Sunday, June 28, 2009

My Favorite Flower Bed

When we took down one of the Bradford Pear trees a year and a half ago, and had this new flagstone walkway, patio, and arbor built, I got two new little flower beds that run along the path. Last year was a trial on planting, but this year I developed a plan and these 2 beds are now my very favorite flower beds.
I really had to watch the amount of sun these beds would get as that would determine what I planted. I knew there was not full sun, but there is good morning sun. (You can really see the pond "fence" we had to put up in this picture!) In the spring, I had tulips, daffodils and candy tuff. It was really pretty. For summer, I decided I wanted to continue the cottage look with a mixture of all different kinds of flowers.
On this right side of the path I have begonias, zinnias, coneflowers
angelonia, coreopsis, forget-me-nots (from Mother) lemon balm, pinata lavender and mexican mint marigold. This area gets more sun than the left side.
The left side of the path has some repeat plants, but also salvia hot lips, black foot daisies, gaillardia and a red geranium. It is very hard to keep this side watered as the remaining Bradford takes all the moisture.
The right side was designed with a slight slope which makes it easier to water.
I have really enjoyed buying little bedding plants and tucking them here and there in these beds. I was trying to use only perennials, and I do have quite a few, but I always enjoy plant shopping each season and buying some colorful annuals.
I get up pretty early every morning. I take a quick shower and grab a cup of coffee and head out the patio door. These flower beds are just what I need to see to start my day. I didn't know what direction these beds would take this time last year, but I think I have created exactly what I was searching for. you have a favorite flower bed??

Friday, June 26, 2009

Caught You!!

About 2 months ago my neighbor across the alley told me she thought there was a nest of baby bunnies in her yard. Well, guess who I caught nibbling on the sedum this afternoon? I believe this is either Flopsy, Mopsy, or maybe it's Peter Rabbit himself!
How cute is this! (Sorry the pictures are blurry--I was taking them through the kitchen window) Now before you say anything..I know bunnies are very destructive; and I know what happens when bunnies grow up and start dating...but y'all---I just did not have the heart to run the baby bunny off.
He (she) had a little snack, and sat in the inpatients and washed his (her) face and hands (what a good little bunny)....
then hopped off under the Boston Fern to take a little nap.
I really don't want to be raising bunny rabbits, but I don't mind if the baby lives in our yard for right now--I have flowers to share. But... what do I do when cute bunny turns into troublesome rabbit??? Any thoughts?

"Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail, who were good little bunnies, went down the lane to gather blackberries. But Peter, who was very naughty, ran straight away to Mr. McGregor's garden and squeezed under the gate!"
from The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

Monday, June 22, 2009

An Interview with Aunt Debbi

Our wonderful and humorous blogging friend Debbi from Aunt Debbi's Garden needed to do some interviews..and I was one of her volunteers.

This is an interview for cooks..well, I have always enjoyed cooking so this is an easy one for me!

Here you go Debbi:

At what age did you begin cooking?

I don't know the exact age, but I was in elementary school.

Who taught you?

My Mother, but I have learned lots of things from friends and other family members.

What type of food is your favorite?

I love fresh veggies and desserts--yum!!

Where do you get your best ingredients?

I like to buy fresh veggies from a family owned produce stand close to my house. I love to buy local honey and jellies when I can find them. I try spices from just about anywhere. Everything else comes from the grocery store.

Do you know any cooking tricks?

No, not really. I am a very traditional cook. I like to cook, but I LOVE to bake. My favorite thing is cookies. When the kids were little, we always had homemade cookies in the cookie jar. If I had a trick to share it would be this: don't over bake cookies--under bake them. Take them out of the oven a couple of minutes before you think they are done and let them sit on the cookie sheet 2 minutes before putting them on your cooking rack.

Will you share a recipe?

Sure...I'll share two!

I love fresh carrots, and this is how I like to cook them:

Glazed Carrots
Cut carrots into lengthwise strips (or cut in half if using baby carrots)
Cook in a small amount of water until almost tender.
Remove carrots from the pan and set aside.
In the same pan, combine:
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. grated orange peel (optional)
2 T. margarine
Cook this under bubbly, then add the carrots back and cook about 5 more minutes.
Really good--it gets kids to eat their carrots!
Since I mentioned cookies, here is one of my favorite recipes (and hubby's very favorite!)

