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!

Friday, June 1, 2012

This Place is a Circus

Here it is, June 1 already.  We have one week to go before the garden walk.  Unfortunately, we have approximately two months worth of work to be done before then.

We're not going to make it.  Things on my list of Stuff To Do before June 7 aren't getting crossed off very quickly.  (Nope, we didn't get good ol' Castle Aaargh done, either.  Didn't even mortar one rock yet this year.)

We haven't gotten in from the garden any night in the last three weeks before 10 PM.  So, tonight we made a vow to each other:

We will never host a large garden event here in early June again.



We mean it.

We really, really do. The garden always looks better after July.  And we have more time to get it ready then, too. 

I'm starting to write this after midnight, which is a really dumb idea considering all the work I have to do over the next seven days.  But we all know I'm not always the brightest bulb in the pack, so here goes.  What have we accomplished in the last week?
Now we just have 'some' picking up to do. 

Carl finished the dome floor and it is nice and level.  We shouldn't have to worry about anyone tripping over an upturned paving block now.  Ann was able to come over last weekend and work on the wall. (Don't I have an amazing friend?  How many other people would find the idea of building stone walls to be 'fun'?)

We had high hopes of the stone walls being finished and the former perennial beds in front of them all graded flat and reseeded with lawn.  Ah, such is not the case.  Carl and Ann still have about 20' of wall to build yet.  The part in the picture below is done---well, at least the wall is finished here, but the tall grasses are weeds and whatnot left over from the old perennial bed. 

 And here you can see the wall is done on the other side but there are still tons of rocks on pallets sitting down there waiting to be used for the rest of the wall.  Something tells me we're not going to have this looking too much better in less than a week. 

I've been busy planting out the annuals, I have about one thousand in the ground and have another few hundred to go.  I sure hope I won't regret it, I saw on the news tonight there are frost warnings for Northern Wisconsin.  That would be just my luck, wouldn't it?  Get all the annuals in the ground and wake up tomorrow morning to find them deader than doornails.

Here's a lovely shot of the Riverbed.  Most garden bloggers delight and awe their readers with gorgeous pictures of their immaculate gardens.

And then there's me.

Here I am, letting it all hang out with a behind the scenes look at what the process of gardening looks like with all the shovels, weeds, and paraphernalia strewn about.  Sheesh, gardening isn't always very attractive, is it?

With Joel and Allison's help, we planted the annuals in the Riverbed and had them mulched before nightfall last weekend.  We use the car trailer to haul white pine needles from the Back Eight up for mulch.

Everyone pitches in whenever they have a spare moment.  Our friends, Richard and Emily were here on Memorial Day and helped out with the weeding and mulching.  Allison has been trying to get the paint off of  some old wrought iron patio furniture for us.  The old white paint which had been covering black paint on two of the 'new' old chairs we bought last summer was flaking off.  You'd think a bit of wire brushing would take most of the loose paint off, but you would be wrong.  Allison was working with paint remover and a scraper.  Oh, what a job.  We hope to have the two patio sets completely cleaned up and repainted before next week.  We're going to need them.

Joel's been running mulch for us, and any other job we can come up with from leveling the driveway to construction.  Tonight he brought up all of my statuary for me and placed it in the gardens while I planted annuals by the little bridge and Carl weeded.

My mother repainted all of my cast iron lanterns over the winter with entirely new color schemes.  Since the painting is done she is now weeding here with me almost every day.  (She keeps asking me how we're going to keep the garden going when we get old.....and like I tell her every year, 'You're 91 and you're still weeding.')  She is Amazing, by the way.

I've been crawling all over the yard.  I managed to get the weeds out of half of the Pachyberm:

 I started weeding in March this year, but it didn't seem to make much of a difference.  The weeds popped back up with a vengeance once the weather warmed up.

Mulch, we need mulch!

Though Carl and I have never taken a dance class, we do know the familiar dance step called
'One step forward and two steps back' by heart.

Case in point--Carl finished the Dome floor and it looks wonderful.  One thing crossed off the List.  Then I was mowing lawn over by the Egress gate when suddenly the unthinkable happened.

