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May 31, 2005

Photographic updates on the Dirt farm

Managed to get a lot done on the holiday -- we were out of town (Pittsburgh) from Thursday night through Sunday afternoon, but the weather held for about 24 hours, so we got a lot done -- weeding, mowing, starting to spread new topsoil both in flowerbeds and the low spots in the yard, fertilizing the plants. It's starting to look pretty decent, now that the warm weather's set in.

Let's see ...

Here are the container plants -- the peppers and tomatoes:



Everything's looking pretty good. Tony put some more topsoil in the containers, now that it's settled a bit from watering and rain. Of course, now we just wait -- try to keep up with the growth, keep them staked up, keep them watered. I mean to hit them with Miracle Gro at least once a week until they start bearing -- it seems to help, especially with the peppers.

Here's the long shot of the yard, from the bottom of the driveway:


The grass is actually starting to fill in -- and those pinks have gone into serious overdrive, this year. More sun, I guess -- and we put a flexible drain on the downspout, it drains water right there on them any time it rains enough to fill the eave troughs. I have some more on order, I'll probably put most of them next to the house, since they seem to perennialize best there. I planted some hardy carnations (which is what I'm ordering) in the driveway bed, but they didn't come back up the second year. I think they just got too much exposure to cold. The dirt stays warmer in the bed next to the house, I've had few things die from exposure in those beds. One thing we definitely need to do there, though, is throw down some more topsoil. The dirt there tends to drain out over the sidewalk.

Next big outdoor project (in the 23rd century, probably)? A brick sidewalk out front. Might not be a bad idea to put brick edging instead of that pressed concrete stuff, too -- maybe I'll figure out somewhere else to use it, I don't know.

Here's the corner. The big red rosebush ain't looking so good, this year. It's not like the blooms are ever exceptionally great -- the aphids go to town on the thing, and by the time they open, they have holes in them. I hate to use a lot of pesticide because it's bad for the birds if it washes down into a puddle, but I've been spraying the new rosebushes anyway -- I may be able to be more cavalier about it, once they are established, but at this point I'm going to be eco-evil for the summer and get those plants big and healthy. I have some Neem oil spray, and I'd love to be able to use it, but you have to mix it by the gallon and I'm not sure it's really any lower impact on the local fauna than the Diazinon liquids.


Here are some shots of the pinks. I've put up pictures on previous dates of these, but they hadn't really started blooming yet. I've never seen anything like this -- they're really over the top, this year. I need to deadhead them when the blooms start falling off, keep the seeds and replant in that same spot so I have a whole corner full of them. These even have just a wee bit of fragrance -- if I stand downwind, I can just barely smell them.




This is the peony that I shaved off the one on the other side of the house (the one that had gone batshit and grown all over the place over there, and that needs to be trimmed down yet again this fall -- maybe I'll put some along the side of the cat run, just down from the tulips). It's looking really good, now that it gets more sun.


This is the lily-of-the-valley bed that I started out back three or four years ago. I had about a dozen corms that I dug up at my mother's, she's had a bed of the stuff there for probably close to half a century -- certainly as long as I can remember. They just barely came up and survived that first summer -- they got no sun at all where they were at first, and very little water -- so I moved it to the end of the carport. The bed gets shade part of the day now, because of the container shelves, and it -- like the pinks and the rosebush out front -- is right at the bottom of a drainpipe. I think I'm going to have to divide them at some point, though -- they're growing too far out into the yard. Not sure where I want to put them, yet, they need partial shade. I'll have to give that one some thought, I guess.


Here's the big flowerbed. I spent most of what was left of the daylight Sunday and a good bit of the morning Monday weeding all the sheep sorrel and millet grass out of it. When it clouded up, I started spreading the organic topsoil. I don't know if it's 'good practice' or not, putting topsoil down early in the summer, but if you look at the stuff in the bed, it certainly does no harm -- and it really punches up the color of the blooms.


