Wednesday, May 28, 2008

First Lotus Bloom of the Season

Here are the first lotus blossoms of the season. This is what makes the pond worthwhile.

Hoe Naomi

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Few New Garden Hoes

After a fun time at our May Meet & Greet, we are so excited to announce that we have three new Garden Hoes. Hmmmmm.... what to do for initiation???

Anna, Nancy and Nickie (listed alphabetically).... WELCOME to the group! May your gardens flourish, partly as a result of having more hands working on them. Of course, we [original Garden Hoes] have yet to see that picture book result yet, but Naomi read in an article where we were drooling over the pictures of one gal's garden that it took five years to get the garden looking like it did, so we have a few to go.

In the meantime, here's to fun playing in the dirt of one another's gardens!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

These are a few of my favorite things...

We just had a Meet & Greet for potential new Hoes. Nancy, one of the "prospects" asked if we took pictures of our gardens to capture they way they looked and to help us get through the winter months. I said that I rarely did, but after she left, I couldn't stop thinking about what she said.

As much work, blood, sweat, tears, etc....we put into our plants, we really should capture the results, whether good or bad. The exhilaration when you coax the first bloom from a plant you previously thought dead can take you through all those days where you forgot and left the new peach tree seedlings in the greenhouse for three days in record high temps in May (sorry Heather!) The excitement you feel when you get your first banana pepper outweighs the time you forgot to spray your seedlings and supplied the caterpillars with a late Spring feast. And if you don't record those memories, how do you remember that in 2008, your bargain basement buy magnolia tree finally got its first bloom?

So I spent the morning going around and taking pictures of those things that moved me. I hope you like them. Hoe Naomi

My puppy, Saba, trying to help me repot plants. I have great dogs. I have an unfenced veggie garden in the back, and none of the three dogs ever get in it (yet). Keeping my fingers crossed!

A volunteer zinnia flower - I love finding these throughout the yard...

We tried to get a wildflower meadow started. We seeded the left side of the house, but had a very dry winter. This is the densest stand of wildflowers we got, but I love to walk in it.

These Easter lilies were buried underground when we bought the house. We tilled up the side to create a little bed and I found a bunch of unknown bulbs. Glad I kept them!

My husband's favorite plant - passionflower vine

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

May's Meet & Greet

For some time we had been discussing bringing on board a couple of new "Garden Hoes". With the recent departure of a couple of our original members, we figured this was as good of time as any to meet some of the prospective members to our little gardening group. Naomi acted as our host for our May "project" - a "Meet & Greet" get-together. Besides Jen, Naomi, and myself, there were four other ladies (Sandy, Nickie, Anna, and Nancy) who were able to join us for some FABULOUS food, drinks and, of course, plants.

We had a grand time learning about one another, our gardening woes and woo-whooos, and discussing what it was to be a "Garden Hoe". I don't know about everyone else, but I had a ball. Of course, what was there not to love? Tons of yummy food, beverages, and PLANTS! As usual, I didn't leave Naomi's empty handed. I took a cutting of this, a snip of that, a few seeds of that over there...

Now we just have to wait and see if we scared them off or if they are still interested in joining our little plant/dirt/gardening obsessed group. We'll keep you posted!

Oh, and I couldn't resist sharing this pix of some of the water lilies in Naomi's pond.

--Hoe Heather

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

April Garden Hoe Project

Finally got the pictures uploaded from April's Garden Hoe project day... Check out the end of the "We're Blogging" post (our very first blog) for pix of the flower beds and beginnings of a water feature we did at Jen's!

By Golly, It Bloomed!

Earlier this spring, as soon as the leaves peaked through the ground, I went and dug up a slew of iris bulbs that we inherited when we bought our home. As though being in full shade wasn't enough, they were also in high dog traffic areas of the yard. As I'd never gotten any blooms from them in their original locations, I decided to move the bulbs despite it not being the best time to do so.

My mom and a Master Gardener told me that the transplanted iris would probably not do spit this year but also told me to not give up on them because in a few years they would be SO very happy with their new full sun location. Patience, by the way is NOT one of my best virtues, especially when it comes to gardening.

Well, by golly, I got a bloom THIS YEAR! It is a lovely light purple and I'm so excited I can barely stand it. Okay, so that may be the only bloom I get because the rest of the iris look a little puny but I got a bloom! Of course, as I only noticed it this am as I was leaving for work, I don't have a pix yet but will in the next few days and will insert it [here].

Speaking of irises, my water iris that Naomi gave me went nuts recently. First one, then two, then something like ten blooms at one time adorned the plant. Last night I deadheaded the plant and have two full blooms and about 5 about to pop open. Gorgeous deep purple blooms... WOW! Seeing that gorgeous display of color has made all the work we did on the pond worth it.

