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

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Hillside Farm - an adventure in rust and treasures!

 Often on the weekend my family and I get in the car and set out with no plan in mind.  Usually either my husband or I have an idea of an area that we want to see and then we just get in the car and go.  It's amazing how many really great places we end up finding that even if we tried to find we wouldn't.  Today's adventure started with my husband's craving for Dim Sum.  This lead us to try Top Gun in Bellevue.  It was a lot of fun and very good.  Then he thought heading out east sounded like a good place to drive.  We saw lots of pretty areas, and after deciding to take random turns we ended up on Renton Issaquah Road.  As we were admiring the scenery and pointing out horses all of a sudden on the left side of the road we all spotted a place that was unlike any I'd ever seen.  Even the girls said we had to turn around and see what it was.
We drove up a driveway lined in old windows, shutters, wood cutouts of reindeer and other cool stuff and parked.  A really friendly man came right out to greet us and told us to explore.  I could have asked him questions all day, but I didn't want to keep him from his other customers.  I'll tell you what I learned.  His name is John and this was his family's former petting zoo called Hillside Farm.  When his kids grew up and moved out he got tired of taking care of all the animals.  He retired from his job and opened up this place.  He said he goes picking in old barns and that's where he finds all these treasures.  He also teaches black smithing (how cool would that be to learn?!), jewel faceting and other art trades.  John showed us some of his art that he has displayed around.
I only had my phone camera but I just had to take some pictures to share.
 He and some artist friends are planning to install a large whirligig they are making in the next couple of months in the front.  He said it will be larger than this windmill.

 Everywhere you turned there was more and different things to look at.

 Rails and rails of horseshoes.  My girl each chose one.

 So many great rusty garden tools!!

 Where he does his black smithing.

 Out on the front porch.

 Inside there were so many interesting pictures, books and other things.  It was like being in a museum with the huge variety of items in there.

 All sorts of marbles.


Notice all the hummingbird feeders everywhere.  I saw John had his tomato plants outside already, it seems early but they were huge and very healthy.

I searched and searched online for more information on Hillside Farm, but I found nothing at all.  I'm so glad I took one of his business cards so that I can share the address of this amazing place.
Hillside Farm - 11309 Renton Issaquah Road SE, Issaquah, Washington.  Phone number 425-761-6936.
We left with an old goldpan(lots of goldpanning tools there), some horseshoes and a galvanized washtub.  I can't wait to go back and see what we find next time.
All words and photos in this post are property of A Gardener in Progress. Pin It

Friday, April 27, 2012

Late April flowers.

 We've been pretty lucky as far as the weather goes the last few weeks.   Sunny weekends followed by some rain during the week.  It looks like this weekend will follow the same pattern.  This means that the plants are really taking off growing (as are the weeds).  After living in this house exactly 13 years this month I've really started to notice patterns in some of the trees and plants in the garden (although there are few that have been here since we moved in).  This seems to be looking like a great year for roses, Clematis, Lilacs and Pear trees so far. 

 The pear trees are in about their third year here and are absolutely loaded with flowers.  Since we've had quite a bit of sun and some warmer weather I have high hopes they were pollinated.  Last spring when they bloomed it was cold and the bees weren't out much.  We ended up with 2 pears.

Pear flowers that will hopefully be pears come this fall.

 A kind of neglected part of the front yard is slowly starting to fill in with plants.  Not sure why I ignore this section of the yard, maybe because it's been hard to find plants that like the mostly shade and clay soil here.  These plants are all beginning to show some good growth.  The large shrub by the fence is a Snowball Bush.

 It doesn't seem to be a good year for blooms on the Dogwood tree.  It had an amazing show of flowers last year so maybe it's on a break.

 I love the bright pink of the Dogwood flowers.

 Another shady bed in the front yard is starting to look good after I pretty much removed every plant 2 springs ago to start over.  I've never had my Astillbes look this big and healthy before.  This soil is also fairly heavy clay with poor drainage, but I've worked on amending it over the years.

 The Tiarella also loves the shady bed, I'd had these plants in the backyard path garden for years and they barely ever bloomed, in this spot they have tons of flowers.

 This is another area I sort of started over with last fall.  This is full hot sun and I've been working on plants that can take the heat and don't really need too much extra watering.

 Awhile ago I found this galvanized chicken feeder at an antique mall.  I can't believe how much the plants area already growing.

 Solomon's Seal in the backyard path garden is having a great year.

I planted this Indian rhubarb (Darmera peltata) in the pond last year.  It had already bloomed when I bought it so I didn't realize what pretty flowers it had.

A quick update on the chicks.  They are really wanting to try to flap their wings and fly some.  I try to take them out of the brooder everyday or so to let them have some room to move and explore.  They are all getting along really well after needing to separate the two babies for about a week after we first got them.  Two of the older chicks were really chasing them around.  I put chicken wire down the middle of the brooder and everyday would let them mingle while I supervised.  Now they all sleep together.

I hope everyone has gotten a chance to get out in their gardens some.  I read that some people were seeing snowflakes this morning! 

All words and photos in this post are property of A Gardener in Progress. Pin It

Monday, April 23, 2012

The coop is done!

