Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spring Trimming and Clean-Up Begins On the Coast

This past weekend was spent starting some trimming of plants in the garden. The rains that were missing during winter have hit hard and certainly made itself known on and off for the past few weeks. There is nothing quite like it turning to spring while thunderstorms and huge winds whistle through the yard and shake the house. The wind was so violent a few weeks ago one of our old Victorian windows that was weakening shattered with the wind hitting it and fell out onto the front lawn. We later learned the previous homeowner had not fastened this window quite as well as he should have and so it went to the ground. My husband spent time today cleaning out the inside of the window and measuring for new glass while two of our neighborhood kitties sat and watch the festivities, and our cat watched from inside the house. All kitties involved were given an extra feeding and cat treats while the noise and hubbub happened in the front yard.

While my husband dealt with the window I went about trimming back the Goodwin Creek lavender from the back yard walkway. These two lavenders have been extremely happy growing under the dining room window, in fact a little too happy since they have grown a good three to four feet out into the walkway from the house. I had planned to trim the lavenders back in winter but one thing and another keep us busy so I went at it and cut the lavenders back so they stood more upright. The plants are both so healthy and hardy that I'm not concerned about the severe cut back. They've never been cut back before but they are very well established and even though I took half of the plants stems off the rest of the plants still have just as much leaves and flowers buds left. Someday when we get back to our local nursery I hope to get a few more of these lavenders and plant them out front. I tried to propagate a few but with little luck. I need some hardy lavender versions out in the front yard because the two small Munstead lavender I planted a few years ago are still tiny and not doing much, so very disappointing since this variety did fine in Petaluma. I guess it's not warm enough for the Munstead lavenders here on the coast, or at least, not in my front yard.

After trimming the lavenders back I topped off the dried hydrangea flowers from the blue hydrangea plant next to the back gate. There is plenty of new growth happening with the hydrangea which is now a good 3 to 4 feet tall and filled with flower buds as the weather starts to warm slightly. It's still plenty cold here so some plants like the hydrangea are starting off slowly with flower buds. I made quick work of the hydrangea and turned to the other side of the back gate to trim back parts of the white camellia shrub. The camellia is growing so big now it is hitting the side of the house and the fence. I trimmed a little back on the side next to the fence and the house, trimming off some budding flowers in the process. The stems with flowers went in a vase in the house to see if they will bloom. The trim up in the corner next to the fence and house will clear the kitty pathway where the neighborhood cats jump up the fence and over onto our porch as they leave the yard. I noticed it was harder for the cats to climb up the fence from their usual path so this should help them quite a bit. The camellia even after trimming is absolutely filled with white flower buds, the camellia should put on quite a display this year when the blooms finally open.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Grape Hyacinth and Daffodils Begin in Spring

The blues and purples in bulbs are the first to start showing in the garden before spring officially starts. One of my favorite workhorse bulbs is grape hyacinth. This sturdy little bulb grows mounds of purple-blue grape-triangle shaped flowers that eventually move all over your garden. The grape hyacinth once established really spreads very easily, multiplying rapidly for a swath of purple-blue colors emerging from grass like leaves. The bulb is short so it is perfect for walkways, under shrubs and other taller plants, a great bulb for edging your garden. In Petaluma where I used to live grape hyacinth were already well established in the back yard and covered areas in color every spring. In Eureka it has been slower to get them established. It could be the smaller bulbs I bought at the local store for $2.50 a box, you buy cheap you get smaller bulbs. With grape hyacinth buying smaller bulbs is worth it because eventually they come up as they grow bigger. This year the grape hyacinth bulbs I planted fall before last finally started to come up in the front yard. I'm hoping some of the rest start coming up there as well.

I also planted some grape hyacinth in smaller green pots to place on my back yard patio table. The grape hyacinth are planted with a bunch of yellow daffodils and white daffodils. It should be a beautiful color pairing. The grape hyacinth planted in the pots are already starting to come up this year from the planting this last fall. I've found anything I plant in the ground here takes longer to establish and grow. It could be the colder coastal weather, I'm not sure. Once plants and bulbs are established they grow like gangbusters, some of our plants grow huge, much bigger than they ever would grow in Petaluma. I'm looking forward to seeing the combination of grape hyacinth and daffodils growing in the pots on the patio table soon.

