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

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Keeping busy indoors

Since it's mostly been rainy here, there hasn't been a lot I can do outside.  That is aside from continuing to keep refilling the yard waste container every week with the piles of branches and buckets of cut back plants that I have.  I think I finally cleared the last bit and the huge pile is gone.  That means once Christmas is over I can go back to cleaning up my garden.  Most of the "decorative" seed heads and "winter interest" have already lost their appeal thanks to the huge amounts of rain.  Now they are mostly just slimy and picked over by the birds.

Winter always feels especially long when it's raining and I'm tired of doing housework and other chores to keep busy.  But I had no idea what I could do.  I learned how to do all sorts of needle work from my mom when I was younger.  In fact when I was around 12 or 13 my mom and her friend started a 4H group, and they taught my sister and me and some of our friends all sorts of different skills that I'm so glad to have learned.  We sewed, baked, canned, embroidered and more.  We entered or projects in the state fair, and I even baked in front of judges once.  Most of the skills I sort of ignored as I grew up.  But I'm so glad now that I have at least the basic knowledge to fall back on as an adult.  I can still thread a sewing machine and have helped Sweet Pea on some small projects.  
Over the years I've been interested in many bloggers other talents and hobbies that keep them busy year round.  I've always loved seeing Flower Lady's needle work, and she inspired me to try doing some myself .  Last winter I was in a craft store and found myself wandering the embroidery area.  I bought a very basic pre printed kit.  It was fun to relearn the stitches.

This winter I've started doing a couple more projects.

  One is a pillowcase for the Littlest Gardener.

 Then some chickens on a flour sack towel.  Technically I think the one of the left is a rooster, but I'm calling it a chicken and did colors matching our loudest chicken Tina Fey.  I can't wait to work on more.  I love these vintage style patterns and have ordered some cute garden ones to try too.

And here's something else keeping me entertained indoors.  I have a couple of Amaryllis getting close to blooming! 

I wish I would've started doing embroidery again earlier, it's really fun and relaxing.  I also need to make sure my daughters learn some of these skills.  Sweet Pea learned how to knit from my mom years ago and now wants to try embroidery too. 
If any of you have any suggestions or recommendations on good websites or good places to find interesting fabric to work on I would love to hear them!
All words and photos in this post are property of A Gardener in Progress. Pin It

Monday, November 26, 2012

I'm still here...

 Let's see if I still remember how to do this blogging thing.  I have thought and thought about trying to get a post done.  First it was hard to get in the blogging mood, then life stayed busy (maybe even a little busier than usual).  My Dad has been recovering from surgery for cancer, then has been back in the hospital two times since (he's in right now).  My youngest sister and her husband had a baby boy.  Plus, all the usual things that come up.  Then the record setting rains came, then finally today I had both time and some sun!
I found that I had only taken one picture of the garden in October and it was of the pond.
At the beginning of November I started taking some before pictures of part of the backyard where we were finally getting a tree taken down.

 You can see how close the tree is to the deck, and our yard is not very deep so it is also very close to our house.  We had to pull up all the stepping stones in the area as well as dig up some plants.

 The guys who took the tree down couldn't believe such a large tree was planted so closely to our house, but I'm sure years ago when it was planted no one guessed it would get to 90 feet tall and continually drop needles, pine cones and sap all over our roof, gutters and deck.  Nothing other than a Currant bush, which was very scraggly, grew under it.

 These guys were amazing.  They lowered each branch down into exactly where they said they would.  Then they cut sections off and dropped them in the same area.  I wish I would've taken some pictures of just how big the sections were.  Very heavy!  We got rid of all of it over the weekend but it wasn't easy.  My cousin and her husband came, as well as fellow blogger April.  It was fun to meet her in person even if it was over watching our husbands move some heavy log rounds in the rain.  She brought me some peppers from her garden too!

 For now we are leaving the stump and I actually think I like it.  Here you can get an idea of how wide it was.  That is a wine barrel plus another planter and still room left.

 One big difference is light!!  I will be able to grow so much more now in the garden as well as containers on the deck.  Our neighbor said she noticed more sun coming into her house too and she was happy for that.

 Our little rabbit in his hutch is back in the garden.  Next to the stump I planted a Hinoki cypress 'Fernspray Gold'.  The parents of the girls on the soccer team I coached gave me a gift card to my favorite nursery, and I used that for the pretty cypress.  How nice was that?!  It will slowly grow to about 6 feet tall which will be perfect for the area.  I moved over a Limelight Hydrangea and planted some bulbs.  I'll wait until spring to plant more.

 It just feels so much more open and light now.  I've still got lots to do to get it back together, but for now it will be fine.

 I moved the wine barrel planter that had  been under the Japanese Maple which left this nice open area.  My girls decided to move all the fairy garden things here.

 The pond is very full from all the rain we've had.

 Behind the pond it still looks pretty good.  I'm glad I started planting things here that would look good into the winter.

