Monthly Archives: October 2013

Time to look ahead in the garden…..

I just picked the last of my beautiful blue mophead hydrangeas (if you don’t have any of the Forever and Ever hydrangeas, you neeeeeeed some!)  If you keep them deadheaded, they will rebloom all summer and up through the fall.  I picked the last of the sweet smelling ginger and some white mums, added them to the hydrangeas and had a lovely arrangement for church yesterday.

Which got me to thinking.  I have two Sundays in November to do flowers and nothing blooming until the hellebores put out blooms in Jan. and Feb.  Guess I’ll be shopping at the florist for a couple of weeks.

While thinking about the fall care of my hellebores, my friend Mary Wenger from Hall County sent me her regular quarterly email about caring for the hellebores.  Thought I’d share her comments for those of you who already have hellebores.  If you don’t have any, you are missing a winter treat.  Beautiful blooms in Jan. through March and early April when almost nothing else if blooming.  And even better they are evergreen so they fill in the space until your spring/summer plants start popping up.   And I just happen to have several thousand small plants that will either be composted, get crowded out and die, or be dug up by someone who will give them a new home.  Let me know if you want some.  I might even dig them up for you!

And while we’re on the subject of fall care for flowers, now would be a good time to give your hostas a little love with a small amount of lime.  Just before a shower is a good time for this too.

Now is also a great time to notice the beautiful fall foliage on the trees around town.  If you want to add color to your yard, find out what kinds of trees are providing the color palette for fall and add some of them to your yard.  Good ones are dogwoods (red to purplish foliage), sugar maples (yellow to pinkish leaves) hickory (golden yellow), sourwood (bright red), Witch Hazel (which is actually in full bloom in my yard right now with lovely frilly little yellow flowers), Red Maple, Oakleaf hydrangea (pinkish to reddish leaves), and Bottlebrush buckeye (yellow).

Even a first year tree will give some color, although it may take a few years for your trees to put on a real show.  But, if not now, then when?  Next fall when you’re driving around town, noticing all the beautiful fall colors, you’ll be kicking yourself for not getting any of these great trees in your own landscape

And, as always, I push these because  many of these are native trees.  The native plant society often has some of these trees for sale, with proceeds financing our trail restoration at the ag center.



Where does the time go?

I made a quick trip this morning for a doctor’s appointment, and it ended up taking half my day-had to do a return, needed new black shoes for churc…….

By the time I got home from a 9:00 appt. it was almost lunch time.  I fixed a quick salad, then took pitchfork in hand to go down to Frank’s house to help him unload the goat poo from his truck, since he helped me yesterday.  Typical Frank-wouldn’t let me help.  Said he had to move some potted plants around to make a space for dumping.  I guarantee he won’t call when he’s ready to unload.

I planted about 100 seeds collected from some of my native plants, then repotted some of the hydrangeas I rooted for our plant sale.  The rain this summer really gave them a growth spurt and they were growing roots out of their pots.  I put a small dent in getting the hundreds of pots in my back yard into some sort of organized madness, so I can find them when I want a particular plant.  It will take days!

I made Dianne a planter of native tiarellas in her strawberry pot.  In the spring it will be beautiful covered with the dainty green plants and their white frilly flowers.

Then it was in to answer some emails, while Scott goes out to grab us some dinner.

I’ll spend an hour or so tonight painting the rest of the ceiling in Brandi’s room.  By tomorrow, I should be ready to start on the walls.  Never buy a new comforter and shams!  It is like giving a mouse a cookie.  One thing leads to another, so now I have half the curtains made, have bought fabric to recover a chair, and then I’ll add some room darkening shades.  I am making some that will close from the bottom up.  I like that!  I can leave them down some at the top for the light, but no one can see directly into the room.  Who would have ever thunk it?

Then I think I’ll just lay in bed tonight and read a mindless book.  That should put me to sleep!


And that’s where the time goes.


What can I say?

