Tuesday, July 24, 2018

July Garden and Lilypalooza

So far, this year's gardening adventure has sorely tested both of us.  From a record-breaking blizzard in mid-April to temperatures in the nineties already in May with humidity to match, and mosquitoes that think DEET is an aphrodisiac, things haven't been pleasant outdoors.  

At all.   
Our downsizing efforts are going slowly at best, but we're plodding along.  Some days we both get so discouraged and think of throwing in the trowels for good, but then something new blooms and, well, we sigh, swat and sweat on.  
We have had many garden visitors again this year and more to come; the local nursing home will be bringing out residents for visits on Monday, August 6 and 13.  Some will arrive in the morning and the others in the afternoon.  Carl will have to be here to help me with the tours as we don't want anyone to fall.  

I wish the lilies would hang on for their visits, but that's gardening.  We can't control it.  I just hope the weather isn't too hot for them so they can enjoy the outing.

Our annual booyah party is coming up fast, August 11, and I'm trying desperately to get the garden under control.  I'm fighting a losing battle, though I feel better after having talked to another gardener who lives a few miles from me; he, too, is struggling this summer.  

He said, "We've had everything thrown at us this year, the late spring, the high temperatures, nasty humidity, bugs and more bugs, and lack of rain.  You know, when gardening stops being fun, you really wonder why you do it."

And I agreed wholeheartedly.  This year, it really hasn't been fun. 

But then, when I look up from my weeding and wipe the sweat from my eyes, I see 'why' I do it, at least for this year.

New hydrangea, 'Strawberry Sundae' still white

Working almost anywhere in the yard, the perfume from the OT lilies is present, wafting on the breeze.  July truly is a jewel in the garden; I just wish the daylilies and lilies would linger until frost.
 I was weeding right next to this 'Annabelle' hydrangea tonight and was taken in by the perfection of the petals.  There's one plant that will linger into spring for me when I spray paint the blooms and put them in the urns for the winter.

 I forget the name of this double Oriental lily; growing in semi-shade, the blooms last for at least a week. I also have one lily in white.

Oriental lily 'Dizzy'
 All the lilies are in full bloom this week, I can't remember all of their names, but here goes the picture show:

One of the petals of 'Ruby Spider' daylily fell off and landed on 'Incrediball' hydrangea, and the contrast of the two was amazing.

Speaking of daylilies, despite the goofy season, they're doing well.
Hemerocallis 'Ruby Spider'

Hemerocallis 'Persian Ruby' one of my favorites

Hemerocallis 'Joel' another favorite 

This unknown astilbe looked like cotton candy at peak bloom. 

By next week, most of these flowers will only be a memory, but they are stunning while they're here.

I guess I shouldn't complain when I'm weeding, if I get discouraged, all I have to do is look around.   

It's a great place to work.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Changes and Downsizing

As I said last post, it is truly time to think about downsizing around here.  However, though it will save time in the long run on maintenance, downsizing is a lot of work, too.  

As a garden matures, changes happen whether the gardener wants them or not; trees grow larger than expected or die, sunlight or shade patterns come and go, plants need adding or removing.  

Yes, a garden has to change to grow.
As the gardener matures, change happens too.  Seemingly overnight,  joints aren't as flexible as they once were.  I swear this morning when I woke up, I felt like the Tin Man from the 'Wizard of Oz', all creaky and squeaky.  In order to keep this garden growing as we age, Carl is right.  We need to downsize.

The first big change we made this summer was the Bridge Bed.  
Going way back in time, our bridge at one time was truly over water when Carl and the boys dug our first rubber-lined pond by hand around 1999, seen below. 

That's Joel, floating in our old pond in a liner for yet another small pond.  
This was the first pond we had before we decided to dig the Quarry in 2001.   The pond had a rubber liner and a babbling brook flowing which the boys love to play in.  Looking back on this picture, I marvel at how many trailer loads of dirt we shoveled that year.  

After the Quarry was built, we decided to abandon the original pond, but since we'd done so much hard work with Carl building the bridge and the stone walls and the level change in the yard, we drained the water, removed the liner and turned the area into a dry 'riverbed' with flat rock simulating a stream going under the bridge and a sort of poor imitation of a Japanese-ish garden look.

