Tuesday, July 31, 2007

curb appeal??

Okay, I've been talking about showing overviews of the gardens. I've been playing with Mark's cameras, trying to learn how to use them more effectively. I think I'm doing much better on the close-up shots. But big-space photos were the pits. Mark finally got through to me: different settings on the camera!!! I think I'm starting to get it. So for the last couple weeks I've been practicing and when I asked Mark to (kindly) critique my efforts, he had some ideas for blog posts that made a lot of sense. So a week or so ago, he took a ladder and did some shots for me that show the gardens from above. That's where I'm going to start.

The second problem was sorting through dozens of photos trying to pick which ones show what I want to show. So my next decision was to show a different area of our yard in each post. I have a lot of gardens, so if this is boring, just come back in a week or two, and I should have it out of my system!
When you live on the lake, the street side is considered your back door. Our street is like a little paved alley - you pull over if you meet a car and let it pass. Because there is no on-street parking, we have a driveway going the entire width of our property along the street. To keep the dogs in the yard, and to make a clear border between driveway and house, we put up an iron fence that Mark made, and we have paver stones on the patio. When they did the patio area about 3 years ago, they also made me a couple raised planting beds that are lined with limestone. It's nice to have some perennial spaces along with container plantings.

This first photo is the entry to the patio: window box on the fence, gate (with welcome sign), paver walkway going either to garage side door or to steps down to patio. The raised planting space has some fun stuff: siberian iris, dwarf bearded iris, geraniums, mountain bluet, asiatic lilies, daylilies, Hawkeye Belle rose, hibiscus, yarrow, veronica - and probably a couple more things I can't think of right now. I wanted color there throughout the season rather than a big splash of color for a short time. So, at times it is showy, at others not so much - but I'm pretty happy with it. Oh, and can you see my cool iron bench? The previous owner left it for us when we bought the house - it's very old, and I love it. The gate in the garden is from a neighbor - it's old and fun too.

The grill doesn't add much - lol - but it's close to the kitchen and is usually sheltered from the wind - so it's staying. The caladium in the iron planters have been phenomenol this year.

This shows the other side of the patio: door that goes directly into the kitchen (so handy - NOT!), a small metal table and chairs, great iron urn by the door, and the other raised planting bed. This planting space is shadier and has goats beard, The Rocket ligularia, daisies, asiatic lilies, ferns, geraniums, and a ton of daylilies.

This shows a view from the street - we put the half-barrel planters in to try and deflect some of the big truck traffic from a construction project across the street. The first one has a rose and filler, the next 2 have cannas and filler, and the last one has purple fountain grass and filler. They actually look way nicer than just having a big ugly driveway space and if we decide to use them next year, I'll spend more time making them look nice!

The house: the flat roof needs a railing (still deciding on a design and when on earth we'll have the time to actually do it - you know how that goes!), but I have 4 iron urns up there. Two have double red impatiens and 2 have Boston ferns. I bought the ferns at Home Depot for $12 each and they have been fabulous! If I find them again next year, I may do all ferns. The construction project across the street involved taking down most of the trees, so we now have views from this side of the house of the sun setting. I'm thinking when we do get a railing put in, I may put a bench up there for sunset viewing - that would be fun!
(some or all of the photos should click big, I think)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Things That Rock

About 2 weeks ago, Chris & Laurie over at "Miss Flower" tagged me for a meme - 7 Things that Rock. It takes me awhile to think of things for these memes, but I have finally come up with some good ones. Hope you enjoy them too. (Thanks Laurie & Chris for tagging me!)

ONE: Gardens, of course! But especially beautiful tropical plants growing in a Minnesota garden. That ROCKS, right? This is called "Christy" (so I had to have it!). It measures almost 12 inches! WOW!

TWO: Living with a lake right outside our door totally ROCKS. This year we've added kayaking to the mix, and we are having a ball. Today was our longest ride - we did 4 miles this morning. Way fun!