I LOVE playing in the dirt! --Hoe Heather

Monday, May 12, 2008

Weekend shopping

So, this weekend I went nursery shopping. Told my husband that since I was in the area, I might as well stop by, right? Picked up citrus trees (supposedly) for him to replace ones we left in the ground last year, and stuff for me.

The Natural Gardener in South Austin has got to be one of the best nurseries around, with a great selection of EVERYTHING! I bought one Meyer lemon, one Mexican lime and one dwarf orange tree. Plus, bat face cupheas, ciger plants, a 30% off gerber daisy (discounted due to slight hail damage), and herbs.

Last year, I planted the bat face cuphea in my front yard. I'm in Zone 8b, but it's supposed to be a perennial to about 15 degrees. When it first froze back, I cut it down to about 6", mulched the roots, and then when it warmed up, uncovered it. I did this with my blue plumbago also.

Neither of the plants came back this year, and I finally broke down and pulled the out and replaced them. I hate that two of my favorite plants are not winter tough. I could do pots, but I'm not a good waterer and pots dry out too quickly for me. So, I guess I'll just have to learn to propagate from Heather and overwinter in my greenhouse until next spring when I can plant again! So, for those that live in Leander, be careful of your bat face cupheas and plumbagos....

So, since my shopping was primarily to replace plants rather than to really buy new plants, it's not really plant shopping, right? Hey, at least it's not shoes!

Hoe Naomi

Monday, May 5, 2008

A slight plant obsession

From Hoe Naomi:

Ever spend too much time trying to get something without paying for it, just to realize that you may have spent more money trying to save money than if you'd just gone out and bought it in the first place? Well, I did that this weekend. Ever since I've moved to the sticks, I've also become a Craigslist addict. I love a good deal, and free is the best kind of deal there is, right? Add that to my slight plant obsession, and my little bit of stubbornness, and you've got a recipe for some interesting experiences.

This past weekend, I had the chance to get a free plant. Whoopee! It was a pampas grass, kind of like this.

It was located in Cedar Park, and was anxiously waiting for me to dig up and transplant. The nice lady who was giving it away initially said it was a bout 3 ft. tall. Well, women (including myself) obviously have no sense of size and proportion, because when I got there, the plant was at least 6 ft. tall at the top, and 6 ft. around. Not the kind of thing that would easily come up with just me and my shovel, right? I was not about to give up though - I told her I would get it and get it I would.

So I began to dig. Luckily for me, the center of the plant was dead and mainly woody stem, so I just had to get the exterior ring of plant. I got about 1/3 of the way through and had to call my husband (who does not share the same plant fanaticism as me) and told him I needed help. While waiting for him to show, I got another 1/3 of the way through. Good thing these are fairly shallow rooted plants! Wouldn't you know - he shows up and in ten minutes (no lie), he pops the rest of the plant out, and even digs up the woody center. I love men, but sometimes I hate them, you know? I am no dainty girl and can heft some pretty big weight, but he and his mighty new shovel (he does like his yard toys) came and did in 10 minutes what would have taken me another 45 at least. Geez.

Before we left, the nice lady also offered us pups off of her sago palm. I didn't even try to cut them off. I let hubby and tool pop about eight pups off the palm, quick and easy. After admiring the nice lady's dogs, we loaded up our goodies, he went home and I went on another adventure.

My third destination was actually close (I thought) to my second destination, which was a store I had to do a mystery shop in. (I mystery shop as a PT job, in addition to my FT job.) Little did I know that Bee Cave, TX is NOT necessarily on Bee Cave Rd. in South Austin. Now, I already live way north of Austin, and now I'm in South Austin for the mystery shop, then find myself driving another 15 or so miles to some discount plant place. I keep passing signs that say "Bee Cave - XXX miles" and thinking to myself, "This is WAY out here. Maybe I shoudl turn around an go home." But, I'm already committed to going, and leaving now would mean I've wasted the thirty or minutes for the driving.

After passing the little entrance three times, I finally get to the plant place, and I have found a treasure trove of cheap plants. The guy is a buyer for old plants from large retailers - Lowe's, Home Depot, etc... In some cities, these places will discount their own plants when they get old and sell them cheap to regular folks like me. In Austin, I've found that they don't do that, but now I know they sell to these "brokers" who then re-sell them to the public. I spent about $40.00 and got about 45 plants (the ones that normally go for $4-7 each), plus a beautiful knockout rose bush. I loaded up the plants on top of the pampas grass in the trunk of my poor SUV, and drove home.

