Wednesday, July 30, 2008

1 Big Thing Off My List...

The house painting project is done!

We painted everything ~ walls, trim, decks, doors, dog, cat ~ anything that got in our way is now a lovely shade of sage green.

We even painted one of the neighbor kids though I assure you that was not intentional.

He had fair warning that we weren't terribly skilled with the paint sprayer. As usual he refused to listen.

Bad Dog made his mark.

And, I made mine. To celebrate my Irish roots a brightly colored door now sticks out like a sore thumb.

The entire house used to be a sore thumb so I consider this a big improvement!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Mystery Flower Friday

It would be so easy ~ just place the little plastic i.d. tag into the dirt when I plant my latest acquisition. Only I hardly ever think to do it and now I am stymied by this pretty plant. I'm thinking it's a sage... but what kind of sage?

If you're growing this beauty in your garden, please let me know.

Per your comments and emails:

Omegamom - I don't think so. She doesn't smell minty.

Kaz - That might be it. But, how could a bog-loving Primula flower so happily in my dry, desert garden?

Here's a better photo ~ the clusters of little, bell-shaped blossoms are really throwing me.

PS: Congrats on that most impressive cucumber harvest, Kaz! My cukes have curled up and died... Omega you are now the expert I'll turn to on 'shrooms.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Park City Nursery

Lately locals have been asking me for hot tips on where to buy cool stuff. So, this blog is dedicated to Anne and her friends, the owners of my favorite spot, the Park City Nursery.
In earlier years, whenever I had a hard day I'd stop by the animal shelter and play with the puppies. It was a guaranteed mood booster. Then I broke down and bought a puppy and now I'm not allowed to go back there anymore.

These days my mood booster is the Park City Nursery. I feel so fortunate to have this cute little nursery in my tiny town. Their motto is 'we know what grows' and they most definitely do. Half the flowers you see in my gardens were scooped up at the PC Nursery.

It is filled to overflowing with every blooming thing plus tools, toys, and fun gadgets we all desperately need for our gardens.

In my little town, Wednesdays are play days. First, I stroll through the nursery and try very hard not to buy anything. (That never works.)
Then we head up the road about a mile to the Farmer's Market to do the grocery shopping. Later, we mosey over to the park to listen to a free concert by local musicians.

By days end, the car is loaded down with flowers, food and anything else that catches my fancy and fits the budget. This week was no exception. The first raspberries have ripened, baskets of colorful bell peppers, fresh from the vine. Plus some of this ugliest heirloom tomatoes I've ever seen (which guarantees great flavor!)

This was a good day.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Southwest Monsoons

Hmmm.... What could this be?
Thunder, lightning ~ things we rarely hear in a high plains desert ~ followed by the sounds of shattering glass. I guessed it was a window... but what window? I couldn't find it.

When I walked out to the deck, to enjoy my early morning coffee, I spotted the victim of the surprise storm. The glass top to the only decent outdoor table I own, shattered into a hundred tiny bits!

Go figure ~ I muttered to myself. Because just last night I'd emailed a BBQ invitation to my master gardening friends. (I'm so very proud of the garden this year, I have to show it off!) I guess now we'll just sit in the grass and enjoy the lovely view.

Fortunately for me, the rowdy girls who populate my gardens seem none the worse for wear:
Southwest Monsoons: a group of savvy meteorologist have taken on the mighty task of educating people about this very real weather pattern. Here it is July 23rd and this is the first rain my flowers have seen all summer!

Wildflowers wait with baited breath for this annual summer deluge. Schedule a hike the week after a heavy drenching to see spectacular blooms celebrate this life-giving rain.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Globeflowers & True Blue Salvia

As I was weeding the garden, I came across these pretty orange Globeflowers relaxing in the cool shade of our Flowering Plum tree. They're such pretty little gals but they aren't long bloomers in my hot, dry garden.

This year, the Globeflowers seem quite taken with their next door neighbor, Salvia.

True blue Salvia and light pink Yarrow cast a good bit of shade on the Globeflowers, keeping them cool on hot summer days.