THREE: Fun things in the garden ROCK. I go mostly for rusted iron, but one of my favorite decorations was a birthday gift from Mark several years ago - this cool gazing ball. You can see through it, but it also reflects everything around it. I love it!

FOUR: About 11 years ago, we replaced a deck with this very cool porch. It fits the look of our house so perfectly and is a wonderful place to sit and read, eat dinner, entertain. It's screened because we do live in Minnesota where the state bird is the mosquito - so it ROCKS.

FIVE: Our glider literally ROCKS! This glider originally belonged to Mark's grandparents - for as long as he can remember it sat out at their farm. When his grandfather died, Mark's parents moved the glider to their home. When we moved into this house in 1980, they gave it to us. I sit out here and read or watch the lake or enjoy my gardens almost every day. The dogs love to glide with me - I don't plan to ever part with it!! (If Mark's dad comments on this post, we may learn more history...)
NOTE: A comment left by Mark's dad, Everett: Supposedly Mark's Grandpa bought the swing from Sears & Roebuck in 1929. I fixed it up in 1949 for the first time and then maybe three times later. I bought it on the estate sale and it is so good to have you have it.
Thanks, Everett - Mark and I are both happy to have more history on the glider!
Mark has put new wood on once and painted it a couple times since we've had it - and it's due to have both painting and new wood again. Not bad!
SIX: The great lazy dogs ROCK my world. Pets of all kinds rock - but standard poodles are really great dogs. Ours are naughty and undisciplined and drive me crazy - but I would be totally lost without them.
SEVEN: I can't show you any more photos - but tomatoes from the garden ROCK!!!! We inhaled our BLT's - soooooo good! AND, the best part, there were 2 more turning red, so yesterday we had cheeseburgers with fresh sliced tomatoes - can you say Cheeseburgers in Paradise? YUM!
Let me know if you decide to play along!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

blogger awards

perennial hibiscus

Recently I was privileged to receive blogger awards from Karen at "Over the back yard fence" and Violetlady at "Violetlady at Home" and Tristi at "Tristi Pinkston". The descriptions for these awards are:

The Creative Blogger Award is for those who bring unique and creative elements to their blogs. For those who incorporate art, music, creative writing, photo's, and other beautiful visual effects into their website. For those who put a unique spin on things and come up with new ideas. This award is for the artsy, the funky, the inventor, and even the rebel. This award is for those creative individuals who stand out from the crowd.

The Thoughtful Blogger Award is for those who answer blog comments, emails, and make their visitors feel at home on their blogs. For the people who take others' feelings into consideration before speaking out and who are kind and courteous. Also for all of those bloggers who spend so much of their time helping other bloggers design, improve, and fix their sites. This award is for those generous bloggers who think of others.

I don't know that I really deserve either of these awards, but thank you, thank you, thank you!!! When I started my blog back in February, I never dreamt that I would meet so many nice, fun, generous, crazy people - and that they would visit my blog and leave the nicest comments. But I have, and I truly appreciate all of you who come here and compliment my gardens and share information and make me smile. I love visiting all of your blogs. I feel really fortunate to have met so many great bloggers - I am in awe of the ideas, photos and passion that you all share with me every time I visit.

So, thank you for the recognition - I love it! But the real gift is that I get to share this experience with so many talented and generous people. Thank you to all of you for that.

Casa Blanca - oriental lily


Monday, July 23, 2007

a lot of stuff blooming!

Finally getting caught up with all the photos I've been taking the last week or so! In the coming days, I want to show you overviews of all my gardens - most of them are looking really pretty right now - but wanted to kind of catch up with individual blooms first. So, here we go!

I have iron window boxes hanging on the fence between the house/patio and the driveway. Two are in sun and planted alike. This is one of them: now that the petunias are draping over the front and back, they're looking the way I envisioned them back in May.

This is rudbeckia "Herbstonne" - it has a wonderful bright yellow flower, and the plant is over 6 feet tall. Yarrow - I used to have a lot of this, but then it kind of disappeared for a few years, and is now coming back. I love when plants do that! (well, not the disappearing part so much!)

