Friday, April 30, 2010

Delicate, but Strong Flowers!

fertilizer Friday I love living in a valley most of the time. We have beautiful views of the mountains year round. However, when the wind whips through our little valley, I dream of living in a less aerodynamic terrain.  It is not uncommon to have wind gusts in excess of 70 miles an hour and the dust devils and unpredictable wind shifts can do quite a bit of damage.  This time all of our benches were picked up and turned over:

April 2010 403 Despite the wind storms, the flowers clung to the branches!

April 2010 422 Apple Blossoms

April 2010 394 Forsythia Flowers

April 2010 389 Cascading Flowers on the Weeping Cherry Tree

April 2010 380 Pear Blossoms

April 2010 377 The Tulips and Hyacinth hung on to their petals too!

April 2010 396 Another UFO (Unidentified Flowering Object). I am still trying to identify some of the plants that were here when we moved in. You all have been so helpful in the past, so I thought I would include a picture of this bush. It is actually about 6 feet high and 3 feet wide.

I am continually amazed by the strength and endurance of the plants on our property. Every week I am overjoyed by some plants survival or recovery.  How are your plants doing? Hopefully they are not having to work quite as hard as mine to survive!

Tomorrow I will share what is blooming in my garage and how my vegetable garden survived the storms.

To see beautiful gardens from all over the world, visit Flaunt Your Flowers/Fertilizer Friday at Tootsie Time.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

You Win Some, You Lose Some

groweatsaveWe have lost all of our lettuces and broccoli. They just could not handle the extreme weather changes we have had, so I have had to start all over again. Fortunately, the spinach and chard have survived, but their growth has been very slow:

April 2010 297

Normally I would be very disappointed over such a large crop loss, but there have been so many exciting discoveries in the garden that my spirits have been buoyed!

The first surprise of the week was when I discovered the potatoes starting to come up:April 2010 330 The second surprise was discovering the strawberries  beginning to flower:April 2010 327 The third surprise was discovering flowers on our gooseberry bushes:April 2010 332And I was absolutely shocked to find  a blueberry bush that I thought died last summer was still alive and sending up shoots:April 2010 333 There have been a few other delights as well. The  pear tree has begun to bloom:April 2010 342And the buds on the apple trees are nearly ready to open:April 2010 347We have another storm coming through on Tuesday, so my prayer is that we don’t lose too many of the pear and apple blossoms. While the weather may prevent me from getting outside, it will not keep me from gardening. I will be nursing my tomatoes and new baby lettuces along inside the warmth and safety of my house.

How is your vegetable garden growing? I hope the successes exceed the losses!  To see other gardens in progress, visit Square Foot Gardening at $5 Dinners.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Frugal Rabbit Deterrents

Some plants like sunflowers, marigolds, and snap dragons which are supposed to be rabbit resistant are still vulnerable  when they are seedlings. I don’t want to wait until my flowers are a foot tall and flowering before I put them outside, so I have developed a few tricks. 

One trick is to cut the bottom off of a plant container and then set the container around the young plant.  I use tent stakes or coat hangers inserted into the rim of the inverted pot, to keep it from blowing away:
April 2010 262 Once the plant is big enough, strong enough, prickly enough or stinky enough, I remove the protective container.

Another trick is to use a plant that the rabbits always find repulsive as a repellent:

Since my rabbits do not like Russian Sage, I plant a sunflower seed close to the plant and surround it when it is most vulnerable with the dead branches of the Russian Sage (they retain the smell).
Once the sunflower is about a foot high and has developed a thick coat of fuzz the rabbits won't touch it and I can remove the dead branches. I also plant many of my flowering bulbs in close proximity to my Russian Sage and scatter dead sage branches around my flower beds in the spring.

I protect my young trees with a simple piece of paper:
April 2010 354 The paper on this Emerald Queen Norwegian Maple prevents the rabbits from gnawing on it in the winter. To do this cut a piece of 18 inch paper, 4 inches longer than the circumference of the tree. Wrap the paper around the tree, overlap by at least an inch and tape it closed.

I make my own rabbit repellent, but it needs to be reapplied after precipitation. Using frugal, semi-permanent protection from the rabbits ensures that I don’t lose all of my flowers after every rain shower! Do you have to contend with rabbits or other pests in your yard? How do you protect your plants? Please share your ideas or links in the comment section.

