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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Flower Arrangements

Is your first thought "Why is Melanie showing us her toilet bowl"? A few days ago I posted that I was making flower arrangements using cut flowers from my garden. Well, I finally got around to taking some photos of them and one of them is sitting on the top of my toilet.

It's actually quite charming if I do say so myself. Tucked into this tiny vase is a few sprigs of Coreopsis 'Zagreb' (not yet open), Viola 'Bowles Black', Nepeta 'Six Hills Giant' and my new favorite addition of Rue.

This large arrangement is in my den, next to my computer where I am sitting right now. For some reason my camera hates this room and I never ever get a good photo taken in here.

The local craft store Michaels was running a sale this week. Two vases for $5. Most of them were small and cheap looking but I found two of these large "jars" and they are nice and heavy.

Although it's hard to see what's in this arrangement, I'll list them all here. Hosta leaves, Baptisia 'Screaming Yellow', my driveway Daisies, spent heads from the Alliums, and grass stalks from Miscanthus sinensis 'Strictus'. I love to use grasses as accents in arrangements.

This little arrangement is sitting on my hallway table but I put it outside on my bistro table to photograph. It's so simple and yet might be my favorite of the bunch. Three Hosta leaves, Baptisia 'Screaming Yellow' and Nepeta 'Six Hills Giant'.

I made this same arrangement earlier in the week. The Hosta leaves will last for two weeks at least but I had to replace the other material after 5 days. That's fine by me.

Tuesday night my husband was at a fancy affair and brought home the table centerpiece for me. It's just lovely and is sitting on my kitchen table. I don't think I've ever arranged things in a mass like this, I tend to go for loose and informal but I love the way this looks. To be honest though, my friend Kim could do a better job.

This arrangement was made last Sunday with flowers cut in the middle of the day during our heatwave. After 5 days it looked pretty tired and needed to be updated. It was sitting on my youngest daughters night table.

First I pulled out all the plant material. Then I washed the inside of the container and filled it with fresh water. The Hosta leaves as usual were fine and I reused them.

This time I added the blooms from Alchemilla mollis (Ladies mantle), Ferns (don't know the variety), Hakonachloa (Hakone grass) and the hot pink Silene armeria. I had hoped to surprise Emily but she surprised me instead. She came home with no voice and a fever. After a quick trip to the doctor we found out she had a raging sinus infection so I decided that I wouldn't put these blooms back right next to her bed for now.

I belong to a Federated Garden Club and many of the women there are amazing flower arrangers. It's never been a passion of mine, I just manage to scrape by when we have a judged show. Still, after all these years a few tips and rules have rubbed off on me.

This weekend I'll take photos of the mechanics of flower arranging and put together a post giving the tips that I know (it won't be a very long post :-) )

Have a wonderful weekend,


Friday, June 13, 2008

Nooks & Crannies

When we first had our rock retaining wall installed around our pool, I never thought I'd become this enamored with the nooks and crannies. Oh I knew I wanted to have a few Sempervivum (Hens and Chicks) set in the wall but it really was a very little thought.

Getting things to grow in those nooks and crannies was harder than I thought it would be. Thankfully, once I got them going, mother nature took things in her own hands and has done a wonderful job adding to the design.

One hurdle is that some of the spots I want to grow lots of succulents in, are really fairly shaded. The top photo shows some Sedum dasyphyllum growing merrily in a spot that only gets a few hours of direct sun. This is the smallest Sedum in my garden, smaller than the eraser on a pencil.

The thought behind putting Thyme in the cracks was that when people would walk on the thyme, it would release it's delicious scent. Instead, people tend to step awkwardly here to avoid stepping on the Thyme.

This might be more Sedum dasyphyllum, it's about to bloom. I'm not sure I put it in the wall, it might have packed up and moved there on it's own. I also see there's a little entrance way to a chipmunk palace on the right side, grrrrr. Maybe they planted it here?

By far the smallest Sempervivums in my garden are these very webbed ones here. I've taken offsets and put them in pots but they look awful in that type of setting. I think they're perfect right here where they can fill in this crack.