The tree trimmers were out in full force last week.  On a whim, I walked down the street where they were shredding the tree limbs and asked where they were going to dump them.  The guy said he’d dump them anywhere I wanted them, if I wanted them.  I told him sure, and met them in the front yard.  We have an unofficial drive through the front woods to be able to get to the front of the house with the truck if necessary.

They got there and dumped a huge pile of chipped tree parts in the drivethrough.  So the next day they returned with another load looking like lost puppies.  They were so ‘pitiful’ looking for a place to dump the shreds.  So I said sure dump them beside the others.  Now I have two huge dump truck piles of shreds. 

My friend Frank just happens to know someone who has a goat farm, so I figured- hmmm, fresh green chippings, goat manure, brown leaves falling all around us.  Exactly the recipe for making great compost.  The bigger the pile, the hotter it gets, and the faster everything breaks down. 

So today Frank and I spent the day mucking out the goat pens collecting some really stinky, but wonderful goat poop.  We hauled two truckloads home, them started layering the shreds with the goat poo.  By tomorrow the pile will have a layer of fallen leaves.  We’ll let it cook for about a week, then turn it.

But we figured out that we didn’t have enough goat poo, so we have to make another trip to the goat farm.  Not my favorite gardening chore, but oh the rewards are so worth it!  By next summer, Frank and I will have a huge pile of soil amendments that will make other gardeners drool.

And yes, my neighbors think I’m a crazy little old lady, but what’s the point of getting old if you can’t be eccentric?  And no, the goat poo doesn’t smell because it’s covered with the tree shreds.  However, in the mornings my yard looks like a smoldering inferno because this stuff gets HOT!   Just Mother Nature’s way of making sure all the weed seeds are killed and all the insect pests are incinerated.  Bless her heart, don’t you just love her?

Where there’s smoke….

…there is not fire.  Just a very confused husband.   Yesterday when I got home, the tree trimmers were busily trimming trees away from the power lines.  I immediately got Maggie on her leash and we went of search of the chipper/shredder, whose noise told us it was nearby.

I asked one of the guys where they were going to dump the chips.  He said they’d dump them in my yard if I wanted them.  So by the end of the day I was the proud owner of an entire dump truck load of shredded tree parts-right in the middle of our front yard!  But that’s where I told them to put the shreds.  We have a drive through the woods in the front yard, so I thought it would be the ideal place for them.  We could spread them out and keep the weeds from growing in the path.

This morning Scott walked the dog.  Now, when shreds or bark start to ‘cook down’, or decompose, they put off a lot of heat.  So of course in the cool morning’s damp air, heat plus moisture equals fog.  He came tearing back in the house saying, “That pile of stuff in the front yard is smoking!  Is it going to catch on fire????”

A little lesson in decomposition was in order, so now all is right with Scott, me, and our front yard pile.

And next summer—great compost and mulch for my garden.  Of course, I’ll have to make a trip to the goat farm for composted manure to add to the pile to give it some nutrients, and some shredded dried leaves to even out the  brown/green ratio.   But you just can’t beat getting that green gold for free.

Oh, and this morning we were unloading the new freezer from the back of the truck when we looked up and the trump truck was backing up into the yard and off comes a second load.  I’m gonna be compost rich by summer!

Hope the neighbors don’t get excited about the ‘smoke’.  After all, where there’s smoke, there’s fire!, isn’t there?

Where do my days go?

Once again it is nearing the middle of the week, and I’ve already lost track of two days.  Where do my days disappear to?  It seems I barely get started til it’s time to quit for bedtime.

Yesterday, we made a trip to Scott’s doctor in Atlanta, with a great report on his blood work following his cancer surgery.  Got home in time to eat a quick lunch, put something in the oven for supper, then out to the yard to do some planting.  I’ve been on three rescues over the last week, so I have lots to plant.  I put in a large grouping of ebony spleenwort ferns and three “Snowflake”oakleaf hydrangeas .   Then in to cook dinner and make a pot of soup for the keenagers lunch at church on Tuesday.  Did a little sewing and some computer work, then it was bedtime.

