Tuesday, October 30, 2007

turning colors in the gardens

I'm not doing very well on getting caught up in Blogland - but soon - promise!! We've had some gorgeous days, and I've been taking advantage of them. Soon enough I'll be spending more time inside, so I'm feeling the need to be outside enjoying the beautiful weather. Yesterday I went to lunch with my French classmate, Susan. Our teacher, Nadine, is in France visiting family, and she sent us an email. We checked our translations of her email with each other and then tried to come up with one to send to her. She'll get a good giggle out of our sentence construction, I'm sure!

I mowed the yard when I got back home yesterday. Today I washed windows and the porch screens. The dogs haven't been inside long enough to even re-slobber them yet - nice! We have a very small house - but it has 27 double-hung windows, 4 fixed windows (leaded glass by fireplace and two small ones in our bedroom), 6 basement windows, and 5 doors with windows. That is a ton of window washing!

I realized today that I have more iron pieces to share with you - what a surprise! :) I completely forgot about them when I was taking photos before. I also found several things still blooming in the gardens. And, finally, some of the plant leaves are turning pretty autumn colors.

The top photo is of geranium leaves - that bright red one is stunning. The second photo is my miscanthus ornamental grass. And coral bells in the bottom photo.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

stained shed and garden decorations

Can you believe it - I think my autumn chores are DONE!!!! I'll still have to rake leaves a few more times and probably mow the yard once or twice, but everything else looks to be wrapped up. I'm so happy about that! Next on my list is getting the house cleaned. And also on my list is visiting all of my blogger friends. I have been really bad lately, and I want you to know I appreciate very much that you keep stopping by. I can't wait to check in with all of you! :)

Here are photos of the freshly stained shed. I'm afraid I didn't have very good lighting for these photos, but I think you can get the general idea of the color. It's called "Beachwood" - and it's a gray-green or green-gray - depending on your point of view! We'll put a second coat on next spring and then I have a darker color called "Autumn Gray" for the trim. And then, I can start decorating with windows, window boxes, some plantings, and hopefully stenciling. I'm pretty psyched!
I do computer work for a couple wholesalers at the Minneapolis Gift Mart, and every year the Mart has a huge sample sale where the showrooms sell samples of discontinued stock. I get to shop there because I work for these guys - otherwise it's supposed to be for retailers only. I have a couple favorite places that I hit up for garden decorations, and I wanted to show you the fun stuff I have picked up (so far!) this year.
This adorable bird house with roses climbing up the base. It'll be very sweet in one of the gardens next summer.

This chair is unbelieveably comfortable!! It may end up in my gazebo - and I may have to go back and get another one. (They're open on Mondays thru the middle of November and then they do a huge weekend sale right before Thanksgiving - I usually try and do 2 or 3 Mondays and then force myself to stop!)

I bought 3 of these rose stems - won't they be sweet in the garden? I'm thinking I may use them in a vase in the house this winter. The detail is pretty cool for iron.

I also have a sweatshirt place I go to - they sell really nice sweatshirts for $5 each. Some have resort logos on them - and they're all supposedly seconds, but I have never found any obvious flaws. For everyday keeping warm, I think this is a deal!

And I added a new sunburst to my collection. I thought he was kind of cute!
Hope you're all having a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

wacky, weird, and wonderful

Today's post is going to be kind of a hodge-podge. Once again I have a little blog housekeeping to do, so I'm going to just throw all the miscellania together in one post. (Is miscellania a word - and if not, why not? I kind of like it! And if it were a word, is this how you think you would spell it?)

First, look what I got in the mail this week - more blogger seeds!! Jean at "Ms Green Thumb Jean" sent me some foxglove seeds - and a seed pod from her trumpet vine! Thanks, Jean - I am totally excited to see how these do next year.

Next, Lynne at "Lynne's Little Corner of the World" said awhile ago that she'd like to see our 'Vette. Mark and I were born the same year, and in honor of our turning 40, we bought a Corvette. Our first one was a '79 Stingray - black with red interior - a gorgeous little classic. We had it, I think, two years before we totalled it. No one was hurt - but the car did not come back home with us. The good news was we about doubled our money in that two years - cars as investments: what a hoot! With that little windfall, we moved up to an '84. We have totally loved this car, but we're finding that we drive it less and less each year, and we're thinking it may be time to let someone else have fun with it. I'll keep you posted. Today it was washed and sent to the storage garage for the winter. The best part of having summer toys is bringing them out in the spring - it's like having a brand new toy each year. But it is incredibly sad to put them away each fall.

