Thursday, May 26, 2011

Daylilies and sweet peas

A few weeks ago, I wrote that "all the daylily seeds" had sprouted. Wrong. Somehow I had two identical Ziploc bags with an identical amount of identically black, round and large (for seeds) seeds. The first bagful of seeds that was found in the packing-boxes, and planted, produced sweet peas. Then I found the second bag. And now there is, indeed, a baby daylily. And possibly one or two others beginning to hatch.

No flowers on the sweet peas yet though and it may soon be too warm for them here. I think I need to plant them in November.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Colonel Mustard, in the library, with the lead pipe...

The shelves are fully-assembled and fixed to the wall and, for the price, I'm very happy with the results. Went with IKEA "Billy" and I know they won't last forever, but they will be treated gently and they fit my budget, which the 10K$ custom build didn't.

The most difficult part was making the shelves, and especially the corner, "fit" while understanding that the walls and floors are not perfectly straight/flat/vertical. Had to put some strips of extra carpet under a couple of the bookcases. Some customisation of the corner hardware was needed!

Still needed: a new cover for the heating vent, some floor cushions, and a good reading lamp. Oh. And I have room for more books!

Friday, May 20, 2011

... and then the turkey vulture

Just a few hours after seeing the first turkey chicks, a turkey vulture flapped its way out of the trees near the creek, skimming over the house. Huge wings, red headed, clumsy. Never seen one of those so close before.

I wonder about the life expectancy of baby turkeys.

Baby turkeys have arrived!

I saw the first two this morning--following their mother through the mulch in the border at the front of the house. One was confused and ran the wrong way, away from Mum, and she called it back. Then they all strutted off towards the back of the house.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Vegetable boxes

Nowhere near finished but these are filled and seeds planted. Lettuce, carrots and beetroot in the big one; peas, mange-touts, and green beans, cucumber and edamame in the others. (Yes edamame. I found baby edamame plants at the bargain grocery store.)

Made the boxes a couple of weekends ago, from parts of the demolished entertainment center (see earlier, March 3rd). They will not last forever: it's not wood that's meant to be outdoors. But for this summer, they'll do the job, and anyway one day the vegetable garden will be over the other side of the property, between the orchard and the creek, in the sunniest spot. But for now, these will work fine.

Still have to put the mulch down to be the paths around them.

Pool border--after

It hasn't stopped raining and it isn't sunny again yet, but here it is: daylilies, salvia, a jasmine, and more. The picture has been carefully taken so that you can't see the rest of the border, because that bit's not done yet.

Didn't cut the privet trees down completely, just limbed them up for now. But they really have to come out.


Left-to-right: blackberry, against the tree-stump, lemon sapling, lime sapling, mature sweet navel orange against the railings on the left, mature sour (still) orange against the railings on the right, squirrel-bluejay-turkey-raided cherry in front of the sour orange (and it drastically needs a haircut), pomegranate, small but Giant Babcock White peach.

Easy digging, because we've had rain since Friday, and the earth is soft but not soggy.

Lemon is "Improved Meyer" which, now I read the label, is in fact not a lemon. ???  It is a dwarf citrus tree that is a hybrid cross of lemon, orange and mandarin. Well now I just have to go out and find a real lemon too!

Pomegranate is "Wonderful" and must be carefully pruned each year, during winter, after New Year, when fully dormant. First pruning: cut back to two or three scaffold branches, evenly spaced. Second pruning: cut to two, 24" laterals on each scaffold branch. This is supposed to help develop the strong straight trunk to support the heavy fruit. Picture on label looks a little like an ice crystal growing.

Lime is "Bearss Seedless" and is really a lime, dwarf. Grafted rootstock so suckers must be removed. Otherwise, not much pruning needed. Same with the lemon/orange/mandarin masquerading as a lemon.

Peach is "Giant Babcock White" which apparently needs 450 hours of below-45 degree temperature. I wonder how that will work out. I suppose that is only 18 days, and this year, no problem with that. Should be pruned in same way as the pomegranate, but starting with three or four scaffold branches.

