Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Weeds in the back, bugs in the front

The drought last year did nothing to help the lawn; barren patches of brown just became a breeding ground for this tenacious, ground cover-like weed. It was everywhere – say 60% of the lawn – and everytime I saw it I would just kill 20 minutes sitting in the grass pulling it up.

You can’t pull up 60% of your lawn!!

Growing up in the suburbs, if you had weeds it was because you were too cheap to get ChemLawn to spray your yard with toxins. Being neither cheap nor toxic, we’ve been confused about what to do. Our neighbors gave us weed-b-gone to help control it, but even after 3 doses, it wasn’t going away.

The same neighbors also use cornmeal on their lawn so we thought we should do the same since their yard looks great. We treated the lawn in June and now, a month later, it is so dark and green, it’s unbelievable.

Since the grass is growing to hearty now in the back, the weeds have gotten pushed out. I still have found a couple, but not like before, so I can pull them out.

The Barn Owl, where we got the cornmeal, told us to apply 3x over the summer (labor day, July 4th, memorial day); then in

In the front yard … aphids had taken on the roses and I never got around to treating them. Then, I spotted a new bug on the plants and I freaked out that aphids can morph into large hopping bugs.

A trip to told me what I have are immature katydids. Matt knew what these were – I had no idea; they are a family of the grasshopper. Just for that, I can’t kill them, but they’re having a good time chomping on my roses and my gerberas.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

June 10th - Under the pine tree

Garden Note:

June 10, 2006 --The area under the pine tree in the front hasn't looked so hot. Nothing really grows there. I'm not sure if that's because the previous owners didn't plant anything there or just that nothing can grow there. Last year we had some vinka and some cone flowers and black eyed susans and it just looked kinda messy.

So we took some time early in June to clean the area out, thinned out the vinka where we needed to, planted some hostas, edged out the area, and re-planted the black eyed susans together. Then we found stones around our house and built a small barrier from the grass. I'm not sure if it will remain like this forever, but it's a good start.

Any ideas for what to plant under the pine tree?

Friday, June 16, 2006

May 27 Backyard

On to the backyard -- isn't this fun? Well, it's fun for me because I've put so much effort into this yard. You can ask Matt, we spend so much time on this garden that talking about it and talking about my cats are my 2 favorite subjects. I love it. Truly.

Anyway, backyard ...
Ahhh ... grass! It looks beautiful! It's really growing in fast; I think it's all because we used compost (that we made from last year's waste). The guy at Ace said as long as we have that, it's better than fertilizer.

What am I going to do with this area? This is the only part of the yard that's getting worse! Fortunately, we need to re-do the falling apart porch (our poor cats are heartbroken this summer that they can't go out and play, but Mini keeps falling through the open netting and then she cries because she can't get back in.) So this area will just get an overhaul.

I'm calling this "triangle garden" for no other reason except it's a triangle and I am trying to call my various areas names to keep track of them. Anyway -- japanese bayberry bush (I hate this one, it has thorns); zebra grass, and monkey grass. I planted some funky ground cover last year that's really thriving, and I planted mums in an attempt to "late summer" the yard and 1 is coming back in full force.

Under the kitchen window, you can see the bearded irises blooming and falling over - they're staked with awful yellow twine, but they're gonna get divided this July. Any takers? I also have daylillies and pretty purple flowers I can't identify.

This area is pretty to look at, but I fear for my life that I will get swallowed up by the overgroing ferns, phlox, and dead nettle. I massively cleaned out this area this spring and once again I'm scared their going to throttle me for killing half their kind. Mutiny!

Back against the fence ... poor north facing fence. Our neighbors behind get all the sun and we get nothing. Rudbeckia, 2 native plants (geranium and aster), echinecea are growing slowly here. And I planted the zebra grass in May. This area looks sad.

More catch up - May 27 Front yard

May 27 --

Okay, I went picture crazy on this day and I just took snapshots of my whole yard; every area that I could take a picture of, I did. I won't display them all here, but go to my photo album to see everything.

Here's a couple areas I am watching in the front yard.

