Lessons from the Garden

So I have been a bad blogger….again.  I am not going to bore everyone with details but May was probably the most stressful month for us in a long time.  Some of the stress was positive like seeing friends and family many times as a result of great baby showers.  And some of it not so positive.  But it all worked out in the end and we are ready for June and bringing the blog back to life as I have so many things to share.  Note to baby: you better stay put the next five weeks because I have a lot to catch up on.  Got it? Good.

The blog was not the only thing that was neglected….my garden was looking very…..well overgrown and unkempt.  And not planted.

I am normally the person that people are looking at funny because I am trying to buy plants before the last frost date.  And I am feeding and weeding and planting and giving all the plants tender loving care on a nightly basis.

This year I did not even step outside to look at the plants that were coming back until the end of May.  Major garden guilt.   Another thing I was sucking at this spring to add to the list.

When I finally got the nerve to wade through the weeds to see what I was working with however I was pleasantly surprised.  Here is my advanced visual representation of the state of the garden.  Green =weeds.  Very high and thick weeds.

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We had strawberries…without me doing anything.

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And roses with no pruning or feeding…

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And the beginnings of grapes and raspberries…

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A good lesson about things surviving in spite of you and a lack of control is sometimes a good thing. 

Another lesson in giving up control was that Derek planted the vegetable garden this year…while I was not home.  Gardening is not his thing at all and we agreed to scale it back this year with the upcoming arrival of the baby.  And I knew I needed his help lifting and tilling. But he surprised me with this….

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For a before picture, please refer to above.

Did he pick all the plants I would of?  No.  Or put them in the location determined by seasonally rotating varieties? No.  But it was weeded and composted and planted.  And done. And I learned another lesson about giving up control and things turning out OK. 

On a semi-related note of not doing things when I planned, I wanted to update you on my painted outdoor pots.  When I first posted the tutorial last year, someone wondered how they would last.

I had planned on moving them into the garage for the winter.  Really. But then the whole morning sickness thing happened and they sat outside all winter and I did nothing (see the theme of the post?) to prep them.

I think they held up incredibly well (the specks on the bottom are dirt).

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However in the interest of full disclosure we did have one crack/chip that I noticed.

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So if you are thinking or painting pots but are hesitant on their wear….don’t worry about it and you can even do nothing like me!

Has your garden taught any needed lessons this year?

It is Beginning to Look A Lot Like…..

I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.  Luckily/unluckily I am just starting to feel better while Derek is now best buds  with the Nyquil.  I am on his favorite person list right now obviously….

The whole sick thing caused some blog silence last week since going to bed at 7 was not good for my productivity and I even missed the first week of Kim’s Dare to DIY party.  Sad.

But no worries, I am back (for the most part…excuse my box of Kleenex).

Last year, I decorated our dining room table for Christmas a week early and while I loved it, I swore to myself that this year I would not forget about Thanksgiving and set the table with gourds and the and other fall-y things.

That is until it occurred to me that we were hosting Christmas and not Thanksgiving, so why waste good ideas on a tablescape that no one would use? Right?

So I present you with an early Christmas table for the second year in a row…..

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Red does happen to be my favorite color.  Good thing it corresponds with Christmas.

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I really wanted a beautiful red tablecloth to cover the entire table.  But a round tablecloth in a size to cover a 75 inch round table is impossible to find in stores.  Trust me on that.  I did find some huge ones online that I may order for future occasions, but that would not have fit the blog party timeline. 

Table runners also are too short for the massive table so I had to improvise.  I bought an oblong tablecloth and kept it folded so it just looked like an extra wide but long enough table runner.

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Of course I will have to re-buy the red roses closer to Christmas.  But I will take any excuse to buy myself roses.

And in honor of my new light fixture, i wanted to bring some bling to the table.  I found these mini mirrors at Michael’s for 1.99 for 25.  They made the perfect mirror confetti.

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And of course blingy napkin rings….

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Head over to the Newly Woodwards and see what everyone else put together!

Flower Power

In honor of our first frost, I did some last minute flower cutting from the garden before they get zapped.  Which is very sad.

But to help me not come to grips with the fact that winter is coming very quickly, I spread some vases of prettiness around the house to help me pretend it is still summer.  Or at least early fall.  Happy thoughts.

This is not usually something I would blog about, because really flowers in a vase is not riveting. 

Being the non-flower designer I am, I usually cut some flowers and stick them in vase and call it good. But since all my plants even the non-flowering ones are on borrowed time right now, I added them to the mix.

And I could not believe what a variety of leaves did for my scrawny flowers. Hence why it gets a blog post.

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They actually looked like I put some thought into it….

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So now I can think summery thoughts while I at the computer…

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Or washing dishes…..

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How are you hanging onto summer?  Or are you telling winter to bring it on?

War Has Officially Been Declared

Rabbits are no longer welcome in our yard.

It rained a lot last week.  Like a cold week of April rain in May.  It was weird but it was a good excuse to get things done inside and deal with the stress of the end of the school year.

But one afternoon I got home from work and noticed all the pink roses were laying on the ground at the back of the yard.  The roses that were among the plants that I had spent an entire weekend preparing a bed for and planting.

