"One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it brings."

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Let's talk about chicks!

Every spring for many years my husband and I have discussed getting chickens.  For one reason or another we decided not to, but it's been a "dream" to have them one day.  Yesterday while Sweet Pea was at school I told the Littlest Gardener that I'd take her to the feed store to look at chicks, something I've done with my girls since Sweet Pea was little.  But, this time I decided I wanted to actually get some rather than only look.  So after texting, emailing and calling my husband at work - the poor guy - we decided that this would be the spring to do it.  I had been talking to my sister who lives close by and she decided they would get some too.  So we packed up our youngest (her 3 year old son and the Littlest Gardener) and off we went.  She and I both ended up with four chicks.

 Here they are in their new set up.  I thought about having them in the family room with us, but quickly realized that our nosy Gracie might tip the whole thing over trying to look in.  So I ended up putting the tub in our "office" on a wooden trunk where she can't get to them.

 They settled in quickly and were eating and drinking within a few minutes of being let out.
Everyone got to name one so you will probably guess who was named by a 5 year old and who was named by my Greek husband.
 This is Blossom, an Ameraucana.  They are sometimes called an Easter Egger and lay eggs that are either blue or green.

 This is Sunny, a Brown Leghorn.  They lay large white eggs.

 This is Stamatina a Black Star (Black Sex-link).  They are a hybid of a Rhode Island Red Rooster and a Barred Rock Hen.  They are supposed to be reliable layers and their eggs are brown.

 This is Chirpy a Delaware.  They lay large brown eggs.  So far she is the most outgoing and friendly and will quickly hop right up into our hands.

 When we are holding the chicks Gracie has to stay out, she is so friendly and just wants to sniff them.  I'm sure she'll eventually be as gentle and sweet with them as she is with our rabbit and the neighbor cats.

I've been changing their water frequently since they seem to like kicking their shavings in.

It was so fun surprising Sweet Pea when she came home from school, she was so excited.  I can tell this is going to be a fun family pet project for us.
Before my husband got home I started researching how I would like our coop to be.  I got some really great ideas from Curbstone Valley Blog.  This post in particular had some really useful information.  I remember reading this post a couple of years ago.  A couple of things that stayed with me was using the hardware cloth underneath as well as the sides and top of the run, and making the coop easy to clean with removable parts.  My husband and I began drawing up plans for our coop which includes having the door to the nesting boxes easily accessible from the outside and a run that we can stand up in to make it easier to feed and clean.  We plan to put the coop in the sideyard where we have raised beds which only have blueberries in them.  At least one bed has been unused for years and their is an outgrown playhouse, they will both go to make room for a coop and nice size run for the days when they won't have access to the rest of the yard.
I am very open to any tips, suggestions, recommendations, etc that any experienced chicken owners have.
All words and photos in this post are property of A Gardener in Progress. Pin It

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Early spring in the front yard.

The sun was out and birds were singing early this morning.  I love this time of year when I wake to the birds.  There is a pair of ducks that continue to fly across the school yard over the fence every morning, sometimes they have an extra guy with them.  He seems like kind of a third wheel because they appear to try and lose him as they swerve around the sky.  I've seen pairs of birds near almost every birdhouse in our yard.  Plum and cherry trees are blooming and you can really smell them when the breeze is blowing.
It's still a bit cool outside but I wanted to get some pictures of how some of the front garden is looking right now.  There are so many different colors of green (and red and orange) on the new leaves.  It won't be too long before many of these plants are blooming.

 You can see a picture of this garden on the sidebar to see how it will look later in the summer.  I'm always amazed at how much it changes over the year.

 We put this birdhouse up last summer and angled it so we could see it from inside in hopes that birds would use it.  Well there is already a pair of Chickadees making a nest in it.  They don't seem to mind the activity of kids and the dog around them.

 From the front you can see all the moss that has grown on the edgers this winter.

 The flowering cherry tree is blooming and the bumblebees are loving it.

