Thursday, July 16, 2015

MIA During a Floriferous Time of Year

The front border is full of flowers, and the neighboring farm beyond the fence and field provides a picturesque view.

It's official: I should be declared MIA from blogging. It's been nearly three weeks since I have posted or read any blogs, and in fact, I've hardly had time to use the computer at all in these nearly three weeks since my husband had his hip resurfacing surgery.

The great news is that he is recovering well and getting stronger every day, and he can get around the house pretty well using his crutches. Even though he is still sore from the surgery, his hip already functions much better than it did before, and he is able to walk more than a mile now, as long as he stays on level surfaces.

However, I've had to help him quite a bit with meals, getting dressed, going on walks with him, etc., as well as doing all the chores he usually does around the house and gardens in addition to my own. I thought this week would be easier, as our two children have been away at summer camp, but I guess they really aren't much work these days, and in fact I've had to do their chores this week too, like feeding and watering the chickens and gathering the eggs each day.

At any rate, some things have had to go by the wayside, and gardening is one of those things, and blogging is another. The weeds are beyond control in some areas of my gardens, because my husband can't offer his usual help with weeding and I've had little free time these days -- so that's Zero people pulling weeds. Plus it's been so hot and humid this week that even mowing on a riding mower is unbearable work.

However, now that my husband is stronger, I did finally find a little time yesterday evening and this morning, during a cooler spell of rain, to address some of the worst weeds. There's still a lot of work to do, but I feel a bit better having done a little work.

Flowers, Flowers Everywhere!

At any rate, I finally had a chance to snap a few photos of what's looking good in the gardens (strategically keeping the worst of the weeds just out of the shot). It's the time of year when flowers are, figuratively speaking, "coming out of our ears," because while the heat and humidity are hard on us, many plants here thrive on it. Here are a few scenes:

Lilies, phlox, yarrow and snapdragons in front of our porch.

Coneflowers, daylilies, hollyhocks and marigolds.

White coneflowers in the White Garden.

Cimicifuga or now called Actaea racemosa, in the shadier part of the White Garden.

the Yellow Garden is coming into full bloom as the Black-eyed Susans begin flowering.

The North Border.

A candy-striped phlox in the North Border.

Some pretty pink daylilies, also in the North Border.

The phlox in the Pond Gardens looks like cotton candy  when it's in bloom.

Coneflowers, lilies and sedum.

Roses, hollyhocks, petunias, snapdragons and white phlox, around the East Patio.

Basil, German chamomile, dill, borage and potted rosemary in the Herb Garden.

A final scene, looking across the fields of tall Iowa corn. A Grant Wood scene to be sure.

I greatly appreciate all the kind comments that were left on my last post just before we left for my husband's surgery. I can't wait to catch up with what's been happening in your gardens as I read the posts I've missed over the past few weeks, and I hope you are enjoying maximum flowerage in your own gardens during this floriferous time of year.

Thanks for reading! -Beth

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Gloriousness of High Summer

The old saying, "Knee-High by the Fourth of July" doesn't hold true for corn growing any more -- it's more like Head-High with modern growing methods.

What a glorious time of year -- it's the height of summer, when lilies, roses, coneflowers and shasta daisies are all in full bloom. The weeds are also romping non-stop with all the rain we've been having, but I guess we take the bad with the good....

We've finished fixing our pond edge after last week's disaster, and I think it will hold for a while. The edge is now greatly strengthened by our new timber frame, although I may eventually need to replace the liner after all, as it doesn't seem to reach high enough in the corners now that we have a definite and slightly higher edge height. The water drains out in the top corners because of this, and if we want the water level to be just under the paving stones at the edge, we will need to replace the liner. But not right now, as the water lilies are blooming so beautifully.


And we are also somewhat distracted as we are leaving today for St. Louis, where my husband is having hip resurfacing surgery tomorrow morning. Surgery is always such a worrying thing when it's ourselves or our family members, even though the overwhelming majority of surgeries are quite successful in these miraculous modern medicine days we are fortunate to live in.

Anyway, before I head out of town, here are a few scenes from around our gardens in these flowery days:

The rainbow effect can be clearly discerned in my Rainbow Border, with the lilies blooming in a succession of colors.
A closeup of the white ones ('Bright Diamond') in the
White Section of the Rainbow Border.
'Iowa Pink' in the Pink Section, along with some pink
obedientplant that disobediently seeds itself around this
section and is almost ready to bloom.
'Blackout' in the Red Section.
'Liberty Hyde Bailey' in the Orange Section.
'Yellow Whoppers' along with 'Stella de Oro' daylilies in the Yellow Section.
 I also planted some greenish lilies in the Green Section, but they are a later blooming variety and aren't quite open yet (and of course blue and bluish-purple lilies aren't possible for those sections).