To read about more frugal tips, visit Frugal Friday.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Petals and Puddle Jumping

fertilizer Friday
On Tuesday, I snuck out as the storm was rolling in to take pictures of our trees in bloom. Today, I patiently waited until the snow melted to take pictures of a few of our flowers. 

I am always amazed at how the pansies handle snow. We have dug the walk out of several feet of snow in the past, to find our pansies smiling cheerfully at us.

April 2010 337
The tulips continue to open around the yard. They would create a better visual display if they would all open at the same time, but I think I enjoy this slower process a little more.
April 2010 345
You can see that the leaves of these tulips have been nibbled on by rabbits.
April 2010 336
While I was busy taking pictures, my little helper decided to empty the bird bath:April 2010 339
So that he might have a puddle to splash in:April 2010 341
And because I cannot help showing you future flowers, I leave you with a picture of one of my mums:April 2010 315
Tomorrow I will have a post on frugal rabbit deterrents and on Saturday I will share some very exciting developments in my edible garden.

To see some truly lovely gardens, visit Flaunt Your Flowers Friday at Tootsie Time.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Trees Are Blooming

I woke up this morning and watched the sun disappear. It was replaced by dark clouds, high winds, thunder, and eventually horizontal rain. However, I decided to brave the elements to bring you pictures of some of our blooming trees.

April 2010 323
Our Weeping Cherry Tree has just begun to bloom. This tree is gorgeous once it is in full bloom.

April 2010 318This tree, while pretty, is not one I would recommend. It is a locust and its tendency to send out runners is extremely annoying!

April 2010 314 By the time the winds have subsided today, the ground will be covered in the petals from our flowering pear trees. I am so glad that our fruit bearing trees have not started to bloom yet.

What is blooming in your yard? If, like me, your blooms are limited to bulbs and trees, you will enjoy visiting (and living vicariously through) Bloomin’ Tuesday to see what is blooming in gardens around the country!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Look What’s Blooming!

I returned from my trip this weekend to find more bulbs and even some trees in bloom. Some of the tulips have started to open up along the walk. If you look closely you will see where the rabbits nibbled on the foliage. April 2010 165

I am very happy to see the trees bloom, but it does mean that I will lose a couple of great mountain views. Fortunately, we live in a valley and by carefully choosing where we plant trees in our backyard, we can guarantee mountain views from the living room and kitchen.

April 2010 173

I enjoy spring,; each day brings a new surprise. I can’t wait to see what I will discover tomorrow. The weather is supposed to warm up enough for me to transplant some more of my veggies to the garden. I can’t wait to get my hands in the dirt.  What is blooming in your garden? Any exciting discoveries lately?

To see what is blooming in gardens around the country, visit Bloomin’ Tuesday.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Forever in Love with Perennials!

It snowed on Easter and I mentally pushed out the date that the asparagus would make its appearance. However, today when watering I was delighted to see the first asparagus pushing up through the dirt. There should be enough by Monday to use it in dinner. If you need asparagus recipes, click here.
April 2010 090

And that wasn’t the only surprise! My raspberries and blackberries are beginning to take off:April 2010 092

The gooseberries’ leaves have opened:
April 2010 095
My rhubarb plants and strawberries are continuing to do well, which is encouraging because the cold weather and high winds have not been kind to the seedlings in the raised garden beds!

What is growing in your garden? Do you grow edible perennials? If not, I encourage you to add some. I receive such joy from plants that awaken from the dead of winter and produce food for my family, with little to no effort on my part.

To see how other vegetable gardens are progressing, visit $5 Dinners. Erin opens her garden for your viewing pleasure each Saturday.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Flaunting What I’ve Got

fertilizer Friday
Which still isn’t very much!  I am enjoying the flowers that we do have and am very thankful for bulbs. Without bulbs, my yard would look like a barren wasteland. Without bulbs, it would actually look like we live in the high desert (or Mordor, which is basically the same thing when you think about it) and that is a look I am trying to avoid, even if that is where I reside.

However, I am finally able to see the potential for flowers from a source other than bulbs. You will need to adjust your expectations and look at the next two pictures through desert eyes!

April 2010 097 The delphiniums survived the winter and are growing at an incredible rate!

