Wednesday, April 30, 2008

April's End!

The pink Dogwood cornus florida. On my 'life's wish list' of trees I want. I even have the spot for it. Alas and alack...the budget will not allow for it this year. Although, there is the economic stimulus money. Hmmm...!

Aren't these trees beautiful? I was driving by and saw them and thought of Carol at May Dreams Garden. She ask if we thought her newly planted Carolina Silverbell, halesic carolina, 'arnold pink' would clash with her redbud tree. It seems she planted the Carolina closer to the redbud than she had planned. These two, while different species, are close to hers in colors. I think they look grand together.

Monday evening, I raided my towels and sheets to cover some annuals(my seedlings) in case of frost. I knew that if I didn't cover them we would have a good frost. Fortunately, we did not! I have a feeling people driving by thought I had lost my laundry off the clothes line. We do some odd things to protect our gardens.

On Monday, I said the lilacs seemed to be on hold. They still are. I guess they are waiting for the weather to warm, also. They do have the lilac scent, though.

Mrs. Dove is sitting patiently, and steadily I am sure. She has to-to protect her eggs from the cold! Soon she will be surrounded by wisteria in bloom. I could see a bud or two just starting to open, but did not want to get close enough for a picture. I was afraid she would fly away and the eggs would chill. Maybe tomorrow when it warms up I can get a quick shot.

I decided to check out my mother-in-law's gardens. Although she has not done much for years, she still has some pretty spots and several nice plants. Her peach trees are in full bloom. She has 4 or 5 that are getting very old. They still show pretty but have few decent peaches.

She has violets growing everywhere. Especially around the edges of what used to be the vegetable garden and under the peach trees.

Lily of the Valley is growing and even has tiny buds. I have tried numerous times to get a start of these. I've taken whole shovels full of dirt and roots. They will not grow for me! So I enjoy them at her house, pacifying my wants by picking some for a mini bouquet.

Her poppies are budding! I enjoy these almost as much as the flower. Their fuzzy silver pods nodding in the breeze are comical to watch. I have tried, unsuccessfully, to transplant these too.

Growing in the poppy bed at the front of her house, right next to the brick foundation is this. I don't have a clue. They look like trees, but notice the really crooked stems. Any ideas? Something unusual, or do we need to cut them down as an undesirable?

In my next post, I will show and tell about the day of plant shopping Prairie Rose and I had today. What fun!

Monday, April 28, 2008

April, Full of Promise-Gone So Quickly!

I can't believe April is almost over. Where did this month go? Is it because we were so busy in our gardens that the days just flew by? Days of sun and warm breezes tempt us out to our gardens where time is lost to us. We clean and dig. We plant and pull weeds. We marvel at the growth of each flower and eagerly await the next bloom. Gardens are indeed, I think, pilferers of time. As time will go by anyway what ever we are doing, I would much rather have my time flee while I am in my garden.

Fat Cat is enjoying her time in the garden. The blooming vinca makes a comfortable bed while she awaits her prey. Today it was bumble bees.

Our ornamental plum is blooming and attracting it's share of honey bees. This tree always puts out leaves before it blooms. I think it is because the tiny pink flowers show up so well against the dark maroon leaves. Mother Nature has a very artistic side to her.

The blue bells are in full bloom(in my neighbor's yard). These were one of my Mother's favorite flowers. I have tried many times to get them to grow in my gardens, but have finally settled for seeing them next door.

I have long ago forgotten the name of this plant. It vines and I originally had it planted in some of my barrel planters. Like the vining vinca, it spilled over the edges and has become a perennial in several places. This is the first time I can remember it blooming though.

A new color of tulip has bloomed in the last couple of days. I wish I knew their name so I could find more of them. I love their color and their growth habit.

I am so happy with this part of the garden. It is a small 'rock' garden area. I planted creeping phlox in and around them a couple of years ago, using very small plants. Look how it has grown and mixed with the vinca. I love the color combination and the spilling over effect Just to the top middle is the fern leaf tansy. If you click on the picture it willl show it larger and in more detail.

The lilacs are on hold. I suppose it is the cooler temperatures of the last few days. Although the flowers aren't fully open their perfume is caught by the breeze and comes clear across the yard. I think I will cut a few stems from the back side of them tomorrow for the house. I still say nothing says spring like the smell of lilacs!

