Friday, July 30, 2010

Bye-Bye July

I am sad to say good-bye to this precious month of July...

A favorite time in the garden. When bright bloomers smile at me from every nook and cranny.

Does your garden have mood swings?

Mine sure does.

In July, cool blues bow out gracefully..

Making way for the silly sun worshippers who think 90 degree days...

Are what summer is all about.

Calling all bird lovers.
I'm perplexed by this new bird. He showed up two weeks ago and has been eagerly devouring every honeysuckle blossom on the monster vine. Chasing away my precious hummers!

I much prefer the messy birds who plant volunteer sunflower gardens for me. If Mr. Pesky keeps whittling away at those honeysuckle flowers, people might notice how badly the deck railings need a new coat of paint. :)

Three cheers for the sunshiney days of July. May August bring us many more...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Cucumber Basil Salad and Crafty De-lights

My dear friend, Sandy, showed me how to make darling tea light candles for the gardens. (Vintage jars, sand and wire.) Finally! A crafty-type project that doesn't require skill or patience. Right up my alley.

My BBQ went off without a hitch. At least, I thought so until I looked in the 'frig this a.m. to discover I'd forgotten to serve the super fab cheesy potatoes. I may have to eat those high calorie goodies all by myself. Life can be tough some days but I'll find a way to muddle through.

So nice to take a break since I frittered away the entire week on such ridiculous chores it's kind of embarrassing. 

Moved all the flowers from one garden into another. Finally admitting to myself that cutting corners just doesn't cut it. On one side of the house, I amended the soil and things are hunky dory:

On the other side of the house I thought, "Oh, why bother?" I'm sure you know how this story ends. So, we're starting over and believe you me ~ this time I bothered:

Dedicated 3 mornings trying to reason with the horse. "Let's go in the barn." [me] "I don't wanna go in the barn." [her] "Go in the barn!" "I don't wanna and you can't make me." On the third day, I prevailed. Then she refused to come out of the barn.

So, she's got my number. And, sometimes I feel my daily life is so meaningless...
The Perp:
I was lost. But, now I'm found!

Oh, and I lost the dog.

I had half the county out looking for him. Six hours later he strolled up the driveway wondering what all the fuss was about. Toying with the idea of embedding a GPS tracking device in his brain. Plenty of empty space up there...

So that was my dumb week. On the up side, fancy heirloom tomatoes are ripe for the picking. And, so are cute as a button baby cucumbers.

I didn't grow these, but I picked them. Does that count?

As a grand apology for a blog post containing nothing the slightest bit newsworthy, here's the yummy recipe that got rave reviews at the BBQ!

Cucumber Basil Salad
Start with 2 boxes of couscous, cooked and cooled. Then add a few of your favorites:
  • Diced cucumber
  • Diced tomatoes (heirlooms, of course.)
  • Fresh basil
  • Fresh Italian parsley
  • Snipped tops of fresh green onions 
  • Pine nuts and sunflower seeds
  • Squeeze a lemon over this mess and toss a bit.
* The whole process takes about 15 minutes but do like I do... act very harried when the guests arrive and they'll think you've been cooking for hours.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wordless Wednesdays: Sunflower Flats

Locals: Find this stunning wildflower meadow along the Blackhawk Trail, Mt. Nebo Loop, near Payson, UT.  * Don't forget to pack a yummy picnic lunch! :)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day ~ July, 2010

In this spot: Catmint (tall blue,) Jupiter's Beard (tall pink,) Geum (orange,) Johnson's Blue Geraniums (short blue,) Dianthus (fuschia) + 2 cool birdhouses I painted myself (though my snooty birds refuse to live in them.) Missing from the party is (white) Baby's Breath. She adds a lovely, soft texture to these big blossoms.

It's a jungle out here! My short mountain growing season inspires every perennial to behave differently. Bloom times are all squished together ~ in July this joint is a riot of color.

Malva, Miniature Hollyhocks

It's hard to decide what to show on this Garden Blogger's Bloom Day ~ so many fun flowers to choose from. Here are a few that always make me smile:

Rose Campion and perennial Geraniums.

Sweet Peas climbing the front porch.

Blazing orange beauty: the Maltese Cross.

Cute Columbines are so plentiful they're flowering in the cracks of my sidewalk.

Lounging beneath this Six Hills Giant Catmint (blue) and Valerian (red) is one lazy, little kitty. I wonder if I should tell him that I'm planning to turn on the sprinkler?

Three cheers for Carol of May Dreams Gardens, creator of Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. Visit her site to enjoy more pretty gardens!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pretty Spiffy Lawnmower: Troy-Bilt Product Review

My neighbor has life all figured out. Between his zebra, baby buffalo and the mini mule he may never need to mow. Life's a tad more complicated for the rest of us...
I had to giggle a bit when Troy-Bilt offered to give me one of their lawnmowers to review. Obviously, they'd confused me with Suburban Kate. The gal with the well-tamed lawn. Not little old me, resident gardener of Hell's Half Acre.

