Friday, July 31, 2009

New blooms

The squash and cucumbers I planted several weeks ago in the perennial bed are blooming. I hope to have a late crop of both. I wish I had taken cuttings of my tomatoes like I had planned. I just got lazy.

The first brugmansia has cracked. Shouldn't be long now. I think this one is yellow, maybe white, possibly orange. :)

Yesterday was a miserable day. It was in the mid 80s with upper 80% humidity. It never did rain. 50-60% chance of afternoon and evening thunderstorms again tonight. It's 73 and mostly sunny. Humidity is already above 90%.

Sam, my former boss from 5 years ago, called this morning. He needs help with a project. I agreed. There are still some things I can do that they cannot. It shouldn't be more than a few hours of work in Photoshop/Illustrator. It's like I didn't have enough to do already.

Parents came up last night. My dad was looking at a new lawnmower at the store. After seeing the prices, he decided to see if he could get his repaired instead. They brought me a new toy. It's a leaf blower/vac. They couldn't find the bag, but I can rig something up. It'll come in handy this fall when I have all those leaves from the remaining trees in the yard. Time to make my own leaf mulch since the landfill is still not giving it away.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

It's not the heat...

97% humidity. And it's going to be sunny today. Ugh.

The triple yellow datura has 5 open blooms this morning.

Carrie's amaranthus is over 4' now.

Another hot one on tap. 50% chance of rain this afternoon. More rain in the forecast through Sunday.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Miss Huff

Wintersown Miss Huff Lantana. I wasn't sure for a while that this was her. The plant kept getting taller and taller. It's about 3' now. I noticed the first bloom on the way to the grocery store last night.

Wintersown hibiscus. I collected these seeds from a pure white blooming plant in Delaware last summer. It was growing all alone in the middle of the highway.

Still waiting on the brugs. It's going to be spectacular thanks to all the rain we've been getting.

Showers on and off today. When not raining, it's sunny. Humidity is in the upper 90s with 81 degrees. Just rain already.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

New Kitchen

It's not done yet, no. The cabinets were ordered today. Using the Special Order program, I got them for 10% above store cost. Since I ordered 12 cabinets (small kitchen), I also get a $500 gift card. Good thing it'll arrive in 6-8 weeks, we'll have nothing but mums and pansies, both of which I am no fan of. Instead, it will buy the dishwasher and microwave (clearance sales, hopefully) or at least one of the two. In the meantime, I've got a friend to help me with wiring and all the other tedious bits that need to be done.

When I bought the house....

Aside from a fridge, stove, and hutch, it looks the same. The wallpaper border was removed late last winter. The floor is still that ugly green. The cabinets and walls are all still antique white.

This project will take at least 3-4 weeks to complete AFTER waiting 4-6 weeks for the cabinets. That gives me plenty of time to do a bit of painting, wiring, plumbing, and scraping of the window trim. All the floor trim will be removed as well as the "chair rail" that was also in the bathroom. The walls in some areas will need to be steamed and scraped to remove a horrible texture someone applied over plaster walls.

There will be updates.


Last night it rained. It started about 8:30pm. The first storm rolled through about 9pm. That storm begat another storm that thundered by 15 minutes later. The second storm begat another storm and then another and another until I finally went to bed about 11pm. It was still raining when I fell asleep. Thunder and lightning went on for some time. I sat in the darkened living room after the power went out. The temperature dropped significantly. It was a good night.

Crocosmia in the perennial bed has finally decided to bloom. I bought this plant last summer on a business trip to Delaware. I divided the multitude of corms this winter and scattered it throughout the perennial bed. This year, I need to dig them up again and give them more sun.

Ecinacea Magnus appeared this morning, too. The coreopsis is "Full Moon".

Monday, July 27, 2009

The other red hibiscus

I've long since lost the tag for this one. I purchased the plant last summer on clearance. I divided it over the winter, but only one survived. The blooms are 12" across. I need to give it more sun. The Japanese Beetles are doing a number on the leaves this year.

Speaking of sun, the gully receives a lot more early morning light.

This fall I will have to do something about the ivy, periwinkle, and trees from "heaven". I've tried RoundUp in the past to no avail.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Huge Loss

I had an excellent weekend. It's always good to see friends again. As I normally do when driving, I think about the yard, the house, and other things going on in life. If I had known what was waiting for me, I would have made some different plans for the backyard. When I pulled into the driveway, something felt wrong. Why do I see so much sky?