All the pink flowers in the photo are various dianthus varieties -- there's a bright red one at the very top, under the sweep of the weeping Atlas cedar; the 'neon pinks' I bought a couple of years ago are blooming nicely this year; a little mound of pinks I can't find a name for (and bad gardener that I am, I forgot to save the stave from the original pot). They may be an arvarnensis hybrid, I've also seen them called 'Czech pinks' and other names. They're a mounding semi-double pink that's more like ground cover than the cheddar pinks I have near the house. The low-growing pink flowers are on an ornamental thyme plant; the tall pinks are sweet William that's defying the sales pitch and coming up for a third year (they were supposed to be a two-year pink). The tall purple spears are on a decorative sage plant that's gradually having the living crap beat out of it by a tarragon plant I was convinced was dead when I planted the sage last fall. And so it goes.


I now have three reseeded (volunteer) viola plants from the huge batch of the things I planted last year. They hardly got to bloom, last year -- it rained about every third day all summer and fall, and the rabbits ate every stinking bloom down to the stalk. Maybe they've shat those seeds back into the garden, I don't know. Regardless, they're 'volunteering' like crazy. One of them is backed snugly into the thyme plant; there's the one in the crack between the bricks and the driveway, and there's at least one more with a bloom on it on the outside of the bed.



Here's the little bird poo volunteer from the back yard, under the oak tree. From looking at it, I think it's probably a creeping juniper of some sort or other. Frankly, I think the birds ate some seeds at the Kettering Post Office and came over here to shit them out, because there's something that looks a lot like this stuff over there. I wouldn't mind having a little of it in that corner of the flower bed, as long as I can at least marginally control the growth.


We bought this statue from the Winterthur Gifts mail-order catalog a couple of weeks ago. It's about the only piece of garden statuary I've seen that isn't obnoxious -- animals, especially, seem to get the glurge treatment. I thought about putting a Buddha out there, but the neighbors already know we're freaks -- I don't need the FBI showing up at the door because my dirty-necked hick neighbors don't know the difference between Buddhism and Islam.


Here's the first-planted of the two Cecile Brunners. It's been over a month, so I'm starting to water them weekly with Miracle Gro Rose Food -- I'll probably start experimenting wtih Gardens Alive stuff once I run out of the Scott's, but I still have a lot of Miracle Gro regular plant food, and at least half a bag of the rose stuff, so I'll use it until it's getting low before I order any more.

Note, if you can see it, that this transplanted rosebush already has a bloom on it, on the tall new cane. I'm thrilled -- I really didn't think either of them would bloom until next year, because they're so small.


This is the other Cecile, it's the one in the middle of the front yard. It's got a lot of new growth on it, though nothing like the other one. Still, it seems to like being there in the old tree stump -- lots of mulch all around for it to set roots in, and it gets watered when the lawn gets watered, and that's a high spot that drains well. I noticed, though I'm not sure it's visible in this photo, that the anemones I dropped in at the same time are starting to break through the dirt, too. I'd about given up on them -- the ones I have up near the house had come up within a month. There's hope yet -- they may dwarf the rosebush this year.


Here's the other (bigger) juniper volunteer from the back yard. I won't have to watch it so closely, there's nothing there but the driveway for it to overtake for several feet either way. I tried to do a pink bed there, but it was nigh impossible to keep it watered and keep the soap out of it when I washed the car. I think that's what finally killed off the couple of skeevy ones that had come up there a couple of years ago. I transplanted what I could over to the other bed, next to the house, that's blooming like a fierce bastard this year -- that seems to be the sweet spot for dianthus. Gotta get more topsoil in there, so they keep going.


I decided the corkscrew hazelnut was doing okay, and it seems to be growing a little faster now that it gets more hours of sun a day, so I'm trying to train it up a bit. They can be trained a little more upright, and since this one seems determined to be a creeper, I'm going to have to spend a few years gradually pulling some of the branches up. It looks bitchin' in the winter, when the leaves fall off.


That's about it for this week. I have half a dozen hardy carnations and half a dozen black violas on order. I've decided if the bloody goddamn rabbits leave me any seeds on the violas this year, I'll try to harvest them and reseed the beds either after the first frost or first thing next spring, just after the frost. I know that works with most of the pinks I have, because I've done it -- we've joked, before, about staking Max out front in the flowerbed to scare the rabbits off, but we haven't done it. I wish I thought it would work -- they won't leave the stuff alone, and I hate to use anything that hurts them, since this is (technically) their home and I only live in it. I don't mind them being here, I just wish to hell they'd stop eating all the flowers. Seriously. Why don't they eat sheep sorrel? I'd love them if they'd do that!

Posted by Melinda at May 31, 2005 08:56 PM


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