Blackberry is blackberry and I truly didn't know until now that they only fruit on second-year growth--and that, once fruited, a cane never fruits again. Maybe that's because I've never planted one before, just picked them in the wild from giant, overgrown, roadside tangles.

The garden is an adventure, a discovery. The older fruit tree that overhangs the horse-next-door's shelter has small, hard, dark-green fruit on it now. I found two on the floor: they have the curvacious form of plums or peaches. I'm thinking plum, but it will be fun finding out for sure.

Clothes or trees? Trees won.

I really did intend to go and buy some new cargo pants. And honestly, I searched Ross and Kohls, and even tried a couple of things on, but they didn't fit, were wrong style, and wrong colour (why is it impossible to buy women's cargo pants any more unless they are for stick legs and/or end at the shin)?

And... just happened the these shops were on the same street as the supermarket where I'd noticed the baby fruit trees a few days ago.

So instead of something to wear, I came home with one each of baby lemon, lime, peach and pomegranate trees.

At least I won't ruin the new pants working in the garden tonight.

More flowers have arrived

(This is the lost post from last week... it just reappeared as a draft. I planted them all this weekend, in the newly-prepared pool border and in the flower bed by the kitchen deck.)

Perennial "grab bag" from SpringHill Nursery: a "grab bag" means they send you more than you pay for, but you have no idea what will be inside it... this is what I received today:

  • Galliardia aristata "Burgundy"
  • Galliardia "Arizona Sun" x 3
  • Centranthus ruber coccineus
  • Salvia nemorosa "Blaukoningin" x 3
  • Galliardia x grandiflora "Goblin"  (dwarf galliardia)
  • Aster x frikartii "Wonder of Staffa" x 3  (that's the strange blue aster)
  • Aster dumcsus "Mittelmeer dwarf aster"
  • Aster dumcsus "Jenny dwarf aster"
  • Liatris spicata "Alba" bulbs x 3
  • Liatris spicata "Purple blazing star" x 6  (these were not in the grab bag but arrived in same shipment".
I guess I have some digging to do tonight!  I love salvias, am a little concerned that the centranthus might be invasive (put it in a pot?), I find the blue asters downright weird with that strange fake blue but we'll see how they look mixed in with something else.

Monday, May 16, 2011

This is rapidly turning into the Squirrel Blog

There's a brown one, a grey one, and another that is almost-white. It's the brown one that has claimed the cherry tree.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The pool border garden--before

Yesterday, I started work on the border garden that edges the pool area. The weeds are now all dry and dead, apart from the daffodils that have obviously been shorn every year since they were planted and which produce nothing but floppy, sad leaves.

Scraped all the weeds away then watered the garden so it would be at least slightly diggable (the tree roots make it tricky and those privet "trees" really have to go... one already has, the reciprocating saw with the pruning blade dragged me to it the other day). Then I dug and planted the section from the gate to just-around the corner towards the rocks: daylilies, blue salvia, the burgundy galliardia, and those really-weird blue asters which, forgive me, will be removed if they look too fake to be true.

Then mulched it all with shredded cedar bark.

Picture to follow if/when the sun comes out again--we just had a major rain/thunder/hailstorm which happily did not batter the tomatoes. Too much.

Took advantage of the wet earth, and pushed a load of nasturtium seeds into the bare patches among the tree roots at the front of the house. Will they grow? Who knows... will be pretty if they do.

They have citrus trees at Raleys: I am tempted by a lemon and a lime tree, to fill the spaces in the mini-orchard where there must have been trees once, which are no longer. They are real babies: 10$ a tree. Maybe I should just plant some seeds instead. Like the white peach tree we grew in France.

Seems like Blogger lost it...

... system crashed, and they "lost" a lot of postings, one or two of mine included... the one where I listed the plants that came from SpringHillNursery last week. Oh well. If anyone received a copy of it in email, please could you send it back to me?  Because I immediately forget what I've planted and then go and plant something else on top of it, the borderlily sprouting right under the annual vinca being a clear example!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cherries!!!! They are cherries!!!!! (Or... and why don't squirrels stick to nuts?)