 A couple of weeks ago my husband and I made a couple of batches of fig jam.  It turned out so good!  We still have more figs from our tree in the freezer and will hopefully get another batch done before Christmas.

Our chickens are still laying, we've added supplemental lighting which makes a difference.  One chicken is STILL not laying, but that's okay.  We've been sharing eggs with everyone because we can't use them all.  My husband has become an expert quiche baker.  It's difficult to tell that the bottom egg is actually light green.

Hope all is well with everyone.  I feel so out of the loop in the blogging world. 
All words and photos in this post are property of A Gardener in Progress. Pin It

Thursday, September 13, 2012

And now it's September...

When I first started blogging I thought I would post everyday, after awhile I realized that was being over ambitious.  Then I figured a few times a week would work.  Slowly but surely it's gotten longer and longer between posts.  Now I've realized it's been around 2 months since I last posted. I was going to try to post sometime in August, but to say August ended up busy is an understatement.  Between soccer and art camp, soccer practices starting up, our dog having to get her last 4 teeth pulled, working on a house project, redoing our oldest daughter's bedroom, a ruptured disc in my neck, a visit from my in-laws, getting ready for school and taking soccer coaching clinics it seems that gardening and blogging have been almost non existent.
The Littlest Gardener started kindergarten and turned 6!  Sweet Pea is in 9th grade and is taking a very early class (French) up at the high school (9th grade is junior high here).  Our day is starting much earlier and ending late by the time sports and homework are done.  Looking forward to getting out in the garden more often soon though!
August was very dry and warm, and while I'm not complaining at all, it took a lot of watering to keep the garden going.  And as always happens about this time of year I'm tired of dragging the hoses around and have a pretty withered looking yard, especially the back.

Early August

Butterfly garden early August.
Since I've last posted some of our chickens have started laying eggs.  It has been so much fun going out and finding the eggs.  We've been using them and they sure are better than the store bought kind.

We've had a really good crop of figs and pears this year.  Lots of figs are in the freezer waiting until we can make fig jam and can it.  There weren't as many blueberries or apples as last year, but enough blueberries at least to have some in the freezer for some fresh muffins or pie over the winter.  Sweet Pea and I have been blanching and freezing lots of spinach, and there's lots more growing that we need to pick still.  When my in-laws were here my father in law made spanakopita with our spinach.  It was even better than it usually is.

This is the front porch that we redid right before I hurt my neck.  I'm not blaming it on this job since it was my idea ☺, not to mention that my husband did 99% of the work.  The builder of this house, back in the 60's only finished one side of the porch.  This side was just pea gravel and was difficult to use.  It was always very dusty and impossible to clean.  We my husband measured and figured out the pattern of the pavers.  I love how it turned out and that we can really use it now.

 Now that I'm able to do a little bit more I decided I would redo some pots on our back deck to freshen things up.  There's so much I want to do, but it's going to have to wait another month or so.  Last thing I want to do is re injure my neck. 

 I try to let the chickens out everyday, depending on the day they are out from an hour to most of the day.  Our dog has been really good with them.  The white chicken (in the upper part of the picture) chases poor Gracie around.  That chicken is always trying to figure out how to work her way up the pecking order, unfortunately Gracie isn't going to be able to help her with that.

 I think there have been more waterlilies blooming than ever this summer.  The raccoons were here in late July and really tore it apart.  I plants ripped to shreds and dumped all over, although I'd rather they do that than bother the chickens.

 The shed garden is doing pretty well still.  This part of the yard is very hot and hard to keep watered well.

Plants in this back corner behind the pond have really started to fill in.  I was generous with the compost this past spring and it definitely paid off.  I'm not sure if you can see how tall the Bugbane has gotten in this picture.  It's got to be close to 8 feet tall!!  The bees love it.

September has been absolutely gorgeous here.  I wish our schools would use July, August and September for summer vacation since those seem to be our nicest months
I hope that now I will be able to start visiting everyone's blogs again.  I really miss seeing what is going on in your gardens. 
All words and photos in this post are property of A Gardener in Progress. Pin It

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Some of the July garden

 It's hard to believe we're already this far into July!  It has been a fun and busy summer, seems like there's barely been a day without something going on.   The temperatures finally warmed up in July and the watering has begun, nothing like what many of you other gardeners are going through though.  We've had quite a bit of thunder and lightening, not very usual for our summers.  It's kind of fun listening to the thunder rumbling while the doors are open.  It's also finally been warm enough to sit outside in the evenings.  Recently we heard an owl up in a tree right by us.  I knew there were owls around, but we've never heard one here.  We also found a small fire pit for the front yard and had fun roasting marshmallows and making s'mores.

Here are some pictures of what's been happening in our garden:
 Asiatic Lilies have already bloomed, at least the ones the squirrels didn't steal the bulbs of.  This one was my favorite.  Purple Canterbury Bells are blooming behind.

 I planted several Astranias last summer, some were on a clearance table for just a couple of dollars.  They are the coolest flowers!  I found a light pink one this year to add to the garden.

