Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pretty things

My favorite blossoms in the garden right now are the Antirrhinum, double azalea apricot--Snapdragons to most of us!

The butterfly milkweed looks really pretty with the red hibiscus.

And the sunflowers are still beautiful!

They are keeping the bees busy.

Update on Baby Tear Area

It has been such a short time, almost a week since this area was planted. All the plants are healthy and seem to be taking the transplanting in stride. Several of the plants are starting to bloom already!

Kwan Yang is doing fine, looking very lovely as the garden's "Mother Nature" bringing to mind Heaven and Earth.

Julian's dahlia is doing great. Look at all the new buds!

I really like the silver foilage of the licorice plant and dusty miller. See, the Blue Pimpernell is already blooming!

Friday, August 27, 2010

My compost

The compost pile

Before being composted

One half way through being composted.

We had a couple of compost boxes full of leaves for a couple years but they didn't have green manure and weren't watered often so nothing much happened. Since we decided to get chickens again we had to clean out the coop run. So....back to the old 2-week compost formula!

I actually started 2 piles, the first one was the bottom of the compost boxes and the bottom of the cuttings in the coop run. This was all the stuff that was pretty much composted already. The second compost pile was made up of about 1/3 dry leaves and old cuttings in the run. I have added grass clippings and some of the agapantha leaves I pruned last week. I turn the piles every other day and they are both hot and really working. They have shrunk down over 2 feet each and it looks really good. I have now combined the piles to one large one. I have about 6 days to go. I am planning to use the compost as top dressing in the flower beds
All done planting!

Here is a before picture of a part of the baby tears area.

And after planting:

We have had the rocks there for years but the stepping stones are new. The statue is of Kwan Yang, a buddist goddess that is like "Mother Earth". She looks peaceful and her hands symbolize to me heaven and earth in harmony. Actually it is supposed to be a blessing for fearlessness or courage in my language. I needed a focal point in this garden and she was in my price range, and besides I like her!

I left the garden umbrella up to help the plants transplant without shock from the sun hitting them.

This area is planted pretty close together but if it grows too much I will transplant some or prune heavier. Now I can't wait until spring to see how they all mature!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Planting Day in the Baby Tears Area

Today is a lot cooler. Time to plant the babies I got from Regan's Nursery the other day!

All the burnt baby tears have been turned under but I left some still alive on the edge of the bed and water them and plant plugs of it back in the bed.

The plants going in the bed are:
Campanula muralis
Crossandra 'orange marmalade'
Francoa sonchifolia
Heuchera ' Marmalade'
Heuchera 'melting fire'
Lriope mascori
Rehmannia elata
Canterbury Bells
Dusty Miller
Licorice Plant
Helichrysum petiolare

And this spring I will put a Hardenbergia violacea vine to grow on a trellis along the house.
Also I am a look out for a small tree with light foliage to help cut the time of afternoon heat in this area.

The Drainage Pipe is in!

I dug the ditch for the drain pipe and my dearie went out and got the pipe. It is now installed and I can finish amending the soil in the baby tear area.

It was so hot and I was only able to spend a couple of hours working on the ditch BUT NOW it is finally cooling down after several days of hot weather! Most of us in the SF Bay Area do not have air conditioning and after a couple of days in the high 90s and we start wilting, especially when it doesn't cool down at night. We get rather grumpy from not being able to sleep.....I know, whine, whine.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

OK, So Much for Moderation!!!

It is soooo hot the bees had to send part of the hive out to sunbath while the rest waved their wings to cool off the brood.

Dang! We went from winter to hot summer in one fell swoop for 2 days, and now we find after another hot day coming we will plunge back into the "Big Chill"! All I ask is some moderation!!!

I am about 1/2 the way through spading up the baby tear area. But before I go any further I need to bury a drainage pipe from the drain spout at the alcove to take the rainwater to the side of the yard to drain toward the front yard. We had a flexable plastic tube laying along the ground to take care of it before but the baby tears would grow over it and flatten it. So this time we will do it right.

I turned my compost early this morning and it is almost done....steaming away. Hopefully the heat will kill all the weed seeds. I plan on using it for a top coat of the back flower bed and the baby tear area.....don't feel like planting weed seeds.

