Friday, September 26, 2008

Look What Showed Up

From Hoe Nancy:

So, I'm thinking this beast of a summer has died.  Look what came up in my yard as a complete and total surprise when I splashed some water around something nearby:

These lilies have been in the ground several years now, but I haven't seen even a hint of them for 2006 (drought), 2007 (flood) or 2008 (drought).  Their first year (2005) I got one sickly bloom (my friend only gave me a small chunk) so I am astounded by this spread.   I had very much given up on them, so needless to say I do a little dance of joy every time I walk the yard and see them.   Then I start wondering about all the other things that I've just assumed were dead and gone .....   but I've got to tell you that seeing something blooming in the yard raised my spirits so much that it sent me running to the nursery for some blackfoot daisy.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Recipes, Science Fiction & Gardening

WHAT, you are probably thinking, do those three things have in common? Not long ago I got a card to send to a friend that had a quote from Rita Rutner that read, "I read recipes the same way I read science fiction. I get to the end and think....that's not going to happen!"

While I feel that way about my cooking, I also feel the same way about my gardening. I see these beautiful pictures in books and magazines and in friend's yards (um...Naomi. Hee hee) and try as I might, when I try to accomplish a certain look or grow a certain plant, well, my thumb tends to be more brown than green. Naomi, and my husband, keep telling me that old adage of "1st year sleeps, 2nd year creeps, and 3rd year leaps". Unfortunately, with the way I seem to be with plants, I'm forever going to be in that 1st/2nd year phase.

I am, however, most excited about my upcoming hoe day! While I will only have one small bed to do for the main project, I'm hoping to enlist my free labor to help me with some general clean-up and mulching of the rest of the beds and such to make the house - the outside at least- look all pretty for the James family reunion we have the 3rd weekend in October.

-Hoe Heather

We're not Murderers...kinda

Good news! My husband and I aren't murderers!

A little bit of background: About a month ago, my husband forgot and left the water hose in the pond while he was filling it. We had five nice size Koi and about 40 goldfish (various types and colors). Well, the Leander water we have is loaded with nasty chemicals and the water was on overnight.

Long story short, we killed all of our fish except for two of the Koi (and the ugly ones at that). It was like the Exxon Valdez has spilled in our pond and every fish minus two were heads up, eyes bulging when I woke the next morning to go to work.

We immediately treated the pond and hoped that the last two fish would survive. We have delayed getting replacement fish because we wanted to make sure the pond eco-system was healthy and the fish were no longer stressed. Last night as I was feeding the two Koi, I noticed some other movement in the pond. Lo and behold - we have baby fish! Probably about 12-14 black, 1 white, and 1 white/orange - all goldfish. So we're parents again and ecstatic - yay!

Of course, it is my luck that almost all the new fish are an ugly black, but beggars (and murderers) can't be choosers, right? :-)

Monday, September 15, 2008

My Hoe Day!

Well, my Hoe Day has come and gone, and it was a blast! As you can see, the side of the house we worked on needed it badly...

But, first things first. Food! Breakfast was the guest standy - breakfast pizza. Very hardy and filling. Of course, we also had the GardenHoe required alcohol - mimosas! Everyone was able to come except Nickie - we missed her, but we'll get her next time.

Then we went to work. The crepe myrtle on the left was dug out and turned into five new crepe myrtles (on purpose on accident). The new crepe myrtles were all planted by the pool in the back yard and the cannas that were dug out were moved to be planted at the back of the pond. We also dug out a dwarf nandina (also relocated to the pond) and some Easter Lily bulbs (to be relocated in the new bed). All the weeds were pulled (turns out Anna HATES weeds and makes it her life's work to get rid of them) and we moved some of the junk on the right side away from the house.

Next, we tilled up a wide area - maybe four feet wide from the side of the house all the way out. After tilling and raking off the chaff, we laid down compost and retilled the entire area. By then, it was lunchtime!

Lunch was good (if I do say so myself)...I tried out a few new recipes and made some old standards. We had teriyaki flank steak, honey-mustard chicked drummettes, broccoli salad, an AWESOME crab dip, chorizo and carmelized onion quiche-type-thing, and Mom's pound cake for dessert. Yum! I'll have to post the recipes in another post...