Right above them is a Sedum that doesn't mind the good amount of shade thrown by the daylily foliage around it. Sometimes you think you have a spot with enough sun and don't realize that the surrounding plant material blocks much of the sunlight.

A white Dianthus cascades across a boulder set in the wall. I was afraid it wouldn't bloom this year as it looked very unhappy last month. I think the problem is I never cut it back and the stems were so long and lanky. This year I will remember to give it a good haircut when it's done blooming.

Considering how many succulents I've stuck into the wall, there's still lots of gaps. The hard part is the soil washes out from rains or from the sprinkler system. Worse yet, you think you have it all packed in and a chipmunk decides to use that spot as the back door.

This clump of Sempervivum has been photographed more than any other. It's getting to the point though that it's way overcrowded and I know if I don't thin it out a bit it won't be able to sustain itself in this manner.

Only one red Sempervivum has taken hold in the wall. I'm sure I didn't stick that Sedum right in there next to it but I'll let it grow and see how it looks next year. Maybe it will take me by surprise :-)

As always, shoes make the best container to add some more interest to the wall.

This kind of gardening gives me a complete different feeling that other types of gardening. There's no hauling of compost, digging massive holes, dragging hoses or heavy duty work of that sort. Instead, my usual tool at hand is a simple dandelion fork.

Do you do any kind of rock gardening?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The "To-Do" List

Are you a list person? Do you make to-do lists?

I don't make lists. If I have a busy day or busy week ahead of me I write out schedules. Pages and pages of schedules but I don't like to-do lists.

They say that writing lists is good. My husband Don is a list person and it really works for him. He prioritizes things, does them and crosses them off the list.

Not me.
This is a cut through in my longest perennial border. The border is about 125 feet long (37.5 meters) and just about at the half way point I have this little cut through. It was necessary because the pipes for the underground sprinkler and the on/off valve (the round cap that is askew) is in this spot.

Two weeks ago I was able to easily walk through here. The top photo was taken three days ago and the second photo was taken this morning. It's almost impossible to see the stepping stones. Forget about actually cutting through this spot.

If I had a to-do list, cutting back this area would be on it.

Thursday is the day our lawn service comes to mow the lawn. Between my watering and the intense heatwave we just experienced the yard looks like a jungle.

If I remember to get back out there in the next hour I should cut back all the fallen stalks like you see here. They will last a good week in a flower arrangement but would not last a minute after the lawn service starts cutting.

My side yard is a disaster. I always seem to find more plants to pot up. The chipmunks run through here like it's a maze and Calie the wonder-doodle plows along behind them like a bull in a china shop. There are upturned pots everywhere.

If I had a to-do list I'd put "clean up side yard" on it. It would also be nice to add "make official holding beds for plant material in limbo".

The Cymbalaria murilas (kenilworth ivy) has totally engulfed this section of my rock wall. In my opinion it loses some of it's charm when you can't see the rocks underneath. I would have to put this on my to-do list too.

Uh oh, the peas are falling! Chicken little would not be happy to see this spot in my garden. The peas have put on such a growth spurt that they went above and beyond the stakes and now I should try to figure out something to support them better.

In this same area I have my potted tomatoes and thanks to my friend Kim, I now know I should be pruning them. Since I haven't even staked them yet, I think I'm running behind schedule a bit.

Phew, it's a good thing I don't have a to-do list. I'm tired just thinking about all the things I'd have to do.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Watering the Garden

Today I have one goal, water the garden. It might not sound like much but around here it could take me all day to finish this task.

Our heat wave has broken, last night a cool front came through and today should only hit 87 degrees (30.5 celsius). That's still well above normal for us but at least I can work outside for most of the day. While massive storms surged all around us, we got a few gusts of wind and no rain at all. I had hoped for some moisture so I wouldn't have to spend a whole day watering.

Unfortunately, I'm not feeling well. I don't know if it's the accumulation of too many days of heat or the fact that I attended two meetings with meals yesterday and ate food that I don't normally eat. I can barely make myself get up and move, which is highly unusual for me.