Then...I went to Reagan's Nursery!!! Oh, my gosh! They had lots of wonderful plants from Annie's Annuals! Some of them were on my Annie's wish list. Well, I can rarely get out of Reagan's without laying down $100 and I did a good job today, $130. But, it made me sooooo happy!!! Wonderful plants, now I just have to wait until Thursday for the weather to cool down so my new babies won't fry the minute I plant them. So I am checking and checking my planting plan......just can't wait till they are all grown and it will be so beautiful!!!

My Anterrhinum 'Double Azalea Apricot' Snapdragons in the back flower bed are blooming and look so lovely with Lion's Tail. What a gift of color!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Today is a digging day!

Ok, today I am going to water the baby tears area and then dig in some fertilizer. It looks so bad from the kitchen alcove I have to do something soon. My hubby gave my a deep maroon dahlia that needs a home and I just might plant it in there.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Sunflowers!

The first week of June, before I left on a month long trip I planted 3 different kinds of sunflowers along the back fence. By the time I got back they were just starting to bloom. Here they are in August in full glory.

But now, the first blooms are done and the squirrels have found them. The squirrels jump from the fence to the top of the sunflowers and try to bite off the spent flowers. One way of dead-heading! In the process they have been breaking of some of the branches and are pretty much tearing the plants up trying to get the sunflower seeds. ...But, they have been so busy with the sunflowers they have left the tomatoes alone!!! A great thing for us because for the past several years they have gotten almost every tomato we've grown.

It has been such a chilly summer that our tomatoes are finally ripening and we are almost into September!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Baby Tear Area

Finally got to the Baby Tear area. What a mess! There was a very hot spell in June while I was on the Slice of America Trip and the whole area really took a hit. That brown stuff is cooked baby tears.

The Baby Tear area used to be a very shady spot, getting it's shade from a large California pepper tree and a huge eucalyptus tree in the patio area. About 10 years the eucalyptus tree fell and wiped out the pepper tree......thank God because it could have wiped out our house! Any how, the area is more sunny now so all the shade loving plants just have a rough time, plus the moisture is not held in the ground because of the sun. The poor plants have just struggled along rarely looking really good and not getting much attention. So....I am going to rethink and redo the area, make it more English garden looking.

Currently there is a camillia bush, a struggling Japanese maple, a couple of hydrengas, several foxgloves that have reseeded themselves for year and baby tears for ground cover.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Sun is Finally Out!

It took till 1 PM for the sun to burn off the fog today. In midst of a very cold and foggy summer Ol' Sol was nice to see. When I say foggy it is high fog so it does make gardening nice and cool. But usually it burns off by 10 at least!

Morning Glories in the tomatoes!

This morning I cleaned the Shed area which is behind the Side Flowerbed.
This afternoon I will start to tackle the Baby Tear Area. It was burnt really badly by hot weather in early June and lots of weeds have taken over.

Clematus peeking from the Garden Room.

Samuel's Rose

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Updated photos as of 8/15

This is the latest plant to bloom, my new Chinese forget-me-not! Pretty blue.

This is the Olive Tree area that I have been working on. Most of the African Daisies are all gone. I left a few though. I still have the back to dig compost into.

This is the compost that I am working on. It should be done by next week. Once it is done we will redo the chicken run that the compost is sitting in now.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Update on the Renewal of My Gardens

Since my last post my new plants have been growing and there is still some new blooming going on.

In back of the chicken coop we had been using the chicken run for a compost pile which wasn't doing its composting. I decided to get it moving so have been adding green manure and water. It is on the move now!

There was some composted stuff at the bottom of chicken run so I have been moving it to the Olive Area and digging it in.I pulled out almost all of the tangle of African daisies at the front of the olive area and I am still working on this area.

In the meantime, the path was getting so overgrown by the Agapanthus growing along the planter box that I just had to do something about it. This morning I cut it all back. Now the path is twice as wide as it was. Much easier to use.

Below is the "before" picture......before I pulled out all the African Daisies under the Olive Tree and before I trimmed all the Agapanthus on the path. Tomorrow I will post the "after" picture.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My Yard Layout

This is our yard plan I did years ago and just updated a bit today.
Our home is on the bottom border with only the Kitchen alcove showing in the drawing. The gray path is gravel, the brown is made up of bricks.

The areas I have been working on are in the back: the Back Flower Bed and the Olive Tree Area.
The playhouse was build around 1974. The merry-go-round came from our kids school. To dangerous for a school but we never had an injury on it at our house.