And finally, more wood violets. I have several small bunches of them spread throughout the yard and gardens and I leave them. They are lovely to see and always bring a smile. Maybe it is because they are so tenacious. They survive sprayings, pullings and mowings, still managing to spread and bring forth dozens of tiny perfectly formed flowers.

We had a good weekend, although not as restful as hoped, it was relaxing. And hubby's birthday was celebrated with family and good friends. He even got a call from his mother who is in the nursing home. That pleased him. We are sure someone reminded her and dialed the phone, but she knew him long enough, today, to wish him a Happy Birthday.

I hope your week is filled with sunshine, warm temps, and lots of blooms!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Heaven Is Gardening!

Summer came to our area these past few days. Temperatures in the 80's are not spring-like. But I enjoyed the gentle breezes and the warm rays of sun that were missed this past winter. My mind enjoyed...that is. By the end of the day, my body was not as thrilled.

My gardens have been neglected for years with only sporadic care and attention. Days, weeks, and even months went by without me being able to tend them. As I have mentioned, fibromyalgia has robbed me of the ability to take pleasure in the nurturing of my gardens. But because of LYRICA-a truly miracle drug for me, I am able to garden once again! Now when my body aches and my back won't straighten up, it is from hours spent raking, digging, pulling weeds and planting flowers. Just like any other gardener who has spent the winter indoors not using those gardening muscles. I'm in heaven!

With the warmth, blooms have opened and the bees have come. The dwarf ornamental cherry tree, that only a few days ago was beginning to bud, is now buzzing. Last year I remember only a few honey bees and mostly saw the black and yellow kind. Cheryl, at Wildlife Sanctuary is a bee's best friend. She plants for bees, provides bees with shelter in the winter(Mason Bees) and is spreading the word about the world wide population decline of bees. So Cheryl, this bee above is for you!

The lilacs are just starting to pop. Both bushes, the common(I think) and the darker one are full of buds. Carol at May Dreams Gardens has predicted a 'spectacular' year for them. I hope so. Last year we lost most of them to a late killing frost.

This is a not-very-good picture of my wisteria, which is also full of buds. But what I am trying to show is the bird nest in the middle towards the back.

A dove! I was trying to sneak around the back of the garage to get a picture without disturbing her, but she flew right after this shot. I will watch from afar now.

This poor climbing rose has given it's all and it is time to let it go to that great rose garden in the sky. Once upon a time it was glorious in it's width and height and it bloomed with abandon. That was its downfall I'm afraid. My dad loved it and wanted a start for his deck. So, a couple of years ago, he tried to divide it...with a spade. Do I have to explain any further?

Yesterday, I replaced it with a climbing Queen Elizabeth. I promise, no more dividing!

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend. Me, I am going to let my garden-weary-body rest a couple of days and help my husband celebrate his birthday!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Spot In the Bath Tub?

This is my bath tub. See the spot? What is the spot? I took a shower in there about an hour ago and didn't see the spot. Bend down and check it out. What? What is that spot!? A TOAD!!! In my bathroom? A TOAD IN MY BATHROOM!
I call my husband who is in Ohio. A the bathroom! (laughing on the other end of the phone) But, there is a Toad in the bathroom! You know how I hate things like this. Do something. (more laughter!) Look, I learned to deal with spiders when you aren't here, I don't think I should have to deal with TOADS.
Okay, okay(he's trying not to laugh now) get a paper towel, grab him, and put him outside.
But it's a Toad and I don't want to touch it.
Look, I would get it for you, but....I'm in Ohio. Do you want to leave it til I get home on Friday? (snickering now)
Oh, alright! I'll figure out something. But if Fat Cat is gone when you do get home, I don't want to hear anything about it.
Why would she be gone?(not laughing at all now)
How else do you think the Toad got into the house? You know how she is about playing with live things.
Hey, innocent until proven guilty!(Har har har!)
I am so glad you find all of this amusing. Talk to you tomorrow-love you.

Popsicle stick and plastic cup. Ewww!

Stay in there, TOAD until I can get you out the front door!