I don't remember how many years went by on this incarnation of the Bridge Bed, but falling leaves necessitated removing the stones from the dry river bed every year and it was another maintenance headache. 

In the 1990's we also became interested in dwarf conifers, and the very first one we ever purchased is seen in the picture below on the right side of the bridge, Picea Glauca 'Fat Albert' which was a tiny little tree in a three inch pot when we bought it.

I'm also amazed at how quickly the Acer Triflorum aka 'Three-flowered Maple' grew; in the picture below, it is the yellow blob just to the right of the Dome in the Formal Garden, which in reality is a good fifty feet away.

The Bridge and Fat Albert circa 2008

July 2018

'Fat Albert' lived up to his name and also grew in height too.   Also, check out the Three-leafed Maple, now a tree much taller than the Dome in the background.  

It was more difficult each year to drive the lawnmower over the bridge due to the tree to get to the field for mowing and 'Fat Albert' was losing his interior needles and thinning out.   Should he stay or should he go?  Carl had been debating moving the bridge over to accommodate the tree, but I wasn't in favor as it would be even more work.

It was no easy decision to make, that's for sure, and we debated it for two years.  We've had many couples pose on the bridge for wedding and family photography over the years (there's our beautiful daughter-in-law, Abby on her wedding day, below) so the bridge has to stay where it is.  It's a fixture around here.

Our beautiful daughter-in-law, Abby in 2015

 What to do? 

Time for the chainsaw. Sigh.

We didn't make the decision lightly, that's for sure.  Once we began limbing the tree up, we could see how the interior branches were starting to lose all their needles, so it was only a matter of time before the tree was going to fail anyway, which made our decision a little easier.

'Fat Albert' is no more.
Though we hated to part with the tree, the area looks much nicer now. Since we removed 'Fat Albert', we were once again back in a debate of what we should do with the Bridge Bed.  This has been an ongoing discussion for years and years.  Carl wanted to take out all the landscaping and turn it back into lawn, which would have been a good idea, but the cedars shade everything so much making the lawn nonexistent. 

I suggested we transplant a Picea Glauca 'Pendula' from the front of the house to the space occupied by 'Fat Albert' to make up for the loss.  'Pendula' will be much narrower and won't eat the bridge.
Picea Glauca 'Pendula ' was out by the road
We have five 'Pendula' in the garden and every chance we get, we  add more.  They've been hard to find locally or even by mail-order the last few years, though.

We both like the look of the Picea Glauca 'Pendula' very much.  (I've included a link to some information on them.)  

This tree doesn't need staking the way Picea Abies 'Pendula' does, but we do love our Weeping Norway spruces, too.  Of all the trees in the garden, we get the most questions about them because of their narrow size and probably because our staking system is a bit loopier than people are used to.  Left untrained, a Weeping Norway would drape down to the ground, but if you're crazy like we are, you can stake them as high as you can reach.
Picea abies 'Pendula' aka Weeping Norway Spruce

Thing One and Thing Two are on their way out this year for good.  For anyone in need of MORE reading (as if my posts aren't long enough) here's a link to the post on the 'Things' from way back in 2010.  The Start of Thing One and Two

 Above are pictures of the two Things in better days.  I'm tired of weeding them and this year they are a mess.  But in order to eliminate the beds, the stone has to go.  Somewhere.   But where should the stone go?  We have a lot of stone around the farm, all piled up along our north lane on pallets in various stages of decay.  Neither of us wanted to add to the chaos, so we looked for a place in need of a stone formation similar to the Escarpment.

Well, Thing One and Two are on the move again.  

Carl and the Manley Wrecking Crane, working in the high heat and humidity for the last two weeks.
And where are they going?  

Well, in what we hope is a good idea, the stones are going into the Bridge Bed to hopefully form a smaller version of the Escarpment, seen below.

Carl always doubts himself when it comes to stone projects, 'What if it looks silly when I'm done?'  

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And I always tell him the same thing. 

 'Don't worry about it, you've had a little experience with rocks.'

2009---We were younger (and Sillier! then.)

Onward and upward with the downsizing; I'll keep you posted on how the next stone 'thing' turns out.