Speaking of next door neighbors, mine has been extra persuasive lately! Not that I need much arm twisting since I hate weeding and we both love horses. Plus, our horses love each other.

Whenever K sees me outside weeding the garden, she calls from her front porch: "Wouldn't you rather go for a ride?"

And, that's about all the encouragement I need to abandon my chores in favor of some summer fun. My little mare is quite taken with K's brown Thoroughbred. Who could resist his big, sweet mug?

* Orange Princess Globeflower is happier in cooler gardens. Best for USDA zone 4. She also prefers gardeners who water her more often.

* Blue Hills Meadow Sage (Salvia x sylvestris) is the truest blue (and longest blooming!) salvia flowers I have found. USDA zone 5.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Johnson's Blue Geraniums

At the BBQ last night, my flowers were looking like a million bucks and I was, too. Mostly because I haven't updated my wardrobe in quite some time.

You see, I could devote an hour I don't have trying on all sorts of clothes in my closet. Or, I could make it easy on myself with the one thing that almost always serves me well - that tried and true little black dress.
I've got a couple easy buttons for the garden, too. Sure, I could waste enormous amounts of time and effort trying to achieve the nearly impossible goal of an all-summer-long blooming perennial garden.

Or, I could make it easy on myself by planting my favorite little workhorse, Johnson's Blue Geraniums, next to short-blooming perennials who run out of steam far too quickly.
Johnson's Blue blooms purple - another fine bit of evidence confirming it was a color blind botanist who named these plants, way back when.

But, that's okay... What we really should care about is how she blooms from May to September, providing a pretty backdrop for rosy Jupiter's Beard, pink Phlox, white Daisies, yellow Coreopsis and more. Around this joint, everything looks prettier posing next to a clump of Johnson's Blue.

Bonus! She happily weeds herself and hardly ever gets mad when I forget to water her.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Lovely Lilies & Lazy Days

Wild Sego Lilies are blossoming all over the trails.

Hi! You haven't updated your blog for days. Are you sick or something? -Rod

No ~ not sick. Just tired. A deep down in my bones kind of tired like I've never experienced before. Too tired to pull weeds. Too tired to write. Too tired do much of anything.

Not so wild Asiatic Lilies compete for attention in my own garden.

I was thinking about that last night as Meg & I rode up into the high mountain meadows. Meg (horse extraordinaire) is part Tennessee Walker so she prances and dances like a wind up toy.

The meadows have a bumper crop of Sego Lilies this year thanks to our record breaking winter snowfall.

Only last night even Meg was moving kind of slow. As if my weariness had rubbed off onto her. I'm not sure what's wrong with me, though a breath of fresh air is always good for what ails you. Particularly right now when the Segos are in bloom. If you are fortunate enough to see Sego Lilies blooming wild in the meadows you are a lucky person, indeed.

If you don't live in a place where Mother Nature does the gardening for you, consider planting a bag of Lily bulbs in your own garden.

There's Oriental Lilies, Asiatic Lilies, Day Lilies, breathtaking and badly named Toad Lilies (photo.) Even the sadly unappreciated Ditch Lily who will happily bloom without water or love. Each and everyone of them should bring a smile to your face when they're blossoming in your garden.

PS: Thanks for the e-card, Rod.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sweet Nectar

Having a bad day? Get thee to the honeysuckle vines. Soak in those masses of pink and yellow flowers. Take in a whiff of their gentle fragrance.
The skinny little 'styles' that adorn the flowers offer a special treat. Pluck the flower, remove the style, place the base of the flower to your lips and be blessed with a drop of sweet nectar.
It's a throwback to my childhood but I must say... all these years later it still does a sweet job of cheering me up when life's pesky little problems are getting me down.

Honeysuckles grow in bush and vine form. Most are zones 4-8. This big monster of a vine ~ Lonicera 'Dropmore Scarlet' ~ drapes over my rickety porch, offering me a fabulous excuse not to repair it!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Big Rock Garden

Armed with my trusty camera, I took an evening stroll through the Big Rock Garden. (Take a wild guess how it got it's name.)
I planted a jumbled mass of long-blooming, waterwise perennials to hide a giant boulder that sat like a sore thumb in the middle of my front yard.
Catmint, Wild Roses, Jupiter's Beard and goofy birdhouses give this joint some much-needed personality.
Hot pink Painted Daisies and heirloom Bearded Iris fill in the blanks.
Lots of textures that glow in the evening sun.
Like most things in my life... very little rhyme or reason went into this design. I basically planted every one of my favorite flowers!