Only the pretty permanent fictures are shown on this plan but you can use transparencies to put plants, ect. that are not quite so permanent on top. I haven't added the water outlets and electricity on the plan yet but will.

Today, I pulled out the African Daisies and started spading up the Olive Tree Area.

We need to set a date to visit Annie's Annuals by the end of September!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Update on My Baby Plants in the Back Flower Bed

Wow! I have blossoms already from my little babies! So pretty!
Below is: Penstemon 'Blue Springs'
The color in reality is more of a bright blue.

And here is Alonsoa meridionalis "apricot"

Quite a few of the Verbina are blooming but I got those a OHS and they were pretty much root bound so I am not expecting a lot from them long term.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Research on shade plants

I think I shall put the following in the shady olive tree area:
(some of these are not available currently so I will have to wait...boo hoo!)

Current plants in the Olive Tree Area

Currently these plants are in the Olive Tree Area

Asparagus Sprengri Fern

African Daisies

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Next Area to Work On -Olive Tree Area

The Olive Tree area is to the right of the Back Flowerbed. I used to have a wonderful area of sword fern growing in this area. The olive tree did not cast such a deep shade at then, that probably helped the ferns grow then.

African Daisies grow in the front part now and there are a few struggling sword ferns left. I planted a pink Abutilon bush some years ago, it is pretty big for the area and I may move it. There is also springri fern on the back of the olive tree.

Work to do:
First, the right hand border of this area has rather fallen apart and been taken apart through the years. This needs to be fixed.

Second: The little building to the right of the olive tree is the new chicken coop (in-progress). We haven't had chickens for quite a few years and are planning to get a couple this spring. The wire fencing around the chicken run is in the process of being removed. The chicken run has been used as a compost area for several years and this will all be removed, the compost will be used as a top coating in the back flower bed.

Third: research what should be planted in that area, prepare soil, buy and plant!!

Fourth: Restore the wire fencing for the chicken run.

As this photo shows, this area really needs some renewal!!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Inhabitants of the Garden

Joeseph, our dog with a coat of many colors

I'm annoyed with him this morning because while I was working on the brick path behind the flowerbeds he decided to lay down in the back flowerbed...of all the back yard, he decides that is the spot! Fortunately, he managed not to squash anything....he would not have made his 13th birthday if he had (just kidding). I hadn't thrown away some of the metal garden fences we had to protect the plants from Talley, our old bassett hound that is now in the garden in the sky. I am going to have to put them around the back flowerbed to protect my little baby plants, darn. I like to see them without the fences: ( But better than having them smashed and destroyed.

Hausey lives in my little garden room behind the greenhouse. Hausey loves to eat snails.

Cupid lives in my little garden room also. He was my aunt's so there is a bit of my Aunt Edna in my little garden. He is very quiet and never flies away. He has lost his bow so it is up to individuals to find their own love now.

The Honey Bees
The Honey Bees live on the right of the back flowerbed and the olive tree. They are very busy right now, and they better be! This summer has been so cool it is called "The summer that never was". The bees better stock up, winter is coming and who knows what it is going to be like. Don't you just love the little "Birdhouse" hive! The bees had swarmed someone's yard and decided to take over their birdhouse. George, my sweet son-in-law, was given the task of removing the bees from the yard. So, he took house and all and made an addition on the back and now they reside in MY back yard. I love them. I am hoping they will appreciate all the new flowers that should be appearing in the spring!

Plants in the new and improved Back Flowerbed!

The above plants are from the original flowerbed: Peony, New Zealand Tea Tree, Meyer Lemon, soft pink penstemone and Margarite felecia

And my new plants from Annie's Annuals are:
Penstemon Heterophyllus "Blue Springs"
Alonsoa meridionalis 'Apricot' "Mask Flower"

Antirrhhinum majus 'Double Azalea Apricot' snapdragon

Ursinia anthemoides 'Solar Fire'

Alstromeria 'The Third Harmonic'

Aquilegia fragrans 'Fragrant Columbine'

Cynoglossum amabile 'Blue Showers' Chinese Forget-Me-Not

Delosperma nubigenum 'Hardy Yellow Iceplant'

And Annie's Annuals gave me a free plant!

Michausia campanuloides

And the two from Reagan's Nursery:
Leonotis Leonurus 'Lion's Tail'

Euporbia 'Diamond Frost'