The Rocket - ligularia. This photo has kind of a busy background - sorry! I like these tall yellow blooms. The plant itself is extremely thirsty and kind of a pain, but I still like it.

I love the color of this daylily - the blooms are very small - maybe 2-2.5 inches across.

This is my only double daylily - so far! I like the yellow a lot.

This is one of my favorite daylilies. Beautiful color.

more dahlias and glads

Have several more colors of both dahlias and glads to open. I'm thinking it will be worth the trouble of digging them up this fall and replanting next year!

whiskey barrels

We have a new house going up kitty-corner across the street from us. It's been under destruction and construction since last November. I don't know that they're really close to getting it finished. We're very ready for it to be finished.

There have been a zillion BIG trucks and not so big trucks on the street during all this. During the winter, we store one of our boats in the driveway, so our driveway was fairly safe from big truck traffic. However, once the boat went in the water, we needed a defensive measure, and we settled on half whiskey barrels. The barrels can be moved if we need the parking (Mark put a false bottom in them, so they're only half filled with dirt - so pretty lightweight). After we put them in place, we realized that the drivers of the big trucks wouldn't be able to see them, so we also had to put in some steel rods with reflective tape tied to them. We've actually become quite fond of the tape blowing in the wind - it's not a classy look by any means, but it's not trashy either. If we decide to put the planters out next summer, I'm thinking Mark should make some nice heavy-duty shepherd's hooks, and I'll have some hanging baskets instead of using reflective tape. Maybe a little classier! The driveway expanse actually looks way better with the barrels there, so it may be a look we use for a few years. Next year, I need to put more drape-y plants to hang over the edges of the barrel, but for a spur-of-the-moment, quick trip to Home Depot, I thought they came out looking okay.

Anyway, they're looking kind of good right now, so thought I'd show you what I did.

One of my neighbors gave me a pot of purple fountain grass for my birthday, so I used that in the end one - with persian shield and double red petunias. The persian shield isn't super showy with the fountain grass, but I'd definitely use it in a container again.

The next 2 barrels are planted the same: red cannas with a purple sage and some white spiky flower around the bottom. Now that the cannas are starting to bloom, it's looking good. My first time trying cannas, so very fun.

At the other end, I have a Knockout rose and a purple sage of some kind. I love the rose and plan to put it in the gardens this fall.

By the mailbox, I put a barrel full of coleus. It gets very little sun there, and it's filling in very nicely.

cimicifuga - snakeroot

A few days ago I did a post that showed my snakeroot (below). There were a lot of comments about it, and I thought I should pass on the information I have on this great plant.

In the photo below, the lantern is 4 ft tall - and the top of the bloom is about 5 ft. The plant itself is probably in the 3.5x3.5 range. I have grown it in full sun with phlox (beautiful!) and in almost full shade. I think it blooms a little better with a little bit of sun. It's a plant that likes water, but I haven't had it get wilty on me.

I don't remember the name of the green one - I've had it for about 25 years! I move it every once in awhile, and it usually breaks apart when I do, so I'm always getting new divisions - which I would guess keeps it healthy and growing.

I also have a dark one - photo above. I believe this one is called Brunette. It's a little smaller, blooms a little later, and likes more shade. The bloom is pinkish instead of white - the buds are burgundy, so it's interesting when it starts blooming and you have the burgundy and pink together.

The old name for this plant is cimicifuga - and as blackswamp_girl noted in the comments, that is a fun name, and I still use it too. In the last couple years, they have reclassified it, and it is generally under the name actaea now (not nearly as fun to say!!). Some common names are snakeroot and bugbane.

One interesting side note: when I googled it to find the new name, I found a site that said cimicifuga means "bedbug repeller" - I can honestly say I haven't seen any bedbugs in the gardens that have snakeroot in them!