They say it takes 10 years to grow a garden but I don't know if that's true. The Big Rock Garden is celebrating her first birthday. I planted most of this 45 foot by 25 foot garden last July.

Peppermint Phlox grabs every one's attention.

Fuschia Pincushion Flowers keep her company.

And, last but definitely not least ~ one ultra-stubborn Azalea is preparing to bloom. Azaleas don't grow here. Or, so they say.

I won't tell, if you don't.

Big Rock Garden Plant List:
Barberry, Blanket Flowers, Butterfly Bushes, Catmints, Chokecherries, Coneflowers, Coreopsis, Geraniums, Geums, Hollyhocks, Honeysuckles, Jupiter's Beard, Lavender, Milkweed, Oregano, Penstamons, Phlox, Potentillas, Primrose, Rose Campion, Sage, Salvia, Scabiosas, Spirea, Sunflowers, Torch Lily, Weigela, Yarrow.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

New Lease on Life

It worked.
This Peony could be older than me. And, that's pretty darn old for a flower.

It being 4th of July and all, I dragged myself out of bed extra early, grabbed a much-needed cup of coffee and headed outdoors to inspect the flowers.

That's when I saw her.

One bright, beautiful, perfect in every way, fuschia Peony blossom peeking out from behind the Columbines.

I couldn't believe it. This is my Mother's Peony! These pretty flowers graced our backyard garden as far back as I can remember.

My Mother passed away two years ago. Toward the end of that difficult time, I wandered into her garden and realized how completely I'd let her down. It hadn't occurred to me, not even once, to go out there and water her flowers. So, when I left that home for the last time, I took her Peonies with me.

Sometimes we plant and hope for the best. Other times we tackle our flower beds so absentmindedly that we can't recall what's growing where.

In this case, I planted expecting the worst, all the while hoping for a miracle. And ya know what? I think I got one. :)

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Sex & the Single Columbine

How many Columbines does it take to fill a garden?

That's a trick question...

You can never have too many Columbines gracing the garden. Hummingbirds & Butterflies love 'em almost as much as I do.

Every year they reinvent themselves by hybridizing and creating new colors.

It goes something like this:
Purple meets Yellow.
Yellow thinks Purple is kind of cute.

They go out on a date or two. Things are working out pretty well. And, bada bing, bada boom...

Okay, maybe not quite like that. But you get the picture. Generally Hummingbirds play the role of Cupid because they're about the only ones with long enough beaks to reach into the spurs of these breathtaking flowers.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Longing for Lazy Days

Mr. Bumble on the Catmint

In summers past, I would generally wake before dawn and immediately head outdoors in my jammies. I'd sneak about the garden with a cup o' joe in one hand and my trusty deadheading scissors in the other ~ happily inspecting the flowers and making plans for little projects to tackle later in the day.

Pink Dianthus

This gardening season I'd sleep 'til noon if the alarm would let me. And, there is no such thing as a small project. First there was a new sprinkler system. Then we painted the house. Now a new fence is going in. A tall fence that, with any luck, will keep Bad Dog from being any badder than he already is.

Another Dianthus!

All work, no play:
While watching Mr. Bumble flit about the Catmint, it dawned on me why I've been so crabby lately. It's because I'm not flitting about the flowers. I've been so busy scratching one big thing after another off my to-do list that I'm not having any fun!

Starting tomorrow all that's gonna change. I'm going back to the way things used to be - when I started every morning with the best of intentions and rarely, if ever, accomplished a thing.

My Favorite Dianthus

* Dianthus varieties (there are 100s to choose from) have burst into bloom all over the gardens. I love these easy-growing gals! USDA zones 5-9, she's a goodie for my low nutrient alkaline soil.