After lunch, Nancy and Anna had to go, and Heather and I did the easy stuff - planted some plants. We then decided that we had worked hard enough and went to Lowe's and Hill Country Water Gardens to shop. :-)

On Sunday, motivated by all the hard work (and my nagging), my DH and I finished the hardscapes stuff - added pavers bought off of Craigslist and a fence area around the pool equipment. I also found (over by the greenhouse!) more plants that I could plant, so I did. And here is the result...

Wow! What a difference! And just to let you know what plants went in...

Purple fall asters
Purple and white walking irises
Purple passionflower vine
Purple bat faced cuphea (I was SOOOO excited to find this...)
Purple salvia
Purple fountain grass
Purple scabiosas (pincushion)
Silver ponyfoot
Mounding plumbago (kind of looks lavender-ish)
White easter lilies
Japanese maple

Can you tell I had a purple theme? I can't wait to see what it will look like when it blooms. Thanks Hoes for my project! I love the side of my house now!

~Hoe Naomi

Friday, September 5, 2008

Hoe - 1, Deer - 0

So, I am uber-excited because several of my plants that had been decimated by the deer have actually managed to come back and bloom. What did I do, you ask, to stave off the hordes of cannabilistic doe-eyed demons who ravaged my poor plants like zombies at Disneyland? I bought this gadget called a Scarecrow - a motion-activated sprinkler. It has been the best deer repellent I have ever had, except now I need at least two more to keep them from the pond and the veggie garden in the back yard.

But, back to the plants. I was able to photograph a few before my camera died.

My first plant is some type of lily, I think. I don't remember what this is or where I got it (not surprising), but it bloomed once about six weeks ago then the deer ate it to the ground. But, it finally rebloomed and has a couple more flowers on it, so I'm very excited. If you have any idea what this is, I'd appreciate any help!

Next is one of several bat faced cupheas I have. I have three different kinds right now - one which is a very small bloom, a few that have a regular bloom size, and a ruffled version I couldn't NOT get last weekend while Craigslisting down south. (Yes Heather, you can have a cutting of that.) My smaller versions are doing fine, but the two larger plants got nubbed. Finally, after banishing the deer from the yard, this one has decided that it can bloom as well.

The last one I took a pic of is one of my favorite plants, the blue plumbago. Last year I had four of these in the ground but they failed to come back after the winter. I mulched them and covered them, but they didn't return and they are supposed to be perennials. Someone later told me I may not have watered them enough?!? Anyway, I bought three more this year because I just love the ice-blue color and they are finally starting to look like I want!

Let's just hope that I can keep these through the winter this year. I hate potting things up since I take even worse care of my potted plants than I do the ones in the ground, so I'm really going to try my darndest to pull these through to next year. Keep your fingers crossed!

~Hoe Naomi

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Can't wait for my September project...

So, I'm the lucky recipient of the September garden project. After our last Meet-n-Greet, we drew names and I got this month. Yay for me! We've decided on September 13 - soon enough for me NOT to procrastinate but after Jen's plant swap where I can get some good stuff!

This is the area I want to do...the side of the house, next to our pool equipment. You can't see it for the weeds growing up, but there is a small bed (about 18" in depth) already. However, there is little going on in there right now besides some transplanted cannas, some dying cast iron plants, and some Easter lilies that come back year after year.

I do happen to have a picture of the Easter lilies in bloom from this year, taken in May. I didn't know until recently that Easter lilies that are in the ground seldom come until way after Easter! Normally, they come up at the base of the crepe myrtle bush on the left.

So, I'm thinking of the type of bed that I want to do. I think I want to have a nicer edge than my normal "random limestone rock left over from digging holes" around the edge - maybe a nice paver border? I also want to put a small three foot high fence around the pool equipment with a little fence and have some vines growing around it, I think. Maybe bring the bed out about three feet and have a plan for this area, unlike the "plopping" style of planting I normally do. I would like to have some plants NOT already in the front yard - foxgloves might be neat.

I also think I want to have a little more in the way of "yard art". Maybe a statue of some dude, or iron sculpture - depending on what I can get on Craigslist. I also think I want the bed to have squared edges, rather than rounded. And maybe a little bit raised...

Well, I have two weeks to decide what I want...and plenty of hands to help out. I might have to go shopping this weekend after the plant swap!

~Hoe Naomi