This morning, I went on another rescue and got lots of good plants for an area Dianne wants to plant.  Ran home long enough to plant 4 trees I had rescued, along with some native iris and False Solomon’s Seal.  A quick trip to Bowdon to pick up the car after some repair work, and now we both have wheels again.  Then some research on some of the plants I rescued before the native plant society meeting.

Tomorrow, it’s off to Bowdon to begin planting some beds for Dianne.  I think that’s all I plan to do tomorrow.

Thursday-trip to an appointment in Marietta, then home to do some more planting.

Friday is my day off!  I have absolutely no plans, so nobody is to call me and schedule any of my time.  And this time I really mean it!!!!!!!


I love my life of leisurely retirement.

Out of the mouths of babes….

My great niece, Ila, is such a hoot.  She certainly marches to her own drummer.  When they visit in the summer, we all just sit around and wait for her next hilarious comment.

Ila loves Granny’s sweet pickles.  LeeAnn, being the great mom that she is, limits the sugar intake of her kids.  Now eating Granny’s pickles is like eating a bar of candy they are so sweet.  (And, boy are they good!)

So LeeAnn goes in the kitchen and notices that the pickle jar is empty and pickle juice if everywhere.  She tracks down the pickle thief, who is sitting in her bed with a plate full of pickles, chowing down.

After a few comments from her mom, Ila makes a profound comment.  “We need to call Granny.”

“Why do we need to call Granny?” asks her mom.

“We need to tell her we are running ridiculously low on pickles!”

Can life be any simpler than that.  A simple call to Granny could make her world right again.

Gotta love that kid!


Loving it…

I’m loving these cool mornings and cool late afternoons.  I can get out early in the morning and gets lots done in the yard, then take a break in the hotter hours.  Then back out for a few hours as the sun goes behind the trees.  As I get older, I get more and more pleasure from my gardens, but I also get more and more pains in my joints.  I do believe, though, that staying active in the yard keeps me from slowing down when I’m inside.

This morning I finished moving the sidewalk.  Now it’s where I should have put it to begin with.  Since I opened up a little space, I plowed it up and put in the beginnings of an herb garden, starting with some wonderful lavender and sage.  Next there will be parslI ey, basil and thyme.  I just got to thinking about how expensive dried spices are, when I could very easily grow my own.  I did that at one time, but the bed finally got shaded out.  Now, I’ll start harvesting my own fresh herbs for coooking and drying.

I rescued some of our native orchids, Lady’s tresses, on a dig last week.  Today I put in a small bog garden, using a sweater box filled with a sand/peatmoss mixture.  Filled the box with water, added some soil on top, then popped in the orchids.  They are blooming right now, so I hope the second upheaval in a week’s time won’t hurt them.

I made a handy dandy watering tube to go down the center of my strawberry bags.  I’m growing my strawberries in hanging bags so I don’t have to deal with weeds and runners that have to be clipped.  They did okay this summer, but the ones at the bottom of the bag didn’t get enough water.  It ran out of the upper holes before it could make it to the bottom.  I used a piece of PVC pipe, drilled holes up the sides at the level of the holes, inserted a cotton string, then caulked around the string so water wouldn’t leak from the holes.  As I replanted the strawberries, I made sure a cotton string was pulled across from the pipe to each plant.  The theory is that I’ll fill the pipe from the top and it will wick out the string to the plants.  We’ll see how this little experiment works out.  If it works like it should, I’ll be doing all my container pots like this to help with getting water down into the root zone.

Lowe’s had a great deal on bedding pansies and snapdragons, so looks like my front bed will be filled with them this year.  Can’t refuse a six pack of pansies for 47 cents, and a nine pack of snaps for 97 cents.  Cheap way to make a pretty fall bed.

And at the end of a long, hardworking day, I ask myself why I do this.  When I’m too decrepit to work in the flower beds, they’ll all go to seed.  But I also answer myself.  I do it for me, for the satisfaction I get, for the peace and serenity I find in the garden, and for my neighbors who tell me when they pass by how much they enjoy all my blooms.  And if the beds all go to seed, well, the native look is what I’m going for, so let Mother Nature make it native!

Here I go again….