The annual burst of bluebells are coming up near the back gate of the back yard. The bunch of bluebells grow on the little mound of dirt behind the flowerbed, I can see them from the dining room window. The bluebells are fairly tall growing about eight to twelve inches tall coming up through long blades of green and sporting a purple flower. The bluebells were already growing here when we moved in. Five years later the bluebells grow reliably every year since we've been here and put on a great show of flowers. Since they are spreading quite a bit I guess it's time to dig up some of the bulbs and transplant them to other areas of the garden so we can enjoy them elsewhere.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Finding Your Favorite Moments in the Garden

There are some moments that stay with you when you garden. If you are lucky enough to take time to sit in the garden after working to keep it maintained there are so many times that make you realize just how special having a garden teaming with life can be. My garden visitors are many, from bees and spiders to neighborhood kitties to butterflies to birds to raccoons and possums. It's a busy garden where all are welcome to enjoy the garden and hopefully some of the critters don't do too much damage. We are in town enough we never see deer. Frankly I'd love deer in my yard even though they love to eat everything in the garden. If I had the opportunity I would plant shrubs and plants just for them to nibble on and hopefully distract them from my favorite plants.

Blooms beginning to form and open into flowers
The smell of flowers as they open and bloom
Watching vines grow up their supports
Planting bulbs and watching the shoots start driving up from the ground
Blooms on the heaths and heathers smothering the shrubs in color during summer and winter
Bees, butterflys and hummingbirds enjoying the nectar from the garden blooms
Birds bathing in the birdbath
Harvesting herbs to cook with in the kitchen
Watching robins pick the red berries in winter from the holly trees
Watching neighborhood cats sun themselves on the deck and in the garden

What special moments do you remember from your time in the garden?

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Gardening Article: How to Make Your Gardening Work Easier

Making Gardening Easier

Gardening can be a difficult chore, especially if you have a large space you want to tend to, but there are many things you can do to make your job easier. There are all sorts of products and methods available, but focus on those that make the biggest difference for your needs.

Keep Supplies Together

One of the most challenging parts of gardening is getting all of your supplies together each time you need them. Make this task easier by keeping all of your equipment, tools, and supplies together in a central location. Sheds are perfect for storage because you can set them up very close to your garden area, limiting the distance you need to transport supplies. They also come in handy for gardening tasks you can do while it's raining outside, such as potting plants or forcing blooms.

Work in Raised Beds

Although installing raised beds requires an investment of time, money, or both, they can make gardening a lot easier. The soil in the raised bed stays looser and allows for better oxygen flow, making it easier to prepare your garden each year. You don't have to worry about stepping on the garden bed and hurting or killing anything you're growing. The increased height means you don't have to bend down as far, which reduces back strain.

Change Positions Frequently

Kneeling in one place for a long time can put strain on your body, as does bending over to weed for an extended period. To make things easier, change positions frequently, limit the amount of time you work on any one task, and use a garden chair or kneeling pad to make you more comfortable. Consider gentle exercises that will help you with your stamina and flexibility, such as yoga. Set up your supplies for several different things you need to do in your garden and switch between them regularly, even setting a timer to make sure you stick to your schedule.

Use a Wheelbarrow

A wheelbarrow or garden cart is a gardener's best friend. As long as you have a clear path from the shed where you've stored your supplies to your destination, pushing a wheelbarrow or pulling a cart is a lot easier than carrying everything you need. Use the wheels to your advantage and move large bags of soil or mulch, plants and their containers, or gardening implements like rakes or shovels all at once, rather than having to make multiple trips back and forth.

By focusing on efficiency and comfort, you will be able to better enjoy the time you spend outdoors tending your garden, making it more of a relaxing activity than hard work. The most important thing is to pay attention to your limits as you work, giving yourself time to take breaks when needed to sit down in the shade, drink a glass of water, and admire your hard work.

About the author: Kristine enjoys tending roses and plans to spend part of her vacation getting her garden ready for the summer. She blogs on behalf of Sears and other brands she trusts.

Stumble Upon Toolbar