Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Thursday 13: Living It Up in the Garden

Warning: This post might be boring. You kind of have to have some interest or patience with gardening to put up with my # 9 yard tour.....
Notice: The spelling of Inpatients has been correctly changed to "Impatiens". This change is the result of a small overdue act of intelligent kindness from one best friend to another.

I can't think of anything I like better than working in the yard when it's comfortable enough to wear a tee-shirt and the sky is blue. And when I don't have my envelope length list of unfinished demands weighing on me.

JB and I moved into this house without an understanding that this third of an acre lot is pretty sunny and offered some landscaping fun. I'd never had full sun before--never!--and I love shopping at garden centers as much as I love bookstores. Add to this the unbelievable fact that I have non-work time like never before: these days I am still writing and pondering my next moves while I leisurely plan out my yard.

I'm an enthusiastic gardener but not an expert one. If you think about it, gardeners only get a limited amount of chances to paint their canvasses. I think that is why older people seem to be the best gardeners-they've had more opportunities and seasons to practice. To compensate for all that I don't know, my plan has always been to buy and plant things while they are blooming--that way I can actually see how the colors, size, height and duration will look with everything else around it. Last fall this plan fell apart when I had back surgery, so I'm really only on my second year of beginning to plan and plant.

I'm hopeful. Here's some of how I'm doing:

1. Last summer we hired someone to build up this "shade garden" in our front yard. He turned over the soil, pulled out some roots, and added about 4 inches of compost and top soil. The result: I can plant most things without worrying about hitting roots. Then I bought hostas and a few ferns. I planted the hostas in a circle around the tree. I've now added a couple of Bleeding Heart perrenials, a few begonias, ground cover in the lower right hand area, and today I started putting annual IMPATIENS (ha ha ces, I will no longer spell it wrong) around the outer rim of this half circle. I dug a trench all around the circle, using this fantastic spade I got for Christmas. I've never used a spade before (it's a flat shovel) and it's been fantastic in making a boundary. Oh, and I hauled and spread out mulch.

Here is the current view from the little room off the kitchen. This is project # 1, and it's just about finished. It took me about 6 hours to get all this done.

2. Here's Project # 2. I started with a messy area around the front lamp post. I dug it up and found thin hostile sheet metal someone had dug in, probably to keep the grass from spreading. I wanted to get the metal out so someday I wouldn't be nonchantly planting and all of a sudden I've sliced my hand. I tried to remove it, but it was hostiley hopeless. In the process, I sliced my finger. So I left the ##@%% metal, took my time making a border using flat rocks, and added as much topsoil and compost as I could. Then I planted dark pink IMPATIENS. They will flower all summer. This shot is incomplete--you have to imagine one or two more circular rows of inpatients. Project # 2 looks so simple and basic I'm embarrassed to admit how much time and energy it took. I'll leave it at that.

3. Project # 3: This is my favorite. Last year I hired two guys to dig up an area off the driveway for me. I wanted a half circle garden where I would mix perrenial flowers, herbs, and a few vegetables--tomato plants being one absolute necessity. Today I hope to plant 8 tomato plants, surrounded by marigolds and basil, which all serve to compliment and protect eachother from disease and bugs; and leeks and onions, which I've never done. Last week I planted little lettuce just behind the # 9 rock. The garden will take the most time and effort all summer--it will need to be weeded and I will keep adding and thinning plants, following my plan of planting and clustering while they are in bloom.

4. Project # 4: The back yard and the back of the garage--I am giddy that the ferns and begonia-like leaves I planted last spring have come back!! I will add pink IMPATIENS in between and that will be that.

Projects # 5, 6, & 7: This area will take me a few years to finish. I want to put a stone path of some kind to JB's Magic Cottage, the area against the fence is still a big question mark, and the patch of dirt that you see will shortly be jampacked with zinnias. Last year we had freshly cut flowers all summer. If you have never fallen in love with zinnias, I recommend that you do. Give them sun, feed them once a month, and cut how ever many you want and they will happily multiply for you.

8. This is a shame. I have tried to make this shot vertical. I have tried!! In Adobe where it is stored, it IS vertical. NOTE: MY PROFESSIONAL BLOG DESIGNER WHOSE FIRST INITIAL IS "C" STRAIGHTENED THIS OUT FOR ME. IF IT'S NOT OBVIOUS, I HAVE FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES. That said, here's my most exciting yard project so far. Last year JB and I planted 3 flowering trees. This one is right outside my office and its flowers are AWESOME.

9. Here's the first flower from the garden. I can't tell you what it is but it's spikey blue. In the plant world, blue is not a frequent color, so I try to appreciate it more.

10. Ok, I admit it: I spent $ 30 for this "Cinnamon Fern". The leaves inside are actually ferns but they look just like a cinnamon stick. I saw it and fell it love with it. I justified it by telling JB it was a gift for her, which she accepted graciously. She wants to put this in a pot somewhere on the patio, but it will need to find a place in the ground before next winter.