I never seem to be satisfied.  I poured a stepping stone sidewalk last year, but it just never ‘felt right’.  It didn’t go in the exact path I most often walk when I turn at the corner of the garden fence.  So, today, I started digging up the stepping stones and giving them a little bit of a turn so it suits my needs better.  So now this opens up a sunny spot to put in an herb bed, which I’ve already started with several pots of different kinds of mint (all in stands so they can’t escape into the ground).  I’m adding some lavender tomorrow, some chives and sage.  Since it’s near the pollinator garden, I’ll be adding some parsley and fennel for the butterflies.

Scott was busy digging holes all morning for a native azalea, some clethra for the hummers, a native hibiscus, and a dwarf witch hazel.   I replanted my pots at the front garden gate.  Found some ready-made containers for half price at Lowe’s, so that’s what I put in.  Mustard, rosemary, alyssum, and snapdragons.

I already have four kinds of milkweed, but put in a fifth kind today.  Pretty yellow for the butterflies.  Also added some tall growing downy lobelia for the hummers and butterflies.  Last week i found a deal on a hard-to-find red native clematis which has small red bell shaped blooms with yellow tips that flare outward.  I planted it at the back of the garden fence.  Next year I’ll let it ramble across the fence near the milkweeds and the salvias that the butterflies and hummers like so much.

Tomorrow I’m putting in a very small ‘bog garden’, using a sweater box.  I bought some fragrant lady’s tresses at a native plant sale last week, and they like a moist place.  Since my yard is dry, dry, dry, I think the bog will be perfect for these little beauties.

I put in a nice big display of native Christmas ferns last week, along with some cinnamon ferns that I got on a rescue.

In about 2 years I should have all the current plants that are waiting patiently in my backyard nursery in the ground, if I can just refrain from buying and rescuing more.  Not much chance of that, since I’m going on two rescues over the next week.

I sure do wish I was one of those gardeners who makes a design of their yard and sticks with it.  But I bet that don’t have nearly as much fun as I do!


Whatever it takes…

Mama lives in a very old country farmhouse, with wood walls and ceilings.  About 5 years ago Scott and I painted the outside of her house, and she mentioned that she hadn’t painted inside in over 20 years.  She kinda hinted that she wanted her bedroom painted.  Well, 5 years later, I finally got to it.  First we pulled all the furniture to the center of the room.  Then I washed down all the walls and ceilings.  I caulked the cracks between the wall and ceiling boards, trying to keep the heat from escaping.   I put a first coat of white on the ceiling (the ceiling was kinda brownish due to smoke from the heater and general dust).  It really brightened up the room.  I called her in to get approval and she said “It looks fine.”  So I put on a second coat.   After that I painted part of one wall, then called her in to check out the color.  She said “It looks fine.”  I told her she was supposed to come in and say, “Oh, I love it! It’s beautiful!”  Haha, not my mama.  She’s never been overly demonstrative and is kinda timid about cutting up.  So I painted walls for three days, with all the caulking and sanding and scraping I had to do.  Then I decided she needed some shoe molding, as daddy never got around to doing that.  His comment was “She’s got wall to wall furniture, so nobody’s gonna be able to see it anyway!”  Ever the practical (and always finding the easy way out).  But she has these beautiful hand crafted 8 inch baseboards and they just didn’t look complete.  So for two days I sanded, painted, cut, nailed, caulked and puttied nail holes.  I called her in to show her the progress.  She said “It looks fine.”  Well, after all that, I just couldn’t leave the room with the carpet so dirty.  She had never had carpet before living in this house and had no idea how to clean it properly.  So for two days, I’ve been on my hands and knees with carpet cleaner and a stiff brush cleaning spots from spills, then a good vacuuming.  Cleaned the ceiling fan blades and light covers, caulked around the windows, and started moving my tools out.  I haven’t done the windows and doors yet, as that’s a whole other week of scraping and caulking, priming and painting.  So when all was almost back in place I called her in to see the finished product and she said (with a bashful little grin)  “Well, ain’t it pretty?”  That was worth it all!!!  I do love that old lady.