These are from my scarlet runner beans. I have a question - will these reseed on their own this winter? I've never done scarlet runner beans before. I'm going to save some of the pods so I can start new ones next year, but I'm wondering if there's a chance they'll come back next spring. I have grapevine growing on the fence along our neighbor's cement wall, and I planted two runner bean plants there. They grew up into the grapevine - it was really cool because the grapevine is nice and thick, and the runner beans added wonderful little red-orange flowers everywhere. I got a lot of comments on these over the summer.

Today I emptied out my window box planters on the fence by the patio. I had some sweet potato vine in the planters - and I found this HUGE potato growing in one planter!!! This is a normal-size shovel. I have never had this happen before. It has both Mark and me laughing.
NOTE: Peter Hoh just left a comment about another sweet potato posted at http://martagon.blogspot.com/2007/10/avert-your-eyes.html
Check it out - it is too funny!
I cut down my dahlias today and dug out the tubers. They look really good, so hopefully they'll grow again next year. This is the biggest stalk I had - that's a quarter beside it. Are dahlias related to the bamboo family? This stalk looks like bamboo to me.

And finally, I just had to show you the high score I got playing Bejeweled 2 last week. It took me about a month to finally break 600,000 after getting into the 500's. I play one or two games maybe 3 or 4 times a week - major time waster, but also totally addicting!
The last couple days have been pretty productive. Mark stained the shed yesterday - and I just realized I didn't pull a photo of that - so something to look for tomorrow!! It came out really nice. I planted all of my tulips - dug up dahlias - and cleaned up the last of the containers. I shredded the last of the leaves and drained most of the hoses after Mark pulled the lake pump out. I still have compost to move, and I need to cover some things like the fountain and wood pile with tarps. But we are getting very close. I feel like I need a vacation!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

fall blooms - pt four

Another beautiful day - although quite a bit of wind this afternoon. We started taking the dock out this morning - and after two sections (out of nine), Mark asked if I still had the number I'd seen on a sign advertising dock removal. We have a ton of toys and all of the work that goes with them - and we ALWAYS do that work ourselves - so this was HUGE!!!! The guy came out about an hour later and had the rest of the dock out in about another hour. Boy, was that nice!! And easy!! It also made both Mark and me feel old, old, old - it would have taken us hours working together. sigh

I started moving my compost over the weekend and am over halfway done. It goes pretty fast once I start, so a few more hours and that job will be done. Then I have to shred a few more leaves that have fallen into the yard, and that job will be done too. I think we may be close to running out of jobs!!

But not yet - I still have all those lovely tulip bulbs to plant. And my dahlias are still in the gardens - blooming away - and I really hate to cut them back when they look so beautiful. But if I'm going to save them, I think I'd better do it soon. From what I've read, I need to cut them to about 6 inches - and then a week later I can dig them up, dry them, and store for the winter.
This was my first time planting dahlias, and I have been simply delighted with how gorgeous they are and how many blooms I've had. Very fun.

Monday, October 22, 2007

more autumn roses

What a lovely day we had today. The boat is out and winterized and tucked under a tarp for the winter. A big job that Mark is happy to have out of the way. Now, on to the dock!! :)

Wanted to show you more of my roses still in bloom. I love that this little show is lasting. This is Knockout - I planted it in a half-barrel container this summer and then moved it to the garden about a month ago. It seems to be very happy in its new home.

These two photos are of J.F.Quadra - my climber on the rainbow trellis. I talked to my neighbor a couple weeks ago and asked if he would mind if I painted the cement block wall on our side. He said no problem - so maybe the flowers in this garden will have a happier background next year.

This very floppy bloom is Gertrude Jekyll. She'll be going underground soon. This is a zone 5 David Austin rose - and I've found that it does better if I bury it for the winter. A lot of work, but well worth it. I wish you could smell this rose - it is simply wonderful.