Pink lilies and shasta daisies in the North Border.
Orangey-red roses in my rose garden.
And pink roses too.
This bed on the north side of my garage is coming along well this year. I think the pink impatiens go well with the astilbes that are blooming near them, Clematis 'Multi-Blue' are also still flowering, and Ligularia 'The Rocket' is about to follow.
This part of the White Garden is also starting to see some flowers: perennial Baby's Breath, white coneflowers and a few lilies are blooming.

I hope your gardens are showing much of the gloriousness of high summer too. I will not be around for the next few days to answer comments, but I do appreciate and treasure each one, as always.

Thanks for reading! -Beth

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Garden Visitors + Pond Emergency = Busy Squared

My dear gardening and garden-blogging friends: I don't know how it could be two weeks since I last posted! But looking back on the past two weeks, it has been a rather busy summer time:
  1. Last weekend we had two groups of visitors over: first our church's new pastor and her husband for tea and a garden walk last Saturday, and then a group of parents with children about the same ages as our kids from our church for a grill-out potluck and garden walk last Sunday. Needless to say, we spent the week before trying to catch up with weeding, mowing and tidying both the gardens and the house!
  2. My parents then arrived on Tuesday for an overnight stay.
  3. Wednesday I came down with a cold, which I thought might be really bad allergies until other family members started getting it too. I felt pretty bad for a couple of days.
But most recently: While my parents were here Tuesday, we made the shocking discovery on our walk around the gardens that one of the large paving stones edging our pond fell into the pond as a result of the edge collapsing from our heavy rains of the past week, and the water level had alarmingly dropped six inches overnight! 

Before: All looked fine a couple of weeks ago.

I greatly feared that the stone had punctured the lining (although I would have supposed that our nearly 100% clay subsoil would have prevented such a rapid depletion of the water). Fortunately, when we partly refilled the pond, the water level stayed constant, so I can only surmise that when the stone fell in, the top edge of the rubber liner folded down and the water ran out of the side into the sod surrounding the pond. (I still don't know where approximately 250 gallons of water could have gone, but I guess that will remain a mystery....) At any rate, my husband and I have counted ourselves lucky that we don't have to remove everything from the pond and replace or try to patch the liner. 

During repair: The spot where Puppy is sitting is where the paving stone fell into the drink and the edge collapsed. I have removed most of the pavers in this photo and you can see that while the pavers on the short sides were supported by rigid metal bars, nothing but the earth edge was holding up the pavers on the long sides. I'm sure it was just a matter of time (it did hold up for three years) until the edge became structurally unsound. I'm just glad no one was standing on the stone when it happened! 

We've been working on building a lumber frame around the edge to support the stones -- something we should have done when we built it. I hope we'll finish repairing it in the next few days.

We first tried 4x4" lumber, but decided 6x6" would be more solid. We'll still use 4x4" on the short sides, bolting the corners together. Then we'll refill the pond, staple the liner to the lumber and replace and level the stones. Oh, the labors we gardeners take upon ourselves.... :-)

Anyway, that's what I've been up to in the past two weeks. But it hasn't been all work; my gardens have had some beautiful moments that I haven't been too busy to notice while outside working. Here's a few of them:

The delphiniums were at their peak a week ago. I think these are probably
'Pacific Giant' varieties.

This is the first year I've had any luck with sweet peas. I wintersowed them under milk jugs
along the east side of my house in late February, and finally started getting some flowers in
early June. I think they like the afternoon shade here, and I hope they will continue blooming
even in the heat of summer, although they are a cool-season annual. These smell wonderful
-- they are Burpee's 'Old Spice Mix'. 

The milkweed that sowed itself at the very front of my North Border is doing its job....  

More prairie goodness for butterflies (although none appeared for this photo), with cornfields beyond.

The hollyhocks are starting to bloom in the Front Border (actually just outside it, in the
driveway, where they prefer to seed themselves). Roses and yarrow and snapdragons
are merrily accompanying them.

More butterfly action among the delphiniums and daisies.

A clematis whose name I apparently didn't write down in my garden journal, one of two planted on our
gazebo. Very pretty purple flowers -- I suppose it could be 'Jackmanii'.

This view is back toward the house from our Flowering Grove, which we have planted with crabapple and other spring flowering trees. I just finished mulching the circles around the little trees last week. We've been striving for a "parklike setting" in this area, and it looks good at this time of year. 

One more shot of the delphiniums before they are gone for another year. (Actually, if I cut them back after they are done, they sometimes re-bloom in September, although not with so many or so tall flowers as in June.)

I hope you are enjoying your own June gardens and that you haven't had any garden emergencies as upsetting and work-requiring as my pond-repairing business, although I know that many of you have garden tours in your gardens, which are indeed a lot of work to get ready for. But June is such a beautiful time in our gardens that we should be sure we encourage ourselves to enjoy them.

Happy Summer Solstice, and thanks for reading! -Beth