Oatmeal Cookies
Combine in a large bowl:
1 cup Crisco
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
Add these dry ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
2 cups old fashioned oatmeal
(I add raisins--you can also add walnuts)
Mix well, drop by level tablespoons on a cookie sheet ( I use a baking stone) and bake at 375 for about 8-10 minutes. NOTE: Here is an example of what I said before--the cookies need to look a little under baked when you take them out. Let them set on the cookie sheet about 1-2 minutes before removing them to the cooling rack.
So there you have it Debbi--hope this will help you out. All this thinking is really making me think I will head into the kitchen.

Happy Gardening--uh..I mean Cooking everyone!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Harold, You're Fired!!!

All spring I thought my goldfish seemed skittish. I wondered if the blue heron was making more visits. One afternoon as I tried to get the fish to come up to the top so I could feed them, I realized one of the blue shubunkins was missing. Darn!! About a week or 2 later, I was walking through the kitchen late one Friday afternoon and when I glanced in back, I thought I was seeing double--2 herons! No, that would be one fake heron and one REAL heron! I watched the live heron pace around the yard until I guess he noticed me watching and flew away. Oh... Harold......"you're fired!!"

I was so mad! One of my neighbors that has a Koi pond told me a blue heron has gotten so many of his fish, he had to net his pond. My friend, Sunrise in Sachse has also had heron problems. She decided to net her pond as well.
I went complaining to hubby who did some research on herons. According to what hubby read, herons walk into a pond (rather than fly into it) and will not cross a barrier. The suggestion was to either net your pond, or use line to create a fence. Hubby decided to try the fence idea.

He bought green metal stakes at Home Depot and used fishing line to create a fence around the pond. He also crossed the top-just in case the article he read was not correct about the herons flying into a pond. This "fence" has been up about 6 weeks now, and so far, so good.
I don't particularly like to look at a fence made of fishing line, but what else can I do? We decided we have 2 options; leave this fishing line fence up, or let the heron use our pond as a diner and buy new fish all the time. To be honest, I don't know what the final decision will be... For now, I will try to look beyond the fishing line and see blooming flowers!
Harold is now unemployed. If he goes out to look for another job, he better not use me as a reference....I will be quick to say "cannot perform duties as assigned!"

Monday, June 15, 2009

The "New" Old Wheelbarrow

You may remember a post last summer on my wheel-
barrow. I stole it from hubby! Yeah, I really did. He kind of liked that wheelbarrow, but one day while he was golfing I planted flowers in it! Hubby bought something else to use and life went on. Every year I planted flowers in that wheelbarrow, but last fall when I planted the pansies I discovered the bottom of the wheelbarrow had completely rusted out. It literally fell apart when I tried to move it. So, I was on the hunt for another one. I didn't have to go far. I was over at Mother's one afternoon and hanging on the house at the very back was just what I needed. I asked her if she used the old wheelbarrow, and she said "no, and if you want it, please take it!"
So, that's how I got a "new" old wheelbarrow!"
I have planted several types of annuals over the years, but my favorite thing to plant for the last few years has been coleus and sweet potato vine. I tried mixing in a few other things last year, but they get lost when the coleus and vine start to grow, so this year I stuck with just those 2 things.
I try and find several different varieties of coleus to plant. I never pay attention to their names, I just decide what is pleasing to my eye and what would look good with the chartreuse green of the sweet potato vine.
I love the reds-and apparently so does this cute dragonfly!
The wheel-
barrow full of coleus seems pretty happy here in my little backyard. I hope it lasts for many more years. I found out something quite special about it when I called Mother to tell her what I planted. (You all know how sentimental I am!) Mother told me this had been Daddy's wheelbarrow. My father passed away over 35 years ago. Daddy loved working in the yard. He loved nature and flowers, and Mother said he would be so happy to know that I found the perfect spot for his old wheelbarrow!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Purslane and Grumpy