I was driving the lawn mower through the gate at a high rate of speed when I suddenly noticed a weed pail was in the way.  I swerved to get around the pail and the lawnmower deck caught on the railing and broke out two of the rose castings and twisted the entire structure.  The lawnmower slid sideways into the gate and I nearly tumbled off but managed to keep my butt in the seat.  I was steamed, though.  This is the last thing Carl needs, more work to do!  (He wasn't angry about the mishap; in fact he just sighed and said, "We'll have to take the whole thing down so I can weld it, but not before the garden walk."  I agreed.

Let's hope the pretty clematis growing on the arbor will detract from the missing castings and all the damage I did.

Kind of hard to see, but the gate is now twisted, courtesy of Me.

With any luck, we'll finish weeding and I'll get the rest of the annuals planted soon.

I haven't even started on the Quarry garden itself:

As far as the eye can see............There are WEEDS!

Yes, even the pretty yellow iris are weeds.......they are so prolific in the Quarry.  We've been trying to eradicate them for a few years now, but there they are, back bigger than ever. They do have beautiful flowers, though.

Oriental Spruce looking pretty good this year.
Over Memorial weekend we had rain showers off and on.  When it would rain, I would run in the house to do quick housework or exercise with Leslie.  (My thanks to Leslie for 30 pounds lost so far--Walk, Walk, Walk!  She's right, it works.)   While I'm marching in place, I notice how many large dust bunnies are living in our house now.  At least they are easy to maintain, they really grow with no attention from me.  Oh, my........I am going to need to clean for a month straight when I get some time.

Many nights after working his full-time job starting at 5AM  and then coming home and working another six hours or more in the gardens with me, Carl heads for the front porch where he's been working on soldering the Laburnum lamp we started over a year ago. 
 There he is, soldering away on the lamp, some nights til midnight on the weekends.

Here's the view from the other side.  The Laburnum is a BIG lamp....1,986 pieces.  He's getting closer day by day to finishing it. I'm still debating if my glass selections were good, but it's a little late now.

And speaking of cleaning......the group that is coming to tour on the 7th is a rather large garden club though it's hard to say how many people will show up exactly.  There will be refreshments and beverages involved (I have to think of something wonderful to make for the group that is easy and fast.....hmmmmmm, any ideas out there??)

Anyway, paranoid me was thinking, 'What will we do if it rains?  Where will I put all these people and the food?'

Yes, we have a garage.  Ewwww.  Not a very nice one, but we have one and it would 'only' take a week or so to clean it out.  A week we don't have..  And no, Castle Aaargh is no closer to being done.  If it was, I wouldn't worry,  as the little round building would be the perfect place to set up some food and chairs.

I looked into buying a tent.  Carl wasn't thrilled with the idea at all, and neither was Joel.  But the longer I wheedled and whined and expanded and expounded on how having a tent would make life easier for this garden walk and any other subsequent ones (or weddings, family reunions, parties, etc.) they both relented.

Somewhere out there on the Highways of Life a tent from Texas is speeding it's way to our home in three separate boxes.

This is one Big Tent.  20 x 20. Octagonal with walls.  Supposedly I can cram 40 people in it.  (If they all stand up straight and don't slouch. Or breathe.) Carl's thinking we could put it over Castle Aaargh's foundation which would be Perfect.  I'm thinking it will be just a fuzz too small, knowing our luck, but we can try.  Then I panicked when I realized if it doesn't fit over Aaargh we haven't got a 20 x 20 spot on the lawn in a handy spot to put it up-----why did I buy such a big thing?  Oh, that's right, because I didn't want to clean the garage.  The reviews online said it was a 'Cinch to put up.'  Let's hope so. Can you see the two of us fighting with a tent the night before the walk?  (Yeah, I know you can....YouTube here we come.)

I just got a tracking number for the shipments the other day.

Anticipated delivery date is:

June 6.

Oh, that's cutting it close.

How much you wanna bet it shows up on June 8?

OH, well...........what's a Circus without a tent?