 Spirea has already leafed out.  There's some empty space to fill in this bed this year, not sure what will go in it yet though, but I do love empty garden space!

 The water garden was cleaned out this weekend.  I trimmed all the plants, dumped the water and will let the rain fill it back up.

 Pink Hyacinths that were planted last fall are blooming.  The slugs have been terrible about eating them.

 I planted this container last year and am so happy with how it's doing.  The Pieris is blooming and the Clematis on the obelisk is quickly climbing up.

The entry bed is full of color, it's difficult to tell in the lighting here though.  Hellebores, Crocuses, Tete-a-tete daffodils and Heucheras really brighten it up.  The moss has gone crazy here this winter.

It looks and feels like we are returning to the cooler and wetter weather that we had most of the month.  I'm hoping that the daytime temperatures will stay above 50, but I see some days of upper 40's predicted.  This time of year I guess you just have to enjoy any dry and sunny day that we have because you never know how long it will be until the next one.
All words and photos in this post are property of A Gardener in Progress. Pin It

Monday, March 26, 2012

It's only just begun...

 What a week it was around here last week.  It was very full of field trips (one for each girl on the same day and I drove on both!), a school choir concert, sports and ballet and my husband's surgery.  I knew there would be no time outside during that week and since the weather wasn't that great I didn't miss much.  My husband did amazingly well with his surgery and while he rested and recuperated over the weekend I played out in the sunny yard.  Saturday I spend working in the front yard and Sunday was spent around the pond.

 I scooped and scooped out the pond, cleaned the filter, trimmed the plants and cleaned off the waterfall.  It looks so much better.  Unfortunately this is string algae's favorite time of year and it has just taken off.  I spend much of the spring scooping it out of the pond.  I just love that our neighbors Forsythia is right where we can enjoy it.  The gold Mock Orange's leaves and daffodils pop with it in the background.

 Marsh marigold has been blooming for weeks, but now that the pot has been cleaned up the flowers can actually be seen.

 I put the pond floats back in.  The one in the middle is new this year, I bought it at the Flower and Garden show.

 This may not look like much now, but I spent a long time getting the purple oxalis up from next to the edgers.  I also cut the dead branches off the Daphne 'Summer Ice' and transplanted an offshoot from it.  It isn't variegated but otherwise looks the same.  Those Violas have been blooming almost all winter.

 Cleaned up the edges here too.  I love how the shed garden looks in spring, lots more to come here too.

 You can see this Ribes sanguineum 'Kind Edward VII' in the previous picture to the right.  This one has grown so quickly.

 Okay, so I lied when I said I got nothing down outside last week.  I added a long shelf in the shed and made a shorter one on top of the two clay pots.  I've been having fun "decorating" and organizing.  One day I'd love to paint it white inside.

 A view out of the shed.

 The path garden is starting to fill in.  I'd like to focus on this area this year.  I'm trying to convince my husband to remove the deck, so far he has agreed to taking off the far half.  I would prefer a stone patio and no deck at all.  But I guess he should have some say in how our garden looks.

 At the end of last summer I pulled up a currant bush that looked horrible and moved the Winter Hazel and Bleeding Heart to new places here.  I was wondering how the Winter Hazel would do this spring and it seems to be blooming better than it ever has.

 Winter Hazel (Corylopsis) 'Buttercup' has the most delicate butter yellow flowers.

 The Littlest Gardener is thrilled to see Grape Hyacinths popping up.  This is one flower I allow her to pick all she wants.  We seem to have them coming up everywhere and they look so cute in spring bouquets.

 One of the few Daffodils that returned.  Other than Tete-a-tetes I give up on Daffodils.  They either send up only foliage or the squirrels take them.

So, the spring flower show has begun along with a little bit of warmer temperatures.  I'm really excited to see the changes that seem to happen overnight this time of year.
All words and photos in this post are property of A Gardener in Progress. Pin It

Monday, March 19, 2012

Is tomorrow really spring?