But, I happily agreed because I consider myself a lawnmower expert. I have, after all, blown up quite a few of them in my illustrious gardening career.
  1. I've found they spontaneously combust if you run them for long periods of time without oil in the engine. 
  2. And, the blades get all wacky when you mow over large rocks and garden tools lost in the overgrown grass. (Clearly a design flaw.)
First thing I did was procrastinate on opening the box for two long weeks. I absolutely hate putting things together since I end up with tons of leftover parts. Have you ever wondered if company engineers include extra parts just to mess with our minds?

To my surprise, when I finally did open my care package the dang thing was pretty much good to go.

And, I do mean GO. I saw no compelling reason to read the how-to booklet so I didn't realize this was a self-propelled do-hickey. I snapped the handles in place. Added oil. (See? I can mend my evil ways.) Gave it some gas and started 'er up. Zoom. It lunged forward and scared the pants off Bad Dog.

So, my beloved pup thinks this is a hellish device. But, what does he know? I'm pretty enamored with it.

I've never used a self-propelled lawnmower before. It happily gobbles two foot tall grass, no problemo, dragging me behind without expending much effort at all. (Adjusting the speed is a piece of cake, though it's awfully fun to terrorize the pets.)

I thought this was kinda nifty: you can adjust the mower height while you're clipping along. You know how with some mowers you have turn it off, get down on your knees and adjust the height of each wheel? This one has a little switch on the handle bar to make the wheels go higher or lower.

Troy-Bilt TB325 XP 21" Variable-Speed Self-Propelled Mower
I'm actually motivated to mow my lawn since it's no longer a back-breaking chore.
Really Like:
Great mulching system. My cheapo lawnmower (the last one I set on fire) claimed it mulched but mostly it collected grass clippings underneath the mower until it clogged up, died and expected me to clean that junk out with my hands.

No remote control! How awesome would that be? I could sit in my lawn chair and send it scurrying all over the backyard with the flip of a button. "Dear Troy-Bilt: Please work hard to invent that..."

Fine Print:
* Troy-Bilt gave me this mower for testing and blog review and I get to keep it.
** Part of my sheer bliss could be that I've never owned a quality lawnmower before. But, I really was impressed with the performance of this one. I feel it could take a good long time before the lack of oil and constant misuse will send it to the promised land.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Gardening Incognito

May Night Salvia and Mom's transplanted Peonies

A lovely downpour saved this hose-schlepping hand-waterer tons of work in the flower beds, though my garden chores may never get done.

Happy weeds have so completely taken over that  I removed the little sign from the street garden that proudly identified this joint as "High Altitude Gardening."  

Clematis climbing vines

In years past, I wanted everybody to know who planted these pretty flowers! This year, it's probably best to remain incognito.

If passers by don't know a flower lovin' blogger lives here, perhaps they won't expect as much.

Faux Lilac: Weigela flowering shrubs bloom later than the lilacs, making it appear that I have pretty lilac blossoms all summer long.

I was giggling this morning while taking these pics. Each shot required an extra 5 minutes of weed pulling so you wouldn't see the Bermuda grass choking the life out of my pretty flowers!

Little Fairies: Linaria is one of the few annuals I grow by seed. Her tiny blossoms ~ about the size of your fingernail ~ give a nice wild look to neglected areas of the garden. (As in all areas of the garden this summer.)
Me & Meg (look close - she's sticking her tongue out at the camera. :)

Who's to blame for such neglectful gardening? Why the horse, of course! Were it up to me I'd stay home and pull weeds all day long.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Wordless Wildflower Wednesdays

Locals: Find these stunning wildflowers along the Trail Side Loop in Park City, Utah. Hurry! The wild roses have begun to bloom.

For more Wordless Wednesday participants, click here!

PS: No Photoshop. They're this pretty all on their own!

Monday, July 05, 2010

Tour de Coop!

Life never stands still. (How's that for stating the bleeding obvious?) But, I do declare the slow start to our summer (frozen tomatoes on June 16th!) has the good times so backed up I feel I may never catch up.

Best Coop!
For instance, I just now got around to downloading pics of the annual Tour de Coop ~ a day in the Salt Lake City valley when urban chicken farmers hold an open house for one and all. And, that happened two weeks ago.

There were fancy chickens...
I'm too sexy for my head....

And, selfish chickens...
Unwilling to share one tiny bite of juicy watermelon...

Tour de Coop is the brain child of a great organization: Wasatch Community Gardens. They do such a wonderful job of promoting sustainable living that I almost bought a hen.

This one:
I thought her brown markings were so pretty, though she had some serious ants in her pants. Simply would not hold still for the photo op!

Contemplating laying an egg.

As much as I love this idea, I can't ever see myself owning chickens. Perhaps it's their lack of eyebrows but they always look like they're mad at somebody. (And, if they were mine, I'd assume it's me.)

CHICKEN ART: Half the fun was seeing all of the clever, crafty things chicken lovers came up with:
I raced right over to Homer Depot for a gallon of purple paint after visiting this place.

These pretty stained glass panels are old window frames bedazzled with plastic baubles.

Mood Lighting:  Re-purposed pasta jars with tea light candles decorate the sides of the coops
Best use of an old broom.

And, I soooo want one of these!