad to hear your toe is on the mend, Karen, although I'm sorry to hear about your visit to the ER. Stress can do weird things to us, and I'm glad it's not a heart problem. Sorry to read about your Dwarf Alberta Spruce -- we lost the top of ours this year, but it's only a few years old, so we just cut it off and will see what happens. Yours are so much older, a loss for sure. But perhaps you can find something else for that spot -- an opportunity to change things up. Hope you enjoy nice weather and don't have to spend all your time mowing.... Best, -Beth

africanaussie said...

I love those lillies, my you certainly never stop. I am always in awe of the amount of work you do, and such huge jobs too - climbing way up in the sky to prune trees. Is that little cutie pie your grand daughter? I just spent three weeks with my four year old grandson and one year old grand daughter. so precious, and they grow so fast!

outlawgardener said...

I've been thinking about you recently and was glad to see your post! Your sense of humor is what's keeping you sane and keeping us laughing along with you. The amount of work that you do on your garden and now on two other gardens is staggering. You have my admiration and respect. Sorry about your Alberta Spruces dying after so many years. The dome still looks amazing but, knowing you, there'll be some sort of wonderful replacements for the lost trees. Not having any more tours this year must feel wonderful. Happy summer!

Beth at PlantPostings said...

I liked what you said about rolling up your sleeves and letting the dirt fly. LOL. I'm glad your heart is OK! Yikes, that was quite the scare! Take care! I'm sure your garden looks spectacular no matter what. Enjoy the summer off from tours. You deserve a break!

chavliness said...

It is very nice to see a post from you... I was starting to wander what happened. As sad as it is to lose a tree in the garden, I always try to look at it as an opportunity. If I can get excited about a new plant it helps me overcome the sadness. I love your new shiny bike; I wish you many happy miles on it. You garden helper is adorable. She looks like a very determined young thing. I hope she grows up to love the soil as much as you do.