Upon closer inspection, it was obvious what had happened. I lost one of the huge oaks in the wild.

This thing was massive.

Areas of the gully that were in full shade on Friday are now exposed to hot afternoon sunlight, maybe for the first time ever.

Looking under the tree, you can see the wild roses that I found and played with a bit over the past two years. I wonder what the soil is like back here.

I guess she just couldn't take it anymore. Rotted from the inside out.

As she was, Friday morning before I left.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Bele Chere

Bele Chere is an annual arts, crafts, music festival held in Asheville, NC each July. Normally it is held the last weekend of the month. I'll be back on Sunday.


One of the stages featured karaoke. This girl was amazing.

And this stage had a funk/jazz band tearing it up when we arrived.

Some things I photographed for different reasons.

It was a good time and really good to see old friends again.

Friday, July 24, 2009

My Vitex

Also known as Chaste Tree, the vitex (Shoal's Creek) was planted several weeks ago in the shrub island in the back yard. I took cuttings on Monday, stuck them in the cloner, and hope to have three new ones in a couple weeks. Any that root will be used as screens around the edge of whatever lawn remains out back.

Here's the mother plant as seen during my second cup of coffee stroll.

Based on the moisture already visible in the air, the humidity today will make being outside miserable. Forecast calls for mid 90s this weekend.

Sometimes, I take cuttings of plants with the intention of forcing them to root. This variegated hydrangea cutting was nonchalantly stuck in a coke can full of water several weeks back. It sat there in the basement for another week before I finally moved it to soil. Barely watered and ignored under lights in the basement, it managed to root despite my failures as a gardener. I put it outside with the other hydrangea cuttings last week. It's putting out new growth now and has rooted itself firmly in the cheap Top Soil purchased from Lowe's. Broken bags are still half price.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Severe Thunderstorm Warning.

It's already raining cats and dogs and the storm hasn't reached us yet.

Just when I had given up on them

The brugmansia are about to prove me wrong. Almost all the plants have new buds on them in the past few days.

This one has already bloomed once.

I counted 25 buds on this one. I hope they find a way to bloom at the same time.

More future blooms.

We got a lot of rain last night. It started about 11:30pm. It rained, alternating between downpour and gully washer, for over an hour. I just laid in bed and listened. The plants I moved this week are happy. The orange rose.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hosta, impatiens, coleus

I finally planted them out late this morning too. I made a quick bed by the front sidewalk. Again, RoundUp was used a while ago to kill the creeping grasses and weeds. I used the pitchfork to turn the soil to a depth of 6". I added two bags of topsoil and watered well. Good drainage at least. After putting in the plants, I added two bags of mulch, one hardwood, one cypress. Broken bags are half price.

Hosta, impatiens, coleus.

Finally, I planted a pan of wintersown hosta in the empty spaces. They are still tiny, about the size of a silver dollar, maybe.

Though not happy with the front bed, this does continue the purple, foliage, shade theme I have going on opposite the sidewalk.

It's 82 and mostly sunny. Back to work.

A New Shade Bed

Several weeks ago I sprayed an area that gets only a couple hours of morning sun. I use RoundUp only where Bermuda and Centipede grasses are growing.

This morning, I tilled the area to a depth of about 6", it was as deep as I could go. The soil here is compacted clay with a 1" layer of yesteryear's decomposed leaves.

I went over to the neighbor's leaf pile again and got a truck load of rotting leaves. I spread them out about 12" deep and watered well. More rain this week should pack them down and the worms will be moving in soon. Hydrangeas, hosta, and lobelia "Queen Victoria" will be planted here in the coming weeks. I may even move a couple of spirea. I spied a variegated sport on a plant across the street. I'd like to try to root it too.

Here's how the backyard looks now.

The rose bed at the top of the hill will need leaves and cardboard eventually.

I also cleared out an area of periwinkle around the dogwood stumps in the backyard. I hope next year they'll have rotted enough to remove them. I want to build a raised bed along the back of my tomato patch for beans, corn, cucumbers, and squash. The tomatoes will probably stay in the same spot again. I've had good luck with them here two years running.

For stump removal, I use Spectracide's product shown below. It introduces enzymes into the stump and invites all kinds of critters to devour the remaining wood. A few stumps in the perennial bed are completely gone after only a year.

Weed wacked and mowed close, I sprayed RoundUp again to kill the wintercreeper and other vines.

Not bad for 3 hours of work on a cool summer's morning. The humidity is climbing again. It's 77 and sunny.