Our original plan was to build our own chicken coop from scratch.  We had gotten plans and started making lists of supplies, it was adding up to be a lot of time and money.  My sister, who also had bought chicks the same day we did, found an ad on Craig's List for coops.  After both of us talking to the man that builds them we decided it was worth it to just buy one that he built, and bring it home to put together.
My husband and I rented a truck to drive the hour plus drive down south to the town where we would pick the coops up.  The small town of Orting is on a river and pretty rural.  If I wasn't so worried about the directions I would've taken pictures.  We passed lots of farms and ranches, saw just about every type of farm animal and made it where we needed to go.  The man (Donald) that builds them and his brother helped my husband load both our coop and my sister's in sections onto the truck and off we left to go home.  Then we got lost, in a rental truck (with the fuel light warning on), with no phone service.  It all kind of looked the same and we weren't sure if we had passed a part of the river or piece of land or not until we finally came to a crossroads and realized we had gone the wrong way.  Luckily I wasn't fired from my co-piloting job and we eventually made it back home.

 A few weeks ago Sweet Pea helped me get this part of the side yard ready for the coop.  I was so glad we already had that part done.  The coop itself was easy to assemble, it was the leveling of the ground and putting the coop up on the 4x4 frame that was hard.

 I was too busy helping to get any pictures during the assembly part.  I was up on the roof and assembled almost all of that balancing on top.  Here there are smiles because the worst part is done!

 My husband making a few adjustments to the door.  If you notice the lock on the top is locked, we took turns locking each other in as a "surprise".  It also has a lock on the inside which I said may be where I go to hide from everyone and they can't come in to bother me. ☺

 I think it looks really pretty unpainted, but we wanted to add some color to make it fun.

 We decided on Barn red.  We first primed the wood, then it took two coats of paint.  Luckily the temperatures were in the 70's all weekend.

 Here it is all finished!  Our neighbor was happy to hear we were going to have chickens because she said she grew up on a farm.  We promised her eggs.

 And from the other side.

 The Littlest Gardener thought the chickens needed a little decoration above their door.

 On the side there is a window that opens for ventilation.

 The whole side can come down too for easy cleaning.

 The nesting box door.  The coop was designed really well and we're really happy with it.  If anyone is interested in getting the information for Donald, who built this, just email me.  He builds other sizes of coops as well as a really cool rabbit hutch that we eventually plan to get.  Once I get the run set up I will put the chicks out there on warm days so they have more space.  They are quickly growing!

 And since this is a garden blog I thought I would share a couple of new blooms today.  First are the apple blossoms.  We have a 4 way (used to be 5) grafted apple tree, all but one graft have blooms.

 And the first of the columbines!!

And I had to share this beautiful picture that Sweet Pea took while we were up in Skagit Valley for the Tulip festival.  If we would've spent the week building the coop we never would've gotten to see the tulips!

There are so many flowers starting to bloom that I promise the next post will be just garden pictures!
All words and photos in this post are property of A Gardener in Progress. Pin It

Monday, April 16, 2012

Spring flowers.

We have enjoying some nice mild weather here.  The sun has been out and even when the clouds cover it, it still definitely feels like spring is in the air.  How nice to have some windows open and feel some fresh air inside!  The girls are out on spring break this week and we're off to a nice start to it.

 Tulips around the yard are beginning to bloom.

 The fish are swimming around quite a bit.  I got the pond cleaned out after this picture, it usually requires a few minor cleanings in the spring.

 An unusual Frittilaria.

 Deutzia 'Chardonnay Pearls'

 White Bleeding Hearts

 Old-fashioned Bleeding Hearts, I have lots of these, I just love them!

 A Frittilaria, the one and only.

 And here's an update on the chicks.  At the top left is Tina, she's the largest, below the yellow one is Chirpy, the little one on the roost in Blossom (she must be the slowest growing chick ever, but otherwise she's fine), the other brown chick is Sunny.  The bigger chicks are getting their feathers, testing out their wings and their personalities are really showing.
If you remember we had originally gotten four.  Well, a friend recommended we go check out a feed store that she had gotten her chicks at.  She thought I would really like the stuff they sold there.   A woman there showed us some chicks and my husband asked my girls and I if we wanted a couple more.
 We said yes!  This is Elke and Inge - Barnevelders.  They are a couple of weeks younger and a couple of the older chicks have been chasing them, so we have divided the brooder with chicken wire so they can eat and rest without being bothered.  A couple of times a day I put them all together when I can watch and make sure they are doing okay.  Once these two are a bit bigger we'll let them all stay together.

 Gracie is totally fascinated with the chicks.  She likes to sit on my lap and watch over the side of the brooder while the chicks hop around.  Today I took each of the four big chicks out to meet her.  Gracie followed Tina all over and neither seemed bothered by the other.

 Tina likes to sit on top of the feeders and when the cover is off she pops her head up to check things out.

I've had some time to garden as well as watch the chicks.  I was able to get the potatoes planted, fertilize the roses, lots of weeding and planted some things by the picket fence.
Hoping everyone is seeing some sun, or at least an end to the cold weather soon!
All words and photos in this post are property of A Gardener in Progress. Pin It