11. Project # 8: The area behind the Magic Cottage is a little sanctuary. There is traffic on the other side of the fence but JB and I pretend the whizzing of cars is actually the sound of ocean waves (magical thinking 101). Last summer I planted these boxwood shrubs which will hopefully grow into eachother. Last fall they were joined by flowering tree # 2. I don't know how this will develop, but I like the feel of it so far.

12. What can I say? This shot pretty much sums up my garden and my life these days.

13. Oh, one more addition to my garden: Mr. Ryan gets baptised. He already walks with the angels. Maybe not the best transition, but, hey, this Thursday 13 is about growth afterall. :)

Here's wishing you all a fine Memorial Day Weekend. In this neck of the woods, summer now begins!


  1. Thanks for stopping my blog! I love your plans for the garden. Step by step lovingly picking out flowers and bushes. Blue flowers are great for communication, by the way!

  2. I love your yard and your projects.
    I have a giant Mamitoba Maple Tree that shades our entire backyard so I am forever indebted to my ferns, hostas, bishops mantle, and all of the other assorted flowering weeds and vines that I let 'do their thing'.

    We usually go to the Nursery and 'do' our 7 clay pots on the May Long Weekend...
    my lovely dear sweet Alice puts the exact same coloured flowers in said pots in the exact same order every year just as her Mother did before her and her Mother's Mother before her ((sigh))

    When I hit my 40s I really started to appreciate the garden and birds.
    I'm turning 50 this year so I am looking forward to my new hobbies but I think that I'll always like 'piddling' around the yard.

  3. "Imagine" is rock soup for the soul! Great garden, girl!

  4. KJ, I don't have a place to garden, but I am the same way about houseplants! I absolutely love them!

  5. Lovely lovely lovely plants. I love the beautiful colorful leaves!!! Spring, summer and fall must be beautiful in your place, but so was winter. I love the purple leaves. I have purple leaves in my garden too. I do not know most of the names of my plants.

  6. KJ - I love the photos. I like the way you've landscaped your garden - very lovely. I have to admit, I've never been one to garden - never wanted to and never had the desire, but I LOVE flowers and love and appreciate other people's well-cared for gardens.

    Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

  7. Wow! That is quite a big garden to maintain! Looks like you are passionate about it!

  8. designingfairy, thank you for the visit. i really like your blog and artwork. blue flowers, eh. i'm glad to know that!

    he, 7 clay pots with a long tradition. good for you. and happy piddling... :)

    singleton, i always like to see your avatar here. thanks.

    gj, nice to hear from you. i like house plants too. they are soon to go outside for the summer, which they of course love.

    ces, the yard welcomes you. :)

    elsa, i never thought i would garden anything. and i don't want to wear gloves. i'm like a kid in a sandbox. i think i like the concrete appearance once the work is done....

    sidney, i may be passionate but i take my good old time. i'm in no rush...

  9. Oh I have enjoyed exploring your projects, yard & sanctuary. I think it looks beautiful! I love your garage too...looks like a starry eyed building smiling out at us!
    With a little TLC, everything grows! Looks beautiful!

  10. thanks, skinny. i can still picture your yard and i'm still chuckling over your rented house story.

    i am a street-wise person too. it comes in handy, doesn't it?

    best wishes for this long weekend!

  11. KJ,

    Bleeding hearts are one of my favorites. You are doing some really awesome work (even though I believe gardening is becoming one with the Earth.) When I find myself the most disgusted, frustrated or stressed, I have always been able to take my shoes off and do a happy dance to the light of the moon, the dog looking at my half crazed, me just grounding myself with my love of nature.

    Keep sharing and I will keep stopping by. I 'dig' the garden. Nothing is better than a home grown veggie wrap with a glass of white wine on a Sunday afternoon.


  12. I don't have a green thumb so I leave all that to my parents who are both great at gardening. I'm just a lowly weeder -- but at least i enjoy doing it.

    your garden is shaping up pretty good kj. something else to occupy you and relieve stress during the summer.

    Ryan has grown a lot! :D

  13. Your garden looks very nice. Mine is much smaller, but then I live near the centre of our town, you don't really find large plots of land there. Mine is just all grass, I don't really have much time to spend in it.

  14. KJ, please send any "lowly weeder" you know my way. Here in my corner of the earth, weeders are not considered lowly, they are precious and highly valuable. I will even serve them refreshments in my fine china on the deck and join them :-) I also started as my Mother's "lowly weeder" then graduated to watering can girl.

  15. Not boring at all! It was fun to "visit" through the photos you took. I "write" when I do other things, too. Your yard looks lovely! I wish I shared your love of gardening ... I love gardens and wish I could get into it ... I just can't. I need to remember that this is okay, and not a defect. LOL! :)

  16. Such a cosy yard you have created KJ!

    Beautiful blessings!

    Happy Memorial Day weekend! HUGS

  17. Oh - I'll bet there are fairies at the bottom of your garden, too..

    The ability to create, whether in writing, collage, painting, gardening or in raising a child, is a hugely satisfying and endlessly rewarding talent.. and not simply just for you, but also for everyone else who is touched by witnessing it.

  18. Your garden is still a bit immature, but that will improve every year. Our garden is 12 years old and we have to use a machete now and then ;-) About the blue flower you showed under 9. I think this is a cornflower. Please look for yourself:
    Have a nice weekend!