“Wow it must have rained really hard last night to knock all those petals off of the roses”

Then I walked out there and saw this.  I guess the stem right under the flower were the tastiest.

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And it made me very angry.  As in hoping the rabbits were bleeding internally from the thorns.  If we did not have a solid six foot fence around our yard, I would have thought that we had a deer problem.

Obviously with the rain, my number one rabbit repelling/killing team was not spending a lot of time outside.  Failures.

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When it finally stopped raining I went out to spray Liquid Fence to deter them.  And I found even more damage.  Which made me angrier.

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But, I have had success with this product in the past.   You have to reapply it every time it rains, which gets really old.  And it smells like a mixture of rotten eggs, puke, and toilets.  Two reasons why it is not a product that I look forward to using.

I was serious though so it applied it over all non-edible plats while muttering things like “die rabbits die.”  And even though the direction of the wind kept changing, dousing me in eau de rotten eggs that took two showers to get rid of, I was satisfied that I had foiled the mangy rabbits.  Victory!

The next day I walked over to the vegetable beds and witnessed this.

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I refuse to spray liquid fence on the spinach because even if it was suitable for human consumption, I really don’t want my salad smelling or tasting like a toilet.  So I spayed some on the dirt in between the rows of spinach in the hopes that it may work.  And I laid some chives from my previously overgrown plant around it randomly.  Because in my mind, rabbits don’t like the smell of onions.  Probably not true, but in my agitation I was not thinking that straight.  And it sounded good.

According to my scientific google search, cayenne pepper and human hair also are good repellents.  But call me crazy, I again hesitate to put that all over food I hope to eat.

Sigh. So I think we are going to have to make a chicken wire fence around the raised beds to keep them out.  As well as to keep out one of the rabbit repellers who has shown a recent affinity for strawberries fresh from the plant.

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Fence….Ugly? Yes….but probably will be necessary. 

Because I will win this war one way or another.

I hope.

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Flower Power

I may of mentioned it before, but I loooove spring and summer. 

It may have something to do with the flowers.  Doing dishes or responding to emails is suddenly more fun when there are bits of prettiness from your garden next to you.   Bonus points if they smell like roses.

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I used to try to make these elaborate arrangements and only buy plants that would be perfect for cut flowers.  But that took too long and I had lots of plants that did not fit that mold.   And let’s be honest, floral designing is not one of my gifts.

Now I just keep a cabinet full of random vases ready for the flowers of the season.   And a pair of clippers right by the back door so every afternoon I can see what is inspiring me to come inside.

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Votive holders and any old glass jar work just as well.  I have found that I use my shallower ones the most often as they do not require a long stem so any bloom can float.  Like simple shrub roses and marigolds-

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But I have to admit that in my opinion nothing can beat a red long stemmed rose.  And now that I have my new camera I can bore you to death with pictures of them.

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Bored yet? I will try to restrain myself in the future and keep the pictures to myself.

And for those in my neck of the woods that are wondering how I have a rose in full bloom already, I will admit that I cheated….slightly.  You see when I cut the flower the plant was firmly planted along side our deck.   However, it was bought from the store yesterday and that is why it is blooming.  We lost one rose last year and this is it’s replacement.   With the insanely cold winter we had, I am pleasantly surprised that a single rose was the only plant we lost. 

But I will just pretend that it all had to do with my amazing gardening skills and not the fact that I actually killed the plant. 

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Happy Labor Day!

Derek and I had a very relaxing weekend which was perfect because he has been working insane hours ans we have not had an entire day without one of us working in months. I could go back in the blog and tell you when that weekend was because I know I mentioned it, but that date will be too painful since it was so long ago. So trust me...it has been awhile.

We even swore off home projects this weekend. I know, I was surprised too. We almost caved on Sunday when we talked about finishing up the laundry room but we stayed strong (too bad for the blog). Instead we spent the day going to the art museum and a rose garden in a park we used to frequent when we lived at our old house. It was perfect.

No pics of the art museum because of that pesky no cameras rule, but I did snap tons of photos of the rose garden. I will spare you the million closeups of different color roses, but here is a sampling-


Since we moved out of the city and into the 'burbs we have not visited the park and I have really missed it. Especially the roses. The entire garden smells amazing and there are beautiful blooms everywhere. I told Derek that if we were not planning on having children someday and therefore needed a yard, I would cover ours with roses. But since that also would not be awesome for resale I will have to be satisfied with our 4 roses and try to make the trek back to the city more often.

We drove by the old house....which was bittersweet. Of course there were a couple of new cool bars and restaurants that have opened right there since we moved and all the pretty old houses made us miss the city. But we kept saying to ourselves...garages, closets, yards, and not having to pay for private elementary educations for future children. We absolutely love our new house and the location, but there is just something about huge trees and gorgeous old homes.

Our old house itself was also bittersweet. The lawn was overgrown, weeds were growing in all the perennial beds and the evergreen bushes on the sides were brown and dead. The screen door was also missing. And that was just the front yard that we could see.... Sigh.....