(I apologize for the blurry pictures, but did want to share this 'nature comes to me ' story. And to those of you who have been waiting to hear toads and frogs, come to my house. You can take them home with you!)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Planting in the Garden-At Last!

Another glorious Spring day in central Illinois with the sun shinning, blue skies, mild breezes and warm temperatures! Perhaps, this is somewhat of a payback for all those dreary, dark grey, wind swept, cold days of winter.

This wonderful magnolia (or tulip tree as it is sometimes called here) tree resides here in our town and I love to walk by it in the spring.

Our dwarf cherry is in full bloom as well. The bumble bees have found the blooms and keep busy sipping the nectar. We had never had a flowering tree of any kind until about 5 years ago. This and a flowering plum were birthday gifts to my husband from me. I'll admit it was a sneaky way to get something I really wanted. You really can't tell from this picture, but I had an ulterior motive for this tree as well. We planted it on the south east corner of our patio and it blocks vision of my mother-in-law's house. We live on the NW side of the block and she on the SW side. For years she stood at her kitchen window and watched us. I know you think I am probably exaggerating, I swear I am not! So I got a 3-fer. Lovely blooms, shade and privacy.

Monday of this week, I accomplished very little by any stretch of the imagination. As usual, the Monday after the weekend with the granddaughters finds me exhausted and in pain(the fibro). And although the new medicine Lyrica helps enormously, I still need a day of rest and recuperation. The only productive thing I did that day was to get to my Dr. appointment for my 3 month check-up. I tell you all of this to explain that by Tuesday morning, I was ready to tackle the world. I wanted so badly to leave the house work and go straight out to the gardens. But things left undone have a way of making themselves known...ants greeted me while I was getting my morning coffee. I am not showing a picture of them as they don't deserve noterity! As many of my friends can attest, I do battle royally with these invaders every spring. (another sure sign spring is here to stay!) I allowed myself 2 cups of the fog lifting liquid and then I set in! I pulled everything out of my cabinets-they were even in my towel drawer-and sprayed. I use Home Defense a brand name spray that is safe for humans and pets. After washing every dish, plate and glass, I put all back . I then sprayed every crack, crevice, opening, closing, up, down, in, out-well, you get the idea. Next on the must be done list was laundry and vacuuming(more of my favorite chores!) At last, by noon, I was done!

I got serious about the gardening. I drug out my garden shoes from the back of the closet and found my gardening capris. Yes, I have an actual pair I save for gardening as I sit and or crawl a lot when I am in the true gardener mode.

This spot is on the south side of our deck and used to have a climbing rose growing up the wood. Sadly, it died a couple of years back and the sight has been neglected. I dug the carcass of the rose out, raked back the mulch, cut the landscape fabric and finally was down to bare earth. Using my new tool- I forgot to include a picture-I dug the area up, added some sand, and sowed wild flowers, zinnias, and in the back, morning glories.

I am going to have a cutting flower area this year!

I found this spot the other day. Notice the vinca has grown all around leaving a circle of landscaping fabric showing. Okay...a perfect spot for a plant!

I divided one of the hostas and half now resides in the spot. Looks pretty good, if I do say so. I also planted some of my seedlings. I took the dark opal basil and the statice and edged a couple of smaller beds. I took 3 of the butterfly seedlings and spaced them in the south side of the big bed on the south of the house. I planted tiger eye iris, trumpet lily, gladiolus and mystery bulbs ( freebies with an on-line plant order)in small grouping through out this bed. I watered everything in although there was rain in the forecast. When you want rain...and sure enough it didn't. I even wrote in my gardening journal and drew a map of my newest plantings! I had just enough time to shower, change and pick up the birthday granddaughter for an evening of shopping and dinner out. (today, I am back to recouping!)

One of the granddaughters, this weekend, thought I needed more blooming flowers so she drew me some on the patio by the back door.

And finally, we have a frequent visitor these days. A large male who hangs out here and is now even letting me pet him. I have asked around and no one on this side of town claims him. He could be a traveler from across the railroad tracks and I will have to check there. If he is a loner, we have decided to adopt him. Not sure how Fat Cat will take that though. I am not sure if he will come indoors or even if I should try to get him. We will just have to see how it works out.
Enjoy your spring time!

Monday, April 21, 2008

And Spring Has Come to Central Illinois!