  19. WOW WOW WOW!!! Nice new blog layout. You must have hired a blog designer :-) He-He!!!

  20. ...and someone even rotated the flowering tree for you! :-)

  21. eric, please keep in touch. i like your visits. i'm going to prepare my garden for a veggie wrap in august--thanks to you!

    mench, thanks, i'm hoping stress melts with the summer sun. :)

    pieterbie, i like living near the center of town so i can walk where and when i want. we currently live a mile away, unlike our place in provincetown, which was a short block to town and the ocean.

    lowely weeder and watercan girl, so that's where your talent and intelligence comes from. you started at the bottom and learned on-the-job. :)

    elsa, have a great weekend in beautiful new england. aren't we lucky this time of year?!

    melissa, not gardening is perfectly ok. the goddess told me so.

  22. tammy, how nice to hear from you. i'll be stopping by your blog soon. happy weekend to you. i hope you are surronded by all those people you love!

    sws, i like your take on life. i stopped by your blog and was overwhelmed by the 90-plus visitors you already had! but i'll be back.

    weineke, i like that you know my garden is immature (like me sometimes!). i am looking forward to see the results of your 12 years.

    ces, yes, i paid a fortune for my new blog design. i will be making life-long payments and i don't mind a bit. :)

    oh and ces: IMPATIENS

  23. It's all looking lovely. Love the view from the window.

  24. Poetry by Ces:

    Outpatient! Outpatients! Inpatient! Inpatients! Impatients! Impatience!
    Imp-patiens! Impatiens!

    Should I keep my day job?

  25. ces, quit your day job immediately.
    you have a bright future....

  26. Lol, good week-end to you too!
    I wanted to let you know that I have an 'Imagine' rock too. I've had it for several years now & when I got it, I also got 'Hope' and 'Faith' which I gave to friends. If we can imagine, we can make it happen with just a little bit of streetsmarts & tlc!

  27. OK, KJ...come on over to my place and give me a hand in the jungle.Please? Soon?
    (Actually, I'm more appreciative of the current jungle than of the constant building site racket!)
    By the way, I finally got some artwork up for you.

  28. what a beautiful garden!
    I'm inspired to go outside and pull weeds!

  29. Kj, thanks for your sweet comment on my now deceased blog! How lovely of you to remember me. I keep coming to your site, you know, I always love reading about your life and projects. Like gardening! Gardening is something I admire in other people if they do it. I don´t have the stamina yet, or let´s say the desire or consistency to reside in one place for a longer period of time, which would be required I guess. Myself I dig house-alterations ;)

    Btw, I have a perhaps not so strange way of "storing" people in my brain. I connect them with themes they and I seem to share, i.e. subjects they are researching. For you its "happiness". Isn´t that neat? :)

    What a theme appropriate design change of your blog!

  30. Thanks for sharing your garden project story, I read it with high interest (plants, birds, nature, gardens : you know, that's my kind of thing)and you tell it with humour.
    I like Impatiens very much too, I saw a new variety this year with double flowers : I'll post a photo of it on my blog for you and will let you know when (we're just having some rain, so not the light I want for photographing but free water for the plants).
    Zinnia's : mexican genus, not seen here very much :-)
    The blue one : is one from the Centaurea genus, probably C. montana.
    I'm looking forward to see photos of when all your plants have grown and are forming carpets, now they are still standing "in isolation".
    Success and much pleasure with your gardening !
    ** Huray for Mr. Ryan, he looks lovely !!
    ** thanks for adopting the word "airscrewing", I was quite pleased with it myself too :-)

  31. Having no green fingers at all I admire your handywork KJ. Wishing you a wonderful weekend too

  32. I love Hildegarde's vast knowledge of flora and fauna. Isn't she a fabulous woman?

  33. ces, dcnyes, hildegarde is wonderful.

    ces, you know, we four are members of the International Applepie Society. somebody needs to do something about having an annual meeting. and forget this virtual stuff--surely four women can find a way to travel in the same direction on the same day and same month and same year.

    i am visualizing this. (ohm....)

  34. marie, the window is my favorite view too. i look out from it each morning as i have my first cup of coffee.

    skinny, i love my imagine rock. and i love my street-smarts. just like you... :)

    dinahmow, oooh, i love your artwork!!!

    ziggi, i inspire you to pull weeds. you inspire me to fly. i get the better end of that stick!

    cristosova, how nice to hear from you! i would like you to keep in touch. i think of happiness when i think of you too.

    hildegarde, you are so knowledgeable! how oh how can i get ces to cross the atlantic with me?

    marloes, i always like your visits. thank you, and have a fine weekend yourself.

  35. Nice work on your garden. I realy do believe garneing is a spiriual exercise (if you let it be). I even find that to be true with my lowly container garden.

  36. And, KJ? hat photo looks vertical to me.

  37. I loved this post kj! You have really done a beautiful job and all your gardening is just another form of painting, painting with flowers and plants! So lovely! The Magic Cottage keeps whispering me to paint it... Someday I must! Just like the shed I posted some buildings just beg me to paint them! I thoroughly enjoyed this, very relaxing as if I'm there!