On another totally different note, I have another love in my life that was a Saturday purchase-
Wallpaper compliments of the rose garden

Not an Iphone, but the Sprint version- the Palm Pre. My previous phone was over two years old and only held a battery charge for an hour or two so it was not very functional. I am so excited and have been playing on it constantly.


I have literally not put it down as evidenced by the pics being snapped at the desk next to the computer.

Hope you have a relaxing Labor Day!

Call Me Boring....

But if I had to pick my favorite flower, roses would be #1. Part of me wishes I loved something exotic and interesting even more then the classic, but nothing can beat the beauty and fragrance of a rose in my opinion. My choice of wedding flower is also a tribute to that classic beauty.
At our first house, one of the first things I did was plant a row of rose bushes. I was lucky that I picked a good spot in the sun considering at that point I knew nothing about them except that I loved how they looked. I learned a lot from those plants and I was tempted to add them to the sales contract and move them to the new house. But for some reason Derek and the realtor did not agree with that idea.

When we moved to our new house, the landscaping took second place to the interior renovations so all last spring and summer I was roseless. It was a very sad summer not to have vases of flowers in the house like I had gotten used to. So when we, I mean I, decided to do all the landscaping this year the roses were on the top of my list. We got them planted a little late so they took some time to really start blooming, but now I have more blooms than I know what to do with. Here is a rather blurry pic of just one of the bushes (there is a reason why this is not a photography blog)-
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Here is the collection that I spread through the house. There is nothing like a vase of beautifully smelling flowers to make you smile. I set a vase the places that I spend a lot of time in- next to the computer, on the end table in the family room, next to the kitchen sink, on the counter in the powder room, on the kitchen table and on my nightstand. When I snapped this pic the white bush was really producing and slowly it has been changing over to the red bush with the pink one bringing up the rear.

While I don't pretend to know everything about this plant (there are some people that are really into it), I have picked up some knowledge along the way. So here is my version of Roses for Dummies (again based on my experience and no formal training:))

-Roses need a lot of sun to thrive- 6 hours of direct sun at a minimum. If you don't have this you won't get a lot of blooms and you will get a lot more disease.

-There are so many different types of rose but the two families that you see most often are hybrid teas and grandiflora. Hybrid teas produce less flowers, but they are more the "classic" rose shape and the blooms generally last longer. Grandiflora are covered in blooms, but are more difficult to cut because their stems are so much shorter . All my current roses are hybrid teas.

-Roses also need to be fed in order to produce blooms. I have see a lot of slow release stuff that is really easy to use, but I have had the most success with weekly feedings of Miracle-Gro for Roses. Yes I have to do it weekly, but I just dump a spoonful in a watering can and go. Also stop feeding a couple of weeks before the end of the season. If the rose is in bloom when a frost hits, it is much harder on the plant.

-When you water roses, water at the base and do not douse the leaves. Wet leaves equal fungus.

-I spray them with fungicide every other week and an insecticide every six weeks. Hey I never said they were organic and this really helps prevent disease before it starts.

-Don't feel bad cutting blooms and bringing them inside to enjoy, this actually encourages more flowering.

-In Zone 5 I have winterized them two ways. The first year, after they were completely dormant, we covered the bases with a huge amount of mulch and wrapped burlap and twine around the branches. I sure the neighbors loved how they looked all winter. The second year, we were selling so I was bad an just mulched a little and called it good. Since we sold in the spring I can tell you that they came back just fine with the "lazy" way but I can't comment if the flower production was affected in the summer. The roses were also against the deck so they had some wind protection.

My last tip (and I am exhibiting my bad sense of humor with this one)- Make sure you take the time to stop and smell them. I crack myself up:).

Yeah for Spring!

Since all my new plants need to have some time (OK a lot) to grow in, I am trying to make myself be patient by enjoying spring bulbs and the pots I have planted. Patience is not one of my strengths so I am going to have to keep looking at these pictures.

We planted tons of bulbs in the front yard last fall. Tulips are one of my favorite flowers and I hope to have even more in the yard next year. I spent hours in the local garden store last fall picking out my favorites and could not wait to see what they looked like when they bloomed this year. Unfortunately bunnies ate the buds off one of my favorites but we still had plenty.
Some pots are still empty but I did plant the three in the planter on the deck last week. Last year I put the same flowers in each pot. Not the best idea. This worked for two of the three but the third pot was shaded so I could not get the dahlia to grow.

So I learned from my mistake and this year each pot was planted with different flowers better suited to the light it will be receiving. I did use a "spiky" plant (the technical term) to unify the three in some way. It probably would also look better if all the plants were the same color, but I could not find what I needed all in one color. If I was patient enough to go to more than one store that might have happened. Next year I will be posting that I learned from this mistake:). Here are the three pots in all their "I need to have time to grow in" glory. (the roses in the black pots still need to be planted in the ground)
Pot #1 (the shady one)-Calla lilies and impatiens
Pot #2- Marigold and Snapdragons
Pot#3- Gerbera daisies and a white annual I can't remember the name of

And even though the roses are not in the ground yet, I am still enjoying the flowers. Nothing is better than fresh cut roses from the garden