Suddenly they are there... and that darn squirrel is getting fat.

Mystery fruit...

... and I may never find out what they are, because this guy is Eating Them All!

So many things to do, please send more time

  • Dig up rest of existing borders and plant everything that is still in pots
  • Plant up the perennial seedlings into small pots from their seed trays
  • Get rid of those overgrown privet "trees" because they are invasive/invading
  • Finish filling the raised vegetable beds
  • Make more raised beds
  • Finish fixing irrigation system
  • Win lottery to pay for replacement of all the irrigation valves/automatic timers
  • Paint the rest of the inside of the house
  • Stain the middle-eastern mirror
  • Go to gym
  • Walk the dogs
  • Do the housework
  • Finish the bookshelves
  • Plant the rest of the seeds
  • Read
  • etc. etc. etc.
One bite at a time. One thought at a time.

And of course, "proper" work too.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's day roadtrip

 Karli and I went up to Plymouth, to the Amador flower farm, drove around the vineyards. The vines have their first leaves of the year, bright green. Each field of vines is different: tall rootstock, short; two branches or three; different shapes entirely. Living sculptures.

We told them that they spelled her name wrong... close, though!


Two of the irises are now in flower. These are survivors! Brought from Long Island in a suitcase, planted over winter in small planters or kept in a brown paper bag... and they are beautiful. If they can make it through that ordeal, they'll do fine now they are in the ground.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Glad to be alive

 Yesterday evening, I went to the local Home Depot to buy yet-more paint samples for the bedroom wall. (Scroll down if you want to see that story.) This time I picked a battleship grey, and Cadbury's-creme-egg-yolk yellow, plus a couple of shocking colours for the front door. I asked the paint guys to mix the colours, then went down aisle 11 to pick up some stain for the middle-eastern mirror, and a brush to paint it on with.

I'd picked up the stain and a brush (I think, my brain's a little fuzzy on the exact sequence), I saw something fall... and hit the floor just inches from my feet. I have a snapshot in my head of two things in flight, and one on the floor, and that I was moving in what happened to be the right direction... away.

All three boxes fell from high up. You've been to Home Depot, you know how high those shelves are. The top ones often have nets across them to prevent this kind of thing happening. Not this time.

The paint-mixing guy either saw what happened or a customer told him, came and moved the boxes to the side, asked if I saw where they had fallen from. All I could say was, "up there!" because all I saw was them in flight, aiming for my head.

I wandered around the store for a few minutes, avoiding aisle 11, went round another way to pick up my paint. Another customer tracked me down to tell me how lucky I was. I know, I said, I'm still here.

Took pictures of the boxes with my cell phone. The aisle was still open. Collected paint and went down another aisle to find Customer Service to make sure they were aware. Nice lady offered me a chair (I just wanted to make sure nothing was going to fall on anyone else) and went to check but I had zero confidence that anything was being done.

And yes, that does say "corrosive".

Surely, safety regulations should have dictated immediately closing off the aisle from customers until employees had checked that nothing else could fall?

A few inches to the north, and I would not be here today. I am happy I went south.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

New pathway

There is no pathway to the gate at the right side of the house; just dry mud and very-bare lawn. So this weekend, I put down weedblock fabric and a border of old bricks. And now that the mulch is here, it will be used for the pathway as well as the flower beds.

Get it mulched!

Temperatures are going to reach the 90's farenheit this week, and no rain in the foreseeable future. I have to mulch the flower beds--the ones that I've already dug and planted, and the ones that haven't been tamed yet--either to shade roots and keep moisture in, or to keep the weeds down.

Six cubic yards of shredded cedar bark arrived on the driveway yesterday morning, causing a dog-barking cacaphony in the middle of my weekly staff meeting. It was "supposed" to arrive late afternoon, after day's phone conferences were over, and the delivery guy was "supposed" to know where to leave the mulch, without knocking on the door... but you know how that goes. I should be happy he was early, and concientious enough to check before putting it in the wrong place.

This stuff will break down over the months, adding much-needed vegetable matter to the clay topsoil.