 Campanula 'Samantha' is covered in flowers for months.

 The path garden is mostly filled with green this time of year, except for the Hydrangea 'Pia' in the container on the deck.

 This is the back corner behind the pond.  The Clematis 'Ville de Lyon' is finally blooming.  To the left of it is a very tall Bugbane (Cimicifulga or Acataea).  It's probably close to 8 feet tall, I had no idea it would get that big.

 Echinacea 'Sunset' or 'Sundown', I can never keep it straight.  It has reseeded and I'm so happy to get more of these flowers!

 The front Butterfly garden which is more full of territorial hummingbirds than butterflies right now.  They are busy fighting over the tall Monarda 'Jacob Cline'.

 Daylily 'Strawberry Candy'

 Gernaium 'Rozanne' is now my go to plant for any area that needs space filled in quickly and something that blooms for months.  I planted this as a gallon plant about a month or so ago, it's huge now!  To me it is worth every penny.  I have some climbing up in and around roses and they looks so pretty, especially the lighter pink roses.

 So many Sweet Peas!!  I planted them months ago and after thinking the first set of seeds rotted, I planted more.  I think both sets germinated and it's so pretty and smells delicious!

 A new Echinacea 'Hula Dancer', I love the skirt.

 Gracie is plotting her next escape here.  Originally we had climbing roses in the blue pots on either side of the gate, they hated being there and were moved elsewhere.  I now have a Clematis in each and they are doing great.  I think they grow a few inches every night.

 Gladiolas are starting to bloom.  The Clematis texensis on the fence has only been there one year.  It has been growing and blooming for months, I love the bell shaped flowers.

 The Hydrangea 'Preziosa' that I moved last year when we did our front garden is looking the best it ever has.  It's difficult to see the flower color here, it's a light lavender that continues to age to a pinkish color.  I think it was in too much sun before and seems to love being under the Dogwood tree.

 Daylily in the backyard.

Sweet Pea with Sunny.  Sunny is a Brown Leghorn and seems to be the only chicken that doesn't mind being picked up.  She is also the one that sneaks into the blueberry bushes every time they are let out.  We are hoping we'll seem some eggs in the next couple of weeks.  They are almost 18 weeks and that is the early side of when they can start laying eggs.  As a new chicken owner I can still say they are so much fun, not much work and really one of the best pets I've ever had, and believe me we've had them all - dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, fish, hermit crabs, hamsters and gerbils.

Hope you are enjoying your summer!
All words and photos in this post are property of A Gardener in Progress. Pin It

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bursting with Flowers (and Chickens!)

 You know it's been a long time since you last posted when you start getting emails asking if everything is okay.  I appreciate those of you that were concerned with my whereabouts, it's nice to know that there are people out there that care!  Luckily everything has been fine.  Just busy with kids finishing up school, but luckily the summer break has now started and I hope to have time to blog and blog visit!
Our weather has been mostly wet and cool.  We have had the odd sunny day here and there, but they seem to be spread pretty far apart.  Over the weekend we had what the weather people are calling a "squall, much like you would see on the east coast".  It poured and poured and the wind blew and the power went out.  Then after a few hours the sun was trying to break through.  The day after that big rain storm the sun came out and I thought I would take some pictures.  Luckily just a couple of days earlier I had been out staking up many plants.  They are so top heavy and the rain keeps flattening them down.
These are just some of the "highlights".  Right now roses and Clematises are two of the types of flowers at their peak.

 This Lavatera was just planted last summer.  This was the only plant request my husband had for the front yard.  I think he made a great choice!

 The unknown pink rose which I'm pretty sure is 'Heritage'.

 'Lady Emma Hamilton'

 'Gertrude Jekyll'

 'Honey Perfume'


 'Julia Child' (with all the rain blackspot has been a problem on some of the roses)

 'Harlow Carr'

 'Benjamin Britten' (yes the color is that coral, and it smells so good, a new one this year)

 Clematis texensis

 Geranium 'Patricia'

 Geranium 'Johnson's Blue'


 Calamagrostis acutiflora 'Karl Foerster'.  I planted these last year and am amazed how huge they got their first year, I can see why everyone raves about this grass.

Today we had some sun and thought it would be a perfect day for the chickens to have some time out of their coop.

 Tina Fey and Chirpy enjoying some wheatgrass.

 Is it just me, or are chicken butts really cute?

 The two younger chickens would not come out of the coop so the rest ventured around without them.

Sweet Pea decided that her rabbit Blackthorn needed a bigger hutch.  We put it together and then dug down about 4 or 5 inches and lined it with hardware cloth so he can't dig out.  He's been enjoying digging around and having more space.  It was so much fun spending time doing this project with her.  It was all her idea, including making the little walkway to his hutch.

We are looking forward to spending time outside as much as possible this summer.  The girls have many plans for what we should do, so I will try my best to post and to get around and visit your blogs.  Hope your summer is going great so far!!
All words and photos in this post are property of A Gardener in Progress. Pin It