April 2010 102 As are the hollyhocks!  I have hollyhocks lining a 50 foot stretch of fence. I can almost visualize the wall of hollyhocks that will exist in a couple of months…

I also have another UFO – Unidentified Flowering Object:
April 2010 099 Several years ago I bought some bulbs and the only thing I paid attention to was whether they could spend the winter in the ground.  These met my exacting standards. I bought them, planted them, and lost the paper with their name. Please let me know if you recognize these little beauties.

What is growing in your garden? Are the perennials starting to emerge? Visit Flaunt Your Flowers Friday at Tootsie Time , to see what is growing in gardens around the world.

Please come back tomorrow, when I will show you what is happening in my edible garden. I am so incredibly jazzed about a discovery that I made, that it is very hard not to show you today!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

How Does Your Hyacinth Grow?

I am so glad you asked! I can’t wait to show you how my pink hyacinth grows:
March 2010 317 There is the promise of a flower.

March 2010 321
Stretching up.

March 2010 318
And now out.

March 2010 306 For this I have waited all winter!

Aren’t you glad I don’t do this for each flower on my property? Do you enjoy watching the progress of each of your bulbs in spring? To see the progress of other gardens, visit Outdoor Wednesday.


Monday, April 5, 2010

Free Home Depot Newsletter

Last year, I signed up to receive the Home Depot Newsletter, and was excited to find that the newsletters often include coupons. Last month's garden club newsletter had a buy one get one free coupon for a bag of bulbs, as well as a coupon for $5.00 off a bag of fertilizer. When you sign up, you choose which newsletters and offers you are interested in receiving. If you choose the Garden Club Newsletter, you will receive gardening tips appropriate to your area. If you want to sign up for this free newsletter, you can click here.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Garden is Open, Kind of…

Last year, I opened my garden in March, even though our last freeze is usually in June. I was able to carefully plan ahead and cover the plants before a snow or freezing temperatures hit our area.  The plants thrived and I was picking tomatoes in May before most of my neighbors had even planted theirs.

That was last year. This year I have consistently blown it!  Mostly, because I have chosen to believe my weather man. The lives of my seedlings are my responsibility, so I am not going to blame him (too much).
March 2010 257I took a chance and transplanted the broccoli plants from where they were started in yoghurt cups to the raised garden bed. I did harden the off first, by letting them spend a couple of days out doors in their yoghurt cups before I planted them in the raised bed. Here is where I should probably confess that I decided to eyeball it, rather than using markers to create my square foot garden. I have used twine in the past, and then removed the twine when the plants emerged and used it to tie up beans.
March 2010 309 My broccoli plants after several snows and below freezing temperatures. Each plant has at least one green leaf, so I am hopeful that they will recover, but it is going to be a while before we are eating any fresh broccoli from my garden!

Here is what the weather has done to my romaine lettuce:
March 2010 307 I have planted my potatoes, as well as some peas, spinach, and chard. However for now,  I am keeping most of my seedlings in front of a window in our garage.

To view other square foot gardens, visit $5 Dinners. While you are there, be sure to book mark $5 Dinners, because Erin creates lovely dishes using the produce from her garden!

Friday, April 2, 2010

A Few More Flowers to Flaunt…

fertilizer Friday
I am going to work really hard not to whine, but we have had snow for the last 3 days. The snow is not bothering my bulbs, but it is wreaking havoc on my vegetable garden. The snow also washes off my homemade rabbit repellent and if I don’t quickly reapply it after the snow melts the rabbits eat my tulips. Woe is me. I am done whining, now on to the flowers:

March 2010 260 I returned from vacation to find my daffodils in bloom.
March 2010 264 I plan to plant many more Hyacinth this fall, since they add a bright spot of color and they are one of the few bulbs the rabbits don’t try to eat.
March 2010 256 A bulb, whose name I have forgotten, but still faithfully blooms along with her sisters, each spring! Please let me know if  you know this little beauty’s name.March 2010 315 And last, but not least, the very hardy Vinca Minor. Sometimes, you just have to get on your belly to appreciate God’s beauty! To prove my point, I want to show you the bed where the last two pictures came from:
March 2010 316
To view other gardens, perhaps even some where their owners do not have to lay down in the dirt to find the flowers, visit Flaunt Your Flowers Friday at Tootsie Time.

I will post pictures of my Square Foot Garden tomorrow. I can’t promise there won’t be more whining, but when you see the pictures, I think you will understand why.

How is your garden growing? Are you having to look real close to see the signs of spring?