Every summer I go to one of my favorite nurseries and buy baskets of purslane (portulaca oleracea). I bought this one a few months ago to stick in the wildflower garden, and bought the last 2 today. The nursery that has these gorgeous plants is not very far from where I live. It's been there forever. I never went to it much though...the people that worked there were...well...rude! A few years ago I was looking for something (don't remember what) and decided I would try this nursery. I had forgotten what a great selection of plants they had, and all very healthy. However, the owner..was a grumpy old man. I heard years back of "a story" as to why he was like this--bad marriage, bad kids-I didn't know and really didn't care. But it just killed me to see someone working around all these beautiful plants so unhappy.
After lots of thinking as I was digging in the dirt, I decided that I was going to be friends with this man, no matter what it took. So, I started going to this nursery..a lot. And he had the most wonderful plants, I could find almost anything there. I went so much, that he would remember me when I came in. I let him know how thrilled I was to be among all the beauty at his store, and how grateful I was he had "just what I needed."
It took a while, but one day when I walked in, he looked up and smiled! We had become friends.
So, this spring off I go to buy the first purslane, and immediately noticed something was different about the nursery. I thought, oh no, they are closing. But no, they were not closing, "Grumpy" had just sold the store to someone else. The new owners told me the previous owner sold and moved out to his farm. I knew that was his dream, as he had shared that dream with me a few times. They also told me the plants would remain the same, but all the "bad things" would be gone. I heard them say that same thing to every customer that came in..and we all knew what they meant. They do still have the purslane baskets, and they are beautiful, but the nursery is not the same. The new owners are indeed very nice, but the vast selection is gone; no more unusual, hard to find plants anymore. No more shade hanging baskets, not nearly as many roses. No more rows of drought tolerant sages or salvias. No more baskets of scaevola (had to find mine somewhere else) or sweet potato vine. No more Grumpy. I am delighted to know he is finally retired and can live at the farm, and I maybe the only one in town that misses him..but there is now a void at that nursery, and I do miss him. We were friends.
" But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life; and thanks to a benevolent arrangement of things, the greater part of life is sunshine."
Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Saturday Garden Tour

Early Saturday morning Mother and I started out on a wonderful garden tour. This one was sponsored by Dallas Water Utilities and called the Water-Wise Garden Tour. There were lots of houses on the tour including winners from years past. This year the entries must be gardens that save rain water in some way.
Most of the houses we went to had something similar to this one. One house had 3 tanks-very interesting, but there were so many people around it I couldn't get a picture.

The first garden we went to was close to Mother. Really nice gardeners (of course, what gardener is not nice!) This is their backyard which now contains no grass, just drought tolerant plants.
There were lots of pretty wildflowers-and you know how I love wildflowers!
flowers were every where!
There was even a little picnic table all set up for tea at this house. I commented on all the rock rose they had..and they sent one home with me! Love the generosity of gardeners!
The next garden was one I have been to many times. This is where the sweet little lady that gave me my ground ivy lives. Her shady garden is always a special treat to visit.

The new addition this year---her chicken coop. Look at the basket sitting by the door and you will see the eggs she collected.
I have visited this garden many times over the years. The first time was about 8 years ago on a pond tour. It remains my favorite house ever! It is in the Greenland Hills area of Dallas. The owners have won awards for their xeriscape ideas. A few years ago, they took out the traditional Bermuda/St Augustine grass in front and planted buffalo grass. In addition, they have all drought tolerant plants.
They are proud owners of lots of cactus and wildflowers.
They are on a corner lot, so they have lots of oppor-
tunities for several beds.
This is their "court-
yard" backyard.
This was once a garage-now an office. Wouldn't you like to go to work walking through this door every morning!
This is this kitchen window..
..and the patio below the window.
This is the door and patio off the master bedroom.
And this is the little pond just a few feet away.

There are so many little places to sit around the courtyard.

Can you tell I LOVE this house and garden!

The gate at the next house beckons you to come in..
The owner really loves cactus and succulents and had so many clever ways to display them.
She told me she covers this area every winter and keeps it covered until spring.
There was another little neighbor-
hood garden tour going on in addition to the Water-Wise tour. It was in a quiet little neighbor-
hood in the Casa View/Casa Linda area of Dallas.
There is a median as you enter the area that has been maintained by some of the residents for some time. We always take time to visit a few of these houses during this tour.
There are so many pretty gardens..
...some really pretty sitting areas..

..great looking agave..
..and new experi-
mental cactus/
succulent gardens.
But our favorite on this little tour was this last house.
As you can see, it is a front garden totally full of flowers and plants.
I just couldn't take a picture of everything, but I can tell you the flowers were amazing. There was something here for everyone, and they were all so healthy and happy.
The homeowner is the gardener, a very knowledgeable person..who was also in a wheelchair. He told us he had been in the nursery business "before" and didn't want to give it up. We thanked him for opening up his yard to this tour and he told us to stop by anytime and visit his flowers. Talk about passionate about gardening!
What a joy it was to see all these wonderful gardens..some big, others small; some with shade, others with sun; but they all had one thing in common--gardeners who loved nature and were doing their part to add beauty to the space they were given. Sometimes I come home from these garden tours a little envious of the gardens I see, but this Saturday I came home happy and appreciative of what I have been able to create in my small space.

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend..and found something beautiful in your garden.

"All gardeners live in beautiful places because they make them so.."
Joseph Joubert