Thinking about it later, and considering the time I spent traipsing about (4.5 hours and the miles (all told, about 75) and gas prices ($3.50 per gallon here), I realize it might have been cheaper to buy at the Lowe's down the street. But, I also realized that there are some intangible things you get on these types of trips - I met a wonderful lady who happens to be a pet groomer who will probably get the pleasure of dealing with my three dogs next time they need their nails cut, and I found a great plant place to take the other Hoes to on a road trip day. Plus, I found an Irish restaurant if I ever want to eat real Irish food, and had a great scenic drive (read - potential to get lost) that I had never driven before. Had I stayed near the house, I never would have found any of this. Plus, now I have plants to share - life is good.

My first gardening blog - Hoe Naomi

Hello all - I'm Naomi, one of the above-mentioned GardenHoes. I have never blogged before, but after reading an article in the Austin American Statesman, I asked another Hoe to set up a blog because I was so inspired (lol). So, here I am.

I'm a return gardener, finding gardening recently in the past few years (when my husband moved me out into the sticks). I used to garden with my mother as a child (and have horrible memories of itching after picking okra), and after I got married, started a small vegetable garden at our old house. Then the aforementioned move to the sticks and five acres and too far away from any other reasonable civilized activity, so I picked up gardening again.

I'm not much of a picture person, but I do have a "before" type pics. This is of the front of the house and one of my first projects. When we bought the house, the yard was very boring and plain - grass up to the wall. So, I decided to change that.

We've done some more work since then....

We've added a pond with a smaller connecting pond, bog and a waterfall, which is my husband's labor of love (and contribution to the gardening madness). I've also started (still in progress - always in progress!) to landscape the front of the house, including trying to get rid of any grass from the front door up to the first hill.

In the back (which I don't have pictures of), we've recently put up a greenhouse and moved our vegetable garden from its location for the past two years to the back.

I'm also working on the sides of the house, but again, everything is still in progress. We've got kind of a rustic Sanford and Son feel to our yard, but it works for us. So, I've introduced myself and my garden - welcome again to the GardenHoes blog!

Friday, May 2, 2008

And We're Blogging...

We are a small group of women, living in the Cedar Park/Leander burbs of Austin, who love to garden and get together once a month on a Saturday to do a gardening project at one of the member's homes. Garden Hoes began last September with a group of five: Beth, Heather, Jen, Naomi & Rose (listed in alphabetical order).

Our first project play day was in October. We transformed Rose's mailbox into a beautiful curbside mailbox and flower bed area. Check out the before/after photos! Rose offered up her home in December where we enjoyed a lovely holiday gathering.

Since it was too cold in January to do any actual work, we had a planning meeting at Naomi's to discuss what the year held for us in regard to projects and to select months for our individual projects.

February found us back at work. We spent the morning at Naomi's helping to prep her veggie garden (that is HUGE). I don't know that we were as productive as we should have been but we had fun! After a fabulous Korean food lunch, we ditched the garden to help paint little pots (that were later filled with seeds and goodies) for the Boys & Girls Club of Georgetown to use as fun giveaways at a Home & Garden show. While we didn't take pix of our working in the yard at Naomi's, we were all too proud to show off our fun pots!

March's workday was a busy one. We created a large flower bed around a group of crepe myrtle trees that were troublesome to mow around. Made for easier mowing of the area and added a beautiful bed at the same time! Please forgive the pictures... the camera was acting up a bit. Since the project day, the bed has become home to some beautiful flowers that have been grown from seed. A birdbath was set in the bed as well and a bench was placed nearby so Heather can sit and oooh and aaah over the beautiful job done.

This past Saturday was our most recent Garden Hoe play date. We went to Jen's and after a lovely breakfast got to work on a couple of small beds in front of her home as a well as a small pond that will feature a waterfall. Thanks to a little creativity, muscle and trial and error, the beds were in and the pond base was mortared. After we finished that much, since the mortar had to dry anyway, we all packed up and headed over to enjoy the Lily Blossom Festival together at Hill Country Water Gardens!

These first two pix are before and after of one of the front beds. WOW, what a difference! I can't wait to see it again once it fills in. It really made that space "pop"! Sorry I didn't get the same angle on the shots...

And talk about "pop"... check out these before and after photos of the other side of the entrance where we have the beginning of the water feature. Well, we sort-of have a before pix... Jen had already cleared out all the ivy that was covering that area to save us a little work. (Keep watch because updated pix will be coming in the near future and I, for one, can't wait to see the final result!)

It is pretty much that "many hands make light work" philosophy and we have a hoot of a time working together (and our spouses like the fact that these yard projects are getting done without their being the ones having to do it!). I know, probably WAY more than you cared to know about us right off the bat, but.... There you go!

Welcome to the blog of the Garden Hoes. We hope you stop by often to see where we are in our wild gardening adventures.

--Hoe Heather