Okay, so today is supposed to be the last official day of winter.  I saw that it was supposed to be sunny, although cold, so I decided I would hit the nursery for some spring inspiration.  It definitely did not feel like spring was a day away as I walked around in the 41 degree weather.  Lots of cars and trucks had snow on them, they must live a little higher up because today I didn't see snow at our house.  After quickly walking around the outside plants I headed inside.  No matter how much I wanted to plant shop it was just too cold to think about doing that today.
I just had my phone with me today so the pictures aren't the best, but there was too much to see and not take any pictures.

There was lots and lots of spring container ideas to look at in the greenhouse area.

Molbak's always has amazing containers put together.  They usually have all the plants in the containers nearby so that if you want to do it yourself you can, but you can also buy one ready made.

Pansies were everywhere and so bright and cheerful.

Maybe when it warms up a little I'll go back and get some spring color for some of my empty containers.  The forecast is for more days in the low 40's and rain and no matter how much I love to garden, I'd rather do it when my hands won't go numb trying to plant everything.

Love how they used the pallets as backdrops to hang wooden crates.  There were so many great ideas just on this one display.

Here they had hung terra cotta planters to use as storage.

I love how they used chain to hang the pallet as a table and attach it to other pallets.  You can see the hanging terra cotta pots from the previous picture on the other side.  This would be a great way to make a little secret seating area in a garden, the other side could be your potting bench.

We saw this huge rooster yesterday and Sweet Pea insisted I take his picture.  I love how the picture turned out, very vintage looking.  He was hanging out with all of the ducks by the pond, I think the chickens were all hiding from him.

I'm pretending not to be jealous of the warm weather that much of the country is getting, but it is so hard not to be.  I did notice the cherry tree beginning to bloom and the pear tree isn't too far off from blooming either.  I decided to acclimate the pea (sugar snap and Sweet Pea), spinach and Brussels sprouts seedlings.  Normally I start peas outside, but after the last two years of wet springs they didn't do well so I thought I'd give them a head start this year.  Hopefully they'll do okay in the upcoming cold days.
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Friday, March 16, 2012

A (very) brief visit from the sun.

 Right now while other parts of the country are enjoying temps 30 to 40 degrees above normal, us here in the Pacific Northwest are "enjoying" temperatures about 10 to 15 degrees below normal along with endless rainstorms and wind.  It's hard to believe that spring is just a few days away.  They are still forecasting snow and rain mixed for next week.  I decided that since the sun was out for a few minutes I would see how my soggy garden was doing.

 The birds are sporadically working on nests in the birdhouses.  I found sticks all over the deck after the last wind.  I think it was part of a nest because I also found a dead baby bird under a tree - it almost looked like some type of woodpecker.  Made me sad that the poor birds are even struggling with this weather.

 Tete-a-tetes splattered in mud.

 I'm so glad I built up this bed recently.  The dirt next to it is so soggy I'm not sure the plants would survive.

 Bleeding Hearts are slowly but surely coming up.

 Hellebore 'Cotton Candy' raised it's face to the sun.

 One Camellia 'Marie Bracey' is open, the rest of the buds are tightly closed.

 Winter Hazel 'Buttercup' survived the move last fall and is starting to bloom.

 Grape Hyacinths are coming up everywhere.

 Flowering Currants are behind right now.  They are usually in full bloom with hummingbirds fighting over them.

 The variegated Rhododendron still has flowerbuds, hoping it will finally bloom this year.

 A lone daffodil thinking about blooming.

 Pieris and Violas blooming despite the weather.

Blackthorn was anxious to get out of his hutch and play for awhile.  He loves being pet and flops all around his hutch looking for attention.  Poor guy has barely had a chance to get some exercise.

I know I'm not the only one beyond ready for some dry days.  The ground is soggy no matter where you walk and constant gray days can really get you down.  So, for as short of a while that the sun pops out and no matter how windy it is while it's out, it does feel good to go outside and soak up what there is.
All words and photos in this post are property of A Gardener in Progress. Pin It