Last Thursday, while taking my Dad to the VA clinic for a check up, we saw trees like this one in bloom all over the campus. To my surprise, I knew it was a Star Magnolia! Thanks of course to the garden bloggers. The thing I don't know is are there different colors of them? Most of the ones I have seen on posts look very white and this one definitely has a pink cast to it. I stopped the car and went to take closer pictures to post and find out if I was correct about the kind, and ...

to show the pink! I'm pretty sure my Dad thought I was a little nuts for taking the up close pictures.
Spring has come in a rush the last week. I am constantly amazed, as I walk in the gardens each day, to see how quickly everything is growing. The hostas look so pretty at this time of the year. This green one just says spring. I think it is time to divide some of them, but do I do it now? These were pass along plants and it seems I did transplant them early in the spring.

I finally have a blooming tulip! It is just the one, but several more will be opening in the next few days. Carol posted about not really caring for the red ones in her back yard, but I only have a few of these and they are early ones. But the time the pink and mauve ones bloom the red are gone.

Oh, by the way, most of the close up pictures today are courtesy of one of the granddaughters. She turns 15 this week, and she ask for and got a new camera. She and I had fun learning how to use it. It not only has macro mode- it has super macro mode! I want one, too!!
The dwarf flowering cherry on the south side of our patio is just coming into bloom. Friday, I tried to get a close up of the buds...not worth showing, but today, look! Blooms.

Isn't this a glorious picture!? She is really getting the 'eye'. I may frame this one.

And speaking of trees, the maple is starting to leaf out. This is the one we have a small sitting area under. It has a long branch that almost touches the ground, thereby affording us privacy right by the street. A few years back, someone gave us some of those round stepping stones and Hubby designed a small triangular patio under it with them. In the summer we sit there and cool off as it is very shady. This shade is where I have most of my hostas. I am working on finding other pants that do well in that deep shade and will tolerate the poor soil condition.

And one last picture, I promise, of the daffs!

The lilacs are budding and getting fatter each day. Maybe this year we will have some of their delightful blooms. Last year, at just about this stage of development, we got a killing frost. Of 2 bushes, I had maybe 3 bloom and they were small and had little scent. The forecast looks great for several days... so here's hoping.
This was the weekend with the granddaughters, so little in the way of actual gardening was done. This week, I hope to get lilies, perennial sweet peas and some summer bulbs planted. I received one of my on-line orders last week and need to get them in the ground. I wasn't expecting it quite yet as most of it should be planted after chance of frost. But the condition of the plants warrants an earlier planting. They are sprouting and look very pale. So frost or not, they must be planted.
Here's wishing all of you a glorious time in your gardens this week.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Spring Play Date!

The wind was horrific, the ground too wet to work, and most of the gardens had been cleaned. What was a grandma to do? Call a granddaughter to see if she could come out and play-that's what! Miss Liv(very soon to be 3) and I headed to a favorite place well armed with a loaf of bread. The place were the 'gooses' swim.

It didn't take long for them to swim our way.

And we even had a few ducks. I thought they might not get as close as the geese, but after seeing there was food involved, here they came, too!

He even brought his mate!

Liv(and I) loved the mallard's iridescent green head. In the sun, it sparkled.

When the bread was gone, and after checking our shoes for goose poop, we needed a snack! Grandma wanted a chocolate sundae, but Liv had strawberries on her mind. Wind-blown and tired, we went home. Liv to play some more and grandma to rest.

Later, walking around the gardens, I found 'Mister Lincoln' leafing out. 'Queen Elizabeth' is showing no signs of life, though. In fact, I am seeing little on several roses. So will give them a while yet, and hope they are just later. We did have a lot of heaving this winter and that can be very hard on tender rose roots.

I think this is called 'bearded tongue' ( my legendary lack of keeping records is showing again!)
What ever it is, it has self seeded in several spots and I always think of those extras as gifts from the birds or maybe the wind.

I did find a few grape hyacinths hiding in the grass at the edge of a couple of beds. These are another of those plants I don't remember planting. I should try to move them to better spots, but usually end up forgetting about them until they surprise me the next spring.

I know, another Daffodil! I just had to show this one-really. It is a new color for me.
I hope everyone has a great spring weekend!