I'm not obsessed, really

This may look like an obsession with the first home-grown tomato of the season, but really, it's not! I just thought you would be as interested as I've been to see the one and only tomato I have turning red as it s l o w l y does its thing. The next post about my first tomato will be to tell you how very, very yummy it was - promise!

the tomato on Friday, July 20ththe tomato on Sunday, July 22nd
the tomato on Monday, July 23rd
(Well, I might have to show you the BLT - we'll see!)

Friday, July 20, 2007

a fun walk-about

Okay, first, I just want to say that I am going to spend time blogging this weekend. I will check in on each of you, my fun blog friends, and I will answer all the lovely comments you've left me over the last few days, and I will do some posts before all of my current photos become un-current!

I feel like my life has been crazy lately, and I am not functioning well, and it is just time for that to end. So, thank you for having patience with me - it is greatly appreciated!

But, I simply must show you the fun stuff I found on my walk-around just now:

A turning red tomato!!!! Does this fall under the category of "just ask for what you want"??
Lynne, get in that car, it will be ripe by the time you get here!!

My first canna bloom - EVER!!!! This is the first year I've planted cannas, and these are the first buds. I am so excited!

I bought mini glads from Breck's this year - the first time I've planted glads. To be honest, I didn't really think I was missing anything by not planting glads before, but these are really very pretty. I think I put in about 50 plants in 5 different colors. So this is just the start!

Here's a red one - very pretty.

And the red and yellow together - didn't that work out nicely? Plus, these are sort of in front of my dark red climbing rose. (Trust me, all this color coordinating was a fluke!)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

ripen, ripen, ripen...

We are so ready for tomatoes from the garden - OUR garden. Mark has stopped a couple times at the little farm stands that seem to dot every major intersection. We had a very decent tomato a week or so ago. The ones he bought yesterday were just bad. So I'll probably be waiting for ours to ripen. Impatiently.

But in the meantime, please take a look at my plants! Mark made these tuteurs for me - they stand 6 1/2 feet out of the ground. The tomatoes today are past the top of the tuteurs. Last year they went to the top and back down to the ground. The vines are loaded. Once the tomatoes start to ripen, we will be living well.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

summer gardens

This is such a great time of year for Minnesota gardens! The roses are starting their second show. The asiatic lilies are pretty much done, but the orientals and daylilies are in full glory. All of the prairie-type blooms are jumping on the bandwagon. I just love it! Here are a few of the things in my garden right now.

Ligularia "Othello" - I just put in this plant this year. I have "The Rocket" which is starting to show some color too, but my first try with this one. I thought I was buying one "Othello" and one "Desdemona" - but when I got home, found I had two "Othello." Not a problem - they're looking good!

I love veronica - I have it in several gardens. The bees love it too - there's at least one in this photo. This is in the west porch garden - with pink roses - beautiful.

Not a great background - but the bloom is perfect! This is J.F. Quadra - a new climbing rose. I planted it last year - and this is the second show of blooms this year - lots of new growth. Meresy_g at Edge Effect commented that my red daylily would look nice planted in front of Russian sage. I agreed and started looking to see if I had any red and purple combos like that - I just happen to have a Russian sage planted beside this climber. In another year or two, I think it could be looking pretty good. (This is on the fence - wonder if I could talk my neighbor into planting something tall and purple and airy on his side??)

My wild brown-eyed susans have been blooming for awhile - but the hybrids are just starting. I love them with purple coneflower and phlox.

More balloon flowers - I love the color - and the bud is too cute.

This is snakeroot or bugbane. The latin name was cimcifuga but they have reclassified it, and I can never remember what it is now. I like snakeroot, and that's what I always call it. This is another one that the bees love. This is a plant that will grow in sun, but prefers partial shade. The plant is fairly large and then gets these wonderful tall blooms. It adds great height to the shade border.

Here's a photo of the snakeroot plant - the buds are all curly and maybe snakey?? and then as the flowers open the bloom stalk straightens. I think it's very fun. And it has a cool fragrance.

Last but not least, phlox. I have this purple, plus a darker pinkish purple, a dark pink, and white. They all smell just like phlox should.