When we bought this house 12 years ago it already had an underground sprinkler system installed. We were told it's a "golf course" system. Since I don't golf, I can't say for sure if that is correct. There are "outlets" in the ground spaced quite far apart and I have to "plug in" a large sprinkler head where ever I need the water.

We have massive water pressure here and I can run 4 of these heads at a time. But I still need to pay attention to the timer and go out every 1.5 hours and move the heads to different locations.

All the planters require hand watering and since I've potted up lots of tomatoes I will be carrying many watering cans around the yard today. Thankfully my schedule is empty and I can take my time getting this done.

Yesterday I totally missed blogging. I was up at 5:00AM to take my cousin's daughter to the airport. When I got home I had a garden club meeting where we had the most amazing speaker on Feng Shui. I went in expecting to be bored and instead I was fascinated. I had to laugh when I realized I had my compost heap in my Wealth/Power area of our property. I have no intention of moving it though since I consider compost to be black gold. Then I was off all evening at a PTA dinner. No wonder I feel lousy today.

Time to go out and start the first set of sprinkler heads. Hopefully I'll get to photographing some flower arrangements today too.

Stay cool,

Monday, June 09, 2008

Flowers for Gail

This post is for all of you but most especially for Gail. Gail is a fellow blogger who lives in Nashville Tennessee and always finds the time to leave nice comments here.

Gail's blog is Clay and Limestone and one of these days I'm going to get to Nashville and we are going to go for a nice long walk. The name of Gail's blog says it all, she has some pretty tough soil conditions to work with.

Yesterday I had a photo of a watering can that was filled with volunteer seedlings. Gail had inquired about them and I answered that one was Silene armeria (catchfly).

You can see in the top photo that it can handle just about anything, seeding itself into a crack in my south facing brick patio.

Silene armeria was given to me many years ago (at least 20 years) by a co-worker when I actually had a "day job". Carmen gave me a little slip in a 4 inch pot. Who would have thought that I'd have waves and waves of this happy plant all over my garden today.

While Silene armeria combines wonderfully with many plants, this Iris isn't the best combo but I wanted to show you something that would give you a size comparison. It's hard to plan combinations with this plant as it's an annual and you never know exactly where it's going to seed.

There have been times that I've weeded my Silene aremeria to the point that I thought I had lost it. Now I just leave it be as it never seeds into the lawn or becomes a pest.

One thing I often forget is that Silene armeria makes a good cut flower. Yesterday I made up several small arrangements to put in my house since it was just too hot to stay in the garden.

Today I'd like to stop at Michaels Craft store to pick up a few more cheap bud vases so I can have little nosegays in every room. If I manage to get this done I'll try to remember to take photos.

Stay cool, it's going to be another sweltering day here on Long Island. At least I now have a fan blowing on my while I type which makes a world of difference.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Hotter than Hades

It's just too darn hot. Too hot to take photos, too hot to type as my hands stick to the keyboard, too hot to be outside. Phooey.

When I look at our weather site, it lists the high temperature for today to be 90 and if you scroll a little it also shows our current temperature of 96 (feels like 103). I guess they don't update their own information as I expect it will get hotter yet today.

(Updated at 1:10 PM, the weather channel lists the temperature for zip code 11746 as 102 degrees (feels like 110). I feel like a sponge.)

Wish I felt as cool and crisp as these driveway daisies look.

This watering can was not planted. Nope, it had a hole in it and last year I had it planted with annuals. Both of the plants in it now are volunteers that seeded into the can from nearby. I guess I can't complain about this!

A good hot weather chore is to plant more tomatoes and basil. I guess you can never have enough of either of these. Since I'm planting them into huge tree pots, I can do this chore in the shade and move them into the sun in a few days when this heat spell finally breaks.

We have no air-conditioners installed yet in the bedrooms and there is no air-conditioning on our main floor so I will leave you now as I can barely stand sitting here any longer.

How do you cope with this type of heat in your garden?