The roses haven't bloomed yet -- but they are growing fast. I did find a lot of aphids on them this year and I killed them by hand (gross, I know). But last year I saw 2 japanese beatles on them and this year I haven't. I have an organic aphid/rose concoction on file, but I just haven't mixed it yet. It calls for:
1 small onion chopped finely
2 medium garlic cloves, chopped finely
1 tbs liquid dish soap
2 c water
Put all ingredients in a blender, blend on high, and strain through cheesecloth or pantyhose. Pour into spray bottle and mist your plants at first sign of aphid trouble.
* if you're looking for any organic plant concoctions, let me know. I have a whole bunch on file.

Here's the front sun bed that I share with my neighbor. The sedum are in perfect round balls on May 27. And the daisies are just getting tall and haven't opened yet.

This is my "woodland" garden area. Most of the front is for the shady ladies, but this to me looks like a woodland. I have hostas, astilbes, hecheura (coral bells), and bleeding hearts. That hosta on the end gets ENORMOUS. It great because as the bleeding heart next to it loses its flowers, the giant hosta takes over it's space.

Here's my native plant area -- the wild columbines, the wild sunflower, and the blue cohosh. I think at this point, we've already had a casualty -- some critter took off with a wild sunflower.

Here's the area in the front yard I call the semi-circle. If I had to re-do this garden, I would probably eliminate this area. It's too big and it never gets filled. You can see hostas, day lillies, coral bells and ferns. The rudbeckia (black eyed susans) haven't really come up yet but they are here too. I planted 2 native plants here last yr (wild sunflower and prairie aster). And we planted the 2 fringed bleeding hearts here this year.

Remember the hydrangea? I found out that it's an oak leaf hydrangea and it's known for it beautiful peeling bark. Yuck. I don't think it's pretty at all and here - May 27 - it's only beginning to get some leaves. When I was in South Carolina last month, we visited Middleton plantation and gardens and they had one on the premises and our tour guide said that they should be planted underneath other plants to disguise their bark -- it's not the case here so this guy needs get uprooted and replanted.

Catch up

It's been a while since I've posted -- May was crazy: work, vacation... All my flowers and plants have been growing - not blogging doesn't stop their progress; and I've been taking photos, I just haven't been blogging about them.

I was upset, because this blog is supposed to be my garden diary so I know how to garden; but I've gotten over it and now will blog away ... this is catch up time!


MAY 12 --

In April, we took down the swingset and turned the soil underneath with compost and planted part shade, part sun grass seed as per directed by the Ace Hardware guy.

On May 12, the grass finally began to grow after some huge skeptecism from Matt and I that we were loser grass growers. Honestly, the day I took these photos Matt and I were dancing around singing, "We can grow graaaa---sssssss."

On May 12, Matt and I went to Planters Pallette . This place is so great, it's expensive but you're paying for the expertise. Everytime I go, I always get the best help from knowledgable people who actually listen to you. This time, we bought 2 fringed bleeding hearts and we planted them in the semi-circle in the front yard.

Also, we bought some hostas to fill in the dead empty space in the front yard under the pine tree closest to the street (unfortunately we got these at home depot for $5 ea because this area is close to the street and we were experimenting with them). They're kinda small and puny and look funny in this photo; but they're getting better. You can also see from the photo that the vinka (awful vine ground cover that grows like weeds) is in bloom. This is the only time I like vinka.

Then I just took some random photos in the garden May 12, to show what's happening. Now that it's June everything looks so small compared to now. The hostas and daylillies are tiny, but the tulips on the east front side of the house are in bloom and I love the dead nettle (purple flowers), I think it's a great pretty ground cover.

Front yard

In this photo below is the tulips and the dead nettle and some other plants. This gets a lot of morning sun and the area always looks beautiful, too bad it's "technically" not our property. The people next door let the old owners usurp part of their huge lot for the landscaping since they never use this area. our fear is that a horrible McMansion will be built next to us and they'll take this all away.

And of course they will, and they'll be young and hire gardeners to plant a few daylillies from Home Depot (an epidemic I am noticing). Okay so I'm young too, but I don't mind getting down and dirty ;)