And Nearly Wild. I have 3 of these roses and all three are covered in blooms right now. Very pretty.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

let sleeping dogs lie

We've had lots of outdoor time lately, and I guess Kobie needed a nap. He makes a very cute garden ornament, don't you think??

fall blooms - pt two

Thanks for the nice comments about my fall blooms! We have not had a frost here yet. And it doesn't look like we're expecting one in the next week, so I'll get to enjoy these lovelies for awhile longer. The roses always put on a great show in the fall - the colors seem more intense, the fragrance is stronger, and they hold onto the more open, flouncy blooms longer. We had a beautiful day today and managed to get a lot of work out of the way - as well as a little play time. The dogs were laying on the floor tonight looking totally worn out!

"Jackmani" clematis

sedum "Autumn Joy"

"Autumn Joy" with "Purple Dome" asters

"Purple Dome"

"Madison" roses

Friday, October 19, 2007

fall blooms

We've had two very windy days now, and I'm happy to report the oil/gas film on the lake from our neighbors' boat sinking has disappeared.
Our boat was pulled yesterday, so this weekend we'll be getting that winterized and ready to cover for the winter. If the weather cooperates, we'll also try and get a start on taking the dock out. It's way more fun getting all of these things out in the spring than putting them away this time of year! Here are a few more of the blooms I've been enjoying the last week or so.
Carefree Beauty rose



snakeroot (I think "Brunette")



John Davis rose

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

a great bloomer identified

I showed this photo on one of my previous posts - and I've shown these flowers on several posts throughout the summer. These plants start blooming in mid-summer and are still going strong - it's not even rebloom, they just keep going!!

Sandra asked what they were called, but I have never known the name. Mark brought me two packets of wildflower seeds from the Denver airport several years ago, and this is one of the plants that grew from the seed. So I just did a little detective work and found a wonderful site for identifying wildflowers: http://www.wildflowerinformation.org/
I think I'll be using this site often!! Thanks for asking, Sandra!!

Yellow Prairie Coneflower
Ratibida columnaris (yellow)

About Yellow Prairie Coneflower (Ratibida columnaris (yellow))

Height: Up to 3 ft.
Flower Color: Yellow
Plant Type: Perennial. Returns each spring from same roots, forming expanding clump. Blooms second spring from seed.
Flower Type: Daisy-like
Bloom Time: Mid-season

Is this wildflower invasive? No
Is this wildflower endangered? No
Is this wildflower edible? No
Is this wildflower medicinal? No

What is Yellow Prairie Coneflower's native range?
Indigenous To: From western Canada into Mexico.
Where Yellow Prairie Coneflower is naturalized or can be grown
Regions: Native to plains regions, but can be grown in all regions.
Zones: 3-9

How to grow Yellow Prairie Coneflower (Ratibida columnaris (yellow))
Soil preference: Somewhat adaptable, but prefers non-acid, dry conditions
Sun/Shade: Needs full sun.
Moisture Requirements: Adaptable to even arid conditions.

Like all desert or arid area wildflowers, ratibidas need loose, gritty soil to do well. Given these conditions, they perform as classic perennials, and are easy to grow.


Today is not a "pretty picture" day - but I think tomorrow will be! :) A couple people inquired about the shredder I use to do my leaves. So I thought I would share that info with you.

I have a "Super Tomahawk" with an 8 hp Briggs & Stratton engine. I'm guessing this is overkill for a small 'burban lot - but if you're married to an engineer, you'll understand perfectly!

I have owned 3 other shredders - and this is by far my favorite. It has the power to do about 1 1/2 to 2 inch branches and damp leaves. It will bog down if I put in bag after bag of soggy leaves - but then I bog down when I try and do that too! It has a wonderful design - most of the shredders we looked at make the leaves or sticks go around a corner - and this is where you will end up with clogs. This one lets me dump things in, and the shredded product comes straight out the bottom. The only thing I would like to change on it is to add an electric starter - I hate trying to start it with the pull cord - but Mark doesn't have a problem with it.

I talked to a master gardener a few years ago about shredding - and he said he simply runs his mower over the leaves a couple times and it works much better than any shredder he's tried. I think that works fine - but I don't like the mess it leaves on the grass. I want all of my hard work to go into the mulch pile!

Today I did 49 bags of leaves - that's a lot!!!! Here's what my pile looked like when I was done. I think I did about 20 bags on Saturday. I'm kind of hoping this is all I'll have to do this year, but I'll let it settle for a couple days before I decide for sure.

In the meantime, here's my compost pile waiting to be moved. It's a good thing my gardens look fairly good in the summer, because this is a ton of work!!